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Art By: Festival Wibrowski

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BIOS Brick

Executive Producer: Dennis Nutting

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Brian Kaufman, Christopher Grimm, Mike Sabers, Charles Gene Kohler

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Art By: Jimmy V

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President Obama Signs California Disaster Declaration

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Archived Version

Source: White Press Office Feed

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 03:05

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 13, 2013

The President today declared a major disaster exists in the State of California and ordered federal aid to supplement state and local recovery efforts in the area affected by the Rim Fire during the period of August 17 to October 24, 2013.

Federal funding is available to state and eligible local governments and certain private nonprofit organizations on a cost-sharing basis for emergency work and the repair or replacement of facilities damaged by the Rim Fire in Tuolumne County.

Federal funding is also available on a cost-sharing basis for hazard mitigation measures statewide.

W. Craig Fugate, Administrator, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Department of Homeland Security, named Stephen M. DeBlasio Sr. as the Federal Coordinating Officer for federal recovery operations in the affected area.

FEMA said additional designations may be made at a later date if requested by the state and warranted by the results of further damage assessments.

Presidential Proclamation -- Wright Brothers Day, 2013

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 03:16

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 16, 2013


- - - - - - -



On December 17, 1903, decades of dreaming, experimenting, and careful engineering culminated in 12 seconds of flight. Wilbur and Orville Wright's airplane soared above the wind-blown banks of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, pushing the boundaries of human imagination and paving the way for over a century of innovation. On Wright Brothers Day, our Nation commemorates this once unthinkable achievement. We celebrate our scientists, engineers, inventors, and all Americans who set their sights on the impossible.

America has always been a Nation of strivers and creators. As our next generation carries forward this proud tradition, we must give them the tools to translate energy and creativity into concrete results. That is why my Administration is dedicated to improving education in the vital fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). We are working to broaden participation among underrepresented groups, and through Race to the Top, we are raising standards and making STEM education a priority. Last year, we announced plans to create a national STEM Master Teacher Corps -- a group of the best STEM teachers in the country, who will receive resources to mentor fellow educators, inspire students, and champion STEM education in their communities.

As we remember the Wright brothers, let us not forget another Wright who took up the mission of powered flight. Orville and Wilbur's sister, Katharine, used her teacher's salary to support the family and ran the Wrights' bicycle shop in Dayton, Ohio, while her brothers worked in Kitty Hawk. She went on to manage press, conduct business with foreign dignitaries and heads of state, and wrangle support for the burgeoning aviation enterprise. Today, let all of us draw inspiration from a family who taught us that when bold ideas meet scientific thinking and tireless experimentation, the sky is no limit.

The Congress, by a joint resolution approved December 17, 1963, as amended (77 Stat. 402; 36 U.S.C. 143), has designated December 17 of each year as "Wright Brothers Day" and has authorized and requested the President to issue annually a proclamation inviting the people of the United States to observe that day with appropriate ceremonies and activities.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim December 17, 2013, as Wright Brothers Day.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this sixteenth 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.


NEW YORK: Goldstein, publisher of Screw magazine, dies in NY - People Wires -

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 15:22

NEW YORK -- Al Goldstein, the bird-flipping publisher of Screw magazine who helped break down legal barriers against pornography and raged against politicians, organized religion and anything that even suggested good taste, died Thursday, according to a friend. He was 77.

Goldstein died at a Brooklyn hospice after a long illness, said the friend, attorney Charles C. DeStefano.

Of all the would-be successors to Hugh Hefner's sexual throne, no one was as out there as Goldstein. Whether taking potshots at sacred cows in the magazine's pages, or placing an 11-foot-tall sculpture of an extended middle finger outside his Florida home, his angry humor, garish attire, numerous divorces and X-rated mind made him an infamous national figure.

"To be angry is to be alive. I'm an angry Jew. I love it. Anger is better than love. I think it is more pure," he said in an interview in 2001. "There's so much to be angry about, because people are ripped off, the election went to the wrong person, the good guys usually lose and society sucks."

To back that anger, Goldstein put his wallet where his mouth was, spending millions of dollars on First Amendment lawsuits, hundreds of thousands running unsuccessfully for sheriff in Florida, and millions more in numerous divorce settlements.

DeStefano remembers Goldstein as an "intellectual who cared about the world and geopolitics." But after a lavish lifestyle, Goldstein fell on difficult times, landing in a homeless shelter and a veterans hospital.

"Up until a month ago he still had that spark," said DeStefano. "In fact, he gave me the middle finger. As he did it, he smiled at me. I knew he was still Al Goldstein inside this shell of a body. I kissed him and held his hand. Many of his friends were like his sons. He had tremendous respect for friendships."

When he co-founded Screw in 1968, the American legal system was embroiled in a battle over what constitutes obscenity. Goldstein never envisioned himself as a champion of free speech, but fought for what he said were his own prurient interests.

"Screw grew from a combination of many factors, chief of which was my own dissatisfaction with the sex literature of 1968 and my yearning for a publication that reflected my sexual appetites," he wrote in the 1971 Screw anthology.

But Goldstein also felt that the cultural and religious establishment had convinced his generation that sex was dirty and turned them into "a lot of embarrassed people who bought nudie magazines on the sly."

The porn magazine's scathing, scatological editorials railed against religious leaders and the government for justifying war while imprisoning erotic magazine publishers. Screw sold 140,000 copies a week at its height.

"I may be making a lot of money, but I really believe I'm doing some good by demythologizing a lot about sexuality," he told Playboy in 1974.

But the law was never far away. During the magazine's first three years, Goldstein was arrested 19 times on obscenity charges. Spending millions to defend himself, he ultimately scored a major victory in 1974 when a federal judge threw out an obscenity case brought against him.

After that the willingness of the government to prosecute such cases waned, ending a period that saw books such as D.H. Lawrence's "Lady Chatterly's Lover" and Henry Miller's "Tropic of Cancer" banned and kept erotic publications under the counter.

But the victory left Goldstein feeling flat.

"I really need the attention of being arrested, because that means I'm still bugging the establishment, that I'm still gadfly to the state," he told Playboy. "Acceptance of me and Screw would be the kiss of death."

And it may have been the magazine's undoing, as it was soon eclipsed by more explicit publications, like Larry Flynt's Hustler magazine. Goldstein soon found other outlets, and in 1974 launched a sex-oriented cable porn show, "Midnight Blue," which ran for nearly 30 years.

As the poignancy of Screw faded, Goldstein became depressed and angrier.

In 2002, he was sentenced after a wild trial to 60 days in jail for harassing a former secretary with threatening phone calls and editorials. The conviction was later overturned when an appeals court ruled prosecutors had used overly inflammatory language at trial. A year later Goldstein pleaded guilty to harassing one of his four ex-wives with obscene phone messages.

In late 2003, the magazine folded and Goldstein filed for bankruptcy protection. On the upside, he lost 150 pounds following stomach stapling surgery the same year and married his fifth wife, a woman 40 years his junior. Things fell so far, though, that in 2004 he told The New York Times he was forced, at times, to sleep in a car and live in a Florida homeless shelter.

"Anyone who wishes ill on me should feel vindicated because my life has turned into a total horror," he told the Times. He is survived by his wife, Christine, and a son, Jordan.

VIDEO-Target says data from 40 million cards stolen in holiday period -

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 15:19

Sara Welch reports for the KTLA 5 News at 6 on Wednesday, Dec. 18, 2013.

(Reuters) - Target Corp said data from about 40 million credit and debit cards might have been stolen from shoppers at its stores during the first three weeks of the holiday season, in the second-largest card breach at a U.S. retailer.The data theft, unprecedented in its ferocity, took place over a 19-day period that began the day before Thanksgiving. Target said on Thursday that it identified and resolved the issue on December 15.

The company's shares fell as much as 3.2 percent before the bell.Though smaller than the breach disclosed in March 2007 by TJX Companies Inc, parent of apparel chains TJ Maxx and Marshalls, the data theft took place over a much shorter period and hit shoppers at the beginning of the U.S. holiday season.

Target said the breach might have compromised accounts between November 27 and December 15, a period of nearly three weeks.

The data theft revealed by TJX took place over 18 months, affecting 45.7 million payment cards, according to the company. Banks later said in court documents that the hackers could have obtained more than 94 million account numbers in the TJX case.

On Thursday, Target told customers in an alert on its website that the criminals had stolen customer names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and their CVV security codes.

"On December 15, we were able to identify an unauthorized access and we were able at that time to resolve the issue," Target spokeswoman Molly Snyder said by telephone.

Krebs on Security, a closely watched security industry blog that broke the news on Wednesday, said the breach involved nearly all of Target's 1,797 stores in the United States and investigators believed the data was obtained via software installed on point-of-sales terminals used to swipe magnetic strips on payment cards.

It is not yet clear how the attackers were able to compromise point-of-sales terminals at so many Target stores. "It is very clear it is a sophisticated crime," Snyder said.

The U.S. Secret Service is working on the investigation, according to an agency spokeswoman. A Federal Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman declined to comment.

"While this search for the truth is happening, the issue damages the trust Target have gained in mobile and calls into question how sales (will) trend in January," said Brian Sozzi, chief executive officer of Belus Capital Advisors.

MasterCard and Visa officials had declined to comment late on Wednesday, after news of the breach surfaced. An American Express spokeswoman said the company was aware of the incident and was putting fraud controls in place.

Target said it had alerted authorities and financial institutions immediately after it was made aware of the unauthorized access and that it was "putting all appropriate resources behind these efforts."

The company said it hired a forensics firm to investigate the incident.

Target's shares were down 1.7 percent an hour before the market was due to open.

The shares, which have risen 7.4 percent this year, closed at $63.55 on the New York Stock Exchange on Wednesday. The stock has largely underperformed the broader S&P 500 index, which has risen 27 percent this year.

(Writing by Robin Paxton; Editing by Kirti Pandey and Rodney Joyce)



Dave Eggers: US writers must take a stand on NSA surveillance

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 15:06

Most citizens would object to their government searching their homes without a warrant. If you were told that while you were at work, your government was coming into your home and rifling through without cause, you might be unsettled. You might even consider this a violation of your rights specifically and the Bill of Rights generally.

But what if your government, in its defence, said: "First of all, we're searching everyone's home, so you're not being singled out. Second, we don't connect your address to your name, so don't worry about it. All we're doing is searching every home in the United States, every day, without exception, and if we find something noteworthy, we'll let you know. In the meantime, proceed as usual."

Yes, it's been strange to live in the USA in this, the era of the NSA. Not just because of the National Security Agency's seemingly boundless and ever-more-invasive collection methods, but because, for the most part, Americans have been proceeding as usual. In the wake of the Snowden revelations, there's been some outrage, and a flurry of lawsuits filed by organisations such as the ACLU, but most polls show about 50% of the population '' including a shockingly high percentage of Democrats '' find the NSA's domestic spying programme more or less acceptable.

No doubt many moderate Democrats have been caught in a paralysis of cognitive dissonance. That is, on a gut level, this level of spying seems horrific and unconstitutional, but, then again, would President Obama, himself a constitutional scholar, actually endorse '' much less expand '' a domestic spying programme unless it were morally acceptable and constitutional? And thus moderates twist themselves into pretzels trying to defend, or at least allow, the NSA's collections.

And so it has been up to an unlikely coalition to bang the drum. It surely has to be the first time the ACLU, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Tea Party have found themselves (somewhat) politically aligned. And in one of the more significant, if not unexpected, developments, Richard J Leon, a federal judge appointed by George W Bush, on Monday issued a 68-page decision denouncing the NSA's surveillance as "Orwellian" and saying: "I cannot imagine a more 'indiscriminate' and 'arbitrary invasion' than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analysing it without prior judicial approval." He added: "Surely, such a programme infringes on 'that degree of privacy' that the founders enshrined in the fourth amendment." Will this, finally, turn the tide of US opinion? Don't count on it. Judge Leon's ruling has no binding effect at the moment, and could be reversed on appeal.

In an effort to illuminate the NSA's effect on free expression, PEN America Centre recently surveyed its US members on their feelings about the NSA's unbounded reach. The resulting report, "Chilling Effects: NSA Surveillance Drives US Writers to Self-Censor," reveals that 88% of the writers polled are troubled by the NSA's surveillance programme, and that 24% have avoided certain topics in email and phone conversations. Most disturbingly, 16% of those answering the survey said they had abandoned a project given its sensitivity.

The survey is troubling on many levels. First, it's deeply dismaying that any writer would give up so easily '' that any writer would be so readily cowed into submission. After all, to date, the NSA's surveillance hasn't landed any writers in jail, and, though there's no doubt a watchlist, so far no one on PEN's membership has been hauled in for questioning based on their phone calls, searches or internet activity. But living under the cloud of suspicion, or wondering not if, but when this collected data will be misused, runs, shall we say, counter to the idea of freedom of expression in a democracy.

The recent petition by Writers Against Mass Surveillance, issued last week and signed by 562 writers around the world, is an essential step toward an international digital bill of rights. But until there is such a thing, there will be hundreds of millions of people, writers among them, living under the assumption that every inquiry or communication they make could later be used against them.

Wajahat Ali is an American lawyer, essayist and playwright with Pakistani roots who has written extensively about Muslim-American issues. "When I read that," he said of the "Chilling Effects" report, "my first reaction was, welcome to our world. Muslim-Americans have been living with the presumption of being potential suspects for 12 years now. We've had to assume that all our phone calls, emails, social media and text messages are being monitored in some way."

Ali says he doesn't self-censor, but he is exceedingly aware at all times that his messages might be scrutinised. What if the government doesn't like an essay he writes, and then, searching through their metadata haystack, sees that he's donated to some Islamic relief organisation deemed questionable? In minutes they have enough on him to make a mess of his life. Ali and legions of other Muslim-Americans have had to adopt a gallows sense of humour about it, he says, citing the times when he's written 'Hello NSA!' in text messages and emails. "But I can't structure my life around fear," Ali says. He's so un-cowed that he recently took a job with Al Jazeera America.

"A writer's job is to look for trouble." That line was uttered by a character in The Front, the 1976 film about the McCarthy blacklist era. In the film, Woody Allen plays Howard Prince, a small-time bookie who is asked by an old friend, a blacklisted screenwriter, to be a front, signing his name to scripts penned by writers suspected of communist sympathies. Prince agrees, and soon attracts the notice of the House Committee on Un-American Activities himself.

Watching the movie now, parallels between that era and our own are many '' the generalised air of suspicion, the sinister feeling of being watched but not knowing when. The movie's screenwriter, Walter Bernstein, himself was blacklisted and deprived of work. His phone was tapped, he was followed by FBI agents, his friends were harassed, and he was denied a passport.

I spoke to Bernstein, now 94 and still writing, by phone at his home in New York. When the Snowden revelations became public, he was surprised not that there was such ongoing surveillance, but by the stunning extent of it. "Then again," he said, "if they're able to do it, they will do it." I asked him if he thought our current era of domestic spying was as dangerous as the one he lived through. "In some ways it's worse now," he said."Now the surveillance extends to everyone. And it's going to get worse. The crimes committed in the name of national security are very great, and there's no answer to it."

Bernstein got his say in The Front, though. At the end of the film, Howard Prince decides not to co-operate with McCarthy's minions. In a private meeting in which he's supposed to sign a loyalty oath and provide names of communist sympathisers, Prince, until then decidedly apolitical, finally has had enough. He turns on his interrogators and roars: "I don't recognise the right of the committee to ask me these kinds of questions. And furthermore, you can all go fuck yourselves." Then he goes to jail.

Bernstein notes that at least back then there were faces attached to one's accusers. There was McCarthy himself. There were the FBI questioners. There were senators and courts and hearings. Now it's a shadowy agency that seemingly answers to no one. Not long ago, novelist William T Vollmann successfully used the FOIA, and found that the FBI had an extensive file on him; in the 1990s they had suspected that he was the Unabomber. But now, anyone trying to find out what the NSA has collected on them would be out of luck. "I would say you have no chance," says Rachel Levinson-Waldman, an attorney with the Brennan Centre for Justice at the NYU School of Law. In "What the Government Does with Americans' Data," Levinson-Waldman wrote what is perhaps the most comprehensive and lucid study about the NSA's spying and its potential for misuse. She pointed out something interesting about the PEN study. If writers assume they're being watched, "it could eliminate whole areas of inquiry. They could say, 'It's not worth it to me to come to the attention of the government.' And difficult subject matter might only be pursued by those who think themselves invulnerable to scrutiny."

Think back to all the messages you have ever sent. All the phone calls and searches you've made. Could any of them be misinterpreted? Could any of them be used to damage you by someone like the next McCarthy, the next Nixon, the next Ashcroft? This is the most pernicious and soul-shattering aspect of where we are right now. No one knows for sure what is being collected, recorded, analysed and stored '' or how all this will be used in the future.

A few years ago, John Villasenor at the Brookings Institution wrote a terrifying study called "Recording Everything: Digital Storage as an Enabler of Authoritarian Governments", which explains how easy it is for a government to record and store the entire contents of all calls made within any country. The technology is readily available now, and the storage costs are so low that Syria, for example, could record and store all phone calls made by its citizens in a given year for under $1m (£610,000), or about nine cents a person. Taking the leap from any government, including our own, collecting metadata, to collecting all audio, period, is no leap at all.

Unchecked, the NSA will surely avail itself of these economies of scale. If and when it begins to record all phone calls, or when a whistleblower reveals that it is already doing this, again the NSA will say that there is no harm done, given that no one is being targeted specifically, that computers are simply scanning all of this audio for certain keywords. It will say that the vast majority of us '' those who are presumably doing nothing wrong '' will have nothing to worry about. No doubt the NSA looks at the poll numbers, that enabling 50%, and sees it as a mandate to continue and expand.

And so it will be up to this strange coalition to continue the fight. The PEN survey is not the most important barometer of the minds of the citizenry, but if writers are altering their behaviour, then millions more are, too. "Citizens of a democracy need a zone of privacy, and to have control over it," Levinson-Waldman says. "Without some assurance of privacy, it's impossible to participate robustly in the dissent and debate that are critical to our society." The effect of an entire nation of individuals choosing to abstain from certain phone calls, email messages, internet searches, for fear of what could be done with that information in the future, threatens not just a chill, but a permanent intellectual ice age.

Bernstein, who survived McCarthy, whose former friends used to cross the street rather than be seen talking to him, is as scared as he's ever been. I asked him to convey advice to writers and to us all. "Well," he said, "All I can say is that you need to resist. Resist. Resist. Resist. Resist."


Errata Security: How we know the 60 Minutes NSA interview was crap

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Archived Version

Mon, 16 Dec 2013 14:39

Regardless of where you stand on the Snowden/NSA debate, it's obvious tonight's "60 Minutes" was a travesty of journalism. In exchange for exclusive access to the NSA, CBS parroted dubious NSA statements as fact. We can see this in the way they described what they call the "BIOS plot", which the claim would have destroyed the economy of the United States had the NSA not saved us. The NSA spokesperson they quote, Debra Plunkett, is a liar.There is probably some real event behind this, but it's hard to tell, because we don't have any details. The event has been distorted to serve the needs of propaganda. It's completely false in the message it is trying to convey. What comes out is gibberish, as any technical person can confirm.The discussion of the plot is at timestamp 3:33 in the video here, but below, I include a little mini transcript:(Narration) "One [attack] they did see coming was called the 'BIOS plot'. It could've been catastrophic for the United States. While the NSA would not name the country behind it, cybersecurity experts briefed on the operation told us it was China. Debra Plunkett directs cyber defense for the NSA, and for the first time discusses the agency's role in discovering the plot."

Plunkett: "One of our analysts actually saw that a nation-state had the intention to develop and to deliver, to actually use this capability to destroy computers."

Reporter: "To destroy computers?"

Plunkett: "To destroy computers. So the BIOS is a basic input/output system. It's like the foundational component firmware of a computer. You start your computer up; the BIOS kicks in, it activates hardware, it activates the operating system. It turns on the computer."

Shows something called a BIOS, but which is actually a Serial ATA controller BIOS, not the motherboard's BIOS. LOL.

(Narration) "This is the BIOS system which starts most computers. The attack would've been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user agreed, the virus would've infected the computer."

Reporter: "So, this basically would've gone into the system that starts up the computer, runs the systems, tells it what to do,..."

Plunkett: "That's right."

Reporter: "...and basically turned it into a cinderblock?"

Plunkett: "A brick."

Reporter: "And, after that, there wouldn't be much that you could do with that computer?"

Plunkett: "That's right. Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the US economy."

Reporter: "I don't mean to be flip about this, but it has kind of a little Doctor Evil quality to it, that 'I'm going to develop a program to destroy every computer in the world'. It sounds almost unbelievable."

Plunkett: "Don't be fooled. There are absolutely nation-states who have the capability and the intentions to do just that."

Reporter: "Based on what you've learned here at the NSA, would it have worked?"

Plunkett: "We believe it would have, yes."

Reporter: "Is this anything that has been talked about publicly before?"

Plunkett: "No, not to this extent. This is the first time."

(Narrator) "The NSA, working with computer manufacturers, was able to close this vulnerability. But they say there are other attacks occurring daily."

Update: Why is is this gibberish/false?There are no technical details. Yes, they talk about "BIOS", but it's redundant, unrelated to their primary claim. Any virus/malware can destroy the BIOS, making a computer unbootable, "bricking" it. There's no special detail here. All they are doing is repeating what Wikipedia says about BIOS, acting as techie talk layered onto the discussion to make it believable, much like how Star Trek episodes talk about warp cores and Jeffries Tubes.

Stripped of techie talk, this passage simply says "The NSA foiled a major plot, trust us." But of course, there is no reason we should trust them. It's like how the number of terrorist plots foiled by telephone eavesdropping started at 50 then was reduced to 12 then to 2 and then to 0, as the NSA was forced to justify their claims under oath instead of in front of news cameras. The NSA has proven itself an unreliable source for such information -- we can only trust them if they come out with more details -- under oath.

Moreover, they don't even say what they imply. It's all weasel-words. Nowhere in the above passage does a person from the NSA say "we foiled a major cyber terror plot". Instead, it's something you piece together by the name "BIOS plot", cataclysmic attacks on our economy (from the previous segment), and phrases like "would it have worked".

So, in the end, it's just like the existing testimony from Clapper and Alexander that is never precisely a lie, but likewise, intentionally deceptive.

Imagine a scenario where an analyst, reading public Chinese hacking forums, comes across a discussion proposing the idea of bribing Chinese manufacturers to add evil code to BIOSes. So, the NSA writes this up in a report, and sends it to all the major vendors, like Dell and HP, suggesting they always doublecheck the BIOSes to make sure they haven't been corrupted.

What's important about this scenario is that it describes no real plot or threat, no real vulnerability, yet it matches everything in the above text. The NSA stops nothing in this scenario, but gets to fling words at CBS to make it look like they did.

I mention this as a scenario because it happens a lot in the hacking world. White hats and black hats are always plotting, scheming, and conspiring. At least, that's what it looks like from the outside. On the inside, we are usually just goofing off. For example, a few months ago, on Twitter, I and some other guys were talking trash, arguing about whether the iPhone 5S touch sensor could be hacked. So, we started betting money. After three of us bet money, I decided to create a website to track the bets,, believing it might reach 8 people. This website took off. We got deluged with people offering up money for this. The website got millions of hits. I was interviewed on television about this "project". Suddenly, I became one of the world's foremost authorities on crowdsourced bounties. People kept asking me about the plan behind the site, but there wasn't one. All the planning, plotting, and conspiring behind this site never existed -- it was all in other people's imaginations.

As I've blogged before, there are many stories whose scariness depends how you tell them. For example, the NSA/CIA pass around a story about how hackers broke into a power grid in a foreign country, then extorted money, threatening blackouts. As it turns out, the "hackers" in question consisted of guy who operated the console of the control system. They were insiders, with access to the switches, who barely knew anything about computers. They weren't hackers from the Internet. The threat could've been carried out before the grid was even computerized -- though of course, back then, they would've assumed "insider" rather than "elite hacker team" and caught the bastards.

In summary, we experts just aren't impressed. We know how viruses work, and see nothing special here. We know how stories get distorted. We know how paranoia makes minor things look scary. If there were something momentous here, they would say so. But instead, they used techno mumbo jumbo to confuse the typical 60 Minutes viewer into believing something that was never explicitly stated.

The NSA Claims It Foiled a Foreign Plot to Destroy the U.S. Economy |

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Archived Version

Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:24

A senior National Security Agency official said in a ''60 Minutes'' interview that aired Sunday that the federal government recently thwarted an attack that could have collapsed the United States' economy.

President Obama welcomes Chinese President Hu Jintao during a State Arrival ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, Jan. 19, 2011. (Getty Images)

The cyber attack it claims to have stopped would have trashed (i.e. ''bricked'') computers all across the country. Considering how closely U.S. infrastructure and Wall Street are connected to computers, a massive cyber attack could lead to disaster for the U.S. and global economy.

But here's the real takeaway from Sunday's revelation: Although the NSA wouldn't say who was responsible for the alleged attack, CBS News said all fingers point to China

''(C)yber security experts briefed on the operation told us it was China,'' CBS said in the report.

The NSA claims the attack, which is more commonly referred to as a ''BIOS attack,'' was warded off with the help of computer manufacturers.

''One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver '-- to actually use this capability '-- to destroy computers,'' Debora Plunkett, director of cyber defense for the NSA, told CBS News, according to a transcript of the report made available by Business Insider.

''To destroy computers?'' CBS News' John Millerasked.

''To destroy computers. So the BIOS is a basic input/output system. It's, like, the foundational component firmware of a computer. You start your computer up. The BIOS kicks in. It activates hardware. It activates the operating system. It turns on the computer,'' Plunkett explained. ''This is the BIOS system which starts most computers. The attack would have been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user agreed, the virus would've infected the computer.''

Simply put, this would have gone into the computer system to tell it what to do. From there, the attack can turn the computer into a ''brick,'' as Plunkett put it.

''Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the U.S. economy,'' the NSA director said. ''Don't be fooled. There are absolutely nation states who have the capability and the intentions to do just that.''

Had the attack not been caught and stopped, Plunkett added, it probably would have worked.

Now it's no secret that cyber attacks have the potential to cause great harm to the United States' economy. However, as Business Insider's Geoffrey Ingersoll rightly notes, it's who's suspected of being behind that attempted BIOS attack that should have us concerned.

A cyber ''attack occurred last year, when a militant group called 'The Cutting Sword of Justice' launched an attack on a Saudi oil company, Aramco, which disabled the hard drives of 30,000 computers, destroying all stored data,'' Ingersoll wrote, adding ''experts and analysts largely don't expect massive cyber attacks from the world's largest nations due to the interconnectivity of the global economy.''

If China is indeed behind the alleged BIOS attack '' as opposed to, say, a small militant group upset about ''income inequality '-- then that would be a major and unprecedented development.

(H/T: Business Insider)


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NSA goes on 60 Minutes: the definitive facts behind CBS's flawed report

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 04:12

The National Security Agency is telling its story like never before. Never mind whether that story is, well, true.

On Sunday night, CBS's 60 Minutes ran a remarkable piece that provided NSA officials, from director Keith Alexander to junior analysts, with a long, televised forum to push back against criticism of the powerful spy agency. It's an opening salvo in an unprecedented push from the agency to win public confidence at a time when both White House reviews and pending legislation would restrict the NSA's powers.

But mixed in among the dramatic footage of Alexander receiving threat briefings and junior analysts solving Rubik's cubes in 90 seconds were a number of dubious claims: from the extent of surveillance to collecting on Google and Yahoo data centers to an online ''kill-switch'' for the global financial system developed by China.

Reporter John Miller, a former official with the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and an ex-FBI spokesman, allowed these claims to go unchallenged. The Guardian, not so much. Here's our take:

1. Surveillance is just about what you say and what you writeIf there's a consistent thread to the NSA's public defense of itself, it's that the stuff NSA collects from Americans in bulk doesn't actually impact their privacy. After all, as Keith Alexander told Miller, it's just metadata '' data about your phone calls, not what you said on the phone.

''There's no reason that we would listen to the phone calls of Americans,'' Alexander told Miller. "There's no intelligence value in that. There's no reason that we'd want to read their email. There is no intelligence value in that '... How do you know when the bad guy who's using those same communications that my daughters use, is in the United States trying to do something bad? The least intrusive way of doing that is metadata.''

When Miller said the bulk metadata collection ''sounds like spying on Americans'', Alexander replied: ''Right, and that's wrong. That's absolutely wrong.''

Notice the tension here. It's the metadata '' who you called, who called you, for how long, how frequently you communicate '' that has intelligence value, not, in Alexander's telling, what you actually say on the phone. The NSA is relying for its defense on a public conception of surveillance as the interception of the content of your communications, even while it's saying that what's actually important is your network of connections '' which the agency is very, very interested in collecting.

Senator Ron Wyden, an intelligence committee member who has emerged as a leading opponent of bulk collection, says the metadata provides NSA with a ''human relations database''. For many, surveillance occurs when someone else collects anything on their interactions, movements, or communications, rather than when that other party collects certain kinds of information. And it hardly makes sense to say, as Alexander did, that surveillance on Americans doesn't occur when NSA collects the sort of information that it believes actually has intelligence value.

2. Snowden and the NSA's hiring boomThe NSA, for obvious reasons, isn't fond of whistleblower Edward Snowden. It portrayed him to 60 Minutes as a weirdo. He wore ''a hood that covered the computer screen and covered his head and shoulders'', NSA official Richard Ledgett said. He allegedly stole answers to a test to gain NSA employment and boasted about its hires of young geniuses ready to tackle NSA's persistent intelligence and data challenges.

The obvious question here is why the NSA considers it exculpatory to say an obvious eccentric was able to abscond with an unprecedented amount of data. That sounds uncomfortably like an admission that the NSA is less able to safeguard its vast storehouses of information than it lets on. Let's also pause to savor the irony of a spy agency complaining that one of its employees cheated on an employment test. (Meanwhile, for an alternative take on Snowden, an anonymous NSA colleague told Forbes that Snowden was a ''genius among geniuses'' and said the NSA offered him a job at its elite Tailored Access Operations directorate.)

Then there are all the smart codebreakers, analysts, officials and contractors that make up the NSA's estimated workforce of 35,000 people. An intelligence agency that large, with a workforce that's only grown since 9/11, is going to find it increasingly hard to keep data secure from future Edward Snowdens in the next cubicle. The NSA says it's implementing new measures post-Snowden to limit data access. But even after Snowden, the NSA told the New York Times this weekend it has yet to fully understand the depths of its vulnerabilities.

NSA surveillance. Photograph: Alex Milan Tracy/NurPhoto/Corbis3. The Chinese financial sector kill-switchAmong the more eye-opening claims made by NSA is that it detected what CBS terms the ''BIOS Plot'' '' an attempt by China to launch malicious code in the guise of a firmware update that would have targeted computers apparently linked to the US financial system, rendering them pieces of junk.

''Think about the impact of that across the entire globe,'' NSA cyber-defense official Debora Plunkett told 60 Minutes. ''It could literally take down the US economy.''

There are as many red flags surrounding the BIOS Plot as there are in all of China. First, the vast majority of cyber-intrusions in the US, particularly from China, are espionage operations, in which the culprits exfiltrate data rather than destroy computers. Second, the US economy is too vast, diversified, and chaotic to have a single point of cyber-failure. Third, China's economy is so tied to the US's that Beijing would ultimately damage itself by mass-bricking US computers.

Fourth, while malware can indeed turn a computer into scrap metal, no one has ever developed a cyber-weapon with the destructive capability of Plunkett's scenario.

In 2004, for instance, Berkeley computer-science researcher Nicholas Weaver analyzed vulnerabilities to self-replicating malicious network attacks, including BIOS vulnerabilities, and concluded that a ''worst-case worm'' could cause ''$50bn or more in direct economic damage''. That's a lot, but not enough to ''literally take down'' the US economy.

Matt Blaze, a computer and information sciences professor at the University of Pennsylvania, said that BIOS could be overwritten by malware, bricking an unsuspecting computer. But the vagueness of the description of the ''BIOS Plot'' made him suspicious.

''It would take significant resources '' and an extraordinary bit of co-ordination and luck '' to actually deploy malware that could do this at scale,'' Blaze said.

''And it's not clear how you'd 'thwart' such a scheme if you found out about it if you were NSA, since it's basically a combination of a large number of vulnerabilities spread among a zillion computers rather than one big problem that can be fixed with a single patch.''

The lack of specificity made cybersecurity expert Robert David Graham dubious that the plot NSA claimed to discover matched the one it described on TV. ''All they are doing is repeating what Wikipedia says about BIOS,'' Graham blogged, ''acting as techie talk layered onto the discussion to make it believable, much like how Star Trek episodes talk about warp cores and Jeffries Tubes.''

4. NSA isn't collecting data transiting between Google and Yahoo data centers, except when it isSince it doesn't own or operate any of the world's telecommunications infrastructure, the NSA is significantly dependent on tech and telecommunications companies, such as Google and Yahoo. So when the Washington Post reported, based on Snowden documents, that the NSA intercepts data transiting between Google and Yahoo's foreign data centers, the companies reacted with horror at what they considered a breach of trust '' one that occurred without any court orders.

Alexander pushed back against the Post's story to 60 Minutes. ''That's not correct. We do target terrorist communications. And terrorists use communications from Google, from Yahoo, and from other service providers. So our objective is to collect those communications no matter where they are. But we're not going into a facility or targeting Google as an entity or Yahoo as an entity. But we will collect those communications of terrorists that flow on that network.''

If you take away Alexander's ''that's not correct'' line, the rest of his answer sounds remarkably like a confirmation of what the Post reported. ''I think he confirmed it, feigning denial,'' reporter Barton Gellman tweeted.

Indeed, the Post didn't say the NSA went into a Google data facility or organized an operation going after Yahoo ''as an entity''. Instead, it reported that NSA takes advantage of security vulnerabilities on data from Google and Yahoo customers as the data transits between its centers. The documents published by the Post indicate NSA got 181m records in a single month that way. How many of those were from ''terrorists'' remains unknown.

The disclosure created a major tension between the two tech giants and NSA, since both companies are involved in the NSA's Prism effort at collecting foreign online communications, and all sides have said that court orders compel that collection. Google and Yahoo are unhappy about giving NSA data through the front door while the agency collects more through the back. And NSA lawyers have stated publicly that US companies like Google and Yahoo are ''US persons'', meaning they have fourth amendment protections that may be implicated in the data-center transit collection.

Edward Snowden. Photograph: Sunshinepress/Getty Images5. The NSA wasn't trying to break the law that got brokenGive Miller credit for at least mentioning that ''a judge on the Fisa court'' overseeing US surveillance was alarmed that the NSA ''systematically transgressed'' the agreed-upon limitations on its abilities to query its databases. Alexander's response: ''There was nobody willfully or knowingly trying to break the law.''

Actually, two different Fisa court judges '' John Bates and Reggie Walton, the current presiding judge '' raised major concerns about the way the NSA searches through its vast data troves on multiple occasions. Bates found that ''virtually every'' record generated under a now-defunct NSA program that collected Americans' internet metadata in bulk included information that ''was not authorized for collection''.

In a different case, in 2011, Bates assessed that the discovery of thousands of American emails in NSA content databases designed to collect foreign data meant the ''volume and nature of the information [NSA] has been collecting is fundamentally different from what the court had been led to believe''.

And for most of 2009, Walton prevented the NSA from searching through its domestic phone data hives because it found ''daily'' violations of its restrictions.

Very few people think the NSA is staffed by mustache-twirling villains who view the law as an obstacle to be overcome. The real concern is two-fold.

First, even if NSA doesn't mean to break the law, the way its data dragnets work in practice incline toward overcollection. During a damage-control conference call in August, an anonymous US intelligence official told reporters that the technical problem bothering Bates in 2011 persists today. The NSA even conceded to Walton in 2009 that ''from a technical standpoint, there was no single person who had a complete understanding'' of the technical ''architecture'' of NSA's phone data collection.

Second, there is a fundamental discrepancy in power between the Fisa court and the NSA. The court's judges have lamented that they possess an inability to independently determine how the NSA's programs work, and if they're in compliance with the limits the judges secretly impose. That leaves them at the mercy of NSA, the director of national intelligence, and the Justice Department to self-report violations. When the facts of the collection and the querying are sufficiently divergent from what the court understands '' something the court only learns about when it is told '' that can become a matter of law.

In other words, it can be simultaneously true that NSA doesn't intend to break the law and that NSA's significant technical capabilities break the law anyway. Malice isn't the real issue. Overbroad tools are. But that's not something that NSA had to address during its prime-time spotlight inaugurating its publicity tour.


President Obama's Meeting with the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies | The White House

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 18, 2013

Today, President Obama met with his Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies -- Richard Clarke, Michael Morell, Geoffrey Stone, Cass Sunstein and Peter Swire -- to discuss the report they submitted to the President on December 13.

This meeting offered President Obama an opportunity to hear directly from the group's members and discuss the thinking behind the 46 recommendations in their report. The President noted that the group's report represented a consensus view, particularly significant given the broad scope of the members' expertise in counterterrorism, intelligence, oversight, privacy and civil liberties. The President again stated his expectation that, in light of new technologies, the United States use its intelligence collection capabilities in a way that optimally protects our national security while supporting our foreign policy, respecting privacy and civil liberties, maintaining the public trust, and reducing the risk of unauthorized disclosure. The President expressed his personal appreciation to the group members for the extraordinary work that went into producing this comprehensive and high quality report, and outlined for the group how he intends to utilize their work.

Over the next several weeks, as we bring to a close the Administration's overall review of signals intelligence, the President will work with his national security team to study the Review Group's report, and to determine which recommendations we should implement. The President will also continue consulting with Congress as reform proposals are considered in each chamber.

You can find the Review Group's report HERE. While the Administration's internal review is ongoing, including our review of the report itself, we will not be in a position to comment on the proposals made by the Review Group. In January, the President looks forward to speaking to the American people, as well as to the international community, to outline the outcomes of our work, including our plans to address the Review Group's recommendations.

Geoffrey R. Stone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Geoffrey R. Stone (born 1946) is an American law professor. He is currently the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School.

Biography[edit]Dean of the Chicago Law School[edit]A member of the law faculty since 1973, Mr. Stone served as dean of the Law School (1987-1994) and Provost of the University of Chicago (1994-2002). After graduating from the University of Chicago Law School, Stone served as a law clerk to Judge J. Skelly Wright of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then to Justice William J. Brennan Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Bibliography[edit]Stone's most famous book, Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime from the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism (2004) received the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award for the Best Book of the Year, the Los Angeles Times Book Prize as the Best Book in History, the American Political Science Association's Kammerer Award for the Best Book of the Year in Political Science, the Goldsmith Award from the Kennedy School of Harvard University for the Best Book of the Year in Public Affairs, and the Scribes Award for the Best Book of the Year in Law.

Stone's two most recent books are Top Secret: When Our Government Keeps Us in the Dark (2007) and War and Liberty: An American Dilemma (2007).

Supreme Court Review[edit]Stone is an Editor of the "Supreme Court Review" and he is co-author of "Constitutional Law," "The First Amendment," "The First Amendment in the Modern State," and "The Bill of Rights in Modern Society." He is currently chief editor of a fifteen-volume series, Inalienable Rights, which will be published by the Oxford University Press between 2006 and 2014. Authors in this series include Richard Posner, Laurence Tribe, Alan Dershowitz, Martha Nussbaum, Mark Tushnet, Jack Rakove, Larry Lessig, and Kathleen Sullivan, among others. Stone is currently working on a new book, Sexing the Constitution.[1]

Stone has written about the religion of Supreme Court Judges, notably as to how they relate to judicial decisions about abortion. He has argued that five sitting Catholic judges effectively prevented the legalization of partial-birth abortion in Gonzales v. Carhart.[2]

Affiliations[edit]Stone is a member of the Board of Directors of the American Constitution Society, the Board of Advisors of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the Chair of the Board of the Chicago Children's Choir. He has served as a Vice President of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and as a member of the Executive Committee of the Association of American Law Schools. He is a frequent author of op-eds in such publications as the Chicago Tribune, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, and the Los Angeles Times, and he writes regularly for

References[edit]^Each of the above titles is confirmed at Faculty Biography at University of Chicago Law School web site^Justice Sotomayor, Justice Scalia and Our Six Catholic JusticesExternal links[edit]PersondataNameStone, GeoffreyAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican legal scholarDate of birth1946Place of birthDate of deathPlace of death

Peter Swire - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Peter Swire (born May 15, 1958) is the Nancy J. and Lawrence P. Huang Professor in the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology and an internationally recognized expert in privacy law. Swire is also a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and the Future of Privacy Forum and a Policy Fellow with the Center for Democracy and Technology. During the Clinton Administration, he became the first person to hold the position of Chief Counselor for Privacy in the Office of Management and Budget. In this role, he coordinated administration policy on privacy and data protection, including interfacing with privacy officials in foreign countries. He may be best known for shaping the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule while serving as the Chief Counselor for Privacy. In November, 2012 he was named as co-chair of the Tracking Protection Working Group of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), to attempt to mediate a global Do Not Track standard.[1][2]

Education[edit]Swire graduated summa cum laude with an A.B. degree from the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton with a concentration in economics in 1980. Swire also earned a membership in the Phi Beta Kappa society. After earning his undergraduate degree, Swire studied at the Universit(C) Libre de Bruxelles on a Rotary InternationalAmbassadorial Scholarship. In 1985, Swire graduated from Yale Law School where he was the Senior Editor of the Yale Law Journal. Upon graduation, Swire clerked for the Honorable Ralph K. Winter, Jr. at the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit from 1985 to 1986.

Swire started his professional career as an associate for Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy in Washington, D.C. In 1990, he began his academic career as an Associate Professor at the University of Virginia School of Law. Swire began teaching at Ohio State University in 1996, but left the university in April 1999 to become the first Chief Counselor for Privacy in the Office of Budget and Management during the Clinton Administration.

As the Chief Counselor for Privacy in the Clinton administration, Swire became known as a behind-the-scenes go-to guy.[3] Swire shepherded the creation of the HIPAA Privacy Rule by working with the Department of Health and Human Services to create a proposed privacy rule. The proposed privacy rule was opened up for public comment and generated over 52,000 comments. The final text of the rule was announced by President Bill Clinton and the Secretary of Health and Human Services, Donna Shalala on December 20, 2000. During his time in the Clinton Administration, Swire also chaired a 15-agency White House Working Group on updating wiretap law for the Internet age.[4]

In early 2001, Swire resumed his position at Ohio State, and became Director in 2002 of the Washington D.C. Summer Program for the Moritz College of Law. In 2005, Swire was named the C. William O'Neil Professor in Law and Judicial Administration at the Moritz College of Law of Ohio State University . Swire has researched many elements of technology law, including privacy, data brokering,[5][6] electronic surveillance,[7] and computer security. He is a founding faculty editor of I/S: A Journal of Law and Policy for the Information Society and with Jonathan Zittrain is the editor of Cyberspace Law Abstracts of the Social Science Research Network.

During the Obama-Biden Transition, Swire worked on teams for the Federal Trade Commission and Federal Communications Commission, and served as Counsel to the New Media Team. In 2009 and 2010, Swire took leave from law teaching to enter the Obama Administration, in the National Economic Council. He was Special Assistant to President Obama for Economic Policy, working primarily on housing and technology issues.

In Fall 2013, Swire accepted the Nancy J. and Lawrence P. Huang Professor in the Scheller College of Business at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Swire's responsibilities include teaching, research, and service as a part of the Law and Ethics program.

See also[edit]References[edit]^[1]"Mediator Joins Contentious Effort to Add a 'Do Not Track' Option to Web Browsing", New York Times, 28 November 2012^[2] W3C Tracking Protection Working Group (TPWG)^[3] Archive of USA Today article, June 7, 2000.^[4] Senate Judiciary Committee Testimony, Subcommittee on the Constitution, "Responding to the Inspector Generals findings of improper use of National Security Letters by the FBI," Peter P. Swire, April 11, 2007^[5] PBS FRONTLINE Interview with Peter Swire, June 1, 2004.^Mohammed, Arshad (27 January 2006). "Record Fine for Data Breach". Washington Post (Washington, DC). Retrieved 1 December 2008. ^"Frontline: Spying on the homefront: Interviews: Peter Swire". PBS. May 15, 2007. p. 1. Retrieved 2008-12-08. External links[edit]PersondataNameSwire, PeterAlternative namesShort descriptionAmerican academicDate of birthMay 15, 1958Place of birthDate of deathPlace of death

Executive Order 13587 -- Structural Reforms to Improve the Security of Classified Networks and the Responsible Sharing and Safeguarding of Classified Information | The White House

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

October 07, 2011



By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America and in order to ensure the responsible sharing and safeguarding of classified national security information (classified information) on computer networks, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. Our Nation's security requires classified information to be shared immediately with authorized users around the world but also requires sophisticated and vigilant means to ensure it is shared securely. Computer networks have individual and common vulnerabilities that require coordinated decisions on risk management.

This order directs structural reforms to ensure responsible sharing and safeguarding of classified information on computer networks that shall be consistent with appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties. Agencies bear the primary responsibility for meeting these twin goals. These structural reforms will ensure coordinated interagency development and reliable implementation of policies and minimum standards regarding information security, personnel security, and systems security; address both internal and external security threats and vulnerabilities; and provide policies and minimum standards for sharing classified information both within and outside the Federal Government. These policies and minimum standards will address all agencies that operate or access classified computer networks, all users of classified computer networks (including contractors and others who operate or access classified computer networks controlled by the Federal Government), and all classified information on those networks.

Sec. 2. General Responsibilities of Agencies.

Sec. 2.1. The heads of agencies that operate or access classified computer networks shall have responsibility for appropriately sharing and safeguarding classified information on computer networks. As part of this responsibility, they shall:

(a) designate a senior official to be charged with overseeing classified information sharing and safeguarding efforts for the agency;

(b) implement an insider threat detection and prevention program consistent with guidance and standards developed by the Insider Threat Task Force established in section 6 of this order;

(c) perform self-assessments of compliance with policies and standards issued pursuant to sections 3.3, 5.2, and 6.3 of this order, as well as other applicable policies and standards, the results of which shall be reported annually to the Senior Information Sharing and Safeguarding Steering Committee established in section 3 of this order;

(d) provide information and access, as warranted and consistent with law and section 7(d) of this order, to enable independent assessments by the Executive Agent for Safeguarding Classified Information on Computer Networks and the Insider Threat Task Force of compliance with relevant established policies and standards; and

(e) detail or assign staff as appropriate and necessary to the Classified Information Sharing and Safeguarding Office and the Insider Threat Task Force on an ongoing basis.

Sec. 3. Senior Information Sharing and Safeguarding Steering Committee.

Sec. 3.1. There is established a Senior Information Sharing and Safeguarding Steering Committee (Steering Committee) to exercise overall responsibility and ensure senior-level accountability for the coordinated interagency development and implementation of policies and standards regarding the sharing and safeguarding of classified information on computer networks.

Sec. 3.2. The Steering Committee shall be co-chaired by senior representatives of the Office of Management and Budget and the National Security Staff. Members of the committee shall be officers of the United States as designated by the heads of the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Information Security Oversight Office within the National Archives and Records Administration (ISOO), as well as such additional agencies as the co-chairs of the Steering Committee may designate.

Sec. 3.3. The responsibilities of the Steering Committee shall include:

(a) establishing Government-wide classified information sharing and safeguarding goals and annually reviewing executive branch successes and shortcomings in achieving those goals;

(b) preparing within 90 days of the date of this order and at least annually thereafter, a report for the President assessing the executive branch's successes and shortcomings in sharing and safeguarding classified information on computer networks and discussing potential future vulnerabilities;

(c) developing program and budget recommendations to achieve Government-wide classified information sharing and safeguarding goals;

(d) coordinating the interagency development and implementation of priorities, policies, and standards for sharing and safeguarding classified information on computer networks;

(e) recommending overarching policies, when appropriate, for promulgation by the Office of Management and Budget or the ISOO;

(f) coordinating efforts by agencies, the Executive Agent, and the Task Force to assess compliance with established policies and standards and recommending corrective actions needed to ensure compliance;

(g) providing overall mission guidance for the Program Manager-Information Sharing Environment (PM-ISE) with respect to the functions to be performed by the Classified Information Sharing and Safeguarding Office established in section 4 of this order; and

(h) referring policy and compliance issues that cannot be resolved by the Steering Committee to the Deputies Committee of the National Security Council in accordance with Presidential Policy Directive/PPD-1 of February 13, 2009 (Organization of the National Security Council System).

Sec. 4. Classified Information Sharing and Safeguarding Office.

Sec. 4.1. There shall be established a Classified Information Sharing and Safeguarding Office (CISSO) within and subordinate to the office of the PM-ISE to provide expert, fulltime, sustained focus on responsible sharing and safeguarding of classified information on computer networks. Staff of the CISSO shall include detailees, as needed and appropriate, from agencies represented on the Steering Committee.

Sec. 4.2. The responsibilities of CISSO shall include:

(a) providing staff support for the Steering Committee;

(b) advising the Executive Agent for Safeguarding Classified Information on Computer Networks and the Insider Threat Task Force on the development of an effective program to monitor compliance with established policies and standards needed to achieve classified information sharing and safeguarding goals; and

(c) consulting with the Departments of State, Defense, and Homeland Security, the ISOO, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and others, as appropriate, to ensure consistency with policies and standards under Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009, Executive Order 12829 of January 6, 1993, as amended, Executive Order 13549 of August 18, 2010, and Executive Order 13556 of November 4, 2010.

Sec. 5. Executive Agent for Safeguarding Classified Information on Computer Networks.

Sec. 5.1. The Secretary of Defense and the Director, National Security Agency, shall jointly act as the Executive Agent for Safeguarding Classified Information on Computer Networks (the "Executive Agent"), exercising the existing authorities of the Executive Agent and National Manager for national security systems, respectively, under National Security Directive/NSD-42 of July 5, 1990, as supplemented by and subject to this order.

Sec. 5.2. The Executive Agent's responsibilities, in addition to those specified by NSD-42, shall include the following:

(a) developing effective technical safeguarding policies and standards in coordination with the Committee on National Security Systems (CNSS), as re-designated by Executive Orders 13286 of February 28, 2003, and 13231 of October 16, 2001, that address the safeguarding of classified information within national security systems, as well as the safeguarding of national security systems themselves;

(b) referring to the Steering Committee for resolution any unresolved issues delaying the Executive Agent's timely development and issuance of technical policies and standards;

(c) reporting at least annually to the Steering Committee on the work of CNSS, including recommendations for any changes needed to improve the timeliness and effectiveness of that work; and

(d) conducting independent assessments of agency compliance with established safeguarding policies and standards, and reporting the results of such assessments to the Steering Committee.

Sec. 6. Insider Threat Task Force.

Sec. 6.1. There is established an interagency Insider Threat Task Force that shall develop a Government-wide program (insider threat program) for deterring, detecting, and mitigating insider threats, including the safeguarding of classified information from exploitation, compromise, or other unauthorized disclosure, taking into account risk levels, as well as the distinct needs, missions, and systems of individual agencies. This program shall include development of policies, objectives, and priorities for establishing and integrating security, counterintelligence, user audits and monitoring, and other safeguarding capabilities and practices within agencies.

Sec. 6.2. The Task Force shall be co-chaired by the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence, or their designees. Membership on the Task Force shall be composed of officers of the United States from, and designated by the heads of, the Departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, and Homeland Security, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the ISOO, as well as such additional agencies as the co-chairs of the Task Force may designate. It shall be staffed by personnel from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive (ONCIX), and other agencies, as determined by the co-chairs for their respective agencies and to the extent permitted by law. Such personnel must be officers or full-time or permanent part-time employees of the United States. To the extent permitted by law, ONCIX shall provide an appropriate work site and administrative support for the Task Force.

Sec. 6.3. The Task Force's responsibilities shall include the following:

(a) developing, in coordination with the Executive Agent, a Government-wide policy for the deterrence, detection, and mitigation of insider threats, which shall be submitted to the Steering Committee for appropriate review;

(b) in coordination with appropriate agencies, developing minimum standards and guidance for implementation of the insider threat program's Government-wide policy and, within 1 year of the date of this order, issuing those minimum standards and guidance, which shall be binding on the executive branch;

(c) if sufficient appropriations or authorizations are obtained, continuing in coordination with appropriate agencies after 1 year from the date of this order to add to or modify those minimum standards and guidance, as appropriate;

(d) if sufficient appropriations or authorizations are not obtained, recommending for promulgation by the Office of Management and Budget or the ISOO any additional or modified minimum standards and guidance developed more than 1 year after the date of this order;

(e) referring to the Steering Committee for resolution any unresolved issues delaying the timely development and issuance of minimum standards;

(f) conducting, in accordance with procedures to be developed by the Task Force, independent assessments of the adequacy of agency programs to implement established policies and minimum standards, and reporting the results of such assessments to the Steering Committee;

(g) providing assistance to agencies, as requested, including through the dissemination of best practices; and

(h) providing analysis of new and continuing insider threat challenges facing the United States Government.

Sec. 7. General Provisions. (a) For the purposes of this order, the word "agencies" shall have the meaning set forth in section 6.1(b) of Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009.

(b) Nothing in this order shall be construed to change the requirements of Executive Orders 12333 of December 4, 1981, 12829 of January 6, 1993, 12968 of August 2, 1995, 13388 of October 25, 2005, 13467 of June 30, 2008, 13526 of December 29, 2009, 13549 of August 18, 2010, and their successor orders and directives.

(c) Nothing in this order shall be construed to supersede or change the authorities of the Secretary of Energy or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission under the Atomic Energy Act of 1954, as amended; the Secretary of Defense under Executive Order 12829, as amended; the Secretary of Homeland Security under Executive Order 13549; the Secretary of State under title 22, United States Code, and the Omnibus Diplomatic Security and Antiterrorism Act of 1986; the Director of ISOO under Executive Orders 13526 and 12829, as amended; the PM-ISE under Executive Order 13388 or the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as amended; the Director, Central Intelligence Agency under NSD-42 and Executive Order 13286, as amended; the National Counterintelligence Executive, under the Counterintelligence Enhancement Act of 2002; or the Director of National Intelligence under the National Security Act of 1947, as amended, the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act of 2004, as amended, NSD-42, and Executive Orders 12333, as amended, 12968, as amended, 13286, as amended, 13467, and 13526.

(d) Nothing in this order shall authorize the Steering Committee, CISSO, CNSS, or the Task Force to examine the facilities or systems of other agencies, without advance consultation with the head of such agency, nor to collect information for any purpose not provided herein.

(e) The entities created and the activities directed by this order shall not seek to deter, detect, or mitigate disclosures of information by Government employees or contractors that are lawful under and protected by the Intelligence Community Whistleblower Protection Act of 1998, Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989, Inspector General Act of 1978, or similar statutes, regulations, or policies.

(f) With respect to the Intelligence Community, the Director of National Intelligence, after consultation with the heads of affected agencies, may issue such policy directives and guidance as the Director of National Intelligence deems necessary to implement this order.

(g) Nothing in this order shall be construed to impair or otherwise affect:

(1) the authority granted by law to an agency, or the head thereof; or

(2) the functions of the Director of the Office of Management and Budget relating to budgetary, administrative, or legislative proposals

(h) This order shall be implemented consistent with applicable law and appropriate protections for privacy and civil liberties, and subject to the availability of appropriations.

(i) This order is not intended to, and does not, create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.


THE WHITE HOUSE, October 7, 2011.

Information Assurance - NSA/CSS

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NSA Mobility ProgramThe NSA Mobility Program was established in response to the substantial and justified urgency for delivering Mobility solutions that securely provide the rich user experience of commercial technology. As clients and partners accelerate towards agile and mobile communications, NSA's Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) has the responsibility for providing mobile capabilities that can evolve at the pace of today's commercial market, and balance security requirements with user experience.

Click here to read the latest Mobility Capability Package v2.2

IAD's Latest Security Guide Helps Customers Protect Home NetworksThe Information Assurance Directorate (IAD) at NSA recently released a new technical guide entitled Best Practices for Securing a Home Network. This guidance could not be more timely in light of the increasing threats to U.S. public and private networks, alike. Over the past ten years, IAD has provided many guidance documents to customers outlining practical tips for improving the security of all kinds of applications, operating systems, routers, databases, and more. Recently, Best Practices was produced in video format. Take a moment to view the guide, or watch the video.


Church Committee - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 04:19

The Church Committee was the United States Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities, a U.S. Senate committee chaired by Senator Frank Church (D-ID) in 1975. A precursor to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, the committee investigated intelligence gathering for illegality by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), National Security Agency (NSA) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after certain activities had been revealed by the Watergate affair.

Background[edit]By the early years of the 1970s, the unpopularity of the Vietnam War and the unfolding Watergate scandal brought the era of minimal oversight to an abrupt halt.[according to whom?] The United States Congress was determined to rein in the Nixon administration and to ascertain the extent to which the nation's intelligence agencies had been involved in questionable, if not outright illegal, activities.

A series of troubling revelations started to appear in the press concerning intelligence activities. First came the revelations of Christopher Pyle in January 1970 of the U.S. Army's spying on the civilian population[1][2] and Sam Ervin's Senate investigations produced more revelations.[3] Then on December 22, 1974, The New York Times published a lengthy article by Seymour Hersh detailing operations engaged in by the CIA over the years that had been dubbed the "family jewels". Covert action programs involving assassination attempts against foreign leaders and covert attempts to subvert foreign governments were reported for the first time. In addition, the article discussed efforts by intelligence agencies to collect information on the political activities of US citizens.[4]

These revelations convinced many Senators and Representatives that the Congress itself had been too lax, trusting, and naive in carrying out its oversight responsibilities.[citation needed]

Overview[edit]In 1975 and 1976, the Church Committee published fourteen reports on the formation of U.S. intelligence agencies, their operations, and the alleged abuses of law and of power that they had committed, together with recommendations for reform, some of which were put in place.

Among the matters investigated were attempts to assassinate foreign leaders, including Patrice Lumumba of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rafael Trujillo of the Dominican Republic, the Diem brothers of Vietnam, Gen. Ren(C) Schneider of Chile and Director of Central IntelligenceAllen Welsh Dulles's plan, approved by the President Dwight D. Eisenhower, to use the Mafia to kill Fidel Castro of Cuba.

Under recommendations and pressure by this committee, President Gerald Ford issued Executive Order 11905 (ultimately replaced in 1981 by President Reagan's Executive Order 12333) to ban U.S. sanctioned assassinations of foreign leaders.

Together, the Church Committee's reports have been said to constitute the most extensive review of intelligence activities ever made available to the public. Much of the contents were classified, but more than 50,000 pages have since been declassified under the President John F. Kennedy Assassination Records Collection Act of 1992.

Committee members[edit]Majority (Democratic)Minority (Republican)Opening mail[edit]The Church Committee learned that beginning in the 1950s, the CIA and Federal Bureau of Investigation intercepted, opened and photographed more than 215,000 pieces of mail by the time the program called "HTLINGUAL" was shut down in 1973. This program was all done under the "mail covers" program. A mail cover is when the government records without a warrant or notification all information on the outside of an envelope or package, including the name of the sender and the recipient. The Church report found that the CIA was zealous about keeping the United States Postal Service from learning that mail was being opened by government agents. CIA agents moved mail to a private room to open the mail or in some cases opened envelopes at night after stuffing them in briefcases or coat pockets to deceive postal officials.[5]

The Ford administration and the Church Committee[edit]On May 9, 1975, the Church Committee decided to call acting CIA director William Colby. That same day Ford's top advisers (Henry Kissinger, Donald Rumsfeld, Philip W. Buchen, and John Marsh) drafted a recommendation that Colby be authorized to brief only rather than testify, and that he would be told to discuss only the general subject, with details of specific covert actions to be avoided except for realistic hypotheticals. But the Church Committee had full authority to call a hearing and require Colby's testimony. Ford and his top advisers met with Colby to prepare him for the hearing.[6] Colby testified, "These last two months have placed American intelligence in danger. The almost hysterical excitement surrounding any news story mentioning CIA or referring even to a perfectly legitimate activity of CIA has raised a question whether secret intelligence operations can be conducted by the United States."[7]

The Ford administration, particularly Rumsfeld, was concerned about the effort by members of the Church Committee in the Senate and the Pike Committee in the House to curtail the power of U.S. intelligence agencies. Frontline quoted U.S. diplomat and Nixon assistant Robert Ellsworth, who stated: "They were very specific about their effort to destroy American intelligence [capabilities]. It was Senator Church who said our intelligence agencies were 'rogue elephants.' They were supposedly out there assassinating people and playing dirty tricks and so forth... Well, that just wasn't true." Rumsfeld and Ellsworth prevented the committees from dismantling the CIA and other intelligence organizations.[8]

Results of the investigation[edit]On August 17, 1975 Senator Frank Church stated on NBC's Meet the Press without mentioning the name of the NSA about this agency:

''In the need to develop a capacity to know what potential enemies are doing, the United States government has perfected a technological capability that enables us to monitor the messages that go through the air. Now, that is necessary and important to the United States as we look abroad at enemies or potential enemies. We must know, at the same time, that capability at any time could be turned around on the American people, and no American would have any privacy left such is the capability to monitor everything'--telephone conversations, telegrams, it doesn't matter. There would be no place to hide.If this government ever became a tyrant, if a dictator ever took charge in this country, the technological capacity that the intelligence community has given the government could enable it to impose total tyranny, and there would be no way to fight back because the most careful effort to combine together in resistance to the government, no matter how privately it was done, is within the reach of the government to know. Such is the capability of this technology.I don't want to see this country ever go across the bridge. I know the capacity that is there to make tyranny total in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law and under proper supervision so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.[9][10][11]''Aftermath[edit]Early on, critics in the entertainment and news media such as Bing Crosby and Paul Harvey accused the committee of treasonous activity. The 1975 assassination of Richard Welch, a CIA station chief in Greece, intensified the public backlash against its mission.[12] The Committee's work has more recently been criticized after the September 11 attacks, for leading to legislation reducing the ability of the CIA to gather human intelligence.[13][14][15][16] In response to such criticism, the chief counsel of the committee, Frederick A.O. Schwarz Jr., retorted with a book co-authored by Aziz Z. Huq, denouncing the Bush administration's use of 9/11 to make "monarchist claims" that are "unprecedented on this side of the North Atlantic".[17]

In September 2006, the University of Kentucky hosted a forum called "Who's Watching the Spies? Intelligence Activities and the Rights of Americans," bringing together two Democratic committee members, former Vice President of the United StatesWalter Mondale and former U.S. SenatorWalter "Dee" Huddleston of Kentucky, and Schwarz to discuss the committee's work, its historical impact, and how it pertains to today's society.[18]

See also[edit]References[edit]^ABC News^Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission^Military surveillance. Hearings .., Ninety-third Congress, second session, on S. 2318., April 9 and 10, 1974 : United States. Congress. Senate. Committee on the Judiciary. Sub...^Hersh, Seymour (1974-12-22). "Huge C.I.A. operation reported in U.S. against antiwar forces, other dissidents in Nixon years". New York Times. p. 1. ^Benjamin, Mark (January 5 2007). The government is reading your mail. ^Prados, John (2006). Lost Crusader: The Secret Wars of CIA Director William Colby. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-0-19-512847-5. p. 313^Carl Colby (director) (September 2011). The Man Nobody Knew: In Search of My Father, CIA Spymaster William Colby (Motion picture). New York City: Act 4 Entertainment. Retrieved 2011. ^"Frontline". Retrieved 2006-07-30. ^Popkey, Dan (5 August 2013). "Idaho's Frank Church has posthumous TV debate with Rick Santorum". Idaho Statesman. Retrieved 21 September 2013. ^"Sen. Frank Church Warns of How Easily Government Can Abuse Expanding Surveillance Capabilities". Grabien - The Multimedia Marketplace. Grabien - The Multimedia Marketplace. 17 August 1975. Retrieved 21 September 2013. ^Bamford, James (13 September 2011). "Post-September 11, NSA 'enemies' include us". Politico. Retrieved 21 September 2013. ^Church Committee Created^Knott, Stephen F (November 4 2001). "Congressional Oversight and the Crippling of the CIA". History News Network. ^Mooney, Chris (November 5 2001). "The American Prospect". Back to Church. Archived from the original on 2006-12-05. ^Burbach, Roger (October 2003). "State Terrorism and September 11, 1973 & 2001". ZMag16 (10). Archived from the original on 01-02-2008. ^"Debate: Bush's handling of terror clues". CNN. May 19 2002. ^Schwarz, Frederick A. O.; Huq, Aziz Z. (2007). Unchecked and Unbalanced: Presidential Power in a Time of Terror. New York: New Press. ISBN 978-1-59558-117-4. ^"UK Hosts Historical Reunion of Members of Church Committee". University of Kentucky News. September 14 2006. Further reading[edit]Johnson, Loch K. (1988). A Season Of Inquiry, Congress And Intelligence. Chicago: Dorsey Press. ISBN 978-0-256-06320-2. Smist, Jr., Frank J. (1990). Congress Oversees the United States Intelligence Community, 1947''1989. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press. ISBN 978-0-87049-651-6. External links[edit]


Folha de S.Paulo - Internacional - En - World - Espionage Whistleblower Edward Snowden to Seek Asylum in Brazil - 17/12/2013

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 04:19

12/17/2013 - 08h29


US espionage whistleblower Edward Snowden has promised to cooperate with investigations into the actions of the National Security Agency (NSA) in Brazil. In order to do so, he wants political asylum from Dilma Rousseff's government in return.

Read: An Open Letter to the People of Brazil

The promise of help is in an "open letter to the people of Brazil" obtained by Folha that will be sent to authorities and will be part of an online campaign, hosted on the site of NGO Avaaz, which specializes in petitions.

The idea is to talk Dilma into providing shelter for Snowden, a former intelligence agent of the American government.

"Many Brazilian senators have asked my help with their investigations into suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens. I expressed my willingness to assist, where it is appropriate and legal, but unfortunately the US government has been working very hard to limit my ability to do so," said the letter.

see the pictures

Snowden was referring to an open PCI in the Senate to investigate the activities of the NSA in Brazil, which included monitoring the phone calls and emails of both Dilma and Petrobras.

According to him, it was not possible to collaborate because of his precarious legal situation and with only temporary asylum granted by Russia until mid-2014.

"Until a country grants permanent asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak," Snowden said in the letter.

The former NSA agent, who has been in Russia since June, claimed his movements have been very limited there and said he was left without conditions to truly debate the scandal, according to Glenn Greenwald, the journalist to whom he leaked the data.

In Brazil, with permanent asylum status, he would have more liberty to do so.

Snowden takes care, in the letter, not to directly address Dilma. The reason is to not offend the Russian government, who is currently hosting him. But, also according to Greenwald, he wants to come to Brazil.

In June, Snowden revealed to the journalist, who worked at British newspaper "The Guardian" at the time, documents showing the ability of the US government to spy on citizens and businesses in several countries.

"Today, if you carry a cell phone in S£o Paulo, the NSA can track where you are, and does. [...] When a person in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when it happened and what you did on that site. If a mother in Porto Alegre calls her son to wish him luck on an exam, the NSA can save the recording of the call for five years or longer," he said in the letter.

According to Snowden, unlimited surveillance "threatens to become the biggest human rights challenge of our times."

"The NSA and other allied intelligence agencies tell us that, for the sake of our own 'safety' - in the name of Dilma's 'safety' in the name of Petrobras's 'safety' - they revoked our right to privacy and invaded our lives. And they did not ask permission of the people from any country, not even their own," he said in another passage of the letter.


Greenwald, who lives in Rio, and his boyfriend, Brazilian David Miranda, intend to lead a campaign for Rousseff to grant Snowden asylum.

After arriving in Russia, Snowden sent asylum requests to several countries, including Brazil. He got not response.

Who responded favorably were Bolivia, Venezuela and Nicaragua, but Snowden prefers Brazil.

"Brazil is the ideal place because it is a politically strong country where the revelations had a real impact," said Miranda. The legal argument to convince Brazilian authorities is that Snowden's human rights are being threatened.

"If the Brazilian government thanks him for the revelations, it is only logical it protects him," said Greenwald.

Brazil, Snowden recalled in the letter, coauthored, along with Germany, the resolution text approved by a commission of the UN General Assembly, which associated the impact of the espionage with violations of human rights.

"Our rights cannot be limited by a secret organization, and American officials should never decide on the freedoms of Brazilian citizens," he said.

Snowden noted that the decision to reveal to the world the espionage scheme cost him his family, his home and put his life at risk.

"The price of my speech was my passport, but I would pay again. I prefer to be stateless rather than lose my voice," he said.

Translated by JILL LANGLOIS

Read the article in the original language

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Folha de S.Paulo - Internacional - En - World - An Open Letter to the People of Brazil - 16/12/2013

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 04:15

12/16/2013 - 16h22

Atualizado em 17/12/2013 s 08h11.

Six months ago, I stepped out from the shadows of the United States Government's National Security Agency to stand in front of a journalist's camera.

Espionage Whistleblower Edward Snowden to Seek Asylum in Brazil

I shared with the world evidence proving some governments are building a world-wide surveillance system to secretly track how we live, who we talk to, and what we say.

I went in front of that camera with open eyes, knowing that the decision would cost me family and my home, and would risk my life. I was motivated by a belief that the citizens of the world deserve to understand the system in which they live.

My greatest fear was that no one would listen to my warning. Never have I been so glad to have been so wrong. The reaction in certain countries has been particularly inspiring to me, and Brazil is certainly one of those.

At the NSA, I witnessed with growing alarm the surveillance of whole populations without any suspicion of wrongdoing, and it threatens to become the greatest human rights challenge of our time.

The NSA and other spying agencies tell us that for our own "safety" --for Dilma's "safety," for Petrobras' "safety"-- they have revoked our right to privacy and broken into our lives. And they did it without asking the public in any country, even their own.

Today, if you carry a cell phone in Sao Paolo, the NSA can and does keep track of your location: they do this 5 billion times a day to people around the world.

When someone in Florianopolis visits a website, the NSA keeps a record of when it happened and what you did there. If a mother in Porto Alegre calls her son to wish him luck on his university exam, NSA can keep that call log for five years or more.

They even keep track of who is having an affair or looking at pornography, in case they need to damage their target's reputation.

American Senators tell us that Brazil should not worry, because this is not "surveillance," it's "data collection." They say it is done to keep you safe. They're wrong.

There is a huge difference between legal programs, legitimate spying, legitimate law enforcement --where individuals are targeted based on a reasonable, individualized suspicion - and these programs of dragnet mass surveillance that put entire populations under an all-seeing eye and save copies forever.

These programs were never about terrorism: they're about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They're about power.

Many Brazilian senators agree, and have asked for my assistance with their investigations of suspected crimes against Brazilian citizens.

I have expressed my willingness to assist wherever appropriate and lawful, but unfortunately the United States government has worked very hard to limit my ability to do so --going so far as to force down the Presidential Plane of Evo Morales to prevent me from traveling to Latin America!

Until a country grants permanent political asylum, the US government will continue to interfere with my ability to speak.

Six months ago, I revealed that the NSA wanted to listen to the whole world. Now, the whole world is listening back, and speaking out, too. And the NSA doesn't like what it's hearing.

The culture of indiscriminate worldwide surveillance, exposed to public debates and real investigations on every continent, is collapsing.

Only three weeks ago, Brazil led the United Nations Human Rights Committee to recognize for the first time in history that privacy does not stop where the digital network starts, and that the mass surveillance of innocents is a violation of human rights.

The tide has turned, and we can finally see a future where we can enjoy security without sacrificing our privacy. Our rights cannot be limited by a secret organization, and American officials should never decide the freedoms of Brazilian citizens.

Even the defenders of mass surveillance, those who may not be persuaded that our surveillance technologies have dangerously outpaced democratic controls, now agree that in democracies, surveillance of the public must be debated by the public.

My act of conscience began with a statement: "I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded.

That's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under."

Days later, I was told my government had made me stateless and wanted to imprison me. The price for my speech was my passport, but I would pay it again: I will not be the one to ignore criminality for the sake of political comfort. I would rather be without a state than without a voice.

If Brazil hears only one thing from me, let it be this: when all of us band together against injustices and in defense of privacy and basic human rights, we can defend ourselves from even the most powerful systems.

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Obama to Meet With Tech Giants Over Surveillance, Obamacare - Washington Wire - WSJ

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 03:54

WASHINGTON'--President Barack Obama, facing growing pressure from Silicon Valley, will meet Tuesday with executives from Google Inc., Facebook Inc. and other technology and telecommunications giants to discuss their concerns about America's surveillance operations.

According to the White House, Mr. Obama will also meet with the executives to talk about progress with the troubled online federal marketplace,, and ways the government and technology industry can partner to boost economic growth.

The meeting comes a week after a group of technology companies jointly penned a letter to lash out at the Obama administration for collecting information on Americans. The companies said they wanted to see greater oversight of the government's surveillance operations and limits on the government's authority to compel companies to disclose data about their customers.

The letter followed a wave of disclosures about U.S. spying operations by Edward Snowden, a former government contractor now in Russia. The president will also talk about the national security concerns prompted by the leaks and their effect on the economy.

The administration has been reviewing U.S. spying operations and considering steps to protect the privacy and civil liberties of Americans. Last week, a presidential task force submitted to the White House more than 40 recommendations to overhaul the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama's chief spokesman, Jay Carney, said the White House was reviewing the report and would make public the full report in January.

All told, 15 executives are expected at the meeting including Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook, Netflix Inc. Chief Executive Reed Hastings and Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.

Tim Cook, CEO, AppleDick Costolo, CEO, TwitterChad Dickerson, CEO, EtsyReed Hastings, Co-Founder & CEO, NetflixDrew Houston, Founder & CEO, DropboxMarissa Mayer, President and CEO, Yahoo!Burke Norton, Chief Legal Officer, SalesforceMark Pincus, Founder, Chief Product Officer & Chairman, ZyngaShervin Pishevar, Co-Founder & Co-CEO, Sherpa GlobalBrian Roberts, Chairman & CEO, ComcastErika Rottenberg, Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary, LinkedInSheryl Sandberg, COO, FacebookEric Schmidt, Executive Chairman, GoogleBrad Smith, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, MicrosoftRandall Stephenson, Chairman & CEO, AT&T

Obama Meeting with Silicon Valley Elites to Figure His Shit Out

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Source: Valleywag

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 03:12


After months of chanting We could have done sooo-oo much better,TIME reports America's tech sector will have a chance to school President Obama on and NSA surveillance. But he probably should have reconsidered some of these choices.

Tim Cook, definitely. Sheryl Sandberg'--one of the sharpest tech leaders out there. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings'--makes sense, Netflix is a hugely complicated internet machine that still runs smoothly.

But Marissa Mayer, who can't even keep Yahoo! Mail from continuously crashing?

Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, whose legacy at this point is running a company based on virtual farms into the ground?

Shervin Pishevar? The guy who thought Shots Of Me was a great idea? Does Jeff Bezos have the flu? There are smarter people to put in the room of the room of all the smartest people.

Report: Zynga Founder Asked Obama To Pardon Edward Snowden

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Source: Valleywag

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 01:55

Yesterday, a bunch of America's leading tech sector executives met with US President Barack Obama. They were meant to be talking about the failure of, but things got really interesting when the conversation moved onto the fate of NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden.

The former CIA employee, who fled overseas to avoid US prosection for his actions, is a hot subject right now in political circles. Some see him as a traitor. Others see him as a hero for transparency and democracy.

You can probably guess which side a lot of the tech executives sit.

According to CNN, during the meeting Zynga founder Mark Pincus asked President Obama directly, to his face, to "pardon" Snowden. The President declined, saying he could not do that.

We've contacted Zynga for confirmation, and will update if we hear back.

Tech source: We weren't at White House for health care chat [CNN, via The Verge]


War on Crazy


Armed School Resource Officer Confronted Arapahoe High School Shooter - Christine Rousselle

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Mon, 16 Dec 2013 14:30

On December 13, 2013, 18-year-old Arapahoe High School student Karl Pierson entered his school armed with a shotgun, a machete, and molotov cocktails intending on killing his former debate coach and possibly others. After firing three shots down a hallway and injuring one of his classmates, Pierson killed himself in a classroom. Today it was revealed why he did this: a "good guy" with a gun had him cornered.

Fox Newsreports:

When an armed school resource officer entered the room, Pierson believed he was cornered and turned his gun on himself, Robinson said. The entire attack lasted approximately 80 seconds and was captured by security cameras.


A janitor informed Pierson's former debate coach to flee the school after he saw Pierson was armed with a gun, likely saving his life.

Investigators have said that they believe Pierson was planning a large-scale attack at the school due to the amount of ammunition he was caring. Claire Davis, the student wounded in the attack, remains in a coma.

Good guys with guns save lives. I shudder to think what would have happened had the resource officer not intervened.


Was Boston bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev schizophrenic? | Mail Online

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:51

Family of Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev told harrowing story about father's torture by gangsters in Kyrgyzstan before coming to AmericaFamily members and friends say story about persecution in their native land was likely a lieSome experts say family should never had been granted asylum in U.S.Boston Globe investigation reveals Tamerlan and Dzhokhar were driven by personal failures and alienation from soceityNeither Tsarnaev brother ever received mental health treatmentBy Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 16:36 EST, 16 December 2013 | UPDATED: 19:08 EST, 16 December 2013




Tamerlan Tsarnaev told friends and family that he had two people living in his head and that he believed he was the victim of mind control, a new report reveals

The claims have led some of the people who knew him - including at least one doctor - to speculate that the Boston bomber was schizophrenic and that his April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon was driven in part by his mental illness.

It was also revealed that the Tsarnaevs claimed they came to America after the father was kidnapped and tortured by Russian mobsters who then cut off their dog's head and left it on their doorstep.

After struggling to find a place in America, the older brother Tamerlan turned to conspiracy theories and radical Islam while the younger brother, Dzhokhar started stealing marijuana - earning $1,000 a week and sometimes carrying a gun to protect his stash.

Alienated: Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev became alienated by the failures after a decade living in America, the Boston Globe reports. It is believed that helped drive them to allegedly commit terrorism

The Boston Globe claims that the Tsarneav brothers appear have been motivated less by Islamist ideology and more by their own personal failings and inner demons - making the bombings more like the mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School and the Aurora, Colorado, movie theater than an al-Qaeda terrorist plot.

Tamerlan, who was 26 when he was killed in a shootout with police, had ambitions of becoming an Olympic boxer and found some success in the ring. But he eventually dropped out of training - just as he dropped out of school time and again.

He became increasingly focused on his Islamic faith and withdrew of society. He stayed home and took care of his daughter and surfed Islamist websites online while his American wife worked as a home care nurse and was responsible for the family income.

He mentioned to several people that he had begun hearing voices.

'He was torn between those two people,' Donald Larking, 67, who attended mosque with Tamerlan for two years, told the Globe.

'He said that several times. And he did not like it.'

The Globe reports that Tamerlan's descent into radical Islam seems to track with him reporting hearing voices and believing that he was under 'mind control.'

Tamerlan, left, had a promising career as a boxer - but eventually gave up the sport

'He believed in majestic mind control, which is a way of breaking down a person and creating an alternative personality with which they must coexist,' Larking said.

'You can give a signal, a phrase or a gesture, and bring out the alternate personality and make them do things. Tamerlan thought someone might have done that to him.'

Tamerlan made comments to his mother about having two people in his head as early as 2008, she admitted to a family friend.

Makhmud 'Max' Mazaev, another family friend who is a urologist, told the Globe that when he heard about Tamerlan's admission, he concluded that he likely suffered from schizophrenia.

Despite Dr Mazaev's advice, Tamerlan's parents never sought mental health treatment for him.

The report gives some insight about what drove the two brothers to allegedly plant a pair of homemade pressure cooker bombs at the finish line of the Boston Marathon this spring.

The blasts killed three and injured more than 260 people. The brothers then allegedly murdered an MIT campus police officer three days later as they engaged police in a running gun battle.

Tamerlan was killed and Dzhokar was badly wounded by arrested after a daylong manhunt that shut down the city of Boston.

The Tsarnaev family moved to Boston from Kyrgastan after claiming that they were being persecuted because they were Chechen Muslims.

Tamerlan and Dzhokar's mother Zubeidat told friends and neighbors that she and her husband Anzor were lawyers in their native land and that Anzor worked as a prosecutor, according to the Globe.

The brothers allegedly plotted the April 15 bomb attack together. Three people died and more than 260 were wounded in the twin Boston Marathon bombings

Zubeidat claimed that when Anzor tried to prosecute a Russian mob boss, the gangster kidnapped Anzor and tortured him for a week.

Before they dropped him, barely alive at a hospital, the mobsters killed the family's German Shepherd and dumped its head on the family doorstep, according to this story.

'Zubeidat went to the hospital and when she saw how horribly beaten he was she said that she realized they had to get out of the country,' a family friend told the Globe.

The Globe posits that none of that story was likely true. Neither Zubeidat nor Anzor had law degrees, the newspaper reports.

It's likely that Anzor had been smuggling cigarettes and fell afoul of the local organized crime syndicate, friends say.

Alternatively - the family saw the glamorous life in America portrayed in Hollywood movies and decided they wanted a piece of it.

Surrender: Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, seen bloody and wounded, was captured after he was found hiding in a boat days after the bombing

Anzor's brother was already in the United States - finding success as a lawyer.

The family submitted an application requesting asylum, claiming that they had been persecuted in their homeland for being Chechen Muslims.

'He made that up '... so that the Americans would give him a visa,' Badrudi Tsokaev, a family friend say of claims that Anzor had been persecuted.

Mark Kramer, a Harvard University researcher who frequently testifies in asylum cases for family from post-Soviet states said he found 'no basis for being granted asylum at all' in the Tsarnaev case.

In America, the family fell apart - despite grand ambitions. Neither of the parents was able to find success.

In August 2011, Anzor and Zubeidat divorced. Anzor returned to Dagestan in Russia. Zubeidat soon moved back there, as well.

Failed family: Zubeidat Tsarnaeva, the mother of the suspected bombers, (right) told neighbors that the boys' father Anzor (left) had been kidnapped and tortured - causing them to flee the country

Dzokhar, meanwhile, became obsessed with drugs. In high school, he had been captain of the wrestling team and a decent student.

He smoked a lot of marijuana in high school, friends said, but once he went away to college, he began selling it.

He flaunted his stash, weighing it out on the desk in his door open. At the University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth, he gained a reputation as having some of the best weed on campus, the Globe reports.

Friends said he often hauled in $1,000 a week in cash. He sometimes carried a handgun to protect the stash, too, friends told the newspaper.

But his fast lifestyle and focus on drugs meant his grades were sinking rapidly. He had a D average and was on the verge of being kicked out of school when he and his brother allegedly planted the bombs in April.

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Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 19:04

Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of CaliforniaSupreme Court of CaliforniaDecided July 1, 1976Full case name:Vladimir Tarasoff, et al., Plaintiffs-Petitioners v. Regents of the University of California, et al., Defendants-Respondents.Citations:17 Cal. 3d 425, 551 P.2d 334, 131 Cal. Rptr. 14Prior history:Appeal from sustained demurrerHoldingPsychotherapists have a duty to protect an individual they reasonably believe to be at risk of injury on the basis of a patient's confidential statements.Court membershipChief Justice

Associate Justices

Case opinionsMajority by: TobrinerJoined by: Wright, Sullivan, RichardsonConcurrence/dissent by: MoskDissent by: ClarkJoined by: McCombTarasoff v. Regents of the University of California, 17 Cal. 3d 425, 551 P.2d 334, 131 Cal. Rptr. 14 (Cal. 1976), was a case in which the Supreme Court of California held that mental health professionals have a duty to protect individuals who are being threatened with bodily harm by a patient. The original 1974 decision mandated warning the threatened individual, but a 1976 rehearing of the case by the California Supreme Court called for a "duty to protect" the intended victim. The professional may discharge the duty in several ways, including notifying police, warning the intended victim, and/or taking other reasonable steps to protect the threatened individual.

Prosenjit Poddar was a student from Bengal, India.[1] He entered the University of California, Berkeley as a graduate student in September 1967 and resided at International House. In the fall of 1968, he attended folk dancing classes at the International House, and it was there he met Tatiana Tarasoff. They saw each other weekly throughout the fall, and on New Year's Eve she kissed Poddar. He interpreted the act to be a recognition of the existence of a serious relationship. This view was not shared by Tarasoff who, upon learning of his feelings, told him that she was involved with other men and otherwise indicated that she was not interested in entering into an intimate relationship with him. This gave rise to feelings of resentment in Poddar. He began to stalk her and apparently developed a wish for revenge.

After this rebuff, Poddar underwent a severe emotional crisis. He became depressed and neglected his appearance, his studies, and his health. He remained by himself, speaking disjointedly and often weeping. This condition persisted, with steady deterioration, throughout the spring and into the summer of 1969. Poddar had occasional meetings with Tarasoff during this period and tape recorded their various conversations to try to find out why she did not love him.

During the summer of 1969, Tarasoff went to South America. After her departure Poddar began to improve and at the suggestion of a friend sought psychological assistance. Prosenjit Poddar was a patient of Dr. Lawrence Moore, a psychologist at UC Berkeley's Cowell Memorial Hospital in 1969. Poddar confided his intent to kill Tarasoff. Dr. Moore requested that the campus police detain Poddar, writing that, in his opinion, Poddar was suffering from paranoid schizophrenia, acute and severe. The psychologist recommended that the defendant be civilly committed as a dangerous person. Poddar was detained but shortly thereafter released, as he appeared rational. Dr. Moore's supervisor, Dr. Harvey Powelson, then ordered that Poddar not be subject to further detention.

In October, after Tarasoff had returned, Poddar stopped seeing his psychologist. Neither Tarasoff nor her parents received any warning of the threat. Poddar then befriended Tarasoff's brother, even moving in with him. Several months later, on October 27, 1969, Poddar carried out the plan he had confided to his psychologist, stabbing and killing Tarasoff. Tarasoff's parents then sued Moore and various other employees of the University.

Poddar was subsequently convicted of second-degree murder, but the conviction was later appealed and overturned on the grounds that the jury was inadequately instructed. A second trial was not held, and Poddar was released on the condition that he would return to India.[2]

Opinion of the Court[edit]The California Supreme Court found that a mental health professional has a duty not only to a patient, but also to individuals who are specifically being threatened by a patient. This decision has since been adopted by most states in the U.S. and is widely influential in jurisdictions outside the U.S. as well.

Justice Mathew O. Tobriner wrote the famous holding in the majority opinion. "The public policy favoring protection of the confidential character of patient-psychotherapist communications must yield to the extent to which disclosure is essential to avert danger to others. The protective privilege ends where the public peril begins."[3]

Justice Mosk wrote a partial dissent, arguing two things: (1) that the rule in future cases should be one of the actual subjective prediction of violence on the part of the psychiatrist, which occurred in this case, not one based on objective professional standards, because predictions are inherently unreliable; and (2) the psychiatrists notified the police, who were presumably in a better position to protect Tatiana than she would be to protect herself.

Justice Clark dissented, quoting a law review article that stated, "the very practice of psychiatry depends upon the reputation in the community that the psychiatrist will not tell."[4]

Subsequent Developments[edit]People of the State of New York v.Robert Bierenbaum was a landmark murder case, setting precedent on upholding Physician-patient privilege even when a Tarasoff warning is invoked: "Neither a psychiatrist issuing a Tarasoff warning nor a patient telling his friends he's in treatment constitutes a waiver of a patient's psychiatrist-patient privilege." [5][6]

References[edit]^People v. Poddar, 518 P. 2d 342^Intervention and Reflection: Basic Issues in Medical Ethics 8th Edition^17 Cal. 3d 425, 442 (1976)^Slovenko, Psychiatry and a Second Look at the Medical Privilege, 6 Wayne L. Rev. 175, 188 (1960)^Psychology News^NY TimesExternal links[edit]


Nonconformity and Freethinking Now Considered Mental Illnesses | The Unbounded Spirit

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Is nonconformity and freethinking a mental illness? According to the newest addition of the DSM-IV (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders), it certainly is. The manual identifies a new mental illness called ''oppositional defiant disorder'' or ODD. Defined as an ''ongoing pattern of disobedient, hostile and defiant behavior,'' symptoms include questioning authority, negativity, defiance, argumentativeness, and being easily annoyed.

The DSM-IV is the manual used by psychiatrists to diagnose mental illnesses and, with each new edition, there are scores of new mental illnesses. Are we becoming sicker? Is it getting harder to be mentally healthy? Authors of the DSM-IV say that it's because they're better able to identify these illnesses today. Critics charge that it's because they have too much time on their hands.

New mental illnesses identified by the DSM-IV include arrogance, narcissism, above-average creativity, cynicism, and antisocial behavior. In the past, these were called ''personality traits,'' but now they're diseases.

And there are treatments available.

All of this is a symptom of our over-diagnosing and overmedicating culture. In the last 50 years, the DSM-IV has gone from 130 to 357 mental illnesses. A majority of these illnesses afflict children. Although the manual is an important diagnostic tool for the psychiatric industry, it has also been responsible for social changes. The rise in ADD, bipolar disorder, and depression in children has been largely because of the manual's identifying certain behaviors as symptoms. A Washington Post article observed that, if Mozart were born today, he would be diagnosed with ADD and ''medicated into barren normality.''

According to the DSM-IV, the diagnosis guidelines for identifying oppositional defiant disorder are for children, but adults can just as easily suffer from the disease. This should give any freethinking American reason for worry.

The Soviet Union used new ''mental illnesses'' for political repression. People who didn't accept the beliefs of the Communist Party developed a new type of schizophrenia. They suffered from the delusion of believing communism was wrong. They were isolated, forcefully medicated, and put through repressive ''therapy'' to bring them back to sanity.

When the last edition of the DSM-IV was published, identifying the symptoms of various mental illnesses in children, there was a jump in the diagnosis and medication of children. Some states have laws that allow protective agencies to forcibly medicate, and even make it a punishable crime to withhold medication. This paints a chilling picture for those of us who are nonconformists.

Although the authors of the manual claim no ulterior motives but simply better diagnostic practices, the labeling of freethinking and nonconformity as mental illnesses has a lot of potential for abuse. It can easily become a weapon in the arsenal of a repressive state.

Source: ''Is Free Thinking A Mental Illness?,'' from


Agenda 21


Popular 1970s Global Cooling Alarmism

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:01

During the 1970s the media promoted global cooling alarmism with dire threats of a new ice age. Extreme weather events were hyped as signs of the coming apocalypse and man-made pollution was blamed as the cause. Environmental extremists called for everything from outlawing the internal combustion engine to communist style population controls. This media hype was found in newspapers, magazines, books and on television;"Climate experts believe the next ice age is on its way."- Leonard Nimoy, 1978

1970 - Colder Winters Held Dawn of New Ice Age - Scientists See Ice Age In the Future (The Washington Post, January 11, 1970)1970 - Is Mankind Manufacturing a New Ice Age for Itself? (L.A. Times, January 15, 1970)1970 - New Ice Age May Descend On Man (Sumter Daily Item, January 26, 1970)1970 - Pollution Prospect A Chilling One (Owosso Argus-Press, January 26, 1970)1970 - Pollution's 2-way 'Freeze' On Society (Middlesboro Daily News, January 28, 1970)1970 - Cold Facts About Pollution (The Southeast Missourian, January 29, 1970)1970 - Pollution Could Cause Ice Age, Agency Reports (St. Petersburg Times, March 4, 1970)1970 - Scientist predicts a new ice age by 21st century (Boston Globe, April 16, 1970)1970 - Pollution Called Ice Age Threat (St. Petersburg Times, June 26, 1970)1970 - Dirt Will Bring New Ice Age (The Sydney Morning Herald, October 19, 1970)1971 - Ice Age Refugee Dies Underground (The Montreal Gazette, Febuary 17, 1971)1971 - Pollution Might Lead To Another Ice Age (Schenectady Gazette, March 22, 1971)1971 - Pollution May Bring Ice Age - Scientist Rites Risk (The Windsor Star, March 23, 1971)1971 - U.S. Scientist Sees New Ice Age Coming (The Washington Post, July 9, 1971)1971 - Ice Age Around the Corner (Chicago Tribune, July 10, 1971)1971 - New Ice Age Coming - It's Already Getting Colder (L.A. Times, October 24, 1971)1971 - Another Ice Age? Pollution Blocking Sunlight (The Day, November 1, 1971)1971 - Air Pollution Could Bring An Ice Age (Harlan Daily Enterprise, November 4, 1971)1972 - Air pollution may cause ice age (Free-Lance Star, February 3, 1972)1972 - Scientist Says New ice Age Coming (The Ledger, February 13, 1972)1972 - Ice Age Cometh For Dicey Times (The Sun, May 29, 1972)1972 - There's a new Ice Age coming! (The Windsor Star, September 9, 1972)1972 - Scientist predicts new ice age (Free-Lance Star, September 11, 1972)1972 - British Expert on Climate Change Says New Ice Age Creeping Over Northern Hemisphere (Lewiston Evening Journal, September 11, 1972)1972 - Climate Seen Cooling For Return Of Ice Age (Portsmouth Times, 'ŽSeptember 11, 1972'Ž)1972 - New Ice Age Slipping Over North (Press-Courier, September 11, 1972)1972 - Ice Age Begins A New Assault In North (The Age, September 12, 1972)1972 - Weather To Get Colder (Montreal Gazette, 'ŽSeptember 12, 1972'Ž)1972 - British climate expert predicts new Ice Age (The Christian Science Monitor, September 23, 1972)1972 - Scientist Sees Chilling Signs of New Ice Age (L.A. Times, September 24, 1972)1972 - Science: Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, November 13, 1972)1972 - Geologist at Case Traces Long Winters - Sees Ice Age in 20 Years (Youngstown Vindicator, December 13, 1972)1972 - Ice Age On Its Way, Scientist Says (Toledo Blade, December 13, 1972)1972 - Ice Age Predicted In About 200 Years (The Portsmouth Times, December 14, 1972)1973 - The Ice Age Cometh (The Saturday Review, March 24, 1973)1973 - 'Man-made Ice Age' Worries Scientists (The Free Lance-Star, June 22, 1973)1973 - Fear Of Man-made Ice Age (Herald-Journal, June 28, 1973)1973 - Possibility Of Ice Age Worries The Scientists (The Argus-Press, November 12, 1973)1973 - Weather-watchers think another ice age may be on the way (The Christian Science Monitor, December 11, 1973)1974 - Ominous Changes in the World's Weather (PDF) (Fortune, February 1974)1974 - Atmospheric Dirt: Ice Age Coming?'Ž (Pittsburgh Press, February 28, 1974)1974 - New evidence indicates ice age here (Eugene Register-Guard, May 29, 1974)1974 - Another Ice Age? (Time Magazine, June 24, 1974)1974 - 2 Scientists Think 'Little' Ice Age Near (The Hartford Courant, August 11, 1974)1974 - Ice Age, worse food crisis seen (The Chicago Tribune, October 30, 1974)1974 - Imminent Arrival of the Ice (Radio Times, November 14, 1974)1974 - Believes Pollution Could Bring On Ice Age (Ludington Daily News, December 4, 1974)1974 - Pollution Could Spur Ice Age, Nasa Says (Beaver Country Times, 'ŽDecember 4, 1974'Ž)1974 - Air Pollution May Trigger Ice Age, Scientists Feel (The Telegraph, 'ŽDecember 5, 1974'Ž)1974 - More Air Pollution Could Trigger Ice Age Disaster (Daily Sentinel, 'ŽDecember 5, 1974'Ž)1974 - Scientists Fear Smog Could Cause Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 5, 1974)1975 - Climate Changes Called Ominous (The New York Times, January 19, 1975)1975 - Climate Change: Chilling Possibilities (Science News, March 1, 1975)1975 - B-r-r-r-r: New Ice Age on way soon? (The Chicago Tribune, March 2, 1975)1975 - Cooling Trends Arouse Fear That New Ice Age Coming (Eugene Register-Guard, 'ŽMarch 2, 1975'Ž)1975 - Is Another Ice Age Due? Arctic Ice Expands In Last Decade (Youngstown Vindicator, 'ŽMarch 2, 1975'Ž)1975 - Is Earth Headed For Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, March 2, 1975)1975 - New Ice Age Dawning? Significant Shift In Climate Seen (Times Daily, 'ŽMarch 2, 1975'Ž)1975 - There's Troublesome Weather Ahead (Tri City Herald, 'ŽMarch 2, 1975'Ž)1975 - Is Earth Doomed To Live Through Another Ice Age? (The Robesonian, 'ŽMarch 3, 1975'Ž)1975 - The Ice Age cometh: the system that controls our climate (The Chicago Tribune, April 13, 1975)1975 - The Cooling World (Newsweek, April 28, 1975)1975 - Cooling trend may signal coming of another Ice Age (The Sun, May 16, 1975)1975 - Scientists Ask Why World Climate Is Changing; Major Cooling May Be Ahead (PDF) (The New York Times, May 21, 1975)1975 - Summer of A New Ice Age (The Age, June 5, 1975)1975 - In the Grip of a New Ice Age? (International Wildlife, July-August, 1975)1975 - Oil Spill Could Cause New Ice Age (Milwaukee Journal, December 11, 1975)1976 - The Cooling: Has the Next Ice Age Already Begun? [Book] (Lowell Ponte, 1976)1976 - Ice Age Predicted (Reading Eagle, January 22, 1976)1976 - Ice Age Predicted In Century (Bangor Daily News, January 22, 1976)1976 - It's Going To Get Chilly About 125 Years From Now (Sarasota Herald-Tribune, January 23, 1976)1976 - Worrisome CIA Report; Even U.S. Farms May be Hit by Cooling Trend (U.S. News & World Report, May 31, 1976)1977 - Blizzard - What Happens if it Doesn't Stop? [Book] (George Stone, 1977)1977 - The Weather Conspiracy: The Coming of the New Ice Age [Book] (The Impact Team, 1977)1977 - The Ice Age Cometh... (New York Magazine, January 31, 1977)1977 - The Big Freeze (Time Magazine, January 31, 1977)1977 - Has The Ice Age Cometh Again? (Calgary Herald, February 1, 1977)1977 - Space Mirrors Proposed To Prevent Crop Freezes (Bangor Daily News, February 7, 1977)1977 - We Will Freeze in the Dark (Capital Cities Communications Documentary, Host: Nancy Dickerson, April 12, 1977)1978 - Ice! [Book] (Arnold Federbush, 1978)1978 - The New Ice Age [Book] (Henry Gilfond, 1978)1978 - Winter May Be Colder Than In Last Ice Age (The Deseret News, January 2, 1978)1978 - Current Winters Seen Colder Than In Ice Age'Ž (The Telegraph, January 3, 1978)1978 - Winter Temperatures Colder Than Last Ice Age (Eugene Register-Guard, Eugene Register-Guard, January 3, 1978)1978 - Little Ice Age: Severe winters and cool summers ahead (Calgary Herald, January 10, 1978)1978 - Winters Will Get Colder, 'we're Entering Little Ice Age' (Ellensburg Daily Record, January 10, 1978)1978 - Geologist Says Winters Getting Colder (Middlesboro Daily News, January 16, 1978)1978 - It's Going To Get Colder (Boca Raton News, 'ŽJanuary 17, 1978'Ž)1978 - Another Ice Age? (Kentucky New Era, February 12, 1978)1978 - Another Ice Age? (Reading Eagle, 'ŽFebruary 13, 1978'Ž)1978 - Believe new ice age is coming (The Bryan Times, March 31, 1978)1978 - The Coming Ice Age (In Search Of TV Show, Season 2, Episode 23, Host: Leonard Nimoy, May 1978)1978 - An Ice Age Is Coming Weather Expert Fears (Milwaukee Sentinel, November 17, 1978)1979 - A Choice of Catastrophes - The Disasters That Threaten Our World [Book] (Isaac Asimov, 1979)1979 - The New Ice Age Cometh (The Age, January 16, 1979)1979 - Ice Age Building Up (Ellensburg Daily Record, June 5, 1979)1979 - Large Glacial Buildup Could Mean Ice Age (Spokane Daily Chronicle, June 5, 1979)1979 - Ice Age On Its Way (Lewiston Morning Tribune, June 7, 1979)1979 - Get Ready to Freeze (Spokane Daily Chronicle, October 12, 1979)1979 - New ice age almost upon us? (The Christian Science Monitor, November 14, 1979)

While a silent majority of the scientific community may have been more skeptical, you ironically find one of the most outspoken supporters of modern day Al Gore style global warming alarmism was promoting global cooling in the 1970s, the late Dr. Steven Schneider;

"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it." - Life of Reason, George Santayana

* A couple of the news stories are duplicates in different papers with slightly different titles, this is intentional to show that these types of stories were not isolated to a certain regional paper.


From the BBC's 1974 documentary, "The Weather Machine";

"The ice age is due now anytime" - Professor George Kukla, Columbia University, 1974


Superstorm Sandy | Climate Nexus

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 15:28

Here are a few examples of our work.

SUPERSTORM SANDYIdeaSuperstorm Sandy approached the mid-Atlantic on Oct 26, 2012. Polling indicates that making connections to extreme weather helps people to understand the significance of climate change and its associated impacts. In line with this research, Climate Nexus identified the storm as a potential messaging focus.

ActionClimate Nexus distributed background information on the hurricane and its relationship to climate change to hundreds of environmental reporters, editorial writers, op-ed page editors and meteorologists. During the storm and its aftermath, we put journalists in contact with our expert partners Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Dr. Kevin Trenberth, Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, Dr. J. Marshall Shepherd, Dr. Anthony Lesierowitz, Dr. Jenifer Francis and Dr. Jeff Masters. Our efforts helped secured dozens of interviews for these experts on the storm and climate change, which generated hundreds of stories in the mainstream media.

From the background information we developed messaging guidelines, which we presented at a Climate Access briefing with over 100 participants. The guidelines were also shared with select congressional staff as well as with the green community. Representative Ed Markey used it to prepare for his appearance on Hardball, and Media Matters' booking staff used it to prepare other guests appearing on cable news. Environmental organizations found it helpful in preparing their own talking points, media materials and blog posts. Finally, Climate Nexus implemented the messages directly in content distributed via our own social media networks.

Several days after the storm, Climate Nexus developed a second set of broader framing points on how to pivot from Sandy to the case for climate action, which were broadly shared in the environmental community.

Press Coverage IncludesAPBloombergThe New York TimesThe Los Angeles TimesThe Washington PostThe GuardianThe Boston GlobeTIMEThe Atlanta Journal ConstitutionPoliticoHardballCNNNPRThe PBS Newshour

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Reddit bans comments from climate-change skeptics | The Daily Caller

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 01:54

A content editor on Reddit's science forum wrote Monday that the site has banned climate-change skeptics, and asks why more news outlets haven't done the same.

''About a year ago, we moderators became increasingly stringent with deniers,'' Reddit content editor Nathan Allen wrote in grist. ''When a potentially controversial submission was posted, a warning would be issued stating the rules for comments (most importantly that your comment isn't a conspiracy theory) and advising that further violations of the rules could result in the commenter being banned from the forum.''

Allen explains that climate change became an ironically heated topic among commenters on Reddit's science forum, /r/science, which he described as ''a window into the Ivory Tower'' for ''non-scientists'' to connect with experts like himself.

Climate-change believers accused skeptics of being bought out by ''big oil,'' while the skeptics accused believers of being on the take from ''big green.''

Despite the provocative comments on both sides described by Allen, and Reddit's reputation as ''passionately dedicated to free speech,'' the self-described ''PhD chemist'' decided it was time for the skeptics to go.

''After some time interacting with the regular denier posters, it became clear that they could not or would not improve their demeanor,'' Allen said. ''As a scientist myself, it became clear to me that the contrarians were not capable of providing the science to support their 'skepticism' on climate change.''

As a result, about half a dozen content editors now practice ''proactive moderation'' on the science forum's reported 4-million subscribers.

''As moderators responsible for what millions of people see, we felt that to allow a handful of commenters to so purposefully mislead our audience was simply immoral,'' Allen said of the audience he previously described as ''mainly academic.''

He later describes the same audience as '''internet trolls' looking to have a little fun upsetting people. Such users are practically the norm on Reddit.''

Allen then expressed surprise that removing an entire faction of commenters ''resulted in a change in the culture within the comments. Where once there were personal insults and bitter accusations, there is now discussion of the relevant aspects of the research.''

''While we won't claim /r/science is perfect, users seem happy with the changes made,'' Allen said.

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Mark Landsbaum: Climate alarmists' search for proof going cold The Orange County Register

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 02:56

Recall global warming hysteria's halcyon days? Just 13 years ago, Dr. David Viner, senior scientist at Britain's University of East Anglia's climatic research unit, confidently predicted that, within a few years, winter snowfall will become ''a very rare and exciting event.''

''Children just aren't going to know what snow is,'' he said.

Of course, that doesn't mesh with what happened. This past October, the UK Express headlined, ''Worst winter for decades: Record-breaking snow predicted for November.''

By the end of November, Brits were shivering, ''as Britain faces snow, ice and plummeting temperatures,'' reported the Mirror newspaper. ''Most of Scotland has been issued severe weather warnings for ice, and temperatures are expected to remain low, causing problems with snow and ice across the country.'' Winter yet lay ahead.

We shouldn't pick on Great Britain. There is plenty of global warming foolishness here at home. Recall James Hansen, global warming guru whose alarmist campaign was underwritten by his NASA paycheck. By the 2020s, Hansen predicted in 1986, the U.S. average annual temperature would rise 9 degrees Fahrenheit, or more, and up to 3 degrees by the 2010s.

A funny thing happened on the way to the 2010s and 2020s. It didn't get so hot. In fact, depending on which data set you use, it probably has cooled down for 17 years.

A recent explanation for this pause (if not reversal), was offered in a scientific paper blaming the El Ni±o Pacific Ocean warming in 1997-98 for triggering the hiatus.

As the theory goes, El Ni±o caused a large heat transfer from deep in the ocean to the surface, which cooled the waters below. Since then, according to the theory, heat has been reabsorbed from the upper ocean, in turn cooling the atmosphere. Maybe. Maybe not.

There's no shortage of inventive excuses for why things aren't so hot, including, incredibly, China's increased use of coal, even though ''dirty'' fossil fuel is supposed to increase, not decrease temperatures.

Implicit in this ''where-did-the-heat-go'' shell game is an inconvenient reality.

Climatologist Roger Pielke Sr., University of Colorado, Boulder, professor emeritus of Atmospheric Science, says, if correct, the ocean paper means, ''the end of surface temperature trends as the icon of global warming.''

If so, that's a game changer for the climate wars.

If surface temperatures lose their credibility (and we side with those who long have said that's the case), where will alarmists point to prove their point?

There always have been problems relying on land-based thermometers. For instance, where should thermometers be placed? How high off the ground? There are no worldwide uniform standards.

While airports, concrete and asphalt represent a scant percentage of Earth's surface, they are home to a disproportionate percentage of ground measuring stations. Does this matter? Consider the common sense knowledge that standing in a grassy field is cooler than standing on an asphalt runway. Not only are such locales hotter, they get hotter faster and hold their temperatures disproportionately longer.

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Web of 'green' politicians, tycoons and power brokers who help each other benefit from billions raised on your bills | Mail Online

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 02:57

Four of nine-person Climate Change Committee, official watchdog that dictates green energy policy, are, or were until recently, being paid by firms that benefit from committee decisionsBy David Rose

PUBLISHED: 17:14 EST, 14 December 2013 | UPDATED: 17:14 EST, 14 December 2013




Other industries would stand accused of damning conflicts of interest but when it comes to global warming, anything goes...

The Mail on Sunday today reveals the extraordinary web of political and financial interests creating dozens of eco-millionaires from green levies on household energy bills.

A three-month investigation shows that some of the most outspoken campaigners who demand that consumers pay the colossal price of shifting to renewable energy are also getting rich from their efforts.

Vested interest: Lord Deben (John Selwyn Gummer) is chairman of the Committee on Climate Change

Enquiries by this newspaper have revealed:

Four of the nine-person Climate Change Committee, the official watchdog that dictates green energy policy, are, or were until very recently, being paid by firms that benefit from committee decisions.'‰A new breed of lucrative green investment funds, which were set up to expand windfarm energy, are in practice a means of taking green levies paid by hard-pressed consumers and handing them to City investors and financiers.£3.8 billion of taxpayers' money funds the new Green Investment Bank, set up by the Department of Business and Skills. One of its biggest deals involved energy giant SSE selling windfarms to one of the new green funds, Greencoat Wind. The Green Investment Bank's chairman, Lord Smith of Kelvin, is also chairman of SSE. The bank says it 'provided expertise' to enable BIS to take a £50 million stake in Greencoat, which helped fund the SSE sale.The same bank's chief executive, Shaun Kingsbury, is one of the UK's highest-paid public sector employees. His £325,000 salary is more than twice the Prime Minister's.Firms lobbying for renewables can virtually guarantee access to key Government policy-makers, because they are staffed by former very senior officials '' a striking example of Whitehall's 'revolving door'.Among the most astonishing features exposed by our investigation is the way in which vehement advocates for radical policies designed to curb global warming are making huge sums of money from their work. Here are some of the key figures among the new breed of fat-cat Ecocrats...

Ian Marchant is chairman of Infinis - now the country's third-largest renewable generator, with 7.3 per cent of the market. He received a 'signing-on fee' of £322,000 worth of shares

The scourge of the 'deniers'... paid £2.6million last year by his renewable energy firmIn 2009 Ian Marchant founded the Scotland 2020 Climate Group, which unites Scottish politicians, green activists and business people in support of Scotland's own CO2 emissions target.

At the group's prestigious annual public lecture in September, speakers denounced scientific sceptics as 'deniers'.

Marchant, the group's chairman, said action had to be taken at once to stop extreme weather, and deployed an unusual argument: 'The increasing layer of greenhouse gases means we are trapping more energy in the atmosphere.

'And if you want to know what happens when you put more energy into a volatile system, try giving a toddler some Irn-Bru!'

Until June, he was chief executive of SSE, the UK's biggest renewable operator, for which he was paid £2.6'‰million in his last financial year, up from £1.4'‰million in 2011-12. He left to become chairman of Infinis '' now the country's third-largest renewable generator, with 7.3 per cent of the market

He received a 'signing-on fee' of £322,000 worth of shares. Last month, Infinis shares were floated, raising £780'‰million. Its offer brochure claimed that it was an unusually safe investment '' simply because of the levies on renewables paid by consumers and imposed by Government diktat.

The brochure said that more than half of Infinis revenue is derived directly from renewable subsidies, describing the green levies added to customers' bills as 'stable, inflation-linked revenue streams backed by legislation incentivising renewable power'. On that basis, it promised an initial dividend of £55'‰million, a sum that would rise every year.

An Infinis spokeswoman declined to comment on Marchant's dual role, confirming he is earning £250,000 a year as part-time (two days a week) chairman.

The architect of green levies - who is advising a £1.2billion solar array projectLord Stern is the London School of Economics professor commissioned by Tony Blair to write his seminal 2006 review of the economics of climate change '' the foundation of many of the policies pursued today.

He is a member of the advisory board of Abengoa, a huge Spanish renewables company. Its biggest project, a solar panel array in Arizona, cost £1.2'‰billion.

Neither Stern's spokesman nor Abengoa will disclose how much he is paid.

Lord Stern, architect of green levies, is a member of the advisory board of Abengoa, a huge Spanish renewables company. Its biggest project, a solar panel array in Arizona, cost £1.2bn. Pictured with Tony Blair in 2006

His company, NS Economics, is a vehicle for his public speaking earnings and last year declared assets of £189,000, after one year of trading.

Stern's agent at Celebrity Speakers said his basic rate for an hour-long talk was £50,000 '' with first-class flights on top for a conference in the US, and all extra expenses reimbursed.

Stern's spokesman at LSE said he openly declared all his interests, and had 'built his reputation on a track record of high-quality independent research and analysis'.

Green trust boss whose company gets richer... every time power prices go upOne of the biggest of the new breed of specialist renewable investment trusts is Guernsey-registered TRIG (The Renewables Infrastructure Group).

It is chaired by Helen Mahy, former company secretary and general counsel of the National Grid. TRIG buys nearly new renewable plants from their operators at prices that guarantee the operators a healthy profit '' typically, about one-and-a-half times the cost of developing and building them. But because the subsidies are so high, everybody wins.

TRIG launched in August with a flotation that raised £300'‰million. Its prospectus promised investors an immediate 5.5 per cent dividend, rising with inflation.

Like Infinis, TRIG said its income was 'stable' because of Government policies: tariffs and levies will account for a staggering 63 per cent of its revenue.

Longer-term, the prospectus added, investors will also benefit from the rocketing price of electricity, which it thinks will rise by 60 per cent over the next 20 years.

TRIG's prospectus was analysed for The Mail on Sunday by finance and energy expert Rupert Darwall. 'They have been set up so that investors can get exposure to the renewable energy subsidies,' he said.

'They are paying their investors on the basis of the Government continuing to drive up the price of electricity. When these guys do well, consumers are doing badly.'

A TRIG spokeswoman declined to comment.

The £260million green firm milking windfarm subsidies... which you pay forDarwall also examined Greencoat Wind, which was floated in February and valued at £260'‰million.

It buys windfarms at a premium and milks the subsidies to skim off its profit and pay out dividends '' in its case, six per cent.

A confidential report for investors by Barclays Bank said that by investing in wind energy, Greencoat was taking advantage of 'the most attractive market fundamentals in Western Europe' '' which meant, said the document: 'We expect UK power prices to increase progressively.'

According to Barclays, investors could expect an extremely attractive annual 9.1 per cent rate of return, even after paying all fees.

This was because 'half of revenue comes from largely fixed index-linked Government incentives' '' in other words, levies added to bills.

The report also pointed out that with coal fired power plants being forced to close, 'supply will fall significantly, but demand won't .'‰'‰.'‰'‰. we see large power price increase as an inevitability'.

It forecast an increase of roughly 40 per cent by 2017: bad for consumers, but great for Greencoat investors.

... and how the green interest groups work together - to line their own pocketsNot only did Greencoat buy windfarms worth £140'‰million from SSE, but SSE also owns a £43'‰million stake in Greencoat.

The Green Investment Bank helped to arrange Greencoat's flotation, and its chairman, Lord Smith, also chairs SSE.

Its directors also include David Nish of Standard Life, which also has substantial renewable energy assets, and Dame Julia King, a member of the government Climate Change Committee responsible for emissions targets.

A Bank spokesman said it had strict rules and procedures to prevent any conflicts of interest.

As for Greencoat, among its directors is William Rickett, a former director general at the Department of Energy and Climate Change.

Dame Julia King, 59, is also a director of the Green Investment Bank, for which she is paid £30,000 a year on top of her £272,000 salary as vice chancellor of Aston University

How half of key Climate Change Committee is in the pay of green business

No institution plays a greater role in dictating green energy policy than the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) '' the body set up by Ed Miliband when he was Labour Energy Secretary through his 2008 Climate Change Act.

The Mail on Sunday's investigation has established that four of its nine members have recently had or still have financial interests in firms that benefit from its rulings.

Last week, the CCC urged the Government not to water down its 'fourth carbon budget'. This binds the UK to slash emissions of carbon dioxide to half their 1990 level by 2025.

The budget also says that by 2030, the CO2 emitted per unit of electric power must be less than ten per cent of what it is at present '' a cut of more than 90 per cent.

Energy analyst Peter Atherton of Liberum Capital says this will need investment of between £361'‰billion and £393'‰billion. Such a policy would also cut emissions from the electricity industry by about two-thirds.

Amazingly, almost half the CCC's members, whose decisions affect every UK citizen and the entire economy, have been paid by firms with green interests. They are all paid £800 a day for their part-time CCC work, except for chairman Lord Deben, who gets £1,000.

Dame Julia King, 59, is also a director of the Green Investment Bank, for which she is paid £30,000 a year on top of her £272,000 salary as vice chancellor of Aston University.

The bank, funded by taxpayers to the tune of £3.8'‰billion, has investment in offshore wind as a 'top priority'.

The more the CCC's rulings favour renewable subsidies, the better the bank is likely to do. She lives in a house in Cambridge, which she bought for £740,000 in 2002.

Lord May of Oxford, a former Government chief scientific adviser, is paid an undisclosed amount as a member of the 'Sustainability Board' of the global banking giant HSBC.

In the section of its website that deals with its 'sustainability' work, the bank lists its four biggest green business opportunities.

Top of the list is 'low-carbon energy production such as bio-energy, nuclear, solar and wind' '' all directly affected by the CCC's edicts.

A cross-bench peer, Lord May, 71, is an atheist, but his stated belief that climate change is more dangerous than nuclear war has made him suggest that religious leaders ought to persuade people to support the green cause. 'Maybe religion is needed,' he said in 2009.

'A supernatural punisher may be part of the solution.'

Former adviser: Lord May is now paid as a member of HSBC's sustainability board

As this newspaper revealed in January, CCC chairman Lord Deben, 74, was until recently chairman of Veolia Water UK PLC, which connects windfarms to the National Grid.

According to energy expert Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University, the drive to renewables means new grid investment will reach £25'‰billion by 2020. Deben has refused to state how much Veolia paid him. Company records say he resigned on November 12.

His spokeswoman said that this was because the firm was being merged with a sister firm.

He remains chairman of his family consultancy firm Sancroft, which advises companies on 'global environmental policy'. When he took up his CCC post, he resigned as chairman of offshore wind firm Forewinds.

Prof Sam Fankhauser admits he is paid an undisclosed sum as a director of Vivid Economics, which offers business clients advice on how to respond to green Government policies - such as those set by the CCC

Sam Fankhauser, 49, is a professor at the London School of Economics' Grantham Institute on Climate Change, funded by the radical green billionaire Jeremy Grantham '' the world's most generous donor to green activist groups.

Prof Fankhauser admits he is paid an undisclosed sum as a director of Vivid Economics, which offers business clients advice on how to respond to green Government policies '' such as those set by the CCC.

The firm describes itself as a 'thought leader' on the 'economics of climate change', adding that it offers 'insights that are not available elsewhere, allowing us to model the effects of policy on prices [and] profits'.

Other CCC members have spent their careers as academics in fields that help fuel green campaigns.

Sir Brian Hoskins, a fierce critic of climate sceptics, is a climatologist at Imperial College, London, where he is director of another institute funded by Grantham.

Jim Skea is also at Imperial, where he is Professor of Sustainable Energy, and was launch director of the Low Carbon Vehicle Project.

A CCC spokeswoman said it had 'rigorous checks and balances to ensure that there are no conflicts of interests for committee members'.

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Reminder: A New Light Bulb Ban Kicks in on January 1 | Video |

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 17:00

For those who are fans of the traditional, yellowish glow of an incandescent light bulb, the time has come stock up.

We've already seen the 75-watt variety ushered out with a ban on manufacturing or importing them starting in 2013, but Jan. 1, 2014, starts the same process with 40- and 60-watt bulbs.

This is not to say the bulbs won't be available into 2014 and perhaps beyond. Under the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed by President George W. Bush and upheld by Congress in 2011, stores are allowed to continue to sell the incandescent bulbs until the supply runs out.

In this Jan. 21, 2011 file photo, manager Nick Reynoza holds a 100-watt incandescent light bulb at Royal Lighting in Los Angeles. In an attempt to cut energy consumption, federal laws began prohibiting the production of some incandescent bulbs. Starting 2014, 40- and 60-watt light bulbs will be banned (AP/Jae C. Hong, File)

The move forces consumers to switch to LED, compact fluorescent light bulbs and others, which are currently more expensive than the Thomas Edison-invented incandescents but are billed to be more efficient with a longer lifespan.

Many were upset at a federal regulation limiting consumer choice for a product that some feel doesn't match up in terms of performance quality. Parodies have been made to lament the phasing out of the incandescent bulb:

''Once all of our nation's 4 billion screw-based sockets have an efficient bulb in them, U.S. consumers will save $13 billion and 30 large coal-burning power plants-worth of electricity a year. The savings really add up,'' Noah Horowitz, senior scientist for the Natural Resources Defense Council told Yahoo recently.

Even though Americans have had years to warm up to the idea and technology is advancing to improve the performance of these alternative light bulbs, there are still those who aren't on board.

''The soul doesn't connect to LED, it's a visceral reaction,'' lighting designer Bentley Meeker told Yahoo. ''Until the mid-1850s, the only light that humans were exposed to was daylight and firelight '-- incandescent bulbs have a color that is similar to firelight.''

He said he believes the more efficient light bulbs are too harsh for what the human eye is accustomed to.

As the familiar glow of incandescents disappears over time, there are a couple things one can do to achieve a comfortable result with alternative bulbs.

Here are a couple of the tips Yahoo suggested:

Don't inadvertently buy a bulb that's too bright. New bulbs are measured in lumens, not watts, which can be confusing. A 10-watt LED is as bright as a 60-watt incandescent, so if you purchase a 19-watt LED for a small accent light, it will seem glaring. The NRDC has a useful chart showing the light equivalences of various bulbs.Choose different types of bulbs for different purposes. Meeker uses LEDs and CFLs to light hallways, stairwells, and basements, and for spotlighting objects. For living spaces, he prefers halogen incandescent bulbs. He says they are a great substitute for the old bulbs, especially if you use them on a dimmer.If you want to use CFLs, choose the right color. Most people prefer the ones labeled ''warm.'' The bulbs that are labeled ''daylight'' are bluish.One of the new-age light bulbs that will become available after the first of the year is the Phillips SlimStyle LED, which is a flattened, horseshoe-shaped bulb.

Phillips SlimStyle LED bulb. (Image source: CNET/YouTube)

CNET reviewed the bulb and compared it to competitors, saying its uptake will ''all come down to the SlimStyle's price point.''

''If the absence of heat sinks is enough to keep the cost per bulb somewhere around $10 or less, then the SlimStyle LED stands to make a lot of sense '-- particularly to consumers who are making first-time upgrades from newly obsolete incandescents, and who aren't looking to spend very much in the process,'' CNET editor's wrote.

Image source: CNET/YouTube

Watch CNET's review:

The law will fully go into effect by 2020, requiring light bulbs to be 60 to 70 percent more efficient than what the standard incandescent is today.

Featured image via Shutterstock.



Massive climate funding exposed JoNova

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 14:10

Climate Money

The Climate Industry: $79 billion so far '' Trillions to come

For the first time, the numbers from government documents have been compiled in one place. It's time to start talking of ''Monopolistic Science''. It's time to expose the lie that those who claim ''to save the planet'' are the underdogs. And it's time to get serious about auditing science, especially when it comes to pronouncements that are used to justify giant government programs and massive movements of money. Who audits the IPCC?

The SummaryThe US government has provided over $79 billion since 1989 on policies related to climate change, including science and technology research, foreign aid, and tax breaks.Despite the billions: ''audits'' of the science are left to unpaid volunteers. A dedicated but largely uncoordinated grassroots movement of scientists has sprung up around the globe to test the integrity of the theory and compete with a well funded highly organized climate monopoly. They have exposed major errors.Carbon trading worldwide reached $126 billion in 2008. Banks are calling for more carbon-trading. And experts are predicting the carbon market will reach $2 '' $10 trillion making carbon the largest single commodity traded.Meanwhile in a distracting sideshow, Exxon-Mobil Corp is repeatedly attacked for paying a grand total of $23 million to skeptics'--less than a thousandth of what the US government has put in, and less than one five-thousandth of the value of carbon trading in just the single year of 2008.The large expenditure in search of a connection between carbon and climate creates enormous momentum and a powerful set of vested interests. By pouring so much money into one theory, have we inadvertently created a self-fulfilling prophesy instead of an unbiased investigation?Read the Full Report at the Science and Public Policy Institute.There doesn't necessarily need to be a conspiracy. It doesn't require any centrally coordinated deceit or covert instructions to operate. Instead it's the lack of funding for the alternatives that leaves a vacuum and creates a systemic failure. The force of monopolistic funding works like a ratchet mechanism on science. Results can move in both directions, but the funding means that only results from one side of the equation get ''traction''.

Billions in the Name of ''Climate''In total, over the last 20 years, by the end of fiscal year 2009, the US government will have poured in $32 billion for climate research'--and another $36 billion for development of climate-related technologies. These are actual dollars, obtained from government reports, and not adjusted for inflation. It does not include funding from other governments. The real total can only grow.

In 1989, the first specific US climate-related agency was created with an annual budget of $134 million. Today in various forms the funding has leapt to over $7,000 million per annum, around 50 fold higher. Tax concessions add to this. (See below for details and sources.)

..after spending $30 billion on pure science research no one is able to point to a single piece of empirical evidence'...

This tally is climbing precipitously. With enormous tax breaks and rescue funds now in play, it's difficult to know just how far over the $7 billion mark the final total will stand for fiscal year 2009. For example, additional funding for carbon sequestration experiments alone amounted to $3.4 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (not included in the $7 billion total above).

The most telling point is that after spending $30 billion on pure science research no one is able to point to a single piece of empirical evidence that man-made carbon dioxide has a significant effect on the global climate.

If carbon is a minor player in the global climate as the lack of evidence suggests, the''Climate Change Science Program'' (CCSP), ''Climate Change Technology Program'' (CCTP), and some of the green incentives and tax breaks would have less, little, or no reason to exist. While forecasting the weather and climate is critical, and there are other good reasons to develop alternative energy sources'--no one can argue that the thousands of players who received these billions of dollars have any real incentive to ''announce'' the discovery of the insignificance of carbon's role.

Click on the graph for a larger image.


''Thousands of scientists have been funded to find a connection between human carbon emissions and the climate. Hardly any have been funded to find the opposite. Throw 30 billion dollars at one question and how could bright, dedicated people not find 800 pages worth of connections, links, predictions, projections and scenarios? (What's amazing is what they haven't found: empirical evidence.)''

By setting up trading networks, tax concessions, and international bureaucracies before the evidence was in, have we ensured that our understanding of the role of carbon in climate science would be sped up, but that our knowledge of every other aspect of climate science would be slowed down to an equal and opposite extent?

Monopolistic funding creates a ratchet effect where pro-AGW findings are reported and repeated, while anti-AGW results lie unstudied and ignored.

Monopolistic funding creates a ratchet effect where even the most insignificant pro-AGW findings are reported, repeated, trumpeted and asserted, while any anti-AGW results lie unstudied, ignored and delayed. Auditing AGW research is so underfunded that for the most part it is left to unpaid bloggers who collect donations from concerned citizens online. These auditors, often retired scientists, are providing a valuable free service to society, and yet, in return they are attacked, abused, and insulted.

The truth will come out in the end, but how much damage will accrue while we wait for volunteers to audit the claims of the financially well-fed?

The stealthy mass entry of bankers and traders into the background of the scientific ''debate'' poses grave threats to the scientific process. The promise of ''trillions of dollars'' on commodity markets'--with all of that potential money hinging on finding that human emissions of carbon dioxide have a significant role in the climate'--surely acts like blanket of mud over open dispassionate analysis.

All of this means we must be extra diligent in only focusing on just the evidence, the science, the empirical data. Illogic and unreason cloud a debate already loaded with bias. When there are so many incentives encouraging unclarity and overcomplexity, the simple truths need help to rise to the top. But who funds the counter-PR campaign'--now that even Exxon has been howled out of the theater of science. There is hardly any money promoting Natural Causes of Climate Change, while billions upon trillions promote Unnatural Forces.

In this scientific debate, one side is gagged while the other side has a government-funded media campaign.

The bottom lineEven if monopolistic funding has affected science, the total amount of money paid to each side won't tell us whether The Planet's climate is warming or whether that warming is due to carbon-dioxide. The point of this report is to show how the process of science can be distorted (like any human endeavor) by a massive one-sided input of money.What use would money be, if it didn't have some impact?

The massive amounts of money involved only makes it more imperative that we look hard at the empirical evidence.

by Joanne NovaScience and Public Policy Institute

U.S. Government Funding for Climate Change Related Activities 1989-2009(Millions of Dollars)

.Fiscal Year.Climate Science.Climate Technology.Foreign Assistance.Tax Breaks.Annual Total1989134$1341990659$6591991954$95419921,110$1,11019931,326845201$2,37219941,4441,038186$2,66819951,7601,283228$3,27119961,6541,106192$2,95219971,6561,056164$2,87619981,6771,251186$3,11419991,6571,694325$3,67620001,6871,793177$3,65720011,7281,675218$3,62120021,6671,637224$3,52820031,7662,533270580$4,56920041,9752,870252500$5,09720051,8652,808234369$4,90720061,6912,7892491160$4,72920071,8253,4411881730$5,45420081,8323,917212*1420*$5,96120092,441*4,400*579*1160*$7,420TOTAL$32,508+$36,136+$3,506+$6,919=$79,069*Estimate or Request.'...'...'.....Annual Spending totals (right hand col) do not include Tax breaks.References:Climate Change Science Program, Annual Report to Congress: Our Changing Planet Perspectives Budget of the US Government, Fiscal Year 2010. GAO, Federal Reports on Climate Change Funding Should be Clearer and More Complete Appendix II page 34.OMB, Fiscal Year 2008. Report to Congress on Federal Climate Change Expenditures, Table 8. Sciences and Climate Change Programs in the FY 2009 Budget, p 1. AAAS. Thanks to Donald Rokkan and to Brad Jensen for editing help and suggestions. Any errors left are all mine, but you both helped improve this report.

The full report is 4400 word document so I will post the separate major themes over the next week.

Climate Money: PARTS 1- 4.1. Climate Money Massive Funding Exposed. (You are on this page).

2. How auditing of the Climate Industry is mostly left to volunteers.

3. How the monopolistic funding ratchet slows scientific progress.

4. Why blaming Exxon is a smoke screen to disguise the real vested interests.



Beijing plays down stand-off with US warship in South China Sea | South China Morning Post

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 13:47

Chinese aircraft carrier, Liaoning. Photo: Reuters

The defence ministry said yesterday that its relationship with the Pentagon remains on the right track, despite a near-collision between Chinese and American warships earlier this month.

In its first official statement on the tense December 5 encounter, the Ministry of National Defence said the USS Cowpens and an escort ship for the aircraft carrier Liaoning resolved the situation properly.

"The Chinese naval vessels properly handled the encounter in accordance with strict operation protocol," the ministry said. "Defence departments of both nations have informed each other of the situation through normal working channels in an effective manner."

The near miss occurred after the Cowpens passed by an area where the Liaoning was conducting naval exercises. Two Chinese escort ships confronted the Cowpens, which was forced to stop to avoid a collision.

The incident comes at a time of growing maritime tensions in the East and South China seas, where China is embroiled in several territorial disputes with its neighbours. The US filed a formal protest over the incident, saying that the Cowpens was in international waters.

The ministry said the Chinese and American militaries continue to work towards building a strong relationship, despite media reports saying that the near collision had damaged ties. "Both sides are willing to step up communication and co-ordination, making contributions to regional peace and stability," it said.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Ministry plays down warships' near miss

Why does China's Moon Rover exhibit show a nuclear mushroom cloud over Europe? - The Week

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 17:49


China has made a major diplomatic faux pas by illustrating its Moon Rover exhibit with a stock image of a nuclear mushroom cloud over Europe.

While it's probably just an embarrassing error, it's still an unsettling image given the Chinese government's recent statements concerning plans to build a missile base on the Moon.

On December 3, The Beijing Times reportedthat Chinese experts are discussing whether the People's Liberation Army could establish a missile base on the Moon. Per the Taiwan-based, English-language site Want China Times:

An expert from the China National Space Administration's Lunar Exploration Programme Center told the [Beijing Times]that China plans to send its first astronaut to the moon by 2030. By 2050, the moon could become a base from which to send the country's manned spacecraft to explore deep space, the source said. [Want China Times]

Innocent enough, right? But the source added that the Moon could be transformed into a deadly weapon. Like the Death Star in Star Wars, the Moon could be used as a military battle station, bristling with ballistic missiles that could be launched against any military target on Earth.

Lest you think this is all science fiction, there has been a worrying trend toward a militarization of space. Officially, the Outer Space Treaty bars states from placing nuclear weapons or any other weapons of mass destruction in orbit around Earth, installing them on the Moon or any other celestial body, or otherwise stationing them in outer space. It exclusively limits the use of the Moon and other celestial bodies to peaceful purposes. China, the United States, and Russia are all party to this treaty.

Yet in 2011,Wikileaks leaked documents showing that the United States and China had both shot down their own satellites using sophisticated missiles, with each country attempting to show the strength of its respective military capabilities in space.

U.S. clears Smithfield's acquisition by China's Shuanghui | Reuters

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 19:19

Fri Sep 6, 2013 8:43pm EDT

TweetShare thisEmailPrintA water tower with the town slogan ''ham, history and hospitality'' rises over Smithfield, Virginia May 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Rich-Joseph Facun

(Reuters) - The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment has cleared the way for Shuanghui International Holdings Ltd's proposed $4.7 billion acquisition of Smithfield Foods Inc, the companies said on Friday.

The deal, which would be the biggest purchase of a U.S. company by a Chinese firm, still needs shareholder approval at a special meeting scheduled for September 24.

Shuanghui and Smithfield expect the transaction, valued at $7.1 billion including debt, to close shortly after that meeting.

Experts in Washington and on Wall Street had expected the deal to get the nod from the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), an inter-agency executive branch panel that examines foreign investment for potential threats to national security.

They also do not expect a move by a major investor to block the deal.

Activist hedge fund Starboard Value LP, which has a 5.7 percent stake in Smithfield, is searching for an alternative buyer for Smithfield and has said it would vote against the merger.

Shuanghui's bid, which aims to satisfy China's growing appetite for pork, stirred concern about food safety and domestic pork supplies among some U.S. politicians and faced review by a committee of several government agencies overseen by the Treasury Department.

As international interest in American companies has risen dramatically in recent years, CFIUS reviews have increased in number. Since 2007, CFIUS reviews of deals involving Chinese firms have tripled. Reviews of Japanese firms have increased sevenfold.

Although Congress cannot approve or block deals, lawmakers can force companies to abandon their merger plans. They did so in 2005 when China's CNOOC Ltd made an unsuccessful bid to buy U.S.-based Unocal for $18 billion.

Some experts compared the Shuanghui-Smithfield combination, which would marry two of the world's largest pork producers, to the 2012 takeover of AMC Theaters by China's Dalian Wanda Group for $2.6 billion. That transaction was allowed to proceed when the CFIUS determined the deal posed no threat to national security.

Shares in Smithfield rose 1.7 percent to $34.49 in extended trading.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles, P.J. Huffstutter in Chicago and Aditi Shrivastava in Bangalore; Editing by Ken Wills)

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Gitmo Nation

Stop Sending Undercover Cops Into Our Schools to Entrap Our Kids on Drug Charges | Drug Policy Alliance

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 16:27

December 13, 2013- By Tony NewmanHere we go again. Undercover cops pose as students, make friends, build trust, and then arrest teenagers for selling mostly small amounts of marijuana. Yesterday nearly two dozen students were busted at two southern California high-schools, according to Riverside County Sheriff officials.

Two undercover cops, a woman and a man, had been posing as students since the beginning of the year. The majority of the drug buys were small amounts of marijuana, but there were some other drugs seized including cocaine and prescription pills.

The campus was shaken yesterday, according to a story in the Press Enterprise. Students were shocked to see their friends arrested in class and left wondering who they can and cannot trust in their peer groups.

I'm disgusted by the trend of undercover cops infiltrating schools and targeting our kids. Last December, "Operation Glass House" made national news. Police officers, posed as ordinary students, were stationed in three California high schools. It led to the arrest of 22 children, the majority of whom were special needs students, including the autistic son of Doug and Catherine Snodgrass.

The Snodgrass family was delighted when their son had finally made a friend in school. The new friend would call and text him all the time. What they didn't know was that the new friend was hounding their son for his medication '' and that he was an undercover police officer. After finding and selling a small amount of marijuana to his new friend to keep him happy, Snodgrass's son became one of the 22 arrested for ''dealing drugs.''

Now the Snodgrass family is fighting back. They are suing the school district, the Director of Child Welfare and Attendance, and the Director of Special Education. They are sending a message not only to their son's school, but to schools around the country: you should protect, not prey, on our kids.

Then there is the story that was featured in the nationally syndicated show, This American Life. In three high schools in Florida, several undercover police officers posed as students. The undercover cops went to classes, became Facebook friends with students, and won their trust. An 18-year-old honors student named Justin fell in love with an attractive 25-year-old undercover cop after spending weeks sharing stories about their lives, texting, and flirting with each other.

One day she asked Justin if he smoked pot. Even though he didn't, the love-struck teen promised to help find some for her. Every couple of days she would text him asking if he had the marijuana. Finally Justin obtained a small amount for her. She tried to give him $25 for the marijuana and he said that it was a present and he didn't want any money.

A short while later, the police swept in and arrested 31 students, including Justin. Almost all were charged with selling a small amount of marijuana to the undercover cops. Now Justin has a felony hanging over his head.

Sending police and informants to entrap high-school students is sick. So often we hear that we need to fight the drug war to protect the kids. As these despicable examples show, more often than not the drug war is ruining young people's lives and doing much more harm than good. Enough is enough.

Tony Newman is the director of media relations at the Drug Policy Alliance (

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Obama Nation


D.C. Council Passes Bill to Increase City's Minimum Wage to $11.50 an Hour |

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 16:31

Washington's city council voted Tuesday to increase the District's minimum wage by 40 Percent to $11.50 an hour, up from its current rate of $8.25 an hour.

DC Mayor Vincent Gray (Getty Images)

The bill will now head to the desk of Democratic Mayor Vincent Gray.

Gray has in the past said he disagrees with efforts to increase the minimum wage exponentially. However, the fact that he has said he supports increasing the rate to at least $10 an hour and the likelihood a united city council will overrule any veto from his desk makes it likely Gray will sign off on the law.

The council's vote comes after months of lobbying by organized labor to have the city block Walmart from opening stores in the District.

Groups, including the Service Employees International Union-backed ''OUR DC,'' pushed to have the city council pass a so-called ''living wage'' that would have forced big box retailers operating in spaces of 75,000 feet or more to pay their employees at least $12.50 an hour. The effort would have only affected retailers like Walmart while smaller businesses would have been exempt.

Walmart responded by threatening to abandon its plans to open stores in the District. Fearing what a loss of promised jobs and revenues would look like, Mayor Gray vetoed the ''living wage'' law in September.

The union-led effort to impose a massive wage hike on the non-unionized Walmart failed, and the retailer recently opened two locations in downtown D.C.

However, in order to keep Walmart critics and union supporters happy, D.C. officials said they would support an across the board increase in the District's minimum wage rate '-- which is precisely what the council passed on Tuesday.

The council is united against Gray, according to a Washington Examiner report, meaning any pushback from his office will most likely be ''moot.''

The proposed wage increase will be phased in over a two-year period, the report adds.

Unlike the ''living wage'' law proposed earlier, Walmart barely weighed in on the council's latest effort to increase the District's minimum wage. The retailer said its opposition to the ''living wage'' law was due to the discriminatory nature of bill (remember, smaller retailers would have been exempt from the the wage hikes).

''Ironically, the new increase will likely benefit the retailer since its D.C. competitors may not be as able to pay the higher wage,'' the Washington Examiner notes.

As of October 2013, the unemployment rate in Washington, D.C., was 8.3 percent.


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'Troubling': Federal Judge Orders Obama Admin. to Disclose Document It's Been Trying to Keep Hidden |

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 16:33

A federal judge Tuesday ordered the disclosure of a government-wide foreign aid directive President Barack Obama signed in 2010 but wanted to keep hidden from the public, Politico reports. The judge called the scope of the government's argument for ''presidential communications privilege'' rather ''troubling.''

The Department of Justice has argued that the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development was covered by executive privilege, even though the information is ''non-classified'' and sends directives to agencies not to the president of the United States.

FILE '' In this Dec. 4, 2013 file photo, President Barack Obama pauses as he speaks about the new health care law during a White House Youth Summit, in the South Court Auditorium in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the White House complex in Washington. Americans who already have health insurance are blaming President Barack Obama's health care overhaul for their rising premiums and deductibles, and overall 3 in 4 say the rollout of coverage for the uninsured has gone poorly. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

''Acting on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Center for Effective Government, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle concluded that the presidential order is not properly within the bounds of the so-called 'presidential communications privilege,''' Politico's Josh Gerstein reports.

In her opinion, Huvelle wrote there is ''no evidence that the [directive] was intended to be, or has been treated as, a confidential presidential communication.''

The Obama administration has maintained that the document was only intended for those who ''need to know,'' but the judge argued the order was ''distributed far beyond the president's close advisers and its substance was widely discussed by the president in the media.''

Huvelle also lectured the federal government on its ''cavalier attitude'' when it comes to public oversight and transparency.

''The government appears to adopt the cavalier attitude that the President should be permitted to convey orders throughout the Executive Branch without public oversight' engage in what is in effect governance by 'secret law,''' she wrote.

The Obama administration will now be required by law to make the document available. It's unclear why the administration has fought to keep the document hidden from the public.

The White House website refers to the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development as the ''first of its kind by a U.S. administration.'' also provides a ''fact sheet'' about the directive here.

Read Huvelle's entire opinion here.


Judge orders Obama foreign aid order released -

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 04:02

Rejecting one of the Obama White House's most aggressive attempts to preserve executive branch secrecy, a federal judge Tuesday ordered the disclosure of a government-wide foreign-aid directive President Barack Obama signed in 2010 but refused to make public.

The Justice Department asserted that the Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development was covered by executive privilege, even though it is unclassified and reflected standing guidance to agencies rather than advice given to the president.

Acting on a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit brought by the Center for Effective Government, U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle concluded that the presidential order is not properly within the bounds of the so-called "presidential communications privilege." The judge went further, calling "troubling" the sweeping nature of the government's argument's in the case.

(PHOTOS: Obama's second term)

"This is not a case involving 'a quintessential and nondelegable Presidential power' '' such as appointment and removal of Executive Branch officials...where separation of powers concerns are at their highest. Instead, the development and enactment of foreign development policy can be and is ''exercised or performed without the President's direct involvement," Huvelle wrote in her opinion (posted here.)

Huvelle noted that she ordered the document delivered to her under seal last month and said she disagreed with the government's contention that the order is "'revelatory of the President's deliberations' such that its public disclosure would undermine future decision-making." She also found that "'the President's ability to communicate his [final] decisions privately' not implicated, since the [order] was distributed far beyond the President's close advisers and its substance was widely discussed by the President in the media."

(Also on POLITICO: Klayman crows on NSA win)

"Here there is no evidence that the [directive] was intended to be, or has been treated as, a confidential presidential communication," wrote Huvelle, a Clinton appointee.

The Obama Administration argued that the distribution of the document was restricted to those with a "need to know," but the judge dismissed that contention as "amorphous."

"The government has not, even after plaintiff raised the issue...defined what 'need to know' means," Huvelle wrote.

(Also on POLITICO: NSA ruling fallout hits White House)

The judge also suggested the administration had lost sight of the purposes of the Freedom of Information Act and transparency itself.

"The government appears to adopt the cavalier attitude that the President should be permitted to convey orders throughout the Executive Branch without public engage in what is in effect governance by 'secret law,'" Huvelle said.

The White House referred a request for comment on the ruling to the Justice Department, which did not immediately respond to a query about the case.

Read more about: Transparency, Justice Department, Freedom Of Information Act, Foreign Aid, Development, Center For Effective Government, Ellen Huvelle

Fact Sheet: U.S. Global Development Policy | The White House

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Archived Version

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 16:33

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

September 22, 2010

Today, the President signed a Presidential Policy Directive on Global Development, the first of its kind by a U.S. administration. The directive recognizes that development is vital to U.S. national security and is a strategic, economic, and moral imperative for the United States. It calls for the elevation of development as a core pillar of American power and charts a course for development, diplomacy and defense to mutually reinforce and complement one another in an integrated comprehensive approach to national security. It provides clear policy guidance to all U.S. Government agencies and enumerates our core objectives, our operational model, and the modern architecture we need to implement this policy.

A 21st Century Development Policy

As our National SecurityStrategy states: ''Through an aggressive and affirmative development agenda and commensurate resources, we can strengthen the regional partners we need to help us stop conflict and counter global criminal networks; build a stable, inclusive global economy with new sources of prosperity; advance democracy and human rights; and ultimately position ourselves to better address key global challenges by growing the ranks of prosperous, capable and democratic states that can be our partners in the decades ahead.''

Development is thus indispensable in the forward defense of America's interests in a world shaped by growing economic integration and fragmenting political power; by the rise of emerging powers and the persistent weakness of fragile states; by the potential of globalization and risks from transnational threats; and by the challenges of hunger, poverty, disease, and global climate change. The successful pursuit of development is essential to advancing our national security objectives: security, prosperity, respect for universal values, and a just and sustainable international order.

Our investments in development '' and the policies we pursue that support development '' can encourage broad-based economic growth and democratic governance, facilitate the stabilization of countries emerging from crisis or conflict, alleviate poverty, and advance global commitments to the basic welfare and dignity of all humankind. Without sustainable development, meeting these challenges will prove impossible.

Through the Presidential Policy Directive, President Obama has made clear that sustainable development is a long-term proposition, and progress depends importantly on the choices of political leaders and the quality of institutions in developing countries. Where leaders govern responsibly, set in place good policies, and make investments conducive to development, sustainable outcomes can be achieved. Where those conditions are absent, it is difficult to engineer sustained progress, no matter how good our intentions or the extent of our engagement.

The President's approach to global development addresses the new strategic context faced by the United States through the following three pillars:

A policy focused on sustainable development outcomes that places a premium on broad-based economic growth, democratic governance, game-changing innovations, and sustainable systems for meeting basic human needs;A new operational model that positions the United States to be a more effective partner and to leverage our leadership; and A modern architecture that elevates development and harnesses development capabilities spread across government in support of common objectives. The Presidential Policy Directive seeks to forge a new and lasting bipartisan consensus on development policy within the broader context of our National Security Strategy. It builds on and formalizes many core tenets of the development agenda set in place by recent administrations, while embracing new priorities and approaches that respond to the challenges we now confront.

A Policy Focused on Sustainable Development Outcomes

Over the last several decades, trade-offs among competing development objectives have been made implicitly rather than explicitly, and the effectiveness of U.S. development efforts has been weakened as a result. President Obama will focus U.S. development efforts to maximize the impact of our investments and policies. Moving forward, the United States will:

Foster the next generation of emerging markets by enhancing our focus on broad-based economic growth and democratic governance. Economic growth is the only sustainable way to accelerate development and eradicate poverty. The United States will:

Elevate broad-based economic growth as a top priority, ensuring that our investments and policies are guided by rigorous assessments of what the U.S. can do to help countries achieve sustainable growth. Increase the focus of resources, policy tools, and engagement in support of select countries and sub-regions where the conditions are right to sustain progress. Use U.S. leadership in the multilateral development banks, U.N. agencies, other international organizations, other donors, foundations, nongovernmental organizations, the private sector, and other stakeholders to deploy the full range of our development tools and policies at our disposal. Invest in game-changing innovations with the potential to solve long-standing development challenges. Leveraging the power of research and development, the United States will:

Increase our investments and engagement in development-focused innovation by seeking and scaling up potential game-changing development technologies such as vaccines for neglected diseases, weather-resistant seed varieties, and clean energy technologies. Increase public funding - while securing more private funding - for development-focused research, including by:Capitalizing new models for innovation and bringing sustainable models to scale;Using our leadership, bilaterally and multilaterally, to foster, highlight, and reward innovation; andIncreasing developing countries' creation and utilization of science and technology and removing impediments to innovation faced by the private sector.Place greater emphasis on building sustainable capacity in the public sectors of our partners and at their national and community levels to provide basic services over the long-term. The United States will continue to provide medicine, emergency food aid, humanitarian relief and other assistance where it is desperately needed. But we will also strive to help increase the capacity of our partners to meet those needs by:

Investing in systemic solutions for service delivery, public administration, and other government functions where sufficient capacity exists; a focus on sustainability and public sector capacity will be central to how the United States approaches humanitarian assistance and our pursuit of the objectives set out in the Millennium Development Goals. Tailor development strategies in stabilization and post-crisis situations to the context of the challenges. Applying lessons from past experiences, the United States will:

Balance our civilian and military power to address conflict, instability and humanitarian crises.Pursue development strategies that are appropriate to the circumstances and program resources accordingly, taking into account our core interests and the importance of linking our investments to a long-term strategy. Utilize development expertise in the design of interventions and adopt metrics, appropriate to our objectives and the context, against which we can measure progress. Hold all recipients of U.S. assistance accountable for achieving development results. We must hold accountable all countries to which the United States provides assistance, including those to which we have provided substantial assistance over years or decades. The United States will:

Seek sustained development progress consistently, even in those countries where our assistance efforts have been driven largely by other strategic considerations, and give greater attention to pursuing policy reforms essential for development, including through diplomatic engagementA New Operational Model

The effectiveness of our development policy will derive in large measure from how we engage, from our ability to take into account the complexity of development challenges and the changing development landscape, and from our commitment to incorporate development expertise and an orientation toward results. Moving forward, the United States will:

Be more selective about where and in which sectors it works. The United States cannot do all things, do them well, and do them everywhere. Instead, the U.S. must focus its efforts in order to maximize long-term impact. The United States will:

Make hard choices about how to allocate attention and resources across countries, regions, and sectors.Demand greater focus from assistance programs within countries, especially those with small programs.Reallocate resources in support of those efforts that yield the greatest impact.Underscore the importance of country ownership and responsibility. Where our partners set in place systems that reflect high standards of transparency, good governance, and accountability, the United States will:

Respond directly to country priorities, making new investments in line with established national strategies and country development plans based on broad consultation. Empower responsible governments to drive development and sustain outcomes by working through national institutions rather than around them.Forge a deliberate division of labor among key donors. The United States will:

' Seek an explicit division of labor by focusing our efforts on select countries and regions.

' Focus our expertise in a smaller number of sectors, with an emphasis on selectivity and an orientation toward results. ' Work with bilateral donors, the multilateral development banks and other international organizations to ensure complementarity and coordination of efforts.

Leverage the private sector, philanthropic and nongovernmental organizations, and diaspora communities. The United States will:

' Reorient our approach to prioritize partnership from policy conception through to implementation, finding new ways to leverage our investments and to spur action by others both in Washington and the field. Strengthen key multilateral capabilities. The United States will:

' Redouble our efforts to support, reform, and modernize multilateral development organizations most critical to our interests.

' Renew our leadership in the multilateral development banks, ensuring that we take advantage of their expertise and coordinate our respective efforts.

' Create new multilateral capabilities as and where needed, as we have done by making the G20 the premier forum for our international economic cooperation.

Drive our policy and practice with the disciplined application of analysis of impact. The United States will:

' Set in place rigorous procedures to evaluate the impact of policies and programs, report on results and reallocate resources accordingly, incorporate relevant evidence and analysis from other institutions, and inform the policy and budget process.

' Undertake a more substantial investment of resources in monitoring and evaluation, including with a focus on rigorous and high-quality impact evaluations.

A Modern Architecture

To ensure the effective implementation of our new policy, the United States will raise the importance of development in our national security policy decision-making and generate greater coherence across the U.S. Government. The United States will:

Elevate development as a central pillar of our national security policy, equal to diplomacy and defense, and build and integrate the capabilities that can advance our interests. To ensure that development expertise is brought to bear in decision making, the Administrator of USAID will be included in meetings of the National Security Council, as appropriate. The Administrator will report to the Secretary of State, who will ensure that development and diplomacy are effectively coordinated and mutually reinforcing in the operation of foreign policy. Through existing policy mechanisms (e.g., trade policy through the United States Trade Representative's Trade Policy Review Group, etc.), an assessment of the ''development impact'' of policy changes affecting developing countries will be considered.

Reestablish the United States as the global leader on international development. This entails a long-term commitment to rebuilding USAID as the U.S. Government's lead development agency '' and as the world's premier development agency '' by focusing on the following areas: ' The development of robust policy, budget, planning, and evaluation capabilities. ' Leadership in the formulation of country and sector development strategies, as appropriate.' Streamlined operating methods and greater transparency.' Learning, research and best practices that produce breakthrough results and embrace game-changing innovation.' Investments that benefit women and girls.' New partnerships globally that leverage the expertise and resources of others. The Presidential Policy Directive also commits the U.S. government to building the capabilities of the Millennium Challenge Corporation and better coordinating its efforts with those of USAID and U.S. development policy more generally. The United States will more effectively draw on the contributions of agencies across the United States Government, including the Departments of Agriculture, Health and Human Services, Justice, Labor, Commerce, and Treasury, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, United States Export-Import Bank, and the United States Trade and Development Agency.

Establish mechanisms for ensuring coherence in U.S. development policy across the United States Government. The United States will:

Formulate a U.S. Global Development Strategy for approval by the President every four years;Conduct a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review by the Department of State and USAID, andEstablish an Interagency Policy Committee on Global Development, led by the National Security Staff and reporting to the NSC Deputies and Principals, to set priorities, facilitate decision-making where agency positions diverge, and coordinate development policy across the executive branch, including the implementation of this PPD.Beyond the issues coordinated by the White House, the Secretary of State will coordinate foreign assistance and the Secretary of the Treasury will coordinate multilateral development bank policy, consistent with existing law. In the field, the Chief of Mission will ensure the coherence and coordination of development cooperation across U.S. agencies.Create a U.S. Global Development Council, comprised of leading members of the philanthropic sector, private sector, academia, and civil society, to provide high-level input relevant to the work of United States Government agencies. Foster the integration of capabilities needed to address complex security environments. The United States will seek an enhanced level of interagency cooperation in complex security environments by providing strong incentives for the design of common analysis, planning, and programs that draw upon the distinct perspectives and expertise of different U.S. agencies.

A New Partnership with Congress

President Obama is committed to working closely with Congress to establish a shared vision of the way forward on global development. The Congress has been at the forefront of efforts to build up U.S. development capabilities and to chart new directions and priorities. Any meaningful and permanent change to how we approach development will require engagement with and buy-in from Congress. In forging this new partnership, we will seek greater flexibilities, including a reduction in earmarks and the ability to reallocate funding from less to more effective programs, while committing departments and agencies to a much higher standard of accountability for results.


The National Security Staff will coordinate the interagency in implementing this Presidential Policy Directive, beginning with the FY 2012 budget process.

In addition, three major initiatives reflect work already underway to implement core elements of President Obama's new development policy: Feed the Future (FTF) is the U.S. component of a global initiative launched by President Obama at the London Summit of the G20. FTF is aimed at promoting a comprehensive approach to food security by accelerating economic growth and raising incomes through greater agricultural productivity, increasing incomes and market access for the rural poor and enhancing nutrition. Our efforts are driven by country-owned strategies and coordinated with those of other donors and stakeholders, including leveraging the engagement of other stakeholders, including the private sector, academia, foundations, multilateral institutions and non-government organizations. This also includes the establishment of the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) '' a multilateral trust fund, based at the World Bank and launched by the United States in collaboration with other donors, including private philanthropy '-- designed to help poor farmers grow, market and earn more.

Our Global Health Initiative (GHI) builds on the foundation laid by President George Bush through the creation of the President's Emergency Program for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Taking into account the lessons learned over the last decade, and with an eye to achieving greater and more sustainable impact, the GHI expands our global health effort and impact by improving disease treatment, integrating our interventions and expanding our investments to strengthen health systems, improve maternal child health, address neglected tropical diseases, and foster increased research and development.

Through the Global Climate Change Initiative (GCCI), the United States will integrate climate change considerations into its foreign assistance strategy to foster a low-carbon future and promote sustainable and resilient societies in coming decades. As part of President Obama's commitments in Copenhagen, we are working together with our partners to provide ''fast start'' climate finance approaching $30 billion during the period 2010-2012 to help meet the adaptation and mitigation needs of developing countries, including deploying clean energy technologies. The Administration will use the full range of mechanisms '' bilateral, multilateral and private '' to invest strategically in building lasting resilience to unavoidable climate impacts; reduce emissions from deforestation and land degradation; and, support low-carbon development strategies and the transition to a sustainable, clean energy economy. We are working to make our climate financing efficient, effective, and innovative, based on country-owned plans, and focused on achieving measurable results.These initiatives prioritize investments in game-changing innovations and research, the capacity of host countries, and strong mechanisms to hold both ourselves and our partners accountable for achieving sustainable outcomes. To make these programs more effective, we are working closely with recipient nations, other donors, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, UN agencies, and multilateral development banks.


Slave Training

HSLDA | Worst-Ever Homeschool Law Proposed in Ohio

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 02:47

December 17, 2013

With the introduction of Senate Bill 248 on December 3, 2013, by Senator Capri Cafaro, Ohio has suddenly become a frontline in the battle over homeschooling freedom.

SB 248 is breathtakingly onerous in its scope. It requires all parents who homeschool to undergo a social services investigation which would ultimately determine if homeschooling would be permitted. Social workers would have to interview parents and children separately, conduct background checks and determine whether homeschooling is recommended or not. If it is not recommended, parents would have to submit to an ''intervention'' before further consideration of their request to homeschool.

SB 248 was offered by sponsors as a way to respond to the death of 14-year-old Teddy Foltz-Tedesco in January 2013. News reports indicate that Teddy had been abused for years by his mother's boyfriend, Zaryl Bush. After teachers reported abuse to authorities, Teddy's mother withdrew him from public school, allegedly to homeschool him. Reports tell a sad story of a broken home where neighbors, friends, family, police, teachers and others knew Teddy was suffering ongoing abuse. Finally, Bush beat Teddy so severely that he later died of his injuries. Both Bush and Teddy's mother are now in prison. A news report can be found online.

Unfair to HomeschoolersHSLDA condemns child abuse and is saddened by Teddy's death. HSLDA supports the prosecution of child abusers like Bush and the improvement of systems that prevent child abuse. However, this proposed law does not actually address the problems that led to Teddy's death and instead unfairly targets homeschooling.

In recent years HSLDA has observed numerous attempts to severely restrict homeschooling in state legislatures around the country. In response to a growing number of academic critics, Michael Farris wrote ''Tolerance and Liberty: Answering the Academic Left's Challenge to Homeschooling Freedom.'' Published in the Peabody Journal of Education and available online, Farris articulates why laws like SB 248 are unnecessary and un-American. His response to these critics who have proposed radical constraints on homeschooling freedom puts this latest attempt in the proper context.

Teddy Foltz-Tedesco was killed because those responsible for protecting him did not step in as the law or common sense would have dictated. Why? Although news reports indicate that abuse had been reported for years prior to Teddy's death, it does not appear that any serious intervention was made by government authorities charged with investigating such allegations. Why was not enough done to protect Teddy from known abuse?

System FailureEven if, as SB 248 would require, his mother had sought social service's approval to homeschool and was denied, he still would have been at home subject to abuse after school. Regardless of where he went to school, Teddy was left by authorities in a home where they knew abuse was occurring.

Clearly, SB 248 would not have saved Teddy.

SB 248 turns fundamental American values upside down. Parents have been deemed by the United States Supreme Court in Parham v. JR to act in their children's best interests. In Pierce v. Society of Sisters, the Court ruled that parents have a fundamental right to direct the education of their children. This law replaces parents with unqualified social workers to make educational decisions for children.

What happened to Teddy Foltz-Tedesco is a tragedy that could have been prevented. If those responsible for investigating child abuse had done their job, Teddy might have been saved. The system needs reform, but Senate Bill 248 will increase the load on social workers by requiring them to investigate all families who want to homeschool rather than focusing resources on parents actually suspected of child abuse.

MisguidedRather than target tens of thousands of decent Ohioans who homeschool, policymakers like Cafaro should try to discover what prevented police and social workers who knew what was going on from taking action and faithfully enforcing Ohio's already adequate child protection laws. This bill is misguided and a step in the wrong direction.

HSLDA has requested its Ohio members contact the bill's sponsors to ask them to withdraw Senate Bill 248. However we encourage all our members to consider intervening. This misguided attack on homeschooling in Ohio may only be a precursor to more general attempts by some to impose similar restrictions on parents. Such attempts have been made in the past in numerous states but thanks to the work of HSLDA and state organizations, homeschooling has so far been protected.

For more information visit HSLDA's legislative summary of Ohio SB 248.

' ' '

Protect Your FamilyIf you have questions or difficulties in a school accepting your family's homeschool diploma, don't hesitate to contact HSLDA. We are happy to assist you! If you aren't a member of HSLDA'--what are you waiting for? By standing together we can fight discrimination against homeschoolers and protect our fundamental freedoms. Join today!


Ukraine is part of Europe (with or without the EU) '-- RT Op-Edge

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 13:38

Unlike most Western pundits, I have spent time in Ukraine, dwelled in Khrushchev's Kiev apartment blocks, journeyed by train to Odessa and seen the city's port from the steps where Eisenstein filmed.

This is the land of Shevchenko, and the birthplace of Gogol and Prokofiev, Trotsky and Gorbachev. This is where Catherine the Great brought her empire to the Black Sea. Today, 40 percent of Russian Orthodox parishes are in Ukraine.

Vladimir made Christianity the official state religion of Kievan Rus in the year 988. By comparison, Spain was still a Muslim country.

In the 20th century, Ukraine suffered immensely under Stalin's insanity, designed and produced the T-34 tank that helped him defeat Hitler and was crucial to the greatest social engineering experiment in the history of man, a vast laboratory based on the theories of Europe's most influential thinker since Aristotle: Karl Marx.

Who would now suppose that Ukraine is not really part of Europe?

National identity crisisLike many people in Russia today, Ukrainians feel that history cheated them. While Russians blame the Bolsheviks, the end of the Romanov dynasty and the brutal Communist system that dominated for so long, its atheism, structural mismanagement and inefficiencies... Ukrainians just blame the Russians as a bad influence, period. A generation after the triumph of Ronald Reagan and the Soviet Union's curtain call; the promise of free markets, free people and great hopes for a sunny future, Ukraine is not improving and many see Yanukovich as a relic from a bygone era. He even looks like a 1950s version of Soviet man.

Twenty-two years after the red flag was raised for the last time at the Kremlin, Lenin's statue has been toppled and beaten with a vengeance by sledgehammer wielding toughs in Kiev. What does Lenin have to do with the EU? (I have fond memories of eating lunch in a fast-food joint across the street from this fine, granite specimen of Socialist Realism, which had gazed down on passersby since 1946.)

Rage sweeps across Maidan Square. Young Nationalists and Westernizers dream of a prosperous, democratic and sovereign Ukraine where transparency and the rule of law hold sway. The 1,300-page Association Agreement with the European Union was going to provide the template, require the adoption of 350 EU laws and eliminate tariffs. Monopolies would be dismantled and the Ukrainian economy would be rescued from stagnation. Finance would become available and the country saved from impending economic doom.

For the protesters across Ukraine, Yanukovich stole the dream. Their outrage at the president's decision to say no to the EU has much to do with deep Ukrainian identity politics and is actually a vote of no-confidence in Ukraine's past and present. No politician wins re-election when the economy is shrinking. Yanukovich may need to retire for the sake of his Party of Regions. The Ukrainian oligarchs will have the final word about his fate; they control the media in Ukraine.

Young Ukrainians may not know who they are anymore and may have been seduced by global consumer culture and media, just as their parents were seduced by Coca-Cola and blue jeans a generation ago. They do have real grievances, but the European Union and the International Monetary Fund will not affirm Ukrainian identity and bankroll the journey to the freedom and prosperity that was supposed to be delivered after independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Last crumbs of the European pieOn the contrary, Yanukovich could not do the deal because the EU insisted on a sharp increase in gas prices to Ukrainian homes and the adoption of a neo-liberal agenda in Ukraine, among other requirements. Brussels designed the EU proposal to either be accepted, causing Yanukovich to fall from power, or to be rejected and cause Yanukovich to fall from power.

Ukraine signing the Association Agreement with the EU would undermine Russian export markets in Ukraine and open the door to US military bases in that country. The EU negotiations excluded Russia and attempted to force Ukraine to choose the EU at the expense of its big northern cousin. This strategy backfired and sent Ukraine into Putin's arms. But the young people and the naive people in Ukraine don't care about geopolitical chess games; they just want their piece of the pie... but it is pie in the sky to think the EU will make Ukraine rich.

The European Union is not a charity. It is an economic and political bloc designed to compete with the United States. The euro was created to compete with the US dollar. This bloc unified countries that were bitter enemies in the past and made them stronger by reducing the cost of doing business and facilitating trade among themselves. The end of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance (barter club) in the east and the unification of Germany set the stage for the European Union to be what it is today: an economic giant with Germany leading the way. Today, when you board a commercial airliner, chances are about 50/50 you will be on board a European Airbus or an American Boeing.

Yanukovich made the right decision to avoid ceding control of Ukraine to the EU and IMF. The aim of the EU is to expand influence and the International Monetary Fund is notorious for policies and recipes that lead to perpetual debt and dependency of nations, especially in Africa and Latin America. Their agenda is to privatize industry and ensure compliance with American geopolitical goals.

Privatization can increase prosperity and sometimes American goals are altruistic, but it is naive to believe that Ukraine's association with the EU would solve Ukraine's economic problems and bring material benefit without ceding control to Western powers. Association with the EU and IMF would alleviate some problems in the near term and create new economic problems thereafter because Ukrainian industry cannot compete with Western corporations.

The Eurozone is sickSpain has 25 percent unemployment, bankrupt provinces and a secession movement centered around wealthy Barcelona. Italy and Portugal can barely pay the interest on their bonds, which can never be paid off in full without creating euros out of nothing. Germany will not permit this. Hungary is in deep economic trouble and is experiencing a fascist revival. Then there is Greece. Ukrainians need to take a hard look over the horizon and take stock of what happens when the Eurozone suffers the structural failure of a member state. It's called austerity, and it's the new watchword all over Euroland. The details of the Greek default and tragedy are well known and do not need repeating here.

The situation in Cyprus doesn't give much hope, either. In March, the European Union stole billions of euros from depositors at Cypriot banks. The EU called it a bail-in. Now they say they will be forced to do the same in other EU countries in the near future. In Cyprus, many of the victims were Russians. To be frank, the EU's attitude was that they had it coming because most of the Russian depositors are gangsters and oligarchs anyway. As for the Greeks, they are lazy and need to learn some discipline. Once Ukraine is associated with the EU and needs help, they will be viewed with similar disdain by Western Europeans.

The European Union and the International Monetary Fund don't give anything away for free. They buy influence, interfere in the internal affairs and dictate the foreign policies of vulnerable nations in the interest of global banks and Western governments. Debt is their primary tool.

In Ukraine, the EU sabotaged itself by meddling in the Yulia Tymoshenko case before it had enough leverage over the country to dictate policy. President Yanukovich is holding out for a sweeter deal from the EU and Russia but patience has worn out and sitting on the fence is no longer an option. He opted for Russia but is unwilling to meet Russian requirements for more substantial financial relief, which Ukraine must soon obtain to avoid a deeper crisis and the fall of his government.

The Shanghai Cooperation Council may be the best option for Ukraine. In concert with Russia and China, Ukraine could partner with the BRICS. Muslim Turkey, long snubbed by the EU, has said it will also join the SCC if the European Union continues to deny it membership in the bloc.

Economic opportunity and democracy, the rule of law and transparency... are home grown, not imported from the EU. At the end of the day, Ukraine can, by itself, change for the better, uphold Western European standards, observe the rule of law, encourage entrepreneurship, encourage foreign investment and make Ukraine a great place to do business. If Ukraine continues to improve in these areas, it will, in time, be in a strong position to negotiate terms of trade with the rest of Europe and the world.

Daniel Bruno for RT

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Siemens loses appeal over EU cartel fine

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Source: Reuters: Technology News

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 14:58

FRANKFURTThu Dec 19, 2013 8:18am EST

TweetShare thisEmailPrintThe company logo of Siemens AG is pictured atop an office building in Berlin September 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Tobias Schwarz

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - Technology companies Siemens, Mitsubishi Electric and Toshiba Corp have lost an appeal at Europe's highest court over a ruling made in 2007 that they were part of a cartel selling electrical equipment.

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said in a statement that the fine of 397 million euros ($546.4 million) handed down to Siemens, as well as the finding that Mitsubishi and Toshiba participated in the cartel were thus final.

The European Commission had fined a total of 10 companies including Alstom and Areva in 2007 for taking part in a gas insulated switchgear cartel, with the 750 million euro total penalty the largest ever delivered by the watchdog at the time.

While Mitsubishi and Toshiba had succeeded in getting their fines annulled by the General Court of the European Union, the Commission has since recalculated the amounts, setting a 74.8 million euro penalty for Mitsubishi and 56.8 million for Toshiba.

Siemens said it respected the decision of the court.

Mitsubishi and Toshiba said they would fight to get the fines reduced. They currently have appeals pending at the General Court.

The cartel, which used code names for firms and individuals to avoid detection, had operated for more than 16 years, with agreements between the European companies not to sell in Japan and vice-versa, the Commission had previously said.

(This story has been refiled to correct paragraph 4 to show the Commission, not the ECJ, has recalculated the fine for Mitsubishi and Toshiba)

(Reporting by Victoria Bryan in Frankfurt, Irene Preisinger in Munich, and Sarah White in Tokyo; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)

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Russia Bans Dutch Dairy Products Amid Sour Relations

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Source: RIA Novosti

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 14:38

MOSCOW, December 19 (RIA Novosti) '' Russia has imposed a partial ban on dairy imports from the Netherlands, citing safety concerns, amid increasingly strained relations between the two countries.

Russia's food standards agency has banned import of products from 13 Dutch dairy manufacturers that it said used raw products from suppliers that have no right to export to the Moscow-led Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

The ban, which comes into force Thursday, also applies to dairy products that were found to be past their expired date at the Dutch factories' storage facilities, the agency said.

Russia announced in October it was tightening checks on dairy imports from the Netherlands, a decision made against the backdrop of rising tensions over Moscow's arrest of Greenpeace activists and the detention of a Russian diplomat by Dutch police in the Netherlands.

Russian health authorities said preliminary inspections revealed shortcomings in checks on dairy goods by the Dutch authorities.

Europe reaches deal on common mobile phone battery charger

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Archived Version

Source: Reuters: Technology News

Thu, 19 Dec 2013 14:20

BRUSSELSThu Dec 19, 2013 8:46am EST

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Mobile phone makers will have to provide a standard battery charger that can fit any device, including smart phones, under a provisional deal on a new EU law reached on Thursday.

Provided the outline agreement gets endorsement from the European Parliament and EU member states, it would be implemented in around 2017, EU officials said.

The draft law on radio equipment lays down harmonized rules for radio equipment, including cell phones and modems.

EU lawmakers also agreed on tougher market supervision and to ensure certain products have to be registered before they can be put on the market, in line with a database system already in existence in the United States.

Once finalized, member states will have two years to transpose the regulation into their national law and manufacturers - including Apple Inc and Samsung - will be given an additional year to comply.

A full session of the European Parliament is expected to sign off the law in March, meaning that a standard battery charger should be available some time in 2017.

(Reporting by Barbara Lewis; editing by Keiron Henderson)

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War on Weed

Drug Maker Secures Patent on THC and CBD as Cancer Treatment | High Times

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 14:59

A pharmaceutical company in the United Kingdom, specializing in the research and development of pot-based drugs, recently obtained early approval on a patent covering two specific cannabinoids found in marijuana to be used as treatment for brain cancer.

According to a press release, GW Pharmaceuticals will hold the patent rights to the two primary compounds found in marijuana, THC and CBD, for use as medicine for patients suffering from gliomas -- the most common form of malignant brain tumor.

The United States Patent Office informed the drug company earlier last week, by way of Notice of Allowance, that a patent application filed several years ago was officially deemed a genuine invention and is now in its final stages of approval.

GW Pharmaceuticals must now submit the appropriate fees before final approval for their cancer combatant patent is granted. Try saying that five time fast.

''The subject patent specifically covers a method for treating glioma in a human using a combination of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) wherein the cannabinoids are in a ratio of from 1:1 to 1:20 (THC:CBD) with the intent to reduce cell viability, inhibit cell growth or reduce tumor volume,'' according to a statement issued by the company.

GW's patent application was originally filed in 2009, which detailed the company's invention of the ''use of a combination of cannabinoids in the manufacture of a medicament for use in the treatment of cancer.'' Yet, it is believed the verbiage was revised at some point, noting more specific information, including THC and CBD ratios and the fact that the treatment is used against brain cancer.

Justin Gover, GW's Executive Chief Officer, says that the company recently initiated its first wave of clinical trails to study glioma, a disease that accounts for nearly 50% of new brain cancer diagnoses in the United States each year. ''The treatment of glioma is part of our exciting new orphan drug program which includes a number of therapeutic targets and demonstrates the flexibility of GW's proprietary cannabinoid platform in treating a broad range of disease types.''

Mike Adams writes for Playboy's The Smoking Jacket, BroBible and Hustler Magazine. Follow him: @adamssoup;

VIDEO-PODCAST- Greg Proops | Getting Doug with High - YouTube

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 19:12

420 (cannabis culture) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 18:23

420, 4:20, or 4/20 (pronounced four-twenty) is a code-term used primarily in North America that refers to the consumption of cannabis and by extension, as a way to identify oneself with cannabis subculture or simply cannabis itself. Observances based on the number 420 include smoking cannabis around the time 4:20 p.m. (with some sources also indicating 4:20 a.m.[1][2]), on any given day, as well as smoking cannabis on the date April 20 (4/20 in American form).[3]

Origins[edit]A widely discussed story says that a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California,[4][5] calling themselves the Waldos,[6] because, "their chosen hang-out spot was a wall outside the school",[7] used the term in connection with a fall 1971 plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about.[6][8] The Waldos designated the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School as their meeting place, and 4:20 p.m. as their meeting time.[7] The Waldos referred to this plan with the phrase "4:20 Louis". Multiple failed attempts to find the crop eventually shortened their phrase to simply "4:20", which ultimately evolved into a codeword that the teens used to mean pot-smoking in general.[8]Mike Edison says that Steve Hager of High Times was responsible for taking the story about the Waldos to "mind-boggling, cult like extremes" and "suppressing" all other stories about the origin of the term.[9]

Hager wrote "Stoner Smart or Stoner Stupid?" in which he called for 4:20 p.m. to be the socially accepted hour of the day to consume cannabis.[10] He attributes the early spread of the phrase to Grateful Dead followers, who were also linked to the city of San Rafael.[10]

April 20 observances[edit]420 event in Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, April 20th 2013April 20 has become a counterculture holiday in North America, where people gather to celebrate and consume cannabis.[2][3] Some events have a political nature to them, advocating for the legalization of cannabis. North American observances have been held in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park near the Haight-Ashbury district,[11] the University of Colorado's Boulder campus,[5][12][13] Ottawa, Ontario, at Parliament Hill and Major's Hill Park,[14][15] Montr(C)al, Qu(C)bec at Mount Royal monument,[16][17]Edmonton, Alberta at the Alberta Legislature Building,[18] as well as Vancouver, British Columbia at the Vancouver Art Gallery.[19] The growing size of the unofficial event at UC Santa Cruz caused the Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs to send an e-mail to parents in 2009 stating: "The growth in scale of this activity has become a concern for both the university and surrounding community."[20]

Events have also occurred in Auckland, New Zealand at the Daktory.[21][unreliable source?] and Dunedin, New Zealand, at University of Otago.[22][23][24][25][26][27]

See also[edit]References[edit]^Chris Goldstein (April 17, 2013). "How 420 became a marijuana holiday". Philadelphia Media Network. Retrieved 21 April 2013. ^ ab^ abKing, Matt (April 24, 2007). "Thousands at UCSC burn one to mark cannabis holiday". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 26, 2007. ^"Stoner Chic Traces Origin To San Rafael '' Snickering high schoolers brought `420' into lexicon". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved April 4, 2012. ^ abMcKinley, Jesse (April 19, 2009). "Marijuana Advocates Point to Signs of Change". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 20 January 2011. Retrieved January 23, 2011. "Mr. Hager said the significance of April 20 dates to a ritual begun in the early 1970s in which a group of Northern California teenagers smoked cannabis every day at 4:20 p.m. Word of the ritual spread and expanded to a yearly event in various places. Soon, cannabis aficionados were using "420" as a code for smoking and using it as a sign-off on flyers for concerts where the drug would be plentiful. In recent years, the April 20 events have become so widespread that several colleges have discouraged students from participating. At the University of Colorado, Boulder, where thousands of students regularly use the day to light up in the quad, administrators sent an e-mail message this month pleading with students not to "participate in unlawful activity that debases the reputation of your university and degree."" ^ abHigh Times (21 March 2012). The Official High Times Cannabis Cookbook: More Than 50 Irresistible Recipes That Will Get You High. Chronicle Books. pp. 97''. ISBN 978-1-4521-0133-0. Retrieved 19 April 2012. ^ abGrim, Ryan (April 20, 2009). "What 420 Means: The True Story Behind Stoners' Favorite Number". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011. ^ abGrim, Ryan (April 20, 2010). "420 Meaning: The True Story Of How April 20 Became 'Weed Day'". The Huffington Post. Retrieved January 23, 2011. ^Edison, Mike (2009-05-12). I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage Tales of Pot, Porn, Punk Rock, Pro Wrestling, Talking Apes, Evil Bosses, Dirty Blues, American Heroes, and the Most Notorious Magazines in the World. Faber & Faber. pp. 207''. ISBN 9780865479036. Retrieved 20 April 2013. ^ ab"Stoner Smart, or Stoner Stupid?". High Times. 2008. Retrieved 2012-04-20. ^"A Huge Turn Out for 420 Day on Hippie Hill in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park " San Francisco Citizen". 2010-04-20. Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20. ^CU's 4/20 pot smoke-out draws crowd of 10,000 : CU News.^"Medical marijuana expected to give momentum to CU-Boulder 4/20 event '' Boulder Daily Camera". Archived from the original on 30 April 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20. ^"Pot activists to light up on Hill". Retrieved 2011-04-20. ^"Ottawa's Parliament Hill just one site for planned 4/20 protest". Archived from the original on 11 May 2011. Retrieved 2011-04-20. ^"420 Day- Cannabis Festival". Samesun Nation Travel Blog. Retrieved 2011-04-20. ^"Canada's marijuana activists unite against American-style drug laws '' 420 vote mobs to be held in over 10 cities across Canada on April 20th". CNW Group. Retrieved 2011-04-20. ^"Hundreds of Tokers Flood Alberta Legislature in Protest to Push for Legalization of Marijuana". Retrieved 2013-04-22. ^Hall, Neal (May 2, 2009). "Thousands of marijuana smokers gather in Vancouver to celebrate "420"". The Vancouver Sun. Retrieved September 30, 2009. ^Bookwalter, Genevieve (04/07/2009). "Mom and Dad now know about '4/20'". Santa Cruz Sentinel. Retrieved 20 April 2013. ^Hopkins, Steve (January 10, 2010). "Pot clubs go nationwide". Sunday News. Archived from the original on 12 January 2010. Retrieved January 13, 2010. ^Porteous, Debbie (June 12, 2008). "Police swoop on cannabis protest". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved March 31, 2009. ^"420 Protest". Channel 9 News Dunedin. February 22, 2008. Archived from the original on 22 October 2008. Retrieved October 7, 2008. ^Porteous, Debbie (July 11, 2008). "Campus arrests follow marijuana complaints (+ video)". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009. ^Rudd, Allison (September 26, 2008). "Moore's appeal rejected". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009. ^Rudd, Allison (July 22, 2008). "Lack of quorum foils cannabis vote". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009. ^Rudd, Allison (September 20, 2008). "OUSA general meeting promises controversy". Otago Daily Times. Retrieved April 22, 2009. 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See also: Lists of holidays, Hallmark holiday, Public holidays in the United States, Public holidays in Puerto Rico, and Public holidays in the United States Virgin Islands


Report: VA lobotomized 2,000 disturbed veterans | Army Times |

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Sun, 15 Dec 2013 23:43

The U.S. government lobotomized roughly 2,000 mentally ill veterans '-- and likely hundreds more '-- during and after World War II, according to a cache of forgotten memos, letters and government reports unearthed by The Wall Street Journal.

''They got the notion they were going to come to give me a lobotomy,'' Roman Tritz, a World War II bomber pilot, told the newspaper in a report published Wednesday. ''To hell with them.''

Tritz said the orderlies at the veterans hospital pinned him to the floor, and he initially fought them off. A few weeks later, just before his 30th birthday, he was lobotomized.

Besieged by psychologically damaged troops returning from the battlefields of North Africa, Europe and the Pacific, the Veterans Administration performed the brain-altering operation on former servicemen it diagnosed as depressives, psychotics and schizophrenics, and occasionally on people identified as homosexuals, according to the report.

The VA's use of lobotomy, in which doctors severed connections between parts of the brain then thought to control emotions, was known in medical circles in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and is occasionally cited in medical texts. But the VA's practice, never widely publicized, long ago slipped from public view. Even the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says it possesses no records detailing the creation and breadth of its lobotomy program.

The Wall Street Journal's reporting series began with Wednesday's Forgotten Soldiers and included a documentary, archived photos, maps and medical records.

The Journal quoted the VA's response to its inquiry: ''In the late 1940s and into the 1950s, VA and other physicians throughout the United States and the world debated the utility of lobotomies. The procedure became available to severely ill patients who had not improved with other treatments. Within a few years, the procedure disappeared within VA, and across the United States, as safer and more effective treatments were developed.''

The newspaper reported that musty files warehoused in the National Archives show VA doctors resorting to brain surgery as they struggled with a vexing question that absorbs America to this day: How best to treat the psychological crises that afflict soldiers returning from combat.

Between April 1, 1947, and Sept. 30, 1950, VA doctors lobotomized 1,464 veterans at 50 hospitals authorized to perform the surgery, according to agency documents rediscovered by the Journal. Scores of records from 22 of those hospitals list another 466 lobotomies performed outside that time period, bringing the total documented operations to 1,930.

Gaps in the records suggest that hundreds of additional operations likely took place at other VA facilities. The vast majority of the patients were men, although some female veterans underwent VA lobotomies as well.

Lobotomies faded from use after the first major antipsychotic drug, Thorazine, hit the market in the mid-1950s, revolutionizing mental health care.

The forgotten lobotomy files, military records and interviews with veterans' relatives reveal the details of lives gone terribly wrong, according to the Journal.

The veterans included:

'– Joe Brzoza, who was lobotomized four years after surviving artillery barrages on the beaches at Anzio, Italy, and spent his remaining days chain-smoking in VA psychiatric wards.

'– Eugene Kainulainen, whose breakdown during the North African campaign the military attributed partly to a childhood tendency toward ''temper tantrums and [being] fussy about food.''

'– Melbert Peters, a bomber crewman given two lobotomies '-- one most likely performed with a pick-like instrument inserted through his eye sockets.

'– And Tritz, the son of a Wisconsin dairy farmer who flew a B-17 Flying Fortress on 34 combat missions over Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe.

''They just wanted to ruin my head, it seemed to me,'' Tritz said. ''Somebody wanted to.''

To stimulate patients' nerves, hospital staff also commonly sprayed veterans with powerful jets of alternating hot and cold water, the archives show. Tritz received 66 treatments of high-pressure water sprays called the Scotch Douche and Needle Shower, his medical records say.

''You couldn't help but have the feeling that the medical community was impotent at that point,'' Elliot Valenstein, 89, a World War II veteran and psychiatrist who worked at the Topeka, Kan., VA hospital in the early 1950s, told the Journal. He recalled wards full of soldiers haunted by nightmares and flashbacks. The doctors, he says, ''were prone to try anything.''

[Launch Alert] Minuteman III Launched

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 16:57

[Launch Alert] Minuteman III LaunchedLaunch Alertlaunch-alert at mailman.qth.netTue Dec 17 10:37:55 EST 2013

This morning's planned launch of a Minuteman III strategic missile from Vandenberg AFB took place at 04:46 PST. At 06:19 PST, I was near the intersection of U.S. 101 and Las Posas in Camarillo and saw what appeared to be the aftermath from the launch. Dawn was breaking in the east. There was a very thin cloud layer covering most of the sky and medium-altitude broken clouds covering about 3/10 of the sky. In the east I saw a tenuous, glowing, twisted, snake-like trail with sharp turns suspended against the dark blue sky.Brian WebbThe following is a Vandenberg AFB news release.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEDec. 17, 2013MINUTEMAN III LAUNCHES FROM VANDENBERGVANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test at 4:36 a.m. here Tuesday from Launch Facility-04 on north Vandenberg. Col. Brent McArthur, 30th Space Wing vice commander, was the launch decisionauthority."This was our twelfth and final launch for 2013," said McArthur. "I am proud of this team of professionals who worked so hard to make this mission a success. Now the team can take some time to enjoy the holidays with family and friends; after the holidays we'll start preparing for a busy 2014 launch schedule."The following is an Air Force Global Strike Command news release.MINUTEMAN III TEST MISSILE LAUNCHES FROM VANDENBERG BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. '' A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile today at 4:36 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Every test launch verifies the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, said Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, 20th Air Force commander. ''Our Airmen maintain and operate this weapon system year round in some challenging environments, and today's test is a result of their tireless devotion to this mission,'' said Weinstein.The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, included Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, Offutt AFB, Neb.''The test launch is one demonstration of the professionalism and pride all members of Team Malmstrom take in executing our mission,'' said Lt. Col. Thomas Vance, 341st Missile Wing task force commander. ''Task Force members performed their maintenance and operations tasks with the highest level of dedication and precision, as they and all other 341st Missile Wing Airmen do daily in the missile field and on base to maximize the effectiveness of our ICBM forces,'' Vance said. Malmstrom AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24-7 year round, overseeing the nation's 450 ICBMs.''As a missileer, the test launch was an amazing experience,'' said 2nd Lt. Jasmine Paul, deputy combat crew commander. Paul pulls an average of eight alerts per month, monitoring 50 missiles at Malmstrom.''I pulled alert for this test launch and monitored it every step of the way, relaying information to the test conductor,'' Paul said. ''Being able to see the missile take off gives me a sense of pride and shows me that the work I put into this career every day is well worth it.''The entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command will use the data collected from this mission for continuing force development evaluation. The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States' ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.More information about the Launch-Alert mailing list

[Launch Alert] Minuteman III LaunchedLaunch Alertlaunch-alert at mailman.qth.netTue Dec 17 10:37:55 EST 2013

This morning's planned launch of a Minuteman III strategic missile from Vandenberg AFB took place at 04:46 PST. At 06:19 PST, I was near the intersection of U.S. 101 and Las Posas in Camarillo and saw what appeared to be the aftermath from the launch. Dawn was breaking in the east. There was a very thin cloud layer covering most of the sky and medium-altitude broken clouds covering about 3/10 of the sky. In the east I saw a tenuous, glowing, twisted, snake-like trail with sharp turns suspended against the dark blue sky.Brian WebbThe following is a Vandenberg AFB news release.FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEDec. 17, 2013MINUTEMAN III LAUNCHES FROM VANDENBERGVANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. - An unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile was launched during an operational test at 4:36 a.m. here Tuesday from Launch Facility-04 on north Vandenberg. Col. Brent McArthur, 30th Space Wing vice commander, was the launch decisionauthority."This was our twelfth and final launch for 2013," said McArthur. "I am proud of this team of professionals who worked so hard to make this mission a success. Now the team can take some time to enjoy the holidays with family and friends; after the holidays we'll start preparing for a busy 2014 launch schedule."The following is an Air Force Global Strike Command news release.MINUTEMAN III TEST MISSILE LAUNCHES FROM VANDENBERG BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. '' A team of Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen successfully launched an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile today at 4:36 a.m. PST from Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. Every test launch verifies the accuracy and reliability of the ICBM weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent, said Maj. Gen. Jack Weinstein, 20th Air Force commander. ''Our Airmen maintain and operate this weapon system year round in some challenging environments, and today's test is a result of their tireless devotion to this mission,'' said Weinstein.The launch team, under the direction of the 576th Flight Test Squadron, Vandenberg AFB, included Airmen from the 341st Missile Wing, Malmstrom AFB, Mont., and the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron, Offutt AFB, Neb.''The test launch is one demonstration of the professionalism and pride all members of Team Malmstrom take in executing our mission,'' said Lt. Col. Thomas Vance, 341st Missile Wing task force commander. ''Task Force members performed their maintenance and operations tasks with the highest level of dedication and precision, as they and all other 341st Missile Wing Airmen do daily in the missile field and on base to maximize the effectiveness of our ICBM forces,'' Vance said. Malmstrom AFB is one of three missile bases with crew members standing alert 24-7 year round, overseeing the nation's 450 ICBMs.''As a missileer, the test launch was an amazing experience,'' said 2nd Lt. Jasmine Paul, deputy combat crew commander. Paul pulls an average of eight alerts per month, monitoring 50 missiles at Malmstrom.''I pulled alert for this test launch and monitored it every step of the way, relaying information to the test conductor,'' Paul said. ''Being able to see the missile take off gives me a sense of pride and shows me that the work I put into this career every day is well worth it.''The entire ICBM community, including the Department of Defense, the Department of Energy, and U.S. Strategic Command will use the data collected from this mission for continuing force development evaluation. The ICBM test launch program demonstrates the operational credibility of the Minuteman III and ensures the United States' ability to maintain a strong, credible nuclear deterrent as a key element of U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.More information about the Launch-Alert mailing list

Ministry of Truth


Kim Jong Un's former classmates say he really is 'dangerous, unpredictable, prone to violence' - The Washington Post

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 22:52

By Max Fisher, Published: DECEMBER 16, 12:39 PM ET Aa North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. (AFP Photo/KCNA via KNS)

The U.S. government reached alarming conclusions about the personal character of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un based on interviews with people who knew him when he was a student in Switzerland, former U.S. Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell revealed on CNN over the weekend.

The official U.S. assessment of Kim's character is perhaps not, on its face, very surprising. After all, the North Korean leader, like his father, certainly gives the impression of a wild-eyed despot who appears to buy into his own highly official cult of personality. But North Korea-watchers have long debated whether this is merely a pose, a performance calculated to rally North Koreans and intimidate the outside world. This assessment suggests that Kim's antics are not entirely about rational decision-making but are at least in part driven by a personality just as crazy as it appears.

Reports have long conflicted over how much time Kim spent as a study-abroad student in Switzerland, where he posed as the son of a driver for the local North Korean embassy. Most reports suggest he attended Swiss boarding school between 1998 and 2000, when he would have been 15 to 17 years old, although Campbell asserts that he "spent seven or eight years out of North Korea in Switzerland."

"We went to great pains to interview almost everyone - classmates, others - to try to get a sense of what his character was like," Campbell said. "The general recounting of those experiences led us to believe that he was dangerous, unpredictable, prone to violence and with delusions of grandeur."

Campbell made the comments in the context of a discussion about the recent purge and execution of Jang Song Thaek, Kim's uncle and a long-time senior regime official. The former State Department official conceded that "we really do not know" the full story of the Jang purge or why it happened, which is also broadly true about the inner workings of the North Korean government.

We can't know what's happening inside the North Korean regime any more than we know what's happening in Kim's head. But if this assessment of his character is accurate, it has significant implications for this nuclear-armed rogue state, its threat to the outside world and the fates of its 25 million citizens.

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Washington Post: Readers Deserve Full Disclosure in Coverage of CIA

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 04:04

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Movie /PR


Great Train Robbery drama to air on the day of Ronnie Biggs' death - Yahoo TV UK

BBC News - Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs dies aged 84

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 15:27

18 December 2013Last updated at 07:38 ET British criminal Ronnie Biggs, who took part in the 1963 Great Train Robbery, has died aged 84, his spokeswoman has confirmed.

Biggs was part of the gang which escaped with £2.6m from the Glasgow to London mail train on 8 August 1963.

He was given a 30-year sentence but escaped from Wandsworth prison in 1965.

In 2001, he returned to the UK seeking medical help but was sent to prison. He was released on compassionate grounds in 2009 after contracting pneumonia.

Train driver Jack Mills was struck over the head during the robbery and never worked again. He died in 1970.

'Small-time crook'Biggs, who died early on Wednesday, was being cared for at the Carlton Court Care Home in East Barnet, north London.

Continue reading the main storyLoveable old rogue or violent criminal? Ronnie Biggs divided opinion like few other offenders.

Some admired his audacity - the robbery, the prison escape and the 36 years on the run, cocking a snook at authority as he lived the high life in Brazil.

Others detested his cavalier attitude to the rules by which most law-abiding people live their lives - and they remember that the robbery was not a "victimless" crime. Jack Mills, the train driver, beaten with an iron bar, never fully recovered and died of leukaemia seven years later.

The case of Ronnie Biggs is a reminder of our sometimes conflicting attitude to crime and criminals.

He could not speak and had difficulty walking after a series of strokes.

He was last seen in public at the funeral of his fellow Great Train Robber, Bruce Reynolds, in March.

Christopher Pickard, ghost writer of Biggs's autobiography, said he should be remembered as "one of the great characters of the last 50 years".

He told BBC Radio 4's Today programme his friend was "a very kind and generous man with a great sense of humour".

Biggs was "one of the first products of the media age" who "inherited fame while running around the world," he said.

Anthony Delano, who wrote a book about Biggs, met the criminal a number of times.

"He was a man with no moral compass whatever," he told BBC Radio 5 live.

"He was a small-time crook who probably would have ended up in prison for a greater part of his life anyway.

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"I think he was lucky actually to have so much of it free."

And Mick Whelan, general secretary of train drivers' union Aslef, expressed sympathy for Biggs's family but said: "We have always regarded Biggs as a nonentity and a criminal who took part in a violent robbery which resulted in the death of a train driver."

"Jack Mills, who was 57 at the time of the robbery, never properly recovered from the injuries he suffered after being savagely coshed by the gang of which Biggs was a member that night."

'Totally regrettable'Biggs, Reynolds, Ronald 'Buster' Edwards and the other gang members wore helmets and ski masks to carry out their crime, which took place near Cheddington, Buckinghamshire.

They made off with 120 bags of money totalling £2.6m - the equivalent of £40m in today's money.

Speaking to Nicky Campbell on Radio 1 in 2000 - before his return to the UK - Biggs said his share of the money had been £147,000.

"I squandered it totally - within three years it was all gone," he said.

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Since then he had been "living on my name only," he added.

He said it was "totally regrettable" that train driver Jack Mills has been injured during the robbery.

"I regret it fully myself - I only wish it would not have happened but there's no way that I can put the clock back."

But Biggs said he did not regret the robbery and, referring to comments made by the judge in the trial, he said: "I'm totally involved in vast greed, I'm afraid."

Rope ladder Peter Rayner, a former chief operating officer for British Rail who worked with Mr Mills, said: "My view is that whilst I was, and am, critical of the Great Train Robbers and the heroes' welcome they got, especially in light of the death of Jack Mills, my sympathies go out to his family."

Biggs, who lived in Australia and Brazil while he was on the run, had been in prison for 15 months when he used a rope ladder to climb over the prison walls.

He had initially fled to Paris, with his wife Charmian and two sons, Farley and Chris.

He was arrested in Rio de Janeiro in 1974 by Chief Supt Jack Slipper, of Scotland Yard.

But he successfully argued against extradition because he had fathered a son, Michael, by his Brazilian girlfriend, Raimunda.

In 2011, his son, Michael, told the BBC News website his father had a final wish that his ashes be spread between Brazil and London.

The BBC said two film dramas about the robbery - A Robber's Tale and A Copper's Tale - scheduled to be broadcast on BBC One on Wednesday and Thursday, would still go ahead.

Continue reading the main storyINTERACTIVE

— In April 1964, Ronnie Biggs was sentenced to 30 years in prison for his role in the Great Train Robbery eight months earlier. But 13 months later he escaped from Wandsworth prison by scaling a wall with a makeshift ladder, and jumping onto a parked removal van.

— Biggs fled first by sea to Antwerp in Belgium, and then travelled to Paris where he underwent plastic surgery in an attempt to alter his appearance.

— Travelling on forged documents, Biggs then flew to Sydney on 29 December 1965. He was joined by his wife and sons, and the family settled in Adelaide. A year later they moved again to Melbourne.

— Tipped off that the police had discovered him, Biggs boarded a ship from Melbourne to Panama before flying on to Rio de Janeiro. In 1974 the Daily Express newspaper tracked him down, and British police began moves to bring him back to the UK. However as Biggs had fathered a child with a Brazilian woman, under Brazilian law he could not be extradited and he remained in Rio for the next 27 years.

— The UK and Brazil agreed an extradition treaty in 1997, but all legal moves to bring Biggs back failed. However in 2001, with his health failing, Biggs told the Sun newspaper that he would be willing to return. He arrived back by private jet on 7 May 2001, and was immediately arrested and returned to prison. Biggs was eventually released in 2009, two days before his 80th birthday, having served around a third of his original 30-year term.

Writer Chris Chibnall said the programmes did not focus on Biggs. The first is from the point of view of Reynolds, while the second tells the story of the police investigation.

"With anything like this your thoughts have to be with the family on a day like today," Mr Chibnall said.

"He has children and obviously it's going to be a very difficult day for them."

He was a greedy criminal "with no moral compass" and yet he's portrayed as some kind of anti-hero. What is it about Britain and our cheeky-chappy cockney bad guys? Matthew Gibbs, Bournemouth, England

It is with deep sadness I write regarding the passing of Ronald Biggs. For those that know me, know that he played a huge part in my life. To me he was a dear close friend and a father figure at times. For nearly 20 years we shared laughs, beers and a few tears. A great train robber he was but a caring and generous man he became. Brian Running, Nicaragua

This man was a criminal whose actions resulted in the death of a man who was simply doing the job he was paid for. My grandfather was a near contemporary of Jack Mills and if he had worked out of a different depot, it could have been him that night. The glorification of these criminals sickens me. Caroline Watson, Hexham, England

So another thief is dead - who cares. Thanks for the BBC for immortalising this man, are we going to have front page coverage of other thieves that have died? Is this what we aspire to? Markey, Watford, Hertfordshire

I meet Ronnie in Brazil at his home in 1995, a gentleman, great host and all around good guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Andy, Miami, USA

He was a common criminal who was involved in injuring a decent hardworking man. It's not glamorous and he should be forgotten and good riddance. Julie Marshall, Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire,

He does sound like a real character, and a nice man in the end. It's a pity he felt he had to do something like this, and I am sure Mr Mills and his family would agree. Christopher Morrison, Lake Katrine, NY, USA

The guy was a thief and a murderer and he life should not be glamorised in this way. Ben Rattigan, Hartlepool, England

I really wish this man's death had been reported with a passing mention rather than all this publicity. He was not a loveable rogue. He was a nasty, arrogant criminal who should have been left to rot in a Brazilian hospital. This story is taking precedence over the death of a British doctor in Syria whose desire to do good led to his murder. I'm disgusted. Peter, Manchester, England


High-profile gun control groups join forces

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 13:09

Gun control supporters hold signs during a news conference held by Mayors Against Illegal Guns Sept. 19 in Washington, DC. Gun control advocates are urging Congress "to support common-sense background checks legislation that will keep guns away from dangerous individuals and help save lives."(Photo: Alex Wong Getty Images)

Story HighlightsCombined group brings Bloomberg's deep pockets and strong social network of mothers' groupMoms Demand Action pushed Starbucks to ban guns from its cafesNRA attorney: "their anti-Second Amendment agendas won't change."SHARE5323CONNECTEMAILMOREMoms will soon join mayors in a push to limit access to illegal firearms, as two high-profile groups reveal plans to merge.

Outgoing New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg's Mayors Against Illegal Guns on Thursday will announce that it is joining with Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America, a year-old grassroots campaign launched the day after the Dec. 14, 2012, shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn.

The combined group will align Bloomberg's deep pockets with the strong social network and media savvy the mothers' group brings. The billionaire founder of Bloomberg News said last week that he'll "devote extensive resources of my own" to the effort.

In a statement Wednesday, Bloomberg said, "Gun violence is, unfortunately, an issue that affects every community, and coming together with Moms Demand Action today will strengthen our efforts to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals and save lives."

Founded by Shannon Watts, an Indianapolis mother of five, Moms Demand Action says it has more than 130,000 members in all 50 states. It took on coffee chain Starbucks in July, pushing it to ban guns from its cafes. After a woman in Wake Forest, N.C., accidentally shot herself in the hand at a Staples store last August, the group urged company CEO Ron Sargentto adopt a company-wide ban on firearms in its stores. It also has aggressively lobbied congressional lawmakers on gun policy.

"I really feel like moms have been the missing voice in this national debate," Watts says, adding that the Sandy Hook shootings were "the tipping point for mothers to say, 'Enough.' "

John Feinblatt,chairman of Mayors Against Illegal Guns, calls the move "a turning point for the movement" to control firearms, with Watts' group filling "the intensity gap" when it comes to grassroots activism.

Created in 2006, Bloomberg's group claims 1.5 million supporters and about 1,000 mayors now backing its agenda. It pushes for better access to crime data tied to guns and works with lawmakers to fix what it calls weak gun laws that make it easy for "criminals and other dangerous people" to get guns.

The group lobbied last spring for the U.S. Senate to pass the Manchin-Toomey amendment. Proposed by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), it would have required background checks on all commercial gun sales. The measure fell six votes short of getting enough support for a straight up-or-down vote last April.

Feinblatt says legislators will take the mothers' group seriously because they represent constituents, not other lawmakers. "Combining moms and mayors is a pretty powerful force."

He also says Watts' group has matured quickly. "They're only a year old, but they look and act like an organization that's been around for five to 10 years."

Los Angeles civil rights attorney Chuck Michel, whose clients include the National Rifle Association, says the merger is reminiscent of a similar one between the Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence and the Million Mom March in 2002. But in this case, he says, Bloomberg brings considerable private funding to the effort.

"This seems analogous to a corporate takeover, where a large company sees the advantage of acquiring the social media and brand of a target company, but their agendas are the same. In this case, their anti-Second Amendment agendas won't change," he says.




JUSTICE DENIED: Jill Dando murdered by the State to keep lid on elite paedophile Ring

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 03:45

We learn this month that Barry George has been denied compensation for being falsely imprisoned for the murder of Jill Dando.

Despite being innocent of all charges against him, and having almost certainly been framed by the British Establishment, the Courts have refused to allow George the right to appeal against the decision in what his sister calls a ''travesty of justice''.Why on earth aren't the powers-that-be willing to acknowledge the distress and suffering caused to Barry George by being wrongly incarcerated for 8 years?Why aren't they awarding him an automatic compensation offer as they have done in other cases where a miscarriage of justice has taken place?Why are they allowing us to think he is in someway still guilty despite being clearly innocent?Is it because, in their desperation to keep a lid on Britain's dirty secrets, they're willing to sacrifice bloody well anything or anyone?The answer to that is most certainly yes.

You see the brutal murder of Jill Dando was not carried out by a lone-stalker or Serbian warlord.The brutal murder of Jill Dando was linked to a VIP paedophile ring which was operating within the BBC and beyond.

The brutal murder of Jill Dando was ordered by the highest echelons of British society once it became clear that she had evidence of the ring and was about to expose it.

Jill Dando was shot at point-blank range in the head to silence her and also to serve as a warning to other journalists to keep their mouths shut.

We now know that child-rapist DJ Jimmy Savile had been abusing and procuring children at the BBC for decades.

Nobody said a word because of Savile's links to the royals and government. Jill Dando must have known about these rumours and would not have kept quiet.

Her close friend and confidante, Cliff Richard, has himself been named as a visitor to the notorious boy-brothel Elm Guest House, where vulnerable children were trafficked from local care homes to be abused by filthy VIPs.

Cliff was interviewed at length by detectives investigating the murder of Jill on several occasions.Why was he such an important ' witness' ?

Jill's fiance, Alan Farthing, came face-to-face with Jill's killer but conveniently forgot to tell the police.

Alan has since risen through the ranks of the medical profession and is now the doctor responsible for the birth of Kate and William's new baby. Was his promotion linked to Jill's murder?

Jill's colleague on Crimewatch, Nick Ross, has recently said he'd watch child-porn given half the chance.Nick is married to Sarah Caplan the cousin of Esther Rantzen, who is also implicated in the Savile scandal.Caplan and Rantzen founded Childline which is suspected now to be a 'front' organisation used to filter out callers who may have been the victims of VIP child-abuse.Nick Ross founded the 'front' Crimestopper's helpline.This helpline conveniently stopped working following an appeal for witnesses to Jill's murder.There were many procedural 'mistakes' made by the Met Police during their investigations.

Officers conveniently forgot to question Jill's neighbours and also botched the e-fit photo of the suspect by making his hair brown when it was actually blond.Were these mistakes made deliberately to ensure the real killer would never be caught?In a most sinister development Hamish Campbell, who was in charge of the investigation, was then put in charge of Operation Yewtree.

Are these mere coincidences or is there much more to the murder of Jill Dando than meets the eye?Are the Met Police, the Judiciary, the BBC and the Government implicated in one of the biggest cover-ups this country has ever seen?

It's no wonder the Establishment won't give Barry George the justice and compensation he deserves.If they did, their sordid child-abusing secrets may finally be exposed.

Britain really is a filthy nation.Curtesy of and written by Daemon Hunter


New Obamacare success metric: Those 'poised to gain coverage'

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Source: Twitchy » US Politics

Wed, 18 Dec 2013 03:26

The White House's new Obamacare progress metric: people "poised to gain coverage."

'--Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) December 18, 2013Remember the good old days when the Obama administration rolled out its ''more expansive'' definition of ''enrolled in Obamacare'' to include those who had simply placed an insurance plan in their virtual shopping cart? What they called ''pre-effectuated enrollment''? A new White House email expands that expansive definition even further, touting those 1.2 million who are poised to gain coverage.

@lachlan The new "jobs created or saved."'--Sean Hackbarth (@seanhackbarth) December 18, 2013

"Poised to gain coverage" = "We hope these folks follow thru"'--IamConservative (@rpward51) December 18, 2013

@lachlan @bdomenech and @Knicks are "poised to win The NBA Championship"'--Lars Thorwald (@cj_larry) December 18, 2013

@lachlan Like the economy is poised to take off for 50 months now'--JWF (@JammieWF) December 18, 2013

It sounds so much nicer than "uninsured thanks to Obamacare and Obama's policies implementing it." @lachlan @instapundit'--Mr. X (@GlomarResponder) December 18, 2013

@lachlan @instapundit Perfectly poised, in pajamas and sipping hot chocolate.'--No Broccoli 4 U (@NoBroccoli4U) December 18, 2013


@lachlan It's like all the people "deemed eligible" for Medicaid. Whatever the heck that means.'--Varad Mehta (@GWhistorian) December 18, 2013

"1.2M Americans are poised to gain coverage" Really?! "Poised" is the new word?! @michellemalkin'--Ian Gaddis (@iCobalt1) December 17, 2013

Yes, poised is the new word.

@iCobalt1 @michellemalkin Health Ins industry "poised" to collapse under weight of #Obamacare'--David Cox (@Dcoxboomer) December 17, 2013

@iCobalt1 @michellemalkin Americans "poised" to lose insurance & money under #Obamacare'--David Cox (@Dcoxboomer) December 17, 2013

How many Americans are ''poised'' to lose their health insurance under Obamacare if around 6 million already have?

@iCobalt1 @michellemalkin I'M "poised" To take my chances in court? no socialist is going to force me to buy anything! Jail is ok Too!'--Doug Mahoney (@steelhme) December 17, 2013


Rep. Nancy Pelosi thrilled by Obamacare's November 'enrollment surge'

Pop the champagne! State O-care exchanges celebrate pitiful 'enrollment' numbers

Spin doctors: White House celebrates O-care enrollment by touting people on Medicaid

HHS releases craptacular Obamacare 'enrollment' numbers; Citizens want to throw up

Follow @twitchyteam

Obama Administration Concedes, Hands Obamacare Site to Private Sector for Fixes |

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 16:57

After months of confusion and an unending stream of questions from the press, the White House announced Tuesday it would hand the error-plagued Obamacare website over to former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene to fix.

Former Microsoft executive Kurt DelBene has been tapped to lead efforts to fix (AP)

Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius made the official announcement Tuesday.

''Kurt has proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development,'' Sebelius said in a blog post. ''He will be a tremendous asset in our work.''

The former tech executive, who is married to Rep. Suzan DelBene, a Washington state Democrat, is expected to head the effort to fix the Obamacare website for at least the first six months of 2014, Politico reported.

''I've long said that we need more people to enter public service who are focused on delivering results,'' Rep. DelBene said in a statement. ''Kurt has demonstrated throughout his career that he is about results, and his decision to join the administration will be extremely valuable to their efforts to improve the website.''

DelBene, who will replace White House adviser Jeffrey Zients, is expected to use his experience as a tech leader to get the website up and running.

Zients' exit comes after he was initially brought in to manage the site after its disastrous launch on Oct 1. For his part, the White House adviser says he did what he was asked to do that he met his goal of having the site work smoothly ''for the majority of users.''

Zients will likely be tapped to head the National Economic Council in 2014.

Dec. 23 is the deadline to enroll for coverage effective Jan. 1.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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Former Microsoft Executive Kurt DelBene To Replace Jeff Zients |

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 16:58

By Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human ServicesPosted December 17, 2013

Today, I am pleased to announce Kurt DelBene as my Senior Advisor and successor to Jeff Zients. Jeff did an outstanding job working with our team to provide management advice and counsel on the project. Today, the site is night and day from what it was when it launched on October 1. I am very grateful for his service and leadership. His role leading the management of the site proved critical and today we are announcing his successor: Kurt DelBene.

Kurt, who most recently served as president of the Microsoft Office Division, will lead and manage starting this Wednesday. Kurt has proven expertise in heading large, complex technology teams and in product development. He will be a tremendous asset in our work.

Kurt will work closely with me, the White House, and the teams and senior leadership in place at HHS and CMS to see this project through its next important phase as the CMS team continues to build on their initial progress. He has agreed to serve in this role for at least the first half of next year. Because of the site's progress, his responsibilities, while similar to Jeff's, will reflect an evolution of focus as we move on to the next phase.

First, Kurt will provide management expertise, operations oversight, and critical advice on additional enrollment channels, field operations, marketing and communications. The President and I believe strongly in having one person, with strong experience and expertise in management and execution, who is thinking 24/7 about Kurt's leadership and management of will be in consultation with CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner and in partnership with the project's general contractor, QSSI.

Second, Kurt will execute the plan in place, so that we can ensure the site's performance is strong through the close of open enrollment on March 31, 2014. This will include a focus on increasing system stability, redundancy and capacity, and building on improvements to the user interface, while continuing to prioritize security and privacy issues in line with industry best practices.

The creation of this role reflects ideas we received from key stakeholders and Senators Shaheen, Kaine, Blumenthal, Warner, Udall, Coons and Landrieu and others. I want to thank them for their constructive ideas and leadership.

I am committed to providing and directing the additional resources needed for this project. We are all very excited to have Kurt DelBene on board as we work to make our mission a reality: accessible, quality, affordable health coverage for every American who needs it.


The kale-thyroid connection : Vintage Amanda

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 04:27

''Variety and moderation.'' That's become my food mantra since my shockingly low thyroid result in September. I asked the question ''Can you overdose on kale?'' and now, 5 months later, I am more convinced than ever that YES, you can overdose on kale.

Too much of any food '' even healthy ones '' can be harmful.

But I am so happy to report that after 5 months of healthy eating, de-stressing and cutting back on kale has my thyroid almost completely back to normal (woohoo!).

So what does this mean for you? How do you know if you're eating ''too much'' kale? Should you eat it at all? Are there other foods that can suppress your thyroid function too? In the past 5 months I've done a ton of research about the kale-thyroid connection, and there's a lot to learn. Let's dig in.

Why does kale suppress thyroid function?Stick with me through 30 seconds of sciency talk, and then we'll get back to the practical information.

Kale is a cruciferous vegetable (also known as brassicas). Cruciferous veggies include cabbage, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, bok choi, arugula (rocket), turnips and watercress (get a longer list of cruciferous vegetables here). There are a lot of healthy veggies in the list!

The connection with the thyroid is that in addition to their healthy compounds, cruciferous vegetables also include isothyocyanates which can inhibit the uptake of iodine by your thyroid '' which decreases the amount of thyroid hormone produced and results in 'underactive thyroid' or hypothyroidism. (Check out this link for more techincal information on how cruciferous vegetables affect thyroid)

Rather than remembering all of this, it's probably easier to remember that cruciferous veggies like kale contain contain goitrogens. (From Wikipedia: ''Goitrogens are substances that suppress the function of the thyroid gland by interfering with iodine uptake, which can, as a result, cause an enlargement of the thyroid, i.e., a goiter.)

And it looks like goitrogens can suppress thyroid function in susceptible individuals (who are predisposed to low thyroid, or have low iodine intake, etc.)

Apparently I was susceptible!

Can I ever eat kale again?YES! Yes, yes yes. Please do eat kale. It's tasty and packed with nutrients!

You probably just don't want to eat it raw in smoothies, every day, for a long period of time.

Mix up your greens! Try different greens from different families (for example, add in some romaine lettuce to your green smoothies). And if you're eating cruciferous veggies, try cooking them first, at least some of the time. If you are a green smoothie drinker, here are some guidelines for rotating your greens.

What's a 'normal' amount of kale to eat?If you're a bit of a greens addict, like me, it can be hard to remember what a 'normal' serving is.

This study from 1986 showed that people who ate 5 ounces (2/3 cups) of cooked Brussels Sprouts daily for 4 weeks, had no adverse impact on thyroid. Of course, that's cooked brussels sprouts, where the goitrogens are mostly deactivated.

I couldn't find any research or firm guidelines on what is safe to eat for thyroid function. So I think this is where you use common sense and listen to your body. If you have any thyroid issues or a family history of them, really limit your intake of raw cruciferous veggies and instead, eat them cooked.

Personally at this point, I'm only eating raw cruciferous veggies as a small amount of homemade sauerkraut. Other than that, it's all cooked.

But that's just me. I'd love to hear what you're doing if you've also cut back on kale and cruciferous veg '' let's discuss in the comments!

What other foods can suppress thyroid function?It's not just kale. It's all of the cruciferous veggies I mentioned above, and a few other sneaky additions:

Soybeans (this is one of the hardest to avoid because many processed foods include soy! Even more reason to cook your own.)Pine NutsPeanutsMilletStrawberriesPearsPeachesSpinachSweet PotatoesThere are also a few lesser known cruciferous vegetables:

maca (are you putting this in your smoothies too?)canola / rapeseedarugula (rocket)horseradishwasabiAgain, it doesn't mean to not eat these foods '' just to be aware of them if you're dealing with a low thyroid issue.

And it's not just foods '' what about chemical exposure?Not surprisingly, thyroid function (like most other things in our bodies) is affected by environmental toxins as well. Even more reason to DIY your beauty products!

Bromine - in processed baked goods, some hard plastics, citrus flavored sodas etc.Flouride '' in toothpastes, urban drinking waterTriclosan '' in antibacterial hand wash and soapsThis is an area I'm just starting to look into '' stay tuned for more information on this and healthy DIY alternatives to these products!

Where can I find more information?Over the past 5 months I've done a ton of research, and here are some of my favorite resources for learning more about the kale-thyroid connection (and how to nourish your thyroid back to health '' naturally!)

So '' now I'd love to hear from you and your experience with the kale-thyroid connection. Share your thoughts in the comments!

Get weekly better living tips in your inbox(+ my 10 favorite natural health & beauty recipes!)The following two tabs change content below.Amanda Cook is a Certified Holistic Health Coach specializing in natural beauty and herbal remedies, and the creator of She works with women worldwide through online and in-person workshops, and individual coaching.


The Gates Foundation's Hypocritical Investments | Mother Jones

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 22:01

With an endowment larger than all but four of the world's largest hedge funds, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is easily one of the most powerful charities in the world. According to its website, the organization "works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives." So how do the investments of the foundation's $36 billion investing arm, the Gates Foundation Trust, match up to its mission? We dug into the group's recently released 2012 tax returns to find out.

The Gates Foundation did not respond to requests for comment; however, its investment policy says the the trust's managers "consider other issues beyond corporate profits, including the values that drive the foundation's work."

In its most recent annual report to investors, private prison company GEO group listed some risks to its bottom line, including "reductions in crime rates" that "could lead to reductions in arrests, convictions and sentences," along with immigration reform and the decriminalization of drugs. Military contractor DynCorp, meanwhile, has faced allegations of fraud, mismanagement, and even slavery from the Middle East to Eastern Europe.

NA Tech

John Doerr's last stand: Can a dramatic shakeup save Kleiner Perkins? | PandoDaily

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 20:53

By Sarah Lacy and Michael CarneyOn December 11, 2013

Jesus Christ, Kleiner Perkins just can't catch a break.

The latest news '' in a year-long deluge of mea culpas, nasty lawsuits, and admissions of strategic missteps '' is that the firm is retrenching, refocusing on the consumer Web, and cutting its early stage investment staff. We know, thanks to a leaked memo to LPs, who is staying: John Doerr, Ted Schlein, Randy Komisar, Beth Seidenberg, and Mike Abbott.

In the weeks since the memo, rumors have swirled about a brain drain at the firm. The party line coming out of Kleiner has been that the partners not named in the memo will be remaining with the firm and simply shifting to other areas. We've learned that Bing Gordon is being reassigned as the firm's Chief Product Officer under its new ProductWorks program and that Chi-Hua Chien is almost certainly leaving, seemingly with hopes of starting his own seed fund. But the fates of a lot of other members of the team are less clear. And given three of these five remaining early stage investment partners are in their 50s, and one is in his 60s, that means the fate of Kleiner Perkins is also very much up in the air.

The firm is not only staying mum on details with the press, they apparently aren't sharing much more with their portfolio companies. We spoke to several on the condition of anonymity and none knew much more about the firm's future staffing plans than has been said publicly. In the information vacuum and influenced by the run of bad news coming out of KP as of late, most people we've spoken to are assuming the worst.

At the center of the drama is Kleiner's superstar partner John Doerr. The sad truth of Kleiner Perkins' current situation is this: Doerr is the one who made them the gold standard of venture firms during the Valley's biggest run and is the key to its first successful succession plan, but his decision to focus on cleantech is also largely responsible for the firm's fall. Kleiner's limited partners have wondered if a 62-year old Doerr would sign up for another fund, and with it another 10-year commitment. This memo removed all doubt. He has to fix this.

If you fell into a coma in the year 2000 and woke up today, the idea the Kleiner is fighting to stay in the top five venture capital firms would be almost unimaginable.

We'll delve more into Doerr's missteps and how the changes at Kleiner Perkins affect portfolio companies in a moment. First, though, some context for readers who don't spend their days swapping Silicon Valley gossip at the Rosewood hotel.

This year, long-time whispers that Kleiner might be in trouble have turned into shouts. The problem with being such a strong number one in the Valley pecking order is any stumble turns into a noticeable, and noteworthy fall. And historically almost no one has ruled venture capital the way Kleiner Perkins has.

The firm's 1994, 1996, and 1999 funds all delivered massive returns on the backs of investments in Juniper Networks, Amazon, and Google, returning investors 32-times, 17-times, and six-times their money, respectively. But the firm's 2000 and 2004 marquee funds, as well as its 2008 cleantech fund, have all shown losses. The firm still has nearly $7 billion under management. In fact, it's raised more than twice as much in the last nine years (approximately $5 billion) as it did in the preceding 32 years ($2.4 billion). This glut of capital to put to work may itself may be part of the problem.

Venture firms are just collections of a few partners, so passing the magic of one's ''gut'' and personal connections onto a next generation has proven all but impossible.

Few firms have had as storied of a history. Eugene Kleiner and Tom Perkins helped create the venture capital industry. Well before the days of the Internet, their bets on Tandem Computers and Genentech were the kind of old fashioned, bet-the-firm gut calls that no one made back then, and '' truth be told '' few firms make today. Back then, there was no Y Combinator, no AngelList or no other way to back founders with little more than an idea. A lot was riding on the collective guts of those early pioneers like Kleiner and Perkins. Had they been wrong on the companies they picked, Silicon Valley could have just as easily died before it ever came to life.

In the 1980s, Kleiner Perkins pulled off something equally as remarkable: Succession. Venture firms are just collections of a few partners, so passing the magic of one's ''gut'' and personal connections onto a next generation has proven all but impossible. Several big firms have exploded when founding partners rode off into the sunset, while others have simply faded from dominance. But Kleiner '' with its two second generation superstars in John Doerr and Vinod Khosla '' navigated the shift better than almost any other firm had. In the late 1990s the firm had a guy owning the consumer web and another owning telecom and infrastructure. It seemed untouchable.

Today, Kleiner Perkins seems to be falling victim to the same harsh laws of capitalism that has made the firm billions of dollars: No one is untouchable forever. In Silicon Valley, complacency kills startups and VC funds alike '' it just takes longer when you have billions under management and a ten year investment horizon.

Kleiner still has plenty of money under management and John Doerr still has mega-sway in tech and political circles. But it's getting hard to argue that Kleiner Perkins' best days are ahead of it. It still needs to hire or promote a rock-star younger generation of partners with more relevant operating experience. From that perspective, these staffing changes have to be a reset not a final solution.

Absent a quiet settlement, the Valley is poised for an ugly OJ moment in 2014, and its most venerable firm will be in the middle of it at a time when it can ill-afford the distraction and another black eye.

If that weren't enough, this summer, the Ellen Pao sexual harassment suit will go to trial. In another bit of unlucky timing, the trial between (Pando investor) Michael Arrington and Jenn Allen is also set for the summer, with the firm of feminist super-lawyer Gloria Allred defending Allen. The scandalous nature of the latter might steal focus from the Kleiner trial, but given both involve the page-view-grabbing topic of gender equality in the Valley, it's more likely that the two cases will be presented as a newsworthy trend, guaranteeing increased coverage of both. Absent a quiet settlement, the Valley is poised for an ugly OJ moment in 2014, and its most venerable firm will be in the middle of it at a time when it can ill-afford the distraction and another black eye.

How'd we get here? How could a firm that helped start an industry, fund cycle after cycle of giants, and even manage succession once fall so far, so quickly?

Part of it was bad decisions and part of it was just plain bad luck. The same forces, in other words, that can easily doom the companies the venture industry funds.

You could argue that Kleiner's bad streak started with the departure of Vinod Khosla to start his own firm in 2004. Not everyone agrees that the loss was all bad for Kleiner: Khosla Ventures has had it's own struggles and Khosla is a notoriously difficult personality. In the days of Doerr and Khosla, Kleiner wasn't exactly known as a harmonious team. ''There were some venture firms that would all go out and play tennis together on weekends in white shorts. That was not us,'' Doerr said during our May PandoMonthly fireside chat. ''We are not a family, but we are a family business.''

More to the point, a solo Khosla made the same all-in bet on cleantech that bedeviled Kleiner. Still, it's hard to deny the returns were better when the firm had two superstar partners, not one. At the time, the sense in the industry was that if any firm was strong enough to support such a high-level departure, it was Kleiner.

Kleiner didn't stand still, but its next ''big name'' hires were equal parts brag-worthy and head-scratching. Colin Powell? Al Gore? The only thing weirder was Elevation naming Bono as a partner. Even Kleiner's big names from industry like Oracle's Ray Lane hadn't built companies before. They'd run behemoths.

Doerr defended these moves during PandoMonthly saying:

Between Al Gore and Colin Powell, we have, I think, two of the most respected Americans in the world, who didn't join us to become nameplates. These leaders are passionate about technology'...

Al Gore was in the office today. He made phone calls '' I can't tell you who they were to '' but he made a phone call to move forward the strategy of one of our digital companies who you would recognize, like by leaps and bounds.

I think I encouraged us to do too much green too fast '' I'm kind of an enthusiastic investor '' but I think it's in the right balance right now.

It's not that Gore and Powell don't add value. They just aren't the reason a young entrepreneur picks a venture firm. And they hardly spend every day building relationships across the Valley and vetting incoming dealflow. From the outside, it seemed Kleiner was adding on nice-to-haves, while the must-haves withered. It was almost as if the firm was becoming something other than a venture firm.

But the biggest problem wasn't (entirely) personnel. It was strategy. Kleiner made the fateful decision to bet heavy on cleantech '' diverting the attention of Doerr, the firm's bona-fide superstar who had made his reputation on the consumer Web. As Doerr has admitted since, including during our PandoMonthly, that bet didn't work out as planned. That's putting it mildly. He said:

Certainly in a number of ways I was wrong. I also think in other ways '' yeah I am trying to defend this '' I was right. But cleantech is not a sector, it's actually a spectrum. And within that spectrum, there are sectors that are crummy.

I think I encouraged us to do too much green too fast '' I'm kind of an enthusiastic investor '' but I think it's in the right balance right now. And I'm very proud of the companies we invested in. I hate losing money, but we're only going to lose one times our money. The real goal is to find and focus on those opportunities that are very large.

With the departure of Khosla and the lack of any next big bat to fill the void, Doerr's moves would be crucial. And he was seemingly devoting all of his energy to the wrong sector. Give him credit: He had enough of a name brand he could have played it safe and sat in his office, letting deals come to him. Instead, he made a move as gutsy as the investments in Tandem and Genentech that made the firm. Only, this time, the firm was wrong. Or at least its timing was.

At the same time, Kleiner ''hired up'' and segmented the firm into silos of healthcare, IT, and cleantech. That's a lot of what's getting ripped out now. Increasingly, the early stage partnership will work as a single inter-disciplinary team.

Doerr sacrificed one of the best cleantech bets of our era partially to assuage the ego of a partner who ultimately didn't work out.

The problem was less that the bets were all horrible, after all there's a saying in venture capital that you can only lose one-times your investment. The bigger problem was the opportunity cost. While it was chasing cleantech, the firm missed out on the early wave of Web 2.0 hits like Facebook and LinkedIn.

And even within cleantech there were whiffs. Segway was an audacious bet to get people around cities more efficiently. It could have worked out, but a last minute move from the postal workers' union tanked the company's fortunes. Meanwhile, Doerr backed Fisker over Tesla. The reason it didn't get Tesla was simple: Doerr wouldn't join Tesla's board, and Elon Musk wanted the marquee partner if he was going to take a lower price.

During Musk's July 2012 PandoMonthly, he recalled the story, saying:

One thing that's important is, if you have a choice of a lower valuation with someone you really like and a higher valuation with someone you have a question mark about, take the lower valuation'...

In the case of the Tesla Series C'...there were two competing bids. One was from Kleiner Perkins and the other was from VantagePoint. Kleiner offered a $50 million pre-money valuation, VantagePoint offered $70 million. I actually said to John Doerr, that if John joins the board, we'll do it at $50 million. But, John felt that he had too many obligations and that there was another partner at Kleiner who really wanted the deal so he could not supplant that person.

I felt, I would be ok with that 40 percent difference [in valuation] if John was willing to join the board, but not with somebody else. That was probably a mistake.

[Then Kleiner invested in Tesla competitor Fisker.] And that was their mistake.

That other partner? Oracle's Ray Lane. Doerr sacrificed one of the best cleantech bets of our era partially to assuage the ego of a partner who ultimately didn't work out.

Kleiner did get in Twitter, but relatively late and for a high price compared to its firm-making Series A bets on Google and Amazon. Ditto with Groupon. But at least it earned a meaningful return on Twitter, which was the recipient of the largest single check Doerr has ever written. They seemed to realize the mistake of losing focus on the sector with Doerr suddenly raising his profile in the consumer space again, and launching the sFund, a social media investment vehicle, while wearing a hoody at Facebook.

By the late aughts, Kleiner was looking long in the tooth, but it still had a chance to string together a narrative of why it would remain a top five firm. Doerr was still on the board of Google and Amazon '' two of the most powerful tech giants who hadn't lost an ounce of mojo. He was hosting US Presidents at his house with other tech dignitaries. He was friends with Steve Jobs. He could get calls returned and favors called in that few VCs could compete with. Those are all assets for a young, uncertain entrepreneur. And Doerr is charismatic. He can make you believe.

Meanwhile Kleiner was again making a play at succession planning. As Doerr told the PandoMonthly audience:

We put more talent in the partnership on digital, on mobile. In the last 3 years we've almost tripled the amount of digital talent in the firm. We brought in Bing Gordon, we promoted Chi-Hua Chien to a senior partner, we recruited Mike Abbott, we promoted Trae Vassallo, we recruited Mary Meeker. I'm spending my new time '' the most recent boards I've joined '' on digital. And that's because of [the mobile] explosion.

As Doerr noted, Kleiner added some fresh and often young talent to the early stage partnership. The problem is, none of these new names, save for Mike Abbott, will have investment roles at the firm going forward.

The arc of venture up-and-comer Chi-Hua Chien is a stark example. His addition infused some much needed young blood to the senior team. He didn't have a huge investing or operational track record but he did have one big bragging right: While an associate at Accel*, he was the one who flagged Facebook as a company they should look at '' a deal that was passed on to Kevin Efrusy and then rainmaker Jim Breyer. So at least, he ''got'' it. But now he's on the way out. Many of the companies he backed like Klout, Path, Zaarly, and Everlane are left in a lurch. From what we understand, Chien will remain on their boards. But they no longer have a strong advocate within Kleiner. What does that mean for that Kleiner advantage to call in the big favors?

The biggest sign Kleiner had righted the ship and finally bagged a consumer unicorn was a deal done by Bing Gordon in just his first year with the firm: Zynga. He didn't invest in Zynga's earliest round, but he bet big well before anyone knew to take social gaming seriously. And by all accounts, he did a lot of heavy lifting to help make Pincus successful. Zynga was that cornerstone that Kleiner was looking for. The new ''digital skyscraper'' as Pincus would describe it or ''Internet treasure'' as Doerr put it.

The firm's $35 million investment was reportedly worth $650 million at Zynga's IPO price of $10 per share. Unfortunately, the firm still holds the majority of its position in Zynga, and the stock has since plummeted, reaching as low as $2.29 and trading today at $4.13. What was an 18-fold return is currently up just eight times. And the clock continues to tick on realizing those returns.

Kleiner has paid up in recent years to get into some competitive consumer deals like Flipboard, Path, Klout, and Zaarly. The trouble is most of these deals are doubles at best, not the home runs Kleiner needs to get back on top.

Now that Gordon is no longer part of the early stage investing team, he won't be spending his time finding the next Zynga. He'll be helping the totality of Kleiner's portfolio develop better products. It's a role that he's played naturally in the past, and one that has the potential to increase returns firm-wide. But it's hard to imagine this would have been Gordon's first choice, calling into question how long he'll stay at Kleiner without access to its big checkbook and the reputation-building value of leading its next generation of investments.

Kleiner has paid up in recent years to get into some competitive consumer deals like Flipboard, Path, Klout, and Zaarly. The trouble is most of these deals are doubles at best, not the home runs Kleiner needs to get back on top. Flipboard appears to be the firm's best deal of late, as the company recently raised another $100 million at an $800 million valuation and crossed the 100 million user marks. But it's not SnapChat in terms of valuation, and it's long-term value remains similarly uncertain.

Meanwhile, Klout has slogged along with more questions than answers; Instagram and SnapChat have trounced Path in the next-gen social network; and Zaarly has been outpaced by verticals in the sharing economy like Uber and Airbnb. Ngmoco was an early bet and a big win, returning more than half of the then $200 million iFund (which has since increased in size). But this was weighed down by high-priced bets on companies like Sean Parker's Airtime. Sure, other VCs took a bath on that one too. But many other VCs could afford a black mark.

Kleiner put some wins on the board in 2013, but none were of the headline-grabbing, firm-making variety. The year's IPOs included Chegg, Foundation Medicine, Epizyme, Five Prime, Veracyte, and Silver Spring, while Edgespring, Waze, 41st Parameter, and OptiMedica were each acquired. The firm also sold its 14-year-old stake in Kleiner also has promising early stage investments in Flipboard (Series A), Mandiant (Series A), Nest (Series A), One Kings Lane (Series A), Coursera (Series A), as well as later stage bets in Square (Series C), Spotify (Series D), LendingClub (Series F).

To be clear: Kleiner is doing fine, particularly compared to most venture firms. It's just not doing Kleiner-good.

While the strategic moves were a mixture of hits and misses, Kleiner's personnel problems raged on. It added another super star partner in Mary Meeker. But she is better known by people who were in the industry in the late 1990s '' not exactly the Y Combinator crowd. Another hire was Meg Whitman '' like Ray Lane, she had a big name and proven chops scaling a multi-billion dollar private company but no experience as a founder or investor. She'd quickly move to a more suitable job running HP.

Meanwhile, Aileen Lee left to set up her own seed stage shop with Doerr's blessing. It would prove fortuitous timing: She could still leverage the Kleiner name while it was strong, but got out before it got ugly.

All of this personnel drama '' Khosla, Lee, Lane, Al Gore, and Colin Powell '' would pale in comparison to the salacious sexual discrimination lawsuit of Ellen Pao. The truth in that case is still far from known, and there are just as many reasons to doubt Pao's account of things. So far neither side has come out of it looking good. And this summer when it goes to trial, everyone will look worse.

Doerr made a smart PR move in May of this year, deciding to come clean and show humility. He participated in a Forbes cover story, and later that month sat down with us for a frank two-and-a-half hour conversation on stage. He owned up to the firm's missteps and even said he himself had a lot to learn about how the game in venture capital had changed.

The venture industry is intensely competitive, it's changing. We're reimagining what we should do at Kleiner to serve entrepreneurs. We're very critical of our own organization and how we can make it better. And, a lot of stuff has changed. It's way easier to start a venture than it ever was before, and as I said the goal is to build really big companies. The size of the markets are so large '' a billion connected devices, which in theory you can get to download something the next day.

We believe at Kleiner that you can make money anywhere along the development stages of a company, provided you're a good investor '' you're not trying to cut a tough deal with an entrepreneur. Today, we're investing across wider range of stage of company than ever before, and we're more focused than ever on trying to build great businesses'...

I wish people wouldn't [put me on a pedestal]. I do think [the industry] has changed, and I do need to adapt. I tweet, I follow teets, but I don't tweet daily'...I wish I could blog, I envy people who can blog, but I struggle with words '' they are the enemy.

The May news cycle looked like it could be the turn in luck Kleiner had been hoping for, or at least a shift in the narrative. Coming clean is always a good move. Kleiner was no longer pretending cleantech had been smart. It was no longer pretending it hadn't missed a step in the Web. It was simply telling us why it was relevant, why it's track record still mattered and why it was back on track. The plan was to eliminate the ''silos'' that had divided its investment teams, reduce management fees, and get back to the industry-dominating ways of a generation ago.

And to a lot of people, he was pretty convincing.

And then, the October memo leaked.

We've been told by several sources close to the firm that the latest reorganization news came as little surprise to its limited partners. In fact, Kleiner's top brass had been promising big changes for as long as 18 months, even as Doerr was sitting on stage talking up the partners who would be leaving. The first signs were the reduction in management fees and the elimination of investment silos announced in February. This fall's partnership shake-up seems like the next step in Doerr's plan to resurrect the firm that once ruled Silicon Valley.

That said, entrepreneurs in Kleiner's portfolio have said the opposite: That partners knew change was coming vaguely, but the actual decisions came down hard and fast, like a punch in the gut to some involved. ''It still doesn't seem like anyone knows what's going on,'' said one speaking on the condition of anonymity.

Both the mechanics and the potential impact of these moves remain up in the air.

We've been told publicly that the partners not named in the memo will be remaining with the firm and simply shifting to other areas like the growth investing or the firm's China fund. The behind the scenes narrative has been less certain. Rumors have begun to emerge that Chi-Hua Chien will eventually leave the firm and has designs on launching his own early stage fund. For what it's worth, we've heard the same from those close to Chien. The fates of other high profile names remain to be seen.

But ''taking on non-investment roles within the firm'' is frequently a euphemism in the venture business. Partners rarely get fired. Typically, they just fade away and get shuffled around, often retaining existing board seats and keeping a desk, a phone extension, and an email address at the firm. But this is little more than semantics. Make no mistake about it. Early stage is the core of what Kleiner does, and anyone not leading the firm's investment efforts in this area is being demoted. This is a painful come to Jesus reset.

It was a mix of bad strategy, questionable hiring, betting on the wrong horses, and just plain bad luck that got Kleiner to this place.

That reset has been barely covered in the press and many in the industry have spent the last few week wondering why. Is it that everyone had already written Kleiner off? Or is the public fall from grace still so shocking? Is it that Kleiner snuck this into a news cycle that few picked up on? Or are reporters simply digging around for more details? It could be any of the above. But looking at the last fifteen years that lead Kleiner to this memo, the answers of what went wrong are all out there.

It was a mix of bad strategy, questionable hiring, betting on the wrong horses, and just plain bad luck that got Kleiner to this place. A similarly lethal cocktail has killed some of its ballsiest bets like Segway. Were this to happen any other firm without the history and institutional heft of Kleiner, it could have never survived this long.

A firm that started so laser focused on a handful of bets and a clear way of doing business, has become a victim of its own runaway success. It could pull anyone to join its ranks '' from major CEOs to major global dignitaries. Like the companies it funds, its superstar partner wanted to save the world '' in his case that meant taking on Global Warming rather than the next promising social network.

In the last decade, Kleiner has invested in big ideas and big bets the way we all say we want the industry to. It frequently invested in great talent like Dean Kamen and Mark Pincus. When it didn't pick the wrong strategy; it frequently picked the wrong horse. The sad truth is there are so few massive home runs in the venture industry, one deal won or one deal lost can determine who is in the top five. And that can determine future deal flow.

Kleiner is hardly done. It should be comforted by some historical perspective. Accel* was in an even worse situation after the dot-com bust. But then it found Facebook. Greylock* was similarly an East Coast powerhouse that had fallen on hard times. It wasn't remotely clear that a little-known former member of the Excite@Home mafia named David Sze could be the answer. Investments in LinkedIn and Facebook followed, while fellow Greylock partner Aneel Bhusri funded and founded Workday. Single moves can resuscitate flailing reputations in the venture world. It's a harsh truth of the business that makes for a great narrative when it goes right. In Kleiner's case, it just went wrong one too many times.

If it can happen to Kleiner it can happen to any firm, seemingly overnight. Many in the Valley recognize this, leading them to root for Kleiner to rebound.

In many ways, the Silicon Valley ecosystem needs Kleiner Perkins to be healthy. For entrepreneurs, investors, and LPs alike, much of current system relies on a belief that the big institutions will be there tomorrow. After all, if it can happen to Kleiner it can happen to any firm, seemingly overnight. Many in the Valley recognize this, and they are rooting for a rebound.

There are two things Kleiner needs to do next. The first is immediately do a better job communicating with its existing portfolio. The implicit message when you fire investing partners who brought in deals like Klout, Zaarly, and Path is that the firm doesn't like those deals. And many of them still have promise. Even if they don't, those entrepreneurs are the ones that future founders will ask whether they should take money from Kleiner. The firm can hardly afford bad word of mouth in the founder community right now. Kleiner needs to send a strong message that these companies are still loved.

From what we've heard, communications have instead been vague and ambiguous. A happy face over the confusing staffing changes were the big unspoken elephant in the room at Kleiner's recent Christmas party, we've heard from several entrepreneurs. ''I hope they bounce back,'' said one entrepreneur, who noted Kleiner had always been more helpful than any of his other investors. But even this person noted, recommending Kleiner to a friend would be hard right now. ''It's hard to take money from a firm going through so much turmoil,'' this person said.

Kleiner is presumably being vague because they are trying to respect the feelings of members of the firm who are moving on. But in doing so, they may be creating a bigger problem.

''It's hard to take money from a firm going through so much turmoil.''

Longer term, Kleiner needs to take another stab at succession planning. These five partners have all made contributions to Kleiner's relevance, but the industry has changed mightily since most of them had operating roles.

Part of Kleiner's strategy will be investing in the intersection of tech with industries like healthcare and, yes, sustainability '' which it recently started calling ''new industrials.'' This isn't a bad strategy. One could consider Uber a sustainablity company. The collision of atoms and bits is one of the most exciting investment thesis out there right now. Andreessen Horowitz made a similar move towards that software-eating-all-industries expertise this week with the hiring of Balaji Srinivasan. Kleiner partners Beth Seidenberg, the former head of R&D at Amgen, and Randy Kommissar, who did the early investment in Nest, will also be crucial assets when it comes to this strategy.

But no one is kidding themselves: For Kleiner to remain a top five firm it absolutely must dominate in consumer Web. It isn't doing so now. And it's hard to see how these five partners fix that.

Defending the venerable brand against claims of sexual harassment, offering painful mea culpas to endowments he's delivered billions of dollars in profits to in the past, recruiting yet another generation of partners, and courting know-it-all 20-somethings out of Y Combinator: This can't be how Doerr was expecting to spend his 60s. He could have walked away when he was on top after the dot com crash. He could have peeled off and done his own fund like Khosla did. He could have left this problem to someone else. He'd certainly made enough money and accomplished more than most VCs ever do. The John Doerr era would have always been remembered as Kleiner's peak.

But Doerr was playing for legacy. He'd funded Web giants who had changed the world and now he wanted to save it from global warming. This was about his ego maybe, but, as we learned in his impassioned TED talk, it was also about the world he wanted to leave to his kids.

Perhaps his ego was too great. Perhaps he believed he had the Midas touch. But give Doerr credit for one thing: If Kleiner Perkins is going down, he's going down with it. His reputation is forever intertwined with the firm's. As came across in our PandoMonthly, he feels a responsibility to the legacy he inherited. This happened on his watch, and he's going to fix it. He is not taking the easy way out.

The highest compliment in Silicon Valley is saying an investor or founder stuck around when times got tough, rolled up their sleeves, and didn't give up. As Ben Horowitz says, ''Being a founder CEO is the one job you can never quit '' unless you're a punk.'' Doerr isn't a founder or a CEO, but that's what he is doing. Even the haters have to give him credit for that.

If there's any good news from this reset it's that Kleiner is acknowledging what haters have been whispering about it for much of the last three years. The long cycles of venture capital and some $7 billion under management give the firm the luxury of continuing to dine out on its past. But at least Kleiner is clear that it's no longer living in it.

[Disclosure: Accel and Greylock are investors in PandoDaily.]

[Image courtesy Thomas Hawk]

Amazon takes away access to purchased Christmas movie during Christmas - Boing Boing

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 04:07

Bill sez, Last "December I bought some favorite Christmas specials for my kids with the idea they could watch them every year. Went tonight to watch one ('Disney Prep and Landing 2' if you're curious) and it was gone from our library and couldn't be found on the site at all. Amazon has explained to me that Disney can pull their content at any time and 'at this time they've pulled that show for exclusivity on their own channel.' In other words, Amazon sold me a Christmas special my kids can't watch during the run up to Christmas. It'll be available in July though!"

To be fair, the Amazon rep gave me a very generous credit to watch something else, recognizing that this is a suck policy.

But at a minimum, beware, somewhere buried in the legalese is the right for Amazon and partners to pull content away from you, even content you specifically paid for, anytime they want.

Maybe this is standard in the new digital world and not limited to Amazon. If so, screw the new digital world and give me a physical copy.

Yes, Disney is stupid and evil for doing this. But when Amazon decided that it would offer studios the right to revoke access to purchased videos, they set the stage for this. They stuck the gun on the mantelpiece in Act One, and they don't get to act all surprised now that it went off in Act Three. Anyone who didn't see this coming failed to do so because it was their job not to see it coming.

This is what was set in motion in the 1970s, when we started using the term "intellectual property" instead of "copyright" or "author's monopoly." If the movie is Disney's "property" for ever and ever, it follows that it is never your property, no matter that you "buy" it. And since "IP" is embedded in everything from blenders to cars to yoga studios, there is nothing that you can ever own -- you can only be a tenant in someone else's fields, an ambulatory wallet for a rentier looking for "passive income" while suckers like you work for a living and pay rent on everything in your life, only to have it yanked away from you at the landlord's pleasure.


VIDEO- Student On Arapahoe School Shooter: "Very Proud Of Being A Socialist" - YouTube

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Archived Version

Sun, 15 Dec 2013 23:50

VIDEO-NSA speaks out on Snowden, spying - CBS News

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 21:28

The NSA gives unprecedented access to the agency's HQ and, for the first time, explains what it does and what it says it doesn't do: spy on Americans

The following is a script from "Inside the NSA" which aired on Dec. 15, 2013. John Miller is the correspondent. Ira Rosen and Gabrielle Schonder, producers.

No U.S. intelligence agency has ever been under the kind of pressure being faced by the National Security Agency after details of some of its most secret programs were leaked by contractor Edward Snowden. Perhaps because of that pressure the agency gave 60 Minutes unprecedented access to NSA headquarters where we were able to speak to employees who have never spoken publicly before.


60 Minutes OvertimeHow did 60 Minutes get cameras into a spy agency?A conversation with John Miller and 60 Minutes producers about their experience reporting in top-secret areas of the NSA

Full disclosure, I once worked in the office of the director of National Intelligence where I saw firsthand how secretly the NSA operates. It is often said NSA stands for "never say anything," but tonight the agency breaks with that tradition to address serious questions about whether the NSA delves too far into the lives of Americans.Gen. Keith Alexander: The fact is, we're not collecting everybody's email, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, we're not listening to that. Our job is foreign intelligence and we're very good at that.

The man in charge is Keith Alexander, a four-star Army general who leads the NSA and U.S. Cyber Command.

John Miller: There is a perception out there that the NSA is widely collecting the content of the phone calls of Americans. Is that true?

"The fact is, we're not collecting everybody's email, we're not collecting everybody's phone things, we're not listening to that. Our job is foreign intelligence and we're very good at that."Gen. Keith Alexander: No, that's not true. NSA can only target the communications of a U.S. person with a probable cause finding under specific court order. Today, we have less than 60 authorizations on specific persons to do that.

John Miller: The NSA as we sit here right now is listening to a universe of 50 or 60 people that would be considered U.S. persons?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Less than 60 people globally who are considered U.S. persons.

But the NSA doesn't need a court order to spy on foreigners, from its heavily protected headquarters in Fort Meade, Md., it collects a mind-numbing amount of data from phones and the Internet. They sort through it all looking for clues to terrorist plots, and intelligence on the intentions of foreign governments. To do all that they use a network of supercomputers that use more power than most mid-sized cities.

Gen. Alexander agreed to talk to us because he believes, the NSA has not told its story well.

Gen. Keith Alexander: "We need to help the American people understand what we're doing and why we're doing it." And to put it simply, we're doing two things: We're defending this country from future terrorist attacks and we're defending our civil liberties and privacy. There's no reason that we would listen to the phone calls of Americans. There's no intelligence value in that. There's no reason that we'd want to read their email. There is no intelligence value in that.

What they are doing is collecting the phone records of more than 300 million Americans.

John Miller: Then why do you need all of those phone records?

Gen. Keith Alexander: How do you know when the bad guy who's using those same communications that my daughters use, is in the United States trying to do something bad? The least intrusive way of doing that is metadata.

Metadata has become one of the most important tools in the NSA's arsenal. Metadata is the digital information on the number dialed, the time and date, and the frequency of the calls. We wanted to see how metadata was used at the NSA. Analyst Stephen Benitez showed us a technique known as ''call chaining'' used to develop targets for electronic surveillance in a pirate network based in Somalia.

Stephen Benitez: As you see here, I'm only allowed to chain on anything that I've been trained on and that I have access to. Add our known pirate. And we chain him out.

John Miller: Chain him out, for the audience, means what?

Stephen Benitez: People he's been in contact to for those 18 days.

Stephen Benitez: One that stands out to me first would be this one here. He's communicated with our target 12 times.

Stephen Benitez: Now we're looking at Target B's contacts.

John Miller: So he's talking to three or four known pirates?

Stephen Benitez: Correct. These three here. We have direct connection to both Target A and Target B. So we'll look at him, too, we'll chain him out. And you see, he's in communication with lots of known pirates. He might be the missing link that tells us everything.

John Miller: What happens in this space when a number comes up that's in Dallas?

Stephen Benitez: So If it does come up, normally, you'll see it as a protected number-- and if you don't have access to it, you won't be able to look.

If a terrorist is suspected of having contacts inside the United States, the NSA can query a database that contains the metadata of every phone call made in the U.S. going back five years.

John Miller: So you understand then, there might be a little confusion among Americans who read in the newspaper that the N.S.A. has vacuumed up, the records of the telephone calls of every man, woman and child in the United States for a period of years-- that sounds like spying on Americans.

Gen. Keith Alexander: Right, and that's wrong. That's absolutely wrong.

John Miller: You don't hear the call?

Gen. Keith Alexander: You don't hear the call.

John Miller: You don't see the name.

Gen. Keith Alexander: You don't see the names.

John Miller: You just see this number, called that number.

Gen. Keith Alexander: The-- this number-- the "to/from" number, the duration of the call and date/time, that's all you get. And all we can do is tell the FBI, "That number is talking to somebody who is very bad, you ought to go look at it."

But privacy advocates argue American's phone records should not sit in bulk at the NSA, searchable under a blanket court order. They believe the NSA should have to get a separate court order for each number and that the record should stay at the phone company.

John Miller: You get the bill from whatever the service provider is and you see who it's calling in America. You don't need to collect every American's phone numbers to do that.

Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, the reality is if you go and do a specific one for each, you have to tell the phone companies to keep those call detail records for a certain period of time. So, if you don't have the data someplace you can't search it. The other part that's important, phone companies-- different phone companies have different sets of records. And these phone calls may go between different phone companies. If you only go to one company, you'll see what that phone company has. But you may not see what the other phone company has or the other. So by putting those together, we can see all of that essentially at one time.

John Miller: Before 9/11, did we have this capability?

Gen. Keith Alexander: We did not.

John Miller: Is it a factor? Was it a factor?

Gen. Keith Alexander: I believe it was.

What Gen. Alexander is talking about is that two of the 9/11 hijackers, Khalid al-Mihdhar and Nawaf al-Hazmi were in touch with an al Qaeda safe house in Yemen. The NSA did not know their calls were coming from California, as they would today.

Gen. Keith Alexander: I think this was the factor that allowed Mihdhar to safely conduct his plot from California. We have all the other indicators but no way of understanding that he was in California while others were in Florida and other places.

Edward Snowden revealed another program called ''prism.'' Which the NSA says is authorized under the foreign intelligence surveillance act, or FISA. Prism is the program the NSA uses to target the Internet communications of terrorists. It has the capability to capture emails, chats, video and photos. But privacy experts believe the NSA's dragnet for terrorists on the Internet may also be sweeping up information on a lot of Americans.

Gen. Keith Alexander: No. That's not true. Under FISA, NSA can only target the communications of a U.S. person with a probable cause finding under specific court order.

John Miller: A judge in the FISA court, which is the court that secretly hears the NSA cases and approves or disapproves your requests. Said the NSA systematically transgressed both its own court-appointed limits in bulk Internet data collection programs.

Gen. Keith Alexander: There was nobody willfully or knowingly trying to break the law.

The NSA says their analysts use highly technical systems under increasingly complex legal requirements and that when mistakes are made, they're human errors, not intentional abuses. The Snowden leaks have challenged the NSA officials to explain programs they never intended to talk about. So how did an obscure contractor and computer specialist, pull off the most damaging breach of secrets in U.S. history? Few have spent more time thinking about that than Rick Ledgett.

John Miller: How long have you been with the NSA?

Rick Ledgett: For 25 years.

John Miller: How many television interviews have you done?

Rick Ledgett: One, this one.

Ledgett runs the NSA task force doing the damage assessment on the Snowden leaks. And until this interview, the NSA has never discussed the specifics of the extent damage they believe Snowden has done and still could do.

Rick Ledgett and John Miller

CBS News

John Miller: There've been all kinds of figures out there about how much he took, how many documents. We've been told 1.7 million.Rick Ledgett: I wouldn't dispute that.

John Miller: How is that possible?

Rick Ledgett: So, the people who control that, the access to those machines, are called system administrators and they have passwords that give them the ability to go around those-- security measures and that's what Snowden did.

Edward Snowden worked for the NSA in Hawaii. Part of his job was to help maintain the NSA's computers and also move large sets of data between different systems.

John Miller: Did he take everything he had access to, or was he a careful shopper?

Rick Ledgett: He did something that we call-- scraping. Where he went out and just went-- used tools to scrape information from websites, and put it into a place where he could download it.

John Miller: At some point you then understood the breadth of what was missing and what could be missing?

Rick Ledgett: Yes.

John Miller: Of all the things he took is there anything in there that worries you or concerns you more than anything else?

Rick Ledgett: It's an exhaustive list of the requirements that have been levied against-- against the National Security Agency. And what that gives is, what topics we're interested in, where our gaps are. But additional information about U.S. capabilities and U.S. gaps is provided as part of that.

John Miller: So, I'm going to assume that there's one in there about China, and there's one in there about Iran, and there's another in there about Russia.

Rick Ledgett: Many more than one.

John Miller: Many more than one?

Rick Ledgett: Yes.

John Miller: How many of those are there?

Rick Ledgett: About 31,000.

John Miller: If those documents fell into their hands? What good would it do them?

Rick Ledgett: It would give them a roadmap of what we know, what we don't know, and give them-- implicitly, a way to-- protect their information from the U.S. intelligence community's view.

John Miller: For an adversary in the intelligence game, that's a gold mine?

Rick Ledgett: It is the keys to the kingdom.

So far, none of those crucial documents have been leaked. In Hong Kong last June, Snowden claimed that exposing the secret programs of the NSA did not make him a traitor or a hero, but an American.

[Edward Snowden: The public needs to decide whether these programs or policies are right or wrong.]

Snowden who is believed to still have access to a million and a half classified documents he has not leaked. Has been granted temporary asylum in Moscow, which leaves the U.S. with few options.

John Miller: He's already said, "If I got amnesty I would come back," given the potential damage to national security, what would your thought on making a deal be?

Rick Ledgett: So, my personal view is, yes, it's worth having a conversation about. I would need assurances that the remainder of the data could be secured and my bar for those assurances would be very high. It would be more than just an assertion on his part.

John Miller: Is that a unanimous feeling?

Rick Ledgett: It's not unanimous.

Among those who think making a deal is a bad idea is Ledgett's boss, Gen. Alexander.

Gen. Keith Alexander: This is analogous to a hostage taker taking 50 people hostage, shooting 10 and then say, "If you give me full amnesty I'll let the other 40 go." What do you do?

John Miller: It's a dilemma.

Gen. Keith Alexander: It is.

John Miller: Do you have a pick?

Gen. Keith Alexander: I do. I think people have to be held accountable for their actions.

Gen. Keith Alexander: Because what we don't want is the next person to do the same thing, race off to Hong Kong and to Moscow with another set of data knowing they can strike the same deal.

John Miller: This happened on your watch. A 20-something-year-old high school dropout contractor managed to walk out with in essence the crown jewels. Did you offer to resign about the Snowden incident?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Yes.

John Miller: The secretary of Defense, the director of National Intelligence, what did they say?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, I offered to resign. And they said, "We don't see a reason that you should resign. We haven't found anybody there doing anything wrong. In fact, this could have happened to anybody in the community. And we don't need you to resign. We need you and deputy director to help work your way through is," which is what we're doing. We'll do everything we can to fix it.

Besides Edward Snowden, Gen. Alexander has growing concerns about a number of increasing threats to the United States, and the NSA's ability to stop them. That part of the story when we come back.

Inside the NSA, where getting hired requires swearing an oath to your country and signing a vow of secrecy under the penalty of law, the very concept of what Edward Snowden did was hard for many to grasp. Gen. Keith Alexander felt he had a big stake in understanding Snowden, so he and Rick Ledgett who runs the Snowden task force got on a plane to Hawaii. They wanted to see the scene of the crime, Edward Snowden's desk.


NewsmakersThe Snowden AffairPart Two: Who is Edward Snowden? John Miller reports on what the NSA has learned about the contractor responsible for stealing 1.7 million classi...

John Miller: Did you sit in his chair?Rick Ledgett: I did not. I couldn't bring myself to do that.

For Ledgett, the trip was important to understanding who Snowden was, and going back through the bits and the bytes, they discovered the first secrets Snowden stole, was how to cheat on a test to get a job at the agency.

Rick Ledgett: He was taking a technical examination for potential employment at NSA; he used his system administrator privileges to go into the account of the NSA employee who was administering that test, and he took both questions and the answers, and used them to pass the test.

At home, they discovered Snowden had some strange habits.

Rick Ledgett: He would work on the computer with a hood that covered the computer screen and covered his head and shoulders, so that he could work and his girlfriend couldn't see what he was doing.

John Miller: That's pretty strange, sitting at your computer kind of covered by a sheet over your head and the screen?

Rick Ledgett: Agreed.

We also learned for the first time, that part of the damage assessment considered the possibility that Snowden could have left a bug or virus behind on the NSA's system, like a time bomb.

Rick Ledgett: So, all the machines that he had access to we removed from our classified network. All the machines in the unclassified network and including the actual cables that connect those machines, we removed as well.

John Miller: This has to have cost millions and millions of dollars.

Rick Ledgett: Tens of millions. Yes.

While Edward Snowden's leaks have been a disaster for the agency, the rest of the NSA's mission has not slowed down.

[Meanwhile, the Pakistani government has asked the US government to relook its drone policy.]

Twice a week, under the dim blue lights of the NSA's operations center, the director is given a briefing.

[Sir, we added three new hostage cases this week.]

With his deputy, Chris Inglis, Gen. Alexander listens to a rundown of global issues and international crisis the NSA may be asked to collect intelligence on.

[Sir, moving to Afghanistan.]

The meeting is called the stand-up because no one sits down, which is almost a metaphor for the pace of daily life in the NSA operations center. Howie Larrabee is the center's director.

Howie Larrabee: This is a 24/7 operation center. We haven't had a day off. We haven't had a Christmas off. And we haven't had a major snowstorm off in more than 40 years.

While the operation's center grapples with terrorist plots and war zones, another team of analysts is monitoring what the agency says is the rising threat of a cyber attack that could take down anything from the power grid to Wall Street.

"This is a 24/7 operation center. We haven't had a day off. We haven't had a Christmas off. And we haven't had a major snowstorm off in more than 40 years."John Miller: Could a foreign country tomorrow topple our financial system?

Gen. Keith Alexander: I believe that a foreign nation could impact and destroy major portions of our financial system, yes.

John Miller: How much of it could we stop?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, right now it would be difficult to stop it because our ability to see it is limited.

One they did see coming was called the BIOS Plot. It could have been catastrophic for the United States. While the NSA would not name the country behind it, cyber security experts briefed on the operation told us it was China. Debora Plunkett directs cyber defense for the NSA and for the first time, discusses the agency's role in discovering the plot.

Debora Plunkett: One of our analysts actually saw that the nation state had the intention to develop and to deliver, to actually use this capability-- to destroy computers.

John Miller: To destroy computers.

Debora Plunkett: To destroy computers. So the BIOS is a basic input, output system. It's, like, the foundational component firmware of a computer. You start your computer up. The BIOS kicks in. It activates hardware. It activates the operating system. It turns on the computer.

This is the BIOS system which starts most computers. The attack would have been disguised as a request for a software update. If the user agreed, the virus would've infected the computer.

John Miller: So, this basically would have gone into the system that starts up the computer, runs the systems, tells it what to do.

Debora Plunkett: That's right.

John Miller: --and basically turned it into a cinderblock.

Debora Plunkett: A brick.

John Miller: And after that, there wouldn't be much you could do with that computer.

Debora Plunkett: That's right. Think about the impact of that across the entire globe. It could literally take down the U.S. economy.

John Miller: I don't mean to be flip about this. But it has a kind of a little Dr. Evil quality-- to it that, "I'm going to develop a program that can destroy every computer in the world." It sounds almost unbelievable.

Debora Plunkett: Don't be fooled. There are absolutely nation states who have the capability and the intentions to do just that.

John Miller: And based on what you learned here at NSA. Would it have worked?

Debora Plunkett: We believe it would have. Yes.

John Miller: Is this anything that's been talked about publicly before?

Debora Plunkett: No, not-- not to this extent. This is the first time.

The NSA working with computer manufacturers was able to close this vulnerability, but they say there are other attacks occurring daily. So the NSA has hired 3,000 young analysts as part of cyberdefense.

Three of those analysts Morgan, Charles and Natalie describe to us how country's like China, Russia and Iran use social engineering to get inside a network.

John Miller: They're looking for a disguise to get in?

Charles: Exactly, yes.

John Miller: And at what point will they ask the question that will cause the adversary to hand over that vulnerability?

Morgan: So if I want to craft a social engineering message to lure you in so that I could potentially steal your username and password to gain access to a network, I may go on your Facebook page and see if you like golfing. So if you like golfing, then maybe I'm gonna send you a email about-- you know, a sale at a big golf retailer near you.

John Miller: So you're trying to develop that little box that's irresistible--

Voices: Correct, Uh-huh.

John Miller: --that the person has to click on and open, because--

Morgan: They'll take, yeah.

John Miller: --they need to see what's inside?

Morgan: Right.

John Miller: And that is going to let loose all the gremlins that are going to take over whatever they're capable of taking over.

Morgan: Yeah, that's their door in.

Charles: The other real trick is, it's not necessarily one email. It could be 50 emails. In the new cyber paradigm, you can fail 50 times. You can ignore 50 emails. But if that 51st one is clicked, then that's it. Game over.

But before computers, before phones, there were codes. The NSA was born out of the codebreakers of World War II. And even today, the most secret room inside the most secret building at the NSA is called the black chamber. This is where the nation's top codebreakers work. We were able to look inside, but for obvious reasons, the NSA asked us not to show the people who worked there.

The Black Chamber

CBS News

Outside the black chamber is this ordinary-looking file cabinet. But it can only be opened with a code known by a handful of people. Bob, who watches over it, explains it holds the records of every code America has broken over the last 60 years.John Miller: If I was Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, would I want what was inside there?

Bob: You would be greatly interested in what's in this box.

Bob: This would be the ark of the covenant.

When you walk around the NSA research building, where the codebreakers work, you see some very young people. And very smart people.

John Miller: How long would it take you to do this?

Joe: About a minute.

John Miller: Are you serious?

Joe: Yeah

John Miller: Go.

Many of the cryptologists skipped grades in school, earned masters degrees and PhDs and look more like they belong on a college campus than at the NSA.

Actually, the Rubik's cube took him one minute and 35 seconds.

John Miller: You know, I didn't like you before.

For this group, the Rubik's cube was the easiest problem that day.

Joslyn: So the idea here is we're looking at a sequence of numbers, and we want to determine whether they're random or not random.

John Miller: How are you approaching that? Can you show me?

Joe: We are looking at this data here and it is a bunch of random numbers on the screen.

John Miller: That looks a tad overwhelming.

Joe: It is.

John Miller: Can you actually imagine solving this?

Joe: We solve hard problem all the time.

John Miller: Is there an unbreakable code?

Chris Inglis: Theoretically, yes. There's always been an unbreakable code.

Chris Inglis is the former deputy director of the NSA. Among the areas he supervised, are the codebreakers. He says each summer 10,000 high school students apply for a few openings.

Chris Inglis: We clear them fully. We give them full access to our problems. We give them problems that we could not solve. And they solve some number of those problems. The principle reason being that they bring a different perspective and audacity to it that we hadn't thought about in all the years of experience that we've brought to bear.

John Miller: So you've had occasions where you've given a difficult problem to a high school kid with a top-secret clearance whose come back and said ''hey, I think I got this one?''

Chris Inglis: For any given summer that's more often the rule than the exception. We're always pleasantly surprised.

While high school kids on summer break may be cracking secret codes, this is still a spy agency that steals secrets, reads emails and listens to foreign leader's phone calls.

Among the Snowden leaks, perhaps the most embarrassing for the White House was that the NSA monitored some of German Chancellor Angela Merkel's cell phone calls. But Gen. Alexander says the NSA doesn't choose who to spy on. They target the subjects and the countries that other U.S. agencies including the State Department ask for intelligence on.

Gen. Keith Alexander: That's one of the ones that the White House and I think our principals are looking at. What is the appropriate measures? What should we do? And what are we gonna stop doing? From my perspective when we look at that it has to be both ways. Our country and their country has to come to an agreement to do the same. It can't be--

John Miller: Well--

Gen. Keith Alexander: --either way.

John Miller: --does that mean that we'll just agree to stop spying on everybody including our friends if they all agree to stop spying on everybody including us?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, I think that's gotta be part of the negotiation. And I think that's fraught with concern. What do you mean by--

John Miller: Do you think--

Gen. Keith Alexander: --"stop spying"?

John Miller: --Chancellor Merkel hears President Obama's calls?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, I don't know. But I know they have a great intelligence capability and that they collect foreign intelligence just like we do.

This week, the CEOs of eight major Internet providers including Google, Apple and Yahoo asked the president for new limits to be placed on the NSA's ability to collect personal information from their users.

John Miller: One of the Snowden leaks involved the concept that NSA had tunneled into the foreign data centers of major U.S. Internet providers. Did the leak describe it the right way?

Gen. Keith Alexander: No, that's not correct. We do target terrorist communications. And terrorists use communications from Google, from Yahoo, and from other service providers. So our objective is to collect those communications no matter where they are.

But we're not going into a facility or targeting Google as an entity or Yahoo has an entity. But we will collect those communications of terrorists that flow on that network.

Sources tell 60 Minutes the president's intelligence review panel will recommend new limits on bulk collection of U.S. phone records which concerns Gen. Alexander.

John Miller: After all of this controversy, you could come out of this with less authority than you went into it. What does that say?

Gen. Keith Alexander: Well, my concern on that is specially what's going on in the Middle East, what you see going on in Syria, what we see going on-- Egypt, Libya, Iraq, it's much more unstable, the probability that a terrorist attack will occur is going up. And this is precisely the time that we should not step back from the tools that we've given our analysts to detect these types of attacks.

(C) 2013 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO- Judge rules NSA spying program likely unconstitutional - YouTube

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VIDEO-Barbara Walters on Obama: 'We Thought He Was Going To Be The Next Messiah' | NewsBusters

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Yes, she really said it.

On CNN's Piers Morgan Live Tuesday, in a brief discussion about President Obama, Barbara Walters actually said, ''We thought that he was going to be - I shouldn't say this at Christmastime, but - the next messiah'' (video follows with transcript and commentary):

PIERS MORGAN, HOST: You have interviewed every president of my lifetime. Why is Obama facing so much opposition now? Why is he struggling so much to really fulfill the great flame of ambition and excitement that he was elected on originally in 2009?

BARBARA WALTERS: Well, you've touched on it to a degree. He made so many promises. We thought that he was going to be - I shouldn't say this at Christmastime, but - the next messiah. And the whole ObamaCare, or whatever you want to call it, the Affordable Health Act, it just hasn't worked for him, and he's stumbled around on it, and people feel very disappointed because they expected more.

It's very difficult when the expectations for you are very high. You're almost better off when they are low and then they rise and rise. His were very high and they've dropped. But you know, he still has several years to go. What does he have, three years, Piers? And, you know, there will be a lot of changes, one thinks in that time.

Just imagine someone of Walters' stature actually admitting that she and others expected Obama to be the next messiah.

Quite a thing to say on the very day a new poll found this president having the lowest approval rating of any since Nixon.

It's also worth noting that this came the day after the Washington Postsaid Obama was responsible for three of the top ten biggest Pinocchios of the year, and five days after PolitiFactawarded him the Lie of the Year.

Some messiah, Barbara.

VIDEO-Jennifer Lawrence says fat-shaming should be illegal in Walters interview | Film | The Guardian

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Lawrence said: 'If we're regulating cigarettes and sex '... why aren't we regulating things like calling people fat?' Photograph: Lorenzo Bevilaqua/ABC via Getty Images

The Oscar-winning actor Jennifer Lawrence said she believes "it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV".

In an interview with the US TV host Barbara Walters broadcast on Wednesday, Lawrence, 23, star of the Hunger Games and American Hustle, spoke of her concerns over how young people are affected by media attitudes, saying: "Because why is humiliating people funny?"

"I get it and I do it too, we all do it," she told Walters.

"But I think when it comes to the media, the media needs to take responsibility for the effect it has on our younger generation, on these girls who are watching these television shows, and picking up how to talk and how to be cool.

"So then all of a sudden being funny is making fun of the girl that's wearing an ugly dress ... and the word fat. I just think it should be illegal to call somebody fat on TV.

"If we're regulating cigarettes and sex and cuss words because of the effect they have on our younger generation, why aren't we regulating things like calling people fat?"

Lawrence's comments came after she was questioned about shows such as E! Fashion Police, presented by Joan Rivers, which criticise the way women look and have attacked Lawrence for her views.

Jennifer Lawrence asks: 'Why is humiliating people funny?'The actress, who won an Oscar for Silver Linings Playbook, has often been outspoken on the subject of body image.

Last month she told told the BBC that hearing negative things about her own appearance "was like being in high school".

Last year she told Elle magazine: "In Hollywood, I'm obese. I'm considered a fat actress."

The interview was broadcast in the US as part of the ABC News special, Barbara Walters Presents: The Ten Most Fascinating People of 2013. The list includes NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, singer Miley Cyrus, and Prince George, son of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

VIDEO-Birther Booted From CNN During Heated NSA Segment | Video |

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A CNN segment about a federal judge's ruling on National Security Agency surveillance turned into an all-out battle that led to the victorious attorney in the case actually getting kicked off the air.

Larry Klayman, a longtime Washington attorney frequently referred to as a ''gadfly,'' had from the start accused CNN anchor Don Lemon of being in the tank for President Barack Obama.

Before having him on, CNN aired a report about Klayman that highlighted a lawsuit he filed last year that Obama shouldn't be president because no one has confirmed he's a ''natural-born citizen,'' and featured footage of Klayman at a rally saying ''we are now ruled, quote unquote, by a president who bows down to Allah.''

Image source: CNN via YouTube

A former George W. Bush staffer in the report referred to Klayman as a ''professional litigant'' who ''pretends that he's fighting for the little guy when he's really fighting for himself and his own, in my opinion, delusions of grandeur.''

When Klayman finally came onscreen, he started by addressing Lemon: ''I think it's important to note that you're a big supporter of Obama, you have favored him in every respect, you have to do a hit piece to diminish a very important decision '-- ''

''Are you talking about me personally?'' Lemon asked. ''None of that is true, but go on.''

''Well, it is true, Don. I've watched you for many years. You're an ultra-leftist and you're a big supporter of Obama,'' Klayman said. ''Let's talk about the NSA, let's not talk about Larry Klayman. This victory is for the American people. It wasn't for me. And you, as somebody from the left '... should appreciate that you don't have a police state in this country that's going to be able to intimidate Americans to chill their free speech rights '... rather than talking about that you've got to try to take out somebody that has challenged President Obama.''

Lemon said he was ''not here to get into an argument'' and that ''nothing you have said about me has been correct.'' When Klayman kept interrupting, Lemon threatened to cut his microphone.

It was then over to CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who dug into Klayman by saying the case was based on his ''tin-foil hat paranoia about the NSA being after him.''

''He had some fantasy that the NSA was after him. This case is not about Larry Klayman, it's about the metadata program that affects everybody, but the idea that Larry Klayman is the representative is simply outrageous,'' Toobin said. ''He is a professional litigant and lunatic who should not be a representative of the very important issues of this case.''

Klayman hit back at Toobin by saying he is ''not a serious person'' and ''should not be doing legal commentary for CNN.''

''I think there are very serious issues here but the idea that you are the representative of them really is very unfortunate,'' Toobin said. ''Your paranoia and fantasies about the NSA being after you are unworthy of this important case.''

Things took another turn when Klayman said Toobin should ''read the complaint rather than shooting your mouth off.''

''This is a disgrace, both of your conducts are a disgrace,'' Klayman said.

''Oh my gosh. Are you OK?'' Lemon asked.

''No, are you OK?'' Klayman said.

Lemon told Klayman he wasn't going to argue with him anymore and called for the producers to remove him from the screen.

Right before that happened, Klayman charged, ''You're a charter member of the ACLU, you believe in free speech right?'' and then repeated ''free speech!'' as he was cut.

Continuing to discuss the case with Toobin, Lemon brought Klayman back a few moments later to give him the last word and show ''we're going to be the bigger person.''

''The last word is you're not the bigger people. Don't kid anybody,'' Klayman said. ''Let anybody watch this and see that CNN removes you from the screen when it doesn't like what you think. You know what, you're not CNN, Don, and Toobin, you're not CNN. CNN is a reputable organization, but you have not acted in a respectful way, and it's in fact disgraceful. You're more like Martin Bashir.''


VIDEO-McCain: 'CIA Did Not Tell the Truth to the American Congress about Mr. Levinson' | MRCTV

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VIDEO-MSNBC's Roberts: President Obama, 'First Gay President' | MRCTV

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MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them '-- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 1900 Campus Commons Drive, Reston, VA 20194. For information about the MRC, please visit

Copyright (C) 2013, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

VIDEO- FBI Says They Have Prevented Over 150 Public Shootings In The Last Year - YouTube

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VIDEO- MSM: Younger Brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev Was The Leader Of Boston Marathon Bombing Conspiracy - YouTube

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VIDEO- Senator Feinstein Says She Is "Very Eager" To Have The Supreme Court Hear NSA Case - YouTube

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VIDEO- "I Think The American People Want Security Over Freedom" (Those Who Surrender Freedom For Security.. - YouTube

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VIDEO- Glenn Greenwald "There's Been Successful Terrorist Attacks On the Boston Marathon And..." - YouTube

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VIDEO-Tech executives to Obama: NSA spying revelations are threatening business - The Washington Post

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 21:54

Leaders of the nation's biggest technology firms warned President Obama during a lengthy meeting at the White House on Tuesday that National Security Agency spying programs are damaging their reputations and could harm the broader economy.

Cisco Systems has said it is seeing customers, especially overseas, back away from American-branded technology after documents revealed that the NSA enlisted tech firms and secretly tapped into their data hubs around the world as the agency pursued terrorism suspects. Companies such as IBM, AT&T and Verizon Communications are facing angry shareholders, some of whom have filed lawsuits demanding that the companies disclose their participation in NSA intelligence programs.

The companies also pressed the need for transparency and for limits on surveillance to restore the credibility of the U.S. government. They wanted an explanation of what the NSA was doing overseas to collect their data and to be able to talk about it, said industry and U.S. officials briefed on the meeting who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss it freely.

''Most companies'' in the room pressed this point, ''and they did so loudly,'' said one U.S. official.

Obama said that he heard their message and that the White House would consider the group's views as it completed a review of NSA surveillance programs.

Silicon Valley has been a critical driver of the economic recovery and has long represented the face of American ingenuity around the world. Many of these companies say they are still trying to assess the damage caused by Edward Snowden's leak of NSA documents showing their work with intelligence officials.

But some shareholders say Silicon Valley has been slow to recognize the reputational crisis that is developing around the world for these companies. ''Verizon and AT&T are not managing this crisis effectively,'' said Jonas Kron, director of shareholder advocacy at Trillium, an investment advisory firm. ''Now is the time for these companies to demonstrate that they will protect user privacy.''

The morning meeting at the White House, held in the Roosevelt Room, took on added import given a federal judge's ruling Monday that the NSA's counterterrorism program to collect Americans' phone records appears to be unconstitutional. That, along with the outcry from Silicon Valley and civil liberties advocates, some of whom belong to Obama's party, is increasing pressure on the administration to curb NSA surveillance efforts.

The gathering was scheduled for two hours but went well over the allotted time, with the majority of the discussion focused on the companies' demands for changes to NSA spying programs, according to tech industry officials.

Several of the executives came to the meeting particularly angered over a Washington Post report in late October that revealed the NSA and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, were gaining access to the data connections that link Google and Yahoo servers around the world, industry officials said.

Their message was to say: ''What the hell are you doing? Are you really hacking into the infrastructure of American companies overseas? The same American companies that cooperate with your lawful orders and spend a lot of money to comply with them to facilitate your intelligence collection?'' said one industry official familiar with the companies' views.

The NSA has stressed that its overseas collection is carried out lawfully, under executive authority. Any data on Americans are handled according to rules that protect their privacy, including the requirement to obtain a warrant to target an American's communications, officials say.

In the meeting, the executives reiterated a list of demands that had been sent to the White House in a letter last week calling on the administration to cease bulk data collection of e-mails, online address books and other personal information; to impose limits on how easily the NSA can obtain court orders for Internet data; and to allow the companies to be more transparent about government intelligence requests.

Several participants acknowledged that the White House had to balance the companies' business concerns against national security considerations.

Senior administration officials described the meeting with the 15 executives as ''constructive, not at all contentious.''

''This was an opportunity for the President to hear from CEOs directly as we near completion of our review of signals intelligence programs, building on the feedback we've received from the private sector in recent weeks and months,'' the White House said in a statement.

One participant suggested the president pardon Snowden. Obama said he could not do so, said one industry official. White House officials have said that Snowden is accused of leaking classified information and faces felony charges in the United States, and that he should be returned as soon as possible to the United States, ''where he will be accorded full due process and protections.''

Senior executives from AT&T, Yahoo, Apple, Netflix,Twitter, Google, Microsoft and Facebook were among those in attendance.

''We appreciated the opportunity to share directly with the President our principles on government surveillance that we released last week and we urged him to move aggressively on reform,'' the technology firms said in a joint statement after the meeting.

Many of these firms have played a key role in boosting Obama's political fortunes. Tech companies pumped nearly $7.8 million into his campaign in the last cycle, according to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics.

Some of the top officials meeting with the president Tuesday served as bundlers for his 2012 bid. Yahoo's chief executive, Marissa Mayer, raised between $100,000 and $200,000, according to the center, and Shervin Pish­evar, co-founder of the Sherpa technology investment fund, raised more than $500,000. Mark Pincus, Zynga's chief product officer and chairman, gave $1 million to Priorities Action USA, the super PAC that supported Obama.

Still, some of these executives, as well as their shareholders, are fretting about the ­bottom-line impact of the NSA intelligence programs.

In Cisco's earnings report last month, executives explained that disappointing sales in emerging markets were partly tied to the NSA leaks, which may have ''caused a number of customers to pause and reevaluate,'' Cisco's head of sales, Robert Lloyd, said at the time.

Last week, IBM shareholders sued the company in a New York federal court, saying that it harmed investors with its secret participation in NSA programs.

''IBM's association with the NSA presented a material risk to the company's sales and, in particular .'‰.'‰. sales in China that were of critical importance to investors,'' the Louisiana Sheriffs' Pension and Relief Fund said in its lawsuit. ''Despite that knowledge .'‰.'‰. IBM misrepresented to investors that it was a market leader in the Asia-Pacific region and that IBM expected solid improvement in the sales of its hardware division.''

Last month, shareholders of Verizon and AT&T demanded that the companies disclose their participation in NSA intelligence programs.

The $160.7 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund filed a resolution with AT&T's board to make public its participation in government intelligence programs. The pension fund argued that customers can too easily switch to another wireless carrier amid concerns that AT&T is sharing telephone data and other information with the government.

The meeting at the White House was the second time top Silicon Valley and telecommunications leaders have convened with Obama since Snowden began to release portions of a trove of top-secret documents detailing NSA spying programs.

Obama tried to keep the tenor friendly, even cracking jokes, an industry official said.

At one point, he asked Netflix chief executive Reed Hastings if he brought advanced copies of the second season of ''House of Cards,'' a satire-drama of Washington politics, according to a pool report of the meeting.

Hastings laughed and invited Obama to do a cameo appearance on the show. Obama said of the ruthless lead character, a congressman played by Kevin Spacey, ''This guy's getting a lot of stuff done.''

''I wish things were that ruthlessly efficient,'' Obama said, to laughter from all the tech executives.

Juliet Eilperin and Matea Gold contributed to this report.

VIDEO-How the vitamin industrial complex swindled America - The Week

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Thu, 19 Dec 2013 02:45


uestions about the health benefits of vitamin supplements have been percolating in the medical establishment for decades '-- even as the multivitamin industry has grown to a multi-billion powerhouse in the U.S. This week, the respected journal the Annals of Internal Medicineput its well-heeled foot down.

"We believe that the case is closed '-- supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful," the journal said in an editorial. "These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough."

Here's Dr. Edgar Miller of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, one of the editorial's five co-authors: "What will protect you is if you spend the money on fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, low fat dairy, things like that," Miller tells CBS News. "Exercising would probably be a better use of the money." The only exceptions are folic acid for pregnant women and, possibly, vitamin D '-- the studies are mixed on its benefits and risks.

Assuming Miller and his colleagues are right '-- and they base their assertion on three large, recent studies '-- Americans have been wasting lots of money on vitamins. About half of U.S. adults take dietary supplements, and the vitamin industry has grown to $12 billion a year for vitamins alone and about $30 billion for all dietary supplements. That's just in the U.S.

How did the vitamin industry convince Americans that they need to bulk up on vitamin A, vitamin C, various forms of vitamin B, and other vitamins or multivitamin supplements? "Vitamin manufacturers argue that a regular diet doesn't contain enough vitamins, and that more is better," and most people wrongly assume that "at the very least, excess vitamins can't do any harm," Paul Offit, an infectious disease specialist at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, said in The New York Times in June.

But much of the blame lies with a flawed genius, Linus Pauling, Offit says. Pauling, the father of molecular biology and near-discoverer of DNA, was "so spectacularly right that he won two Nobel prizes and so spectacularly wrong that he was arguably the world's greatest quack," Offit wrote in The Guardian. Starting in 1966, Pauling started evangelizing about the wonders of vitamin C, making outrageous claims about its salutary effects.

In 1970, Pauling published a bestseller, Vitamin C And The Common Cold, arguing that 3,000 mg of the vitamin each day would eradicate the cold. He went on to insist that a multitude of vitamins, including A, E, and beta-carotine could treat or cure a whole host of maladies, from cancer to AIDS. Study after study after study proved him wrong.

Pauling really believed his claims, but the vitamin industry had more cynical motives: Money, as Offit recounted in The New York Times. The Food and Drug Administration proposed regulating vitamin supplements containing more than 150 percent of the recommended daily allowance in December 1972, meaning "vitamin makers would now have to prove that these 'megavitamins' were safe before selling them," Offit continues:

Not surprisingly, the vitamin industry saw this as a threat, and set out to destroy the bill. In the end, it did far more than that. Industry executives recruited William Proxmire, a Democratic senator from Wisconsin, to introduce a bill preventing the FDA. from regulating megavitamins.... Proxmire's bill passed by a vote of 81 to 10. In 1976, it became law. Decades later, Peter Barton Hutt, chief counsel to the FDA, wrote that "it was the most humiliating defeat" in the agency's history. [New York Times]

So, thanks to Linus Pauling, money, and politics, Offit concludes, "consumers don't know that taking megavitamins could increase their risk of cancer and heart disease and shorten their lives."

But surely consumers play some role in the rise of the vitamin industrial complex. Research about the ineffectiveness of vitamins, or worse, has been around since the 1940s, after all. "People over time and particularly people in the United States have been led to believe that vitamin and mineral supplements will make them healthier, and they're looking for a magic pill," Dr. Cynthia Mulrow, another of the Annals of Internal Medicine editorialists, tells Reuters.

And the "magic pill" habit may be hard to break, scathing editorial or no. For what it's worth, here's the pushback from the supplement trade group the Council for Responsible Nutrition:

The Annals of Internal Medicine editorial "demonstrates a close-minded, one-sided approach that attempts to dismiss even the proven benefits of vitamins and minerals," says the group's CEO, Steve Mister. "It's a shame for consumers that the authors refuse to recognize the real-life need for vitamin and mineral supplementation, living in a fairy-tale world that makes the inaccurate assumption that we're all eating healthy diets and getting everything we need from food alone."

At the end of this CBS News report, the featured inveterate vitamin-taker buys the industry's argument and declares that, despite the evidence and her healthy diet, she will continue taking vitamins. She almost certainly isn't alone:

But don't say you haven't been warned.

VIDEO-Mystery flu-like illness claims four lives in Texas | Austin

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 20:18

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Texas -- Officials with the Montgomery County Health Department are on a mission to find out more about a mystery flu-like illness.

So far, half of the people who have come down with it have died.

According to the health department, all of the patients have had flu-like and/or pneumonia like symptoms. However, all of them have tested negative for the flu.

There have been eight confirmed patients ranging in age from 41 to 68. Four of those patients have died.

Sources said two of the surviving patients are being treated at Conroe Regional Medical Center and are ''very sick''.

Those sources said doctors are being advised to use extra precaution to prevent this from spreading.

It's unclear if any of the patients had pre-existing conditions.

The Montgomery County Health Department is waiting on more conclusive test results. Officials are hoping they will have more answers in the days to come.


VIDEO-Multivitamins won't boost health, waste of money: Researchers - CBS News

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Tue, 17 Dec 2013 16:25

''Enough'' with the multivitamins already.

That's the message from doctors behind three new studies and an editorial that tackled an oft-debated question in medicine: Do daily multivitamins make you healthier?

After reviewing the available evidence and conducting new trials, the authors have come to a conclusion of ''no.''

''We believe that the case is closed -- supplementing the diet of well-nourished adults with (most) mineral or vitamin supplements has no clear benefit and might even be harmful,'' concluded the authors of the editorial summarizing the new research papers, published Dec. 16 in the Annals of Internal Medicine. ''These vitamins should not be used for chronic disease prevention. Enough is enough.''

They went on to urge consumers to not ''waste'' their money on multivitamins.

''The 'stop wasting your money' means that perhaps you're spending money on things that won't protect you long term,'' editorial co-author Dr. Edgar Miller, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, told CBS News' chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook. ''What will protect you is if you spend the money on fruits, vegetables, nuts, beans, low fat dairy, things like that ..exercising would probably be a better use of the money.''

The strong message was based on a review of the findings from three studies that tracked multivitamins link to cancer protection, heart health, and brain and cognitive measures.

Vitamin and mineral supplements are taken by an estimated half of all Americans.


HealthStudy: Multivitamins fail to reduce heart problemsA study conducted by the Journal of the American Medical Association, looked at nearly 15,000 male doctors who were middle-aged and older for mor...

The first study, which was released online Nov. 12 in Annals, was a review of 24 studies and two trials on more than 350,000 individuals that looked at vitamin supplementation's role in preventing chronic disease. The review was conducted to find evidence that can be used to update vitamin treatment guidelines from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, a panel of medical experts who recommend the government on treatments.That review found no evidence that vitamin and mineral supplementation would reduce heart disease in pill takers. Two of the trials found a small, ''borderline-significant benefit'' in cancer risk reduction, but only in men. Overall, the panel concluded there was no solid evidence for or against taking vitamins and minerals alone, or that a multivitamin to prevent heart disease or cancer. More strikingly, it found enough evidence to recommend against taking beta-carotene or vitamin E for preventing both diseases, finding they not only didn't help but the former may raise risk for lung cancer for already at-risk individuals.


HealthStudy: Multivitamins can lower cancer riskA new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association finds taking a multivitamin daily lowers the risk of cancer. Edward Lawrence repor...

''In the absence of clear evidence about the impact of most vitamins and multivitamins on cardiovascular disease and cancer, health care professionals should counsel their patients to eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that is rich in nutrients,'' the Task Force concluded.The next study, published Dec. 16 in Annals, looked at cognitive health and whether long-term use of multivitamins would have any effect. Researchers assigned almost 5,950 male doctors aged 65 and older to take either a daily multivitamin or placebo for 12 years in a randomized, placebo-controlled trial,

Based on the results of memory tests, the researchers found the multivitamin did nothing to slow cognitive decline among men 65 and older compared to placebo takers.

''These data do not provide support for use of multivitamin supplements in the prevention of cognitive decline,'' wrote the authors, led by Dr. Francine Grodstein, an epidemiologist who studies aging at Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

It's worth noting this study only looked at cognitive test results, not actual development of dementia.

The third study looked specifically at multivitamins and minerals role in preventing another heart attack, or myocardial infarction. They looked at more than 1,700 people who had a heart attack at least six weeks earlier, and randomized them to receive daily high-dose multivitamins and minerals or placebos for five years.Having a heart attack raises risk for another attack, or cardiovascular event like stroke or premature death, so if multivitamins could reduce risk, they could be a boon to public health.

The researchers found no difference in rates of another heart attack, chest pain, the need for hospitalization, cardiac catheterization, or rates of stroke and early death between vitamin-takers and placebo-takers. But, they said the conclusions should be taken with caution, because several participants stopped taking vitamins early.

The authors of the editorial say the evidence is clear about supplements, except for vitamin D, which has been shown to be both effective and ineffective for preventing falls and fractures in elderly.

''Sales of multivitamins and other supplements have not been affected by major studies with null results, and the U.S. supplement industry continues to grow, reaching $28 billion in annual sales in 2010,'' wrote the authors of the editorial summary, led by Dr. Eliseo Guallar, a professor of epidemiology who specializes in heart disease prevention at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. ''We should translate null and negative findings into action. The message is simple: Most supplements do not prevent chronic disease or death, their use is not justified, and they should be avoided.''

Last year, Pfizer agreed to remove "breast health" and "colon health" claims from some of its Centrum multivitamins following pressure from the Center for Science in the Public Interest, which said their claims of cancer prevention were misleading.

A dietary supplement industry group slammed the editorial and studies.

''The editorial demonstrates a close-minded, one-sided approach that attempts to dismiss even the proven benefits of vitamins and minerals," Steve Mister, president and CEO of the Council for Responsibile Nutrition, said in a statement. "It's a shame for consumers that the authors refuse to recognize the real-life need for vitamin and mineral supplementation, living in a fairy-tale world that makes the inaccurate assumption that we're all eating healthy diets and getting everything we need from food alone.

One expert agreed some nutrient-deficient people may still benefit from multivitamins.

''There might be an argument to continue taking a multi(vitamin) to replace or supplement your not healthy diet,'' Dr. Robert Graham, an internal medicine physician at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, added to CBS News.

LaPook also notes that vitamins can benefit people with certain conditions, like celiac disease -- where the body cannot properly absorb nutrients -- and pegnancy, where folic acid helps prevent birth defects

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VIDEO-MSNBC Host's Radical Idea: 'Every Non-Incarcerated Adult Citizen Gets a Monthly Check From the Government' | Video |

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Wed, 18 Dec 2013 15:58

On Tuesday's edition of MSNBC's ''The Cycle,'' co-host Krystal Ball suggested that the United States implement a minimum guaranteed income for every ''non-incarcerated adult citizen.'' The enormous entitlement program would ''eliminate poverty'' completely, Ball claimed.

Referencing protests occurring across the globe, the MSNBC host made her pitch for a ''monthly minimum income'' or a ''mincome.'' The free government money would not only solve poverty, but it would not create deincentives to work, she claimed.

''The basic concept is simple,'' she said. ''Every non-incarcerated adult citizen gets a monthly check from the government. Other safety net programs are jettisoned to pay for the mincome, and poverty is eliminated.''


''Now I know what you're thinking: 'This is some crazy left-wing utopian idea that only Marxists like Krystal Ball and Pope Francis could possibly support,''' Ball continued. She then argued that the idea ''has found support on the right,'' citing Reason's Matthew Freeney who suggested giving the poor ''cash.''

Ball went on to cite a study about a Canadian town in the 1970s that reportedly implemented a minimum income and ''not only was poverty eliminated, but the disincentives to work has a minimal effect on productivity.''

''We tend to think of poverty, homelessness, despair as inevitable but mincome makes you realize '-- in a country as rich as ours '-- we allow those outcomes as a choice. We could decide to eliminate poverty and it wouldn't even take a Christmas miracle,'' Ball said.

Watch the segment via MSNBC below:

(H/T: Mediaite)