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No Agenda Episode 499 - Spam Horse

By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 12:48 PM.

Spam Horse

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By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 12:48 PM.


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Art By: Jay Young


By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, March 28, 2013 at 12:48 PM.

Spam Horse

Executive Producer: Sir Gerard Boers

Executive Producer: Paxton Sanders

Executive Producer: Coby Hung

Executive Producer: Sir Dr. Sharkey

Executive Producer: Sir David Foley

Executive Producer: Christopher Roche

Executive Producer: Kevin Chamberlin

Executive Producer: Baroness Francine von Stealthmode

Special 31313 Executive Producers: David McGee, Sir Hank from Queens, Blake Israel, Jacob Scherer, Dame Monica Lansing, Sir Matthew Greensmith, Gordon Jones, Allen Smith, Joshua Rieker, Daniel Grebb, Sir Keith Edwards, Sir Robert Goshko, John Noonan, Justin Jones, Baron Dean Bertram, Amy Pousson

Associate Executive Producer: Sir Lucas Hokanson

Become a member of the 500 Club, support the show here

Knighthoods: Gerald Boers, Paxton Sanders, John White, Hank in Queens, Monica Lansing

Barons: Dame Francine, Sir Dean Bertram

Art By: Jay Young

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No Agenda Capo di tutti capi!

In da mornin Compare Adam.åÊ

Tanks for da respect you showed me on Sundays No Agenda show, the Greatest Podcast in the Universe and Cicero.

Don't let me presume dat I could be your Consigliere of the No Agenda Family,

BUT I could not help notice dat Dvorak sounded a little shakey when you

pressed him on his ties to WCKG. åÊ I tout he wood fold his cards under da pressure.åÊ Keep him away from da "G".

Is he maybe gettin da envelope and not sharing?åÊ

Don't you get to wet your beak?

Likes you said dat radio

station should have a link to No Agenda AND a donate button on its home

page. Big Tony's kid says dats easy.

I hope dat radio station gets dat done before da fire dat may or may not

happen, and not like one of Dvorak's books on salt or wine......


you tinks Dvorak is stepping outta line, give me a shout. I keep a

couple of holes ready on the "Spilatro" farm in Indiana. Not dat your

"Uncle Don" can't trick him on a one way wine trip to Nort Korea.


About time for a massive natural event

If it was MY sim city...

Earthquake in CA

Appropriations bill is signed and done

Weather is crazy

Too much financial truth

bitcoin needs disruption

Cyber War$

Three arrested for trying to cut undersea Internet cable - SlashGear

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Archived Version

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:45

Attacks on the submarine cables running along the ocean floors carrying massive amounts of Internet traffic aren't terribly uncommon. A series of the cables were severed for reasons unbeknownst back in 2008, for example, and again early last year, the latter of which cut off Internet service to various locations in Africa. Now three have been arrested for attempting to severe a cable feeding Internet to Alexandria.

According to Egyptian military spokesman Col Ahmed Mohammed Ali, three men were discovered attempting to sabotage an undersea Internet cable from a fishing boat located approximately 820 yards from Alexandria. As a result, Internet users in Egypt have suffered reduced speeds, something that is no doubt frustrating, and also highlights the vulnerability of an infrastructure the modern world is so dependent on.

Per the announcement, the men were caught while in the process of cutting the cable. Although the extent of the damage that was caused is unknown, the timing of this attack coincided with reports from Seacom, a cable operator, that multiple lines between Africa, Europe, the Middle East, and parts of Asia were also affected, causing widespread Internet slowing. The specific cable attacked in this event is the SEA-ME-WE 4 main lines in the Mediterranean.

The attackers' motivation for the attack is unknown, and they are slated for interrogation by law enforcement officials. Whether this attack is in any way related to the problems experienced with other submarine Internet cables in recent days is also unknown. The mens' names have not been revealed. Stay tuned, and we'll keep you updated as more information becomes available.

[via BBC]Image via Renesys

Cyberfight slows down the entire Internet

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Archived Version

Source: CNET News

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:39

A fight between a spam-fighting group called Spamhaus and a Dutch Web host Cyberbunker has been called the biggest public DDoS battle in history.

A cyberwar is being waged between two companies over a recent move made by one of them.

Spam-fighting organization, Spamhaus, which works with e-mail providers around the globe to block spam from entering Inboxes, has been in a battle over the last week that has watched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks exceed by several times the typical attacks inflicted on organizations.

Spamhaus hosts a blacklist made up of servers that it believes, are designed to send spam around the world. Recently, the organization added a Dutch Web hosting company named Cyberbunker to its blacklist. Cyberbunker, which gets its name from its headquarters in a former NATO bunker and allows its customers to maintain their anonymity, has built its business on accepting any and all customers, except those engaged in child pornography and terrorism-related activities.

A spokesman for Spamhaus told The New York Times in a statement published today that a massive DDoS attack was launched against it on March 19. The attack, which has been ongoing for the last week, is somewhat different from typical DDoS attacks. Over the last week, the attackers have been hitting Spamhaus with attacks peaking at 300 gigabits per second -- six times greater than similar attacks designed to take down sites with powerful defenses, like banks.

The Spamhaus attack is targeting the organization's Domain Name System (DNS) servers that connect to the underlying infrastructure of the Internet that turns typical Web addresses into numerical information that the technology can understand. That has resulted, according to reports, in some service slowdowns across the Internet, due to the sheer amount of data hitting the DNS through the attack.

According to the BBC, which earlier reported on the story and spoke with Spamhaus, Netflix is experiencing a slowdown, and it's possible that entire sites will either be slow or inaccessible due to the continued attacks. Spamhaus has, however, been able to stay up, thanks to its massive DNS server system and help from companies, including Google, that have helped carry some of the load.

For its part, Cyberbunker has not confirmed that it's behind the attacks, but Spamhaus believes that it is. Spamhaus has also alleged that "criminal gangs" from Eastern Europe and Russia are also participating in the attacks.

CNET has contacted Cyberbunker for comment. We will update this story when we have more information.

CyberBunker explains 'largest' cyber-attack '-- RT News

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Thu, 28 Mar 2013 08:15

Published time: March 27, 2013 22:27Edited time: March 28, 2013 12:31Spamhaus is a major censorship organization only pretending to fight spam, a CyberBunker spokesman said in an RT exclusive. Sven Olaf Kamphuis claimed that as a constant bully of Internet service providers Spamhaus has only itself to blame for the attack.

In a Skype interview with RT, Kamphuis denied that CyberBunker was the organization behind the historical attack, pointing the finger at a large collective of internet providers around the globe called

Spamhaus has blackmailed a number of internet service providers and carriers into disconnecting clients without court orders or any legal process, Kamphuis says. Basically, he accuses them of claiming people are spammers when they are not.

''They do it on a regular basis,'' Kamphuis said. ''If people do not comply with their demands they just list the entire internet provider.''

Kamphuis claims they use ''mafia tactics'' and have a list of internet users that they do not like, which features a lot of users from China and Russia because they allegedly believe that a lot of spammers and criminals in these two countries use the internet to facilitate crime.

Spamhaus first reported massive DDoS attacks on March 20. At one point Spamhaus servers were flooded with 300 billion bits per second (300Gbps) of data, suggesting this was the largest registered attack of its kind in the history of the Internet, according to experts from computer security firm Kaspersky.

''The data flow generated by such an attack may affect intermediate network nodes when it passes them, thus impeding operations of normal web services that have no relation to Spamhaus or CyberBunker,'' corporate communications manager at Kaspersky, Yuliya Krivosheina, wrote in a statement for RT. ''Therefore, such DDoS attack may affect regular users as well, with network slowdown or total unavailability of certain web resources being typical symptoms.''

Kamphuis however claimed that the allegations of web access slowing down world-wide as a result of the attack could be a part of a PR stunt effort by a web performance and security company CloudFlare that helped Spamhaus to tackle the problem.

''That was basically just CloudFlare putting itself in the middle,'' he explained. ''CloudFlare took on a customer that was under attack in an attempt to make good PR for itself, and it kind of backfired.''

''Spamhaus mafia tactics are definitely the largest threat to the freedom of the internet at the moment,'' Kamphius told RT. And it is not about money, but about control, he says. Spamhaus just wants to own the platforms on which communications take place.

Earlier, speaking with RT's news video agency RUPTLY, Kamphuis said that CyberBunker was just one of the many groups who took part in the attack, most of them being various internet service providers outraged by Spamhaus' constant bullying and blackmailing.

RUPTLY:Why did you carry out the attacks?

Sven Olaf Kamphuis: Some members of are carrying out the attacks. There has been some mis-information from the New York Times that it's me carrying out the attacks. Spamhaus have pissed off a whole lot of people over the past few years by blackmailing ISPs and carriers into disconnecting clients without court orders or legal process whatsoever, just because Spamhaus says so.

And Spamhaus claims they are spammers without any evidence whatsoever. And Spamhaus does it all the time, they blackmail domain registers, they blackmail internet providers and they blackmail internet providers of the internet providers so that they can just point at a website and say take it down.

This is obviously not how freedom of speech and the right to freedom of information and the normal legal process is supposed to work. Spamhaus has become a major influence in internet censorship and basically what we're seeing here is the internet organizing and puking them out.

At this moment we are not even conducting any attacks because our people from our group stopped any attack yesterday morning so if they are still under attack which I think they are because I get news feeds that they are still under attack then it's now other people attacking them.

Basically what happened is that people started to add other people that have had problems with Spamhaus to a Skypechat '' a lot of them in China and Russia '' because Spamhaus doesn't like Chinese and Russian people for some reason and thinks that they should not have internet, I don't know.

Most of the listings call everyone Russian spammers and criminals without any evidence. As far as we're concerned the Chinese and Russians have a right to internet as well.

Spamhaus itself was a great help in this effort because they have got an illegal list that they maintain without permission from the Information Commissioners Office and in contradiction to the data protection act of all personal details and pictures and names and addresses of people that Spamhaus do not like.

Basically there was a little meeting on Skype and well, some people in Russia decided to solve the problem somewhat more directly by wiping Spamhaus off the internet.

RUPTLY:Have you got a political manifesto underpinning your actions?

SOK: Basically if Spamhaus wants to continue to exist then Spamhaus should just refrain from listing IP addresses that actually XXX [the entire subnets] in spam. And with that for the people that choose to use Spamhaus the problem should be resolved because their mail servers will no longer accept any spam. But they cannot list entire internet providers or supplies or countries just because Spamhaus doesn't like whatever they're doing.

Now if Spamhaus claims that people will be criminals or if Spamhaus claims that people will be spammers and those people are from countries where there are actually laws against spam then Spamhaus if free to report those people to the police, after all spamming is illegal.

Spamhaus on the other hand claims at every opportunity to work with law enforcement, which is quite funny as I've never seen a police report filed by Spamhaus about anything.

RUPTLY:What does Spamhaus need to do for the attacks to be called off?

SOK: The attacks have already stopped because CloudFlare worked themselves into the middle of an attack and tried to turn it into a PR stunt for themselves which kind of like backfired because CloudFlare couldn't handle the attack.

CloudFlare highly underestimated the attack or highly overestimated their capacity and basically their PR stunt worked against them and they caused their other customers collateral damage, they did that themselves.

RUPTLY:Have you had any contact with WikiLeaks or Julian Assange?

SOK: We did have contact with some Wikileaks people back in the days when there were some issues but it didn't get any further than them running a Wikileaks mirror in the end. The original plan was to put it all in one of our facilities.

RUPTLY:Which person or organization angers you the most?

SOK: The Spamhaus mafia tactics definitely are the largest threat to the freedom of the internet at this moment, yes so they piss me off the most.

Probably the copyright people, that's a good second. The IRAA and the MPAA and all their wannabe attorneys are a good second but at least they go to court even though they may try to corrupt the court, at least they go to court which is something that cannot be said for Spamhaus.

RUPTLY:What is your issue with the copyright organizations?

SOK: Well, the copyright people constantly try to shut down any communications platform outside of their control. It's not about money. They never tried to sell a license. We have tried to contact Sony intellectual property, directly. We have spoken to presidents doing video streaming so they could do it all in high definition.

They basically don't want the money. They want to own the platforms, any of the platforms on which communication takes place. And that is obviously not going to happen. Just like with Spamhaus, it's about control.

RUPTLY:What is the issue you have with Spamhaus in particular?

SOK: Well, I think the cyber-attacks do put things under public discussion and that in the case of Spamhaus was urgently needed, because they have been operating in the background, claiming to be spam fighters and a little non-profit organisation and at the moment it is becoming all the more clear what they really are. People that work at internet providers have always known this. Not people like Peter Gilmore from Akamie who claims that we are the danger to internet, because Akamie never truly have such problems.

People, who work at abuse desks or as providers, know that if you don't give Spamhaus their way, they will list your entire provider and at that point all of your customers will start to complain that 1/3 of the internet no longer accepts [their] emails to start with. If they put you on drop, a whole bunch of American providers will no longer accept your backups, so you can no longer communicate with half of the sites hosted in the United States.

It is a massive problem when one little offshore company from the Bahamas gains such an influence on the internet that they can have such an impact.

RUPTLY:Do you think you will be caught by law-enforcement officials?

SOK: Well, if there is a problem I do know how to run to an embassy really fast. But let's just say I would prefer not to end up in that situation.

RUPTLY:What's your view on Pirate Bay?

SOK: The Pirate Bay is a platform on which people post torrent files which may or may not refer to files people can download, and as such is fully legal. They have the same carrier immunity we have. Anyone who wants to attack the Pirate Bay is basically wrong.

Now, this whole corporate thing being not about the money, but about control. I'd say maybe this gang of Swedes should take some steps and the case gets dropped and Sweden makes the point that they are Sweden and not a puppet state of United States or the RIAA.

RUPTLY:Are you afraid of being caught?

SOK: No, I have been arrested before. It's not such a big deal. But that won't happen. There is a whole list of embassies to run to, like Julian Assange, so I don't think I will be arrested. Plus, I am not doing the attacks and neither are my companies.

cloudflare - Google Search

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Thu, 28 Mar 2013 08:08


Akamai CDN And The Open Cloud Mean 24/7 Open Cloud Fanatical Support'!The selection and placement of stories on this page were determined automatically by a computer program. The time or date displayed reflects when an article was added to or updated in Google News.

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The DDoS That Almost Broke the Internet

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Thu, 28 Mar 2013 08:05

March 27, 2013The New York Times this morning published a story about the Spamhaus DDoS attack and how CloudFlare helped mitigate it and keep the site online. The Times calls the attack the largest known DDoS attack ever on the Internet. We wrote about the attack last week. At the time, it was a large attack, sending 85Gbps of traffic. Since then, the attack got much worse. Here are some of the technical details of what we've seen.

Growth Spurt

On Monday, March 18, 2013 Spamhaus contacted CloudFlare regarding an attack they were seeing against their website They signed up for CloudFlare and we quickly mitigated the attack. The attack, initially, was approximately 10Gbps generated largely from open DNS recursors. On March 19, the attack increased in size, peaking at approximately 90Gbps. The attack fluctuated between 90Gbps and 30Gbps until 01:15 UTC on on March 21.

The attackers were quiet for a day. Then, on March 22 at 18:00 UTC, the attack resumed, peaking at 120Gbps of traffic hitting our network. As we discussed in the previous blog post, CloudFlare uses Anycast technology which spreads the load of a distributed attack across all our data centers. This allowed us to mitigate the attack without it affecting Spamhaus or any of our other customers. The attackers ceased their attack against the Spamhaus website four hours after it started.

Other than the scale, which was already among the largest DDoS attacks we've seen, there was nothing particularly unusual about the attack to this point. Then the attackers changed their tactics. Rather than attacking our customers directly, they started going after the network providers CloudFlare uses for bandwidth. More on that in a second, first a bit about how the Internet works.

Peering on the Internet

The "inter" in Internet refers to the fact that it is a collection of independent networks connected together. CloudFlare runs a network, Google runs a network, and bandwidth providers like Level3, AT&T, and Cogent run networks. These networks then interconnect through what are known as peering relationships.

When you surf the web, your browser sends and receives packets of information. These packets are sent from one network to another. You can see this by running a traceroute. Here's one from Stanford University's network to the New York Times' website (

1 ( 0.572 ms 2 ( 0.796 ms 3 ( 0.536 ms 4 ( 25.636 ms 5 ( 3.306 ms 6 ( 1.384 ms 7 ( 2.722 ms 8 ( 20.812 ms 9 ( 21.385 msThere are three networks in the above traceroute:,, and The request starts at Stanford. Between lines 4 and 5 it passes from Stanford's network to their peer Then, between lines 6 and 7, it passes from to, which appears to provide hosting for the New York Times. This means Stanford has a peering relationship with has a peering relationship with And provides connectivity for the New York Times.

CloudFlare connects to a large number of networks. You can get a sense of some, although not all, of the networks we peer with through a tool like Hurricane Electric's BGP looking glass. CloudFlare connects to peers in two ways. First, we connect directly to certain large carriers and other networks to which we send a large amount of traffic. In this case, we connect our router directly to the router at the border of the other network, usually with a piece of fiber optic cable. Second, we connect to what are known as Internet Exchanges, IXs for short, where a number of networks meet in a central point.

Most major cities have an IX. The model for IXs are different in different parts of the world. Europe runs some of the most robust IXs, and CloudFlare connects to several of them including LINX (the London Internet Exchange), AMS-IX (the Amsterdam Internet Exchange), and DE-CIX (the Frankfurt Internet Exchange), among others. The major networks that make up the Internet --Google, Facebook Yahoo, etc. -- connect to these same exchanges to pass traffic between each other efficiently. When the Spamhaus attacker realized he couldn't go after CloudFlare directly, he began targeting our upstream peers and exchanges.


Once the attackers realized they couldn't knock CloudFlare itself offline even with more than 100Gbps of DDoS traffic, they went after our direct peers. In this case, they attacked the providers from whom CloudFlare buys bandwidth. We, primarily, contract with what are known as Tier 2 providers for CloudFlare's paid bandwidth. These companies peer with other providers and also buy bandwidth from so-called Tier 1 providers.

There are approximately a dozen Tier 1 providers on the Internet. The nature of these providers is that they don't buy bandwidth from anyone. Instead, they engage in what is known as settlement-free peering with the other Tier 1 providers. Tier 2 providers interconnect with each other and then buy bandwidth from the Tier 1 providers in order to ensure they can connect to every other point on the Internet. At the core of the Internet, if all else fails, it is these Tier 1 providers that ensure that every network is connected to every other network. If one of them fails, it's a big deal.

Anycast means that if the attacker attacked the last step in the traceroute then their attack would be spread across CloudFlare's worldwide network, so instead they attacked the second to last step which concentrated the attack on one single point. This wouldn't cause a network-wide outage, but it could potentially cause regional problems.

We carefully select our bandwidth providers to ensure they have the ability to deal with attacks like this. Our direct peers quickly filtered attack traffic at their edge. This pushed the attack upstream to their direct peers, largely Tier 1 networks. Tier 1 networks don't buy bandwidth from anyone, so the majority of the weight of the attack ended up being carried by them. While we don't have direct visibility into the traffic loads they saw, we have been told by one major Tier 1 provider that they saw more than 300Gbps of attack traffic related to this attack. That would make this attack one of the largest ever reported.

The challenge with attacks at this scale is they risk overwhelming the systems that link together the Internet itself. The largest routers that you can buy have, at most, 100Gbps ports. It is possible to bond more than one of these ports together to create capacity that is greater than 100Gbps however, at some point, there are limits to how much these routers can handle. If that limit is exceeded then the network becomes congested and slows down.

Over the last few days, as these attacks have increased, we've seen congestion across several major Tier 1s, primarily in Europe where most of the attacks were concentrated, that would have affected hundreds of millions of people even as they surfed sites unrelated to Spamhaus or CloudFlare. If the Internet felt a bit more sluggish for you over the last few days in Europe, this may be part of the reason why.

Attacks on the IXs

In addition to CloudFlare's direct peers, we also connect with other networks over the so-called Internet Exchanges (IXs). These IXs are, at their most basic level, switches into which multiple networks connect and can then pass bandwidth. In Europe, these IXs are run as non-profit entities and are considered critical infrastructure. They interconnect hundreds of the world's largest networks including CloudFlare, Google, Facebook, and just about every other major Internet company.

Beyond attacking CloudFlare's direct peers, the attackers also attacked the core IX infrastructure on the London Internet Exchange (LINX), the Amsterdam Internet Exchange (AMS-IX), the Frankfurt Internet Exchange (DE-CIX), and the Hong Kong Internet Exchange (HKIX). From our perspective, the attacks had the largest effect on LINX which caused impact over the exchange and LINX's systems that monitor the exchange, as visible through the drop in traffic recorded by their monitoring systems. (Corrected: see below for original phrasing.)

The congestion impacted many of the networks on the IXs, including CloudFlare's. As problems were detected on the IX, we would route traffic around them. However, several London-based CloudFlare users reported intermittent issues over the last several days. This is the root cause of those problems.

The attacks also exposed some vulnerabilities in the architecture of some IXs. We, along with many other network security experts, worked with the team at LINX to better secure themselves. In doing so, we developed a list of best practices for any IX in order to make them less vulnerable to attacks.

Two specific suggestions to limit attacks like this involve making it more difficult to attack the IP addresses that members of the IX use to interchange traffic between each other. We are working with IXs to ensure that: 1) these IP addresses should not be announced as routable across the public Internet; and 2) packets destined to these IP addresses should only be permitted from other IX IP addresses. We've been very impressed with the team at LINX and how quickly they've worked to implement these changes and add additional security to their IX and are hopeful other IXs will quickly follow their lead.

The Full Impact of the Open Recursor Problem

At the bottom of this attack we once again find the problem of open DNS recursors. The attackers were able to generate more than 300Gbps of traffic likely with a network of their own that only had access 1/100th of that amount of traffic themselves. We've written about how these mis-configured DNS recursors as a bomb waiting to go off that literally threatens the stability of the Internet itself. We've now seen an attack that begins to illustrate the full extent of the problem.

While lists of open recursors have been passed around on network security lists for the last few years, on Monday the full extent of the problem was, for the first time, made public. The Open Resolver Project made available the full list of the 21.7 million open resolvers online in an effort to shut them down.

We'd debated doing the same thing ourselves for some time but worried about the collateral damage of what would happen if such a list fell into the hands of the bad guys. The last five days have made clear that the bad guys have the list of open resolvers and they are getting increasingly brazen in the attacks they are willing to launch. We are in full support of the Open Resolver Project and believe it is incumbent on all network providers to work with their customers to close any open resolvers running on their networks.

Unlike traditional botnets which could only generate limited traffic because of the modest Internet connections and home PCs they typically run on, these open resolvers are typically running on big servers with fat pipes. They are like bazookas and the events of the last week have shown the damage they can cause. What's troubling is that, compared with what is possible, this attack may prove to be relatively modest.

As someone in charge of DDoS mitigation at one of the Internet giants emailed me this weekend: "I've often said we don't have to prepare for the largest-possible attack, we just have to prepare for the largest attack the Internet can send without causing massive collateral damage to others. It looks like you've reached that point, so... congratulations!"

At CloudFlare one of our goals is to make DDoS something you only read about in the history books. We're proud of how our network held up under such a massive attack and are working with our peers and partners to ensure that the Internet overall can stand up to the threats it faces.

Correction: The original sentence about the impact on LINX was "From our perspective, the attacks had the largest effect on LINX which for a little over an hour on March 23 saw the infrastructure serving more than half of the usual 1.5Tbps of peak traffic fail." That was not well phrased, and has been edited, with notation in place.

Attacks on Spamhaus Used Internet Against Itself

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Archived Version

Source: NYT > Home Page

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 07:59

An escalating cyberattack involving an antispam group and a shadowy group of attackers has now affected millions of people across the Internet, raising the question: How can such attacks be stopped?

Gerry Shih/ReutersMatthew Prince, chief executive of CloudFlare. The attacks first centered on his company's client Spamhaus and spiraled outward.

More Tech CoverageNews from the technology industry, including start-ups, the Internet, enterprise and gadgets.On Twitter: @nytimesbits.

The short answer is: Not easily. The digital ''fire hose'' being wielded by the attackers to jam traffic on the Internet in recent weeks was made possible by both the best and worst aspects of the sprawling global computer network. The Internet is, by default, an open, loosely regulated platform for communication, but many of the servers that make its communication possible have been configured in such a way that they can be easily fooled.

The latest attacks, which appeared to have subsided by Wednesday, have demonstrated just how big a problem that can be.

On Tuesday, security engineers said that an anonymous group unhappy with Spamhaus, a volunteer organization that distributes a blacklist of spammers to e-mail providers, had retaliated with a cyberattack of vast proportions.

In what is called a distributed denial of service, or DDoS, attack, the assailants harnessed a powerful botnet '-- a network of thousands of infected computers being controlled remotely '-- to send attack traffic first to Spamhaus's Web site and later to the Internet servers used by CloudFlare, a Silicon Valley company that Spamhaus hired to deflect its onslaught.

This kind of attack works because the botnet exploits Internet routing software and fools Internet servers into responding to requests for information sent simultaneously by a large group of computers. The Internet servers that answer the requests are tricked into sending blocks of data to the victims, in this case Spamhaus and CloudFlare.

The attack was amplified because each of the servers in this case was asked to send a relatively large block of information. The data stream grew from 10 billion bits per second last week to as much as 300 billion bits per second this week, the largest such attack ever reported, causing what CloudFlare estimated to be hundreds of millions of people to experience delays and error messages across the Web.

On Wednesday, CloudFlare described the highly technical game of cat-and-mouse between itself and Spamhaus's opponents that has played out over the course of the last nine days. After the attackers discovered that they could not disable CloudFlare, which had been hired by Spamhaus to absorb its attack traffic, they changed their strategy.

They took aim at the networks that CloudFlare connected to and began to attack the computer servers that serve as the network's foundation. These are specialized ''peering'' points at which Internet networks exchange traffic. The attackers took aim at organizations like the London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Hong Kong Internet exchanges, which route regional Internet traffic and are also used by sites like Google, Facebook and Yahoo to pass traffic efficiently among one another.

Here, too, they were unable to stall the Internet completely, but they did slow it, particularly by focusing on the London exchange, known as LINX.

''From our perspective, the attacks had the largest effect on LINX,'' said Matthew Prince, CloudFlare's chief executive, in a description posted on the company's Web site on Wednesday. For a little over an hour on Saturday, he said, the traffic passing through the LINX infrastructure dropped significantly.

The attacks were episodic, stopping and starting and shifting targets over nine days through Tuesday morning. On Wednesday, Mr. Prince said that there some indications that the attackers were planning further actions, although he said he did not know if they would include DDoS attacks.

Veteran Internet engineers said the attack was made possible by a combination of defects, loopholes and sloppy configuration of Internet routing equipment. Indeed, a number of computer security specialists pointed out that the attacks would have been impossible if the world's major Internet firms simply checked that outgoing data packets truly were being sent by their customers, rather than botnets. Unfortunately, a relatively small number of Internet companies actually perform this kind of check.

Russia Chiners EU Cyprus

The Template and ESM

What Dijsselbloem Really Said: Full "On The Record" Transcript.

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Archived Version

Source: WT news feed

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:19

Hopefully the memory of the new Eurogroup head, who in a one day lost more credibility than his admittedly lying predecessor Juncker ever had, will be jogged courtesy of this full transcript provided by Reuters and the FT of what he told two reporters - on the record - and for the whole world to read. Because, by now, we are confident everyone has had more than enough with watching the entire Eurozone rapidly and tragically turn itself into a complete and utter mythomaniac, kletpocratic circus.

To clarify what Dijsselbloem said, we've decided to post a transcript of the portion of the interview dealing with how the eurozone might deal with bank failures in the future in light of the Cyprus example. The interview we conducted alongside Brussels bureau chief Luke Baker of Reuters (@LukeReuters) lasted about 45 minutes, and the portion on bank resolution lasted for about 10 of those minutes. The interview started out with some Cyprus-specific questions '' like how capital controls might work, whether Dijsselbloem had learned any lessons form the Cyprus experience '' and then shifted to a discussion about whether north-south relations were hampering EU decision making. That's when Baker asked the first question about whether Cyprus set a precedent for future bank rescues...

Q: To what extent does the decision taken last night end up setting a template for bank resolution going forward?

A: What we should try to do and what we've done last night is what I call ''pushing back the risks''. In times of crisis when a risk certainly turns up in a banking sector or an economy, you really have very little choice: you try to take that risk away, and you take it on the public debt. You say, ''Okay, we'll deal with it, give it to us.''

Now that the situation is more calm and the financial markets seem to have become more steady and easier, we should start pushing back the risks. If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be: ''Ok, what are you the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?'' If the bank can't do it, then we'll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders. We'll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank. And if necessary the uninsured deposit holders: ''What can you do in order to save your own banks?''

In other words, taking away the risk from the financial sector and taking it onto the public shoulders is not the right approach. If we want to have a healthy, sound financial sector, the only way is to say: ''Look, there where you take on the risks, you must deal with them. And if you can't deal with them, you shouldn't have taken them on and the consequence may be that it's end of story.'' That is an approach that I think we should, now that we're out of the heat of the crisis, consequently take.

I've tried to do so as far as I could in nationalising the SNS bank in the Netherlands. We've completely wiped out the shareholders and the junior bondholders. We have to bring down the tab to be picked up by the taxpayers.

Q: What does that say for other countries in the eurozone that have very highly-leveraged banking sectors, Luxembourg, Malta even? Much larger than Cyprus'.

A: It means: deal with it before you get in trouble. Strengthen your banks, fix your balance sheets, and realise that if a bank gets in trouble, the response will no longer automatically be we'll come and take away your problems. We're going to push them back. That's the first response that we need. Push them back. You deal with them.

Q: That sounds a whole lot like what people were suggesting before Lehman Brothers. They made a bad investment in Lehman Brothers; let it go down. And we saw what happened after that. Is there any risk that this change in thinking risks coming back to the 'too big to fail''...

A: I think we have to realise before we come to a decision can we let a bank fall over, is it too big to fail, there are a lot of things that can be done. To start with, we should not waste any time in fixing balance sheets. Banks have to build up their reserves, have to become much more stable and strong within themselves.

Secondly, we need mechanisms to deal with risks in terms of: if a bank is in trouble, can you take out the bits you want to save and let go of the bits you don't want to save, the ''living will'' approach.

Thirdly, if a bank does get in trouble, to who can we shift the account? Who's going to pay for it? That's what I was talking about just now, to shareholders, etc. Then there comes a point where you, as a government, may have to step in, but that should be the order. You take preventive measures, you make sure banks are more stable, more robust. If there still is a problem, you need mechanisms to address them, to pull banks apart, etc. You need to bail in those people whose equity is involved, etc.

Q: This is basically the [Michel] Barnier proposal [for a common EU bank resolution regime]. The priority seems to be removing that moral hazard.

Q2: Those proposals now look like they're going to be delayed, I think, from Barnier. In a way, you've had a chance with Cyprus as a kind of test case, if you like. Does it feel like that?

A: Like I said, it's very hard to do this if there's a lot of nervousness in the markets and there is still a crisis atmosphere. Now that the crisis atmosphere is disappearing '' we had a little upheaval last week after the levy discussion '' but looking at it a couple of days later now, a week later now, the markets have really been very wise in responding to this whole levy thing. So now that the crisis seems to fade out, I think we have to dare a little more in dealing with this.

Q: It just makes me think of one thing, off the cuff, which has to do with the ESM [European Stability Mechanism] and the direct recapitalisation of banks. Does that change the kind of calculus in terms of how that is used going down the road? There have been suggestions it may never be used if you have fully-functioning bail-in systems. Is that what we're saying?

A: I think that's what we should aim at. We should aim at a situation where we will never need to even consider direct recap. The interesting thing of course that in the Spanish situation, because that where the demand for a direct recap instrument started, from the Spanish banking crisis. We are now dealing with the Spanish banking sector '' restructuring it, recapitalising it, bad bank, some bail-in '' without this instrument. If we have even more instruments in terms of bail-in and how far we can go in bail-in, the need for direct recap will become smaller and smaller.

I can just repeat what I said. I think that the approach has to be: Let's deal with the banks within the banks first, before looking at public money, be it direct recap or any other instrument coming from the public side. Banks should basically be able to save themselves, or at least restructure or recapitalise themselves as far as possible.

Q: Is that new philosophy, was it hard among the 17 [finance ministers], are there people who it's been hard to convince this is the right approach?

A: Well, there is still nervousness, understandably, about can we pull it off, what will it mean in the financial markets, how will the financial markets react to the eurozone, to the financial institutions in the eurozone, etc.

That was one of the reasons why, last week, we didn't go down the bail-in track [in Cyprus] but went down the levy track. Now we're going down the bail-in track, and I'm pretty confident the markets will see this as a sensible, very concentrated and direct approach instead of the more general approach [of] let's levy everyone to gather the money for the banks. So yes, that that is a sort of shift in approach.

Q: Is this something that you've sort of market tested, if you like, with the market? You've had a lot of feedback? You just said you feel very confident that the market will respond positively to the bail-in approach. Is that the feedback you've had?

A: You get two kinds of feedback. There's the economic analysts that say this is a sensible approach, it makes sense. And then there's more the investors' reaction, who will say: ''Look, we're not to going to pay the tab, are we? If you do so, we will make our financing more expensive.''

My reaction would be: Maybe it's inevitable that if you push back the risks, risks will be priced. Because if I finance a bank and I know if the bank will get in trouble I will be hit and I will lose my money, I will put a price on that. I think that's a sound economic principle. And having cheap money because the risks will be covered by the government and I will always get my money back is not leaving to the right decisions in the financial sector, it's not leading to the right risk management in the financial sector.

So there's those two reactions from the financial markets: the analysts who are saying, let's be real, this is a sensible approach, and the investors. My response is: If risks are going to be priced, then that is probably the right way to do it. It will force all financial institutions as well as investors to think about the risk they are taking on. They will have to realise it may also hurt them, the risks might come towards them instead of pushing them away.

COMMENT: No template, but ESM is last port of call | Reuters

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Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:17

By Divyang Shah

Tue Mar 26, 2013 10:30am EDT

LONDON, March 26 (IFR) - Strictly speaking, eurozone policy makers are correct in saying that Cyprus is not a template for bank restructuring. Which class of investor will take the hit cannot be determined in advance, as it depends on who can contribute the most to reducing the total bailout cost for the eurozone taxpayer. But there is an underlying thesis building that when the next eurozone bank restructuring comes around, the ESM will once again be the last port of call.

It is worth taking a look at what Dijsselbloem said beyond the headline-grabbing "template" quote. "We should aim at a situation where we will never need to even consider direct recapitalisation," he explained, highlighting the motivation not to use the ESM for that purpose. This is not new, as in early March Reuters reported the ESM head as saying that deep reservations from some European states could ultimately stop the ESM from being used for bank recapitalisation.

Germany had already said that it wanted to limit ESM funds used to recapitalise banks to EUR80bn. Regling offered us a possible explanation, saying that "if money from the ESM goes into saving banks, then it reduces the ESM's capacity to make loans to needy states." Clearly, the concern is that helping one sovereign with its bank recapitalisation would open the floodgates and reopen the debate over whether the ESM has sufficient firepower. This in turn will raise concerns over an eventual dilution of German creditworthiness, as well as over the weak link of France in the ESM self insurance chain.

So even if there is no template, now we know the rationale. The game plan, according to Dijsselbloem, is that if a bank is in trouble then "we'll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we'll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders." For Spain's Bankia, that meant bailing in hybrid debt and preference shareholders, and for Cyprus the target was uninsured depositors and bondholders too.

While bank stocks have fallen and the cost of insuring financials has gone up, the real impact of Dijsselbloem's comments won't be felt until another bank restructuring comes onto the radar screens. This is the new way the eurozone is looking to disconnect financial sector from sovereign risk. Bank stocks, senior debt and bank CDS will now have to discount a higher probability of being bailed in. (Reporting By Divyang Shah, editing by Julian Baker)

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UPDATE 1-Cyprus wants ESM ability to recapitalise banks directly | Reuters

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Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:14

Fri Oct 19, 2012 11:54am EDT

NICOSIA Oct 19 (Reuters) - Cyprus wants the euro zone's ESM bailout fund to be able to recapitalise its banks directly, it said on Friday.

Finance Minister Vassos Shiarly told reporters Cyprus wanted to be able to transfer any assumed debt for the recapitalisation of its banks to the European Stability Mechanism, once it became active.

The issue would be of crucial importance to the island in its negotiations with international lenders, he said.

"This will be one of our firm demands in the final discussions with the troika," Shiarly said, referring to lenders from the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank. "It is crucial for Cyprus."

Cyprus sought international help after its banking sector was battered by its exposure to debt-crippled Greece earlier this year. Fellow euro zone members Greece, Portugal and Ireland have also taken international aid and Spain has received help specifically for its banking sector.

Some estimates put the bill for recapitalising banks at 15 billion euros -- almost equalling Cyprus's 17 billion euro ($22 billion) GDP and raising questions about debt sustainability.

Earlier Friday German Chancellor Angela Merkel said banks could not be retrospectively recapitalised via the ESM, which is the euro zone's permanent bailout fund..

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, President of the Eurogroup - Eurozone

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Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:10

Jeroen Dijsselbloem, born in Eindhoven on 29 March 1966, lives in Wageningen with his partner and two children.

Education1985: Secondary school, Eindhoven

1985-1991: Degree in agricultural economics, Wageningen University (majors: business economics, agricultural policy and social and economic history)

1991: Business economics research towards a master's degree, University College Cork, Ireland

CareerIn 1992 Jeroen Dijsselbloem worked as an assistant to the Dutch Labour Party (PvdA) Members of the European Parliament in Brussels. He joined the staff of the parliamentary PvdA in The Hague in 1993, where he worked for three years as a policy officer in the area of spatial planning (including the environment, agriculture and nature).

Jeroen Dijsselbloem sat on the Wageningen municipal council from 1994 to 1997.

In 1996, he became an advisor to the Minister of Agriculture, Nature Management and Fisheries in The Hague, a position he held for two years. He was then appointed deputy head of that ministry's advisory section, where he remained until 2000.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem was a member of the House of Representatives from 28 March 2000 to 22 May 2002 and from 19 November 2002 until taking up his post as minister. He was the party's spokesperson on education and youth and covered a broad range of other policy issues. From 25 April 2007 to 22 December 2008 he chaired the parliamentary investigation committee on educational reform.

On 5 November 2012 Jeroen Dijsselbloem was appointed Minister of Finance in the Rutte-Asscher government.

Jeroen Dijsselbloem has been a member of the PvdA since 1985. He became the deputy leader of the PvdA parliamentary party in 2008.

Eurozone Chief Says Savings Accounts In European Countries Will Be Raided To Keep Euro From Failing'...

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Source: Weasel Zippers

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:00

Don't think it can't happen here.

Via Telegraph:

Savings accounts in Spain, Italy and other European countries will be raided if needed to preserve Europe's single currency by propping up failing banks, a senior eurozone official has announced.

The new policy will alarm hundreds of thousands of British expatriates who live and have transferred their savings, proceeds from house sales and other assets to eurozone bank accounts in countries such as France, Spain and Italy.

The euro fell on global markets after Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the Dutch chairman of the eurozone, announced that the heavy losses inflicted on depositors in Cyprus would be the template for future banking crises across Europe.

''If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be 'Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?','' he said.

''If the bank can't do it, then we'll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we'll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders.''

Russian billionaire cash already gone from Cyprus

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Source: the tap

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 08:50

Osiris sends -Yesterday, we first reported on something very disturbing (at least to Cyprus' citizens): despite the closed banks (which will mostly reopen tomorrow, while the two biggest soon to be liquidated banks Laiki and BoC will be shuttered until Thursday) and the capital controls, the local financial system has been leaking cash. Lots and lots of cash.Alas, we did not have much granularity or details on who or where these illegal transfers were conducted with. Today, courtesy of a follow up by Reuters, we do.The result, at least for Europe, is quite scary because let's recall that the primary political purpose of destroying the Cyprus financial system was simply to punish and humiliate Russian billionaire oligarchs who held tens of billions in "unsecured" deposits with the island nation's two biggest banks.As it turns out, these same oligrachs may have used the one week hiatus period of total chaos in the banking system to transfer the bulk of the cash they had deposited with one of the two main Cypriot banks, in the process making the whole punitive point of collapsing the Cyprus financial system entirely moot.

"You have to Destroy the Maastricht Treaty to Save It"

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Source: Mish's Global Economic Trend Analysis

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 17:17

There are plenty of news headlines rattling Europe today. Let's take a look at some of them.

Severe Capital Controls in Cyprus

In spite of the fact the Maastricht Treaty under which the eurozone was formed mandates a free flow of capital, Cyprus unveils severe capital controls.

"Cyprus is the first eurozone country ever to apply capital controls, with limits on credit card transactions, money transfers abroad and the cashing of cheques. Depositors will be limited to credit card transactions of up to '­Â5,000 per month and will be able take a maximum of '­Â3,000 of bank notes out of the country per trip."

Capital controls are said to expire in seven days. So, don't worry, its only temporary.

Hopefully everyone understands the implied theory: "You have to Destroy the Maastricht Treaty to Save It."

Top Orwellian Comments Of All Times

An American major after the destruction of the Vietnamese Village Ben Tre: "It became necessary to destroy the village in order to save it."Vice President Joe Biden: "We Have to Go Spend Money to Keep From Going Bankrupt."President George W. Bush: "I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system."(For a discussion please see The Most Redeeming Feature of Capitalism is Failure)Nancy Pelosi said "We have to pass the health care bill to see what's in it." (YouTube Video)Larry Summers says "The central irony of financial crisis is that while it is caused by too much confidence, too much borrowing and lending and too much spending, it can only be resolved with more confidence, more borrowing and lending, and more spending." (Reuters) But What about those advertised losses of 30% on large Cyprus depositors?Glad you asked. "Laiki depositors holding more than '­Â100,000 may lose up to 80 per cent of their funds, and only get the remaining 20 per cent back over a period of years, Cyprus's finance minister said on Tuesday."

Italy Industrial Orders Sink

Dow Jones reports Italy Industrial Orders Fall in Jan on Declining Internal Demand

"Italian industrial orders dropped for the third consecutive month in January and were down compared with the same period a year ago, hit by declining internal demand, the national statistics institute reported Wednesday. Orders fell 1.4% in January from December in seasonally-adjusted terms and were down 3.3% from January 2012 in unadjusted terms, Istat reported."

Merkel Ally Backs Double-Digit Hike in Top Tax Rate

If you thought Merkel and her CDU party were true conservatives, it's time for you to think again.

Reuters reports Merkel CDU Ally Backs Double-Digit Hike in Top Tax Rate.

"A senior conservative ally of Chancellor Angela Merkel, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, premier of the western state of Saarland and a senior figure in the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said in a weekend radio interview that Merkel's predecessor Gerhard Schroeder had gone too far by reducing the top rate to 42 percent from 53 percent in the 1990s."

Is Poland Having Second Thoughts?

The Financial Times reports Poland opens way to euro referendum.

"Donald Tusk, Poland's prime minister, took a big political gamble on Tuesday when he opened the door to a referendum on joining the euro, in the face of strong public opposition to the common currency. The latest opinion survey shows 62 per cent of Poles are opposed to joining, with scepticism increasing markedly since the financial and debt crises hit Europe five years ago. But now Mr Tusk has publicly raised the possibility of allowing a referendum '' demanded by rightwing opposition parties opposed to euro membership '' in return for an agreement with the opposition to push through the necessary constitutional changes."

Tusk is setting a trap. Tusk wants the constitutional changes now, but will only hold a vote when favorable. Should the vote fail, rest assured there will be another and another and another. Unless of course the eurozone splinters to high heavens in the meantime which of course is a likely possibility.

The correct move is for the opposition to demand a referendum immediately, and if and only if it passes (it won't), should the constitutional changes be taken up.

French Unemployment Hits 16-Year High

President Francois Hollande's socialist policies are firing on all four cylinders now, except in reverse as French Unemployment Hits 16-Year High.

The Financial Times reports "French unemployment nudged a record level in February as the jobless total rose for the 22nd month in succession to a 16-year high, adding to the acute political pressure on President Fran¤ois Hollande as he battles a stalled economy. The OECD predicts unemployment will reach 11.25 per cent, surpassing the record level of 10.8 per cent previously hit in 1994 and 1997."

Except for Spain, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Slovenia, Luxembourg, France, and various other eurozone countries, everything in the eurozone is quite lovely.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock

Guest Post: Second LNG Super Tanker Arrives In UK To Help With Natural Gas Shortage

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Source: Zero Hedge

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:30

Submitted by Joao Peixe of Oil Price

Second LNG Super Tanker Arrives in UK To Help with Natural Gas Shortage

Due to unseasonably cold weather the UK has seen high demand for natural gas, far higher than anything expected, and the truth is that the country was not prepared.

The dwindling supplies form the North Sea were unable to meet the high demand, and storage reserves reached dangerously low levels, leading some to suggest that the UK may run out of gas altogether within days. The government denied these reports and began frantically searching for alternative supplies to meet the demand.

Supplies were not hard to come by as the shortage had caused spot prices in the UK increase to some of the highest in the world, attracting tankers from around the world.

A giant tanker, the Zarga, has docked at Milford Haven in Pembrokeshire to unload its cargo of LNG. It is the second such tanker to have been diverted to Britain in the last couple of days in search of the high prices that can be charged there. The Mekaines docked at Kent on Sunday. The vessels carried a combined total of more than 500,000 cubic metres of LNG, enough to meet the entire UKs demand for 12 hours.

The Zarga, one of Qatar's Q-max tankers, the largest LNG tankers in the world at 344metres long, set sail in search of the highest prices on the market, which currently happens to be in the UK.

This diagram from the BBC shows that route taken by the Zarga from Qatar to Wales, and then the distribution of the natural gas around the UK.

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"No Bank Account ANYWHERE In The Eurozone Is Safe"

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Source: The Daily Bail

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 17:09


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Cyprus plans emergency restrictions on cash withdrawals before banks reopen

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Source: The Guardian World News

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 13:08

An empty ATM at Bank of Cyprus. The island is reportedly preparing emergency restrictions on cash withdrawals before banks reopen. Photograph: Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

Cyprus is reported to be rushing in emergency measures to stop cash flooding out of the country if it reopens its banks as planned on Thursday. The banks have been shut for 12 days while the nation negotiated a '­Â10bn bailout.

According to reports coming out of the stricken island, restrictions will be placed on the amount of cash that can be withdrawn from the banks where savers with more than '­Â100,000 in their accounts face losing a slice of at least 40% of their money.

It is thought anyone leaving the island will not be able to take any more than '­Â3,000 of banknotes with them and will be able to spend no more than '­Â5,000 a month abroad on credit cards.

The government is reported to believe that the measures only need to be in place for seven days while it attempts to stabilise the situation following the fallout from the bailout agreed with Brussels, the European Central Bank and the International Money Fund.

Withdrawal limits on cash machines had already been restricted to '­Â100 a day although there were suggestions that this could now be raised to '­Â300 by the time the banks open again.

The island's second biggest bank, Laiki, is to be closed down and savers with less than '­Â100,000 transferred to Bank of Cyprus, the largest bank in the country. Depositors with more than '­Â100,000 in their accounts '' the level at which savings are guaranteed across Europe '' face a levy to raise billions of euros towards the bailout.

Cheques cannot be cashed although banks will accept deposits as the country struggles to keep deposits in its banks, that have exploded to eight times the size of the economy.

Families with members studying aboard are reported to be able to send '­Â10,000 a term to those who are studying.

The security firm G4S is ready to send 180 staff to all bank branches across the island, John Argyrou, managing director of the firm's Cypriot arm, told the Associated Press.

The banks were closed a week ago on Friday shortly before Cyprus announced the terms of its bailout which included skimming all savers to raise '­Â5.8bn. But the terms have since been altered to ensure that those with less than '­Â100,000 in their accounts are not forced to take a cut, in a move that the European authorities hope will restore faith the bank guarantee scheme across the 27 nations in the EU.

Cyprus Puts Tight Controls on Money as Banks Prepare to Reopen

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Source: NYT > Home Page

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 12:55

Milos Bicanski/Getty Images

A man sat in front of an automated teller machine outside the National Bank of Cyprus, which has been closed for two weeks, on Wednesday in Nicosia.

NICOSIA, Cyprus '-- Cyprus's government announced severe restrictions Wednesday on access to the country's bank accounts, hoping to curb what is nonetheless likely to be a stampede to withdraw money when banks reopen on Thursday for the first time in nearly two weeks.

The measures, which are supposed to be in effect for only a week but could be extended, will bar electronic transfers of funds from Cyprus to other countries. And individuals will not be allowed to take more than 3,000 euros cash outside the country, well below the current restriction of 10,000 euros, or $13,000.

Credit and debit card charges will be capped at 5,000 euros per person per month. And checks cannot be cashed, although they can be deposited.

The Cypriot finance minister, Michalis Sarris, said Wednesday that a flood of withdrawals was bound to happen quickly, anyway, but that the restrictions would at least help stem a mass flight of deposits.

''Each day that banks remain closed creates more uncertainty and more difficulties for people, so we would like to do our utmost to make sure that this new goal that we have set will work,'' he said.

Despite those strictures, Cypriot authorities are bracing for as much as 10 percent of the 64 billion euros in deposits in the country's banks to be pulled out on Thursday.

And some experts predict a much bigger bank run whenever the controls are eventually lifted.

''If you don't impose the controls, the money is going to fly,'' said Mujtaba Rahman, a senior analyst at Eurasia Group. ''But when you remove those controls, clearly the money is going to leave anyway. So they're in a Catch-22.''

Adding to the tensions here, the chief executive of Bank of Cyprus, the nation's largest bank, was fired Wednesday by the central bank. That move came in consultation with the international lenders who are finalizing the terms of a 10-billion-euro bailout of the heavily indebted country.

Meanwhile, President Nicos Anastasiades opened a criminal investigation into how the country's banks had been brought to the brink of collapse. His aim, he said, was ''to find and attribute responsibility wherever it belongs.''

Tension has intensified in Nicosia, the capital, in recent days as citizens, confronted with banks that have been closed since March 16, have grown impatient waiting for the bailout deal to be completed so they can get access to their money. Many are also angry at what they see as Mr. Anastasiades's inept political handling of the situation.

Demonstrations that first attracted hundreds here last week have been swelling into increasingly agitated gatherings of thousands of people amid the dawning realization that their future under the terms of the bailout deal will become increasingly bleak.

At the same time, a blame game has escalated among the ruling class. Mr. Anastasiades has started making incendiary statements about the central bank president, Panicos O. Demetriades, hinting strongly that he wants to see Mr. Demetriades ousted. That, in turn, has raised concerns about the central bank's independence.

''The knives are out,'' said a person involved in the talks, who declined to speak publicly because the talks were private.

Under European Union treaties, restricting the free movement of capital is forbidden. Critics say that what is happening in Cyprus shows that E.U. rules will be flouted when the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and E.U. leaders find it convenient to do so.

A person involved in forging the details of how capital controls will be implemented in Cyprus acknowledged Wednesday that such restrictions ideally would be avoided. But ''if you did not have them, then probably 100 percent of deposits would fly out of the country,'' the person said.

Nonresident depositors, including Russians and businesses with substantial amounts in Cypriot banks, are especially eager to get their money out, the person said.


Food Democracy Now | Stop the Monsanto Protection Act!

This week the House of Representatives will consider a provision to House Agricultural Appropriations Bill that will fundamentally undermine the concept of judicial review. Hidden under the guise of a "Farmer Assurance Provision" (Section 733), the provision strips the rights of federal courts to halt the sale and planting of genetically engineered crops during the legal appeals process.

In the past, legal advocates have successfully won in court the right to halt the sale and planting of unapproved GMO crops while the approval of those crops is under review by a federal judge. This dangerous new House provision, which we're calling the Monsanto Protection Act, would strip judges of their constitutional mandate to protect consumer rights and the environment, while opening up the floodgates for the planting of new untested genetically engineered crops, endangering farmers, consumers and the environment.

Furor Is Growing as Obama Gives Monsanto Get Out of Jail Free Card | Conscious Life News

"Anger is growing against President Barack Obama the day after he signed into law a spending bill that included a provision opponents have dubbed the "Monsanto Protection Act."

That bill, the HR 933 continuing resolution, was mainly aimed at averting a government shutdown and ensuring that the federal government would continue to be able to pay its bills for the next six months."*

Language from the FY 2013 House Ag Appropriations Bill Detailing the The "Farmer Assurance Provision" AKA the Monsanto Protection Act

H.R. 5973: Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013- (The "Farmer Assurance Provision" AKA Monsanto Protection Act)

Sec. 733. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the Secretary's evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the Secretary's authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.

According to legal advocates at the Center for Food Safety, this provision "would create a precedent-setting limitation on judicial review" and is a "dangerous assault on fundamental federal and judicial safeguards".

Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act, 2013 (H.R. 933)

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Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:39

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.

This summary can be found at

BackgroundFY 2013 government operations have been funded under a continuing resolution that passed the House on September 13, 2012 and was enacted into law on September 28, 2013.[1] The CR continues the FY 2012 policies, which were enacted in PL 112-112-55, PL 112-74, and parts of PL 112-77, through March 27, 2013.[2] It is important to note that the current continuing resolution and future appropriations acts are subject to the Budget Control Act of 2011, including the lower discretionary spending caps and the automatic across the board cuts that went into effect on March 1, 2013. Because of the impact that both a continuing resolution and the sequester will have on the military, H.R. 933 includes full-year appropriations bills for the Department of Defense, military construction, and the Department of Veterans Affairs, which will allow the military and Department of Veterans Affairs to move forward with funding for critical national security needs, health and quality of life programs for armed forces and families as well as for our veterans. For more information, see the Committee on Appropriations at

[2]Seeid. PL 112-55 contained the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration and Related Agencies Appropriations, the Commerce Justice Science and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, and the Transportation Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act. PL 112-74 contained the remaining nine appropriations acts.

SummaryH. R. 933 includes the full-year FY 2013 Department of Defense, military construction, Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bills.[1] Remaining government operations will continue to be funded at FY 2012 levels as provided by H.J.Res. 117 and amended by the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012. In addition, H.R. 933, contains a general provision enforcing the sequester, as required by the Budget Control Act of 2011. Finally, certain anomalies are contained in the bill to maintain good government, enact recessions, and make other technical changes.[2] For the full text of H.R. 933 and the explanatory statement, click here.

[1] (See H.R. 5856 and 5854).

[2] Anomalies are exceptions to the formula used for calculating budget authority at certain levels. For more information see CRS Report titled: FY 2013 Continuing Resolution: Analysis of Components and Congressional Action, page 7.

CostCBO reported that enacting H.R. 933 would result in $984 billion in new budget authority.

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.

SEC. 735. In the event that a determination of non-regulated status made pursuant to section 411 of the Plant Protection Act

is or has been invalidated or vacated, the Secretary of Agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law, upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412(c) of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorize the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialization and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimize potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the SecretaryÕs evaluation of the petition for non-regulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorized activities in a timely manner: Provided, That all such conditions shall be applicable only for the interim period necessary for the Secretary to complete any required analyses or consultations related to the petition for non-regulated status: Provided further, That nothing in this section shall be construed as limiting the SecretaryÕs authority under section 411, 412 and 414 of the Plant Protection Act.


Italy's Grillo exposed as tool of State Department, Goldman Sachs

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Wed, 27 Mar 2013 16:42

It has been about a month since the Italian elections, and no new government has been formed to replace the hated IMF austerity regime of economics professor and Goldman Sachs consultant Mario Monti.

The power vacuum is largely the work of the right-wing demagogue Beppe Grillo and his band of enraged petty-bourgeois novices. During the current negotiations to form a government to replace Monti and his sociopathic technocrats, Grillo's position has been the same as that of Hitler after the German election of July 1932, when the Nazi leader, citing the fact that he controlled the largest single political party (although not an absolute majority), refused to support anyone but himself to head the next government.

This is Grillo's precise position today. And despite Grillo's repeated boast that he is now the largest political force in Italy, the social democratic PD turns out to have more votes for both the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate now that the votes of Italians living abroad have been counted.

The resulting log jam of un-governability plays into the hands of the Anglo-American financiers, among other things by preventing Italy from rolling back the destructive austerity measures decreed by Monti and his IMF technocrats.

In 1932, German President von Hindenburg refused to make Hitler the Chancellor even though he had 37% of the votes. Grillo, by contrast, has about 25% right now. It is assumed that neither the Bersani social democrats nor Berlusconi's center-right group could accept serving in a cabinet under the mentally unstable narcissist Grillo, whose political style always places him on the cusp of a carpet-chewing apoplectic fit.Grillo's actions reveal him as a cynical and power-hungry manipulator much worse even than traditional figures like Bersani or Berlusconi. He is a purveyor of infantile rage, verbal violence, obscene slander, and the voices of the infantile id. Grillo's megalomaniac strategy is plainly to provoke another round of elections in the late spring or summer, with the hope that he will emerge with an absolute majority or at least with enough parliamentary seats to demand the role of Prime Minister.

It is a calculation dictated by Grillo's insatiable ambition, and not by the welfare of his hapless followers. Some 8 million Italians voted in desperation for Grillo in the hope of immediate relief from the crushing austerity enacted by Monti. They would be best served if Grillo immediately announced his willingness to support a government pledging to pass a short-term program of stopping all foreclosures on homes and factories, abolishing the onerous IMU property tax and other tax increases decreed by Monti, and guaranteeing an immediate minimum guaranteed income of '­Â1,000 per month for pensioners, the disabled, and the unemployed, paid for by a more robust version of Italy's new Euro 'Tobin levy' on financial trading. But Grillo wants more power for himself, not a concrete rollback of austerity for working people.

Instead, Grillo's sinister amateur hour focuses on such trifling gestures as cutting the pay and perks of members of Parliament, eliminating provincial governments altogether, and demanding an end to the public financing of political parties - which would weaken the social democrats and make Italian politics into the playground for millionaires and billionaires, just like the United States after the Citizens United ruling. Needless to say, savings from such changes represent mere chicken feed, and would do nothing to alleviate the suffering and desperation of Italian families.

In the meantime, Grillo's status as a US tool for the destabilization of Italy is now a matter of public record. When the new US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Rome, he told a small group of Italian political leaders that the United States was in no way hostile to Grillo. It was revealed that the previous US ambassador, Ronald Spogli, had informed the State Department that Grillo should be considered a credible partner.

US ambassador tells Italian students to support Grillo

On March 13, the current US ambassador David Thorne, Kerry's Yale roommate and a fellow member of the infamous Skull and Bones freemasonic cult, told a group of high school students in Rome that Grillo and his neo-totalitarian Five Star Movement were the preferred alternative from Washington's point of view. ''You can take your country in hand and act, like the Five-Star Movement, for reform and change,'' said Thorne to an assembly at the Liceo Visconti.

Thorne's comment represented a crass and blatant interference in the internal affairs of Italy, and a deplorable diplomatic incident. A number of Italian politicians from the social democratic PD party demanded that the State Department repudiate Thorne's remarks, but no such statement was forthcoming. Grillo, for his part, prominently displayed Thorne's outrageous endorsement on his flagship blog, which is on the equivalent of the daily Pravda or V?lkischer Beobachter for his besotted legions.

Grillo's movement represents a further step in the development of that basic Anglo-American destabilization tool, the color revolution. Growing out of CIA operations in Portugal in the 1970s, the Philippines in the 1980s, and later subversion in Serbia, Georgia and Ukraine, the standard color revolution has tended to follow a somewhat crude and mechanistic assembly-line approach: to target a country with a strong government, use the Madison Avenue branding techniques of a color and a slogan, plus a telegenic ''reform'' demagogue and a fake exit poll to mobilize swarms of naøve adolescents to undertake public demonstrations designed to portray the existing government as intolerably unpopular.

Then set up an IMF-NATO puppet regime and let the foreign banks asset-strip the country. This cookie cutter approach was perfected by Otpor of Belgrade, which transformed itself into a highly lucrative international consultancy in the service of Washington and London. The main failures of this standard model of subversion came in Lebanon, where the hollow ''Cedars Revolution'' did considerable damage but was defeated by the organized power of Hezbollah, and in Iran, where the Ahmadinejad government refused to be stampeded.

Italy, the seventh largest industrial power in the world, is a complex Western European society with the remains of a once powerful labor movement and labor-based political party, as well as Berlusconi's bourgeois mass party. During 2011, US-UK intelligence attempted to mount a Purple Revolution against Berlusconi, but this feeble effort was unable to provide much camouflage for the coup d'(C)tat of November 2011 which ousted Berlusconi and replaced him with the incompetent Monti and his gaggle of austerity ghouls.

The persistence of at least two major political parties has forced the bankers to turn to Grillo, seen more as a short-term wrecking ball for the existing political system than as a long-term dictatorial solution. Once Grillo has further demolished the existing parliamentary democracy, Washington and London can pull out their next option, quite possibly the telegenic Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, already celebrated by Time magazine as Italy's white Obama, who mounted an unsuccessful challenge to the traditional hack leadership around Bersani in the PD primaries for prime minister. Wall Street and the City of London hope that, with a little bit of luck, Grillo might also be able to wreck the Euro and pitch continental Europe into the abyss of total economic breakdown.

Goldman Sachs welcomes Grillo as a Trojan horse for new speculative attacks on Italian bonds

The notorious Jim O'Neill, outgoing boss of Goldman Sachs Asset Management, has joined Thorne in his enthusiastic support for Grillo and his myrmidons, the grillini. O'Neill is responsible for coining the insulting label of ''PIIGS,'' used as a catchphrase by cynical hedge fund hyenas and zombie bankers to organize the attack on the government bonds of Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece, and Spain starting in 2009 - all as a means of stabilizing the US dollar and the British pound by wrecking the euro while making enormous speculative profits in the process.

O'Neill welcomed the results of the late February Italian national elections, obviously because this chaotic situation weakens the Italian Republic and gives more power to predatory financiers like O'Neill himself and his colleagues at Goldman Sachs. According to Business Insider, O'Neill had the following to say about Grillo:

''Firstly, perhaps somewhat oddly, I find the outcome quite exciting because it seems to me for a country whose GDP has basically not changed since the EMU started in 1999, something big needs to change. Maybe this election outcome and the peculiar mass appeal of the Five-Star Movement could signal the start of something new? Secondly, for the establishment of Italy and, crucially, the other 'power centers' of old Europe, in particular Berlin and Frankfurt, these results are pretty close to a nightmare.'' (''The Political Nightmare Unfolding in Italy Has Got Me Excited,'' Business Insider, March 1, 2013)

But at the same time, O'Neill and Goldman Sachs were reported to be dumping any remaining holdings of Italian government bonds, even as they made a series of large-scale bets against Italian government debt with the aid of credit default swaps, the toxic derivatives which speculators use to increase the destructive power of the hot money they deploy against national economies.

On March 8, Fitch Ratings took advantage of the chaos and un-governability generated by the funnyman Grillo, lowering its Issuer Default Reading (IDR) for Italy from A- to BBB+, with a negative long-term outlook. Actions like this are at the heart of the Anglo American arsenal used to attack European government bonds as a means of damaging the euro. The Fitch downgrade was all the more outrageous because, as O'Neill has admitted, Italy's cyclically adjusted fiscal position is actually in modest surplus, and is much better than that of the United States, Britain, and France, and slightly better than Germany.

Pro-fascist leads Grillo's caucus in chamber of deputies

Like Mussolini and Ron Paul, Grillo has long claimed to represent the transcendence of the left-and right dichotomy. Grillo has used this sophistry to declare himself open to cooperation with the neofascist Casa Pound, a slimy operation named after the American fascist traitor, mental case, and poetaster Ezra Pound. In a dialogue with Casa Pound leaders, Grillo refused to describe himself as anti-fascist, and claimed instead to be ''ecumenical'' - meaning ready to work with the heirs of Mussolini. And of course, if Grillo wants to follow through on his plan to wipe out all labor unions while at the same time drastically cutting government pensions as part of his debt-reduction strategy, he may need all the help he can get from the fascist squadristi.

Grillo's hand-picked chief enforcer for the Five Star caucus in the Italian chamber of deputies is Roberta Lombardi. The petty bourgeois Lombardi is nostalgic for the early years of the fascist movement, commenting: ''Before it degenerated, fascism had a sense of national community (which it took directly from socialism), the highest respect for the state, and the will to protect the family.'' With these words, Lombardi is endorsing the fascist movement which met in Piazza San Sepolcro in Milan in 1919, made up of ex-socialists, war veterans, disillusioned trade unionists, and the self-styled creative intelligentsia. There are in fact many parallels between this primitive

Grillo trying to stop jailbreak among his parliamentarians

Ironically, Grillo's calling card has long been a promise of total netroots democracy, with a referendum on every important decision. So far, Grillo and his guru Casaleggio have been making all the decisions on their own. The Five Star Movement has a structure which can only be called autistic. There are no clubs, locals, citywide or regional organizations. There are no party conventions or conferences on any level. There are simply the atomized, alienated, and isolated grillini at their computers, each relating solely to Il Duce and his decrees. Most of Grillo's new members of Parliament had never met each other.

This would appear to be the Bilderberg/CIA/MI-6 answer to the question of how to create a mass anti-government political party while keeping all of its members in total passivity and isolation, lest they get any ideas about mounting a real challenge to the power of financier oligarchs. Because Grillo and Casaleggio were looking for doglike loyalty and not exceptional ability, many of the Five Star candidates are marginal people, unemployed or underemployed. They are now delighted to be getting the generous salaries paid to deputies and senators, and want very much to avoid the dissolution of Parliament for early elections. They fear the loss of their livelihood, either by getting the ax from Grillo for some petty infraction, or by defeat at the polls. This group is eminently susceptible to bribery, be it through cash-filled envelopes now, or through the promise of lucrative jobs on the other side of the revolving door.

The obvious alternative for the new parliamentary grillini is to ignore the raving directives issued by Grillo's blog, and to vote in ways that will provide a minimum of institutional stability for Italy, along with a continuation of their own salaries. Grillo is acutely aware of the threat of a jailbreak among his minions. Soon after the elections, he exploded in rage against Article 67 of the Italian Constitution, which bans any so-called imperative mandate subordinating individual members of Parliament to their party organizations.

Article 67 was part of the backlash against the fascist one-party state of Mussolini. In practical terms, it means that according to Italian law every grillino deputy and senator is free to dump Grillo and stay in office as a member of the independent (or ''mixed'') caucus of Chamber and Senate. Grillo, while claiming not to be a political party, wants instead a complete party dictatorship, as during Italy's two decades of fascist rule. In response to these outbursts, Grillo's blog - until then a theater of unanimous adulation for the unkempt leader - registered its first serious wave of criticism and dissent.Grillo's rage escalated on the Saturday after the Ides of March when about fifteen grillino senators (more than a quarter of his total strength of 53 in the upper house) broke ranks and voted for the social democratic judge Grasso over the Berlusconi candidate for the presidency of the Senate. Grillo, always seeking chaos, had ordered them to vote blank ballot so as to prevent anyone from being elected. In a psychotic outburst on his blog, Grillo demanded the resignation of all senators who had violated the party line. Part of the issue was Grillo's unit rule, by which all grillini must vote together. The unit rule was of course a lockstep favored by southern segregationists at Democratic Party conventions through the 1960s.

In response to Grillo's arrogant authoritarianism, the comment pages on his blog - filled up to now with fawning idolatry - exploded with anger and scorn for the new Duce. One of the most popular posts accused Grillo of an authoritarian turn aiming at political gains by wrecking the overall Italian situation as much as possible. Grillo was indicted for ''deliriums of omnipotence,'' and his hand-picked caucus chiefs scored as messianic acolytes. Many were the comments warning Grillo that he had lost their vote forever.

Up to this point, Grillo's blog had been a one-way conveyor belt for top-down orders, with no feedback other than wild applause. But now Grillo and Casaleggio, faced with an overwhelmingly negative reaction, began to show their true dictatorial colors by censoring the comments they did not like. In the dead of night, they removed some 2,250 heretical posts, including some of the most popular ones.

Grillo has long been extremely paranoid about leading rank and file members of his Five Star Movement take part in Italy's popular weeknight television talk shows. He obviously wanted to keep the attention focused on himself. To better browbeat these wretched senators and deputies, Grillo and Casaleggio now sent in two commissars, overseers, or enforcers - one for each house of parliament - to make their factions toe the line. Grillo decreed a policy of ''press silence,'' similar to wartime radio silence, to prevent nosy journalists from asking embarrassing questions. The press replied by reminding the grillini that press conferences without questions were a contradiction in terms, superfluous since a press release would get the job done. Grillo gives selected interviews to foreign reporters, but never to Italians. Grillo was thus working a true miracle: making the Italian press corps look good.

Grillo wages war against dissident 'trolls'

In another apoplectic fit, Grillo lashed out on his blog against ''hordes of trolls, freaks, and multinicks'' hired by his political adversaries, who for several months had been guilty of l¬se majest(C) against his greatness. With his usual obscene rhetoric, Grillo accused these ''locusts'' of creating ''a filthy mess.'' The most popular reply to this demanded that the Five Star Movement agree to vote a limited motion of confidence in a social democratic government based on a specific agenda of clean government process reforms like conflicts of interest, anticorruption, and a new election law. These symbolic petty bourgeois process reforms, needless to say, would do absolutely nothing for hard-pressed Italian working families. Even among Grillo's internal opposition, mass traction material demands remain few and far between.

Grillo is obsessed that members of his caucus will vote for a social democratic government under Bersani. Bersani had announced soon after the elections that he was ''scouting'' for potential backers among the new grillini. Grillo's witch-hunt will therefore continue. But there is one ''ex-communist'' that Grillo seems ready to support: the current President of the Italian Republic Giorgio Napolitano, who is one of the principal Anglo-American assets in Italian politics. It was Napolitano who carried out the November 2011 coup d'(C)tat which ousted Berlusconi and installed the brutal austerity regime of Goldman Sachs employee Monti. A Napolitano-Grillo government would therefore continue and escalate the savage austerity measures which are at the root of the Italian crisis. And this, of course, is what Grillo's controllers want most.

If Italy is ever to get out of its current economic depression, a massive program of modern infrastructure will have to play a central role. The American New Deal, with agencies like the WPA, PWA, and TVA, makes this point absolutely clear. But not for Grillo and his myrmidons, who often sound like reactionary Republican Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey attempting to block the needed new tunnel under the Hudson River.

This past weekend, numerous grillini renewed their protest against the high speed rail link for freight and passengers now in the advanced stages of construction in the Val di Susa between Turin in northwest Italy and Lyon in France. This segment is part of the trans-European Corridor Five, which stretches from Lisbon, Portugal to Kiev, Ukraine. This is exactly the kind of infrastructure Europe as a whole requires to recover from the long deficit of the East-West rail links still left over from the decades of the Cold War.

The existing Fr(C)jus-Modane railroad line was built between 1850 and 1870, and despite successive modernizations, it must now be considered hopelessly obsolete because of its winding path. Building the 57-kilometer tunnel at the heart of this project would enhance the worldwide reputation Italian civil engineering has enjoyed the Italians helped build the Aswan High Dam in Egypt. Economic modernization and job creation make projects like this one indispensable if Italy is to have a future. Interestingly, Grillo's hand-picked Senate faction leader who attended this protest was peppered by demands from militant workers about the Five Star Movement's friendliness to neofascism.

Another way in which Grillo is already weakening Italy is by reviving the secessionist movement among the German-speaking population in the Alpine region of Alto Adige/South Tyrol. A leader of the South Tyrol separatists has now started a new campaign to get out of Italy using the specter of a Rome government dominated by Grillo.

Is Grillo a neofascist?

Across Europe, there is a growing awareness that Grillo represents a controlled opposition designed to ward off any serious attacks on the political dominance of the finance oligarchs. In articles published by the, British New Statesman, the leftist Wu Ming Foundation of Bologna argues that Grillo has been a shock absorber for the Italian bankers, since he directs the rage of the masses overwhelmingly at the ''caste'' of political flunkies, letting the bankers off relatively unscathed. Wu Ming laments that mass mobilization against the IMF austerity in Italy has been hindered by the Grillo, who is personally a multimillionaire and one of the 1%. His blog alone is thought to be worth '­Â10 to '­Â15 million per year.

London Guardian lumps Grillo together with the reactionary US Tea Party, the UK Independence Party, and similar demagogic movements. But Painter cannot grasp that only the killer austerity cuts imposed across southern Europe over the last several years by the IMF and the European Central Bank have made the success of Grillo and his ilk possible.

Der Spiegel of Hamburg has a better analysis, pointing to the obvious parallels between Grillo and Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, who ruled the country from 1922 until 1943-45. Spiegel underlines the point with a cartoon portraying the Genoese comedian in a Mussolini uniform. The method of both is to focus mass rage on politicians in general and the parliament in particular, with bankers and economic issues getting far less attention.

As Spiegel notes, Grillo's ''anti-establishment rhetoric sounds appealing, [but] at heart it's actually anti-democratic. And very similar to that of an infamous Italian from the past.'' The German Social Democratic Chancellor candidate Peer Steinbr¹ck is thus very wrong to lump Grillo and Berlusconi together under the heading of ''clown.'' Grillo also resembles Il Duce in his claim of overcoming the left-right dichotomy, and of not representing a political party in the traditional sense. (Spiegel, ''Green Fascism: Beppe Grillo is the most dangerous man in Europe'') Grillo's recent raving that, ''We are young. We have no structure, hierarchy, leaders or secretaries. We take orders from no one,'' and his slogan of ''uno vale uno'' - anybody is as good as anybody else - echo the clich(C)s of the young Mussolini.

Washington Post sees Grillo as ''thrilling example'' of grassroots power

This growing awareness of Grillo's fascistoid traits contrasts sharply with the whitewash of Grillo dished up by the Washington Post, house organ of the US Federal Reserve. Here Anthony Faiola offers a puff piece comparing the current Italian destabilization to Jimmy Stewart in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. We read: ''For 60 million Italians and political junkies of every stripe, the triumphs of a movement encompassing disenfranchised voters from both the left and the right - think of the tea party, if it included everyone from Michael Moore to Rush Limbaugh - are a thrilling example of the power of the grassroots'.... The rise of the Five-Star Movement, led by a former TV comedian, is the latest manifestation of a growing backlash in Europe to the crippling austerity and entrenched cronyism in the halls of power. It is nothing less than a social experiment underscoring what happens when voters decide to radically alter the status quo.''

There is nothing about Roberta Lombardi's praise of fascism, nothing about Grillo's flirtation with the fascists of Casa Pound, and of course nothing about the close connections between Grillo's handlers at Casaleggio Associates and the Aspen Institute, the Bilderbergers, and the American Chamber of Commerce in Italy. (Anthony Faiola, ''Newcomers Shake up Politics in Italy: Legislators from Grassroots Movement Promise Change as Leaderless Nation Grapples with Economic Crisis,'' Washington Post, March 25, 2013)

Italian media veteran: Grillo is controlled opposition designed by Bilderberg

Grillo's personal Svengali is the aging hippie ideologue and reputed freemason Giancarlo Casaleggio, whose apocalyptic predictions about imminent World War III with billions in deaths are available in his film Gaia, a movie festooned with freemasonic symbols. Italian media insider Carlo Freccero, the director of RAI-4, the fourth program of Italian state television, had earlier called attention to the indispensable role of the well-heeled Milan internet marketing, advertising, and political consulting firm Casaleggio Associates in the creation of the Grillo movement.

Freccero noted that Casaleggio's film attributes most of the evil in the world to conspiratorial organizations such as the Bilderberg group, which dictate the policies of governments from behind the scenes. How then, Freccero asked, did Grillo and Casaleggio explain the presence as a partner in Casaleggio Associates of Enrico Sassoon, a member of the board of the Aspen Institute of Italy? Sassoon's fellow Aspen board members are largely drawn from the Bilderberg group, for which the Aspen Institute functions as a kind of think tank and cadre school. Freccero was only underlining the obvious when he speculated that the Grillo movement is in fact a controlled opposition to the transatlantic financier oligarchy represented by Bilderberg. Sassoon resigned from Casaleggio Associates soon after Freccero made these remarks.

Has Grillo already peaked in the polls?

The most recent poll shows the Berlusconi forces reclaiming first place among the competing coalitions with 31.3%, with the Bersani coalition at 29.3% and Grillo in third place with 26.2%. The Monti forces are down to 7.1%. The SWG poll of a few days earlier shows Grillo at 26.9%, but falling a full 3.1% from the euphoria of his post-election uptick. Judging from internet postings, many Italians are coming to view Grillo as lots of smoke and not much roast beef, as the idiom goes. According to the Rome political website Dagospia, ''the grillini risk becoming the biggest flop in the history of the Italian Republic'' if they are unable to bring home for their voters ''results that are concrete, tangible, and immediately beneficial.''

Is Dr. Benjamin Carson the American Grillo?

Anglo-American intelligence sees in Grillo a model for new generation of color revolutions and destabilizations that can be applied in Europe and North America. One possible candidate for the role of American Grillo is Dr. Benjamin Carson, a well-known black neurosurgeon from Johns Hopkins University. Carson, who has been well known for decades as a reactionary ideologue operating under the spurious cover of evangelical Christianity, captured right wing accolades last months by spouting primitive anti-government platitudes at the National Prayer Breakfast, with Obama sitting nearby and forced to listen.

Immediately thereafter, the Wall Street Journal, the flagship organ of the financier oligarchy, began discussing Carson as a possible presidential candidate. According to the Style section of the March 25 Washington Post, Carson has been calling not just for cuts in the social safety net, but rather for its total abolition: ''at the Conservative Political Action Conference'... Carson suggested that government should rely on churches to provide a safety net for the poor and get out of the social welfare business. 'Why is the government trying to duplicate what [churches] are supposed to be doing?' he asked.'' Time will tell if Carson can match Grillo's success as a demagogue and mass manipulator.


Line Cutting

It's the Economy: Do Millennials Stand a Chance in the Real World?

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Source: NYT > Home Page

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:55

Illustration by Jasper Rietman

When I was a kid, my grandmother used to spirit packets of oyster crackers from restaurants. She unwrapped gifts meticulously, peeling back the tape with her nails so that she could reuse the paper. She also stockpiled so many coupon-bought cans that she probably could have had her own show on TLC.

Deep thoughts this week:

1. The millennials have developed an obsession with money.

2. Partly because they don't have any.

3. Will the income gap become a wealth gap?

These habits, judging by both anecdote and literature, were generational. My grandmother was born in 1917 and entered the work force during the Great Depression. I've been thinking of her generation '-- the one that saved rather than spent, preserved rather than squandered '-- a lot lately. In the past year or so, data have come in regarding how my own generation, often called Generation Y, or the millennials, has adapted to our once-in-a-lifetime financial crisis '-- the one that battered career prospects, drove hundreds of thousands into the shelter of schools or parents' basements and left hundreds of thousands of others in continual underemployment. And some of that early research suggests that we, too, have developed our own Depression-era fixation with money.

The millennials have developed a reputation for a certain materialism. In a Pew Research Center survey in which different generations were asked what made them unique, baby boomers responded with qualities like ''work ethic''; millennials offered ''clothes.'' But, according to new data, even though the recession is over, this generation is not looking to gorge; instead, they are the kind of hungry that cannot stop thinking about food. ''Call it materialism if you want,'' said Neil Howe, an author of the 1991 book ''Generations.'' It seems more like financial melancholy. ''They look at the house their parents live in and say, 'I could work for 100 years and I couldn't afford this place,' '' Howe said. ''If that doesn't make you focus on money, what would? Millennials have a very conventional notion of the American dream '-- a spouse, a house, a kid '-- but it is not going to be easy for them to get those things.''

This condition is becoming particularly severe for the group that economists call younger millennials: the young adults who entered the job market in the wake of the recession, a period in which the unemployment rate among 20- to 24-year-olds reached 17 percent, when graduate school competition grew more fierce and credit standards tightened. Many also saw their parents struggle through a pay cut, a job loss or another economic disruption during the recession.

These troubles, many economists fear, left serious scars, and not just psychic ones. Now that the economy has entered a steady but slow recovery, younger millennials wonder if they can make up that gap. Lisa Kahn, a labor economist at the Yale School of Management, studied the earnings of men who left college and joined the work force during the deep recession of the early 1980s. Unsurprisingly, she found that the higher the unemployment rate upon graduation, the less graduates earned right out of school. But those workers never really caught up. ''The effects were still present 15 or 20 years later,'' she said. ''They never made that money back.''

Kahn worries that the same pattern is repeating itself. And new research from the Urban Institute augurs that this emerging income gap is compounding into a wealth gap. The institute's research shows that even as the country has grown richer, Generations X and Y, meaning people up to about age 40, have amassed less wealth than their parents had when they were young. The average net worth of someone 29 to 37 has fallen 21 percent since 1983; the average net worth of someone 56 to 64 has more than doubled. Thirty or 40 years from now, young millennials might face shakier retirements than their parents. For the first time in modern memory, a whole generation might not prove wealthier than the one that preceded it.

Annie Lowrey is an economics reporter for The Times. Adam Davidson is off this week.

War on Crazy

Smoking by mentally ill 'ignored'

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Archived Version

Source: BBC News - Home

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:14

27 March 2013Last updated at20:30 ETThe NHS in England is not doing enough to help people with mental health conditions quit smoking, an influential group of doctors has warned.

People with mental health disorders, such as depression, are twice as likely to smoke and tend to be more addicted.

Yet the NHS is turning a blind eye and not doing enough to help them to stop, the Royal College of Physicians said.

The Department of Health said it was committed to tackling the issue in the future.

The report, which was also put together by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, points out that although rates of smoking in the general population have fallen substantially over the past 20 years, there has been little change in people with mental health conditions.

A third of all cigarettes in England are smoked by someone with a mental health disorder, the report said.

Yet they are just as likely to want to quit as anyone else but are likely to be more addicted and lack the right support to stop, the report found.

Smoking has become engrained into the culture in many institutions caring for people with mental health problems and making them totally smoke-free environments should be a priority, it concluded.

And although the usual smoking cessation treatments such as nicotine replacement therapy is effective, people with mental health conditions may need higher doses or more intensive support, it said.

High costIt is estimated that the NHS spends around £720m a year treating smoking-related illness in people with mental health disorders - mostly on people with depression or anxiety.

The failure of smoking prevention and treatment in this group is largely down to an acceptance of smoking as a "normal behaviour" and is an indictment on public health and clinical services, it said.

The report added that there "was no justification for healthcare staff to facilitate smoking".

Prof John Britton, director of the UK Centre for Tobacco Control Studies at the University of Nottingham and report chairman, said people with mental health disorders might find it harder to quit smoking but that did not mean they did not want to stop.

He added in some mental health services there was a culture in which smoking was acceptable.

"The patients are seen as having a hard time and are ill so they need a cigarette and it is also a way for staff to build relationships and so they end up facilitating smoking breaks, finding time to supervise people who want to go outside to smoke, rather than spending resources on helping them to stop."

He added that although people with depression and anxiety might start smoking because they find it helps, it soon starts to exacerbate their problems.

"If they stop smoking, a year down the line, they will feel substantially better," he added.

Paul Farmer, chief executive at the mental health charity Mind, said: "This report highlights once again that the needs of people with mental health problems are often overlooked or ignored."

A Department of Health spokesman said: "This is an important issue, and frankly, a difficult one. We are aware that more work needs to be done to tackle it fully."

He said in the future the government was looking to focus efforts on reducing smoking among vulnerable groups, such as mental health patients.


Saliva testing predicts aggression in boys

Could Facebook Have Prevented the Georgia Baby Shooting?

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Wed, 27 Mar 2013 08:37

According to Sherry West, last Thursday at 9 a.m., while walking in Brunswick, Ga., with her 13-month-old son Antonio, she was suddenly approached by two young men demanding money. Sherry said she had none, and the men'--boys, really'--made what must have seemed like an absurd statement at the time: ''If you don't give me money, I'm going to shoot your baby.'' Then, West says, the boys walked over to the stroller'--and shot her baby.

Luis Santiago tries to comfort Sherry West at her apartment Friday, March 22, 2013, in Brunswick, Ga., the day after their 13-month-old son, Antonio Santiago (inset), was shot and killed. (Russ Bynum/AP;ABC)

Two people'--17-year-old De'Marquise Elkins and a 15-year-old accomplice'--are alleged to have committed the murder and have been charged. There is currently much we do not know about the case: De'Marquise's aunt provided an alibi, but has since been charged with making false statements. On the other hand, West's adult daughter has expressed doubts about her mother's story; De'Marquise's public defender has said, ''My client is absolutely, 1,000 percent not guilty''; and the 15-year-old's grandmother has maintained her grandson's innocence.

Yet while there is so much information we do not have, one source of insight is readily available: De'Marquise's Facebook page. And on that page, we find haunting evidence of a boy in need of an intervention, whether he killed young Antonio Santiago or not.

De'Marquise is not alone. Across America, our young people are raising their hands on social media and telling us where both their hopes and problems lie, in thousands of tweets, posts, and ''likes.'' A healthy majority of these posts are the angsty exaggerations of teenagers and breathy recitations of the latest pop trends. But a small, important minority of these social-media clues portend real pain, struggle, even malice and disaster. And if parents, policymakers, faith leaders, social-service agencies, and law enforcement are going to step up to the cultural plate and do something about violence in our society, we better get savvy about social media, and fast.

De'Marquise, if he did carry out this crime, would provide a telling example. Spending just 30 minutes on his Facebook page after seeing his name in police reports, I learned that De'Marquise, at the ripe old age of 14, had started to claim an affiliation with the notorious Bloods street gang. In photo after photo, dating back at least three years, De'Marquise is ''throwing up'' the common hand signs for the Bloods. He even screams in one caption, ''BLOOD 4 LIFE.''

Today, the battlefields for our teenagers are Twitter DMs, Tumblrs, and Facebook walls.

Now here's the thing: De'Marquise lives in Brunswick, Ga., population 15,000. One can't be sure, but despite the shocking pictures, I doubt that small-town Brunswick is a bastion of hardcore gang activity. Whatever De'Marquise thought he was doing in those photos, it's probable that he is like hundreds of other boys I've worked with over the years, from after-school programs in Ohio to halfway houses in Boston. These young men mix testosterone, boredom, loneliness, and the music they hear on their iPods, and paint the most aggressive picture of themselves that they can, often on Facebook and Twitter. For many, it's just an act. But for a very small minority, in a fit of desire, anger, peer pressure, or something akin to insanity, the posturing becomes jarringly real.

Matthew Murray, who killed two missionaries and wounded two others in Colorado, issued warnings on the Web. The case of two young men who were just convicted of raping a teenager in Ohio was brought to light in part because of social-media postings. And one has to imagine that if Facebook was around when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold went on their rampage in Columbine, it would have been their wall posts instead of journals that police and parents searched for clues.

So what do we do with this new reality? Well, the guardians in our culture have to adapt. Parents, teachers, outreach workers, policymakers, law enforcement, and faith leaders have to understand Facebook and Twitter just as well as the young people they work with'--not to stifle them (shutting down a page is often the worst thing a parent can do) but to know the cultural terrain. The goal is not a nanny state where every tweet is monitored, but rather a widespread acknowledgment that the playgrounds and lunchrooms of yesteryear are gone. Today, the battlefields for our teenagers are Twitter DMs, Tumblrs, and Facebook walls.

It's not a matter of blaming parents, teachers, or society. The fault for the murder of Antonio Santiago lies squarely at the feet of whoever pulled the trigger, and whoever did it should suffer the most severe of consequences. This does not, however, minimize the cultural context. And when it comes to cultural context, Facebook and Twitter are king.

This Friday, March 22, 2013, photo shows De'Marquise Elkins, 17, one of two teenagers arrested Friday and accused of fatally shooting a 13-month-old baby in the face and wounding his mother during their morning stroll in Brunswick, Ga. (Courtesy of the Glynn County Detention Center via AP)

As we're on the lookout for indicators of tragedy online, we must be equally vigilant about finding glimmers of hope. Just a short distance from where Antonio was shot and De'Marquise was arrested is Georgia's Brunswick High School. I have to imagine that in that school, there are hundreds of young boys who look like De'Marquise and grew up in the same places, doing their best to graduate and succeed. How can their families, friends, and communities provide encouragement in a way that is meaningful to them? Find their Facebook walls and Twitter pages, post something unexpected, ''like'' their comments, and be present'--online. Likes and tweets are the new gold stars, but unlike gold stars, they can go viral for the world to see.

Social-media-driven approaches to parenting, outreach, and law enforcement are just one piece of the much more complex puzzle of crime and violence in our communities. But it's a critical piece, and one that often goes unnoticed, until it's too late. It is too late for Antonio Santiago, and perhaps for De'Marquise Elkins; time and a jury will tell. But it's not too late for the millions of other kids whose character is being displayed, tested, and shaped every day, online.

Agenda 21

Freezing British Easter: Three more weeks of freezing weather predicted, 33 year old man dead after collapsing in snow, could cause a triple dip recession

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Source: 33 World News

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 16:43

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Follow the Pipes

Asia Times Online :: TAP surges ahead of Nabucco-West

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Wed, 27 Mar 2013 11:46

TAP surges ahead of Nabucco-WestBy Vladimir SocorAmong the roles of Gazprom's South Stream pipeline project was that of aborting the European Union-backed Nabucco, merely by threatening to preempt Nabucco's markets along the same route downstream. Conversely, Nabucco's European rival Trans-Adriatic Pipeline project (TAP) can abort Nabucco by preempting the gas supply source upstream.

Both TAP and the reformated Nabucco-West depend fully on the same source of gas, at Shah Deniz in Azerbaijan. Unlike South Stream targeting Nabucco's markets in southeastern and Central Europe, TAP would divert Azerbaijani gas toward TAP's own

designated markets in Italy and other European countries.

While South Stream continues to look doubtful on financing and new gas supplies from Russia, TAP seems to be surging ahead of the Nabucco-West project in a winner-take-all contest for Azerbaijani gas. Thus, Nabucco-West can now be aborted by European hands, not Russian ones, allowing Gazprom in that case to continue exercising its near-monopoly in southeastern and Central Europe.

At stake is the indivisible volume of 10 billion cubic meters (bcm) of gas planned for export to Europe annually from 2019 onward from Shah Deniz. Arriving by the Trans-Anatolia Pipeline (TANAP) at Turkey's western border, Azerbaijani gas could be forwarded either through the Nabucco-West route (Bulgaria-Romania-Hungary-Austria) to the continental gas distribution hub at Baumgarten near Vienna, or alternatively through the TAP route (Greece, Albania, Adriatic seabed, Italy, Switzerland).

TAP's prospects have improved significantly since Moscow decided to abandon South Stream's southern branch, from Greece via the Adriatic seabed to Italy. Gazprom's withdrawal from that project helped clear the competitive field for TAP to reach the Italian market. By the same token, it contributed to intensifying the TAP-Nabucco contest over Azerbaijani gas and the choice of the export route.

Politically as well, Moscow's move gave the green light for TAP to route Caspian gas toward Italy. For its part, Gazprom prioritized South Stream in southeastern and Central Europe, so as to defend Gazprom's near-monopoly there against potential competition from Nabucco.

Along the Nabucco-West route, Bulgarian and Hungarian state companies have joined South Stream, while those two governments (and others in the region) are hedging their bets. While South Stream poses a perceived threat to preempt Nabucco-West, there is no challenge whatsoever to TAP from Russian interests. This asymmetry seems to work in some key political and corporate decision-making quarters to TAP's advantage.

The TAP consortium currently includes Norway's Statoil with 42.5% of the shares, AXPO of Switzerland (a holding of energy companies in a number of Swiss cantons) with another 42.5%, and E.ON Ruhrgas with 15%. TAP's main driver, Statoil, is at the same time a partner in Shah Deniz - the only partner holding stakes in the extraction project and a pipeline project simultaneously, from the inception of both projects to date. This situation looked all along like a foot in the door for TAP ahead of Nabucco.

The Shah Deniz gas producers' consortium is assessing Nabucco-West and TAP comparatively, so as to select one pipeline route while eliminating the other from consideration. The producers' consortium expects these two projects to submit, each, a final commercial and technical offer (''Decision Support Packages'') by March 31, with a view to the ultimate route selection decision in June.

On March 25, the TAP consortium announced the completion of its Front-End Engineering Design (FEED) for the project; and that it would submit the Decision Support Package (that is,, its offer for the Shah Deniz producers' selection decision) by the March 31 deadline.

As part of that Package, the FEED has finalized the pipeline's optimal routing, specifications for pipeline materials, design of valves and compressors, and logistical requirements for construction work. Statoil and E.ON Ruhrgas led the FEED work and are set to lead the next phase, that of Detailed Engineering. If selected by the Shah Deniz consortium, TAP plans to start pipeline construction work in late 2014''early 2015 and to complete it by 2018 (TAP press release, March 25).

Nabucco's Austrian-led management must presumably also announce the completion of FEED and submission of a Decision Support Package by the March 31 deadline. Meanwhile, Nabucco has been changing its main engineering contractors in the run-up to that deadline.

The London-based Penspen had been in charge of supervising and coordinating the FEED work performed in the Nabucco countries by their respective engineering companies until 2012. In December 2012, the Australian Worley Parsons replaced Penspen in the role of Owner's Engineer for Nabucco-West, with a mandate to coordinate FEED work, verify and review the project's design, capital and operational expenses, and complete a ''constructability review''.

In January 2013, the Nabucco project company appointed the Italian Saipem as FEED contractor, to perform a ''re-FEED'' for Nabucco-West. It also nominated the Austrian Ingenieurgemeinschaft Laesser-Feizlmayr (ILF, based in Innsbruck) as a subcontractor to Saipem. Saipem is 43% owned by ENI, the Italian state-controlled oil and gas holding.

Amid a corruption investigation of Saipem in Italy and the resignation of the company's management, the Nabucco project company selected Saipem in a tender, apparently reflecting its confidence in Saipem.

In view of those precipitous changes in the run-up to the selection decision, TAP looks more stable and credible as a project, despite Nabucco-West's strategic value.

The German Rheinisch-Westfaelisches Elektrizitaetswerk (RWE, Germany's second-largest energy concern after E.ON), hard hit financially by the phase-out of its nuclear power plants, has disengaged from the Nabucco project. The remaining five consortium members (see above) can hardly match the TAP consortium members' technical, commercial, and managerial expertise, their financial resources and their credit worthiness.

Using these arguments, the TAP consortium is in a position to appeal more effectively to investors as a corporate business project. It is up to the European Commission to revert to its initial strategic considerations - mainly, undoing Gazprom's quasi-monopoly in southeastern and Central Europe - that had motivated the Commission until recently to endorse the Nabucco project.

Vladimir Socor is a Senior Fellow of the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation and its flagship publication, Eurasia Daily Monitor, and is an internationally recognized expert on the former Soviet-ruled countries in Eastern Europe, the South Caucasus and Central Asia. Socor is a regular guest lecturer at the NATO Defense College and at Harvard University's National Security Program's Black Sea Program. He is a Romanian-born citizen of the United States based in Munich, Germany.

This article first appeared in The Jamestown Foundation. Used with permission.)

(Copyright 2013 The Jamestown Foundation.)


Arab League Summit: Doha Calls the Shots | Al Akhbar English

Giving Syrian opposition seats at Arab League is 'illegal, indefensible' '' Moscow

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Source: End the Lie - Independent News

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:24

From Left to Right: Lebanese President Michel Sleiman (R), Ikililou Dhoinine, President of the Union of the Comoros, Yemeni President Abdrabuh Mansur Hadi (3rd R), Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud (C), Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the Crown Prince of Qatar, Omani Deputy Prime Minister Fahd bin Mahmud al-Said (2nd L), and Iraqi Deputy President Khudair al-Khuzai (L) pose for a group photograph during the opening of the Arab League summit in the Qatari capital Doha on March 26, 2013. (AFP Photo)

The Arab League's move to hand the Syrian opposition the country's official seat at a summit in Doha and the decision to give military backing to the rebels are both against international law, Moscow has said.

''In terms of international law, decisions on Syria made by the [Arab] League are unlawful and indefensible, since the government of the Syrian Arab Republic remains the legal representative of the UN member-state,'' Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said in a statement.

See also: ''Outsiders are killing Syrian people, destroying Churches and mosques '' Christian Bishop,'' ''CONFIRMED: US Shipping Weapons to Syria '' Al Nusra's ''Mystery'' Sponsors Revealed,'' ''Survey: US and UK citizens reject regime change or arms supply in Syria'' and ''CIA aids huge arms smuggling to Syria '' report''

Arab leaders gathered on Tuesday for the League's annual two-day summit in the Qatari capital Doha. To the outrage of Syrian President Bashar Assad's government, Syria's opposition National Coalition formally took the country's official seat at the gathering.

In November 2011, the Arab League suspended the republic's membership in the organization.

Moscow called the Arab League's decision to invite the Syrian opposition to the summit and give them Assad's chair ''yet another anti-Syrian step.''

The head of the opposition Coalition's delegation, Ahmed Moaz al-Khatib, urged Arab leaders to beef up assistance to the opposition, including the provision of military aid and the foreign imposition of a no-fly zone over the country's north. The Russian Foreign Ministry compared such a scenario to the Libyan conflict.

Khatib also called on ''Arab and friendly'' states for support in granting the National Coalition a seat at the United Nations and other international organizations.

There was no firm consensus among summit participants that individual members of the League had the right to provide military aid to ''anti-government armed groups in Syria,'' the Russian diplomat pointed out.

The Doha summit's decisions, ''approved despite objection by a range of member-states, are perplexing, to say the least,'' Lukashevich said, calling the move ''open support for forces that, unfortunately, stand for a military solution'' to the Syrian conflict.

Lukashevich also argued that the League's decisions contradict the principles for a peaceful political settlement laid out in the Geneva Communiqu(C). The document was enacted on June 30, 2012, by major world powers with the participation of the Arab League's Secretary General and some of the organization's members, including Qatar, Lukashevich pointed out.

The Communiqu(C) said that an agreement must be reached between the Syrian government and opposition groups. ''But not that some structure, whose legitimacy would be approved by external forces, would be set as opposition to the legal Syrian government,'' the Russian diplomat said.

Lukashevich said the latest moves ''undermine the mandate'' of the UN and Arab League mediator for Syria, Lakhdar Brahimi. Russia has maintained that the only way to stop the bloodshed in conflict-wracked Syria is through a political dialogue with both the government and opposition involved in the negotiations.

The Arab League's decisions have come under fire in Damascus as well. State-run Syrian news agency SANA said that the organization compromised its ''values for the sake of Gulf Arab and Western interests when it gave Syria's seat to the opposition Syrian National Coalition,'' Reuters reported.

Source: RT

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CONFIRMED: US Shipping Weapons to Syria '' Al Nusra's ''Mystery'' Sponsors Revealed

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Source: End the Lie - Independent News

Mon, 25 Mar 2013 22:35

With help from the C.I.A., Arab governments and Turkey have sharply increased their military aid to Syria's opposition fighters in recent months, expanding a secret airlift of arms and equipment for the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad, according to air traffic data, interviews with officials in several countries and the accounts of rebel commanders.

The airlift, which began on a small scale in early 2012 and continued intermittently through last fall, expanded into a steady and much heavier flow late last year, the data shows. It has grown to include more than 160 military cargo flights by Jordanian, Saudi and Qatari military-style cargo planes landing at Esenboga Airport near Ankara, and, to a lesser degree, at other Turkish and Jordanian airports.

The New York Times piece attempts to spin America's role in arming militants in Syria. The Times continues by stating:

The American government became involved, the former American official said, in part because there was a sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow. The C.I.A. role in facilitating the shipments, he said, gave the United States a degree of influence over the process, including trying to steer weapons away from Islamist groups and persuading donors to withhold portable antiaircraft missiles that might be used in future terrorist attacks on civilian aircraft.

This is categorically false. Already, in 2007, US officials had divulged plans to destroy Syria by arming sectarian extremists, using Saudi Arabia and other regional actors as proxies to launder US and Israel support through '' maintaining a degree of credibility amongst the terrorist receiving the aid, as well as a degree of plausible deniabiliy for Washington and Tel Aviv politically. In Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh's 2007 New Yorker article, ''The Redirection: Is the Administration's new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?'' the strategy was described as follows:

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has co¦perated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The U.S. has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Perhaps more importantly, the report would also state:

Some of the core tactics of the redirection are not public, however. The clandestine operations have been kept secret, in some cases, by leaving the execution or the funding to the Saudis, or by finding other ways to work around the normal congressional appropriations process, current and former officials close to the Administration said.

Clearly, that ''sense that other states would arm the rebels anyhow'' was gleaned from premeditated conspiracies long-ago hatched between Washington, Tel Aviv, and Riyadh. And as the terrible consequences of this conspiracy come to fruition with tens of thousands dead, the West is eager to disclaim any and all responsibility, hoping sincerely that the public hasn't the collective memory or intelligence to pick up a newspaper from 2007 and read what they had already admitted to planning.

''Mystery'' ofAl Qaeda's al-Nusra Sponsorship Revealed

The confirmed admission implicates NATO directly in militarily intervening in Syria's ongoing conflict and reveals the source of arms and cash that have ended up primarily in the hands of Al Qaeda's Syrian franchise, US designated terror front, Jabhat al-Nusra. (see here for other examples of US arming listed terror organizations)

The CIA, Western media, and Western politicians insist that they have taken every precaution to ensure the now admitted torrent of cash and weapons that have been flowing into Syria to compound and perpetuate the bloodbath, did not end up in the hands of terrorists. However, no plausible explanation has been given as to where al-Nusra is getting its cash and weapons from, or how it has managed to eclipse the extensively Western-backed ''moderates,'' to become the premier front in the fight against the Syrian people.

Indeed, the New York Times' article ''Syrian Rebels Tied to Al Qaeda Play Key Role in War,'' states:

The lone Syrian rebel group with an explicit stamp of approval from Al Qaeda has become one of the uprising's most effective fighting forces, posing a stark challenge to the United States and other countries that want to support the rebels but not Islamic extremists.

Money flows to the group, the Nusra Front, from like-minded donors abroad. Its fighters, a small minority of the rebels, have the boldness and skill to storm fortified positions and lead other battalions to capture military bases and oil fields. As their successes mount, they gather more weapons and attract more fighters.

The group is a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda in Iraq, Iraqi officials and former Iraqi insurgents say, which has contributed veteran fighters and weapons.

While the London Telegraph reports in their article, ''Syria: how jihadist group Jabhat al-Nusra is taking over Syria's revolution,'' that:

And in recent weeks it is Jabhat al-Nusra, a radical jihadist group blacklisted by the US as terrorists and a group that wants Syria to be an uncompromising Islamic state governed by sharia, that is holding sway.

The group is well funded '' probably through established global jihadist networks '' in comparison to moderates. Meanwhile pro-democracy rebel group commanders say money from foreign governments has all but dried up because of fears over radical Islamists.

The effect is changing the face of the Syrian revolution

''The group is well funded '' probably through established global jihadist networks '' in comparison to moderates.'' Could the London Telegraph be capable of such incomplete or incompetent reporting regarding what it seems to allude to as an unsolvable ''mystery'' regarding al-Nusra's sponsors?

In October of 2012, the Land Destroyer Report published, ''NATO Using Al Qaeda Rat Lines to Flood Syria With Foreign Terrorists,'' which traced the logistical network now admitted to by the New York Times. This logistical network was then overlaid with Al Qaeda's regional networks, documented extensively during the US occupation of Iraq by the US Army's own West Point Combating Terrorism Center. The very regions along the Turkish-Syrian border, the Jordanian-Syrian border, and the Iraqi-Syrian border which served as recruiting and staging grounds for Al Qaeda terrorists during the Iraq War, now serve as the primary logistical hubs admittedly overseen by the CIA.

Image: (Left)West Point's Combating Terrorism Center's 2007 report,''Al-Qa'ida's Foreign Fighters in Iraq'' indicated which areas in Syria Al Qaeda fighters filtering into Iraq came from. The overwhelming majority of them came from Dayr Al-Zawr in Syria's southeast, Idlib in the north near the Turkish-Syrian border, and Dar'a in the south near the Jordanian-Syrian border. (Right) A map indicating the epicenters of violence in Syria indicate that the exact same hotbeds for Al Qaeda in 2007, now serve as the epicenters of so-called ''pro-democracy fighters.''


It is now admitted that thousands of tons of weapons have been smuggled into Syria by the US and its regional allies. While the Western media has attempted in the past to feign ignorance as to where Al Qaeda's al-Nusra was getting their weapons from, it is now abundantly clear '' al-Nusra's power has expanded across Syria in tandem with the CIA's ever-expanding operations along the nation's borders. If the US is working directly with Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, to arm militants, who else could possibly be working to arm and fund al-Nusra on a greater scale if not this axis itself?

This criminal conspiracy appears to have escaped the UN's competence and capabilities, requiring that states around the world mobilize an expedient response to the dangerous, unhinged and genocidal campaign being waged by the West against Syria. If the West refuses to end its direct fueling of the Syrian crisis or answer for how their weapons have ended up almost exclusively in al-Nusra's hands, Syria's allies must begin contemplating open and extensive aid to help the nation defend itself against overt international terrorism.

Reports indicate that it was al-Nusra who used chemical weapons in Syria's northern city of Aleppo, according to the London Telegraph. An Al Qaeda terror front wielding WMDs, we are told, is the sum of all fears and the ultimate impetus driving the unending ''War on Terror.'' Through direct, intentional actions by the West itself, this nightmare has become a reality '' one that must be addressed, lest the world descend into global anarchy or worse.

Source: Land Destroyer

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War on Ammo

Jim Carey in white face paint

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Source: Lame Cherry

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 00:08

Let us face one thing perfectly clear, that if Jim Carey had put on black face paint, spit watermelon seeds, lazed in the shade jacking off as he ate chicken, there would be outrage, but since it is rural Americans, Americans suffering from Alzheimer who are all white, then it is all something funny to a racist like Jim Carey in dismantling the United States Constitution.

The reality is Carey is a racist and that fact is he ignores that black Americans, Asian Americans, most of Indian Americans are all gun owners, and their ranks are growing each day as the thin blue line of showing up 30 minutes after you bled out is the reality of America.

"Charlton Heston movies are no longer in demand, and his immortal soul may lay forever in the sand. The angels wouldn't take him up to heaven like he planned, because they couldn't pry the gun from his cold dead hand," Carey sings, with help from famous peace advocates Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon and Abraham Lincoln -- all peace promoters assassinated by gunmen.

There is problem in Carey being ignorant of history, as Abraham Lincoln was not a peace advocate in he chose war, the most brutal kind of nation rape war on the South in releasing slave terrorists throughout the south.

Gandhi was quite firearms oriented in this quote.

"Among the many misdeeds of the British rule in India, history will look upon the act of depriving a whole nation of arms, as the blackest." -- Mahatma Gandhi ...

Even John Lennon before his death, had become a staunch supporter of Richard Nixon and the right in America.

The fact is the "men of peace" that Jim Carey attempts to profane from the grave, chose brutal war, wanted people armed and used pacification to bring down an armed people he could not win a war against, but knew their morals would preclude their murdering him in Gandhi, and John Lennon the dope headed peace twerp, grew up before his death in rejecting all the garbage of the left.

Jim Carey is in his ignorance exposing more things about Jim Carey in racism in deeming people of brown and black skins not capable of owning firearms nor capable of defending themselves.

The reality in gun ownership and those who want to deprive ownership is a reality that Jim Carey lost the debate and stooped to using a dead Charleton Heston to drag him around the cinema to make a point, that Carey is a cruel person inside, for he never sees guns defending America, families or children, but deep down Jim Carey sees guns, as he views the world in his heart as something which he could not be trusted with as he would murder people, including children with those guns.

Carey attempts to use the psychological psychopathy that men who have guns are making up for lack of penis size. With women arming themselves in America, Carey does not even mention women a chauvinist in what they might be attempting to make up in being raped, robbed and murdered.

For the reality, people turn to comedy because they are miserable inside and want attention, and hide behind the laughter. Carey never has been like all of these gun grabbers ever been able to carry on a sustained relationship with any human of the opposite sex.As noted Carey, made the point of including children and bending in one of his rants that he calls humor, but exposed Carey to the question of what is really going on in his head in using children as a tool to get what he wants, with sexual undertones.

I have endured a few of Jim Carey's movies. He is not funny unless one is 3 years old and likes a great deal of screaming and movement. Frankly, Carey should be aware that the very people he is attacking in his rants are the ones who paid for his rich life, as that is the class of people he appeals to mentally.They though are waking up to what Jim Carey is, a broken persona who has not worked in years, and who has a mind that it never crosses the reality that women, blacks, Asians, latinos and Indians are all gun owners, but nary a word is sung about any of those groups as Jim Carey considers this a "white only" issue of people who are "those people" that the Letterman cocktail crowd want aborted out of existence.

Jim Carey issued a quote which sums up what he is:

"Thx 4 your input 2day. I don't think i've ever felt so despised and so free at the same time. It's been delightfully. ;^}"

Interesting in Jim Carey, equates being despised, as he attempts to still be a child in writing juvenile, with being free at the same time.Jim Carey did this to be abused, to be punished, for whatever sins he has harboring inside of hisself, and that is what has freed him as finally he is being punished to a level that makes him feel free from the guilt.

Analysis is Carey is guilt ridden over taking so much money from poor gun owners for his fantastic existence he is imprisoned in, but he can never do the right thing in returning all the money.

So many of these white face paint rich artists like Randy Newman, see this as a white world. Jim Carey never seems to notice the piles of dead Muslim children who needed more protection from Barack Hussein Obama than they ever did from anyone on the planet.

Barack Hussein Obama has murdered more brown skin children than Sandy Hook or the Batman theater, and Jim Carey, Dianne Feinstein or Nancy Pelosi will never call for Obama control.

That is always interesting in these racists like Jim Carey that dead white children in Sandy Hook matter and the dead brown skinned children created by their donations and support of B. Hussein AKA Barry Chin never crosses their minds.

So pleased Jim Carey that you decided like your liberal race baiters to expose yourselves again.

It appears like all of these Obama voters, that they want that Designer Negro to carry out the murders and rapes which Jim Carey dreams about, but never has the balls to act out upon...........but to do it to those bitchy white women like Lara Logan getting dirtied up by Egyptians for rejecting Jim Carey in school and offing those Arab children as there is a difference in Jim Carey between white children and those "other skinned" children.

Just like there is a difference in Carey Obama's America is different from those "other rural Americans".

God bless you Jim Carey, in the Holy Ghost of God and the Lord Jesus Christ visiting you with all the necessary means to have you repent in Jesus Name Amen.

agtG 251


Jeff Berwick - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Jeffrey (Jeff) Berwick (b. November 24, 1970 (age-42), Edmonton, Alberta) is a Canadian entrepreneur, economics, finance, and investment writer, and libertarian/anarchist activist.

Berwick founded StockHouse Media Corporation in 1994, raising over $40 million USD in financing and growing the company to a peak of more than 200 employees in 8 countries worldwide by 2000.

StockHouse continues to be the most active financial website in Canada, ranking No. 1 in February, 2007, by comScore Media Metrix Ad Focus report -- beating out Globe Finance, Yahoo! Canada Finance and Sympatico/MSN Finance -- in the areas of pages per visitor and average minutes per visitor in the business/finance news and research category.[1]

Berwick was awarded the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award in 1999. In 1999 and 2000, Berwick was recognized by Business in Vancouver's "Top 40 under 40" ranking.[2]

Berwick has been a regular contributor to editorials on the StockHouse websites from 1995 to present and contributes to numerous popular libertarian and finance sites including and writes a libertarian, Austrian economics focused financial newsletter called The Dollar Vigilante.[3] He is the host of Anarchast,[4] an anarcho-capitalist video and audio podcast show. He is also a regular speaker at international investing, finance and liberty conferences including Libertopia,[5] FreedomFest,[6] New York Hard Assets Show,[7] PDAC[8] and the Vancouver Resource Investment Conference.[9] He also is the founder of global citizenship and passport services company, TDV Passports and founder of a libertarian expat community near Santiago, Chile called Galt's Gulch Chile.

In 2013 he co-founded the world's first Bitcoin ATM machine [10].

He is the owner of AcaCondos an Acapulco based real estate company as well as the owner of Las Torres Gemelas Private Suites, a boutique hotel in Acapulco.[11]

In June, 2005, Berwick was in the process of circumnavigating the world in his 35' sailing catamaran when he was caught in a storm and the ship was sunk, leaving Berwick on his surfboard, later to be rescued with minor injuries by other sailors near Jiquilisco Bay, El Salvador.[12]

U.S. Senate Approves Proposed Internet Sales Tax

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Source: Conscious Life News

Mon, 25 Mar 2013 01:33

Posted by Alcyone_Featured_, EconomySunday, March 24th, 2013By Gregory Ferenstein | TechCrunch

An Internet sales tax is inching its way closer to being the law of the land: The U.S. Senate supported a non-binding vote of approval, 75-to-24, for a law that would allow states to collect taxes from Internet retailers. If enacted as is, it would allow states to levy taxes on some online retail purchases from businesses with over $1 million in gross receipts.

Internet retailers can thank their mostly tax-free existence to a 1992 Supreme Court Case, Quill Corp. v. North Dakota, which declared that companies without a ''substantial nexus'' in a state didn't have to pay sales tax. ''Quill became a seminal case for online retailers: It meant, in essence, that they didn't have to pay state and local sales taxes,'' writes the Washington Post's Ezra Klein.'' That's allowed them to undercut traditional brick-and-mortar stores on price. It's also meant that state and local governments, which rely heavily on sales taxes, have lost enormous amounts of revenue as more and more commerce has moved online.''

There are some exceptions: Amazon currently charges California residents sales tax, and will soon charge residents of Massachusetts and Connecticut, after new offices and acquisitions gave it a significant presence in those states.

A score of Internet lobbies, such as Netchoice, representing Facebook, Yahoo, and (TechCrunch's parent company) Aol, argue that the senate's bill ''does nothing to address what the Supreme Court says was an unreasonable burden on interstate commerce,'' explains Steve Delbianco of Netchoice.

Read the full article

Shut Up Slave!

FBI being sued over powerful Stingray cellphone tracking system

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Archived Version

Source: USA RSS

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 06:16

As cell phone users face an inundation of new evidence of the use of their phone data without their knowledge, this week's hearing regarding the FBI tracking technology known as ''Stingray'' is one especially worth following.

The technology in question, known formally as International Mobile Subscriber Identity locators, allow both the FBI and, in at least several documented cases, local law enforcement the capacity to filter through a large amount of cellphone data in a given region and locate one specific signal - and thus a suspect.

What troubles privacy advocates is that such tools, in this case one sold under the Stingray brand, operate by fooling cellphones into believing that they are connecting to a cell tower, when in fact they are linking up to a surveillance tool. What's more, the technology vacuums up data of not only a potential suspect, but all individuals within the given region.

For its part, the US government has argued that user privacy was upheld since authorities deleted all collected third-party data after its search.

The hearing set to begin in Arizona concerns the case of Daniel David Rigmaiden, a suspect in a tax fraud scheme, who was found at an apartment complex with the help of the Stingray technology.

Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have an issue not only with how the technology works - which they say violates the Fourth Amendment's protection against ''general warrants'' - but also the manner in which the FBI went about using it in Rigmaiden's and several others cases.

According to the ACLU of Northern California, which obtained federal investigators' request to a judge to access the suspect's wireless carrier (in this case Verizon) information, the bureau did not specifically request permission to deploy Stingray. As the technology collects the data of cell phone users in addition to the targeted individual, it was a potential breach of the law.

Further, the ACLU is submitting evidence in the form of an internal email string which seems to demonstrate the routine use of Stingray technology in the field by law enforcement agents, who at the same time failed to inform the respective courts of their use for at least three years. Rigmaiden is now requesting the court suppress all evidence produced by the Stingray in his case - which includes proof of wire fraud, mail fraud and identity theft for allegedly submitting more than 1,000 bogus tax returns.

Both the FBI and the Department of Justice are basing their defense primarily on claims that the charges were simply an innocent mistake by agents ''using a relatively new technology.'' Secondly, as the Department of Justice is expected to argue, Stingray technology does not encroach on a warrant-requiring search as cellphone use does not come with a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Privacy advocates, meanwhile, argue that had federal agents been forthright in their use of Stingray, federal judges would likely have prevented their use based on Constitutional law. Electronic Frontier Foundation, for one, believes that technology like Stingray allows the government to not only locate a suspect using their wireless signal, but to also search a home based on that location data.

Bloomberg Expresses Rage Over Failed Plan for Speed-Tracking Cameras

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Source: NYT > Home Page

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 21:12

As it became clear that a proposal to place speed-tracking cameras on New York City's streets would fail in Albany, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg let fly a charged and unusually personal attack against state lawmakers on Wednesday, blaming state senators, by name, for the future deaths of children killed by speeding cars.

The next time that word of such a tragedy emerges, Mr. Bloomberg suggested at a news conference near Union Square, ''why don't you pick up the phone and call your state senator and ask why they allowed that child to be killed?''

He said his office would even provide contact information for certain senators: Dean G. Skelos, the Republican majority leader; Simcha Felder, who was elected as a Democrat but chose to caucus as a Republican; and Martin J. Golden, a Brooklyn Republican who has often been a crucial ally to the Bloomberg administration.

''Maybe you want to give those phone numbers to the parents of the child when a child is killed,'' Mr. Bloomberg said. ''It would be useful so that the parents can know exactly who's to blame.''

Scott Reif, a spokesman for Senate Republicans, declined to address the mayor's remarks directly, saying only that ''no one has fought harder or longer than Senate Republicans'' to promote safety in New York City.

Though speed cameras, long trumpeted by city officials as an important street safety tool, were initially included in a budget package in the State Assembly, they do not appear in the budget that is expected to be approved by the Legislature this week.

Some opponents of the cameras have called them a warrantless attempt to raise revenue for the city and have expressed doubts as to whether they reduce speeding.

Mr. Golden said on Wednesday that other areas with speed cameras around the country had found them ''unreliable.''

Janette Sadik-Khan, the city's transportation commissioner, said on Wednesday that over 100 cities and states were already using cameras ''and study after study has proved that they work.'' The Transportation Department cited the example of Washington, D.C., where the police said last year that speeding at camera locations had fallen significantly since 2001, when the devices were first installed.

Last week, when New York City announced its final 2012 traffic fatality statistics '-- 274 deaths, the highest since 2008 '-- officials sought to tie the figures to a need for speed cameras, particularly near schools.

The Transportation Department released a map documenting 100 locations where 75 percent of vehicles were documented as speeding within a quarter-mile of a city school. Near three schools 100 percent of drivers were found to be speeding, according to the department.

Amid consistent calls from advocates, who are often critical of New York City's traffic enforcement, it appeared that momentum had begun to build in support of the policy, particularly after a spate of high-profile fatal crashes this year.

Christine C. Quinn, the City Council speaker and a top Democratic candidate for mayor, pledged her support for speed cameras this month, as did Raymond W. Kelly, the police commissioner.

But the plan has faced opposition from the Patrolmen's Benevolent Association, which, like Mr. Golden, has said that the more effective way to reduce speeding would be to hire more officers.

Mr. Golden suggested that the state revisit the use of cameras ''if we can prove that the technology is sound, and document unequivocally that it will reduce speeding and fatalities.''

On Wednesday, Mr. Bloomberg appeared in no mood to wait.

''We literally are having kids that are getting killed around our schools because people are speeding,'' he said. ''And they don't want to let us use cameras to stop people from doing that.''


Bullying Becomes Hot and Profitable Topic for Publishers

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Archived Version

Source: NYT > Home Page

Tue, 26 Mar 2013 15:28

Nobody likes a bully '-- but these days the book industry loves having them to kick around.

Publishing houses are flooding the market with titles that tackle bullying. The books are aimed at all age groups '-- from ''Bully,'' a picture book for elementary-grade students, to the ''The Bully Book,'' for middle school children, about an average kid who suddenly becomes everyone's favorite victim, to ''Sticks and Stones'' by Emily Bazelon, a recent release for adults that includes both stories and analysis. According to World Cat, a catalog of library collections worldwide, the number of English-language books tagged with the key word ''bullying'' in 2012 was 1,891, an increase of 500 in a decade.

There are even more to come, said Elizabeth Bird, who tracks coming books and trends for youth collections at the New York Public Library. ''Bullying has always been a popular topic, but this year we are seeing bullying titles coming out as never before, and there is no end in sight.''

The publishing world's preoccupation with bullies does not end at the bookshelf. Several publishing houses, including Random House, Simon & Schuster and even Harlequin, have started antibullying campaigns built around their books. Authors have taken action on their own as well. Two young-adult authors, Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones, assembled an anthology of personal essays, called ''Dear Bully: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories,'' (HarperTeen 2011) by prominent writers like R. L. Stine, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

Ms. Hall and Ms. Jones also came together to form and maintain a Facebook site called Young Adult Authors Against Bullying that identifies cruel Facebook pages and lobbies to have them taken down.

Bullying has become such a common topic for authors that in October there will be a conference in Missouri for authors of books on the subject. There is space for only 300 participants but already 80 have signed up to attend.

The surge in antibullying books reflects the broader cultural alarm about the problem, spurred in part by several high-profile cases of cyberbullying that resulted in suicides.

The White House held its first conference on bullying prevention in 2011. In response to government cues, libraries, schools and even bookstores like Barnes & Noble, the nation's largest retail book chain, have been holding events to talk about the problem and provide help for parents and children. Those resources often come at least in part in the form of books and lectures by authors.

For publishers and authors it has been hard to miss the perfect synergy that results: They can promote a cause that most people avidly support while promoting their own products.

''The intention is service to help the teachers and librarians who are looking for resources,'' said Michelle Fadlalla, director of education and library marketing for Simon & Schuster, which published the early antibullying success ''The Misfits'' in 2003 and this year published ''Justin and the Bully'' by the former Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy. ''At the same time it is definitely an opportunity for us to gather sales because it is such a hot topic.''

A case in point is ''Wonder'' by R. J. Palacio, a book about a boy with facial deformities that came out last year and is No. 1 on the New York Times children's middle-grade best-seller list, with more than 350,000 copies. Although it was not written as an antibullying book, many teachers and librarians began assigning it that way to students. The publisher, Random House Children's Books, saw an opportunity and created a ''Choose Kind'' campaign based on sentiments expressed in the book, in which individuals or classrooms can pledge to do acts of kindness.

The book's message of tolerance and empathy is so popular that this year both Fairfield, Conn., and Santa Monica, Calif., chose ''Wonder'' for their communitywide reading initiatives.

Marketing opportunities do not completely explain the boom in the number of titles, however. Heather Brewer, the author of ''The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod'' vampire series, about being an outsider, said that bullying strikes a common chord with many authors.

''There is a certain personality to being a writer, a quirky introverted type maybe not as socially adept, and they tend to be picked on a little bit more than others,'' she said in an interview.

Ms. Brewer is organizing the antibullying writers' conference in October in part because she was a victim herself when she was growing up in Columbiaville, Mich. ''I would have books knocked out of my hand,'' she said. ''I would be pinched and shoved. So letting people know about the dangers of bullying is important to me.''

Ms. Hall, who collaborated on the ''Dear Bully'' anthology after Phoebe Prince, a bullied high schooler from South Hadley, Mass., committed suicide in 2010, said she had to turn away authors who wanted to be included in the collection.

''A lot of the authors say books saved their lives during those difficult teen years,'' Ms. Hall said. And authors, in turn, can be fiercely protective of their vulnerable, bookish readers. ''They know that their fan base is people like them,'' she said, ''people who consider reading as a refuge. We want to be there for teens to let them know it will get better.''

Surviving a meanspirited peer is an age-old element of young-adult literature of course. But the context has changed, said Gillian Engberg, an editor at Booklist magazine, a publication of the American Library Association. Instead of being a rite of passage that must be endured or to be overcome, it is now analyzed in a much more psychological way. Some books, like ''Leverage,'' which depicts the rape of a male high-school gymnast by three football players, are graphic and decline to offer happy endings.

Several books now include the perspective of not just the victim but also of the bully, bystanders and even the adults who enable or ignore the behavior. ''There is a nuanced approach,'' Ms. Engberg said. ''We are seeing more and more of these books that take on all of these perspectives.''

Jay Asher, the author of the best-selling novel ''Thirteen Reasons Why'' (2007), about a girl who sends tapes to people explaining their roles in her decision to take her own life, said the biggest difference for books about bullying now is the level of adult concern about the issue.

He said he is now asked to speak at schools three or four times a month, as well as to adult groups. What's more he is often asked to speak in conjunction with others, like representatives from suicide-prevention help lines. Mr. Asher, 37, said he sees a real change from the time when he was growing up.

''What is different now is that adults really take this stuff seriously,'' he said, ''and they don't want to turn their backs.''

Drone Nation

Drones form giant Star Trek symbol in the sky '' bow in fear - PC & Tech Authority

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Mon, 25 Mar 2013 23:14

3) Newsletters Receive the latest news and reviews directly to your inbox. Tailor your information by selecting your areas of interests below:Daily

Our daily newsletter delivers your daily dose of killer tech, including our hard hitting reviews, fresh news, photos, opinion from our expert columnists and more. It's amazing, entertaining, and it'll make you feel like an expert.

Weekly Get the latest news, reviews, photos and features about the hottest tech straight to your inbox every week. Our weekly wrapup not only fills you in on the big news, but you get the entire picture covering laptops, cameras, TVs, PCs, phones, tablets, software, broadband and more. Get the complete guide to buying, using and getting more out of the gadgets in your life.

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Gadgets and Stuff From robots to digital radios and eBook readers, our Gadgets and Stuff email newsletter is the perfect way to keep a gadget lover entertained.

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Anthrax Vaccine

Hello Adama.


trying to stay current on the show, but I was a few days out when I

heard this morning from Episode 497 that they are planning to test the

Anthrax Vaccine on children. Clearly, having a shred of

humanityåÊpredicates my feelings on that front; what type of scum comes

up with such a terrible idea.

I won't go too far into my own personal history with

this vaccine, but I WAS seperated from the NAVY in 1999 after refusing

their batch. I don't miss the life, and I was a stupid young person in

those days. I look back in amazement sometimes that I actually had the

balls to say no.

Anyway, I digress...when you said that you had never

heard that they inoculated over one million of our troops with this

stuff, I was surprised. I know you cannot keep track of everything, and I

have a personal connection to this issue, I thought I would

steer you toward a short book or two that you could look at with

interest. Clearly, just because it's easier to condition people's minds

doesn't mean thatåÊpoweråÊisn't interestedåÊin conditioning our behavior

through chemistry and biology. For aåÊclassic example, look at the

Tuskegee syphilis tests, or the tests involving pollution of the water

supply of a given town ( in California, JOHN?) with plutonium. I'll have

to look further than my memory allows for books covering that, though.åÊ

Vaccine 'A' by Gary Matsumoto (top 3 scariest book ever for me)

GI Guinea PigsåÊby Michael Uhl and Tod Ensign

As I said, I don't want to overhwelm.

I AMåÊa douchebag, but I am a new recruit (started at

460). Just had a daughter and looking to get out of my slave hovel, so

look for my name on the donation list soon. (Barony of Lake Michigan

here I come!)

Xander (Chicago)

Keeping hitting me in the mouth. It still upsets me to good effect. And thanks. If you'd like the books, I have both.

Viagra turns 15, but has it helped couples' sex lives? - Health - CBC News

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Archived Version

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 15:21

The little blue pill that's put the bounce back into the step of millions of men is celebrating 15 years since it was approved for sale in the U.S., changing the conversation (sometimes for the worse) about sex and erectile dysfunction.

Pfizer's drug sildenafil, commonly known as Viagra, was authorized for sale by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on this day in 1998, two years after it was first developed as a treatment for heart disease and high blood pressure.

The erectile dysfunction drug has gone on to become one of the most well known pharmaceutical brands, aided by its famed advertising campaign.

But London, Ont.-based clinical psychologist Dr. Guy Grenier says that despite Viagra's success, it's actually "tremendously overprescribed" by health professionals who shy away from discussing sexual dysfunction with patients.

"For the people who are uncomfortable, they immediately reach for the prescription pad," Grenier told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo's The Morning Edition host Craig Norris. "When we've got that sort of quick immediate answer, we end up with people getting the wrong treatment."

Pfizer's website claims that to-date, over 25 million men in the United States have tried Viagra. Millions more know the commercials that depict middle-aged men experiencing a new zest for life.

Grenier said marketing the drug as increasing sexual desire continues to create a misunderstanding that it's an all-in-one cure for struggling couples wanting to increase libido.

"People will seek out Viagra or its cousins thinking that that's going to solve a variety of sexual problems and it doesn't do that," he said.

The result is a significant majority of men who don't renew their prescription '-- in one study reaching as high as 70 per cent, according to Grenier.

'People will seek out Viagra or its cousins thinking that that's going to solve a variety of sexual problems and it doesn't do that.''--Person quoted

Doctors have also coined the term post-Viagra syndrome, used to describe men who have achieved an erection after taking the drug, but who still lack the desire or confidence to have sex.

"A lot of sexual performance issues have nothing to do with blood flow," Grenier said. "They have to do with relationships issues, or animosity, or attraction, or communication '-- all kinds of things."

Grenier said Viagra's strength continues to be its marketing power and recommends that people would benefit from more sex education.

"We have a very sexualized society but we remain a very sexual illiterate society," he said.

Relationship Expert: Love, Sex and Relationship Problems. Get Parenting Tips

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Archived Version

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 15:21

Sex and TechnologyWith one-third of internet content being pornography, Dr. Wendy Walsh talks about how technology is becoming an extension of our sexuality.

The 30-Day Love DetoxFrom a dating doyenne of the Sex-And-The-City generation comes this ground breaking prescription for slow-love that blasts traditional dating books and their confusing messages: Be free but not too free. Play hard to get and go after what you want. Keep him close by not letting him know you want a commitment-messages that help women play a game that doesn't always lead to a fulfilling, committed relationship. Dr. Wendy Walsh's outside-the-box approach to...

Join Wendy at, where she dishes out her patented brand of expert dating advice for men and women alike. The site features articles, how-to's, Q&A sessions, reviews of online dating sites, and other dating resources.


"Everyone Talking About A Cyber 9/11 Worse Than Pearl Harbor Is Actually Going Too Far"

Largest Cyber Attack In History Is Said To Be Effecting The Entire Internet

VIDEO-Cyprus agrees bailout with eurozone ministers -- video | World news |

VIDEO-Summary Eurogroup - 25/03/2013 - YouTube

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Tue, 26 Mar 2013 10:11

VIDEO-Cyprus Gets World's First Bitcoin ATM

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Tue, 26 Mar 2013 12:00

What's This?

NowThis News 2013-03-26 14:53:37 UTCThe world's first Bitcoin ATM machine will be installed in Cyprus, and it will accept both Bitcoins for cash and cash for Bitcoins. Cyprus recently accepted a bailout from the European Union totaling more than $12.8 billion.

Homepage image courtesy of NowThisNews

This article originally published at NowThis News here

Topics: bailout, Bitcoin, Bitcoins, Business, economy, europe, European Union, money, WorldNowThis News is video news for the mobile and social generation. It's news, but fun. Download the free app:

Capehart On DOMA: States Rights A 'Legal Technicality'

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Thu, 28 Mar 2013 07:57

If the player does not load, please check that you are running the latest version of Adobe Flash Player.

On Morning Joe, discussing the possible overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act by the Supreme Court, Jonathan Capehart refers to states rights as "a legal technicality."


Severe Plague Of Locusts Has Infested Madagascar

Cyprus Looking Almost Like Martial Law As Banks Prepare To Re-Open

VIDEO-White House Down - Official Trailer (HD) - YouTube

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Wed, 27 Mar 2013 09:07

AUDIO: Is jet stream to blame for bad weather?

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Source: BBC News - Home

Wed, 27 Mar 2013 08:11

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.


"Then You Have To Realize There's Something Sick & Disgusting About This Country!"

Gerard Butler: Friends say my American accent makes me 'sound like an idiot' - TODAY Entertainment