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Warren, Melinda & I

Executive Producers: Arch Duke David Foley, HeyIdiot from Atlas-McDonald, Anonymous, Edward Sheats

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Presidential Proclamation -- National Mentoring Month, 2014

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Archived Version

Source: White Press Office Feed

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 14:10

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 31, 2013


- - - - - - -



In every corner of our Nation, mentors push our next generation to shape their ambitions, set a positive course, and achieve their boundless potential. During National Mentoring Month, we celebrate everyone who teaches, inspires, and guides young Americans as they reach for their dreams.

Mentors help children build confidence, gain knowledge, and develop the strength of character to succeed inside and outside of the classroom. They are relatives, teachers, coaches, ministers, and neighbors. Anyone can be a mentor, and every child should have the chance to be a mentee. Young people with mentors have better attendance in school, higher self-esteem, a greater chance of pursuing higher education, and a reduced risk of substance abuse. That is why my Administration is creating new opportunities to give back -- from expanding national service, promoting responsible fatherhood, and challenging businesses to grow their mentoring activities, to First Lady Michelle Obama's mentoring initiative, which pairs local high school girls with powerful role models. For more information on how to get involved in a mentoring program, visit

America is at its best when we lift each other up, when we pursue our individual goals while never forgetting that we are bound as one Nation and as one people. If we carry this spirit forward, if we take responsibility for our future leaders and give them the tools to succeed, America's best days will always lie ahead.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2014 as National Mentoring Month. I call upon public officials, business and community leaders, educators, and Americans across the country to observe this month with appropriate ceremonies, activities, and programs.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thisthirty-first 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.


Presidential Proclamation -- National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, 2014

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Source: White Press Office Feed

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 14:11

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 31, 2013


- - - - - - -



Over a century and a half after President Abraham Lincoln issued the Emancipation Proclamation, millions remain in bondage -- children forced to take part in armed conflict or sold to brothels by their destitute families, men and women who toil for little or no pay, who are threatened and beaten if they try to escape. Slavery tears at our social fabric, fuels violence and organized crime, and debases our common humanity. During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we renew our commitment to ending this scourge in all its forms.

Because modern-day slavery is a global tragedy, combating it requires international action. The United States is shining a spotlight on the dark corners where it persists, placing sanctions on some of the worst abusers, giving countries incentives to meet their responsibilities, and partnering with groups that help trafficking victims escape from their abusers' grip. We are working with other nations as they step up their own efforts, and we are seeing more countries pass anti-human trafficking laws and improve enforcement.

At home, we are leading by example. My Administration is cracking down on traffickers, charging a record number of perpetrators. We are deploying new technology in the fight against human trafficking, developing the Federal Government's first-ever strategic action plan to strengthen victim services, and strengthening protections against human trafficking in Federal contracts. During the past year, the White House has hosted events on combating human trafficking, bringing together leaders from every sector of society. Together, we came up with new ideas to fight trafficking at the national and grassroots levels.

As we work to dismantle trafficking networks and help survivors rebuild their lives, we must also address the underlying forces that push so many into bondage. We must develop economies that create legitimate jobs, build a global sense of justice that says no child should ever be exploited, and empower our daughters and sons with the same chances to pursue their dreams. This month, I call on every nation, every community, and every individual to fight human trafficking wherever it exists. Let us declare as one that slavery has no place in our world, and let us finally restore to all people the most basic rights of freedom, dignity, and justice.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2014 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, faith-based groups, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand thisthirty-first 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.


Presidential Proclamation -- National Stalking Awareness Month, 2014

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Source: White Press Office Feed

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 14:11

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 31, 2013


- - - - - - -



Each January, we draw attention to a crime that will affect 1 in 6 American women at some point in their lives. Although young women are disproportionately at risk, anyone can be a victim of stalking -- regardless of age, sex, background, or gender identity. While many victims are stalked by ex-partners, sometimes the perpetrators are acquaintances or even strangers. During National Stalking Awareness Month, we extend our support to victims and renew our commitment to holding their stalkers accountable.

Stalkers seek to intimidate their victims through repeated unwanted contact, including harassing phone calls, text messages, or emails. Cyberstalking is increasingly prevalent, with more than one quarter of stalking victims reporting being harassed through the Internet or electronically monitored. Many victims suffer from anxiety, depression, and insomnia, and some are forced to move or change jobs. Stalking all too often goes unreported, yet it also tends to escalate over time, putting victims at risk of sexual assault, physical abuse, or homicide.

My Administration remains dedicated to pursuing justice for victims of stalking and ensuring survivors receive the support they need. Last March, I was proud to sign the Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act. Every time we renew this landmark legislation, we improve it, and this time was no exception. This renewal expanded protections for Native American and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender victims of stalking, domestic violence, and sexual assault. It amended the Clery Act to require colleges to report crime statistics on stalking, continued to allow relief for immigrant victims, and strengthened support and training programs that have proven effective in helping law enforcement bring offenders to justice.

We also stand behind the tireless advocates who provide essential services to victims. Along with law enforcement, prosecutors, court personnel, and survivors, these devoted women and men are links in a chain that has made a difference -- one person, one family, one case at a time. This month, let us resolve to strengthen this chain, bring stalkers to justice, and give hope to everyone who has suffered from this crime.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2014 as National Stalking Awareness Month. I call upon all Americans to recognize the signs of stalking, acknowledge stalking as a serious crime, and urge those affected not to be afraid to speak out or ask for help. Let us also resolve to support victims and survivors, and to create communities that are secure and supportive for all Americans.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first 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.


Fluoride in Drinking Water | Austin Water Utility | - The Official Website of the City of Austin

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 23:41

Fluoride and Infants

Water fluoridated at a level optimal for oral health (as is used in Austin) poses no known health risks for infants. However, some children may develop enamel fluorosis, a cosmetic condition where faint white markings or streaks may appear on the teeth. Fluorosis can affect both baby teeth and permanent teeth while they're forming under the gums.

If you're concerned about fluorosis, you can minimize your baby's exposure to fluoride in several ways. Breastfeeding is the best source of nutrition for infants. If breastfeeding is not possible, you can minimize exposure to fluoride by using ready-to-feed formula. You can also alternate using tap water and nonfluoridated water for formula preparation, or mix powdered or liquid infant formula concentrate with low-fluoride water most or all of the time. However, if you use only nonfluoridated water '-- such as purified, demineralized, deionized or distilled bottled water '-- to prepare your baby's formula, your baby's doctor may recommend fluoride supplements beginning at age 6 months.

History of Fluoride in Drinking Water

Fluoride is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in many groundwaters. In the 1920s and 1930s a link was made between fluoride concentrations in drinking water and a reduction in tooth decay. In 1945 municipalities began adding fluoride to drinking water to fight tooth decay. Follow up studies in these communities over the following 13-15 years showed a 50-70% reduction in cavities.

Because of the potential public health benefits to City residents, the City held a public referendum on fluoridation in the early 1970s. The referendum passed with the support of the community, and the Utility began adding fluoride to the water on February 2, 1973. As a result, the Utility has nearly thirty years of operational experience with fluoride.

Furthermore, the beneficial aspects of fluoride are widely recognized. Impartial groups that have endorsed fluoridation include the American Dental Association, the Texas Dental Association, the American Medical Association, and the World Health Organization. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also supports the practice of fluoridation and has developed detailed engineering and administrative recommendations regarding it. In fact, the CDC has recognized water fluoridation as one of the ten great public health achievements of the 20th Century.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) develops standards for and regulates the concentration of fluoride in drinking water. The Utility constantly monitors the addition of fluoride at our water treatment plants and routinely measures the concentration of fluoride in the finished water to assure that it is well within the regulatory limits established by the EPA. Refer to the What's in the Water for the amount of fluoride in Austin's drinking water.



Inside TAO: Documents Reveal Top NSA Hacking Unit - SPIEGEL ONLINE - News - International

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Tue, 31 Dec 2013 15:26

In January 2010, numerous homeowners in San Antonio, Texas, stood baffled in front of their closed garage doors. They wanted to drive to work or head off to do their grocery shopping, but their garage door openers had gone dead, leaving them stranded. No matter how many times they pressed the buttons, the doors didn't budge. The problem primarily affected residents in the western part of the city, around Military Drive and the interstate highway known as Loop 410.

In the United States, a country of cars and commuters, the mysterious garage door problem quickly became an issue for local politicians. Ultimately, the municipal government solved the riddle. Fault for the error lay with the United States' foreign intelligence service, the National Security Agency, which has offices in San Antonio. Officials at the agency were forced to admit that one of the NSA's radio antennas was broadcasting at the same frequency as the garage door openers. Embarrassed officials at the intelligence agency promised to resolve the issue as quickly as possible, and soon the doors began opening again.

It was thanks to the garage door opener episode that Texans learned just how far the NSA's work had encroached upon their daily lives. For quite some time now, the intelligence agency has maintained a branch with around 2,000 employees at Lackland Air Force Base, also in San Antonio. In 2005, the agency took over a former Sony computer chip plant in the western part of the city. A brisk pace of construction commenced inside this enormous compound. The acquisition of the former chip factory at Sony Place was part of a massive expansion the agency began after the events of Sept. 11, 2001.

On-Call Digital Plumbers

One of the two main buildings at the former plant has since housed a sophisticated NSA unit, one that has benefited the most from this expansion and has grown the fastest in recent years -- the Office of Tailored Access Operations, or TAO. This is the NSA's top operative unit -- something like a squad of plumbers that can be called in when normal access to a target is blocked.

According to internal NSA documents viewed by SPIEGEL, these on-call digital plumbers are involved in many sensitive operations conducted by American intelligence agencies. TAO's area of operations ranges from counterterrorism to cyber attacks to traditional espionage. The documents reveal just how diversified the tools at TAO's disposal have become -- and also how it exploits the technical weaknesses of the IT industry, from Microsoft to Cisco and Huawei, to carry out its discreet and efficient attacks.

The unit is "akin to the wunderkind of the US intelligence community," says Matthew Aid, a historian who specializes in the history of the NSA. "Getting the ungettable" is the NSA's own description of its duties. "It is not about the quantity produced but the quality of intelligence that is important," one former TAO chief wrote, describing her work in a document. The paper seen by SPIEGEL quotes the former unit head stating that TAO has contributed "some of the most significant intelligence our country has ever seen." The unit, it goes on, has "access to our very hardest targets."

A Unit Born of the Internet

Defining the future of her unit at the time, she wrote that TAO "needs to continue to grow and must lay the foundation for integrated Computer Network Operations," and that it must "support Computer Network Attacks as an integrated part of military operations." To succeed in this, she wrote, TAO would have to acquire "pervasive, persistent access on the global network." An internal description of TAO's responsibilities makes clear that aggressive attacks are an explicit part of the unit's tasks. In other words, the NSA's hackers have been given a government mandate for their work. During the middle part of the last decade, the special unit succeeded in gaining access to 258 targets in 89 countries -- nearly everywhere in the world. In 2010, it conducted 279 operations worldwide.

Indeed, TAO specialists have directly accessed the protected networks of democratically elected leaders of countries. They infiltrated networks of European telecommunications companies and gained access to and read mails sent over Blackberry's BES email servers, which until then were believed to be securely encrypted. Achieving this last goal required a "sustained TAO operation," one document states.

This TAO unit is born of the Internet -- created in 1997, a time when not even 2 percent of the world's population had Internet access and no one had yet thought of Facebook, YouTube or Twitter. From the time the first TAO employees moved into offices at NSA headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland, the unit was housed in a separate wing, set apart from the rest of the agency. Their task was clear from the beginning -- to work around the clock to find ways to hack into global communications traffic.

Recruiting the Geeks

To do this, the NSA needed a new kind of employee. The TAO workers authorized to access the special, secure floor on which the unit is located are for the most part considerably younger than the average NSA staff member. Their job is breaking into, manipulating and exploiting computer networks, making them hackers and civil servants in one. Many resemble geeks -- and act the part, too.

Indeed, it is from these very circles that the NSA recruits new hires for its Tailored Access Operations unit. In recent years, NSA Director Keith Alexander has made several appearances at major hacker conferences in the United States. Sometimes, Alexander wears his military uniform, but at others, he even dons jeans and a t-shirt in his effort to court trust and a new generation of employees.

The recruitment strategy seems to have borne fruit. Certainly, few if any other divisions within the agency are growing as quickly as TAO. There are now TAO units in Wahiawa, Hawaii; Fort Gordon, Georgia; at the NSA's outpost at Buckley Air Force Base, near Denver, Colorado; at its headquarters in Fort Meade; and, of course, in San Antonio.

One trail also leads to Germany. According to a document dating from 2010 that lists the "Lead TAO Liaisons" domestically and abroad as well as names, email addresses and the number for their "Secure Phone," a liaison office is located near Frankfurt -- the European Security Operations Center (ESOC) at the so-called "Dagger Complex" at a US military compound in the Griesheim suburb of Darmstadt.

But it is the growth of the unit's Texas branch that has been uniquely impressive, the top secret documents reviewed by SPIEGEL show. These documents reveal that in 2008, the Texas Cryptologic Center employed fewer than 60 TAO specialists. By 2015, the number is projected to grow to 270 employees. In addition, there are another 85 specialists in the "Requirements & Targeting" division (up from 13 specialists in 2008). The number of software developers is expected to increase from the 2008 level of three to 38 in 2015. The San Antonio office handles attacks against targets in the Middle East, Cuba, Venezuela and Colombia, not to mention Mexico, just 200 kilometers (124 miles) away, where the government has fallen into the NSA's crosshairs.

The Daily Dot - The NSA has nearly complete backdoor access to Apple's iPhone

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Archived Version

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 07:00

'; var _rdtb =''; var _lib1 = ''; var _lib2 = 'The U.S. National Security Agency has the ability to snoop on nearly every communication sent from an Apple iPhone, according to leaked documents shared by security researcher Jacob Appelbaum and German news magazine Der Spiegel.

An NSA program called DROPOUTJEEP allows the agency to intercept SMS messages, access contact lists, locate a phone using cell tower data, and even activate the device's microphone and camera.

According to leaked documents, the NSA claims a 100 percent success rate when it comes to implanting iOS devices with spyware. The documents suggest that the NSA needs physical access to a device to install the spyware'--something the agency has achieved by rerouting shipments of devices purchased online'--but a remote version of the exploit is also in the works.

Appelbaum says that presents one of two possibilities:

''Either [the NSA] have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce, and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves,'' Appelbaum said at the Chaos Communication Conference in Hamburg, Germany.

''Do you think Apple helped them with that?'' Appelbaum asked. ''I hope Apple will clarify that.''

Photo via Piro*/Flickr

Snowden Leak regarding post here: HP laptop leaks/transmits its built-in mic audio somewhere around 24Mhz : RTLSDR

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Archived Version

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 00:19

Original Story:

I was reading through the last batch of documents released by Snowden/Der Speigel, and noticed LOADAUTO (see page 3 of

LOUDAUTOs maximizes the gain of the microphone and then uses the digital signal to pulse-position-modulate (PPM) a square wave signal running at a pre-set frequency. This square wave is used to turn a FET (field effect transistor) on and off. When the unit is illuminated with a CW signal from a nearby radar unit, the illuminating signal is amplitude modulated with the PPM square wave. This signal is re-radiated, where it is picked up by the radar, then processed to recover the room audio. Processing is currently performed by COTS equipment with FM demodulation capability.

Dell's Twitter Account Apologizes For The 'Inconvenience' Of Helping NSA Install Spyware | Techdirt

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 01:18

There are times when big brands with "social media people" might want to teach those junior level employees to recognize that using one of the standard "scripted" answers might be inappropriate. Take, for example, if you're Dell and a new report has come out suggesting that the NSA has pretty much compromised your servers at the BIOS level with spy bugs, then, when someone -- especially a respected security guy like Martin Wismeijer -- tweets at you, you don't go with the standard scripted "sorry for the inconvenience" response. But, apparently, that's not how Dell handled things this time (thanks to Mike Mozart for the pointer):In case you can't read that, Wismeijer complained on Twitter about finding out that his Dell server is bugged by the NSA (which might be an exaggeration...) and included the @DellCares account in his tweet. That account wrote:Thank you for reaching out and regret the inconvenience. Our colleagues at @dellcarespro will be able to help you out.

Wismeijer responded with an expected level of anger. Not only is "regret the inconvenience" probably the inappropriate response to a customer complaining about the NSA installing malware, but the idea that Dell support "will be able to help you out" is similarly questionable.


Control, Baby!

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Source: a.nolen

Wed, 01 Jan 2014 15:40

Two parts to a killer post today: 1) Jacob Appelbaum fulfills his intelligence mission and 2) he is a harbinger of digital social disease (BadBIOS).

On with the show!

Jacob: ''Look at that! It's another American company that they [the NSA] are sabotaging.''Well, If you follow @ioerror on Twitter you knew that this post was coming. My favorite spook, Jacob Appelbaum, gave a talk to 30C3 (that's Chaos Computer Club) today called ''To Protect and Infect, Part II''. His talk is the stage show complimenting Der Spiegel's latest on the NSA and it's Tailored Access Operations unit (TAO).

If you read my blog, you'll know that I predicted Jacob's next move would be to protect corporate intelligence assets at the expense of full-time NSA spooks. That's exactly what happened at 30C3, ad nauseam.

Why does this matter? Because the really important part of Snowden's revelations was that private corporate entities are working with the NSA/GCHQ to spy on you. Appelbaum's strategy is to paint these mega-tech companies, the corporate sponsors who can afford tickets to his talks, as the victims of stupid/malicious government. Give 'em another chance, Joe Voter, so that we can salvage these invaluable, once-in-an-empire, intelligence assets. Watch the video. Appelbaum repeats the meme ''It's not the companies fault' at least five times. I'm going to let him talk with a few quotes:

''This is part of a constant theme of [NSA] sabotaging and undermining American companies and American ingenuity. As an American, though generally not a nationalist, I find this disgusting, especially as someone who writes free software and would like my tax dollars to be spent on improving these things and when they do know about them [the vulnerabilities in Windows] I don't want them to keep it a secret because all of us are vulnerable. It's a really scary thing.''

And, in case you forgot who the bad guys are'...

''Emperor Alexander, the head of the NSA, has a lot of power. If they want to right now, they'll know that the IMEI of this phone [holds up his iPhone] is interesting, it's very warm, which is another, uh, funny thing, and they would be able to break into this phone almost certainly and then turn on the microphone. And all without the court. So that to me is really scary. And I especially dislike the fact that if you were to be building these types of things, they treat you as an opponent if you wish to be able to fulfill the promises that you make to your customers. And as someone who writes security software, I think that's bullshit.''

And tough-love, Tor-style'...

''Now we're going to name a bunch of companies, because fuck those guys for collaborating when they do. And fuck them for leaving us vulnerable when they do. And I mean that in the most loving way, because some of them are victims, actually. It's important to note that we don't yet understand which is which. So it's important to name them so that they have to go on record, so that they can say where they are, and so that they can give us enough rope to hang themselves. I really want that to happen, because I think it's important to find out who collaborated and who didn't collaborate. In order to have truth and reconciliation, we need to have a little truth.''

Jacob refuses to believe Apple is evil'...

''Do you think Apple helped them [the NSA] with that [iPhone targets]? I don't know'.... I don't really believe that Apple didn't help them with that.''

''Either they [the NSA] have a huge collection of exploits that work against Apple products, meaning that they are hoarding information about critical systems that American companies produce and sabotaging them, or Apple sabotaged it themselves. Not sure which one it is. I'd like to believe that since Apple didn't join the PRISM program until after Steve Jobs died, that maybe it's just that they write shitty software. We know that's true.''

Stop attacking Microsoft, NSA!

''How many people from Al Qeada use Solaris, do you suppose? This tells you a really important point. They [the NSA] are interested in compromising the infrastructure of systems, not just individual people, they want to take control and literally colonize those systems with these implants. And that's not part of the discussion. People are not talking about that because they don't know about that yet, but they should, because, in addition to the fact that Sun is a US company, which they are building capabilities against, that to me, it really bothers me, I can't tell you how much that bothers me. We also see that they are attacking Microsoft and other US companies, and Linux and Free USB (?) where there are a lot of people from all over the world who are building it, so they're attacking not only collective efforts and corporate efforts, but basically every option you possibly can, from end-users down to telecom core things, um'...''


''I want to really harp on this. Now it's not that I think European companies are worth less, I suspect especially after this talk that won't be true, in the literal stock sense, but I don't know. I think it's really important to understand that they are sabotaging American companies because of the the so called 'home field advantage'.

The problem is that as an American who writes software, who wants to build hardware devices, this really chills my expression and it also gives me a problem which is that people say: 'Why would I use what you're doing? What about the NSA?' Man that really bothers me! I don't deserve the Huawei taint. And the NSA gives it.

President Obama's own advisory board, that was convened to understand the scope of these things has even agreed with me about this point. That this should not be taking place. That hording of zero-day exploits cannot happen simply without thought processes that are reasonable and rational and that have an social and economic valuing where we really think about the broad scale impact.''

So, yeah, Jacob's on a mission to save that special relationship between Silicon Valley and the US intelligence community.

Appelbaum's 30C3 talk had all the other attributes I've come to expect: 1) a shout-out to Laura, ''My dear friend Laura Poitras who is totally fantastic, by the way''; 2) beating the 'they spied on Merkel!' drum and suggesting the NSA spied on another head of state, Hugo Chavez; 3) *not* outing Five-Eyes agents or targets, because some targets, Jacob feels, are ''legitimate'' (call off Louise Mensch!); 4) profiling hot-buttons like 'the NSA ''crusades'' against Muslims'; and 5) political misdirection, such as the following:

''You go to a URL, QUANTUMINSERT puts some code in your web-browser, which you then execute, which causes you to load resources, one of the resources that you'll load when you're loading, for example, which is one of their examples. You like that by the way? That's an extremist site. So, you might have heard about that. A lot of Republicans in the United States read it, right before they wage illegal, imperialist wars.''

Oh, ho ho. CNN, Republicans and the NSA. Like the Republican president, Jacob?

I've marveled at Jacob's god-like knowledge of the NSA's operating capabilities and procedures for some time, but you knew that already. Thankfully, he puts it all in a nutshell for us:

''The NSA wants to be able to spy on you. If they have ten different options for spying on you that you know about, they have thirteen ways of doing it and they do all thirteen.''

I wanna know how Jacob writes his FOIA requests! So, seriously Jacob, what's the NSA's master plan?

''So that's the goal: total surveillance and non-attribution. And they want to do it in the dark.''

''Dark'' like Tor? And there's the heart of the matter: Appelbaum is selling fear of the NSA. If I had a dollar for every time he used ''scary'' in this talk, I could buy a phone like his. He wants you to fear the NSA so that you'll use Tor with all those old Microsoft/Apple/Facebook products that you've come to know and love. Self-selecting with Tor is a cheap way for the GLOBAL intelligence community to sort out who to watch'' that's their big problem, sorting through everything they steal.

It's also interesting to note which companies Appelbaum chooses to protect and which ones he chooses to shame. Victims: Microsoft, Apache, Apple, Linux, Solaris'... he even protects President Obama indirectly. Yahoo, however, must be behind on their payments:

''And boy oh boy do they [NSA-TAO] love Yahoo.''

''[35:40] You'll notice that right here they explain how QUANTUM works'... They do an injection and try to beat the Yahoo packet back. Another interesting point is that for the Yahoo packet to be beaten, the NSA must impersonate Yahoo. This is a really important detail because what it tells us is that they are essentially conscripting Yahoo and saying that they are Yahoo. So they are impersonating Yahoo. [That's why half the chat functions don't work?!] So they are impersonating a US company to a US company user and they are not actually supposed to be in this conversation at all. And when they do it, then they, of course, basically, if you're using Yahoo you're definitely going to get owned. And I don't just mean that Yahoo is vulnerable, they are. But, I mean people who use Yahoo, maybe it's a bad generalization, but you know, they're not the most security minded people on the planet. They don't keep their computers up to date, I'm guessing. And that's probably why they love Yahoo so much. They also love'...''

Cool kids don't use Yahoo.

On the other side of the spectrum: Jacob really likes Cryptophone, Redphone and Moxie Marlinspike. You know what that means'' Moxie'll build the new spy-system to replace the old cell phone infrastructure which was outed for being a spy-system.

So Jacob enlightens us with this message: who should we love, who should we hate, what should we fear'... and finally, how can we protect ourselves? Well, the Tor network and Tor's operating system Tails, naturally. On top of that, Appelbaum has told his followers that NSA-infection can be detected if your machine is emitting encrypted UDP traffic. Okay, that's what they want you to look for'' by all means do! But I'd bet my eye-teeth there's more interesting stuff going on elsewhere.

Let me stop for breath'...

Making that difficult phone callThe second intriguing thing about Appelbaum's 30C3 talk was how he tried to smooth over his quarrel with Dragos Ruiu, a brilliant computer security researcher who you can read about here. Dragos has been researching a fascinating computer virus(es) that appears to use speakers to bridge the air-gap; the virus is called ''BadBios''.

Before Appelbaum talked, I had never heard of said quarrel. But, in Appelbaum's own words:

''STUCCOMONTANA is 'BadBios' if you've heard about that. I feel bad for Dragos. He doesn't talk to me right now. I think he might be mad. After I was detained by the US Army on US soil, I might add, um, they took a phone from me. Now, it shouldn't matter but they did, now, they also went after all my phone records so they didn't need to take the phone, but they just wanted to intimidate me which is exactly the wrong thing to do to me, um, but, as he [Dragos] told the story, after that all of his computers including his X-box were compromised. And he says that even to this day that some of those things persist. And he talks about the Bios. Here is a document that shows clearly that they re-flash the Bios and they also have other techniques, including system management mode related root kits, and they have persistence inside of the Bios.''

''This is evidence of the thing that Dragos talks about'' maybe he doesn't have it'' but it really does exist.''

So, what you're saying Jacob, is that it wasn't you and it won't be you who does it again? Or are you giving the NSA credit for something that will scare the online community into a more perfect trap, a platinum age of computer surveillance? Totally heinous move, Jacob, but I'll admit, it's a clever tactic. How do I sign up for the Tor again? Does it support Yahoo?

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Absolutions | a.nolen

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 16:25

I found this pair hiding under my bed.

If you read this blog regularly, you'll know I have an unorthodox take on the Snowden affair. In a nutshell, I believe the following:

Snowden drew attention to himself from US intelligence during the month (at least) he tried to find a media outlet for the NSA documents he leaked. Laura Poitras is part of the response by US intelligence: Glenn Greenwald and Jacob Appelbaum are, essentially, her creatures. Greenwald is a misguided, narcissistic, idealist who is drunk on attention and is now making bad choices. Appelbaum is managed opposition, and is employed by US intelligence to promote its TOR network, which allows the Pentagon to spy on people who self-select to use TOR. (TOR may also allow US operatives to send information more securely in hostile countries, by hiding behind a bunch 'security-minded' neophytes to soft-power ops.)

Appelbaum's involvement with the US Navy through TOR is well known; Poitras has tried to use Snowden to gain credibility for Appelbaum. The goal is to preserve TOR as a US intelligence asset; US relationships with Microsoft, Facebook, Google, Apple'... are all assets that have been fatally compromised.

Or have they?

Twitter provides some really interesting insights into this containment operation. Jacob Appelbaum Tweeted this yesterday:

Which even his supporters found a little strange.

I find Appelbaum's tweet strange too, strange enough to post about it. Has Appelbaum made the first step in an attempt to salvage credibility for these very valuable intelligence assets, starting with Google? I believe that the 'outing' of these assets is far more damaging to the Five Eyes cabal than anything to do with spying on other countries and I've believed that from the start, for reasons I've described here and here. I also believe that the brouhaha over spying in Germany, Brazil, etc. is designed to distract from the truly damaging information about these private companies'' especially when so many intelligence outfits were also benefiting from the NSA's private partnerships.

Appelbaum is a copious tweeter, he must have a lot of free time. To paraphrase my mother-in-law: it's unhealthy for a young man not to work. But Appelbaum is not alone'' there are a shocking number of young men and women on both sides of the Snowden debate who appear to be paid to tweet.

Which begs the question, who is this tweeting valuable to? That question can be answered by looking at the arguments given (and those not given) by both sides.

Snowden's tweet-heavy detractors want to focus on the 'traitor' angle and that the NSAs abuses are just big 'misunderstandings'. Curiously, they do not call out Poitras on Appelbaum's Navy connections'' Appelbaum is famous because of the Navy's 'charitable' endeavor with the TOR network, and because Appelbaum helped the FBI become more tech-savvy (before that was uncool). These points ought to be low-hanging fruit for the NSA shills. But they don't wanna call attention to TOR, or Appelbaum's military/law-enforcement past.

Neither do Snowden's detractors call Greenwald out on Omidyar's PAYPAL connection, and the ugly consequences that connection has for his media venture, given the star journalists' cooperation with Wikileaks. They don't wanna call attention to Omidyar's previous politics.

Why don't the detractors make these connections? 'Cause that would be an own-goal.

Snowden's tweet-heavy supporters have jumped on the ''outraged Merkel'' bandwagon as fiercely as his detractors, which only serves to distract from the important stuff. On top of that, supporters have a tendency to tie all sorts of other 'social justice' causes onto Snowden's revelations, which is an even bigger distraction. Whoever is running @EJosephSnowden, an unverified twitter account, is particularly guilty of this. (My guess is that the owner isn't a Snowden supporter at all.)

The result of all this is a tsunami of Snowden-related tweets that have very little to do with what Snowden says he intended to do by releasing the NSA documents; he intended to 'out' governments spying on their own, innocent, citizens. White noise drowns meaningful information, just as Snowden cautioned Applebaum against doing prior to the IALANA conference in August.

So, isn't it funny that everybody who's paid to tweet is pulling on the same rope? Now, who could possibly 1) have the money to pay a bunch of young people to do nothing AND 2) benefit from drawing attention away from the NSA's private-company intelligence assets? Those damn Russians again!

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Silence around Mr. Appelbaum *Update* | a.nolen

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 16:55

At least he has a sense of humor.

Everyone concerned with the PRISM revelations should now be contacting their representatives and encouraging their friends to do the same. That's what should be happening, and it seems to be happening en masse'' in Germany and the US at least.

Supporters of the NSA's abusive programs are trying to distract from Snowden's important revelations by drawing attention to Wikileaks, which is an organization that is difficult to understand. I think that Lonnie Snowden said it best:

''I don't want to put him [Edward] in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,'' he says. ''I think WikiLeaks, if you've looked at past history, you know, their focus isn't necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It's simply to release as much information as possible.''

Julian Assange is the weakest link for anybody defending Snowden's actions from NSA shills.

I should say, Assange is the weakest link that American talking heads are willing to spout about. There's one more. His name is Jacob Appelbaum and you probably know him from his promotion of the Tor network.

What is Tor? From their website:

Tor was originally designed, implemented, and deployed as a third-generation onion routing project of the Naval Research Laboratory. It was originally developed with the U.S. Navy in mind, for the primary purpose of protecting government communications. Today, it is used every day for a wide variety of purposes by the military, journalists, law enforcement officers, activists, and many others.

Jacob Appelbaum released an interview with Snowden to Der Spiegel about Tempora and German intelligence cooperation with the NSA's abusive programs. Read an English version here.

Appelbaum explains how he was granted such an interview:

''In mid-May, documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras contacted me,'' Appelbaum said. ''She told me she was in contact with a possible anonymous National Security Agency (NSA) source who had agreed to be interviewed by her.''

''She was in the process of putting questions together and thought that asking some specific technical questions was an important part of the source verification process. One of the goals was to determine whether we were really dealing with an NSA whistleblower. I had deep concerns of COINTELPRO-style entrapment. We sent our securely encrypted questions to our source. I had no knowledge of Edward Snowden's identity before he was revealed to the world in Hong Kong. He also didn't know who I was. I expected that when the anonymity was removed, we would find a man in his sixties.''

There are a few things different between Appelbaum's interview and the interviews that Greenwald and Poitras published. First, you'll notice Snowden's language is more crass. Second, there was no release of documents involved with Appelbaum. Appelbaum claims that Snowden was willing to have Appelbaum publish their conversation at Appelbaum's convenience.

Now, at face value, Appelbaum's interest in Edward is very understandable. Appelbaum is famous for supporting internet freedom. Things get less comfortable when you dig deeper though: Appelbaum's Tor project is part of the US Naval Research Laboratory and is funded by outfits like the NRL, Google, the Broadcasting Board of Governors (that's a .gov link!), the (US) National Science Foundation, Human Rights Watch, Shinjiru International (Microsoft endorsed), The Knight Foundation, Radio Free Asia and the National Christian Foundation (!?). Read the full list of sponsors here.

Appelbaum spends his time educating US law enforcement (like the FBI'' team sport!) on how to monitor websites without revealing that the government is watching, as well as helping dissidents'' particularly dissidents in countries hostile to the US'' send information securely.

Why would Poitras go to a guy who is funded by the US military, the abuse-complicit company Google, US propaganda outfits, and a faith-based tax avoidance operation to vet Snowden? Oh yeah, and Appelbaum's famous for educating the FBI'' that organization from the Verizon tap order.

Appelbaum stood in for Assange once when the Wikileaks head couldn't make it to a speech'' read Rolling Stone's saccharine piece on Appelbaum here. Yet, despite all the weirdness around Appelbaum, Beltliners keep pounding the Assange drum.

Washington: Why not sling mud at Appelbaum? Or is he a little too close to home? Oh yeah, and now Human Rights Watch is 'handling' Snowden's case from the US of A'' sort of like how the FSB is 'handling' his case from Russia.

Sadly, Edward Snowden has a lot of dangerous people around him. Some are playing damage control, others are trying to make hay. These games are impossible for Snowden to avoid, because what he did is so important.

Eyes on the prize everyone: Snowden's revelations are about constitutional rights and reining in civil servants who have lost touch with reality. Call your senators, congressmen and push for the deepest intelligence funding cuts you can. Lobby like your life depends on it.


I forgot to add that Poitras contacted Appelbaum in order to vet Snowden on the technical details of the whistleblower's NSA experience. Here's how Appelbaum describes it:

''She [Poitras] was in the process of putting questions together and thought that asking some specific technical questions was an important part of the source verification process. One of the goals was to determine whether we were really dealing with an NSA whistleblower. I had deep concerns of COINTELPRO-style entrapment. We sent our securely encrypted questions to our source.''


''The following questions are excerpted from a larger interview that covered numerous topics, many of which are highly technical in nature. Some of the questions have been reordered to provide the required context. The questions focus almost entirely on the NSA's capabilities and activities. It is critical to understand that these questions were not asked in a context that is reactive to this week's or even this month's events. They were asked in a relatively quiet period, when Snowden was likely enjoying his last moments in a Hawaiian paradise '-- a paradise he abandoned so that every person on the planet might come to understand the current situation as he does.''

So presumably, Poitras thought that Applebaum would know the 'right answer' to the technical questions he asked Snowden. (Or at least she believed that Appelbaum would know if an answer was within the NSA's technical capabilities.) We're only given some of the questions and answers. So which of these technical questions might Appelbaum know the 'right answer' to?

1. Are German authorities or German politicians involved in the NSA surveillance system?

2. But if details about this system are now exposed, who will be charged?

3. Did the NSA help to create Stuxnet? (Stuxnet is the computer worm that was deployed against the Iranian nuclear program.)

4. What are some of the big surveillance programs that are active today and how do international partners aid the NSA? Follow up: Is there a way of circumventing that? ['Cause we all know Tor is weak!- a.nolen]

5. Do the NSA and its partners across the globe do full dragnet data collection for telephone calls, text and data?

6. The NSA is building a massive new data center in Utah. What is its purpose?

7. Do private companies help the NSA?

8. Are there companies that refuse to cooperate with the NSA?

9. What websites should a person avoid if they don't want to get targeted by the NSA?

10. What happens after the NSA targets a user?

If I was in in Appelbaum's position, I wouldn't want to admit knowing the right answer to ANY of these questions.

Appelbaum doesn't differentiate between 1) questions that he used to decide if Snowden was a legit NSA employee (i.e. if Snowden could possibly know what he is talking about) and 2) questions that Appelbaum just wanted to get on record. (For his own sake or Snowden's, I wonder.) Appelbaum does admit to presenting the questions in Der Spiegel in a different order than which he asked them, though again, we're not told how the order was changed.

Why not tell us which questions convinced you of Snowden's authenticity, Jacob? Are the rest of us just too stupid to understand the ''highly technical'' parts? When were you sure that Snowden wasn't a ''COINTELPRO-style'' trap? The public would love to know.

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Tor: Sponsors

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 06:57

The Tor Project's diversity of users means we have a diversity of funding sources too '-- and we're eager to diversify even further!

Thank you to all the people and groups who have made Tor possible so far, and thank you especially to the individual volunteers who have made non-financial contributions: coding, testing, documenting, educating, researching, and running the relays that make up the Tor network.

Active Sponsors in 2013:Past sponsorsWe greatly appreciate the support provided by our past sponsors in keeping the Tor Project progressing through our ambitious goals:

This sponsors page is based upon un-audited and un-reviewed financial and in-kind donations, contract, and other data. Further details about our audited and reviewed funding can be found on our Financial Reports page.

Jacob Appelbaum - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 05:21

Jacob Appelbaum is an independent computer security researcher and hacker. He was employed by the University of Washington,[1] and is a core member of the Tor project. Appelbaum is known for representing Wikileaks at the 2010 HOPE conference.[5] He has subsequently been repeatedly targeted by US law enforcement agencies, who obtained a court order for his Twitter account data, detained him 12[6] times at the US border after trips abroad, and seized a laptop and several mobile phones.

Appelbaum, under the handle "ioerror", has been an active member of the Cult of the Dead Cow hacker collective since 2008,[7] and is the co-founder of the San FranciscohackerspaceNoisebridge with Mitch Altman. He has worked for,[8]Greenpeace[9] and has volunteered for the Ruckus Society and the Rainforest Action Network.[10] He is also an ambassador for the art group monochrom.[11]

As a trusted confidant of the former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Appelbaum was among several people who gained access to Snowden's top secret documents that were released during the 2013 global surveillance disclosure.[12]

Research and activism[edit]In 2005, Appelbaum gave two talks at the 22nd Chaos Communication Congress,[13]Personal Experiences: Bringing Technology and New Media to Disaster Areas, and A Discussion About Modern Disk Encryption Systems. The former covered his travels to Iraq - crossing the border by foot, the installing of Internet satellites in Kurdistan, and his visit of New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. The latter talk discussed the legal and technical aspects of full disk encryption. At the 2006 23rd Chaos Communication Congress, he gave a talk with Ralf-Philipp Weinmann titled Unlocking FileVault: An Analysis of Apple's Encrypted Disk Storage System.[14][15] The duo subsequently released the VileFaultfree software program which broke Apple's FileVault security.

Appelbaum has also collaborated on several other high-profile research projects, including the cold boot attack,[16][17]SSLcertificate authorities[18] and smart parking meters.[19]

He appeared with Julian Assange on Episode 8 & 9 of The World Tomorrow, "Cypherpunks".[20][21]

He is a contributor to Julian Assange's 2012 book Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet along with Andy M¼ller-Maguhn and J(C)r(C)mie Zimmermann.

He regards Tor as a "part of an ecosystem of software that helps people regain and reclaim their autonomy. It helps to enable people to have agency of all kinds; it helps others to help each other and it helps you to help yourself. It runs, it is open and it is supported by a large community spread across all walks of life." [22]

In December 2013, Appelbaum told Berliner Zeitung that he believes he was under surveillance and that somebody broke into his Berlin apartment and used his computer.[23]

Detention and investigation[edit]Appelbaum has been detained at airports and had his electronic equipment seized several times.[24][25][26] In 2010, the US Department of Justice obtained a court order compelling Twitter to provide data associated with the user accounts of Appelbaum, as well as several other individuals associated with Wikileaks. While the order was originally sealed, Twitter successfully petitioned the court to unseal it, permitting the company to inform its users that their account information had been requested.[27]

Personal life[edit]Appelbaum is an atheist[28] of Jewish background and identifies himself as bisexual.[10] He also is an anarchist[4] and enjoys photography[citation needed]. He has moved to Berlin, where he has applied for residence authorization, his stated reasons include that he doesn't want to go back to the USA because he doesn't feel safe [29] and that privacy protections are better in Germany than in the US.[30] In September 2013, he testified before the European Parliament, mentioning that his partner had been spied on by men in night-vision goggles as she slept.[31]

See also[edit]References[edit]^ abShapiro, Nina (22 December 2010). "Jacob Appelbaum, WikiLeaks Enabler and New University of Washington Employee, Is Working on . . . Who Knows?". Seattle Weekly. Retrieved 12 January 2011. ^ ab"Tor Project: Core People". Tor. Retrieved 11 October 2011. ^"Noisebridge user page". Noisebridge. Retrieved 11 October 2011. ^ abRich, Nathaniel (1 December 2010). "Meet the Most Dangerous Man in Cyberspace: The American Face of Wikileaks". Rolling Stone magazine. Retrieved 11 October 2011. ^McCullagh, Declan (17 July 2010). "Wikileaks editor skips NYC hacker event". CNET News. Retrieved 3 August 2010. ' McCullagh, Declan (16 July 2010). "Feds look for Wikileaks founder at NYC hacker event". CNET News. Retrieved 3 August 2010. ' Singel, Ryan (19 July 2010). "Wikileaks Reopens for Leakers". Wired. Retrieved 3 August 2010. ^"monochrom". Jacob Appelbaum. Retrieved 28 October 2011. ^"Cult of the Dead Cow Membership List, retrieved November 10, 2011". Retrieved 2013-12-05. ^Hartwell, Lane (10 June 2007). "'So Who Wants to F**k a Robot?'". Retrieved 9 August 2013. ^Appelbaum, Jacob (22 June 2004). "Geeks Love Trees, Too". Greenpeace '' Weblog. Retrieved 26 January 2011. ^ abRich, Nathaniel (1 December 2010). "The American Wikileaks Hacker". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 26 January 2011. ^"monochrom". monochrom. Retrieved 11 October 2011. ^"Snowden ally Appelbaum claims his Berlin apartment was invaded". Deutsche Welle. Retrieved 28 December 2013. ^"22nd Chaos Communication Congress: Jacob Appelbaum". Untrusted connection. ^"Unlocking FileVault: An analysis of Apple's encrypted disk storage system". Retrieved 11 October 2011. ^Jade, Charles (December 2006). "FileVault or VileFault?". Ars Technica. Retrieved 6 August 2010. ^Markoff, John (22 February 2008). "Researchers Find Way to Steal Encrypted Data". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 August 2010. ^J. Alex Halderman, Seth D. Schoen, Captain Sassypants, William Clarkson, William Paul, Joseph A. Calandrino, Ariel J. Feldman, Jacob Appelbaum, and Edward W. Felten (21 February 2008). Lest We Remember: Cold Boot Attacks on Encryption Keys. Princeton University. Retrieved 22 February 2008. ^Krebs, Brian (30 December 2008). "Researchers Hack Internet Security Infrastructure". The Washington Post. Retrieved 6 August 2010. ^McCullagh, Declan (30 July 2009). "Hackers: We can bypass San Francisco e-parking meters". CNET News. Retrieved 12 January 2011. ^"Assange 'The World Tomorrow' '-- Ep 8: Cypherpunks Part 1". 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2013-11-02. ^"Assange Episode 8: Cypherpunks, stumbling block in the way of total surveillance '-- RT News". 2012-06-05. Retrieved 2013-11-02. ^"Interview uncut: Jacob Appelbaum | The Verge Forums". 2013-03-11. Retrieved 2013-11-02. ^^Mills, Elinor (31 July 2010). "Researcher detained at US border, questioned about Wikileaks". CNET News. Retrieved 3 August 2010. ^Jardin, Xeni (12 January 2011). "Wikileaks volunteer detained and searched (again) by US agents". Boing Boing. Retrieved 12 January 2011. ^Fontain, Paul (27 October 2011). "Jacob Appelbaum Detained At Keflav­k Airport". Grapevine. Retrieved 31 October 2011. ^McCullagh, Declan (7 January 2011). "DOJ sends order to Twitter for Wikileaks-related account info". CNET News. Retrieved 12 January 2011. ^"Jacob Appelbaum (Part 1/2) Digital Anti-Repression Workshop - April 26, 2012". Retrieved 28 June 2013. "Like, for me, as an atheist, bisexual, Jew, I'm gonna go on, uh - oh and Emma Goldman is one of my great heroes and I really think that anarchism is a fantastic principle by which to fashion a utopian society even if we can't get there." ^ video of a talk at the TU Munich from 24. Juli 2013 (statement at approx. 0:05:00)^ NSA Hearings European Parliament^ NSA Hearing European Parliament 5 Sept 2013Further reading[edit]External links[edit]PersondataNameAppelbaum, JacobAlternative namesAppelbaum, JakeShort descriptionIndependent security researcher, Wikileaks representativeDate of birth1983Place of birthUnited StatesDate of deathPlace of death

Omidyar Network Commits $2.275M to Help Catalyze Government Transparency -- REDWOOD CITY, Calif. and LONDON, July 1 /PRNewswire/ --

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 06:42

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. and LONDON, July 1 /PRNewswire/ -- Omidyar Network today announced $2.275M in grants to three non-profit organizations that strive to create more transparent and accountable governments. Global Voices, mySociety and The XYZ Show are the latest grantees to gain support from Omidyar Network for their use of technology in furthering government transparency.

Global Voices, the online citizen-media platform, will receive $1.2M for strategic expansion, including a program to support citizen voices from underrepresented regions around the world. In the U.K., mySociety will receive $575,000 to help transparency-focused organizations in Africa develop digital tools and websites to help hold their governments to account. mySociety will also use the grant to build organizational capacity. The XYZ Show, a Kenyan political satire TV program, will receive $500,000. The grant will be used to expand reach and engagement via web and mobile channels, create strategies that increase and diversity funding, and support an upcoming season of the show.

"Omidyar Network is proud to support the important work of these innovative organizations. Each in their own way utilizes technology to promote transparency, accountability and trust," said Stephen King, senior director, investments at Omidyar Network. "In addition to Global Voices' and mySociety's technology platforms, we are particularly supportive of all three grantees' focus and program applicability in sub-Saharan Africa, an Omidyar Network geographic focus area." King made the announcement and offered his remarks at the Guardian Activate Summit in London.

In addition to funding, Omidyar Network will offer all three grantees its considerable human capital expertise, specifically in helping develop strategy, scale organizations and strengthen leadership teams. The philanthropic investment firm will also contribute its decades of collective for-profit technology experience and its understanding of the catalytic role that technology-driven companies can play in enabling government transparency. Omidyar Network funds more technology organizations than any other philanthropist.

Global Voices serves as an online newsroom for citizen voices from the developing world. An international team of volunteer authors and editors reports on important local issues that are often under-reported by the mainstream international media. The online community translates citizen journalists' blogs into more than 20 languages, helps people speak out online in places where their voices may be censored, and helps marginalized communities use citizen media. For more information visit

mySociety runs many of the best-known democracy and transparency websites in the United Kingdom as part of its parent charity's mission to carry out and disseminate research in the edemocracy field. It builds websites that give people simple, tangible benefits in the civic and community aspects of their lives and promotes the learning gleaned from the process. For more information visit

The XYZ Show is a satirical television program that comments on current political and social affairs through the use of latex puppets resembling prominent figures in Kenya. These national leaders are lampooned with the purpose of using humor to address difficult and controversial national issues while promoting transparency in government. The XYZ Show is modeled after the U.K.'s "Spitting Image," and France's "Les Guignols de L'Info" television programs. For more information visit

About Omidyar Network

Omidyar Network is a philanthropic investment firm dedicated to harnessing the power of markets to create opportunity for people to improve their lives. Established in 2004 by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar and his wife Pam, the organization invests in and helps scale innovative organizations to catalyze economic and social change. To date, Omidyar Network has committed more than $353 million to for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations that foster economic advancement and encourage individual participation across multiple investment areas, including microfinance, property rights, government transparency, and social media. To learn more about Omidyar Network, please visit

SOURCE Omidyar Network

About Global Voices

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 06:45

Global Voices is a community of more than 800 bloggers and translators around the world who work together to bring you reports from blogs and citizen media everywhere, with emphasis on voices that are not ordinarily heard in international mainstream media.

Global Voices seeks to aggregate, curate, and amplify the global conversation online '' shining light on places and people other media often ignore. We work to develop tools, institutions and relationships that will help all voices, everywhere, to be heard.

Millions of people are blogging, podcasting, and uploading photos, videos, and information across the globe, but unless you know where to look, it can be difficult to find respected and credible voices. Our international team of volunteer authors and part-time editors are active participants in the blogospheres they write about on Global Voices.

Global Voices is incorporated in the Netherlands as Stichting Global Voices, a nonprofit foundation. We do not have an office, but work as a virtual community across multiple time zones, meeting in person only when the opportunity arises (usually during our Summits). We rely on grants, sponsorships, editorial commissions, and donations to cover our costs.

Our ProjectsGlobal Voices is translated into more than 30 languages by volunteer translators, who have formed the Lingua project. Additionally, Global Voices has an Advocacy website and network to help people speak out online in places where their voices are censored. We also have an outreach project called Rising Voices to help marginalized communities use citizen media to be heard, with an emphasis on the developing world.

Read more about our projects.

Our HistoryGlobal Voices was founded in 2005 by former CNN Beijing and Tokyo Bureau Chief, Rebecca MacKinnon and technologist and Africa expert, Ethan Zuckerman while they were both fellows at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University. The idea for the project grew out of an international bloggers' meeting held at Harvard in December 2004 and it began as a simple blog. (Here's a written report and podcast of that meeting).

Global Voices quickly expanded thanks to patronage of the Berkman Center, support from Reuters, the MacArthur Foundation, and the energy and creativity of our contributors.

Our Primary GoalsAt a time when international English-language media ignores many things that are important to large numbers of the world's citizens, Global Voices aims to redress some of the inequities in media attention by leveraging the power of citizens' media. We believe in free speech, and in bridging the gulfs that divide people.

We wish to:

Call attention to the most interesting conversations and perspectives emerging from citizens' media around the world by linking to text, photos, podcasts, video and other forms of grassroots citizens' media.Facilitate the emergence of new citizens' voices through training, online tutorials, and publicizing the ways in which open-source and free tools can be used safely by people around the world to express themselves.Advocate for freedom of expression around the world and protect the rights of citizen journalists to report on events and opinions without fear of censorship or persecution.Please see our Frequently Asked Questions to learn more.

Edward Snowden's Story to Be Turned into a Movie

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 04:25

Ever since the entire NSA scandal began and Edward Snowden revealed his identity as the man behind the leaks, everyone speculated about when a movie would be launched on this topic.So far, there's already been a very short film about the circumstances of his visit to Hong Kong.

Well, now a new project is brewing. ''Classified: The Edward Snowden Story'' is meant to be a biopic telling the story of Snowden's life starting from when he enlisted in the US army.The filming is supposed to start early next year and it should be released in September 2014 if everything goes according to plan, via The Pirate Bay.

In this endeavor, the film's producers are seeking to raise some $1.7 million ('‚¬1.25 million) to fund the project in an effort to work outside of Hollywood and thus maintain all creative control.

They say they don't want to end up with a film such as ''The Fifth Estate,'' which treats the WikiLeaks scandal and Julian Assange, which was highly criticized by the organization that published Manning's documents.

As mentioned, they say they've already raised half the sum via a selfstarter campaign and product placement, but still need some $866,000 ('‚¬640,200) for which they launched a KickStarter campaign.

Asked how they wwould go about the story and if they'd base the script on media reports alone, Travis Doering, the film's producer, said they'd already contacted Snowden's lawyer and Lon Snowden, the whistleblower's father, although no response has been received so far.

He also mentions that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras will be contacted sometime later in development, but didn't give an exact timeline.

They also have a cast lined up, although it's just a preliminary list, they said, and it could still change. Kevin Zegers, from the ''Mortal Instruments,'' is supposed to play Edward Snowden.

Other names in the casting list are Michael Shanks, who is supposed to play Glenn Greenwald and Carmen Aguirre, who will play Laura Poitras.

Soldiers Allege Laura Poitras, Co-Author of NSA Scoop, Had Foreknowledge of 2004 Iraqi Attack on U.S. Troops | The Weekly Standard

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 03:57

When Edward Snowden decided he wanted to release details about the NSA's intelligence operations to the public, he reached out to Laura Poitras, a 49-year-old film maker and political activist opposed to the war on terror. As the Washington Post noted on Monday, Poitras had "the odd distinction of sharing a byline in The Washington Post and in London's Guardian newspaper last week on two blockbuster stories."

Poitras said in an interview on Monday with Salon that Snowden contacted her in particular because he had learned that she has been interrogated at the U.S. border dozens of times by the Department of Homeland Security. "[Snowden] told me he'd contacted me because my border harassment meant that I'd been a person who had been selected," Poitras told Salon. "To be selected '-- and he went through a whole litany of things '-- means that everything you do, every friend you have, every purchase you make, every street you cross means you're being watched. 'You probably don't like how this system works, I think you can tell the story.' '... Of course I was suspicious, I worried that it was entrapment, it's crazy, all the normal responses you have to someone reaching out making, claims."

Glenn Greenwald, Poitras's co-author for the The Guardian's NSA story, wrote a story about Poitras's border interrogations in April 2012. "With no oversight or legal framework whatsoever, the Department of Homeland Security routinely singles out individuals who are suspected of no crimes, detains them and questions them at the airport, often for hours, when they return to the U.S. after an international trip," Greenwald wrote. Poitras was one of these individuals who was interrogatd by DHS officials "at length about where she went and with whom she met or spoke" more than 40 times since the 2006 release of her Iraq war documentary, My Country, My Country. In 2010, Poitras released another documentary about Osama bin Laden's former bodyguard and driver, "two Yemenis caught up in America's War on Terror," in the words of Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald declared that the U.S. government had created a "climate of fear" for an "incredibly accomplished journalist and filmmaker who has never been accused, let alone convicted, of any wrongdoing whatsoever."

"It's hard to overstate how oppressive it is for the U.S. Government to be able to target journalists, film-makers and activists and, without a shred of suspicion of wrongdoing," Greenwald wrote. "The ongoing, and escalating, treatment of Laura Poitras is a testament to how severe that abuse is."

But perhaps it isn't such a mystery why the U.S. government might want to question Poitras if you simply crack open John R. Bruning's 2006 book, The Devil's Sandbox: With the 2nd Battalion, 162nd Infantry at War in Iraq. Contary to Greenwald's claim that Poitras has never been accused of any wrongdoing, Devil's Sandbox details the explosive allegation that Poitras had foreknowledge of a November 20, 2004 ambush of U.S. troops but did nothing to warn them.

Brandon Ditto led the platoon that came under fire that day. Speaking Tuesday evening by phone with THE WEEKLY STANDARD, Ditto said it seemed that Poitras "had pre-knowledge" of the ambush. He recalled the events he witnessed that day, confirming the details described in Devil's Sandbox.

During a patrol of Adhamiya early in the morning of November 20, two soldiers in Ditto's platoon noticed a woman standing on a rooftop next to a man while holding a camera. They found that very odd. "Usually when you see someone planted on a rooftop with a camera, they're waiting for something, and right after that is when we got ambushed just down the road," Ditto told me Tuesday night. "So it seems that she had pre-knowledge that our convoy, or our patrol, was going to get hit."

"We took multiple casualties," Ditto said. "Things kind of erupted."


Edward Snowden's Story to Be Turned into a Movie

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 04:25

Ever since the entire NSA scandal began and Edward Snowden revealed his identity as the man behind the leaks, everyone speculated about when a movie would be launched on this topic.So far, there's already been a very short film about the circumstances of his visit to Hong Kong.

Well, now a new project is brewing. ''Classified: The Edward Snowden Story'' is meant to be a biopic telling the story of Snowden's life starting from when he enlisted in the US army.The filming is supposed to start early next year and it should be released in September 2014 if everything goes according to plan, via The Pirate Bay.

In this endeavor, the film's producers are seeking to raise some $1.7 million ('‚¬1.25 million) to fund the project in an effort to work outside of Hollywood and thus maintain all creative control.

They say they don't want to end up with a film such as ''The Fifth Estate,'' which treats the WikiLeaks scandal and Julian Assange, which was highly criticized by the organization that published Manning's documents.

As mentioned, they say they've already raised half the sum via a selfstarter campaign and product placement, but still need some $866,000 ('‚¬640,200) for which they launched a KickStarter campaign.

Asked how they wwould go about the story and if they'd base the script on media reports alone, Travis Doering, the film's producer, said they'd already contacted Snowden's lawyer and Lon Snowden, the whistleblower's father, although no response has been received so far.

He also mentions that Glenn Greenwald and Laura Poitras will be contacted sometime later in development, but didn't give an exact timeline.

They also have a cast lined up, although it's just a preliminary list, they said, and it could still change. Kevin Zegers, from the ''Mortal Instruments,'' is supposed to play Edward Snowden.

Other names in the casting list are Michael Shanks, who is supposed to play Glenn Greenwald and Carmen Aguirre, who will play Laura Poitras.


Land mobile radio system - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 02:13

Land mobile radio system (LMRS), also called public land mobile radio or private land mobile radio, is a term that denotes a wireless communications system intended for use by terrestrial users in vehicles (mobiles) or on foot (portables). Such systems are used by emergency first responder organizations, public works organizations, or companies with large vehicle fleets or numerous field staff. Such a system can be independent, but often can be connected to other fixed systems such as the public switched telephone network (PSTN) or cellular networks.

Military use[edit]The land mobile radio system is also the United States Department of Defense's new state-of-the-art communication system. Government contractors, such as Cassidian Communications, Relm Wireless Corporation, Harris Corporation, Kenwood Communications, Motorola Solutions, Raytheon, Thales, and Tyco Electronics, provide the latest in LMRS technology to the government and military.

Commercial use[edit]Many businesses and industries throughout the world use LMR as their primary means of communication, especially from a fixed location to mobile users (i.e. from a base site to a fleet of mobiles). Commercial LMR Radios are typically available in two VHF and the UHF frequency bands. 30''50 MHz (sometimes called "Low VHF Band" or "Low Band"), 150''172 MHz (sometimes called "High VHF Band" or "High Band"), 450''470 MHz (called, simply, "UHF" for "Ultra High Frequencies", a term created in the 1950s). Many larger populated areas have additional UHF frequencies from 470''490 MHz, and 490''512 MHz. Low band has longer range capability, but requires mobile antennas as long as nine feet (2.7 m) tall. VHF bands works well in outdoor environments, over bodies of water, and many other applications. UHF bands typically perform better in urban environments and with penetrating obstacles such as buildings. There are also frequencies in the 800 and 900 MHz range available. Commercial, public safety and government users are required to obtain FCC licensing in the United States and must follow Government law.

Interference in the spectrum[edit]In November 2005, many automatic garage doors in Ottawa, Canada, had suddenly,[1] and strangely, stopped working, due to a powerful radio signal that appears to be interfering with the remote controls that open them.[2]

In the summer of 2004, garage door operators noticed similar phenomena around U.S. military bases. The strong radio signals on the 390-megahertz band simply overpower the garage door openers. One technician likened it to a whisper competing with a yell.[3]

''To address homeland defense needs and comply with government direction that agencies use the electromagnetic spectrum more efficiently, the Department of Defense (DOD) is deploying new Land Mobile Radios to military installations across the country. The new Land Mobile Radios operate in the same frequency range--380 Megahertz (MHz) to 399.9 MHz'--as many unlicensed low-powered garage door openers, which have operated in this range for years. While DOD has been the authorized user of this spectrum range for several decades, their use of Land Mobile Radios between 380 MHz and 399.9 MHz is relatively new. With DOD's deployment of the new radios and increased use of the 380''399.9 MHz range of spectrum, some users of garage door openers have experienced varying levels of inoperability that has been attributed to interference caused by the new radios. Nevertheless, because garage door openers operate as unlicensed devices, they must accept any interference from authorized spectrum users. This requirement stems from Part 15 of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulations. Garage door openers and other unlicensed devices are often referred to as "Part 15 devices." Congress requested that GAO review the potential spectrum interference caused by DOD's recent deployment of land mobile radios. Specifically, Congress asked us to (1) determine the extent of the problem of spectrum interference associated with the recent testing and use of mobile radios at military facilities in the United States, (2) review the efforts made by DOD during the development of its land mobile radio system to identify and avoid spectrum interference, and (3) identify efforts to address the problem.'' :::: -- Government Accountability Office report GAO-06-172R[4]

See also[edit]References[edit]

Mysterious signals jamming garage door openers

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 02:12

Hundreds of automatic garage doors in the Ottawa area have suddenly and strangely stopped working, due to a powerful radio signal that appears to be interfering with their remote controls.

The phenomenon began suddenly last weekend, J.P. Cleroux of Ram Overhead Door Systems said, adding that a strong signal was blocking garage door openers.

Angolan Ambassador Miguel Puna couldn't close the embassy's iron gates using his remote control Thursday.

"It's affects a 25-mile radius. That's huge," said Cleroux.Angolan Ambassador Miguel Puna is one of those affected by the problem. He can no longer open his embassy's electronic gate.

"Not only in this gate, but even other gates, we are having a lot of problems," said Puna. "This could cause security concerns."

Cases have been reported from as far away as Casselman and Aylmer, but two companies that have plotted the reported problems on maps say they appear to cluster in the Byward Market area and a corridor leading south-east from there.

The Door Doctor has received more than 100 calls from irate customers who can't operate their doors using the remote. It installs Liftmasters, one of the most popular door openers in North America, which operates by radio frequency.

The signal is transmitted on the 390-megahertz band, which is used by virtually all garage door openers on the continent.

It's the same frequency used by the U.S. military's new state-of-the-art Land Mobile Radio System.

Cleroux says operators have already been warned of this phenomenon by service updates from U.S. manufacturers, who started seeing the same problem around military bases last summer. The strong radio signals on the 390-megahertz band simply overpower the garage door openers.

One technician likened it to a whisper competing with a yell.

"From what we hear, it is the American Embassy that's operating on 390, and they're the only ones who can block it, but I'm not 100 per cent sure, because we're all kind of up in the air until we know exactly what's going on," said Cleroux.

The U.S. Embassy denies any transmissions on that frequency. So does the Canadian military.

Case of the US Garage Door Gremlins: San Antonio, Texas balky door openers tied to NSA -- High Strangeness --

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If the first complaints to City Councilman Ray Lopez's office had come anywhere close to the truth, they probably wouldn't have gotten much attention.I mean, "My garage door opener's not working and I think the government's involved"? That's tinfoil hat territory.

But the calls kept coming, and soon Lopez and his District 6 staff confronted a mystery that led them to the doorstep of the National Security Agency, the nation's code-maker and code-breaker, which is putting a data center into the old Sony microchip plant near Loop 410 and Military Drive.

Call it the Case of the Garage Door Gremlins.

It started in January with a trickle of calls and e-mails, but the complaints were oddly similar. West Side residents around Loop 410 and Military Drive were having problems with their garage door openers. Some had talked to one another and suspected a widespread problem.

Bobby Haguewood hadn't talked to his neighbors on Leander but knew something was wrong. His remote worked if he stood directly below the mechanism, but not when he drove up in his car.

The 75-year-old Air Force veteran called a repairman and learned that he could replace the interior mechanism for $225 or buy a new unit for $450. So he went to Sears and bought a new one from a different manufacturer, but that didn't solve the problem.

Lopez's office, meanwhile, was hearing various theories from residents. Some blamed CPS Energy, but CPS officials said they had nothing to do with it.

Lopez and his staffers drove through neighborhoods and spoke to some of the people who had complained. When they saw residents watering their lawn or walking a dog, they heard the same story.

"It took us a couple of days, and I don't know who suggested it might be NSA," Lopez said. "We called them, and they wouldn't talk but their response was peculiar in that they didn't deny or confirm."

Thinking he might be closing in on an answer, Lopez called the office of Rep. Charlie Gonzalez, who was hearing complaints, too. Gonzalez called the NSA, which acknowledged that a Land Mobile Radio antenna used by construction and security personnel at the NSA site was operating on a radio frequency also used by many garage door manufacturers. It turned out the same problem had arisen near federal facilities elsewhere.

The good news is that a fairly intensive frequency testing period has ended at NSA. The entire system was shut down from Jan. 29 to Feb. 28, but the calls have dropped off since it restarted early last week.

The bad news is that the NSA is taking a "buyer beware" approach to the problem, advising residents to contact the manufacturer or installer "for information on available immediate solutions." No refunds from us, in other words.

Although it cost him, Haguewood took the whole episode in stride. He wonders if problems will continue but says he has a solution in mind if they do.

The government, he said, "is going to have to put a man down here on my house and open the door."

Who says there's not a government solution to every problem?

[email protected]

Comment: For several years now, SOTT has been collecting 'garage jamming' stories from all over US and even Canada:Virginia, US: Marine Base radio signal knocks out garage door openersAirwave glitch hits Colorado Springs, US area: Garage-door openers jammed, hundreds sayFlorida, US: Air Force radios jamming garage-door openers in PanhandleOttawa, Canada: Garage doors work after mystery signal vanishesSan Antonio, Texas, US has a reccuring mysterious garage door dilemma

Land Mobile Radio system - United States Department of Defense's new state-of-the-art communication system is being blamed in all of them. They even issued an uncooperative news release, urging unlucky owners of baby monitors, cordless telephones, computers, garage door opener remote controls, wireless mouses, etc. to purchase a retrofit for their remote control system to allow operation on a frequency that is not used by the LMR system.

Although the explanation of Land Mobile Radio system being responsible for garage doors' jamming sounds plausible and fits military's 'we don't care' mentality, it still doesn't explain what exactly they are doing and why. Care to speculate?

NSA-Garages-2010-San Antonio Hams >> Blog Archive >> NSA Keeps Garage Door Opener From Opening?

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 02:03

During tonight's Bexar County ARES Training Net, Lothar briefly mentioned the garage door problems those of us living near the intersection of 151 and Potranco Road (San Antonio, TX) are having. As Lothar correctly stated, the issue is a conflict between a new radio communications tower put up at the NSA facility being built on Military Drive and garage door openers in the vicinity.

The NSA tower works on the LMR 390 Mhz frequency, which is shared with older garage door openers, including, as it turns out, my own. As NSA has stated in public, they believe they have the legal basis for operating on this frequency, and do not intend to stop operating on this frequency. So, for those of us with garage door openers operating at that frequency, it means that your remote may not open your garage door until you are very close to it. In my case, I actually had to park in my driveway, get out of my car, and activate the remote standing two feet from the garage door. A bit of an inconvenience.

The Genie GIRUD-1T Universal Dual Frequency Conversion Kit alleviates frequency issues from the recently implemented Land Mobile Radio (LMR) communications system. The LMR system is used by military bases across the U.S. and was implemented as part of the nation's Homeland Security efforts.

Most newer garage door openers operate on the 315 Mhz frequency to avoid this conflict. So if you are having these issues and would like some resolution, you can do one of two things: 1.) Purchase a new garage door opener that operates at that frequency, or 2.) Install a converter which will allow your existing garage door opener to operate on the new frequency.

I installed a converter in my house, and it works great. Good as new. I can easily open my garage door from a block away, which is what I used to be able to do before the NSA tower went up.

Installation took about 30 minutes, 20 minutes of which was spent just figuring out things in my head. Which is to say that it really is a simple fix. I ordered the conversion kit from Genie directly, though I did see some in the garage door section of the Lowes at Alamo Ranch out at 1604. I imagine other hardware stores might also have it in stock.

Keep in mind that if you do buy the kit, it only comes with one new garage door opener. So unless you can reprogram one of your other ones to operate at 315 Mhz, then you'll have to buy a second (if you need two for two cars). I bought a second one for my car also at Lowes.

Here's a link to the kit that I used:

I paid about $50 myself ordering from Genie. Installation was quick and easy. If anyone needs to install this conversion kit and would like some assistance, please feel free to let me know. I am not very mechanically inclined, but I know I can install the conversion kit! Also be happy to show the install to anyone who might want to come by the house.

Please feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions at

Wade Martyn, WB5C



The End of Erdogan's Cave of Wonders: An I-Told-You-So :: Middle East Forum

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 13:34

by David P. GoldmanPJ MediaDecember 27, 2013

Turkey is coming apart. The Islamist coalition that crushed the secular military and political establishment'--between Tayip Erdogan's ruling AK Party and the Islamist movement around Fethullah Gulen'--has cracked. The Gulenists, who predominate in the security forces, have arrested the sons of top government ministers for helping Iran to launder money and circumvent sanctions, and ten members of Erdogan's cabinet have resigned. Turkey's currency is in free fall, and that's just the beginning of the country's troubles: about two-fifths of corporate debt is in foreign currencies, so the cost of servicing it jumps whenever the Turkish lira declines. Turkish stocks have crashed (and were down another 5% in dollar terms in early trading Friday). As the charts below illustrate, so much for Turkey's miracle economy.

Two years ago I predicted a Turkish economic crash. Erdogan's much-vaunted economic miracle stemmed mainly from vast credit expansion to fuel an import boom, leaving the country with a current account deficit of 7 % of GDP (about the same as Greece before it went bankrupt) and a mushrooming pile of short-term foreign debt. The Gulf states kept financing Erdogan's import bill, evidently because they wanted to keep a Sunni power in business as a counterweight to Iran; perhaps they have tired of Turkey's double-dealing with the Persians. And credulous investors kept piling into Turkish stocks.

I reiterated my warning that Turkey would unravel at regular intervals, for example here.

No more. Turkey is a mediocre economy at best with a poorly educated workforce, no high-tech capacity, and shrinking markets in depressed Europe and the unstable Arab world. Its future might well be as an economic tributary of China, as the "New Silk Road" extends high-speed rail lines to the Bosporus.

For the past ten years we have heard ad nauseum about the "Turkish model" of "Muslim democracy." The George W. Bush administration courted Erdogan even before he became prime minister, and Obama went out of his way to make Erdogan his principal pal in foreign policy. I have been ridiculing this notion for years, for example in this 2010 essay for Tablet.

The whole notion was flawed from top to bottom. Turkey was not in line to become an economic power of any kind: it lacked the people and skills to do anything better than medium-tech manufacturing. Its Islamists never were democrats. Worst of all, its demographics are as bad as Europe's. Ethnic Turks have a fertility rate close to 1.5 children per family, while the Kurdish minority is having 4 children per family. Within a generation half of Turkey's young men will come from families where Kurdish is the first language.

Our foreign policy establishment, Democratic and Republican, was so enamored of the notion of Muslim democracy that it mistook Erdogan's incipient dictatorship and bubble economy for the object of its desire. In June 2012, for example, David Ignatius of the Washington Post bragged that Obama's embrace of Erdogan had "paid big dividends." Said Ignatius:

As President Barack Obama was feeling his way in foreign policy during his first months in office, he decided to cultivate a friendship with Turkey's headstrong prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Over the past year, this investment in Turkey has begun to pay some big dividends '-- anchoring the policy of the United States in a region that sometimes seems adrift.

Erdogan's clout was on display this week as he hosted a meeting in Istanbul of the World Economic Forum that celebrated the stability of the "Turkish model" of Muslim democracy amid the turmoil of the Arab Spring. One panel had the enraptured title "Turkey as a Source of Inspiration."

Now the hashish smoke has cleared, Erdogan's Cave of Wonders has turned back into a sandpit, and the foreign policy establishment has nothing to show for years of propitiation of this Anatolian wannabe except a headache.

Now that Turkey is coming unstuck, along with Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and Iraq, we should conclude that the entire project of bringing stability to the Muslim world was a hookah-dream to begin with. Except for the state of Israel and a couple of Sunni monarchies that survive by dint of their oil wealth, we are witnessing the unraveling of the Middle East. The best we can do is to insulate ourselves from the spillover effect.

David P. Goldman is Senior Fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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March Mayoral Race-The Islamist Feud Behind Turkey's Turmoil :: Soner Cagaptay

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 03:45

The news last week about a corruption scandal in Turkey seems on the surface a traditional case of prosecutors ferreting out wrongdoers in high places. But the turmoil that threatens Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government has been a long time coming and is the most public manifestation of a struggle between Turkey's two main Islamic-conservative factions hitherto united under the governing party: the prime minister's Justice and Development Party, known as AKP, and the influential, popular Gulen movement.

The past year has already been challenging for Mr. Erdogan. Demonstrations that began in May grew out of anger over plans to develop Istanbul's Gezi Park and were a liberal affair, challenging the prime minister's increasingly autocratic rule. The Gezi Park occupants would seem to have little in common with the Gulen movement, an opaque, Sufi-inspired group known for its Islamic piety and, until recently, its support for Mr. Erdogan. But the Gezi and Gulen movements are now de facto, if not actual, partners with similar aims: resisting Mr. Erdogan's near-total power.

The country's longest-serving prime minister since it became a democracy in 1950, Mr. Erdogan runs Turkey almost single-handedly. He has built a broad political coalition to win three successive elections with ever-increasing majorities. His coalition has included Islamists, nationalists, center-right voters and pro-business liberals. Mr. Erdogan has sway over the executive and legislative branches of government, as well as much of the media and business community. His rule first worried secular liberal opponents but has now alarmed even the Gulenists.

The Gulen movement traces its roots to the 1970s, when founder and Islamic scholar Fethullah Gulen, now 72, began attracting followers. The Gulen message promoting a conservative yet relatively modern form of Islam has made inroads in Turkey. Some estimates of the movement's size run as high as five million supporters, though others peg it considerably lower, as little as under a million people.

The movement has its own media, universities, schools, think tanks and businesses; followers can also be found in the police and judiciary. With its widespread appeal and Islamic credentials, the movement appears to be the last remaining obstacle to Mr. Erdogan's consolidation of power.

The Erdogan administration became alarmed by the movement's growing power last year when prosecutors connected to it attempted to subpoena the head of Turkey's intelligence agency'-- Hakan Fidan, a close confidant of Mr. Erdogan. The prime minister blocked this move by passing new legislation. But he saw it as a warning and responded by trying to close the Gulenists' powerful network of private prep schools.

The Gulenist pushback came quickly, with the movement's newspapers beginning to editorialize against Mr. Erdogan, who then postponed the move against the schools. On Dec. 12, prosecutors known to be close to the Gulen movement pressed corruption charges against prominent members of Mr. Erdogan's cabinet. With this move, the Gulenists, who have several supporters in key judiciary positions, presented an even more direct challenge to Mr. Erdogan's 12-year rule than anyone has before.

The corruption allegations have led so far to the resignation of three cabinet ministers, followed last week by the biggest cabinet reshuffle in the AKP since 2002. Mr. Erdogan has also fired hundreds of pro-Gulenist police chiefs, as well as, on Thursday, removing the key prosecutor, Muammer Akkas, from the graft case.

All of this is merely a prelude to what promises to be an even more high-stakes battle: the Istanbul mayoral election in March. The Istanbul race has always been closely contested between the AKP and the secular, leftist opposition Republican Peoples Party, which has a viable, populist candidate in Mustafa Sarigul. The Gulenists are unlikely to vote en masse for a liberal candidate. But simply by not voting the movement could tilt the election to the Republican Peoples Party, and thus show definitively that it is a powerful check against Mr. Erdogan.

If Mr. Erdogan's party wins in Istanbul, the prime minister would likely be emboldened to seek a popular referendum to blend the powers of the presidency and the prime minister's office ahead of elections in the summer. Mr. Erdogan would then run for the newly omnipotent executive presidency. If he won, he would become the most dominant political figure in modern Turkish history.

What happens in March has the potential to determine Turkey's democratic trajectory. This poses a major challenge for the U.S., raising thorny questions about the future of America's alliance with Turkey.

The threat to bilateral relations has been exacerbated by the remarkably explicit attacks on the U.S. by prominent AKP officials and pro-government media, which have accused America of being behind the corruption probes. Other allegations include an assertion that U.S. Embassy staffers have conspired with Turkish nongovernmental organizations to try to oust the AKP government. Last week, Mr. Erdogan publicly complained that the corruption investigation is a foreign plot. And he made matters even more precarious on Dec. 21 by suggesting that the American ambassador, Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. , a stellar diplomat, leave the country'--the first such incident in living memory.

The stakes'--given Turkey's size, economy, military strength and strategic location'--are huge, and American influence is limited. The U.S. must play a careful game, avoiding the limelight, and focus on maintaining Turkey's basic Western, democratic, free-market orientation. This means not overreacting publicly to what are likely to be new provocations.

But privately, the U.S. should make clear to audiences inside and outside Turkey that, while not taking sides in the country's current domestic disputes, America's ability to assist Turkey diplomatically, economically and within NATO hinges on Turks resolving these matters in a democratic fashion that preserves the rule of law.

Mr. Cagaptay is a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and author of "The Rise of Turkey: The Twenty-First Century's First Muslim Power" (Potomac/University of Nebraska, 2014). Mr. Jeffrey, a visiting fellow at the institute, is a former ambassador to Turkey.

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Iraqi Kurdistan's oil flows to Turkey - Europe - Al Jazeera English

South Sudan

Hilde Frafjord Johnson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:22

Hilde Frafjord Johnson (born 29 August 1963 in Arusha, Tanganyika) is a Norwegianpolitician from the Christian Democratic Party.[1] She is a former Minister of International Development of Norway, and member of the Norwegian Government. She currently serves as the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the United Nations Mission in the Republic of South Sudan.[2]

Early life and education[edit]Born in Arusha, Tanzania to parents who worked for the Norwegian Missionary Society, she came to Norway at the age of 7.[3] She was awarded a Cand. polit. degree at the University of Oslo in 1991, specializing in development anthropology.

Becoming a member of the Young Christian Democrats at age 16,[3] she was elected to the Parliament of Norway for the Christian Democratic Party from Rogaland in 1993 and re-elected in 1997. She served as a member of the Standing Committee on Energy and the Environment. She served as Minister of International Development in Bondevik's First Cabinet from October 1997 to March 2000 and held the same position in Bondevik's Second Cabinet from October 2001 to October 2005.[4]

As minister, Hilde F. Johnson played a pivotal role in the peace process in Sudan, leading to the completion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between government and the Sudan People's Liberation Army/Movement in 2005. She has engaged in peace building efforts and post crisis-transition processes in relation to a number of countries in Africa, Asia and Central America, notably the Horn of Africa, Sudan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Timor Leste, Guatemala and the Great Lakes-region.

She has been involved in efforts to build coalitions for change, both of the UN, in the Bretton Woods Institutions (BWIs) and bilateral aid. In 1998, Johnson initiated the Utstein-group, a group of key likeminded development ministers from the UK, the Netherlands, Germany and Norway to spearhead this agenda. She worked closely with the senior leadership of the UN, the International Financial Institutions and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) and leaders of developing countries, to bring about better pro-poor development policies. She has served as Governor and member of the Board of the World Bank for Norway and the Nordic/Baltic Constituency.

Prior to joining UNICEF she served as Senior Advisor to the President of the African Development Bank in charge of Fragile States policies. Johnson was the co-chair of the Global Coalition for Africa for several years. She was selected a Global Leader of Tomorrow by the World Economic Forum in 2001 . She was member of the High Level Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor led by Madeleine Albright, and has served as a member of the Oxford University Taskforce on UK Energy, Development Assistance and Foreign Policy, led by Sir Chris Patten. Johnson was a member of the UNDP hosted Commission on Legal Empowerment of the Poor.

Johnson served as Deputy Executive Director[5] of the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF)from 2007-2011.

References[edit]External links[edit]PersondataNameJohnson, Hilde FrafjordAlternative namesShort descriptionNorwegian politicianDate of birth29 August 1963Place of birthDate of deathPlace of death

How Hollywood cloaked South Sudan in celebrity and fell for the 'big lie'

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:22

When violence erupted two weeks ago in the world's youngest country, one of the first voices to speak out, before the US president or the head of the United Nations, was that of the Hollywood actor George Clooney. There was nothing particularly objectionable about his counsel, which in any case was more likely authored by the American activist John Prendergast, with whom he shared a byline. It spoke of the need for a robust UN response and, even as tens of thousands of civilians fled ethnically motivated death squads, of the "opportunities" present in South Sudan.

This is a country, not yet two and a half years old, whose birth has been soaked in celebrity like no other. As well as Clooney, Matt Dillon and Don Cheadle have been occasional visitors who have tried to use their star power to place the international public firmly in the corner of this plucky upstart nation.

Unsurprisingly, the actors were highly effective at communicating a narrative about the new country that borrowed from a simple script. The south had fought a bloody two-decade battle for its independence against an Islamic and chauvinist north led by an indicted war criminal. The cost of that war, regularly touted as two million lives, meant that the south would need huge development support to lift it from the impoverished floor of every quality of life index published.

The great threat in this narrative was the vile regime in Khartoum, the capital of rump Sudan, which would seek to undermine its southern breakaway, or march back to war to reclaim some of its lost oilfields.

It was a seductive story that could be well told by handsome movie stars against the lavish backdrop supplied by South Sudan's superheated swamps and deserts and often beautiful people. But the narrative '' part truth, part wilful misunderstanding '' was deeply flawed. This would have mattered less if it had only informed public opinion, but instead it found its way into the building of a state.

Sudan, the former British colony that became Africa's largest state, has been in a condition of slow-burning internal conflict almost since independence in the 1950s. The second instalment of civil war was ended by the comprehensive peace agreement signed in 2005. The deal provided for a cooling-off period of six years before a loosely geographically defined south would be given the chance to vote on secession from the north.

The war had been brought to life in the US by broadcast evangelicals such as Billy Graham, who cast it as a heroic battle by Christian and African underdogs against a more powerful Muslim and Arab foe. The fact that religious and geographical lines were never remotely this clear and clean-cut was routinely ignored. The Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA), under the leadership of the charismatic John Garang, was not fighting for an independent south but a democratic "new Sudan". Its forces were drawn from areas far beyond what are now the borders of South Sudan. And its battles were, for the most part, not against the national army, the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) but against rival militia groups, often drawn from the same great southern tribes, such as the Dinka and Nuer, that the SPLA leadership came from.

Much of the fighting and dying took place in the south, often with funding and encouragement from the north. This meant that a new country would have to be built in what had been the main theatre of the war, with a nation drawn from opposing sides in much of that conflict. No serious effort was made by any side in the post-2005 cooling-off period to reconcile the north and south. The US, Europe, the UN and the south's near-neighbours, Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya, all pushed for the country to be broken up. This effort was formalised in a referendum in 2011.

The pursuit of separation at all costs made it harder to admit certain truths such as ethnic divisions and created the need for the "big lie", as one senior UN official calls it. "The big lie is that there was no ethnic problem in South Sudan. There is a political problem."

The midwife to the state-building was the UN peacekeeping mission '' now known as Unmiss '' a sprawling operation costing roughly $1bn a year. A further $1bn in development aid was pumped in annually by donors such as the US and Britain. As it was believed that there were no entrenched ethnic issues to overcome, the mandate for Unmiss '' when it was drafted by the UN security council '' framed the challenges for the new country as purely developmental. The choice of Hilde Johnson, a former Norwegian minister of international development, to head the mission reflected this.

While demobilisation and disarmament schemes were announced, for much of the time between 2005 and the referendum governing consisted of farming out oil and aid money to civil-war-era military commanders in order to keep the peace. Little was done to break up old units and forge a truly national army. The SPLA had become a big tent into which armed ethnic militias with no uniform, training or shared identity had wandered in order to get paid.

The complete dysfunction of South Sudan's government since independence in 2011 was largely ignored. When the president, Salva Kiir, accused his own government of looting $4bn in state assets and foreign aid money, little was said. When Kiir, who is from the south's biggest ethnic group, the Dinka, began to entrench its power at the expense of other communities, creating what people called a Dinkocracy, the UN said nothing. In the meantime Johnson, who is criticised by her own staff in private for being too close to the president, trumpeted the need for "service delivery", even as a vicious power struggle raged in the ruling party.

While critics argue that the prime focus should have been security instruments (the army) and executive instruments (the government), all the talk was of democracy, human rights and development '' even though this was rarely matched by any action.

"You can't do that if the elites are arguing and trying not to kill each other," said the senior UN official, on condition of anonymity.

"A lot of people who knew about state building in Africa were screaming bloody murder."

When Kiir sacked his entire government to pre-empt a political power grab by his vice-president, Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, from South Sudan's second most populous group, the international community chided him half-heartedly. As both sides mobilised their supporters along ethnic lines and prepared for a renewed conflict, the UN and diplomats continued to refer to the increasingly autocratic president as "steadfast".

When fighting finally broke out on 15 December and elements of the presidential guard went house to house in the fledgling capital, Juba, murdering Nuer civilians, the talk was still of a political not an ethnic conflict. When Nuer youths who mobilise under the banner of the civil-war-era White Army overran a UN outpost, killing two peacekeepers and murdering Dinka officials, it was blamed by some on media inciting tit-for-tat attacks.

Jok Madut Jok, an academic and former culture minister, who had been one of the most passionate exponents of South Sudan, was among many intellectuals who railed against international reporting of the ethnic slaughter as irresponsible and lacking in context.

After visiting Nuer colleagues among the 63,000 South Sudanese who had gone into hiding in UN bases around the country, he described in an open letter how he had wept by the roadside: "My Nuer friends are very scared and will not even fathom returning to their homes, given what they saw during the fighting in Juba. But their present circumstance is humiliating to them, big army officers, senior government officials and university students who feel they cannot be safe in their own capital city in which they have lived for many years."

Much trumpeted peace efforts remain just "talks about talks", according to diplomats involved. Both sides are dusting off veterans from the 1990s '' the era of the most deadly fighting. A battle looms for the oilfields of the ironically named Unity State, currently held by rebels under the former vice-president.

After years of denial from the international community, the only way out of a repeat of past wars will be another round of payoffs to military commanders and a reluctant return to square one on the state-building board, accompanied by an admission of past failures.

July 2011 South Sudan gains independence.

15 December 2013 Fighting erupts after gunmen fire at the presidential palace. President Salva Kiir blames his former deputy, Riek Machar, for attempting a coup.

24 December The UN finds three mass graves in two regions of South Sudan. A senior official claims the death toll has run "into the thousands".

27 December South Sudan commits to a ceasefire after two weeks of clashes that have caused more than 120,000 people to flee their homes.

China to send envoy to S Sudan to protect oil fields | News | Africa | Mail & Guardian

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:26

China will send its special envoy for Africa to South Sudan to help push talks and protect its oil interests.

A South Sudanese woman with a child sits on December 25 2013 at the main hospital in Bor which troops loyal to President Salva Kiir re-captured from rebel forces. (AFP)

China will send its special envoy for Africa to South Sudan to help push talks, China's foreign minister was quoted as saying on Thursday, as the world's newest country spirals into violence.

The envoy will head to South Sudan "soon" to communicate with all parties, Foreign Minister Wang Yi said during a visit to Saudi Arabia on Wednesday, in comments carried on the Foreign Ministry's website.

Wang did not name the envoy, but he was likely referring to Zhong Jianhua, an urbane veteran diplomat who has deep experience of the conflict in South Sudan.

The announcement came a day after China called for all sides in the South Sudan conflict to stop fighting.

Big investorThe conflict has killed hundreds and some 45 000 civilians are seeking protection at UN bases. Violence erupted in the capital, Juba, on December 15 and quickly spread, dividing the land-locked country of 10.8-million people along ethnic lines.

"China is highly concerned about the evolving situation in South Sudan," Wang said.

China has extensive energy interests in South Sudan.

It is already the biggest investor in oilfields in South Sudan, through state-owned Chinese oil giants China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) and Sinopec. Beijing is also one of Sudane'a President Omar Hassan al-Bashir's major supporters.

The fighting has also affected oil production, which accounts for 98% of government revenue in South Sudan. It has forced CNPC to evacuate some of its workers. '' Reuters

China's South Sudan Dilemma | The Diplomat

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:27

Violence in South Sudan may test China's absolute commitment to non-interference in other countries' domestic affairs

New waves of violence in South Sudan have worried governments around the world, and Beijing is no exception. Clashes between rebel forces and the South Sudanese government jeopardize the lives of Chinese citizens in the country, as well as throwing into question the future of South Sudan's vast oil fields.

Violence began in the South Sudan after President Salva Kiir announced that this his government has prevented a coup attempt by Vice President Riek Machar. Machar denied the accusation and accused Kirr of fabricating an excuse to crack down on opposition. Violence in the capital of Juba is believed to have killed hundreds of people, and the uprisings have spread. Unrest has continued along ethnic lines: Kirr is part of the majority Dinka ethnic group, while Machar is of the Nuer ethnic group.

The unrest has already caused at least one international incident. On December 19, a group of armed Nuer youths opened fire on a United Nations base that was providing refuge for Dinka civilians. According to the UN News Center, two UN peacekeepers from India and 20 civilians were killed in the attack. In addition to UN peacekeepers, many foreign oil companies have staff stationed in South Sudan. These foreign civilians could now be caught in the cross-fire. Rebel forces, according to the New York Times, have taken over control of some of South Sudan's oil fields.

In a press conference, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying said that ''China strongly condemns the violent action against the UN Mission in South Sudan'' although she noted that ''Chinese peacekeepers in South Sudan are safe.'' She confirmed that the staff members of some Chinese companies in the region are preparing to return to China. ''The Chinese Embassy in South Sudan will continue to provide necessary assistance for the Chinese citizens in their evacuation, and it calls on the government of South Sudan to ensure the safety of Chinese citizens and institutions,'' Hua said.

The violence brings upheaval to a region that many hoped would settle down after years of the bloody civil war that preceded South Sudan's official split from Sudan. That conflict was a particular headache for China. Beijing had invested heavily in Sudan's oil industry before the violent civil war resulted in South Sudan's independence. The founding of South Sudan meant that much of the oil China sought was now located in a different country.

China recognized South Sudan in July 2011, shortly after the new country's founding. Hu Jintao sent a congratulatory message to South Sudan's new president, saying that ''China respects the political system and development path the South Sudanese have chosen.'' Hu added, ''China also stands ready to establish and develop friendly and cooperative relations with the new nation based on the five principles of peaceful coexistence.'' One of the referenced five principles is non-interference in each other's internal affairs, a principle that will become increasing difficult for China to honor if foreign unrest affects Chinese citizens and business investments.

Many are concerned that the violence will interrupt the country's oil production, which is a crucial part of South Sudan's economy. Global Witness estimates that oil revenue makes up 98 percent of South Sudan's annual budget, making oil production a logical target for rebels. China National Petroleum Company moved Friday to evacuate oil workers to South Sudan's capital, Juba. About 200 oil workers fled to a United Nations base in Unity State, seeking refuge from the violence. Xinhuanotes that South Sudan's government insists that ''oil is flowing normally from the production sites to Sudan's oil pipeline,'' but with rebel action targeting oil fields it's obvious that continued production is in question.

Beijing already has a lot invested in South Sudan. Since the country's founding, China has offered the South Sudan government loans and assistance for various development projects, including a September 2013 deal to provide aid to South Sudan's mining industry. China's oil companies are also active in the oil-rich state. According to Reuters, CNPC is a major shareholder in two large oil groups operating in South Sudan, Petrodar and the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company. Chinadialogue reports that China consumes over 80 percent of South Sudan's oil exports. Now, once again, China finds its investments in jeopardy.

On Monday, Hua noted that ''China is greatly concerned with the development of South Sudan's situation, and is promoting negotiation with its own way.'' ''We will work with all relevant parties to promote the conflicting sides in solving their disputes through dialogue and negotiation, and promote the situation of South Sudan to resume stability as soon as possible,'' Hua said. However, Beijing's options are limited by its long-standing insistence on non-interference in other countries' internal affairs.

China has made non-interference a keystone of its foreign policy, in part because China would like other nations to accord Beijing the same courtesy. However, as Chinese companies are increasingly global players, China's non-interference policy may come to clash with other fundamental national interests. Beijing is greatly concerned with ensuring food and energy security '-- two needs that are tied to foreign supply chains. When the internal unrest of another country, such as the South Sudan, threatens one of these interests, Beijing has tough calculations to make. Does a strict adherence to non-interference outweigh the potential threat to oil supplies? And what about the lives of Chinese citizens in affected areas?

Already, China has been pushed to mediate between South Sudan and Sudan to ensure oil production continues. When South Sudan shut down oil production, accusing Sudan of stealing oil, China was forced to help resolve the dispute. This time, the conflict is between internal factions within South Sudan. If China were to mediate, it would risk violating the sacrosanct principles of non-interference. This explains Hua's caveat that China ''is promoting negotiation with its own way.'' Beijing can't afford to do nothing, but its hands are tied by its foreign policy principles.

As China becomes more globalized, Beijing may be forced to take a more active role to safeguard the lives of its citizens and Chinese business interests. In the coming years, Beijing might have to rethink its foreign policy calculus, especially how it interprets ''non-interference.''

China's uncomfortable diplomacy keeps South Sudan's oil flowing

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:32

As South Sudan's biggest oil customer, China has found itself at the centre of attempts to resolve disputes with northern neighbour Sudan.

China has UN peacekeepers deployed in both Sudan and south Sudan (Image copyright: United Nations Photo)

In January, South Sudan's government brought oil production to a dramatic standstill, accusing its neighbour, Sudan, of charging excessive export fees and seizing oil shipments. A few days later, the head of the major Chinese-led oil consortium was expelled from the country for ''non cooperation''. Oil companies, caught by surprise, were forced to close wells so quickly that congealing crude oil risked damaging the pipelines, a Chinese oil executive told Reuters.

An agreement signed by Sudan and South Sudan at the end of September, backed by Beijing, was due to see production resume last week, pulling the two countries back from the brink of war.

China's role in resolving the dispute has prompted speculation that it is ready to take a more active role in conflict resolution in the war-torn region. But is this really the case? China's authorities, in fact, appear reluctant, while larger territory disputes between Sudan and South Sudan, combined with internal ethnic conflict, still threaten to take the region beyond the help of intervention.

Chinese diplomacy?

South Sudan '' which depends on oil revenues for 98% of its annual budget '' broke away from Sudan after an independence vote last July, the culmination of a peace deal forged in 2005. It followed decades of war in which more than 2 million people died. Before the country divided in two, Sudan produced around 500,000 barrels of crude oil per day. The split left 75% of the oil fields in South Sudan and the north in control of a Chinese-built pipeline and port for export. Lack of agreement over how to divide the country's vast oil wealth has become an inevitable flashpoint.

To keep the oil flowing, China, as South Sudan's biggest oil investor and consumer (accounting for 82% of its oil exports), has been drawn uncomfortably into the high-stakes conflict between north and south. China's envoy for African affairs, Liu Guijin, was dispatched to break this year's deadlock, warning that if the two sides fail to resolve the problem, the "whole region would be affected; the repercussions would be very serious".

The state-owned China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) led the development of Sudan's oil industry during the 1990s in what was then China's first major overseas investment, when raging civil war in Darfur kept most western companies away.

Chinese involvement in South Sudan is newer, but nonetheless crucial to the continuity of Beijing's oil investments, which are now situated primarily in the south. Other Chinese companies and private entrepreneurs have flocked to Juba, South Sudan's capital, looking for opportunities in infrastructure and new markets to push their products, along with Indian, Malaysian and other international counterparts.

China also has political reasons for intervening, says Luke Patey, expert on oil investment in the Sudans at the Danish Institute of Development Studies. The government wants to be seen as a responsible player by the international community for ''doing their share to build peace alongside other international actors, particularly the US,'' he says.

This appears to sit uncomfortably with the cornerstone of China's foreign policy '' non-interference in other countries' affairs. Deborah Brautigam, expert in China-Africa relations and author of The Dragon's Gift: The Real Story of China in Africa, said in a recent interview with Voice of America: ''Sudan is fascinating because it's a good example of how China is getting pushed out of its comfort zone in its non-interference policy. You can see that in trying to broker this recent agreement. They've had their first special envoy '' shuttle diplomacy. The Chinese never did that before.''

Mounting risks, falling returns

The recent oil deal may have soothed international concerns, but the real challenges facing China are framed outside the agreement. ''The elephant in the room,'' explains Daniel Large, a UK based scholar on China-Sudan relations, are the other conflicts in the border region. ''The international community have hoped that China could offer 'a quick fix' when really the conflict is down to the two parties involved.''

Final status of the contested oil-rich Abyei state remains unresolved, while on the northern side of the border, rebellions in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states are worsening. In South Sudan, independence has inflamed internal conflicts, with militia contesting the legitimacy of central government, and between ethnic groups, fighting over scare resources and access to political power.

Heightened conflict has affected oil production and put workers at huge risk. In January, 29 Chinese construction workers were kidnapped in South Kordofan. In an earlier incident in 2008, Chinese oil workers were kidnapped and killed in the same region, sending shock waves back home.

At the same time, oil in South Sudan is no longer as important as it once was to China's global energy strategy; other regions, such as Iraq and Venezuela, now offer more lucrative opportunities for CNPC. ''Oil production in South Sudan was stagnating before the shutdown took place'', says Patey. ''What the industry needs now is new discoveries'...and also a lot of investment in advanced recovery techniques, water and gas pumping, and horizontal drilling.'' But savvy investors are unlikely to step forward in the current climate.

Chinese diplomats also seem to be taking a wait and see approach. The new government in South Sudan, which desperately needs infrastructure, has recognised the necessity of Chinese investment. But an US$8 billion infrastructure package reportedly agreed during South Sudan president Salva Kirr's state visit to Beijing in April notably went unconfirmed by the Chinese government.

Set against these concerns, however, is the symbolic importance China attaches to the region: Sudan is one of the Chinese Communist Party's longest standing allies in Africa and the first site of China's ''go out'' policy. Every Sudan-watcher chinadialogue spoke to stressed that this status is likely to ensure China takes a long-term perspective and holds out for more peaceful times.

Environmental and human impacts of oil investment

Even if China gets what it wants '' oil pouring out of the country '' the environmental and human impacts of oil activities in the region still raise huge concerns. The end of civil war may have stopped the most egregious human rights abuses, the massacres and displacements, associated with oil activities. But significant problems remain, according to Leben Nelson Moro, from the University of Juba. Continued property destruction, land expropriated without compensation and massive environmental damage is serving to fuel local resentment towards oil companies, also seen complicit in the abuses committed during the war.

The extent to which companies act responsibly will, say observers, depend on the strength of local laws. The vast savannah ecosystems and swamplands of South Sudan '' home to elephants, giraffe, water buffalo and which hosts the migration of Kob antelopes '' are particularly vulnerable in the face of renewed oil activities. ''Chinese companies will follow suit on the government's lead,'' says Dana Wilkins, campaigner at Global Witness, which is preparing to release a report analysing South Sudan's oil laws.

''Just look at CNPC at home,'' says Patey. ''They've been involved in major environmental disasters in the past 10 years: oil spills into Bohai Bay, gas spills in rivers, a huge gas explosion that killed people in 2005. So how these companies operate at home does not bode well for how they will operate in Sudan and South Sudan if there is no strong regulation from the government there.''

For more than a decade speculators have manipulated energy markets, forcing up the price of oil and the subsidies that go with it.

Chinese investors have broken a boycott on investment in African dams '' and loosened the grip of the environment lobby. This is good news for the continent, water expert Mike Muller tells Olivia Boyd.

Snapping up resources around the world, China's state-owned oil companies are feared as aggressive agents of government interest. But, increasingly, these players are led by market signals, not Beijing diktats.

Sam Geall introduces a series of articles that seek to enhance our understanding of environment and development in Africa '' and China's increasingly controversial role on the continent.

China's growing agribusinesses and demand for soybeans and meat is bringing intensive farming and the risk of further deforestation in Brazil and beyond.

Comments are translated into either Chinese or English after being moderated. Maximum characters 1200

China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is on the brink of taking on oil and gas rights across more than 1 million hectares of Peru's Amazon '' including areas of serious environmental problems

China continues to invest in energy, infrastructure and agricultural projects in the region, with the aim of building a trade corridor as an 'East-West' gateway

We pick out the most popular and important stories published on chinadialogue from the past year, including the likelihood of nuclear disaster and life inside a mining company

A year of continuing environmental degradation, together with a failure to hold derelict and neglectful officials to account has left chinadialogue's Beijing editor Liu Jianqiang disappointed

Illicit recycling of lead batteries is blocking more environmentally-friendly methods of disposal

The opposition to the Tiger Leaping Gorge dam was a seminal moment for China's environmental protection movement, says director of a documentary on the campaign

The Fate of the Species by Fred Guterl is a bracing overview of the worst that can happen if humans do not overcome their ecological and Earth-systems illiteracy, writes Caspar Henderson.

特此ç--"掼šä¸­å¤–对è¯'不对ä>>>>何外部é'¾æŽ¥çšå†…容æ‰æ‹…è´£ä>>>>ã‚chinadialogue is not responsible for the content of linked external sites

China to evacuate South Sudan oil workers to capital

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:33

China to evacuate South Sudan oil workers to capitalTop News

China to evacuate South Sudan oil workers to capital

Fri, Dec 20 05:29 AM EST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China National Petroleum Company, a main oil investor in South Sudan, is evacuating oil workers to the capital, Juba, amid continued fighting in the world's newest country, a company official and state media said on Friday.

State news agency Xinhua said CNPC planned to fly out 32 workers.

"We are arranging the orderly evacuation of our workers, but the affected oilfield was not operated by CNPC," said a CNPC media official, without commenting on whether the company's oil production was affected.

Xinhua said an oilfield in the northern part of South Sudan, operated by a consortium of Indian, Malaysian and South Sudanese companies, was caught up in unrest on Thursday that killed 14 South Sudanese oil workers.

China's Foreign Ministry said that the embassy there would help evacuate Chinese nationals.

"The embassy will continue to urge the government of South Sudan to take measures to protect the safety of Chinese workers and organizations," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

China has expressed concern about the unrest and urged a swift return to peace.

CNPC is major shareholder in two oil consortia that operate in South Sudan - Petrodar, which also counts Malaysian state oil firm Petronas as a partner, and the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). India's ONGC Videsh also operates oilfields, and France's Total has exploration acreage in country.

South Sudan, a nation the size of France, has the third-largest reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa after Angola and Nigeria, according to BP.

Oil production, which had been about 245,000 barrels per day, supplies the government with most of its revenues.

The conflict in South Sudan has killed hundreds and deepened ethnic divisions in the two-year-old nation. South Sudanese government troops battled to regain control of a flashpoint town and sent forces to quell fighting in a vital oil producing area on Thursday, the fifth day of the conflict.

A United Nations official reported on Thursday that about 200 oil workers who sought refuge at a U.N. base in Unity State, a South Sudanese oil-producing region bordering Sudan, were expected to be evacuated by their employers, without naming the companies involved.

(Reporting by Adam Rose and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Nick Macfie)

China to evacuate South Sudan oil workers to capitalTop News

China to evacuate South Sudan oil workers to capital

Fri, Dec 20 05:29 AM EST

BEIJING (Reuters) - China National Petroleum Company, a main oil investor in South Sudan, is evacuating oil workers to the capital, Juba, amid continued fighting in the world's newest country, a company official and state media said on Friday.

State news agency Xinhua said CNPC planned to fly out 32 workers.

"We are arranging the orderly evacuation of our workers, but the affected oilfield was not operated by CNPC," said a CNPC media official, without commenting on whether the company's oil production was affected.

Xinhua said an oilfield in the northern part of South Sudan, operated by a consortium of Indian, Malaysian and South Sudanese companies, was caught up in unrest on Thursday that killed 14 South Sudanese oil workers.

China's Foreign Ministry said that the embassy there would help evacuate Chinese nationals.

"The embassy will continue to urge the government of South Sudan to take measures to protect the safety of Chinese workers and organizations," ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing.

China has expressed concern about the unrest and urged a swift return to peace.

CNPC is major shareholder in two oil consortia that operate in South Sudan - Petrodar, which also counts Malaysian state oil firm Petronas as a partner, and the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company (GNPOC). India's ONGC Videsh also operates oilfields, and France's Total has exploration acreage in country.

South Sudan, a nation the size of France, has the third-largest reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa after Angola and Nigeria, according to BP.

Oil production, which had been about 245,000 barrels per day, supplies the government with most of its revenues.

The conflict in South Sudan has killed hundreds and deepened ethnic divisions in the two-year-old nation. South Sudanese government troops battled to regain control of a flashpoint town and sent forces to quell fighting in a vital oil producing area on Thursday, the fifth day of the conflict.

A United Nations official reported on Thursday that about 200 oil workers who sought refuge at a U.N. base in Unity State, a South Sudanese oil-producing region bordering Sudan, were expected to be evacuated by their employers, without naming the companies involved.

(Reporting by Adam Rose and Chen Aizhu; Editing by Nick Macfie)


Nazi-looted art found in German parliament: report - Yahoo News Canada

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Hedge fund titan, giant of philanthropy leaps to his death after stroke | New York Post

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 23:50

Multimillionaire philanthropist Robert W. Wilson, 86, took his own life Monday by throwing himself from his luxury Upper West Side high-rise apartment, just a few months after suffering a debilitating stroke, sources said.

The former Wall Street hedge fund titan '-- who donated hundreds of millions to charity '-- left a note before leaping at about 11 a.m. from the 16th floor of the famed San Remo, which overlooks Central Park West, cops said.

''He was 86 and suffered a stroke a few months ago,'' said Wilson's friend, Stephen Viscusi.

''He always said he didn't want to suffer, and when the time came, he would be ready.''

A Detroit native, Wilson rose from humble beginnings to becoming nearly a billionaire, after starting his firm, Wilson Associates, with just $15,000.

He would eventually build a Wall Street fortune, which was estimated by Business Week in 2000 to be worth about $800 million.

The San RemoPhoto: Christian Johnston

His goal was to give away most of his wealth before he died. But with his finances spread around to different money managers, the bottom line seemed to keep growing.

''His plan was to give all his money away,'' Viscusi said. ''He told me recently, 'I only have about $100 million to go.' ''

Wilson donated $100 million each to the World Monuments Fund, the Nature Conservancy, the Environmental Defense Fund and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

''He was the most committed person I have ever known,'' said Bonnie Burnham, president of World Monuments Fund.

''More than his financial contributions, he brought an astute mind and sharp wit to the organization. He will be missed greatly and long remembered as a visionary donor.''

The World Monuments Fund works to preserve architectural and cultural heritage sites around the world.

One of Wilson's favorite initiatives was ''saving'' Catholic private schools, although he was an atheist.

''I realized that Catholic schools were closing all over the country, and Bill Gates probably didn't have enough money to save them,'' he told Bloomberg News in 2010.

Wilson believed that private schools offered a better educations than ''the union-controlled inner-city schools.''

He gave millions to the Archdiocese of New York over the years and became a good friend of Edward Cardinal Egan.

Police said the window to Wilson's apartment was open and the death was not deemed suspicious.

Wilson was married to his only wife, Marilyn, for about 35 years before they divorced.

He leaves behind an brother, William, 88, who lives in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He has no children.

Additional reporting by Joe Tacopino

Exclusive: Emails Reveal Deceased Hedge Fund Manager Refused To Join Bill Gates' "Worthless" Giving Pledge

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 22:53

WASHINGTON '-- Robert W. Wilson, the hedge fund founder who committed suicide at age 87 over the weekend, was known as one of the most active philanthropists in the country. But his style of giving was radically opposed to that of Bill Gates, who asked Wilson to join his Giving Pledge for the ultra-rich '-- and was rebuffed in a series of caustic emails.

In emails from 2010 provided to BuzzFeed by a source close to Wilson, the hedge fund manager tells Gates that the pledge is essentially ''worthless'' and that he wants to ''stay far away'' from his effort.

'--'-- Original Message '--'---

From: Bill Gates

To: Robert W. Wilson

Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 1:03 PM

Subject: Giving Pledge discussion


I'm writing to let you know about an idea we're calling the ''Giving Pledge'' that came out of a number of conversations that Melinda and Warren and I have had with a number of people over the past year.

The idea is that when you take the Giving Pledge, you agree to give the majority of your wealth to charity during your lifetime or through your will. The Giving Pledge will be public, and pledges will be posted on a website ( A pledge can consist of a single sentence or a longer explanation of your philosophy in respect to philanthropy.

By bringing together the people who take the Giving Pledge in various ways, including at an annual event, we hope we can all learn from each other. The Giving Pledge is more of a moral commitment than anything else. It is not a legal contract, and it does not involve pooling money or supporting a particular set of causes.

We will only invite people of substantial wealth to join this particular group but we will also cite efforts being made by others to draw everyone into philanthropy. At first we will focus on the United States, but we plan to extend it to other places if it goes well here.

Since your generosity has inspired so many and you have clearly already lived this Pledge, I am writing to see if you would be willing to help lead this effort and join us in encouraging others.

We are planning to proceed in three steps:

Today an article about the Giving Pledge was posted online at Warren and Melinda and I will be on Charlie Rose's show tonight to further discuss the idea.

Second is that in the next few days, we are asking some of the great philanthropists in the United States to join us in signing a letter to hundreds of wealthy people in the United States inviting them to pledge. We are working on an initial draft, which we will send you for your feedback if you choose to be involved. We hope to send the letter out in a few weeks.

Third is that sometime in the fall '' perhaps October '' we will have an event for everyone who was invited and has agreed to sign up. This will be an annual event and we will discuss whether any other types of activities would be attractive to the group.

Thanks for considering this. I look forward to discussing this with you soon and I've asked someone on my staff to set that up.


Wilson responds:

From: Robert W. WilsonSent: Wednesday, June 16, 2010 12:16 PMTo: Bill GatesSubject: Re: Giving Pledge discussion

Mr. Gates, I decided more than ten years ago to try to give away 70% of my net worth and have already given away one-half billion dollars. (I've never been a Forbes 400) So I really don't have to take the pledge.

Your ''Giving Pledge'' has a loophole that renders it practically worthless, namely permitting pledgees to simply name charities in their wills. I have found that most billionaires or near billionaires hate giving large sums of money away while alive and instead set up family-controlled foundations to do it for them after death. And these foundations become, more often than not, bureaucracy-ridden sluggards. These rich are delighted to toss off a few million a year in order to remain socially acceptable. But that's it.

I'm going to stay far away from your effort. But thanks for thinking of me. Cordially

Gates pushes back:

'--'--- Original Message '--'---

From: Bill Gates

To: Robert W. Wilson

Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2010 1:23 AM

Subject: RE: Giving Pledge discussion

What you are doing is fantastic. You are giving a high percentage and doing it in a very efficient way to causes you have thought deeply about.

The key benefit of your getting involved in the pledge would be having people learn more from your example both in your pledge letter and your participation in the yearly events. We believe the more people we get involved the stronger the effort will be and the more people who will join.

You are right that the Giving Pledge allows people to join in who don't give until their will comes into action. Since people don't know when they will die it is a bit difficult to make the timing of their giving super specific.

You are also right that some people set up foundations without a strong focus or leadership and with high overhead.

One of our goals with the Giving Pledge is to make it more common for people to consider their philanthropic plans at a much younger age. A number of people we have talked to about the pledge have said that they are thinking through their plans now instead of waiting because of the pledge. People often put off thinking about giving because it involves considering when they die and forces them to pick particular causes and decide how much to leave for each family member. The causes that are easy to pick are often not the ones that have the biggest impact on reducing inequity. We aren't trying to homogenize the giving but we do think people getting exposures to others who have thought a lot about the right causes will improve the overall quality of giving.

So it is fine for you to stay out but I want you to know that we agree with your views on philanthropy and we would benefit from your joining in. If you are willing to talk further about this I would love to chat on the phone sometime.

Wilson closes the discussion:

'--'--- Original Message '--'---

From: Robert W. Wilson

To: Bill Gates

Sent: Saturday, June 19, 2010 4:15 PM

Subject: Re: Giving Pledge discussion

Mr. Gates, thanks much for your email. But as my previous email indicated, I wouldn't have much fun or add much value to this group. You, being a liberal, think you can change people more than I think.

But let me make one comment. When I talk to young people who seem destined for great success, I tell them to forget about charities and giving. Concentrate on your family and getting rich'--which I found very hard work. I personally and the world at large are very glad you were more interested in computer software than the underprivileged when you were young. And don't forget that those who don't make money never become philanthropists.

When rich people reach 50 and are beginning to slow down is the time to begin engaging them in philanthropy.

I'd greatly appreciate just leaving it at that. Cordially

Wilson was the founder of hedge fund Wilson & Associates. Over the course of his career he donated an estimated $500 million to various causes, including a number of environmental groups and the Catholic Church, though he was an atheist. According to The New York Times, Wilson pioneered the matching-gifts trend in the philanthropy world, with his checks ''delivered only after the other donors had been lined up.''

Wilson died after jumping out the window of his Central Park West apartment building. According to the New York Post, Wilson said he was only $100 million away from giving away his entire fortune before he died.

Gates didn't return a request for comment about his effort to get Wilson to join the giving pledge.


VIDEO- Official Video: About The Council on Foreign Relations - YouTube

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 03:35



'Military-Style' Raid on California Power Station Spooks U.S.

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 01:20

When U.S. officials warn about "attacks" on electric power facilities these days, the first thing that comes to mind is probably a computer hacker trying to shut the lights off in a city with malware. But a more traditional attack on a power station in California has U.S. officials puzzled and worried about the physical security of the the electrical grid--from attackers who come in with guns blazing.

Around 1:00 AM on April 16, at least one individual (possibly two) entered two different manholes at the PG&E Metcalf power substation, southeast of San Jose, and cut fiber cables in the area around the substation. That knocked out some local 911 services, landline service to the substation, and cell phone service in the area, a senior U.S. intelligence official told Foreign Policy. The intruder(s) then fired more than 100 rounds from what two officials described as a high-powered rifle at several transformers in the facility. Ten transformers were damaged in one area of the facility, and three transformer banks -- or groups of transformers -- were hit in another, according to a PG&E spokesman.

Cooling oil then leaked from a transformer bank, causing the transformers to overheat and shut down. State regulators urged customers in the area to conserve energy over the following days, but there was no long-term damage reported at the facility and there were no major power outages. There were no injuries reported. That was the good news. The bad news is that officials don't know who the shooter(s) were, and most importantly, whether further attacks are planned.

"Initially, the attack was being treated as vandalism and handled by local law enforcement," the senior intelligence official said. "However, investigators have been quoted in the press expressing opinions that there are indications that the timing of the attacks and target selection indicate a higher level of planning and sophistication."

The FBI has taken over the case. There appears to have been some initial concern, or at least interest, in the fact that the shooting happened one day after the Boston Marathon bombing. But the FBI has no evidence that the attack is related to terrorism, and it appears to be an isolated incident, said Peter Lee, a spokesman for the FBI field office in San Francisco, which is leading the investigation. Lee said the FBI has "a couple of leads we're still following up on," which he wouldn't discuss in detail. There has not been any published motive or intent for the attack, the intelligence official said, and no one has claimed credit.

Local investigators seemed to hit a dead end in June, so they released surveillance footage of the shooting. But that apparently produced no new information. The FBI says there have been no tips from the public about who the shooter might be and what he was doing there.

The incident might have stayed a local news story, but this month, Rep. Henry Waxman, the California Democrat and ranking member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, mentioned it at a hearing on regulatory issues. "It is clear that the electric grid is not adequately protected from physical or cyber attacks," Waxman said. He called the shooting at the the San Jose facility "an unprecedented and sophisticated attack on an electric grid substation with military-style weapons. Communications were disrupted. The attack inflicted substantial damage. It took weeks to replace the damaged parts. Under slightly different conditions, there could have been serious power outages or worse."

The U.S. official said the incident "did not involve a cyber attack," but that's about all investigators seem to know right now. AT&T, which operates the phone network that was affected, has offered a $250,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the perpetrator or perpetrators.

"These were not amateurs taking potshots," Mark Johnson, a former vice president for transmission operations at PG&E, said last month at a conference on grid security held in Philadelphia. "My personal view is that this was a dress rehearsal" for future attacks.

At the very least, the attack points to an arguably overlooked physical threat to power facilities at a time when much of the U.S. intelligence community, Congress, and the electrical power industry is focused on the risk of cyber attacks. There has never been a confirmed power outage caused by a cyber attack in the United States. But the Obama administration has sought to promulgate cyber security standards that power facilities could use to minimize the risk of one.

At least one senior official thinks the government is focusing too heavily on cyber attacks. Jon Wellinghoff, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, said last month that an attack by intruders with guns and rifles could be just as devastating as a cyber attack.

A shooter "could get 200 yards away with a .22 rifle and take the whole thing out," Wellinghoff said last month at a conference sponsored by Bloomberg. His proposed defense: A metal sheet that would block the transformer from view. "If you can't see through the fence, you can't figure out where to shoot anymore," Wellinghoff said. Price tag? A "couple hundred bucks." A lot cheaper than the billions the administration has spent in the past four years beefing up cyber security of critical infrastructure in the United States and on government computer networks.

"There are ways that a very few number of actors with very rudimentary equipment could take down large portions of our grid," Wellinghoff said. "I don't think we have the level of physical security we need."

Drone Nation

Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft

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Tue, 31 Dec 2013 16:05

LAS VEGAS (AP) '-- Six states were named Monday by federal officials to develop test sites for drones '-- a critical next step for the burgeoning industry that could one day produce thousands of unmanned aircraft for use by businesses, farmers and researchers.

Alaska, Nevada, New York, North Dakota, Texas and Virginia will host the research sites, providing diverse climates, geography and air traffic environments as the Federal Aviation Administration seeks to safely introduce commercial drones into U.S. airspace.

Members of Congress and other politicians lobbied intensely to bring the work to their states. Representatives were jubilant about the likelihood that the testing will draw companies interested in cashing in on the fledgling industry.

An industry-commissioned study has predicted more than 70,000 jobs would develop in the first three years after Congress loosens drone restrictions on U.S. skies. The same study projects an average salary range for a drone pilot between $85,000 and $115,000.

"This is wonderful news for Nevada that creates a huge opportunity for our economy," said U.S. Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nevada. In New York, Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat, called the announcement a boon for his state.

Drones have been mainly used by the military, but governments, businesses, farmers and others are making plans to join the market. Many universities are starting or expanding curriculum involving drones.

The FAA does not currently allow commercial use of drones, but it is working to develop operational guidelines by the end of 2015, although officials concede the project may take longer than expected.

The FAA projects some 7,500 commercial drones could be aloft within five years of getting widespread access to the skies above America.

"Today was an important step," said attorney Ben Gielow of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International, noting the announcement came after months of delays and data gathering. "I think we're all anxious to get this moving."

The competition for a test site was robust, with 25 entities in 24 states submitting proposals, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said during a conference call with reporters.

At least one of the six sites chosen by the FAA will be up and running within 180 days, while the others are expected to come online in quick succession, he said. However, the designation as a test site doesn't come with a financial award from the government.

In choosing Alaska, the FAA cited a diverse set of test site locations in seven climatic zones. New York's site at Griffiss International Airport will look into integrating drones into the congested northeast airspace. And Nevada offered proximity to military aircraft from several bases, Huerta said.

The extent that lobbying influenced the selection of the sites was unclear.

"Politics likely always plays a role in some level in this, but I couldn't tell you specifically what the politics were," said Brendan M. Schulman, part of a New York City-based law group focused on drone issues. "Part of the selection ... is an evaluation of the dedication and seriousness the sites were showing in pursuing this."

The testing will determine whether drones can detect and avoid aircraft and other obstacles, and if they can operate safety when contact is lost with operators.

The growing use of drones has sparked criticism among conservatives and liberals who fear the creation of a surveillance state in which authorities track and scrutinize every move of citizens.

"I just don't like the concept of drones flying over barbecues in New York to see whether you have a Big Gulp in your backyard or whether you are separating out your recyclables according to the city mandates," said Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., referring to a New York City ban on supersized soft drinks.

Paul has introduced a bill that would prohibit drones from checking for criminal or regulatory violations without a warrant.

Huerta said his agency is sensitive to privacy concerns involving drones. Test sites must have a written plan for data use and retention, and will be required to conduct an annual review of privacy practices that involves public comment.

That policy provided little comfort for the American Civil Liberties Union.

"Someday drones will be commonplace in U.S. skies and, before that happens, it's imperative that Congress enact strong, nationwide privacy rules," ACLU attorney Catherine Crump said in a statement.


Associated Press writers Dave Kolpack in Fargo, N.D., and Chris Carola in Albany, N.Y., contributed to this report.


Global retirement crisis bears down on workers of all ages | Breaking News | | The Providence Journal

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 16:07

A global retirement crisis is bearing down on workers of all ages.

Spawned years before the Great Recession and the 2008 financial meltdown, the crisis was significantly worsened by those twin traumas. It will play out for decades, and its consequences will be far-reaching.

Many people will be forced to work well past the traditional retirement age of 65. Living standards will fall and poverty rates will rise for the elderly in wealthy countries that built safety nets for seniors after World War II. In developing countries, people's rising expectations will be frustrated if governments can't afford retirement systems to replace the tradition of children caring for aging parents.

The problems are emerging as the generation born after World War II moves into retirement.

''The first wave of under-prepared workers is going to try to go into retirement and will find they can't afford to do so,'' says Norman Dreger, a retirement specialist with the consulting firm Mercer in Frankfurt, Germany.

The crisis is a convergence of three factors:

Countries are slashing retirement benefits and raising the age to start collecting them. These countries are awash in debt since the recession hit. And they face a demographics disaster as retirees live longer and falling birth rates mean there will be fewer workers to support them.

Companies have eliminated traditional pension plans that guaranteed employees a monthly check in retirement.

Individuals spent freely and failed to save before the recession and saw much of their wealth disappear once it hit.

Those factors have been documented individually. What is less appreciated is their combined ferocity and global scope.

''Most countries are not ready to meet what is sure to be one of the defining challenges of the 21st century,'' the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington concludes.

Mikio Fukushima, who is 52 and lives in Tokyo, worries that he might need to move somewhere cheaper, maybe Malaysia, after age 70 to get by comfortably on income from his investments and a public pension of just $10,000 a year.

People like Fukushima who are fretting over their retirement prospects stand in contrast to many who are already retired. Many workers were recipients of generous corporate pensions and government benefits that had yet to be cut.

Jean-Pierre Bigand, 66, retired Sept. 1, in time to enjoy all the perks of a retirement system in France that's now in peril. Bigand lives in the countryside outside the city of Rouen in Normandy. He has a second home in Provence. He's just taken a vacation on Oleron Island off the Atlantic coast and is planning a five-week trip to Guadeloupe.

''Travel is our biggest expense,'' he says.

Under siege

The notion of extended, leisurely retirements is relatively new. Germany established the world's first widely available state pension system in 1889. The United States introduced Social Security in 1935. In the prosperous years after World War II, governments expanded pensions. In addition, companies began to offer pensions that paid employees a guaranteed amount each month in retirement '-- so-called defined-benefit pensions.

The average age at which men could retire with full government pension benefits fell from 64.3 years in 1949 to 62.4 years in 1999 in the relatively wealthy countries that belong to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

''That was the Golden Age,'' Mercer consultant Dreger says.

It would not last. As the 2000s dawned, governments '-- and companies '-- looked at actuarial tables and birth rates and realized they couldn't afford the pensions they'd promised.

The average man in 30 countries the OECD surveyed will live 19 years after retirement. That's up from 13 years in 1958, when many countries were devising their generous pension plans.

The OECD says the average retirement age would have to reach 66 or 67, from 63 now, to ''maintain control of the cost of pensions'' from longer lifespans.

Compounding the problem is that birth rates are falling just as the bulge of people born in developed countries after World War II retires.

Populations are aging rapidly as a result. The higher the percentage of older people, the harder it is for a country to finance its pension system because relatively fewer younger workers are paying taxes.

In response, governments are raising retirement ages and slashing benefits. In 30 high- and middle-income OECD countries, the average age at which men can collect full retirement benefits will rise to 64.6 in 2050, from 62.9 in 2010; for women, it will rise from 61.8 to 64.4

In the wealthy countries it studied, the OECD found that the pension reforms of the 2000s will cut retirement benefits by an average 20 percent.

Even France, where government pensions have long been generous, has begun modest reforms to reduce costs.

''France is a retirees' paradise now,'' says Richard Jackson, senior fellow at the CSIS. ''You're not going to want to retire there in 20 to 25 years.''

Great Recession

The outlook worsened once the global banking system went into a panic in 2008 and tipped the world into the worst recession since the 1930s.

Government budget deficits swelled in Europe and the United States. Tax revenue shrank, and governments pumped money into rescuing their banks and financing unemployment benefits. All that escalated pressure on governments to reduce spending on pensions.

The Great Recession threw tens of millions out of work worldwide. For others, pay stagnated, making it harder to save. Because government retirement benefits are based on lifetime earnings, they'll now be lower. The Urban Institute, a Washington think tank, estimates that lost wages and pay raises will shrink the typical American worker's income at age 70 by 4 percent '-- an average of $2,300 a year.

Leslie Lynch, 52, of Glastonbury, Conn., had $30,000 in her 401(k) retirement account when she lost her $65,000-a-year job last year at an insurance company. She'd worked there 28 years. She's depleted her retirement savings trying to stay afloat.

''I don't believe that I will ever retire now,'' she says.

Asia challenge

In Asia, workers are facing a different retirement worry, a byproduct of their astonishing economic growth.

Traditionally, Chinese and Koreans could expect their grown children to care for them as they aged. But newly prosperous young people increasingly want to live on their own. They also are more likely to move to distant cities to take jobs, leaving parents behind. Countries like China and South Korea are at an ''awkward'' stage, Jackson says: the old ways are vanishing, but new systems of caring for the aged aren't yet in place.

Yoo Tae-we, 47, a South Korean manager at a trading company that imports semiconductor components, doesn't expect his son to support him as he and his siblings did their parents.

''We have to prepare for our own futures rather than depending on our children,'' he says.

Traditional pensions

Corporations, too, are cutting pension costs by eliminating traditional defined-benefit plans. They don't want to bear the cost of guaranteeing employees' pensions. They've moved instead to so-called defined-contribution plans, such as 401(k)s, in the United States. These plans shift responsibility for saving to employees.

But people have proved terrible at taking advantage of these plans. They don't always enroll. They don't contribute enough. They dip into the accounts when they need money.

They also make bad investment choices '-- buying stocks when times are good and share prices are high and bailing when prices are low.

Easing the pain

Rebounding stock prices and a slow rise in housing prices are helping households recover their net worth. In the United States, retirement accounts hit a record $12.5 trillion the first three months of 2013.

But Boston College's Center for Retirement Research says the recovery in housing and stock prices still leaves about 50 percent of American households at risk of being unable to maintain their standard of living in retirement.

When they look into the future, retirement experts see more changes in government pensions and longer careers than many workers had expected:

Cuts in government pension programs like Social Security will likely hit most retirees but will probably fall hardest on the wealthy.

Those planning to work past 65 can take some comfort knowing they'll be healthier, overall, than older workers in years past. They'll also be doing jobs that aren't as physically demanding.

In addition, life expectancy at 65 now stretches well into the 80s for people in the 34 OECD countries '-- an increase of about five years since the late 1950s.

Robots and the future of work | TheHill

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 16:10

The real structural problem of the American labour market can't be seen close up, so let's take a few steps back and look at the productivity trap the USA is currently in and the price that Americans are paying right now for technological progress.

Moving the factories of the biggest international corporations to cheap labour China, and more recently increasingly to India or Indonesia, isn't a new phenomenon or one that can be solely observed in the American economy. In the XIX century David Ricardo described his theory of comparative advantage, which states that countries should specialise in the areas where they fare better than others. In the recent decade the United States has taken advantage of increasing globalisation and capital mobility and focused on building an economy based on knowledge, services and new technologies, while production was gradually shifted to countries which could more easily achieve economies of scale. The value added to the economy as a result of a month's work of a programmer or lawyer is usually higher than that of a car factory worker. In short we can say that the USA is betting on trading intellectual capital for goods produced abroad. As opposed to a factory, whose opening requires large outlays of capital and labour (building the factory, resources, etc.), creating a new job in Silicon Valley involves a minimum amount of labour in comparison to the financial benefits.


Technological innovation has become in recent years both the main U.S. competitive advantage and the source of its structural labour market problems. Americans find it increasingly hard to find a job and competition on the labour market is causing ever slower wage growth, which obviously implies lower demand for many types of goods. Additionally, innovation has created an economy based on automation. Apps, software, robots, machines -- they are all effects of innovativeness. American producers of robots are already saying that investments in machines are more profitable than hiring people. Technology enables lower levels of human labour outlays, but the economy doesn't allow these people to survive.Work first fled to Asia. Currently it is being automated. Will it be gone soon? The global economy is created by machines, which generate and analyse huge quantities of data. Using smart phones or tablets people can work from anywhere on the globe, even on the go. Whole categories of jobs, such as travel agents, are starting to disappear. Ever since the 1980s the functions of stockbrokers are being taken over by intelligent algorithms, which are better than humans in capturing changes in stock prices and thus can earn money on those changes, by digitally buying and selling equity. Computer programs are also being employed to analyze large datasets (Big Data). Even a journalist's work can be done by an intelligent programme. There will also be reductions in office and administrative work. In this sector work is often repetitive. The digitisation of document flows and using the right programmes could greatly shorten and speed up this work, leading to job reductions of the suddenly not needed humans.

Robotisation is the final frontier of the world of work. This is because if a machine can do something, it is only a matter of time before it does this in a cheaper way than a human would. Robots are becoming cheaper and quicker, more precise, which has drawn many economists and advanced technologies specialists to the debate about the disappearance of jobs and substitution of workers by machines. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) economists Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee, the authors of the book "Race Against the Machine" the coming of the era of cheap production automation is a prelude to dramatic changes on the labour market. Other studies confirm this. In a recently published paper titled: "The Future of Employment: How Susceptible are Jobs to Computerisation'' two researchers from Oxford University, C.B. Frey and M.A. Osborne, created a model which calculates the probability of substituting a worker in a given sector. The results of their study can be shocking for hundreds of thousands of people working in transport, production, sales and services. This is because Frey and Osborne have come to the conclusion that 47 percent of active workers may be replaced by machines in the future. Isn't Burgeon, a machine created by the company Momentum Machines, which is able to replace a kitchen worker and produce 360 hamburgers an hour -- that's basically one burger every 10 seconds -- the ideal example for this?

Turns out it is not! An apocalypse on the labour market will not take place. Robots won't replace us because until the last human need will remain unsatisfied, there will always be incentives for work. It is work which has created contemporary humans, because due to work they had to climb down the trees and form groups of co-workers toiling, for example, in the construction of a defensive structure, which required learning how to communicate, work together, have empathy for others, to help, acquiring culture and social skills. If not for human needs, including relational needs based on joint work or commercial trade, humans might well still be sitting in trees. Needs generate inventions, but they also lead to idleness, according to philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre. Likewise robots are the expression of innovativeness and human laziness. No robots work under this definition of the word -- robots only conduct tasks they were programmed to do by humans, who in this way pursue their goals and desires. Therefore the "work" of a robot only boils down to performing mechanical tasks. Real work is based on realising human needs.

Work is always for someone or for yourself, in order to fulfil your needs or the needs of someone else. The optimal situation is self-fulfilment coupled with meeting these needs. But if this isn't the case then meeting someone's needs is remunerated, usually financially. Needs don't exhaust themselves. They may well change.

The changes on the labour markets of developed countries have a very strong influence on social structures. The times when these processes could be stopped are firmly in the past. Now all you can do is adapt. Industry will use brains, not muscles. Technological progress will ensure that the biggest barrier to achieving goals will not be technical issues but will reside in human minds. Thus the role of various types of training, services and specialised skills will increase. We will start doing work 2.0 -- flexible, contract-based, hyperspecialised, mobile work demanding the ability to change your qualifications. This work will be based on creativity -- the skill of complex thinking. This is something machines don't have.

In the long run even cheap labour in China won't be cheap enough to maintain human employment. An increasing number of robots will pervade our lives and work. Resistance to new technologies has always been present and this will remain so in the future. On the other hand history has proven that Victor Hugo was right to say that "nothing can stop an idea whose time has come.'' We are bound to progress, and it is up to us whether we win or lose.

Prokurat is an economist and historian, and the author of "Work 2.0: Nowhere to hide'' (2013). He is currently a lecturer at University of Euroregional Economy and ISG Paris.

The Reputation economy

The Regulatory Crackdown on Airbnb and Uber Is Going Global

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Source: Valleywag

Wed, 01 Jan 2014 13:22


The kumbaya sound of the "sharing economy" hums right by the fact that the irresistible middlemen who make it easy to find a place to stay or a cab at your fingertips do so for a hefty profit. And when profit and public infrastructure like housing and transportation collide, regulators are bound to follow.

Just yesterday, France passed a rule that drivers for Uber and other e-hailing services will have to wait to 15 minutes before picking up passengers because their "hurt traditional cab drivers," who have to pay exorbitant fees for their taxi license.

But Airbnb may have it worse. Earlier this month, the Telegraph reported that France, Spain, and Germany are all considering housing legislation that could restrict holiday rentals.

Germany has already gotten started. On January 1st, a new law will go into effect that makes it illegal for owners of Berlin's 12,000 to 15,000 "private holiday apartments to rent them to tourists for short breaks." The law was enacted as a response to the capital city's lack of affordable housing. Those who disobey risk being fined '‚¬50,000 ($68,940).

Earlier coverage about the law described Airbnb as vehicle for landlords that want to kick out unwanted renters so that can make more money off of Berlin's thriving tourist sector. Last month, Spiegel Online reported:

According to official estimates, 12,000 apartments have been taken off the long-term rental market for this more lucrative purpose '-- they are seen by landlords as a good way to get rid of unwanted tenants and increase the yield on their investments as increasing numbers of tourists flock to Berlin. Websites such as Airbnb make the process of renting out apartments for short stays easy and economical.

There is a two-year transition period and a number of exemptions to the upcoming ban. But tourists do not appear to be given a free pass:

The law provides for the possibility of restricting the ban to the worst-affected neighborhoods, and also allows for exceptions where the public interest is served, such as housing for asylum seekers, medical surgeries, nurseries or child-care providers. The ban does not apply to fixed-term leases for workers posted to the city, au pairs, interns or embassy staff, stressed Iris Spranger, a member of the center-left Social Democrats (SPD), the senior partner in State of Berlin's ruling coalition. It is unclear how the new rules would affect people who rent out their own apartments for short periods when, for example, they are out of town.

"Sharing economy" enthusiast Matthias Brauner, a representative with Germany's Christian Democratic Union party, offered more clarity on renting out one's home for a short period of time:

"The government coalition has made sure that aside of this very tough regulation of this bill, the Sharing Economy remains an important part of the housing market. Berlin as a metropolis and Startup City benefits greatly from the Sharing Economy and the Internet industry. This means that an occasional provision of housing space to third parties who use the premises mainly for residential purposes, but also in a commercial manner, is not seen as commercial rental and therefore not subject to the statutory prohibition of misuse."

When the bill was still in proposal phase, Airbnb's head of global public policy David Hantman, who previously worked for Senators Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer, said there may also be a licensing requirement for hosts:

The proposed legislation appears to include confusing rules about home-sharing and it's unclear whether or how these rules would apply to Airbnb hosts. For example, the law might give current hosts two years to continue hosting, but only if they register with the government and obtain a license. And the proposal gives few details on how and when that license should be granted.

Hantman also pointed out that there are 1.7 million apartments in Berlin, and only 7,000 listings on Airbnb, so "we know that Airbnb isn't having an effect on the number of homes available for rent." I've reached out to Airbnb about the licensing requirement and will update the post when I hear back.

Ubertarians will chalk this up to stodgy authorities holding back innovation to favor incumbents like the hotel or taxi industry. But even outside regulatory chambers, economic tensions are running high on the streets of Berlin:

Concerns among activists on Berlin's left-wing alternative scene that the city is being sold out to property speculators has fuelled opposition to holiday rents and led to a marked increase in hostility towards tourists. Ares Kalandides, a Greek-born city guide, recalled the shock he experienced while escorting Israeli journalists earlier this year.

"Suddenly a group of drunken twentysomething men and women started screaming at us," Mr Kalandides said. "I was shocked, embarrassed and angry, but I'm afraid that's almost normal in Berlin these days."

Airbnb and Uber are going to have to find a way to comply, unless they want investors to go cross-eyed reading the "Risk Factors" section of their S-1 filings.

To contact the author of this post, please email

[Image via Airbnb]

How accepting a friend request could alter your credit score - The Next Web

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 22:50

Joe Polverari is the General Manager of Yodlee Interactive, a provider of financial applications that aims to make online banking more profitable.

Are you only as good as the company you keep? Before you accept that next friend request, consider what that person says about you, what that association might eventually cost, or be worth '' even in the financial sense.

Where you live, who you friend on Facebook, the frequency you shop at Trader Joe's, how much you spend '' all of this information will be picked up, shared, and analyzed amongst the various connected devices and services you use. We are rapidly reaching a point when technology services (a.k.a. machines and software), will have access to all of this data based on your everyday routine and will, among other things, act as your most trusted financial advisor.

Intuitively, most of the above examples would seem completely unrelated to your finances '-- but what's a better indicator of your financial status: 1) paying 20 percent of your credit card off every month, 2) how much you spend on rent, 3) the financial status of your closest friends and family, or 4) the average cost of your meal out? All of these examples can signal the type of spending and financial patterns you are to likely follow.

Here are a few emerging trends that will lead to very personalized, machine-based financial advice:

1. Your devices know more about you than you thinkYou've probably heard about the Internet of Things, in which your everyday items like cars and light switches will be communicating with the web. Soon, your devices will also be communicating, device to device, using their own stores of data to work in concert and create better, more useful sets of data.

Think of it like the Cloud of Things. Everything from phones, cars, thermostats, refrigerators and watches, will act like mini-servers communicating with each other about your behavior and usage patterns. Soon your car might notify your oven to start preheating because you're only twenty minutes from home and it knows based on your emails with your spouse that you're planning to cook lasagna that night.

2. How the digital ''you'' is growingAs these devices interact, a pool of very useful, very personal data will accumulate, and can be used to help you make more informed, even very complex, decisions. This technological shift towards the Cloud of Things will see an exponential increase in amount of data produced and analyzed.

This wealth of data will also be applicable to your financial decisions. ''Who you are'' as a consumer will no longer be based solely on your purchases, investments or credit file, but will also consider your daily routines, such as browsing the Internet, where you shop, and more.

Consider Coin, which is a single, swipe-able card that holds all your credit, debit, and rewards cards, so that you can manage them all with one device. You can easily imagine that using something like Coin would quickly build up enough data intelligence to pick your cards for you, depending on the type of purchase, maximizing your rewards and minimizing your fees. Together, data and devices have the power to revolutionize the financial industry.

Information around your broader social life and risk tolerance will also provide better insights for financial advisors to help with loans, savings and improving your credit. It will offer you greater financial security and value creation over the long term. It's happening already.

Companies like FeeX use the power of crowd sourced information and trends, combined with vast amounts of relevant personal data to personalize and maximize your retirement investment decisions, potentially saving tens of thousands of dollars you would ordinarily pay in fees to banks and mutual fund providers.

3. A Pandora for human financesInformation you can leverage won't just revolve around you, but also around those you associate with '-- even indirectly. The general lifestyle choices of people similar to you, driven by everyday information, like where you live, the restaurants you frequent, and the items you purchase, will also help derive more enlightened financial recommendations.

Consider how Pandora mapped music: music was labeled, then connected, trends developed, improving the algorithm, and eventually defining ''if you like that, you'll probably like this.'' Soon something similar will happen for you with your finances: advisors will make better recommendations based upon other people who are similar to your digital self and based on how their financial decisions have panned out.

Armed with a wealth of your own data, and aggregate data from other people like you, you will be able to better define and personalize things like the best health care option, savings or investment strategy, for you with an efficiency and effectiveness never before possible.

Equally useful, but so far under discovered, silos of data about you are available to insurance companies, the government and credit bureaus and should be made more readily available to the most important person '-- you.

Consider your credit score, in particular, which is calculated based on antiquated and often inaccurate information. Most consumers in fact know very little about their credit score, how it's aggregated and what it really says about them. Worse, consumers have little to no input in the actual data that fills out their credit profile; rather, that data is reported by other entities, often incorrectly.

Technology and new services are now making it possible to incorporate entirely new, more relevant data into a credit profile '-- data that is mostly consumer controlled or contributed and generated by simply gathering and delivering your lifestyle data. Data that should provide better indicators of your financial success as a borrower.

Over the long term, aggregating personal data is a macro-trend that will save people time, money and help them make smarter, more personalized decisions. Ultimately, it will make the markets for the products '' especially financial products and the way they are scored, priced and sold '' more efficient and responsive to your needs.

The opportunity to access, incorporate, and innovate with data is exciting. Imagine being able to foresee the financial benefits of being an active participant on LinkedIn, or how purchasing groceries via delivery will decrease your likelihood for stress disorders. They say how you handle your money says a lot about you '-- soon you'll know what that really means.

Image credit: wavebreakmedia/Shutterstock

Hillary 2016

72 Minutes With Mark Penn -- New York Magazine

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Archived Version

Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:48

(Photo: Brian Smale)

I have five or six key lessons from politics,'' says Mark Penn, the veteran pollster and adviser to both Clintons, in his glass-lined capital office, ''and one of them is that you've got to be explaining who you are, what makes you unique, and what sets you apart.'' Penn, 59, is known for what insiders call ''contrast,'' the kind of slashing, negative advertisement that can dig a candidate out from a fifteen-point hole. As the chief strategist on Hillary Clinton's 2008 race, he was the man behind the ''3 a.m. phone call'' ad that helped tank Obama in the March primaries. He's also the guy who not so subtly brought up Obama's past cocaine use in a televised interview and whose sideline as a consultant for a foreign government got him dropped in the home stretch of Hillary's campaign. Not that Penn spends much time revisiting those memories. ''The only thing I would like to have changed was the outcome,'' he says.

His Beltway profile suffered, but his reputation as a pugilist apparently did not. In July 2012, he signed on full-time as a strategist for the faltering Microsoft. The mission was to shake up the company's long-standing reluctance to push back publicly against its rivals, Apple and Google, who have been eating up market share. In July, a month before Microsoft announced that CEO Steve Ballmer was on the way out, the company reorganized, putting Penn in charge of advertising, in addition to his strategy portfolio, signaling that Microsoft intended to fight at last. ''Let's understand that competitive is in our bag now,'' he says as he reclines in his office chair. ''People like brands that stand up and say, 'Hey, no, no, no'--let me show you what we do here.''‰''

Penn's thinning hair is mussed and his shirttail appears to be making an escape from the waistband of his suit pants. But his office is immaculate, one wall dominated by an enormous touchscreen, the others dotted with photos of him with Bill Clinton. It is also filled with metaphors of flight. ''That is the Saturn V,'' he says, gesturing to a large-scale model of the moon-shot rocket. His desk itself is a recycled airplane wing. ''The theme is that we're taking off,'' he says. The floor-to-ceiling windows behind him overlook Washington's K Street corridor. Microsoft's government-affairs team works in a space several stories above, but this half of the building's fifth floor is dedicated solely to Penn's handpicked staff'--a group known as ''the SWAT team.''

That Microsoft should be in need of a heavily armed quick-reaction force, at least figuratively, says volumes about its change in tactics. Penn's first major ad campaign is called ''Scroogled,'' which warns web surfers about Google's data-tracking practices. Other ads go hard after Apple. In one TV spot, an iPad with a Siri-esque voice laments that in comparison to Surface, Microsoft's entry into the tablet market, she is both less functional'--''Oh, snap, you have a real keyboard, too?'''--and more expensive. ''Do you still think I'm pretty?'' she asks forlornly at the end. Penn isn't the first to bring contrast ads into the tech arena, of course. The Siri ads look like an updated version of Apple's own notorious ''I'm a Mac; I'm a PC'' ads. It's just new for Microsoft to do the fighting.

''I was going to show you 'Girlfriend,''‰'' Penn says as he roots around on the tablet in front of him, mumbling softly to himself. When he touches the play button, a winsome actress appears on the screen, standing in a bar. ''Honestly, I wanted a phone with a better camera,'' she says, before enumerating the megapixel-specific features of a phone made by Nokia, the handset-maker that Microsoft is in the process of acquiring. ''So I went with a Windows Phone,'' she says. ''Maybe I just see things other people don't.''

''You notice that it frames the choice that she's making,'' Penn tells me, still looking at the screen. ''She is, very politely, going through her decision and drawing a contrast. But she's also supplying the facts in considerable detail.'' It's not dissimilar'--pop soundtrack aside'--from the ads Penn created for Bill Clinton's reelection campaign in 1996, telling voters the story of the four years they'd just lived through. The height of the form was a one-minute beauty called ''America Back,'' which combined audio of the president speaking in maudlin terms about values while onscreen titles listed his achievements in an unending list of Pennian phrases: ''Welfare reform, work requirements '... death penalty for drug kingpins '... $1,500 tax credit '...''

''President Clinton really is the master of this'--he taught me that words matter,'' he says. ''And substance and detail matter.

''Politics and technology were the two things that I loved since I was a boy, pretty much,'' he says as we walk down a sunlit row of SWAT-team desks outside his office. ''I go back to when we had the first overnight polls with Ed Koch'' for his race in 1977. ''We did it on a microprocessor that I built from a kit.'' During the Clinton years, Penn used polling to identify little slices of the electorate that the campaign should target, famously unearthing ''soccer moms.'' At Microsoft, he bases his decision-making on ''really extensive, regular surveying'' of consumers overlaid with sales data. The picture, he says, is encouraging. ''You take this product,'' Penn says of Surface. When it was introduced last year, ''sales were not as strong. This year, we're sold out.''

We've arrived at the heart of Penn's operation, a war room fitted with an arc-shaped desk and oversize touchscreens for videoconferencing. At the moment, though, the screens are showing Joe Biden, who is holding an online town hall on immigration reform, using video questions from viewers via Skype, which Microsoft owns, and hosted by Bing, its search engine. ''The vast majority of the American people support this!'' Biden is saying. Penn looks on with interest. He has been careful this afternoon not to make any reference to ideas of professional redemption, but it's clear that he's eager to win again. In the past, the White House has partnered with Twitter and Google-owned YouTube for live-streaming. Today Microsoft is getting a turn. Penn claims he did not ''personally'' make the ask. Unspoken is the fact that Joe Biden isn't his guy'--and that Penn will never be an inner member of the Obama world. But, he says, ''Let's just say, now they have a choice.''

Adam Parkhomenko - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Archived Version

Thu, 02 Jan 2014 07:14

Adam J. ParkhomenkoBornWashington, DCNationalityAmericanKnown forExecutive director of Ready for HillaryAdam Parkhomenko is the executive director of Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that aims to persuade Hillary Clinton to run for the presidency of the United States in 2016.[1][2][3]

In 2003, while a 17 year old student at Northern Virginia Community College, Parkhomenko set up, an independent website that urged voters to vote for Hillary Clinton during the 2004 Democratic presidential primary.[4][5][6][7] He later ran Draft Hillary for President 2004, which was founded in 2003 and shut down in 2004.[8]

HillPAC, Clinton's political action committee, hired Parkhomenko as a staffer while he was leading Draft Hillary for President 2004.[8][9][10][11] He worked in various capacities for Clinton, including a stint as assistant to Clinton's campaign manager during the 2008 Democratic primary.[12][13] He left the Clinton presidential campaign in March 2008.[10]

Shortly after leaving the Clinton campaign, Parkhomenko launched Vote Both with Sam Arora.[12][14][15] Vote Both was an independent expenditure committee dedicated to persuading then-Senator Barack Obama'--at the time the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee'--to pick Hillary Clinton as his vice presidential running mate.[12][14][15] Vote Both ceased operations in late July 2008, when it became clear to Parkhomenko and Arora that Obama would not select Clinton as his running mate.[15]

At the age of 23, Parkhomenko ran for the Democratic nomination for the 47th district in the Virginia House of Delegates during the 2009 Virginia stateprimary elections.[16][17] His candidacy was endorsed by Bill Clinton, Wesley Clark and Patsy Ticer.[18][19][20] He came in third out of five candidates in the Democratic primary to replace.[21]

In January 2013, Parkhomenko launched Ready for Hillary, a super PAC that aims to persuade Hillary Clinton to run for the presidency of the United States in 2016, with Allida Black, a George Washington University historian and professor.[1][22][23] Parkhomenko serves as executive director of the PAC.[1]

Personal life[edit]Parkhomenko was born in Washington, DC and raised in Arlington, Virginia.[24] He is a graduate of Washington-Lee High School and Northern Virginia Community College.[24]

See also[edit]References[edit]^ abc"Group is assembling building blocks of campaign". Buffalo News. 1 September 2013. ^Toby Harnden (4 August 2013). "Bid to get youth vote for Hillary". The Sunday Times. ^Philip Rucker Matea Gold (22 June 2013). "Early allies, and concerns, for Clinton". The Washington Post. ^Mark Leibovich (24 September 2003). "Run? Hillary? Run?; Clinton Is One of the Few Who Say She Won't". The Washington Post. ^Mark Leibovich (17 November 2003). "Iowa Ruckus; The Draft-Hillary Camps Push Their Buttons, and Each Other's". The Washington Post. ^Jill Lawrence (23 September 2003). "How firm is Hillary's no? ; She says she won't run in '04, but speculation persists". USA Today. ^Tony Allen-Mills (29 September 2003). "Grassroots geeks hanker for Hillary - US Elections 2004". The Australian. ^ abIAN BISHOP (15 August 2005). "RUN OF THE HILL HIRING - '08 PREZ BOOST". New York Post. ^"First U.S. Aid Arrives in Myanmar; West Virginia Voters Head to Polls; Deadly Tornadoes Hit Oklahoma the Hardest; Gas Prices Impacts RV Vacations; Earthquake in China Buries Students in Rubble". CNN: American Morning. 12 May 2008. ^ ab"Mayor Emerges From Parent's Basement To Endorse". The Hotline. 14 March 2008. ^"Democrats Have Reason to Celebrate: Hill PAC Is Back". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013. ^ abcAmy Chozick (6 June 2008). "Campaign '08: Growing Number of Clinton Backers Push for 'Dream Ticket,' Despite Long Odds". The Wall Street Journal. ^"Killing The Dream". The Hotline. 12 May 2008. ^ abMICHAEL FALCONE. "THE VICE PRESIDENCY". National Desk; SECTA. ^ abc"Clinton for VP drive folds, as hopes for dream ticket fade". Agence France Presse. 31 July 2008. ^"Adam Parkhomenko running for office". Politico. Retrieved 17 December 2013. ^Sandhya Somashekhar (25 May 2009). "Former Campaign Staffers Launch Their Own Bids". The Washington Post. ^"Bill Clinton Steps Into Arlington Delegate Race". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013. ^"Another Big Name in the 47th House District". The Washington Post. Retrieved 17 December 2013. ^SCOTT McCAFFREY. "Parkhomenko Picks Up Sen. Ticer's Endorsement". Sun Gazette. Retrieved 17 December 2013. ^Beth Fouhy (11 June 2009). "Still reeling from 2008 loss, Clinton legacy takes another beating with McAuliffe's defeat". ^Abby Livingston (18 March 2013). "Shop Talk: Who's Behind the Draft PAC for Hillary Rodham Clinton?". Roll Call. ^David Weigel (1 April 2013). "Are You Ready for Hillary?". Slate. Retrieved 17 December 2013. ^ abSCOTT McCAFFREY. "47th District Race Gets Another Contender". Sun Gazette. Retrieved 17 December 2013. External links[edit]PersondataNameParkhomenko, AdamAlternative namesShort descriptionDate of birthPlace of birthWashington, DCDate of deathPlace of death


"The Wolf of Wall Street" reviewed by bankers.

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Archived Version

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 15:12


This post originally appeared in Business Insider.

Tucked behind the Goldman Sachs building at 200 West Street, the Regal Battery Park theater was a fitting venue for last night's free advanced screening of "The Wolf of Wall Street," Martin Scorsese's highly-anticipated biopic about '90s-era pump-and-dump charlatan Jordan Belfort. Belfort's decadence was disturbing, but equally disturbing was the finance-heavy audience's gleeful reaction to his behavior and legal wrongdoings.

Credit Scorsese and Leonardo DiCaprio, who played Belfort, for keeping the high-octane, drug-filled movie entertaining for three hours (the longest Scorsese film by about 60 seconds). But my one major gripe was pretty simple: Jordan Belfort defrauded a lot of people'--and by the nature of his penny stock transgressions, many low-income people'--out of a ton of money. He then used that money, as one does, on cocaine, hookers, cars, and yachts. It may be great cinema to document his exploits, but there's a fine line between satirizing Wall Street's excess and celebrating Belfort's lifestyle.

Put simply, the film could have done a better job making Belfort look like a villain. Or maybe the film did do that, and we were just watching with the wrong crowd. There were a lot of finance pros there. The theater is in Manhattan's financial district and the movie has "Wall Street" in the name, after all. Plus you can actually see into Goldman's trading room floor from the escalator.

There's a lot of talk about how Wall Street has "changed" since the financial crisis. Compliance is up, bonuses are down, the holiday parties aren't as extravagant as they used to be. But you wouldn't necessarily know that from what these guys were cheering at. When Belfort'--a drug addict who later attempts to sober up'--rips up a couch cushion to get to his secret coke stash, there were cheers.

Then, intercut with Popeye eating spinach, the film shows Belfort irrevocably high on Quaaludes (or "ludes," a muscle relaxer) and dumps coke into his nose to remedy the situation'--more cheers. The worst, though... [mild spoiler alert] was that at one point later in the movie, the feds get Belfort to wear a wire to implicate others at his firm. Meeting with his No. 2, Belfort slides over a piece of paper: "Don't incriminate yourself. I am wearing a wire." And the crowd goes wild. Don't rat! Stand by your firm!

Bankers: First of all, don't cheer in a movie. It's weird. You can laugh, but no cheering. Second, guffawing while Leo attempts to evade federal indictment doesn't exactly help America's perception of your societal value. Hopefully this kind of euphoria was confined to one boozy, Financial District pre-screening (Paramount gave us popcorn and martinis upon entrance), because it would be a real shame if Martin Scorsese just accidentally inspired the future Jordan Belforts of the world.


Pregnant nurse: I was fired over flu vaccine

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Archived Version

Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:11

By Allie Malloy, CNN

December 29, 2013 -- Updated 2340 GMT (0740 HKT)


Dreonna Breton is a pregnant nurse who was working in Lancaster, PennsylvaniaShe says she was fired from her job when she rejected taking a flu vaccineIt's unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized, employer saysBreton, who says she's had three miscarriages, fears vaccine could trigger another(CNN) -- A pregnant nurse tells CNN she was fired from her job after she refused to get a flu shot for fear of miscarrying.

"I'm a healthy person. I take care of my body. For me, the potential risk was not worth it," Dreonna Breton told CNN Sunday. "I'm not gonna be the one percent of people that has a problem."

Breton, 29, worked as a nurse at Horizons Healthcare Services in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, when she was told that all employees were required to get a flu shot. The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention advises that all health care professionals get vaccinated annually.

She told her employers that she would not get the vaccine after she explained that there were very limited studies of the effects on pregnant women.

Breton came to the decision with her family after three miscarriages.

Flu under the microscope

Flu under the microscope

Flu under the microscope

Flu under the microscope

Flu under the microscope

Flu under the microscope

Flu under the microscope

Flu under the microscope


CDC: More states reporting widespread flu

The mother of one submitted letters from her obstetrician and primary care doctor supporting her decision, but she was told that she would be fired on December 17 if she did not receive the vaccine before then.

Horizons Healthcare Services spokesman Alan Peterson told CNN affiliate WPVI that it's unconscionable for a health care worker not to be immunized and that pregnant women are more susceptible to the flu.

The CDC website states that getting a flu shot while pregnant is the best protection for pregnant women and their babies.

"I know that the CDC says to get it, and that's fine, but it was our choice to avoid the flu vaccine and the unknowns that come with that," Breton said.

Breton offered to wear a face mask at work, a practice that is used if employees are exempted for religious reasons. The hospital did not approve, according to Breton.

Breton has no interest in taking legal action, she said. She stated she only wants the company to reevaluate their policy on vaccines for pregnant employees and to continue working as a nurse.

Flu vaccine may work better in women, study suggests

New York City requires flu vaccine in city preschools and day cares

Agenda 21


Cold facts: More record lows than highs in USA in 2013

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 00:09

South Boston residents take dogs for a walk in January 2013 when temperatures dipped into the teens.(Photo: AP/Michael Dwyer)

Story HighlightsIt's the first time this has happened in 20 yearsA cool spring in 2013 helped turn the tide from record highs in 2012Overall, planet is still on track for fourth warmest year on recordSHARE1964CONNECTEMAILMOREMiley Cyrus was a baby and Bill Clinton had just been inaugurated the last time this happened: For the first time in 20 years, the USA saw more record cold temperatures than record hot temperatures in 2013, according to statistics from the National Climatic Data Center.

"For the first year since 1993, there were more daily record lows than daily highs that were either tied or set in 2013," reported Weather Channel meteorologist Guy Walton, who keeps track of the data from the climate center.

Through Dec. 28, there have been 11,852 daily record lows in 2013, compared with 10,073 daily record highs, according to Walton.

A "daily" record occurs when a specific location sets a record high or low temperature for a particular day; other types of records include monthly and all-time.

Walton said that an unusually cold spring was the main factor in the "cool" 2013.

The year 2013 was a stunning turnaround from the USA's amazingly warm year of 2012, when more than 34,000 record highs were measured across the country, as compared with only about 6,600 record lows.

Overall, the year was likely a blip in a long-term warming trend: "The ratio of daily highs to daily lows continues to be near 3 to 1 for this decade, so far," Walton said.

Also for the decade so far, there have been 700 all-time record highs set, compared with only 74 all-time record lows.

Worldwide, since the USA is only about 2% of the Earth's surface, what happens here is far from representative of the planet as a whole.

Through November, the most recent month for which national and global climate statistics are available, the world was having its 4th-warmest year on record, while the USA was seeing its 35th-warmest on record, the NCDC reports.

Climate records go back to the 1880s.



Cesium-137 Found in Strawberries, Mushrooms And More In Northern California''Including Baby Food! - Live Free, Live Natural

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Mon, 30 Dec 2013 15:14

Wow'' take a look at what they found in the food in California. This is certainly not surprising but is still a real wake-up call. Even if you do not live in California, a good portion of your produce may come from there. These food items are shipped all over the US and probably exported, as well. They have already discovered that all the bluefin tuna caught in California is radioactive. There are a lot of foods that are not even being tested. We cannot depend on the government or any other organization to make our food choices. We have to take matters into our own hands. It seems, right now, that the only safe way to eat, if you choose to live in the US, and particularly the West Coast, is to grow your own with organic soil in a protected greenhouse or even underground (see here for instructions how to build one). This is very important information. Please pass this on.

Here are the results of a small sample food testing done at the University of California Berkeley:

UCB Food Chain Sampling Results, University of California, Berkeley Department of Nuclear Engineering:

Six items were tested: spinach, strawberries, cilantro, topsoil, grass, and mushrooms. Measured in Becquerel per kilogram.

Wild Mushrooms, Collected April 2 in Alameda, CA:

I131 @ 8.4 Bq/kgCs134 @ .63 Bq/kgCs137 @ .47 Bq/kg

Strawberries, ''Best By'' Date of April 1, Location Unknown :

I131@ 2.5 Bq/kgCs134 @ .69 Bq/kgCs137 @ .67 Bq/kg

Grass, Collected April 3 in Alameda, CA:

I131 @ 9.8 Bq/kgCs134 @ 6.9 Bq/kgCs137 @ 6.9 Bq/kg

Spinach, ''Best By'' Date of April 8, Location Unknown:

I131 @ 2.8 Bq/kg

Topsoil, Collected April 6 in Alameda, CA:

I131 @ 12.5 Bq/kgCs134 @ .99 Bq/kgCs137 @ 1.5 Bq/kg

No radionuclides were found in Cilantro from an unknown location

Read the report here.

For infants the FDA set the level of concern at 55 Bq/kg of Iodine-131.

Guidance Levels for Radionuclides in Domestic and Imported Foods, Food and Drug Administration, July 2004:

Infant Food: Iodine-131 @ 55 Bq/kg


Explosive oil train collision triggers evacuation in North Dakota -

Environmental Damage anyone? No one?


Americans are buying less electricity. That's a big problem for utilities. - The Washington Post

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Tue, 31 Dec 2013 15:19

By Brad Plumer, Published: DECEMBER 23, 10:00 AM ET Aa Something very unusual has been happening to the U.S. electricity sector over the past three years.

The U.S. economy keeps growing. People are buying bigger homes and plugging in ever more electronic gadgets. And yet power companies have been selling less and less electricity since 2011:

That may not look like a particularly steep drop, but it's a massive break from the past. Ever since World War II, electricity sales in the United States have, for the most part, gone up and up and up. They've only ever declined in a handful of years associated with nasty recessions --1974, 1982, 2001, and then again in 2008 and 2009.

But the last three years have been a striking exception: After a predictable bounce-back in 2010 -- something that usually happens after economic downturns -- electricity sales declined in 2011 and 2012. And they're expected to decline again in 2013, says the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). And next year. And the year after that.

Perhaps this is just a random blip. Yet some analysts think we really could be entering a new era in which Americans buy less and less electricity -- either because they're becoming more efficient or they're finding ways to generate their own electricity, through solar panels and other means. And if that's true, it's a huge problem for many electric utilities.

Why U.S. electricity sales are dropping

In the past, electricity sales have risen and fallen in lockstep with economic growth. But that relationship has disintegrated since 2011. The EIA lists four reasons why:

-- Homes have been using less electricity. In 2011 and 2012, residential electricity use declined by 5 percent, despite the fact that more houses were being built and homes were actually getting larger. The EIA chalks this drop up to the fact that household appliances are getting steadily more efficient and newer homes are often better insulated. Also, a spate of warmer winters has reduced demand for heating in some regions.-- Office buildings are getting more efficient. "[S]tandards to improve efficiency for lighting and space heating have helped keep commercial building energy demand flat in recent years," the EIA says. So have the weather patterns mentioned above.

-- Industry has yet to rebound from the recession. The agency notes that electricity use in the industrial sector is still below 2007 levels. Part of that is due to the lingering effects of the recession and part due to "efficiency improvements in production processes."

-- Solar power and distributed generation is starting to catch on. This is the most intriguing factor. If people (or companies) are putting up solar panels and generating their own electricity, then they don't need to buy as much from the local utility. The EIA isn't sure how big this effect is -- it's likely small right now -- but it's one to keep an eye on.

For its part, the EIA is betting that this slowdown in electricity sales is just a blip. It expects sales to stagnate until 2015 and then start rising again at their usual 1 percent rate.

Some analysts aren't so sure. In recent years, a number of reports have come out suggesting that we may be entering an era of stagnating electricity sales (see here and here). Which is something to worry about, if you're in the business of selling electricity.

The threat to electric utilities

Electric utilities make more money by selling more power. They don't usually benefit if people start buying more efficient washing machines or installing solar panels on their roofs. If these trends are accelerating, that's a real problem for power companies.

Solar system installer Thomas Bywater adjusts new solar panels on the roof of a house in Sydney in 2009. (Tim Wimborne - Reuters)

The doomsday scenario for utilities goes like this: Solar power keeps getting cheaper and more people start installing panels. In the meantime, overall electricity use grows slowly or stagnates. That means utilities are selling less and less electricity. In order to recoup their costs for things like maintaining the grid, they have to hike rates on their remaining customers. That pushes even more people to install solar panels, hurting sales further. Commence the death spiral.

Sound far-fetched? This exact scenario was laid out by an industry trade group, the Edison Electric Institute, in a report back in January. Even though solar power currently provides just 0.2 percent of U.S. electricity, prices are dropping fast, and even a small amount of distributed solar generation could prove disruptive. David Crane, CEO of NRG Energy, has called these trends "a mortal threat to the existing utility system."

Indeed, this scenario is already playing out in Germany, where rooftop solar panels have become increasingly common, and traditional utilities like E.ON and RWE have seen their market value plunge 56 percent over the last four years.

Now, a utility "death spiral" is hardly inevitable. Perhaps plug-in electric vehicles will catch on in a big way, which would massively expand the market for electricity.

Or: Perhaps utilities will manage to curtail the rapid growth in solar power. Earlier this year, Arizona Public Service tried to levy a $50 per month surcharge on rooftop solar owners, arguing that the panels were imposing high costs on grid operators (after all, solar-panel owners still use transmission lines for backup or to sell power back to the grid). Regulators knocked this fee down to $5 per month, but this won't be the last fight on this front.

Industry observers are watching all of these trends closely. One article last year by Ahmad Faruqui and Eric Shultz, two consultants at the Brattle Group, argued that "the drop in electricity demand growth appears to be permanent, not transitory."

They suggested that this shift will call for "new thinking, such as initiatives in many states to decouple a utility's earnings from its sales volumes." (That's already happening: Some 63 utilities in 25 states are now regulated under plans in which they're actually rewarded for promoting efficiency and selling less electricity -- an arrangement that's expanded rapidly in recent years.) And others think the growth in distributed generation could force even more radical changes in the years ahead.

Further reading:

--Earlier this year, David Roberts had an excellent series in Grist on electric utilities and the threat they're facing from distributed solar generation. There's much more detail there. (I also wrote about this issue back in 2009 for The New Republic.)

-- Liam Dennings has a good piece in The Wall Street Journal on how these dynamics could weigh heavily on utility stocks, which were once considered some of the safest around.


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It won't be long before the victims of climate change make the west pay | Chris Huhne | Comment is free | The Guardian

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Tue, 31 Dec 2013 16:38

'Legal action is not a substitute for politics, but it could highlight the evidence in an uncomfortable way.' Illustration by Andrzej Krauze

Would you enjoy the cosiness and warmth of Christmas with your children or grandchildren just that little bit less if you knew that other people's children were dying because of it? More than four million children under five years old are now at risk of acute malnutrition in the Sahel, an area of the world that is one of the clearest victims of the rich world's addiction to fossil fuels.

About 18 million people in the Sahel '' the vulnerable pan-African strip of land that runs from Senegal to Sudan along the southern edge of the Sahara '' faced famine last year. Life has never been easy there. Its land is poor. Its people are often semi-nomadic, moving their animals between the grasslands. But science is increasingly pointing a hard finger at those to blame for the persistence of Sahelian drought '' and it is us.

This is an ineluctable consequence of improving the computer models of climate change. Of course, there are still large uncertainties. But what has long persuaded me of the strength of the scientific case for human-induced climate change is that climate-sceptic scientists have not managed to build a model that explains global warming without human-induced effects. The human hand is indispensable in understanding what has happened.

There are legitimate doubts about the scale of the impact, and about other offsetting factors that may reduce human-induced global warming. But what should be a wake-up call is science's growing ability to highlight the blame for particular extreme events, and not just in the Sahel.

For instance, a recent paper by Fraser C Lott and colleagues examined the increased probability that the 2011 East African drought in Somalia and Kenya can be attributed to human-induced climate change. Pardeep Pal and others investigated the impact of climate change on the £1.3bn insured losses from the flooding in the UK in 2000. Peter A Stott and others looked at the hot European summer of 2003, and its heatwave-related deaths.

Richard Washington, the professor of climate science at Oxford, rightly highlights the importance of this scientific work for its ability to change the global political and legal game. We saw how high feelings run with the walk-out by 132 developing countries at the Warsaw climate-change talks last month when the new Australian government tried to block all talk of loss and compensation until after 2015.

The more certain is the attribution for blame, the more justified many developing countries will feel in protesting about the impact of rising sea levels on small island states such as the Maldives and Fiji or low-lying delta cultures such as Vietnam and Bangladesh. Moreover, fair-minded democracies will find the call for compensation hard to resist at home.

The science also opens up the possibility that the victims of climate change could begin to take international legal action against the countries responsible, particularly the early industrialisers, such as Britain, Belgium and Germany, whose carbon continues to warm the planet a century after it was emitted. Legal action is not a substitute for politics, but it could highlight the evidence in an uncomfortable way.

This year a group of small island states threatened by rising sea levels, led by Palau, came close to asking the International Court of Justice for an advisory opinion on the responsibility of historic emitters for global warming. The main reason they did not press ahead then was that the scientific case is strengthening by the month. A later case will be even stronger.

"There will definitely be a case in my lifetime and probably within five to 10 years," says Philippe Sands QC, the UCL professor of international law, who has advised many endangered nations, including Bangladesh. "It is going to happen. The only questions now are where, how and to what purpose."

The UN framework may not be ideal, precisely because it is dominated by the historic five powers, all of whom have their own interests. But the Hamburg-based International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea may be a forum that would hear the matter.

Sands points out that climate change is already entering indirectly into cases such as the dispute between India and Bangladesh over territorial waters: as land disappears, so the projection of the line into the sea, dividing territorial waters, will change.

It is not a defence that we did not know what we were doing, nor does a case have to target everyone who might have historic responsibility: countries are jointly and severally liable, which may help to deal with the problem that the United States is often not a signatory and hence denies international jurisdiction.

Paradoxically, one of the strongest cards that the historic emitters can play is to highlight the international effort to tackle climate change. Legally, they can argue that the global process under way since 1992 through the Kyoto Protocol and the countless meetings of the "convention of the parties", is itself a response to the need for action, and displaces the need for lawsuits.

But that implies that the global political process must hold out '' as it can and should '' a real possibility of delivering change. If it fails, the historic emitters may want to consider some of the consequences, not least of which is the possibility that embarrassing legal cases will display the increasingly strong scientific evidence about who is to blame.

ineluctable definition - Google Search

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Ineluctable - Definition and More from the Free Merriam-Webster Cached - SimilarDefinition of ineluctable from the Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary with audiopronunciations, thesaurus, Word of the Day, and word games.ineluctable - definition of ineluctable by the Free Online Dictionary·e·luc·ta·ble ( n -l k t -b l). adj. Not to be avoided or escaped; inevitable: "Thosewar plans rested on a belief in the ineluctable superiority of the offense over the ...ineluctable - Dictionary Definition : Vocabulary.com SimilarDefinition of ineluctable : Huh? Are you scratching your head at this word? Theineluctable conclusion is that you haven't the faintest idea what it means.ineluctable: definition of ineluctable in Oxford dictionary - American CachedDefinition of ineluctable in American English in Oxford dictionary (US). Meaning,pronunciation and example sentences. English to English reference content.Ineluctable | Define Ineluctable at Dictionary.comIneluctable definition, incapable of being evaded; inescapable: an ineluctabledestiny. See more.Ineluctable Synonyms, Ineluctable Antonyms | Thesaurus.comSynonyms for ineluctable at with free online thesaurus, antonyms, and definitions. Dictionary and Word of the Day.ineluctable meaning - definition of ineluctable by Mnemonic - Meaning of ineluctable and a ...ineluctable - Collins English Dictionary | Always Free Cached - SimilarYou are here; > Home; > English Dictionary; > Definition of ''ineluctable''. EnglishDictionary ...ineluctable (ˌɪnɪËlÊŒktÉbÉl Pronunciation for ineluctable ) ...ineluctable - definition. American English definition of ineluctable by CachedDefine ineluctable in American English. What is ineluctable? ineluctablemeaning and more by Macmillan Dictionary.ineluctable definition | English dictionary for learners | Cached - Similarineluctable meaning, definition, English dictionary, synonym, see also 'inequitable',inexplicable',inexcusable',inscrutable', Reverso dictionary, Englishsimple ...Searches related to ineluctable definition


UK towns blow millions on wind turbines | The Daily Caller

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Towns all over Britain are blowing millions of dollars on wind turbines that are generating almost no revenue and will take hundreds of years to pay for themselves, reports the UK Telegraph.

The Telegraph reports that UK localities are spending hundreds of pounds installing wind turbines in an effort to boost renewable energy generation and fight global warming.

''Some turbines generate so little energy they would take hundreds of years to repay their original value,'' reports the Telegraph. ''Experts argue that the failure of some wind turbines to recoup their value shows how small wind turbines are a poor way to generate renewable energy.''

In fact, only three out of a handful of localities that responded to the Telegraph's inquiries had wind turbines with payback periods of less than ten years.

The locality of Eastleigh, Hampshire spent nearly $50,000 installing a wind turbine in 2005, but the inefficient turbine only generates about $21 worth of power every month '-- meaning the payback period on this turbine is 190 years.

In Leeds, officials spent about $102,000 on a wind turbine in 2009 at an inner city sports facility, but the turbine did not generate any power last year. In Derbyshire, a $147,000 turbine was built in 2004 but has not produced power since September 2011.

''Wind energy is an experiment, and sometimes the lessons learnt are hard and dearly bought,'' Dr. John Constable, director at the Renewable Energy Foundation, told the Telegraph. ''The truth is that foolishly ambitious targets and silly levels of subsidy have overheated the wind industry, resulting in defective technologies and poor installations.''

Constable added that smaller wind turbines were only expected to last up to 15 years, meaning that virtually none of the ones the Telegraph investigated would pay for themselves.

However, this isn't even the longest payback period a UK town has ever had to face on a turbine. One Welsh turbine was sited in such a calm area that it only generates about $8 worth of electricity every month '-- a 452-year payback period.

''If this project had been started when Elizabeth I was on the throne, it would only be reaching break-even point now, sixty years into the reign of Elizabeth II,'' Jonathan Isaby, political director of the TaxPayers' Alliance, told the Daily Express. ''It would seem that the turbine's installation was nothing more than an obscenely expensive vanity project, with unwitting taxpayers footing the bill.''

The Labour-controlled Welsh government contends that the turbine has mechanical problems, but the company that built the turbine said that the location the government decided to put the turbine in is too calm and has little wind.

''The problem is quite simple '-- it's been put in the wrong place,'' said Paul Burrell, a wind turbine expert. ''It's very important with any wind turbine to ensure it's in the most exposed location possible. They need unobstructed access to wind from all directions.''

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EMP-Diehl Defence: Convoy Protection

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HPEM C-IED: Vehicle-mounted HPEM effector for military convoy protection against radio- and new types of timer- and sensor-based IEDs.

HPEMcheckPoint: Mobile HPEM source to stop vehicles at checkpoints or at critical infrastructure.

HPEMcase: Compact HPEM source, integrated in a case, allowing special forces to deactivate alarm systems, disrupt computers and to neutralize eavesdropping devices.

HPEMcarStop: Offroad vehicle-integrated HPEM source allowing non-violent stopping of getaway vehicles in moving traffic. Vehicle electronics are not damaged and the target vehicle can be restarted after the incident.

BBC News - France's 75% tax rate gains approval by top court

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29 December 2013Last updated at 07:34 ET France's highest court has approved a 75% tax on high earners that is one of President Francois Hollande's signature policies.

The initial proposal to tax individual incomes was ruled unconstitutional by the Constitutional Council almost exactly one year ago.

But the government modified it to make employers liable for the 75% tax on salaries exceeding 1m euros (£830,000).

The levy will last two years, affecting income earned this year and in 2014.

Football clubs in France threatened to go on strike earlier this year over the issue, saying many of France's clubs are financially fragile and say the plans could spark an exodus of top players who are paid huge salaries.

The Qatari-owned Paris Saint-Germain has more than 10 players whose pay exceeds 1m euros, including the Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

There has also been a chorus of protest from businesses and wealthy individuals who have condemned the tax - including film star Gerard Depardieu, who left the country in protest.

Polls suggest a large majority in France back the temporary tax.

Unlike many other countries in Europe, France aims to bring down its huge public deficit by raising taxes as well as some spending cuts.

The highest tax rate in the UK is 45% and is applied to individuals.

Act of 1871

United States v. United States of America

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Dear Friends,

For an entity to become a corporation under federal law,

theremust be an Act of Congress creating that corporation.

There are no Acts of Congress expressly incorporating

eitherthe "United States" or the "United States of America".

In 1871 Congress did expressly incorporate the District

ofColumbia, but D.C. and the "United States" are not

oneand the same.½ In that Act of 1871, Congress also

expresslyextended the U.S. Constitution into D.C.:

In United States v. Cooper Corporation, 312 U.S. 600 (1941),

theSupreme Court wrote:

"We may say in passing that the argument that the

United States may be treated as a corporation

organizedunder its own laws, that is, under the

Constitution as the fundamental law, seems so strained

asnot to merit serious consideration."

Some of the confusion rampant on this subject may have

originatedin the definition of "UNITED STATES OF

AMERICA" in Bouvier's Law Dictionary here:

See Paragraph 5 quoted here:

"5.½ The United States of America are a corporation

endowedwith the capacity to sue and be sued, to convey

andreceive property.½1 Marsh.Dec. 177, 181.

But it is proper to observe that no suit can be brought

againstthe United States without authority of law."

Note that the plural verb "are" was used, providing further

evidencethat the "United States of America" are plural,

asimplied by the plural term "States".½ Also, the author

ofthat definition switches to "United States" in the second

sentence.½ This only adds to the confusion, because the

term"United States" has three (3) different legal meanings:

However, the decision cited above is Justice Marshall issuing dictum,

andit is NOT an Act of Congress.½ Here, again,

bevery waryof courts attempting to "legislate" in the absence

ofa proper Act of Congress.½ See 1 U.S.C. 101 for the

statutedefining the required enacting clause:

And, pay attention to what was said in that definition here:

"nosuit can be broughtagainst the United States

withoutauthority of law".½That statement is not only

correct;½ it also provides another important clue:

Congress has conferred legal standing on the "United States"

tosue and be sued at 28 U.S.C. 1345 and 1346, respectively:

Congress has NOT conferred comparable legal standing

uponthe "United States of America" to sue, or be sued,


Furthermore, under the Articles of Confederation, the term

"United States of America" is the "stile" or phrase that was used

todescribe the Union formed legally by those Articles:

Articles of Confederation and perpetualUnion between the States

ofNew Hampshire, Massachusetts bay, Rhode Island and Providence

Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania,

Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and


Article I.½The Stile of this Confederacy shall be

"The United States of America."

Article II.½Each state retains its sovereignty, freedom,

andindependence, and every power, jurisdiction, and right,

whichis not by this Confederation expressly delegated

totheUnited States, in Congress assembled.½

[end excerpt]

When they came together the first time to form

aUnion of several (plural) States, they decided

tocall themselves the "United States of America".

Note also that those Articles clearly distinguished

"United States of America" from "United States"

inCongress assembled.½ The States formally

delegatedcertain powers to the federal government,

whichis clearly identified in those Articles as the

"United States".

Therefore, the "United States of America" now refer to

the50 States of the Union, and the term "United States"

refersto the federal government.

The term "United States" is the term that is used consistently now

throughoutTitle 28 to refer to the federal government domiciled

inD.C.½ There is only ONE PLACE in all of Title 28 where the

term"United States of America" is used, and there it is used

incorrect contradistinction to "United States":

Because Title 28 contains statutes which govern all federal courts,

theconsistent use of "United States" to refer to the federal

governmentcarries enormous weight.½ Title 28 is the latest word

onthis subject, as revised, codified and enacted into positive law

onJune 25, 1948.½ Moreover, the Supremacy Clause elevates

Title 28 to the status of supreme Law of the Land.

To make matters worse and to propagate more confusion,


incorporatedtwice in the State of Delaware:

The main problem that arises from these questions is that

United StatesAttorneys are now filing lawsuits and

prosecutingcriminal INDICTMENTS in the name of the


butwithout any powers of attorney to do so.½ Compare

28 U.S.C. 547 (which confers powers of attorney to represent

the"United States" and its agencies in federal courts):

They are NOT "United States of America Attorneys", OK?

First of all, they do NOT have any powers of attorney

torepresent Delaware corporations in federal courts;

Congress never appropriated funds for them to do so

andCongress never conferred any powers of attorney

onthem to do so either.

Secondly, the 50 States are already adequately represented

bytheir respective State Attorneys General;½ therefore,

U.S. Attorneys have no powers of attorney to represent

anyof the 50 States of the Union, or any of their agencies,


They are "U.S. Attorneys" NOT "U.S.A. Attorneys", OK?

Accordingly, it is willful misrepresentation for any U.S. Attorney

toattempt to appear in any State or federal court on behalf

ofthe "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" [sic].½ And,

such misrepresentation is actionable under the McDade Act

at28 U.S.C. 530B:

There are quite a few "activists" running around the Internet

claimingthat the "United States" and the "United States of

America" are both corporations.½ These claims are not correct,

forthe reasons already stated above.

A similar error occurs when these so-called ½activists½ cite

thefederal statute at 28 U.S.C. 3002 as their only ½proof½

thatthe ½United States½ was incorporated by Congress.

Here½s the pertinent text of that statute:

As used in this chapter:


(15)½ "United States" means --

(A)½a Federal corporation;

(B)½ an agency, department, commission, board, or

otherentity of the United States; ½or

(C)½an instrumentality of the United States.

[end excerpt]

First of all, note well that the stated scope of this definition

islimited to ½this chapter½ i.e. CHAPTER 176 of Title 28 ½

Federal Debt Collection Procedures.½ Overlooking the

limitedscope of such definitions is a very common error

amongmany, if not all self-styled experts.½ At best, this section

cannotbe used as evidence that the federal government

shouldbe treated as a valid corporation for all other intents

andpurposes.½ It takes a LOT more text than this one limited

definitionto create any federal corporation!½ Compare the

originalStatutes at Large that created the Union Pacific

Railroad Company, for example.

Secondly, from the evidence above it should already

beclear that the ½United States½ (federal government)

isnot now, and never has been, a federal corporation.

The statute at 28 U.S.C. 3002 merely defines the

term½United States½ to embrace all existing federal

corporations.½ Because the United States was not

anexisting corporation when Congress enacted

section 3002, that statute did not create and could

nothave created the United States as a federal

corporation in the first instance.

Thirdly, in Eisner v. Macomber the U.S. Supreme Court

toldCongress that it was barred from re-defining

anyterms that are used in the federal Constitution.

½United States½ occurs in several places, because it is central

tothe entire purpose of that Constitution.½ Therefore,

thelegislative attempt to re-define ½United States½ at

section 3002 is necessarily unconstitutional, because

itviolates the Eisner Prohibition.

Fourthly, section 3002 also exhibits 2 subtle tautologies,

whichrender it null and void for vagueness.½ Here they are,

incase you missed them:

½United States½ means ½an agency, department, commission,

board, or other entity of the United States;


½United States½ means ½ an instrumentality of the United States.

It is a fundamental violation of proper English grammar to use

theterm being defined in any definition of that term, and such a

violationhas clearly happened here.½ If you don½t yet recognize

thetautologies, then change one part of this definition to read:

The term ½United States½ here also embraces any instrumentality

ofthe federal government.

At the very least, this minor change eliminates the tautology and

removesthe vagueness.½ Nevertheless, such an attempt to re-define

theterm ½United States½ still violates the Eisner Prohibition.

For a newspaper-level Press Release which further explores some

ofthe many legal ramifications of these widespread errors, please

see this Internet URL:

Sincerely yours,

/s/ Paul Andrew Mitchell, B.A., M.S.

Private Attorney General, Criminal Investigator and

Federal Witness:½ 18 U.S.C. 1510, 1512-13, 1964(a)

All Rights Reserved without Prejudice

Private Federal Corporation - SourceWatch

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A Private Federal Corporation (PFC), also known as a Federal Government Corporation (FGC), is a corporation which has been established by the Federal Government. There are, of course, benefits to this, not the least of which would be the disbursement and management of funding by the corporation that would not be subject to Congressional oversight or monitoring. An additional benefit would be autonomy in operations.

Examples of existing PFCs are:

"In wholly owned federal corporations, such as the Commodity Credit Corporation, the federal government holds 100% of the equity and exercises 100% of the votes on the board of directors or other governing body ...

"In mixed-ownership federal corporations, such as the RTC and the Resolution Funding Corporation (REFCORP), the United States may own some or none of the equity. A mixed-ownership FGC's charter often guarantees that the President will appoint at least a minority of the directors even if the federal government does not own shares ...

"In private federal corporations, such as COMSAT, the federal government holds no stock but may have a statutory right to select members of the board of directors. A private federal corporation is, formally, little different from a corporation chartered by a state although it may have publicly appointed directors and tax advantages, and its debts may carry an implicit guarantee from the federal government."[1]

"Since 1945 Congress has usually created FGCs for one of four reasons: efficiency, political insulation, subsidy, and subterfuge."

Federally Funded Research and Development Centers (FFRDC) could possibly be considered another category of PFCs. Totally funded by the U.S. Government, actual administration of the entities are by an outside/non-government contracted source. Some FFRDCs are administered by universities and colleges, others by non-profit institutions, and yet others by industrial firms. Many have existed in this form since the 1950s.

The MITRE Corporation runs 3 FFRDCs for the DoD, FAA, and the IRS. MITRE itself is a non-profit 501(c)(3) corporation. According to Mitretek Systems, the company links its origin to The MITRE Corporation. MITRE was itself spun off from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) MIT Lincoln Laboratory which began in the 1950s as the Lincoln Project at MIT. The Lincoln Laboratory was created to develop ground radar air defense systems for the United States. The MITRE Corporation was established as the "system engineer and overseer for the development of this highly complex system."

SourceWatch ResourcesExternal linksMichael Hynes, Sheila Nataraj Kirby, Jennifer Sloan, A Casebook of Alternative Governance Structures and Organizational Forms. Chapter 5: Federal Government Corporation, RAND Corporation, 2000.A. Michael Froomkiin, Reinventing the Government Corporation, Originally published in the Illinois Law Review, 1995 U. Ill. L. Rev. 543.Jason Peckenpaugh, Coast Guard proposes government corporation to meet outsourcing goals, November 7, 2002.

NON Caps-28 USC § 3002 - Definitions | Title 28 - Judiciary and Judicial Procedure | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute

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The table below lists the classification updates, since Jan. 3, 2012, for this section. Updates to a broader range of sections may be found at the update page for containing chapter, title, etc.

The most recent Classification Table update that we have noticed was Tuesday, August 13, 2013

An empty table indicates that we see no relevant changes listed in the classification tables. If you suspect that our system may be missing something, please double-check with the Office of the Law Revision Counsel.

How To UseMultiple entries for a section are listed most recent first, within the section.

The Session Year indicates which session of Congress was responsible for the changes classified. The Congress number forms the first part of the Public Law number; each Congress has two sessions.

Abbreviations used in the Description of Change column:

An empty field implies a standard amendment."new" means a new section or new note, or all new text of an existing section or note."nt" means note."nt [tbl]" means note [table]."prec" means preceding."fr" means a transfer from another section."to" means a transfer to another section."omitted" means the section is omitted."repealed" means the section is repealed."nt ed change" and "ed change" - See the Editorial Classification Change Table [pdf].The Public Law field is linked to the development of the law in the Thomas system at the Library of Congress.

The Statutes at Large field is linked to the text of the law, in the context of its volume of the Statutes at Large, at the Government Printing Office. Please note that it takes a while for these pages to get posted, so for very recent legislation, you need to look at the "enrolled" version at the Thomas site.

The Statutes at Large references have been rendered in the format used as page numbers in the Public Law web pages to which we link, to facilitate copy-paste into browser "find on this (web) page" tools. We are still working on a more direct link facility.

For serious comparison work, we suggest copying all or a portion of the Public Law text into your favorite text editor, for convenient content traversal and window control.

Sections with change type "new" are a special case, still under development. All are now listed, at the title level only.

You will find that occassionally a specific update you notice in a Public Law listed in a classification table will already have made it into the Code. We assume this is an artifact of the LRC edit process. The LII does not edit the LRC content.

topGeneral ReferenceRefer to the LRC (Law Revision Council) for explanations about the US Code from the folks who put it all together.

You can look for information about what it is and is not, which titles are positive law, the schedule of Supplements, etc. Under download you can find the source data we use here (GPO locator files), as well as, PDF files that look just like the paper books (these may be rather large).

Refer to the Thomas site for changes that have not yet made it into the classification tables.

28 USCDescription of ChangeSession YearPublic LawStatutes at Large

The United States Isn't a Country '-- It's a Corporation!

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"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."'-- Preamble of the original "organic" Constitution

"We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."'-- Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence of the original thirteen united states of America, July 4, 1776

Fourth of July 2002 has come and gone, and Americans honored the holiday with a renewed patriotic fervor that reminded me of the Bicentennial celebrations of 1976. As is customary, traditional fireworks displays took center stage and scores of people turned out to witness the dazzling show in the summer sky. With mixed feelings, I sat with friends on a crowded Pennsylvania sidewalk beneath a glittering, mesmerizing explosion of color, pondering the keen sense of sadness and betrayal that overwhelmed my spirit. Looking around at the huge crowds gathered for the annual events, I thought silently, "We are not free." In truth, we have not been a free people for a very long time.

We celebrate this day in honor of our "independence". We call ourselves a free people in a land of liberty. Our anthems proudly sing the praises of this nation, and we raise our voices, wave our flags and join in song '-- but how many Americans realize they are not free? This is a myth perpetuated by the powers-that-be in order to avoid any major civil unrest, and to keep us all living under the thumb of a militaristic corporate Big Brother within the illusions that have been created for us. The truth of the matter is this: what freedom has not been stolen from us, we have surrendered willingly through our silence and ignorance. As Americans, most of us have no idea how our freedoms are maintained '-- or lost. Apparently, our ancestors didn't have a good grasp of this either. It is sad, but it is also very true.

Don't point to that beloved parchment, the Constitution, as a symbol of your enduring freedom. It is representative of a form of government which seemingly no longer exists in this country today. The Constitution has been thrown out the window, the Republic shoved aside and replaced with a democracy. The thing is; most people in this country remain unaware that this is so because they simply do not know the truth '-- what lies beyond the myths. Your so-called government is not going to tell you, either.

To even begin to understand what has happened to the Republic, we must look backward in time to the period following the Civil War. We must go back to the year 1871, which was the beginning of the decline of the Republic. When we examine what happened during that time in our history, we begin to piece together this troubling, perplexing puzzle that is "America" '-- only then should we answer as to whether we are indeed a "free" people or not.

So, let's roll backward into the past for a moment. It is time we learned what they didn't teach us in school. It is far more interesting than what they DID tell us. I think you'll stay awake for this lesson.

The date is February 21, 1871 and the Forty-First Congress is in session. I refer you to the "Acts of the Forty-First Congress," Section 34, Session III, chapters 61 and 62. On this date in the history of our nation, Congress passed an Act titled: "An Act To Provide A Government for the District of Columbia." This is also known as the "Act of 1871." What does this mean? Well, it means that Congress, under no constitutional authority to do so, created a separate form of government for the District of Columbia, which is a ten mile square parcel of land.

What??? How could they do that? Moreover, WHY would they do that? To explain, let's look at the circumstances of those days. The Act of 1871 was passed at a vulnerable time in America. Our nation was essentially bankrupt '-- weakened and financially depleted in the aftermath of the Civil War. The Civil War itself was nothing more than a calculated "front" for some pretty fancy footwork by corporate backroom players. It was a strategic maneuver by European interests (the international bankers) who were intent upon gaining a stranglehold on the neck (and the coffers) of America.

The Congress realized our country was in dire financial straits, so they cut a deal with the international bankers '-- (in those days, the Rothschilds of London were dipping their fingers into everyone's pie) thereby incurring a DEBT to said bankers. If we think about banks, we know they do not just lend us money out of the goodness of their hearts. A bank will not do anything for you unless it is entirely in their best interest to do so. There has to be some sort of collateral or some string attached which puts you and me (the borrower) into a subservient position. This was true back in 1871 as well. The conniving international bankers were not about to lend our floundering nation any money without some serious stipulations. So, they devised a brilliant way of getting their foot in the door of the United States (a prize they had coveted for some time, but had been unable to grasp thanks to our Founding Fathers, who despised them and held them in check), and thus, the Act of 1871 was passed.

In essence, this Act formed the corporation known as THE UNITED STATES. Note the capitalization, because it is important. This corporation, owned by foreign interests, moved right in and shoved the original "organic" version of the Constitution into a dusty corner. With the "Act of 1871," our Constitution was defaced in the sense that the title was block-capitalized and the word "for" was changed to the word "of" in the title. The original Constitution drafted by the Founding Fathers, was written in this manner:

"The Constitution for the united states of America".

The altered version reads: "THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA". It is the corporate constitution. It is NOT the same document you might think it is. The corporate constitution operates in an economic capacity and has been used to fool the People into thinking it is the same parchment that governs the Republic. It absolutely is not.

Capitalization '-- an insignificant change? Not when one is referring to the context of a legal document, it isn't. Such minor alterations have had major impacts on each subsequent generation born in this country. What the Congress did with the passage of the Act of 1871 was create an entirely new document, a constitution for the government of the District of Columbia. The kind of government THEY created was a corporation. The new, altered Constitution serves as the constitution of the corporation, and not that of America. Think about that for a moment.

Incidentally, this corporate constitution does not benefit the Republic. It serves only to benefit the corporation. It does nothing good for you or me '-- and it operates outside of the original Constitution. Instead of absolute rights guaranteed under the "organic" Constitution, we now have "relative" rights or privileges. One example of this is the Sovereign's right to travel, which has been transformed under corporate government policy into a "privilege" which we must be licensed to engage in. This operates outside of the original Constitution.

So, Congress committed TREASON against the People, who were considered Sovereign under the Declaration of Independence and the organic Constitution. When we consider the word "Sovereign," we must think about what the word means.

According to Webster's Dictionary, "sovereign" is defined as: 1. chief or highest; supreme. 2. Supreme in power, superior in position to all others. 3. Independent of, and unlimited by, any other, possessing or entitled to, original and independent authority or jurisdiction.

In other words, our government was created by and for "sovereigns" '-- the free citizens who were deemed the highest authority. Only the People can be sovereign '-- remember that. Government cannot be sovereign. We can also look to the Declaration of Independence, where we read: "government is subject to the consent of the governed" '-- that's supposed to be us, the sovereigns. Do you feel like a sovereign nowadays? I don't.

It doesn't take a rocket scientist or a constitutional historian to figure out that this is not what is happening in our country today. Government in these times is NOT subject to the consent of the governed. Rather, the governed are subject to the whim and greed of the corporation, which has stretched its tentacles beyond the ten-mile-square parcel of land known as the District of Columbia '-- encroaching into every state of the Republic. Mind you, the corporation has NO jurisdiction outside of the District of Columbia. THEY just want you to think it does.

You see, you are presumed to know the law. This is ironic because as a people, we are taught basically nothing about the law in school. We are made to memorize obscure factoids and paragraphs here and there, such as the Preamble, and they gloss over the Bill of Rights. But we are not told about the law. Nor do our corporate government schools delve into the Constitution in any great depth. After all, they were put into place to indoctrinate and dumb down the masses '-- not to teach us anything. We were not told that we were sold-out to foreign interests and made beneficiaries of the debt incurred by Congress to the international bankers. For generations, American citizens have had the bulk of their earnings confiscated to pay on a massive debt that they, as a People, did not incur. There are many, many things the People have not been told. How do you feel about being made a beneficiary of somebody else's massive debt without your knowledge or consent? Are we gonna keep going along with this??

When you hear some individuals say that the Constitution is null and void, think about how our government has transformed over time from a municipal or service-oriented entity to a corporate or profit-oriented entity. We are living under the myth that this is lawful, but it is not. We are being ruled by a "de facto," or unlawful, form of government '-- the corporate body of the death-mongers '-- The Controllers.

With the passage of the Act of 1871, a series of subtle and overt deceptions were set in motion '-- all in conjunction and collusion with the Congress, who knowingly and deliberately sold the People down the river. Did they tell you this in government school? I doubt it. They were too busy drumming the fictional version of history into your brain '-- and mine. By failing to disclose what THEY did to the American People, the people became ignorant of what was happening. Over time, the Republic took it on the chin to the point of a knockdown. With the surrender of their gold in 1933, the People essentially surrendered their law. I don't suppose you were taught THAT in school either. That's because our REAL history is hidden from us. This is the way Roman Civil Law works '-- and our form of governance today is based upon Roman Civil Law and Admiralty/Maritime Law '-- better known as the "Divine Right of Kings" and "Law of the Seas", respectively. This explains a lot. Roman Civil Law was fully established in the original colonies even before our nation began and is also known as private international law.

The government which was created for the District of Columbia via the Act of 1871 operates under Private International Law, and not Common Law, which was the law of the Constitutional Republic. This is very important to note since it impacts all Americans in concrete ways. You must recognize that private international law is only applicable within the District of Columbia and NOT in the other states of the Union. The various arms of the corporation are known as "departments" such as the Judiciary, Justice and Treasury. You recognize those names? Yes, you do! But they are not what you assume them to be. These "departments" all belong to the corporation known as THE UNITED STATES. They do NOT belong to you and me under the corporate constitution and its various amendments that operate outside of the Constitutional Republic.

I refer you to the UNITED STATES CODE (note the capitalization, indicating the corporation, not the Republic) Title 28 3002 (15) (A) (B) (C). It is stated unequivocally that the UNITED STATES is a corporation [see note]. Realize, too, that the corporation is not a separate and distinct entity from the government. It IS the government. YOUR government. This is extremely important. I refer to this as the "corporate empire of the UNITED STATES," which operates under Roman Civil Law outside of the Constitution. How do you like being ruled by a cheesy, sleazy corporation? You'll ask your Congressperson about this, you say? HA!!

Congress is fully aware of this deception. You must be made aware that the members of Congress do NOT work for you and me. Rather, they work for the Corporation known as THE UNITED STATES. Is this really any surprise to you? This is why we can't get them to do anything on our behalf or to answer to us '-- as in the case with the illegal income tax '-- among many other things. Contrary to popular belief, they are NOT our civil servants. They do NOT work for us. They are the servants of the corporate government and carry out its bidding. Period.

The great number of committees and sub-committees that the Congress has created all work together like a multi-headed monster to oversee the various corporate "departments." And, you should know that every single one of these that operates outside the District of Columbia is in violation of the law. The corporate government of the UNITED STATES has no jurisdiction or authority in ANY state of the Republic beyond the District of Columbia. Let this sink into your brain for a minute. Ask yourself, "Could this deception REALLY have occurred without the full knowledge and complicity of the Congress?" Do you think it happened by accident? You are deceiving yourself if you do. There are no accidents or coincidences. It is time to confront the truth and awaken from ignorance.

Your legislators will not apprise you of this information. You are presumed to know the law. THEY know you don't know the law, or your history for that matter, because this information has not been taught to you. No concerted effort has been made to inform you. As a Sovereign, you are entitled to full disclosure of the facts. As a slave, you are entitled to nothing other than what the corporation decides to "give" you '-- at a price. Be wary of accepting so-called "benefits" of the corporation of the UNITED STATES. Aren't you enslaved enough already?

I said (above) that you are presumed to know the law. Still, it matters not if you don't in the eyes of the corporation. Ignorance of the law is not considered an excuse. It is your responsibility and your obligation as an American to learn about the law and how it applies to you. THEY count on the fact that most people are too uninterested or distracted or lazy to do so. The People have been mentally conditioned to allow the alleged government to do their thinking for them. We need to turn that around if we are to save our Republic before it is too late.

The UNITED STATES government is basically a corporate instrument of the international bankers. This means YOU are owned by the corporation from birth to death. The corporate UNITED STATES also holds ownership of all your assets, your property, and even your children. Does this sound untrue? Think long and hard about all those bills you pay, all those various taxes and fines and licenses you must pay for. Yes, they've got you by the pockets. Actually, they've had you by the ass for as long as you've been alive. In your heart, you know it's true. Don't believe any of this? Read up on the 14th Amendment. Check out how "free" you really are.

With the Act of 1871 and subsequent legislation such as the purportedly ratified 14th Amendment, our once-great nation of Sovereigns has been subverted from a Republic to a democracy. As is the case under Roman Civil Law, our ignorance of the facts has led to our silence. Our silence has been construed as our consent to become beneficiaries of a debt we did not incur. The Sovereign People have been deceived for hundreds of years into thinking they remain free and independent, when in actuality we continue to be slaves and servants of the corporation.

Treason was committed against the People in 1871 by the Congress. This could have been corrected through the decades by some honest men (assuming there were some), but it was not, mainly due to lust for money and power. Nothing new there. Are we to forgive and justify this crime against the People? You have lost more freedom than you may realize due to corporate infiltration of the so-called government. We will lose more unless we turn away from a democracy that is the direct road to disaster '-- and restore our Constitutional Republic.

In an upcoming article, we'll take a closer look at the purportedly ratified 14th Amendment and how we became "property" of the corporation and enslaved by our silence.

I am saddened to think about the brave men and women who were killed in all the wars and conflicts instigated by the Controllers. These courageous souls fought for the preservation of ideals they believed to be true '-- not for the likes of a corporation. Do you believe that any one of the individuals who have been killed as a result of war would have willingly fought if they knew the full truth? Do you think one person would have laid down his life for a corporation? I think not. If the People had known long ago to what extent their trust had been betrayed, I wonder how long it would have taken for another Revolution. What we need is a Revolution in THOUGHT. We change our thinking and we change our world.

Will we ever restore the Republic? That is a question I cannot answer yet. I hope, and most of all '-- pray '-- that WE, the Sovereign People, will work together in a spirit of cooperation to make it happen in this lifetime. I know I will give it my best shot '-- come what may. Our children deserve their rightful legacy '-- the liberty our ancestors fought so hard to give to us. Will we remain silent telling ourselves we are free, and perpetuate the MYTH? Or, do we stand as One Sovereign People, and take back what has been stolen from the house of our Republic?Something to think about '-- it's called freedom.

My heartfelt thanks goes out to the following people for their gracious and generous assistance in researching this subject: Ken S. of American Revolution II Online News, Paul Walker of RMN News, Bob Taft, Stanooch, and Willy Whitten '-- true Patriots, one and all.

Editor's note: Actually in the U.S. Code the term "United States" is said to have any of three meanings:

US CODE: Title 28,3002. Definitions (archived here)

(15) "United States" means '-- (A) a Federal corporation; (B) an agency, department, commission, board, or other entity of the United States; or (C) an instrumentality of the United States.

Further reading:

If we are stupid enough to surrender our freedom to a bunch of lousy international bankers, then we deserve to live in bondage. '-- Lisa Guliani

A comparison of this article with the ripoff by "Reality Bytes":Lisa Guliani"Reality Bytes"We celebrate this day in honor of our "independence". We call ourselves a free people in a land of liberty. Our anthems proudly sing the praises of this nation, and we raise our voices, wave our flags and join in song '-- but how many Americans realize they are not free?The day is recognized as a day to celebrate our "Independence". A celebration of free people living in the land of Liberty. We sing songs of the greatness of our country, we wave our flags in joyous, patriotic, euphoria. In reality there are not many Americans that have the realization that they are not Free.This is a myth perpetuated by the powers-that-be in order to avoid any major civil unrest, and to keep us all living under the thumb of a militaristic corporate Big Brother within the illusions that have been created for us.This is an illusion that the countries controllers immortalize to avoid the People realizing the truth. It allows them to keep the population under the militaristic control of a Big Brother Conglomerate of corporate control.The truth of the matter is this: what freedom has not been stolen from us, we have surrendered willingly through our silence and ignorance. As Americans, most of us have no idea how our freedoms are maintained '-- or lost. Apparently, our ancestors didn't have a good grasp of this either.The Freedoms which have not been stolen from us, we have given up willingly through ignorance and apathy. Allowing ourselves to be distracted by baubles and shiny objects like children. We the people had no idea how to maintain our Freedoms or for that matter, how they could be taken from us.Don't point to that beloved parchment, the Constitution, as a symbol of your enduring freedom. It is representative of a form of government which seemingly no longer exists in this country today.Those in denial will immediately shout about the parchment known as the Constitution. That is the Symbol of Freedom for the people. It symbolizes the Representative form of government that no longer exists in the United States of America.The Constitution has been thrown out the window, the Republic shoved aside and replaced with a democracy. The thing is; most people in this country remain unaware that this is so because they simply do not know the truth '-- what lies beyond the myths.The Constitution is dead and the Republic has been replaced with a corrupt form of Democracy. The saddest part of this fiasco is that most Americans will never know or realize exactly what it was that they lost. They will never see the Truth behind the lies.To even begin to understand what has happened to the Republic, we must look backward in time to the period following the Civil War. We must go back to the year 1871, which was the beginning of the decline of the Republic.To start to see the Truth and to understand what happened to this great Republic, we need to start at the period after the Civil War. It was in the year 1871 that the decline and elimination of the Republic began.So, let's roll backward into the past for a moment. It is time we learned what they didn't teach us in school.Let us delve into the History of the country, the History that is not taught in school!The Congress realized our country was in dire financial straits, so they cut a deal with the international bankers '-- (in those days, the Rothschilds of London were dipping their fingers into everyone's pie) thereby incurring a DEBT to said bankers.The Congress knew that our country was bankrupt, so they made an arrangement with the International Bankers to run up a Debt to these Foreign Banks ( the Rothschilds of London were investing in many enterprises Globally).If we think about banks, we know they do not just lend us money out of the goodness of their hearts. A bank will not do anything for you unless it is entirely in their best interest to do so. There has to be some sort of collateral or some string attached which puts you and me (the borrower) into a subservient position.One thing that everyone knows about banks is that they do not lend money simply to be kind. The only way that a Bank would enter into a contract is if it would benefit the Bank. Some kind of Collateral, or some kind of scheme that would put the population into servitude to the Banks would be necessary.The conniving international bankers were not about to lend our floundering nation any money without some serious stipulations. So, they devised a brilliant way of getting their foot in the door of the United States (a prize they had coveted for some time, but had been unable to grasp thanks to our Founding Fathers, who despised them and held them in check), and thus, the Act of 1871 was passed.The sneaky and manipulating International Bankers would not lend money to our financially troubled nation without some stipulations. They came up with a devious scheme to gain control over the country that they had desired for a long time. The Founding Fathers detested these Foreign Entities and kept them at bay until the Act of 1871 was passed.And so on. It is obvious that "Reality Bytes" has taken Lisa Guliani's article, reworded it, and published it on The Hub as his own work (and he then accused websites which had published her article of copyright violation '-- pretty stupid of him). "Reality Bytes" is clearly guilty of blatant plagiarism. The Hub should thus remove his article to protect their reputation. '-- But a year has gone by, and the article has not been removed, so we can conclude that The Hub is a site whose articles, if well-written, are likely to be ripoffs of articles from other sites (by people seeking to make money by exploiting the work of others, more talented than they are).

War on Sugar

Cut your sugar intake by HALF: New health warning says limit should be cut to five teaspoons a day over fears it contributes to heart disease | Mail Online

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Tue, 31 Dec 2013 16:33

World Health Organisation guidelines recommend halving the current limitThey could mean food companies have to change their productsA Mars bar contains five teaspoons of sugar, a can of cola ten, a bowl of Coco Pops four, and some ready meals have as many as eightBy Sophie Borland

PUBLISHED: 18:02 EST, 29 December 2013 | UPDATED: 18:38 EST, 29 December 2013




Adults could be advised to halve the amount of sugar in their diets under new guidelines from the World Health Organisation.

Experts are considering lowering the recommended limit of ten teaspoons a day to just five over fears that it is contributing to heart disease, obesity and tooth decay.

Food companies may have to change their products to lower the sugar content, which would be hugely expensive and could prove unpopular with some consumers.

Touching the limit: A single Mars bar contains five teaspoons of sugar

A single can of cola contains ten teaspoons of sugar, a Mars bar has five, a bowl of Coco Pops has about four and there are eight in some ready meals.

The average Briton consumes 12 teaspoons a day, although research has found that some adults in industrialised countries are eating as many as 46 daily.

Philip James, president of the International Association for the Study on Obesity, which works with the WHO, described the suggestion as 'political dynamite'.

'The food industry will do everything in their power to undermine this,' he said.

The guidance suggests lowering the amount of sugar added to food '' excluding that which occurs naturally in fruit or starch - from 10 per cent to five per cent of the daily allowance, which is equivalent to five teaspoons.

High in sugar: A bowl of Coco Pops contains around four teaspoons of sugar

The policy would almost certainly be adopted by the Department of Health.

Professor Shrinath Reddy, a cardiologist at the Harvard School of Public Health and member of the WHO panel of experts, said: 'I would agree with the recommendation to reduce it to five per cent.

'There is overwhelming evidence coming out about sugar-sweetened beverages and other sugar consumption links to obesity, diabetes and even cardiovascular disease.'

The proposals were discussed at a meeting earlier this year after a study by Professor Paula Moynihan, an expert in nutrition and oral health at Newcastle University, highlighted the danger of sugar to dental health.

'Part of the problem is that sugary foods and drinks are now staples in many people's diet in industrialised countries, whereas once they were an occasional treat,' he said.

'We need to reverse this trend.'

The WHO panel will consider the guidance over the coming months before making a final decision.Sugar Nutrition UK, an industry-funded research body, pointed out that UK manufacturers had been lowering the level of sugar in recent years to make products healthier.

'There is no data to show that reducing intake below current levels is beneficial to health,' said a spokesman, who claimed that the guidance was based on studies 'of very low quality'.

Research three years ago by the Emory School of Medicine in the US found that some adults were eating 46 teaspoons of sugar a day. This included six in a bowl of cereal, 14 for lunch including a slice of pizza and a fizzy drink, and 16 for a ready meal in the evening with another sugary beverage.

Kellogg's was criticised last year by the Advertising Standards Agency for claiming that high sugar was not linked to obesity.

Its Coco Pops website claimed: 'A panel of world health experts recently reviewed all the evidence and concluded that a high sugar intake is not related to obesity, or the development of diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer.

'Nor was it connected to behavioural problems, such as hyperactivity, in children.'

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Yahoo News '-- Kim Jong Un's lonely ride to the top

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 02:32

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un finally rode the lift at his dream ski resort, which only took one year to build from scratch. Kim touts the Masik Pass Ski Resort as ''for the people,'' but admission is $50 a person '-- while the average wage in the country is less than $100 a month.

Sandy Hook

US killer's psychiatrist living in NZ - National - NZ Herald News

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 00:49

A psychiatrist who treated the gunman responsible for the Sandy Hook massacre - and who faced allegations of misconduct in the United States - is now living in New Zealand.

Paul Fox was Adam Lanza's psychiatrist when the future killer was a teenager, and United States investigators interviewed him by telephone in the days after the murders of 20 children and six adults.

The 20-year-old killed himself when police arrived at the elementary school on December 14, 2012. It was later discovered he killed his mother before driving to the school and embarking on the rampage.

The shooting was the second-deadliest in US history and caused worldwide angst over gun control in the United States.

From New Zealand, Dr Fox told the detectives he last saw Lanza about five years before the killings and remembered little about him.

He had also destroyed Lanza's psychiatric records, which is allowed for under state regulations.

The official report into the Sandy Hook shootings said Dr Fox could recall Lanza at about 15 years old and that he had aggression problems, and was possibly suffering from Aspergers syndrome.

"He recalled Adam as very rigid and resistant to engagement," according to media coverage of the report.

However, Dr Fox could remember few other details about him. He was not working as a psychiatrist at the time of the shooting because he surrendered his licence to practise amid allegations of negligence and "possible boundary violations".

Those allegations related to a patient he treated in the years after Lanza, reported. The website said Dr Fox gave up his licence before he could be interviewed by a state medical board.

The Stamford Advocate said Dr Fox and his lawyers were able to "broker a deal" so he did not have to appear before the board and face a public hearing of the accusations.

Shortly after, he moved to New Zealand, where international media reported he has been working in child social services.

But a spokeswoman for Child, Youth and Family yesterday told the Herald an initial search did not show any record of Dr Fox working for the agency. She said there was a man by the same name who worked for CYF but he was not the same person.

Sandy Hook massacre

* The second-worst mass shooting in US history, the "Sandy Hook'' massacre occurred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in the small town of Sandy Hook in Newtown, Connecticut, on December 14, 2012.

* Twenty children and six adults were killed during the rampage, which ended when gunman Adam Lanza shot himself.

* Many students were saved by the bravery and quick-thinking of their teachers, who barricaded them into classrooms to stop Lanza getting in.

* An investigation later revealed the shooting occurred within five minutes, and 156 bullets were fired.

Shooter's doctor gave up license over sexual relationship with female client - NewsTimes

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 00:50

The psychiatrist who had treated Sandy Hook Elementary School shooter Adam Lanza surrendered his license after being investigated for an inappropriate relationship with a female patient.

According to documents from the state Department of Public Health obtained Monday, Dr. Paul Fox, who had a private practice in Brookfield, was questioned about his relationship with the woman in July 2012. Shortly after, he voluntarily surrendered his license and has since moved to New Zealand.

A lengthy State Police report released on Friday showed Fox was Lanza's primary psychiatrist during his adolescence. Fox is quoted in the report as saying he hadn't seen Lanza since he was 15, about five years before Lanza killed his mother, then 20 first-graders and six adults at the Sandy Hook school in Newtown before taking his own life.

Fox told investigators in the report he destroyed his records on Lanza, a move psychiatrists are permitted to do with files after five years.

The Department of Public Health report states that Fox began treating the woman with whom he had a relationship in May 2010. The patient, who isn't a minor, claimed she and Fox had a "personal consensual sexual relationship for more than one year." The relationship came to light during a psychological assessment with the woman's primary doctor at Yale-New Haven Hospital.

The patient said she and Fox had "sexual encounters" in his office, went out to eat together and spent time together on Fox's personal sailboat. She also claimed that, while hospitalized elsewhere, she met "another girl" who said she was having phone sex with Fox.

The state Department of Public Health report included email messages from the patient to her mother in which the relationship with Fox was discussed. It also included billing information showing Fox sent the woman 212 text messages between April 26, 2011 and May 25, 2011. Between October 26 and 28, 2011, Fox sent another 36 text messages.

There were also 42 phone calls between Fox and the patient during that time, the longest of which was 49 minutes. Other documents supporting the relationship included two letters reportedly from Fox to the patient, two Facebook dialogues sent by the patient, 29 emails from Fox to the patient, and two poems reportedly given to Fox by the patient.

These documents were not released by the health department. Among the 19 supporting documents were medical records from Western Connecticut State University in Danbury and Danbury Hospital. Calls to the head of psychiatry at the hospital were not returned Monday.

Records from state Superior Court in Danbury indicate that Judge Heidi Winslow granted Fox and his wife, Faline Schneiderman, of New Fairfield, were granted an uncontested divorce in June 2012.

The couple, who were married in Sherman in April 1988, have two children, a daughter, 23, and a son, 20.

Schneiderman brought the action six months earlier, citing "irretrievable breakdown," according to the court file.

Fox's case did not come before the Connecticut Medical Examining Board for a public hearing. Instead, Fox and his attorney brokered a deal with the state Department of Public Health's Healthcare Quality and Safety branch and the psychiatrist surrendered his license in Connecticut and New York.

Dr. Harold I. Schwartz, a member of the 16-member Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, a panel of experts appointed by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy to make recommendations regarding school safety, mental health and gun violence prevention in the wake of the Dec. 14, 2012 shootings, said it was impossible from the available information to say whether Lanza received proper mental health care from Fox.

"There is nothing in the state police report that tells me anything of substance about the kind of care (he) was receiving," Schwartz said Monday.

Schwartz is the psychiatrist-in-chief at Hartford Hospital's Institute of Living, vice president of Behavioral Health at Hartford Hospital and professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine.

"There are no conclusions of any kind that I can draw," Schwartz said.

Staff writer Ken Dixon contributed to this report.


Father of slain Tsarnaev associate pens letter to Obama, alleges FBI deliberately killed son

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Source: RT - USA

Tue, 31 Dec 2013 05:02

Published time: December 31, 2013 00:05Abdulbaki Todashev, father of Ibragim Todashev (AFP Photo / Andrey Smirnov)

'‹The father of Ibragim Todashev, former friend of alleged Boston Marathon bomber Tamerlan Tsarnaev, has released an open letter to President Barack Obama calling for justice after his son's murder. Todashev was killed by FBI agents in May.

Abdulbaki Todashev's letter includes photos of his son's bullet-ridden body and his bloodstained Orlando, Florida apartment. Ibragim was shot to death by an FBI agent accompanied by two Massachusetts State Troopers, according to Boston magazine.

Also included is a photo of Ibragim's knee following a surgery he had in March, which the senior Todashev says is proof that his son posed no harm to the FBI agent who killed him.

In the letter, Abdulbaki Todashev says the FBI deliberately tortured and killed his son and proceeded to intimidate and deport his son's acquaintances in the ensuing months.

Todashev calls on Obama to keep the FBI from interfering with the current independent investigation into his son's death.

Todashev's letter states:

''Did my son know that he had the right to remain silent or did he have rights at all, including the right to live? Being a citizen of another country he might not be aware of the laws as he was only 27 years old and wanted to live so much. No, they left no chances for him inflicting 13 gunshot wounds and multiple hematomas on his body. After what FBI agents have done to him whatever excuses they come up with nobody would believe them because my son is dead and cannot talk for himself. They did it deliberately so that he can never speak and never take part in court hearings. They put pressure on my son's friends to prevent them from coming to the court and speaking the truth.''

''I rely on you, Mr. President, and hope that the prosecutor's office and the court do not let the agencies conducting internal investigation on this case prevent the truth from coming to light so that at least some part of our grief, caused by the murder of our son, is relieved, and that the murderers stand trial instead of sit in their desk chairs.''

The investigation is being conducted by Florida state attorney Jeffrey Ashton. The lawyer released a statement earlier this month saying that he had received additional information on the killing from the US Department of Justice. He said he would unveil the report's findings early next year.

Federal prosecutors have stated that Ibragim allegedly implicated Tamerlan Tsarnaev in a 2011 triple murder in Waltham, Massachusetts. Anonymous FBI sources told reporters that Todashev also implicated himself in those murders. Sources have provided conflicting reports on exactly how Todashev died.

Friends of Ibragim Todashev, a Chechen national, told the Florida chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) that FBI agents asked them to spy on Orlando-area mosques, threatening arrest if they failed to comply.

One friend of Todashev, Ashurmamad Miraliev, was arrested by the FBI on September 18 on a warrant for supposedly threatening a witness in an Osceola County battery case 14 months ago.

Yet following his arrest, he was interrogated for six hours only about associations with Todashev - despite repeatedly requesting his right to an attorney, CAIR-Florida said. The FBI agents allegedly responded, "That is not happening."

We ''didn't ask him anything about the alleged charges. Just interviewed him for over six hours trying to get as much information on Ibragim Todashev as possible," Hassan Shibly, director of CAIR-Florida, said at a September press conference in Orlando.

CAIR-Florida requested the US Department of Justice open an investigation into the allegations of civil rights violations and abuse by the FBI of Todashev's friends.

Shortly after speaking to Boston magazine in September regarding her own dealings with law enforcement since the Orlando slaying, Tatiana Gruzdeva - girlfriend of Ibragim Todashev - was arrested in Florida by immigration officers and told she would be deported for talking to the press.

Gruzdeva told the magazine that in May she was interrogated by agents about any connection she or Todashev had to Tsarnaev and the Boston Marathon bombing. Agents eventually sent her to immigration officials. She was detained until August, at times in solitary confinement, before being told she would be released and had another year to stay in the US legally. Regardless, Gruzdeva said she "had gone to sign work papers at the local immigrations office'' where she was then arrested and told she would be deported for allowing the magazine to interview her.

Boston magazine reported that Gruzdeva was deported to Moscow.

Tamerlan Tsarnaev died days after the Boston Marathon bombings, during a shootout with law enforcement in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Tsarnaev's brother and alleged co-conspirator, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, was also shot during the encounter, but managed to escape in a stolen vehicle he later abandoned. A day later, Dzhokhar was found wounded in a Watertown backyard during a massive manhunt. He pled not guilty to 30 counts against him on July 10 in a Boston federal court.

Dzhokhar is being tried for killing three people and wounding more than 260 others in a double blast at the Boston Marathon in April 2013. His lawyers have been given until February 28 to decide whether they will request that the case be moved outside of Boston. However, the attorneys have asked for that deadline to be extended because Attorney General Eric Holder is not expected to announce whether prosecutors will seek the death penalty until late January.


VIDEO- Official Video: About The Council on Foreign Relations - YouTube

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 03:35

VIDEO-Joe Biden Goes Off on 'Very, Very Intrusive' Domestic Spying' 2006 | Video |

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 00:36

Vice President Joe Biden speaks at the closing of the National Conference on Mental Health in the South Court Auditorium in the White House complex in Washington, Monday, June 3, 2013. The conference is part of the Administration s effort to launch a national conversation to increase understanding and awareness of mental health. Credit: AP

In 2006, then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-Del.) blasted the Bush administration's domestic spying and called for a congressional investigation into the warrantless collection of millions of Americans' phone records.

''I don't have to listen to your phone calls to know what you're doing. If I know every single phone call you made, I'm able to determine every single person you talked to. I can get a pattern about your life that is very, very intrusive,'' he told CBS News.

Footage of the 2006 interview was also aired on network news Tuesday.

Watch the clip via Center for Democracy & Technology:

But that was then. Vice President Biden has yet to issue a similar critique of the National Security Agency's (NSA) gigantic surveillance efforts under the Obama administration. However, his comments from 2006 seem to apply perfectly to the predicament privacy advocates find themselves in today.

In one of the NSA's spying programs revealed by whistelblower Edward Snowden, the government sweeps up the phone records of millions of Americans every day and stores them in a digital library. That program was authorized by the USA Patriot Act, passed shortly after 9/11.

The second, called PRISM, taps into major U.S. technology companies and monitors emails in the search for foreign terrorists. That program was authorized by 2007 and 2008 laws that allow the government to monitor, without specific warrants, emails believed to belong to foreigners.

Obama and other administration officials argue the programs do not allow officials to ''listen'' to Americans' phone calls.

However, critics of the domestic surveillance programs have made the same argument Biden did in 2006: ''I don't have to listen to your phone calls to know what you're doing.''

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


VIDEO-Student Film Festival | The White House

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 00:30



By entering the ''White House Student Film Festival'' (''Competition''), entrants accept and agree to be bound by these Official Rules. Any violation of these rules may, at Sponsor's discretion, result in disqualification. All decisions of the judges regarding this Competition are final and binding in all respects. (The White House is referred to in these rules as the ''Sponsor'').

1. COMPETITION PERIOD. Competition begins 1:00 AM EDT November 25, 2013 and ends 11:59 PM EDT January 29th, 2014 (''COMPETITION PERIOD''). Online entries must be received by the end of the Competition Period.

2. ELIGIBILITY. The Competition is only open to students enrolled in grades K-12 in the United States and U.S. territories who are at least 18 years old as of the date of entry and the parent or legal guardian of a student below the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence.

3. HOW TO ENTER. In order to enter this Competition, entrants must upload their video onto YouTube or Vimeo. Entrants must read and agree to all rules and regulations, submit the online entry form online, and submit a link to their video on the White House website.

Entries must address at least one of the following themes:(1.) How you currently use technology in your classroom or school OR(2.) The role technology will play in education in the future.

The entry must:(a.) include the title of an original video,(b.) the filmmaker's name,(c.) have been created on or after November 25, 2013,(d.) be three (3) minutes or less in length, including opening and/or closing credits,(e.) only use authorized content, including, without limitation, music, images,film clips, and other intellectual property,(f.) only contain images or likenesses of any individuals who have provided their authorization or whose parents or guardians have provided authorization if such individuals are under the age of majority in their jurisdiction of residence,(g.) be appropriate for viewing by the general public (appropriateness will be determined by the White House in its sole discretion),(h.) be originally authored or the entrant must have written permission to use copyright protected material. All text, images, videos, and other content and materials submitted by entrants, including without limitation, the items described in subsections (a) '' (h) above, shall be referred to hereafter as the ''Submission.''

Entrant represents and warrants that Submission is the original work of entrant, it has not been copied from others, and it does not violate the rights of any other person or entity. Entrant further represents and warrants that Submission adheres to the fundamental spirit of the Competition and does not contain any defamatory, obscene, or otherwise unlawful matter.

If selected as potential finalists, entrants shall be required to complete a release confirming the consent, release and grant of rights set forth in Section 6 and provide such information as may be required for with The White House to conduct a background check (no personally identifiable information, including names or social security numbers of entrants, will be collected or maintained by the U.S. Department of Education). The Sponsor reserves the right to disqualify any entry at its sole discretion.

4. FINALIST SELECTION AND NOTIFICATION. There will be two rounds of judging. A panel of judges consisting of White House staff will conduct the preliminary and final review and select films that will be presented at the Film Festival at the White House. In the preliminary and final rounds, judges will review and score the Submissions according to the following criteria:(1.) Creativity in expression of the theme,(2.) Originality of the Submission, and(3.) Technical Quality of the final video product.

Second round contestants will be notified via email. If any such entrant: (i) cannot be contacted; (ii) does not respond within five (5) days from the date the Sponsor first tries to notify her/him; (iii) fails to return all releases and other requested documents; such entrant forfeits and an alternate will be selected. The White House in its sole discretion will select finalists for exhibition at the White House Film Festival.

5. PRIZE DESCRIPTION. Finalists will have their short films shown at the White House. Finalists have an opportunity to be invited to attend the screening at the White House. Finalist videos may also be featured on the White House website, YouTube channel, Vimeo, and other social media pages. Finalists will be presented with a certificate celebrating their achievement.

6. OWNERSHIP AND LICENSE. Ownership in any Submission shall remain the property of the entrant, but entry into this Competition constitutes entrant's irrevocable and perpetual permission and consent, without compensation, with or without attribution, that the Sponsor may use, reproduce, print, publish, transmit, distribute, sell, perform, adapt, enhance, or display such Submission, and the entrant's name and/or likeness, for any purpose, including any and all media now in existence or hereinafter created, throughout the world, for the duration or the copyright in the Submission. Sponsor and/or others authorized by the Sponsor shall have the right to edit, adapt, and modify the Submission.

7. PARTICIPATING ENTITIES. This Competition is administered by The White House, 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C. 20502.

VIDEO-Flu expected soon in RI - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

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Wed, 01 Jan 2014 23:58

PROVIDENCE -Rhode Island health officials said Monday that a widespread flu outbreak is expected in the state.

Federal health officials said flu is widespread in Massachusetts, New York and eight other states.

Dr. Michael Fine, the Rhode Island's health director, said his flu cases and Massachusetts are now considered widespread and that physician visits for flulike symptoms are up.

He said that means it's time to stop procrastinating and get a flu shot, especially if you're a young adult.

"In a typical year (we) worry about the elderly and infants, this year around the country we're seeing hospitalizations and even deaths in young adults. So regardless of who you are, it's a good year to be immunized," Fine said.

Fine said this year's vaccine is effective in preventing the H1N1, or swine flu, strain. It takes two weeks for the flu shot to kick in and effectively prevent the strains of flu it protects against.

Fine said people need to get the shot in the next day or two because he expects a major outbreak of flu in two to three weeks.

VIDEO-Winnipeg posts second-coldest December since 1893 - Winnipeg |

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 01:49

WINNIPEG '' It's not just seasonal amnesia '' it's been an unusually cold December.

This month will go down as the second-coldest December in Winnipeg in more than a century.

As all of Manitoba was placed under a wind chill warning on Monday morning, Environment Canada meteorologist Dale Marciski predicted Winnipeg's mean temperature for December 2013 would be around -21 C.

The only colder December in the past century was in 2000, when the mean temperature was -22 C. The normal mean temperature in December is -13 C.

''That's quite significant,'' Marciski said Monday morning. ''Usually we're only a degree or two off the normal.

''It seems to go on and on, and when we get the warm, it's only for a day or two.''

The only colder Decembers on record were in the 1800s. The coldest recorded December in Winnipeg was in 1879, when the mean temperature was -26 C. In 1872, the mean temperature was -22.6 C, in 1876, it was -21.8 C, and in 1893, it was -21.4.

An Arctic air mass stationed over the Manitoba can be blamed for the extreme wind chills, an Environment Canada warning said.

Most of Manitoba was warned to expect wind chills in the -40 to -45 range on Monday, with Churchill and York, Man., posting even colder wind chills of -45 to -50.

And an Arctic ridge of high pressure from northwestern Alberta into southern Manitoba was expected to keep the province under the bitterly cold air mass for several days, Environment Canada said.

Frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 10 minutes when the wind chill is -40 to -45, and less than five minutes when the wind chill is -45 to -50, Environment Canada said.

At noon, the temperature at Winnipeg's Richardson International Airport was -31 C and the wind chill was -40. The wind chill was forecast to plummet to -50 overnight.

RELATED: SkyTracker weather forecast

The cold weather has kept CAA Manitoba busy.

With two days left in December, the provincial branch of the Canadian Automobile Association had served more than 18,400 members, the busiest month since 2005, when the organization first started tracking monthly service numbers.

''When it comes to the winter months, December is usually a slower month,'' Liz Peters, CAA Manitoba's corporate communications manager, said in a news release. ''This year so far has been the exact opposite of that trend.''

The previous busiest month recorded was January 2013, when 18,784 members were assisted.

The organization also expects to break the record for the busiest three-month period since 2005, with more than 38,400 members helped in October, November and December. The current record for a three-month period is October, November and December 2008, when 38,420 people were assisted.

For the latest weather conditions, download the SkyTracker weather app for iPhone, iPad or Android.

Coldest Decembers recorded in Winnipeg (pre-2013)1879: -261872: -22.62000: -221876: -21.81893: -21.41933: -20.41983: -20.31886: -201917: -19.91989, 1884: -19.8

(C) Shaw Media, 2013

Lara Schroeder is a newspaper and online journalist who has been the web producer for Global Winnipeg since January 2013.

This Carleton University graduate started as a journalist with Global Winnipeg in 2000. In 2003 she was promoted as Global National's Manitoba correspondent and later moved to the Toronto bureau in 2005.


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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 15:00

VIDEO- Bloomberg Signs Public Vaping Ban Night Before Millions Attempt To Give Up Cigarettes - YouTube

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Thu, 02 Jan 2014 14:58