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No Agenda Films

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 20:30

Treading into the waters of Psychological Warfare with this weeks NA Films Monday Movie. PsyWar was written and directed by Scott Noble as his directorial debut. While it's not as good as any of the Adam Curtis films (specifically The Century of the Self Parts I, II, III and IV) we've highlighted on this site, it does contain some amazing commentary from Howard Zinn, Michael Parenti and Peter Phillips as well as some great visual examples from very recent world events as well as some well know ad campaigns.From their website:This film explores the evolution of propaganda and public relations in the United States, with an emphasis on the elitist theory of democracy and the relationship between war, propaganda and class.A deep, richly illustrated study of the nature and history of propaganda, featuring some of the world's most insightful critics, Psywar exposes the propaganda system, providing crucial background and insight into the control of information and thought. Full Film (1:39:02)

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Happy 10th Birthday, DHS - By Thad Allen | Foreign Policy

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:28

Ten years ago Thursday, the Department of Homeland Security was established to unify our national capabilities in the wake of 9/11. A strong sense of urgency was pushing us to do everything possible to prevent another terrorist attack, and, if that failed, to respond. As the chief of staff of the Coast Guard, I led a team that planned and executed the service's move from the Department of Transportation, where it had been housed for 35 years, to its new berth at DHS.

The entire process moved at bureaucratic light speed. President Bush signed the Homeland Security Act into law on November 25, 2002; the department was officially created two months later, and 22 agencies moved into DHS on March 1, 2003. It was remarkable: in only four months, an entirely new department with nearly 200,000 employees was stood up.

But the conditions under which the department was created limited its ability to operate. There was no time for strategic, long-term planning. There was no assessment of the various authorities of the agencies relocated to DHS in the context of what the department was expected to do. Instead, the existing authorities, resources, capabilities, and competencies of multiple agencies were simply merged into a single organization. The department's constituent parts retained their ability to operate, but their ability to coordinate with each other and support the department's overall mission was limited.

Ten years later little has changed, and we know we need a more unified homeland security force. To get there, let's take a deep breath and reassess our priorities. It is time to create a strong, forward-leaning strategy for preparedness at home -- one that focuses on national resiliency, defends our networks, diminishes the threat posed by bad actors, and rethinks how we protect our borders.

Strive for Resiliency. The curves that Hurricanes Isaac and Sandy threw at us remind us that, despite the Federal Emergency Management Agency's improvements in recent years, Mother Nature gets the final vote. Isaac found low barriers to entry; Sandy attacked dense coastal populations and antiquated infrastructure. Looking ahead, we need plans and investments that create resiliency and limit the impact and cost of emergency response. Think of resiliency as the community equivalent of an immune system that improves our ability to respond to and recover from catastrophic events. We must rethink the roles and responsibilities of all levels of government, collaborate and coordinate across public and private sectors, and create regional strategies based on regional risks. This concept has been strongly endorsed in the recent report by the National Academy of Sciences, Disaster Resilience: A National Imperative, which recommends creating a national database for disaster loss information similar to the one used by the National Insurance Institute for Highway Safety to improve automobile safety.

It Takes a Network. The attack on our consulate in Benghazi is a grim reminder of the threat we still face from terrorists and radicalized groups and individuals. The terrorist networks and transnational criminal organizations that threaten us must have money to operate, and they move cash gained from illicit trafficking through shadow financial networks. As a result, our law enforcement and intelligence organizations are in effect battling a network of networks.

Our counterterrorism successes have shown that it takes a network to defeat a network. The demise of Osama bin Laden proved that. In many cases, our successes are backed by high-performance computing and cloud-based analytical tools that allow us to extract more value from the data we collect, and in turn act more quickly.

Unfortunately, many agencies are handcuffed by proprietary technologies, bureaucratic controls, or outdated authorities that limit data sharing and hamstring the network-on-network fight. For example, there are a number of repositories that contain biometric information that could be networked and interoperable, while adhering to common quality and security standards. Some improvements don't require legislation -- just organizational will and leadership. They include increased collaboration and the management of threats across traditional "case" boundaries within agencies. We need agencies that share information seamlessly and securely, acting with unity to make Americans safer. These goals were laid out in President Obama's recent National Strategy for Information Sharing and Safeguarding, which directs federal agencies to act collectively to improve both the security and sharing of information. Contrary to some concerned with privacy, advances in high-performance computing and our ability to analyze large datasets more quickly can create greater transparency and ensure compliance with privacy laws and civil liberties because greater controls and tracking can be embedded with the data. Discrete permissions can also be established that allow greater access by all who need the information, including state and local partners.

Defend That Network. Similarly, it takes a network to defend a network. The Internet touches every facet of our lives and the cyber threat is one of the gravest threats we face. Few areas warrant the attention needed here. Yet recent attempts to pass cyber legislation have failed because of a lack of agreement on the respective roles of government and the private sector. This is a shared responsibility; quibbling needs to stop. Responsible collaboration is the answer. We need to find that middle ground that allows private firms to receive or provide sensitive information on cyber threats while retaining their freedom to operate in a market economy. While an executive order is being created to address roles and responsibilities within the federal government, the new Congress should move immediately to pass legislation that addresses key issues of corporate liability, legal implications of disclosures of attacks by the private sector, and antitrust issues associated with coordinated industry actions.

Rethink Our Borders. Perhaps the most visible symbol of the homeland security challenge is the border itself. The past decade has seen a continued, evolving discussion as to what constitutes border security. Turns out, defining a "border" is much more complex than identifying the line that legally separates nations, whether it be drawn on land, sea, or air. It is time to broaden our discussion of the border from its physical attributes to a more inclusive concept of what it means to secure a nation.

In fact, the "functional border" transcends physical boundaries and adds cyberspace to the traditional domains of air, land, and sea as conduits through which legitimate and illegitimate flows of people, goods, money, and information pass. Transactions are accomplished online, fees are transferred electronically, and goods ranging from light bulbs to complex technologies travel from Bucharest to Omaha. In today's world, only a fraction of our protection and enforcement responsibilities can be met through physical inspections at the ports of entry. In an increasingly globalized economy, we must simultaneously secure and speed trade and travel through the analysis of data provided by travelers and shippers and data about the shippers themselves.

Our national conversation should match this "boundary-less movement" -- it must include all the functions required in all domains. This begins with a more integrated Customs and Border Protection organization that still faces challenges from 2003 in integrating operations both at and between ports of entry. It extends to greater unity of effort among all agencies with trade and travel enforcement responsibilities, such as the Coast Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Transportation Security Administration, and the Department of Agriculture. Here, too, the need for data integration, faster analyses, and quicker, more agile response should be the overarching goal. Finally, we must realize that trade and travel facilitation and border security are not separate and distinct, but that we must balance the needs of commerce and the requirement to secure our borders. They are intertwined elements of national power.

We are ending a decade of incremental adjustments, and we have the opportunity to recalibrate our approach to achieving a unified force. A strong strategy must transform this aggregated enterprise and focus on achieving national resiliency, attacking terrorist and criminal networks with more effective networks, defending our cyberspace through collaboration, and managing a functional border in the global commons. As the Quadrennial Homeland Security Review begins, it is time to pause, think, and get it right.

Elite$ 33

BBC News - Queen Beatrix of the Netherlands to abdicate for son

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Mon, 28 Jan 2013 20:39

28 January 2013Last updated at14:28 ETQueen Beatrix of the Netherlands has announced she is abdicating in favour of her son, Prince Willem-Alexander.

In a pre-recorded address broadcast on TV, she said she would formally stand down on 30 April.

The queen, who is approaching her 75th birthday, said she had been thinking about this moment for several years and that now was "the moment to lay down my crown".

Queen Beatrix has been head of state since 1980, when her mother abdicated.

In the short televised statement, the queen said it was time for the throne to be held by "a new generation", adding that her son was ready to be king.

Prince Willem-Alexander, 45, is married to Maxima Zorreguieta, a former investment banker from Argentina, and has three young children.

He is a trained pilot and an expert in water management.

He will become the Netherlands' first king since Willem III, who died in 1890.

Speaking on television immediately after the abdication announcement, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte paid tribute to the queen.

Continue reading the main storyQueen Beatrix is seen by many in the Netherlands as a surrogate grandmother. Most office buildings and universities proudly display her glamorous portrait, decorated in a range of suitably colourful costumes.

She enjoys high approval ratings and is one of the most popular ruling monarchs in Europe. Under Dutch law it is still illegal to insult the queen.

Her abdication is bound to raise interest in the UK, where Queen Elizabeth II is 86 and recently celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. But the situation is different in the Netherlands, where the queen is following recent tradition by abdicating, as her mother and grandmother did before her.

Prince Willem-Alexander's wife, Maxima, is arguably the most attention-generating member of the Dutch royal family. She is expected to be given the unofficial title Queen Maxima.

The queen will hand over to her son on Queen's Day on 30 April - already one of the biggest and most raucous celebrations on the Dutch calendar.

"Since her coronation... she has applied herself heart and soul for Dutch society," he said.

Abdication 'tradition'Queen Beatrix is the sixth monarch from the House of Orange-Nassau, which has ruled the Netherlands since the early 19th Century.

Correspondents say she is extremely popular with most Dutch people, but her abdication was widely expected and will not provoke a constitutional crisis.

Under Dutch law, the monarch has few powers and the role is considered ceremonial.

In recent decades it has become the tradition for the monarch to abdicate.

Queen Beatrix's mother Juliana resigned the throne in 1980 on her 70th birthday, and her grandmother Wilhelmina abdicated in 1948 at the age of 68.

Queen Beatrix will be 75 on Thursday.

She has remained active in recent years, but her reign has also seen traumatic events.

In 2009 a would-be attacker killed eight people when he drove his car into crowds watching the queen and other members of the royal family in a national holiday parade.

In March last year her second son, Prince Friso, was struck by an avalanche in Austria and remains in a coma.

Culture Creation

Abraham Lincoln 'wanted to deport slaves' to new colonies - Telegraph

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 20:36

They found an order from Mr Lincoln in June 1863 authorising a British colonial agent, John Hodge, to recruit freed slaves to be sent to colonies in what are now the countries of Guyana and Belize.

''Hodge reported back to a British minister that Lincoln said it was his 'honest desire' that this emigration went ahead,'' said Mr Page, a historian at Oxford University.

The plan came despite an earlier test shipment of about 450 freed slaves to Haiti resulting in disaster. The former slaves were struck by smallpox and starvation, and survivors had to be rescued.

Mr Lincoln also considered sending freed slaves to what is now Panama, to construct a canal '-- decades before work began on the modern canal there in 1904.

The colonisation plan collapsed by 1864. The British were fearful the confederate states of the American south may win the civil war, reverse emancipation, and regard British agents as thieves. Congress also voted to remove funding.

Yet as late as that autumn, a letter sent to the president by his attorney-general showed he was still actively exploring whether the policy could be implemented, Mr Page said.

''It says 'further to your question, yes, I think you can still pursue this policy of colonisation even though the money has been taken away','' he said.

Mr Lincoln was assassinated in April 1865.

Dr Magness said the book would change readers' views of Mr Lincoln. Amid sharp political division, he is repeatedly championed by modern-day politicians, including Barack Obama, as a great unifier.

''Looking back from modern perspectives, we see colonisation as a very bigoted idea,'' said Dr Magness, of the American University in Washington.

''So it's a tough issue to integrate in to Lincoln's story.

''It's a tough racial issue, and it raises a lot of emotional issues. It doesn't mesh well with the emancipation legacy, and it doesn't mesh well with Lincoln's image as an iconic figure.''

Historians Shed New Light on President Lincoln

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:58

Did President Abraham Lincoln have special plans for freed slaves after emancipation? Well, two British academics claim the former United States president, hailed (especially by African-Americans) for his campaign against slavery, wanted to send many former American slaves to British colonies in the Caribbean.

"The two British writers are correct," notes Dr. Claud Anderson, president of PowerNomics Corporation of America, a corporation focused on business development, primarily in inner cities. "President Abraham Lincoln's interest was strictly in saving the «Union of States.` The welfare of five million Black people (slaves) was only little more than a logistical problem. Lincoln considered shipping all Blacks in America back to Africa or to the Caribbean. He even considered establishing a Black colony in Texas or Central America."

The two academics, Phillip Magness and Sebastian Page, write in their forthcoming book, Colonisation After Emancipation: Lincoln and the Movement for Black Resettlement, that newly discovered documents in British archives prove that Lincoln wanted to relocate as many Blacks as possible.

Lincoln, the 16th U.S. president, is often revered for not only winning the American Civil War (1861-65) but for bringing an end to slavery. But in reality, says Anderson, who wrote Black Labor, White Wealth: A Search for Power and Economic Justice and PowerNomics¨: The National Plan, Lincoln was more interested in developing the United States as a white country. "Lincoln requested the U.S. Congress to give Reparation dollars to White slave holders who lost their slaves, while he killed Radical Republicans' suggestions that all freed slaves receive Reparations in the form of 40 acres, a mule, and $100 dollars," Anderson points out. "President Lincoln even opposed the drafting and initial public announcement of an Emancipation Proclamation for Black slaves. He final agreed and read the Emancipation six months later."

The British historians agree. In their book, they propose that Lincoln was still considering Black colonization up until his assassination in 1865. According to the two British academics, soon after Lincoln announced the freedom of America's four million slaves under the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation, he also approved plans to set up freedmen's settlements in what is now known as Belize and Guyana.

Say Magness and Page, Lincoln was ''secretly authorizing'' British officials to recruit thousands of Blacks move to the sugar and cotton plantations of Central America. According to Magness and Page, the new documents show Lincoln himself met agents for the then-colonies of British Honduras and British Guiana to recruit Blacks to move to the encampments.

Concludes Anderson, "So, in reality, there is absolutely no reason for Black Americans to be honoring and loving President Abraham Lincoln who was no different from any other White person of the 1800s. Congress did not give Reparations to white slave holders because slave holders had invested approximately $8 billion in slaves which was more money than the nation had invested in all level of government and all other businesses."

He adds, "If Black Americans just have to honor whites of that time period, it would make more sense for them to recognize and honor John Brown and members of the Radical Republicans, such as Congressmen Charles Sumner, Stevens, and Benjamin Wade."

Obama Nation

Frontline Gets Its Man: Lanny Breuer Leaves DOJ After Expos(C) | PR Watch

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Sun, 27 Jan 2013 14:45

Share thisIn a testament to the power of independent media, the award-winning public television show Frontline this week helped push a top Department of Justice (DOJ) official out the door.

On Tuesday, Frontline aired a report called "The Untouchables" detailing the DOJ's failure to prosecute the big banks for the 2008 financial meltdown and zeroing in on Lanny Breuer, the former White House legal counsel for Clinton who headed the DOJ's criminal division under Obama.

On Wednesday, the Washington Post reported that Breuer was stepping down.

Many had criticized Attorney General Eric Holder and Breuer for failing to take action against the mega banks on Wall Street, and watched with disbelief last December as the DOJ decided to pass on criminal penalties against HSBC for laundering drug money and helping to finance terrorists. The behemoth bank was ordered to pay a record civil fine, but no criminal charges were lodged against any HSBC official. A New York Times editorial called the decision a "dark day for the rule of law."

But this time around, the Frontline crew had unparalleled access to Breuer which generated a number of key revelations:

Frontline documented that Breuer/Holder failed to use the tools available to them to really dig.

FRONTLINE: We spoke to a couple of sources from within the Criminal Division, and they reported that when it came to Wall Street, there were no investigations going on. There were no subpoenas, no document reviews, no wiretaps.

BREUER: Well, I don't know who you spoke with because we have looked hard at the very types of matters that you're talking about.

Frontline documented that Breuer/Holder failed to reach out to key whistle blowers.

FRONTLINE: Another criticism that has been thrown at you is that you've not done enough to go looking for the whistle-blowers that are out there. We have been able to contact a number of people who were inside the banks, doing due diligence work as contractors, who all told us that they were never contacted by the Justice Department.

BREUER: I can't talk in general about nondescript, anonymous whistle-blowers. But here's what I can tell you. Whenever I personally have been in any public setting, I've invited whistle-blowers to come forward.

Frontline documented that Breuer/Holder worried more about the fragility of the banks than cleaning up corruption on Wall Street.

FRONTLINE: You gave a speech before the New York Bar Association. You talked about your use of nonprosecution and deferred prosecution agreements. And in that speech, you made a reference to "losing sleep at night over worrying about what a lawsuit might result in at a large financial institution." Is that really the job of a prosecutor, to worry about anything other than simply pursuing justice?

BREUER: I think I and prosecutors around the country, being responsible, should speak to regulators, should speak to experts, because if I bring a case against institution A, and as a result of bringing that case there's some huge economic effect, it affects the economy so that employees who had nothing to do with the wrongdoing of the company... If it creates a ripple effect so that suddenly counterparties and other financial institutions or other companies that had nothing to do with this are affected badly, it's a factor we need to know and understand.

Just this week Pro Publica put out another blockbuster report about the corruption at Morgan Stanley before the financial meltdown, unveiling documents where employees dubbed the securities they were peddling: "Subprime Meltdown," "Nuclear Holocaust," and of course "Shitbag." This information was garnered not from the federal government prosecutions, but from a private lawsuit against the bank.

Before his appointment at the DOJ, Breuer had worked at the Washington office of Covington & Burling LLP alongside Holder. The firm specializes in helping big name corporations, including tobacco firms, evade taxes and get off the hook for crimes and malfeasance. Breuer is likely to return to that natural perch, unfortunately he will be leaving Holder behind to continue business as usual at the DOJ.

War on Africa

Operation Sabre: France to Send Weapons to Sahel Ahead of Militiary Intervention | StratRisks

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:42

S ource: Al Monitor

France has granted its allies in the Sahel region a new batch of weapons ahead of a possible deployment of African troops in the Azawad region in northern Mali. A senior security source said that the countdown to a military intervention in northern Mali has begun, the exact date of which will be determined by France.

Security sources said that French and Western military commanders have devised a plan for military intervention [in Mali] and the deployment of an African force in northern Mali. According to the plan, residential areas and major cities in the Azawad region would be taken control of, and the armed groups would be expelled from cities and later [militarily] exhausted.

The first batch of French military equipment, which arrived from Senegal in scores of trailer trucks, was transported through the city of Dori in northern Burkina Faso along the border with Niger. The shipment of weapons was transferred from a French military base in Senegal, and included light weapons, armored vehicles, communications devices and field guns.

A source informed about anti-terrorism efforts in the Sahel region said that, given the large number of trucks that have crossed the border, the value of the French military aid must exceed 80 million Euros [$103 million].

French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian had pledged to grant emergency military aid to Niger until he is able to convince France's European allies '-- especially Germany '-- to provide further military and security assistance.

Spain and Italy intend to supply both the African intervention force and the Malian army with equipment and four-wheel-drive vehicles.

Our source revealed that the convoy of trucks that has crossed the border is carrying equipment for the French Army Corps of Engineers, which is conducting a technical study for establishing a French military base in northern or central Mali immediately after the African force assumes control of the region.

This is the second batch of military aid that the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has obtained in recent weeks.

The African force would have to control a region with an area larger than France, making it virtually impossible to address the security threats posed by terrorists and armed groups in the desert.

For a number of days, a special French force has been taking part in military exercises with soldiers from the Mauritanian and Nigerien armies in an area near the Niger-Mali border. According to an informed source, a special French force consisting of some 200 soldiers and officers and equipped with light vehicles and advanced devices, has started conducting field combat exercises.

Furthermore, an informed source revealed that special French forces, which had come from an African country believed to be Senegal or Chad, have taken part in combat exercises with units of the Mauritanian and Nigerien armies since March 8.

The exercises included chasing an armed group in the desert over a long distance and encircling it, storming a fortified site in the desert, handling fugitive militants who had attacked a military garrison and monitoring a wide area of the desert.

Our sources confirmed that the exercises currently underway are part of a previous military cooperation agreement between ECOWAS governments and France, which aims to prepare and help the French forces adapt to the conditions of fighting gangs in the desert.

Also, the military exercises confirm that Western countries are preparing to intervene in the Azawad region. Our sources ruled out the possibility that the French forces would set up base in Mauritania.

Tags: allies, border, Burkina Faso, ECOWAS, france, germany, Italy, Mali, Mauritania, military, security, Senegal, Spain, weapons

Freedom fries - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Thu, 31 Jan 2013 02:36

Freedom fries is a political euphemism for French fries in the United States. The term came to prominence in 2003 when the Republican-controlled Congress officially renamed the menu item in Congressional cafeterias in response to France's opposition to the proposed invasion of Iraq. The renaming quickly gained notoriety as part of a greater wave of political and popular anti-French sentiment in the United States.

[edit]The official renamingOn March 11, 2003, RepresentativesRobert W. Ney (R-Ohio) and Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-North Carolina) changed all references to French fries and French toast on the menus of the three cafeterias run by the House of Representatives. House cafeterias were directed to rename French fries to "freedom fries". This action did not require a congressional vote, as Ney was chairman of the Committee on House Administration, and had authority over the House cafeterias.[1] The simultaneous renaming of French toast to "freedom toast" attracted less attention.[1]

According to a statement released by Ney, this move was intended to express displeasure with France's "continued refusal to stand with their U.S. allies". The statement further read: "This action today is a small but symbolic effort to show the strong displeasure many on Capitol Hill have with our so-called ally, France."[2] The Embassy of France in Washington, D.C. made no comment.[1]

Congressmen Ney was not the first to rename French fries "freedom fries". The privately owned fast-food restaurant Cubbie's in Beaufort, North Carolina began the renaming movement.[3] Cubbie's owner Neal Rowland started selling fried potato strips under the name "freedom fries" in February 2003.[4] Many Cubbie's customers are U.S. troops, as there are three military bases nearby. The restaurant and the bases were in Congressman Jones' North Carolina district. Jones chose to follow the example set by Cubbie's[1] by "circulating a letter to his colleagues seeking to call the spuds 'freedom fries' because, he said, the French were 'sitting on the sidelines.'"[3] In March 2007, Rowland obtained a U.S. trademark registration for the mark "freedom fries".[4] The name change is still used by some restaurants, such as Geno's Steaks in Philadelphia[5] and the chain restaurant Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill.

Reckitt Benckiser, maker of French'smustard, was sufficiently concerned to clarify that its brand name was derived from a family name.[6]

[edit]Policy reversalIn May 2005, Representative Jones, having arrived at the belief that the United States went to war "with no justification", said of the "freedom fries" episode: "I wish it had never happened."[7] As of July 31, 2006, the House had quietly changed the names for both items in all the cafeterias back to "French fries" and "French toast", including the cafeteria in the Longworth Office Building, which had restored French fries to the menu in January 2006.[8]

[edit]In pop cultureIn the March 15, 2003 episode of Saturday Night Live, Tina Fey reported this on the satirical Weekend Update: "In a related story, in France, American cheese is now referred to as 'idiot cheese'."[9]

Illustrator and caricaturist Steve Brodner titled his 2004 collection of illustrations Freedom Fries (ISBN 1-560-97593-8).

In the comic strip Doonesbury, the characters Mark Slackmeyer and Zonker Harris criticized the name change in French. Slackmeyer said that, translated, the U.S. liberated France in World War Two; and that many French newspapers headline after 9/11 was "We are all American". At the end, he states that the anti-French were "jingoistic, self-regarding conquer-monkeys!"[10]

French & American indie duo Freedom Fry chose their name ironically based on the Freedom Fries phenomenon.

[edit]See also[edit]References^ abcdLoughlin, Sean (2003-03-12). "House cafeterias change names for 'french' fries and 'french' toast". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2003/ALLPOLITICS/03/11/sprj.irq.fries/. Retrieved 2008-03-20. ""Jones said he was following the example of a local restaurant owner in his North Carolina district...""^"House Now Serving 'Freedom Fries'". Fox News. 2003-03-11. http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,80700,00.html.^ abChristina Bellantoni (2 August 2006). "Hill fries free to be French again". Washington Times (Washington D.C.). http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/aug/2/20060802-125318-3981r/?page=2. Retrieved 12 September 2012. "The term ''freedom fries'' actually originated at Cubbies, a restaurant in Beaufort, N.C., which caters to U.S. troops stationed at three nearby military bases."^ ab"Latest Status Info, TM Reg. 3220999". United States Patent and Trademark Office. 2003-03-11. http://tsdr.uspto.gov/#caseNumber=76495776&caseType=SERIAL_NO&searchType=statusSearch. Retrieved 2012-09-12.^"Geno's Steaks - Since 1966". Geno's Steaks. http://www.genosteaks.com/menu.html. Retrieved 2012-09-08.^"French's mustard denies French connection". Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. 2003-03-27. http://www.cbc.ca/news/story/2003/03/27/french030327.html. Retrieved 2012-09-08.^Wilson, Jamie (2005-05-25). "French fries protester regrets war jibe". The Guardian (Washington D.C.). http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2005/may/25/usa.jamiewilson1. Retrieved 2012-09-11.^Bellantoni, Christina (2006-08-02). "Hill fries free to be French again". Washington Times. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2006/aug/2/20060802-125318-3981r/. Retrieved 2012-09-12.^"Weekend Update with Jimmy Fallon & Tina Fey". March 15th, 2003. http://snltranscripts.jt.org/02/02oupdate.phtml. Retrieved July 22, 2011.^G.B. Trudeau (4 March 2003). "Doonesbury Comic Strip, May 04, 2003 on GoComics.com" (in english). GoComics.com. http://www.gocomics.com/doonesbury/2003/05/04. Retrieved 26 January 2012.[edit]External links

David Cameron arrives in Libya on surprise visit

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Source: The Guardian World News

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:51

David Cameron meets Libyans in Martyr Square, Tripoli. Photograph: Patrick Wintour

David Cameron has arrived for a surprise one-day visit to Tripoli in Libya despite recent threats to the British embassy and consulates.

He flew from Algiers in a personal statement of support for the Arab spring and the new Libyan government, which is struggling to assert its authority against militias and lack of resources.

He promised to do more to help the country, which has battled to develop a functioning democracy after decades of dictatorship.

He was due to meet the recently appointed prime minister, Ali Zaidan, who is trying to construct a government of national unity and disband the militias that dominate the country.

In a sign of his concern for civil order, Cameron on his arrival at the airport travelled in a heavily armed 16-vehicle convoy to visit a sprawling police training college outside Tripoli. Greeted by a band replete with bagpipes, he received strong applause and shouts of "God is great" when he pledged: "In building a new Libya you will have no greater friend than the United Kingdom. We will stand with you every step of the way."

David Cameron addresses Libyan police recruits at a college outside Tripoli. Photograph: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty ImagesUrging the recruits '' arraigned in front of him in a sunlit courtyard '' to stick to their job, he said: "There is no real freedom, no real democracy, no real chance of prosperity without proper security. There is no real freedom without honour and honesty," adding: "The most important pledge you make is to uphold the law and fight corruption."

Amid tight security he then walked through Tripoli's main square, Martyr Square, the site of the start of the revolution against Muammar Gaddafi nearly two years ago. He met some of the young revolutionaries that led the uprising, as well as bemused locals.

Cameron was greeted by jostling crowds and Libyans taking photos of him as he discussed the fate of the revolution just 100 yards from Gaddafi's old palace. He was in the square for about 15 minutes in a relatively relaxed walkabout.

Cameron with Libya's interior minister, Ashour Shuail. Photograph: Mahmud Turkia/AFP/Getty ImagesThe prime minister met Mervat, who photographed some of the abuses during the revolution. She is working for the ministry of missing persons and martyrs. He also met Abdul-Rahman, who has Libyan-UK dual nationality and was the co-founder of the Libyan Youth forum.

Cameron visited Tripoli and Benghazi with the then French president, Nicholas Sarkozy, in September 2011 in the wake of Gaddafi's fall, receiving a hero's welcome. The Nato-sanctioned no-fly zone operated by France and UK cleared the way for the uprising. This second visit has been planned for months and is designed to show the prime minister is willing to tackle the consequences of the revolution he helped spawn.

In a sign of deterioration in the country, the Foreign Office has warned in recent days of threats to the British embassy in Tripoli and advised Britons to leave Benghazi because of a threat of attack. The same warning was issued to German and Dutch citizens.

There is a growing fear that Libya is becoming an incubator of turmoil, with weapons flooding the streets and jihadi militants ready to disrupt civil order. The central government has little authority beyond Tripoli.

One militia, Ansar al-Sharia, is believed to have been behind the 11 September attack on the US consulate in the city that killed four Americans including the ambassador. Security and government officials have been victims of a wave of assassinations.

Critics of the Anglo-French intervention, including the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, claim that those who backed the removal of Gaddafi had not thought sufficiently about the aftermath.

British officials acknowledge that the Libyan government badly needs help to shore up its authority as an administration, including a functioning civil police and integrated army. Many militias operating in cities are only willing to join the Libyan National Army as a unit, and the government has done little to disband them.

There are well over 1,000 armed groups in the country. There is also concern that the Libyan revolution is destabilising the wider region. After Gaddafi fell many Tuareg fighters loyal to the former dictator fled the country, returning to Mali, and have been central to the initial collapse of the Mali government in the north. Cameron freely admits the removal of dictators can reveal hidden fractures in society, but says the only answer is a mixture of openness and effective government. In his talks with the government he will promise to stand by the Libyans and to improve governance, including a package on policing and defence aid.

Mali conflict: Timbuktu celebrates end of Islamist rule

Link to Article

Source: BBC News - Home

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:49

31 January 2013Last updated at06:42 ETBy Thomas FessyBBC News, TimbuktuYacouba Toure and a couple of his friends have gathered around his crackling radio in Mali's historic city of Timbuktu, soon after French-led troops captured it from militant Islamists.

They are sitting on the dusty steps of a hair salon, feet tapping to the rhythm of music.

"Music is a pleasure for us," Mr Toure says.

"We can now dance and do whatever we want: We can walk together with women, we can shout, we're the young people of Timbuktu, this is what we like doing."

Music was banned under the strict Islamic law that militant Islamists imposed when they took over the ancient desert city last year.

Continue reading the main story''Start QuoteWe can chit-chat with our brothers, our friends, and even our boyfriends''

End QuoteKaria CisseTimbuktu residentAll traditional folklore and ceremonies that make Malian culture vibrant were declared blasphemous.

Other people soon join Mr Toure's little gathering, and a man offers to make some tea.

The militants banned men and women from mixing in public.

Now, Karia Cisse, who is passing by with a basket full of smoked fish on her head, grabs a cup.

"We can chit-chat with our brothers, our friends, and even our boyfriends," she says.

"It's a real pleasure, we're so happy. I want to thank God."

Residents of Timbuktu can again enjoy the simple things they were used to, before the city fell under Islamist control 10 months ago.

Reprisal attacksThey can also dress the way they want to. Women have swapped the full black niqab, or full-face veil, for colourful local pagnes, a piece cloth wrapped around the body to form a skirt.

Most of them wear a thin scarf over their head, just as they had in the past.

There is an incredible feeling that the people are slowly coming back to life here.

However, many have also been quick to vent the frustration and anger built up over months, which, they say, felt like a lifetime.

Continue reading the main story''Start QuoteThey threw me in and whipped me''

End QuoteSalaka DjikkeTimbuktu residentScenes of looting on Tuesday revealed the deep inter-communal grievances and raised concerns about possible reprisal attacks.

Dozens of people were out in the streets breaking into shops owned by ethnic Arabs and Tuaregs, whom they accuse of having collaborated with the militant Islamists.

Weapons and boxes of ammunition were pulled out of at least one shop.

However, most Arabs and Tuaregs have already left Timbuktu in fear of violence.

But it is also time to uncover the wounds inflicted by the militants.

In the city centre, a local bank had been turned into the headquarters of the Islamic police.

The symbol of the jihadis - marked with a Koran, an AK-47 rifle and a cutlass that militants had cemented into the wall - has been taken down.

A tiny cash machine attached to the building around the corner was used as a cell.

Continue reading the main storyTreasures of TimbuktuTimbuktu was a centre of Islamic learning from the 13th to the 17th Centuries700,000 manuscripts had survived in public libraries and private collectionsBooks on religion, law, literature and scienceAdded to Unesco world heritage list in 1988 for its three mosques and 16 cemeteries and mausoleumsThey played a major role in spreading Islam in West Africa; the oldest dates from 1329Islamists destroyed mausoleums after seizing the city"They threw me in and whipped me," says Salaka Djikke, 25.

Ms Djikke was arrested at around 23:00 on New Year's Eve as she went for a romantic ride on her boyfriend's motorcycle.

When they arrived in front of his house, her boyfriend saw four jihadis coming at them. She did not see them and got off the bike.

"He drove off and got away, but they rushed at me and whipped me."

Ms Djikke was sentenced to 95 lashes. It was carried out in a public place, all for being caught with a man she was not married to.

Her boyfriend managed to escape and reached the capital, Bamako. He could have been stoned to death had he been arrested.

Despite the scars she bears, Ms Djikke says that she does not regret taking the risk.

"If they didn't hurt you, they'd hurt your sister or your brother. They terrorised the population," she says.

"Even living under Sharia, it shouldn't be a crime to fall in love with another person," she says.

Niger agrees to US drones on its territory - Africa - Al Jazeera English

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 15:57

Niger has given permission for US surveillance drones to be stationed on its territory to improve intelligence on al Qaeda-linked fighters in northern Mali and the wider Sahara, according to a senior government source.

Bisa Williams, US ambassador to Niger, made the request at a meeting on Monday with Mahamadou Issoufou, Niger president, who immediately accepted it, the source said on Wednesday.

"Niger has given the green light to accepting [US] surveillance drones on its soil to improve the collection ofintelligence on Islamist movements," the source, who asked not to be identified, said.

Niger will be the sixth US drone base in Africa [Al Jazeera]The drones could be stationed in Niger's northern desert region of Agadez, which borders Mali, Algeria and Libya, thesource said.

Niger will be the sixth African nation to have a US drone base. Other countries with drone bases include: Morocco, Senegal, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Djibouti.

A spokesperson for the US African Command (AFRICOM) declined to comment.

After her talks with Issoufou, Williams said they had discussed economic and military co-operation and development issues.

She also expressed US appreciation for the French-led military mission to expel an alliance of al-Qaeda-linked fighters from northern Mali.

General Carter Ham, head of the US Africa Command, visited Niger last month.

The impoverished and landlocked West African state has said it wants to have closer security co-operation with the US.

Despite the controversy of the drone programme in countries like Yemen and Pakistan, Robert Densmore, former US naval flight officer and editor of Defence Report, says North Africa is much more likely to be accepting of the unmanned technology.

"Many people in North Africa rate the risk from al-Qaeda higher" than they did 12 months ago," he told Al Jazeera from London.

The US already has drones and surveillance aircraft stationed at several points around Africa.

Its only permanent military base is in the small country of Djibouti in the Horn of Africa, more than 5,000km from Mali.

368

Hidden Agenda behind America's War on Africa: Containing China by ''Fighting Al-Qaeda''

Link to Article

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 04:14

Harnessing Asia's growth and dynamism is central to American economic and strategic interests. Hillary Clinton

France's military intervention into Mali may at first glance appear to have little to do with the U.S. ''pivot'' to Asia. But as a French mission supposedly meant to bolster a U.N. sanctioned and African-led intervention has gone from ''a question of weeks'' to ''the total re-conquest of Mali,'' what may have begun as a French affair has now become a Western intervention. And this in turn has drawn wider strategic interests into the conflict. Strategic interests, it is becoming clearer, shaped by the imperatives of the U.S. Asia pivot.

Widening Intervention

The geopolitical posturing over the crisis in Mali, coming as France's intervention fans out across the region, is no more evident than in the public statements coming from both London and Washington.

As British Prime Minister David Cameron declared, the crisis in Mali ''will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months.'' Backing up such bluster, Britain has reportedly joined France in dispatching special commando teams to Mali, in addition to surveillance drones.

In Washington, the talk of a long war to be waged across the entire Sahel region of Africa has also begun. As one U.S. official speaking on the Western intervention into Mali warned Monday, ''It is going to take a long time and time means that it could take several years.''

Such remarks mirror those made by outgoing U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

''This is going to be a very serious, ongoing threat because if you look at the size of northern Mali, if you look at the topography '-- it's not only desert, it's caves,'' Clinton remarked. ''Sounds reminiscent. We are in for a struggle. But it is a necessary struggle. We cannot permit northern Mali to become a safe haven.''

According to the Los Angeles Times, the safe haven refrain is also pulsating through the corridors of the Pentagon.

''Some top Pentagon officials and military officers warn that without more aggressive U.S. action,'' the Timesreports, ''Mali could become a haven for extremists, akin to Afghanistan before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.''

And as the American public is prepped for the opening of a new front in the unending ''war on terror,'' U.S. intervention accelerates.

As the Washington Postreports, the U.S. is now offering ''aerial refueling'' to French warplanes, along with ''planes to transport soldiers from other African nations.''

U.S. intelligence officials, meanwhile, have reportedly begun drawing up plans to provide ''data to help French warplanes locate and attack militant targets.'' This, as Pentagon hawks continue to push for the use of drone strikes.

In fact, the New York Timesreports the U.S. has begun ''preparing plans to establish a drone base in northwest Africa to increase unarmed surveillance missions on the local affiliate of Al Qaeda and other Islamist extremist groups.''

The paper, which notes the base's likely location to be in Niger, reports the Pentagon has ''not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.''

As one American official told the Times, the decision to establish a permanent drone base in northern Africa ''is directly related to the Mali mission, but it could also give Africom [the U.S. Military's Africa Command] a more enduring presence.''

The very notion, though, of an al-Qaeda threat in northern Mali so dire as to require Western intervention and a permanent U.S. presence is anything but well-defined. As Blake Hounshell, managing editor of Foreign Policy,notes: ''it's by no means clear what threat al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb'...poses to the United States.''

Indeed, the very notion of al-Qaeda in Mali posing a threat to the West is predicated on the oft-repeated safe haven refrain. That is, the belief that without foreign intervention al-Qaeda will use northern Mali as a staging ground to launch attacks within Western countries.

''But,'' as Stephen Walt questions, ''is there any real evidence that the extremists in Mali are plotting to attack France, the United States, or anyone else? Even if they were, is there good evidence that they have the will and the skill to carry out such activities, or that the consequences of a successful attack would be greater than the costs of French (and other) efforts to root them out? And is it possible that intervention in Mali might actually focus the extremists' attention on the intervenors, instead of the central government?''

The answer to the latter question appears quite clear in the wake of the bloody hostage crisis in neighboring Algeria. Although, as French President Fran¤ois Hollande claimed, the retaliation for the French intervention merely provided ''further evidence that my decision to intervene in Mali was justified.''

Interventions, we see, are predicated upon a rather self-fulfilling logic. For in a seemingly endless loop, interventions inevitably seem to create additional problems and crises that are then posited as both justifying the initial intervention, as well yet further interventions. In short, intervention begets intervention.

The Useful Menace

But while Western leaders dig deep to reassure themselves of the justness of their latest intervention, doubts are nonetheless increasing over the competence of the Malian army. As the New York Timesreports, despite extensive U.S. training, the Malian army has proven to be ''a weak, dysfunctional force that is as much a cause of Mali's crisis as a potential part of the solution.''

The Western ''hope'' in Mali, then, as the Economistargues, ''is to kill as many as possible of the most fanatical jihadists, and to garrison the northern towns with soldiers from Mali and its neighbours, before the insurgents can regroup or bring in recruits.''

With such ''hope'' one understands the talk of a struggle to be measured in decades.

Indeed, even the head of the U.S. Africa Command, General Carter Ham, has acknowledged the limitations the West faces in Mali.

''Realistically,'' Ham recently remarked, ''probably the best you can get is containment and disruption, so that al-Qaida is no longer able to control territory [there] as they do today.''

But as U.S. officials talk up the al-Qaeda threat in Mali, one can't help but recall the assertion made by U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta back in 2011. As Panetta then declared, the U.S. was ''within reach of strategically defeating al-Qaeda.'' Yet, after the West's support of Islamists fighters in Libya and Syria, that handy al-Qaeda specter has evidently been roused sufficiently to haunt the Western mind once more.

Of course, despite all the public claims to the contrary, defeating al-Qaeda has never really been a genuine pursuit of the U.S. anyway. After all, a vanquished al-Qaeda would really denote something of a strategic setback for Washington. It would deprive the U.S. a source of proxy war foot soldiers, while also leaving Washington struggling to justify its global garrisoning. In the end then, the al-Qaeda menace '-- that gift that keeps on giving '-- is simply too useful to defeat.

Containing China

One needs look no further than the intervention into Mali to see the al-Qaeda threat bearing fruit for the West. All the attention on combating al-Qaeda in northern Mali has provided the perfect cover for the U.S. and its junior Western partners to pursue their grand strategy of containment against China. And with China increasingly out competing Western interests throughout Africa, one understands the sudden neo-colonial urge in the West.

According to Razia Khan, the regional head of research for Africa at Standard Chartered Bank, bilateral trade between Africa and China is nearing $200 billion annually, having grown at an average rate of 33.6 percent per year over the past decade. What's more, in the coming years Africa stands to become China's largest trade partner, surpassing both the EU and the U.S.

None of this has been lost on Washington. As the presumptive next U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, noted during his Senate confirmation hearing, the U.S. is knowingly playing from behind.

''Now with respect to China and Africa, China is all over Africa '-- I mean, all over Africa. And they're buying up long-term contracts on minerals, on '... you name it,'' Kerry commented. ''And there're some places where we're not in the game, folks. And I hate to say it. And we got to get in.''

In a 2010 diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks, Johnnie Carson, U.S. assistant secretary for African Affairs, echoed Kerry's concerns. In fact, Carson went so far as to classify China as a ''very aggressive and pernicious economic competitor with no morals.''

Such U.S. sneering over growing Chinese investments in Africa were aired publicly during Secretary of State Clinton's visit through African back in August. As Clinton, in a clear jab at China declared on her trip, ''Unlike other countries, 'America will stand up for democracy and universal human rights even when it might be easier to look the other way and keep the resources flowing.'''

(The rights violations of the U.S.-trained Malian army puts just the latest lie to such righteous declarations.)

In response to Clinton's jab, China's state-run Xinhua news agency shot back that Clinton's trip was ''aimed at least partly at discrediting China's engagement with the continent and curbing China's influence there.''

And it is with such a fear of U.S. containment in mind that Beijing has come to interpret France's intervention into Mali as a gateway for further Western interventions. As He Wenping of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences warns, ''French forces' involvement in Mali will provide the case for legalization of a new interventionism in Africa.''

And indeed it will, just as the West's Libyan romp, costing China $20 billion in investments, helped set the stage for the current intervention into Mali. For in order for the U.S. to harness Asia's (read China's) growth and dynamism '-- and thus cement America's Pacific Century '-- the U.S. must come to also harness the growth and dynamism of Africa.

The U.S. containment of China, then, requires a pivot of sorts to Africa. Only the African pivot appears set to fall under the banner of that ever-malleable ''war on terror.''

Ben Schreiner is a freelance writer based in Wisconsin. He may be reached atbnschreiner@gmail.comor via hiswebsite.

French rely on ERC 90 in Mali

Link to Article

Source: Defense Tech

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 23:44

French troops going up against the Al Qaeda-backed rebels in Mali are counting on a six-wheeler all terrain vehicle mounted with a 90mm cannon to give them an edge.

U.S. C-17 Globemasters have ferried several of the Panhard ERC 90 Sagaies (Spears), developed by Panhard General Defense in the 1970s as an armored reconnaissance vehicle and tank-killer, to the Bamako airport in the West African desert country, along with a battalion of French troops and tons of equipment.

Other ERC 90s (Engin de Reconnaissance a Canon de 90) have been driven across the Mali border from French bases in Sierra Leone.

The ERC 90s were used by French forces in Afghanistan and Dan Goure, a military analyst with the Lexington Institute, called the ERC 90 ''an armored car on steroids.'' That was a reference to the 90mm cannon, which can make the ERC 90 seem ungainly and about to tip over, but Goure said ''it's a pretty good all-terrain vehicle.''

The French and other European nations ''have done a pretty good job overall in developing armored cars of various types,'' Goure said. In Mali, the ERC 90 could serve as a bunker buster in lieu of artillery in going up against the rebels, Goure said.

A unique feature is the ability to raise the two-center wheels on hard surfaces to increase speed, and lower them off-road to gain traction.

The ERC 90, powered by a 170hp diesel engine, has a three-man crew and a top speed of about 55 mph. A unique feature is the ability to raise the two-center wheels on hard surfaces to increase speed, and lower them off-road to gain traction.

The 90mm smooth-bore cannon, with a range of about 2000 meters, is mounted on a 360-degree trret, and the estimated cost of a one of the 8-ton vehicles is about $2 million.

January 28th, 2013 | Armor, Army, Ground, Wars | 192373 Commentshttp%3A%2F%2Fdefensetech.org%2F2013%2F01%2F28%2Ffrench-rely-on-erc-90-in-mali%2FFrench+rely+on+ERC+90+in+Mali2013-01-28+22%3A57%3A54Richard+Siskhttp%3A%2F%2Fdefensetech.org%2F%3Fp%3D19237

Cameron commits UK troops to Mali

Link to Article

Source: The View From Falling Downs

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 23:38

No sooner did Cameron's advisers learn that the French had taken Timbuktu without a shot being fired than they prevailed on the great leader to declare that Britain is in.That's the kind of action Cameron's men are looking for after that somewhat messy business in Afghanistan, where it turned out that not only were shots fired, but all too often they were being fired at the Brits.

This is a turn of events that threatens to bankrupt the cliche vaults in short order; thin edge of the wedge, slippery slope, quagmire...

Nevertheless it's impossible for Mr. Cameron to see his socialist counterpart across the channel getting all the glory.

Spurs for Cameron!

War on Ammo

Should Gun Owners Have To Buy Liability Insurance? : Planet Money : NPR

Link to Article

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:29

Note: We originally published a version of this post a few weeks ago. We are republishing it now to coincide with our story airing today on Morning Edition.

All kinds of proposals to reduce gun violence have been floated recently. One idea that has gotten the attention of economists is liability insurance. Most states require car owners to have liability insurance to cover damages their vehicles cause to others; some economists think we should require the same of gun owners.

We reached out to a few economists to get their thoughts.

Justin Wolfers, professor of economics and public policy at the University of Michigan, wrote:

The real problem with gun ownership is that they involve "externalities," which is economist-speak for the fact that your gun may be used to hurt others. For instance, when Nancy Lanza purchased her Bushmaster AR-15, she probably weighed the benefits of owning the gun'--the joy of ownership'--with the price (about $800). But it's unlikely she considered the loss, pain and grief that might follow if it were used by her son to kill 26 innocents. When people fail to consider the broader social costs of choices like buying a gun, they're more likely to do them, and society suffers.

The economic answer is simple: Make potential gun-owners take account of these potential social costs. One way to do this would be to charge an annual license fee for each gun you keep. Research by economists Phil Cook and Jens Ludwig suggests that the typical social cost of one more gun-owning household is somewhere between $100 and $1800 per year. While that's a wide range, if we set a gun ownership license fee this high, it would force gun owners to face the true social costs of their choices, which would lead many fewer to buy guns.

Another even more powerful approach is to recognize that the problem isn't guns per se, but gun violence. Thus, instead of taxing guns, we should tax gun violence. Basically, this is the same as saying that we should make gun owners liable for any damage their guns do. Not only would this discourage some people from buying guns, it would lead those who do keep guns to be more careful with how they're stored. Indeed, greater care would surely have kept Adam Lanza out of his mother's cache. The problem though, is that Nancy Lanza is neither with us to pay the damages her gun caused, nor could she afford to pay for the enormous damage her gun wrought in Newtown. And so the only way this solution works is if guns required mandatory liability insurance, much as we force car owners to buy insurance for the damage their machines wreak.

It's the sort of careful solution that would enable people who enjoy hunting to continue with their passions, but also push them to take the sorts of precautions that we all wish the Lanza household had taken. If the gun lobby were smart, and if they really are interested in being socially responsible while keeping their weapons, they would be pushing hard for this sort of policy.

Next, Russ Roberts, a research fellow at the Hoover institution and host of EconTalk:

Is it a good idea to require gun owners to purchase liability insurance that would cover damages caused by the guns they own? In the wake of the Newtown tragedy, such policies seem like nothing more than common sense. The cost of the insurance would deter some from owning guns or at least from owning an arsenal as the cost of insurance would presumably rise with the size of one's collection. And there is a certain logic to requiring insurance. When a person purchases a gun, she may not consider the possible harm that might come to others from the eventual use of the gun. Adding the cost of insurance might make the purchaser bear the full cost of the gun in the future which could easily exceed the purchase itself. After all, registering a car requires insurance on the grounds that cars can cause involuntary harm to others. The insurance forces the driver to bear those costs that might come to pass that are borne by others in an accident.

But the logic is not quite as neat as it might appear. Many people already buy and own guns illegally without license or registration. Adding the cost of insurance would further discourage honest gun ownership. That would make matters worse not better. And is it so obvious that all guns are harmful to others and that gun ownership should be made more expensive to every owner? When an honest law-abiding citizen uses a gun in self-defense, it often protects those nearby who are unarmed. Perhaps gun ownership should be subsidized for honest people. I don't think this is a good idea, but raising the cost of gun ownership, particularly for good and honest people who are likely to use a gun only in self-defense, is not a free lunch.

What is really behind the call for liability insurance is the natural urge to make it harder for people to own guns. Such a law might do some good if it made dishonest and violent people less likely to own guns. But liability insurance makes gun ownership more expensive for honest, law-abiding people while encouraging dishonest and dangerous people to own guns in ways we cannot see.

And, Robert Frank, professor of economics at Cornell University:

Gun ownership, even in the hands of responsible people, increases the risk of death and serious injury to others. In cases involving multiple deaths, few gun owners could afford to compensate victims' families for their losses, just as most automobile owners couldn't afford to compensate the families of accident victims. With automobiles, we require all vehicle owners to carry liability insurance. A similar approach would help with firearms.

Nothing in the constitution grants people the right to expose others to serious risk without compensation. Insurance sellers are skillful at estimating the risks posed by drivers with specific characteristics, and we could expect them to be similarly skillful at assessing the risks posed by gun owners. Requiring liability insurance isn't a total solution to the problem of excessive risk, either for autos or for guns. But in both cases, it's a positive step.

Gabby Giffords Testifies: 'The Time Is Now' To Control Guns. Meanwhile, Another Mass Shooting Takes Place in Arizona

Link to Article

Source: Crooks and Liars

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 02:52

Powerful moment at today's Senate hearing on gun violence:

In remarks kicking off today's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on gun violence, former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., made a defiant call for Congress to "be bold" and "act" on gun violence.

"Too many children are dying," she said. "We must do something."

Giffords, who survived a gunshot to the head two years ago during an assassination attempt that left six people dead, read slowly but forcefully from prepared remarks, and acknowledged that "speaking is difficult."

"But I need to say something important. Violence is a big problem," she said. "It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you."

Meanwhile, while the Senate listened to testimony, there was another mass shooting at a Phoenix, Arizona office complex. One person was killed.

A bill to reauthorize and improve the Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004. (S. 162) - GovTrack.us

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:06

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

Mentally Ill Offender Treatment and Crime Reduction Act of 2004 (2004; 108th Congress S. 1194) - GovTrack.us

A bill to appropriately restrict sales of ammunition. (S. 174) - GovTrack.us

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 14:55

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

Immigration War$

Red Book Prediction

A bill to amend the Immigration and Nationality Act to authorize additional visas for well-educated aliens to live and work in the United States, and for other purposes. (S. 169) - GovTrack.us

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 14:53

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

Shut Up Slave!

Police chief: Everyone should be tested for drugs at work

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 17:58

Bernard Hogan-Howe stands next to home secretary Theresa May and London mayor Boris Johnson. He is taking a more hardline stance on drugs than many of his contemporaries.

Related NewsRelated Analysis and CommentWednesday, 30 January 2013 9:57 AMBy Ian Dunt

Millions of professionals should be tested for drug use at work, Britain's most senior policeman has demanded.

The hardline proposal came during a meeting with the all-party parliamentary group on cannabis and children, in which theMetropolitan police commissioner said more action was needed to discourage the use of illicit substances.

"It seems to me we have got to plant in people's minds something to affect the demand as well as supply," Bernard Hogan-Howe said.

"You can think of many occupations where if you were working with a colleague you would want to be sure in fact that they were drug free."

He suggested teachers, intensive care nurses and transport staff should be targeted first but that all workers should eventually face the tests.

Workers found to have taken illicit drugs would then be offered help but lose their job if they failed to accept it.

The proposal would cause howls of outrage among trade unions and civil liberties campaigners if it was ever introduced and could have a serious impact on many professions '' not least the financial sector, where the use of cocaine is common.

However, drug testing at work is more or less accepted in the US, where tests are conducted randomly at many workplaces.

The police chief also warned against the use of cannabis by teenagers and young people, in a message which was at odds with the more liberal response to the drug to come from many senior officers.

Experts warn of cloud snooping

Link to Article

Source: BBC News - Europe

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:56

31 January 2013Last updated at06:10 ETBy Jane WakefieldTechnology reporterLeading privacy expert Caspar Bowden has warned Europeans using US cloud services that their data could be snooped on.

In a report, he highlights how the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendment Act (FISAAA) allows US authorities to spy on cloud data.

This includes services such as Amazon Cloud Drive, Apple iCloud and Google Drive.

He told the BBC this heralded a new era of "cloud surveillance".

Foreign policyMr Bowden, former chief privacy adviser to Microsoft Europe, made a name for himself as a privacy advocate when the controversial Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) came into force in the UK in 2000.

Parliament accepted some of the amendments proposed by Mr Bowden as the then director of the Foundation for Information Policy Research.

Now he has turned his attention to US legislation and has co-authored the Fighting Cyber Crime and Protecting Privacy in the Cloud report which was recently presented to the European Parliament.

In it he said that FISAAA "expressly permits purely political surveillance", so that anyone with stored information relating to US foreign policy could find themselves of interest to the US authorities.

"Anyone who, for example, belongs to a campaign group which may oppose some aspect of US foreign policy, whether it be the Iraq war or climate change," he said.

The FISAAA was originally drafted in 2008, and was recently renewed until 2017. It was added on to existing legislation to take account of cloud computing, which was just emerging as a means of data storage.

"What's amazing is that nobody really spotted it for four years," said Mr Bowden.

"When FISAAA was extended to cover cloud computing, encrypting data to and from the cloud becomes irrelevant so it is surprising that nobody noticed this," he added.

Tiny supercomputerAdam Mitton, a partner at law firm Harbottle & Lewis, agreed that the FISAAA could be a threat to privacy but questioned how much it was used.

"In theory there is a clear threat to the privacy of European citizens, but in reality the fact that it is obscure suggests that the threat isn't as great as it might be perceived," he said.

"If it was being used by an authority and having an impact on individual citizens, I think that the source of the information would come to light. The legislation is now five years old and I'm not aware of any case that has relied on it," he added.

Storing data in the cloud is becoming hugely popular not just for consumers who use it to keep photographs and other personal data safe but for businesses which are increasingly using cloud services to offer back-end processing power.

Under the FISAAA, US cloud providers can be compelled to release data from any citizen living outside of the US.

"The fibre-optic cable that carries the data is split and a miniature supercomputer scans all the data in real-time with any material of possible interest being instantly copied to the NSA [National Security Agency]," said Mr Bowden.

The court order is made in secret and remains secret - meaning it would not show up in things such as Google's transparency reports, which aim to document data requests from governments around the world.

"We have long known that the Americans can spy on foreign data but FISAAA extends this to reach inside the data centre. It allows the authorities to enact surveillance on a mass scale because it is wired into the infrastructure," Mr Bowden said.

A hearing on the European Parliament's findings of the report is due next month.

Denmark rules that both men and women's haircuts must cost the SAME PRICE

Link to Article

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:32

Board of Equal Treatment effectively ruled price differences were illegalHairdresses have called the decision absurd, warning of 'pricing chaos'The decision has been appealed and a court will decide if salons need a new way to charge for servicesBy James Rush

PUBLISHED: 12:39 EST, 21 January 2013 | UPDATED: 12:40 EST, 21 January 2013

Denmark, which like its Nordic neighbours prides itself on promoting equal treatment for men and women, has taken gender equality all the way to the beauty salon.

A ruling last month by Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment effectively stated that price differences between men's and women's haircuts were illegal.

It ordered a salon advertising women's haircuts for 528 crowns - £59 - and men's haircuts for 428 crowns - £48 - plus an extra fee for long hair, to pay 2,500 crowns - £281- to a woman who had filed a complaint.

Hair-raising decision: Denmark's Board of Equal Treatment effectively ruled last month that price differences between men's and women's haircuts were illegal

Now, a trade organisation for hairdressers has called the decision absurd, saying it will become a nightmare to set prices for customers and warning of 'pricing chaos'.

'It takes, quite simply, longer time with women,' said Connie Mikkelsen, chairwoman of the Danish organisation for independent hairdressers and cosmeticians.

The board's decision has been appealed and a court will determine whether hairdressers need to find a new way to charge for their services, in the length of time, or the standard of the cut.

'Measuring time will lead to a discussion of hair length - what is medium length, and what is long. It will end in a series of conflicts with customers,' Mikkelsen said.

Nordic countries consistently hold some of the highest rankings in global gender equality indices.

Denmark ranked seventh out of 135 countries in the World Economic Forum's global gender gap index which benchmarks national gender gaps on economic, political, education and health criteria.

'Pricing chaos'? A court will now determine whether hairdressers need to find a new way to charge for their services after the board's decision was appealed

A bill to exclude from consumer credit reports medical debt that has been in collection and has been fully paid or settled, and for other purposes. (S. 160) - GovTrack.us

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:06

GovTrack's Bill SummaryWe don't have a summary available yet.

Library of Congress SummaryThe summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress.

No summary available.

House Republican Conference SummaryThe summary below was written by the House Republican Conference, which is the caucus of Republicans in the House of Representatives.

No summary available.

House Democratic Caucus SummaryThe House Democratic Caucus does not provide summaries of bills.

So, yes, we display the House Republican Conference's summaries when available even if we do not have a Democratic summary available. That's because we feel it is better to give you as much information as possible, even if we cannot provide every viewpoint.

We'll be looking for a source of summaries from the other side in the meanwhile.

United Kingdom - Government Removal Requests '' Google Transparency Report

Link to Article

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 23:15

Cyber War$

Pentagon to Beef Up Cybersecurity Force to Counter Attacks

Link to Article

Source: Dave Winer's linkblog feed

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 10:09

WASHINGTON '-- The Pentagon is moving toward a major expansion of its cybersecurity force to counter increasing attacks on the nation's computer networks, as well as to expand offensive computer operations on foreign adversaries, defense officials said Sunday.

The expansion would increase the Defense Department's Cyber Command by more than 4,000 people, up from the current 900, an American official said. Defense officials acknowledged that a formidable challenge in the growth of the command would be finding, training and holding onto such a large number of qualified people.

The Pentagon ''is constantly looking to recruit, train and retain world class cyberpersonnel,'' a defense official said Sunday.

''The threat is real and we need to react to it,'' said William J. Lynn III, a former deputy defense secretary who worked on the Pentagon's cybersecurity strategy.

As part of the expansion, officials said the Pentagon was planning three different forces under Cyber Command: ''national mission forces'' to protect computer systems that support the nation's power grid and critical infrastructure; ''combat mission forces'' to plan and execute attacks on adversaries; and ''cyber protection forces'' to secure the Pentagon's computer systems.

The move, part of a push by Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta to bolster the Pentagon's cyberoperations, was first reported on The Washington Post's Web site.

In October, Mr. Panetta warned in dire terms that the United States was facing the possibility of a ''cyber-Pearl Harbor'' and was increasingly vulnerable to foreign computer hackers who could dismantle the nation's power grid, transportation system, financial network and government. He said that ''an aggressor nation'' or extremist group could cause a national catastrophe, and that he was reacting to increasing assertiveness and technological advances by the nation's adversaries, which officials identified as China, Russia, Iran and militant groups.

Defense officials said that Mr. Panetta was particularly concerned about a computer attack last August on the state oil company Saudi Aramco, which infected and made useless more than 30,000 computers. In October, American intelligence officials said they were increasingly convinced that the Saudi attacks originated in Iran. They described an emerging shadow war of attacks and counterattacks already under way between the United States and Iran in cyberspace.

Among American officials, suspicion has focused on the ''cybercorps'' created in 2011 by Iran's military, partly in response to American and Israeli cyberattacks on the Iranian nuclear enrichment plan at Natanz. There is no hard evidence, however, that the attacks were sanctioned by the Iranian government.

The attacks emanating from Iran have inflicted only modest damage. Iran's cyberwarfare capabilities are weaker than those of China and Russia, which intelligence officials believe are the sources of a significant number of attacks on American companies and government agencies.

The expansion of Cyber Command comes as the Pentagon is making cuts elsewhere, including in the size of its conventional armed forces.

Symantec Gets A Black Eye In Chinese Hack Of The New York Times

Link to Article

Source: Dave Winer's linkblog feed

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 06:41

Having your email hacked and malicious software spread on your servers for months may be embarrassing. But being outed as the antivirus vendor that failed to catch the vast majority of that malware is likely more humiliating still.

The New York Times reported Wednesday that the paper has been the subject of a sophisticated attack by Chinese hackers for the last four months, following its reporting on the private wealth of China's prime minister Wen Jiabao. The story offers a rare and detailed post-mortem of what appears to be the work of a team of well-trained infiltrators who systematically and stealthily gained access to and collected the news outfit's private information as the paper dug into a subject perceived as highly sensitive by the Chinese government.

One fact, however, will be of particular concern to the world's largest antivirus firm, Symantec: Out of the 45 different pieces of malware planted on the Times' systems over the course of three months, just one of those programs was spotted by the Symantec antivirus software the Times used, according to Mandiant, the data breach response firm hired by the Times. The other 44 were only found in Mandiant's post-breach investigation months later, according to the Times' report.

Symantec, which sells the widely-used Norton Antivirus, declined to comment for the Times' story, citing a policy of not speaking about clients' cases, and the company didn't respond to my request for comment either.

It may come as little surprise that antivirus programs largely fail to detect the type of custom-built malware the Times' hackers used, as opposed to previously-seen strains of malicious software often re-deployed by less sophisticated cybercriminals. A study by the Times' breach response firm, Mandiant, in 2010 found that only 24% of the custom malware it found on its clients' systems hadn't been detected by antivirus. And another analysis performed by the security firm Imperva along with the Technion Israeli Institute of Technology found that antivirus managed to detect only 5% of new threats, and that it took an average of four weeks for antivirus firms to identify a new piece of malicious code. ''Although vendors try to update their detection mechanisms, the initial detection rate of new viruses is nearly zero. We believe that the majority of antivirus products on the market can't keep up with the rate of virus propagation on the Internet,'' their paper reads.

Symantec's track record in the Times appears worse still. But it's worth noting that its peers would likely have been equally useless: The security firm actually outperformed most of its competitors in the most recent tests by German antivirus testing firm AV-Test, which gave Symantec a rating of 5.5 out of 6 for protection of Windows 7 in its latest enterprise antivirus analysis, a better score than McAfee, Kaspersky, or Microsoft.

It's not clear exactly what lesson companies can draw from the Times' penetration. The paper's chief security officer Michael Higgins says he suspects the breach began with a highly-targeted email sent to unwitting employee and containing an infected link or attachment''a difficult sort of attack to prevent. But at the very least, it shows that antivirus protection alone barely represents a speed bump to determined hackers.

Read the Times' full story about its hacker infiltration here.

Sandy Hook Second Half

Judy Garland Discography: Annie Get Your Gun

Link to Article

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 10:05

ABOUT THE DISC & RECORDINGS:

This is the only MGM musical that Judy Garland did not complete for which she recorded the entire score. She actually filmed a few scenes including the numbers "Doin' What Comes Natur'lly" and "I'm An Indian Too" before suffering a breakdown that forced her out of the picture. This sequence of events has become legendary in the story of Judy Garland and her struggles with prescription medicine AND the studio. She had previously been forced to bow out of The Barkley's Of Broadway in 1948 (in which it was planned that she would reprise her 1937 hit "You Made me Love You"), she would then bow out of Royal Wedding in 1950 - but she left those two films prior to recording any of the score or filming any scenes.

For years, this soundtrack was the "Holy Grail" of Garland's MGM recordings. "You Can't Get A Man With A Gun" had been on various M-G-M Records compilations since the early 1960's. With that little nugget, M-G-M Records gave fans cause to believe that all of Judy's pre-recordings for Annie Get Your Gun actually did exist and would eventaully be released.

This Sandy Hook release is the the best presentation of all of the Annie pre-recordings on album. The sound quality is decent and listenable.

The back of the album (shown at right) is quite extensive for a "low budget" record company. It features Judy's famous explanation about what happened, as well as newspaper clips detailing the sequence of events of Judy's troubles with the film, as well as costume test photos.

It wouldn't be until the 1990's when Rhino Records/Turner Classic Movies Music released "Judy Garland - Collector's Gems From The M-G-M Films" that the pre-recordings would be restored and presented properly. Since that time, the complete soundtrack (including the completed version with Judy's replacement Betty Hutton) has been released by Rhino as well (see below).

This Sandy Hook version was also released on cassette, #CSH-2053.

All images on this page from the collections of Scott Brogan and Eric Hemphill.

Sandy Hook Elementary Super Bowl Performance Is Not Exploitation (VIDEO) | The Stir

mk ultra somewhere over the rainbow - Google Search

Coke!

Federal Register | Easing the Ban on Imports From Burma

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 15:43

The Deputy Secretary of State has determined, pursuant to authority delegated by the Secretary of State, that it is in the national interests of the United States to waive the prohibitions described in section 3(a) of the Burmese Freedom and Democracy Act of 2003 (Pub. L. 108-61), as amended (''BFDA''), which requires the President to prohibit the importation of any article that is a product of Burma into the United States, and which the President implemented in section 3 of Executive Order 13310 (July 28, 2003). In conjunction with this waiver determination, the Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control issued General License (No. 18) on November 16, 2012 authorizing imports into the United States of any article that is a product of Burma, subject to limitations set forth therein.

This step is in the national interest of the United States because it supports those in the Burmese government that have instituted important reforms since early 2011 and encourages the government to make further progress. The waiver of the import ban responds to the Government of Burma's continued reforms and efforts to address U.S. core concerns, including the release of political prisoners, and other steps on human rights and national reconciliation.

Effective Date: November 15, 2012.

John Marshall Klein, Senior Sanctions Officer, Economic & Business Affairs, Office of Sanctions Policy and Implementation, 202-647-9452.

Dated: January 16, 2013.

Jose W. Fernandez,

Assistant Secretary for Economic and Business Affairs, Department of State.

[FR Doc. 2013-01991 Filed 1-29-13; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4710-07-P

Levamisole - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Fix is In

DutchNews.nl - Ernst & Young commissioned to investigate match fixing in Holland.

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 14:57

Ernst & Young commissioned to investigate match fixing in HollandWednesday 30 January 2013

The health and sports ministry has commissioned Ernst & Young, together with two professors, to investigate reports of match fixing in Dutch sport, free newspaper Spits reports on Wednesday.

Sports law professor Marjan Olfers and criminology professor Toine Spapens will lead the project, which will last three months, the paper said.

Sports minister Edith Schippers decided last summer to set up the investigation, following on from a hotline she had set up for athletes to report bribes.

The researchers will talk to athletes, officials, sports associations and gambling bodies in an effort to find out if the problem exists or is widespread in the Netherlands.

Real chance

Last June, Labour MP Jeroen Recourt told the NRC there is a 'very real chance' that Dutch football is embroiled in major match fixing. The MP said tips point to corruption centering on the Jupiler League (first division).

Recourt claimed to have being given 'multiple' tips about match fixing in the Netherlands but declined to give further information.

In 2010, European football body Uefa said it had not found any evidence of match fixing in the Dutch first division, following reports two matches were under investigation.

Earlier storiesVery real chance of match fixing in the Netherlands, says Labour MP

(C) DutchNews.nl

Nigeria/Cote d'Ivoire: We Will Eat Nigeria Like Super Fried Chickens, Ivorian Eboue Boasts

Link to Article

Source: AllAfrica News: Latest

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:46

Galatasary of Turkey and Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire defender, Emmanuel Eboue, has boasted that his country will eat the Super Eagles of Nigeria like 'super fried chicken' when they meet on Sunday in one of the quarter finals matches in the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations holding in South Africa.

Eboue, who through his twitter handle @TheRealEboue, congratulated Nigeria shortly after the Super Eagles defeated Ethiopia to reach the knock-out stages but was quick to caution Nigeria not to celebrate to much as the Elephants are coming for them.

The former Arsenal player maintained that Eagles were no match to his side. His first tweet read: "Congrat to Nigeria. Don't celebrate too much cuz we are coming for you. We are going to eat you like fufu".

Minutes later, the Ivorian defender tweeted again: "Sorry guys, point of correction. We are going to eat Nigeria like #SuperFriedChickens."

From then on, it has been an unending tweet tirade on not just the Eagles as a team but Nigeria in its entirety, a situation that has seen some twitter users arguing that Eboue was being impersonated.

Some of the tweets read:

"@TheRealEboue I see ppl saying I hv pride by saying we wud eat Nigeria like fried chickens, it's not pride guys, it's hardwork & passion 4 my country"

"@TheRealEboue: In Nigeria team, some of your best strikers like martins, yakubu & odewinge are not in the team. Why? No peace, passion, & humility"

"@TheRealEboue: Ivory has some of the top players in d world, and when our country calls. We go. We go back home and play. Nobody is a big boy. So shut it"

"@TheRealEboue: A country where mikel obi is your best player & captain . Out of 150million people. You sure have a problem super chickens"

"@TheRealEboue: With all due respect 2 mikel, he is a good player but not Okocha, Samson,yekini,Oliseh, adepoju. Your football association is a joke"

"@TheRealEboue: When keshi was in Togo, he dropped adebayor. He is in Nigeria and drops the best player. He is a manger he should be able to work on their ego"

¶@TheRealEboue: I have said enough on this matter. I was so angry. Speak to me when your national television can broadcast the game. Have a good day

¶@TheRealEboue: Keep fooling yourself and calling yourselfs the giant of africa. You are nothing but the soil of Africa we all work on now.

@TheRealEboue: You guys are jokers. Your institutions are comedy clubs. You have so many resources & man power yet you are always falling short.

@TheRealEboue:Oh sorry Nigeria, I even heard your country owns the first African television and you cannot even televise the game to the masses

@TheRealEboue: Drogba, Yaya,kolo, Zakora, gervinho,KaLou, and myself and all other players. We are all the same. One unity and family. Country comes 1st

@TheRealEboue: I have said enough on this matter. I was so angry. Speak to me when your national television can broadcast the game. Have a good day

@TheRealEboue: If we don't beat you in the game, it means you are lucky. But trust me, we are going to deal with you so much , you would be eating grass

@TheRealEboue: Why don't you speak to your NFA that cant grow a good soccer academy & produce players to last for a decade instead of new faces every week

¶@TheRealEboue: Blame me, i don't care. I would say my mind. You can even blame me Ghana can show the game to the masses and NTA cannot . Cover your face

TheRealEboue: My last word for Nigerians . Do not cry for me , cry for yourselves. In the true spirit of sport , I love you all . Don't get too emotional."

EUROLand

Spain: Top Popular Party officials shown to receive payments on the side.

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:45

The ruling Popular Party's internal accounting between 1990 and 2008, to which EL PAÙS has had access, shows that the conservative grouping's leading members were paid regular sums of money aside from their official salaries. The files, kept by former PP treasurers ªlvaro Lapuerta and Luis Brcenas, comprise a series of incoming items in the form of donations from companies, especially construction firms, and outgoing expenses, which include the payments to party leaders.

Among those who received payments on the side, according to the accounts kept by Brcenas, is Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy. The PP president first appears listed in 1997, with sums of money next to his name that consistently add up to 25,200 euros a year, divided either in quarterly or six-monthly payments, and continuing up to 2008.

The party's current secretary general, Dolores de Cospedal, also figures in the papers, with two entries of 7,500 euros next to her name in the second half of 2008, immediately after she had been ratified in her post by the PP convention in June of that year. De Cospedal has publicly denied knowledge that these payments were made by Brcenas to party officials.

Mariano Rajoy, who was asked by this newspaper to comment on this story, declined to do so via a spokesperson. The prime minister said that he will not make any comment until he has seen the results of internal and external audits, ordered by him into the party's finances in the light of the revelation earlier this year that Brcenas had kept millions of euros in a Swiss bank account.

The secret ledgers also include regular payments of similar quantities to those noted down next to Rajoy's name for previous PP secretary generals (ªngel Acebes, Javier Arenas and Francisco ªlvarez-Cascos), leading figures Rodrigo Rato and Jaime Mayor Oreja, and the party's deputy leaders.

The accounts, which also include other kinds of expenses, such as training courses, show final balance figures for each year. The books corresponding to the years 1993 to 1996 inclusive were not included in the documents seen by EL PAÙS.

The periodical payments began in 1997, a year after Aznar had led the PP into government

The periodical payments to leading party members are first registered in 1997, a year after then-party leader Jos(C) MarÐa Aznar had led the PP into government for the first time in its history. Among the notes for the first months in the 1990 ledger and during two months in 1997, payments to ''J. M.'' are present. All of the outgoing payments recorded in 1990 are listed next to the same initials.

Among the donors listed as having given money to the party are businessmen implicated in the G¹rtel kickbacks-for-contracts scandal, which has seen several PP officials resign from their posts in regional and municipal administrations. One of those noted as having made donations is Pablo Crespo, the number-two man in Francisco Correa's PP-linked corruption network, who has since become a target of the ongoing judicial probe into G¹rtel. Alfonso GarcÐa Pozuelo, the owner of the building company Constructora Hispnica, and Valencian assembly speaker Juan Cotino, are also shown to have given money to the party treasurers. Like Crespo, both were later accused of wrongdoing in the G¹rtel case.

According to Brcenas' bookkeeping, every year part of the total quantity of donations received was set aside and paid into a bank account at Banco de Vitoria (absorbed by Banesto in 2003). The fact that only part of the money received ended up being transferred to this bank account under the heading ''donations'' could imply that the Popular Party was engaged in illegal financing in as far as it was not declaring all of its income.

Hard Times: Dijon France Sells Half of Prized Wine Collection to Help Those Appealing for Social Aid

Link to Article

Source: Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 04:09

Fresh on the heels of France's labour minister stating "France is a Totally Bankrupt State" comes news the city of Dijon needs to sell its prized wine collection to help those "appealing for social aid."

Please consider L'aust(C)rit(C) la fran¤aise: city sells prized wines.

The city of Dijon has just sold off half of its prized municipal wine cellar to help fund local social spending '' including a bottle of 1999 Burgundy knocked down at auction for '­Â4,800 to a Chinese buyer.

In total, the capital of the Burgundy region raised '­Â151,620 from the ''historic sale'' of 3,500 bottles that were part of a collection built up since the 1960s, it announced in a statement on Monday.

President Fran¤ois Hollande's Socialist government has spent most of its first eight months in office earning a reputation for ramping up taxes on the rich to cover the country's budget deficit.

But Mr Hollande has warned local authorities that they must also shoulder some of the burden by accepting a spending squeeze as the government seeks to cut '­Â60bn by 2017.

Fran¤ois Rebsamen, the Socialist mayor who ordered Sunday's auction, explained: ''We have overall a good budget this year, but the social action spending of the city just keeps going up. There are more and more of our co-citizens who are appealing for social aid.''

The top attraction was a bottle of Vosne-Roman(C)e Cros Parantoux, premier cru de 1999. Placed on a reserve of '­Â1,000, it sold for almost five times that price.

The city said in its statement that 80 per cent of the proceeds would go towards funding the community social action programme. But the rest would pay for the cost of the auction '' and to help replenish the now somewhat depleted municipal cellar.

Two-Time Shot at BestFor the curious minded, the buyer of the bottle of Vosne-Roman(C)e Cros Parantoux was a "mysterious Chinese" named Wang Dongming, who waited patiently for the bottle to go under the hammer at the end of the auction.

Dijon just sold half its wine collection. Thus, Dijon can at best conduct one similar auction of the same size. Then what? Precisely what does the city sell then to help those "appealing for social aid"?

One final question: Does this look like a recovery?

Mike "Mish" Shedlockhttp://globaleconomicanalysis.blogspot.com

Follow the Pipes

Three Russian companies bid for Greece's gas assets

Link to Article

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:42

Three Russian companies bid for Greece's gas assets

Published: 03.04.2012If Gazprom is prevented from acquiring Greece's gas assets, two other Russian companies will also be in the race to help it get the deal, the Russian daily Vedomosti writes today (3 April).

The Gazprom 'helpers", as Vedomosti calls them, are Sintez, a small company reportedly valued at $150 million ('­Â112 million) owned by Leonid Lebedev, and an investment fund called Energiya, headed by Igor Yusufov, a former minister of energy and current member of the Gazprom Board of Directors.

Among the other bidders are the State Oil Company of the Azerbaijani Republic (SOCAR), the Czech state energy company CEZ group, Edison and Eni of Italy, Spain's Enagas and Gas Natural, the Chinese gas-distribution company ENN, Israel's energy holding Israel Corp., Mitsui of Japan, Algeria's Sonatrach, Vopak of the Netherlands, Greece's GEK Terna, and the Mytilineos and Motor Oil (M2M) consortium.

Greece expects to obtain no less than '­Â2 billon euro from the auction. DEPA, the public gas supply corporation of Greece, has been estimated at '­Â1 billion in value and DEFSA, a fully owned subsidiary of DEPA, is estimated at '­Â500 million.

However, due to the strategic importance of Greece as a route of the Southern gas corridor, expected to bring gas to Europe from sources other than Russia, the companies could be sold at a higher price.

DEPA, as part of the consortium of the Turkey-Greece-Italy Interconnector (ITGI), was the unsuccessful bidder for the gas from the Shah Deniz II gas field in Azerbaijan, as SOCAR selected the Trans-Adriatic Pipeline (TAP). Both projects run trough Greek territory (see map).

Vedomosti quotes Sintez CEO Andrey Korolev saying the company would bid mainly with borrowed funds. He added that his company's bid had better chances than Gazprom and Socar, under the EU's Third energy package, which requires ownership unbundling of the supply and the pipeline network.

However, Korolev didn't make it a secret that if successful, his company would "take Gazprom as a partner".

Gazprom declined to comment. Mikhail Korchemkin, Director of East European Gas Analysis expressed doubts that either Sintez or Energiya would help Gazprom obtain the deal, as these companies are too obviously in favour of Gazprom, which sells its gas at a price that is "far from being the more competitive on the market".

It remains unclear when the tender results will be announced.

Race between Nabucco and TAP pipeline hots up.

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:41

Both pipeline projects appear to be at an advanced stage of preparation. At first sight, they don't appear as competitors, since Nabucco West - a 1,326-km pipeline with a 122-cm diameter - is planned to take the gas from the Turkish border across Bulgaria to Romania and Hungary to the gas hub of Baumbarten near Vienna. [see map]

TAP, or Trans-Adriatic Pipeline, with a length of 800 km and also with a 122-cm diameter, will take gas from the Turkish border across Greece and Albania, with an offshore section reaching Santa Foca, at the ''heel'' of the Italian peninsula. [see map]

But apparently the gas which will come upstream from Shah Deniz II in 2017, when both pipelines would be ready to carry it, is enough only to fill one of them. In a more distant future, when gas would be available from other sources such as Iraq or Iran, two pipelines would make sense.

But now it looks like the state-run gas company of Azerbaijan, SOCAR, by deciding which consortium to chose, would eliminate the other candidate.

'Nabucco is the flagship'

''Nabucco remains the flagship project of the Southern Corridor,'' a company spokeswoman, Nayana Jayarajan, told EurActiv.

The Southern corridor refers to various pipeline projects aimed at bringing gas to the EU from sources other than Russia.

>> Read: Europe's southern gas corridor: The great pipeline race

Jayarajan said that the project was at an advanced phase of development, including engineering preparations. Environmental assessments, she said, were already completed in Hungary, and "far advanced" in all other countries.

Nabucco was also quite advanced in terms of the regulatory and legislative framework amongst participating countries, Jayarajan said.

She stressed that the signing of the Cooperation Agreement and the Equity Option and Funding Agreements with the Shah Deniz Consortium last week in Vienna was "a clear mark of the gas producers' confidence in the project".

Under a deal announced on 10 January, the Nabucco consortium offered the Shah Deniz group a 50% stake if it chooses the pipeline as its European export route.

>> Read: Nabucco to become a real pipeline soon, owners say

The next steps for Nabucco would be the finalisation of the engineering works and the environmental impact assessments, and to align the consortium's efforts with the Shah Deniz Consortium and TANAP - the proposed Trans-Anatolian Gas Pipeline, a project between Azerbaijan and Turkey for a '­Â5.6-billion pipeline that will span 2,000km across Turkey to Europe.

>> Read: Gas pipeline deal sidelines original Nabucco project

The Nabucco consortium hoped to conclude an open season - the procedure through which clients book transport capacity - before the final investment decision, Jayarajan said.

'TAP is more advanced'

However, the story is different when heard from the mouth of Michael Hoffmann, who represents the TAP pipeline project.

Hoffman told EurActiv that the TAP pipeline project was in a more advanced phase than Nabucco and insisted that media reports that TAP had proposed shares to Azerbaijan after Nabucco was not correct.

>> Read: Afrer Nabucco, TAP too proposes shares to Azerbaijan

''TAP signed a cooperation agreement with the Shah Deniz consortium members in June 2012. TAP then signed a funding and equity agreement with them on 1 August 2012 '' Nabucco West signed the same agreements on 18 January 2013. In addition, TAP agreed and initialled a shareholder agreement with Shah Deniz in November 2012, which outlines how the company is managed with the new shareholders incorporated, including SOCAR,'' Hoffman said, concluding: ''Nabucco West are less advanced, and don't think that they have agreed a shareholder agreement.''

Jayarajan said that there would be a shareholder agreement signed between the shareholders of Nabucco and the shareholders of the Shah Deniz consortium after the positive final route decision.

The TAP official also said that negotiations were progressing ''extremely well'' on the intergovernmental agreement, and that it was ''highly likely'' that in mid-February, the intergovernmental agreement for TAP will be signed between the three host governments (Greece, Albania and Italy).

Asked if TAP and Nabucco West could co-exist, he said that for the initial phase, 10 billion cubic metres of gas per year (bcm/y) were expected from Shah Deniz. The capacity of Nabucco West allows for a scalable transport between 10 and 23 bcm/y, while TAP is designed to expand transportation capacity from 10 to 20 bcm/y, depending on supply and demand.

''It therefore looks likely that only one pipeline can be selected in June,'' Hoffman said. Asked about risks involved from the privatisation of the Greek gas companies DEPA and DESFA, he was categorical that the issue could not affect TAP.

As cash-strapped Greece is selling many of its state assets, three Russian companies including Gazprom are bidding to acquire the Greek gas companies DEPA and DESFA, out of a total of 17 bidders from 12 countries.

>> Read: Three Russian companies bid for Greece's gas assets

''TAP will build a new pipeline in Greece so that the privatisation of DESFA / DEPA will not affect us,'' Hoffmann said.

Nigeria: The Blame Game Over Pipeline Vandalism

Link to Article

Source: AllAfrica News: Latest

Mon, 28 Jan 2013 10:11

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) last Monday responded to the claims of Governor Ibikunle Amosun of Ogun State that the corporation had consistently displayed absolute negligence in the security of its System 2B pipeline network located in Arepo barely a month after it was fixed.

The NNPC general manager, governmental relations, Tumini Green, said: "It is sad that the governor of Ogun State who should know the importance of national assets like pipelines and do everything in his power to protect them is engaging in a blame game when every responsible Nigerian citizen is wondering why Arepo which is in his domain has become such an attractive spot for oil thieves and pipeline vandals."

The pipeline was destroyed in August, last year, following a fire caused by the thieves. The repairs of the line suffered a major setback then as three NNPC engineers trying to fix it were murdered by the criminals. The facility was again broken by vandals stealing petrol penultimate weekend leading to a fire outbreak that killed about 30 people.

Ogun State is not alone in this bizarre fire-blazing barbarism. Another ruptured point of the pipeline at Ijeododo in neighbouring Lagos State had suffered similar fate in the last one month. Too frequently in recent times, there have been cases of pipeline vandalism which have led to the death of thousands of Nigerians. In order to forestall a recurrence, the National Assembly has been tasked to introduce necessary legislations to compel state governments to protect petroleum pipelines as national assets.

But that is beyond the point. Shouldn't the NNPC take responsibility for securing its pipelines throughout the country? What kind of micro-management is the diatribe in ceding the consideration to state governments? Was NNPC justifying why it uses canoes to checkmate pipeline and oil stealing that has gone digital lately?

In October, minister of trade and investment Dr. Olusegun Aganga, in a letter to the president, said 24 million barrels of oil worth $1.6bn (N252bn) was stolen between July and September.

The United Press International (UPI) also noted that "the Nigerian treasury, which should be raking in record revenues, has been squeezed at both ends of the oil trade -- upstream, by one of the biggest frauds in Nigerian history related to a fuel subsidy bill worth upward of $16 billion in 2011, and downstream, by the theft of oil of an industrial scale at source".

It is unthinkable that NNPC would not consider this colossal waste as well as the carnage and loss of lives that vandalism and corruption have caused the nation and instead engage in blame game over a patently callous act of its management.

What has happened to our sense of propriety and modernity if NNPC would commute its group managing director, Andrew Yakubu, in a helicopter to the theft-prone Arepo and mandate the officers and men of the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) to patrol the pipelines, using archaic canoe in this technologically advanced century?

Are we inured to the infrared technology where camera configurations cover all the regions of the infrared spectrum - Shortwave Infrared (SWIR), Midwave Infrared (MWIR), Longwave Infrared (LWIR) and Very Longwave Infrared (VLWIR) - which would expose things normally hidden from the human eyes?

If that is too complex, what are the legion of engineers in the safety and regulation rooms of NNPC and our security outfits doing not to deploy other intrusion detection-based control-loop and other digital signal processing to real-time network surveillance systems?

It all shows the poverty of ideas and laziness going on in the money-spinning corporation. The blame game only accentuates the incompetence, irresponsibility and inhumanity of those in charge of our commonwealth.

Ministry of Truth

James Carville, Erick Erickson part ways with CNN | TPMDC

Link to Article

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 01:21

David Taintor January 29, 2013, 2:59 PMJust a week into CNN president Jeff Zucker's tenure, the network's managing editor and a number of prominent on-air contributors are on their way out.

Longtime Democratic strategist James Carville and his wife Mary Matalin are leaving CNN, Carville told TPM Tuesday. The network decided it wanted its contributors to be more available to do live shots, Carville said. He and Matalin live in New Orleans. He added that CNN is interested in exploring panel-based programming, similar to Fox News' ''The Five.'' But Carville described the split as amicable. ''They wanted to change the look. It makes a lot of sense to me,'' said Carville, adding that he ''loved'' the time he spent at CNN and wishes the network well under Zucker. Before becoming political contributors, Carville and Matalin had prominent roles on the now-defunct CNN program ''Crossfire.''

Influential conservative commentator and RedState editor Erick Erickson is also leaving CNN, the network confirmed to TPM. Erickson - who flirted with a primary run against Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) '-- is reportedly headed to Fox News.

Erickson was not available for comment, but he addressed his departure from CNN in a RedState post. ''It was a very, very difficult decision,'' he wrote. The job broadened his horizons, he added, professionally and personally. ''For all the hate and angst from a lot of folks on the right over me going to CNN, I know many of the contributors I consider good friends were initially skeptical of my hiring. I had to learn an art form too often missing these days in partisan talk - the art of conversation, particularly with those who might disagree with me. I had to learn to be friends with people who I disagreed with. And I leave deeply caring for those people.''There were tense moments, too, he wrote. ''The first month was tumultuous with several tumultuous times throughout. I liked to think of myself as job security for the public relations department. About the only thing the far right and far left could agree on was that I did not belong at CNN.''

One of departures reported Tuesday came at the executive level, with CNN's managing editor Mark Whitaker heading out the door. In order for Zucker to be successful at CNN, Whitaker said in a memo obtained by TVNewser, he ''deserves his own team and management structure and the freedom to communicate one clear vision to the staff.'' In a statement, Zucker thanked Whitaker for his time at CNN and wished him luck in the future.

CNN also added one to its ranks, poaching Chris Cuomo from ABC News. In a release Tuesday, CNN said Cuomo - the brother of New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) - will have a ''major role'' in a new morning show and across the network. According to the Associated Press and Politico, he is expected to pair up with CNN's Erin Burnett to host a new show that will replace ''Starting Point with Soledad O'Brien.''

FishbowlDC first broke the news of the contributor departures.

CNN, Erick Erickson, James Carville, Mary MatalinDavid TaintorDavid Taintor is the Front Page Editor at TPM, where he contributes to TPM's Livewire coverage, among other areas. David is from Chanhassen, Minnesota, where, yes, it gets very cold. Reach him at taintor [at] talkingpointsmemo.com

At Gitmo, Judge Angered by Unknown, Hidden Censor

Link to Article

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 15:39

GUANTANAMO NAVY BASE, Cuba -- Someone else besides the judge and security officer sitting inside the maximum-security court here can impose censorship on what the public can see and hear at the Sept. 11 trial, it was disclosed Monday

The role of an outside censor became clear when the audio turned to white noise during a discussion of a motion about the CIA's black sites.

Confusion ensued. A military escort advised reporters that the episode was a glitch, a technical error. A few minutes later, the public was once again allowed to listen into the proceedings and Army Col. James Pohl, the judge, made clear that neither he nor his security officer was responsible for the censorship episode.

"If some external body is turning the commission off based on their own views of what things ought to be, with no reasonable explanation," the judge announced, "then we are going to have a little meeting about who turns that light on or off."

His comments appeared to be aimed at the Pentagon prosecution team. Attorney Joanna Baltes, representing the Justice Department on secrecy matters in the case, advised the judge that she could explain what other forces have a hand in censoring the court proceedings. But not in open session.

The alleged 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his four accused conspirators were sitting in court, listening to everything that was being said -- from the part that the public was forbidden to hear to the judge's demand for an explanation. Three of the defendants adorned their traditional white tunics with camouflage, an attire option they won from the judge to appear at trial as self-styled soldiers.

The strange censorship episode occurred as attorney David Nevin, defending Mohammed, was advising the judge that defense lawyers had wanted to argue a motion in court to preserve whatever remained of the CIA's secret overseas prison network. Prosecutors had filed a classified response to the request, and the judge asked the two sides if they would let their motions speak for themselves. Nevin was explaining why not.

Defense lawyers argue the alleged 9/11 conspirators were tortured in the so-called "black sites," and that the U.S. government has lost its moral authority to seek their execution. The CIA set up the sites during the Bush administration, reportedly in Poland, Romania, Thailand and elsewhere. President Barack Obama ordered them closed.

The lawyers want the judge to order the government to preserve what's left of them, six years after Mohammed and his co-defendants were moved to Guantanamo for trial. This is a familiar role for Pohl, who was the judge in the 2004 trials of U.S. soldiers for detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib and declared the prison in Iraq a crime scene, forbidding its demolition.

Unclear so far in these hearings is whether the judge knows where the black-site prisons were and whether any of them remain. Although he has a special security clearance to hear the 9/11 case, the CIA has not yet released classified information to the court because the defense and prosecution are still haggling over a protective order.

But to court observer Phyllis Rodriguez, the judge appeared "furious" and "livid" when he realized that that outsiders had their finger on the censorship switch of his courtroom.

"It's a "whoa moment' for the court," said Human Rights Watch observer Laura Pitter. "Even the judge doesn't know that someone else has control over the censorship button?"

(C) Copyright 2013 Miami Herald. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

EARon

Exclusive: Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions

Link to Article

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 03:45

Exclusive: Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctionsTop News

Exclusive: Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions

Wed, Jan 30 20:35 PM EST

By Emma Farge and Humeyra Pamuk and Alex Lawler

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's crude oil exports in December leapt to their highest level since European Union sanctions took effect last July, analysts and shipping sources said, as strong Chinese demand and tanker fleet expansion helped the OPEC member dodge sanctions.

Exports rose to around 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, according to two industry sources and shipping and customs data compiled by Reuters on a country-by-country basis and corroborated by other sources and consultants.

The sources said they expected exports to dip in January from the December peak ahead of new U.S. sanctions.

Western sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's disputed nuclear program halved Iran's oil exports in 2012 from 2.2 million bpd in late 2011, leading to billions of dollars in lost revenue and a plunge in the Iranian currency.

But continuous robust demand from top buyer China and others such as India and Japan, as well as the purchase of new tankers, allowed the Islamic Republic to unexpectedly boost exports late last year.

The United States and the EU are hoping the economic pressure will force Iran to address international concerns about its nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the West suspects is for making weapons.

Salar Moradi, oil market analyst at oil and gas consultancy FGE, estimated that Iran shipped more than 1.4 million bpd of crude oil in December and forecast that exports would remain between 1.1 million and 1.3 million bpd in the first quarter of 2013.

This represents an increase from a low point of less than 900,000 bpd in September and suggests monthly revenues worth approximately $4.7 billion based on December Brent prices.

"They (Iran) bought a number of tankers from China and can now do more deliveries ... It's taken some pressure off Iran and facilitated tanker traffic and we are seeing higher exports to China," he told Reuters this week.

The second industry source said the rise in exports to near 1.4 million bpd was a result of traditional buyers finding new ways to secure shipping insurance.

But, like FGE, he estimated that they would fall slightly to around 1.3 million bpd in January.

CHINESE THIRST

Chinese data showed the country bought 593,400 bpd of Iranian crude in December, the second-highest level of daily imports in 2012, a rise that Chinese officials also attributed to an easing of shipping delays.

Previously, Iran's tanker fleet had struggled to meet delivery schedules to China because EU measures in July barred Europe-based insurers from covering tankers that carry Iranian oil.

"China is saying let's up the numbers because no one is doing anything about it, and it looks like Obama has made a political decision not to go to war with Iran," said a senior source with a large independent trading house, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Elena McGovern, oil and gas analyst at Business Monitor International, said: "The implications of preventing Chinese imports from Iran would be too damaging to the (U.S.-China) bilateral relationship. I would be very surprised if Obama were to take China to task on Iranian imports."

India's imports of Iranian crude were up 29 percent in December from November at around 275,000 bpd, according to tanker arrival data.

Tracking Iranian shipments has become increasingly difficult as companies have sought to conceal tanker movements from Western governments by turning off satellite signals.

Estimates of the Islamic Republic's monthly crude exports can vary considerably and are frequently revised.

NEW SANCTIONS LOOMING

A fresh round of U.S. sanctions coming into force next month could cap Iran's exports in the coming months as some buyers balk at the prospect of falling foul of the measures.

From February 6, U.S. law will prevent Iran from repatriating earnings it gets from its shrinking oil export trade, a powerful sanction that the U.S. officials say will "lock up" a substantial amount of Tehran's funds.

"We continue to engage in close consultations with our international partners on U.S. sanctions with the objective of maintaining pressure on Iran to comply with its international obligations," said U.S. State Department spokesman John Finn.

"Month-to-month variability in crude oil purchases is not unusual," he added.

The International Energy Agency in December forecast a drop in Iranian exports to around 1 million barrels per day in late 2012 and early 2013.

But no matter how many rounds of sanctions are in effect, they are never watertight. Iran found creative ways to market its products and managed to sell more than 1.3 million tonnes of its fuel oil last summer, generating revenues equal to up to a third of its crude exports.

However, the latest data showed fuel oil exports have also taken a dip from the average 648,000 tonnes from July to October.

Exports fell to approximately 230,000 to 330,000 tonnes in December, Salar Moradi said, although he attributed this partly to higher domestic consumption in winter as utilities switch to fuel oil to replace gas used to meet heating requirements in the country.

In a more conservative estimate, data from a firm tracking Iranian fuel oil shipments showed that December exports were around 150,000 tonnes.

Condensate exports also fell by around 300,000 tonnes from November to 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes in December, data from the same firm showed. A Dubai-based analyst said condensate exports might come under further pressure as Iran's biggest customer in the Middle East has decided to reduce its purchases.

Dubai government-owned Emirates National Oil Co (ENOC) has started importing condensate from Qatar to replace sanctioned Iranian oil and is close to finalizing deals with other producers, the company said on Sunday.

Still, some analysts think Iran will continue to find ways to safeguard against significant drops in its oil revenues.

"What we have seen is that when Iran is pushed to a do-or-die situation, they have looked for creative solutions to get around sanctions," said McGovern.

"The system will always find a way to cope."

(Reporting by Emma Farge, Humeyra Pamuk in Dubai; additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Manash Goswami in Singapore; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Giles Elgood and Lisa Shumaker)

Exclusive: Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctionsTop News

Exclusive: Iran crude oil exports rise to highest since EU sanctions

Wed, Jan 30 20:35 PM EST

By Emma Farge and Humeyra Pamuk and Alex Lawler

GENEVA/DUBAI (Reuters) - Iran's crude oil exports in December leapt to their highest level since European Union sanctions took effect last July, analysts and shipping sources said, as strong Chinese demand and tanker fleet expansion helped the OPEC member dodge sanctions.

Exports rose to around 1.4 million barrels per day (bpd) in December, according to two industry sources and shipping and customs data compiled by Reuters on a country-by-country basis and corroborated by other sources and consultants.

The sources said they expected exports to dip in January from the December peak ahead of new U.S. sanctions.

Western sanctions aimed at curbing Iran's disputed nuclear program halved Iran's oil exports in 2012 from 2.2 million bpd in late 2011, leading to billions of dollars in lost revenue and a plunge in the Iranian currency.

But continuous robust demand from top buyer China and others such as India and Japan, as well as the purchase of new tankers, allowed the Islamic Republic to unexpectedly boost exports late last year.

The United States and the EU are hoping the economic pressure will force Iran to address international concerns about its nuclear program, which Tehran insists is for peaceful purposes but the West suspects is for making weapons.

Salar Moradi, oil market analyst at oil and gas consultancy FGE, estimated that Iran shipped more than 1.4 million bpd of crude oil in December and forecast that exports would remain between 1.1 million and 1.3 million bpd in the first quarter of 2013.

This represents an increase from a low point of less than 900,000 bpd in September and suggests monthly revenues worth approximately $4.7 billion based on December Brent prices.

"They (Iran) bought a number of tankers from China and can now do more deliveries ... It's taken some pressure off Iran and facilitated tanker traffic and we are seeing higher exports to China," he told Reuters this week.

The second industry source said the rise in exports to near 1.4 million bpd was a result of traditional buyers finding new ways to secure shipping insurance.

But, like FGE, he estimated that they would fall slightly to around 1.3 million bpd in January.

CHINESE THIRST

Chinese data showed the country bought 593,400 bpd of Iranian crude in December, the second-highest level of daily imports in 2012, a rise that Chinese officials also attributed to an easing of shipping delays.

Previously, Iran's tanker fleet had struggled to meet delivery schedules to China because EU measures in July barred Europe-based insurers from covering tankers that carry Iranian oil.

"China is saying let's up the numbers because no one is doing anything about it, and it looks like Obama has made a political decision not to go to war with Iran," said a senior source with a large independent trading house, referring to U.S. President Barack Obama.

Elena McGovern, oil and gas analyst at Business Monitor International, said: "The implications of preventing Chinese imports from Iran would be too damaging to the (U.S.-China) bilateral relationship. I would be very surprised if Obama were to take China to task on Iranian imports."

India's imports of Iranian crude were up 29 percent in December from November at around 275,000 bpd, according to tanker arrival data.

Tracking Iranian shipments has become increasingly difficult as companies have sought to conceal tanker movements from Western governments by turning off satellite signals.

Estimates of the Islamic Republic's monthly crude exports can vary considerably and are frequently revised.

NEW SANCTIONS LOOMING

A fresh round of U.S. sanctions coming into force next month could cap Iran's exports in the coming months as some buyers balk at the prospect of falling foul of the measures.

From February 6, U.S. law will prevent Iran from repatriating earnings it gets from its shrinking oil export trade, a powerful sanction that the U.S. officials say will "lock up" a substantial amount of Tehran's funds.

"We continue to engage in close consultations with our international partners on U.S. sanctions with the objective of maintaining pressure on Iran to comply with its international obligations," said U.S. State Department spokesman John Finn.

"Month-to-month variability in crude oil purchases is not unusual," he added.

The International Energy Agency in December forecast a drop in Iranian exports to around 1 million barrels per day in late 2012 and early 2013.

But no matter how many rounds of sanctions are in effect, they are never watertight. Iran found creative ways to market its products and managed to sell more than 1.3 million tonnes of its fuel oil last summer, generating revenues equal to up to a third of its crude exports.

However, the latest data showed fuel oil exports have also taken a dip from the average 648,000 tonnes from July to October.

Exports fell to approximately 230,000 to 330,000 tonnes in December, Salar Moradi said, although he attributed this partly to higher domestic consumption in winter as utilities switch to fuel oil to replace gas used to meet heating requirements in the country.

In a more conservative estimate, data from a firm tracking Iranian fuel oil shipments showed that December exports were around 150,000 tonnes.

Condensate exports also fell by around 300,000 tonnes from November to 600,000 to 700,000 tonnes in December, data from the same firm showed. A Dubai-based analyst said condensate exports might come under further pressure as Iran's biggest customer in the Middle East has decided to reduce its purchases.

Dubai government-owned Emirates National Oil Co (ENOC) has started importing condensate from Qatar to replace sanctioned Iranian oil and is close to finalizing deals with other producers, the company said on Sunday.

Still, some analysts think Iran will continue to find ways to safeguard against significant drops in its oil revenues.

"What we have seen is that when Iran is pushed to a do-or-die situation, they have looked for creative solutions to get around sanctions," said McGovern.

"The system will always find a way to cope."

(Reporting by Emma Farge, Humeyra Pamuk in Dubai; additional reporting by Alex Lawler in London and Manash Goswami in Singapore; Additional reporting by Arshad Mohammed in Washington; Editing by Giles Elgood and Lisa Shumaker)

MIC

Navy Under Secretary TWICE the amount of aircraft carriers

Real News

Porn Star Ron Jeremy In Intensive Care After Suffering Aneurysm

Link to Article

Source: Radar Online

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:55

Porn star Ron Jeremy is in intensive care at a Los Angeles hospital Thursday recovering from surgery after suffering an aneurysm near his heart, RadarOnline.com has learned.

Jeremy's agent, Mike Esterman, says in an email to The Associated Press that Jeremy, 59, had a heavy feeling in his chest Wednesday and drove himself to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where doctors diagnosed the problem.

PHOTOS: Sneak Peek Of Amanda Seyfried As Linda Lovelace

Jeremy is one of the best-known ''and more outrageous '' names in the porn industry, having appeared in more than 2,000 adult films and in the reality TV series The Surreal Life.

Mister Taxman: Why Some Americans Working Abroad are Ditching Their Citizenships

Link to Article

Source: ccampeador

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:47

By Helena BachmannJan. 31, 2013

Why is Tina Turner switching from American to Swiss citizenship? The legendary singer, a longtime Zurich resident, told the Blick newspaper that she has been very happy in Switzerland and ''can't imagine a better place to live.'' But some observers believe she may be one of thousands of American expatriates who have taken the drastic and irrevocable step of giving up their citizenship because of what they consider to be the unjust and discriminatory taxation practices of their government.

While Turner has indicated nothing other than a practical decision behind the switch, it comes at a time when American expats all over the world are turning in their passports in record numbers to avoid double taxation and other financial burdens imposed on them by Uncle Sam. According to government figures, nearly 1,800 Americans relinquished their passports in 2011, a process that requires a special application and a $450 ''exit fee.'' True, that number is just a drop in the bucket, considering that an estimated 6 million U.S. citizens currently live abroad. But the numbers are growing dramatically '-- a sevenfold increase since 2008, and that is not counting thousands of applications waiting to be processed in U.S. consulates and embassies around the world.

The U.S. is the world's only industrialized nation that taxes citizens who live overseas, even if their income is generated in a foreign country and they never return to America. And while high-profile cases like that of Turner or that of Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin (who renounced his American citizenship last year to become a resident of Singapore) catch public attention, the vast majority of expatriates affected by double taxation and increasingly draconian filing rules are middle-class or retired, or those who have never lived or worked in the United States at all, but were born to American parents overseas.

Even though expatriates can claim a $97,000 exclusion on their U.S. taxes, most Americans who work in high-cost nations earn salaries far exceeding this amount, for which they already pay hefty income taxes in their countries of residence.

''I became increasingly frustrated by the necessity to file in two countries,'' says Peter Dunn, an Anchorage, Alaska native who now lives in Toronto and renounced his U.S. citizenship in 2011. Dunn became even more outraged when the IRS insisted on taxing his Canadian Tax-Free Savings Accounts, which are similar to the tax-free Roth IRAs in the U.S. ''I could not live with the abuse of America taxing me even though I could not receive any services or benefits of living in the U.S.,'' he adds.

In addition to the burden of double taxation, expats must deal with a myriad of increasingly complex and confusing IRS rules, like the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR), which requires expatriates to report all foreign accounts exceeding $10,000, including those held jointly with their non-American spouses. Stiff financial penalties are imposed for non-compliance.

(MORE:Switzerland: Are Its Days as a Tax Haven for Foreigners Over?)

While filling out this form, Genette Eysselinck, a North Carolina native who lives in France, included the details of her accounts held jointly with her Belgian husband, as required by the IRS. ''When I realized how distressed he was over my breach of confidence, I decided the only recourse left was to renounce my nationality,'' she says. Eyssenlick gave up her American citizenship last year.

Another law that affects expatriates is the Foreign Assets Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), which will go into effect in July and require all foreign banks to report to the IRS information about accounts held by Americans. While this new regulation aims to prevent tax evasion, it also makes life difficult for millions of law-abiding expats.

''FATCA is the straw that broke the camel's back,'' says Jackie Bugnon, director of American Citizens Abroad (ACA), a Geneva-based expatriate advocacy group. Because this legislation forces local banks to invest in expensive new infrastructure in order to comply with the IRS rules, ''access to foreign financial institutions is being shut off and Americans abroad are treated like criminals,'' she adds.

Switzerland-based Amy Webster experienced the bias first-hand when she and her Swiss husband encountered difficulties getting a mortgage due to her U.S. citizenship. ''This was infuriating and humiliating,'' she says. ''These unfair regulations imposed by the U.S. government are having adverse effects on the lives and wellbeing of U.S. citizens living in this country.''

Webster notes that while she understands ''the political motivation of the current administration to chase tax evaders and punish banks that contributed to such transactions, I am outraged that these regulations have impacted honest and hard-working citizens.''

One way to stave off the surge in renunciations, ACA's Bugnon points out, is to tax expatriates on the same basis as non-resident aliens, who maintain a tax home in a foreign country and benefit from the same tax laws as American citizens within U.S. territory. That's the proposal the ACA will push during the Overseas Americans Week, to be held in Washington D.C. the week of February 11.

Unless this change happens soon, disgruntled expats will continue to turn their backs on America, perhaps singing Tina Turner's old hit, aptly titled, ''Goodbye, so long.''

Link'...

http://world.time.com/2013/01/31/mister-taxman-why-some-americans-working-abroad-are-ditching-their-citizenships/?xid=gonewsedit&google_editors_picks=true

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.

iPhone users pay highest phone bills

Link to Article

Source: CNET News

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 03:30

New data shows that 59 percent of iPhone users spend more than $100 per month on their carrier bill, while 56 percent of Windows phone users and 53 percent of Android users pay that much.

iPhone users pay higher phone bills than other smartphone consumers.

(Credit: CBS Interactive)Rumors of a cheaper iPhone on the horizon may come as welcome news for fans of the device -- especially because iPhone users reportedly pay the highest monthly phone bills, no matter the carrier, according to AllThingsD.

Android, Windows, and BlackBerry users spend less per month to use their smartphones, according to data by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners that was acquired by AllThingsD. It seems that the higher costs come from carriers charging more for iPhone data plans and additional wireless fees.

"We think it has to do with their data plans and carriers, rather than their usage habits," CIRP co-founder Michael Levin told AllThingsD. "They are all on expensive data plans, unlike Android users, some of which are on prepaid or unsubsidized plans with regional carriers."

The data collected is from October to December 2012 and shows that 59 percent of the iPhone users surveyed spent more than $100 per month on their plan with 10 percent of those users spending $200 or more. Only 6 percent spent $50 or less. Conversely, 13 percent of Android users spent $50 or less and 53 percent spent more than $100. Both Windows and BlackBerry users spent even less overall.

Although the monthly cost difference between the four types of devices is slight, the highest costs are still skewed toward iPhone users. This may be because iPhones are more expensive devices and carriers have to shoulder that burden."Given the subsidies on iPhones, the carriers are working hard to make their money back during the course of the contract," CIRP's Josh Levitz told AllThingsD. "With the exception of perhaps the hottest Android phones, we think the subsidies on Android phones are lower, so the carriers make more money even with slightly lower per-subscriber revenue."

If Apple does indeed release a cheaper iPhone, it'll be interesting to see if carriers will also lower monthly charges for the device.

Fiscal Cliff

Fed keeps $85 billion-a-month bond purchase plan

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:55

WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) - The Federal Reserve on Wednesday maintained its aggressive easing policy stance in light of downside risks to the outlook. In a statement after a two-day meeting, the Fed said it will keep buying $85 billion a month in mortgage bonds and Treasurys. The Fed said that economic activity has "paused in recent months" due to weather and other transitory factors. The Fed did not say how long the bond purchases would last. The vote was 11 to 1. Kansas City Fed president Esther George dissented, saying the Fed's loose policy stance could lead to financial imbalances and higher inflation.

Read the full story:Fed maintains aggressive easing stance

Syria

Israeli Jets Bomb Military Target in Syria - ABC News

Link to Article

Thu, 31 Jan 2013 02:46

Israel launched a rare airstrike inside Syria, U.S. officials said Wednesday, targeting a convoy believed to contain anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah militants in Lebanon. The attack adds a potentially flammable new element to tensions already heightened by Syria's civil war.

It was the latest salvo in Israel's long-running effort to disrupt the Shiite militia's quest to build an arsenal capable of defending against Israel's air force and spreading destruction inside the Jewish state.

Regional security officials said the strike, which occurred overnight Tuesday, targeted a site near the Lebanese border, while a Syrian army statement said it destroyed a military research center northwest of the capital, Damascus. They appeared to be referring to the same incident.

U.S. officials said the target was a truck convoy that Israel believed was carrying sophisticated anti-aircraft weapons bound for Hezbollah in Lebanon. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the operation.

Regional officials said the shipment included sophisticated Russian-made SA-17 anti-aircraft missiles, which if acquired by Hezbollah would be "game-changing," enabling the militants to shoot down Israeli jets, helicopters and surveillance drones. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to brief the media.

In a statement, the Syrian military denied the existence of any such shipment and said a scientific research facility outside Damascus was hit by the Israeli warplanes.

The Israeli military declined to comment. However, many in Israel worry that as Syrian President Bashar Assad loses power, he could strike back by transferring chemical or advanced weapons to Hezbollah, which is neighboring Lebanon's most powerful military force and is committed to Israel's destruction.

The airstrike follows decades of enmity between Israel and allies Syria and Hezbollah, which consider the Jewish state their mortal enemy. The situation has been further complicated by the civil war raging in Syria between the Assad regime and rebel brigades seeking his ouster.

The war has sapped Assad's power and threatens to deprive Hezbollah of a key supporter, in addition to its land corridor to Iran. The two countries provide Hezbollah with the bulk of its funding and arms.

A Syrian military statement read aloud on state TV Wednesday said low-flying Israeli jets crossed into Syria over the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights and bombed a military research center in the area of Jamraya, northwest of Damascus.

The strike destroyed the center and damaged a nearby building, killing two workers and wounding five others, the statement said.

The military denied the existence of any convoy bound for Lebanon, saying the center was responsible for "raising the level of resistance and self-defense" of Syria's military.

"This proves that Israel is the instigator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts targeting Syria and its people," the statement said.

Israel and Hezbollah fought an inconclusive 34-day war in 2006 that left 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis dead.

While the border has been largely quiet since, the struggle has taken other forms. Hezbollah has accused Israel of assassinating a top commander, and Israel blamed Hezbollah and Iran for a July 2012 attack on Israeli tourists in Bulgaria. In October, Hezbollah launched an Iranian-made reconnaissance drone over Israel, using the incident to brag about its expanding capabilities.

Israeli officials believe that Hezbollah's arsenal has markedly improved since 2006, now boasting tens of thousands of rockets and missiles and the ability to strike almost anywhere inside Israel.

Israel suspects that Damascus obtained a battery of SA-17s from Russia after an alleged Israeli airstrike in 2007 that destroyed an unfinished Syrian nuclear reactor.

Earlier this week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned of the dangers of Syria's "deadly weapons," saying the country is "increasingly coming apart."

The same day, Israel moved a battery of its new "Iron Dome" rocket defense system to the northern city of Haifa, which was battered by Hezbollah rocket fire in the 2006 war. The Israeli army called that move "routine."

Syria, however, cast the airstrike in a different light, linked to the country's civil war, which it blames on terrorists carrying out an international conspiracy.

Despite its icy relations with Assad, Israel has remained on the sidelines of efforts to topple him, while keeping up defenses against possible attacks.

Israeli defense officials have carefully monitored Syria's chemical weapons, fearing Assad could deploy them or lose control of them to extremist fighters among the rebels.

President Barack Obama has called the use of chemical weapons a "red line" that if crossed could prompt direct U.S. intervention, though U.S. officials have said Syria's stockpiles still appear to be under government control.

The strike was Israel's first inside Syria since September 2007, when warplanes destroyed a site that the U.N. nuclear watchdog deemed likely to be a nuclear reactor. Syria denied the claim, saying the building was a non-nuclear military site.

Syria allowed international inspectors to visit the bombed site in 2008, but it has refused to allow nuclear inspectors new access. This has heightened suspicions that Syria has something to hide, along with its decision to level the destroyed structure and build on its site.

In 2006, Israeli warplanes flew over Assad's palace in a show of force after Syrian-backed militants captured an Israeli soldier in the Gaza Strip.

And in 2003, Israeli warplanes attacked a suspected militant training camp just north of the Syrian capital, in response to an Islamic Jihad suicide bombing in the city of Haifa that killed 21 Israelis.

Syria vowed to retaliate for both attacks but never did.

In Lebanon, which borders both Israel and Syria, the military and the U.N. agency tasked with monitoring the border with Israel said Israeli warplanes have sharply increased their activity in the past week.

Israeli violations of Lebanese airspace are not uncommon, and it was unclear if the recent activity was related to the strike in Syria.

Syria's primary conflict with Israel is over the Golan Heights, which Israeli occupied in the 1967 war. Syria demands the area back as part of any peace deal. Despite the hostility, Syria has kept the border quiet since the 1973 Mideast war and has never retaliated for Israeli attacks.

In May 2011, only two months after the uprising against Assad started, hundreds of Palestinians overran the tightly controlled Syria-Israeli frontier in a move widely thought to have been facilitated by the Assad regime to divert the world's gaze from his growing troubles at home.

———

Associated Press writers Lolita C. Baldor and Bradley Klapper in Washington, and Zeina Karam in Beirut contributed to this report.

Bombing pipeline of water

Watching CNN coverage of the Israeli attack on Syria I decided to google

"kunetra crossing pipeline" as this was the site of the attack and your thesis

is that most things in the middle east are pipeline related.

In the results is a link to a pdf (attached):

http://www.hidropolitik.hacettepe.edu.tr/middleeast.pdf

Living in Oklahoma and being aware of the water disputes between my state,

Texas, and the Indian tribes makes me wonder if Water Pipelines are the next big

global thing.

Maybe not at all what's going on in this attack, but interesting idea to look

for.

ARSONomics

Statement by the President Announcing $155 Million in Additional Humanitarian Assistance for the Syrian People

Link to Article

Source: White House.gov Press Office Feed

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:05

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release

January 29, 2013

This morning, President Obama released a video announcing $155 million in additional humanitarian assistance for the Syrian people. Click here to view the video of the President's statement with Arabic subtitles.

Statement by the President

For nearly two years, the Assad regime has waged a brutal war against the Syrian people'--murdering innocent men, women and children, in their homes, in bread lines, and at universities.

In the face of this barbarism, the United States has joined with nations around the world in calling for an end to the Assad regime and a transition that leads to a peaceful, inclusive and democratic Syria, where the rights of all Syrians are protected. We've worked to isolate Assad and his regime; impose sanctions that starve the regime of funds; recognize the Syrian Opposition Coalition as the legitimate representative of the Syrian people; call for accountability for perpetrators of atrocities; and provide humanitarian relief to Syrians in need.

The relief we send doesn't say ''Made in America,'' but make no mistake'--our aid reflects the commitment of the American people. American aid means food and clean water for millions of Syrians. American aid means medicine and treatment for hundreds of thousands of patients in Damascus, Dar'a and Homs. It means immunizations for one million Syrian children. American aid means winter supplies for more than half a million people in Aleppo, Homs and Dayr az Zawr. And we're working with allies and partners so that this aid reaches those in need.

Today, we're taking another step. I've approved an additional $155 million in humanitarian aid for people in Syria and refugees fleeing the violence. Here, I want to speak directly to the people of Syria. This new aid will mean more warm clothing for children and medicine for the elderly; flour and wheat for your families and blankets, boots and stoves for those huddled in damaged buildings. It will mean health care for victims of sexual violence and field hospitals for the wounded. Even as we work to end the violence against you, this aid will help address some of the immediate needs you face each day.

This new commitment will bring America's total humanitarian aid to Syria to $365 million'--making us the largest single donor of humanitarian assistance to the Syrian people. Today, I also call on the international community to do more to help these Syrians in need, and to contribute to the latest UN humanitarian appeal.

We're under no illusions. The days ahead will continue to be very difficult. But what's clear is that the regime continues to weaken and lose control of territory. The opposition continues to grow stronger. More Syrians are standing up for their dignity. The Assad regime will come to an end. The Syrian people will have their chance to forge their own future. And they will continue to find a partner in the United States of America.

Read the President's message in Arabic (pdf). You can also watch a video of the President's message with Arabic subtitles.

Presidential Memorandum -- Presidential Determination Regarding the Unexpected Urgent Refugee and Migration Needs Relating to Syria

Link to Article

Source: White House.gov Press Office Feed

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 18:04

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Unexpected Urgent Refugee and Migration Needs Relating to Syria

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, including section 2(c)(1) of the Migration and Refugee Assistance Act of 1962 (the "Act"), as amended (22 U.S.C. 2601(c)(1)), I hereby determine, pursuant to section 2(c)(1) of the Act, that it is important to the national interest to furnish assistance under the Act, in an amount not to exceed $15 million from the United States Emergency Refugee and Migration Assistance Fund, for the purpose of meeting unexpected urgent refugee and migration needs, including by contributions to international, governmental, and nongovernmental organizations and payment of administrative expenses of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration of the Department of State, resulting from the crisis in Syria.

You are authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.

BARACK OBAMA

Sykes''Picot Agreement - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Link to Article

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:38

The Sykes''Picot Agreement, officially known as the Asia Minor Agreement, was a secret agreement between the governments of the United Kingdom and France,[1] with the assent of Russia, defining their proposed spheres of influence and control in the Middle East should the Triple Entente succeed in defeating the Ottoman Empire during World War I. The negotiation of the treaty occurred between November 1915 and March 1916.[2][not in citation given] The agreement was concluded on 16 May 1916.[3]

The agreement effectively divided the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire outside the Arabian peninsula into areas of future British and French control or influence.[4][verification needed] The terms were negotiated by the French diplomat Fran¤ois Georges-Picot and British Sir Mark Sykes. The Russian Tsarist government was a minor party to the Sykes''Picot agreement, and when, following the Russian Revolution of October 1917, the Bolsheviks exposed the agreement, the British were embarrassed, the Arabs dismayed and the Turks delighted.'[5][verification needed]

[edit]Territorial allocationsBritain was allocated control of areas roughly comprising the coastal strip between the sea and River Jordan, Jordan, southern Iraq, and a small area including the ports of Haifa and Acre, to allow access to the Mediterranean.[citation needed] France was allocated control of south-eastern Turkey, northern Iraq, Syria and Lebanon.[citation needed]Russia was to get Istanbul, the Turkish Straits and the Ottoman Armenianvilayets.[citation needed] The controlling powers were left free to decide on state boundaries within these areas.[citation needed] Further negotiation was expected to determine international administration pending consultations with Russia and other powers, including the Sharif of Mecca.[6]

[edit]British-Zionist discussions during the negotiationsFollowing the outbreak of World War I, Zionism was first discussed at a British Cabinet level on 9 November 1914, four days after Britain's declaration of war on the Ottoman Empire.[citation needed] At a Cabinet meeting David Lloyd George, Chancellor of the Exchequer, "referred to the ultimate destiny of Palestine."[7][verification needed] Lloyd George's law firm Lloyd George, Roberts and Co had been engaged a decade before by the Zionists to work on the British Uganda Programme.[8] In a discussion after the meeting with fellow ZionistHerbert Samuel, who had a seat in the Cabinet as President of the Local Government Board, Lloyd George assured him that "he was very keen to see a Jewish state established in Palestine."[7][verification needed] Samuel then outlined the Zionist position more fully in a conversation with Foreign Secretary Edward Grey. He spoke of Zionist aspirations for the establishment in Palestine of a Jewish state, and of the importance of its geographical position to the British Empire.[9] Samuel's memoirs state: "I mentioned that two things would be essential'-- that the state should be neutralized, since it could not be large enough to defend itself, and that the free access of Christian pilgrims should be guaranteed... I also said it would be a great advantage if the remainder of Syria were annexed by France, as it would be far better for the state to have a European power as neighbour than the Turk"[7][verification needed] The same evening, Prime Minister H. H. Asquith announced that the dismemberment of the Turkish Empire had become a war aim in a speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet.[10]

In January 1915 Samuel submitted a Zionist memorandum entitled The Future of Palestine to the Cabinet after discussions with Weizmann and Lloyd George. On 5 February 1915, Samuel had another discussion with Grey: "When I asked him what his solution was he said it might be possible to neutralize the country under international guarantee...and to vest the government of the country in some kind of Council to be established by the Jews"[11][verification needed] After further conversations with Lloyd George and Grey, Samuel circulated a revised text to the Cabinet in the middle of March 1915.

Zionism or the Jewish question were not considered by the report of the de Bunsen Committee, prepared to determine British wartime policy toward the Ottoman Empire, submitted in June 1915.[12][verification needed]

Prior to the departure of Sykes to meet Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Sazonov in Petrograd on 27 February 1916, Sykes was approached with a plan by Samuel. The plan put forward by Samuel was in the form of a memorandum which Sykes thought prudent to commit to memory and destroy.[9] Commenting on it, Sykes wrote to Samuel suggesting that if Belgium should assume the administration of Palestine it might be more acceptable to France as an alternative to the international administration which she wanted and the Zionists did not. Of the boundaries marked on a map attached to the memorandum he wrote:[7][9][verification needed]

"By excluding Hebron and the East of the Jordan there is less to discuss with the Moslems, as the Mosque of Omar then becomes the only matter of vital importance to discuss with them and further does away with any contact with the bedouins, who never cross the river except on business. I imagine that the principal object of Zionism is the realization of the ideal of an existing center of nationality rather than boundaries or extent of territory. The moment I return I will let you know how things stand at Pd."[verification needed]

[verification needed]

[edit]Conflicting promisesLord Curzon said the Great Powers were still committed to the Reglement Organique Agreement regarding the Lebanon Vilayet of June 1861 and September 1864, and that the rights granted to France in the blue area under the Sykes''Picot Agreement were not compatible with that agreement.[13] The Reglement Organique was an international agreement regarding governance and non-intervention in the affairs of the Maronite, Orthodox, Druze, and Muslim communities.

In May 1917 W. Ormsby-Gore wrote "French intentions in Syria are surely incompatible with the war aims of the Allies as defined to the Russian Government. If the self-determination of nationalities is to be the principle, the interference of France in the selection of advisers by the Arab Government and the suggestion by France of the Emirs to be selected by the Arabs in Mosul, Aleppo, and Damascus would seem utterly incompatible with our ideas of liberating the Arab nation and of establishing a free and independent Arab State. The British Government, in authorising the letters despatched to King Hussein before the outbreak of the revolt by Sir Henry McMahon, would seem to raise a doubt as to whether our pledges to King Hussein as head of the Arab nation are consistent with French intentions to make not only Syria but Upper Mesopotamia another Tunis. If our support of King Hussein and the other Arabian leaders of less distinguished origin and prestige means anything it means that we are prepared to recognise the full sovereign independence of the Arabs of Arabia and Syria. It would seem time to acquaint the French Government with our detailed pledges to King Hussein, and to make it clear to the latter whether he or someone else is to be the ruler of Damascus, which is the one possible capital for an Arab State, which could command the obedience of the other Arabian Emirs."[14]

Many sources report that this agreement conflicted with the Hussein''McMahon Correspondence of 1915''1916. It has also been reported that the publication of the Sykes''Picot Agreement caused the resignation of Sir Henry McMahon.[15] However, the Sykes''Picot plan itself stated that France and Great Britain were prepared to recognize and protect an independent Arab State, or Confederation of Arab States, under the suzerainty of an Arab chief within the zones marked A. and B. on the map.[16] Nothing in the plan precluded rule through an Arab suzerainty in the remaining areas. The conflicts resulted from the private, post-war, Anglo-French Settlement of 1''4 December 1918. It was negotiated between British Prime Minister Lloyd George and French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and rendered many of the guarantees in the Hussein''McMahon agreement invalid. That settlement was not part of the Sykes''Picot Agreement.[17] Sykes was not affiliated with the Cairo office that had been corresponding with Sherif Hussein bin Ali, but he and Picot visited the Hedjaz in 1917 to discuss the agreement with Hussein.[18] That same year he and a representative of the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a public address to the Central Syrian Congress in Paris on the non-Turkish elements of the Ottoman Empire, including liberated Jerusalem. He stated that the accomplished fact of the independence of the Hedjaz rendered it almost impossible that an effective and real autonomy should be refused to Syria.[19]

The greatest source of conflict was the Balfour Declaration, 1917. Lord Balfour wrote a memorandum from the Paris Peace Conference which stated that the other allies had implicitly rejected the Sykes''Picot agreement by adopting the system of mandates. It allowed for no annexations, trade preferences, or other advantages. He also stated that the Allies were committed to Zionism and had no intention of honoring their promises to the Arabs.[20]

Eighty-five years later, in a 2002 interview with The New Statesman, British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw observed "A lot of the problems we are having to deal with now, I have to deal with now, are a consequence of our colonial past. .. ..The Balfour Declaration and the contradictory assurances which were being given to Palestinians in private at the same time as they were being given to the Israelis '' again, an interesting history for us but not an entirely honourable one."[21]

[edit]Events after public disclosure of the planRussian claims in the Ottoman Empire were denied following the Bolshevik Revolution and the Bolsheviks released a copy of the Sykes''Picot Agreement (as well as other treaties). They revealed full texts in Izvestia and Pravda on 23 November 1917, subsequently the Manchester Guardian printed the texts on November 26, 1917.[22] This caused great embarrassment between the allies and growing distrust between them and the Arabs. The Zionists were similarly upset,[citation needed] with the Sykes''Picot Agreement becoming public only three weeks after the Balfour Declaration.

The Anglo-French Declaration of November 1918 pledged that Great Britain and France would "assist in the establishment of indigenous Governments and administrations in Syria and Mesopotamia by "setting up of national governments and administrations deriving their authority from the free exercise of the initiative and choice of the indigenous populations". The French had reluctantly agreed to issue the declaration at the insistence of the British. Minutes of a British War Cabinet meeting reveal that the British had cited the laws of conquest and military occupation to avoid sharing the administration with the French under a civilian regime. The British stressed that the terms of the Anglo-French declaration had superseded the Sykes''Picot Agreement in order to justify fresh negotiations over the allocation of the territories of Syria, Mesopotamia, and Palestine.[23]

On 30 September 1918 supporters of the Arab Revolt in Damascus declared a government loyal to the Sharif of Mecca. He had been declared 'King of the Arabs' by a handful of religious leaders and other notables in Mecca.[24] On 6 January 1920 Faisal initialed an agreement with Clemenceau which acknowledged 'the right of Syrians to unite to govern themselves as an independent nation'.[25] A Pan-Syrian Congress meeting in Damascus had declared an independent state of Syria on the 8th of March 1920. The new state included portions of Syria, Palestine, and northern Mesopotamia. King Faisal was declared the head of State. At the same time Prince Zeid, Faisal's brother, was declared Regent of Mesopotamia.

The San Remo conference was hastily convened. Great Britain and France and Belgium all agreed to recognize the provisional independence of Syria and Mesopotamia, while claiming mandates for their administration. Palestine was composed of the Ottoman administrative districts of southern Syria. Under customary international law, premature recognition of its independence would be a gross affront to the government of the newly declared parent state. It could have been construed as a belligerent act of intervention due to the lack of any League of Nations sanction for the mandates.[26] In any event, its provisional independence was not mentioned, although it continued to be designated as a Class A Mandate.

France had decided to govern Syria directly, and took action to enforce the French Mandate of Syria before the terms had been accepted by the Council of the League of Nations. The French issued an ultimatum and intervened militarily at the Battle of Maysalun in June 1920. They deposed the indigenous Arab government, and removed King Faisal from Damascus in August 1920. Great Britain also appointed a High Commissioner and established their own mandatory regime in Palestine, without first obtaining approval from the Council of the League of Nations, or obtaining the formal cession of the territory from the former sovereign, Turkey.

Attempts to explain the conduct of the Allies were made at the San Remo conference and in the Churchill White Paper of 1922. The White Paper stated the British position that Palestine was part of the excluded areas of "Syria lying to the west of the District of Damascus".

[edit]Release of classified recordsLord Grey had been the Foreign Secretary during the McMahon''Hussein negotiations. Speaking in the House of Lords on 27 March 1923, he made it clear that, for his part, he entertained serious doubts as to the validity of the British Government's (Churchill's) interpretation of the pledges which he, as Foreign Secretary, had caused to be given to the Sharif Hussein in 1915. He called for all of the secret engagements regarding Palestine to be made public.[27]

Many of the relevant documents in the National Archives were later declassified and published. Among them were various assurances of Arab independence provided by Secretary of War, Lord Kitchener, the Viceroy of India, and others in the War Cabinet. The minutes of a Cabinet Eastern Committee meeting, chaired by Lord Curzon, held on 5 December 1918 to discuss the various Palestine undertakings makes it clear that Palestine had not been excluded from the agreement with Hussein. General Jan Smuts, Lord Balfour, Lord Robert Cecil, General Sir Henry Wilson, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and representatives of the Foreign Office, the India Office, the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Treasury were present. T. E. Lawrence also attended. According to the minutes Lord Curzon explained:

"The Palestine position is this. If we deal with our commitments, there is first the general pledge to Hussein in October 1915, under which Palestine was included in the areas as to which Great Britain pledged itself that they should be Arab and independent in the future . . . Great Britain and France '' Italy subsequently agreeing '' committed themselves to an international administration of Palestine in consultation with Russia, who was an ally at that time . . . A new feature was brought into the case in November 1917, when Mr Balfour, with the authority of the War Cabinet, issued his famous declaration to the Zionists that Palestine 'should be the national home of the Jewish people, but that nothing should be done '' and this, of course, was a most important proviso '' to prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Those, as far as I know, are the only actual engagements into which we entered with regard to Palestine."[28]

On 17 April 1964, The Times of London published excerpts from a secret memorandum that had been prepared by the Political Intelligence Department of the British Foreign Office for the British delegation to the Paris peace conference. The reference to Palestine said:

"With regard to Palestine, H.M.G. are committed by Sir Henry McMahon's letter to the Sherif on October 24, 1915, to its inclusion in the boundaries of Arab independence ... but they have stated their policy regarding the Palestine Holy Place and Zionist colonization in their message to him of January 4, 1918."

Another document, which was a draft statement for submission to the peace conference, but never submitted, noted:

"The whole of Palestine ... lies within the limits which H.M.G. have pledged themselves to Sherif Husain that they will recognize and uphold the independence of the Arabs."[29][30]

[edit]Lloyd George's explanationThe British Notes taken during a 'Council of Four Conference Held in the Prime Minister's Flat at 23 Rue Nitot, Paris, on Thursday, March 20, 1919, at 3 p.m.'[31] shed further light on the matter. Lord Balfour was in attendance, when Lloyd George explained the history behind the agreements. The notes revealed that:

'[T]he blue area in which France was "allowed to establish such direct or indirect administration or control as they may desire and as they may think fit to arrange with the Arab State or Confederation of Arab States" did not include Damascus, Homs, Hama, or Aleppo. In area A. France was "prepared to recognise and uphold an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States'.[32]Since the Sykes''Pichot Agreement of 1916, the whole mandatory system had been adopted. If a mandate were granted by the League of Nations over these territories, all that France asked was that France should have that part put aside for her.Lloyd George said that he could not do that. The League of Nations could not be used for putting aside our bargain with King Hussein. He asked if M. Pichon intended to occupy Damascus with French troops. If he did, it would clearly be a violation of the Treaty with the Arabs. M. Pichon said that France had no convention with King Hussein. Lloyd George said that the whole of the agreement of 1916 (Sykes''Picot), was based on a letter from Sir Henry McMahon' to King Hussein.[33]Lloyd George, continuing, said that it was on the basis of the above quoted letter that King Hussein had put all his resources into the field which had helped us most materially to win the victory. France had for practical purposes accepted our undertaking to King Hussein in signing the 1916 agreement. This had not been M. Pichon, but his predecessors. He was bound to say that if the British Government now agreed that Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo should be included in the sphere of direct French influence, they would be breaking faith with the Arabs, and they could not face this.Lloyd George was particularly anxious for M. Clemenceau to follow this. The agreement of 1916 had been signed subsequent to the letter to King Hussein. In the following extract from the agreement of 1916 France recognised Arab independence: "It is accordingly understood between the French and British Governments.-(1) That France and Great Britain are prepared to recognise and uphold an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States in the areas A. and B. marked on the annexed map under the suzerainty of an Arab Chief." Hence France, by this act, practically recognised our agreement with King Hussein by excluding Damascus, Homs, Hama, and Aleppo from the blue zone of direct administration, for the map attached to the agreement showed that Damascus, Homs, Hama and Aleppo were included, not in the zone of direct administration, but in the independent Arab State. M. Pichon said that this had never been contested, but how could France be bound by an agreement the very existence of which was unknown to her at the time when the 1916 agreement was signed? In the 1916 agreement France had not in any way recognised the Hedjaz. She had undertaken to uphold "an independent Arab State or Confederation of Arab States", but not the King of the Hedjaz. If France was promised a mandate for Syria, she would undertake to do nothing except in agreement with the Arab State or Confederation of States. This is the role which France demanded in Syria. If Great Britain would only promise her good offices, he believed that France could reach an understanding with Feisal.'[34]

[edit]Consequences of the agreementThe agreement is seen by many as a turning point in Western/Arab relations. It did negate the promises made to Arabs[35] through T. E. Lawrence for a national Arab homeland in the area of Greater Syria, in exchange for their siding with British forces against the Ottoman Empire.

The agreement's principal terms were reaffirmed by the inter-Allied San Remo conference of 19''26 April 1920 and the ratification of the resulting League of Nations mandates by the Council of the League of Nations on 24 July 1922.

[edit]See also[edit]References^Fromkin, David (1989). A Peace to End All Peace: The Fall of the Ottoman Empire and the Creation of the Modern Middle East. New York: Owl. pp. 286, 288. ISBN 0-8050-6884-8.^The Middle East in the twentieth century, Martin Sicker[not in citation given]^http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p. 8.^Peter Mansfield, British Empire magazine, Time-Life Books, no 75, p. 2078[verification needed]^Peter Mansfield, The British Empire magazine, no. 75, Time-Life Books, 1973[verification needed]^Text of the Sykes''Picot Agreement at the WWI Document Archive^ abcd[http://www.amazon.com/Grooves-Change-Herbert-Louis-Samuel/dp/125818799X Grooves Of Change: A Book Of Memoirs, Herbert Samuel[verification needed]^Conservative Party attitudes to Jews, 1900''1950, Harry Defries^ abc[1][2] Behind the Balfour Declaration: "Britain's Great War Pledge To Lord Rothschild", The Journal for Historical Review, 6/4 (Winter 1985-6), p. 389^Asquith stated "It is the Ottoman Government, and not we who have rung the death knell of Ottoman dominion not only in Europe but in Asia."^In the Anglo-Arab Labyrinth, Elie Kedourie[verification needed]^A broken trust: Herbert Samuel, Zionism and the Palestinians 1920''1925, By Sahar Huneidi[verification needed]^CAB 27/24, E.C. 41 War Cabinet Eastern Committee Minutes, December 5, 1918^See UK National Archives CAB/24/143, Eastern Report, No. XVIII, May 31, 1917^See CAB 24/271, Cabinet Paper 203(37)^see paragraph 1 of The Sykes''Picot Agreement^Allenby and British Strategy in the Middle East, 1917''1919, Matthew Hughes, Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-7146-4473-0, pages 122''124^Palestine, a Twice-promised Land?: The British, the Arabs & Zionism, 1915''1920, By Isaiah Friedman, Transaction Publishers, 2000, ISBN 1-56000-391-X, page 166^Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918. Supplement 1, The World War Volume I, Part I: The continuation and conclusion of the war'--participation of the United States, Page 243^see document 242, Memorandum by Mr. Balfour (Paris) respecting Syria, Palestine, and Mesopotamia, 11 August 1919, in EL Woodward and Rohan Butler, Documents on British Foreign Policy, 1919''1939. (London: HM Stationery Office, 1952), ISBN 0-11-591554-0, pages 340''348, [3]^New Statesman Interview '' Jack Straw^http://www.law.fsu.edu/library/collection/LimitsinSeas/IBS094.pdf p. 9.^See Allenby and General Strategy in the Middle East, 1917''1919, By Matthew Hughes, Taylor & Francis, 1999, ISBN 0-7146-4473-0, 113-118^Jordan: Living in the Crossfire, Alan George, Zed Books, 2005, ISBN 1-84277-471-9, page 6^[Britain, the Hashemites and Arab Rule, 1920''1925, by Timothy J. Paris, Routledge, 2003, ISBN 0-7146-5451-5, Page 69]^see for example International Law, Papers of Hersch Lauterpacht, edited by Elihu Lauterpacht, CUP Archive, 1970, ISBN 0-521-21207-3, page 116 and Statehood and the Law of Self-determination, D. Rai€Ù, Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, 2002, ISBN 90-411-1890-X, page 95^Report of a Committee Set Up To Consider Certain Correspondence Between Sir Henry McMahon and The Sharif of Mecca^cited in Palestine Papers, 1917''1922, Doreen Ingrams, page 48 from the UK Archive files PRO CAB 27/24.^"Light on Britain's Palestine Promise". The Times: pp. 15''16. April 17, 1964.^Elie Kedourie (April 23, 1964). "Promises on Palestine (letter)". The Times: p. 13.^'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 1'^'The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, page 6'^The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, Page 7^The Council of Four: minutes of meetings March 20 to May 24, 1919, Page 8^Lawrence of Arabia: The Battle for the Arab World. Director James Hawes. PBS Home Video, 21 October 2003. Interview with Kamal Abu Jaber, former Foreign Minister of Jordan.[edit]Further reading

CIA

VIDEO

VIDEO-Army Drill For Martial Law Terrorizes Residents in Houston, TX - YouTube

Link to Article

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 16:58

VIDEO-Perry proposes infrastructure upgrades, tax cuts

Link to Article

Tue, 29 Jan 2013 23:14

Governor Rick Perry gave his State of the State speech Tuesday. For the first time in more than four years he's offering to open up the state check book.

The Governor's ideas of tax relief along with rebuilding roads and water systems didn't exactly blow the top off the capitol dome, but there was some drama and excitement. About mid-way through his speech -- Governor Perry was interrupted by an outburst from several people in the House Chamber balcony. Supporters of the Governor drowned out the shouting with a standing ovation for Perry who at the time was talking about a tax reform plan he wanted lawmakers to consider.

"I didn't know there would be that much excitement about tax relief," the Governor joked.

The protestors were upset that the Governor continues to refuse to expand the Medicaid program. Troopers quickly ushered the group out of the chamber, where they continued to shout, "Expand Medicaid now."

One of the protesters, James Caldwell from Houston, was handcuffed and escorted out of the Capitol by a state trooper; he declined to comment about being detained.

While Caldwell was charged with disrupting a meeting, which is a misdemeanor, Governor Perry was being accused of playing politics.

"The State of our State is stronger than ever," declared Governor Perry.

The Governor remained true to form during his traditional speech before members of the Texas legislature.

"You have realized a simple truth that bureaucracy doesn't stimulate the economy it just gets in the way," said Governor Perry.

The usual defiant conservative tone by Perry was tempered by a pitch to amend the state Constitution. He wants to send out refund checks when revenues exceed budget expenditures.

"Today, I'm calling for a mechanism to be put in place so when we do bring in more than we need, we'll have the option of returning tax money directly to the people who paid it," said Governor Perry.

It's unclear if the Governor's plan would take the form of a property tax rebate or involve some other type of refund. About 60 percent of state revenues come from sales tax.

Texas Democratic Party leaders say they were encouraged when the Governor said he is willing to tap into the Rainy Day fund to build water and road infrastructure. About $3 billion. But over all they described what they heard as nothing more than a nice political speech.

"It is time for some to stop being both the victim and the perpetrator," said Senator Kirk Watson (D) Austin.

Democrats challenged the Republican leadership to move beyond campaign rhetoric.

"We have dug a deep hole when it comes to using budget gimmicks," said Watson.

The Governor's education reform idea of creating a scholarship for choice program was called out as nothing more than a relabeling of the controversial school voucher idea.

"We saw it happen with our prison systems, saw that gone privatized, and now I'm going to see our education system if certain people have their way, become all privatized and then the public school system will be left at the core of individuals who cannot afford an education," said State Rep. Joe Deshotel (D) Port Arthur.

Democrats are curious to see if Perry is in the mood for compromise as the session closes out the month of January. But his speech could also be a low key approach to launching a re-election bid or another campaign on the national stage.

If Governor Perry is looking to extend his political career, a new poll indicates he has a lot of work to do. Public Policy Polling surveyed 500 people and found that only 31% of voters think Perry should seek reelection next year, compared to 62% who think it's time for him to step aside. Based on the poll, he's among the most unpopular governors in the country, with 41% approval rating. That could open the door for a challenged like attorney general Greg Abbott who trails Perry in the poll by a narrow margin of 38% to 41%.

LINK:

PPP TEXAS '' PERRY POLL

VIDEO-CNN: The American Government Is Launching A New War - YouTube

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 14:57

CBS's Charles Osgood: 'Is the Constitution Worthy of the Reverence in Which Most Americans Hold It?'

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Mon, 28 Jan 2013 09:51

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Is Gabby Giffords Pretending to be Brain Damaged?!? This Seems Like a Total Act!

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Thu, 31 Jan 2013 13:59

George Will Schools Donna Brazile: America's 'Going To Be an Assisted Living Home With an Army'

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Mon, 28 Jan 2013 10:06

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'Lovefest!' ABC Hypes 'Best of Friends' Hillary and Obama

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VIDEO: Timbuktu retaken 'without single shot'

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TIME's Jeffrey Kluger: Doubting Global Warming is Like Believing the Earth is Flat

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 03:49

If you deny global warming, you are on par with those who believe the Earth is flat or the moon landing never happened, at least, according to Jeffrey Kluger, TIME Magazine senior editor for science and technology. Kluger appeared on Saturday's CBS This Morning to discuss the recent trend toward warmer weather.

Co-host Jim Axelrod asked Kluger if the record-setting temperatures of the past year would finally end the debate among scientists over global warming. Kluger responded by slamming those who question manmade climate change: ''Well, I think of the folks who are the climate deniers as the flat Earthers and the people who say the moon landings never happened.''

VIDEO-Sanjay Gupta and Tom Ridge warn about psychiatric drugs in mass murders

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Tue, 29 Jan 2013 15:47

(NaturalNews) For the first time ever, and for a brief moment in time, two knowledgeable and highly credentialed public figures have commented on the fact that psychiatric medications cause violence and must be considered suspect in the case of the Newtown shooter. But then, as if it never happened, and as if psychiatric drugs could not possibly be implicated in violence, the issue was dropped by the media.Fortunately I happened to be watching television on both CNN and Fox Cable News shortly after the Newton tragedy and I have put the TV clips onto YouTube.

The most striking commentary came from Sanjay Gupta, neurosurgeon and famous chief medical correspondent on CNN. On December 18, 2012 at approximately 5:25 p.m. on CNN, he offered the following remarks:

We still don't know much about the shooter who lived in this home. But there is something else to consider: What medications if any he was on? I'm specifically talking about antidepressants. If you look at the studies of other shootings like this that have happened, medications like this were a common factor. Now I want to be clear I'm not saying that antidepressants can't be effective. But people seem to agree that there is a vulnerable time. When someone starts these medications and when someone stops could lead to increased impulsivity and decreased judgment, and making someone out of touch. None of this is an excuse and it's never just one thing. None of these behaviors will fully predict or explain why. But soon again there will be hindsight that might just help prevent another tragedy. It's worth pointing out over a seven-year period there were 11,000 episodes of violence related to drug side effects. If there was a death involved, often it was the individual of himself or herself, a suicide.

Gupta doesn't say where he got the figure of 11,000 drug-induced cases of violence. However, that exact unconfirmed estimate has circulated on the internet in regard to violence reports to the FDA.

There is very convincing evidence of violence induced by psychiatric drugs in a scientific review of all reports of violence and homicidal ideation made to the FDA over a 69 month period. Less extreme behaviors, such as "Aggression, Belligerence and Hostility," were excluded. Among 454 prescription drugs, 31 drugs had a disproportional rate of reported violence or homicidal threats for a total of 1527 reports. Two-thirds of drugs had no reports of violence. The drugs that most clearly cause violence included varenicline (Chantix, a smoking cessation aid), 11 antidepressant drugs, 3 drugs for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and 5 hypnotic/sedatives (sleep aids and tranquilizers). Thus, all but one of the top offenders were psychiatric drugs. Antidepressants as a group were 8.4 times more likely than other prescription drugs to be associated with violence. This study should end the controversy. Psychiatric drugs do cause violence. As the researchers concluded:

Acts of violence toward others are a genuine and serious adverse drug event associated with a relatively small number of drugs.

On Sunday December 16, 2012 on the Fox News Channel, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge was interviewed by Shannon Bream. Ridge was also on the Virginia Tech Review Panel. His roles as Homeland Security boss and Virginia Tech Review Panel member put him into a knowledgeable position. In discussing flawed efforts to intervene in the lives of potentially violent youth, Ridge observed:

Or we put them on severe medications. One of the students in the Columbine shooting was on severe medication and apparently there's analysis that it probably even contributed to his destructive aggressive behavior.

Combined with Sanjay Gupta's remarks, these observations by former Secretary of Homeland Defense Tom Ridge should elevate psychiatric drug-induced violence to a new level in public discourse.

Ridge's characterization of the medication prescribed to Eric Harris as "severe" was incorrect. Harris was prescribed routine antidepressant treatment. As a medical expert in cases surrounding Eric Harris and the Columbine shootings, I obtained the drug company's official report to the FDA on May, 14, 1999 confirming that one of the two shooters (Harris) had a "therapeutic blood level" of the antidepressant Luvox (fluvoxamine) in his system. Luvox is similar to other well-known antidepressants, including Prozac (fluoxetine), Paxil (paroxetine) and Zoloft (sertraline) in its effects.

As a medical expert, I also had access to medical records and can confirm from these unpublished documents that Eric Harris was taking Luvox regularly for one year leading up to the shootings. The dose was increased 200 mg per day on February 9, 1999, two and one-half months prior to the April 20th assaults. He saw his doctor and his prescription was renewed on March 13, 1999. At that time, the medical record described him as suffering from medication-induced tremors, indicating a degree of toxicity.

I first began writing about the risks of violence associated with antidepressants in the early 1990s in Talking Back to Prozac (coauthored by Ginger Breggin). I specifically addressed Eric Harris' use of Luvox in my book, Reclaiming Our Children: A Healing Solution for a Nation in Crisis (2000). I also about Eric Harris and Luvox-induced violence in a peer-reviewed scientific article titled "Fluvoxamine as a cause of stimulation, mania and aggression with a critical analysis of the FDA-approved label" (2001).

With the exception of the disclosure of Eric Harris' toxicology report, it has been very difficult to obtain exact information about the psychiatric drug exposure of previous mass murders. For example, James Holmes, the Aurora, Colorado shooter was in treatment with psychiatrist Lynne Fenton in the months before he assaulted people in a movie theater. He mailed a box of materials to her shortly before committing the violence. A court hearing recently revealed that four prescription bottles had been removed from his home. Yet to this day information has been withheld about what psychiatric medications he was almost surely taking.

Similarly, there are unconfirmed reports that Newtown mass murderer Adam Lanza was taking psychiatric drugs. According to the Washington Post, he was, "A really rambunctious kid, as one former neighbor in Newtown, Conn., recalled him, adding that he was on medication." Yet no information has been released concerning his medication use.

Psychiatric drugs, including antidepressants, stimulants and tranquilizing sedatives, can cause violence. It is imperative to find out what, if any, psychiatric drugs were being taken by twenty-year old Adam Lanza in the Newtown elementary school massacre.

Peter R. Breggin, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York, and the author of more than forty scientific articles and twenty books, two of which are very relevant to current events in regard to medication-induced violence. In Medication Madness (2008) Dr. Breggin examines fifty cases of medication-induced violence, mayhem and suicide. His latest book is Psychiatric Drug Withdrawal: A Guidebook for Prescribers, Therapists, Patients and Their Families. It presents reasons to withdraw from psychiatric drugs and describe a safe and effective patient-centered approach. Dr. Breggin's website is www.breggin.com

About the author:Peter R. Breggin, MD is a psychiatrist in private practice in Ithaca, New York. Dr. Breggin criticizes contemporary psychiatric reliance on diagnoses and drugs, and promotes empathic therapeutic relationships. He has been called "the Conscience of Psychiatry." See his website at www.Breggin.com

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VIDEO-Hitler says NEIN (Metal remix) - YouTube

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VIDEO-Entrainement de l'arm(C)e Malienne - C dans l'air (Mali : en attendant la guerre) - YouTube

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VIDEO-MSNBC's Morning Joe Allows Ex- Playboy CEO Peddle Climate Change Link to Gun Crime | MRCTV

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VIDEO-Defense Department Press Briefing | C-SPAN

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Wed, 30 Jan 2013 14:46

German Chancellor Angela Merkel addressed hundreds at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland on the state of the eurozone. She said ''considerable progress'' was being made in solving the crisis, but eurozone countries must implement the structural reforms needed to reduce government debt levels.

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General McChrysal Tells CBS He's Not Worried About A Nuclear Iran

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Source: Crooks and Liars

Wed, 30 Jan 2013 02:14

You can't have a discussion on Villager TV with any politician or beltway pundit about Israel or Iran unless there's sufficient fearmongering over the impending doom if the Ayatollah gets his hands on some nukes. I've had this post in the back of my mind for weeks, but I almost forgot about it since Schieffer didn't even do a follow up to these remarkable words. And I never imagined that I'd hear Gen. McChrystal, the man who was tasked to lead our forces in Afghanistan, say this on my teevee.

It's quite remarkable.

SCHIEFFER: What do you think is the greatest threat to our national security at this point?

MCCHRYSTAL: In the near term, it's clearly our economic challenges. Our inability to make tough decisions to move our economy forward, that worries me in the near term. In the long term it's our education because that is the future.

SCHIEFFER: Not terrorism, education.

MCCHRYSTAL: We can handle terrorism. We can handle a nuclear-armed Iran. We can't handle a future where young Americans are not educated enough to take our country forward.

SCHIEFFER: General, I want to be one of many to thank you for your service. Thanks for being with us today. We'll be back in one minute with the mayor of Los Angeles.

I had to reread these words over a few times before they sunk in because they are so alien to what any of his military predecessors have ever uttered about terrorism or Iran.The general is more worried about our education system and the state of economy than the ongoing fight that's destined to be with us for years to come. here they are again:

MCCHRYSTAL: In the near term, it's clearly our economic challenges. Our inability to make tough decisions to move our economy forward, that worries me in the near term. In the long term it's our education because that is the future.

SCHIEFFER: Not terrorism, education.

MCCHRYSTAL: We can handle terrorism. We can handle a nuclear-armed Iran. We can't handle a future where young Americans are not educated enough to take our country forward.

The general was featured on every news network when he released his book so I find it very distressing that these words were never picked up by the villagers covering him.

***These are words that could actually calm Americans instead of frightening them?***Haven't Americans been through enough these last twelve years?

See what happens when a person in the know changes direction and diverts from the Villager narrative?

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