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Longmont toddler tests positive for THC after acting oddly

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 19:44

Medical marijuana suckers are placed in a sample zipper lock baggie as a way to safely store and transport products. With the increase in accidental ingestions of medical pot (especially edibles) by kids, doctors want to get legal pot into safety-lock packages. (Joe Amon/The Denver Post)

Published: Jan 2, 2014, 7:45 pm By Pierrette J. Shields, Longmont Times-call

Longmont police are investigating how a 2-year-old girl ended up with THC in her system on Tuesday, according to Cmdr. Jeff Satur.

He said the child's parents took her to Longmont United Hospital on Tuesday afternoon because she had become lethargic and acted oddly during a trip to the grocery store, Satur said. A toxicology test was performed and her urine tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

Satur said the girl's parents said they do not use drugs, but her mom found her eating a cookie that she had reportedly found outside the family's apartment complex on the 200 block of East Eighth Avenue about a half hour before the family headed to the store.

''She told (the girl) to drop it and the kid threw it back in the grass,'' Satur said.

Satur said a search of the area and the family's home failed to turn up anything and the parents will be tested for the drug, as well.

''At this point we are believing the family,'' he said.

Police are working with social service workers on the case. There is another child in the home who was unharmed. Satur said the toddler is fine.

Pierrette J. Shields can be reached at 303-684-5273 or at pshields@times-call.com.

This story was first published on DenverPost.com

Two-year-old girl who was acting 'odd' after eating cookie tests positive for marijuana | Mail Online

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 19:57

Mother Aida Hernandez told police she found her two-year-old daughter eating a cookie out front of their apartment building in Longmont, ColoradoWhen the girl started acting strangely she was taken to hospital and tested positive for THCPolice say they are investigating but believe the family's storyIncident comes the day before Colorado decriminalized marijuana, with adults 21 and over allowed to be in possession of one ounce of the drugEdible marijuana products, such as cookies, brownies, and suckers, are regulated in the same way as free-standing marijuana, in that they are subject to weight restrictions and are not to be consumed in publicBy Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:25 EST, 3 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:25 EST, 3 January 2014

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Police are investigating how a two-year-old Colorado girl who spent New Years Eve in hospital came to test positive for THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The incident started on Tuesday when Aida Hernandez stumbled upon her daughter eating a cookie left sitting in the front yard of an apartment complex in Longmont.

Hernandez told police she instructed the toddler to stop and throw the random sweet back in the garden.

This two-year-old girl (right, pictured with her sister) spent New Years Eve in hospital after eating a cookie that was placed with marijuana, police believe

Aida Hernandez noticed her daughter was acting strangely 'about half an hour' after finding her eating a random cookie out the front of their apartment block

Scene: Police are investigating the incident, but say they not found any reason to discredit the story provided to them by the family

Police say the two-year-old girl (right) has now fully recovered

The pair then went on a trip to the grocery store, when the mom realized something was wrong with her little girl.

'She was sleepy, she was opening and closing her eyes, and she couldn't walk very well,' Hernandez told FOX31 Denver.

A toxicology test was performed and her urine tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The incident occurred the day before Colorado ended prohibition laws on Marijuana.

As of January 1, adults 21 and over are able to buy the drug at dispensaries across the state, allowing people to smoke and eat weed in the privacy of their homes.

The toddler spent the night in hospital recovering and returned home on Wednesday.

Marijuana is now legally sold in a variety of forms - from free-packaged to joints and edibles - as part of a new government experiment in regulating the drug like alcohol

Edible marijuana products, such as suckers (pictured), are regulated under new Colorado drug the same way as free-standing marijuana is, in terms of how much each adult is allowed in weight

Since marijuana sales started in Colorado, the most typical way to buy the drug is on its own, however joints and edibles are also available

Cmdr. Jeff Satur said a search of the family's home failed to turn up anything.

Hernandez is also being tested for THC.

'At this point we are believing the family,' Satur said.

Police are working with social service workers on the case.

There is another child in the home who was unharmed.

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About Us | Smart Colorado

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Sat, 04 Jan 2014 16:40

Smart Colorado is a grassroots citizen-run non-profit 501(c)4 organization, created after the passage of Amendment 64, that seeks to ensure that Amendment 64's implementation does not compromise the health and safety of Colorado's kids. Its job is to serve as the citizens' watchdog to support effective and adequate prevention, education, regulation and enforcement.

Smart Colorado was formed in early March of 2013 when a group of citizens saw firsthand that those seeking to profit off of mass commercialization and production of Big Marijuana in Colorado were guiding much of the policy setting. Smart Colorado is a volunteer led organization with no financial stake or motive. Those of us at Smart believe that how Colorado chooses to implement Amendment 64 maybe one of the most important public policy issues Coloradans ever face.

The leaders of Smart Colorado are dedicated volunteers, but we're not na¯ve. While we've channeled the voices of hundreds and hundreds of citizens with many thousands of hours of work, we're ready to play hardball. We may be outspent by the marijuana industry, but we won't be outgunned.

We are a 501 c-4 non-profit organization.

In response to the marijuana industry's legions of lobbyists, Smart Colorado hired veteran lobbyist Mike Feeley of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck and Sandra Hagen Solin from Capitol Solutions and policy communications firm SE2. And, with their help, we made an impact during the legislative session.

Smart has changed the conversation from the highest priority being the needs of marijuana users and interests of the marijuana industry to how to implement Amendment 64 in a way that doesn't compromise health and safety of Colorado youth and the future of the state. Other than law enforcement, Smart Colorado was one of the only organization offering amendments and changes to the legislation to ensure important safeguards and protections were in place. Our accomplishments include: Tightening of licensing requirements, strict packaging, testing, and labeling requirements including important warnings, requirements for public comments and hearings, prohibitions on marketing and advertising targeted at youth, and supporting the Governor and Attorney General in securing a drugged driving impairment level for marijuana.

read more..

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NDAA

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Statement by the President on H.R. 3304 | The White House

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Sat, 04 Jan 2014 18:08

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 26, 2013

Today I have signed into law H.R. 3304, the "National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014." I have signed this annual defense authorization legislation because it will provide pay and bonuses for our service members, enhance counterterrorism initiatives abroad, build the security capacity of key partners, and expand efforts to prevent sexual assault and strengthen protections for victims.

Since taking office, I have repeatedly called upon the Congress to work with my Administration to close the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The continued operation of the facility weakens our national security by draining resources, damaging our relationships with key allies and partners, and emboldening violent extremists.

For the past several years, the Congress has enacted unwarranted and burdensome restrictions that have impeded my ability to transfer detainees from Guantanamo. Earlier this year I again called upon the Congress to lift these restrictions and, in this bill, the Congress has taken a positive step in that direction. Section 1035 of this Act gives the Administration additional flexibility to transfer detainees abroad by easing rigid restrictions that have hindered negotiations with foreign countries and interfered with executive branch determinations about how and where to transfer detainees. Section 1035 does not, however, eliminate all of the unwarranted limitations on foreign transfers and, in certain circumstances, would violate constitutional separation of powers principles. The executive branch must have the flexibility, among other things, to act swiftly in conducting negotiations with foreign countries regarding the circumstances of detainee transfers. Of course, even in the absence of any statutory restrictions, my Administration would transfer a detainee only if the threat the detainee may pose can be sufficiently mitigated and only when consistent with our humane treatment policy. Section 1035 nevertheless represents an improvement over current law and is a welcome step toward closing the facility.

In contrast, sections 1033 and 1034 continue unwise funding restrictions that curtail options available to the executive branch. Section 1033 renews the bar against using appropriated funds to construct or modify any facility in the United States, its territories, or possessions to house any Guantanamo detainee in the custody or under the control of the Department of Defense unless authorized by the Congress. Section 1034 renews the bar against using appropriated funds to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the United States for any purpose. I oppose these provisions, as I have in years past, and will continue to work with the Congress to remove these restrictions. The executive branch must have the authority to determine when and where to prosecute Guantanamo detainees, based on the facts and circumstances of each case and our national security interests. For decades, Republican and Democratic administrations have successfully prosecuted hundreds of terrorists in Federal court. Those prosecutions are a legitimate, effective, and powerful tool in our efforts to protect the Nation. Removing that tool from the executive branch does not serve our national security interests. Moreover, section 1034 would, under certain circumstances, violate constitutional separation of powers principles.

The detention facility at Guantanamo continues to impose significant costs on the American people. I am encouraged that this Act provides the Executive greater flexibility to transfer Guantanamo detainees abroad, and look forward to working with the Congress to take the additional steps needed to close the facility. In the event that the restrictions on the transfer of Guantanamo detainees in sections 1034 and 1035 operate in a manner that violates constitutional separation of powers principles, my Administration will implement them in a manner that avoids the constitutional conflict.

BARACK OBAMA

THE WHITE HOUSE,December 26, 2013.

Conflict Records Research Center | Ted Rall's Rallblog

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Sat, 04 Jan 2014 17:54

While Americans were distracted over Christmas, Congress and Obama quietly passed the National Defense Authorization Act, which beefs up the President's right to put anyone, including US citizens, on a Kill List or hold them indefinitely without trial or representation by a lawyer. There's even a new unit to funnel NSA spy data to the Pentagon so it can target US citizens.

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House Passes 2014 NDAA; NSA Surveillance Will Lead to Indefinite Detention

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Sat, 04 Jan 2014 17:44

The annual renewal of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is underway on Capitol Hill.

On June 14, by a vote of 315-108, the House of Representatives passed the Fiscal Year 2014 version of the NDAA (HR 1960). Several amendments to the defense spending legislation were proposed, many of which were approved either by voice vote or en bloc. The first method of voting requires no report on how individual members voted, while the second method aggregates amendments, allowing them to be voted on in groups.

A few of the amendments represent significant improvements to the NDAA of 2012 and 2013. The acts passed for those years infamously permitted the president to deploy U.S. military troops to apprehend and indefinitely detain any American he alone believed to be aiding enemies of the state.

While the 2014 iteration doesn't go far enough in pushing the federal beast back inside its constitutional cage, there are at least a few congressmen willing to try to crack the whip and restore constitutional separation of powers and shore up a few of the fundamental liberties suspended by the NDAA of the past two years.

First, there is the amendment offered by Representative Trey Radel (R-Fla.). Radel's amendment requires the Department of Defense to submit to the Congress a report every year containing: (1) the names of any U.S. citizens subject to military detention, (2) the legal justification for their continued detention, and (3) the steps the Executive Branch is taking to either provide them some judicial process, or release them. Requires that an unclassified version of the report be made available, and in addition, that the report must be made available to all members of Congress.

Radel's amendment was passed by voice vote.

Next, an amendment offered by Representative Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) would require the federal government, in habeas proceedings for U.S. citizens apprehended in the United States pursuant to the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), to prove by ''clear and convincing evidence'' that the citizen is an unprivileged enemy combatant and there is not presumption that the government's evidence is accurate and authentic.

The House approved the Goodlatte amendment by a vote of 214-211.

Finally, an amendment by Representative Paul Broun (R-Ga.) forbids the Department of Defense from killing a citizen of the United States by a drone attack unless that person is actively engaged in combat against the United States.

This trio of amendments represents a laudable attempt to restrain the power of the executive. As constitutionalists and civil libertarians are aware, recent occupants of the Oval Office have usurped sweeping unconstitutional powers, including the authority to target Americans for indefinite detention, to withhold from them rights that have been recognized as unalienable since before the Magna Carta, and to kill American citizens who have been charged with no crime and been given no opportunity to defend themselves from the accusations that qualified them for summary assassination.

Despite these small victories in the battle to restore constitutionally protected liberty, the debate on the 2014 NDAA provided several examples of Congress violating their oaths of office by shrinking the scope of basic rights and expanding the power of the president to act as de facto (and now, de jure) judge, jury, and executioner.

For example, two amendments offered by Representative Adam Smith (D-Wash.) were rejected by his colleagues, to their dishonor.

Smith's first proposed amendment would have prohibited indefinite military detention of any person detained under AUMF authority in the United States, territories, or possessions by providing immediate transfer to trial and proceedings by a court established under Article III of the Constitution or by an appropriate state court.

Not surprisingly, Smith's amendment failed to garner approval, being voted down by a vote of 200-226 (213 Republicans voted against Smith's amendment).

This was not the first time the ''conservatives'' in Congress rejected a proposal by Representative Smith that would have protected due process and disgorged the president of powers to which he is not entitled. During last year's deliberations on the NDAA for Fiscal Year 2013, the House of Representatives voted to perpetuate the president's power to indefinitely detain American citizens.

By a vote of 238-182, members of Congress rejected the amendment offered by Smith and Justin Amash (R-Mich.) that would have repealed the indefinite detention provision passed overwhelmingly in 2011 as part of the 2012 NDAA.

The Fiscal Year 2013 NDAA retained the indefinite detention provisions, as well as the section permitting prisoners to be transferred from civilian jurisdiction to the custody of the military.

"The frightening thing here is that the government is claiming the power under the Afghanistan authorization for use of military force as a justification for entering American homes to grab people, indefinitely detain them and not give them a charge or trial," Representative Amash said during House debate last year.

In his impassioned speech supporting the amendment he proposed last year, Representative Smith reminded his colleagues that the NDAA granted to the president ''extraordinary'' powers and divested the American people of key civil liberties, as well as divesting civilian courts of their constitutional jurisdiction.

Smith pointed out that there was no need to transfer suspects into military custody as ''hundreds'' of terrorists have been tried in federal courts since the attacks of September 11, 2001.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Members of Congress '-- mostly Republican members '-- have united in firm defense of the president's unconstitutional power to apprehend and indefinitely detain Americans.

There are very few more powerful reminders that there is no party in Washington, D.C., that is committed to faithfully adhering to the oath of office or to the upholding of the manifold God-given rights that are guaranteed by the Constitution.

Finally, there is in the NDAA for 2014, a frightening fusion of the federal government's constant surveillance of innocent Americans and the assistance it will give to justifying the indefinite detention of anyone labeled an enemy of the regime.

Section 1061 of the 2014 NDAA approved by the House expands on the scope of surveillance established by the Patriot Act and the AUMF. Sec. 1061(a) authorizes the secretary of efense to "establish a center to be known as the 'Conflict Records Research Center.''' According to the current text of the NDAA, the center would be tasked with compiling a ''digital research database including translations and to facilitate research and analysis of records captured from countries, organizations, and individuals, now or once hostile to the United States.''

In order to accomplish the center's purpose, the secretary of defense will create an information exchange in cooperation with the director of national intelligence.

Key to the functioning of this information exchange will be the collection of ''captured records.'' Section 1061(g)(1), defines a captured record as "a document, audio file, video file, or other material captured during combat operations from countries, organizations, or individuals, now or once hostile to the United States."

When read in conjunction with the provision of the AUMF that left the War on Terror open-ended and previous NDAAs' classification of the United States as a battleground in that unconstitutional war, and you've got a powerful combination that can knock out the entire Bill of Rights.

Finally, when all the foregoing is couched within the context of the revelations regarding the dragnet surveillance programs of the NSA, it becomes evident that anyone's phone records, e-mail messages, browsing history, text messages, and social media posts could qualify as a ''captured record.''

After being seized by the NSA (or some other federal surveillance apparatus), the seized materials would be processed by the Conflict Records Research Center created by this bill. This center's massive database of electronic information and its collaboration with the NSA converts the United States into a constantly monitored holding cell and all its citizens and residents into suspects. All, of course, in the name of security.

To wit, Americans zealous about retaining their rights and resisting the constant repeal of them by the federal government would be wise to remember the words James Madison wrote to Thomas Jefferson in 1798: ''It is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad.''

Photo of NSA headquarters in Fort Meade

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American and travels frequently nationwide speaking on topics of nullification, the NDAA, and the surveillance state. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

House and Senate Quietly Passes Bigger & Badder 2014 NDAA - Freedom Outpost | Freedom Outpost

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 00:22

Posted By Daisy Luther on Dec 21, 2013 in Big Government, Email Featured, Featured, Law, News, Police State, Politics, Tyranny, US News |

While everyone is distracted with the holiday festivities, Congress has been hard at work, screwing us over in the name of national security.

Yesterday the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act was fast-tracked through the Senate, with no time for discussion or amendments. And you know, its Christmastime, so they just passed it so that they could recess for the holidays. The new version of the NDAA has already been quietly passed by the House of Representatives.

It authorizes massive spending, including $527 billion in base defense spending for the current fiscal year, funding for the war in Afghanistan, and funding for nuclear weapons programs.

The indefinite detention allowed by the original NDAA is still here, and it's actually worse now, because there are provisions that will make it easier for the government to target those who disagree. Section 1071 outlines the creation of the ''Conflict Records Research Center,'' where the unconstitutionally obtained information that the NSA has collected is compiled and shared with the Department of Defense. The information, called in the wording ''captured records,'' can be anything from your phone records, emails, browsing history or posts on social media sites.

The New American reports in detail on the expansion of powers:

For two years, the NDAA included provisions that purported to authorize the president of the United States to deploy the U.S. military to apprehend and indefinitely detain any person (including an American citizen) who he believes ''represent[s] an enduring security threat to the United States.''

Such an immense grant of power is not only unconscionable, but unconstitutional, as well.

Regardless of promises to the contrary made every year since 2011 by President Obama, the language of the NDAA places every citizen of the United States within the universe of potential ''covered persons.'' Any American could one day find himself or herself branded a ''belligerent'' and thus subject to the complete confiscation of his or her constitutional civil liberties and to nearly never-ending incarceration in a military prison.

Finally, there is in the NDAA for 2014 a frightening fusion of the federal government's constant surveillance of innocent Americans and the assistance it will give to justifying the indefinite detention of anyone labeled an enemy of the regime.

Section 1071 of the version of the 2014 NDAA approved by the House and Senate committees this week expands on the scope of surveillance established by the Patriot Act and the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF).

Section 1071(a) authorizes the secretary of defense to ''establish a center to be known as the 'Conflict Records Research Center.''' According to the text of the latest version of the NDAA, the center's task would be to compile a ''digital research database including translations and to facilitate research and analysis of records captured from countries, organizations, and individuals, now or once hostile to the United States.''

In order to accomplish the center's purpose, the secretary of defense will create an information exchange in cooperation with the director of national intelligence.

Key to the functioning of this information exchange will be the collection of ''captured records.'' Section 1071(g)(1), defines a captured record as ''a document, audio file, video file, or other material captured during combat operations from countries, organizations, or individuals, now or once hostile to the United States.''

When read in conjunction with the provision of the AUMF that left the War on Terror open-ended and the prior NDAAs' classification of the United States as a battleground in that unconstitutional war, and you've got a powerful combination that can knock out the entire Bill of Rights.

Finally, when all the foregoing is couched within the context of the revelations regarding the dragnet surveillance programs of the NSA, it becomes evident that anyone's phone records, e-mail messages, browsing history, text messages, and social media posts could qualify as a ''captured record.''

After being seized by the NSA (or some other federal surveillance apparatus), the materials would be processed by the Conflict Records Research Center created by this bill. This center's massive database of electronic information and its collaboration with the NSA converts the United States into a constantly monitored holding cell and all its citizens and residents into suspects. All, of course, in the name of the security of the homeland. (source)

One thing that was omitted is the amendment on the prosecution of sexual assaults in the military. So, we can all be locked up indefinitely for crimes that haven't been proven, but they don't care so much if military members continue to rape other military members.

The final compromise, fashioned by the leaders of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, leaves out Democratic language that would have eased restrictions on transferring Gitmo detainees to the United States '-- a provision that would have helped the administration achieve its goal of shuttering the facility.

It also does not include a controversial amendment by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand to remove decisions about prosecuting sexual assault from the military chain of command. The New York Democrat says she's secured a commitment from Reid to bring her proposal to the floor as a stand-alone measure next year. Although she may get her vote, the legislation is not expected to survive in the Republican-controlled House.

Thursday's defense bill also sidesteps the debate over Iran. Senators who wanted to offer amendments imposing tougher sanctions were blocked because of the bill's fast-track process, which supporters said was necessary to get it finished before the end of the year. So Iran sanction hawks' efforts will have to wait until next year. Movement now toward stricter sanctions, the White House has warned, would undermine its ongoing negotiations to curb Iran's nuclear program.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) suggested Reid had fast-tracked the defense bill because he ''can't stomach'' a politically uncomfortable Iran vote. (source)

If you're wondering who this year's enemies of the Constitution are, here is the roll call from the Senate yesterday.

source: Activist Post

Unsurprisingly, there is little hope that President Obama will fail to sign this into law.

Under the new and ''improved'' NDAA, I'm a belligerent for writing this, and you're a belligerent for reading this. God help you if you email someone about it or share it on Facebook. We're all going to be busted as belligerents under this one.

See you at Gitmo or the FEMA camps!

Don't forget to Like Freedom Outpost on Facebook, Google Plus, Tea Party Community & Twitter.

Author:Daisy Luther

Daisy Luther is a freelance writer and editor. Her website, The Organic Prepper, offers information on healthy prepping, including premium nutritional choices, general wellness and non-tech solutions. You can follow Daisy on Facebook and Twitter, and you can email her at daisy@theorganicprepper.ca

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Presidential Memorandum -- Aviation Insurance | The White House

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 04:18

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

December 27, 2013

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF TRANSPORTATION

SUBJECT: Provision of Aviation Insurance Coverage for Commercial Air Carrier Service in Domestic and International Operations

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including 49 U.S.C. 44301-44310, I hereby:

1. Determine that the continuation of U.S. air transportation is necessary in the interest of air commerce, national security, and the foreign policy of the United States.

2. Approve provision by the Secretary of Transportation of insurance or reinsurance to U.S.-certificated air carriers against loss or damage arising out of any risk from the operation of an aircraft, in the manner and to the extent provided in chapter 443 of title 49, United States Code, until January 15, 2014, if he determines that such insurance or reinsurance cannot be obtained on reasonable terms from any company authorized to conduct an insurance business in a State of the United States.

3. Delegate to the Secretary of Transportation the authority, vested in me by 49 U.S.C. 44306(c), to extend this approval and determination through December 31, 2014, or until any date prior to December 31, 2014, provided that the Congress further extends the date contained in section 44310 and further provided that he not use this delegation to extend this determination and approval beyond the dates authorized under any such provision of law with an ending effective date prior to December 31, 2014.

You are directed to bring this determination immediately to the attention of all air carriers, as defined in 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(2), and to arrange for its publication in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL OF INSURANCE49 USC § 44302 - General authority | Title 49 - Transportation | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 04:21

Source

(Pub. L. 103''272, § 1(e),July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1168; Pub. L. 105''137, § 2(a),Dec. 2, 1997, 111 Stat. 2640; Pub. L. 107''42, title II, § 201(a),Sept. 22, 2001, 115 Stat. 234; Pub. L. 107''296, title XII, § 1202,Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2286; Pub. L. 108''11, title IV, § 4001(a),Apr. 16, 2003, 117 Stat. 606; Pub. L. 108''176, title I, § 106(a)(1),Dec. 12, 2003, 117 Stat. 2498; Pub. L. 108''447, div. H, title I, § 106(a),Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3204; Pub. L. 109''115, div. A, title I, § 108(a),Nov. 30, 2005, 119 Stat. 2402; Pub. L. 110''161, div. K, title I, § 114(a),Dec. 26, 2007, 121 Stat. 2381; Pub. L. 110''253, § 3(c)(6),June 30, 2008, 122 Stat. 2418; Pub. L. 110''330, § 5(c),Sept. 30, 2008, 122 Stat. 3718; Pub. L. 111''12, § 5(b),Mar. 30, 2009, 123 Stat. 1458; Pub. L. 111''69, § 5(c),Oct. 1, 2009, 123 Stat. 2055; Pub. L. 111''116, § 5(b),Dec. 16, 2009, 123 Stat. 3032; Pub. L. 111''117, div. A, title I, § 114(a),Dec. 16, 2009, 123 Stat. 3042; Pub. L. 111''153, § 5(b),Mar. 31, 2010, 124 Stat. 1085; Pub. L. 111''161, § 5(b),Apr. 30, 2010, 124 Stat. 1127; Pub. L. 111''197, § 5(b),July 2, 2010, 124 Stat. 1354; Pub. L. 111''216, title I, § 104(b),Aug. 1, 2010, 124 Stat. 2349; Pub. L. 111''249, § 5(c),Sept. 30, 2010, 124 Stat. 2628; Pub. L. 111''329, § 5(b),Dec. 22, 2010, 124 Stat. 3567; Pub. L. 112''7, § 5(b),Mar. 31, 2011, 125 Stat. 32; Pub. L. 112''16, § 5(b),May 31, 2011, 125 Stat. 219; Pub. L. 112''21, § 5(b),June 29, 2011, 125 Stat. 234; Pub. L. 112''27, § 5(b),Aug. 5, 2011, 125 Stat. 271; Pub. L. 112''30, title II, § 205(c),Sept. 16, 2011, 125 Stat. 358.)Historical and Revision NotesRevised SectionSource (U.S. Code)Source (Statutes at Large)44302(a)49 App.:1532(a)(1) (less words between 1st and 3d commas), (3).Aug. 23, 1958, Pub. L. 85''726, § 1302(a), 72 Stat. 801; restated Nov. 9, 1977, Pub. L. 95''163, § 2, 91 Stat. 1278; Oct. 31, 1992, Pub. L. 102''581, § 401(b), 106 Stat. 4897.49 App.:1537(a) (last sentence words between 2d and 3d commas).Aug. 23, 1958, Pub. L. 85''726, § 1307(a) (last sentence words between 2d and 3d commas), 72 Stat. 804; Oct. 4, 1984, Pub. L. 98''443, § 9(b), 98 Stat. 1706.44302(b)49 App.:1532(a)(1) (words between 1st and 2d commas), (2).44302(c)49 App.:1532(a)(1) (words between 2d and 3d commas).44302(d)49 App.:1541.Aug. 23, 1958, Pub. L. 85''726, § 1311, 72 Stat. 806.In subsection (a)(1), before clause (A), the words ''Subject to subsection (b) of this section'' are added, and the words ''American aircraft or foreign-flag aircraft'' are substituted for ''aircraft'' in 49 App.:1532(a), for clarity. The words ''in the manner and to the extent provided by this subchapter'' are omitted as unnecessary. The words ''Insurance shall be issued under this subchapter only to cover any risk from the operation of an aircraft .'‚.'‚. such aircraft is'' are omitted because of the restatement. In clause (B), the word ''places'' is substituted for ''points'' for consistency in the revised title.

In subsection (a)(2), the words ''An aircraft may be insured or reinsured for not more than'' are substituted for ''and such stated amount shall not exceed'' in 49 App.:1537(a) for clarity and because of the restatement. The words ''its reasonable value'' are substituted for ''an amount .'‚.'‚. to represent the fair and reasonable value of the aircraft'' to eliminate unnecessary words. The words ''Insurance or reinsurance may be provided only'' are added because of the restatement. The word ''conditions'' is omitted as being included in ''terms''.

In subsection (b), the words ''The Secretary may provide insurance or reinsurance under subsection (a) of this section only with the approval of the President'' are substituted for ''with the approval of the President'' for clarity and because of the restatement. The words ''The President may'' are substituted for ''The President shall'' because the authority of the President is discretionary.

In subsection (c), the words ''the Secretary to consult .'‚.'‚. before providing insurance or reinsurance under this chapter'' are substituted for ''and after such consultation .'‚.'‚. as'' because of the restatement. The words ''departments, agencies, and instrumentalities'' are substituted for ''agencies'' for consistency in the revised title and with other titles of the United States Code.

In subsection (d), the words ''However, the Secretary may not benefit from the additional insurance'' are substituted for ''in that event, the Secretary shall not be entitled to the benefit of such insurance'' for clarity.

References in Text

The date of enactment of this paragraph, referred to in subsec. (b)(4), is the date of enactment of Pub. L. 107''42, which was approved Sept. 22, 2001.The date of enactment of this subsection, referred to in subsec. (f)(1), is the date of enactment of Pub. L. 107''296, which was approved Nov. 25, 2002.Amendments

2011'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 112''30substituted ''January 31, 2012,'' for ''September 16, 2011,'' and ''April 30, 2012,'' for ''December 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''27substituted ''September 16, 2011,'' for ''July 22, 2011,'' and ''December 31, 2011,'' for ''October 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''21substituted ''July 22, 2011,'' for ''June 30, 2011,'' and ''October 31, 2011,'' for ''September 30, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''16substituted ''June 30, 2011,'' for ''May 31, 2011,'' and ''September 30, 2011,'' for ''August 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''7substituted ''May 31, 2011,'' for ''March 31, 2011,'' and ''August 31, 2011,'' for ''June 30, 2011,''.2010'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 111''329, § 5(b), substituted ''March 31, 2011,'' for ''December 31, 2010,'' and ''June 30, 2011,'' for ''March 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 111''249substituted ''December 31, 2010,'' for ''September 30, 2010,'' and ''March 31, 2011,'' for ''December 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''216substituted ''September 30, 2010,'' for ''August 1, 2010,'' and ''December 31, 2010,'' for ''October 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''197substituted ''August 1, 2010,'' for ''July 3, 2010,'' and ''October 31, 2010,'' for ''September 30, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''161substituted ''July 3, 2010,'' for ''April 30, 2010,'' and ''September 30, 2010,'' for ''July 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''153substituted ''April 30, 2010,'' for ''March 31, 2010,'' and ''July 31, 2010,'' for ''June 30, 2010,''.2009'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 111''117, which directed the substitution of ''September 30, 2010,'' for ''September 30, 2009,'' and ''December 31, 2010,'' for ''December 31, 2009,'', could not be executed because of the intervening amendment by Pub. L. 111''69. See below.Pub. L. 111''116substituted ''March 31, 2010,'' for ''December 31, 2009,'' and ''June 30, 2010,'' for ''March 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''69substituted ''December 31, 2009,'' for ''September 30, 2009,'' and ''March 31, 2010,'' for ''December 31, 2009,''.Pub. L. 111''12substituted ''September 30, 2009,'' for ''March 31, 2009,'' and ''December 31, 2009,'' for ''May 31, 2009,''.2008'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 110''330substituted ''March 31, 2009,'' for ''November 30, 2008,'' and ''May 31, 2009,'' for ''December 31, 2008,''.Pub. L. 110''253substituted ''November 30, 2008'' for ''August 31, 2008''.2007'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 110''161substituted ''2008'' for ''2006'' in two places.2005'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 109''115substituted ''2006'' for ''2005'' in two places.2004'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 108''447substituted ''2005'' for ''2004'' in two places.2003'--Subsec. (f)(1). Pub. L. 108''11, substituted ''2004'' for ''2003'' in two places.Subsec. (g). Pub. L. 108''176added subsec. (g).2002'--Subsec. (f). Pub. L. 107''296added subsec. (f).2001'--Subsec. (a)(1). Pub. L. 107''42, § 201(a)(1), substituted ''subsection (c)'' for ''subsection (b)'' and ''foreign-flag aircraft.'' for ''foreign-flag aircraft'--'' and struck out subpars. (A) and (B) which read as follows:''(A) in foreign air commerce; or

''(B) between at least 2 places, all of which are outside the United States.''

Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 107''42, § 201(a)(3), added subsec. (b). Former subsec. (b) redesignated (c).Subsec. (c). Pub. L. 107''42, § 201(a)(2), (4), redesignatedsubsec. (b) as (c), in first sentence inserted '','‚or reimburse an air carrier under subsection (b) of this section,'' before ''only with the approval'', and in second sentence inserted ''or the reimbursement'' before ''only after deciding'' and ''in the interest of air commerce or national security or'' before ''to carry out the foreign policy''. Former subsec. (c) redesignated (d).Subsec. (d). Pub. L. 107''42, § 201(a)(2), (5), redesignatedsubsec. (c) as (d) and inserted ''or reimbursing an air carrier'' before ''under this chapter''. Former subsec. (d) redesignated (e).Subsec. (e). Pub. L. 107''42, § 201(a)(2), redesignatedsubsec. (d) as (e).1997'--Subsec. (a)(2). Pub. L. 105''137substituted ''as determined by the Secretary in accordance with reasonable business practices in the commercial aviation insurance industry.'' for ''as determined by the Secretary.''Effective Date of 2011 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 112''27effective July 23, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''27, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 112''21effective July 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''21, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 112''16effective June 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''16, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 112''7effective Apr. 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''7, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Effective Date of 2010 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 111''329effective Jan. 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''329, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''249effective Oct. 1, 2010, see section 5(l) ofPub. L. 111''249, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''216effective Aug. 2, 2010, see section 104(j) ofPub. L. 111''216, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''197effective July 4, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''197, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''161effective May 1, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''161, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''153effective Apr. 1, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''153, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Effective Date of 2009 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 111''116effective Jan. 1, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''116, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''12effective Apr. 1, 2009, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''12, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Effective Date of 2008 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 110''330effective Oct. 1, 2008, see section 5(l) ofPub. L. 110''330, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 110''253effective July 1, 2008, see section 3(d) ofPub. L. 110''253, set out as a note under section 9502 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code.Effective Date of 2003 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 108''176applicable only to fiscal years beginning after Sept. 30, 2003, except as otherwise specifically provided, see section 3 ofPub. L. 108''176, set out as a note under section 106 of this title.Effective Date of 2002 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 107''296effective 60 days after Nov. 25, 2002, see section 4 ofPub. L. 107''296, set out as an Effective Date note under section 101 of Title 6, Domestic Security.Extension of Termination Date of Policies

Pub. L. 109''289, div. B, title II, § 21002(a), as added by Pub. L. 110''5, § 2,Feb. 15, 2007, 121 Stat. 47, provided that subsec. (f)(1) of this section would be applied by substituting ''September 30, 2007'' for ''August 31, 2006, and may extend through December 31, 2006''.Provision of Aviation Insurance Coverage for Commercial Air Carrier Service

Determination of President of the United States, No. 94''39, July 26, 1994, 59 F.R. 38551, provided:By virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, including 3 U.S.C. 301 and 49 U.S.C. 44302, I hereby:(1) determine that continuation of authorized humanitarian relief air services to Haiti is necessary to carry out the foreign policy of the United States;

(2) approve provision by the Secretary of Transportation of insurance against loss or damage arising out of any risk from the operation of an aircraft in the manner and to the extent provided in 49 U.S.C. 44301''44310, whenever he determines that such insurance cannot be obtained on reasonable terms and conditions from any company authorized to conduct an insurance business in a State of the United States;(3) delegate to the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the authority vested in me by 49 U.S.C. 44302(b) [now 44302(c)], for purposes of responding to the current crisis in Haiti; and(4) delegate to the Secretary of Transportation, in consultation with the Secretary of State, the authority vested in me by 49 U.S.C. 44306(b) [now 44306(c)] for purposes of responding to the current crisis in Haiti.The Secretary of Transportation is directed to bring this determination immediately to the attention of all air carriers within the meaning of 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(2), and to arrange for its publication in the Federal Register.William J. Clinton.Provision of Aviation Insurance Coverage for Commercial Air Carrier Service in Domestic and International Operations

Memorandum of President of the United States, Sept. 28, 2011, 76 F.R. 61247, provided:Memorandum for the Secretary of Transportation

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including 49 U.S.C. 44301''44310, I hereby:1. Determine that the continuation of U.S. commercial air transportation is necessary in the interest of air commerce, national security, and the foreign policy of the United States.

2. Approve the provision by the Secretary of Transportation of insurance or reinsurance to U.S. air carriers against loss or damage arising out of any risk from the operation of an aircraft in the manner and to the extent provided in chapter 443 of title 49 of the U.S. Code until September 30, 2012, when he determines such insurance or reinsurance cannot be obtained on reasonable terms and conditions from any company authorized to conduct an insurance business in a State of the United States.You are directed to bring this determination immediately to the attention of all air carriers, as defined in 49 U.S.C. 40102(a)(2), and to arrange for its publication in the Federal Register.Barack Obama.Prior Presidential documents related to provision of insurance to U.S.-flag commercial air service were contained in the following:

Memorandum of President of the United States, Sept. 29, 2010, 75 F.R. 61033.Memorandum of President of the United States, Aug. 21, 2009, 74 F.R. 43617.Memorandum of President of the United States, Dec. 23, 2008, 73 F.R. 79589.Memorandum of President of the United States, Dec. 27, 2007, 73 F.R. 1813.Memorandum of President of the United States, Dec. 21, 2006, 71 F.R. 77243.Memorandum of President of the United States, Dec. 22, 2005, 70 F.R. 76669.Determination of President of the United States, No. 2005''15, Dec. 21, 2004, 69 F.R. 77607.Determination of President of the United States, No. 2004''13, Dec. 11, 2003, 69 F.R. 5237.Determination of President of the United States, No. 01''29, Sept. 23, 2001, 66 F.R. 49075.

INSURANCE-49 USC § 44303 - Coverage | Title 49 - Transportation | U.S. Code | LII / Legal Information Institute

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(Pub. L. 103''272, § 1(e),July 5, 1994, 108 Stat. 1169; Pub. L. 107''42, title II, § 201(b)(1),Sept. 22, 2001, 115 Stat. 235; Pub. L. 107''296, title XII, § 1201,Nov. 25, 2002, 116 Stat. 2286; Pub. L. 108''11, title IV, § 4001(b),Apr. 16, 2003, 117 Stat. 606; Pub. L. 108''176, title I, § 106(a)(3), (b),Dec. 12, 2003, 117 Stat. 2499; Pub. L. 108''447, div. H, title I, § 106(b),Dec. 8, 2004, 118 Stat. 3204; Pub. L. 109''115, div. A, title I, § 108(b),Nov. 30, 2005, 119 Stat. 2402; Pub. L. 110''161, div. K, title I, § 114(b),Dec. 26, 2007, 121 Stat. 2381; Pub. L. 110''253, § 3(c)(7),June 30, 2008, 122 Stat. 2418; Pub. L. 110''330, § 5(d),Sept. 30, 2008, 122 Stat. 3718; Pub. L. 111''12, § 5(c),Mar. 30, 2009, 123 Stat. 1458; Pub. L. 111''69, § 5(d),Oct. 1, 2009, 123 Stat. 2055; Pub. L. 111''116, § 5(c),Dec. 16, 2009, 123 Stat. 3032; Pub. L. 111''117, div. A, title I, § 114(b),Dec. 16, 2009, 123 Stat. 3043; Pub. L. 111''153, § 5(c),Mar. 31, 2010, 124 Stat. 1085; Pub. L. 111''161, § 5(c),Apr. 30, 2010, 124 Stat. 1127; Pub. L. 111''197, § 5(c),July 2, 2010, 124 Stat. 1354; Pub. L. 111''216, title I, § 104(c),Aug. 1, 2010, 124 Stat. 2349; Pub. L. 111''249, § 5(d),Sept. 30, 2010, 124 Stat. 2628; Pub. L. 111''329, § 5(c),Dec. 22, 2010, 124 Stat. 3567; Pub. L. 112''7, § 5(c),Mar. 31, 2011, 125 Stat. 32; Pub. L. 112''16, § 5(c),May 31, 2011, 125 Stat. 219; Pub. L. 112''21, § 5(c),June 29, 2011, 125 Stat. 234; Pub. L. 112''27, § 5(c),Aug. 5, 2011, 125 Stat. 271; Pub. L. 112''30, title II, § 205(d),Sept. 16, 2011, 125 Stat. 358.)Historical and Revision NotesRevised SectionSource (U.S. Code)Source (Statutes at Large)4430349 App.:1533.Aug. 23, 1958, Pub. L. 85''726, § 1303, 72 Stat. 801; restated Nov. 9, 1977, Pub. L. 95''163, § 3, 91 Stat. 1279.In this section, before clause (1), the words ''persons, property, or interest'' are omitted as unnecessary. In clause (2), the word ''property'' is substituted for ''Cargoes'' and ''air cargoes'' for consistency in the revised title. In clause (2)(B) and (C), the words ''its territories, or possessions'' are omitted as unnecessary because of the definition of ''United States'' in section 40102(a) of the revised title. In clause (2)(C)(ii), the word ''contract'' is substituted for ''contracts of sale or purchase'', and the words ''putting .'‚.'‚. on'' are substituted for ''is assumed by or falls upon'', to eliminate unnecessary words. In clause (2)(D), the word ''place'' is substituted for ''point'' for consistency in the revised title. In subclause (i), the words ''a State or the District of Columbia'' are substituted for ''the United States'' for clarity and consistency because the definition of ''United States'' in section 40102(a) of the revised title is too broad for the context of the clause. The definition in section 40102(a) includes territories and possession and would therefore overlap with subclauses (ii) and (iii). In subclause (iii), the words ''2 places in the same territory or possession of the United States'' are substituted for ''any point in any such territory or possession and any other point in the same territory or possession'' for clarity. In clauses (3) and (4), the word ''individuals'' is substituted for ''persons'' as being more appropriate. The words ''captains'' and ''pilots'' are omitted as being included in ''officers and members of the crew''.Codification

The text of section 201(b)(2) ofPub. L. 107''42, which was transferred and redesignated so as to appear as subsec. (b) of this section and amended by Pub. L. 107''296, was based on Pub. L. 107''42, title II, § 201(b)(2),Sept. 22, 2001, 115 Stat. 235, formerly included in a note set out under section 40101 of this title.Amendments

2011'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 112''30substituted ''April 30, 2012,'' for ''December 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''27substituted ''December 31, 2011,'' for ''October 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''21substituted ''October 31, 2011,'' for ''September 30, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''16substituted ''September 30, 2011,'' for ''August 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 112''7substituted ''August 31, 2011,'' for ''June 30, 2011,''.2010'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 111''329substituted ''June 30, 2011,'' for ''March 31, 2011,''.Pub. L. 111''249substituted ''March 31, 2011,'' for ''December 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''216substituted ''December 31, 2010,'' for ''October 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''197substituted ''October 31, 2010,'' for ''September 30, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''161substituted ''September 30, 2010,'' for ''July 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''153substituted ''July 31, 2010,'' for ''June 30, 2010,''.2009'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 111''117, which directed the substitution of ''December 31, 2010,'' for ''December 31, 2009,'', could not be executed due to the intervening amendment by Pub. L. 111''69. See below.Pub. L. 111''116substituted ''June 30, 2010,'' for ''March 31, 2010,''.Pub. L. 111''69substituted ''March 31, 2010,'' for ''December 31, 2009,''.Pub. L. 111''12substituted ''December 31, 2009,'' for ''May 31, 2009,''.2008'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 110''330substituted ''May 31, 2009,'' for ''March 31, 2009,''.Pub. L. 110''253substituted ''March 31, 2009'' for ''December 31, 2008''.2007'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 110''161substituted ''2008,'' for ''2006,''.2005'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 109''115substituted ''2006'' for ''2005''.2004'--Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 108''447substituted ''2005'' for ''2004'.2003'--Subsec. (a). Pub. L. 108''176, § 106(a)(3)(A), substituted ''In General'' for ''In general'' in heading.Subsec. (a)(6). Pub. L. 108''176, § 106(a)(3)(B), added par. (6).Subsec. (b). Pub. L. 108''176, § 106(b), inserted at end ''The Secretary may extend the provisions of this subsection to an aircraft manufacturer (as defined in section 44301) of the aircraft of the air carrier involved.''Pub. L. 108''11substituted ''2004'' for ''2003''.2002'--Pub. L. 107''296designated existing provisions as subsec. (a), inserted heading, transferred and redesignated the text of section 201(b)(2) ofPub. L. 107''42so as to appear as subsec. (b), in heading substituted ''Air Carrier Liability for Third Party Claims Arising Out of Acts of Terrorism'' for ''Discretion of the Secretary'', and in text substituted ''the period beginning on September 22, 2001, and ending on December 31, 2003, the Secretary'' for ''the 180-day period following the date of enactment of this Act, the Secretary of Transportation'' and ''this subsection'' for ''this paragraph''. See Codification note above.2001'--Pub. L. 107''42, § 201(b)(1)(A), inserted '','‚or reimburse insurance costs, as'' after ''insurance and reinsurance'' in introductory provisions.Par. (1). Pub. L. 107''42, § 201(b)(1)(B), inserted ''in the interest of air commerce or national security or'' before ''to carry out the foreign policy''.Effective Date of 2011 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 112''27effective July 23, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''27, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 112''21effective July 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''21, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 112''16effective June 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''16, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 112''7effective Apr. 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 112''7, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Effective Date of 2010 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 111''329effective Jan. 1, 2011, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''329, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''249effective Oct. 1, 2010, see section 5(l) ofPub. L. 111''249, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''216effective Aug. 2, 2010, see section 104(j) ofPub. L. 111''216, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''197effective July 4, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''197, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''161effective May 1, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''161, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''153effective Apr. 1, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''153, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Effective Date of 2009 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 111''116effective Jan. 1, 2010, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''116, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 111''12effective Apr. 1, 2009, see section 5(j) ofPub. L. 111''12, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Effective Date of 2008 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 110''330effective Oct. 1, 2008, see section 5(l) ofPub. L. 110''330, set out as a note under section 40117 of this title.Amendment by Pub. L. 110''253effective July 1, 2008, see section 3(d) ofPub. L. 110''253, set out as a note under section 9502 of Title 26, Internal Revenue Code.Effective Date of 2003 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 108''176applicable only to fiscal years beginning after Sept. 30, 2003, except as otherwise specifically provided, see section 3 ofPub. L. 108''176, set out as a note under section 106 of this title.Effective Date of 2002 Amendment

Amendment by Pub. L. 107''296effective 60 days after Nov. 25, 2002, see section 4 ofPub. L. 107''296, set out as an Effective Date note under section 101 of Title 6, Domestic Security.Extension of Limitation of Air Carrier Liability

Pub. L. 109''289, div. B, title II, § 21002(b), as added by Pub. L. 110''5, § 2,Feb. 15, 2007, 121 Stat. 48, provided that subsec. (b) of this section would be applied by substituting ''September 30, 2007'' for ''December 31, 2006''.

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SnowJob

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The Snowden Effect, Continued

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As I may have mentioned before, I am an old-guy fencing dude, an aging epee hack, and within that community, the 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that took the lives of the entire Cuban national fencing team is somewhat legendary, since many people I know were competing at the international level at the time, and the terrorist act shook the sport quite profoundly. One of the people widely believed to have helped plot the bombing was a man named Orlando Bosch, an anti-Castro fanatic and onetime CIA asset who was put on trial in Venezuela for his involvement in the bombing, but against whom the case collapsed when the prosecution bungled their evidence. Eventually, Bosch -- who, when once asked about whether he'd been involved in the plot, answered, "I'm supposed to say 'no.'" -- was granted safe haven in Miami by President George H.W, Bush. This is the same fellow who pardoned almost everyone convicted in the profound treason of the Iran-Contra Scandal shortly before he blew town in 1992.

I mention this because the New York Times today broached the notion of granting clemency to Edward Snowden.

Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service. It is time for the United States to offer Mr. Snowden a plea bargain or some form of clemency that would allow him to return home, face at least substantially reduced punishment in light of his role as a whistle-blower, and have the hope of a life advocating for greater privacy and far stronger oversight of the runaway intelligence community.

Now it is entirely possible -- indeed, it may even be likely -- that Snowden would not accept clemency, and I doubt very seriously if he'd accept even a "substantially reduced" criminal punishment, since you can drive a truck through that adverb right there. He has given no indication that he believes he's done anything wrong -- or, at least, to brutalize some Shakespeare, he's indicated that he did a little wrong to do a great right. But there is in this editorial a sense that elite opinion has turned away from defining the entire debate over the surveillance state by whether or not you happen to like the person whose revelations kick-started the debate in the first place. (For a sad and hilarious example of what I'm talking about here, we have this Washington Post column by Ruth Marcus, scourge of potty-mouthed teenagers, whom Edward Snowden has forced to think complicated things.) This is a useful development, since, as the invaluable Marcy Wheeler points out today, the internal "reforms" for the NSA have to be carefully watched as they proceed lest we all mistake crusts for bread.

Bring him home. Sentence him to time served in Putin's Russia. Make it as quiet and uncomplicated as possible. And let the debate -- and real reform -- go on without him. He deserves to live in this country in as much peace as Orlando Bosch did, and with as many career opportunities as have been afforded Elliott Abrams and Ollie North, who did not release information for free but, rather, some missiles to terror states for money.

------------------------------------------------

The Psychological Dark Side of Gmail | Alternet

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Google is using its popular Gmail service to build profiles on the hundreds of millions of people who use it.

December 29, 2013 |

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This article first appeared on PandoDaily.

''We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about.''

''Your digital identity will live forever'... because there's no delete button.'' '--Eric Schmidt

Some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley recently announced that they had gotten together to form a new forward-thinking organization dedicated to promoting government surveillance reform in the name of ''free expression'' and ''privacy.''

The charade should have been laughed at and mocked '-- after all, these same companies feed on privacy for profit, and unfettered surveillance is their stock and trade. Instead, it was met with cheers and fanfare from reporters and privacy and tech experts alike. ''Finally!'' people cried, Silicon Valley has grown up and matured enough to help society tackle the biggest problem of our age: the runaway power of the modern surveillance state.

The Guardian described the tech companies' plan as ''radical,'' and predicted it would ''end many of the current programs through which governments spy on citizens at home and abroad.'' Laura W. Murphy, Director of ACLU's DC Legislative Office, published an impassioned blog post praising tech giants for urging President Barack Obama and Congress to enact comprehensive reform of government surveillance. Silicon Valley booster Jeff Jarvis could hardly contain his glee. ''Bravo,'' he yelped. ''The companies came down at last on the side of citizens over spies.'' And then added:

"Spying is bad for the internet; what's bad for the internet is bad for Silicon Valley; and '-- to reverse the old General Motors saw '-- what's bad for Silicon Valley is bad for America."

But while leading tech and privacy experts like Jarvis slobber over Silicon Valley megacorps and praise their heroic stand against oppressive government surveillance, most still don't seem to mind that these same tech billionaires run vast private sector surveillance operations of their own. They vacuum up private information and use it to compile detailed dossiers on hundreds of millions of people around the world '-- and that's on top of their work colluding and contracting with government intelligence agencies.

If you step back and look at the bigger picture, it's not hard to see that Silicon Valley is heavily engaged in for-profit surveillance, and that it dwarfs anything being run by the NSA.

I recently wrote about Google's Street View program, and how after a series of investigations in the US and Europe, we learned that Google had used its Street View cars to carry out a covert '-- and certainly illegal '-- espionage operation on a global scale, siphoning loads of personally identifiable data from people's Wi-Fi connections all across the world. Emails, medical records, love notes, passwords, the whole works '-- anything that wasn't encrypted was fair game. It was all part of the original program design: Google had equipped its Street View cars with surveillance gear designed to intercept and vacuum up all the wireless network communication data that crossed their path. An FCC investigation showing that the company knowingly deployed Street View's surveillance program, and then had analyzed and integrated the data that it had intercepted.

Most disturbingly, when its Street View surveillance program was uncovered by regulators, Google pulled every crisis management trick in the book to confuse investors, dodge questions, avoid scrutiny, and prevent the public from finding out the truth. The company's behavior got so bad that the FCC fined it for obstruction of justice.

The investigation in Street View uncovered a dark side to Google. But as alarming as it was, Google's Street View wiretapping scheme was just a tiny experimental program compared Google's bread and butter: a massive surveillance operation that intercepts and analyzes terabytes of global Internet traffic every day, and then uses that data to build and update complex psychological profiles on hundreds of millions of people all over the world '-- all of it in real time. You've heard about this program. You probably interact with it every day. You call it Gmail.

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Google's for-profit surveillance problem | PandoDaily

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By Yasha LevineOn December 16, 2013

''We know where you are. We know where you've been. We can more or less know what you're thinking about.''

''Your digital identity will live forever'... because there's no delete button.''

'--Eric Schmidt

Early last week, some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley announced that they had gotten together to form a new forward-thinking organization dedicated to promoting government surveillance reform in the name of ''free expression'' and ''privacy.''

The charade should have been laughed at and mocked '-- after all, these same companies feed on privacy for profit, and unfettered surveillance is their stock and trade. Instead, it was met with cheers and fanfare from reporters and privacy and tech experts alike. ''Finally!'' people cried, Silicon Valley has grown up and matured enough to help society tackle the biggest problem of our age: the runaway power of the modern surveillance state.

The Guardian described the tech companies' plan as ''radical,'' and predicted it would ''end many of the current programs through which governments spy on citizens at home and abroad.'' Laura W. Murphy, Director of ACLU's DC Legislative Office, published an impassioned blog post praising tech giants for urging President Barack Obama and Congress to enact comprehensive reform of government surveillance. Silicon Valley booster Jeff Jarvis could hardly contain his glee. ''Bravo,'' he yelped. ''The companies came down at last on the side of citizens over spies.'' And then added:

Spying is bad for the internet; what's bad for the internet is bad for Silicon Valley; and '-- to reverse the old General Motors saw '-- what's bad for Silicon Valley is bad for America.

But while leading tech and privacy experts like Jarvis slobber over Silicon Valley megacorps and praise their heroic stand against oppressive government surveillance, most still don't seem to mind that these same tech billionaires run vast private sector surveillance operations of their own: hi-tech spying operations that vacuum up private information and use it to compile detailed dossiers on hundreds of millions of people around the world '-- and that's on top of their work colluding and contracting with government intelligence agencies.

If you step back and look at the bigger picture, it's not hard to see that Silicon Valley runs on for-profit surveillance, and that it dwarfs anything being run by the NSA.

Last week, I wrote about Google's Street View program, and how after a series of investigations in the US and Europe, we learned that Google had used its Street View cars to carry out a covert '-- and certainly illegal '-- espionage operation on a global scale, siphoning loads of personally identifiable data from people's Wi-Fi connections all across the world. Emails, medical records, love notes, passwords, the whole works '-- anything that wasn't encrypted was fair game. It was all part of the original program design: Google had equipped its Street View cars with surveillance gear designed to intercept and vacuum up all the wireless network communication data that crossed their path. An FCC investigation showing that the company knowingly deployed Street View's surveillance program, and then had analyzed and integrated the data that it had intercepted.

Most disturbingly, when its Street View surveillance program was uncovered by regulators, Google pulled every crisis management trick in the book to confuse investors, dodge questions, avoid scrutiny, and prevent the public from finding out the truth. The company's behavior got so bad that the FCC fined it for obstruction of justice.

The investigation in Street View uncovered a dark side to Google. But as alarming as it was, Google's Street View wiretapping scheme was just a tiny experimental program compared Google's bread and butter: a massive surveillance operation that intercepts and analyzes terabytes of global Internet traffic every day, and then uses that data to build and update complex psychological profiles on hundreds of millions of people all over the world '-- all of it in real time. You've heard about this program. You probably interact with it every day. You call it Gmail.

Google launched Gmail in 2004. It was the company's first major ''log in'' service and was aimed at poaching email users from Microsoft and Yahoo. To do that, Google offered one gigabyte of free storage space standard with every account. It was an insane amount of data at the time '-- at least several hundred times more space than what was being offered by Yahoo or Hotmail '-- and people signed up en masse. At one point, Gmail's limited pre-public release invites were so desirable that at one point they fetched over $150 on eBay.

To tech reporters Gmail's free email service was nothing short of revolutionary. New York Times tech columnist David Pogue wrote: ''One gigabyte changes everything. You no longer live in terror that somebody will send you a photo, thereby exceeding your two-megabyte limit and making all subsequent messages bounce back to their senders.''

And what about the fact that Gmail scanned your email correspondence to deliver targeted ads?

Well, what of it?

Gmail users handed over all their personal correspondence to Google, giving the company to right to scan, analyze, and retain in perpetuity their correspondence in return for a gigabyte of gigabyte of storage, which even at that early stage already cost Google only $2 per gigabyte per year.

Selling the contents of our private and business life to a for-profit corporation in return for half a Big Mac a year? What a steal!

You'd be hard pressed to find a bum who'd sell out to Google that cheap. But most mainstream tech journalist weren't that scrupulous, and lined up to boost Gmail to the public.

''The only population likely not to be delighted by Gmail are those still uncomfortable with those computer-generated ads. Those people are free to ignore or even bad-mouth Gmail, but they shouldn't try to stop Google from offering Gmail to the rest of us. We know a good thing when we see it,'' wrote Pogue in 2004.

But not everyone was as excited as Mr. Pogue.

Several privacy groups, including the Electronic Privacy Information Center, were alarmed by Gmail's vast potential for privacy abuse. In particular, EPIC was concerned that Google was not restricting its email scanning activities solely to its registered user base, but was intercepting and analyzing the private communication of anyone who emailed with a Gmail user:

''Gmail violates the privacy rights of non-subscribers. Non-subscribers who e-mail a Gmail user have 'content extraction' performed on their e-mail even though they have not consented to have their communications monitored, nor may they even be aware that their communications are being analyzed,'' EPIC explained at the time. The organization pointed out that this practice almost certainly violates California wiretapping statues '-- which expressly criminalizes the interception of electronic communication without consent of all parties involved.

What spooked EPIC even more: Google was not simply scanning people's emails for advertising keywords, but had developed underlying technology to compile sophisticated dossiers of everyone who came through its email system. All communication was subject to deep linguistic analysis; conversations were parsed for keywords, meaning and even tone; individuals were matched to real identities using contact information stored in a user's Gmail address book; attached documents were scraped for intel '-- that info was then cross-referenced with previous email interactions and combined with stuff gleamed from other Google services, as well as third-party sources'...

Here's are some of the things that Google would use to construct its profiles, gleamed from twopatents company filed prior to launching its Gmail service:

Concepts and topics discussed in email, as well as email attachmentsThe content of websites that users have visitedDemographic information '-- including income, sex, race, marital statusGeographic informationPsychographic information '-- personality type, values, attitudes, interests and lifestyle interestsPrevious searches users have madeInformation about documents a user viewed and or edited by the usersBrowsing activityPrevious purchasesTo EPIC, Google's interception and use of such detailed personal information was clearly violation of California law, and the organization called on California's Attorney General promised to investigate Google's Gmail service. The Attorney General promise to look into the matter, but nothing much happened.

Meanwhile, Gmail's user base continued to rocket. As of this month, there are something like 425 million active users around the world using email services. Individuals, schools, universities, companies, government employees, non-profits '-- and it's not just Gmail anymore.

After its runaway success with Gmail, Google aggressively expanded its online presence, buying up smaller tech companies and deploying a staggering number of services and apps. In just a few years, Google had suddenly become ubiquitous, inserting themselves into almost every aspect of our lives: We search through Google, browse the Web through Google, write in Google, store our files in Google and use Google to drive and take public transport. Hell, even our mobile phones run on Google.

All these services might appear disparate and unconnected. To the uninitiated, Google's offering of free services '-- from email, to amazing mobile maps, to a powerful replacement for Microsoft Office '-- might seem like charity. Why give away this stuff for free? But to think that way is to miss the fundamental purpose that Google serves and why it can generate nearly $20 billion in profits a year.

The Google services and apps that we interact with on a daily basis aren't the company's main product: They are the harvesting machines that dig up and process the stuff that Google really sells: for-profit intelligence.

Google isn't a traditional Internet service company. It isn't even an advertising company. Google is a whole new type of beast: a global advertising-intelligence company that tries to funnel as much user activity in the real and online world through its services in order to track, analyze and profile us: it tracks as much of our daily lives as possible '-- who we are, what we do, what we like, where we go, who we talk to, what we think about, what we're interested in '-- all those things are seized, packaged, commodified and sold on the market '-- at this point, most of the business comes from matching the right ad to the right eyeballs. But who knows how the massive database Google's compiling on all of us will be used in the future.

No wonder that when Google first rolled out Gmail in 2004, cofounder Larry Page refused to rule out that the company would never combine people's search and browsing history with their Gmail account profiles: ''It might be really useful for us to know that information. I'd hate to rule anything like that out.'' Indeed it was. Profitable, too.

It's been almost a decade since Google launched its Gmail service, but the fundamental questions about the legality of the company's surveillance operations first posed by EPIC have not been resolved.

Indeed, a class action lawsuit currently winding its way through California federal court system shows that we've not moved an inch.

The complaint '-- a consolidation of six separate class action lawsuits that had been filed against Google in California, Florida, Illinois, Maryland and Pennsylvania '-- accuses Google of illegally intercepting, reading and profiting off people's private correspondence without compensation. The lawsuit directly challenges Google's legal right to indiscriminately vacuum up people's data without clear consent, and just might be the biggest threat Google has ever faced.

Here's how the New York Times described the case:

Wiretapping is typically the stuff of spy dramas and shady criminal escapades. But now, one of the world's biggest Web companies, Google, must defend itself against accusations that it is illegally wiretapping in the course of its everyday business '-- gathering data about Internet users and showing them related ads.

'...The Gmail case involves Google's practice of automatically scanning e-mail messages and showing ads based on the contents of the e-mails. The plaintiffs include voluntary Gmail users, people who have to use Gmail as part of an educational institution and non-Gmail users whose messages were received by a Gmail user. They say the scanning of the messages violates state and federal antiwiretapping laws.

Google has aggressively fought the lawsuit. It first convinced a judge to put it under seal '-- which redacted most of the complaint and made it unavailable to public scrutiny '-- and then made a series of disingenuous arguments in an attempt to get the get the lawsuit preemptively dismissed. Google's attorneys didn't dispute its for-profit surveillance activities. What they claimed was that intercepting and analyzing electronic communication, and using that information to build sophisticated psychological profiles, was no different than scanning emails for viruses or spam. And then they made a stunning admission, arguing that as far as Google saw it, people who used Internet services for communication had ''no legitimate expectation of privacy'' '-- and thus anyone who emailed with Gmail users had given ''implied consent'' for Google to intercept and analyze their email exchange.

No expectation of privacy? Implied consent for surveillance?

Google's claims were transparently disingenuous, and Judge Lucy Koh rejected them out of hand and allowed the lawsuit to proceed.

Unfortunately, it's difficult to comment on or analyze the contents of the class action lawsuit filed against Google, as the company redacted just about all of it. One thing is clear: the complaint goes beyond simple wiretapping and brings into question an even bigger concern: Who owns the digital personal information about our lives '-- our thoughts, ideas, interactions, personal secrets, preferences, desires and hopes? And can all these things be seized bit by bit, analyzed, packaged, commodified and then bought and sold on the market like any other good? Can Google do that? What rights do we have over our inner lives? It's scary and crazy. Especially when you think kids born today: Their entire lives will be digitally surveilled, recorded, analyzed, stored somewhere and then passed around from company to company. What happens to that information?

What happens to all this data in the future should be of serious concern. Not only because, with the right warrant (or in many cases without) the data is available to law enforcement. But also because in the unregulated hands of Google, our aggregated psychological profiles are an extremely valuable asset that could end us used for almost anything.

EPIC points out that Google reservers the right to ''transfer all of the information, including any profiles created, if and when it is merged or sold.'' How do we know that information won't end up in some private background check database that'll be available to your boss? How do we know this information won't be hacked or stolen and won't fall into the hands of scammers and repressive dictators?

The answer is: We don't. And these tech companies would rather keep us in the dark and not caring.

Google's corporate leadership understands that increased privacy regulations could torpedo its entire business model and the company takes quite a lot of space on its SEC filing disclosing the dangers to its investors:

Privacy concerns relating to elements of our technology could damage our reputation and deter current and potential users from using our products and services'...

We also face risks from legislation that could be passed in the future. For example, there is a risk that state legislatures will attempt to regulate the automated scanning of email messages in ways that interfere with our Gmail free advertising-supported web mail service. Any such legislation could make it more difficult for us to operate or could prohibit the aspects of our Gmail service that uses computers to match advertisements to the content of a user's email message when email messages are viewed using the service. This could prevent us from implementing the Gmail service in any affected states and impair our ability to compete in the email services market'...

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has not been shy about his company's views on Internet privacy: People don't have any, nor should they expect it. ''If you have something that you don't want anyone to know, maybe you shouldn't be doing it in the first place,'' he infamously told CNBC in 2009. And he's right. Because true Internet privacy and real surveillance reform would be the end of Google.

And not just Google, but nearly every major consumer Silicon Valley company '-- all of them feed people's personal data one way or another and depend on for-profit surveillance for survival.

Which brings me to Silicon Valley's ''Reform Government Surveillance'' project.

The fact that the biggest, most data-hungry companies in Silicon Valley joined up in a cynical effort to shift attention away from their own for-profit surveillance operations and blame it all on big bad government is to be expected. What's surprising is just how many supposed journalists and so-called privacy advocates fell for it.

EPIC - Gmail Privacy FAQ

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Frequently Asked Questions1. What is Gmail and and what privacy risks does it raise?1.1 What is Google's Gmail?1.2 What is your position on Google's Gmail?1.3 What privacy risks are presented by Gmail?1.4 When did this issue arise, and what has happened since then?1.5 What other things has Google been doing that might affect my privacy?

2. Technical details about Gmail2.1 How does Google's "content extraction" work?2.2 What is "internal" and "external" e-mail information used in the analysis?2.3 Will Gmail build profiles of subscribers and/or non-subscribers?2.4 Why is Gmail different than spam filtering?2.5 It's a computer, not a person reading your e-mail. What's the big deal?2.6 What patents has Google filed for Gmail?

3. Legal details3.1 What are the Federal wiretapping laws, and does Gmail implicate them?3.2 What is California's wiretapping law, and why does Gmail implicate it?3.3 Is there a "service provider exception" under California wiretapping law?3.4 What legal objections have been raised in other countries?

4. What can you do?4.1 Don't sign up for Gmail4.2 Don't send e-mails to @gmail.com addresses4.3 Reduce the possibility of tracking you through your cookies4.4 What are YOU guys doing about it?

1. What is Gmail and and what privacy risks does it raise?

1.1 What is Google's Gmail?

Gmail is a web-based e-mail service offered by Google offering one-gigabyte (1000 megabytes) of e-mail storage to users, five hundred times the capacity offered by Microsoft's Hotmail (as of June 2004, although banner advertising-supported web-based e-mail services, including Hotmail and Yahoo! have or plan to increase their storage capacity in response to the competitive pressure of Gmail).

Gmail is supported by advertisers who buy keywords, much like the Google search engine's AdWordsadvertising program. Gmail uses "content extraction" (the term used in Google's patents) on all incoming and outgoing e-mail in order to target the advertising to the user. For example, if the user is having an e-mail conversation about applying for a job, Gmail might present the user with ads about online job search sites and resume writing services.

1.2 What is your position on Google's Gmail?

Gmail violates the privacy rights of non-subscribers. Non-subscribers who e-mail a Gmail user have "content extraction" performed on their e-mail even though they have not consented to have their communications monitored, nor may they even be aware that their communications are being analyzed. Subscribers to Gmail also face risks to their privacy; those risks are outlined below.

1.3 What privacy risks are presented by Gmail?

a. Non-Subscribers Do Not Consent to "Content Extraction."Subscribers consent to "content extraction" and analysis of their e-mail ("We serve highly relevant ads and other information as part of the service using our unique content-targeting technology," according to the privacy policy). But non-subscribers who are e-mailing a Gmail user have not consented, and indeed may not even be aware that their communications are being analyzed or that a profile may being compiled on him or her. (See 2.3 "Will Google Build Profiles of Subscribers and/or Non-subscribers?")

b. Unlimited Data Retention.While the prospect of never having to delete or file an e-mail is an attractive feature for space-hungry users, the implications of indefinite storage of e-mail communications presents several serious implications. Although Google has is held in high esteem by the public as a good corporate citizen, past performance is no guarantee of future behavior -- especially following Google's IPO when the company will have a legal duty to maximize shareholder wealth. Although Google currently saysthat they will not record the "concepts" extracted from scanned e-mails, they could decide to do so in the future and thereby create detailed profiles of users. Building such profiles on years of past communication in addition to current communications is made easier if users never delete e-mails. Additionally, communications stored for more than 180 days are exposed to lower protectionsfrom law enforcement access; with Gmail, many such e-mails could be made easily available to police.

c. Profiling Across Google Product Line.Google uses cookies to track users (and preserve preference across sessions) on the Google search engine. Gmail also uses cookies. Google's personal information-rich social networking service, Orkut, does as well. Although Google saidthat it does not cross-reference the cookies, nothing is stopping them from doing so at any time ("It might be really useful for us to know that information. I'd hate to rule anything like that out," saidGoogle co-founder Larry Page). Google retains a powerful ability to create incredibly detailed profiles on users, whether or not they do so today: e-mail addresses and "concept" information about a persons's friends, family and co-workers; the daily search terms typed into Google; and myriad personal information provided to Orkut. The Gmail privacy policyexplicitly allows such uses: "Google may share cookie information among its other services for the purpose of providing you a better experience." (See also 2.3 "Will Google Build Profiles of Subscribers and/or Non-subscribers?") Additionally, Google has extremely long cookie expiration dates that preserve the cookie until the year 2038 (see 1.5 What other things has Google been doing that might affect my privacy?)

d. Bad Legal Precedent.In the United States, violations of privacy with respect to the Fourth Amendment are based partly on whether the person had a legitimate expectation of privacy. If a major online e-mail provider such as Google is allowed to monitor private communications -- even in an automated way -- the expectations of e-mail privacy may be eroded. That is, courts may consider the service as evidence of a lack of a reasonable expectation in e-mail. Businesses and government organizations may thus find it easier to legally monitor e-mail communications. These effects are long-term and will undoubtedly outlive Google.

e. Insufficient Privacy Policy.Google can transfer all of the information, including any profiles created, if and when it is merged or sold ("We reserve the right to transfer your personal information in the event of a transfer of ownership of Google, such as acquisition by or merger with another company".) Also, Google can make unilateral changes to the policy and unless it deems them "significant," it may not even notify users ("If we make any significant changes to this policy, we will notify you by posting a notice of such changes on the Gmail login page.") Finally, as outlined above, the policy regarding retention is very broad: "...residual copies of e-mail may remain on our systems for some time, even after you have deleted messages from your mailbox or after the termination of your account." (These and the rest of the references to the privacy policyare based on the 6/28/2004version.)

Google changed the Googleprivacy policy on 6/28/2004 in order to complywith the California Online Privacy Protection Act. (Google should provide a "redline" version that shows the differences between the two policies, as it has done with the Gmail Program Policies.) The most significant change in the privacy policy is that Google more explicitly reserves its legal right to track users across Google products (" If you have an account, we may share the information submitted under your account among all of our services in order to provide you with a seamless experience and to improve the quality of our service") much like a similar provision in the Gmail Privacy Policy (see 2.3 "Will Google Build Profiles of Subscribers and/or Non-subscribers?"). Google claims that they do not currently track users or create profiles, nor does it intend to do so in the future. But if that is so, why does it need to explicitly reserve the right to do so?

Additionally, privacy policies may provide weak protection as other major online web service providers have unilaterally changed their privacy policies to the detriment of their users, including Amazon.com.

1.4 When did this issue arise, and what has happened since then?

April 1, 2004

In a press release, Google announced launch of the Gmail service. Many initially thought this release was part of Google's traditional April Fools joke. The service is only available to a limited number of beta testers, not yet to the general public.April 6, 2004

Thirty-one privacy and civil liberties groups signed an open letterto Google, urging it to suspend the Gmail service until its serious privacy issues are resolved.April 20, 2004

California State Senator Liz Figueroaadvanced an amended version of SB 1822, a bill concerning privacy of electronic communications.May 3, 2004

May 6, 2004

The California State Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearingon Sen. Figueroa's bill, SB 1822. Click hereto watch a video of this hearing (requires RealPlayer).June 4, 2004

CA's Attorney General respondedto the letter, acknowledging the potential wiretapping violation, and promising to look into the matter.1.5 What other things has Google been doing that might affect my privacy?

It is common knowledge that Google's general motto and one of their "cherished core values" is "Don't be evil." (See Google's Jobs Page, left hand sidebar). However, many have recently come to question this assertion, criticizing Google's actions across a wide range of activities. The following is a brief list of some criticisms directed at Google's record on privacy in arenas other than Gmail:

Every time you visit a Google.com site, a cookie placed on your computer. This cookie is linked to your computer by a unique identifying number and enables tracking of all searches performed along with your browser type and IP address. This Google cookie does not expire until the year 2038 unlike most other major web sites which have a much shorter durations. Google claims that this cookie is required to set preferences for Google sites, but that you can still perform searches without the cookie. For more information, see the following sources:

In 2001, Google acquiredDeja.com's Usenet Discussion Service, providing Google with Deja.com's entire Usenet archive, dating back to 1995. Google integrated this database into their Google Groupsservice. Many were uneasywith Deja.com's service even before it was acquired by Google, because of the vast amount of information and messages contained in these archives, which nobody had really contemplated being amassed in such an accessible and searchable way. A Deja News executive even once stated: "We're positioned to become the largest content aggregator in the world." Now, with this service integrated into Google's site, the archive extends back to 1981 and encompasses over 845 million Usenet messages. Google has, however, made it possiblefor users to request that their posts be removed from this archive.A new social networking site, Orkut, debuted in January, 2004, "in association with" Google. Google representatives have statedthat the site is affiliated with Google, developed by one of its engineers Orkut Buyukkokten during his obligatory one-day-per-week of personal project work, but is not part of Google "product portfolio." This site is a "trusted" network, meaning only those who are invited by a current member can join, and collects a massive amount of personal information about its members, who are encouraged to complete elaborate personal profiles to be shared with their friends and other Orkut users. One Orkut user was able to successfully mine the Orkut databases, creating the "Orkut Personal Network Geomapper," which allowed people to look up Orkut users and view their friends network. Google sent a cease and desist letterto the creator of this site, alleging that it violated Orkut's terms of service, and the Geomapper is no longer available. Finally, Orkut's Terms of Serviceinclude the following clause, which gives them broad rights to your information:

By submitting, posting or displaying any Materials on or through the orkut.com service, you automatically grant to us a worldwide, non-exclusive, sublicenseable, transferable, royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right to copy, distribute, create derivative works of, publicly perform and display such Materials.

A similar clause in the Microsoft Passport policy spawned a huge negative reaction, prompting Microsoft to revise the policy. However, as of July, 2004, this clause remained in Orkut's terms.

2. Technical details about Gmail

2.1 How does Google's "content extraction" work?

While Google has not released technical details of how the Gmail e-mail "content extraction" and analysis works, the patent(#20040059712) filed with the US Patent and Trademark Officeprovides some clues. Gmail examines the entire content of the e-mail message including the header and addressing information (see 2.2for more details) in order to derive the the "concepts" contained in the e-mail. Relevant ads are then placed to the subscriber when the e-mail is displayed. Different ads may be served at different times depending on when the e-mail message is viewed, or re-viewed.

2.2 What is "internal" and "external" e-mail information used in the analysis?

"Internal e-mail information" and "external e-mail information" are both used in the scanning and analysis process, according to the patent(paragraphs 51-80). Internal e-mail information is the actual data contained within an e-mail message where as external e-mail information is data derivedfrom the internal information using Gmail's analysis algorithms (e.g. by looking at the IP of the sender and/or the timezone in the timestamp, the geographic location can be determined).

Internal e-mail InformationExternal e-mail InformationSubject line------Body of the e-mailConcepts derived from bodySender name------Actual sender e-mail address------Concepts from sender e-mail address (e.g. e-mail address based on hobby)------Recipient type (e.g. direct, CC, BCC)------Business card file (e.g. vcard)------Directory paths of attached filesConcepts derived from attached filesAttached files (e.g. word processing files, pictures, etc.)------Information from a web page link included in e-mailConcepts derived from files web page linksTime e-mail was sentGeographic location of senderGeographic location of recipientInformation derived from search results of a query on extracted e-mail information (i.e. a Google search on the derived concepts)2.3 Will Gmail build profiles of subscribers and/or non-subscribers?

Google has impliedthat it is not building profiles of Gmail or other Google service users ("[It] will not keep a log of which ads went to which users, nor will it keep a record of keywords that appear often in an individual's e-mail"), but nothing is stopping it from doing so. In fact, the Gmail patent(paragraphs 71-76) specifically describes profile-building features. The concept-building, according to the patent, may be based on the following:

Information about the sender, including information derived from previous interactions with the senderInformation about the recipient, including information derived from sender'saddress book or from previous interactions with the senderInformation about a recipient based on a profile or information about the sender (the example from that patent is: "Sender is a wine enthusiast and has recently searched for and/or browsed pages related to wine, suggesting that recipient may also be interested in wine")Information from other e-mails sent by senderInformation from other e-mails received by recipientInformation from other e-mails having the same or similar subject textInformation about recipient from sender's contact informationDirectory and file information based on the path name of attachments sent in previous e-mails (e.g. building an index of filenames on sender or recipient's computer)As noted, the Gmail privacy policy does not prohibit Google from building such profiles (see 1.3c "Profiling Across Google Product Line").

2.4 Why is Gmail different than spam filtering?

From a technicalstandpoint, there is no categorical difference between Google "content extraction" and spam filtering-- each involves an automated process that analyzes the body and/or header information of e-mail messages. However, from a legal standpoint, there is a fundamental difference between filtering out unwanted junk e-mail and analyzing the content of private communications in order to target advertisements. (See 1.3d "Bad Legal Precedent") Additionally, Google may choose to create profilesof subscribers and the people with whom they e-mail, possibly cross-referencingother Google products (Google search engine, Orkut, etc).

2.5 It's a computer, not a person reading your e-mail. What's the big deal?

In some ways, having a person reading your e-mail to target the ads would be less privacy invasive. Unlike large computer systems, people do not have unlimited storage, memory and associative capability. But Google has the ability to build profilesof users based on their communications, unhindered by the Gmail privacy policywhich does not prohibit such actions. Additionally, Gmail's "content extraction" will make its privacy invasions continuous and automated, making it a difficult privacy problem to solve just as spam and telemarketing, both of which are also continuous and automated by computer.

2.6 What patents has Google filed for Gmail?

Google has filed three different patents:

[The primary Gmail patent] United States Patent Application 20040059712:"Advertisers are permitted to put targeted ads on e-mails. The present invention may do so by (i) obtaining information of an e-mail that includes available spots for ads, (ii) determining one or more ads relevant to the e-mail information, and/or (iii) providing the one or more ads for rendering in association with the e-mail."

United States Patent Application 20040059708: "The relevance of advertisements to a user's interests is improved. In one implementation, the content of a web page is analyzed to determine a list of one or more topics associated with that web page. An advertisement is considered to be relevant to that web page if it is associated with keywords belonging to the list of one or more topics. One or more of these relevant advertisements may be provided for rendering in conjunction with the web page or related web pages."

United States Patent Application 20040093327: "Advertisers are permitted to put targeted ads on page on the web (or some other document of any media type). The present invention may do so by (i) obtaining content that includes available spots for ads, (ii) determining ads relevant to content, and/or (iii) combining content with ads determined to be relevant to the content."

3. Legal details

3.1 What are the Federal wiretapping laws, and does Gmail implicate them?

The Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA)was passed in 1986 as an update to the law governing the interception of electronic communication, including e-mail. Title I of ECPA (The Wiretap Act) ( 18 U.S.C. § 2511) governs communications "in transit."

The federal Wiretap Act only requires one of the parties to consent to the acquisition of the communication. However, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has indicated (in construing the authorization provision of the Stored Communications Act) that an ISP will not be insulated from liability if it "procures consent by exploiting a known mistake that relates to the essential nature of his access." Theofel v. Farey-Jones, 341 F.3d 978, 983 (9th Cir. 2003). Therefore, even the Gmail subscriber herself has consented to the acquisition of her communication, thus negating the application of the Wiretap Act, only if Gmail has adequately revealed and explained the "essential nature" of their access to the e-mail communications.

3.2 What is California's wiretapping law, and why does Gmail implicate it?

The California wiretapping law, CA Penal Code § 631, provides criminal penalties for "[a]ny person who'... intentionally taps, or makes any unauthorized connection'... with any telegraph or telephone wire, line, cable, or instrument'... or who willfully and without the consent of all parties to the communication, or in any unauthorized manner, reads, or attempts to read, or to learn the contents or meaning of any message, report, or communication while the same is in transit or passing over any wire, line, or cable, or is being sent from, or received at any place within this state; or who uses, or attempts to use, in any manner, or for any purpose, or to communicate in any way, any information so obtained'..."

As interpreted by the California courts, § 631 criminalizes "three distinct and mutually independent patterns of conduct": (1) intentional wiretapping, (2) willfully and without the consent of all parties reading/attempting to read or learn the contents or meaning of any communication while it is in transit or being sent from/received in California, and (3) attempting to use or communicate any information learned by engaging in the activities prohibited under (1) and (2). See Tavernetti v. Superior Court, 583 P.2d 737 (Cal. 1978), cited in Burns v. Nature's Best, 114 Cal. Rptr. 2d 881 (Cal. Ct. App. 2001).

From the currently available information on Gmail, it appears that the service does implicate the California wiretapping law, specifically the provision that criminalizes "reading or attempting to read or learn the contents or meaning of a message or communication" (part above). The elements and implications of the offense are as follows:

"willfully and without the consent of all parties to the communication, or in any unauthorized manner"

Google's actions are willful because the service is designed for the purpose of scanning and extracting the content of e-mail messages that pass through its Gmail system.Google does not have the consent of all parties to each communication. While Gmail users arguably consent to scanning of their own e-mails, parties sending messages to Gmail users have no knowledge of Google's scanning and extraction, and have not consented to these actions."reads, or attempts to read, or to learn the contents or meaning of any message, report, or communication"

Scanning of the text of e-mails and extracting, compiling, and using information from this text is an attempt to "learn the contents or meaning" of the communication.While no human reads the content of e-mail passing through Gmail, the information extracted from these e-mails is available for human viewing in the form of keywords, advertisements, data, etc. Google claims that this information is collected without connections to personally identifying information and is viewed by humans only in aggregated form."while the same is in transit or passing over any wire, line, or cable, or is being sent from, or received at any place within this state"

A legal "jurisdictional" issue exists as to whether the e-mail is "within" California.The statute is violated only if the reading/learning occurs while the communication is in transit, passing over any wire, or being sent/received. However, no court has addressed what it means under California law for an e-mail message to be "in transit" or "being sent from, or received." It may turn on when in the path of the e-mails journey Google is scanning the e-mail and extracting content (e.g. whether it occurs before or after the e-mail has been "received" by the intended reader).3.3 Is there a "service provider exception" under California wiretapping law?

Unlike in the federal laws, there is no exception in the California wiretapping law for ISPs. Even if there were, Google would be unlikely to qualify for it with their Gmail service, at least under the narrow formulation of the exception. Under a formulation like that in the Wiretap Act (§ 2511) (which exempts a service provider for interceptions "in the normal course of his employment while engaged in any activity which is a necessary incident to the rendition of his service"), content analysis for the purposes of targeted marketing is not "a necessary incident" to the provision of e-mail service.

3.4 What legal objections have been raised in other countries?

Data protection and privacy advocates in other countries have also voiced objections to Gmail, particularly in the EU. In April, Privacy Internationalfiled a complaintwith the UK Information Commissioner, outlining their privacy objections to the Gmail service.

The EU's Data Protection Directive (95/46/EC)affords strong privacy protections, exeeding those available in the United States. EU privacy advocates are very concerned that the Gmail service, which is of course available internationally, violates key principles and provisions embodied in the Data Protection Directive.

Generally, EU privacy advocates have argued that Gmail is a violation of closely-held data protection principles, such as responsibility for the security of personal information held by a provider of service (in its terms of service Google disavows all responsibility for security violations), confidentiality of communications between one party and another (the Directive's working group stated that "no third party should be allowed to read the contents of e-mail between two parties), and control over personal information (Gmail users are not permitted to use any device, manual or otherwise, to monitor, cache, or copy any content from the Gmail service).

Specifically, privacy advocates have claimed that Gmail violates several specific provisions of the Data Protection Directive. For example, Gmail's Terms of Use indicate that in the event of account termination, copies of your information may remain on their servers indefinitely, implicating Article 6 of the Directive which states that data should be kept "no longer than is necessary for the purposes for which the data were collected." For more information, see Privacy International's complaint'...

Finally, international advocates raise risks about the openness of Google's intentions, especially when it comes to their "unstable" Terms of Use and Privacy Policy (i.e. the Terms of Use state that "Google may, in its sole discretion, modify or revise these terms and conditions and policies at any time, and you agree to be bound by such modifications or revisions." This provision contains no guarantee of notice of changes, stating elsewhere only that Google "may attempt to notify you via your Gmail address when major changes are made."

4. What can you do?

4.1 Sign up with a different large capacity webmail provider

Of course, the easiest thing you can do to prevent Google's invasion of your privacy is to not sign up for an Gmail account. In fact, this is what Google and other Gmail advocates have been saying in response to privacy complaints-simply use another e-mail service. For other email providers and privacy tools, see EPIC's Practical Privacy Tools page.

4.2 Don't send e-mails to @gmail.com addresses

Remember, since Gmail is scanning and extracting incoming e-mails as well, even if you aren't a Gmail user, your privacy may still be violated by Gmail. To avoid such scanning, keep an eye on the domain of e-mail addresses to which you are you are sending and replying.

If you get an e-mail from a Gmail account and you wish not to reply consider explaining something like this:

Dear Friend,

I have received your e-mail, but due to privacy concerns, I don't want to send my response to your Gmail account. Please give me another e-mail address where I can reach you. If you don't have another e-mail address, consider the following free e-mail accounts with generous storage which do not pose the same privacy risks:

For more information on the privacy risks posed by Gmail, see http://www.epic.org/privacy/gmail/faq.html.

Sincerely,

Concerned Citizen

4.3 Reduce the possibility of tracking you through your cookies

As noted above, the Gmail service may look at cookies from previous Google searches in deciding which ads to target to you in Gmail. One way to "decrease" the privacy violation if you do choose to use Gmail is to decrease the amount of information your browser keeps about your previous interactions with Google websites. EFFproposes two possible solutionsto prevent "future linkability" (beyond deleting your Google and Gmail cookies each and every time you use Gmail and Google):

Use two browsers. have one browser dedicated to checking your Gmail, which you never use for Google searches, thus preventing your Google search cookies from being linked to your Gmail account.Use an anonymizer.For example, download Anonymizer.com's free privacy toolbarwhich enables anonymous browsing and blocks and tracks cookie settings.However, it is unknown whether using these methods will "de-link" you from any information Google has already collected about your searching and e-mailing habits.

4.4 What are YOU guys doing about it?

Privacy groups have responded in various ways to Gmail. For example, EPIC signed an open letter to Google regarding Gmail and co-wrote a letter to the California Attorney General outlining possible violations of California wiretapping laws.

Legislative proposals to address Gmail have been introduced in in California and Massachusetts. In California, State Senator Liz Figueroahas introduced SB 1822, a bill that would directly affect Gmail's ability to continue in its current form. This bill would allow scanning for the purposes of ad placement of incoming, outgoing, and stored e-mail and other electronic messages only if the provider abides by certain conditions (does not retain any personally identifiable information, does not disclose any of this information to third parties, deletes messages in a timely manner upon request, etc.) and has the express consent of all parties to a communication. Exceptions are made for scanning e-mails for spam and viruses, and for businesses' provision of e-mail services to employees. The Massachusetts legislation, House Bill 1209, is not directed specifically towards Gmail, but is a general bill that would set up a "Special Commission on Privacy Concerns" that could consider data protection issues and threats to electronic and informational privacy, such as Gmail.

ResourcesNews ArticlesGoogle bans Gmail sales, BBC News, July 2, 2004.The Trouble with Gmail, Security Focus, Jun 14 2004.Tightening the Reins on Gmail, Reuters, May 27, 2004.My Left Arm for a Gmail Account, Wired News, May 20, 2004.Does Gmail breach wiretap laws?, CNET News.com, May 4, 2004.Gmail accounts go up for bid, CNET News.com, April 30, 2004.Don't be afraid of the big bad Gmail, Salon.com, April 26, 2004.Legislator seeks to block Gmail, CNET News.com, April 22, 2004.State senator drafts Google opt-out Bill, The Register, April 13, 2004.Gmail likely to clear U.K. privacy hurdles, ZDNet, April 13, 2004.Google values its own privacy. How does it value yours?, The Register, April 13, 2004.Germans garotte Google Gmail over privacy, The Register, April 8, 2004.Google mail is evil - privacy advocates, The Register, April 3, 2004.Google: 'Gmail' no joke, but lunar jobs are, USA Today, April 1, 2004.Google launches e-mail, takes the Bill Gates defense, The Register, April 1, 2004.Non-Profit/Advocacy LinksOpen letterfrom thirty-one privacy and civil liberties organizations to Google urging them to suspend Gmail until its serious privacy issues are resolved (April 19, 2004).Letterfrom EPIC, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and World Privacy Forum to California Attorney General arguing that Gmail violates the California Wiretap Statute (May 3, 2004).Letterfrom EPIC, Privacy Rights Clearinghouse and World Privacy Forum to Google founders S. Brin and L. Page urging suspension of Gmail (May 3, 2004).Responsefrom CA AG acknowledging Gmail's potential wiretap violation (June 4, 2004).Google/Gmail LinksGovernment/Legal Links

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2011-ended meme-How the NSA is still harvesting your online data | World news | theguardian.com

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 02:06

The NSA collects and analyzes significant amounts of data from US communications systems in the course of monitoring foreign targets. Photograph: guardian.co.uk

A review of top-secret NSA documents suggests that the surveillance agency still collects and sifts through large quantities of Americans' online data '' despite the Obama administration's insistence that the program that began under Bush ended in 2011.

Shawn Turner, the Obama administration's director of communications for National Intelligence, told the Guardian that "the internet metadata collection program authorized by the Fisa court was discontinued in 2011 for operational and resource reasons and has not been restarted."

But the documents indicate that the amount of internet metadata harvested, viewed, processed and overseen by the Special Source Operations (SSO) directorate inside the NSA is extensive.

While there is no reference to any specific program currently collecting purely domestic internet metadata in bulk, it is clear that the agency collects and analyzes significant amounts of data from US communications systems in the course of monitoring foreign targets.

On December 26 2012, SSO announced what it described as a new capability to allow it to collect far more internet traffic and data than ever before. With this new system, the NSA is able to direct more than half of the internet traffic it intercepts from its collection points into its own repositories. One end of the communications collected are inside the United States.

The NSA called it the "One-End Foreign (1EF) solution". It intended the program, codenamed EvilOlive, for "broadening the scope" of what it is able to collect. It relied, legally, on "FAA Authority", a reference to the 2008 Fisa Amendments Act that relaxed surveillance restrictions.

This new system, SSO stated in December, enables vastly increased collection by the NSA of internet traffic. "The 1EF solution is allowing more than 75% of the traffic to pass through the filter," the SSO December document reads. "This milestone not only opened the aperture of the access but allowed the possibility for more traffic to be identified, selected and forwarded to NSA repositories."

It continued: "After the EvilOlive deployment, traffic has literally doubled."

The scale of the NSA's metadata collection is highlighted by references in the documents to another NSA program, codenamed ShellTrumpet.

On December 31, 2012, an SSO official wrote that ShellTrumpet had just "processed its One Trillionth metadata record".

It is not clear how much of this collection concerns foreigners' online records and how much concerns those of Americans. Also unclear is the claimed legal authority for this collection.

Explaining that the five-year old program "began as a near-real-time metadata analyzer '... for a classic collection system", the SSO official noted: "In its five year history, numerous other systems from across the Agency have come to use ShellTrumpet's processing capabilities for performance monitoring" and other tasks, such as "direct email tip alerting."

Almost half of those trillion pieces of internet metadata were processed in 2012, the document detailed: "though it took five years to get to the one trillion mark, almost half of this volume was processed in this calendar year".

Another SSO entry, dated February 6, 2013, described ongoing plans to expand metadata collection. A joint surveillance collection operation with an unnamed partner agency yielded a new program "to query metadata" that was "turned on in the Fall 2012". Two others, called MoonLightPath and Spinneret, "are planned to be added by September 2013."

A substantial portion of the internet metadata still collected and analyzed by the NSA comes from allied governments, including its British counterpart, GCHQ.

An SSO entry dated September 21, 2012, announced that "Transient Thurible, a new Government Communications Head Quarters (GCHQ) managed XKeyScore (XKS) Deep Dive was declared operational." The entry states that GCHQ "modified" an existing program so the NSA could "benefit" from what GCHQ harvested.

"Transient Thurible metadata [has been] flowing into NSA repositories since 13 August 2012," the entry states.

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IC ON THE RECORD ' Testimony of the National Intelligence Director ...

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 03:09

Testimony of the National Intelligence Director

Letter published January 3, 2013 in the New York Times

To the Editor:

''Edward Snowden, Whistle-Blower'' (editorial, Jan. 2) repeats the allegation that James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, ''lied'' to Congress about the collection of bulk telephony metadata. As a witness to the relevant events and a participant in them, I know that allegation is not true.

Senator Ron Wyden asked about collection of information on Americans during a lengthy and wide-ranging hearing on an entirely different subject. While his staff provided the question the day before, Mr. Clapper had not seen it. As a result, as Mr. Clapper has explained, he was surprised by the question and focused his mind on the collection of the content of Americans' communications. In that context, his answer was and is accurate.

When we pointed out Mr. Clapper's mistake to him, he was surprised and distressed. I spoke with a staffer for Senator Wyden several days later and told him that although Mr. Clapper recognized that his testimony was inaccurate, it could not be corrected publicly because the program involved was classified.

This incident shows the difficulty of discussing classified information in an unclassified setting and the danger of inferring a person's state of mind from extemporaneous answers given under pressure. Indeed, it would have been irrational for Mr. Clapper to lie at this hearing, since every member of the committee was already aware of the program.

Robert S. LittGeneral CounselOffice of the Director of National IntelligenceWashington, Jan. 3, 2014

IC ON THE RECORD ' Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Approves...

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 03:05

Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court Approves Government's Application to Renew Telephony Metadata Program

January 3, 2014

On several prior occasions, the Director of National Intelligence has declassified information about the telephony metadata collection program under the ''business records'' provision of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, 50 U.S.C. Section 1861 (also referred to as ''Section 215''), in order to provide the public a more thorough and balanced understanding of the program. Consistent with his prior declassification decisions and in light of the significant and continuing public interest in the telephony metadata collection program, DNI Clapper has decided to declassify and disclose publicly that the government filed an application with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court seeking renewal of the authority to collect telephony metadata in bulk, and that the court renewed that authority on January 3, 2014.

It is the administration's view, consistent with the recent holdings of the United States District Courts for the Southern District of New York and Southern District of California, as well as the findings of 15 judges of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court on 36 separate occasions over the past seven years, that the telephony metadata collection program is lawful. The Department of Justice has filed an appeal of the lone contrary decision issued by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia.

Nevertheless, the Intelligence Community continues to be open to modifications to this program that would provide additional privacy and civil liberty protections while still maintaining its operational benefits. To that end, the Administration is carefully evaluating the recommendation of the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies regarding transitioning the program to one in which the data is held by telecommunications companies or a third party. In addition, the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board will complete a report on this program in the near future. The Administration will review all of these recommendations and consult with Congress and the Intelligence Community to determine if there are ways to achieve our counterterrorism mission in a manner that gives the American people greater confidence.

The Administration is undertaking a declassification review of this most recent court order.

Shawn TurnerDirector of Public AffairsOffice of the Director of National Intelligence

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The Sanders Letter: Is This the Dumbest NSA-Hating Stunt Yet? And Did Ted Cruz Fall For It?

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Source: The Volokh Conspiracy

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:35

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) has written a letter to NSA's director, asking whether the agency has spied on members of Congress. It sounds like he's uncovered a scandal, until you read the fine print. It turns out that Sen. Sanders is simply asking whether NSA collects the metadata for calls made by members of Congress, and every sentient American already knows that answer: NSA's program collects metadata for all US calls. So Sen. Sanders's letter isn't an inquiry, it's a stunt.

The Guardian is an enthusiastic participant in the stunt, with Spencer Ackerman writing that NSA ''did not deny collecting communications from legislators of the US Congress.'' Well, duh. Unfortunately, it looks as though Ted Cruz, who so far has avoided the worst fever swamps of NSA paranoia, also fell for the stunt, tweeting ''@SenSanders asks ? millions of Americans would like answered: Are any law-abiding citizens safe from NSA spying?''

At the risk of being repetitive, Sen. Cruz, we've all known the answer for months. NSA's 215 program collects all domestic call metadata, and it protects all that data by requiring that any search of the data be based on a reasonable suspicion of terrorism. All means all. All Americans' metadata is collected. All Americans' privacy is protected by the minimization requirements. Sen. Sanders's stunt adds precisely nothing to what we know about the program, or to the debate.

But as long as the press covers the stunt as though it were a story, I think we can predict the next batch of letters that Sen. Sanders will send to NSA:

Is the agency ''spying on'' Sarah Palin?Is the agency ''spying on'' Hilary Clinton?Is the agency ''spying on'' the Rev. Billy Graham?Is the agency ''spying on'' Clint Eastwood?Is the agency ''spying on'' Oprah Winfrey?Is the agency ''spying on'' Angeline Jolie '-- and all those cute little kids, too? What about Brad?Would the agency be ''spying on'' Helen Keller if she were still alive?Was the agency spying on the Fonz when he jumped the shark, along with this story?

NOTE: As usual, comments may be sent to vc.comments@gmail.com.

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Rand Paul to File Class-Action Suit Against Obama Administration Over NSA Spying Practices

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:43

I'd be a whole lot less cynical about this if it didn't look like another fundraising ploy by Sen. Rand Paul, and if the former Virginia attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli was not involved. I'd like to see the NSA checked and an end to these programs as well, but I don't trust either of these two to be honest brokers with their motives behind this suit as far as I can throw them.

Rand Paul announces anti-NSA spying lawsuit:

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has launched a wide-ranging class action lawsuit against the Obama administration over its omnibus collection of phone data.

Speaking to Fox News' Sean Hannity on Friday, Paul said that, theoretically, every American with a cell phone is a potential litigant. The question, he said, is whether or not a single warrant can apply to millions of people.

''What better way to illustrate the point than having hundreds of thousands of Americans sign up for a class action suit,'' he said. ''We want to overwhelm the government.''

Paul said the lead lawyer in the suit is Virginia's former attorney general, Ken Cuccinelli.

A link on Paul's campaign site will allow potential plaintiffs to join the suit, he said. The link, however, also contains a request for campaign donations. ''Your most generous contribution will help me circulate this petition to as many Americans as possible to gain the absolute maximum number of signers,'' it says. The separation between the Paul campaign and the suit isn't clear. Calls and emails to the Paul campaign haven't yet been returned.

Sen. Rand Paul to sue over NSA spying practices:

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is suing the Obama administration over the National Security Agency's spying practices in an effort to ''protect the Fourth Amendment,'' he told host Eric Bolling Friday on "Hannity."

''The question here is whether or not, constitutionally, you can have a single warrant apply to millions of people,'' Paul said. ''So we thought, what better way to illustrate the point than having hundreds of thousands of Americans sign up for a class action suit.'' [...]

'†' Story continues below '†'

He added that Ken Cuccinelli, the current attorney general of Virginia who ran for governor last year, is part of the initiative's legal team.

''We're hoping, with his help, that we can get a hearing in court, and ultimately get this class-action lawsuit, I think the first of its kind on a constitutional question, all the way to the Supreme Court,'' Paul said.

Ralph Nader Sends Open Letter to President Bush: "The Country You Destroyed"

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NSA seeks to build quantum computer that could crack most types of encryption - The Washington Post

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 19:43

In room-size metal boxes ­secure against electromagnetic leaks, the National Security Agency is racing to build a computer that could break nearly every kind of encryption used to protect banking, medical, business and government records around the world.

According to documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, the effort to build ''a cryptologically useful quantum computer'' '-- a machine exponentially faster than classical computers '-- is part of a $79.7 million research program titled ''Penetrating Hard Targets.'' Much of the work is hosted under classified contracts at a laboratory in College Park, Md.

[Read an annotated description of the Penetrating Hard Targets project]

The development of a quantum computer has long been a goal of many in the scientific community, with revolutionary implications for fields such as medicine as well as for the NSA's code-breaking mission. With such technology, all current forms of public key encryption would be broken, including those used on many secure Web sites as well as the type used to protect state secrets.

Physicists and computer scientists have long speculated about whether the NSA's efforts are more advanced than those of the best civilian labs. Although the full extent of the agency's research remains unknown, the documents provided by Snowden suggest that the NSA is no closer to success than others in the scientific community.

''It seems improbable that the NSA could be that far ahead of the open world without anybody knowing it,'' said Scott Aaronson, an associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

The NSA appears to regard itself as running neck and neck with quantum computing labs sponsored by the European Union and the Swiss government, with steady progress but little prospect of an immediate breakthrough.

''The geographic scope has narrowed from a global effort to a discrete focus on the European Union and Switzerland,'' one NSA document states.

Seth Lloyd, an MIT professor of quantum mechanical engineering, said the NSA's focus is not misplaced. ''The E.U. and Switzerland have made significant advances over the last decade and have caught up to the U.S. in quantum computing technology,'' he said.

The NSA declined to comment for this article.

The documents, however, indicate that the agency carries out some of its research in large, shielded rooms known as Faraday cages, which are designed to prevent electromagnetic energy from coming in or out. Those, according to one brief description, are required ''to keep delicate quantum computing experiments running.''

[Read a document describing classification levels related to quantum computing efforts]

The basic principle underlying quantum computing is known as ''quantum superposition,'' the idea that an object simultaneously exists in all states. A classical computer uses binary bits, which are either zeroes or ones. A quantum computer uses quantum bits, or qubits, which are simultaneously zero and one.

This seeming impossibility is part of the mystery that lies at the heart of quantum theory, which even theoretical physicists say no one completely understands.

''If you think you understand quantum mechanics, you don't understand quantum mechanics,'' said the late Nobel laureate Richard Feynman, who is widely regarded as the pioneer in quantum computing.

Here's how it works, in theory: While a classical computer, however fast, must do one calculation at a time, a quantum computer can sometimes avoid having to make calculations that are unnecessary to solving a problem. That allows it to home in on the correct answer much more quickly and efficiently.

Quantum computing is difficult to attain because of the fragile nature of such computers. In theory, the building blocks of such a computer might include individual atoms, photons or electrons. To maintain the quantum nature of the computer, these particles would need to be carefully isolated from their external environments.

''Quantum computers are extremely delicate, so if you don't protect them from their environment, then the computation will be useless,'' said Daniel Lidar, a professor of electrical engineering and the director of the Center for Quantum Information Science and Technology at the University of Southern California.

A working quantum computer would open the door to easily breaking the strongest encryption tools in use today, including a standard known as RSA, named for the initials of its creators. RSA scrambles communications, making them unreadable to anyone but the intended recipient, without requiring the use of a shared password. It is commonly used in Web browsers to secure financial transactions and in encrypted ­e-mails. RSA is used because of the difficulty of factoring the product of two large prime numbers. Breaking the encryption involves finding those two numbers. This cannot be done in a reasonable amount of time on a classical computer.

In 2009, computer scientists using classical methods were able to discover the primes within a 768-bit number, but it took almost two years and hundreds of computers to factor it. The scientists estimated that it would take 1,000 times longer to break a 1,024-bit encryption key, which is commonly used for online transactions.

A large-scale quantum computer, however, could theoretically break a 1,024-bit encryption much faster. Some leading Internet companies are moving to 2,048-bit keys, but even those are thought to be vulnerable to rapid decryption with a quantum computer.

Quantum computers have many applications for today's scientific community, including the creation of artificial intelligence. But the NSA fears the implications for national security.

''The application of quantum technologies to encryption algorithms threatens to dramatically impact the US government's ability to both protect its communications and eavesdrop on the communications of foreign governments,'' according to an internal document provided by Snowden.

Experts are not sure how soon a quantum computer would be feasible. A decade ago, some experts said that developing a large quantum computer was likely 10 to 100 years in the future. Five years ago, Lloyd said the goal was at least 10 years away.

Last year, Jeff Forshaw, a professor at the University of Manchester, told Britain's Guardian newspaper, ''It is probably too soon to speculate on when the first full-scale quantum computer will be built but recent progress indicates that there is every reason to be optimistic.''

''I don't think we're likely to have the type of quantum computer the NSA wants within at least five years, in the absence of a significant breakthrough maybe much longer,'' Lloyd told The Washington Post in a recent interview.

Some companies, however, claim to already be producing small quantum computers. A Canadian firm, D-Wave Systems , says it has been making quantum computers since 2009. In 2012, it sold a $10 million version to Google, NASA and the Universities Space Research Association, according to news reports.

That quantum computer, however, would never be useful for breaking public key encryption like RSA.

''Even if everything they're claiming is correct, that computer, by its design, cannot run Shor's algorithm,'' said Matthew Green, a research professor at the Johns Hopkins University Information Security Institute, referring to the algorithm that could be used to break encryption like RSA.

Experts think that one of the largest hurdles to breaking encryption with a quantum computer is building a computer with enough qubits, which is difficult given the very fragile state of quantum computers. By the end of September, the NSA expected to be able to have some building blocks, which it described in a document as ''dynamical decoupling and complete quantum ­control on two semiconductor qubits.''

''That's a great step, but it's a pretty small step on the road to building a large-scale quantum computer,'' Lloyd said.

A quantum computer capable of breaking cryptography would need hundreds or thousands more qubits than that.

The budget for the National Intelligence Program, commonly referred to as the ''black budget,'' details the ''Penetrating Hard Targets'' project and noted that this step ''will enable initial scaling towards large systems in related and follow-on efforts.''

Another project, called ''Owning the Net,'' is using quantum research to support the creation of quantum-based attacks on encryptions like RSA, documents show.

''The irony of quantum computing is that if you can imagine someone building a quantum computer that can break encryption a few decades into the future, then you need to be worried right now,'' Lidar said.

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Eight tech giants have sided with citizens over spies, but it's not enough | Jeff Jarvis

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Archived Version

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 15:19

Whose side are you on? That is the question MP Keith Vaz asked Alan Rusbridger last week when he challenged the Guardian editor's patriotism over publishing Edward Snowden's NSA and GCHQ leaks.

And that is the question answered today by eight tech giants in their letter to the White House and Congress, seeking reform of government surveillance practices worldwide. The companies came down at last on the side of citizens over spies.

Of course, they are also acting in their own economic (albeit enlightened) self-interest, for mass spying via the internet is degrading the publics', clients', and other nations' trust in the cloud and its frequently American proprietors. Spying is bad for the internet; what's bad for the internet is bad for Silicon Valley; and '-- to reverse the old General Motors saw '-- what's bad for Silicon Valley is bad for America.

But in their letter, the companies stand first and firmly on principle. They propose that government limit its own authority, ending bulk collection of our communication. They urge transparency and oversight of surveillance, which has obviously failed thus far. And they argue against the balkanization of the net and the notion that countries may insist that data respect national borders.

Bravo to all that. I have been waiting for Silicon Valley to establish whether it collectively is a victim or a collaborator in the NSA's web. I have wondered whether government had commandeered these companies to its ends. I have hoped they would use their power to lobby for our rights. And now I hope government '-- from Silicon Valley's senator, NSA fan Dianne Feinstein, to president Obama '-- will listen.

This is a critical step in sparking real debate over surveillance and civil rights. It was nice that technology companies banded together once before to battle against the overreaching copyright regime known as SOPA and for our ability to watch Batman online. Now they must fight for our fundamental '-- in America, our constitutional '-- rights of speech and assembly and against unreasonable search and seizure. 'Tis a pity it takes eight companies with silly names to do that.

Please note who is missing from the list '' the signators are Google, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, Microsoft, Aol, Apple, LinkedIn. I see no telecom company there '-- Verizon, AT&T, Level 3, the companies allegedly in a position to hand over our communications data and enable governments to tap straight into internet traffic. Where is Amazon, another leader in the cloud whose founder, Jeff Bezos, now owns the Washington Post? Where are Cisco and other companies whose equipment is used to connect the net and by some governments to disconnect it? Where are the finance companies '-- eBay, Visa, American Express '-- that also know much about what we do?

Where is the letter to David Cameron, who has threatened prior restraint of the Guardian's revelations, and to the members of the parliament committee who last week grilled Rusbridger, some of them painting acts of journalism '-- informing citizens of their governments' acts against them '-- as criminal or disloyal? Since they urge worldwide reform, I wish the tech companies would address the world's governments, starting with GCHQ's overseers in London.

And where are technologists as a tribe? I long for them to begin serious discussion about the principles they stand for and the limits of their considerable power. Upon learning that government had tapped into communications lines between their own servers, two Google engineers responded with a hearty ''fuck these guys.'' But anger is insufficient. It is not a pillar to build on.

Computer and data scientists are the nuclear scientists of our age, proprietors of technology that can be used for good or ill. They must write their own set of principles, governing not the actions of government's spies but their own use of power when they are asked by those spies and governments '-- as well as their own employers '-- to violate our privacy or use our own information against our best interests or hamper and chill our speech. They must decide what goes too far. They must answer that question above '-- whose side are you on? I suggest a technologists' Hippocratic oath: First, harm no users.

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Jacob Appelbaum: The American Wikileaks Hacker | Culture | Rolling Stone

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:00

On July 29th, returning from a trip to Europe, Jacob Appelbaum, a lanky, unassuming 27-year-old wearing a black T-shirt with the slogan "Be the trouble you want to see in the world," was detained at customs by a posse of federal agents. In an interrogation room at Newark Liberty airport, he was grilled about his role in Wikileaks, the whistle-blower group that has exposed the government's most closely guarded intelligence reports about the war in Afghanistan. The agents photocopied his receipts, seized three of his cellphones '-- he owns more than a dozen '-- and confiscated his computer. They informed him that he was under government surveillance. They questioned him about the trove of 91,000 classified military documents that Wikileaks had released the week before, a leak that Vietnam-era activist Daniel Ellsberg called "the largest unauthorized disclosure since the Pentagon Papers." They demanded to know where Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was hiding. They pressed him on his opinions about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Appelbaum refused to answer. Finally, after three hours, he was released.

Sex, Drugs, and the Biggest Cybercrime of All Time

Appelbaum is the only known American member of Wikileaks and the leading evangelist for the software program that helped make the leak possible. In a sense, he's a bizarro version of Mark Zuckerberg: If Facebook's ambition is to "make the world more open and connected," Appelbaum has dedicated his life to fighting for anonymity and privacy. An anarchist street kid raised by a heroin- addict father, he dropped out of high school, taught himself the intricacies of code and developed a healthy paranoia along the way. "I don't want to live in a world where everyone is watched all the time," he says. "I want to be left alone as much as possible. I don't want a data trail to tell a story that isn't true." We have transferred our most intimate and personal information '-- our bank accounts, e-mails, photographs, phone conversations, medical records '-- to digital networks, trusting that it's all locked away in some secret crypt. But Appelbaum knows that this information is not safe. He knows, because he can find it.

He demonstrates this to me when I meet him, this past spring, two weeks before Wikileaks made headlines around the world by releasing a video showing U.S. soldiers killing civilians in Iraq. I visit him at his cavernous duplex in San Francisco. The only furniture is a black couch, a black chair and a low black table; a Guy Fawkes mask hangs on a wall in the kitchen. The floor is littered with Ziploc bags containing bundles of foreign cash: Argentine pesos, Swiss francs, Romanian lei, old Iraqi dinars bearing Saddam Hussein's face. The bag marked "Zimbabwe" contains a single $50 billion bill. Photographs, most of them taken by Appelbaum, cover the wall above his desk: punk girls in seductive poses and a portrait of his deceased father, an actor, in drag.

The Rise and Fall of Legendary Hacker Jeremy Hammond

Appelbaum tells me about one of his less impressive hacking achievements, a software program he invented called Blockfinder. It was not, he says, particularly difficult to write. In fact, the word he uses to describe the program's complexity is "trivial," a withering adjective that he and his hacker friends frequently deploy, as in, "Triggering the Chinese firewall is trivial" or "It's trivial to access any Yahoo account by using password-request attacks." All that Blockfinder does is allow you to identify, contact and potentially hack into every computer network in the world.

He beckons me over to one of his eight computers and presses several keys, activating Blockfinder. In less than 30 seconds, the program lists all of the Internet Protocol address allocations in the world '-- potentially giving him access to every computer connected to the Internet. Appelbaum decides to home in on Burma, a small country with one of the world's most repressive regimes. He types in Burma's two-letter country code: "mm," for Myanmar. Blockfinder instantly starts to spit out every IP address in Burma.Blockfinder informs Appelbaum that there are 12,284 IP addresses allocated to Burma, all of them distributed by government-run Internet-service providers. In Burma, as in many countries outside the United States, Internet access runs through the state. Appelbaum taps some keys and attempts to connect to every computer system in Burma. Only 118 of them respond. "That means almost every network in Burma is blocked from the outside world," he says. "All but 118 of them."

These 118 unfiltered computer systems could only belong to organizations and people to whom the government grants unfettered Internet access: trusted politicians, the upper echelons of state-run corporations, intelligence agencies.

"Now this," Appelbaum says, "is the good part."

He selects one of the 118 networks at random and tries to enter it. A window pops up asking for a password. Appelbaum throws back his head and screams with laughter '-- a gleeful, almost manic trill. The network runs on a router made by Cisco Systems and is riddled with vulnerabilities. Hacking into it will be trivial.

It's impossible to know what's on the other side of the password. The prime minister's personal e-mail account? The network server of the secret police? The military junta's central command? Whatever it is, it could soon be at Appelbaum's fingertips.

So will he do it?

"I could," Appelbaum says, with a smile. "But that would be illegal, wouldn't it?"

No one has done more to spread the gospel of anonymity than Appelbaum, whose day job is to serve as the public face of the Tor Project, a group that promotes Internet privacy through a software program invented 15 years ago by the U.S. Naval Research Laboratory. He travels the world teaching spooks, political dissidents and human rights activists how to use Tor to prevent some of the world's most repressive regimes from tracking their movements online. He considers himself a freedom-of-speech absolutist. "The only way we'll make progress in the human race is if we have dialogue," he says. "Everyone should honor the United Nations human rights charter that says access to freedom of speech is a universal right. Anonymous communication is a good way for this to happen. Tor is just an implementation that helps spread that idea."

In the past year alone, Tor has been downloaded more than 36 million times. A suspected high-level member of the Iranian military used Tor to leak information about Tehran's censorship apparatus. An exiled Tunisian blogger living in the Netherlands relies on Tor to get past state censors. During the Beijing Olympics, Chinese protesters used Tor to hide their identities from the government.

The Tor Project has received funding not only from major corporations like Google and activist groups like Human Rights Watch but also from the U.S. military, which sees Tor as an important tool in intelligence work. The Pentagon was not particularly pleased, however, when Tor was used to reveal its secrets. Wikileaks runs on Tor, which helps to preserve the anonymity of its informants. Though Appelbaum is a Tor employee, he volunteers for Wikileaks and works closely with Julian Assange, the group's founder. "Tor's importance to Wikileaks cannot be understated," Assange says. "Jake has been a tireless promoter behind the scenes of our cause."

In July, shortly before Wikileaks released the classified Afghanistan war documents, Assange had been scheduled to give the keynote speech at Hackers on Planet Earth (HOPE), a major conference held at a hotel in New York. Federal agents were spotted in the audience, presumably waiting for Assange to appear. Yet as the lights darkened in the auditorium, it was not Assange who took the stage but Appelbaum.

"Hello to all my friends and fans in domestic and international surveillance," Appelbaum began. "I am here today because I believe we can make a better world. Julian, unfortunately, can't make it, because we don't live in that better world right now, because we haven't yet made it. I wanted to make a little declaration for the federal agents that are standing in the back of the room and the ones that are standing in the front of the room, and to be very clear about this: I have, on me, in my pocket, some money, the Bill of Rights and a driver's license, and that's it. I have no computer system, I have no telephone, I have no keys, no access to anything. There's absolutely no reason that you should arrest me or bother me. And just in case you were wondering, I'm an American, born and raised, who's unhappy. I'm unhappy with how things are going." He paused, interrupted by raucous applause. "To quote from Tron," he added, "'I fight for the user.'"

For the next 75 minutes, Appelbaum spoke about Wikileaks, urging the hackers in the audience to volunteer for the cause. Then the lights went out, and Appelbaum, his black hoodie pulled down over his face, appeared to be escorted out of the auditorium by a group of volunteers. In the lobby, however, the hood was lifted, revealing a young man who was not, in fact, Appelbaum. The real Appelbaum had slipped away backstage and left the hotel through a security door. Two hours later, he was on a flight to Berlin

By the time Appelbaum returned to America 12 days later and was detained at Newark, newspapers were reporting that the war documents identified dozens of Afghan informants and potential defectors who were cooperating with American troops. (When asked why Wikileaks didn't redact these documents before releasing them, a spokesman for the organization blamed the sheer volume of information: "I just can't imagine that someone could go through 76,000 documents.") Marc Thiessen, a former Bush speechwriter, called the group "a criminal enterprise" and urged the U.S. military to hunt them down like Al Qaeda. Rep. Mike Rogers, a Republican from Michigan, said that the soldier who allegedly provided the documents to Wikileaks should be executed.

Two days later, after speaking at a hackers conference in Las Vegas, Appelbaum was approached by a pair of undercover FBI agents. "We'd like to chat for a few minutes," one of them said. "We thought you might not want to. But sometimes it's nice to have a conversation to flesh things out."

Appelbaum has been off the grid ever since '-- avoiding airports, friends, strangers and unsecure locations, traveling through the country by car. He's spent the past five years of his life working to protect activists around the world from repressive governments. Now he is on the run from his own.Appelbaum's obsession with privacy might be explained by the fact that, for his entire childhood, he had absolutely none of it. "I come from a family of lunatics," he says. "Actual, raving lunatics." His parents, who never married, began a 10-year custody battle before he was even born. He spent the first five years of his life with his mother, whom he says is a paranoid schizophrenic. She insisted that Jake had somehow been molested by his father while he was still in the womb. His aunt took custody of him when he was six; two years later she dropped him off at a Sonoma County children's home. It was there, at age eight, that he hacked his first security system. An older kid taught him how to lift the PIN code from a security keypad: You wipe it clean, and the next time a guard enters the code, you blow chalk on the pad and lift the fingerprints. One night, after everyone had gone to sleep, the boys disabled the system and broke out of the facility. They didn't do anything special '-- just walked around a softball field across the street for half an hour '-- but Appelbaum remembers the evening vividly: "It was really nice, for a single moment, to be completely free."

When he was 10, he was assigned by the courts to live with his father, with whom he had remained close. But his dad soon started using heroin, and Appelbaum spent his teens traveling with his father around Northern California on Greyhound buses, living in Christian group homes and homeless shelters. From time to time, his father would rent a house and turn it into a heroin den, subletting every room to fellow addicts. All the spoons in the kitchen had burn stains. One morning, when Appelbaum went to brush his teeth, he found a woman convulsing in the bathtub with a syringe hanging out of her arm. Another afternoon, when he came home from school, he found a suicide note signed by his father. (Appelbaum saved him from an overdose that day, but his father died several years later under mysterious circumstances.) It got so that he couldn't even sit on a couch for fear that he'd be pierced by a stray needle.

An outsider in his own home, Appelbaum embraced outsider culture. He haunted the Santa Rosa mall, begging for change. He dressed in drag and "I '¥ Satan" T-shirts, dyed his hair purple, picked fights with Christian fundamentalists and made out with boys in front of school. (Appelbaum identifies himself as "queer," though he refers to at least a dozen female lovers in nearly as many countries.) When a friend's father encouraged his interest in computers and taught him basic programming tools, something opened up for Appelbaum. Programming and hacking allowed him "to feel like the world was not a lost place. The Internet is the only reason I'm alive today."

At 20, he moved to Oakland and eventually began providing tech security for the Rainforest Action Network and Greenpeace. In 2005, a few months after his father died, he traveled alone to Iraq '-- crossing the border by foot '-- and set up satellite Internet connections in Kurdistan. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, he drove to New Orleans, using falsified press documents to get past the National Guard, and set up wireless hot spots in one of the city's poorest neighborhoods to enable refugees to register for housing with FEMA.

Upon returning home, he started experimenting with the fare cards used by the Bay Area Rapid Transit system and discovered it was possible to rig a card with an unlimited fare. Instead of taking advantage, he alerted BART officials to their vulnerabilities. But during this conversation, Appelbaum learned that BART permanently stored the information encoded on every transit card '-- the credit-card number used, where and when they were swiped '-- on a private database. Appelbaum was outraged. "Keeping that information around is irresponsible," he says. "I'm a taxpayer, and I was given no choice how they store that data. It's not democratically decided '-- it's a bureaucratic directive."

Given his concerns about privacy, it's easy to see why Appelbaum gravitated toward the Tor Project. He volunteered as a programmer, but it soon became clear that his greatest ability lay in proselytizing: He projects the perfect mix of boosterism and dread. "Jake can do advocacy better than most," says Roger Dingledine, one of Tor's founders. "He says, 'If someone were looking for you, this is what they'd do,' and he shows them. It freaks people out."

The Internet, once hailed as an implacable force of liberalization and democratization, has become the ultimate tool for surveillance and repression. "You can never take information back once it's out there," Appelbaum says, "and it takes very little information to ruin a person's life." The dangers of the Web may remain abstract for most Americans, but for much of the world, visiting restricted websites or saying something controversial in an e-mail can lead to imprisonment, torture or death.

Last year, some 60 governments prevented their citizens from freely accessing the Internet. China is rumored to have a staff of more than 30,000 censors who have deleted hundreds of millions of websites and blocked an eccentric range of terms '-- not only "Falungong," "oppression" and "Tiananmen," but also "temperature," "warm," "study" and "carrot."

On a bright afternoon in San Francisco, before Wikileaks dominated the headlines, Appelbaum is dressed in his usual hacker uniform: black boots, black socks, black slacks, black thick-rimmed glasses and a T-shirt bearing an archslogan. (Today it's "Fuck politics '-- I just want to burn shit down.") Though his work requires him to sit at his desk for most of the day, he is rarely stationary. He frequently jumps up and executes a series of brief, acrobatic stretches.He kicks a leg up against the wall, cracks his neck violently, tugs one arm across his chest and, just as abruptly, sits back down again.

He explains that we have to take a cab to pick up his mail. Like being a strict vegan or a Mormon, a life of total anonymity requires great sacrifice. You cannot, for instance, have mail delivered to your home. Nor can you list your name in your building's directory. Appelbaum has all of his mail sent to a private mail drop, where a clerk signs for it. That allows Appelbaum '-- and the dissidents and hackers he deals with '-- to use the postal system anonymously. Person One can send a package to Appelbaum, who can repackage it and send it on to Person Two. That way Person One and Person Two never have direct contact '-- or even learn each other's identities.

Tor works in a similar way. When you use the Internet, your computer makes a connection to the Web server you wish to contact. The server recognizes your computer, notes its IP address and sends back the page you've requested. It's not difficult, however, for a government agency or a malicious hacker to observe this whole transaction: They can monitor the server and see who is contacting it, or they can monitor your computer and see whom you're trying to contact. Tor prevents such online spying by introducing intermediaries between your computer and the system you're trying to reach. Say, for example, that you live in San Francisco and you want to send an e-mail to your friend, a high-level mole in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. If you e-mail your friend directly, the Guard's network could easily see your computer's IP address, and discover your name and personal information. But if you've installed Tor, your e-mail gets routed to one of 2,000 relays '-- computers running Tor '-- scattered across the world. So your message bounces to a relay in Paris, which forwards it to a second relay in Tokyo, which sends it on to a third relay in Amsterdam, where it is finally transmitted to your friend in Tehran. The Iranian Guard can only see that an e-mail has been sent from Amsterdam. Anyone spying on your computer would only see that you sent an e-mail to someone in Paris. There is no direct connection between San Francisco and Tehran. The content of your e-mail is not hidden '-- for that, you need encryption technology '-- but your location is secure.

Appelbaum spends much of each year leading Tor training sessions around the world, often conducted in secrecy to protect activists whose lives are in danger. Some, like the sex-worker advocates from Southeast Asia he tutored, had limited knowledge of computers. Others, like a group of students Appelbaum trained at a seminar in Qatar, are highly sophisticated: One worked on the government's censorship network, another works for a national oil company, and a third created an Al-Jazeera message board that allows citizens to post comments anonymously. In Mauritania, the country's military regime was forced to abandon its efforts to censor the Internet after a dissident named Nasser Weddady wrote a guide to Tor in Arabic and distributed it to opposition groups. "Tor rendered the government's efforts completely futile," Weddady says. "They simply didn't have the know-how to counter that move."

In distributing Tor, Appelbaum doesn't distinguish between good guys and bad guys. "I don't know the difference between one theocracy or another in Iran," he says. "What's important to me is that people have communication free from surveillance. Tor shouldn't be thought of as subversive. It should be thought of as a necessity. Everyone everywhere should be able to speak and read and form their own beliefs without being monitored. It should get to a point where Tor is not a threat but is relied upon by all levels of society. When that happens, we win."

As the public face of an organization devoted to anonymity, Appelbaum finds himself in a precarious position. It is in Tor's interest to gain as much publicity as possible '-- the more people who allow their computers to serve as relays, the better. But he also lives in a state of constant vigilance, worried that his enemies '-- envious hackers, repressive foreign regimes, his own government '-- are trying to attack him. His compromise is to employ a two-tiered system. He maintains a Twitter account and has posted thousands of photos on Flickr. Yet he takes extensive measures to prevent any private information '-- phone numbers, e-mail addresses, names of friends '-- from appearing.

"There are degrees of privacy," he says. "The normal thing nowadays is to conspicuously report on one another in a way that the Stasi couldn't even dream of. I don't do that. I do not enter my home address into any computer. I pay rent in cash. For every online account, I generate random passwords and create new e-mail addresses. I never write checks, because they're insecure '-- your routing number and account number are all that are required to empty your bank account. I don't understand why anyone still uses checks. Checks are crazy."

When he travels, if his laptop is out of his sight for any period of time, he destroys it and then throws it away; the concern is that someone might have bugged it. He is often driven to extreme measures to get copies of Tor through customs in foreign countries. "I studied what drug smugglers do," he says. "I wanted to beat them at their own game." He shows me a nickel. Then he slams it on the floor of his apartment. It pops open. Inside there is a tiny eight- gigabyte microSD memory card. It holds a copy of Tor.

As fast as Tor has grown, government surveillance of the Internet has expanded even more rapidly. "It's unbelievable how much power someone has if they have unfettered access to Google's databases," Appelbaum says.

As he is quick to point out, oppressive foreign regimes are only part of the problem. In the past few years, the U.S. government has been quietly accumulating libraries of data on its own citizens. Law enforcement can subpoena your Internet provider for your name, address and phone records. With a court order, they can request the e-mail addresses of anyone with whom you communicate and the websites you visit. Your cellphone provider can track your location at all times.

"It's not just the state," says Appelbaum. "If it wanted to, Google could overthrow any country in the world. Google has enough dirt to destroy every marriage in America."

But doesn't Google provide funding for Tor?

"I love Google," he says. "And I love the people there. Sergey Brin and Larry Page are cool. But I'm terrified of the next generation that takes over. A benevolent dictatorship is still a dictatorship. At some point people are going to realize that Google has everything on everyone. Most of all, they can see what questions you're asking, in real time. Quite literally, they can read your mind."

Now, in the wake of the Wikileaks controversy, Appelbaum has gone underground, concealing his whereabouts from even his closest friends. He suspects his phones are tapped and that he's being followed. A week after being questioned in Newark, he calls me from an undisclosed location, my request to contact him having been passed along through a series of intermediaries. The irony of his situation isn't lost on him.

"I'll be using Tor a lot more than I ever did '-- and I used it a lot," he says, his voice uncharacteristically sober. "I have become one of the people I have spent the last several years of my life protecting. I better take my own advice."

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Facebook sued for alleged monitoring of users' private messages

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Archived Version

Source: End the Lie - Independent News

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 05:59

Reuters / Thomas Hodel

Social media giant Facebook is being sued for the alleged monitoring of its users' private messages in order to gather more consumer data that it in turn shares with marketers.

A federal lawsuit filed Thursday in San Jose, California alleges that Facebook traces the contents of users' private messages, including links to other websites, ''to improve its marketing algorithms and increase its ability to profit from data about Facebook users,'' The Los Angeles Times reported.

A link to another site is read as a ''like'' of that website. The information contributes to a comprehensive profile on the user's activity that is collected by Facebook and that eventually becomes material for targeted advertising, the lawsuit claims.

Two plaintiffs are seeking a class action suit on behalf of all Facebook users who have sent or received a private message in the past two years that contained links.

The allegations are ''without merit,'' said Facebook spokeswoman Jackie Rooney.

''We will defend ourselves vigorously,'' she told the LA Times in an emailed statement.

Hackers News was first to surface Facebook's supposed practice of scanning private messages and converting links to ''likes'' in 2012.

Two weeks ago, a new study showed that Facebook records everything users type on the social networking site, including notes they choose to delete instead of posting.

Adam Kramer, a data scientist employed by the social network, studied the profiles of 3.9 million people for the study, dubbed ''Self-Censorship on Facebook.'' Kramer viewed activity on each profile by monitoring its HTML form element, which is made up of HTML code that changes whenever a user types in their Facebook chat, status update, or other areas where they speak to others.

While Facebook claims it does not track the words that are written in each box, the company is able to determine when characters are typed, how many words are typed, and whether they are posted or deleted. Kramer, with help from student Sauvik Das, spent 17 days tracking ''aborted status updates, posts on other people's timelines, and comments on other posts.''

The social network site does offer opt-outs for certain advertising features, such as whether a user's consumer brand likes are shared with others and, perhaps tellingly, the ability to opt out of any future decision to allow third-party sites to use a user's name or picture in advertisements.

Facebook '' which is again expected to pay no federal taxes this year '' is not alone among major tech companies facing lawsuits that claim privacy violations. Google has been sued in federal court, accused of illegally accessing the contents of email sent through its Gmail service, a violation of US wiretapping law.

Also earlier this month, documents leaked by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden revealed that the National Security Agency has quietly subverted the tools used by online advertising companies in order to track surveillance targets and improve its monitoring ability.

Source: RT

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New Wikileaks spokehole-Kristinn Hrafnsson - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 05:40

Kristinn Hrafnsson (born 25 June 1962) is an Icelandic investigative journalist and spokesperson for the WikiLeaks organisation.[2]

He has worked at various newspapers in Iceland and hosted the television programme Komps on the Icelandic channel St¶° 2, where he and his team often exposed criminal activity and corruption in high places. In February 2009, while investigating the connection between Iceland's Kaupthing Bank and Robert Tchenguiz, the programme was taken off air and Kristinn and his crew were sacked.[3]

Shortly thereafter, Kristinn was hired by RšV, the Icelandic National Broadcasting Service. In August 2009, he was working on a story about Kaupthing's loan book which had just been published on the WikiLeaks webpage, when the bank got a gag order issued by the Reykjavik sheriff's office, banning RšV from reporting on the loan book, which could be publicly accessed online via WikiLeaks.[4] The prohibition order was withdrawn later.[5]

Kristinn was dismissed from RšV (his contract was not renewed) in July 2010[6] and has since worked as an independent journalist, collaborating with WikiLeaks and stepping up as the organisation's spokesman as founder Julian Assange withdrew from the limelight. He has called the December 2010 attacks on WikiLeaks by MasterCard, Visa, and others a "privatisation of censorship".[7] In 2012, in his capacity as WikiLeaks spokesman, he defended the organisation on the website of Swedish Television against what he described as a smear campaign by the Swedish tabloid Expressen.[8]

Kristinn has been named Icelandic journalist of the year three times, in 2004, 2007 and 2010.[9]

PersondataNameKristinn HrafnssonAlternative namesShort descriptionIcelandic journalistDate of birth25 June 1962Place of birthDate of deathPlace of death

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War on Crazy

FACT SHEET: Strengthening the Federal Background Check System to Keep Guns out of Potentially Dangerous Hands

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Archived Version

Source: White House.gov Press Office Feed

Sat, 04 Jan 2014 02:30

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

January 03, 2014

Today, the Administration is announcing two new executive actions that will help strengthen the federal background check system and keep guns out of the wrong hands. The Department of Justice (DOJ) is proposing a regulation to clarify who is prohibited from possessing a firearm under federal law for reasons related to mental health, and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is issuing a proposed regulation to address barriers preventing states from submitting limited information on those persons to the federal background check system.

Too many Americans have been severely injured or lost their lives as a result of gun violence. While the vast majority of Americans who experience a mental illness are not violent, in some cases when persons with a mental illness do not receive the treatment they need, the result can be tragedies such as homicide or suicide.

The Administration takes a comprehensive approach to mental health issues by expanding coverage of mental health services so care is affordable, launching a national conversation on mental health to reduce stigma associated with having a mental illness and getting help, directing funds we have now to improve mental health facilities, and proposing more funds be used for efforts such as training additional mental health professionals.

At the same time, the Administration is committed to making sure that anyone who may pose a danger to themselves or others does not have access to a gun. The federal background check system is the most effective way to assure that such individuals are not able to purchase a firearm from a licensed gun dealer. To date, background checks have prevented over two million guns from falling into the wrong hands.

The Administration's two new executive actions will help ensure that better and more reliable information makes its way into the background check system. The Administration also continues to call on Congress to pass common-sense gun safety legislation and to expand funding to increase access to mental health services.

Progress to Strengthen the Federal Background Check System

Over the past year, the Administration has taken several steps to strengthen the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS), which is used to run background checks on those who buy guns from federally licensed gun dealers to make sure they are not prohibited by law from owning a firearm. For example:

The President directed federal agencies to make all relevant records, including criminal history records and information related to persons prohibited from having guns for mental health reasons, available to the federal background check system. This effort is beginning to bear fruit. In the first nine months after the President's directive, federal agencies have made available to the NICS over 1.2 million additional records identifying persons prohibited from possessing firearms, nearly a 23% increase from the number of records federal agencies had made available by the end of January.

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives published a letter to federally licensed gun dealers providing guidance on how to run background checks for private sellers.

States are one of the key sources of data on persons prohibited from having guns, including felons and those prohibited for mental health reasons. That's why the President took action to invest an additional $20 million this year to improve incentives for states to share this information with the federal background check system. In September 2013, DOJ awarded $27.5 million to 42 states and one territory to strengthen the firearms background check system by improving their abilities to share information with the NICS. In addition, the Administration is proposing $50 million for this purpose in FY2014, and Congress should act to provide these critical resources.

Two New Actions to Further Strengthen the Federal Background Check System

Some states have reported that certain barriers under current law make it difficult for them to identify and submit appropriate information to the federal background check system regarding individuals prohibited under federal law from having a gun for mental health reasons. Today, DOJ and HHS are taking steps that will help address these barriers.

Some states have noted that the terminology used by federal law to prohibit people from purchasing a firearm for certain mental health reasons is ambiguous. Today, DOJ is issuing a proposed rule to make several clarifications. For example, DOJ is proposing to clarify that the statutory term ''committed to a mental institution'' includes involuntary inpatient as well as outpatient commitments. In addition to providing general guidance on federal law, these clarifications will help states determine what information should be made accessible to the federal background check system, which will, in turn, strengthen the system's reliability and effectiveness.

Some states have also said that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act's (HIPAA) privacy provisions may be preventing them from making relevant information available to the background check system regarding individuals prohibited from purchasing a firearm for mental health reasons. In April 2013, HHS began to identify the scope and extent of the problem, and based on public comments is now issuing a proposed rule to eliminate this barrier by giving certain HIPAA covered entities an express permission to submit to the background check system the limited information necessary to help keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands. The proposed rule will not change the fact that seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm. Furthermore, nothing in the proposed rule would require reporting on general mental health visits or other routine mental health care, or would exempt providers solely performing these treatment services from existing privacy rules.

Calling on Congress to Act

While the President and the Vice President continue to do everything they can to reduce gun violence, Congress must also act. Passing common-sense gun safety legislation '' including expanding background checks and making gun trafficking a federal crime '' remains the most important step we can take to reduce gun violence. The vast majority of Americans support these critical measures, which would protect our children and our communities without infringing on anyone's Second Amendment rights.

In addition, the President's FY 2014 Budget proposes a new $130 million initiative to address several barriers that may prevent people '' especially youth and young adults '' from getting help for mental health problems. The President and the Vice President continue to call on Congress to appropriate funds for these important purposes.

Obama administration takes additional steps to strengthen the federal background check system

Obama administration takes additional steps to strengthen the federal background check system Continuing efforts to keep guns out of potentially dangerous hands Today, as part of President Obama's continuing efforts to reduce gun violence, the Department of Health and Human Services issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to remove unnecessary legal barriers under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule that may prevent states from reporting certain information to the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). The NICS helps to ensure that guns are not sold to those prohibited by law from having them, including felons, those convicted of domestic violence, and individuals involuntarily committed to a mental institution. To date, background checks have prevented over two million guns from falling into the wrong hands. However, the background check system is only as effective as the information that is available to it. According to a 2012 Government Accountability Office report, 17 states had submitted fewer than 10 records of individuals prohibited for mental health reasons. Additional records have been submitted over the past year as a result of federal and state actions, but there is more work to be done. "There is a strong public safety need for this information to be accessible to the NICS, and some states are currently under-reporting or not reporting certain information to the NICS at all," said HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius. "This proposed rulemaking is carefully balanced to protect and preserve individuals' privacy interests, the patient-provider relationship, and the public's health and safety." On April 23, 2013, the department published an Advance Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requesting the public's input on how HIPAA may affect some states' ability to report to the NICS and ways in which these barriers could be addressed without discouraging individuals from seeking mental health services. Over 2,000 comments were received from individuals, state agencies, health care providers, professional organizations, consumer advocacy groups, and other stakeholders. The NPRM announced today would modify the HIPAA Privacy Rule to permit certain HIPAA-covered entities to disclose to the NICS the identities of persons prohibited by federal law from possessing or receiving a firearm for reasons related to mental health. Seeking help for mental health problems or getting treatment does not make someone legally prohibited from having a firearm, and nothing in this proposed rule changes that. Furthermore, nothing in this proposed rule would require reporting on general mental health visits or other routine mental health care, or exempt providers solely performing these treatment services from existing privacy rules. The proposal would give states and certain covered entities added flexibility to ensure accurate but limited information is reported to the NICS, which would not include clinical, diagnostic, or other mental health information. Instead, certain covered entities would be permitted to disclose the minimum necessary identifying information about individuals who have been involuntarily committed to a mental institution or otherwise have been determined by a lawful authority to be a danger to themselves or others or to lack the mental capacity to manage their own affairs. Importantly, the proposed permission focuses on those entities performing relevant commitments, adjudications, or data repository functions. The proposed modifications would merely permit, and not require, covered entities to report to the NICS. In addition, the proposed rule would not change the existing permitted uses and disclosures of protected health information under the HIPAA Privacy Rule. The NPRM will be available for review beginning at 4:15pm on Friday, January 3, 2014, at: http://www.federalregister.gov. Comments can be submitted to http://www.regulations.gov.

Agenda 21

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Underground Nuclear Explosion At Crippled Japan Atomic Plant Shocks The World

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: The Top Information Post

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 15:29

An ominous edict issued from the Office of the President of Russia today to all Ministries of the Russian Government ordering that all ''past, present and future'' information relating to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster now be rated at the highest classification level ''Of Special Importance'' states that this condition is ''immediately and urgently needed'' due to a series of underground nuclear explosions occurring at this crippled atomic plant on 31 December as confirmed by the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

''Of Special Importance'' is Russia's highest classification level and refers to information which, if released, would cause damage to the entire Russian Federation.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was a catastrophic failure at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on 11 March 2011. The failure occurred when the plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake.

The plant began releasing substantial amounts of radioactive materials beginning on 12 March 2011 becoming the largest nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the second (with Chernobyl) to measure at the highest Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).

According to this report, MoD ''assests'' associated with the Red Banner Pacific Fleet detected two ''low-level'' underground atomic explosions occurring in the Fukushima disaster zone on 31 December, the first measuring 5.1 magnitude in intensity, followed by a smaller 3.6 magnitude explosion moments later.

The MoD further reports that the 5.1 magnitude event corresponds to the energy equivalent in megatons of TNT of 0.0005, while the 3.6 magnitude event equals 0.0000005.

As a comparison, the MoD states that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 by the United States released the equivalent of 16 Kilotons = 0.016 megatons of TNT, about the energy equivalent of a magnitude 6 earthquake, and the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated was the Tsar bomb, a device exploded by the Soviet Union on 30 October 1961, with an energy equivalent of about 50 megatons of TNT.

Important to note, this report continues, was that the architect of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 3, Uehara Haruo, warned on 17 November 2011 warned that a ''China Syndrome'' (aka: Hydrovolcanic Explosion) was ''inevitable'' due to the melted atomic fuel that had escaped the container vessel and was now burning through the earth.

The MoD further reports that evidence that these underground nuclear explosions were about to occur began after mysterious steam plumes were first spotted on 19 December for a short period of time, then again on 24, 25, 27 December, and confirmed by a report Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) published on its website.

Most curious to note, this report continues, is that the United States appears to have had a more advanced notice of these underground nuclear explosions as evidenced by their purchase earlier this month (6 December) of 14 million doses of potassium iodide, the compound that protects the body from radioactive poisoning in the aftermath of severe nuclear accidents, to be delivered before the beginning of February 2014.

With experts now estimating that the wave of radiation from Fukushima will be 10-times bigger than all of the radiation from the entire world's nuclear tests throughout history combined, and with new reports stating that dangerous radiation levels have been detected in snows found in Texas, Colorado and Missouri, this MoD report warns the US, indeed, is going to face the severest consequences of this historic, and seemingly unstoppable, nuclear disaster.

And not just to human beings either is this nuclear disaster unfolding either, this report grimly warns, but also to all biological systems as new reports coming from the United States western coastal areas are now detailing the mass deaths of seals, sea lions, polar bears, bald eagles, sea stars, turtles, king and sockeye salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines due to Fukishima radiation.

As to the American people being allowed to know the full and horrific mass death event now unfolding around them, this report warns, is not be as the Obama regime has, in effect, ordered all of their mainstream news media organs not to report it, and as recently confirmed by former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur who was told not to warn the public about the danger posed by the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant during his time as a host on the cable network.

And with Russian experts now warning that as Fukushima pollution spreads all over Earth (as large amounts of fish, seaweeds, and everything in ocean has been already been polluted, and these products are the main danger for mankind as they can end up being eaten by people on a massive scale) this report warns that Putin's order to classify all information relating to this nuclear mass death event ''Of Special Importance'' is vital to protect the economic and social stability interests of the Russian Federation as this global catastrophe continues to worsen by the day.

Source:

http://www.eutimes.net

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Underground Nuclear Explosion At Crippled Japan Atomic Plant Shocks World | EUTimes.net

Link to Article

Archived Version

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 02:53

An ominous edict issued from the Office of the President of Russia today to all Ministries of the Russian Government ordering that all ''past, present and future'' information relating to Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster now be rated at the highest classification level ''Of Special Importance'' states that this condition is ''immediately and urgently needed'' due to a series of underground nuclear explosions occurring at this crippled atomic plant on 31 December as confirmed by the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

''Of Special Importance'' is Russia's highest classification level and refers to information which, if released, would cause damage to the entire Russian Federation.

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster was a catastrophic failure at the Fukushima I Nuclear Power Plant on 11 March 2011. The failure occurred when the plant was hit by a tsunami triggered by the 9.0 magnitude Tōhoku earthquake.

The plant began releasing substantial amounts of radioactive materials beginning on 12 March 2011 becoming the largest nuclear incident since the 1986 Chernobyl disaster and the second (with Chernobyl) to measure at the highest Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale (INES).

According to this report, MoD ''assests'' associated with the Red Banner Pacific Fleet detected two ''low-level'' underground atomic explosions occurring in the Fukushima disaster zone on 31 December, the first measuring 5.1 magnitude in intensity, followed by a smaller 3.6 magnitude explosion moments later.

The MoD further reports that the 5.1 magnitude event corresponds to the energy equivalent in megatons of TNT of 0.0005, while the 3.6 magnitude event equals 0.0000005.

As a comparison, the MoD states that the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945 by the United States released the equivalent of 16 Kilotons = 0.016 megatons of TNT, about the energy equivalent of a magnitude 6 earthquake, and the largest hydrogen bomb ever detonated was the Tsar bomb, a device exploded by the Soviet Union on 30 October 1961, with an energy equivalent of about 50 megatons of TNT.

Important to note, this report continues, was that the architect of Fukushima Daiichi Reactor 3, Uehara Haruo, warned on 17 November 2011 warned that a ''China Syndrome'' (aka: Hydrovolcanic Explosion) was ''inevitable'' due to the melted atomic fuel that had escaped the container vessel and was now burning through the earth.

The MoD further reports that evidence that these underground nuclear explosions were about to occur began after mysterious steam plumes were first spotted on 19 December for a short period of time, then again on 24, 25, 27 December, and confirmed by a report Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) published on its website.

Most curious to note, this report continues, is that the United States appears to have had a more advanced notice of these underground nuclear explosions as evidenced by their purchase earlier this month (6 December) of 14 million doses of potassium iodide, the compound that protects the body from radioactive poisoning in the aftermath of severe nuclear accidents, to be delivered before the beginning of February 2014.

With experts now estimating that the wave of radiation from Fukushima will be 10-times bigger than all of the radiation from the entire world's nuclear tests throughout history combined, and with new reports stating that dangerous radiation levels have been detected in snows found in Texas, Colorado and Missouri, this MoD report warns the US, indeed, is going to face the severest consequences of this historic, and seemingly unstoppable, nuclear disaster.

And not just to human beings either is this nuclear disaster unfolding either, this report grimly warns, but also to all biological systems as new reports coming from the United States western coastal areas are now detailing the mass deaths of seals, sea lions, polar bears, bald eagles, sea stars, turtles, king and sockeye salmon, herring, anchovies, and sardines due to Fukishima radiation.

As to the American people being allowed to know the full and horrific mass death event now unfolding around them, this report warns, is not be as the Obama regime has, in effect, ordered all of their mainstream news media organs not to report it, and as recently confirmed by former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur who was told not to warn the public about the danger posed by the meltdown at the Fukushima nuclear plant during his time as a host on the cable network.

And with Russian experts now warning that as Fukushima pollution spreads all over Earth (as large amounts of fish, seaweeds, and everything in ocean has been already been polluted, and these products are the main danger for mankind as they can end up being eaten by people on a massive scale) this report warns that Putin's order to classify all information relating to this nuclear mass death event ''Of Special Importance'' is vital to protect the economic and social stability interests of the Russian Federation as this global catastrophe continues to worsen by the day.

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Fukushima Accident Updates '' Go To Hiroshima Syndrome

Link to Article

Archived Version

Source: Atomic Insights

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:02

Hiroshima Syndrome hosts the best source of compiled information about the status of activities and investigations related to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power station's accident recovery and clean-up effort. The author, Les Corrice, is a semi-retired nuclear energy professional who works diligently to post the Fukushima Accident Update page twice a week. He has been pursuing that self-assigned task ever since March 11, 2011.

Corrice also addresses ''hot'' or viral issues on a page titled Fukushima Commentary. His point of view is calm, reasoned and well informed. His Commentary pages provide good supporting evidence for answering breathless fears caused by stories posted by those whose motivation seems to be less about spreading the truth and more about obtaining attention. New Commentaries are posted at least once per week.

Attempting to duplicate Les' efforts on Atomic Insights would be counterproductive and distracting.

In general, there is no reason for excitement or alarm relative to what is occurring at Fukushima Daiichi. Actually, it is a rather complicated industrial recovery effort that shares traits with other very large-scale clean-up projects; similar challenging tasks, questionable contractors, and construction cost overruns that plague most large ventures regulated by government agencies, especially when carrying the ''hazardous'' or ''radioactive'' label.

The tasks going on at Fukushima Daiichi should not impede other important tasks in the nuclear community; operating other nuclear power plants, competing in the energy markets with hydrocarbon fuel sources, obtaining certifications and licenses for new nuclear plant designs, and pushing towards completion in construction projects. These topics will remain the focus at Atomic Insights.

Les Corrice does a great job of keeping up with all things related to Fukushima Daiichi; many times he addresses issues before they stimulate new stories in the Press and/or the internet. Please read his posts, as well as the numerous archived pages, for answers to your questions before asking them here.

Les has agreed to monitor this thread for new topics that might need to be addressed. If you ask nicely, he might even be able to take the time to answer you directly.

Fukushima Accident Updates | Fukushima Nuclear Disaster | Fukushima Accident

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Archived Version

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 05:32

The internet's top source of Fukushima accident updates. It's often called theFukushima nuclear disaster. The Fukushima accident is the worst since Chernobyl.(3 times weekly; Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.)

To help keep this page free for everyone, please consider a donation (click on the button in the left-hand column).

The Nuclear Regulation Authority says no nukes will be restarted in the near future. The NRA has held 65 meetings to study the first nine restart applications submitted last year and decided none of the operators have ''appropriately renewed their estimations of the scale of possible earthquakes''. The NRA's Chair Shunichi Tanaka says he has no idea how long the screening process will take after this new finding.http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20140101_18.html(comment - Once again, the NRA shows its earthquake phobia, entirely ignoring that the worst quake in the history of Japan was successfully endured by all of the nukes on the Tohoku coast. When will this watchdog wake up and look at quake precautions in a realistic light? It was inadequate tsunami protection that caused the F. Daiichi accident. There was no safety compromise due to the quake. It seems the NRA has a guilty-until-proven-innocent attitude toward earthquakes and nukes. I thought being independent meant avoidance of bias.)

The number of feral cats in the F. Daiichi evacuation zone is increasing. However, it should come as no surprise, says Hiro Yamasaki of the Animal Rescue System Fund. His Fund provides affordable spay and neuter services, and has been doing this in Kobe since the aftermath of the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995. The city became inundated with the feral offspring former pets whose owners were either dead or could not move them to quake evacuation centers that disallowed pets. Yamasaki explain the Kobe situation,''Sterilization is the most practical and humane way to curb the growing population of feral animals, and research backs this up. I then realized a bigger problem existed. In the years after the earthquake, the number of feral kittens in Kobe increased. I did some quite detailed statistical research and worked out how many animals various areas could support, and the optimum rate of spaying and neutering '-- 70 percent '-- that was necessary to achieve this.'' However, tradition inhibited his work. Pet sterilization is the exception, and not the rule in Japan, plus most veterinarians make the operation expensive. Unwanted kittens were destroyed by residents, as an alternative to keeping them. Yamasaki opened his Kobe clinic in 2006 because ''In the decade between the Hanshin earthquake and the Kobe clinic opening, the number of kittens being gassed by the city rose. However, following our efforts to sterilize the feral cats in the region, the killings dropped year on year between 2006 and 2012. The TNR (trap, neuter, return) model clearly works.'' In 2012, he tried to open a new clinic near the F. Daiichi evacuation zone, but ran into strong opposition from local veterinarians. The ''old-boys network'' closed ranks to stop Yamasaki, ''There's a distinct inaka seishin (provincial mentality) in these communities. You can't rock the boat if you want to fit in. The local government officials and businessmen like things to stay as they are.'' Undaunted, he opened the Fukushima Spay Clinic near a Shirakawa shopping mall, about 100 kilometers southwest of F. Daiichi. To date, nearly 1,500 animals have been treated economically and safely. Yamasaki laments, ''Unfortunately, our clinic is the only one providing this kind of service. The local vets and bureaucrats have not responded adequately to the situation.''http://www.japantimes.co.jp/community/2013/12/30/issues/in-fukushima-abandoned-pets-are-multiplying/#.UsQT5suA0dUm (comment '' I live with three cats, and all are sterilized. Feral kittens show up occasionally because of a metro-park across the street where owners abandon their unwanted cats and they reproduce with other abandoned cats. The feral kittens won't let me catch them and they keep their distance'...such is the way of feral kittens. I give them some food, but it's basically one-and done. I think the coyotes get them. Regardless, my heart goes out to each of them. Here's the link for Yamasaki's Fund'...www.animalrescue-sf.org/fukushima_eng/index.html.I sent a small donation'...how about a little help, folks?)

Government officials will soon be explaining details of low level waste storage to Fukushima residents. Intermediate storage facilities are intended for F. Daiichi's two host communities, Futaba and Okuma. Over the next two months, Tokyo representatives will inform the estranged residents of the safety provisions that will be taken and the process for compensation to those whose land will be expropriated. Some locals object because they do not want to lose the land held by their families for generations. Others fear that the proposed facilities will actually be a detriment toward recovery efforts in the two towns. Tokyo wants to resolve these issues quickly in order to have the facilities in operation by January, 2015.http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.htmlTepco has requested $10 billion to cover their new compensation pay-outs. This is the fifth time the company has submitted their estimated needs to meet the government's mandated evacuee stipends. In all, the five requests total nearly $48 billion. The reasons posted by Tepco for the new estimate include redefinition of loss of property, damages due to procurement of houses (presumably for building temporary rural waste facilities), damages after evacuation orders are dissolved, and mental anguish with those whose return cannot be forecast. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/betu13_e/images/131227e0101.pdf

PM Shinzo Abe pledged to increase financial support to quake/tsunami victims. This should not be confused with pay-outs to Fukushima evacuees. Rather, it is intended to assist municipal recovery in the three prefectures hardest hit, primarily due to the tsunami '' Miyagi, Iwate, and Fukushima (outside the nuclear evacuation zone). Disaster-area municipalities are facing on-going difficulties with the public insurance program due to increasing medical costs and decreasing insurance premium revenues. It is intended that this boost in money will help for at least three more years. The proposed amount will be announced before March. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122700796

Rural decontamination teams can work overnight in some evacuation zone locations. Tokyo says workers will be allowed to stay overnight in areas where residents are allowed to visit during the daytime. One stipulation concerns work with projects deemed indispensable for zone restoration and revival, so long as the measured exposure levels are below the 20 millisievert per year limit. Local governments and businesses have asked for this because daytime access is slowed at times by workers traveling to their and from job sites, causing congestion on the roads. Tokyo said the allowance for overnight work will begin immediately in Iidate village. Other municipalities can apply for similar approval as long as locations in their communities meet the stipulations. Director of the National Institute of Radiological Sciences Makoto Akashi says strict monitoring of exposure will be needed for each worker, including their off-work hours. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

About one-fourth of Fukushima's citizens have answered the prefecture's radiation survey. The analysis began a few months after the accident. It is designed to provide reasonable estimates of individual exposures due to the F. Daiichi accident during the early weeks of the crisis. The surveys were intended to cover about 2 million people, but as of September only 23.6% have completed and submitted the forms. The survey asks about time outside the home, eating habits and other behaviors that may have affected exposure, both internally and externally. Fukushima officials feel the reasons for the low response include the difficulty of filling out paperwork, insufficient explanation, and reluctance to try and remember what residents were doing early-on in the crisis. The prefecture is trying to simplify the survey in order to get more residents involved. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131227_06.html

The number of Japanese nukes asking for restart is now sixteen. The latest submittal is from the Tohoku Electric Company for Onagawa unit #2. The Onagawa station was closest to the quake epicenter on 3/11/11, and experienced a bit higher than F. Daiichi. Quake damage was limited to non-safety systems, such as potable water. The anti-tsunami barricade much higher and more robust than at F. Daiichi, completely protecting the station. Tohoku's Executive Vice President Shigeru Inoue said, "Some minor damage resulted due to the quake, but we have confirmed the soundness through on-site checks. Having our safety improvement measures checked will also bring a sense of reassurance to the local people." It should be noted that more than 200 nearby residents fled to the station to avoid the tsunami that swept their homes away, and were sheltered for more than a week at no cost until they could re-locate elsewhere. The Onagawa units are Boiling Water Reactor types, thus staff is installing hardened, filtered depressurization systems on each. Unit #2's installation should be finished early enough to pass the government's inspection in time to restart in 2016. http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131227p2g00m0dm049000c.html

Tepco's special rehabilitation plan was submitted Friday and has caused some controversy. The plan was co-opted by Tepco and the government's Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund. Jiji Press says success hinges on restarting two Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nukes by July 2014. Because of the de-facto nuclear moratorium imposed on Japan by then-PM Naoto Kan, Tepco has been forced to re-start moth-balled fossil fuel (thermal) units. Also, the company has been forced to continually run thermal power plants designed for handling short-term demand peaks. As a result, Tepco's fossil fuel importing costs nearly doubled from 2010 to 2012. They have stayed at the high level since. Tepco has experienced company-wide staff cutbacks and other cost-cutting measures, but the more than $2 billion outlay for fossil fuels has only been superficially impacted. One Tepco executive says, "No matter how much restructuring measures we take, we cannot achieve a turnaround unless we trim fuel costs." Meanwhile, Japan Real Time (Wall Street Journal) says the announcement by Tepco is hiding its real plan for the future, and adds that the Tokyo government is abetting the company's lack of disclosure. JRT says it is unlikely that the two K-K units will be restarted because of opposition from Niigata prefecture's governor, thus Tepco should have identified what they will do to prevent financial collapse without the K-K unit restarts. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122700849 -- http://blogs.wsj.com/japanrealtime/2013/12/27/tepco-has-a-plan-for-the-future-but-wont-say-what-it-is/Fukushima: The First Five Days... a book taken from the staff records at Fukushima Daiichi the first five days of the crisis. Fukushima : The First Five Days is available at E-book stores, including Amazon, Barnes&Noble and Koble.Click here for more...

It seems that the fuel transfer operation at F. Daiichi #4 continues smoothly. A Web-friend from Japan's Press, Joel Legendre-Koizumi, writes, ''At Fukushima Daiichi, Tepco proceeded with 6 transport operations of 132 assemblies out of a total of 1533 as of December 26, 2013. [This is] according to a message I received from Tepco Thursday afternoon. Operations to monitor the strength of the reactor unit 4 infrastructure have been undertaken and concluded the unit 4 is confirmed as resistant and secured enough to carry on nuclear rods assemblies transport to the 'common pool'." There has been nothing in the Tepco web pages since December 16.

This week, Tokyo gave Tepco $1.4 billion for their next compensation pay-outs. The total amount to date has been $32.2 billion, mostly for the 85,000 mandated evacuees who qualify for the monthly subsidies. The money has come from the government's Nuclear Damage Liability Facilitation Fund (herein, the Fund). So far, each evacuated man, woman and child have received about $141,000 in evacuation compensation, totaling $12.6 billion. Therefore, a typical family of four has received ~$640,000 in evacuation compensation. In addition, corporate and property compensations have totaled $15 billion, thus a family may well have garnered $1 million by the New Year. The total pay-out to qualifying voluntary evacuees has been $3.53 billion. The Fund will surely cover more than $50 billion in payouts before all is said and done, and could well approach $90 billion. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233172_5130.html -- http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/comp/images/jisseki-e.pdf(comment - meanwhile, the remaining tsunami refugees who haven't given up and moved elsewhere, now estimated to be about 225,000, have received a little over a combined total of $20 billion and there's little hope of getting any more.)

The Fund has approved Tepco's plan for business reconstruction and has adopted the new guidelines for evacuee compensation which have been rumored for a few weeks. The plan is expected to be finalized today and forwarded to the Industry Minister on Friday. Final Ministry approval is expected in early January. The blueprint includes the expected restart of two Tepco nukes by this coming summer (Kashiwazaki-Kariwa 6&7) and Tepco's becoming a holding company as early as 2016. The Fund now estimates that the total amount of money they will eventually transfer to Tepco will be about $90 billion. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122500840

N-evacuees will get more money. Tokyo's damage compensation panel has decided to make Tepco give money help to those who have no plans to return home. It is intended to help them resettle elsewhere. The guidelines call for $70,000 per person to compensate for the emotional damage caused by their decision to not return home. The added pay-outs strongly suggest that Tokyo has given up on persuading many of the evacuees to repopulate. Panel Chair Yoshihisa Nomi said, ''The new guidelines focus on putting the lives of evacuees back on track.'' http://the-japan-news.com/news/article/0000899302 -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122600572

Some evacuees have gone home for the holidays, but most are staying away. Tokyo decided to ease restrictions on people eligible for temporary visits so they could spend their holidays at home. However, less than 10% have exploited the opportunity. Radiation levels at the specified locations registered lower than what had been estimated after decontamination, and anyone staying until January 7 would not exceed the national limit's. The lower levels have not reached the point where continuous residence would be allowed. Of the 27.150 who were offered the holiday opportunity, only about 1,700 registered to do it. The Reconstruction Agency says the reasons for the poor turn-out are fear of radiation and unrepaired damage to their homes. http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/fukushima-evacuees-to-go-home-for-holiday-season?utm_campaign=jt_newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_source=jt_newsletter_2013-12-26_AM

Radiation levels inside the F. Daiichi evacuation zone have dropped by 47% since November, 2011. Further, trial decontaminations in the most intensely radioactive rural locations indicate that full deconning will drop radiation current levels by more than 50%. The Environment Ministry has quietly run trial decontaminations at locations having greater than 50 millisieverts per year exposures, which is considered unsuitable for repopulation. However, after decontamination in three of the districts of Namie Town, radiation levels were less than half of what they were before. In fact, most of the deconned areas have dropped below the ~ 5.7 µSv/hr criterion (equal to 50 mSv/yr), and are now showing a range of between 3.5-6.6 µSv/hr. Thus, some of the trial locations now satisfy the criteria for easing their evacuation restrictions. If people are allowed to return, however, decontamination of the community will continue until reaching 1 mSv/yr above background. The Ministry says that before they decide to lift restrictions, they will negotiate with former residents. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312250062 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131225_05.html

Rice planting inside the F. Daiichi evacuation zone will be expanded. Since 3/11/11, rice planting has been banned by Tokyo inside the no-go zone, leaving some 5,300 hectares untended. In 2013, some Nagadoro District farmers grew rice on an experimental basis and harvested 3 kilograms for testing by the government. (Fukushima Updates '' December 9, 2013) All samples were well below the national standard of 100 Bq/kg'...in fact none registered above 10 Bq/kg. As a result, Tokyo will allow planting of up to 3,900 hectares of paddies in 2014. If farmers want their product sent to market, their crop from each paddy must pass government screening. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131224_28.html

The Environment Ministry has convened a panel on transporting Fukushima's rural radioactive waste. Currently, the bagged materials are stored temporarily at ~460 locations in the prefecture. Before any transfer of the material can begin, intermediate facilities must be built adjacent to F. Daiichi and transportation regulations must be created to accommodate resident's fear of radiation exposure as the trucks pass by. The panel will decide how to move the waste, minimize public from exposure, and avoid heavy traffic. Two other discussions concerned increased informational transparency and training for workers moving the trash. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131224_24.html

A Tokyo panel of experts is assessing the Tritium disposal issue. Nine panel members met at the Industry Ministry on Wednesday and feel they could reach a conclusion by March. Because Tritium is hydrogen, it is a part of the water molecule and difficult to remove. Because it is a very weak Beta radiation emitter, it is questionable as to whether or not it poses a realistic hazard. Thus, the panel will assess the risks of long-term storage and the technical difficulties posed by Tritium removal, and compare it all with releasing the tritiated water to the ocean after dilution to below national standards. The IAEA suggested Tokyo allow the diluted release to the sea earlier this month. However, before doing such a thing the government would have to alleviate the fears of local residents and gain the support of the Fukushima fisheries. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131226_03.html

The elevated child thyroid cancer rate in Fukushima is probably not due to the accident. While a few alarmist voices have received the lead in the Japanese Press, most experts say it is too soon to judge that Fukushima radiation is the culprit. The alarmist opinion of Okayama University professor Toshide Tsuda was presented in the last Updates, as well as criticism of Tsuda's claim by professors Tetsuya Ohira and Shunichi Suzuki. Yesterday, Fukushima Prefecture officials said it is unlikely that the cancers are due to the nuke accident, basing their conclusion on the fact that Chernobyl thyroid anomalies did not happen until 4-6 years after the accident. Plus, the exposures from Fukushima were many times less than what occurred in the Ukraine. Dr. Choi Kin of Hong Kong Medical Association added that no one can prove the increase in cancer incidence was from Fukushima. He feels that other natural causess are at the root of the situation. http://japandailypress.com/cancer-cases-rise-in-fukushima-but-experts-unsure-on-the-cause-2341371/

The Nuclear Regulation Authority may have become isolated rather than independent. That's what the ruling Liberal Democratic Party of Japan says. The LDP has submitted a list of proposals regarding NRA policies to Cabinet Secretary Yoshide Suga in the hope of preventing the isolation situation from becoming permanent. The document criticizes the NRA for its isolation tendencies rather than its intended role as an independent agency. Independence was intended to mean making decisions after consulting a wide range of experts, and avoiding unilateral decision-making. NRA Chair Shunichi Tanaka said they will meet with more people in the future. Included in the LDP-recommended future mix of experts will be utility managers experienced in power plant operations. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

The rumored creation of an F. Daiichi decommissioning company is now a fact. Tepco announced that ''a new entity is being established to focus solely on the cleanup activity at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.'' Naohiro Masuda, former chief executive at undamaged F. Daiini in 2011, will head up the as-yet un-named company under the Tepco corporate umbrella. The move is welcomed by Tepco foreign advisors. American Dale Klein said, "This new structure will aid in the decommissioning process by focusing expertise and accountability.'' American Lake Barrett added, "This is an important step that will enhance safe cleanup progress at the site." Britain's Lady Barbara Judge praised the choice of Masuda to run the operation, "Mr. Masuda has demonstrated his ability both in his leadership at Fukushima Daini and in his work with the NSOO (Nuclear Safety Oversight Office). His promotion provides clear evidence that TEPCO has made nuclear safety a priority, and that service with the NSOO can be an important step on a nuclear engineer's career path to the highest levels.'' http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233100_5130.html Tepco also posted an outline of the new decommissioning company, which can be found here - http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233102_5130.html

Dale Klein also praised making F. Daiichi units 5&6 into testing and training facilities. Neither unit was damaged by the 3/11/11 quake/tsunami and could be restarted to generate electricity. However, Tepco decided to decommission both units due to public and political pressures. They will be used to test decommissioning methods and technologies designed for the four damaged units at the station, as well as provide hands-on training for staff. Klein calls this a ''wise decision'' that demonstrates a commitment to developing a ''safety culture'' within Tepco. He added, ''I believe the use of Units 5 and 6 as essentially a full-size mock up facility is the right thing to do.'' http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233084_5130.html

Japan is adding still more nuclear compensation pay-outs. The amount will be $9,000 per person for those who return home between one and two years after evacuation restrictions are lifted. The add-on payments are designed to relieve problems due to limited infrastructure, such as markets and shops. A process of confirmation will begin in the spring to see who has actually returned home. Tokyo feels this money will be an incentive to those skittish about repopulating due to radiation fears. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013122000671

Tokyo has set a new timetable for Fukushima's rural decontamination. The Environment Ministry had hoped to have all deconning done by March, 2014, but that is no longer feasible. Six of the eleven evacuated communities have fallen far behind in their work and will probably not be ready for repopulation by the 2014 date, and some might take until 2017. Plus, it is unlikely that one community, Futaba, will be cleaned up for full repopulation in the near-future. One community, Tamura, has been reopened and three more are expected to have restrictions lifted by March. Officials say the main reason for the delays is lack of temporary waste storage sites. The existing sites are effectively filled. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131222_04.html

F. Daiichi staff has found small concentrations of radioactive material in deep groundwater samples. The well is 25 meters deep and is located between F. Daiichi unit #4 and the inner harbor (quay). The water sample taken last Tuesday shows 6.7 Becquerels per liter of Cs-137, and 89 Bq/liter of ''all beta'' emitters. Since the sample was taken the same day as a cross-contaminated sample from another well, the company is investigating whether or not the same thing happened with this one. If the reading is correct, it indicates that a previously unknown leak may be emanating from the bottom of unit #4 turbine building. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131221_02.html

A few researchers say it is possible that that the unusual number of child thyroid cancers in Fukushima Prefecture may be due to nuke accident exposure. However, most experts say it cannot be due to F. Daiichi radiation. One person, Okayama University professor Toshihide Tsuda, says the frequency of child thyroid problems is ''several tens of times'' higher than before the accident. He said national statistics between 1975 and 2008 showed a variance of between 5 to 11 cases per million people. He feels 59 cases out of ~240,000 tested Fukushima children is so much higher that the possibility of Fukushima radiation as a cause cannot be dismissed. On the other hand, most experts say Tsuda's conclusion is non-scientific because it is based national statistics from all age groups and cannot be compared to only the 18-and-under cohort. Tetsuya Ohira of Fukushima Medical School says it is not scientifically appropriate to compare the Fukushima child numbers with the national cancer registry. Another Fukushima Medical University professor, Shunichi Suzuki, says there is no actual link between the low radiation exposures and the confirmed/suspected child thyroid cancer cases in Fukushima. The expert opinions were presented at a December 21st meeting held by the Environment Ministry and the Fukushima government. http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312220021

The Mainichi Shimbun has polled volcanologists about risks to nukes. The paper sent questionnaires to 134 university professors, with 50 responding. Nine said no Japanese nukes were at risk, 12 left the question blank, and 29 indicated various levels of risk from worst-case pyroclastic flows and ash fall-outs. The most-often mentioned at-risk plant is the Sendai station in Kagoshima Prefecture, on the southern tip of Kyushu Island. This is due to massive Sakurajima Volcano located in Kagoshima Bay. In mid-August, 2013, a significant eruption occurred with Sakurajima, sending a plume more than 5,000 meters into the air. There was considerable local ash fallout, but nothing significant occurred with the shuttered Sendai station, nearly 50 kilometers south of the volcano. Other stations listed as at-risk are Tamori in Hokkaido Prefecture, Higashidori in Aomori Prefecture, Genkai in Saga prefecture, Ikata in Ehime Prefecture, and Onagawa in Miyagi Prefecture. All lie within 160 kilometers of active volcanoes, which seems to be an academic criterion for establishing risk. Shintaro Hayashi, a professor at Akita University, commented, "If a pyroclastic flow were to reach a nuclear power plant, the safety of its operators could not be guaranteed." He added that the Sendai station carried ''unacceptable risk''. However, most negative responders said the probability of a volcano causing a nuclear accident was ''extremely low.'' http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131223p2a00m0na013000c.html

A rather large demonstration against nukes happened in Tokyo. It should be noted that antinuke demonstrations occur every week in the capitol, but this had one of the largest turn-outs in the last year. The reason for the gathering was recent news reports that some nukes would be restarted in 2014, perhaps as soon as March. Banners said ''Don't restart nukes'' and ''Don't create nuclear waste''. A woman from Saitama Prefecture said nukes should remain closed until all troubles from the Fukushima accident are resolved. A man from Tokyo said the country should abolish nukes and replace them with renewables to protect future generations. The metropolitan police said about 2,000 attended the rally, while antinuke organizers posted their typically-exaggerated figures, this time 15,000. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131222_18.htmlTokyo's French chefs surprised some F. Daiichi child evacuees with a surprise gourmet Christmas meal. 360 meals and 200 snacks were delivered to a school in Koriyama with a large number of evacuees in their enrollment. Chef Christophe Paucod supervised preparation of scalloped potatoes, buttered veggies, and roast beef, plus a scrumptious cake topped with fresh berries. He said, ''It's a different flavor for their palates. For many it is the first time they have tasted French cuisine.'' Caravan Bon Appetite has been providing meals to earthquake and tsunami refugees across the Tohoku region since April, 2011. This is part of a program started by French chefs in Japan due to the 3/11/11 natural disaster that left a lot of people homeless. They send their culinary delights to the region several times a week. However, this is the first Press coverage of their gustatory philanthropy. The reason seems obvious'...the Fukushima refugees are more newsworthy than the tsunami refugees. http://japandailypress.com/santa-brings-a-different-kind-of-gourmet-christmas-to-fukushima-nuclear-evacuees-1741107/ -- http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/santa-takes-gourmet-dinner-to-nuclear-evacuees

The deposed Democratic Party of Japan has harshly attacked the current regime's energy policy. The government of Shinzo Abe has announced repeatedly that they will work towards lessening reliance of nuclear-generated electricity and promote renewables. But, to the DPJ, it is nothing more than a smokescreen to keep the nuclear industry alive in Japan. The DPJ under Naoto Kan was in power when the Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami hit. Kan and his successor Yoshihiko Noda tried to end Japan's nuclear age once and for all. However, the negative impact on the economy caused by their nuclear moratorium, their openly antinuclear agenda, and their lack of viable support for the 300,000 homeless tsunami refugees led to their landslide defeat a year ago. Undaunted in their antinuclear crusade, the DPJ says Tepco and Tokyo are not taking steps to alleviate the contamination of the Pacific by groundwater flow at F. Daiichi. They say Tepco should inject more water-stops and pump out contaminated groundwater before it reaches the shoreline. The DPJ's current antinuclear tirade is due to Tepco announcing a new high radiation level for one of the dozens of near-shore sampling wells at F. Daiichi'...63,000 Becquerels per liter. In addition, the DPJ condemned plans to restart safe, undamaged, fully-viable viable nukes while there is no firm nuclear waste policy. One DPJ politico also said nuclear power is not low cost energy because decommissioning and nuclear accident clean-up costs make it more expensive than alternatives. The DPJ has become little more than a Japanese sounding-board for time-worn criticisms of nukes borrowed from the world's bastions of antinuclear rhetoric. http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121700419 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html

Fukushima Prefecture says the number of nuke-evacuation deaths has surpassed the number killed by the earthquake and tsunami of 3/11/11. The number of evacuee deaths now stands at 1,605 while the number directly killed by the quake/tsunami was 1603. The number of ''indirect'' post-evacuation deaths has been due to inappropriate medical care resulting in deteriorating health, development of new illnesses, and suicides of those who became mentally unwell. There are no firm standards for defining disaster-related deaths, but the prefecture believes the unprecedented duration of the evacuation warrants making this determination. One Tomioka official said, "We're seeing more and more diversification, and it's getting more complicated" to distinguish between fatalities related and unrelated to the evacuation. Tohoku Institute of Technology's Kunihiro Fukutome added, "In Fukushima Prefecture, where evacuation is drawn out, damage from the disaster is on a different scale from what we've seen in the past.'' http://mainichi.jp/english/english/newsselect/news/20131217p2a00m0na010000c.html (comment -Once again there is no distinction made between the Fukushima evacuees who will never go home because their abodes were swept away by the tsunami and the nuclear-only demographic. The tsunami-devastated group should be addressed separately because they would be suffering even if the nuke accident had never happened. Thus, we would like to see statistics on how many of the above ''disaster-related'' fatalities are from the tsunami-devastated cohort. We would also like to know how Fukushima's tsunami-devastated evacuees living conditions and compensatory income compares with the tsunami refugees of Miyagi and Iwate Prefectures. To date, the government has avoided doing this and the Press seems satisfied with reporting on the Fukushima refugees alone.)

More compensation for Fukushima evacuees becomes law on Friday. The new pay-outs will include expanded support for those who want to go home (and can) plus additional money to those who need to settle elsewhere. Most already receive compensation for ''lost'' property value, but the new allocation is intended to let long-term evacuees buy new homes. The new package also allows mental distress compensation for long-term evacuees continuing until 2017. However, it also says that mental damages will end one year after the restrictions are lifted for residents allowed to go home. All of the government loans must eventually be repaid by Tepco and other contributing utility companies. In addition to the increased income for Fukushima evacuees, Tokyo has created new grants for Fukushima municipalities to accelerate the reconstruction of infrastructure. Lastly, the government has revised the estimate of the total loans that will eventually be extended to Tepco. The new projection is $90 billion, with nearly $50 billion devoted to evacuee compensation, $25 billion for rural decontamination and $11 billion for construction of waste storage facilities. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/nuclear.html -- http://ajw.asahi.com/article/0311disaster/fukushima/AJ201312190046 -- http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131219_28.html

Tepco has announced the decommissioning of F. Daiichi units #5 & 6. Neither unit suffered damage to their power production or emergency systems from the 3/11/11 tsunami. Tepco's board of directors made the announcement to the Industry Ministry on Wednesday. The decision to decommission will become official company policy on January 31. Tepco wants to use the two units for testing of remote-control decontamination and fuel debris removal technologies, in conformance with suggestions made by the International Research Institute for Nuclear Decommissioning. Tepco President Hirose met with Fukushima governor Sato to announce the decision, but all Sato would say was, "I want you to know that the complete dismantlement of reactors in Fukushima is the general consensus of people in the prefecture," which includes the four undamaged units at F. Daiini. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233020_5130.html -- http://jen.jiji.com/jc/eng?g=eco&k=2013121900500

The high groundwater radioactivity at F. Daiichi mentioned above (63,000 Bq/liter) was due to sample cross-contamination. The well from which Tuesday's sample was taken was retested later in the day. It was found to have radioactivity below the lower limit of detection. Tepco attributes Tuesday's reading to ''the incorporation of radioactive material into the sample water'' from an adjacent well sampled at the same time. The adjacent well has had high contamination readings for several weeks, thought to be due to seepage from a nearby equipment tunnel containing the highest levels found outside the turbine basements. Tepco says they will upgrade sampling procedures to prevent a recurrence. http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/press/corp-com/release/2013/1233005_5130.html

A lawsuit filed by US Navy personnel in August of 2012 has been dismissed. San Diego's federal judge Janis L. Sammartino effected the dismissal due to a jurisdictional issue. The plaintiff's lawyers say they will re-file. The judge dismissed the lawsuit on Nov. 26 on grounds that it was beyond her authority to determine whether Tepco and Japan's government had committed fraud. The suit claimed Tepco lied about the severity of the Fukushima atmospheric releases and that Tokyo was complicit in the lie. The plaintiffs were attached to the USS Ronald Reagan in support of tsunami efforts in Japan. They were all non-nuclear-trained. Plaintiffs say they suffered a number of post-accident ailments including rectal bleeding, gastrointestinal distress, hair loss, headaches, and fatigue. Some allege they now have thyroid and gallbladder cancer. Only hair loss and thyroid cancers can be caused by radiation exposures, and must be several orders of magnitude above the plaintiff exposures. http://japandailypress.com/us-judge-dismisses-fukushima-radiation-lawsuit-from-sailors-who-arrived-post-tsunami-1841170/

French journalists are touring Fukushima Prefecture to check if French news reports on food radiation have been correct. They visited Yanagawa Town in Date City to witness the processes for determining whether or not Fukushima Prefecture foods are safe. Le Monde reporter Pierre Le Hir said he was impressed with how hard people work to insure the foods they produce are safe for consumption. He hopes to correct biased reports that have occurred in the French Press. http://www3.nhk.or.jp/nhkworld/english/news/20131218_22.html

Thanks to two Fukushima Update readers for this'... Tepco has moved 88 of the unit #4 fuel bundles as of today. Four complete transfers of 22 bundles each have occurred without a problem. One of the readers (John) said the third transfer was finished Dec. 9 and the fourth on the 16th. I've been looking for multiple Press releases for each transfer, like the first 2 weeks, but it seems Tepco has posted none. My personal opinion? The Press lost interest so Tepco decided to play it on the ''down low'' for security purposes. I'll be following the following Tepco link from now on, but if you want to monitor it yourself'... http://www.tepco.co.jp/en/nu/fukushima-np/removal4u/index-e.html

With the relative lull due to a week of no spent fuel movement at F. Daiichi #4, much of the Japanese Press has resorted to the promotion of fear, uncertainty and doubt (FUD).

Beyond Nuclear - Home

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 05:16

LeRoy Moore, Ph.D. of the Rocky Mountain Peace and Justice Center, has written the following memorial:

"Remembering Ken Gordon: Wins acquittal in court for those resisting Rocky Flats

On Sunday, December 28, former Colorado Senate Majority Leader Ken Gordon, a lawyer who was a Democrat, died at age 63 of an apparent heart attack. The last time I saw him was at a conference last year where I gave a presentation on Iran's nuclear program.

I met Ken shortly after the civil disobedience arrests made at the East Gate of Rocky Flats on Sunday, August 9, 1987. It was the anniversary of the bombing on Nagasaki. Rocky Flats was at the height of production, working, as I recall, around the clock seven days a week to produce new bombs. There was a big crowd, with about 300 arrests, delayed because many of those opposing Rocky Flats had chained themselves to the fence. Rocky Flats officials had closed the West Gate main entrance to the facility, forcing resistors to go to the more contaminated East Gate area. Soon that day radio announcers were telling Rocky Flats workers not to come to work, to take the day off. It was the only time that activists actually succeeded in closing the plant for a day.

Another memory from this occasion has to do with Ken Gordon. He volunteered to be the lawyer in court for one of the affinity groups of people being arrested. In court he presented the novel idea that the people he was defending (who, like all the others, had been arrested for trespass) had not violated the law but were there charging the operators of the Rocky Flats plant with violating the law. Specifically, they violated Article VI of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, wherein the U.S., and other nuclear weapons powers, agreed to work in good faith for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Ken was so compelling in his presentation that the judge actually allowed this defense to be made before the jury. The jury, on hearing the case, found the defendants not guilty as charged. To my knowledge, this was the only time a group charged with civil disobedience at Rocky Flats had the charge against them dismissed."

------------------------------------------------

Research ship trapped in Antarctic ice because of weather, not climate change.

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Source: bertb news feed

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:58

The trapped Russian ship Akademik Shokalskiy, in Antarctica. Photograph: Andrew Peacock/AP

The predicament and subsequent rescue of 52 passengers '' both tourists and scientists '' on the Russian ship Academik Shokalskiy has gripped media around the world. The smooth rescue was impressive and a great relief, although the vessel itself and its crew are still stuck '' and now one of the icebreakers sent to help in the rescue, the Chinese ship Xue Long, is itself stuck in the ice.

Some commentators have remarked on what they describe as the 'irony' of researchers studying the impact of a warming planet themselves being impeded by heavy ice. With some even suggesting that the situation is itself evidence that global warming is exaggerated.

In fact, the local weather patterns that brought about the rapid build up of ice that trapped the Academik Shokalskiy tell us very little about global warming. This is weather, not climate.

Regionally, climate change can vary markedly across the Earth so to detect human influences on the climate system climate scientists must consider the Earth as a whole.

What is clear is that the impact of climate change on ice at both poles is complex.

In the area where the Akademik Shokalskiy is trapped there has been an increase in sea ice extent for the year as a whole since the late 1970s, although not for the month of December (see attached graph). The amount of ice in the area can vary considerably from year to year making ship operations difficult. The December ice extent in 2011 and 2012 was much larger than the long-term mean, and the ice in 2013 has obviously been of comparable magnitude.

We have relatively short records of the extent of sea ice across the polar regions and can only accurately examine trends since sophisticated microwave instruments became available on the polar orbiting satellites in the late 1970s. However, the records do show that since that time the two polar regions have experienced very different trends in ice extent. Arctic sea ice has been declining in extent in every month of the year, but with the maximum loss of almost 14% per decade being found in September. In contrast, sea ice extent around the Antarctic has increased in every month of the year with the largest increase being almost 4% per decade in March. The contrasting nature of the changes was highlighted in September 2012 when both polar regions experienced new record extents of sea ice for the satellite era. On 16 September the Arctic sea ice extent reached a new minimum level of 3.41m sq km, beating the previous record minimum that occurred in 2007. However, in the Antarctic there was a new record maximum extent of 19.72m sq km on 24 September, exceeding the previous record of 19.59m sq km, which occurred on 24 September 2006. In September 2013 there was even more sea ice across the Southern Ocean, beating the 2012 record.

The trend in annual mean sea ice concentration in Antarctica for 1979 '' 2012. The bold line highlights areas where the trend is significant at The reasons for the trends in sea ice are still being debated. However, for the Arctic it is estimated that anthropogenic forcing through the emission of greenhouse gases has contributed 50''60% of the long-term decline of Arctic sea ice. The remaining contribution is believed to come from natural variability. But in the Antarctic the reason for the increase in ice is less clear. The pattern of sea ice change around the Antarctic is dominated by a decrease to the west of the Antarctic Peninsula and an increase across the Ross Sea, which can be attributed to more storm activity between these two areas. The extent of sea ice is strongly influenced by the strength and direction of the winds and the increase in storms has given more warm, northerly flow over the Bellingshausen Sea and greater cold, southerlies over the Ross Sea. This pattern of change is consistent with the increasing temperatures observed over the Antarctic Peninsula and west Antarctica, where temperatures have risen as much as anywhere in the southern hemisphere.

It's currently not clear why there has been an increase in the number and intensity of storms over the southern South Pacific since the late 1970s. However, this area is where the ozone hole has a large impact on the atmospheric circulation and where signals of the El Nino-Southern Oscillation, one of the largest climatic cycles on Earth, are felt most in the Antarctic. It's also where the greatest natural variability in atmospheric circulation is observed in the southern hemisphere, which has been attributed to the fact that the large Antarctic ice sheet is displaced slightly from the pole.

Sea ice extent has a large natural variability in both polar regions because of the amplifying effect of interactions between the atmosphere, ocean and sea ice. In the Arctic there is now increasing evidence that rising greenhouse gas emissions are playing a significant part in the loss of sea ice. However, in the Antarctic the increase in annual mean sea ice extent is only just over 1% per decade, making it impossible at present to separate natural variability from any human influence.

' Prof John Turner is leader of the Climate Variability and Modelling project at the British Antarctic Survey

Antarctic expedition: 'This wasn't a tourist trip. It was all about science '' and it was worth it'

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:01

Chris Turney, leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition, is on the top deck of the stranded MV Akademik Shokalskiy in Antarctica. Photograph: Stringer/Reuters

The last 24 hours have been sobering. I am sitting in the comfort of a cabin on board the Australian icebreaker the Aurora Australis, one day after evacuating the Australasian Antarctic Expedition from our Russian-crewed vessel, the MV Akademik Shokalskiy. After sleepless nights thinking about keeping everyone safe, it is a relief to know everyone is on board the Aurora and well.

In this little haven of civilisation surrounded by a chaotic jumble of white to the horizon, everyone is taking stock of being locked in sea ice for 10 days. We are all incredibly grateful for the bravery of our Russian crew, the courage of Captain Jianzhong Wang on the Chinese icebreaker Xue Long '' which itself now appears to be stuck '' and the wonderful perseverance of the Australian icebreaker Aurora Australis.

There is relief, but there is also frustration over what appears to be a misrepresentation of the expedition in some news outlets and on the internet. We have been accused of being a tourist trip with little scientific value; of being ill-prepared for the conditions; putting our rescuers at risk; and making light of a dangerous situation. Others have remarked on what they describe as the "irony" of climate researchers stuck in unexpected ice.

I would like to address some of the issues that have been raised, but more importantly highlight the potential this region has for research and the value of getting the public engaged in science.

The aim of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition (AAE) is to lead a multidisciplinary research programme in one of the most scientifically exciting regions of our planet, straddling the Southern Ocean and East Antarctic. Using the latest in satellite technology, we are beaming images, movies and text in an attempt to excite the public about science and exploration, inspired by one of the most scientifically successful efforts in the Antarctic: the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1911-1914, led by British-born Sir Douglas Mawson. Starting out at the unbelievably young age of 28, Mawson managed to raise £39,000 in a year '' equivalent to some $20-25m today. With this he kitted out an entire ship to discover what lay south of Australia.

His research bases, populated by scientists and members of the public, straddled thousands of kilometres along a previously unknown coastline, and communicated their findings back to Australia using the latest radio technology. His effort laid the foundations for modern Antarctic research while his tales of adventures and discoveries electrified the public.

Inspired by Mawson's efforts, friend and colleague Chris Fogwill and I decided to attempt a similar venture on a smaller scale. In spite of a century of work, huge gaps in knowledge remain across the region investigated by the original expedition. To tackle these questions we spent the last two years building a team of experts keen to work with individuals outside their area of expertise. Meetings were held and questions honed. We decided, for instance, that among many other things we would investigate the circulation of the Southern Ocean and its impact on the global carbon cycle and the potential for new records of past climate change using tree ring and peat sequences on the subantarctic islands.

One hundred years ago, Mawson and his team sailed to their Antarctic base at Commonwealth Bay. Today Mawson's Huts lie behind 65 kilometres of sea ice, the result of a 2010 collision between an enormous berg known as B09B and the Mertz Glacier Tongue. As a result of this clash, B09B lodged itself on the seabed of Commonwealth Bay, changing the circulation of the area dramatically. No one knows what impact this event has had on the wildlife. Penguin and seal populations, their feeding patterns and the first underwater surveys of life in Commonwealth Bay have been a part of the expedition. We worked on our research programme with the Australian Antarctic Division and other bodies and the expedition was considered significant enough to be given the official stamp of approval. Climate change was part of our programme but the AAE is much more.

The six-week expedition was split into two legs, the first focusing on the New Zealand subantarctics, the second the Southern Ocean and the immediate area around Mawson's Huts at Commonwealth Bay. As the expedition traversed the Southern Ocean, oceanographic measurements were made, weather conditions recorded, trawls of the surface taken and bird counts noted; while on the subantarctic islands, teams cored trees, dug peat sections, investigated bird burrows and underwater surveys were made in the shallows. Many were firsts for the region.

The amount of data we collected far exceeded our expectations and we returned to New Zealand for the second leg in high spirits. The pace of work continued when we returned south. For instance, the oceanographer on the AAE, Dr Erik van Sebille, led the combined deployment of Argo floats and drifter buoys in the sea '' another first for the region '' beaming their location at regular intervals to help complete the view of our planet's ocean circulation; a legacy of the expedition that will last years after our return. During the expedition we pioneered a new route into the huts and were able to deliver two large teams to work in the area, including undertaking important conservation work on the huts. The AAE is not a jolly tourist trip as some have claimed, nor is it a re-enactment. The AAE is inspired by Mawson but is primarily a science expedition; it will be judged by its peer-reviewed publications.

Unfortunately, events unfolded which no amount of preparation can mitigate. To provide a comparison with the samples we collected in the Mawson Hut area, we relocated the vessel to the Mertz Glacier area in the east, a major driver of ocean circulation and importantly an area where the continent is closer to the sea ice edge. Late on 23 December, we returned to the Shokalskiy. We had completed our work programme on the continent and were heading north into open water to continue the oceanographic work on the return home.

Unluckily for us, there appears to have been a mass breakout of thick, multiyear sea ice on the other side of the Mertz Glacier; years after the loss of the Mertz Glacier tongue. There was nothing to suggest this event was imminent. We have had regular updates on the state of the sea ice in the area and had been monitoring the region for the last year. We also had regular weather forecasts from two different sources: one from the Australian Antarctic Division base at Casey and the other a European company called Meteoexploration used by expeditioners. Both forecasts suggested consistent conditions.

The forecasts were correct, but it was soon clear that the armadas of ice that started to appear were thick and old. Captain Igor tried to beat a path to open water but the size of the sea ice overwhelmed the Shokalskiy. In places the ice was three metres thick with little open water to push aside. With the southeasterly winds, the ice would not budge and we were caught just two to four miles from the sea-ice edge. Getting stuck is not unusual for ships here. The vessel we are on now, the Aurora Australis, was stuck for four weeks earlier in the season.

Let's be clear. Us becoming locked in ice was not caused by climate change. Instead it seems to have been an aftershock of the arrival of iceberg B09B which triggered a massive reconfiguration of sea ice in the area.

Once we realised we were trapped for several days, the key thing was to keep team members positive. The science work continued, lectures were given, classes offered, walks on the ice took place and Christmas and New Year's Eve provided a chance to keep people's minds off their surroundings. The worse-case scenario was an iceberg striking the vessel, although none were close. There was no danger of the ship's hull being crushed by the ice floes surrounding us.

The rescue itself, like any operation in the Antarctic, entailed some risk to our rescuers, but vessels always look out for one another in the Antarctic. As the Aurora's captain Murray Doyle put it: "It's part of the programme of people working down here. We have to rely on each other if something goes wrong. You're too far away from anything else."

Morale remained high. The media interest helped. Twice-daily briefings on the situation were accompanied by reports from the media at home and overseas. Interviews the team gave provided a chance to reassure those at home that all were well but also describe our science work, much of which was followed up online using the expedition website and social media, such as G+, Twitter, Vine and Facebook. In spite of the situation we found ourselves in, the AAE had a conversation with the public about science, exploration and Mawson. There really does remain a passion for these subjects. Sadly though, there seems to be a few people who have just caught the last few days of the conversation.

Chris Turney is leader of the Australasian Antarctic Expedition 2013-2014, professor at the University of New South Wales and author of 1912: The Year The World Discovered Antarctica.

The Spirit of Mawson - Join The Trip

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For the opportunity of a lifetime, you can book a berth and join us on the amazing Shokalskiy, a true expedition vessel.

Join us on the expeditionWe're offering members of the public an incredible opportunity to join us on the trip. See the wonders of the Southern Ocean, the subantarctics and Antarctica. There are two legs of the trip available:

Leg 1Leg 1: Southern New Zealand (Bluff, Invercargill) to the subantarctic islands27 November '' 7 December 2013View detailed Leg 1 itinerary.

Leg 2Southern New Zealand (return) to Antarctica via the subantarctics8 December 2013 '' 4 January 2014View detailed Leg 2 itinerary.

There are single, twin and double berths are available. Prices start from $8,050. Register your interest with the form below and we'll be in touch with more information.

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Manitoba Museum reports Winnipeg's temperature as cold as surface of Mars

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 06:04

CBC News

According to the Curiosity Rover, Mars reached a maximum temperature of -29 C on Tuesday, a temperature Winnipeg only reached shortly before 3 p.m.

The deep freeze over much of Southern Manitoba prompted extreme wind chill warnings in the area and most of the north.

In Winnipeg, the daytime high temperature for Tuesday was only expected to reach ''31 C, but the windchill made it feel more like ''40 to ''50. That means exposed skin can freeze in less than five minutes.

On Monday, it got as warm as ''28 C.

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VIDEO: While Canada freezes Australia melts

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:18

The mercury has dropped to -42C in Canada while in Australia it has hit +54C as extreme weather is experienced in different parts of the world.

The north-eastern US has been hit by a major winter storm, with 53cm (21 inches) of snowfall recorded in one town in Massachusetts.

Meanwhile bushfires have been burning in North Stradbroke Island, Australia and temperatures of +54C have been recorded in the town of Oodnadatta.

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Why is the Green Schools Alliance censoring discussion about nuclear energy

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 15:27

I have learned through my grapevine that the leaders of an organization called the Green Schools Alliance (GSA) have decided to reject the suggestions of parents who wanted to include a showing and discussion of Pandora's Promise in the program of a planned conference on Green Business. According to my sources those leaders told the conference organizers that GSA cannot be affiliated with a film that promotes nuclear energy because it is committed to not taking positions on such controversial subjects.

People who have decided to apply the silent treatment to a technological tool have taken a position to oppose the use of that tool. Without information, no one would be able to make an intelligent decision based on facts and analysis.

Nuclear energy is clean enough to run inside sealed submarines. According to peer-reviewed study by James Hansen and Pushker A. Kharecha published in March 2013 titled Prevented Mortality and Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Historical and Projected Nuclear Power:

Using historical production data, we calculate that global nuclear power has prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution-related deaths and 64 gigatonnes of CO2-equivalent (GtCO2-eq) greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions that would have resulted from fossil fuel burning.

Not only is fission virtually emission-free, but it is also capable enough to allow power plants that can supply electricity to a city of a million people to run for 18 months on about three truckloads of fuel. In a period of about 20 years, France built enough nuclear power plants to almost completely decarbonize its electrical power system. Most of the electrical power needs of its 65 million people are provided by just 58 nuclear reactors.

It seems self-evident that people who are deeply concerned about the environment, climate change, energy sustainability and environmental justice would want to learn more about the impacts of using nuclear technology to serve human needs. It also seems self-evident that people who have dedicated themselves to the task of educating young people would want to make sure that those young people and their teachers have access to as much information as possible about the world that they will inherit.Even if people determine, after study and discussion, that their concerns about the issues associated with nuclear energy are so overwhelming that they would prefer to avoid its use, it seems almost incomprehensible that educators would decide that the best approach to the topic is to stop talking and to censor information so that students and teachers do not even have the opportunity to learn and decide for themselves.

I grew up with a passion for protecting the environment. Both Mom and Dad grew up on farms during the Depression. Our family vacations were spent camping in National Parks and National Forests where we hiked, fished and swam in lakes and rivers. We recycled before it was fashionable; Mom and Dad even taught us to recycle kitchen scraps into a compost heap. Dad kept rabbits in our suburban backyard as part of his recycling program; he fed the rabbits products of his garden and fruit trees and then used the products from underneath the rabbit cages to fertilize the garden and fruit trees. Those lessons have shaped my behavior ever since.

Even though Dad worked for the power company, he taught us to be conscious of our electricity use and to turn off lights and appliances when they were not in use. He was the guy who first stoked my nuclear energy interest when he told me that the new power plants that his company was building near Homestead, Florida did not even need smokestacks. I was about eight years old at the time, but I still remember that conversation and the many that followed over the years.

Mom was a high school teacher, one of many in my family of school teachers where learning, reading, observing and discussing were highly valued. The idea of educators shying away from any specific topic because it is too controversial simply floors me.

Based on what I have learned on the site of the Green Schools Alliance and in the below video, the organization is doing good, important work. Please join me in an effort to help them understand that they are making a bad decision by choosing to censor information about nuclear energy.

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Wheat rises most since October on arctic chill fears

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 15:07

Wheat rises most since October on arctic chill fears

Reuters, Saturday 4 Jan 2014

U.S. wheat futures surged 1.5 percent on Friday, rebounding from the lowest level in about 20 months and posting their best daily gain since October, amid fears arctic temperatures could damage the dormant crop in the United States.Wheat futures gained despite missing export business from top global buyer Egypt, which purchased 535,000 tonnes of the grain instead from France, Romania, Russia and Ukraine.

Algeria, another top buyer, also bought wheat, 500,000 tonnes, likely from France, European traders told Reuters.

"(Wheat) started to firm up when Egypt seemed to get U.S. wheat offered cheapest in their overnight tender, and even after Egypt gave the U.S. the face push the market continued to rally," said Charlie Sernatinger, an analyst at EDF Man Capital.

Corn and soybean futures each posted narrow gains, supported by the jump in wheat prices. Futures for each commodity traded in both positive and negative territory at the Chicago Board of Trade.

Some of the coldest temperatures in nearly 20 years are forecast early next week in the central United States, which could harm the hard red winter wheat in the southern Plains or the soft red winter wheat in the Midwest, meteorologists said.

The cold snap, combined with a net short stake in futures from speculative investors, sparked the rally in wheat futures, which fell to the lowest level since May of 2012 in the previous session.

"We broke hard yesterday, and the open interest went up 7,000. You got people caught short under the market now," Sernatinger added.

CBOT March wheat ended 8-3/4 cents higher at $605.3/4 cents per bushel. Still, futures lost 0.3 percent for the week in the fifth straight weekly decline.

Corn for March delivery gained 3 cents to $4.23-1/2, snapping a three-session streak of losses, but easing for the second week in a row. March corn futures early in the session notched a contract low of $4.17 after China canceled more shipments of U.S. supplies because they contained an unapproved strain of genetically modified grain, traders said.

China, the No. 3 importer of U.S. corn after Japan and Mexico, has canceled numerous cargoes of U.S. grain since mid-November after they were found to contain Syngenta AG's MIR 162 corn, a GMO variety not approved for import by China. The U.S. Agriculture Department in its weekly export sales released early on Friday showed net a cancellation of 116,000 tonnes of corn to China.

Corn was the worst-performing commodity in 2013, shedding some 40 percent for the year.

"Corn is basically dead in the water. There's not a lot to support corn," said Karl Setzer, an analyst at MaxYield Cooperative in West Bend, Iowa.

Most-active March soybeans settled 2 cents higher at $12.72, but plunged more than some 3 percent for the week in the worst weekly performance since November.

The USDA will release its final production forecast for the 2013/14 marketing season next week. Many analysts expect the agency to increase the size of the crops. The U.S. corn crop already is record-large, while the soybean harvest was the third biggest in history.

Also on Friday, closely watched analytics firm Informa Economics boosted yield estimates for both the U.S. corn and soybean crops, but reduced their estimate for the corn crop inBrazil

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Battle stations! Navy scrambles destroyer to challenge Russian warship off British coast (but it takes 24 hours to make 600-mile journey from Portsmouth base - was Putin testing our response time?) | Mail Online

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Russian vessel detected 30 miles away from Scotland last nightOnly ship available to respond was on south coast of EnglandTensions heightened when aerial photos showed ship full of missilesBy Mark Nichol

PUBLISHED: 17:02 EST, 4 January 2014 | UPDATED: 17:02 EST, 4 January 2014

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A Russian cruiser came within 30 miles of the British coast but the Navy only had one ship to respond (file image)

A fully armed Royal Navy warship was scrambled to challenge a missile-carrying Russian vessel in the waters off Britain just days before Christmas, defence sources revealed last night.

In a calculated test of Britain's reduced naval capacity in the North Sea, the Russian warship came within 30 miles of the coast.

It was detected nearing Scotland, but the only ship the Royal Navy had available to respond after Ministry of Defence cuts was in Portsmouth, resulting in a delay of 24 hours until it was in position.

The threatening approach towards Britain's territorial waters triggered a top-secret Navy and Air Force operation co-ordinated by the military top brass at the Permanent Joint Headquarters (PJHQ) bunker at Northwood, just outside London.

RAF reconnaissance aircraft tracked the progress of the Russian warship as it neared north-east Scotland, and the tension heightened when aerial photographs revealed the ship was carrying a full payload of guided missiles.

Commanders at PJHQ decided to send the new Type 45 destroyer HMS Defender, which is Britain's immediate-response ship during a national security crisis.

The Russian ship waited in the Moray Forth, a stretch of water that flows into Loch Ness, for Defender to arrive, as if her captain were recording the Navy's response times.

At the time, Defender was in dock at Portsmouth. Her crew were forced to make the 600-mile journey around the coastline, because budget cutbacks mean there are no maritime patrol vessels sailing off Scotland.

A defence source said: 'This was no exercise '' the Russian ship was behaving very aggressively in a stretch of water bordering Britain's territorial waters.

'They were watched very closely by the RAF and it was agreed that HMS Defender should block the Russians' passage.

A tense stand-off ensued when Defender reached the Moray Firth as crews tried to establish intentions

'Defender was fully equipped with Sea Viper surface-to-air missiles and guns capable of firing 40kg shells as far as 18 miles. Her captain and crew knew this was the real deal and were prepared to engage.'

A tense stand-off ensued when Defender reached the Moray Firth. While the MoD last night declined to explain the specific international protocols adhered to at such a delicate moment, The Mail on Sunday understands the crews exchanged radio messages in an attempt to establish each other's intentions.

No shots were fired but Defender's 190-strong crew remained at battle stations throughout the confrontation.

The British crew then watched as the Russian ship retreated. They followed it north to the Baltic Sea, where a Russian task force was on legitimate manoeuvres. Defender then sailed back to Scotland, docking in Glasgow on Friday.

Last night, Russian expert Jonathan Eyal, from the military think-tank the Royal United Services Institute, said Russia had intended to intimidate Britain.

He added: 'The Russian fleet, which is growing in strength and expanding its sphere of influence, wanted to show a presence in the North Sea and sail as close as possible to the national sea boundary.

'The Russians knew exactly what they were doing. They were saying, ''We are back in business in the North Sea and we are powerful.''

'They knew how far they could sail before they would be required to withdraw.

'The Russians may also be inspecting nuclear installations in Scotland, with a view towards the independence referendum. Certainly the Russians would see the country as more vulnerable if it were no longer part of Britain.

'The approach was part of a pattern of behaviour, and the action is more threatening when considered in this context.

'Last year Russian military jets approached Swedish airspace and only withdrew when the Swedes scrambled their aircraft.'

After the confrontation between Defender and the Russian ship, which is believed to have begun on December 20, the Russian military news agency Interfax-AVN released a statement claiming that the vessel was sheltering in the Moray Firth because of adverse weather conditions.

This is the second such incident in two years. In December 2011, the aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov, anti-submarine ship Admiral Chabanenko and escort ship Yaroslav Mudry sailed close to Scotland before being challenged by the Royal Navy.

Defender is the fifth of the Navy's six state-of-the-art Type 45 destroyers '' she was built in Glasgow, which is one of her two affiliated cities. The other is Exeter.

The MoD refused to comment last night for operational reasons.

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Oscars get political with Pussy Riot film setting the pace for best documentary.

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:59

A documentary on Pussy Riot is ahead of the pack in the controversy stakes. Photograph: Vanya Berezkin/Corbis

Glinting gems, red carpet couture and conspicuous grooming are all hallmarks of Oscar night that can be relied on to brighten up March. This year, however, the academy awards will offer more than just glamour. Hollywood is heading to the centre of global political debate.

The films now vying for a prize in the 2014 documentary category are the most politically sensitive yet to be considered for attention at the annual Los Angeles ceremony. They include excoriating cinematic treatments of Indonesian death squads, evangelical homophobia in Uganda, the uprising in Tahrir Square and an attack on the incarceration of orca whales in marine parks.

But ahead of the pack in the controversy stakes so far is Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer, the film that tells the story of the trial and imprisonment of two members of the avant garde Russian protest group. Its inclusion in the shortlist of 15 films to be considered for Oscar nomination later this month has already provoked anger in Moscow, where it has been banned.

Producer and co-director Mike Lerner has recently returned from Russia, having flown out to attend a premiere that did not take place. "The ban didn't surprise me too much, but we are not sure what we will do next," he told the Observer. "Perhaps we will set up some private screenings there."

Although President Vladimir Putin ordered the release of Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, 24, and Maria Alyokhina, 25, as part of a new year amnesty deal, attitudes to the members of Pussy Riot are still widely condemnatory in the Russian capital. "Both women dealt with their release in a brilliant and charming way, I think: they were unbowed, but not arrogant," said Lerner. "They are human rights campaigners essentially, and they will continue their work."

The director, who made the Pussy Riot documentary with Maxim Pozdorovkin, strongly disagrees with the Russian authorities' claim that the film is pure politics. "I don't think our film is in any way a campaigning piece, although it is clearly made from our perspective. The reaction to the Oscar shortlist was very interesting in Russia. They are convinced the academy is motivated by politics. In fact, its history is apolitical or even conservative in nature. Documentaries are chosen because they are great stories." When the five nominations for the documentary award are announced on 16 January they will be the product of a change in the Hollywood voting system made two years ago and so may reflect a braver attitude from a wider pool of academicians.

The alteration, championed by Michael Moore, who made the anti-gun film Bowling for Columbine, means small committees of the documentary branch are no longer making the decisions. Now the entire documentary branch is involved. Final voting is then opened up to the whole academy, just as happens with best picture and the acting categories. "It's clear to me, and lot of people in the academy, that going to a full democracy system where everyone votes has been the key to the vast improvements we've seen," Moore said recently.

Favourites this year are The Square, a film about Tahrir Square, The Act of Killing, about Indonesian death squads, and Blackfish, the film about whales that has already provoked anger from SeaWorld. Sarah Polley's acclaimed personal film, Stories We Tell, and 20 Feet From Stardom, a documentary about backing singers, are less polemical contenders.

Lerner agrees that documentaries are enjoying a heyday. "It will be interesting to see how the new voting affects the choice of the final five," he said. "There has always been a disconnect in some ways between documentaries and everyone else at the Oscars.

"But every year it gets stronger, and it is going through an incredible period right now. Every one of these 15 films is great, but I would say that our Pussy Riot film, and The Square, which I also executive-produced through Roast Beef productions, are both particularly timely and important in what they say about the countries they describe. God Loves Uganda, too, is well deserving, telling of the ongoing crisis in attitudes to homosexuality. It is great that the Oscars can be so contemporary."

Documentaries, Lerner said, are doing "a great service" to the academy by keeping the event "fresh and up to date", since feature films are usually made on a longer timescale.

Blackfish, dubbed by one American critic as the scariest film of last year, is already the subject of angry debate. It asks whether a large corporation that makes money from the orca whales in its amusement parks has covered up dangers to the trainers and to the whales. Focusing on SeaWorld's responses to the death of trainer Dawn Brancheau in 2010, the film argues she did not make the fatal mistakes the company has suggested. Documentaries are not required to be even-handed, and Lerner thinks this is a good thing. "I certainly would not claim any degree of objectivity in the way we made Pussy Riot," he said. "We are making a feature film and hoping to be entertaining and to make the film in the most dramatic way. That sort of objectivity is a myth anyway."

The prosecution case against Pussy Riot was given some time in his film, "ridiculous as it was", Lerner said, as were the views of Russian Orthodox religious campaigners. "We did explore why it matters to people, and that makes it more interesting. I believe you can be on someone's side without making propaganda. We want audiences to make up their own minds."

Ultimately Lerner believes the key value of such documentaries is their independence of view. "These films are being made by individuals, and that gives them a great variety and an integrity. It is something that characterises the whole shortlist this year," he said.

Ironically, the growing prominence of the documentary Oscar category may now claim its own victims. The journalist and author Sebastian Junger's shortlisted film, Which Way is the Front Line From Here?, about his friend, Tim Hetherington, the British photographer killed in Libya in 2011, poignantly suggests that Hetherington was encouraged to take greater risks by the praise he had received for Restrepo, the Oscar-nominated documentary the two made together in 2010.

WHEN WE WERE KINGS1996, directed by Leon GastGast's film about the "Rumble in the Jungle" world championship bout between George Foreman and Muhammad Ali features commentary from writer Norman Mailer and journalist George Plimpton, the training, the press conferences, the Don King promotional gambits, and the brutal majesty of the fight itself. It won the 1997 Oscar for best documentary.

ONE DAY IN SEPTEMBER 1999, Kevin MacdonaldThis Oscar-winning documentary about the massacre of 11 Israeli athletes by Palestinian terrorists at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich is based on archive footage and interviews with survivors, and is narrated by Michael Douglas.

BOWLING FOR COLUMBINE 2002, Michael MooreAmerican film-maker Michael Moore won an Academy Award after exploring the sources of violence and fear in American culture and possible causes for the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. The film asks, "Are we a nation of gun nuts, or are we just nuts?", and the cast includes Charlton Heston and Marilyn Manson.

THE FOG OF WAR 2003, Errol MorrisRobert S McNamara, US secretary of defence for Kennedy and Johnson, gives a riveting extended interview, interspersed with newsreel footage, on subjects including on the Cuban missile crisis and Vietnam, in which he talks direct to camera. It won the best documentary Oscar and many other awards.

Shut Up Slave!

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French comic 'must pay racism fines'

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:19

3 January 2014Last updated at 08:07 ET The French interior minister says he is determined to make the controversial comedian Dieudonne M'bala M'bala pay the big fines he has incurred for racist abuse.

Speaking on Europe 1 radio, Manuel Valls accused Dieudonne of trying to bankrupt himself, to avoid paying fines totalling tens of thousands of euros.

Dieudonne has been accused of anti-Semitism and Mr Valls wants him banned.

On Thursday there was a bomb scare at a Paris theatre run by Dieudonne.

A police bomb squad was sent to the Theatre de la Main d'Or, but no explosives were found.

Dieudonne has six convictions for hate speech against Jews but started out as an anti-racism activist. Youths from migrant communities are his core audience.

His trademark is the quenelle gesture, which critics see as an inverted Nazi salute. He says it is an anti-establishment gesture. It made headlines in the UK last week when used by West Bromwich Albion footballer Nicolas Anelka.

In the radio interview, Mr Valls said: "All the services of the state must be mobilised... to make Dieudonne M'bala M'bala pay his fines." "Nobody can be above the law," he added.

There are doubts about a forthcoming nationwide tour by Dieudonne, after the authorities in Metz and Nancy called for his shows to be cancelled.

Quenelle (gesture) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:22

The quenelle (French pronunciation: '‹[kÉ.nÉ›l]) is a gesture which is performed by pointing one arm diagonally downwards, while touching that arm's shoulder with the opposite hand.[1] French political activist and comedian Dieudonn(C) M'bala M'bala is credited with creating and popularizing the gesture, which he first used publicly in 2009 while campaigning as a candidate for the 2009 European Parliament elections at the head of an "anti-Zionist" list.[2] While Dieudonn(C) says the quenelle is "an anti-establishment gesture", it takes the appearance of an inverted Nazi salute, and critics describe it as an expression of antisemitism. In France, displaying Nazi symbols is illegal if done to cause offense, and the quenelle is viewed by some as an underhanded manner of expressing hatred for Jews without inviting legal prosecution.[3] The negative intent of the gesture, they say, is further underlined by Dieudonn(C)'s history of antisemitic remarks and racial hatred convictions.[4]

The location of a number of photographed quenelle salutes in front of prominent Holocaust landmarks and Jewish institutions further suggests the prejudicial nature of the gesture. Individuals have been photographed performing the gesture at the Auschwitz extermination camp, and Alain Soral, performed a quenelle in front of the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin. In September 2013, two French soldiers on duty had their picture taken in front of a Paris synagogue doing a quenelle.[1] One man performed the quenelle at three locales connected to the murder of Jews: two at sites related to the March 2012 Toulouse shootings and the other near the Paris monument commemorating the Holocaust. The French police are now searching for this individual.[5][6]

French National Front founder Jean-Marie Le Pen was pictured making the gesture and grinning broadly.[1] According to Jean-Yves Camus, a French academic, the quenelle is a "badge of identity, especially among the young, although it is difficult to say whether they really understand its meaning." It has become the focus of a "broad movement that is anti-system and prone to conspiracy theories, but which has antisemitism as its backbone."[1]

Usage by professional athletesEditWhen French footballer Nicolas Anelka of West Bromwich Albion F.C. performed the quenelle to celebrate scoring a goal on 28 December 2013, the gesture, which was already considered "something of a viral trend" in France,"[4] became an international news story and one of the most searched terms on Google.[7] While Anelka said he did a quenelle as a "special dedication" to his friend Dieudonn(C), French minister for sport Val(C)rie Fourneyron called his actions "shocking" and "disgusting", adding: "There's no place for anti-Semitism on the football field."[4] A subsequent statement released by West Bromwich said Anelka agreed not to perform the quenelle again.[8]

In November, a photograph of French footballer Mamadou Sakho performing the quenelle with Dieudonn(C) was discovered. Sakho said he had been tricked into making a quenelle without knowing its meaning, and that the photo had been taken six months earlier.[9]

Following the Anelka incident, a photograph surfaced of Tony Parker, a French professional basketball player who currently plays for the San Antonio Spurs of the National Basketball Association (NBA), performing the quenelle alongside Dieudonn(C). Parker apologized, saying he didn't know at the time that "it could be in any way offensive or harmful."[10]

French government reactionEditOn 23 December 2013, French President Francois Hollande said, "We will act, with the government led by [Prime Minister] Jean-Marc Ayrault, to shake the tranquility which, under the cover of anonymity, facilitates shameful actions online. But also we will fight against the sarcasm of those who purport to be humorists but are actually professional anti-Semites."[3] In a statement on 27 December 2013, France's Interior Minister Manuel Valls said he would consider "all legal means" to ban Dieudonn(C)'s "public meetings," given that he "addresses in an obvious and insufferable manner the memory of victims of the Shoah."[11]

TrademarkEditWhile Dieudonn(C) said in August 2013 that "the quenelle had taken on a life of its own and had become something he could no longer claim as his exclusively," he has been working on launching a range of quenelle-related merchandise and in October 2013 his wife registered the quenelle as a trademark with the French National Industrial Property Institute.[1]

ReferencesEdit

Last modified on 3 January 2014, at 13:54

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Ibragim Todashev's Father Writes Open Letter to Obama, Releases Photos Surrounding Son's Death

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 15:30

Abdul-Baki Todashev, the father of Ibragim Todashev, the Tamerlan Tsarnaev associate shot to death in his Orlando, Fla., apartment by a FBI agent in the company of two Massachusetts State Troopers in May, has released an open letter to President Obama calling for justice. '' bostonmagazine.com______________________________

Abdulbaki TodashevRepresenting interests of his son '' Ibragim Todashev98, 3-i Pereulok Dalniy,Grozny city, Oktyabrskiy district,Chechen Repulic, Russian Federation12/24/2013

President Barack ObamaThe White House1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NWWashington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President,

I am writing to you being dictated by the call of my soul and the unalleviated pain of a father whose son was ruthlessly killed. I am not asking you to share my pain but I am asking you, as the head of the great country '' the guarantor of democracy in the modern world, to help the law and justice prevail. I will try to be short and concise.

My son was born in 1985 in a family with other 11 children. All my life I worked hard, trying to provide for my family and bring up dignified and law-abiding children.In 2008 Ibragim, being a fifth year student at the Chechen State University, was enrolled in an international student exchange program and went to the United States to practice his English. In Boston he studied English in depth and got engaged in big sports '' Mixed Martial Arts. In 2011 he moved to Orlando, Florida. All these years, alongside with his studies and sports, he worked to earn his living and sometimes received financial support from his family back home.

We, Ibragim's parents, were aware of everything that was happening in his life in America, including his friends, girlfriends and trainers, as he was regularly in contact not only with his father, mother, sisters and brothers, but also with his other relatives and friends.

After the terrorist attack in Boston FBI interrogated my son several times because he was acquainted with Tsarnayev brothers '' suspects of the terrorist attack. He got acquainted with them because they trained in the same gym when he lived in Boston. When Boston events took place my son had already lived at 6022 Peregrine Ave., Orlando, Florida 32819, USA. He had received a green card and was preparing to visit his family in Russia. Having had a knee operation he was waiting for his leg to heal to be able to walk independently. He had bought presents for his relatives and tickets for a flight that was supposed to take place on May 24. However, on May 22 he was visited by FBI agents who ruthlessly cut short his life.

Large amount of factual evidences proves that he neither had anything to do with the terrorist attack nor with any other crimes, which FBI wanted to hang on him. We, as Chechens, know very well what terrorism is and how many innocent lives have been taken by it during the first and the second Chechen campaigns. Chechens have always condemned terrorist attacks wherever they have taken place and whatever goals have been pursued by their executors. Neither bad nor good intentions justify terrorism.

Let's assume that my son was suspected in participating in a crime. FBI agents four times interrogated him in their office. Please, note that the interrogations took place in their office and Ibragim regularly visited them when they called him and provided detailed answers to all their questions. He was neither arrested nor was he detained. Then he told me that he did not want to go to the FBI office anymore because the agents put pressure on him. The fifth time FBI agents came to his place. They asked his friend Khusein Taramov, who was at that time with Ibragim, to leave the apartment. After that Ibragim was tortured and later shot multiple times in the body and in the head to guarantee his death. Ibragim's body and his head had 13 (thirteen) gunshot wounds. I also should mention that I have not misspoken about tortures. His face and body had bruises sustained while he was still alive.

There are many questions that arise from the above mentioned facts. I will list the most salient ones:

1. Why the group of FBI agents after four interrogations in their office, came to Ibragim's house for the fifth interrogation? After all what happened to Ibragim I am inclined to think that they came to kill him. It seems that killing him in their office would create significant challenges for them.

2. There was an article in the media that said that an allegedly anonymous FBI agent shared that Ibragim attacked them and they used fire arms in order to defend themselves.Let's assume that this is true and Ibragim, having become Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris and Arnold Schwarzenegger, all in one, literally threw around and battered the entire group of specially trained and well-armed agents. These are fairy tales for the mentally infirm, because shortly before this incident my son had undergone a serious operation on his knee at GAVETTA Orthopedic Clinics on 03.13.2013 (diagnosis: anterior cross-shaped ligament and meniscal tears) and used crutches. His weight at that time was 72 kilograms while height was 175 centimeters (photography of the operated knee is enclosed).

3. What kind of actions could my son do to endanger the lives of FBI agents while he was literally in their hands and how these agents could allow any danger to arise to kill him so ruthlessly in his apartment? This is absurd. It is clear and obvious. This means that these FBI agents were incompetent if they allowed this to happen. My son was absolutely unarmed.That means he was provoked. Unlawful acts were committed against him; unacceptable methods were used on him. They must have needed it; they wanted to provoke him, and any healthy person could be provoked after hours-long interrogations.

Even if the FBI agents were right, why would they shoot at him so many times instead of immobilizing him by shooting in his shoulder or leg, etc.? Doesn't FBI have other special means that can neutralize anyone, such as tasers, batoons and so on?

I would like to emphasize once again that all this was happening inside my son's home and not while he was being chased on the street or someplace else in the course of an arrest, or resisting authority, or during the commission of a crime.

4. The medical examiner's report concerning my son's body has not yet been released to my legal attorneys, despite the fact that they requested it several times. The medical examiner's office claimed the FBI banned the report's release. I can't help but think that an independent medical examination is unlikely if the examiners obey the FBI's orders.

5. Why does FBI subject Ibragim's friends and acquaintances to pressure and blackmail by threatening arrests and deportations?. Having refused to work for FBI Ibragim's friends, Tatiana Gruzdeva and Ashurmamad Miraliev, were deported from the United States. Many others have been forced to leave the country under FBI's pressure.

6. Why does FBI pressure not only all Ibragim's acquaintances, but now also my acquaintances, who helped me during my first visit to the United States when I picked up my slain sons's body, as well as my second visit, when I was trying to learn from Ibragim's acquaintances and friends about the circumstances surrounding his death?

7. FBI does everything to prevent this case from hearings in court and, if hearings take place, to ensure that none of the witnesses can provide positive feedback about my son.

8. When I came to the United States for the second time I lived in Ibragim's apartment. I slept on his bed, ate in the same cafes where he did, visited the gym where he trained, went to the mosque where he prayed, always was with his friends and talked to his acquaintances and neighbors. In other words I was in his shoes. Believe me it is extremely difficult to recall these events again and again. I wouldn't wish this even to my fiercest enemy. For the entire time of my own investigation I haven't heard anything bad about my son.

Dear Mr. President,

Unfortunately I am not an expert in the U. S. criminal legislation but in my country actions of these FBI agents are classified as an abuse of power and a premeditated murder. I believe that the FBI agents not only damaged reputation of their agency but also of the entire country in the eyes of the international community.

It seems that FBI in the United States is everything. President is nothing for them. They are judges and prosecutors. There is no authority above them. FBI can kill anyone wherever and whenever they want. If FBI suspects something they first kill and then start looking for scapegoats, trying to connect something that cannot be connected, such as Japanese Tsunami with American Tornado. They think up legends to justify what they have committed and file away a person, just like a sheep on a farm.

Because of actions of such FBI agents and other similar people in power for the last several years the democracy, former glory, image, and the reputation of the United States have been seriously questioned. According to available statistics, for the last several years law enforcement agencies (police, FBI, etc.) have killed 70 and injured 80 people. In none of the cases have the men in uniform been convicted.

Don't you think that it is time to put an end to this practice and stop this lawlessness, turn your face to the people who voted for you hoping for positive changes?Far from lecturing you, I am simply sharing my thoughts caused by the grief that came upon my family and as a man whose heart has been ripped out and, in addition, is being trodden to pieces.The murder of my son is an unprecedented case.

Believe me, Mr. President, that after such an unprecedented, cold-blooded, ruthless and premeditated murder of my son there is no justification for them. Everything is as clear as black and white. Having gotten rid of the witness and not allowing my son to have a legal representative they killed him in an extra-judicial manner.

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.Dear Mr. President, in addition to all what I have mentioned above, I enclose factual evidences.

If you have time to listen to me and give me your consent to meet you I can come to the United States and provide detailed explanations using factual evidences.Dear Mr. President, I hope that you, as a guarantor of the U. S. Constitution, pay attention to my letter and those who are guilty in the murder of my son will be justly punished.

With respect and hope,Father of a murdered son Abdulbaki Todashev

[Warning: Graphic] '' Attachment: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, photos of the body of where the murder took place.

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http://www.bostonmagazine.com

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DPRK

Report: North Korean Dictator's Uncle Eaten Alive

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 15:36

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un has made a public reference to the execution of his uncle for the first time in his New Year address. He said the ruling party had become stronger after it was purged of "factional filth."

A Hong Kong newspaper aligned with China's Communist Party is reporting that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un's once-powerful uncle was executed by being stripped naked, thrown into a cage, and eaten alive by 120 starved dogs. The report, which has not been independently confirmed, comes after the official North Korean account on December 12 of Jang Song Thaek's execution did not describe the methods for how he was killed. According to the report, five of Jang's closest aids were also executed in this manner, and all were observed by Kim Jong Un, his brother, and 300 other officials during the hour-long process.

NBC News:

"Jang was seen by many experts as a regent behind North Korea's Kim dynasty and a key connection between the hermit nation and its ally China.

In the highly scripted execution, North Korea accused him of "attempting to overthrow the state by all sorts of intrigues and despicable methods with a wild ambition to grab the supreme power of our party and state."

Kim's government also accused him of of corruption, womanizing, gambling and taking drugs, and referred to him as "despicable human scum."

Jang was married to Kim's aunt, Kim Kyong Hui, the younger sister of Kim Jong Il."

NBC News notes that the report "may be a sign of the struggle between those in the party who want to remain engaged with North Korea and those who would like to distance themselves from Kim's regime."

Federal Judge Strikes Down Florida's Welfare Drug Testing Law

Exxon to face criminal charges over fracking waste spill

AQ & The Pipes

4 dead as Yemen army confronts tribe over hit pipeline

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 15:33

SANAA: Clashes Friday between Yemeni soldiers who confronted armed tribesmen blocking access to a damaged oil pipeline killed four people in the central province of Maarib, sources said.

The army attacked the tribesmen, who were preventing repair workers from reaching the pipeline blown up two weeks ago in the area of Wadi Abaydah, said the local and tribal sources.

In the ensuing fighting, the army using shells and Katyusha-like rockets, and at least three tribesmen were killed, as well as an army colonel, the sources said.

The 420-kilometre (260-mile) pipeline links the Safir oilfields to the Ras Issa terminal on the Red Sea, near the city of Hodeida.

Attacks on oil and gas pipelines in Yemen are frequent, and Oil Minister Ahmad Dares said this week that sabotage had cost the country $4.75 billion (3.5 billion euros) between March 2011 and March 2013.

Hillary 2016

Hillary Clinton Debuts New Haircut, Bangs: See the Picture - Yahoo omg!

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 22:07

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NA Tech

The Unexotic Underclass | The MIT Entrepreneurship Review

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 16:44

May 19, 2013

The startup scene today, and by 'scene' I'm sweeping a fairly catholic brush over a large swath of people '' observers, critics, investors, entrepreneurs, 'want'repreneurs, academics, techies, and the like '' seems to be riven into two camps.

On one side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems '' capital B, capital P: clean energy, poverty, famine, climate change, you name it. I needn't replay their song here; they've argued their cases far more eloquently elsewhere. In short, they contend that too many brains and dollars have been shoveled into resolving what I call 'anti-problems' '' interests usually centered about food or fashion or 'social'or gaming. Something an anti-problem company might develop is an app that provides restaurant recommendations based on your blood type, a picture of your childhood pet, the music preferences of your 3 best friends, and the barometric pressure of the nearest city beginning with the letter Q. (That such an app does not yet exist is reminder still of how impoverished a state American scientific education has descended. Weep not! We redouble our calls for more STEM funding.)

On the other side stand those who believe that entrepreneurs have stopped chasing and solving Big Problems '' capital B, capital P '' that there are too many folks resolving anti-problems'... BUT just to be on the safe side, the venture capitalists should keep pumping tons of money into those anti-problem entrepreneurs because you never know when some corporate leviathan '' Google, Facebook, Yahoo! '' will come along and buy what yesterday looked like a nonsense app and today is still a nonsense app, but a nonsense app that can walk a bit taller, held aloft by the insanities of American exceptionalism. For not only is our sucker birthrate still high in this country (one every minute, baby!), but our suckers are capitalists bearing fat checks.

On the other other side, a side that receives scant attention, scanter investment, is where big problems '' little b, little p '' reside. Here, you'll find a group I'll refer to as the unexotic underclass. It's rather quiet in these parts, except during campaign season when the politicians stop by to scrape anecdotes off the skin of someone else's suffering. Let's see who's here.

To your left are single mothers, 80% of whom, according to the US Census, are poor or hovering on the nasty edges of working poverty. They are struggling to raise their kids in a country that seems to conspire against any semblance of proper rearing: a lack of flexibility in the workplace; a lack of free or affordable after-school programs; an abysmal public education system where a testing-mad, criminally-deficient curriculum is taught during a too-short school day; an inescapable lurid wallpaper of sex and violence that covers every surface of society; a cultural disregard for intelligence, empathy and respect; a cultural imperative to look hot, spend money and own the latest ''it''-device (or should I say i-device) no matter what it costs, no matter how little money Mum may have.

Slightly to the right, are your veterans of two ongoing wars in the Middle East. Wait, we're at war? Some of these veterans, having served multiple tours, are returning from combat with all manner of monstrosities ravaging their heads and bodies. If that weren't enough, welcome back, dear vets, to a flaccid economy, where your military training makes you invisible to an invisible hand that rewards only those of us who are young and expensively educated.

Welcome back to a 9-month wait for medical benefits. According to investigative reporter Aaron Glantz, who was embedded in Iraq, and has now authored The War Comes Home: Washington's Battle against America's Veterans, 9 months is the average amount of time a veteran waits for his or her disability claim to be processed after having filed their paperwork. And by 'filed their paperwork,' I mean it literally: veterans are sending bundles of papers to some bureaucratic Dantean capharnaum run by the Department of Veterans' Affairs, where, by its own admission, it processes 97% of its claims by hand, stacking them in heaps on tables and in cabinets.

In the past 5 years, the number of vets who've died before their claim has even been processed has tripled. This is America in 2013: 40 years ago we put a man on the moon; today a young lady in New York can use anti-problem technology if she wishes to line up a date this Friday choosing only from men who are taller than 6 feet, graduated from an Ivy, live within 10 blocks of Gramercy, and play tennis left-handed'...

'...And yet, veterans who've returned from Afghanistan and Iraq have to wait roughly 270 days (up to 600 in New York and California) to receive the help '-- medical, moral, financial '' which they urgently need, to which they are honorably entitled, after having fought our battles overseas.

Technology, indeed, is solving the right problems.

Let's keep walking. Meet the people who have the indignity of being over 50 and finding themselves suddenly jobless. These are the Untouchables of the new American workforce: 3+ decades of employment and experience have disqualified them from ever seeing a regular salary again. Once upon a time, some modicum of employer noblesse oblige would have ensured that loyal older workers be retained or at the very least retrained, MBA advice be damned. But, ''A bas les vieux!'' the fancy consultants cried, and out went those who were 'no longer fresh.' As Taylor Swift would put it, corporate America and the Boomer worker ''are never ever getting back together.'' Instead bring in the young, the childless, the tech-savvy here in America, and the underpaid and quasi-indentured abroad willing to work for slightly north of nothing in the kinds of conditions we abolished in the 19th century.

For, in the 21st century, a prosperous American business is a soaring 2-storied cake: 1 management layer at top thick with perks, golden parachutes, stock options, and a total disregard for those beneath them; 1 layer below of increasingly foreign workers (If you're lucky, you trained these people before you were laid off!), who can't even depend on their jobs because as we speak, those sameself consultants '' but no one that we know of course '-- are scouring the globe for the cheapest labor opportunities, fulfilling their promise that no CEO be left behind.

Above all of this, the frosting on the cake, the nec plus ultra of evolutionary corporate accomplishment: the Director of Social Media. This is the 20-year old whose role it is to ''leverage social media to deliver a seamless authentic experience across multiple digital streams to strategic partners and communities.'' In other words, this person gets paid six figures to send out tweets. But again, no one that we know.

Time and space and my own sheltered upbringing defend me from giving you the whole tour of the unexotic underclass, but trust that it is big, and only getting bigger.

___________________________________

Now, why the heck should any one care? Especially a young entrepreneur-to-be. Especially a young entrepreneur-to-be whose trajectory of nonstop success has placed him or her leagues above the unexotic underclass. You should care because the unexotic underclass can help address one of the biggest inefficiencies plaguing the startup scene right now: the flood of (ostensibly) smart, ambitious young people desperate to be entrepreneurs; and the embarrassingly idea-starved landscape where too many smart people are chasing too many dumb ideas, because they have none of their own (or, because they suspect no one will invest in what they really want to do). The unexotic underclass has big problems, maybe not the Big Problems '' capital B, capital P '' that get 'discussed' at Davos. But they have problems nonetheless, and where there are problems, there are markets.

The space that caters to my demographic '' the cushy 20 and 30-something urbanites '' is oversaturated. It's not rocket science: people build what they know. Cosmopolitan, well-educated young men and women in America's big cities are rushing into startups and building for other cosmopolitan well-educated young men and women in big cities. If you need to plan a trip, book a last minute hotel room , get your nails done, find a date, get laid, get an expert shave, hail a cab, buy clothing, borrow clothing, customize clothing, and share the photos instantly, you have Hipmunk, HotelTonight, Manicube, OKCupid, Grindr, Harry's, Uber, StyleSeek, Rent the Runway, eshakti/Proper Cloth and Instagram respectively to help you. These companies are good, with solid brains behind them, good teams and good funding.

But there are only so many suit customisation, makeup sampling, music streaming, social eating, discount shopping, experience curating companies that the market can bear. If you're itching to start something new, why chase the nth iteration of a company already serving the young, privileged, liberal jetsetter?If you're an investor, why revisit the same space as everyone else? There is life, believe me, outside of NY, Cambridge, Chicago, Atlanta, Austin, L.A. and San Fran.

It's where the unexotic underclass lives. It's called America. This underclass is not some obscure niche market. Take the single mothers. Per the US Census Bureau, there are 10 million of them today; and an additional 2 million single fathers. Of the single mothers, the majority is White, 1 in 4 is Hispanic, and 1 in 3 is Black. So this is a fairly large and diverse group.

Take the veterans. (I will beat the veteran drum to death.) According to the VA's latest figures, there are roughly 23 million vets in the United States. That number sounds disturbingly high; that's almost 1 in 10 Americans. Entrepreneurs and investors like big numbers. Other groups you could include in the underclass: ex-convicts, many imprisoned for petty drug offenses, many released for crimes they never even committed. How does an ex-convict get back into society? And navigate not just freedom, but a transformed technological landscape? Another group, and this one seems to sprout in pockets of affluence: people with food allergies. Some parents today resort to putting shirts and armbands on their kids indicating what foods they can or can't eat. Surely there's a better fix for that?

Maybe you could fix that.

___________________________________

Why do I call this underclass unexotic? Because, those of us, lucky enough to be raised in comfortable environs '' well-schooled, well-loved, well-fed '' are aware of only 2 groups: those at the very bottom and those at the very top.

We have clear notions of what the ruling class resembles '' its wealth, its connections, its interests. Some of you reading this will probably be part of the ruling class before you know it. Some of you probably already are. For the 1% aspirants (and there's no harm in having such aspirations), hopefully by the time you get there, you will have found meaningful problems to solve '' be they big, or Big.

We have clear ideas of what the exotic underclass looks like because everyone is clamoring to help them. The exotic underclass are people who live in the emerging and third world countries that happen to be in fashion now -'' Kenya, Bangladesh, Brazil, South Africa. The exotic underclass are poor Black and Hispanic children (are there any other kind?) living in America's urban ghettos. The exotic underclass suffer from diseases that have stricken the rich and famous, and therefore benefit from significant attention and charity.

On the other hand, the unexotic underclass, has the misfortune of being insufficiently interesting. These are the huddles of Whites '' poor, rural working class '' living in the American South, in the Midwest, in Appalachia. In oh-so-progressive Northeast, we refer to them as 'hicks' and 'hillbillies' and 'trailer trash,' because apparently, this is the one demographic that American manners have forgotten.

The unexotic underclass are the poor in Eastern Europe, and Central Asia, who just don't look foreign enough for our taste. Anyone who's lived in a major European city can attest to the ubiquity of desperate Roma families, arriving from Bulgaria and Romania, panhandling in the streets and on the subways. This past April, the employees of the Louvre Museum in Paris went on strike because they were tired of being pickpocketed by hungry Roma children. But if you were to go to Bulgaria to volunteer or to start a social enterprise, how would the folks back on Facebook know you were helping 'the poor?' if the poor in your pictures kind of looked like you?

And of course, the biggest block of the unexotic underclass are the ones I alluded to earlier: that vast, suffocating mass right here in in America. We don't notice them because they don't get by on $1 a day. We don't talk about them because they don't make $1 billion a year. The only place where they're popular is in Washington, D.C. where President Obama and his colleagues in Congress can can use members of the underclass to spice up their stump speeches: ''Yesterday, I met a struggling family out in yadda yadda yadda'...'' But there's only so much Washington can do to help out, what with government penniless and gridlocked, and its elected officials occupying a caste of selfishness, cowardice and spite, heretofore unseen in American politics.

__________________________________

If you're an entrepreneur looking for ideas, consider looking beyond the city-centric, navel-gazing, youth-obsessed mainstream. That doesn't mean you need to fly to the end of the world. Chances are there are more people addressing the Big Problems of slum dwellers in Calcutta, Kibera or Rio, than are tackling the big problems of hardpressed folks in say, West Virginia, Mississippi or Louisiana.

To be clear, I'm not painting the American South as the primary residence of all the wretched of the earth. You will meet people down there who are just as intelligent and cultured and affluent as we pretend everyone up North is.

Second, I'm not pitting the unexotic against the exotic. There is nothing easy or trendy about the work being done by the brave innovators on the ground in Asia, Africa, and Latin America. Some examples of that work: One Earth Designs which helps deliver clean energy and heating solutions to communities in rural China; Sanergy, which is bringing low-cost sanitation to Kenya's poorest slums; Samasource, which provides contract work to youth and women in Haiti, Ghana, Kenya, Uganda and India. These are young startups with young entrepreneurs who attended the same fancy schools we all know and love (MIT, Harvard, Yale, etc.), who lived in the same big cities where we all congregate, and worked in the same fancy jobs we all flocked to post-graduation. Yet, they decided they would go out and tackle Big Problems '' capital B, capital P. We need to encourage them, even if we could never imitate them.

If we can't imitate them ,and we're not ready for the challenges of the emerging market, and we have no new ideas to offer, then maybe there are problems, right here in America for us to solve'...The problems of the unexotic underclass.

____________________________________

Now, I can already hear the screeching of meritocratic, Horatio Algerian Silicon Valley,

''What do we have to do with any of this? The unexotic underclass has to pull itself up by its own bootstraps! Let them learn to code and build their own startups! What we need are more ex-convicts turned entrepreneurs, single mothers turned programmers, veterans turned venture capitalists!

The road out of welfare is paved with computer science!!!''

Yes, of course.

There's nothing wrong with the entrepreneurship-as-salvation gospel. Nothing wrong with teaching more people to code. But it's impractical in the short term, and misses the greater point in the long term: We shouldn't live in a universe of solipsistic startups'... where I start a company and produce things only for myself and for people who resemble me. Let's be honest. Very few of us are members of this unexotic underclass. Very few of us even know anyone who's in it. There's no shame in that. That we have sailed on a yacht of good fortune most of our lives '-- supportive generous families, a stable peaceful democracy, excellent schooling, prestigious careers and companies, relatively good health '' is nothing to be ashamed of. Consider yourselves remarkably blessed.

What is shameful though, is that in a country with so many problems, with such a heaving underclass, we find the so-called 'best and brightest,' the 20-and 30-somethings who emerge from the top American graduate and undergraduate programs, abandoning their former hangout,Wall Street, to pile into anti-problem entrepreneurship.

Look, I worked for Goldman Sachs immediately after graduating from Wellesley. After graduating from MIT, I worked at a hedge fund. I am not throwing stones. Here in hell, the stones wouldn't reach you anyhow'... If you're under 30 and in finance, you've definitely noticed the radical migration of your peers from Wall Street to Silicon Valley and Silicon Alley. This should have been a good exchange. When I first entered banking, leftist hippie that I was (and still am), my biggest issue was what struck me as a kind of gross intellectual malpractice: how could so many bright historians and economists, athletes and engineers, writers and biogeneticists, from every great school you could think of '' Princeton, Berkeley, Oxford, Harvard, Imperial, Caltech, Amherst, Wharton, Yale, Swarthmore, Cambridge, and so on '-- be concentrated into a single sector, working obscene hours at a sweatshop to manufacture money?

When I look at the bulk of startups today '' while there are notable exceptions (Code for America for example, which invites local governments to request technology help from teams of coders) '' it doesn't seem like we've aspired to something nobler: it just looks like we've shifted the malpractice from feeding the money machine to making inane, self-centric apps. Worse, is that the power players, institutional and individual '-- the highflying VCs, the entrepreneurship incubators, the top-ranked MBA programs, the accelerators, the universities, the business plan competitions have been complicit in this nonsense.

Those who are entrepreneurially-minded but young and idea-poor need serious direction from those who are rich in capital and connections. We see what ideas are getting funded, we see money flowing like the river Ganges towards insipid me-too products, so is it crazy that we've been thinking small? building smaller? that our ''blood and judgment'' to quote Hamlet, have not been ''so well commingled?''

We need someone bold (and older than us) to stand up for Big Problems which are tough and dirty. But what we especially need is someone to stand up for big problems '' little b, little p ''which are tough and dirty and too easy to overlook.

We need:

A Ron Conway, a Fred Wilson-type at the venture level to say, 'Kiddies, basta with this bull*%!.. This year we're only investing in companies targeting the unexotic underclass.''

A Paul Graham and his Y Combinator at the incubator level, to devote one season to the underclass, be it veterans, single moms or overworked young doctors, Native Americans, the list is long: ''Help these entrepreneurs build something that will help you.''

The head of an MIT or an HBS or a Stanford Law at the academic level, to tell the entire incoming class: ''You are lucky to be some of the best engineering and business and law students, not just in the country, but in the world. And as an end-of-year project, you are going to use that talent to develop products, policy and programs to help lift the underclass.''

Of the political class, I ask nothing. With a vigor one would have thought inaccessible to people at such an age, our leaders in Washington have found ever innovative ways to avoid solving the problems that have been brought before them. Playing brinkmanship games with filibusters and fiscal cliffs; taking money to avoid taking votes. They are entrepreneurs of the highest order: presented with 1 problem, they manage to create 5 more. They have demonstrated that government is not only not the answer, it is the anti-answer'...

The dysfunction in D.C. is a big problem.

Entrepreneurs: it looks like there's work for you there too'...

ICANN's new rules require you to verify your contact details

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Source: Hacker News

Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:25

Rules. You can't live with them, you can't have a domain without them. And starting January 2014, there are some important new rules to be aware of. These rules are set by the internet's governing body ICANN and affect all generic top-level domains (gTLDs) such as .COM, .NET, .ORG, .BIZ, .INFO or .NAME as well as upcoming new gTLDs.

Domains will be disabled, if you don't verify themStarting next week, when you register a domain with new contact details, transfer existing domains or change the registrant (owner) or email address on your contact information, you will receive an additional email with an activation link. If you don't press this link, your domain will be disabled after 15 days.

You need to verify your contact details if you:

purchase a domain with iwantmyname for the first timehave updated your iwantmyname account detailstransferred a domain to iwantmyname and changed the contactsI repeat, if you don't react to these emails, new ICANN policies mandate that we will have to disable your domain name. Even if you're in Antarctica and have no internet access. Even if your spam folder eats it alive.

Specifically, if your 15 day verification window passes, your website will be replaced by a website displaying a verification error, along with instructions on how to fix it. But on the plus side, it can be fixed. And if you do renew it on time, this domain email verification will only happen once.

So what should you do now?As soon as you are able, please ensure that your domain name is associated with a valid email address. The last thing we want is for you to make a change, then have your verification email sent to an old address.

Also, if you purchase a domain or make a change after January 2014 and don't receive an email, or if you just have questions about the new ICANN rules, please get in touch.

Testosterone Pit - Home - LEAKED: German Government Warns Key Entities Not To Use Windows 8 '' Links The NSA

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 15:28

''A Special Surveillance Chip''

According to leaked internal documents from the German Federal Office for Security in Information Technology (BSI) that Die Zeit obtained, IT experts figured out that Windows 8, the touch-screen enabled, super-duper, but sales-challenged Microsoft operating system is outright dangerous for data security. It allows Microsoft to control the computer remotely through a built-in backdoor. Keys to that backdoor are likely accessible to the NSA '' and in an unintended ironic twist, perhaps even to the Chinese.

The backdoor is called ''Trusted Computing,'' developed and promoted by the Trusted Computing Group, founded a decade ago by the all-American tech companies AMD, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Wave Systems. Its core element is a chip, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and an operating system designed for it, such as Windows 8. Trusted Computing Group has developed the specifications of how the chip and operating systems work together.

Its purpose is Digital Rights Management and computer security. The system decides what software had been legally obtained and would be allowed to run on the computer, and what software, such as illegal copies or viruses and Trojans, should be disabled. The whole process would be governed by Windows, and through remote access, by Microsoft.

Now there is a new set of specifications out, creatively dubbed TPM 2.0. While TPM allowed users to opt in and out, TPM 2.0 is activated by default when the computer boots up. The user cannot turn it off. Microsoft decides what software can run on the computer, and the user cannot influence it in any way. Windows governs TPM 2.0. And what Microsoft does remotely is not visible to the user. In short, users of Windows 8 with TPM 2.0 surrender control over their machines the moment they turn it on for the first time.

It would be easy for Microsoft or chip manufacturers to pass the backdoor keys to the NSA and allow it to control those computers. NO, Microsoft would never do that, we protest. Alas, Microsoft, as we have learned from the constant flow of revelations, informs the US government of security holes in its products well before it issues fixes so that government agencies can take advantage of the holes and get what they're looking for.

Experts at the BSI, the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and the Federal Administration warned unequivocally against using computers with Windows 8 and TPM 2.0. One of the documents from early 2012 lamented, ''Due to the loss of full sovereignty over the information technology, the security objectives of 'confidentiality' and 'integrity' can no longer be guaranteed.''

Elsewhere, the document warns, ''This can have significant consequences on the IT security of the Federal Administration.'' And it concludes, ''The use of 'Trusted Computing' technology in this form ... is unacceptable for the Federal Administration and for operators of critical infrastructure.''

Another document claims that Windows 8 with TPM 2.0 is ''already'' no longer usable. But Windows 7 can ''be operated safely until 2020.'' After that other solutions would have to be found for the IT systems of the Administration.

The documents also show that the German government tried to influence the formation of the TPM 2.0 specifications '' a common practice in processes that take years and have many stakeholders '' but was rebuffed. Others have gotten what they wanted, Die Zeit wrote. The NSA for example. At one of the last meetings between the TCG and various stakeholders, someone dropped the line, ''The NSA agrees.''

R¼diger Weis, a professor at the Beuth University of Technology in Berlin, and a cryptographic expert who has dealt with Trusted Computing for years, told Die Zeitin an interview that Microsoft wanted to completely change computing by integrating ''a special surveillance chip'' in every electronic device. Through that chip and the processes of Windows 8, particularly Secure Boot, ''users largely lose control over their own hardware and software.''

But wouldn't it contribute to higher levels of security? Certain aspects actually raise the risks, he said. For example, during production, the secret key to that backdoor is generated outside the chip and then transferred to the chip. During this process, copies of all keys can be made. ''It's possible that there are even legal requirements to that effect that cannot be reported.'' And so the TPM is ''a dream chip of the NSA.''

Perhaps even more ominously, he added: ''The other realistic scenario is that TPM chip manufactures don't sit within reach of the NSA, but in China....''

Apple phased out the surveillance chips in 2009. Linux doesn't comply with the standards, and Linux machines cannot use the technology. Microsoft defended itself the best it could. The TPM is activated by default because most users accept defaults, it said. If users would have to activate the functions themselves, many users would end up operating a less secure system. And of course, government regulations that would require that users have the option to opt in or out would be unwise.

Instead, hardware manufactures could build machines with the chips deactivated, Microsoft said. If you want to have control over your computer, that's what you'd have to buy. Another option would be to switch to Linux machines, something that the city government of Munich has started 10 years ago; the changeover should be complete before the year is up. This aspect of the NSA debacle cannot possibly be twisted into bullish news for Microsoft.

China is the promised land for our revenue-challenged tech heroes: over a billion consumers, economic growth several times that of the US, and companies splurging on IT. Layer the ''cloud'' on top, and China is corporate nirvana: a high-growth sector in a high-growth country. Or was nirvana, now that the NSA's hyperactive spying practices have spilled out. Read.... US Tech Companies Raked Over The Coals In China.

Wolf here. I would love to hear from you. You can send me an email to:

testosteronepit [at] gmail.com

I will post some of the comments, articles, corrections, points of contention, etc. under the tab ''Readers Speak Up,'' if I find them relevant, interesting, awesome, civilized, etc. Funny is always good.

- Include the title or link of the article you're responding to.

- Let me know the name (alias is ok) under which you want me to publish your writing.

- If you have a blog, include a link (self-promotion is ok)

- I'll try to send you confirmation once it's published.

- If you DON'T want me to post your writing, if you want me to keep it private, please let me know!

- I will NEVER publish your email address!!!

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Target

An Unexpected Career: Target's Forensic Services Laboratory | A Bullseye View

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Sat, 04 Jan 2014 17:11

On shows like ''CSI,'' ''Law and Order SVU'' and ''Bones,'' you get a glamourized sneak peek into the world of forensic science and the technical side of the criminal justice system. Although the investigative jobs and officers are amplified with a shiny Hollywood twist, the core of forensic science remains the same in the real world: using science to solve crimes.

So how does one become a crime-stopping scientist? The paths to a career in criminal justice are winding and vast, but one place you might not think to look is a retail giant like Target.

Unbeknownst to most, Target has a top-rated forensic services laboratory that provides forensic examinations, and assists outside law enforcement with help on special cases. Target's lab is among 390 crime labs accredited by the American Society of Crime Laboratory Directors/Laboratory Accreditation Board (ASCLD/LAB), which underscores Target's commitment to quality forensic work.

Team members hail from all areas of criminal justice. Current forensic examiner Andrew Schriever was a criminalist for the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation. Examiners Aaron Read and Jacob Steinhour are members of FBI-sponsored scientific working groups. And lab director Rick Lautenbach is a Target ''lifer,'' having worked in assets protection and other leadership roles at Target for more than 16 years.

''Most people don't know what we do,'' says Rick. ''We're a small team with a specialized skill set. People usually find out by word-of-mouth about all the cool things we're able to do.

By ''cool things,'' Rick refers to processing, examining and cataloguing evidence on countless cases, fingerprinting that evidence and then handing it off to case investigators. Most importantly, their work helps keep Target guests, team members, families and communities safe.

Based in Las Vegas and Minneapolis, the forensic team helps solve organized retail crimes committed at Target stores through video and image analysis, latent fingerprint and computer forensics. The team also tackles felony, homicide and special circumstances cases for law bureaus that need the extra manpower, facilities, resources and time '' free of charge.

''We're lucky we get a chance to give back to communities in a meaningful way by helping officers,'' says Rick. ''At Target, you always do more than just your day job.''

click through the gallery below

Interested in Target's forensic services lab? Find out more at Target.com/careers.

Out There

Mayan Documents about ET's

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 14:28

By Shepard Ambellas | November 30, 2013 | 2:22pm EDTIn what will soon be considered as the Holy Grail of extraterrestrial research, the Mexican government has released ancient documents proving the existence of E.T.'s once and for all.[1] The two circles near the center of the artifact appear to be earth. [2] This appears to be a spacecraft of some type. [3] This appears to be a massive comet or asteroid headed toward earth. [4] Appears to be a specially designed spacecraft capable of deflecting a large comet or meteor, such as NASA ''Deep Impact''. [5] Appears to be an astronaut in control of a craft. [6] What appears to be an intelligently controlled spacecraft.

CALAKMUL, MEXICO (INTELLIHUB) '-- Newly released Mayan documents, i.e. artifacts, dating back at least 1300-years reveal that the human race is not alone and highly advanced technologies including space travel have likely existed for quite some time.

Not only does this documentation released by the Mexican government show the existence of an explorer race, it may also reveal the roots of mankind.

Some consider the government's presentation of the information to be a major step forward for humanity as the truth is finally being slowly let out. Hopefully this will prompt other governments around the world to be more forthcoming with such information, turning the tide in the UFO and extraterrestrial research community for good.

Sundance winner Juan Carlos Rulfo's Revelations of the Mayans 2012 and Beyond also touches on such technology. ''Producer Raul Julia-Levy said the documentary-makers were working in cooperation with the Mexican government for what he said was ''the good of mankind''. He said the order to collaborate had come directly from the country's president, lvaro Colom Caballeros.

''Mexico will release codices, artefacts and significant documents with evidence of Mayan and extraterrestrial contact, and all of their information will be corroborated by archaeologists,'' he said. ''The Mexican government is not making this statement on their own '' everything we say, we're going to back it up.''

Caballeros himself was conspicuous by his absence from the statement released by Julia-Levy. So far, the minister of tourism for the Mexican state of Campeche, Luis Augusto Garc­a Rosado, appears to be the highest-ranking government official to go on record confirming the discovery of extraterrestrial life, but he's not holding back.

In a statement, Rosado spoke of contact ''between the Mayans and extraterrestrials, supported by translations of certain codices, which the government has kept secure in underground vaults for some time''. In a telephone conversation with the Wrap, he also spoke of ''landing pads in the jungle that are 3,000 years old''.[2]

These secrets have been said to be ''protected'' by the mexican government for as long as 80-years.

Sources:

[1] The Mexican government reveals Mayan documents proving extraterrestrial contacts - Arcturius.org

[2] Mayan documentary to show 'evidence' of alien contact in ancient Mexico - TheGuardian.com

[3] Aliens and UFOs Depicted In Mayan Artifacts Released By Mexican Government - ConciusLifeNews.com

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ISRO successfully launches indigenous cryogenic engine-powered GSLV-D5

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:39

SRIHARIKOTA: Indian Space Research Organisation (Isro) on Sunday successfully launched GSLV-D5 rocket, which is powered by an indigenous cryogenic engine, from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre in Sriharikota.Seventeen minutes after liftoff at 4.18pm, the rocket successfully injected GSAT-14 communication satellite into geosynchronous transfer orbit.

Isro chairman K Radhakrishnan declared the mission a success. He said, "This shows the maturity of the team. We dedicate the proud moment for the country."

"The launch has been so precise that the satellite was put just 40 metres within the 179km perigee and only 50km of the 36,000km apogee," mission director K Sivan said.

Isro achieved the feat after two failures earlier. While India has mastered the PSLV range of rockets with a string of 25 consecutive successes, GSLV, which can carry heavier payloads including humans to space, has remained a challenge.

In April 2010, Isro tested its first indigenous cryogenic engine, but it failed a little less than a second after the cryogenic stage ignited. A refurbished GSLV-D5 was to be launched in August 2013, but a leak in the liquid fuel tank forced the mission to be aborted two hours before the rocket was to lift off.

India had got seven cryogenic engines from Russia, and Isro has used six of them. With no affordable supply coming from abroad, India felt the necessity to develop its own cryogenic engine, which uses liquid hydrogen as fuel and liquid oxygen and oxidizer.

Cryogenics, the science of extremely low temperatures, has posed a challenge to rocket scientists across the world.

With the launch of GSLV-D5, India is joining countries like the US, Russia, Japan, France and China which have successfully developed their own cryogenic engines.

Vaccine$

AgriNews: Pork market prices are expected to rise in 2014

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 01:49

DANVILLE, Ind. '-- The million-dollar question that many livestock producers want the answer to is: How market prices will fare in the future.Steve Meyer, the founder and president of Paragon Economics, said in a recent interview that producers can expect to see some changes in pork figures next quarter as a result of the porcine epidemic diarrhea virus, which hit first in June and July.

Due to this, he noted, that there will be a reduction in slaughter numbers from where they would have been had the animals not been sick.

The first and second quarters of the new year probably will be down between 2 percent and 4 percent in slaughter production, Meyer said.

The good news for pork producers is that hog prices will be positive.

''Reduce supplies, prices go up,'' Meyer said, adding that producers whose hogs were infected with PEDV most likely lost three to four weeks of production.

Another thing that will help producers in the coming year is that the cost to produce a pig will be $35 lower per head. Meyer explained that this can be attributed to a good corn and soybean crop.

''It was the fourth-largest soybean crop ever,'' he said, adding that a bigger crop helps drive down the average cost of feed.

Although Meyer doesn't believe a lot of new individuals will start raising pork, he does believe that pork producers who have been waiting to expand, but hadn't because they were waiting for better market prices, finally will expand their sow herds.

UPDATE 1-U.S. hog herd falls more than expected as virus strikes | Reuters

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 01:49

Fri Dec 27, 2013 7:55pm EST

* Pig virus offsets U.S. hog herd expansion

* USDA report seen bullish for CME hogs Monday (Adds analysts' comments, background on pork production, CME futures prices)

By Theopolis Waters

Dec 27 (Reuters) - The U.S. hog herd fell by 1 percent in the latest quarter, slightly more than forecast, U.S. government data showed on Friday, as a deadly swine virus thwarted pork producers' efforts to rebuild herds.

"This confirms that PED is in the nation's hog herd, which was not shown nor implied in their previous report (September)," Rich Nelson, chief strategist at Allendale Inc, said after seeing USDA's lower hog numbers on Friday.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on Friday reported the U.S. hog herd as of Dec. 1 at 99 percent of a year ago, or 65.940 million head. Analysts, on average, expected 66.307 million head, or 99.9 percent of a year earlier. The U.S. hog herd for the same period last year was 66.374 million head.

The quarterly report was the first to show a noticeable drop in hog numbers, which analysts attributed to Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea virus (PEDv), reinforcing expectations that herds will shrink as the industry struggles to develop vaccines to treat the virus that has killed thousands of young pigs across 20 states.

The virus outbreak was largely undetected in USDA's September survey.

In Friday's report, hog numbers in all of the three major categories used by traders and producers as an insight into the state of the market - all hogs and pigs (or inventory), breeding and marketing - came in under expectations.

The closely watched report was surprisingly "bullish", said Nelson.

On Friday, Chicago Mercantile Exchange hog futures for February delivery closed up 0.35 cent per lb, or 0.4 percent, at 85.650 cents ahead of the report.

Analysts predicted the news could push CME hog futures up 0.500 to 0.750 cent at Monday's opening.

As of Dec. 15, the number of confirmed cases with PEDv totaled 1,764, according to data from the USDA's National Animal Health Laboratory Network. Each case could represent hundreds to thousands of hogs.

In a conference call earlier this week, Smithfield Foods , the nation's biggest hog producer, said PEDv might result in a loss of 2 million to 3 million hogs, or a 2 to 3 percent decline in U.S. production in 2014.

Analysts and swine veterinarians have stressed that while the virus is fatal to young pigs, pork is safe to eat.

The government showed the U.S. breeding herd at 99 percent of a year earlier, or 5.757 million head, compared with average trade expectations for 101.0 percent, or 5.875 million. A year ago the breeding herd was 5.819 million head.

The difference between industry estimates and USDA's breeding herd number was "critical", Livestock Marketing Information Center director Jim Robb said.

"Down the road (that) certainly sets up for tighter hog production than what most analysts had been expecting," he said.

Another sign that PEDv is taking its toll on baby pigs is the slowdown in the upward trend in baby pigs per sow, analysts said.

The data on Friday showed producers had a record number of pigs per litter during the period at 10.16, up marginally compared with last autumn's record of 10.15. But, that is the smallest increase over the past two quarters.

"When pigs per litter is up only one tenth of 1 percent after averaging up 2 percent since 2003, that's quite a difference," said University of Missouri livestock economist Ron Plain.

USDA made significant revisions to past reports to account for larger-than-expected hog slaughter in recent months, he said.

The Dec. 1 supply of market-ready hogs was 99 percent of a year earlier at 60.183 million head. Analysts, on average, expected a 0.2 percent decline, or 60.435 million. Last autumn's market hog supply was 60.555 million.

"The overall numbers do not show the expansion that the industry has expected given the profitability of producers," said Robb. (Additional reporting by Meredith Davis and P.J. Huffstutter; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama, Tim Dobbyn and Bob Burgdorfer)

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Goose meat tests positive for H7N9 in Chinese city

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Source: Global Times

Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:51

Samples of goose meat taken from a Guangzhou market in south China's Guangdong Province have tested positive for H7N9 avian influenza.Two goose meat samples and one sewage water sample from two poultry booths in a wet market in Zengcheng, a satellite city of Guangzhou, tested positive, Guangdong Provincial Center of Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) confirmed on Sunday.

"It's serious that the water sample test is positive, because it means all the birds inside coops have the possibility of being infected with H7N9 avian influenza. The longer they stay in the coops, the risk of being infected rises," said Yang Zhicong, deputy chief of the Guangzhou municipal CDCP.

The city government of Guangzhou, the provincial capital, is tracking the poultry source. The market was shut down on Saturday for three days so disinfection and cleaning can take place.

Meanwhile, 17 sales people working in nine poultry booths in the market are undergoing a week-long medical observation. So far, they have shown no signs of being infected with the bird flu, said Yang.

Bird flu, or avian influenza, is a contagious disease of animal origin caused by viruses that normally only infect birds and, less commonly, pigs. It can be fatal to humans.

Six human cases of H7N9 bird flu have been confirmed in Guangdong Province since August. None are from Guangzhou.

"According to expert assessments, Guangdong faces an extremely high risk of sporadic human H7N9 infections in winter and next spring," said Zhang Yonghui, head of the provincial CDCP.

"The cases may occur at any time across the province and the Pearl River Delta region requires special attention," Zhang said.

The province has urged local agricultural and forestry authorities to strengthen daily management, tests and disinfection of live poultry markets and crack down on illegal wildlife trade.

Antiflu drugs such as Tamiflu should be used within 48 hours by those who show flu symptoms such as fever and have been in contact with poultry, said Chen Yuansheng, director of the provincial health and family planning commission.

The Chinese mainland has reported more than 140 human cases of the deadly virus since it emerged in March, including 45 fatalities.

VIDEOS

VIDEO-Glenn Beck Claims He Will 'Stand With GLAAD' Against Russia's 'Hetero-Fascism'

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 15:48

Glenn Beck sat down with S.E. Cupp on CNN this week for an hour-long discussion, in which he made some pretty impressive and uncharacteristic claims about the state of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Russia.

The conservative talking head opened his comments by openly criticizing the media's attention to Fox News' Megyn Kelly's statement about Santa Claus' race, as well as "Duck Dynasty" star Phil Robertson's anti-gay comments in his GQ profile. His logic? The media should be focusing their attention elsewhere, such as the extreme climate of fear and violence plaguing LGBT Russians.

"Do you know what happened last week in Russia?" asked Beck. "One of their biggest stars on television said that homosexuals should be put into the ovens alive. I didn't think you could make the Holocaust worse but he's like 'Why the gas chamber? That seems a little too humane. Let's put them alive in the ovens.'"

While it might benefit Beck to know that media outlets have been rigorously covering the anti-LGBT sentiment plaguing LGBT Russians since last summer (just maybe not Fox News...), the most interesting tidbit from this interview stems from Beck's use of the term "hetero-fascism" -- and his statement of solidarity with LGBT advocacy group GLAAD.

''I said on the air this week, I will stand with GLAAD," continued Beck. "I will stand with anybody who will stand up and say that's crazy. That's dangerous. That's hetero-fascism. That's what that is. And we're talking about Duck Dynasty. Really? Really?''

Glenn Beck is one of many prominent celebrities and media elite to speak out against Russia's anti-gay legislation. Other prominent figures to take a stand include Cher, Lady Gaga, Elton John and Tilda Swinton, among others.

VIDEO-BBC News - Putin tests out Sochi's Winter Olympic ice rink

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 03:24

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VIDEO-Director of National Intelligence James Clapper Indisputably Lied to Congress About NSA Surveillance - YouTube

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 03:15

VIDEO-Obama Signs 2 New Executive Actions On Gun Control! - YouTube

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 04:15

VIDEO- GLOBAL OBESITY EXPLOSION "Governments Need To Start Introducing Taxes On Sugary Fatty Foods" - YouTube

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 05:10

VIDEO-Fmr Defense Secretary Gates Falls And Breaks Neck Vertebrae (doody hehehe) - YouTube

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 05:33

VIDEO- "This Gentleman From WikiLeaks Implicitly Comparing The Actions Of The U.S. To The NAZIS!" - YouTube

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 05:48

VIDEO-Remember When Al Qaeda Was On The Path To Defeat? NOT ANYMORE! - YouTube

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VIDEO- Secret FISA Court Reauthorizes NSA Program That Collects EVERY Phone Call Made In The U.S. - YouTube

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VIDEO-Arctic freeze hits US Midwest with record low temperatures | euronews, world news

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Sun, 05 Jan 2014 14:58

The northeastern United States and parts of Canada continue to be blasted by an arctic chill that has brought snow blizzards, frigid temperatures and more misery to swathes of both countries from the Mississippi to Nova Scotia.

Over 100,000 customers were left without power in Newfoundland.

The authorities have asked residents to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel as some roads have been rendered impassable.

The icy conditions could bring the coldest temperatures in twenty years to the US Midwest before advancing north again, where residents have already been affected.

New York is known as ''the city that never sleeps,'' but it had some snow clearing to before getting on with the day.

Newly-elected New York mayor Bill de Blasio led by example, setting to work with a shovel.

Over 1,000 flights nationwide have been cancelled, with over 6,000 delayed causing misery to hundreds of passengers. Worst affected were Chicago's O'Hare International and Newark Liberty International airports.

In Chicago, the mercury is expected to plummet to minus 29 degrees Celsius.

And the NFL playoff game on Sunday between the Green Bay Packers and San Francisco 49'ers was called off in Wisconsin. The city reached a record low temperature for the date of minus 18 Celsius, set back in 1979.

Two-year-old girl who was acting 'odd' after eating cookie tests positive for marijuana | Mail Online

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 19:57

Mother Aida Hernandez told police she found her two-year-old daughter eating a cookie out front of their apartment building in Longmont, ColoradoWhen the girl started acting strangely she was taken to hospital and tested positive for THCPolice say they are investigating but believe the family's storyIncident comes the day before Colorado decriminalized marijuana, with adults 21 and over allowed to be in possession of one ounce of the drugEdible marijuana products, such as cookies, brownies, and suckers, are regulated in the same way as free-standing marijuana, in that they are subject to weight restrictions and are not to be consumed in publicBy Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:25 EST, 3 January 2014 | UPDATED: 11:25 EST, 3 January 2014

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Police are investigating how a two-year-old Colorado girl who spent New Years Eve in hospital came to test positive for THC, the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana.

The incident started on Tuesday when Aida Hernandez stumbled upon her daughter eating a cookie left sitting in the front yard of an apartment complex in Longmont.

Hernandez told police she instructed the toddler to stop and throw the random sweet back in the garden.

This two-year-old girl (right, pictured with her sister) spent New Years Eve in hospital after eating a cookie that was placed with marijuana, police believe

Aida Hernandez noticed her daughter was acting strangely 'about half an hour' after finding her eating a random cookie out the front of their apartment block

Scene: Police are investigating the incident, but say they not found any reason to discredit the story provided to them by the family

Police say the two-year-old girl (right) has now fully recovered

The pair then went on a trip to the grocery store, when the mom realized something was wrong with her little girl.

'She was sleepy, she was opening and closing her eyes, and she couldn't walk very well,' Hernandez told FOX31 Denver.

A toxicology test was performed and her urine tested positive for THC, the active ingredient in marijuana.

The incident occurred the day before Colorado ended prohibition laws on Marijuana.

As of January 1, adults 21 and over are able to buy the drug at dispensaries across the state, allowing people to smoke and eat weed in the privacy of their homes.

The toddler spent the night in hospital recovering and returned home on Wednesday.

Marijuana is now legally sold in a variety of forms - from free-packaged to joints and edibles - as part of a new government experiment in regulating the drug like alcohol

Edible marijuana products, such as suckers (pictured), are regulated under new Colorado drug the same way as free-standing marijuana is, in terms of how much each adult is allowed in weight

Since marijuana sales started in Colorado, the most typical way to buy the drug is on its own, however joints and edibles are also available

Cmdr. Jeff Satur said a search of the family's home failed to turn up anything.

Hernandez is also being tested for THC.

'At this point we are believing the family,' Satur said.

Police are working with social service workers on the case.

There is another child in the home who was unharmed.

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Fri, 03 Jan 2014 20:20

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