Sunday, 20 April 2014

World Bank wants water privatized, despite risks

Al Jazzera

Humans can survive weeks without food, but only days without water — in some conditions, only hours. It may sound clichéd, but it’s no hyperbole: Water is life. So what happens when private companies control the spigot? Evidence from water privatization projects around the world paints a pretty clear picture — public health is at stake. 

In the run-up to its annual spring meeting this month, the World Bank Group, which offers loans, advice and other resources to developing countries, held four days of dialogues in Washington, D.C. Civil society groups from around the world and World Bank Group staff convened to discuss many topics. Water was high on the list.

It’s hard to think of a more important topic. We face a global water crisis, made worse by the warming temperatures of climate change. A quarter of the world’s people don’t have sufficient access to clean drinking water, and more people die every year from waterborne illnesses — such as cholera and typhoid fever — than from all forms of violence, including war, combined. Every hour, the United Nations estimates, 240 babies die from unsafe water.

The World Bank Group pushes privatization as a key solution to the water crisis. It is the largest funder of water management in the developing world, with loans and financing channeled through the group’s International Finance Corporation (IFC). Since the 1980s, the IFC has been promoting these water projects as part of a broader set of privatization policies, with loans and financing tied to enacting austerity measures designed to shrink the state, from the telecom industry to water utilities.
But international advocacy and civil society groups point to the pockmarked record of private-sector water projects and are calling on the World Bank Group to end support for private water.

Read more

 

areThis Copy and Paste

Renewables Aren’t Enough. Clean Coal Is the Future

 

Wired

Coal supplies over 40 percent of global electricity needs, and that percentage is going up. The only real question is how to minimize the damage. 


Proof that good things don’t always come in nice packages can be found by taking the fast train from Beijing to Tianjin and then driving to the coast. Tianjin, China’s third-biggest city, originated as Beijing’s port on the Yellow Sea. But in recent years Tianjin has reclaimed so much of its muddy, unstable shoreline that the city has effectively moved inland and a new, crazily active port has sprung up at the water’s edge. In this hyper-industrialized zone, its highways choked with trucks, stand scores of factories and utility plants, each a mass of pipes, reactors, valves, vents, retorts, crackers, blowers, chimneys, and distillation towers—the sort of facility James Cameron might have lingered over, musing, on his way to film the climax of Terminator 2.

Among these edifices, just as big and almost as anonymous as its neighbors, is a structure called GreenGen, built by China Huaneng Group, a giant state-owned electric utility, in collaboration with half a dozen other firms, various branches of the Chinese government, and, importantly, Peabody Energy, a Missouri firm that is the world’s biggest private coal company.

By Western standards, GreenGen is a secretive place; weeks of repeated requests for interviews and a tour met with no reply. When I visited anyway, guards at the site not only refused admittance but wouldn’t even confirm its name. As I drove away from the entrance, a window blind cracked open; through the slats, an eye surveyed my departure. The silence, in my view, is foolish. GreenGen is a billion-dollar facility that extracts the carbon dioxide from a coal-fired power plant and, ultimately, will channel it into an underground storage area many miles away. Part of a coming wave of such carbon-eating facilities, it may be China’s—and possibly the planet’s—single most consequential effort to fight climate change.

Read more

 

Saturday, 19 April 2014

How Silicon Valley entrepreneurs are rushing to cash in on cannabis.


Wired
Mat Honan


PART 1

Like many people in San Francisco, Sasha Robinson is working on a startup out of his home. His living room is a riot of wires, battery packs, pliers, and metal casings. If I didn’t know better, I’d think he was a bomb maker. But these are just the raw materials for a new gadget he’s creating. It’s something revolutionary, he thinks, and he should know. In the 2000s, Robinson ran software development at industrial design firm Moto, where he oversaw new product development for the Flip HD camcorder. 

Before that he was at Juniper Systems and Silicon Graphics, two of the Valley’s foundational tech firms. 

His cofounder, Mark Williams, has also bounced around Valley software firms, but his main experience was at Apple, where he managed a Mac OS design team. These guys have tech cred.

They also met at a Burning Man party. “We would hang out socially and always ended up talking about ideas and inventions,” says Williams, explaining how they came up with their new product in his living room. “We were sitting on my couch in my apartment, smoking. I was over 40 then, we could really feel it in our bodies. We were social smokers, but we both felt it …”

“Wait. Are you talking about tobacco here,” I interjected.

“Yes … ,” Williams says, looking sideways and grinning. “I am?” Pregnant pause. Robinson chuckles. 

“That’s what the line has to be from any manufacturer importing into the US,” he says. Openly acknowledging that your product—in this case a high tech vaporizer called the Firefly–is intended for marijuana use exposes you to classification as a distributor of drug paraphernalia, opening you up to the risk of the federal government seizing your assets and bank accounts. And that makes it difficult to pay a lawyer.


Sasha Robinson and Mark Williams in Robinson’s San Francisco home, which doubles as Firefly’s prototyping lab and office.
Photo: Ariel Zambelich

So, officially, the Firefly is for pipe tobacco. But I didn’t try any pipe tobacco in it. You probably won’t either. I did, however, sample some marijuana, for which it’s really, really great. A personal disclosure: I’ve smoked a lot of pot. I’m no stoner, but I’ve been smoking it for more than 25 years, and in that time I’ve used all sorts of vaporizers. They’ve evolved a great deal over the years, from giant complex tabletop devices to today’s generation of e-cig-style vapes that deliver brain-hammering doses of butane-extracted cannabis oil. The Firefly does those devices one better, magically and almost instantly vaporizing actual plant material at the touch of a button. It is just wonderful.

It offers all the convenience of a pipe—it’s portable and downright stealthy; you can slip it in your pocket, carry it loaded up with marijuana—but it’s less harmful than a conventional pipe, because you are inhaling vapor, not smoke. The Firefly uses a lithium-ion battery to power a convection heating element that reaches 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The chamber is insulated by air, which means the Firefly’s housing doesn’t get hot enough to burn your fingers, or anything else, when you slide it back into your pocket.




[...]

If the future of pot is being plotted in Silicon Valley, it’s playing out in Colorado. In 2012, the state passed a law legalizing marijuana for recreational use. It went into effect this year, and storefronts inviting any adult with some cash to walk in and buy pot opened up all over Denver. The state set up a rigorous tracking system designed to keep pot out of the black market. So far it’s been a success. Defying projections, crime has dropped since the law went into effect January 1, and the flow of new tax revenue, more than $2 million a month, is on par with the state’s haul from alcohol taxes. Is this what the pot-friendly future of America looks like?


Read more


Documentary Film Will Expose Hollywood Pedophile Rings

Daily Mail
 
  • Alleged victim Michael Egan, 31, working with Amy Berg - who was nominated for Academy Award for film of Catholic Church sex abuse
  • Berg was surprised about Egan's public outing this week
  • But confirmed to MailOnline she'd be working on the project for two years
  • Egan claims he was treated like 'a piece of meat' and raped at pool parties
  • Egan is now 31, but was 17 at the time of the alleged abuse in 1999 and 2000
  • Court papers from suit brought by Egan in 2000 have now emerged - but don't name Singer. Director's legal team say it shows claims are untrue

The man accusing X Men director Bryan Singer of sex abuse has teamed up with an Oscar-nominated filmmaker for a bombshell documentary that threatens to expose the sordid underbelly of Hollywood.

Michael Egan, who claims he was raped by Singer at a string of Hollywood pool parties as a teenager, has been working with Amy Berg, MailOnline can reveal.

Miss Berg runs Disarming Films and yesterday confirmed to MailOnline she had been working on the project for the past two years.

Read more

Friday, 18 April 2014

Report indicates that US aligned regimes are preparing for war

RT

Every year the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) releases a study on military spending around the world. This year's report contains many interesting details.

Some things in the report presented by the United Nations Commission on disarmament on April 14 have not changed at all. As has been the case for decades, the United States remains the largest military spender in the world, despite the much heralded "defense cuts." The US, NATO, and "non-NATO US allies" account for over 64 percent of all military spending in the world. 

Preparations for war in the Middle East? 

The report, however, pointed out that US aligned regimes in the Middle East are rapidly increasing their military spending, and purchasing modern, high-tech weapons. The list of US aligned states in the Middle East is a collection of autocratic, repressive kingdoms and emirates. These countries are not "democratic" by any stretch. Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Bahrain, and other states are absolute monarchies. People are flogged, stoned, and beheaded routinely. Torture goes on without apology, and no elections take place. "Free speech" is nearly non-existent, as people are locked up, arbitrarily killed, and otherwise repressed for speaking out. 

Those who consume US TV and print media are constantly bombarded with "journalism" demonizing the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Syrian Arab Republic, while the crimes of this lengthy list of US backed Middle Eastern states, which make not even the slightest pretense of being democratic, are ignored. The US props up these autocratic states with billions of dollars in foreign aid, and Wall Street oil corporations make trillions in profits through control of their natural resources. When the population of these states has risen up and demanded democratic and economic rights, these regimes use their stockpiles of US made weapons to gun down protesters, burn entire neighborhoods, and enforce their rule with terror and violence. The violent response to recent uprisings in Bahrain, the jailing of poets in Qatar, and the continued US coddling of their monarchs shows the complete hypocrisy of any "human rights" rhetoric from Washington D.C. 

However, in the last year these US puppet regimes in the Middle East have increasingly embraced the business of war. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is now the fourth largest military spender in the entire world. It is stockpiling modern missiles, tanks, and other high tech mechanisms of destruction and death. Oman, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates are also increasing their military build-up. These regimes are currently funding, training, and arming the insurgent groups in Syria, where over 100,000 people have already died in what was once a peaceful country. The millions of refugees in Syria are desperately fleeing to other parts of the region, as "rebels" burn their homes, kidnap their children, and carry out public beheadings. Money and weapons flowing from US-backed autocratic regimes is keeping the four-year civil war going, with more people dying each day. 

The rise in military spending in the Middle East points toward plans for a wider war. The turmoil in Tunisia and Egypt in 2011 that resulted in the removal of US puppet Hosni Mubarak, and the failure to overthrow the Syrian Arab Republic after years of civil war, point toward a real weakness in US influence in the Middle East. When Obama announced he intended to rain cruise missiles on Syria, he was forced to back down. As the US aligned autocratic states in the gulf build up their military power, it looks as if some kind of desperate drive to regain lost influence may be in the works. 

Read more

The Red Line and the Rat Line

London Review of Books


Seymour M. Hersh on Obama, Erdoğan and the Syrian rebels



In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’

The joint chiefs also knew that the Obama administration’s public claims that only the Syrian army had access to sarin were wrong. The American and British intelligence communities had been aware since the spring of 2013 that some rebel units in Syria were developing chemical weapons. On 20 June analysts for the US Defense Intelligence Agency issued a highly classified five-page ‘talking points’ briefing for the DIA’s deputy director, David Shedd, which stated that al-Nusra maintained a sarin production cell: its programme, the paper said, was ‘the most advanced sarin plot since al-Qaida’s pre-9/11 effort’. 

(According to a Defense Department consultant, US intelligence has long known that al-Qaida experimented with chemical weapons, and has a video of one of its gas experiments with dogs.) The DIA paper went on: ‘Previous IC [intelligence community] focus had been almost entirely on Syrian CW [chemical weapons] stockpiles; now we see ANF attempting to make its own CW … Al-Nusrah Front’s relative freedom of operation within Syria leads us to assess the group’s CW aspirations will be difficult to disrupt in the future.’ The paper drew on classified intelligence from numerous agencies: ‘Turkey and Saudi-based chemical facilitators,’ it said, ‘were attempting to obtain sarin precursors in bulk, tens of kilograms, likely for the anticipated large scale production effort in Syria.’ (Asked about the DIA paper, a spokesperson for the director of national intelligence said: ‘No such paper was ever requested or produced by intelligence community analysts.’)

Last May, more than ten members of the al-Nusra Front were arrested in southern Turkey with what local police told the press were two kilograms of sarin. In a 130-page indictment the group was accused of attempting to purchase fuses, piping for the construction of mortars, and chemical precursors for sarin. Five of those arrested were freed after a brief detention. The others, including the ringleader, Haytham Qassab, for whom the prosecutor requested a prison sentence of 25 years, were released pending trial. In the meantime the Turkish press has been rife with speculation that the Erdoğan administration has been covering up the extent of its involvement with the rebels. In a news conference last summer, Aydin Sezgin, Turkey’s ambassador to Moscow, dismissed the arrests and claimed to reporters that the recovered ‘sarin’ was merely ‘anti-freeze’.

The DIA paper took the arrests as evidence that al-Nusra was expanding its access to chemical weapons. It said Qassab had ‘self-identified’ as a member of al-Nusra, and that he was directly connected to Abd-al-Ghani, the ‘ANF emir for military manufacturing’. Qassab and his associate Khalid Ousta worked with Halit Unalkaya, an employee of a Turkish firm called Zirve Export, who provided ‘price quotes for bulk quantities of sarin precursors’. Abd-al-Ghani’s plan was for two associates to ‘perfect a process for making sarin, then go to Syria to train others to begin large scale production at an unidentified lab in Syria’. The DIA paper said that one of his operatives had purchased a precursor on the ‘Baghdad chemical market’, which ‘has supported at least seven CW efforts since 2004’.

A series of chemical weapon attacks in March and April 2013 was investigated over the next few months by a special UN mission to Syria. A person with close knowledge of the UN’s activity in Syria told me that there was evidence linking the Syrian opposition to the first gas attack, on 19 March in Khan Al-Assal, a village near Aleppo. In its final report in December, the mission said that at least 19 civilians and one Syrian soldier were among the fatalities, along with scores of injured. It had no mandate to assign responsibility for the attack, but the person with knowledge of the UN’s activities said: ‘Investigators interviewed the people who were there, including the doctors who treated the victims. It was clear that the rebels used the gas. It did not come out in public because no one wanted to know.’


In the months before the attacks began, a former senior Defense Department official told me, the DIA was circulating a daily classified report known as SYRUP on all intelligence related to the Syrian conflict, including material on chemical weapons. But in the spring, distribution of the part of the report concerning chemical weapons was severely curtailed on the orders of Denis McDonough, the White House chief of staff. ‘Something was in there that triggered a shit fit by McDonough,’ the former Defense Department official said. ‘One day it was a huge deal, and then, after the March and April sarin attacks’ – he snapped his fingers – ‘it’s no longer there.’ The decision to restrict distribution was made as the joint chiefs ordered intensive contingency planning for a possible ground invasion of Syria whose primary objective would be the elimination of chemical weapons.

The former intelligence official said that many in the US national security establishment had long been troubled by the president’s red line: ‘The joint chiefs asked the White House, “What does red line mean? How does that translate into military orders? Troops on the ground? Massive strike? Limited strike?” They tasked military intelligence to study how we could carry out the threat. They learned nothing more about the president’s reasoning.’

In the aftermath of the 21 August attack Obama ordered the Pentagon to draw up targets for bombing. Early in the process, the former intelligence official said, ‘the White House rejected 35 target sets provided by the joint chiefs of staff as being insufficiently “painful” to the Assad regime.’ The original targets included only military sites and nothing by way of civilian infrastructure. Under White House pressure, the US attack plan evolved into ‘a monster strike’: two wings of B-52 bombers were shifted to airbases close to Syria, and navy submarines and ships equipped with Tomahawk missiles were deployed. 

‘Every day the target list was getting longer,’ the former intelligence official told me. ‘The Pentagon planners said we can’t use only Tomahawks to strike at Syria’s missile sites because their warheads are buried too far below ground, so the two B-52 air wings with two-thousand pound bombs were assigned to the mission. Then we’ll need standby search-and-rescue teams to recover downed pilots and drones for target selection. It became huge.’ The new target list was meant to ‘completely eradicate any military capabilities Assad had’, the former intelligence official said. The core targets included electric power grids, oil and gas depots, all known logistic and weapons depots, all known command and control facilities, and all known military and intelligence buildings.

Britain and France were both to play a part. On 29 August, the day Parliament voted against Cameron’s bid to join the intervention, the Guardian reported that he had already ordered six RAF Typhoon fighter jets to be deployed to Cyprus, and had volunteered a submarine capable of launching Tomahawk missiles. The French air force – a crucial player in the 2011 strikes on Libya – was deeply committed, according to an account in Le Nouvel Observateur; François Hollande had ordered several Rafale fighter-bombers to join the American assault. Their targets were reported to be in western Syria.

By the last days of August the president had given the Joint Chiefs a fixed deadline for the launch. ‘H hour was to begin no later than Monday morning [2 September], a massive assault to neutralise Assad,’ the former intelligence official said. So it was a surprise to many when during a speech in the White House Rose Garden on 31 August Obama said that the attack would be put on hold, and he would turn to Congress and put it to a vote.

At this stage, Obama’s premise – that only the Syrian army was capable of deploying sarin – was unravelling. Within a few days of the 21 August attack, the former intelligence official told me, Russian military intelligence operatives had recovered samples of the chemical agent from Ghouta. They analysed it and passed it on to British military intelligence; this was the material sent to Porton Down. (A spokesperson for Porton Down said: ‘Many of the samples analysed in the UK tested positive for the nerve agent sarin.’ MI6 said that it doesn’t comment on intelligence matters.)

The former intelligence official said the Russian who delivered the sample to the UK was ‘a good source – someone with access, knowledge and a record of being trustworthy’. After the first reported uses of chemical weapons in Syria last year, American and allied intelligence agencies ‘made an effort to find the answer as to what if anything, was used – and its source’, the former intelligence official said. ‘We use data exchanged as part of the Chemical Weapons Convention. The DIA’s baseline consisted of knowing the composition of each batch of Soviet-manufactured chemical weapons. But we didn’t know which batches the Assad government currently had in its arsenal. Within days of the Damascus incident we asked a source in the Syrian government to give us a list of the batches the government currently had. This is why we could confirm the difference so quickly.’

The process hadn’t worked as smoothly in the spring, the former intelligence official said, because the studies done by Western intelligence ‘were inconclusive as to the type of gas it was. The word “sarin” didn’t come up. There was a great deal of discussion about this, but since no one could conclude what gas it was, you could not say that Assad had crossed the president’s red line.’ By 21 August, the former intelligence official went on, ‘the Syrian opposition clearly had learned from this and announced that “sarin” from the Syrian army had been used, before any analysis could be made, and the press and White House jumped at it. Since it now was sarin, “It had to be Assad.”’

The UK defence staff who relayed the Porton Down findings to the joint chiefs were sending the Americans a message, the former intelligence official said: ‘We’re being set up here.’ (This account made sense of a terse message a senior official in the CIA sent in late August: ‘It was not the result of the current regime. UK & US know this.’) By then the attack was a few days away and American, British and French planes, ships and submarines were at the ready.

The officer ultimately responsible for the planning and execution of the attack was General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the joint chiefs. From the beginning of the crisis, the former intelligence official said, the joint chiefs had been sceptical of the administration’s argument that it had the facts to back up its belief in Assad’s guilt. They pressed the DIA and other agencies for more substantial evidence. ‘There was no way they thought Syria would use nerve gas at that stage, because Assad was winning the war,’ the former intelligence official said. Dempsey had irritated many in the Obama administration by repeatedly warning Congress over the summer of the danger of American military involvement in Syria. Last April, after an optimistic assessment of rebel progress by the secretary of state, John Kerry, in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee that ‘there’s a risk that this conflict has become stalemated.’


Dempsey’s initial view after 21 August was that a US strike on Syria – under the assumption that the Assad government was responsible for the sarin attack – would be a military blunder, the former intelligence official said. The Porton Down report caused the joint chiefs to go to the president with a more serious worry: that the attack sought by the White House would be an unjustified act of aggression. 

It was the joint chiefs who led Obama to change course. The official White House explanation for the turnabout – the story the press corps told – was that the president, during a walk in the Rose Garden with Denis McDonough, his chief of staff, suddenly decided to seek approval for the strike from a bitterly divided Congress with which he’d been in conflict for years. The former Defense Department official told me that the White House provided a different explanation to members of the civilian leadership of the Pentagon: the bombing had been called off because there was intelligence ‘that the Middle East would go up in smoke’ if it was carried out.

The president’s decision to go to Congress was initially seen by senior aides in the White House, the former intelligence official said, as a replay of George W. Bush’s gambit in the autumn of 2002 before the invasion of Iraq: ‘When it became clear that there were no WMD in Iraq, Congress, which had endorsed the Iraqi war, and the White House both shared the blame and repeatedly cited faulty intelligence. If the current Congress were to vote to endorse the strike, the White House could again have it both ways – wallop Syria with a massive attack and validate the president’s red line commitment, while also being able to share the blame with Congress if it came out that the Syrian military wasn’t behind the attack.’ The turnabout came as a surprise even to the Democratic leadership in Congress. In September the Wall Street Journal reported that three days before his Rose Garden speech Obama had telephoned Nancy Pelosi, leader of the House Democrats, ‘to talk through the options’. She later told colleagues, according to the Journal, that she hadn’t asked the president to put the bombing to a congressional vote.

Obama’s move for congressional approval quickly became a dead end. ‘Congress was not going to let this go by,’ the former intelligence official said. ‘Congress made it known that, unlike the authorisation for the Iraq war, there would be substantive hearings.’ At this point, there was a sense of desperation in the White House, the former intelligence official said. ‘And so out comes Plan B. Call off the bombing strike and Assad would agree to unilaterally sign the chemical warfare treaty and agree to the destruction of all of chemical weapons under UN supervision.’ At a press conference in London on 9 September, Kerry was still talking about intervention: ‘The risk of not acting is greater than the risk of acting.’ But when a reporter asked if there was anything Assad could do to stop the bombing, Kerry said: ‘Sure. He could turn over every single bit of his chemical weapons to the international community in the next week … But he isn’t about to do it, and it can’t be done, obviously.’ As the New York Times reported the next day, the Russian-brokered deal that emerged shortly afterwards had first been discussed by Obama and Putin in the summer of 2012. Although the strike plans were shelved, the administration didn’t change its public assessment of the justification for going to war. ‘There is zero tolerance at that level for the existence of error,’ the former intelligence official said of the senior officials in the White House. ‘They could not afford to say: “We were wrong.”’ (The DNI spokesperson said: ‘The Assad regime, and only the Assad regime, could have been responsible for the chemical weapons attack that took place on 21 August.’)




George Brandis: sidelining climate change deniers is ‘deplorable’

The Guardian

George Brandis says it is “deplorable” deniers are being excluded from the climate change debate and people who say the science is settled are ignorant and medieval.

The attorney general called the leader of the opposition in the Senate, Penny Wong, the “high priestess of political correctness” and said he did not regret his comment that everyone has the right to be a bigot in an interview with the online magazine Spiked.

He said one of the main motivators for his passionate defence of free speech has been the “deplorable” way climate change has been debated and he was “really shocked by the sheer authoritarianism of those who would have excluded from the debate the point of view of people who were climate-change deniers”. “One side [has] the orthodoxy on its side and delegitimises the views of those who disagree, rather than engaging with them intellectually and showing them why they are wrong,” he said.

He referred to Wong as standing up in the Senate and saying the science is settled as an example of climate change believers trying to shut down the debate.

“In other words, ‘I am not even going to engage in a debate with you.’ It was ignorant, it was medieval, the approach of these true believers in climate change,” he said.

Read more

‘Letter to Jews’, Kerry cited, appears to be fake

Comment: Kerry and the State Department deceiving yet again. It's like a re-run of "House of Cards." Kerry is also looking stranger and stranger. His face seems to have melted. Does pathological lying do that? 

----------------------
 


RT

A letter urging the Jews of Donetsk to get registered, which the US Secretary of State cited in Geneva, is a fake says a man whose signature appears on the communication.

Following the four-side meeting on the Ukrainian crisis in Geneva on Wednesday, John Kerry lashed out at a letter that was allegedly sent to Jewish citizens in Ukraine’s eastern town of Donetsk, asking them to register and report all their property, or be stripped of citizenship and face expulsion.

“In year 2014, after all of the miles traveled in all the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque… beyond unacceptable,” he stated.

Images of the letter have been circulating online.

Read more

“NATO includes all former fascist powers in Europe”

Voice of Russia


“NATO includes all former fascist powers in Europe” – Expert

Audio: Download audio file

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said NATO’s building up its presence along its eastern borders.

Where Feminism went wrong - Shedding the Superwoman Myth

The Chronicle Review
Debora L. Spar

 n 2005, I was teaching a first-year class at Harvard Business School. As usual, slightly under a third of my students were women. As always, I was the only female professor.

So one evening, my female students asked me and one of my female colleagues to join them for cocktails. They ordered a lovely spread of hors d'oeuvres and white wine. They presented each of us with an elegant lavender plant. And then, like women meeting for cocktails often do, they—well, we, actually—proceeded to complain. About how tough it was to be so constantly in the minority. About how the guys sucked up all the air around the school. About the folks in career services who told them never to wear anything but a good black pantsuit to an interview.

Over the course of the conversation, though, things began to turn. The women stopped talking about their present lives and started to focus on their futures, futures that had little to do with conferences or pantsuits and everything to do with babies, and families, and men. Most of the women were frankly intending to work "for a year or two" and then move into motherhood. These were some of the smartest and most determined young women in the country. They had Ivy League degrees, for the most part, and were in the midst of paying more than $100,000 for an M.B.A. And yet they were already deeply concerned about how they would juggle their lives, and surprisingly pessimistic about their chances of doing so.

Can women pursue their dreams without losing their sanity?

Like many women of my so-called postfeminist generation, I was raised to believe that women were finally poised to be equal with men. That after centuries of oppression, exploitation, and other bad things, women could now behave more or less the way men do. Women of my generation, growing up in the 1970s and 1980s, no longer felt we had to burn our bras in protest. Instead, with a curt nod to the bra burners who had gone before us, we could saunter directly to Victoria's Secret, buying the satin push-ups that would take us seamlessly from boardroom to bedroom and beyond.

Today, most major corporations—along with hospitals, law firms, universities, and banks—have entire units devoted to helping women (and minorities) succeed. There are diversity officers and work/family offices and gender-sensitivity training courses in all tiers of American society. The problem with these efforts is that they just don't work.

Read more

WH Counterterror Chief: Parents Need to Watch for ‘Sudden Personality Changes in Their Children’

Comment: And the Pathocracy expands...

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

CNS News

In a speech delivered at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government on Tuesday evening, White House Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Adviser Lisa Monaco said it could help prevent terrorism if parents watched for “sudden personality changes in their children at home.”

“President Obama has been laser-focused on making sure we use all the elements of our national power to protect Americans, including developing the first government-wide strategy to prevent violent extremism in the United States,” said Monaco, in a transcription posted by the White House.

“At the same time, we recognize that there are limits to what the federal government can do,” said Monaco. “So we must rely on the partnership of those who are most familiar with the local risks, those who are in the best position to take action—local communities.

“Local communities are the most powerful asset we have in the struggle against violence and violent extremism,” she said.  “We’ve crunched the data on this. In the more than 80 percent of cases involving homegrown violent extremists, people in the community—whether peers or family members or authority figures or even strangers—had observed warning signs a person was becoming radicalized to violence. But more than half of those community members downplayed or dismissed their observations without intervening.

“So it’s not that the clues weren’t there, it’s that they weren’t understood well enough to be seen as the indicators of a serious problem,” said Monaco.

“What kinds of behaviors are we talking about?” she said. “For the most part, they’re not related directly to plotting attacks. They’re more subtle. For instance, parents might see sudden personality changes in their children at home—becoming confrontational. Religious leaders might notice unexpected clashes over ideological differences. Teachers might hear a student expressing an interest in traveling to a conflict zone overseas. Or friends might notice a new interest in watching or sharing violent material.

“The government is rarely in a position to observe these early signals, so we need to do more to help communities understand the warning signs, and then work together to intervene before an incident can occur, while always respecting our core commitment to protecting privacy and civil liberties,” said Monaco. “During the past several years, that’s what we’ve attempted to do."


What Will You Do When You Can No Longer Buy Or Sell Without Submitting To Biometric Identification?

The Truth

In some areas of the world, payment systems that require palm scanning or face scanning are already being tested.  We have entered an era where biometric security is being hailed as the “solution” to the antiquated security methods of the past.  We are being promised that the constant problems that hackers are causing with our credit cards, bank accounts, ATM machines and Internet passwords will all go away once we switch over to biometric identification.  And without a doubt, we have some massive security problems that need to be addressed.  But do you really want a machine to read your face or your hand before you are able to buy anything, sell anything or log on to the Internet?  Do you really want “the system” to be able to know where you are, what you are buying and what you are doing at virtually all times?  Biometric security systems are being promoted as “cool” and “cutting edge”, but there is also potentially a very dark side to them that should not be ignored.

In this day and age, identity theft has become a giant problem.  Being able to confirm that you are who you say that you are is a very big deal.  To many, biometric security presents a very attractive solution to this problem.  For example, the following is a brief excerpt from a recent Fox News article entitled “Biometric security can’t come soon enough for some people“…
In a world where nearly every ATM now uses an operating system without any technical support, where a bug can force every user of the Internet to change the password to every account they’ve ever owned overnight, where cyber-attacks and identity theft grow more menacing every day, the ability to use your voice, your finger, your face or some combination of the three to log into your e-mail, your social media feed or your checking account allows you to ensure it’s very difficult for someone else to pretend they’re you.
Almost everyone would like to make their identities more secure.  Nobody actually wants their bank accounts compromised or their Internet passwords stolen.  But there is a price to be paid for adopting biometric identification.  Your face or your hand will be used to continually monitor and track everything that you do and everywhere that you go.  Here is some more from that Fox News article…
Friday, we made Ryan King the most verified man in Brooklyn.
“Verified,” a fingerprint-recognition device chirped back at Ryan after he placed his finger on the reader.
“Verified,” a facial-recognition device said to Ryan after scanning his face.
Ryan works at the American headquarters for FingerTec, a Malaysian company replacing PINs, usernames, and typed passwords with fingers and faces we don’t need to memorize.
“You can’t copy someone’s fingerprint unless you chop it off,” Ryan said, “which wouldn’t work because it has to be attached to a hand.”
For now, biometric security is not being forced on people.  If you want to avoid it, you can.

But eventually, once it has been adopted on a widespread basis, banks and government agencies will start requiring it.

And it is easy to imagine a day when none of us will any longer be able to buy or sell anything without submitting to biometric identification.  In fact, an “alternative payment method” involving hand scanning is already being tested in southern Sweden

Read more


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...