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When will Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Roundup 2,000 Plus Wild Horses On Utah Rangeland? — The BLM Should Do Its Job and Not Harass Neveda Ranchers! — BLM’s Appropriate Management Level (AML) of 27,000 Wild Horses and Over 40,000 Wild Horses Nationally Plus Over 50,000 in Feed Lost Costing The American Taxpayer Millions! — Herd Size Doubles Every 4 Years — Sell The Wild Horses To China and Mexico — Beef and Food Prices Soaring — Connect The Dots People — Videos

Posted on April 13, 2014. Filed under: Agriculture, American History, Beef, Blogroll, Bread, Business, College, Communications, Data, Demographics, Diasters, Economics, Education, Employment, Faith, Family, Famine, Farming, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Freedom, Friends, Fruit, government, government spending, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Milk, People, Philosophy, Photos, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Security, Transportation, Vegetables | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Rising-Food-Prices

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Wild Horses on Public Lands and the impact on Ranching and Communities

We took the show to Beaver County this week to get an on the ground look at how wild horses impact the range. In Utah the population of wild horses is over the Appropriate Management Level (AML) by 1,300 animals. Nationally the problem of dealing with the number of wild horses increases to 14,000 beyond the AML. The management of wild horses costs the BLM tens of millions of dollars every year but despite the efforts to gather wild horses off the range; the numbers keep increasing.
Chad Booth talks to Beaver County Commissioner, Mark Whitney; Iron County Commissioner, David Miller; and local rancher Mark Winch about the impacts on ranchers and the ultimate impact it has on the economies of rural Utah.

Transfer of Public Lands

Public Lands in Utah County Seat Season3, Episode 8

In recent years there has been a public outcry from Utahans asking the State to take a more active role in how management decisions are made on public lands. The take back Utah movement has looked at the history of public lands in the United States and began to ask why hasn’t Utah received the same treatment as other states in the Union. Utah has about 67% of its lands controlled and managed by the federal government. Some counties in the state are about 90% federally owned which creates a burden on the local governments because there is no property tax base to pay for the services that citizens need.

Last year Utah passed the Utah Public Lands Transfer Act, HB148; which basically asks the federal government to dispose of the remaining unallocated federal lands within the state by 2014. HB148 has opened up a conversation about what the proper role of the federal government should be in the management of public lands. Today’s show takes a look at the issues from a federal, state, and county perspective.

 

WARNING! MORE FOOD INFLATION COMING 2014 STOCK UP ASAP

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The World Food Crisis ~ Special Report

Don’t Fence Me In – Roy Rogers & The Sons of the Pioneers –

Roy Rogers & Sons of The Pioneers Sing “The Last Roundup”

Wild horses targeted for roundup in Utah rangeland clash

Reuters
Two of a band of wild horses graze in the Nephi Wash area outside Enterprise, Utah

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Two of a band of wild horses graze in the Nephi Wash area outside Enterprise, Utah, April 10, 2014. REUTERS/Jim …

By Jennifer Dobner

ENTERPRISE, Utah (Reuters) – A Utah county, angry over the destruction of federal rangeland that ranchers use to graze cattle, has started a bid to round up federally protected wild horses it blames for the problem in the latest dustup over land management in the U.S. West.

Close to 2,000 wild horses are roaming southern Utah’s Iron County, well over the 300 the U.S. Bureau of Land Management has dubbed as appropriate for the rural area’s nine designated herd management zones, County Commissioner David Miller said.

County officials complain the burgeoning herd is destroying vegetation crucial to ranchers who pay to graze their cattle on the land, and who have already been asked to reduce their herds to cope with an anticipated drought.

Wild horse preservation groups say any attempt to remove the horses would be a federal crime.

On Thursday county workers, accompanied by a Bureau of Land Management staffer, set up the first in a series of metal corrals designed to trap and hold the horses on private land abutting the federal range until they can be moved to BLM facilities for adoption.

“There’s been no management of the animals and they keep reproducing,” Miller said in an interview. “The rangeland just can’t sustain it.”

The conflict reflects broader tension between ranchers, who have traditionally grazed cattle on public lands and held sway over land-use decisions, and environmentalists and land managers facing competing demands on the same land.

The Iron County roundup comes on the heels of an incident in neighboring Nevada in which authorities sent in helicopters and wranglers on horseback to confiscate the cattle herd of a rancher they say is illegally grazing livestock on public land.

In Utah, county commissioners warned federal land managers in a letter last month that the county would act independently to remove the horses if no mitigation efforts were launched.

“We charge you to fulfill your responsibility,” commissioners wrote. “Inaction and no-management practices pose an imminent threat to ranchers.”

The operation was expected to last weeks or months.

“The BLM is actively working with Iron County to address the horse issue,” Utah-based BLM spokeswoman Megan Crandall said, declining to comment further.

Attorneys for wild horse preservation groups sent a letter this week to Iron County commissioners and the BLM saying the BLM, under federal law, cannot round up horses on public lands without proper analysis and disclosure.

“The BLM must stop caving to the private financial interests of livestock owners whenever they complain about the protected wild horses using limited resources that are available on such lands,” wrote Katherine Meyer of Meyer, Glitzenstein and Crystal a Washington, DC-based public interest law firm representing the advocates.

LONG-RUNNING PROBLEM

The BLM puts the free-roaming wild horse and burro population across western states at more than 40,600, which it says on its website exceeds by nearly 14,000 the number of animals it believes “can exist in balance with other public rangeland resources and uses.”

Wild horse advocates point out that the tens of thousands of wild horses on BLM property pales into comparison with the millions of private livestock grazing on public lands managed by the agency.

Wild horses have not been culled due to budget constraints, according to Utah BLM officials, who say their herds grow by roughly 20 percent per year.

Pressure on rangeland from the horses may worsen this summer due to a drought that could dry up the already sparse available food supply, according to Miller.

“We’re going to see those horses starving to death out on the range,” he said. “The humane thing is to get this going now.”

Adding to frustration is BLM pressure on ranchers to cut their cattle herds by as much as 50 percent to cope with the drought, Miller said.

A tour of Iron County rangeland, not far from the Nevada border, illustrates the unchecked herds’ impact on the land, said Jeremy Hunt, a fourth generation Utah rancher whose cattle graze in the summer in a management area split through its middle by a barbed wire fence.

On the cattle side of the fence, the sagebrush and grass landscape is thick and green. The other, where a group of horses was seen on Thursday, is scattered with barren patches of dirt and sparse vegetation.

“This land is being literally destroyed because they are not following the laws that they set up to govern themselves,” said Hunt, who also works as a farmhand to make ends meet for his family of six.

“I want the land to be healthy and I want be a good steward of the land,” he added. “But you have to manage both sides of the fence.”

 

 

Wholesale Prices in U.S. Rise on Services as Goods Stagnate

 

Wholesale prices in the U.S. rose in March as the cost of services climbed by the most in four years while commodities stagnated.

The 0.5 percent advance in the producer-price index was the biggest since June and followed a 0.1 percent decrease the prior month, the Labor Department reported today in Washington. The recent inclusion of services may contribute to the gauge’s volatility from month-to-month, which will make it more difficult to determine underlying trends.

Rising prices at clothing and jewelry retailers and food wholesalers accounted for much of the jump in services, even as energy costs retreated, signaling slowing growth in emerging markets such as China will keep price pressures muted. With inflation running well below the Federal Reserve’s goal, the central bank is likely to keep borrowing costs low in an effort to spur growth.

“Every six months or so service prices seem to pop, but over the year, service prices tend to dampen inflation more often than not,” Jay Morelock, an economist at FTN Financial in New York, wrote in a note. “One month of price gains is not indicative of a trend.”

Also today, consumer confidence climbed this month to the highest level since July, a sign an improving job market is lifting Americans’ spirits. The Thomson Reuters/University of Michigan preliminary April sentiment index rose to 82.6 from 80 a month earlier.

 
Photographer: Craig Warga/Bloomberg

Rising prices at clothing and jewelry retailers and food wholesalers accounted for much… Read More

Shares Fall

Stocks dropped, with the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index heading for its biggest weekly decline since January, as disappointing results from JPMorgan Chase & Co. fueled concern that corporate earnings will be weak. The S&P 500 fell 0.4 percent to 1,826.29 at 10:02 a.m. in New York.

Today’s PPI report is the third to use an expanded index that measures 75 percent of the economy, compared to about a third for the old metric, which tallied the costs of goods alone. After its first major overhaul since 1978, PPI now measures prices received for services, government purchases, exports and construction.

Estimates for the PPI in the Bloomberg survey of 72 economists ranged from a drop of 0.2 percent to a 0.3 percent gain.

Core wholesale prices, which exclude volatile food and energy categories, climbed 0.6 percent, the biggest gain since March 2011, exceeding the projected 0.2 percent advance of economists surveyed by Bloomberg. They dropped 0.2 percent in February.

Past Year

The year-to-year gain in producer prices was the biggest since August and followed a 0.9 percent increase in the 12 months to February. Excluding food and energy, the index also increased 1.4 percent year to year following a 1.1 percent year-to-year gain in February.

The cost of services climbed 0.7 percent in March, the biggest gain since January 2010. Goods prices were unchanged and were up 1.1 percent over the past 12 months.

Wholesale food costs climbed 1.1 percent in March, led by higher costs for meats, including pork and sausage. Energy costs fell 1.2 percent last month.

Food producers and restaurants say they’re paying more for beef, poultry, dairy and shrimp. At General Mills Inc. (GIS), maker of Yoplait yogurt, Cheerios cereal and other brands, rising dairy prices helped push retail profit down 11 percent in the third quarter, said Ken Powell, chairman and chief executive officer of the Minneapolis-based company. Powell called the inflation “manageable.”

Food Prices

“While the economy is improving slowly and incomes are strengthening slowly, they are improving,” Powell said on a March 19 earnings call. “As incomes continue to grow and consumers gain confidence that will be a positive sign for our category.”

Today’s PPI report provides a glimpse into the consumer-price index, the broadest of three inflation measures released by the Labor Department. The CPI, due to be released April 15, probably climbed 0.1 percent in March, according to the median forecast in a Bloomberg survey.

The wholesale price report also offers an advance look into the personal consumption expenditures deflator, a gauge monitored closely by the Fed. Health care prices make up the largest share of the core PCE index, which excludes food and energy costs. The next PCE report is due from the Commerce Department May 1.

This week, Fed policy makers played down their own predictions that interest rates might rise faster than they had forecast, according to minutes of the Federal Open Market Committee’s March meeting. The minutes bolstered remarks made by last month by Chair Janet Yellen.

“If inflation is persistently running below our 2 percent objective, that is a very good reason to hold the funds rate at its present range for longer,” Yellen said at a March 19 press conference following the committee meeting.

 

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-04-11/wholesale-prices-in-u-s-rise-more-than-forecast-on-services.html

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Al Sharpton “Forget About It” — FBI Confidential Informant — CI-7 Snitch — On The Mafia — FBI Flipped Him — Sharpton Admits He Informed But Denies He Was Paid — Obamacare Witness Protection Program — Videos

Posted on April 9, 2014. Filed under: Blogroll, Politics, Links, Life, Investments, Regulations, Talk Radio, Employment, Security, Communications, Law, Philosophy, Health Care, Culture, Wisdom, liberty, Crime, government spending, Language, Business, Wealth, Drug Cartels, Literacy, Photos, Obamacare, Radio, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 238: April 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 237: April 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 236: April 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 235: March 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 234: March 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 233: March 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 232: March 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 231: March 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 230: March 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 229: March 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 228: March 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 227: March 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 226: March 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 225: March 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 224: March 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 223: March 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 222: March 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 221: February 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 220: February 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 219: February 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 218: February 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 217: February 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 216: February 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 215: February 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 214: February 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 213: February 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 212: February 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 211: February 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 210: February 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 201: January 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 199: January 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 198: January 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 197: January 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 196: January 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 193: January 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 191: January 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 189: January 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 188: January 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 187: January 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 186: January 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 185: January 3, 2014

Story 1: Al Sharpton “Forget About It” — FBI Confidential Informant — CI-7 Snitch — On The Mafia — FBI Flipped Him — Sharpton Admits He Informed But Denies He Was Paid — Obamacare Witness Protection Program — Videos

nan_obama_sharpton

al-sharptonJohnny Depp explains “Fuggetaboutit”

Al Sharpton: Secret Agent Thug

Morton Downey Jr. – Al Sharpton

Al Sharpton knocked on his ass by Roy Innis

GATES CASE: Ann Coulter Teaches Al Sharpton & All Racists A Lesson pt1 7/30/09

GATES CASE: Ann Coulter Teaches Al Sharpton & All Racists A Lesson pt2 7/30/09

The Rev. Al Sharpton Defends President Barack Obama – Oprah’s Next Chapter – OWN

Sheriff Joe Arpaio Pimp Slaps Infamous Douche Bag Al Sharpton

Cornel West: Sharpton Sold Soul for Obama

AL SHARPTON AND CORNEL WEST GO AT IT OVER OBAMA!

Al Sharpton – “American’s Overwhelmingly Voted for Socialism when they elected President Obama”

Judge Jeanine to Obama: Nobel Peace Prize? Give it Back! – Opening Statement – Fox News -

Tavis Smiley & Cornel West on Election, Why Calling Obama Progressive Ignores His Record 1/2

Tavis Smiley & Cornel West on Election, Why Calling Obama Progressive Ignores His Record 2/2

The men behind Barack Obama part 1

The men behind Barack Obama part 2

Dreams from My Real Father: A Story of Reds and Deception

Paul Kengor & Glenn Beck “The Communist” on GBTV Frank Marshall Davis Barack Obama’s Mentor

Paul Kengor on Frank Marshall Davis

O’Reilly Talking Point ▶ Obama Misleading The Country? – The End Justifying The Means

Is Obama dragging down the Democratic party?

Top 5 Mafia Rats in Hiding

Donnie Brasco – Forget About It

I’m Glad It Was Him – Donnie Brasco (8/8) Movie CLIP (1997) HD

Donnie B

Donnie Brasco The Undercover FBI Agent NationalCrimeSyndicate com

 

Donnie Brasco talking to Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggerio (REAL wiretap): Part 1

Joe Pistone aka Donnie Brasco talking to Benjamin Ruggerio talking about the situation with Anthony Mirra. This conversation happened around 1980. This conversation concerns a meeting concerning Anthony Mirra, Lefty Ruggerio, and other members of the Bonanno Family concerning Pistone. Mirra claimed Pistone cut up $250,000 involving junk money. The other person being mentioned is a man named Rocky, who was also an undercover agent. Pistone attempted to protect Rocky throughout this conversation without showing that he was protecting him.

Donnie Brasco talking to Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggerio (REAL wiretap): Part 2

Donnie Brasco (Joseph Pistone) talking to Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggerio Part 2.

Donnie Brasco talking to Benjamin “Lefty” Ruggerio (REAL wiretap): Part 3

Part 3: Donnie Brasco, aka Joseph Pistone, talking to Benjamin Ruggerio about Anthony Mirra and Rocky

The War Against the Mafia

How the FBI Sabotaged Black America

 

 

 

sharpton_CI_7

Al Sharpton’s Secret Work As FBI Informant

Untold story of how activist once aided probes of NYC wiseguys

 

When friends and family members gathered recently at the White House for a private celebration of Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday, one of the invited partygoers was a former paid FBI Mafia informant.

That same man attended February’s state dinner in honor of French President Francois Hollande. He was seated with his girlfriend at a table adjacent to President Barack Obama, who is likely unaware that, according to federal agents, his guest once interacted with members of four of New York City’s five organized crime families. He even secretly taped some of those wiseguys using a briefcase that FBI technicians outfitted with a recording device.

The high-profile Obama supporter was also on the dais atop the U.S. Capitol steps last year when the president was sworn in for a second term. He was seated in front of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, two rows behind Beyonce and Jay Z, and about 20 feet from Eric Holder, the country’s top law enforcement officer. As head of the Department of Justice, Attorney General Holder leads an agency that once reported that Obama’s inauguration guest also had La Cosa Nostra contacts beyond Gotham, and engaged in “conversations with LCN members from other parts of the United States.”

The former mob snitch has become a regular in the White House, where he has met with the 44th president in the East Room, the Roosevelt Room, and the Oval Office. He has also attended Obama Christmas parties, speeches, policy announcements, and even watched a Super Bowl with the First Family (an evening the man has called “one of the highlights of my life”). During these gatherings, he has mingled with cabinet members, top Obama aides, military leaders, business executives, and members of Congress. His former confederates were a decidedly dicier lot: ex-convicts, extortionists, heroin traffickers, and mob henchmen. The man’s surreptitious recordings, FBI records show, aided his government handlers in the successful targeting of powerful Mafia figures with nicknames like Benny Eggs, Chin, Fritzy, Corky, and Baldy Dom.

Later this week, Obama will travel to New York and appear in a Manhattan hotel ballroom at the side of the man whom FBI agents primarily referred to as “CI-7”–short for confidential informant #7–in secret court filings. In those documents, investigators vouched for him as a reliable, productive, and accurate source of information about underworld figures.

The ex-informant has been one of Obama’s most unwavering backers, a cheerleader who has nightly bludgeoned the president’s Republican opponents in televised broadsides. For his part, Obama has sought the man’s counsel, embraced him publicly, and saluted his “commitment to fight injustice and inequality.” The president has even commented favorably on his friend’s svelte figure, the physical manifestation of a rehabilitation effort that coincided with Obama’s ascension to the White House. This radical makeover has brought the man wealth, a daily TV show, bespoke suits, a luxury Upper West Side apartment, and a spot on best seller lists.

Most importantly, he has the ear of the President of the United States, an equally remarkable and perplexing achievement for the former FBI asset known as “CI-7,” the Rev. Al Sharpton.

A lengthy investigation by The Smoking Gun has uncovered remarkable details about Sharpton’s past work as an informant for a joint organized crime task force comprised of FBI agents and NYPD detectives, as well as his dealings with an assortment of wiseguys.

Beginning in the mid-1980s and spanning several years, Sharpton’s cooperation was fraught with danger since the FBI’s principal targets were leaders of the Genovese crime family, the country’s largest and most feared Mafia outfit. In addition to aiding the FBI/NYPD task force, which was known as the “Genovese squad,” Sharpton’s cooperation extended to several other investigative agencies.

TSG’s account of Sharpton’s secret life as “CI-7” is based on hundreds of pages of confidential FBI affidavits, documents released by the bureau in response to Freedom of Information Act requests, court records, and extensive interviews with six members of the Genovese squad, as well as other law enforcement officials to whom the activist provided assistance.

Like almost every other FBI informant, Sharpton was solely an information source. The parameters of his cooperation did not include Sharpton ever surfacing publicly or testifying on a witness stand.

Genovese squad investigators–representing both the FBI and NYPD–recalled how Sharpton, now 59, deftly extracted information from wiseguys. In fact, one Gambino crime family figure became so comfortable with the protest leader that he spoke openly–during ten wired face-to-face meetings–about a wide range of mob business, from shylocking and extortions to death threats and the sanity of Vincent “Chin” Gigante, the Genovese boss who long feigned mental illness in a bid to deflect law enforcement scrutiny. As the mafioso expounded on these topics, Sharpton’s briefcase–a specially customized Hartman model–recorded his every word.

Task force members, who were interviewed separately, spoke on the condition of anonymity when describing Sharpton’s work as an informant and the Genovese squad’s activities. Some of these investigators provided internal FBI documents to a reporter.

Records obtained by TSG show that information gathered by Sharpton was used by federal investigators to help secure court authorization to bug two Genovese family social clubs, including Gigante’s Greenwich Village headquarters, three autos used by crime family leaders, and more than a dozen phone lines. These listening devices and wiretaps were approved during the course of a major racketeering investigation targeting the Genovese family’s hierarchy.

A total of eight separate U.S. District Court judges–presiding in four federal jurisdictions–signed interception orders that were based on sworn FBI affidavits including information gathered by Sharpton. The phones bugged as a result of these court orders included two lines in Gigante’s Manhattan townhouse, the home phone of Genovese captain Dominick “Baldy Dom” Canterino, and the office lines of music industry power Morris Levy, a longtime Genovese family associate. The resulting surreptitious recordings were eventually used to help convict an assortment of Mafia members and associates.

Investigators also used Sharpton’s information in an application for a wiretap on the telephone in the Queens residence of Federico “Fritzy” Giovanelli, a Genovese soldier. Giovanelli was sentenced to 20 years in prison for racketeering following a trial during which those recordings were played for jurors. In a recent interview, the 82-year-old Giovanelli–now three years removed from his latest stint in federal custody–said that he was unaware that Sharpton contributed in any fashion to his phone’s bugging. He then jokingly chided a reporter for inquiring about the civil rights leader’s past. “Poor Sharpton, he cleaned up his life and you want to ruin him,” Giovanelli laughed.

While Sharpton’s acrimonious history with law enforcement–especially the NYPD–rankled some Genovese squad investigators, they nonetheless grudgingly acknowledged in interviews that the activist produced for those he would go on to frequently pillory.

Genovese squad members, however, did not share with Sharpton specific details about how they were using the information he was gathering for them. This is standard practice since FBI affidavits in support of wiretap applications are filed under seal by Department of Justice prosecutors. Still, Sharpton was briefed in advance of his undercover sorties, so he was well aware of the squad’s investigative interest in Gigante and his Mafia cronies.

Sharpton vehemently denies having worked as an FBI informant. He has alleged that claims of government cooperation were attempts by dark forces to stunt his aggressive brand of civil rights advocacy or, perhaps, get him killed. In his most recent book, “The Rejected Stone,” which hit best seller lists following its October 2013 publication, Sharpton claimed to have once been “set up by the government,” whose agents later leaked “false information” that “could have gotten me killed.” He added, “So I have been seriously tested in what I believe over the years.”

In an interview Saturday, Sharpton again denied working as a confidential informant, claiming that his prior cooperation with FBI agents was limited to efforts to prompt investigations of drug dealing in minority communities, as well as the swindling of black artists in the recording industry. He also repeatedly denied being “flipped” by federal agents in the course of an undercover operation. When asked specifically about his recording of the Gambino crime family member, Sharpton was noncommittal: “I’m not saying yes, I’m not saying no.”

If Sharpton’s account is to be believed, he was simply a concerned citizen who voluntarily (and briefly) joined arm-in-arm with federal agents, perhaps risking peril in the process. The other explanation for Sharpton’s cooperation–one that has uniformly been offered by knowledgeable law enforcement agents–presents the reverend in a less noble light. Worried that he could face criminal charges, Sharpton opted for the path of self-preservation and did what the FBI asked. Which is usually how someone is compelled to repeatedly record a gangster discussing murder, extortion, and loan sharking.

Sharpton spoke for an hour in an office at the House of Justice, his Harlem headquarters, where he had just finished addressing a crowd of about 200 people that included his two adult daughters and his second wife (from whom he hasbeen separated for ten years). A few minutes into the interview, Sharpton asked, “Are you taping this?” A TSG reporter answered that he was not recording their interview, but had a digital recorder and wished to do so. Sharpton declined that request.

In the absence of any real examination/exhumation of Sharpton’s past involvement with the FBI and the Mafia, his denials have served the civil rights leader well. Scores of articles and broadcast reports about the Obama-era “rehabilitation” of Sharpton have mentioned his inflammatory past–Tawana Brawley, Crown Heights, Freddy’s Fashion Mart, and various anti-Semitic and homophobic statements. But his organized crime connections and related informant work have received no such scrutiny.

In a “60 Minutes” profile aired three months before the August 2011 launch of Sharpton’s MSNBC show, correspondent Lesley Stahl reported on the “tame” Sharpton’s metamorphosis from “loud mouth activist” to “trusted White House advisor who’s become the president’s go-to black leader.” As for prior underworld entanglements, those were quickly dispatched: “There were allegations of mob ties, never proved,” Stahl flatly declared.

As host of MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation,” Sharpton now reluctantly identifies himself as a member of the media, if not actually a journalist. He spends his time at 30 Rockefeller Plaza surrounded by reporters, editors, and researchers committed to accuracy and the exposure of those who violate the public trust. In fact, Sharpton himself delights in a daily feature that seeks to expose liars, hypocrites, and others engaged in deceit (his targets tend to be Republican opponents of the Obama administration). As he wraps this segment, Sharpton points his finger at the camera and addresses his quarry: “Nice try, but we gotcha!”

In addition to his MSNBC post, Sharpton heads the National Action Network, which describes itself as a “Christian activist organization.” Obama, who refers to Sharpton as “Rev” or “Reverend Al,” is scheduled to deliver a keynote address Friday at the group’s annual convention in New York City. Mayor Bill DeBlasio will preside Wednesday over the convention’s ribbon cutting ceremony, while Holder and three Obama cabinet secretaries will deliver speeches.

Sharpton has been a leading supporter of Holder, who spoke at the National Action Network’s 2012 convention and saluted the reverend for “your partnership, your friendship, and also for your tireless efforts to speak out for the voiceless, to stand up for the powerless, and to shine a light on the problems we must solve, and the promises we must fulfill.” Last Friday, Sharpton appeared on a panel at a Department of Justice forum led by Tony West, the agency’s third-ranking official. West thanked Sharpton for his “leadership, day in and day out, on issues of reconciliation and community restoration.”

According to its most recent IRS return, which Sharpton signed in mid-November 2013, the National Action Network pays him $241,402 annually for serving as president and CEO. In return for that hefty salary, Sharpton–who hosts a three-hour daily radio show in addition to his nightly cable TV program–reportedly works a 40-hour week for the not-for-profit (which lists unpaid tax liabilities totaling $813,576).

For longtime observers, the “new” Sharpton’s public prominence and West Wing access is bewildering considering that his history, mob ties included, could charitably be described as checkered. In fact, Obama has banished others guilty of lesser transgressions (see: Wright, Jeremiah).

Sharpton now calls himself a “refined agitator,” an activist no longer prone to incendiary language or careless provocations. Indeed, a Google check confirms that it has been years since he labeled a detractor a “faggot,” used the term “homos,” or derisively referred to Jewish diamond merchants.

* * *

As an “informant in development,” as one federal investigator referred to Sharpton, the protest leader was seen as an intriguing prospective source, since he had significant contacts in politics, boxing, and the music industry.

Before he was “flipped” in the course of an FBI sting operation in 1983, Sharpton had established relationships with promoter Don King, various elected officials, and several powerful New York hoodlums involved in concert promotion, record distribution, and talent management. At the time, the music business was “overrun by hustlers, con artists, black and white,” Sharpton recalled in his 1996autobiography. A federal agent who was not part of the Genovese squad–but who also used Sharpton as an informant–recalled that “everyone was trying to mine” his music industry ties.

In fact, by any measure, Sharpton himself was a Mafia “associate,” the law enforcement designation given to mob affiliates who, while not initiated, work with and for crime family members. While occupying the lowest rung on the LCN org chart–which is topped by a boss-underboss-consigliere triumvirate–associates far outnumber “made” men, and play central roles in a crime family’s operation, from money-making pursuits to more violent endeavors.

For more than four years, the fact that Sharpton was working as an informant was known only to members of the Genovese squad and a small number of other law enforcement agents. As with any Mafia informant, protecting Sharpton’s identity was crucial to maintaining the viability of ongoing investigations. Not to mention keeping him alive.

For example, an episode recounted by TSG sources highlighted the sensitive nature of Sharpton’s cooperation with the FBI/NYPD task force.

In advance of seeking court authorization to bug a pair of Genovese family social clubs and a Cadillac used by Gigante and Canterino, a draft version of a wiretap affidavit was circulated for review within the Genovese squad, which operated from the FBI’s lower Manhattan headquarters. The 53-page document, which detailed the “probable cause” to believe that listening devices would yield incriminatingconversations, concerned some investigators due to the degree to which the activities of Sharpton were described in the document.

While the affidavit prepared by FBI Agent Gerald King and a federal prosecutor only referred to Sharpton as “CI-7,” the document included the name of a Gambino mobster whom Sharpton taped, as well as the dates and details of five of their recorded meetings. Such specificity was problematic since the possibility existed that the affidavit’s finalized version could someday be turned over to defense lawyers in the discovery phase of a criminal trial.

Investigators fretted that Sharpton could easily be unmasked by the Gambino member, who, if ever questioned about his meetings with “CI-7,” would surely realize that Sharpton was the wired informant referred to in the FBI affidavit. That discovery, of course, could have placed Sharpton’s life in grave danger. The Gambino wiseguy, too, likely would have faced trouble, since he was recorded speaking about a wide range of Mafia matters, including Gigante’s illegal operations. The Genovese power–rightly paranoid about bugged phones and listening devices–famously forbid fellow gangsters from even speaking his name. In fact, if a wiseguy had to refer to Gigante during an in-person meeting, a quick stroke of the chin was the acceptable means of identification.

In response to concerns about the King affidavit, the draft, which a source provided to TSG, was rewritten to carefully shroud Sharpton’s work with government agents. The affidavit’s final version–which was submitted to two federal judges–no longer included the disclosure that “CI-7” had “consensually recorded his conversations” with a gangster. The wiseguy’s name was also deleted from the document, as was any reference to the Gambino family or the informant’s sex.

Instead, the revamped affidavit simply noted that “CI-7 reported” to the FBI various details of Genovese family rackets. The actual source of that valuable intelligence about Gigante & Co. had been carefully obscured. As were the details of how that information was obtained via Sharpton’s battery-powered valise.

But despite efforts like this to protect Sharpton, some details of his informant work leaked out in January 1988, when New York Newsday reported that the civil rights activist had cooperated with federal investigations targeting organized crime figures and Don King. Though he reportedly made incriminating admissions to the newspaper, Sharpton quickly issued vehement denials that he had snitched on anyone.

While acknowledging contact with law enforcement officials, Sharpton–then involved in the early stages of the Tawana Brawley hoax–said he sought the help of investigators to combat the crack cocaine epidemic ravaging New York’s poorest communities. Sharpton also claimed to have contacted agents (and pledged his assistance) after a Mafia associate allegedly threatened him over a music industry dispute.

Sharpton asserted that a phone installed in his Brooklyn apartment by federal investigators in mid-1987 was there to serve as a “hotline” for the public to report drug dealing. He flatly denied recording phone conversations at the direction of law enforcement agents. In one radio interview, Sharpton even declared, “We have an ethical thing against wiretapping.”

In fact, Sharpton had been cooperating with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Brooklyn as part of an investigation targeting Don King. According to a source involved with that probe, federal agents “ran him for a couple of months,” during which time Sharpton “did some recordings” via his new home telephone. But the nascent Department of Justice operation was abruptly shuttered in the wake of the New York Newsday story.

The Brooklyn investigators were introduced to Sharpton in late-1987 by Joseph Spinelli, one of the reverend’s former FBI handlers (and one of the agents who initially secured his cooperation with the bureau). While Spinelli had left the FBI for another government post, he still helped facilitate Sharpton’s interaction with other investigators. “Joe was shopping him around,” one source recalled.

For example, in July 1987, Spinelli called a federal prosecutor in Los Angeles and offered Sharpton’s assistance with a matter the lawyer was handling. The case involved Salvatore Pisello, a mobbed-up music industry figure who had just been indicted for tax evasion (and whom Sharpton had previously accused of threatening his life).

Referring to Sharpton, ex-prosecutor Marvin Rudnick said in an interview, “I didn’t know who he was” when Spinelli called. In subsequent conversations with Rudnick, Sharpton provided information about Pisello and a related music industry matter that was being scrutinized by Justice Department investigators.

While Sharpton would not prove particularly helpful to Rudnick, the attorney clearly recalled his brief, unorthodox dealings with the New York activist. “I remember having to go to a pay phone to take the call because he didn’t want it to be traced,” Rudnick laughed.

* * *

So why did Sharpton agree to become an FBI informant? And why was he willing to risk the dangers inherent in such cooperation?

“He thought he didn’t have a choice,” one Genovese squad agent recalled.

In the course of an investigation being run by Spinelli and his partner John Pritchard, Sharpton was secretly recorded in meetings with an FBI undercover agent posing as a wealthy drug dealer seeking to promote boxing matches.

As previously reported, Colombo crime family captain Michael Franzese, who knew Sharpton, enlisted the activist’s help in connecting with Don King. Franzese and Sharpton were later surreptitiously filmed during one meeting with the undercover, while Sharpton and Daniel Pagano, a Genovese soldier, were recorded at another sit-down. Pagano’s father Joseph was a Genovese power deeply involved in the entertainment industry (and who also managed the crime family’s rackets in counties north of New York City).

During one meeting with Sharpton, the undercover agent offered to get him “pure coke” at $35,000 a kilo. As the phony drug kingpin spoke, Sharpton nodded his head and said, “I hear you.” When the undercover promised Sharpton a 10 percent finder’s fee if he could arrange the purchase of several kilos, the reverend referred to an unnamed buyer and said, “If he’s gonna do it, he’ll do it much more than that.” The FBI agent steered the conversation toward the possible procurement of cocaine, sources said, since investigators believed that Sharpton acquaintance Daniel Pagano–who was not present–was looking to consummate drug deals. Joseph Pagano, an East Harlem native who rose through a Genovese crew notorious for narcotics trafficking, spent nearly seven years in federal prison for heroin distribution.

While Sharpton did not explicitly offer to arrange a drug deal, some investigators thought his interaction with the undercover agent could be construed as a violation of federal conspiracy laws. Though an actual prosecution, an ex-FBI agent acknowledged, would have been “a reach,” agents decided to approach Sharpton and attempt to “flip” the activist, who was then shy of his 30th birthday. In light of Sharpton’s relationship with Don King, FBI agents wanted his help in connection with the bureau’s three-year-old boxing investigation, code named “Crown Royal” and headed by Spinelli and Pritchard.

The FBI agents confronted Sharpton with the undercover videos and warned that he could face criminal charges as a result of the secret recordings. Sharpton, of course, could have walked out and ran to King, Franzese, or Pagano and reported the FBI approach (and the fact that drug dealer “Victor Quintana” was actually a federal agent).

In subsequent denials that he had been “flipped,” Sharpton has contended that he stiffened in the face of the FBI agents, meeting their bluff with bluster and bravado. He claimed to have turned away Spinelli & Co., daring them to “Indict me” and “Prosecute.” Sharpton has complained that the seasoned investigators were “trying to sting me, entrap me…a young minister.”

In fact, Sharpton fell for the FBI ruse and agreed to cooperate, a far-reaching decision he made without input from a lawyer, according to sources. “I think there was some fear [of prosecution] on his part,” recalled a former federal agent. In a TSG interview, Sharpton claimed that he rebuffed the FBI agents, who, he added, threatened to serve him with a subpoena to testify before a federal grand jury investigating King. After being confronted by the bureau, Sharpton said he consulted with an attorney (whom he declined to identify).

Following bureau guidelines, agents formally opened a “137” informant file on Sharpton, a move that was approved by FBI supervisors, according to several sources. Agents anticipated using Sharpton in the “Crown Royal” case focusing on King, but during initial debriefings of their new recruit, it became clear that his contacts in the music business were equally appealing.

Sharpton had met James Brown in the mid-70s, and became extremely close to the R&B superstar. He worked for and traveled with the mercurial performer, married one of Brown’s backup singers, and wore the same processed hairdo as the entertainer. Like Brown, Sharpton would sometimes even wear a cowboy hat atop his tribute conk.

It was first through executives at Spring Records, a small Manhattan-based label affiliated with Brown, that Sharpton–who worked from the firm’s office–was introduced to various wiseguys, including Franzese. His circle of mob contacts would grow to include, among others, the Paganos, Carmine DeNoia, an imposing Pagano associate known as “Wassel,” and Joseph “Joe Bana” Buonanno, a Gambino crime family figure involved in record distribution and production.

At one point before he was “flipped,” Sharpton participated in a mob scheme to create a business front that would seek a share of lucrative Con Edison set-asides intended for minority-owned businesses. That deal, which involved garbage collection contracts, cratered when the power company determined that Sharpton’s silent partner was Genovese captain Matthew “Matty the Horse” Ianniello. Details of the Con Ed plot emerged at a federal criminal trial of Ianniello and his business partner Benjamin Cohen. It was Cohen, who worked across the hall from Spring Records, who recruited Sharpton for the mob garbage gambit.

http://www.thesmokinggun.com/documents/investigation/al-sharpton-764312

 

Sharpton secretly worked as FBI mob informant: report

Meet Al Sharpton, “Confidential Informant No. 7.”

The longtime agitator, civil-rights activist and TV host was exposed Monday as an alleged former key FBI informant whose tips helped take down some of the biggest names in New York Mafia history.

The Rev. Al launched his sensational secret life as a paid mob snitch in the mid-1980s, pressured to cooperate after being ensnared in a developing drug sting, according to a bombshell report bythesmokinggun.com.

As “CI-7,” the then-portly Harlem leader would tote a customized Hartmann briefcase equipped with an FBI bug to hobnob with members of some of the city’s most notorious crime families, the site said.

Sharpton’s main job was to dig dirt on the Genovese crime family, according to sources and court documents.

He was so good at “playing dumb’’ that he wound up helping to bring down such names as Venero “Benny Eggs’’ Mangano, Dominick “Baldy Dom’’ Canterino and even the muttering “oddfather” of Greenwich Village, family boss Vincent “Chin’’ Gigante, the site said.

He was a “very reliable informant, and his information ‘has never been found to be false or inaccurate,’ ” the report said, quoting a 1986 court document.

While it was known that Sharpton had spied for the FBI on music- and sports-promotion figures, the new data said he also extracted juicy information from wiseguys.

The feds later used the dirt to obtain warrants to bug key Genovese spots.

Because of Sharpton’s undercover work, listening devices were surreptitiously installed in two crime-family social clubs, including Gigante’s Village headquarters, three cars used by Mafiosos and more than a dozen phone lines, the site said.

Information gleaned from those bugs then helped nail the mobsters.

One of Sharpton’s main unsuspecting founts of useful information was Joseph “Joe Bana’’ Buonanno.

During 10 face-to-face chats between the pair, “Joe Bana just gave him a whole insight into how ‘Chin’ and [music-industry honcho] Morris [Levy] operated,’’ said an NYPD source with the joint FBI-Police Department “Genovese Squad.”

Before his rapt audience of one, Buonanno expounded on the mob’s past extortions and death threats.

He even allegedly revealed to Sharpton a few not-so-flattering details about his boss, Gigante, who for years pretended he was crazy by shuffling around the West Village in a bathrobe to escape prosecution from the feds.

Buonanno told Sharpton of the godfather’s purported illiteracy and the fact that he “hates everyone not Italian,” the site said.

The mob soldier even detailed how Gigante “was present” at the hit of Genovese captain Thomas “Tommy Ryan’’ Eboli, to “make sure it was done right,” the site said.

Still, while Sharpton had the gift of gab and got Buonanno to unwittingly spill his guts, the mob soldier snottily referred to the preacher as “a nose picker’’ behind his back, an associate told the site.

Both Buonanno and Gigante are now dead.

The revelation of Sharpton’s involvement with the feds couldn’t have come at a more embarrassing time.

Sharpton is set to convene the annual convention of his National Action Network in New York this week — with Mayor de Blasio cutting the opening-ceremony ribbon Wednesday and President Obama flying in to give the keynote address Friday.

Sharpton, in an interview with The Post on Monday, didn’t deny that he cooperated with the FBI — but said the thesmokinggun.com report was the equivalent of a mob hit.

“It’s crazy. If I provided all the information they claimed I provided, I should be given a ticker-tape parade,” said Sharpton, 59, who now regularly rubs elbows with Obama and his wife Michelle, Attorney General Eric Holder and congressmen and other national leaders.

“What did Al Sharpton do wrong? Eliot Spitzer did do something wrong, and he got a TV show,” said the Rev. Al, referring to the hooker-loving former governor.

Sharpton is currently the host of MSNBC’s “PoliticsNation.’’ He regularly wraps up one segment by pointing a finger at the camera and yelling, “Nice try, but we gotcha!”

He denied being paid to snitch and said he never carried a brief case with a listening device.

He insisted that if he did cooperate with the feds, it was because he’d been threatened by a mobster while working with black concert promoters.

“The article is embellished. The real story is I told the FBI about being threatened because I was a civil-rights leader helping black concert promoters,” Sharpton said.

He griped that the report was simply an attempt to “muddy’’ him before this week’s NAN convention.

A Sharpton confidante who’s known him for decades was caught off guard by the extent of the activist’s alleged dealings with the FBI.

“Holy s- -t,’’ the source said. “This comes out of left for me. I’m actually driving off the road.’’

But veteran Democratic political consultant George Arzt said the report is more likely to boost Sharpton’s standing with the public rather than hurt it.

“This is just going to add to his luster of being a character,” Arzt said. “It does raise questions about an anti-establishment guy cooperating with the FBI. But now he is establishment.”

Sharpton was considered prime fodder as a mole for the FBI’s Mafia unit because of his already-existing connections to the underworld, the site said.

For example, he knew Genovese soldier Joseph Pagano, who was involved in entertainment-industry schemes for decades, allegedly controlled “Rat Pack’’ singer Sammy Davis Jr. and once even “lost a big roll [of money] to Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra,’’ FBI sources said.

Sharpton allegedly told the feds he had an in with Pagano because he’d introduced him to boxer Muhammad Ali and his reps.

In trying to nail the Genovese Mafiosos with Sharpton’s help, the feds embarked on their bugging scheme — sometimes producing hilarious results, the report said.

At one point, the Genovese Squad tried to wire mobster Dominick Canterino’s Cadillac in front of his Gravesend, Brooklyn, home.

An agent broke into and hot-wired the car to briefly drive it off to plant the bug before returning it.

“Piece of cake,’’ he radioed to fellow agents down the block.

“You’re burned!” an NYPD detective shouted back a minute later, as he spotted Canterino watching the agent drive away with his car.

“In retrospect, it was like a Keystone comedy,’’ chuckled a former FBI agent who was there that day. “But it wasn’t so funny when it occurred.”

Canterino has since died.

http://nypost.com/2014/04/07/al-sharpton-secretly-worked-as-an-fbi-mob-informant-report/

 

 

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Breaking News: Shooting At Fort Hood in Texas — 16 Wounded From Gunshots and 4 Dead Including Shooter — Shelter in Place — PTSD and Suicides of Afgan and Iraq War Veterans — The War Within — Videos

Posted on April 2, 2014. Filed under: Blogroll, Business, Communications, Constitution, Crime, Diasters, government, government spending, Homicide, liberty, Life, Links, media, Politics, Press, Radio, Talk Radio, Video, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Sources have confirmed to CBS 11 that this image is that of suspected shooter 34-year-old Ivan Lopez.

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Sources have confirmed to CBS 11 that this image is that of suspected shooter 34-year-old Ivan Lopez.

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Soldier Opens Fire At Fort Hood; 4 Dead, Several Injured

A soldier opened fire Wednesday on fellow service members at the Fort Hood military base, killing three people and wounding 16 before committing suicide at the same post where more than a dozen people were slain in a 2009 attack, authorities said.

The shooter, 34-year-old Ivan Lopez who served in Iraq in 2011, had been undergoing an assessment to determine whether he had post-traumatic stress disorder, according to Lt. Gen. Mark A. Milley, the senior officer on the base. He was also undergoing psychiatric treatment for depression.

FULL COVERAGE OF FORT HOOD SHOOTING

There was no indication the attack was related to terrorism, Milley said “although we are not ruling anything out.”

A Texas congressman said the shooting happened at a medical center. Rep. Michael McCaul, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, also identified the suspect as Ivan Lopez. But additional details about the gunman were not immediately available.

The injured were taken to Darnall Army Community Hospital at Fort Hood and other local hospitals. Dr. Glen Couchman, chief medical officer at Scott and White Hospital in Temple, said the first four people admitted there had gunshots to chest, abdomen, neck and extremities and that their conditions range from stable to “quite critical.”  At last check, nine patients had been admitted to Scott and White.

The 2009 assault on Fort Hood was the deadliest attack on a domestic military installation in U.S. history. Thirteen people were killed and more than 30 wounded.

After the shooting began, the Army’s official Twitter feed said the post had been locked down. Hours later, all-clear sirens sounded.

On Wednesday evening, a fatigue-clad soldier and a military police officer stood about a quarter-mile from the main gate waving away traffic. Other lanes were blocked by a police car and van.

Meanwhile, relatives of soldiers waited for news about their loved ones.

Tayra DeHart, 33, said she had last heard from her husband, a soldier at the post, that he was safe, but that was hours earlier.

“The last two hours have been the most nerve-racking I’ve ever felt. I know God is here protecting me and all the soldiers, but I have my phone in my hand just hoping it will ring and it will be my husband,” DeHart said.

Brooke Conover, whose husband was on base at the time of the shooting, said she found out about it while checking Facebook. She said she called her husband, Staff Sgt. Sean Conover, immediately to make sure he was OK, but he could not even tell her exactly what was going on, only that the base was locked down.

“I’m still hearing conflicting stories about what happened and where the shooting was exactly,” Conover said in a telephone interview, explaining that she still did not know how close the incident was to her husband.

“I just want him to come home,” said Conover, who moved to Fort Hood with her husband and three daughters two years ago.

President Barack Obama vowed that investigators would get to the bottom of the shooting.

In a hastily arranged statement in Chicago, Obama said he was following the situation closely. He said the shooting brought back painful memories of the 2009 attack.

Obama reflected on the sacrifices that troops stationed at Fort Hood have made – including enduring multiple tours to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“They serve with valor. They serve with distinction, and when they’re at their home base, they need to feel safe,” Obama said. “We don’t yet know what happened tonight, but obviously that sense of safety has been broken once again.”

The president spoke without notes or prepared remarks in the same room of a steakhouse where he had just met with about 25 donors at a previously scheduled fundraiser for the Democratic National Committee. White House officials quickly pushed tables to the side of the room to make room for Obama to speak to the nation.

The November 2009 attack happened inside a crowded building where soldiers were waiting to get vaccines and routine paperwork after recently returning from deployments or preparing to go to Afghanistan and Iraq.

Army psychiatrist Nidal Hasan was convicted and sentenced to death last year in that mass shooting. He said he acted to protect Islamic insurgents abroad from American aggression.

According to testimony during Hasan’s trial last August, Hasan walked inside carrying two weapons and several loaded magazines, shouted “Allahu Akbar!” – Arabic for “God is great!” – and opened fire with a handgun.

Witnesses said he targeted soldiers as he walked through the building, leaving pools of blood, spent casings and dying soldiers on the floor. Photos of the scene were shown to the 13 officers on the military jury.

The rampage ended when Hasan was shot in the back by Fort Hood police officers outside the building. He was paralyzed from the waist down and is now on death row at the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

After that shooting, the military tightened security at bases nationwide. Those measures included issuing security personnel long-barreled weapons, adding an insider-attack scenario to their training and strengthening ties to local law enforcement, according to Peter Daly, a vice admiral who retired from the Navy in 2011. The military also joined an FBI intelligence-sharing program aimed at identifying terror threats.

 

http://dfw.cbslocal.com/2014/04/02/search-for-active-shooter-on-fort-hood-base/

3 Victims, Gunman Dead After Second Fort Hood Mass Shooting

Deceased are all military personnel, Fort Hood official says

By Frank Heinz

Four people are dead, including the gunman, and another 16 are injured in a mass shooting at the Fort Hood Army post Wednesday. One of the survivors is in grave condition, NBC News reports.

More than four hours after the shooting, all-clear sirens sounded as the lockdown at the post was lifted. Hundreds of cars began streaming from the giant complex, many including children who had been kept locked-down in schools since gunshots were first reported at about 4:30 p.m.

A military official told NBC News that the deceased shooter, identified as 34-year-old enlisted Army soldier Ivan Lopez, took his own life and appeared to be the only shooter, despite an earlier report of two possible gunmen.

Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, the commanding general at Fort Hood, refused to identify the gunman during a news conference Wednesday night pending notification of family members.

Milley said the sequence of events are not 100 percent clear but that investigators believe the shooting began when a soldier assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) fired shots at individuals in the 1st Medical Brigade. Milley said the shooter then left that building, got into a vehicle and continued firing. He then went to another building at the post, went inside and opened fire.  The gunman, when confronted by a military police officer, put his gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

The gunman was armed with a single weapon, a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun he had recently purchased, Milley said.

The gunman had served four months in Iraq in 2011 and was currently under diagnosis for post traumatic stress disorder, but had not been officially diagnosed with PTSD, Milley said. He added the shooter was undergoing behavioral health care for depression and anxiety, had a self-reported traumatic brain injury and was not physically injured in combat.

NBC News learned that Lopez served with the Puerto Rican Army National Guard and was an E4 in the U.S. Army.  NBC News reported that the shooter was in uniform and that the shooting rampage may have resulted from an argument with other soldiers in the motor pool and was not related to terrorism.

The names of the victims have not yet been released, though Milley did confirm that all of the victims are military personnel.  Officials at Fort Hood said the names of the victims will be released 24 hours after all family have been notified.

Temple Hospital Taking Fort Hood Patients

Baylor Scott & White Hospital in Temple confirms they have a command center in place and have received nine patients from the post.

All patients are in the intensive care unit; three are critical and five are serious.  The ninth patient is en route, as of 10:20 p.m. Wednesday night.

In an update early Wednesday night, Glen Couchman, chief medical officer for Baylor Scott & White Memorial Hospital, said patients are receiving treatment for wounds to their chest, abdomen, neck and extremities and range from “stable to quite critical.”

“This is another sad day for Central Texas,” Couchman said. He said the hospital planned to offer another update on the conditions of the victims later in the evening.

Officials at Baylor Scott & White said the blood center closed at 8 p.m., but will be open for donations from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday.

Investigation Continues

Officials at Fort Hood said Wednesday that there is no indication the mass shooting is related to terrorism.

The investigation by law enforcement is ongoing and post officials were reluctant to reveal any further information about what may have led to the rampage.

Milley said the investigation into the shooting continues and that nothing is being ruled out as a cause at this point. The investigation is being conducted with the support of The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Texas Rangers, The Texas Department of Public Safety, military police, Army CID, the Killeen Police Department and the Harker Heights Police Department.

During the lockdown of the base, officials with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety were called in to help to secure the perimeter of the largest active duty armored post in the U.S. Armed Services.

Obama, Gov. Perry Respond

President Barack Obama addressed the shooting in brief remarks in Chicago, where he was attending a fundraiser Wednesday night.

“We’re following it closely. The situation is fluid right now … I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he said. “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again.”

Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement Wednesday as well. “Today, Fort Hood was once again stricken by tragedy,” he said. “Fort Hood has proven its resilience before, and will again.”

Perry was one of several politicians who tweeted messages following the news of the shooting, many of whom called for prayers for the post and Central Texas.

Mom Stuck at Fort Hood With 4-Year-Old During Shooting

Charlotte Spencer was picking up her 4-year-old son from soccer practice on the Fort Hood post when Wednesday’s shooting occurred.

Spencer said her son had just climbed in the car when a woman came over a loudspeaker telling everyone to shelter in place immediately.

“The siren came over and she was like, ‘This is an emergency. Get in your homes, lock your doors, lock your windows, turn off your AC units and turn off your heaters if you have them running. Just stay in place. This is an active emergency,’” Spencer described.

Spencer said she tried to delicately explain the all too familiar situation to her young son.

“It Sounded Powerful”

Antonio Ortiz, 30, who lives a quarter of a mile from the east gate of Fort Hood, told NBC News he heard a commotion and went outside to hear alarms going off and announcements for people to stay inside. He went back in and turned on the TV news, then soon after heard a barrage of gunshots.

“It sounded powerful,” Ortiz said, adding that while it seemed to be coming from the base, he couldn’t rule out the possibility someone in the civilian neighborhood was shooting.

“I’m scared for my son. He’s 7,” Ortiz said. “But I do have a 12-gauge pump shotgun.”

Tayra DeHart, 33, said she had last heard from her husband, a soldier at the post, that he was safe, but that was hours earlier.

“The last two hours have been the most nerve-wracking I’ve ever felt. I know God is here protecting me and all the soldiers, but I have my phone in my hand just hoping it will ring and it will be my husband,” DeHart said.

Brooke Conover, whose husband was on base at the time of the shooting, said she found out about it while checking Facebook. She said she called her husband, Staff Sgt. Sean Conover, immediately to make sure he was OK, but he couldn’t even tell her exactly what was going on, only that the base was locked down.

“I’m still hearing conflicting stories about what happened and where the shooting was exactly,” Conover said in a telephone interview, explaining that she still doesn’t know how close the incident was to her husband.

“I just want him to come home,” said Conover, who moved to Fort Hood with her husband and three daughters two years ago.

Tragic History at Fort Hood

In November 2009, 13 people were killed and more than 30 others injured when Maj. Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, opened fire on dozens of people at the post. Hasan was paralyzed during an exchange of gunfire and, in late 2013, was sentenced to death.  He is currently awaiting execution.

In February, officials at the Central Texas Army post said the site of the 2009 massacre, a processing center also known as Building 42003, had been razed.

Hasan’s rampage isn’t the most recent mass shooting at a U.S. military installation.  Last September, a lone gunman with ties to North Texas, Aaron Alexis, killed 12 when he opened fire at the Washington Navy Yard.

Largest Active-Duty Military Base

Fort Hood covers a total of 340 square miles and supports multiple units, a corps headquarters and a robust mobilization mission. It is home to two full divisions, the 1st Cavalry Division and 4th Infantry Division (Mechanized) and 12 additional units.

Around 50,000 soldiers work at Fort Hood, and there are an additional 150,000 civilians who support the base.

The post is about 60 miles north of the capital city of Austin, 50 miles south of Waco, 160 miles south of Dallas and 150 miles north of San Antonio

http://www.nbcdfw.com/news/local/Active-Shooter-Reported-at-Fort-Hood-253636461.html

FBI, military hunt ex-Army recruit suspected of plotting ‘Ft. Hood-inspired jihad’

EXCLUSIVE: The FBI is searching for a recent Army recruit believed to be planning a “Fort Hood-inspired jihad against U.S. soldiers,” FoxNews.com has learned.

The alert, whose legitimacy was confirmed by military and law enforcement officials, stated that a man identified as Booker had told friends of his “intention to commit jihad.” Booker, who is also known as Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, was recruited by the U.S. Army in Kansas City, Mo., in February 2014 and was scheduled to report for basic training on April 7. But he was discharged last week, apparently after law enforcement authorities learned of his alleged plan.

Both the FBI and the 902d Military Intelligence Group at Fort Leavenworth are involved in the hunt.

The alert, a copy of which was obtained by FoxNews.com, was sent out by the FBI’s Kansas City Division on Friday and distributed through the U.S. Marine Corps. The portion obtained by FoxNews.com did not include Hassan’s photo or age. It was also sent to the Kansas City Police Department, which could indicate authorities believe he may have remained in the area where he was recruited.

The alert is titled, “Planned Fort Hood-inspired Jihad against US Soldiers by Army Recruit” and was issued “to inform and protect officers who may encounter this individual or others exhibiting the same aspirations.” The source of the information contained in the alert was listed as “An FBI agent.”

According to the alert:

“On 20 March 2014, the Kansas City Division FBI became aware of an individual named BOOKER aka Muhammad Abdullah Hassan who had publicly stated his intention to commit jihad, bidding farewell to his friends and making comments indicating his jihad was imminent. BOOKER had been recruited by the US Army in Kansas City, Mo., in February 2014 and was scheduled to report for Basic Training on 7 April 2014. Kansas City Division Agents interviewed BOOKER on 20 March 2014.”

Marine Corps spokesman Capt. Ty Balzer confirmed the alert’s legitimacy, but referred questions to the FBI. A spokeswoman with the Kansas City Division of the FBI — the same division responsible for sending out the alert and who, according to the alert, spoke with Booker on March 20 — said she did “not have any information to provide in regards to your inquiry.”

Law enforcement sources familiar with the alert said it appeared to suggest that there may be others in addition to Booker who also might have expressed similar intentions to commit jihad against U.S. military installations.

A military source said it appeared the bulletin was provided by the FBI, then distributed by the Marine Corps under the normal protocol of sharing any information relating to a potential threat to U.S. military installations or personnel.

A spokesman for the Kansas City recruiting station where Booker enlisted referred FoxNews.com’s questions to 902d Military Intelligence Group, which did not immediately return requests for comment.

The Fort Hood shooting, referenced in the alert, took place on Nov. 5, 2009. U.S. Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, a psychiatrist who had become a radical Muslim while serving in the military, killed 13 people and injured dozens more inside the Texas Army base. Hasan, who represented himself at a military trial after clashing with his appointed attorneys, was sentenced to death in August.

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/04/01/military-hunts-one-time-recruit-planning-ft-hood-style-jihad/

 

Shooting Confirmed at Fort Hood Army Base

NBC News reports there may be two shooters, one down, one at-large

 

Multiple people have been injured and the search for the gunman is underway after a shooting at the Fort Hood Army post Wednesday afternoon.

Reports of an active shooter triggered a lockdown at Fort Hood, with local sheriff’s deputies and the FBI immediately responding.
As many as eight people may be injured, and there may have been two shooters, NBC News reported. One of those was believed to be “down,” while the second was believed to be at-large, according to NBC News.

Fort Hood confirmed that a shooting occurred at the base, though the number of people injured and the severity of their injuries has not been confirmed.

Just after 5 p.m. local time, the base tweeted that all personnel were being asked to shelter in place, close doors and stay away from windows.

The shooting is believed to have taken place at the Medical Brigade Building. Local NBC affiliate KCEN-TV reported there were also reports of victims at the Battle Simulation Center.

Central Texas College’ campus was evacuated due to the shooting, with all personnel and students asked to leave and all classes canceled.

Officials with the Bell County Sheriff’s Office and Texas Department of Public Safety are helping to secure the perimiter of the base.

In November 2009, 13 people were killed and more than 30 others injured when Maj. Nidal Hasan opened fire on dozens of people at the base. Hasan was paralyzed during an exchange of gunfire and, in late 2013, was sentenced to death. He is currently awaiting execution.

 

 

Background Articles and Videos

US Soldier Suicides: Congress to increase efforts to curb high rate of military suicides

 

Vets Rally to Curb Military Suicides

Iraq and Afghanistan veterans express pain and pride of war

According to a new survey, 89 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan War veterans say they would join the military again, while also reporting a spike in suicide, reduced physical wellness and feelings of disconnection. Gwen Ifill talks to two veterans, Tom Tarantino of Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America and Nathan Smith of Hire Heroes USA, as well as Rajiv Chandrasekaran of The Washington Post.

Tens of thousands of Afghan, Iraq war veterans homeless in 2013

Quick Facts: Plight of US veterans

On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Suicide, Violence 1 of 3

On the 11th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, we take a look at the invisible wounds of war here at home. Since the war began on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the Sept. 11th attacks, at least 2,000 U.S. soldiers have died. Some 2.4 million U.S. soldiers have served in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the psychological toll of the wars is mounting. Last year, the Veterans Administration treated almost 100,000 Iraq and Afghanistan veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and soldier suicides reached an all-time high this year.

On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Suicide, Violence 2 of 3

On Afghan War 11th Anniversary, Vets Confront Mental Health Crisis, Suicide, Violence 3 of 3

ALEX JONES INFOWARS – US VETERANS – RECORD SUICIDES DUE TO PTSD

Between Iraq and a Hard Place – PTSD and Suicides in Iraq

Veterans of PTSD PBS NOW

The War Within 1 of 4

The War Within 2 of 4

The War Within 3 of 4

The War Within 4 of 4

Marines PTSD Suicide CPL Anthony Clay Ward, USMC, FOX 2/11 Iraq War

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veterans statistics: PTSD, Depression, TBI, Suicide.

The following veterans statistics are from a major study done by the RAND Corporation (full pdf of study), a study by the Congressional Research Service, the Veterans Administration, and the US Surgeon General.

PTSD statistics are a moving target that is fuzzy: do you look only at PTSD diagnosed within one year of return from battle? Do you only count PTSD that limits a soldier’s ability to go back into battle or remain employed, but that may have destroyed a marriage or wrecked a family? Do you look at the PTSD statistics for PTSD that comes up at any time in a person’s life: it is possible to have undiagnosed PTSD for 30 years and not realize it–possibly never or until you find a way to get better and then you realize there is another way to live. When you count the PTSD statistic of “what percentage of a population gets PTSD,” is your overall starting group combat veterans, veterans who served in the target country, or all military personnel for the duration of a war?

And veterans PTSD statistics get revised over time. The findings from the NVVR Study (National Vietnam Veterans’ Readjustment Study) commissioned by the government in the 1980s initially found that for “Vietnam theater veterans” 15% of men had PTSD at the time of the study and 30% of men had PTSD at some point in their life. But a 2003 re-analysis found that “contrary to the initial analysis of the NVVRS data, a large majority of Vietnam Veterans struggled with chronic PTSD symptoms, with four out of five reporting recent symptoms when interviewed 20-25 years after Vietnam.” (see also NVVR review)

There is a similar problem with suicide statistics. The DoD and their researchers tend to lose track of military personnel once they retire, and not all suicides will be counted as a military suicide (plus, is a person who drinks themselves to death committing suicide?). A recent study found U.S. veteran suicide rates to be be as high as 5,000 a year. See suicide statistics (bottom of page).

Summary of Veterans Statistics for PTSD, TBI, Depression and Suicide.

    • there are over 2.3 million American veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars (compared to 2.6 million Vietnam veterans who fought in Vietnam; there are 8.2 million “Vietnam Era Veterans” (personnel who served anywhere during any time of the Vietnam War)
    • at least 20% of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans have PTSD and/or Depression. (Military counselors I have interviewed state that, in their opinion, the percentage of veterans with PTSD is much higher; the number climbs higher when combined with TBI.) Other accepted studies have found a PTSD prevalence of 14%; see a complete review of PTSD prevalence studies, which quotes studies with findings ranging from 4 -17% of Iraq War veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder)
    • 50% of those with PTSD do not seek treatment
    • out of the half that seek treatment, only half of them get “minimally adequate” treatment (RAND study)
    • 19% of veterans may have traumatic brain injury (TBI)
    • Over 260,000 veterans from OIF and OEF so far have been diagnosed with TBI. Traumatic brain injury is much more common in the general population than  previously thought: according to the CDC, over 1,700,000 Americans have a traumatic brain injury each year; in Canada 20% of teens had TBI resulting in hospital admission or that involved over 5 minutes of unconsciousness (VA surgeon reporting in BBC News)
    • 7% of veterans have both post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury
    • rates of post-traumatic stress are greater for these wars than prior conflicts
    • in times of peace, in any given year, about 4% (actually 3.6%) of the general population have PTSD (caused by natural disasters, car accidents, abuse, etc.)
    • recent statistical studies show that rates of veteran suicide are much higher than previously thought (see suicide prevention page).
    • PTSD distribution between services for OND, OIF, and OEF: Army 67% of cases, Air Force 9%, Navy 11%, and Marines 13%. (Congressional Research Service, Sept. 2010)
    • recent sample of 600 veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan found: 14% post-traumatic stress disorder; 39% alcohol abuse; 3% drug abuse. Major depression also a problem. “Mental and Physical Health Status and Alcohol and Drug Use Following Return From Deployment to Iraq or Afghanistan.” Susan V. Eisen, PhD
    • Oddly, statistics for veteran tobacco use are never reported alongside PTSD statistics, even though increases in rates of smoking are strongly correlated with the stress of deployment and combat, and smoking statistics show that tobacco use is tremendously damaging and costly for soldiers.
    • More active duty personnel die by own hand than combat in 2012 (New York Times)

Other veterans PTSD statistics references and sources:

 

U.S. Suicide Rate Surged Among Veterans
Eli Clifton

Suicides among United States military veterans ballooned by 26 percent from 2005 to 2007, according to new statistics released by the Veterans Affairs (VA) department. 

“Of the more than 30,000 suicides in this country each year, fully 20 percent of them are acts by veterans,” said VA Secretary Eric Shinseki at a VA-sponsored suicide prevention conference on Monday. “That means on average 18 veterans commit suicide each day. Five of those veterans are under our care at VA.”

The spike in the suicide rate can most clearly be attributed to the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the high number of veterans returning to the U.S. with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

”We have now nearly two million vets of Iraq and Afghanistan and we still haven’t seen the type of mobilisation of resources necessary to handle an epidemic of veteran suicides,” Aaron Glantz, an editor at New America Media editor and author of “The War Comes Home”, told IPS.

”With [President Barack] Obama surging in Afghanistan coupled with his unwillingness to withdraw speedily from Iraq, it means we have more veterans who have served more and more tours and as a result we have an escalating number of people coming home with PTSD, depression and other mental health issues,” Glantz continued.

Health officials have pointed to the multiple tours of duty served by many U.S. soldiers deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq as one of the stresses placed on military personnel that differs from previous wars fought by the U.S.

“The unfortunate truth is that the real challenge begins when these service men and women return home and readjust to day-to-day life,” said Rep. Michael McMahon, co-founder of the Congressional Invisible Wounds Caucus.

“The Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs must be prepared with the appropriate staff and funding to conduct post-deployment psychological screenings with a mental health professional for all service men and women,” he said. “Evidently, the paper questionnaires currently in use simply do not suffice. How many more young men and women must die before we provide the necessary mental health care?”

The VA estimated that in 2005, the suicide rate per 100,000 veterans among men ages 18-29 was 44.99, but jumped to 56.77 in 2007.

A Rand Corporation report last year found that as many as 20 percent of Iraq and Afghanistan veterans exhibited symptoms of PTSD or depression.

”As I’ve often asked, mostly of myself, but also of others from time to time, why do we know so much about suicides but so little about how to prevent them?” said Shinseki.

The VA came under attack by veterans’ groups in April 2008, when internal emails sent by the VA’s head of mental health, Dr. Ira Katz, showed that the VA was attempting to conceal the number of suicides committed by veterans.

Under the Obama administration, the approach to handling the increasing number of suicides appears to have shifted, with a greater focus on transparency – the VA is holding a three-day conference on suicide this week. Last year, Obama announced a 25-billion-dollar increase in the VA’s budget over the next five years.

While the emphasis on greater transparency, particularly with regards to PTSD and mental health issues, and increased funding for the VA has been welcomed, many are still concerned that the troop surge in Afghanistan and the ongoing U.S. role in Iraq will put ever greater strains on the VA and its ability to deal with soldiers returning from multiple tours of duty.

”The first Gulf War was over in a matter of months. This war has gone on for nine years in Afghanistan and seven years in Iraq. There are two million vets, most of whom have served multiple tours,” said Glantz.

”What this means is that the military has never faced the stress it faces now. Not even in Vietnam where we had a draft and most soldiers only served one tour. In Iraq and Afghanistan everyone’s on the frontlines all the time. Even being in a vehicle going from one military base to another is extremely dangerous,” he said.

Shinseki cited the fact that of the 18 veterans who commit suicide each day, five are under the care of the VA, as evidence that both the VA’s efforts to prevent suicides are falling short and that the VA is failing to bring enough veterans under its care.

Suicides among active duty personnel have also risen, with 147 reported suicides in the Army from January through November 2009 – an increase from 127 in the same period of 2008.

Among non-active duty reserve soldiers, 50 suicides were reported in 2008 but the number had risen to 71 during the first 11 months of 2009.

Suicide rates in all four services of the military are significantly higher than in the general population, with 52 Marines, 48 sailors, and 41 members of the Air force committing suicide in 2009.

The final figures for suicides in the Army during 2009 will be released Thursday.

http://ipsnorthamerica.net/news.php?idnews=2784

 

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NSA Metadata To Be Held By Telephone Companies — Great Distraction — Still Collecting and Intercepting All Americans Telephone Calls and All Information Transmitted Over The Internet and Telephone Exchanges — Stop Deceiving The American People Mr. President — Videos

Posted on March 30, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Comedy, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Demographics, Diasters, Economics, Employment, European History, Family, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Federal Government, Foreign Policy, government spending, history, Illegal, Immigration, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, media, Microeconomics, National Security Agency (NSA_, People, Philosophy, Politics, Press, Programming, Psychology, Quotations, Radio, Rants, Raves, Security | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 233: March 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 232: March 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 231: March 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 230: March 24, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 227: March 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 226: March 18, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 223: March 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 222: March 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 221: February 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 220: February 27, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 215: February 20, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 201: January 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 199: January 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 198: January 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 197: January 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 196: January 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 193: January 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 191: January 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 189: January 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 188: January 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 187: January 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 186: January 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 185: January 3, 2014

Story 1: NSA Metadata To Be Held By Telephone Companies — Great Distraction — Still Collecting and Intercepting All Americans Telephone Calls and All Information Transmitted Over The Internet and Telephone Exchanges — Stop Deceiving The American People Mr. President — Videos

Obama: NSA Proposal Satisfies Public Concerns

 

Obama announces overhaul of NSA metadata collection

NSA – Changes To Metadata Program – Special Report All Star

President Obama Names Michael Rogers As New Head Of The NSA

Background Articles and Videos

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Through a PRISM, Darkly – Everything we know about NSA spying [30c3]

Published on Dec 30, 2013

Through a PRISM, Darkly
Everything we know about NSA spying

From Stellar Wind to PRISM, Boundless Informant to EvilOlive, the NSA spying programs are shrouded in secrecy and rubber-stamped by secret opinions from a court that meets in a faraday cage. The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Kurt Opsahl explains the known facts about how the programs operate and the laws and regulations the U.S. government asserts allows the NSA to spy on you.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation, a non-profit civil society organization, has been litigating against the NSA spying program for the better part of a decade. EFF has collected and reviewed dozens of documents, from the original NY Times stories in 2005 and the first AT&T whistleblower in 2006, through the latest documents released in the Guardian or obtained through EFF’s Freedom of Information (government transparency) litigation. EFF attorney Kurt Opsahl’s lecture will describe how the NSA spying program works, the underlying technologies, the targeting procedures (how they decide who to focus on), the minimization procedures (how they decide which information to discard), and help you makes sense of the many code names and acronyms in the news. He will also discuss the legal and policy ramifications that have become part of the public debate following the recent disclosures, and what you can do about it. After summarizing the programs, technologies, and legal/policy framework in the lecture, the audience can ask questions.

Speaker: Kurt Opsahl
EventID: 5255
Event: 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] by the Chaos Computer Club [CCC]
Location: Congress Centrum Hamburg (CCH); Am Dammtor; Marseiller Straße; 20355 Hamburg; Germany
Language: english

Glenn Becks “SURVEILLANCE STATE”

Inside the NSA

Ed Snowden, NSA, and Fairy Tales

AT&T Spying On Internet Traffic

For years the National Securities Agency, has been spying on each & every keystroke. The national headquarters of AT&T is in Missouri, where ex-employees describe a secret room. The program is called “Splitter Cut-In & Test Procedure.”

NSA Whistle-Blower Tells All – Op-Docs: The Program

The filmmaker Laura Poitras profiles William Binney, a 32-year veteran of the National Security Agency who helped design a top-secret program he says is broadly collecting Americans’ personal data.

NSA Whistleblower: Everyone in US under virtual surveillance, all info stored, no matter the post

He told you so: Bill Binney talks NSA leaks

William Benny – The Government is Profiling You (The NSA is Spying on You)

‘After 9/11 NSA had secret deal with White House’

The story of Whistleblower Thomas Drake

Whistleblowers, Part Two: Thomas Drake

NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake speaks at National Press Club – March 15, 2013

Meet Edward Snowden: NSA PRISM Whistleblower

The Truth About Edward Snowden

N.S.A. Spying: Why Does It Matter?

Inside The NSA~Americas Cyber Secrets

NSA Whistleblower Exposes Obama’s Dragnet

AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-1/2

AT&T Whistleblower Urges Against Immunity for Telecoms in Bush Spy Program

The Senate is expected to vote on a controversial measure to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act tomorrow. The legislation would rewrite the nation’s surveillance laws and authorize the National Security Agency’s secret program of warrantless wiretapping. We speak with Mark Klein, a technician with AT&T for over twenty-two years. In 2006 Klein leaked internal AT&T documents that revealed the company had set up a secret room in its San Francisco office to give the National Security Agency access to its fiber optic internet cables.

AT&T whistleblower against immunity for Bush spy program-2/2

Enemy Of The State 1998 (1080p) (Full movie)

Background Articles and Videos

Stellar Wind

Stellar Wind was the open secret code name for four surveillance programs by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) during the presidency of George W. Bush and revealed by Thomas Tamm to The New York Times reporters James Risen and Eric Lichtblau.[1] The operation was approved by President George W. Bush shortly after the September 11 attacks in 2001.[2] Stellar Wind was succeeded during the presidency of Barack Obama by four major lines of intelligence collection in the territorial United States, together capable of spanning the full range of modern telecommunications.[3]

The program’s activities involved data mining of a large database of the communications of American citizens, including e-mail communications, phone conversations, financial transactions, and Internet activity.[1] William Binney, a retired Technical Leader with the NSA, discussed some of the architectural and operational elements of the program at the 2012 Chaos Communication Congress.[4]

There were internal disputes within the Justice Department about the legality of the program, because data are collected for large numbers of people, not just the subjects of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.[4]

During the Bush Administration, the Stellar Wind cases were referred to by FBI agents as “pizza cases” because many seemingly suspicious cases turned out to be food takeout orders. According to Mueller, approximately 99 percent of the cases led nowhere, but “it’s that other 1% that we’ve got to be concerned about”.[2] One of the known uses of these data were the creation of suspicious activity reports, or “SARS”, about people suspected of terrorist activities. It was one of these reports that revealed former New York governor Eliot Spitzer’s use of prostitutes, even though he was not suspected of terrorist activities.[1]

In March 2012 Wired magazine published “The NSA Is Building the Country’s Biggest Spy Center (Watch What You Say)” talking about a vast new NSA facility in Utah and says “For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail,” naming the official William Binney, a former NSA code breaker. Binney went on to say that the NSA had highly secured rooms that tap into major switches, and satellite communications at both AT&T and Verizon.[5] The article suggested that the otherwise dispatched Stellar Wind is actually an active program.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stellar_Wind_%28code_name%29

PRISM

PRISM is a clandestine national security electronic surveillance program operated by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) since 2007.[1][2][3][Notes 1] PRISM is a government codename for a data collection effort known officially as US-984XN.[8][9] It is operated under the supervision of the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court pursuant to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).[10] The existence of the program was leaked by NSA contractor Edward Snowden and published by The Guardian and The Washington Post on June 6, 2013.

A document included in the leak indicated that the PRISM SIGAD was “the number one source of raw intelligence used for NSA analytic reports.”[11] The President’s Daily Brief, an all-source intelligence product, cited PRISM data as a source in 1,477 items in 2012.[12] The leaked information came to light one day after the revelation that the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court had been requiring the telecommunications company Verizon to turn over to the NSA logs tracking all of its customers’ telephone calls on an ongoing daily basis.[13][14]

According to the Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, PRISM cannot be used to intentionally target any Americans or anyone in the United States. Clapper said a special court, Congress, and the executive branch oversee the program and extensive procedures ensure the acquisition, retention, and dissemination of data accidentally collected about Americans is kept to a minimum.[15] Clapper issued a statement and “fact sheet”[16] to correct what he characterized as “significant misimpressions” in articles by The Washington Post and The Guardian newspapers.[17]

History

Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US

Details of information collected via PRISM

PRISM is a “Special Source Operation” in the tradition of NSA’s intelligence alliances with as many as 100 trusted U.S. companies since the 1970s.[1] A prior program, the Terrorist Surveillance Program, was implemented in the wake of the September 11 attacks under the George W. Bush Administration but was widely criticized and had its legality questioned, because it was conducted without approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC).[18][19][20][21] PRISM was authorized by an order of the FISC.[11] Its creation was enabled by the Protect America Act of 2007 under President Bush and the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which legally immunized private companies that cooperated voluntarily with US intelligence collection and was renewed by Congress under President Obama in 2012 for five years until December 2017.[2][22] According to The Register, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 “specifically authorizes intelligence agencies to monitor the phone, email, and other communications of U.S. citizens for up to a week without obtaining a warrant” when one of the parties is outside the U.S.[22]

PRISM was first publicly revealed on June 6, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Washington Post and The Guardian by American Edward Snowden.[2][1] The leaked documents included 41 PowerPoint slides, four of which were published in news articles.[1][2] The documents identified several technology companies as participants in the PRISM program, including (date of joining PRISM in parentheses) Microsoft (2007), Yahoo! (2008), Google (2009), Facebook (2009), Paltalk (2009), YouTube (2010), AOL (2011), Skype (2011), and Apple (2012).[23] The speaker’s notes in the briefing document reviewed by The Washington Post indicated that “98 percent of PRISM production is based on Yahoo, Google and Microsoft.”[1]

The slide presentation stated that much of the world’s electronic communications pass through the United States, because electronic communications data tend to follow the least expensive route rather than the most physically direct route, and the bulk of the world’s internet infrastructure is based in the United States.[11] The presentation noted that these facts provide United States intelligence analysts with opportunities for intercepting the communications of foreign targets as their electronic data pass into or through the United States.[2][11]

According to The Washington Post, the intelligence analysts search PRISM data using terms intended to identify suspicious communications of targets whom the analysts suspect with at least 51 percent confidence to not be United States citizens, but in the process, communication data of some United States citizens are also collected unintentionally.[1] Training materials for analysts tell them that while they should periodically report such accidental collection of non-foreign United States data, “it’s nothing to worry about.”[1]

Response from companies

The original Washington Post and Guardian articles reporting on PRISM noted that one of the leaked briefing documents said PRISM involves collection of data “directly from the servers” of several major internet services providers.[2][1]

Initial Public Statements

Corporate executives of several companies identified in the leaked documents told The Guardian that they had no knowledge of the PRISM program in particular and also denied making information available to the government on the scale alleged by news reports.[2][24] Statements of several of the companies named in the leaked documents were reported by TechCrunch and The Washington Post as follows:[25][26]

Slide listing companies and the date that PRISM collection began

  • Microsoft: “We provide customer data only when we receive a legally binding order or subpoena to do so, and never on a voluntary basis. In addition we only ever comply with orders for requests about specific accounts or identifiers. If the government has a broader voluntary national security program to gather customer data we don’t participate in it.”[25]
  • Yahoo!: “Yahoo! takes users’ privacy very seriously. We do not provide the government with direct access to our servers, systems, or network.”[25] “Of the hundreds of millions of users we serve, an infinitesimal percentage will ever be the subject of a government data collection directive.”[26]
  • Facebook: “We do not provide any government organization with direct access to Facebook servers. When Facebook is asked for data or information about specific individuals, we carefully scrutinize any such request for compliance with all applicable laws, and provide information only to the extent required by law.”[25]
  • Google: “Google cares deeply about the security of our users’ data. We disclose user data to government in accordance with the law, and we review all such requests carefully. From time to time, people allege that we have created a government ‘back door’ into our systems, but Google does not have a backdoor for the government to access private user data.”[25] “[A]ny suggestion that Google is disclosing information about our users’ Internet activity on such a scale is completely false.”[26]
  • Apple: “We have never heard of PRISM. We do not provide any government agency with direct access to our servers, and any government agency requesting customer data must get a court order.”[27]
  • Dropbox: “We’ve seen reports that Dropbox might be asked to participate in a government program called PRISM. We are not part of any such program and remain committed to protecting our users’ privacy.”[25]

In response to the technology companies’ denials of the NSA being able to directly access the companies’ servers, The New York Times reported that sources had stated the NSA was gathering the surveillance data from the companies using other technical means in response to court orders for specific sets of data.[13] The Washington Post suggested, “It is possible that the conflict between the PRISM slides and the company spokesmen is the result of imprecision on the part of the NSA author. In another classified report obtained by The Post, the arrangement is described as allowing ‘collection managers [to send] content tasking instructions directly to equipment installed at company-controlled locations,’ rather than directly to company servers.”[1] “[I]n context, ‘direct’ is more likely to mean that the NSA is receiving data sent to them deliberately by the tech companies, as opposed to intercepting communications as they’re transmitted to some other destination.[26]

“If these companies received an order under the FISA amendments act, they are forbidden by law from disclosing having received the order and disclosing any information about the order at all,” Mark Rumold, staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, told ABC News.[28]

Slide showing two different sources of NSA data collection. The first source the fiber optic cables of the internet handled by the Upstream program and the second source the servers of major internet companies handled by PRISM.[29]

On May 28, 2013, Google was ordered by United States District Court Judge Susan Illston to comply with a National Security Letter issued by the FBI to provide user data without a warrant.[30] Kurt Opsahl, a senior staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, in an interview with VentureBeat said, “I certainly appreciate that Google put out a transparency report, but it appears that the transparency didn’t include this. I wouldn’t be surprised if they were subject to a gag order.”[31]

The New York Times reported on June 7, 2013, that “Twitter declined to make it easier for the government. But other companies were more compliant, according to people briefed on the negotiations.”[32] The other companies held discussions with national security personnel on how to make data available more efficiently and securely.[32] In some cases, these companies made modifications to their systems in support of the intelligence collection effort.[32] The dialogues have continued in recent months, as General Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has met with executives including those at Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Intel.[32] These details on the discussions provide insight into the disparity between initial descriptions of the government program including a training slide which states “Collection directly from the servers”[29] and the companies’ denials.[32]

While providing data in response to a legitimate FISA request approved by FISC is a legal requirement, modifying systems to make it easier for the government to collect the data is not. This is why Twitter could legally decline to provide an enhanced mechanism for data transmission.[32] Other than Twitter, the companies were effectively asked to construct a locked mailbox and provide the key to the government, people briefed on the negotiations said.[32] Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information.[32] Google does not provide a lockbox system, but instead transmits required data by hand delivery or secure FTP.[33]

Post-PRISM Transparency Reports

In response to the publicity surrounding media reports of data-sharing, several companies requested permission to reveal more public information about the nature and scope of information provided in response to National Security requests.

On June 14, 2013, Facebook reported that the U.S. Government had authorized the communication of “about these numbers in aggregate, and as a range.” In a press release posted to their web site, Facebook reported, “For the six months ending December 31, 2012, the total number of user-data requests Facebook received from any and all government entities in the U.S. (including local, state, and federal, and including criminal and national security-related requests) – was between 9,000 and 10,000.” Facebook further reported that the requests impacted “between 18,000 and 19,000″ user accounts, a “tiny fraction of one percent” of more than 1.1 billion active user accounts.[34]

Microsoft reported that for the same period, it received “between 6,000 and 7,000 criminal and national security warrants, subpoenas and orders affecting between 31,000 and 32,000 consumer accounts from U.S. governmental entities (including local, state and federal)” which impacted “a tiny fraction of Microsoft’s global customer base”.[35]

Google issued a statement criticizing the requirement that data be reported in aggregated form, stating that lumping national security requests with criminal request data would be “a step backwards” from its previous, more detailed practices on its site transparency report. The company said that it would continue to seek government permission to publish the number and extent of FISA requests.[36]

Response from United States government

Executive branch

Shortly after publication of the reports by The Guardian and The Washington Post, the United States Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, on June 7 released a statement confirming that for nearly six years the government of the United States had been using large internet services companies such as Google and Facebook to collect information on foreigners outside the United States as a defense against national security threats.[13] The statement read in part, “The Guardian and The Washington Post articles refer to collection of communications pursuant to Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. They contain numerous inaccuracies.”[37] He went on to say, “Section 702 is a provision of FISA that is designed to facilitate the acquisition of foreign intelligence information concerning non-U.S. persons located outside the United States. It cannot be used to intentionally target any U.S. citizen, any other U.S. person, or anyone located within the United States.”[37] Clapper concluded his statement by stating “The unauthorized disclosure of information about this important and entirely legal program is reprehensible and risks important protections for the security of Americans.”[37] On March 12, 2013, Clapper had told the United States Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that the NSA does “not wittingly” collect any type of data on millions or hundreds of millions of Americans.[38] In an NBC News interview, Clapper said he answered Senator Wyden’s question in the “least untruthful manner by saying no”.[39]

Clapper also stated that “the NSA collects the phone data in broad swaths, because collecting it (in) a narrow fashion would make it harder to identify terrorism-related communications. The information collected lets the government, over time, make connections about terrorist activities. The program doesn’t let the U.S. listen to people’s calls, but only includes information like call length and telephone numbers dialed.”[15]

On June 8, 2013, Clapper said “the surveillance activities published in The Guardian and The Washington Post are lawful and conducted under authorities widely known and discussed, and fully debated and authorized by Congress.”[40][10] The fact sheet described PRISM as “an internal government computer system used to facilitate the government’s statutorily authorized collection of foreign intelligence information from electronic communication service providers under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”[10]

The National Intelligence fact sheet further stated that “the United States Government does not unilaterally obtain information from the servers of U.S. electronic communication service providers. All such information is obtained with FISA Court approval and with the knowledge of the provider based upon a written directive from the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence.” It said that the Attorney General provides FISA Court rulings and semi-annual reports about PRISM activities to Congress, “provid[ing] an unprecedented degree of accountability and transparency.”[10]

The President of the United States, Barack Obama, said on June 7 “What you’ve got is two programs that were originally authorized by Congress, have been repeatedly authorized by Congress. Bipartisan majorities have approved them. Congress is continually briefed on how these are conducted. There are a whole range of safeguards involved. And federal judges are overseeing the entire program throughout.”[41] He also said, “You can’t have 100 percent security and then also have 100 percent privacy and zero inconvenience. You know, we’re going to have to make some choices as a society.”[41]

In separate statements, senior (not mentioned by name in source) Obama administration officials said that Congress had been briefed 13 times on the programs since 2009.[42]

Legislative branch

In contrast to their swift and forceful reactions the previous day to allegations that the government had been conducting surveillance of United States citizens’ telephone records, Congressional leaders initially had little to say about the PRISM program the day after leaked information about the program was published. Several lawmakers declined to discuss PRISM, citing its top-secret classification,[43] and others said that they had not been aware of the program.[44] After statements had been released by the President and the Director of National Intelligence, some lawmakers began to comment:

Senator John McCain (R-AZ)

  • June 9 “We passed the Patriot Act. We passed specific provisions of the act that allowed for this program to take place, to be enacted in operation,”[45]

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee

  • June 9 “These programs are within the law”, “part of our obligation is keeping Americans safe”, “Human intelligence isn’t going to do it”.[46]
  • June 9 “Here’s the rub: the instances where this has produced good — has disrupted plots, prevented terrorist attacks, is all classified, that’s what’s so hard about this.”[47]
  • June 11 “It went fine…we asked him[ Keith Alexander ] to declassify things because it would be helpful (for people and lawmakers to better understand the intelligence programs).” “I’ve just got to see if the information gets declassified. I’m sure people will find it very interesting.”[48]

Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), member of Senate Intelligence Committee and past member of Homeland Security Committee

  • June 11 “I had, along with Joe Lieberman, a monthly threat briefing, but I did not have access to this highly compartmentalized information” and “How can you ask when you don’t know the program exists?”[49]

Representative John Boehner (R-OH), Speaker of the House of Representatives

  • June 11 “He’s a traitor”[50] (referring to Edward Snowden)

Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI), principal sponsor of the Patriot Act

  • June 9, “This is well beyond what the Patriot Act allows.”[51] “President Obama’s claim that ‘this is the most transparent administration in history’ has once again proven false. In fact, it appears that no administration has ever peered more closely or intimately into the lives of innocent Americans.”[51]

Representative Mike Rogers (R-MI), a Chairman of the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.

  • June 9 “One of the things that we’re charged with is keeping America safe and keeping our civil liberties and privacy intact. I think we have done both in this particular case,”[46]
  • June 9 “Within the last few years this program was used to stop a program, excuse me, to stop a terrorist attack in the United States we know that. It’s, it’s, it’s important, it fills in a little seam that we have and it’s used to make sure that there is not an international nexus to any terrorism event that they may believe is ongoing in the United States. So in that regard it is a very valuable thing,”[52]

Senator Mark Udall (D-CO)

  • June 9 “I don’t think the American public knows the extent or knew the extent to which they were being surveilled and their data was being collected.” “I think we ought to reopen the Patriot Act and put some limits on the amount of data that the National Security (Agency) is collecting,” “It ought to remain sacred, and there’s got to be a balance here. That is what I’m aiming for. Let’s have the debate, let’s be transparent, let’s open this up”.[46]

Representative Todd Rokita (R-IN)

  • June 10 “We have no idea when they [ FISA ] meet, we have no idea what their judgments are”,[53]

Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)

  • June 6 “When the Senate rushed through a last-minute extension of the FISA Amendments Act late last year, I insisted on a vote on my amendment (SA 3436) to require stronger protections on business records and prohibiting the kind of data-mining this case has revealed. Just last month, I introduced S.1037, the Fourth Amendment Preservation and Protection Act,”[54]
  • June 9 “I’m going to be seeing if I can challenge this at the Supreme Court level. I’m going to be asking the Internet providers and all of the phone companies: ask your customers to join me in a class-action lawsuit.”[45]

Representative Luis Gutierrez (D-IL)

  • June 9 “We will be receiving secret briefings and we will be asking, I know I’m going to be asking to get more information. I want to make sure that what they’re doing is harvesting information that is necessary to keep us safe and not simply going into everybody’s private telephone conversations and Facebook and communications. I mean one of the, you know the terrorists win when you debilitate freedom of expression and privacy.”[52]

Judicial branch

The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) has not acknowledged, denied or confirmed any involvement in the PRISM program at this time. It has not issued any press statement or release relating to the current situation and uncertainty.

Applicable law and practice

On June 8, 2013, the Director of National Intelligence issued a fact sheet stating that PRISM “is not an undisclosed collection or data mining program”, but rather computer software used to facilitate the collection of foreign intelligence information “under court supervision, as authorized by Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) (50 U.S.C. § 1881a).”[10] Section 702 provides that “the Attorney General [A.G.] and the Director of National Intelligence [DNI] may authorize jointly, for a period of up to 1 year from the effective date of the authorization, the targeting of persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States to acquire foreign intelligence information.”[55] In order to authorize the targeting, the A.G. and DNI need to get an order from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) pursuant to Section 702 or certify that “intelligence important to the national security of the United States may be lost or not timely acquired and time does not permit the issuance of an order.”[55] When asking for an order, the A.G. and DNI must certify to FISC that “a significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information.”[55] They do not need to specify which facilities or property that the targeting will be directed at.[55]

After getting a FISC order or determining that there are emergency circumstances, the A.G. and DNI can direct an electronic communication service provider to give them access to information or facilities to carry out the targeting and keep the targeting secret.[55] The provider then has the option to: (1) comply with the directive; (2) reject it; or (3) challenge it to FISC.

If the provider complies with the directive, it is released from liability to its users for providing the information and reimbursed for the cost of providing it.[55]

If the provider rejects the directive, the A.G. may request an order from FISC to enforce it.[55] A provider that fails to comply with FISC’s order can be punished with contempt of court.[55]

Finally, a provider can petition FISC to reject the directive.[55] In case FISC denies the petition and orders the provider to comply with the directive, the provider risks contempt of court if it refuses to comply with FISC’s order.[55] The provider can appeal FISC’s denial to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review and then appeal the Court of Review’s decision to the Supreme Court by a writ of certiorari for review under seal.[55]

The Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the FISA Courts had been put in place to oversee intelligence operations in the period after the death of J. Edgar Hoover. Beverly Gage of Slate said, “When they were created, these new mechanisms were supposed to stop the kinds of abuses that men like Hoover had engineered. Instead, it now looks as if they have come to function as rubber stamps for the expansive ambitions of the intelligence community. J. Edgar Hoover no longer rules Washington, but it turns out we didn’t need him anyway.”[56]

Involvement of other countries

Australia

The Australian government has said it will investigate the impact of the PRISM program and the use of the Pine Gap surveillance facility on the privacy of Australian citizens.[57]

Canada

Canada’s national cryptologic agency, the Communications Security Establishment, said that commenting on PRISM “would undermine CSE’s ability to carry out its mandate”. Privacy Commissioner Jennifer Stoddart lamented Canada’s standards when it comes to protecting personal online privacy stating “We have fallen too far behind,” Stoddart wrote in her report. “While other nations’ data protection authorities have the legal power to make binding orders, levy hefty fines and take meaningful action in the event of serious data breaches, we are restricted to a ‘soft’ approach: persuasion, encouragement and, at the most, the potential to publish the names of transgressors in the public interest.” And, “when push comes to shove,” Stoddart wrote, “short of a costly and time-consuming court battle, we have no power to enforce our recommendations.”[58]

Germany

Germany did not receive any raw PRISM data, according to a Reuters report.[59]

Israel

Israeli newspaper Calcalist discussed[60] the Business Insider article[61] about the possible involvement of technologies from two secretive Israeli companies in the PRISM program – Verint Systems and Narus.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, University of Otago information science Associate Professor Hank Wolfe said that “under what was unofficially known as the Five Eyes Alliance, New Zealand and other governments, including the United States, Australia, Canada, and Britain, dealt with internal spying by saying they didn’t do it. But they have all the partners doing it for them and then they share all the information.”[62]

United Kingdom

In the United Kingdom, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) has had access to the PRISM program on or before June 2010 and wrote 197 reports with it in 2012 alone. PRISM may have allowed GCHQ to circumvent the formal legal process required to seek personal material.[63][64]

Domestic response

Unbalanced scales.svg
The neutrality of this section is disputed. Please do not remove this message until the dispute is resolved. (June 2013)

The New York Times editorial board charged that the Obama administration “has now lost all credibility on this issue,”[65] and lamented that “for years, members of Congress ignored evidence that domestic intelligence-gathering had grown beyond their control, and, even now, few seem disturbed to learn that every detail about the public’s calling and texting habits now reside in a N.S.A. database.”[66]

Republican and former member of Congress Ron Paul said, “We should be thankful for individuals like Edward Snowden and Glenn Greenwald who see injustice being carried out by their own government and speak out, despite the risk…. They have done a great service to the American people by exposing the truth about what our government is doing in secret.”[67] Paul denounced the government’s secret surveillance program: “The government does not need to know more about what we are doing…. We need to know more about what the government is doing.”[67] He called Congress “derelict in giving that much power to the government,” and said that had he been elected president, he would have ordered searches only when there was probable cause of a crime having been committed, which he said was not how the PRISM program was being operated.[68]

In response to Obama administration arguments that it could stop terrorism in the cases of Najibullah Zazi and David Headley, Ed Pilkington and Nicholas Watt of The Guardian said in regards to the role of PRISM and Boundless Informant interviews with parties involved in the Zazi scheme and court documents lodged in the United States and the United Kingdom indicated that “conventional” surveillance methods such as “old-fashioned tip-offs” of the British intelligence services initiated the investigation into the Zazi case.[69] An anonymous former CIA agent said that in regards to the Headley case, “That’s nonsense. It played no role at all in the Headley case. That’s not the way it happened at all.”[69] Pilkington and Watt concluded that the data-mining programs “played a relatively minor role in the interception of the two plots.”[69] Michael Daly of The Daily Beast stated that even though Tamerlan Tsarnaev had visited Inspire and even though Russian intelligence officials alerted U.S. intelligence officials about Tsarnaev, PRISM did not prevent him from carrying out the Boston bombings, and that the initial evidence implicating him came from his brother Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and not from federal intelligence. In addition Daly pointed to the fact that Faisal Shahzad visited Inspire but that federal authorities did not stop his attempted terrorist plot. Daly concluded “The problem is not just what the National Security Agency is gathering at the risk of our privacy but what it is apparently unable to monitor at the risk of our safety.”[70] In addition, political commentator Bill O’Reilly criticized the government, saying that PRISM did not stop the Boston bombings.[71]

In a blog post, David Simon, the creator of The Wire, compared the NSA’s programs, including PRISM, to a 1980s effort by the City of Baltimore to add dialed number recorders to all pay phones to know which individuals were being called by the callers;[72] the city believed that drug traffickers were using pay phones and pagers, and a municipal judge allowed the city to place the recorders. The placement of the dialers formed the basis of the show’s first season. Simon argued that the media attention regarding the NSA programs is a “faux scandal.”[72][73] George Takei, an actor who had experienced Japanese American internment, said that due to his memories of the internment, he felt concern towards the NSA surveillance programs that had been revealed.[74]

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital-rights group based in the U.S., is hosting a tool, by which an American resident can write to their government representatives regarding their opposition to mass spying.[75]

On June 11, 2013, the American Civil Liberties Union filed a lawsuit against the NSA citing that PRISM “violates Americans’ constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy”.[76]

International response

Reactions of Internet users in China were mixed between viewing a loss of freedom worldwide and seeing state surveillance coming out of secrecy. The story broke just before US President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping met in California.[77][78] When asked about NSA hacking China, the spokeswoman of Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China said “China strongly advocates cybersecurity”.[79] The party-owned newspaper Liberation Daily described this surveillance like Nineteen Eighty-Four-style.[80] Hong Kong legislators Gary Fan and Claudia Mo wrote a letter to Obama, stating “the revelations of blanket surveillance of global communications by the world’s leading democracy have damaged the image of the U.S. among freedom-loving peoples around the world.”[81]

Sophie in ‘t Veld, a Dutch Member of the European Parliament, called PRISM “a violation of EU laws”.[82]

Protests at Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin

The German Federal Commissioner for Data Protection and Freedom of Information, Peter Schaar, condemned the program as “monstrous”.[83] He further added that White House claims do “not reassure me at all” and that “given the large number of German users of Google, Facebook, Apple or Microsoft services, I expect the German government […] is committed to clarification and limitation of surveillance.” Steffen Seibert, press secretary of the Chancellor’s office, announced that Angela Merkel will put these issues on the agenda of the talks with Barack Obama during his pending visit in Berlin.[84]

The Italian president of the Guarantor for the protection of personal data, Antonello Soro, said that the surveillance dragnet “would not be legal in Italy” and would be “contrary to the principles of our legislation and would represent a very serious violation”.[85]

William Hague, the foreign secretary of the United Kingdom, dismissed accusations that British security agencies had been circumventing British law by using information gathered on British citizens by Prism[86] saying, “Any data obtained by us from the United States involving UK nationals is subject to proper UK statutory controls and safeguards.”[86] David Cameron said Britain’s spy agencies that received data collected from PRISM acted within the law: “I’m satisfied that we have intelligence agencies that do a fantastically important job for this country to keep us safe, and they operate within the law.”[86][87] Malcolm Rifkind, the chairman of parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee, said that if the British intelligence agencies were seeking to know the content of emails about people living in the UK, then they actually have to get lawful authority.[87] The UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office was more cautious, saying it would investigate PRISM alongside other European data agencies: “There are real issues about the extent to which U.S. law agencies can access personal data of UK and other European citizens. Aspects of U.S. law under which companies can be compelled to provide information to U.S. agencies potentially conflict with European data protection law, including the UK’s own Data Protection Act. The ICO has raised this with its European counterparts, and the issue is being considered by the European Commission, who are in discussions with the U.S. Government.”[82]

Ai Weiwei, a Chinese dissident, said “Even though we know governments do all kinds of things I was shocked by the information about the US surveillance operation, Prism. To me, it’s abusively using government powers to interfere in individuals’ privacy. This is an important moment for international society to reconsider and protect individual rights.”[88]

Kim Dotcom, a German-Finnish Internet entrepreneur who owned Megaupload, which was closed by the U.S. federal government, said “We should heed warnings from Snowden because the prospect of an Orwellian society outweighs whatever security benefits we derive from Prism or Five Eyes.”[89] The Hong Kong law firm representing Dotcom expressed a fear that the communication between Dotcom and the firm had been compromised by U.S. intelligence programs.[90]

Russia has offered to consider an asylum request from Edward Snowden.[91]

Taliban spokesperson Zabiullah Mujahid said “We knew about their past efforts to trace our system. We have used our technical resources to foil their efforts and have been able to stop them from succeeding so far.”[92][93]

Related government Internet surveillance programs

A parallel program, code-named BLARNEY, gathers up metadata as it streams past choke points along the backbone of the Internet. BLARNEY’s summary, set down in the slides alongside a cartoon insignia of a shamrock and a leprechaun hat, describes it as “an ongoing collection program that leverages IC [intelligence community] and commercial partnerships to gain access and exploit foreign intelligence obtained from global networks.”[94]

A related program, a big data visualization system based on cloud computing and free and open-source software (FOSS) technology known as “Boundless Informant”, was disclosed in documents leaked to The Guardian and reported on June 8, 2013. A leaked, top secret map allegedly produced by Boundless Informant revealed the extent of NSA surveillance in the U.S.[95]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PRISM_%28surveillance_program%29

ThinThread

ThinThread is the name of a project that the United States National Security Agency (NSA) pursued during the 1990s, according to a May 17, 2006 article in The Baltimore Sun.[1] The program involved wiretapping and sophisticated analysis of the resulting data, but according to the article, the program was discontinued three weeks before the September 11, 2001 attacks due to the changes in priorities and the consolidation of U.S. intelligence authority.[2] The “change in priority” consisted of the decision made by the director of NSA General Michael V. Hayden to go with a concept called Trailblazer, despite the fact that ThinThread was a working prototype that protected the privacy of U.S. citizens.

ThinThread was dismissed and replaced by the Trailblazer Project, which lacked the privacy protections.[3] A consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was awarded a $280 million contract to develop Trailblazer in 2002.[4]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ThinThread

Trailblazer

Trailblazer was a United States National Security Agency (NSA) program intended to develop a capability to analyze data carried on communications networks like the Internet. It was intended to track entities using communication methods such as cell phones and e-mail.[1][2] It ran over budget, failed to accomplish critical goals, and was cancelled.

NSA whistleblowers J. Kirk Wiebe, William Binney, Ed Loomis, and House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence staffer Diane Roark complained to the Department of Defense’s Inspector General (IG) about waste, fraud, and abuse in the program, and the fact that a successful operating prototype existed, but was ignored when the Trailblazer program was launched. The complaint was accepted by the IG and an investigation began that lasted until mid-2005 when the final results were issued. The results were largely hidden, as the report given to the public was heavily (90%) redacted, while the original report was heavily classified, thus restricting the ability of most people to see it.

The people who filed the IG complaint were later raided by armed Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents. While the Government threatened to prosecute all who signed the IG report, it ultimately chose to pursue an NSA Senior Executive — Thomas Andrews Drake — who helped with the report internally to NSA and who had spoken with a reporter about the project. Drake was later charged under the Espionage Act of 1917. His defenders claimed this was retaliation.[3][4] The charges against him were later dropped, and he agreed to plead guilty to having committed a misdemeanor under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, something that Jesselyn Radack of the Government Accountability Project (which helped represent him) called an “act of civil disobedience”.[5]

Background

Trailblazer was chosen over a similar program named ThinThread, a less costly project which had been designed with built-in privacy protections for United States citizens.[4][3] Trailblazer was later linked to the NSA electronic surveillance program and the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy.[3]

In 2002 a consortium led by Science Applications International Corporation was chosen by the NSA to produce a technology demonstration platform in a contract worth $280 million. Project participants included Boeing, Computer Sciences Corporation, and Booz Allen Hamilton. The project was overseen by NSA Deputy Director William B. Black, Jr., an NSA worker who had gone to SAIC, and then been re-hired back to NSA by NSA director Michael Hayden in 2000.[6][7][8] SAIC had also hired a former NSA director to its management; Bobby Inman.[9] SAIC also participated in the concept definition phase of Trailblazer.[10][11]

Redacted version of the DoD Inspector General audit, obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the Project on Government Oversight and others. [12][5]

The NSA Inspector General issued a report on Trailblazer that “discussed improperly based contract cost increases, non-conformance in the management of the Statement of Work, and excessive labor rates for contractor personnel.” [13]

In 2004 the DoD IG report criticized the program (see the Whistleblowing section below). It said that the “NSA ‘disregarded solutions to urgent national security needs’” and “that TRAILBLAZER was poorly executed and overly expensive …” Several contractors for the project were worried about cooperating with DoD’s audit for fear of “management reprisal.”[5] The Director of NSA “nonconcurred” with several statements in the IG audit, and the report contains a discussion of those disagreements.[14]

In 2005, NSA director Michael Hayden told a Senate hearing that the Trailblazer program was several hundred million dollars over budget and years behind schedule.[15] In 2006 the program was shut down,[3] after having cost billions of US Dollars.[16] Several anonymous NSA sources told Hosenball of Newsweek later on that the project was a “wasteful failure”.[17]

The new project replacing Trailblazer is called Turbulence.[3]

Whistleblowing

According to a 2011 New Yorker article, in the early days of the project several NSA employees met with Diane S Roark, an NSA budget expert on the House Intelligence Committee. They aired their grievances about Trailblazer. In response, NSA director Michael Hayden sent out a memo saying that “individuals, in a session with our congressional overseers, took a position in direct opposition to one that we had corporately decided to follow … Actions contrary to our decisions will have a serious adverse effect on our efforts to transform N.S.A., and I cannot tolerate them.”[3]

In September 2002, several people filed a complaint with the Department of Defense IG’s office regarding problems with Trailblazer: they included Roark (aforementioned), ex-NSA senior analysts Bill Binney, Kirk Wiebe, and Senior Computer Systems Analyst Ed Loomis, who had quit the agency over concerns about its mismanagement of acquisition and allegedly illegal domestic spying.[3][18][19] A major source for the report was NSA senior officer Thomas Andrews Drake. Drake had been complaining to his superiors for some time about problems at the agency, and about the superiority of ThinThread over Trailblazer, for example, at protecting privacy.[19] Drake gave info to DoD during its investigation of the matter.[19] Roark also went to her boss at the House committee, Porter Goss, about problems, but was rebuffed.[20] She also attempted to contact William Renquist, the Supreme Court Chief Justice at the time.[19]

Drake’s own boss, Maureen Baginski, the third-highest officer at NSA, quit partly over concerns about the legality of its behavior.[3]

In 2003, the NSA IG (not the DoD IG)[19] had declared Trailblazer an expensive failure.[21] It had cost more than $1 billion.[8][22][23]

In 2005, the DoD IG produced a report on the result of its investigation of the complaint of Roark and the others in 2002. This report was not released to the public, but it has been described as very negative.[18] Mayer writes that it hastened the closure of Trailblazer, which was at the time in trouble from congress for being over budget.[3]

In November 2005, Drake contacted Siobhan Gorman, a reporter of The Baltimore Sun.[24][17][25] Gorman wrote several articles about problems at the NSA, including articles on Trailblazer. This series got her an award from the Society of Professional Journalists.[17]

In 2005, President George W. Bush ordered the FBI to find whoever had disclosed information about the NSA electronic surveillance program and its disclosure in the New York Times. Eventually, this investigation led to the people who had filed the 2002 DoD IG request, even though they had nothing to do with the New York Times disclosure. In 2007, the houses of Roark, Binney, and Wiebe were raided by armed FBI agents. According to Mayer, Binney claims the FBI pointed guns at his head and that of his wife. Wiebe said it reminded him of the Soviet Union.[3][18] None of these people were ever charged with any crime. Four months later, Drake was raided in November 2007 and his computers and documents were confiscated.

In 2010 Drake was indicted by the U.S. Department of Justice on charges of obstructing justice, providing false information, and violating the Espionage Act of 1917,[17][26][27] part of President Barack Obama’s crackdown on whistleblowers and “leakers”.[24][17][28][18] The government tried to get Roark to testify to a conspiracy, and made similar requests to Drake, offering him a plea bargain. They both refused.[3]

In June 2011, the ten original charges against Drake were dropped, instead he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor.[5]

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1AXwwSq_me4

Boundless Informant

Boundless Informant is a big data analysis and data visualization system used by the United States National Security Agency (NSA) to give NSA managers summaries of NSA’s world wide data collection activities.[1] It is described in an unclassified, For Official Use Only Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) memo published by The Guardian.[2] According to a Top Secret heat map display also published by The Guardian and allegedly produced by the Boundless Informant program, almost 3 billion data elements from inside the United States were captured by NSA over a 30-day period ending in March 2013.

Data analyzed by Boundless Informant includes electronic surveillance program records (DNI) and telephone call metadata records (DNR) stored in an NSA data archive called GM-PLACE. It does not include FISA data, according to the FAQ memo. PRISM, a government codename for a collection effort known officially as US-984XN, which was revealed at the same time as Boundless Informant, is one source of DNR data. According to the map, Boundless Informant summarizes data records from 504 separate DNR and DNI collection sources (SIGADs). In the map, countries that are under surveillance are assigned a color from green, representing least coverage to red, most intensive.[3][4]

History

Slide showing that much of the world’s communications flow through the US.

Intelligence gathered by the United States government inside the United States or specifically targeting US citizens is legally required to be gathered in compliance with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 (FISA) and under the authority of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISA court).[5][6][7]

NSA global data mining projects have existed for decades, but recent programs of intelligence gathering and analysis that include data gathered from inside the United States such as PRISM were enabled by changes to US surveillance law introduced under President Bush and renewed under President Obama in December 2012.[8]

Boundless Informant was first publicly revealed on June 8, 2013, after classified documents about the program were leaked to The Guardian.[1][9] The newspaper identified its informant, at his request, as Edward Snowden, who worked at the NSA for the defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton.[10]

Technology

According to published slides, Boundless Informant leverages Free and Open Source Software—and is therefore “available to all NSA developers”—and corporate services hosted in the cloud. The tool uses HDFS, MapReduce, and Cloudbase for data processing.[11]

Legality and FISA Amendments Act of 2008

The FISA Amendments Act (FAA) Section 702 is referenced in PRISM documents detailing the electronic interception, capture and analysis of metadata. Many reports and letters of concern written by members of Congress suggest that this section of FAA in particular is legally and constitutionally problematic, such as by targeting U.S. persons, insofar as “Collections occur in U.S.” as published documents indicate.[12][13][14][15]

The ACLU has asserted the following regarding the FAA: “Regardless of abuses, the problem with the FAA is more fundamental: the statute itself is unconstitutional.”[16]

Senator Rand Paul is introducing new legislation called the Fourth Amendment Restoration Act of 2013 to stop the NSA or other agencies of the United States government from violating the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution using technology and big data information systems like PRISM and Boundless Informant.[17][18]

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boundless_Informant

ECHELON

ECHELON is a name used in global media and in popular culture to describe a signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection and analysis network operated on behalf of the five signatory states to the UKUSA Security Agreement[1] (Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States, referred to by a number of abbreviations, including AUSCANNZUKUS[1] and Five Eyes).[2][3] It has also been described as the only software system which controls the download and dissemination of the intercept of commercial satellite trunk communications.[4]

ECHELON, according to information in the European Parliament document, “On the existence of a global system for the interception of private and commercial communications (ECHELON interception system)” was created to monitor the military and diplomatic communications of the Soviet Union and its Eastern Bloc allies during the Cold War in the early 1960s.[5]

The system has been reported in a number of public sources.[6] Its capabilities and political implications were investigated by a committee of the European Parliament during 2000 and 2001 with a report published in 2001,[5] and by author James Bamford in his books on the National Security Agency of the United States.[4] The European Parliament stated in its report that the term ECHELON is used in a number of contexts, but that the evidence presented indicates that it was the name for a signals intelligence collection system. The report concludes that, on the basis of information presented, ECHELON was capable of interception and content inspection of telephone calls, fax, e-mail and other data traffic globally through the interception of communication bearers including satellite transmission, public switched telephone networks (which once carried most Internet traffic) and microwave links.[5]

Bamford describes the system as the software controlling the collection and distribution of civilian telecommunications traffic conveyed using communication satellites, with the collection being undertaken by ground stations located in the footprint of the downlink leg.

Organization

UKUSA Community
Map of UKUSA Community countries with Ireland

Australia
Canada
New Zealand
United Kingdom
United States of America

The UKUSA intelligence community was assessed by the European Parliament (EP) in 2000 to include the signals intelligence agencies of each of the member states:

  • the Government Communications Headquarters of the United Kingdom,
  • the National Security Agency of the United States,
  • the Communications Security Establishment of Canada,
  • the Defence Signals Directorate of Australia, and
  • the Government Communications Security Bureau of New Zealand.
  • the National SIGINT Organisation (NSO) of The Netherlands

The EP report concluded that it seemed likely that ECHELON is a method of sorting captured signal traffic, rather than a comprehensive analysis tool.[5]

Capabilities

The ability to intercept communications depends on the medium used, be it radio, satellite, microwave, cellular or fiber-optic.[5] During World War II and through the 1950s, high frequency (“short wave”) radio was widely used for military and diplomatic communication,[7] and could be intercepted at great distances.[5] The rise of geostationary communications satellites in the 1960s presented new possibilities for intercepting international communications. The report to the European Parliament of 2001 states: “If UKUSA states operate listening stations in the relevant regions of the earth, in principle they can intercept all telephone, fax and data traffic transmitted via such satellites.”[5]

The role of satellites in point-to-point voice and data communications has largely been supplanted by fiber optics; in 2006, 99% of the world’s long-distance voice and data traffic was carried over optical-fiber.[8] The proportion of international communications accounted for by satellite links is said to have decreased substantially over the past few years[when?] in Central Europe to an amount between 0.4% and 5%.[5] Even in less-developed parts of the world, communications satellites are used largely for point-to-multipoint applications, such as video.[9] Thus, the majority of communications can no longer be intercepted by earth stations; they can only be collected by tapping cables and intercepting line-of-sight microwave signals, which is possible only to a limited extent.[5]

One method of interception is to place equipment at locations where fiber optic communications are switched. For the Internet, much of the switching occurs at relatively few sites. There have been reports of one such intercept site, Room 641A, in the United States. In the past[when?] much Internet traffic was routed through the U.S. and the UK, but this has changed; for example, in 2000, 95% of intra-German Internet communications was routed via the DE-CIX Internet exchange point in Frankfurt.[5] A comprehensive worldwide surveillance network is possible only if clandestine intercept sites are installed in the territory of friendly nations, and/or if local authorities cooperate. The report to the European Parliament points out that interception of private communications by foreign intelligence services is not necessarily limited to the U.S. or British foreign intelligence services.[5]

Most reports on ECHELON focus on satellite interception; testimony before the European Parliament indicated that separate but similar UK-US systems are in place to monitor communication through undersea cables, microwave transmissions and other lines.[10]

Controversy

See also: Industrial espionage

Intelligence monitoring of citizens, and their communications, in the area covered by the AUSCANNZUKUS security agreement has caused concern. British journalist Duncan Campbell and New Zealand journalist Nicky Hager asserted in the 1990s that the United States was exploiting ECHELON traffic for industrial espionage, rather than military and diplomatic purposes.[10] Examples alleged by the journalists include the gear-less wind turbine technology designed by the German firm Enercon[5][11] and the speech technology developed by the Belgian firm Lernout & Hauspie.[12] An article in the US newspaper Baltimore Sun reported in 1995 that European aerospace company Airbus lost a $6 billion contract with Saudi Arabia in 1994 after the US National Security Agency reported that Airbus officials had been bribing Saudi officials to secure the contract.[13][14]

In 2001, the Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System recommended to the European Parliament that citizens of member states routinely use cryptography in their communications to protect their privacy, because economic espionage with ECHELON has been conducted by the US intelligence agencies.[5]

Bamford provides an alternative view, highlighting that legislation prohibits the use of intercepted communications for commercial purposes, although he does not elaborate on how intercepted communications are used as part of an all-source intelligence process.

Hardware

According to its website, the U.S. National Security Agency (NSA) is “a high technology organization … on the frontiers of communications and data processing”. In 1999 the Australian Senate Joint Standing Committee on Treaties was told by Professor Desmond Ball that the Pine Gap facility was used as a ground station for a satellite-based interception network. The satellites were said to be large radio dishes between 20 and 100 meters in diameter in geostationary orbits.[citation needed] The original purpose of the network was to monitor the telemetry from 1970s Soviet weapons, air defence radar, communications satellites and ground based microwave communications.[15]

Name

The European Parliament’s Temporary Committee on the ECHELON Interception System stated: “It seems likely, in view of the evidence and the consistent pattern of statements from a very wide range of individuals and organisations, including American sources, that its name is in fact ECHELON, although this is a relatively minor detail.”[5] The U.S. intelligence community uses many code names (see, for example, CIA cryptonym).

Former NSA employee Margaret Newsham claims that she worked on the configuration and installation of software that makes up the ECHELON system while employed at Lockheed Martin, for whom she worked from 1974 to 1984 in Sunnyvale, California, US, and in Menwith Hill, England, UK.[16] At that time, according to Newsham, the code name ECHELON was NSA’s term for the computer network itself. Lockheed called it P415. The software programs were called SILKWORTH and SIRE. A satellite named VORTEX intercepted communications. An image available on the internet of a fragment apparently torn from a job description shows Echelon listed along with several other code names.[17]

Ground stations

The 2001 European Parliamentary (EP) report[5] lists several ground stations as possibly belonging to, or participating in, the ECHELON network. These include:

Likely satellite intercept stations

The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 54 ff) as likely to have, or to have had, a role in intercepting transmissions from telecommunications satellites:

  • Hong Kong (since closed)
  • Australian Defence Satellite Communications Station (Geraldton, Western Australia)
  • Menwith Hill (Yorkshire, U.K.) Map (reportedly the largest Echelon facility)[18]
  • Misawa Air Base (Japan) Map
  • GCHQ Bude, formerly known as GCHQ CSO Morwenstow, (Cornwall, U.K.) Map
  • Pine Gap (Northern Territory, Australia – close to Alice Springs) Map
  • Sugar Grove (West Virginia, U.S.) Map
  • Yakima Training Center (Washington, U.S.) Map
  • GCSB Waihopai (New Zealand)
  • GCSB Tangimoana (New Zealand)
  • CFS Leitrim (Ontario, Canada)
  • Teufelsberg (Berlin, Germany) (closed 1992)

Other potentially related stations

The following stations are listed in the EP report (p. 57 ff) as ones whose roles “cannot be clearly established”:

  • Ayios Nikolaos (Cyprus – U.K.)
  • BadAibling Station (BadAibling, Germany – U.S.)
    • relocated to Griesheim in 2004[19]
    • deactivated in 2008[20]
  • Buckley Air Force Base (Aurora, Colorado)
  • Fort Gordon (Georgia, U.S.)
  • Gander (Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada)
  • Guam (Pacific Ocean, U.S.)
  • Kunia Regional SIGINT Operations Center (Hawaii, U.S.)
  • Lackland Air Force Base, Medina Annex (San Antonio, Texas)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ECHELON

Room 641A

Room 641A is a telecommunication interception facility operated by AT&T for the U.S. National Security Agency that commenced operations in 2003 and was exposed in 2006.[1][2]

Description

Room 641A is located in the SBC Communications building at 611 Folsom Street, San Francisco, three floors of which were occupied by AT&T before SBC purchased AT&T.[1] The room was referred to in internal AT&T documents as the SG3 [Study Group 3] Secure Room. It is fed by fiber optic lines from beam splitters installed in fiber optic trunks carrying Internet backbone traffic[3] and, as analyzed by J. Scott Marcus, a former CTO for GTE and a former adviser to the FCC, who has access to all Internet traffic that passes through the building, and therefore “the capability to enable surveillance and analysis of internet content on a massive scale, including both overseas and purely domestic traffic.”[4] Former director of the NSA’s World Geopolitical and Military Analysis Reporting Group, William Binney, has estimated that 10 to 20 such facilities have been installed throughout the United States.[2]

The room measures about 24 by 48 feet (7.3 by 15 m) and contains several racks of equipment, including a Narus STA 6400, a device designed to intercept and analyze Internet communications at very high speeds.[1]

The very existence of the room was revealed by a former AT&T technician, Mark Klein, and was the subject of a 2006 class action lawsuit by the Electronic Frontier Foundation against AT&T.[5] Klein claims he was told that similar black rooms are operated at other facilities around the country.

Room 641A and the controversies surrounding it were subjects of an episode of Frontline, the current affairs documentary program on PBS. It was originally broadcast on May 15, 2007. It was also featured on PBS’s NOW on March 14, 2008. The room was also covered in the PBS Nova episode “The Spy Factory”.

Lawsuit

Basic diagram of how the alleged wiretapping was accomplished. From EFF court filings[4]

More complicated diagram of how it allegedly worked. From EFF court filings.[3] See bottom of the file page for enlarged and rotated version.

Main article: Hepting v. AT&T

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a class-action lawsuit against AT&T on January 31, 2006, accusing the telecommunication company of violating the law and the privacy of its customers by collaborating with the National Security Agency (NSA) in a massive, illegal program to wiretap and data-mine Americans’ communications. On July 20, 2006, a federal judge denied the government’s and AT&T’s motions to dismiss the case, chiefly on the ground of the States Secrets Privilege, allowing the lawsuit to go forward. On August 15, 2007, the case was heard by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and was dismissed on December 29, 2011 based on a retroactive grant of immunity by Congress for telecommunications companies that cooperated with the government. The U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case.[6] A different case by the EFF was filed on September 18, 2008, titled Jewel v. NSA.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Room_641A

List of government surveillance projects for the United States

United States

A top secret document leaked by Edward Snowden to The Guardian in 2013, originally due to be declassified on 12 April 2038.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_government_surveillance_projects

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Drudge Opts Out of Obamacare and Pays Obamacare Tax Penalty As Small Business Owner — Press Clueless That Small Businesses Are Required To Pay Estimated Taxes Each Quarter in 2014 — CTD — Circling The Drain — Videos

Posted on March 22, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Economics, Education, Employment, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Fraud, government, government spending, history, Inflation, Investments, IRS, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, People, Philosophy, Photos, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Talk Radio, Taxes, Video | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

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‘LIBERTY TAX’: WHITE HOUSE, MEDIA ATTACK AFTER DRUDGE PAYS OBAMACARE OPT-OUT PENALTY

A White House aide set off a stampede of liberal media criticism for Internet news pioneer Matt Drudge over Obamacare – but his critics don’t seem to understand how small businesses pay taxes.

The brouhaha started when Drudge tweeted, “Just paid the Obamacare penalty for not ‘getting covered’… I’M CALLING IT A LIBERTY TAX.”

Jesse Lee, the Director of Progressive Media at Barack Obama’s White House, respondedthat that was a “Flat lie, no fee for previous year,” adding, “Scary how much influence he once had.”

Lee’s response to Drudge set off a firestorm in the liberal media, with many mainstream media and left-wing reporters countering him on Twitter and in their own articles to claim he does not have to pay Obamacare’s Individual Mandate tax until next year. The individual mandate went into effect Jan. 1 of this year, and most people paying their taxes right now are paying taxes for 2013.

“Dude, there’s no penalty until next yr,” Sahil Kapur of the leftwing Talking Points Memotweeted.

Kapur’s colleague at TPM Dylan Scott wrote a full story with a headline alleging Drudge was “probably lying.”

“Americans don’t pay a penalty for not having health insurance until they file their 2014 taxes — in 2015,” Scott wrote. “So either Drudge is lying or he paid a huge penalty a year earlier than he needed to.”

“Penalty isn’t collected until 2015,” Sam Baker of National Journal tweeted at Drudge.

The Huffington Post’s Jeffrey Young wrote a full article in which he described Drudge’s tweet as “weird” and a “little head-scratching” because the Obamacare tax does not kick in until the 2014 tax year.

Drudge indicated in his followup tweets that since he is self-employed as the proprietor of The Drudge Report, he files as a small business. According to the IRS’s website for self-employed individuals, they are required to pay taxes quarterly.

“As a self-employed individual, generally you are required to file an annual return and pay estimated tax quarterly,” the IRS website reads.

So, when they file and pay those 2014 first quarter taxes, such individuals have to pay the Obamacare Individual Mandate tax if they opted to not have health insurance—like Drudge just did.

Additionally, the IRS form (1040-ES) for estimating quarterly taxes specifically recommends adding the mandate penalty to line 12 for “other taxes” — to pay before the first quarterly deadline of April 15.

“It is true that thousands of small businesses will be forced to pay Obamacare taxes quarterly in 2014,” a Senate Budget Committee aide told Breitbart News on Friday afternoon.

Drudge even indicated as much in followup tweets, but the left-wing reporters—and the White House—have left their criticisms of him intact.

“Dazed team Obama media reporters think Opt-Out tax ‘year away’?” Drudge tweeted. “Not for small businesses that file Qtr estimates. We’re there NOW, baby #pay.”

http://www.breitbart.com/Big-Government/2014/03/21/White-House-Leads-Liberal-Media-In-Matt-Drudge-Attack

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The Data Explosion Will Enable The Revolution — Videos

Posted on March 19, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Culture, Data, Data Storage, Economics, Education, External Hard Drives, Faith, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, government spending, history, Inflation, Investments, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Resources, Security, Video, Wealth | Tags: , , , , , , , |

Data-Explosion-What-Happens-in-Internet-Minute 

information_explosion_cloud_storage 

informationExplosion2Data-explosion

Economy News | Big Data

TEDxPhilly – Robert J. Moore – The data explosion

Data Explosion

NSA Utah Data Center Will Have 5 Zettabytes Of Memory, Equal To 312 Billion iPhones

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Collectivists Celebrate 100 Anniversary of Start of World War I By Starting World War III? — Accidents Happen — Cold War Turns Into Hot War — Videos

Posted on March 14, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, Communications, Constitution, Crime, Culture, Demographics, Diasters, Drones, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Entertainment, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, government, government spending, history, Homicide, Inflation, Investments, Islam, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Natural Gas, Nuclear, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Pistols, Politics, Programming, Radio, Rants, Raves, Religion, Resources, Rifles, Security, Shite, Strategy, Sunni, Talk Radio, Technology, Terrorism, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth, Weapons, Weapons of Mass Destruction, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , |

europe-mapUkrain-physical-mapukraine_russia_timeline

 map_of_russian_gas_pipelines_supplies_to_europe_via_ukraine

 

gas_europe

map_eurrussian_gas_pipelines

 

Russia dismisses U.S. proposals in Ukraine talks

Drifting Towards War

Ron Paul: U.S. Already Spent $5 Billion to Undermine Ukrainian Government

Victoria Nuland’s Admits Washington Has Spent $5 Billion to “Subvert Ukraine”

Ron Paul: US shouldn’t meddle in Ukraine

Russia Ukraine debate sparks fiery exchange

Putin in Ukraine ‘Russia will lose most from this’

Clashes in Ukraine create tension for U.S. and Russia

Debate: Is Ukraine’s Opposition a Democratic Movement or a Force of Right-Wing Extremism…

A New Cold War? Ukraine Violence Escalates, Leaked Tape Suggests US Was Plotting Coup

OReilly: Distorting Russia: How the American Media Misrepresent Putin, Sochi and Ukraine

2/18/14 Stephen F. Cohen, Ph.D. on O’Reilly claiming we’re Putin bashing

US Betrayal of Russia

 

Learn How The United States Is Behind The Kiev Ukraine Riots

Build up to WW3 - OBAMA Announces SANCTIONS to be Imposed on RUSSIA Amid UKRAINE CRISIS

GERALD CELENTE on the UKRAINE CRISIS – U.S. Agenda To Destabilize Russia

 

OBAMA PUSHING WAR WITH RUSSIA WORLD WAR 3 RUSSIAN TROOPS IN UKRAINE! 3-2-14

John McCain moves to start World War 3 in Ukraine

Why Ukraine matters to the U.S. & Russia

MUST SEE! World War 3 is upon us!

Build up to WW3 - RUSSIAN TROOPS in Uneasy Standoff with UKRAINE TROOPS in CRIMEA

The Road to World War 3: Ukraine, Russia and American Imperialism

The First World War – Part 1/10

The First World War – Part 2/10

The First World War – Part 3/10

The First World War – Part 4/10

The First World War – Part 5/10

The First World War – Part 6/10

The First World War – Part 7/10

The First World War – Part 8/10

The First World War – Part 9/10

The First World War – Part 10/10

The Guns of August

The Guns of August is a documentary that follows the book by the same title by author, Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989), an eminent American historian. She received the first of her two Pulitzer prizes for this 1962 masterpiece on World War I. The documentary was made in 1965. Barbara Tuchman was highly respected for her ability to present complex subjects and present them with clarity. Until I read the previous review, I have never heard of anyone accusing her of hating Germany or its people or of her book being anti-German propaganda. But there are pictures of shot civilians and movies of smoldering ruins. Then again, there are people who claim the Holocaust never took place and is just anti-Nazi propaganda… Facts: On August 3 1914, Germany declared war on France. The German invasion plan for France called for an attack through Belgium, instead of through the heavily defended Franco-German border. Belgium was neutral and its neutrality was protected by treaty with Great Britain. The Germans attacked on August 3rd. The next day, August 4th, Great Britain declared war on Germany. Germany warned Belgium that they only wanted to reach France and if Belgium complied, there wouldn’t be any trouble. Despite its small army, Belgium chose to protect its sovereignty and its honor and paid for it. Liège, Aarschot, Andenne, Tamines, Dinant, and Leuven, where the worst of the German depredations occurred.

 

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Neocon Warmonger Senate John McCain Off To Beat The War Drums — Go Home Senator — American People Want No US Intervention Into Ukraine! — Drums Beating Along The Black Sea — Videos

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, Communications, Constitution, Economics, Energy, Family, Federal Government, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Psychology, Radio, Radio, Rants, Raves, Religion, Resources, Security, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

 

John McCain moves to start World War 3 in Ukraine

Sen. John McCain to Ukrainian protesters: ‘This is your moment’

McCain: ‘West must condemn Russian involvement in Ukraine’

War Party : Documentary on the Neoconservative War Party

Richard Perle – Defining Neoconservatism Q&A 1/6

Richard Perle – Defining Neoconservatism Q&A 2/6

Richard Perle – Defining Neoconservatism Q&A 3/6

Richard Perle – Defining Neoconservatism Q&A 4/6

Richard Perle – Defining Neoconservatism Q&A 5/6

Richard Perle – Defining Neoconservatism Q&A 6/6

‘They knew they were right’ A Critique of Neoconservatism 2/5

‘They knew they were right’ A Critique of Neoconservatism 3/5

‘They knew they were right’ A Critique of Neoconservatism 4/5

‘They knew they were right’ A Critique of Neoconservatism 5/5

 

 

 

Congressman Ron Paul, MD – We’ve Been NeoConned

Betrayal of the Constitution: The Neocons Now Run the GOP | John F. McManus

 

John McCain: NeoCon and his NeoCon advisor

 

Roundtable: As Crimea Threatens Secession, Does East-West Split Hasten Ukraine’s Polit. Divide? 1/2

Roundtable: As Crimea Threatens Secession, Does East-West Split Hasten Ukraine’s Polit. Divide? 2/2

 

Who Is Provoking the Unrest in Ukraine? A Debate on Role of Russia, U.S. in Regional Crisis (1/2)

 

Who Is Provoking the Unrest in Ukraine? A Debate on Role of Russia, U.S. in Regional Crisis (2/2)

 

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Snowden Speaks At SXSW Interactive Conference in Austin, Texas — Videos

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Computers, Constitution, Crime, Economics, Education, External Hard Drives, Faith, Federal Government, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, Friends, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Rants, Raves, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Technology, Terrorism, Video, War, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

FULL: Edward Snowden and ACLU at SXSW

Snowden Appears Via Video Conference At SXSW Panel

 

 

Snowden’s first live: ‘Constitution being violated on massive scale’ (FULL VIDEO)

Speaking remotely from Russia on Monday, former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden told attendees at the SXSW Interactive conference in Austin, Texas that encryption is still a powerful deterrent against government surveillance.

“Obama Is BIG BROTHER And He’s A LIAR!”

 Edward Snowden looms over Pulitzer Prizes

By DYLAN BYERS | 3/13/14 5:03 AM EDT Updated: 3/13/14 8:27 AM EDT

Next month, the trustees who oversee America’s most distinguished journalistic award could face their toughest decision in at least four decades.

The issue before the Pulitzer Prize Board: Does it honor reporting by The Washington Post and The Guardian based on stolen government documents that are arguably detrimental to the national security of the United States, and which were provided by a man who many see as a traitor? Or, does it pass over what is widely viewed as the single most significant story of the year — if not the decade — for the sake of playing it safe?

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The politically charged debate surrounding the National Security Agency’s widespread domestic surveillance program, and the man who revealed it, Edward Snowden, is certain to prompt intense discussion for the 19-member Board as it gathers to decide this year’s winners, according to past Board members, veteran journalists and media watchdogs. The debate echoes the historic decision in 1972, when the Board honored The New York Times for its reporting on Daniel Ellsberg’s Pentagon Papers, they said.

(WATCH: Edward Snowden speaks at SXSW festival)

“This is an institutional question for them,” said Robert Kaiser, the veteran Washington Post journalist and a previous Pulitzer Prize finalist. “This is a very good argument to have, and there are members of that Board who are going to raise these questions and want to talk about them.”

The risks are manifold, and there is no easy answer: Honoring the NSA reporting — particularly in the coveted category of Public Service — would inevitably be perceived as a political act, with the Pulitzer committee invoking its prestige on behalf of one side in a bitter national argument. In effect, it would be a rebuttal to prominent establishment voices in both parties who say that Snowden’s revelations, and the decision by journalists to publish them, were the exact opposite of a public service. President Barack Obama has said that Snowden’s leaks “could impact our operations in ways that we may not fully understand for years to come.” Former Vice President Dick Cheney has called him “a traitor.” Snowden, who is living in Russia, is facing three felony charges in a criminal complaint filed by the Justice Department.

Yet to pass on the NSA story would be to risk giving the appearance of timidity, siding with the government over the journalists who are trying to hold it accountable and ignoring the most significant disclosure of state secrets in recent memory. It would also look like a willful decision to deny the obvious: No other event has had as dramatic an impact on national and international debates over state surveillance and individual privacy. Last December, in a move that Snowden later described as vindication, a federal district judge ruled that the NSA surveillance Snowden exposed most likely violates the Constitution. Another judge later found the surveillance lawful.

(Also on POLITICO: Snowden Inc.)

“The stories that came out of this completely changed the agenda on the discussion on privacy and the NSA,” said David Remnick, editor of The New Yorker. “There’s an enormous public good in that, and it’s yet to be proven at all that somehow did great damage to national security.”

Two teams are being considered for their work on the NSA leaks, POLITICO has confirmed. One is made up of The Guardian’s Glenn Greenwald, Laura Poitras and Ewen MacAskill, who published the first landmark report on the NSA’s collection of Verizon phone records, and have since played an integral role in building upon those revelations. The other is Poitras and Barton Gellman, who reported on the wide-ranging surveillance program known as “PRISM” for The Washington Post.

Here, too, the Board faces a challenge: In the eyes of privacy advocates, Greenwald’s work has been much more consequential in the larger arc of the Snowden story, and it was Greenwald who flew to Hong Kong to meet with Snowden and earn his trust. But Greenwald, a staunch anti-surveillance advocate with a brash, outsider’s persona, is not the type of journalist the Pulitzer Board has typically admired. Gellman, by contrast, with his serious and soft-spoken demeanor and decades in the business, comes straight out of Pulitzer central casting. But on what grounds could the Pulitzers recognize Gellman and not Greenwald?

(Also on POLITICO: Snowden: Hill, FISA need watchdog)

All of these questions will be on the table when the Pulitzer committee meets on April 10 and 11. The winners will be announced on Monday, April 14, at a 3 p.m. news conference at Columbia’s Journalism School.

Sig Gissler, the administrator of the Pulitzer Prizes, and several board members declined to comment on the group’s approach to the NSA reporting, citing the confidentiality of the selection process. “Jurors sign oaths of confidentiality. We certainly do not comment on what is or is not entered or nominated,” Gissler said.

Both Greenwald and Gellman also declined to comment, as did the top editors at The Guardian and The Washington Post. Submissions in each category have already been considered by separate juries, which nominate three finalists to the Board. The Board then considers those nominations for the prizes; with a three-fourths vote, they can move a submission to a different category or recommend another work for consideration. The Guardian’s reporting was conducted through its U.S. outlet in New York, making it eligible for submission.

Several journalists believe that Snowden’s actions should have no bearing on the Pulitzer board’s considerations. It is the reporting that is being honored, not the source, they said.

(Also on POLITICO: Snowden still stirring the political pot)

“The question always is, ‘What was the best journalism produced in the past year?’ And it’s hard to think of a story that has had the impact of the NSA revelations,” said Rem Rieder, the media editor and columnist at USA Today . “These articles made public really important information that the public needs to know, and started a very important national debate over something that should not be decided unilaterally by the executive branch without public input or knowledge.”

Others have a harder time drawing such a definitive line. Michael Kinsley, the veteran political columnist and commentator, has wondered if there isn’t a dubious double standard in the way journalists are honored as heroes while their sources are portrayed as criminals. “If Snowden is guilty of a crime, why isn’t Bart Gellman guilty also?” he asked in an essay for The New Republic last year. Kinsley declined to comment for this piece.

Many of Snowden’s critics are often quick to paint Greenwald, Snowden’s staunchest public advocate, as an accomplice. James Clapper, President Obama’s director of national intelligence, even referred to “Snowden and his accomplices” while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee in January.

Whatever the Board’s intention, the decision to give an award to any NSA-related journalism would almost certainly be interpreted as a vindication of Snowden’s efforts, many said. That perceived declaration would surely invite blowback from those who see Snowden in a negative light. In January, after The New York Times editorial board called for clemency for Snowden, Rep. Peter King (R-NY) accused the paper’s editors of being “apologists for terrorists.”

The complications don’t end there. If the Board does decide to honor the reporting on the NSA, it will then have to wrestle with the fact that reporters from two publications were involved in the revelations. Though the Board has given dual awards in the past — the last occasion was in 2006 when The New Orleans Times-Picayune and the Biloxi-Gulfport Sun Herald split the Public Service award for their coverage of Hurricane Katrina — Greenwald’s role as an advocate could further impact the decision. The Brazil-based lawyer, who now works for Pierre Omidyar’s First Look Media, has kept a high profile throughout the past nine months, publicly advocating on Snowden’s behalf — and against the U.S. government — in television appearances, news interviews, and on social media.

“This institution [the Pulitzers] has a tendency to take itself awfully seriously,” said Kaiser, who described Greenwald’s work as “causist” reporting. “Whether committed causes should get a Pulitzer Prize for any kind of reporting is an open question. They’ll have to decide how judgmental they need to be.”

Gellman’s more traditional handling of the NSA story may have more appeal to the board. Instead of jumping into the fray on a near-daily basis, fighting on Twitter and giving contentious cable news interviews, Gellman has produced a few comprehensive reports that sought to put new revelations in a greater context. His ties to The Washington Post have also given the NSA story the imprimatur of “old media” integrity, which the Board is said to value.

Finally, there is the issue of effort. Though Greenwald and Gellman have dismissed the suggestion that Snowden’s trove of NSA files simply fell into their laps, the Pulitzer Board could feel conflicted about giving an award to the recipients of stolen documents when other applicants may have dedicated a significant amount of time and resources to old-fashioned shoe-leather reporting on, say, a local government issue. In several instances throughout its history, the Board has honored reporting based to a significant degree on the amount of effort and diligence shown by the reporters.

“The one wild card is the degree of difficulty question,” Rieder said. “Not to minimize the role of the reporters — it’s not just stenography. You have to sift through the information, present it clearly, explain why it matters, put it in context, etc. The real challenge would be if you had entries where reporters had to go to extraordinary lengths to pry out information of vital interest to the public, as opposed to having it turned over to them. If you had examples of great magnitude, that would make it complicated. That said, this was clearly the story of last year.”

“There’s a real question about whether this is reporting,” Kaiser said. “It might be a public service award, but it’s not a great reporting coup when a source comes to you and hands you this stuff.”

Both Greenwald and Gellman have adamantly dismissed the suggestion that they were merely stenographers for Snowden. Greenwald in particular traveled to Hong Kong and spent hours working with Snowden and earning his trust. Greenwald also continues to pore over the files in his possession, and says he has published just a small fraction of what Snowden gave him.

While the Board refuses to discuss next month’s awards, there are precedents that shed light on how that committee may decide to handle the NSA-related submissions.

In 1972, after what The Associated Press then described as “unprecedented debate,” the Pulitzer committee gave The New York Times the Public Service award for Neil Sheehan’s reporting on the Pentagon Papers, which he had received from former military analyst Daniel Ellsberg. At the time the award was given, Ellsberg was awaiting trial on charges of theft, which were later dropped.

Michael Gartner, the former NBC News president and Iowa newspaperman who spent 10 years on the Pulitzer Board, said he saw no substantive difference between the journalism that resulted from Ellsberg and Snowden’s stolen documents.

“I’m sure that there will be great debates over Snowden’s stuff, but really wasn’t that precedent set with the Pentagon Papers? The nature of the theft might be different, but isn’t the journalism the same — great stories produced from documents that were leaked by an employee of a private contractor?” Gartner wrote in an email. “I can make a distinction between Ellsberg and Snowden, if I have to, based on the nature of what they stole, but how can the board make a distinction between what was published then and what was published now? Reporting is reporting. If I were arguing for the Snowden stuff — and I would — that is the argument I would make.”

In 2006, the Pulitzer committee honored James Risen and Eric Lichtblau of The New York Times for their reporting on the George W. Bush administration’s secret wiretapping program. That decision, too, was a subject of intense internal debate. President Bush had personally asked the Times not to publish the article, and the committee’s decision to honor Risen and Lichtblau’s report was seen as a public rebuke of Bush administration policies.

Last month, in a move that set the stage for April’s Pulitzer debate, Long Island University gave both the Greenwald and Gellman teams the George Polk Award for National Security Reporting.

John Darnton, the curator of the Polk Awards, said he received emails from critics who, seemingly unaware of the precedent set by the Pentagon Papers, blasted the group’s decision to honor reporting based on stolen government documents. One of those emails came from Accuracy In Media, the conservative watchdog.

In a lengthy email to POLITICO, Cliff Kincaid, director of the AIM Center for Investigative Journalism, criticized Snowden and Greenwald for threatening national security.

“Political figures in both political parties agree that Snowden is a traitor. So what does that make his enablers in the media? They are certainly not journalists who deserve journalism prizes,” Kincaid wrote. “Journalism awards should not be given to recipients of stolen national security documents whose work has made America more vulnerable to terrorist attacks and its military personnel more likely to die at the hands of terrorists or enemy regimes.”

To date, no substantial evidence has emerged publicly that any of Greenwald or Gellman’s reporting has compromised America’s national security or military personnel, although intelligence officials have said they’ve detected changes in how groups like Al Qaeda communicate as a result of the broad controversy.

In the end, Darnton said the 10-member Polk panel hardly thought twice about the decision to bestow awards on Greenwald and Gellman.

“In the case of the NSA coverage, we began with a predisposition to seriously consider it because the repercussions were immense,” he explained. “There was a bit of discussion, but not much. The story itself is just so significant — there was no great dissent.”

http://www.politico.com/story/2014/03/edward-snowden-pulitzer-prize-washington-post-guardian-nsa-104608_Page2.html

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CIA Spied On Senate and Deleted Documents — Feinstein Hypocrit or Defender of Privacy — Stop Watching Us CIA and NSA! Video

Posted on March 13, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, Climate, Communications, Computers, Computers, Constitution, Crime, Culture, Data Storage, Economics, Education, External Hard Drives, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Politics, Press, Programming, Rants, Raves, Security, Strategy, Systems, Talk Radio, Technology, Terrorism, Video, War | Tags: , , , , , , , |

 

Stop Watching Us: The Video

Activists protest Sen. Feinstein’s ‘hypocritical’ support of NSA surveillance

 

Justice Department to investigate CIA spying on Senate

Dianne Feinstein: CIA Is Spying on the Senate

 

Feinstein: CIA Spied on Senate Committee

 

Feinstein: CIA has been spying on Senate computers

“Giving Hypocrisy a Bad Name”: NSA-Backing Senate Intel Chair Blasts CIA for Spying on Torture Probe

Is the CIA Spying on the Senate? | The Rubin Report

NSA Spying On Americans Sen Rand Paul O’Reilly Wake Up America!

America The Great Satan Sen-Feinstein Defends NSA Spying!!!

White House completely blindsided by WaPo report showing NSA spied on Americans – broke privacy regs

“You’re Being Watched”: Edward Snowden Emerges as Source Behind Explosive Revelations of NSA Spying

NSA Whistleblowers: “All U.S. Citizens” Targeted By Surveillance

 

How the Government Tracks You: NSA Surveillance

CIA Spies on Senate Staffers: A Troubling Pattern Is Reinforced

 

Senator Dianne Feinstein—who traditionally is a stalwart defender of the intelligence community—came out swinging against them this week. While on the floor of the Senate, she laid bare a two year long struggle concerning CIA spying on Senate Intelligence Committee staffers investigating CIA’s early 2000s torture and enhanced interrogation techniques. The spying by CIA crosses a line when it comes to Congressional oversight of the intelligence community. And it’s an emblem of the extreme imbalance between the power of Congress and the power of the intelligence community. If the intelligence community thinks they can act in such a way towards the people who are supposed to oversee them, what else do they think they can do?

How Did This Happen?

According to Senator Feinstein, the spying occurred in a facility provided by CIA to Senate Intelligence staffers. As part of the investigation, CIA agreed to not interfere with the facility or with the Senate Intelligence staff’s computers. After the staffers found a smoking gun document (an internal CIA review) that contradicted CIA’s own conclusions, the staffers—just like with previous documents—transferred it back to their own facility in the Senate. Soon after, the CIA found out about the possession and deleted files on the Senate staffers’ computers not once, but twice. Over 800 documents were deleted. Staffers do not know what those deleted documents contained.

The Oversight Regime Must Be Fixed

Senator Feinstein’s speech is the first step to ensuring Congressional oversight prevails, but the Department of Justice, which is currently conducting an investigation, should not be the only entity to review the details. The latest breach of trust by the intelligence community must spur Congress to exert their oversight powers and begin a full investigation into these actions and the oversight regime at-large.

These are pressing topics. It’s clear that the lack of oversight was a key factor in many of the egregious intelligence activities we learned about from the documents provided by Edward Snowden. The intelligence community evaded answering questions fully, or providing key documents to the intelligence committees. CIA spying is more proof that the oversight regime needs an overhaul. First and foremost, the American people—and Congress—need an oversight regime that works.

A Long Term Pattern

Some people are aghast at CIA’s actions. Details about the spying are sparse; however, it seems CIA may be guilty—at the minimum—of obstruction laws. But we’ve seen this before from the intelligence community. And we don’t have to draw from examples in the 1960s and 70s when the intelligence community was spying on Martin Luther King Jr. or anti-Vietnam activists. All we have to do is look at the past decade.

After the attacks on September 11, it took years for Senator Jay Rockefeller—then the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Community—to get a briefing and key documents for the entire committee about intelligence community actions. More recently, we saw obfuscation by the intelligence community in 2009 when it misled the FISA court. And just last year, the Director of National Intelligence, General James Clapper, lied to Congress about collecting data on innocent Americans. We also know members of Congress describe intelligence briefings as a game of 20 questions. Despite CIA’s original cooperation, it seems clear CIA did not want the Senate staffers to conduct a full investigation.

It should be obvious to anyone that these actions paint a picture—and confirm a pattern—of out-of-control intelligence agencies. The American public is losing a tremendous amount of trust in the intelligence community—trust that is necessary for the intelligence community to conduct its job. But it’s even more dangerous to the government body that is supposed to oversee the intelligence community: Congress.

Congress Must Act

Senator Feinstein’s concern over CIA spying on her staff should extend to a concern about NSA’s collection of all Americans’ calling records. Both actions are examples of intelligence community overreach and abuse of their authorities. There are serious problems when the stalwart defender of the intelligence community takes to the Senate floor to discuss problems with the committee’s oversight.

Beyond Senator Feinstein, Congress must retake its oversight role. For far too long has the intelligence community run roughshod over the intelligence committees. Time and time again, we’ve seen the inability for the intelligence community to grapple with the behemoth of the intelligence community. This must stop. An investigation should be carried out not only into CIA spying, but into the oversight regime as a whole, the classification system, and the egregious actions by the intelligence community—including the activities of NSA. All of these topics are core problems concerning the inability for the Senate Intelligence Committee to be fully briefed—or even grasp—intelligence community actions. This week may have been a loss for Congressional oversight, but members of Congress must reassert their power. Their duty to serve as representatives of the American people demand it.

https://www.eff.org/deeplinks/2014/03/cia-spies-senate-staffers-troubling-pattern-reinforced

 

 

Rand Paul on alleged CIA-Senate hacking: ‘This cannot happen in a free country’

By Joel Gehrke
 
 Heads should roll at the CIA if Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., proves that intelligence officers hacked her staff’s computers as part of a dispute over a committee report on waterboarding, Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., told reporters.”There’s an incredible arrogance to me that the CIA thinks they can spy on a committee that is providing oversight for the CIA, and I think it’s a real, very serious constitutional breach,” Paul said outside the Senate chamber on Thursday. “This cannot happen in a free country.”Feinstein took to the Senate floor Tuesday to allege that “the CIA just went and searched the committee’s computers.” CIA director John Brennan denied Feinstein’s allegations, telling NBC, “The CIA was in no way spying on [the committee] or the Senate.” That denial has some lawmakers withholding judgement on the matter, at least for now.House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., praised Feinstein. “I tell you, you take on the intelligence community, you’re a person of courage, and she does not do that lightly,” Pelosi said during her weekly press briefing Thursday morning. “Not without evidence — when I say evidence, [I mean] documentation of what it is that she is putting forth.”

http://washingtonexaminer.com/rand-paul-on-alleged-cia-senate-hacking-this-cannot-happen-in-a-free-country/article/2545625

Feinstein: CIA searched Intelligence Committee computers

By , and Adam Goldman, Published: March 11// // E-mail the writers//

A behind-the-scenes battle between the CIA and Congress erupted in public Tuesday as the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee accused the agency of breaking laws and breaching constitutional principles in an alleged effort to undermine the panel’s multi-year investigation of a controversial interrogation program.Chairman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) accused the CIA of ­secretly removing documents, searching computers used by the committee and attempting to intimidate congressional investigators by requesting an FBI inquiry of their conduct — charges that CIA Director John Brennan disputed within hours of her appearance on the Senate floor.

Video

<caption> Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned whether a CIA search of congressional records might have undermined government oversight during a Senate floor speech Tuesday. </caption>

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) questioned whether a CIA search of congressional records might have undermined government oversight during a Senate floor speech Tuesday.

Read more:

Why the CIA and lawmakers are feuding

Why the CIA and lawmakers are feuding

Adam Goldman MAR 11

What you need to know about the dispute over an investigation o the agency’s interrogation program.

 

Transcript: Feinstein says CIA searched Intelligence panel computers

Transcript: Feinstein says CIA searched Intelligence panel computers

MAR 11

“Let me say up front that I come to the Senate floor reluctantly,” she said.

 

Transcript: Brennan says his agency has done nothing wrong

MAR 11

“If I did something wrong, I will go to the president and I will explain to him exactly what I did and what the findings were,” he said.

 

Senators praise Feinstein speech, want answers from CIA

Senators praise Feinstein speech, want answers from CIA

Ed O’Keefe MAR 11

If true, “this is Richard Nixon stuff,” one senator says.

 

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<:ARTICLE>Feinstein described the escalating conflict as a “defining moment” for Congress’s role in overseeing the nation’s intelligence agencies and cited “grave concerns” that the CIA had “violated the separation-of-powers principles embodied in the United States Constitution.”Brennan fired back during a previously scheduled speech in Washington, saying that “when the facts come out on this, I think a lot of people who are claiming that there has been this tremendous sort of spying and monitoring and hacking will be proved wrong.”

The dueling claims exposed bitterness and distrust that have soared to new levels as the committee nears completion of a 6,000-page report that is expected to serve as a scathing historical record of the agency’s use of waterboarding and other brutal interrogation methods on terrorism suspects held at secret CIA prisons overseas after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Displaying flashes of anger during her floor speech, Feinstein said her committee would soon deliver the report to the White House and push for declassification of a document that lays bare “the horrible details of the CIA program that never, never, never should have existed.”

The latest dispute is in some ways a proxy for a deeper conflict over that document. The CIA and the committee are at odds over many of the report’s conclusions about the effectiveness of the interrogation program, but they are battling primarily over tension that surfaced during the investigation.

Feinstein’s remarks provided the most detailed account of that investigation, describing an arrangement in which the CIA set up a secret facility in Northern Virginia with computers where committee investigators were promised unfettered access to millions of operational cables, executive memos and other files on the interrogation program.

The disagreement between Feinstein and Brennan centers on whether agency employees or committee staff members — or both — abused their access to that shared network to gain an upper hand.

Feinstein implied that the CIA sabotaged the committee’s efforts from the outset, loading a massive amount of files on computers with no index, structure or ability to search. “It was a true document dump,” she said.

Over a period of years, investigators pored over more than 6.2 million classified records furnished by the CIA, using a search tool that agency technical experts agreed to install. But U.S. officials said the committee gained access to a set of documents that the agency never intended to share, files that were generated at the direction of former director Leon E. Panetta as part of an effort to take an inventory of the records being turned over to Feinstein’s panel.

The two sides have engaged in heated exchanges in recent days over the nature of those files and how they were obtained.

Referring to them as the “Panetta internal review,” Feinstein insisted that committee staff members discovered the documents during an ordinary search of the trove. She said they are particularly valuable because in tracking the flow of documents, CIA employees in some cases drew conclusions about their contents that match the subsequent interpretations made by committee staff members.

Jeremy Bash, Panetta’s former chief of staff, said Tuesday that that was never the director’s intent. Panetta “did not request an internal review of the interrogation program,” he said. “He asked the CIA staff to keep track of documents that were being provided. . . . He asked that they develop short summaries of the material, so that we would know what was being provided.”

Meanwhile, a letter that Brennan distributed to the CIA workforce on Tuesday raised questions about Feinstein’s claims and her awareness of how and when the committee obtained what she is calling the Panetta review files.

The letter, which Brennan sent to Feinstein on Jan. 27 and which was attached to a message he sent the workforce, recounts a meeting they had weeks earlier to discuss the matter. During that meeting, Feinstein said she didn’t know that the committee already had copies of the Panetta review. Brennan pushed her to explain why the panel had recently requested the files when they were already in its possession.

“You informed me that you were not aware that the committee staff already had access to the materials you had requested,” Brennan wrote, according to a copy obtained by The Washington Post. Brennan urged Feinstein to work with the agency to determine how the committee had obtained the documents, a request she ultimately rejected, officials said.

The CIA began to suspect that the panel had obtained those files this year after lawmakers referred to the supposed “internal review” publicly. U.S. officials said CIA security personnel then checked the logs of the computer system it had set up for the committee, and found that the files had been moved to a part of the network that was off-limits to the CIA.

 

“They did something to get those documents,” said a U.S. official briefed on the matter. A security “firewall was breached. They figured out a work-around to get it.” The official declined to elaborate.

Feinstein said the review documents were “identified using the search tool provided by the CIA” but she was careful not to say precisely how they were obtained. “We don’t know whether the documents were provided intentionally by the CIA, unintentionally by the CIA, or intentionally by a whistleblower,” she said.

She acknowledged, however, that committee investigators made hard copies of those files and whisked them away to its offices on Capitol Hill, in part because the committee had previously seen cases in which more than 900 pages of records dis­appeared from the database with no explanation.

Feinstein expressed outrage that the CIA referred the matter to the FBI. “There is no legitimate reason to allege to the Justice Department that Senate staff may have committed a crime,” she said, describing the move as a “potential effort to intimidate this staff, and I am not taking it lightly.”

She also noted that the referral was made by Robert Eatinger, the CIA’s acting general counsel, who previously served as the top lawyer for the department that ran the CIA’s secret prisons, and who “is mentioned by name more than 1,600 times in our study.”

Feinstein, who has been a staunch supporter of other CIA programs including its drone campaign, said the agency may have violated Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches, as well as laws against domestic surveillance.

Although Republicans on the committee initially voted in favor of opening the investigation, GOP members abandoned the effort after it began and none has voted to endorse it.

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), a member of the intelligence panel, told Bloomberg News that the dispute is “more complicated than what’s being put out there by Senator Feinstein or others. . . . I don’t think anyone has a clean hand and I think it’s important for the full truth to come out. I think people may be surprised to learn that, in this case, there were no good guys and maybe two or three bad ones.”

 

[Read a full transcript of Feinstein’s remarks.]

Brennan said he had ordered the CIA’s inspector general to review the agency’s conduct. The inspector general, in turn, has issued a separate referral seeking a Justice Department review.

Asked whether he would resign if the CIA was found to be in the wrong, Brennan said he would let the president decide his fate. “If I did something wrong, I will go to the president,” the director said. “He is the one who can ask me to stay or to go.”

http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/feinstein-cia-searched-intelligence-committee-computers/2014/03/11/982cbc2c-a923-11e3-8599-ce7295b6851c_story.html

 

 

 

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Senator Rand Paul Wins CPAC Poll for Second Year In A Row — Republican Candidate for President in 2016 — We Are The Champions — I Stand With Rand — Videos

Posted on March 9, 2014. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Crime, Culture, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, Faith, Family, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, government, government spending, Health Care, Heroes, history, History of Economic Thought, Illegal, Immigration, IRS, Language, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Macroeconomics, Math, media, Monetary Policy, Money, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Nuclear Power, Obamacare, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Public Sector, Radio, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Technology, Unemployment, Unions, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second

Rubio and Ryan, GOP leaders in Congress all see big drops in support

Sen. Rand Paul demolished his competition in the 2014 Washington Times/CPAC presidential preference straw poll on Saturday, winning 31 percent of the vote — nearly three times the total of second-place Sen. Ted Cruz.

The poll also found a strong plurality of attendees at the Conservative Political Action Conference believe marijuana should be fully legalized, with 41 percent saying it’s time to change the law and tax it. Another 21 percent said it should be legalized only for medicinal purposes, while just 31 percent said it should remain illegal in all cases.


SEE ALSO: CPAC 2014 straw poll results


In the presidential poll, Mr. Cruz’s 11 percent was a big improvement for the freshman senator, who won just 4 percent in last year’s straw poll. Neurosurgeon Ben Carson was third with 9 percent and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was fourth with 8 percent in results that signal growing discontent with the GOP establishment in Washington.

Indeed, CPAC voters now have an unfavorable view of Republicans in Congress, with 51 percent saying they disapprove of the job the GOP is doing on Capitol Hill. Just last year the GOP had a 54 percent approval rating, and in 2012 they held a 70 percent approval rating.

But a series of tough votes over the last few months that saw Republican leaders work with President Obama to boost spending and raised the government’s debt limit have deepened a rift between the GOP’s leadership on Capitol Hill and conservative activists around the country.

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual conference in National Harbor, Md., Thursday, March 6, 2014. Thursday marks the first day of the annual Conservative Political Action Conference, which brings together prospective presidential candidates, conservative opinion leaders and tea party activists from coast to coast. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)Enlarge PhotoSen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, speaks at the Conservative Political Action Committee annual … more >

That could be one reason why Rep. Paul Ryan, the Wisconsin Republican who wrote December’s budget deal that boosted spending in 2014 and 2015, saw his standing with CPAC voters cut in half — from 6 percent support in last year’s presidential straw poll to just 3 percent this year.

Sen. Marco Rubio suffered an even bigger drop, falling from 23 percent and second place in 2013 to seventh place, with 6 percent, this year.

“I like Ted Cruz, I like Rand Paul, I like Mike Lee. I like Rubio, but less now than I did a year ago because of immigration,” said David Fitzwilliam, 83.


SEE ALSO: Rand Paul urges conservatives to fight with him for liberty


For Mr. Paul, the victory is his second in a row, and he saw his support climb from 25 percent last year to 31 percent this year.

“He is the only true liberty candidate who focuses on civil liberties more than anybody else,” said Al Seltzinger, 36, from Baltimore. “I think the way the nation is going today with the government and the president going against the Constitution that we need someone who holds strict to the Constitution and whose voting record is pretty solid when it comes to the Constitution.”

Mr. Cruz also jumped from just 4 percent last year — when he was a newly sworn-in senator — to his 11 percent this year.

Mr. Carson, who gained prominence with a 27-minute speech challenging Mr. Obama when the two appeared at the 2013 National Prayer Breakfast, is also on the rise. In last year’s straw poll, taken just after that speech, he garnered 4 percent of the vote, but jumped to 9 percent this year.

“I love Ted Cruz, I love Rand Paul, but Ben Carson is all of the above,” said Jean Carlton, a 71-year-old CPAC attendee who said the doctor’s lack of Washington experience was a big plus.

For his part Mr. Christie, who has faced political troubles back home in New Jersey after his staffers caused a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge to punish a town mayor, seems to be holding steady among activists. He rose from 7 percent last year to 8 percent support this year.

In his speech to the conference on Thursday, Mr. Christie argued that the GOP needs to not only pick a conservative champion, but pick a candidate who can get elected.

“We can’t govern if we can’t win,” he said.

That resonated with some CPAC straw poll voters.

“I think he has the best chance in the general election. I am less optimistic about his chances in the primary, but he seems to be more palatable to Independents and Democrats. I think electability is the main concern,” said Matthew Smith, a 19-year-old student at Yale University.

This year’s straw poll listed 25 potential candidates, which is far more than usual. The high number signals just how wide open the GOP’s presidential contest is with two years to go before the first caucuses and primaries.

On the Democratic side, meanwhile, former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton easily leads the rest of her party’s field in national and state polling.

Previous versions of The Washington Times/CPAC poll showed that the audience that gathers in Washington leans younger and more libertarian than the conservative movement throughout the country, which likely gives Mr. Paul a boost with this crowd here.

Indeed, his father, then-Rep. Ron Paul, won the straw poll twice on a similar libertarian-minded message, though he struggled to translate that support into votes when it came to primaries and caucuses.

The straw poll was conducted between Thursday and Saturday afternoon, and 2,459 votes were cast.

http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/mar/8/rand-paul-wins-2014-cpac-straw-poll-ted-cruz-finis/

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Diplomatic Agreement — The Budapest Memorandum — Will It Lead To US War With Russia Over Ukraine or More Obama Appeasement? — Videos

Posted on March 7, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, Communications, Constitution, Crime, Economics, Energy, European History, Faith, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, Friends, Genocide, government, government spending, history, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, Natural Gas, Natural Gas, Nuclear Power, Oil, Oil, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Psychology, Rants, Raves, Resources, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Technology, Terrorism, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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Story 3: Diplomatic Agreement — The Budapest Memorandum — Will It Lead To US War With Russia Over Ukraine or More Obama Appeasement? — Videos

Donald Rumsfeld on Russia, Ukraine, Obama !

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch Two)

Russian Roulette: The Invasion of Ukraine (Dispatch One)

Russia fires first shots of Crimea invasion – Ukraine update – Truthloader

The Alex Jones Show(VIDEO Commercial Free) Sunday March 2 2014: Ukraine Mobilizes For War

Headlines: Hillary Clinton compares Russia’s actions in Ukraine to Nazi Germany

Obama: ‘Russia on the Wrong Side of History’

WW3 UPDATE: Ukrainian FORCES MOBILISING As RUSSIA Approves MILITARY ACTION In Ukraine

Russia Expands Its Natural Gas Infrastructure (Agenda)

Videographic: Sidestepping Russia’s gas monopoly

Ukrainian Protests and Russian Influence (Dispatch)

Crimea in the middlegaspipelines

Story 3: Diplomatic Agreement — The Budapest Memorandum — Will It Lead To US War With Russia Over Ukraine or More Obama Appeasement? — Videos

On 1 March 2014, the White House released a press release stating that Russia had breached its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum:

President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act. The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.

—Office of the Press Secretary

Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances, 1994

Published December 5, 1994

The Presidents of Ukraine, Russian Federation and United States of America, and the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom signed three memorandums (UN Document A/49/765) on December 5, 1994, with the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. Through this agreement, these countries (later to include China and France in individual statements) gave national security assurances to Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. The Joint Declaration by the Russian Federation and the United States of America of December 4, 2009 confirmed their commitment.

Excerpt:

“Welcoming the accession of Ukraine to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons as a non-nuclear-weapon State,

Taking into account the commitment of Ukraine to eliminate all nuclear weapons from its territory within a specified period of time,

Noting the changes in the world-wide security situation, including the end of the cold war, which have brought about conditions for deep reductions in nuclear forces,

Confirm the following:

1. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine;

2. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their obligation to refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or

political independence of Ukraine, and that none of their weapons will ever be used against Ukraine except in self-defence or otherwise in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations;

3. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine, in accordance with the principles of the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe, to refrain from economic coercion designed to subordinate to their own interest the exercise by Ukraine of the rights inherent in its sovereignty and thus to secure advantages of any kind;

4. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm their commitment to seek immediate United Nations Security Council action to provide assistance to Ukraine, as a non-nuclear-weapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear

weapons are used;

5. The Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America reaffirm, in the case of Ukraine, their commitment not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclearweapon State party to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons,

except in the case of an attack on themselves, their territories or dependent territories, their armed forces, or their allies, by such a State in association or alliance with a nuclear-weapon State;

6. Ukraine, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the United States of America will consult in the event a situation arises that raises a question concerning these commitments.

This Memorandum will become applicable upon signature.

Signed in four copies having equal validity in the Ukrainian, English and Russian languages.

For Ukraine:

(Signed) Leonid D. KUCHMA

For the Russian Federation:

(Signed) Boris N. YELTSIN

For the United Kingdom of Great

Britain and Northern Ireland:

(Signed) John MAJOR

For the United States of America:

(Signed) William J. CLINTON

U.S./U.K./Ukraine Press Statement on the Budapest Memorandum Meeting

Media Note

Office of the Spokesperson
Washington, DC
March 5, 2014

On 5 March 2014, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted a meeting in Paris with the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, William Hague, and the Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Andriy Deshchytsia.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss the urgent question of the Budapest Memorandum, the agreement signed by the Governments of the United States of America, the United Kingdom and Russia in 1994. The United States had conveyed an invitation to the Russian Federation to the meeting. We deeply regret that the Russian Federation declined to attend.

The Budapest Memorandum sets out the obligations of signatories in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons. Under its terms, the three parties commit to refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine’s territorial integrity. The Memorandum also obliges the UK, US and Russia to consult in the event of a situation arising where the memorandum commitments are questioned.

Ukraine voluntarily surrendered the world’s third largest nuclear weapons arsenal in exchange for these assurances. The three Governments treat these assurances with utmost seriousness, and expect Russia to as well. Russia has chosen to act unilaterally and militarily. The United Kingdom and United States will continue to support Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and we commend the new Ukrainian government for not taking actions that might escalate the situation. Russia’s continued violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity can only degrade Russia’s international standing and lead to greater political and economic consequences.

In the meeting, the Governments of the United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine discussed steps needed to restore Ukraine’s territorial integrity and called on Russia to engage in consultations with Ukraine as they have committed to in the Budapest memorandum.

The United States, United Kingdom and Ukraine agreed that direct talks between Ukraine and Russia, facilitated as needed by members of the international community, are crucial to resolving the current situation. They also agreed that international observers should be deployed immediately in Ukraine, especially in eastern Ukraine and Crimea. The three governments reaffirmed the importance of protecting the rights of all Ukrainian citizens, and believed that international observers would help address any concerns regarding irregular forces, military activity and the treatment of all Ukrainians irrespective of their ethnicity or spoken language.

 http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2014/03/222949.htm

The Budapest Memorandum and Crimea

With tensions rising in Crimea and pro-Russian forces controlling the peninsula’s main airports, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk has called on Russia to “not violate the Budapest Memorandum.” So what is the “Budapest Memorandum” and what does it have to do with Crimea?

What exactly is the “Budapest Memorandum”?

The “Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances” is a diplomatic memorandum that was signed in December 1994 by Ukraine, Russia, the United States, and the United Kingdom.

It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document under which signatories made promises to each other as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Under the memorandum, Ukraine promised to remove all Soviet-era nuclear weapons from its territory, send them to disarmament facilities in Russia, and sign the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. Ukraine kept these promises.

In return, Russia and the Western signatory countries essentially consecrated the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine as an independent state. They did so by applying the principles of territorial integrity and nonintervention in 1975 Helsinki Final Act — a Cold War-era treaty signed by 35 states including the Soviet Union — to an independent post-Soviet Ukraine.

Which principles in the Helsinki Final Act, reiterated in the “Budapest Memorandum,” are relevant to the current situation in the Crimea?

In the “Budapest Memorandum,” Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States promised that none of them would ever threaten or use force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. They also pledged that none of them would ever use economic coercion to subordinate Ukraine to their own interest.

They specifically pledged they would refrain from making each other’s territory the object of military occupation or engage in other uses of force in violation of international law.

All sides agreed that no such occupation or acquisition will be recognized as legal and that the signatories would “consult in the event a situation arises which raises a question concerning these commitments.”

Is there anything legally binding about the “Budapest Memorandum” regarding Russia’s obligations to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity?

“That’s actually a much more complex question than it may sound. It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,” says Barry Kellman, a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law.

“The ‘Budapest Memorandum’ follows the Helsinki Final Act and essentially reiterates its provisions. There are confidence building measures and then a host of other broader obligations – primarily negative obligations. Don’t interfere.”

Kellman concludes that there are a host of other sources of international law that oblige Russia to respect Ukraine’s territorial integrity — including the provisions of the CSCE treaty and the UN Charter.

http://www.voanews.com/content/the-budapest-memorandum-and-crimea/1862439.html

: The forgotten treaty which could drag the US and UK into WAR with Russia if Putin’s troops intervene in Ukraine

  • The agreement sees signatories promise to protect Ukraine’s borders
  • It was signed by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma in 1994
  • Ukrainian parliament has now reached out directly to all the countries who signed the treaty
  • Putin currently has 150,000 troops on Ukraine’s borders and it is reported some have crossed into the country
  • President Obama says he is ‘deeply concerned’ by the news
  • The US and Britain have both made ‘crisis calls’ to President Putin to warn him to respect territorial boundaries

By JILL REILLY and LIZZIE EDMONDS

A treaty signed in 1994 by the US and Britain could pull both countries into a war to protect Ukraine if President Putin’s troops cross into the country.

Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine – agreed to the The Budapest Memorandum as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

Technically it means that if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.

The revelation comes as reports suggest the Kremlin was moving up to 2,000 troops across the Black Sea from Novorossiysk to their fleet base at Sevastopol.

At least 20 men wearing the uniform of the Russian fleet and carrying automatic rifles surrounded a Ukrainian border guard post in a standoff near the port yesterday.

Last night it was still unclear the exact scale of Russian boots on the ground in Crimea or the identity of gunmen who have taken over airports in Simferopol and Sevastopol – though reports suggest they are Russian marines or Moscow- controlled militias.

The action came as President Obama delivered blunt warnings to Moscow.

‘We are now deeply concerned by reports of military movements taken by the Russian Federation inside of Ukraine,’ he told reporters at the White House.

‘Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,’ he said in a brief appearance.

‘The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.’

U.S. officials also said the President could scrap plans to attend an international summit in Russia and take negotiations on deepening trade ties with the country off the table in response to Russian involvement in the Ukraine.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel added: “This could be a very dangerous situation if this continues in a provocative way.”

Asked about options in a CBS News interview, he said that “We’re trying to deal with a diplomatic focus, that’s the appropriate, responsible approach.”

Both the U.S. and the UK are advising against all non-essential trips to Ukraine – especially Crimea.

former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said in an interview that war could be an option 'if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.'

former British Ambassador to Moscow Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said in an interview that war could be an option ‘if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.’

NATO also asked Russia not to take action that could escalate tension. However Moscow responded by telling the organization to ‘refrain’ from provocative statements on Ukraine and respect its ‘non-bloc’ status.

Sir Tony Brenton, who served as British Ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said that war could be an option ‘if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding.’

It promises to protect Ukraine’s borders, in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.

Kiev has demanded the agreement is activated after insisting their borders had been violated.

In response Mr Brenton said in a BBC radio interview: ‘If indeed this is a Russian invasion of Crimea and if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding then it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that we’re going to go to war with Russia’.

Ukraine accused Russia of a ‘military invasion and occupation’, saying Russian troops have taken up positions around a coast guard base and two airports on its strategic Crimea peninsula.

Russia kept silent on the accusations, as the crisis deepened between two of Europe’s largest countries.

Any Russian military incursion in Crimea would dramatically raise the stakes in Ukraine’s conflict, which saw pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych flee last weekend after three months of anti-government protests. Yanukovych vowed Friday at a news conference in Russia to ‘keep fighting for the future of Ukraine,’ though he called any military action ‘unacceptable.’

Moscow has vowed to protect Russian-speaking Ukrainians in Crimea, where it has a major naval base, and Ukraine and the West have warned Russia to stay away.

Russia did not confirm its troops were involved in Friday’s action in Crimea, which would be a major escalation.

In Kiev, Ukraine’s parliament adopted a resolution demanding that Russia halt steps it says are aimed against Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, and called for a U.N. Security Council meeting on the crisis.

THE BUDAPEST REFERENDUM

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances was a international treaty signed on February, 5, 1994, in Budapest.

The diplomatic document saw signatories make promises to each other as part of the denuclearization of former Soviet republics after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

It was signed by Bill Clinton, John Major, Boris Yeltsin and Leonid Kuchma – the then-rulers of the USA, UK, Russia and Ukraine.

The agreement promises to protest Ukraine’s borders in return for Ukraine giving up its nuclear weapons.

It is not a formal treaty, but rather, a diplomatic document.

It was an unprecedented case in contemporary international life and international law.

Whether is it legally binding in complex.

‘It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,’ says Barry Kellman is a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law told Radio Free Europe.

‘I can only describe this as a military invasion and occupation,’ Ukraine’s newly named interior minister, Arsen Avakov, wrote in a Facebook post.

The chief of Ukraine’s security council, Andriy Parubiy, seemed to strike a less strident tone later in the day, saying gunmen had tried to ‘seize’ the airports in the Crimean cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol but insisting in comments to the Interfax news agency that ‘de-facto the airports are controlled by the law enforcement bodies of Ukraine.’

Ukraine’s State Border Guard Service also said about 30 Russian marines from Russia’s Black Sea Fleet – which is based in Sevastopol – had taken up position outside the Ukrainian Coast Guard base in the area. It said the marines said they were there to prevent any weapons at the base from being seized by extremists.

Russia’s defense ministry had no comment.

Yanukovych made his first public appearance since fleeing Ukraine in the southern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, not far from the Ukrainian border. It was the first confirmation that he had left the country, and he said he was ‘forced’ to do so only after his family received threats.

‘I intend to keep fighting for the future of Ukraine,’ he said.

Yanukovych said he supports Crimea’s residents who are worried about ‘nationalists’ in Kiev and added that Russia cannot stand by while events in Ukraine unfold. He denied, however, that this amounts to a call for military intervention.

‘Any military action in this situation is unacceptable,’ he said. 

Tensions rising: A Russian soldier on an armoured personnel carrier halted on a road in Ukraine around 20 miles from Sebastapol, where there is a large Russian military presence

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Tensions rising: A Russian soldier on an armoured personnel carrier halted on a road in Ukraine around 20 miles from Sebastapol, where there is a large Russian military presence

The prosecutor-general’s office in Kiev said it would seek Yanukovych’s extradition to Ukraine, where he is wanted on suspicion of mass murder in last week’s violent clashes between protesters and police, during which over 80 people were killed.

At the airport serving Simferopol, commercial flights were landing and taking off despite dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings patrolling with assault rifles. They didn’t stop or search people leaving or entering the airport, and refused to talk to journalists.

One man who identified himself only as Vladimir said the men were part of the Crimean People’s Brigade, which he described as a self-defense unit ensuring that no ‘radicals and fascists’ arrive from other parts of Ukraine. There was no way to verify his account.

The airport deployments came a day after masked gunmen with rocket-propelled grenades and sniper rifles seized the parliament and government offices in Simferopol and raised the Russian flag. Ukrainian police cordoned off the area but didn’t confront the gunmen. They remained in control of the buildings Friday.

The Russian foreign and defense ministries had no comment. Russia’s state RIA Novosti and Interfax cited an unnamed official from the Russian Black Sea Fleet denying involvement, saying Russian servicemen stationed in Crimea have not moved into the airports and denying that the Russian military was in control there.

Tensions between the two countries were high, however. Russia continued with massive combat readiness exercises involving most of its troops in western and southern Russia that it said were unrelated to the Ukraine conflict. The moves were reminiscent of Cold War brinksmanship.

Russian military forces are blockading an airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, an act Ukraine's new interior minister has announced branded an 'armed invasion'

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Russian military forces are blockading an airport in the Black Sea port of Sevastopol in Crimea, an act Ukraine’s new interior minister has announced branded an ‘armed invasion’

As events in the Crimea region heighten tensions with neighboring Russia, this morning armed men also took over the other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, according to a Facebook post by Mr Avakov

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As events in the Crimea region heighten tensions with neighboring Russia, this morning armed men also took over the other main Crimean airport, Simferopol, according to a Facebook post by Mr Avakov

Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings were seen patrolling the airport in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea

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Dozens of armed men in military uniforms without markings were seen patrolling the airport in Simferopol, the capital of Crimea

The move came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told Ukraine's new prime minister that the U.S. welcomes the formation of the country's new government

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The move came as U.S. Vice President Joe Biden told Ukraine’s new prime minister that the U.S. welcomes the formation of the country’s new government

The Kremlin, in a statement published late Thursday, said President Vladimir Putin had instructed the government to ‘maintain contacts with the counterparts in Kiev in what concerns trade and economic ties between Russia and Ukraine.’

Moscow has been sending mixed signals about Ukraine but pledged to respect its territorial integrity. Putin has long dreamed of pulling Ukraine, a country of 46 million people considered the cradle of Russian civilization, closer into Moscow’s orbit.

Meanwhile, Swiss prosecutors announced they had launched a criminal investigation against Yanukovych and his son Aleksander over ‘aggravated money laundering.’

They said police and Geneva’s chief prosecutor conducted a search and seized documents Thursday at the premises of a company owned by Aleksander Yanukovych.

Ukraine's ex-President Yanukovych has made his first public appearance since being ousted, telling a news conference that he was going to fight for his country's future

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Ukraine’s ex-President Yanukovych has made his first public appearance since being ousted, telling a news conference that he was going to fight for his country’s future

Switzerland and Austria both said they would freeze any assets Yanukovych and his entourage might have in those countries.

Ukraine’s population is divided in loyalties between Russia and the West, with much of western Ukraine advocating closer ties with the European Union while eastern and southern regions look to Russia for support.

Crimea, a southeastern peninsula of Ukraine that has semi-autonomous status, was seized by Russian forces in the 18th century under Catherine the Great, and was once the crown jewel in Russian and then Soviet empires.

It became part of Ukraine in 1954 when Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev transferred jurisdiction from Russia, a move that was a mere formality until the 1991 Soviet collapse meant Crimea landed in an independent Ukraine.

In a bid to shore up Ukraine’s fledgling administration, the International Monetary Fund has said it is ‘ready to respond’ to Ukraine’s bid for financial assistance; Ukraine’s finance ministry has said it needs $35 billion over the next two years to avoid default.

The European Union is also considering emergency loans for a country that is the chief conduit of Russian natural gas to western Europe.

And Putin, in his statement, asked his government to ‘hold consultations with foreign partners including the IMF and the G8 nations to provide financial aid to Ukraine.’

Associated Press journalists approaching the Sevastopol airport found the road leading up to it blocked by two military trucks and a handful of gunmen wearing camouflage uniforms and carrying assault rifles.

A car with Russian military plates was stopped at the roadblock. A man wearing a military uniform with a Russian flag on his sleeve got out of the car and was allowed to enter on foot after a brief discussion with the gunmen.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2570335/Former-British-Ambassador-Moscow-warns-Russia-invaded-Ukraine-difficult-avoid-going-war.html

Fact Check: Could a Little-Known International Agreement With Ukraine Force U.S., Britain Into War With Russia?

The United States and Britain “reaffirmed” their commitment to protect Ukraine’s borders in exchange for the nation giving up its nuclear weapons in a little-known agreement known as the “Budapest Memorandum signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1994.

The Daily Mail notes reports “if Russia has invaded Ukraine then it would be difficult for the US and Britain to avoid going to war.”

Sir Tony Brenton, who served as a British ambassador from 2004 to 2008, said war is certainly on the table if it’s determined that the Budapest Memorandum is “legally binding.”

According to the Daily Mail, Kiev has asked that the agreement be honored as it claims its borders have been violated.

“If indeed this is a Russian invasion of Crimea and if we do conclude the [Budapest] Memorandum is legally binding then it’s very difficult to avoid the conclusion that we’re going to go to war with Russia,” Brenton told BBC radio.

Ukraine has accused Russia of a “military invasion,” though details are still coming in.

The unsettling news comes after President Barack Obama warned Russia about military action in Ukraine on Friday.

But a closer look at the Budapest Memorandum shows the specifics might be more complex than some are assuming. Article one of the agreement states:

The United States of America, the Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, reaffirm their commitment to Ukraine … to respect the Independence and Sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.

Reaffirming a “commitment” to Ukraine’s borders and being legally required to go to war are two very different ideas.

There will surely be much debate over whether the Budapest Memorandum is a legally binding agreement requiring action. The U.S. going to war with Russia is likely a last resort for the Obama administration.

According to rferl.org, the Budapest Memorandum is a diplomatic memorandum, not an official treaty.

Barry Kellman, a professor of law and director of the International Weapons Control Center at DePaul University’s College of Law, told the website that the answers to questions about whether the agreement is binding are “complex.”

“That’s actually a much more complex question than it may sound. It is binding in international law, but that doesn’t mean it has any means of enforcement,” he said.

“The ‘Budapest Memorandum’ follows the Helsinki Final Act and essentially reiterates its provisions. There are confidence building measures and then a host of other broader obligations – primarily negative obligations. Don’t interfere,” the professor added.

Armed men described as Russian troops took control of key airports in Crimea on Friday and Russian transport planes flew into the strategic region, Ukrainian officials said, an ominous sign of the Kremlin’s iron hand in Ukraine. President Barack Obama bluntly warned Moscow “there will be costs” if it intervenes militarily.

The sudden arrival of men in military uniforms patrolling key strategic facilities prompted Ukraine to accuse Russia of a “military invasion and occupation” – a claim that brought an alarming new dimension to the crisis.

Unidentified armed men patrol outside of Simferopol airport, on February 28, 2014. Ukraine accused today Russia of staging an 'armed invasion' of Crimea and appealed to the West to guarantee its territorial integrity after pro-Moscow gunmen took control of the peninsula's main airport. (Source: AFP PHOTO / VIKTOR DRACHEV VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Unidentified armed men patrol outside of Simferopol airport, on February 28, 2014. Ukraine accused today Russia of staging an ‘armed invasion’ of Crimea and appealed to the West to guarantee its territorial integrity after pro-Moscow gunmen took control of the peninsula’s main airport. (Source: AFP PHOTO / VIKTOR DRACHEV VIKTOR DRACHEV/AFP/Getty Images)

Obama urged Russia to respect the independence and territory of Ukraine and not try to take advantage of its neighbor, which is undergoing political upheaval.

“Any violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity would be deeply destabilizing,” Obama said.

“Just days after the world came to Russia for the Olympic Games, that would invite the condemnation of nations around the world,” he continued. “The United States will stand with the international community in affirming that there will be costs for any military intervention in Ukraine.”

He did not say what those costs might be.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/02/28/fact-check-could-a-little-known-international-agreement-force-u-s-britain-into-war-with-russia/#

Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances

The Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances is an international treaty signed on 5 December 1994, providing security assurances by its signatories relating to Ukraine‘s accession to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The Memorandum was originally signed by three nuclear-powers, the Russian Federation, the United States of America, and the United Kingdom. China and France later gave individual statements of assurance as well.[1][clarification needed]

The memorandum included security assurances against threats or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine as well as those of Belarus and Kazakhstan. As a result Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear weapons stockpile between 1994 and 1996.[2][3]

Following the 2014 Crimean crisis, the US stated that Russian involvement is in breach of its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum, and in clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity.[4][5]


According to the memorandum, Russia, the US, and the UK confirmed, in recognition of Ukraine becoming party to the 
Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and in effect abandoning its nuclear arsenal to Russia, that they would:

  1. Respect Ukrainian independence and sovereignty within its existing borders.
  2. Refrain from the threat or use of force against Ukraine.
  3. Refrain from using economic pressure on Ukraine in order to influence its politics.
  4. Seek United Nations Security Council action if nuclear weapons are used against Ukraine.
  5. Refrain from the use of nuclear arms against Ukraine.
  6. Consult with one another if questions arise regarding these commitments.[6]

Analyse

Under the treaty, the signatories offered Ukraine “security assurances” in exchange for its adhesion to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. The memorandum bundled together a set of assurances that Ukraine already held from the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (CSCE) Final Act, United Nations Charter and Non-Proliferation Treaty. The Ukrainian government nevertheless found it politically valuable to have these assurances in a Ukraine-specific document. [7] [8]

The Budapest Memorandum was negotiated as a political agreement. It refers to assurances, not defined, but less than a military guarantee of intervention. According to Stephen MacFarlane, a professor of international relations “It gives signatories justification if they take action, but it does not force anyone to act in Ukraine.”[7][8]

Issues

Tuzla Island crisis

Main article: Tuzla Island

Ukraine gave up the world’s third largest nuclear weapons stockpile between 1994 and 1996 in return for “security assurances” from five nuclear powers, including Russia who was seen by Ukraine as the main threat to its territorial integrity.[2] In 2003, Russian construction efforts were seen as an attempt to annex Tuzla Island off the Crimean coast of Ukraine.[2] The Russian threat to Tuzla led to the Ukrainian leadership appealing to NATO for consultations on security, as outlined in the 1997 NATO-Ukraine Charter, without result.[2] The dispute led to negotiations over delimitation of the maritime borders. In a 2012 preliminary agreement, Ukraine and Russia agreed that Tuzla Island would be considered Ukraine’s territory.[9][needs update]

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry speaks with British Foreign Secretary William Hague and Ukrainian Foreign Minister Andrii Deshchytsia after hosting the Budapest Memorandum Ministerial on the Ukraine crisis in Paris, France, on March 5, 2014.

2014 Crimean crisis

Main article: 2014 Crimean crisis

In February 2014, unidentified troops seized or blockaded various airports, as well as other strategic sites throughout Crimea.[10] Official Ukrainian sources have said that the troops are Russian, attached to the Russian Black Sea Fleet stationed in Crimea,[11] likely placing Russia in violation of the Budapest Memorandum. The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed the movement of armoured units attached to the Black Sea Fleet in Crimea, but asserts that they are acting within the scope of the various agreements between the two countries. Other official Russian sources deny that the units in the area of Sevastopol International Airport, specifically, are attached to the Black Sea Fleet.[12]

On 1 March 2014, the White House released a press release stating that Russia had breached its obligations to Ukraine under the Budapest Memorandum:

President Obama expressed his deep concern over Russia’s clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity, which is a breach of international law, including Russia’s obligations under the UN Charter, and of its 1997 military basing agreement with Ukraine, and which is inconsistent with the 1994 Budapest Memorandum and the Helsinki Final Act. The United States condemns Russia’s military intervention into Ukrainian territory.

—Office of the Press Secretary[4]

[5]

In response to the crisis, the Ukrainian parliament has requested that the Memorandum’s signatories reaffirm their commitment to the principles enshrined in the treaty, and further asked that they hold consultations with Ukraine to ease tensions.[13]

See also

References

  1. Jump up^ “Budapest Memorandums on Security Assurances, 1994″. Council on Foreign Relations. December 5, 1994. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  2. Jump up to:a b c d The Crimea:Europe’s Next Flashpoint, By Taras Kuzio, November 2010
  3. Jump up^ [1]
  4. Jump up to:a b Office of the Press Secretary. “Readout of President Obama’s Call with President Putin”. whitehouse.gov.
  5. Jump up to:a b Washington Post Editorial Board. “Condemnation isn’t enough for Russian actions in Crimea”. Washington Post.
  6. Jump up^ Memorandum on Security Assurances [2]
  7. Jump up to:a b Are the US and the UK bound to intervene in Ukraine?france24, 03-03-2014
  8. Jump up to:a b Ukraine crisis’ impact on nuclear weapons, 4-March-2014
  9. Jump up^ http://en.ria.ru/russia/20120713/174576071.html
  10. Jump up^ Higgins, Andrew; Reevell, Patrick (28 February 2014). “Armed, masked men appear at airports in Crimea”The Boston Globe. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  11. Jump up^ Booth, William; DeYoung, Karen (28 February 2014). “Reports of Russian military activity in Crimea prompts stern warning from Obama”The Washington Post. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  12. Jump up^ “Movement of Russian armored vehicles in Crimea fully complies with agreements – Foreign Ministry”. RT. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  13. Jump up^ “Ukrainian parliament appeals to Budapest Memorandum signatories”. Interfax Ukraine. 28 February 2014. Retrieved 1 March 2014.

External links

Ukraine – The Birth of a Nation. Part 1 of 4. From Rus to Ukraine

Ukraine – The Birth of a Nation. Part 2 of 4. Ukraine or Little Russia?

Ukraine – The Birth of a Nation. Part 3 of 4. Together Forever

Ukraine – The Birth of a Nation. Part 4 of 4. Independence

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Warning You Are Being Tracked — The Secret Surveillance Security State — Vidoes

Posted on March 5, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Constitution, Crime, Culture, Diasters, Economics, Education, Employment, European History, Faith, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Government, history, Investments, Language, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Unemployment, Video, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 221: February 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 220: February 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 219: February 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 218: February 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 217: February 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 216: February 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 215: February 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 214: February 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 213: February 18, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 211: February 14, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 210: February 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 199: January 28, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 196: January 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 191: January 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 189: January 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 188: January 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 187: January 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 186: January 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 185: January 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 184: December 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 183: December 17, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 182: December 16, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 181: December 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 180: December 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 179: December 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 178: December 5, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 177: December 2, 2013

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

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CILIPRFID-DiagRFID

e-passportRFID (3)rfid-basic-schemeRFID (5)

library_RFIDTheRFIDSupplyChain

rfid-chip-anatomyRFID (2)verichip-implant-rfid

RFID-Chip2

RFID Software Stack

portfolio_rfidBarcode-vs-RFID-infographic-featured-imageRFID-Barcode-comparison-chartRFID-versus-Bar-Codes

RFID (4)

Story 1: Warning You Are Being Tracked — The Secret Surveillance Security State — Vidoes

RFID Blocker Sleeves

Katherine Albrecht interview with Campaign for Liberty Part 1

Katherine Albrecht interview with Campaign for Liberty Part 2

Katherine Albrecht interview with Campaign for Liberty Part 3

WARNING RFID FOR EVERYONE

Katherine Albrecht, RFID expert , Genesis Communications Network Radio Host, and Author of the Book Spychips sat down with Steve Vasquez on April 20th to discuss Real Id and the Enhanced Drivers license.
What does it all mean? Legislation for total control and tracking.

FAIR USE NOTICE: This video may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes only. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 106A-117 of the U.S. Copyright Law

Katherine Albrecht – Spychips THREAT! Resist RFID & Electronic Surveillance!

The Enhanced Driver License: A Dream Realized

Texas Schools Track Students with RFID Chips! (Nanny of the Month, Nov ’12)

TEXAS Students to be TRACKED With MICROCHIPS. PUNISHMENTS For NON COMPLIANCE

RFID Chip Required in Obama’s Health Care Bill

Police State IBM VeriChip RFID Implant + Edible RFID Tracking Chips

0

The Fight Against the Total Surveillance State in Our Schools

Students in San Antonio are now being required to carry identification cards containing an RFID chip which allows school administrators to track their movements throughout the school day. While some are passively accepting the program, one brave student, Andrea Hernandez, is asserting her right to privacy. As John Whitehead explains in this week’s vodcast, the battle playing out in San Antonio could be the turning point in the resistance to the total surveillance state.

Students Required to Wear MicroChips on School Campus

Advanced RFID Student ID Card Identification System-Student Safety

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The Coming Stock Market Crash and Recession? The End of American As You Know It? — Videos

Posted on March 3, 2014. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, Business, Climate, College, Communications, Economics, Education, Employment, Energy, European History, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Foreign Policy, Freedom, government spending, history, History of Economic Thought, Inflation, Investments, IRS, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Macroeconomics, media, Microeconomics, Monetary Policy, Money, Photos, Politics, Press, Radio, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Securities and Exchange Commission, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Technology, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 220: February 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 219: February 26, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 218: February 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 217: February 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 216: February 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 215: February 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 214: February 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 213: February 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 212: February 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 211: February 14, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 210: February 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 201: January 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 199: January 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 198: January 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 197: January 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 196: January 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 193: January 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 191: January 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 189: January 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 188: January 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 187: January 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 186: January 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 185: January 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 184: December 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 183: December 17, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 182: December 16, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 181: December 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 180: December 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 179: December 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 178: December 5, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 177: December 2, 2013

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 211-220

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or DownloadShow 202-210

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 194-201

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Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 135-142

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Story 1: The Coming Stock Market Crash and Recession? The End of American As You Know It? — Videos

Obama ObamaCare Economic Collapse stock-market-crash-1929 20141929-IS-A-MOLEHILL-COMPARED-TO-THIS-MOUNTAINdow-today-vs-1929-feb-5

01 - 140121 Strongest + Logest Bull Cycles in the DJIA since 1900stockMCrash

transfer payment

Bubble, Stock Market Crash Coming Like 1929

Bubble, Stock Market Crash Coming New uptade Economic Monitor 2014

Keiser Report: Guest Dough Casey

Doug Casey on Stupidity, Evil, and the Decline of the U.S.

Jim Rogers Stock Market Crash, The Fed Will Come To The Rescue

EU European Union Economic Crisis 2013 2014

Market Crash, Global Economic Shocks Coming in 2014, World War 3 Gerald Celente

World Economy : Chart shows similarities between 1929 Stock Market Crash and Today

Glenn Beck: 1929 vs. 2014

Peter Schiff Market Crash 2014 | London Real

Peter Schiff – Market Crash 2014 | London Real

There Will Be No Economic Recovery. Prepare Yourself Accordingly.

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Cutting Defense Expenditures and Size of the Army — Videos

Posted on February 27, 2014. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Constitution, Economics, Education, Employment, European History, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, history, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Monetary Policy, Money, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Tax Policy, Video, War, Wealth, Weather, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 218: February 25, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 217: February 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 216: February 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 215: February 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 214: February 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 213: February 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 212: February 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 211: February 14, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 210: February 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 201: January 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 199: January 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 198: January 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 197: January 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 196: January 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 193: January 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 191: January 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 189: January 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 188: January 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 187: January 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 186: January 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 185: January 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 184: December 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 183: December 17, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 182: December 16, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 181: December 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 180: December 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 179: December 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 178: December 5, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 177: December 2, 2013

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 211-218

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Story 1: Cutting Defense Expenditures and Size of the Army — Videos

Military-spending-sequesterproposed-dicretionary

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Military Spending 5

us_military_spendingdefensechart

Govt Spending 12-13

3 Reasons Conservatives Should Cut Defense

Spending Now!

Chuck Hagel has proposed shrinking the US Army to its smallest force since World War Two

Pentagon Plans to Cut Army to Pre World War II Level

Size of U.S. army could be drastically reduced

Ron Paul on Defense Spending vs. Overseas Military Spending

BBC News Japan boosts military forces to counter China

Military Video_ Us Air force Falling Behind Russia And China In Technology

Pentagon plans to shrink US Army to pre-WWII level

The Pentagon plans to scale back the US Army by more than an eighth to its lowest level since before World War II, signaling a shift after more than a decade of ground wars.

Saying it was time to “reset” for a new era, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel recommended shrinking American forces from 520,000 active duty troops to between 440,000 and 450,000.

In a speech outlining the proposed defense budget, he said Monday that after Iraq and Afghanistan, US military leaders no longer plan to “conduct long and large stability operations.”

If approved by Congress, the Pentagon move would reduce the army to its lowest manning levels since 1940, before the American military dramatically expanded after entering World War II.

The proposed 13 percent reduction in the army would be carried out by 2017, a senior defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AFP.

The spending plan is the first to “fully reflect” a transition away from a war footing that has been in place for 13 years, Hagel said at a press conference.

The plan comes amid growing fiscal pressures and after years of protracted counter-insurgency campaigns, which saw the army reach a peak of more than 566,000 troops in 2010.

Having withdrawn US forces from Iraq in 2011, President Barack Obama has promised to end America’s combat role in Afghanistan by the end of this year.

The proposed cut in manpower along with plans to retire some older aircraft and reform benefits for troops could run into stiff resistance in Congress.

A senior US military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity, acknowledged the political challenge.

“We’re going to need some help from our elected representatives to get this budget across the finish line,” the officer said.

Several members of the Senate Armed Services Committee immediately expressed reservations about the budget proposal.

Republican Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri, who sits on the committee, said the proposals had the “potential to harm America’s military readiness.”

The Pentagon had previously planned to downsize the ground force to about 490,000.

But Hagel warned that to adapt to future threats “the army must accelerate the pace and increase the scale of its post-war drawdown.”

Hagel also said the army national guard and reserves would be cut by five percent.

The smaller force would entail some “added risk” but it would still be able to defeat an adversary in one region while also “supporting” air and naval operations in another, he said.

The Pentagon for years had planned to ensure the army could fight two major wars at the same time but that doctrine has been abandoned.

Even under the planned reductions, the US Army will remain one of the largest in the world and the American military’s budget still dwarfs other countries’ defense spending.

While the army will see troop numbers drop, the military’s elite special operations forces will be increased to 69,700 — up from 66,000 currently.

- Retiring old aircraft -

The proposed budget also calls for scrapping the Air Force’s entire fleet of A-10 “tank killer” aircraft and retiring the storied U-2 spy plane that dates back to the 1950s.

The A-10 enjoys backing from some lawmakers but commanders want to invest in the new hi-tech F-35 fighter jet and the unmanned Global Hawk surveillance drone.

The budget would reduce the US Navy’s planned fleet of littoral combat ships, a small vessel designed for coastal waters that faces questions about its reliability.

Instead of 52 LCS ships, the budget calls for building only 32 and requires the navy to study developing similar ships with heavier weapons and tougher defenses.

Venturing into politically sensitive territory, Hagel called for slowing growth in pay and benefits — which make up nearly half the Pentagon’s budget — and closing more bases in the United States.

Lawmakers have long resisted base closures or any reform of pay, pensions or other benefits.

Military spending doubled after the attacks of September 11, 2001 but has started to decline as lawmakers push to slash government budgets.

Under a bipartisan accord adopted in December to avert automatic spending cuts, the Defense Department will have a $496 billion budget for fiscal year 2015.

But the Pentagon is backing a $26 billion “opportunity” fund that would bolster training and other programs.

http://news.yahoo.com/pentagon-proposes-shrink-us-army-pre-wwii-level-183915098.html;_ylt=AwrTWf1X8gtTyCsAGVTQtDMD

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Obama’s Era of Austerity is Over — Let The Big Spending Beginning — President Is Delusional Suffers From Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — Videos

Posted on February 22, 2014. Filed under: Agriculture, American History, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Constitution, Economics, Education, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Food, Foreign Policy, government spending, Health Care, history, Illegal, Immigration, Inflation, IRS, Language, Law, Legal, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Math, Obamacare, People, Philosophy, Politics, Private Sector, Public Sector, Rants, Raves, Resources, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Unemployment, Unions, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Project_1

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 216: February 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 215: February 20, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 214: February 19, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 213: February 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 212: February 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 211: February 14, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 210: February 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 201: January 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 199: January 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 198: January 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 197: January 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 196: January 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 193: January 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 191: January 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 189: January 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 188: January 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 187: January 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 186: January 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 185: January 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 184: December 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 183: December 17, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 182: December 16, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 181: December 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 180: December 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 179: December 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 178: December 5, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 177: December 2, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 176: November 27, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 175: November 26, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 174: November 25, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 173: November 22, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 172: November 21, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 171: November 20, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 170: November 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 169: November 18, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 168: November 15, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 167: November 14, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 166: November 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 165: November 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 164: November 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 163: November 8, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 162: November 7, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 161: November 4, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 160: November 1, 2013

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 211-216

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or DownloadShow 202-210

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 194-201

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 184-193

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 174-183

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Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 158-164

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 151-157

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 143-150

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 135-142

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 131-134

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 124-130

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 121-123

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Story 1: Obama’s Era of Austerity is Over — Let The Big Spending Beginning — President Is Delusional Suffers From Spending Addiction Disorder (SAD) — Videos

 Congressional Budget Office’s newest reports

45086-land-Figure1

In the past few years, debt held by the public has been significantly greater relative to GDP than at any time since just after World War II, and under current law it will continue to be quite high by historical standards during the next decade. With debt so large, federal spending on interest payments will increase substantially as interest rates rise to more typical levels. Moreover, because federal borrowing generally reduces national saving, the capital stock and wages will be smaller than if debt was lower. In addition, lawmakers would have less flexibility than they otherwise would to use tax and spending policies to respond to unanticipated challenges. Finally, such a large debt poses a greater risk of precipitating a fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose so much confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget that the government would be unable to borrow at affordable rates.

http://cbo.gov/publication/45086

Federal Budget Deficits Are Projected to Decline Through 2015 but Rise Thereafter, Further Boosting Federal Debt

posted by Barry Blom & Leigh Angres on february 20, 2014

CBO recently released The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2014 to 2024. In that report, CBO projects that if current laws remain in place, the federal budget deficit will total $514 billion in fiscal year 2014. That deficit will be $166 billion smaller than the figure posted in 2013 and down sharply from the shortfalls recorded between 2009 and 2012, which exceeded $1 trillion annually. At 3.0 percent of gross domestic product (GDP), this year’s deficit would be near the average experienced over the past 40 years and about 7 percentage points lower than the figure recorded in 2009.

Today’s post summarizes CBO’s assessment of the budget outlook over the next decade. Three more posts—to appear over the next several days—will provide more detail about the outlook for spending, revenues, and the economy. One more post will expand upon CBO’s economic forecast, explaining the reasons behind the slow recovery of the labor market.

Under Current Law, Federal Debt Will Grow to 79 Percent of GDP at the End of 2024, CBO Estimates

CBO constructs it baseline projections of federal revenues and spending over the coming decade under the assumption that current laws generally remain unchanged. Under that assumption, revenues are projected to grow by about 1 percentage point of GDP over the next 10 years—from 17.5 percent in 2014 to 18.4 percent in 2024. But outlays are projected to rise twice as much, from 20.5 percent of GDP in 2014 to 22.4 percent in 2024. The increase in outlays reflects substantial growth in the cost of the largest benefit programs—Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid—and in payments of interest on the government’s debt; those increases would more than offset a significant decline in discretionary spending relative to the size of the economy.

Although the deficit in CBO’s baseline projections continues to decline as a percentage of GDP in 2015, to 2.6 percent, it then starts to increase again in 2016, reaching 4.0 percent of GDP in 2024. That figure for the end of the 10-year projection period is roughly 1 percentage point above the average deficit over the past 40 years relative to the size of the economy.

That pattern of lower deficits initially, followed by higher deficits for the remainder of the projection period, would cause debt held by the public to follow a similar trajectory (see the figure below). Relative to the nation’s output, debt held by the public is projected to decline from 74 percent of GDP in 2014 to 72 percent of GDP in 2017, but to rise thereafter, to 79 percent of GDP at the end of 2024. (As recently as the end of 2007, debt held by the public was equal to 35 percent of GDP.)

Federal Debt Held by the Public

In the past few years, debt held by the public has been significantly greater relative to GDP than at any time since just after World War II, and under current law it will continue to be quite high by historical standards during the next decade. With debt so large, federal spending on interest payments will increase substantially as interest rates rise to more typical levels. Moreover, because federal borrowing generally reduces national saving, the capital stock and wages will be smaller than if debt was lower. In addition, lawmakers would have less flexibility than they otherwise would to use tax and spending policies to respond to unanticipated challenges. Finally, such a large debt poses a greater risk of precipitating a fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose so much confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget that the government would be unable to borrow at affordable rates. (For a discussion of the consequences of elevated debt, see CBO’s December 2013 report Choices for Deficit Reduction: An Update.)

Projected Deficits Reflect Substantial Growth in the Cost of the Largest Benefit Programs

Projected deficits and debt for the coming decade reflect some of the long-term budgetary pressures facing the nation. The aging of the population, the rising costs of health care, and the expansion in federal subsidies for health insurance that is now under way will substantially boost federal spending on Social Security and the government’s major health care programs by 2 percentage points of GDP over the next 10 years (see the figure below). But the pressures of aging and the rising costs of health care will intensify during the next few decades. Unless the laws governing those programs are changed—or the increased spending is accompanied by corresponding reductions in other spending relative to GDP, by sufficiently higher tax revenues, or by a combination of those changes—debt will rise sharply relative to GDP after 2024. (For a more detailed discussion of the long-term budget situation, see CBO’s September 2013 report The 2013 Long-Term Budget Outlook.)

Spending and Revenues Projected in CBO's Baseline, Compared With Levels in 1974

Moreover, holding discretionary spending within the limits required under current law—an assumption that underlies these projections—may be quite difficult. The caps on discretionary budget authority established by the Budget Control Act of 2011 (Public Law 112-25) and subsequently amended will reduce such spending to an unusually small amount relative to the size of the economy. With those caps in place, CBO projects, discretionary spending will equal 5.2 percent of GDP in 2024; by comparison, the lowest share for discretionary spending in any year since 1962 (the earliest year for which such data have been reported) was 6.0 percent in 1999. (Nevertheless, total federal spending would be a larger share of GDP than its average during the past 40 years because of higher spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, other health insurance subsidies for low-income people, and interest payments on the debt.) Because the allocation of discretionary spending is determined by annual appropriation acts, lawmakers have not yet decided which specific government services and benefits will be reduced or constrained to meet the specified overall limits.

The Budget Outlook for the Coming Decade Has Worsened Since May 2013

The baseline budget outlook has worsened since May 2013, when CBO last published its 10-year projections. A description of the changes in CBO’s baseline since May 2013 can be found in Appendix A of the report. At that time, deficits projected under current law totaled $6.3 trillion for the 2014–2023 period, or about 3 percent of GDP. Deficits are now projected to be about $1 trillion larger. The bulk of that change occurred in CBO’s estimates of revenues: The agency has reduced its projection of total revenues by $1.6 trillion, mostly because of changes in the economic outlook. A decrease of $0.6 trillion in projected outlays through 2023 partially offset that change.

Barry Blom is an analyst in CBO’s Budget Analysis Division and Leigh Angres is special assistant to the CBO Director.

how_congress_spends_your_money

Bar Chart Data Source: Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) published by the U. S. Treasury Department. WE DON’T MAKE THIS UP! IT COMES FROM THE U. S. GOVERNMENT! NO ADJUSTMENTS.

The MTS published in October, reports the final actual expenditures for the previous FY. This chart shows FY2013 actual spending data. Here is the link to download your own copy from the Treasury Department web site.

The chart normally shows the proposed budget line for the next fiscal year (FY2014 started 1 October 2013), but the two-year deal for 2014-2015 signed in December 2013, has so few details that showing a “budget” for 2014 or 2015 is no possible. And now Congress has passed the Appropriations (spending) bill that funds the budget through end of FY2014. The details are in a 1500+ page bill that no one in Congress read. But you CAN read it. Here it is H.R.3547 – Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2014. (it’s a large pdf document … give it time.)

But we may have an option; we will use the historical tables published by the OMB, about mid-FY2014, take the data from the “estimated” 2014 column. Look for it later.

The Congressional Budget Office reported on the Federal Debt and the Risk of a Financial Crisis in this report on the non-budget.

Look at the bar chart to find items that are growing and items that are being reduced. The largest growth is at the Department of Agriculture; it handles Food Stamps (SNAP). You pay taxes, your money is paying for food stamps.

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Here is a MUST SEE … The Budget in Pictures!

NDAC studies the Budget Proposals submitted to the U.S. Senate each year by the President of the United States and the House of Representatives. One of the documents that goes along with the budget proposals, “Historical Tables“, is published by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). Our analysis is discussed on the home page of this web site.

http://www.federalbudget.com/chartinfo.html

Out-of-Control Spending Is to Blame for America’s Deficit Problem

Federal spending is projected to grow at a rapid pace beyond the 10-year budget window. Without reforms, spending on interest on the debt, health care programs (Medicare, Medicaid, Obamacare, etc.), and Social Security will reach unsustainable levels. As a result, these spending levels will cause exploding deficits as tax revenues will be at their modern average level (1952-2008).

americas-deficit-federal-spending-680

Where Does All the Money Go?

In 2012, the major entitlement programs-Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care-consumed 45 percent of all federal spending. These programs, and interest on the debt, are on track to consume an even greater share of spending in future years, while the portion of federal spending dedicated to other national priorities will decline.

SHARE OF FEDERAL SPENDING IN 2012

where-did-your-tax-dollar-go-680

Entitlement Program Spending Is Massive

Annual spending on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and other health programs is massive compared to other federal spending priorities. There is too much waste and inappropriate spending in the discretionary budget as well, but Congress will not be able to rein in spending and debt without reforming the entitlement programs.

ESTIMATED ANNUAL SPENDING IN 2014

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Publicly Held Debt Set to Skyrocket

Runaway spending on Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security will drive federal debt to unsustainable levels over the next few decades. Total national debt comprises publicly held debt (the most relevant to credit markets) and debt that one part of the government owes to another, such as the Social Security Trust Fund.

national-debt-skyrocket-680

All Tax Revenue Will Go Toward Entitlements and Net Interest by 2030

In less than two decades, all projected tax revenues would be consumed by three federal programs (Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid, which includes CHIP and Obamacare) and interest on the debt. Entitlement reform is a must.

entitlements-historical-tax-levels-680

What if a Typical Family Spent and Borrowed Like the Federal Government?

Families understand that it is unwise to repeatedly spend much more than they take in. But Washington continues its shopping spree on the taxpayer credit card with seemingly no regard to the stack of bills the nation has already piled up.

typical-family-spent-like-government-680

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The Beatles – Taxman

How Obama could kill the Democratic Party

The Price of a U.S. Credit Rating Downgrade

U.S. deficit to decline, then rise as labor market struggles: CBO

Top 10 MILITARY BUDGETS

America : DHS preparing for possible Riots / Martial Law on Nov 1st over Food Stamps

With 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to era of austerity

By Zachary A. Goldfarb

President Obama’s forthcoming budget request will seek tens of billions of dollars in fresh spending for domestic priorities while abandoning a compromise proposal to tame the national debt in part by trimming Social Security benefits.

With the 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency and to his efforts to find common ground with Republicans. Instead, the president will focus on pumping new cash into job training, early-childhood education and other programs aimed at bolstering the middle class, providing Democrats with a policy blueprint heading into the midterm elections.

As part of that strategy, Obama will jettison the framework he unveiled last year for a so-called grand bargain that would have raised taxes on the rich and reined in skyrocketing retirement spending. A centerpiece of that framework was a proposal — demanded by GOP leaders — to use a less-generous measure of inflation to calculate Social Security benefits.

The idea infuriated Democrats and never gained much traction with rank-and-file Republicans, who also were unwilling to contemplate tax increases of any kind. On Thursday, administration officials said that the grand-bargain framework remains on the table but that it was time to move on.

“Over the course of last year, Republicans consistently showed a lack of willingness to negotiate on a deficit-reduction deal, refusing to identify even one unfair tax loophole they would be willing to close,” said a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe the budget before its official release. “That is not going to stop the president from promoting new policies that should be part of our public debate.”

Republicans said emerging details of the president’s budget prove he was never serious about addressing the nation’s long-term debt problems.

“This reaffirms what has become all too apparent: the president has no interest in doing anything, even modest, to address our looming debt crisis,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement. “The one and only idea the president has to offer is even more job-destroying tax hikes, and that non-starter won’t do anything to save the entitlement programs that are critical to so many Americans.”

The new budget request, due out March 4, comes during a relative lull in Washington’s lengthy budget wars. Late last year, Congress approved a two-year spending plan negotiated by the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), that would ease automatic cuts, known as the sequester, that were eating away at agency spending. And this month, Congress agreed to forgo another battle over the federal debt limit, voting to suspend its enforcement until March 2015.

The lack of conflict is due in part to the collapse of the deficit as a political issue. While annual budget deficits remain high by historical standards, they have shrunken rapidly over the past few years as the economy recovered and Congress acted to cut spending.

The latest estimates from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office show the deficit falling to$514 billion this year and to $478 billion in fiscal 2015 — well below the trillion-dollar deficits the nation racked up during the recession and immediately afterward. But the CBO warned that deficits would start to grow again in a few years.

n recognition of that fact, Obama would retain some parts of his grand-bargain framework, including a proposal to require wealthy seniors to pay more for Medicare benefits than they do now. White House officials said the president continues to believe that entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security must be reformed to be sustainable.

Meanwhile, Obama would fully pay for proposed new spending in his budget request, administration officials said, including $56 billion for what they called “Opportunity, Growth and Security Initiative.” The package, which would be split between domestic programs and defense, will include fresh cash for 45 new manufacturing institutes; a “Race to the Top” for states that promote energy efficiency; new job training programs and apprenticeships; and expanded educational programs for pre­schoolers.

White House officials declined to say Thursday how they would fund the initiative. But Obama has in the past proposed limiting the value of income-tax deductions for wealthy households and closing a variety of corporate tax breaks.

A senior administration official said the budget would also propose new corporate tax rules aimed at preventing companies from moving profits overseas to avoid U.S. taxes. For instance, the rules will seek to limit a company’s ability to borrow domestically — and take large tax deductions on the interest — and then invest the money overseas.

Prohibiting corporations from gaming the tax code has been a popular issue among Senate Democrats and would help emphasize bread-and-butter themes in a year when Democrats will also be focusing on raising the minimum wage and other populist measures.

“President Obama’s budget will be a powerful statement of Democratic principles,” Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said in a statement.

Senior administration officials said they decided to chart a more partisan, aspirational path after Republicans failed to respond to the olive branch offered last year. Then, after two years of near-misses on the budget in negotiations with Boehner, Obama still believed a deal was possible.

Now, they said, the president is not so optimistic. And he believes it is up to Republicans to make the next move.

At the same time, the nation’s debt problem has become markedly less urgent, they said, leading the president to back away from the most controversial part of his debt-reduction framework — the proposal to adopt a new measure of inflation known as the chained consumer price index, or chained CPI.

Although other cost-cutting proposals could yet cause tensions within his party, Obama’s decision not to include chained CPI in his budget request immediately won praise from Democrats.

“I applaud President Obama for his important decision to protect Social Security,” Sen. Bernard Sanders, the liberal independent from Vermont, said in a statement. “With the middle class struggling and more people living in poverty than ever before, we cannot afford to make life even more difficult for seniors and some of the most vulnerable people in America.”

Officials said Obama’s budget request will include other nuggets of note. For example, it assumes that an overhaul of the nation’s immigration laws will pass Congress despite deep divisions in Republican ranks. It also assumes that a sharp, but somewhat mysterious slowdown in health-care spending will continue throughout the next decade.

As a result, the White House projects that annual budget deficits will fall below 2 percent of gross domestic product by the end of the decade. That outlook is much rosier than CBO projections, which show the deficit rising to 4 percent of GDP in 2024.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/economy/with-2015-budget-request-obama-will-call-for-an-end-to-era-of-austerity/2014/02/20/332808c2-9a6e-11e3-b931-0204122c514b_story.html

Obama’s “End of Austerity” Budget Is Incoherent

Kevin Glass

President Obama’s legally-required but constantly-delayed official budget request to Congress will be on Capitol Hill soon. The Washington Post reportsthat “Obama will call for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency.” There is much wrong with this worldview.

The only coherent way in which “austerity” has defined much of President Obama’s presidency is one in which America faced a once-in-a-generation economic crisis that President Obama himself responded to by massively ramping up federal spending over the course of his first few years in office. That increase in federal spending was combined with below-average tax revenue to create massive budget deficits that everyone, including President Obama, agreed were a problem.

In accordance with the general principles of Keynesian economics, Barack Obama enacted policies that cut the deficit as we continue to climb back out of the 2008 recession. Now, though, President Obama thinks the deficit is no longer a problem – so it’s time to increase it.

If I were a self-absorbed “fact checker” I’d rate this claim half-true. We’ve largely tamed the medium-term deficit through a mixture of tax hikes and spending cuts. Taming the deficit doesn’t mean that it won’t be a problem in the future – and indeed, the Congressional Budget Office’s newest reports confirm that the deficit should still rate highly on the problems that policymakers should be looking to solve.

The CBO’s long-term budget report finds that the deficit will dip in 2014 and 2015 but then will start rising – and will never stop due to our increasing health and retirement obligations. The CBO reports on why that’s bad:

In the past few years, debt held by the public has been significantly greater relative to GDP than at any time since just after World War II, and under current law it will continue to be quite high by historical standards during the next decade. With debt so large, federal spending on interest payments will increase substantially as interest rates rise to more typical levels. Moreover, because federal borrowing generally reduces national saving, the capital stock and wages will be smaller than if debt was lower. In addition, lawmakers would have less flexibility than they otherwise would to use tax and spending policies to respond to unanticipated challenges. Finally, such a large debt poses a greater risk of precipitating a fiscal crisis, during which investors would lose so much confidence in the government’s ability to manage its budget that the government would be unable to borrow at affordable rates.

It’s absurd that anyone would need to have a refresher on this, but apparently it’s needed: more debt is worse than less debt!

The CBO also confirms what has become even more apparent in the wake of Obamacare: the federal government is becoming less of a traditional government and more of a social insurance state, as more and more spending will go toward health and retirement entitlements, as well as the mere cost of servicing debt:

As Jonathan Chait points out, as a practical political reality, fighting the rise of our retirement obligations has about a ten-year lag time. It’s impractical to change the structure of retirement benefits – both Social Security and Medicare – for current and near-future beneficiaries. We need to get started on reforms now.

President Obama may want to put an end to the “era of austerity,” but it’s an era that he explicitly pushed for through his rhetoric, his desire for tax hikes and his compromises on spending cuts. The medium-term deficit might be under control, but that doesn’t mean fighting future deficits should no longer be a priority for policymakers.

http://townhall.com/tipsheet/kevinglass/2014/02/21/obamas-end-of-austerity-budget-is-incoherent-n1798636

Obama budget declares end to … austerity?

Say, did you know that we are living in the age of austerity budgets in Washington? This year’s budget will spend more than last year’s $3.44 trillion, but not as much as Barack Obama requested for FY2014, which was an apparently austere $3.778 trillion. Nevertheless, the Washington Post reports that a newly-emboldened President will demandan end to an “era of austerity” that we haven’t seen in decades with his new FY2015 budget proposal:

President Obama’s forthcoming budget request will seek tens of billions of dollars in fresh spending for domestic priorities while abandoning a compromise proposal to tame the national debt in part by trimming Social Security benefits.

With the 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency and to his efforts to find common ground with Republicans. Instead, the president will focus on pumping new cash into job training, early-childhood education and other programs aimed at bolstering the middle class, providing Democrats with a policy blueprint heading into the midterm elections. …

Republicans said emerging details of the president’s budget prove he was never serious about addressing the nation’s long-term debt problems.

“This reaffirms what has become all too apparent: the president has no interest in doing anything, even modest, to address our looming debt crisis,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said in a statement. “The one and only idea the president has to offer is even more job-destroying tax hikes, and that non-starter won’t do anything to save the entitlement programs that are critical to so many Americans.”

The new budget request, due out March 4, comes during a relative lull in Washington’s lengthy budget wars. Late last year, Congress approved a two-year spending plan negotiated by the chairmen of the House and Senate Budget committees, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), that would ease automatic cuts, known as the sequester, that were eating away at agency spending. And this month, Congress agreed to forgo another battle over the federal debt limit, voting to suspend its enforcement until March 2015.

So what will be the top-line number for the FY2015 budget that will end this “era of austerity”? Actually, the Post doesn’t report the top-line outlay number, and the OMB doesn’t have the budget request available on the White House portal yet. One presumes that ending austerity means a demand north of the $3.498 trillion that House Republicans proposed in their budget plan from late last year. It may just be an additional $56 billion over the actual FY2014 levels, which would make it far below his FY2014 proposed budget.

Let’s take a look at all that austerity in the Obama presidency, shall we? Heritage produced this handy graphic in the middle of last year, but it’s very useful now:

heritage-fed-spending

Outlays for FY2014 authorized in the recent budget deal are still a bit ambiguous in the reams of data from both Congress and the White House, but CBO estimates it at $3.54 trillion. At that level, we are spending 9.3% more in FY2014 than in FY2008, the last budget signed by George W. Bush (Democrats stalled the FY2009 budget with continuing resolutions until Obama signed an omnibus bill in March 2009 to complete that budget).If the new budget ends “austerity” by returning to Obama’s original top-line outlay demand of last year’s budget request, that will mean an additional increase of federal spending of 6.7% in just one year. If it’s just $56 billion more than the actual FY2014 outlays, then the notion that this ends “austerity” is doubly laughable.

The notion that we’ve been laboring under an “era of austerity” is as ridiculous and out of touch as … well, as most of Obama’s budget requests during his presidency. This one has just as much chance of being enacted, too. The Post suggests that Democrats can use this to beat up Republicans on the campaign trail, but the GOP can easily parry that with this question: “Do you really believe Washington deserves a 6.7% raise after ObamaCare?” Good luck winning on this issue.

http://hotair.com/archives/2014/02/21/obama-budget-declares-end-to-austerity/

Obama budget could be costly to Dems

By Chris Stirewalt

OBAMA BUDGET COULD BE COSTLY TO DEMS
The White House is teasing the president’s soon-to-be released blueprint for the next federal fiscal year. In a nod to his core liberal supporters, the president has dropped a prior nod to entitlement fixes, so-called “chained CPI,” a change in how to calculate the size of future increases to Social Security and other programs. The president is sucking up to his political base, the members of which consider the current trajectory for future hikes to be sacrosanct. That’s pretty good politics, especially since Obama did not seem particularly enthused about the idea before and that there is zero chance that this budget or any budget will be passed this election year. Republicans may be harrumphing about the president’s “unserious” approach to the debt, but it’s not like they thought otherwise before. Nor will the House GOP budget be anything more than pipe dreams. Poof!

You call that austerity? - Many pixels are being slaughtered to discuss the president’s irrelevant budget. Why? Partly, it’s because reporters salivate over anything that looks exclusive or new in a city where governing goes to die. Here in the great gridlock desert, this stuff may pass for news. But also because liberals are excited to see their champion drop the smokescreen of deficit concern. The prevailing Democratic wisdom is that deficits don’t matter and that Republicans ought to shut up about them. The WaPo enthused: “With the 2015 budget request, Obama will call for an end to the era of austerity that has dogged much of his presidency and to his efforts to find common ground with Republicans.” Austerity? The federal government continues to spend way more than it takes in and outlays in the Obama era have increased. From 2009 through 2012, the administration spent about $3.5 trillion a year. The approximate federal spending for the fiscal year that ended in October was $3.62 trillion. The estimate for the current year: $3.78 trillion. The Greeks would love to get some austerity like that.

Unicorns, rainbows and midterms - The WaPo goes on to say that instead of worrying about deficits, “…the president will focus on pumping new cash into job training, early-childhood education and other programs aimed at bolstering the middle class, providing Democrats with a policy blueprint heading into the midterm elections… The lack of conflict is due in part to the collapse of the deficit as a political issue. While annual budget deficits remain high by historical standards, they have shrunken rapidly over the past few years as the economy recovered and Congress acted to cut spending.” Wait. What? A Fox News Poll at the end of January showed that more voters said the federal deficit and Social Security outranked terrorism, foreign policy, guns and immigration as the most important issues for the government. Only the economy and health care were higher on the list of voter concerns. Nothing come close to those two, but do Democrats really think that they are off the hook for being the party of more borrowing and spending? Just because Republicans scampered away from the last debt limit lift fight doesn’t mean this isn’t potent stuff. If Democrats believe that borrowing more than half-a-trillion dollars can be turned into a political plus, they must be back to smoking Hopium. And remember, we haven’t even heard about all of the new taxes that the president will propose. Democrats are marching forward with the banner of bigger government aloft at precisely the moment Americans are fed up with ObamaCare the last big government initiative the Obama Democrats bequeathed them.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/21/obama-budget-could-be-costly-to-dems/

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Who Will Be Obama’s Chief of News Police? News Czar — Creepy Tyranny! — Videos

Posted on February 20, 2014. Filed under: American History, Blogroll, Business, Climate, College, Communications, Constitution, Crime, Education, Employment, Federal Communications Commission, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, government, government spending, history, Inflation, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Public Sector, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Unemployment, Unions, Video, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 213: February 18, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 212: February 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 211: February 14, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 210: February 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 201: January 30, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 199: January 28, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 198: January 27, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 197: January 24, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 196: January 22, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 193: January 16, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 191: January 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 189: January 9, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 188: January 8, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 187: January 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 186: January 6, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 185: January 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 184: December 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 183: December 17, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 182: December 16, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 181: December 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 180: December 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 179: December 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 178: December 5, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 177: December 2, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 176: November 27, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 175: November 26, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 174: November 25, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 173: November 22, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 172: November 21, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 171: November 20, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 170: November 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 169: November 18, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 168: November 15, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 167: November 14, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 166: November 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 165: November 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 164: November 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 163: November 8, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 162: November 7, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 161: November 4, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 160: November 1, 2013

The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 211-213

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or DownloadShow 202-210

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 194-201

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 184-193

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 174-183

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 165-173

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 158-164

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 151-157

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 143-150

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 135-142

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 131-134

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 124-130

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 121-123

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 118-120

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 113 -117

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 112

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 108-111

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 106-108

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Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 101-103

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 98-100

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 94-97

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 93

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 92

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 91

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 88-90

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 84-87

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 79-83

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 74-78

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 71-73

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 68-70

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 65-67

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 62-64

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 58-61

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 55-57

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 52-54

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 49-51

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 45-48

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Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 30-33

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 27-29

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 17-26

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 16-22

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 10-15

Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Shows 01-09

Story 1: Who Will Be Obama’s Chief of News Police? News Czar — Creepy Tyranny! — Videos

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censorship_press stop_asking_questions_freedom_of_the_press_obama_style

Freedom of the press or tyranny

freedom_of_the_press

Greta Van Interviews FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai – ” Government Doesn’t Have a Place in the Newsroom “

FCC newsroom study

Krauthammer’s Take: FCC Newsroom Study Latest Effort ‘to Trample on What Rights are Remaining’

FCC Plan For Newsroom Monitors Sparks Constitutional Concern – Wake Up America – America’

Obama’s News Police – WH Pushes FCC To Install Newsroom Spies – Attack On First Amendment

U.S. Plunges in Global Press Freedom Rankings As Obama Wages War on Whistleblowers

The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom

Why is the agency studying ‘perceived station bias’ and asking about coverage choices?

News organizations often disagree about what Americans need to know. MSNBC, for example, apparently believes that traffic in Fort Lee, N.J., is the crisis of our time. Fox News, on the other hand, chooses to cover the September 2012 attacks on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi more heavily than other networks. The American people, for their part, disagree about what they want to watch.

But everyone should agree on this: The government has no place pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.

Unfortunately, the Federal Communications Commission, where I am a commissioner, does not agree. Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

How does the FCC plan to dig up all that information? First, the agency selected eight categories of “critical information” such as the “environment” and “economic opportunities,” that it believes local newscasters should cover. It plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their “news philosophy” and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.

The FCC also wants to wade into office politics. One question for reporters is: “Have you ever suggested coverage of what you consider a story with critical information for your customers that was rejected by management?” Follow-up questions ask for specifics about how editorial discretion is exercised, as well as the reasoning behind the decisions.

Participation in the Critical Information Needs study is voluntary—in theory. Unlike the opinion surveys that Americans see on a daily basis and either answer or not, as they wish, the FCC’s queries may be hard for the broadcasters to ignore. They would be out of business without an FCC license, which must be renewed every eight years.

This is not the first time the agency has meddled in news coverage. Before Critical Information Needs, there was the FCC’s now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which began in 1949 and required equal time for contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. Though the Fairness Doctrine ostensibly aimed to increase the diversity of thought on the airwaves, many stations simply chose to ignore controversial topics altogether, rather than air unwanted content that might cause listeners to change the channel.

The Fairness Doctrine was controversial and led to lawsuits throughout the 1960s and ’70s that argued it infringed upon the freedom of the press. The FCC finally stopped enforcing the policy in 1987, acknowledging that it did not serve the public interest. In 2011 the agency officially took it off the books. But the demise of the Fairness Doctrine has not deterred proponents of newsroom policing, and the CIN study is a first step down the same dangerous path.

The FCC says the study is merely an objective fact-finding mission. The results will inform a report that the FCC must submit to Congress every three years on eliminating barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communications industry.

This claim is peculiar. How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?

Should all stations follow MSNBC’s example and cut away from a discussion with a former congresswoman about the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records to offer live coverage of Justin Bieber‘s bond hearing? As a consumer of news, I have an opinion. But my opinion shouldn’t matter more than anyone else’s merely because I happen to work at the FCC.

Mr. Pai is a commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304680904579366903828260732

Why the FCC should keep its nose out of TV newsrooms

By 

What on earth is the FCC thinking?

The last thing we need is the government mucking around with news content.

The title of this Big Brother-ish effort by the Federal Communications Commission sounds innocuous enough: “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs.” But it’s a Trojan horse that puts federal officials in the newsroom, precisely where they shouldn’t be.

Don’t take my word for it. The FCC says it wants to examine “the process by which stories are selected,” as well as “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”

Perceived station bias? Are you kidding me? Government bureaucrats are going to decide whether a newsroom is being fair?

Keep in mind that the commission has the power to renew or reject broadcast television licenses. During Watergate, Richard Nixon’s FCC challenged two TV licenses of stations owned by the Washington Post. So mere information gathering can become a little more serious, given that enormous clout.

As FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai notes in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, the commission “plans to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their ‘news philosophy’ and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information.” The first test is slated for this spring in Columbia, S.C.

I know that television stations are licensed in the public interest. It’s fair for the FCC to examine how much news a station offers, as opposed to lucrative game shows and syndicated reruns. But the content of that news ought to be off-limits.

The Fairness Doctrine, which once required TV and radio stations to offer equal time for opposing points of view, is no more, and good riddance (since it discouraged stations from taking a stand on much of anything). The Obama administration swears it’s not coming back.

How, then, to explain this incursion into the substance of journalism, which seems utterly at odds with the notion of a free and unfettered press?

Now some of the commentary about this is overheated, with talk of an FCC “thought police” and so on. The effort is beginning in a single city. But already there are signs that the commission is backing off.

Adweek reports that “controversial” sections of the study will be “revisited” under new chairman Tom Wheeler. An FCC official told the publication that the agency “has no intention of interfering in the coverage and editorial choices that journalists make. We’re closely reviewing the proposed research design to determine if an alternative approach is merited.”

The FCC should keep its alternative approaches to itself, as even the posing of these questions carries an intimidation factor. The government has no business meddling in how journalism is practiced. And if George W. Bush’s FCC had tried this, it would be a front-page story.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/02/20/why-fcc-should-keep-its-nose-out-tv-newsrooms/

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Independent Party — A New Third Party To Challenge Both Democratic and Republican Parties — Price $10 Billion — Who Will Fund It? — American People — Videos

Posted on February 17, 2014. Filed under: Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Constitution, Economics, Education, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Psychology, Rants, Raves, Talk Radio, Tax Policy, Taxes, Unemployment, Video, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 212: February 17, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 211: February 14, 2014 

Pronk Pops Show 210: February 13, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 209: February 12, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 200: January 29, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 195: January 21, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 194: January 17, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 176: November 27, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 168: November 15, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 165: November 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 164: November 11, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 160: November 1, 2013

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Story 1: Independent Party —  A New Third Party To Challenge Both Democratic and Republican Parties —  Price $10 Billion — Who Will Fund It? — American People — Videos

How the GOP Can Attract Young People: Rand Paul and Glenn Beck

Third Party Time? Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, Ben Stein, and Gary Johnson Weigh In

The State of the Two Party System

The Evolution of America’s Major Political Parties

Third Parties in America

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President Obama Rewrites The Affordable Care Act — Breaking Oath of Office Once Again — Videos

Posted on February 11, 2014. Filed under: American History, Banking, Blogroll, Business, College, Communications, Diasters, Economics, Education, Federal Government, Federal Government Budget, Fiscal Policy, Freedom, government, government spending, Health Care, history, Inflation, IRS, Law, liberty, Life, Links, media, Monetary Policy, Money, Obamacare, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Press, Private Sector, Public Sector, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Security, Strategy, Tax Policy, Taxes, Unions, Video, Wealth, Wisdom, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

Pronk Pops Show 208: February 11, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 207: February 10, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 206: February 7, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 205: February 5, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 203: February 3, 2014

Pronk Pops Show 202: January 31, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 184: December 19, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 182: December 16, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 181: December 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 180: December 12, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 178: December 5, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 177: December 2, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 164: November 11, 2013

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts Portfolio

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Story 1: President Obama Rewrites The Affordable Care Act — Breaking Oath of Office Once Again — Videos

NEW-OBAMACARE-DELAY

obamacare_permanent_delay_graphic

OBAMACARE, obamacartoon

obamacare-everyone-hates-political-cartoon

The truth about ObamaCare and the entitlement culture

Politics or policy behind latest ObamaCare delay?

CBS: Obamacare Delayed Again

Wh Delays Obamacare’s Employer Mandate Until After Midterm – Employers Not Allowed To Fire Anyone?

White House announces another delay in Obamacare employer mandate

Mark Halperin: ObamaCare Mandate Delay Screams Of Politics

Rep. Charlie Rangel discusses the latest ObamaCare delay

Another Day, Another Delay – Obamacare Employer Mandate Delayed – Special Report 1st Segment

CNN: Latest ObamaCare Delay Driven By Politics And Another Admission Of Problems With The Law

‘This is stuff you do in a banana republic’ Krauthammer on Obamacare employer mandate delay

CBS: Washington Children Lose Access To Doctors Due To ObamaCare

Obama’s New Delay of Employer Mandate Violates Plain Language of Law -

President Barack Obama’s Treasury Department issued a new  regulation today that for the second time directly violates the plain and unambiguous text of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by allowing some businesses to avoid the law’s Dec. 31, 2013 deadline to provide health insurance coverage to their employees.

Initially, on July 2, 2013, the administration unilaterally delayed the deadline for the employer mandate until 2015. Now, the administration is unilaterally delaying it for some businesses until 2016.

In its official summary of PPACA, the Congressional Research Service said: “(Sec. 1513, as modified by section 10106) Imposes fines on large employers (employers with more than 50 full-time employees) who fail to offer their full-time employees the opportunity to enroll in minimum essential coverage or who have a waiting period for enrollment of more than 60 days.”

The text of the law itself describes an “applicable large employer” as follows: “The term ‘applicable large employer’ means, with respect to a calendar year, an employer who employed an average of at least 50 full-time employees on business days during the preceding calendar year.”

The final words in the section of PPACA mandating that employers with more than 50 full-time employees provide their employees with “minimum essential coverage” imposes a specific statutory deadline for doing so. It says: “EFFECTIVE DATE.—The amendments made by this section shall apply to months beginning after December 31, 2013.”

Last summer, the administration unilaterally moved this hard statutory deadline back one year to 2015 for all employers with more than 50 full-time employees. Now, without any action by Congress, the administration is moving it back again for some employers—despite the plain language of the law.

The Treasury Department has issued a fact sheet explaining how the Obama administration’s new declaration changes the meaning of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The fact sheet says:

“To ensure a gradual phase-in and assist the employers to whom the policy does apply, the final rules provide, for 2015, that: The employer responsibility provision will generally apply to larger firms with 100 or more full-time employees starting in 2015 and employers with 50 or more full-time employees starting in 2016.”

The fact sheet goes on to say:

“To avoid a payment for failing to offer health coverage, employers need to offer coverage to 70 percent of their full-time employees in 2015 and 95 percent in 2016 and beyond, helping employers that, for example, may offer coverage to employees with 35 or more hours, but not yet to that fraction of their employees who work 30 to 34 hours.”

It further says:

“While the employer responsibility provisions will generally apply starting in 2015, they will not apply until 2016 to employers with at least 50 but fewer than 100 full-time employees if the employer provides an appropriate certification described in the rules.”

And also:

“Employers that are subject to the employer responsibility provisions in 2015 must offer coverage to at least 70 percent of full-time employees as one of the conditions for avoiding an assessable payment, rather than 95 percent which will begin in 2016.”

In sum, the law says that employers with “at least 50 full-time employees” must provide “minimum essential coverage” in the “months beginning after December 31, 2013” or pay a fine. The new declaration from the Obama administration’s Treasury Department says this part of the law no longer applies. It says employers with between 50 and 99 employees need not provide coverage until 2016 and larger employers need only provide coverage to 70 percent of their employees next year.

- See more at: http://cnsnews.com/news/article/terence-p-jeffrey/obama-s-new-delay-employer-mandate-violates-plain-language-law#sthash.YJKKRiAm.dpuf

Obama Delays Health-Care Mandate for Some Companies–Update

By Louise Radnofsky

A batch of employers won’t face a fine next year if they fail to provide health insurance to their workers, the Obama administration said Monday.

In regulations outlining the Affordable Care Act, the Treasury Department said employers with between 50 and 99 full-time workers won’t have to comply with the law’s requirement to provide insurance or pay a fee until 2016.

Companies with 100 workers or more could avoid penalties in 2015 if they showed they were offering coverage to at least 70 percent of their full-time workers, the Treasury said.

The move is a new, significant revision of the law after a series of delays and a troubled rollout. Originally, employers with the equivalent of 50 full-time workers or more had to offer coverage or pay a penalty starting at $2,000 per worker beginning in 2014.

That so-called employer mandate was seen as a cornerstone provision in the law’s goal of expanding insurance coverage to millions of Americans this year. But last summer the administration announced a surprise one-year reprieve in enforcement of the requirement, from 2014 to 2015.

Monday’s announcement of further delays comes as the administration weighs how much of the law to adjust in the wake of the rollout and the looming prospect of midterm elections.

A senior administration official said the shift reflects the administration’s observations on the law’s implementation and its willingness to acknowledge business concerns, though the official said that no single reason was behind the change.

Most large employers offer coverage to their workers, though not all employees accept it. Many of the companies that don’t offer coverage have fewer employees and are in lower-wage areas such as the hospitality, retail and agriculture sectors. They have been among the most vocal about the impact of the new requirements.

Some of those employers had begun trimming workers’ hours as a way to reduce their exposure to penalties, since the requirement to cover workers only applies to employees clocking 30 hours a week or more.

The administration also signaled on Monday that big employers that currently offer coverage voluntarily will likely see simpler requirements for how to prove that. However, full regulations detailing the reporting requirements haven’t been released, senior Treasury officials said.

Under the new rules, companies would be allowed during the phasing-in year to offer coverage specifically to a subset of employees, such as those working 35 hours or more a week, the Treasury said.

Senior Treasury officials said the shift was aimed at giving more time for smaller employers subject to the requirement to adjust and for all companies to consider the number of hours their employees worked and whether they could avoid cutting them.

The officials said employers who wanted to use the phase-in period would have to certify that they hadn’t decreased their employee numbers in order to qualify.

Treasury also set new rules for how the requirement would apply to workers such as volunteers and seasonal employees, saying that employers wouldn’t be penalized for failing to offer those people coverage, regardless of the number of hours they were working.

In recent months the administration has made a series of changes to the law that have further blunted its full impact this year. It has asked insurers to temporarily reinstate policies that had been canceled because they didn’t meet new requirements set by the law, even though the administration had previously described those plans as inadequate.

The botched launch of online insurance portals also prompted the Congressional Budget Office to revise its estimates for the number of people who would use the exchanges this year to 6 million, as well as another 8 million people who would gain coverage by signing up for Medicaid.

http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20140210-711590.html

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Snowden Used Automated Web Crawler To Scrap Data From Over 1.7 Million Restricted National Security Agency Files — Videos

Posted on February 10, 2014. Filed under: Blogroll, Books, Business, College, Communications, Computers, Computers, Constitution, Crime, Culture, Economics, Education, Employment, Foreign Policy, Fraud, government, government spending, Investments, Law, liberty, Life, Links, Literacy, Math, media, People, Philosophy, Photos, Politics, Radio, Rants, Raves, Regulations, Resources, Security, Strategy, Talk Radio, Technology, Unemployment, Video, War, Wealth, Wisdom | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

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The Pronk Pops Show Podcasts

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Pronk Pops Show 204: February 4, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 198: January 27, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 192: January 14, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 190: January 10, 2014

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Pronk Pops Show 184: December 19, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 183: December 17, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 182: December 16, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 181: December 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 180: December 12, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 179: December 11, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 178: December 5, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 177: December 2, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 176: November 27, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 175: November 26, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 173: November 22, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 172: November 21, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 170: November 19, 2013

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Pronk Pops Show 166: November 13, 2013

Pronk Pops Show 165: November 12, 2013

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Listen To Pronk Pops Podcast or Download Show 202-207

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Story 2: The Pronk Pops Show 207, February 10, 2014, Story 1: Snowden Used Automated Web Crawler To Scrap Data From Over 1.7 Million Restricted National Security Agency Files — Videos

Snowden Used Common, Low-Cost Tool To Get NSA Files: Report

Edward Snowden, v 1.0: NSA Whistleblower William Binney Tells All

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Web Crawler – CS101 – Udacity

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Snowden Used Low-Cost Tool to Best N.S.A.

By DAVID E. SANGER and ERIC SCHMITT

Intelligence officials investigating how Edward J. Snowden gained access to a huge trove of the country’s most highly classified documents say they have determined that he used inexpensive and widely available software to “scrape” the National Security Agency’s networks, and kept at it even after he was briefly challenged by agency officials.

Using “web crawler” software designed to search, index and back up a website, Mr. Snowden “scraped data out of our systems” while he went about his day job, according to a senior intelligence official. “We do not believe this was an individual sitting at a machine and downloading this much material in sequence,” the official said. The process, he added, was “quite automated.”

The findings are striking because the N.S.A.’s mission includes protecting the nation’s most sensitive military and intelligence computer systems from cyberattacks, especially the sophisticated attacks that emanate from Russia and China. Mr. Snowden’s “insider attack,” by contrast, was hardly sophisticated and should have been easily detected, investigators found.

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Officials say Mr. Snowden used “web crawler” software. Channel 4/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Moreover, Mr. Snowden succeeded nearly three years after the WikiLeaks disclosures, in which military and State Department files, of far less sensitivity, were taken using similar techniques.

Mr. Snowden had broad access to the N.S.A.’s complete files because he was working as a technology contractor for the agency in Hawaii, helping to manage the agency’s computer systems in an outpost that focuses on China and North Korea. A web crawler, also called a spider, automatically moves from website to website, following links embedded in each document, and can be programmed to copy everything in its path.

Mr. Snowden appears to have set the parameters for the searches, including which subjects to look for and how deeply to follow links to documents and other data on the N.S.A.’s internal networks. Intelligence officials told a House hearing last week that he accessed roughly 1.7 million files.

Among the materials prominent in the Snowden files are the agency’s shared “wikis,” databases to which intelligence analysts, operatives and others contributed their knowledge. Some of that material indicates that Mr. Snowden “accessed” the documents. But experts say they may well have been downloaded not by him but by the program acting on his behalf.

Agency officials insist that if Mr. Snowden had been working from N.S.A. headquarters at Fort Meade, Md., which was equipped with monitors designed to detect when a huge volume of data was being accessed and downloaded, he almost certainly would have been caught. But because he worked at an agency outpost that had not yet been upgraded with modern security measures, his copying of what the agency’s newly appointed No. 2 officer, Rick Ledgett, recently called “the keys to the kingdom” raised few alarms.

“Some place had to be last” in getting the security upgrade, said one official familiar with Mr. Snowden’s activities. But he added that Mr. Snowden’s actions had been “challenged a few times.”

In at least one instance when he was questioned, Mr. Snowden provided what were later described to investigators as legitimate-sounding explanations for his activities: As a systems administrator he was responsible for conducting routine network maintenance. That could include backing up the computer systems and moving information to local servers, investigators were told.

But from his first days working as a contractor inside the N.S.A.’s aging underground Oahu facility for Dell, the computer maker, and then at a modern office building on the island for Booz Allen Hamilton, the technology consulting firm that sells and operates computer security services used by the government, Mr. Snowden learned something critical about the N.S.A.’s culture: While the organization built enormously high electronic barriers to keep out foreign invaders, it had rudimentary protections against insiders.

“Once you are inside the assumption is that you are supposed to be there, like in most organizations,” said Richard Bejtlich, the chief security strategist for FireEye, a Silicon Valley computer security firm, and a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution. “But that doesn’t explain why they weren’t more vigilant about excessive activity in the system.”

Investigators have yet to answer the question of whether Mr. Snowden happened into an ill-defended outpost of the N.S.A. or sought a job there because he knew it had yet to install the security upgrades that might have stopped him.

“He was either very lucky or very strategic,” one intelligence official said. A new book, “The Snowden Files,” by Luke Harding, a correspondent for The Guardian in London, reports that Mr. Snowden sought his job at Booz Allen because “to get access to a final tranche of documents” he needed “greater security privileges than he enjoyed in his position at Dell.”

Through his lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union, Mr. Snowden did not specifically address the government’s theory of how he obtained the files, saying in a statement: “It’s ironic that officials are giving classified information to journalists in an effort to discredit me for giving classified information to journalists. The difference is that I did so to inform the public about the government’s actions, and they’re doing so to misinform the public about mine.”

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The headquarters of Booz Allen Hamilton, one of Edward J. Snowden’s former employers, in McLean, Va. He had broad access to National Security Agency files as a contractor in Hawaii. Michael Reynolds/European Pressphoto Agency

The N.S.A. declined to comment on its investigation or the security changes it has made since the Snowden disclosures. Other intelligence officials familiar with the findings of the investigations underway — there are at least four — were granted anonymity to discuss the investigations.

In interviews, officials declined to say which web crawler Mr. Snowden had used, or whether he had written some of the software himself. Officials said it functioned like Googlebot, a widely used web crawler that Google developed to find and index new pages on the web. What officials cannot explain is why the presence of such software in a highly classified system was not an obvious tip-off to unauthorized activity.

When inserted with Mr. Snowden’s passwords, the web crawler became especially powerful. Investigators determined he probably had also made use of the passwords of some colleagues or supervisors.

But he was also aided by a culture within the N.S.A., officials say, that “compartmented” relatively little information. As a result, a 29-year-old computer engineer, working from a World War II-era tunnel in Oahu and then from downtown Honolulu, had access to unencrypted files that dealt with information as varied as the bulk collection of domestic phone numbers and the intercepted communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany and dozens of other leaders.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/us/snowden-used-low-cost-tool-to-best-nsa.html?_r=0

Officials say web crawlers are almost never used on the N.S.A.’s internal systems, making it all the more inexplicable that the one used by Mr. Snowden did not set off alarms as it copied intelligence and military documents stored in the N.S.A.’s systems and linked through the agency’s internal equivalent of Wikipedia.

The answer, officials and outside experts say, is that no one was looking inside the system in Hawaii for hard-to-explain activity. “The N.S.A. had the solution to this problem in hand, but they simply didn’t push it out fast enough,” said James Lewis, a computer expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies who has talked extensively with intelligence officials about how the Snowden experience could have been avoided.

Nonetheless, the government had warning that it was vulnerable to such attacks. Similar techniques were used by Chelsea Manning, then known as Pfc. Bradley Manning, who was convicted of turning documents and videos over to WikiLeaks in 2010.

Evidence presented during Private Manning’s court-martial for his role as the source for large archives of military and diplomatic files given to WikiLeaks revealed that he had used a program called “wget” to download the batches of files. That program automates the retrieval of large numbers of files, but it is considered less powerful than the tool Mr. Snowden used.

The program’s use prompted changes in how secret information is handled at the State Department, the Pentagon and the intelligence agencies, but recent assessments suggest that those changes may not have gone far enough. For example, arguments have broken out about whether the N.S.A.’s data should all be encrypted “at rest” — when it is stored in servers — to make it harder to search and steal. But that would also make it harder to retrieve for legitimate purposes.

Investigators have found no evidence that Mr. Snowden’s searches were directed by a foreign power, despite suggestions to that effect by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Mike Rogers, Republican of Michigan, in recent television appearances and at a hearing last week.

But that leaves open the question of how Mr. Snowden chose the search terms to obtain his trove of documents, and why, according to James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, they yielded a disproportionately large number of documents detailing American military movements, preparations and abilities around the world.

In his statement, Mr. Snowden denied any deliberate effort to gain access to any military information. “They rely on a baseless premise, which is that I was after military information,” Mr. Snowden said.

The head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, told lawmakers last week that Mr. Snowden’s disclosures could tip off adversaries to American military tactics and operations, and force the Pentagon to spend vast sums to safeguard against that. But he admitted a great deal of uncertainty about what Mr. Snowden possessed.

“Everything that he touched, we assume that he took,” said General Flynn, including details of how the military tracks terrorists, of enemies’ vulnerabilities and of American defenses against improvised explosive devices. He added, “We assume the worst case.”

ttp://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/09/us/snowden-used-low-cost-tool-to-best-nsa.html?_r=0

Web Crawler

A Web crawler is an Internet bot that systematically browses the World Wide Web, typically for the purpose of Web indexing.

A Web crawler may also be called a Web spider,[1] an ant, an automatic indexer,[2] or (in the FOAF software context) a Web scutter.[3]

Web search engines and some other sites use Web crawling or spidering software to update their web content or indexes of others sites’ web content. Web crawlers can copy all the pages they visit for later processing by a search engine that indexes the downloaded pages so that users can search them much more quickly.

Crawlers can validate hyperlinks and HTML code. They can also be used for web scraping (see also data-driven programming).

Overview

A Web crawler starts with a list of URLs to visit, called the seeds. As the crawler visits these URLs, it identifies all the hyperlinks in the page and adds them to the list of URLs to visit, called the crawl frontier. URLs from the frontier are recursively visited according to a set of policies.

The large volume implies that the crawler can only download a limited number of the Web pages within a given time, so it needs to prioritize its downloads. The high rate of change implies that the pages might have already been updated or even deleted.

The number of possible URLs crawled being generated by server-side software has also made it difficult for web crawlers to avoid retrieving duplicate content. Endless combinations of HTTP GET (URL-based) parameters exist, of which only a small selection will actually return unique content. For example, a simple online photo gallery may offer three options to users, as specified through HTTP GET parameters in the URL. If there exist four ways to sort images, three choices of thumbnail size, two file formats, and an option to disable user-provided content, then the same set of content can be accessed with 48 different URLs, all of which may be linked on the site. This mathematical combination creates a problem for crawlers, as they must sort through endless combinations of relatively minor scripted changes in order to retrieve unique content.

As Edwards et al. noted, “Given that the bandwidth for conducting crawls is neither infinite nor free, it is becoming essential to crawl the Web in not only a scalable, but efficient way, if some reasonable measure of quality or freshness is to be maintained.”[4] A crawler must carefully choose at each step which pages to visit next.

Crawling policy

The behavior of a Web crawler is the outcome of a combination of policies:[5]

  • a selection policy that states which pages to download,
  • a re-visit policy that states when to check for changes to the pages,
  • a politeness policy that states how to avoid overloading Web sites, and
  • a parallelization policy that states how to coordinate distributed web crawlers.

Selection policy

Given the current size of the Web, even large search engines cover only a portion of the publicly available part. A 2005 study showed that large-scale search engines index no more than 40-70% of the indexable Web;[6] a previous study by Steve Lawrence and Lee Giles showed that no search engine indexed more than 16% of the Web in 1999.[7] As a crawler always downloads just a fraction of the Web pages, it is highly desirable that the downloaded fraction contains the most relevant pages and not just a random sample of the Web.

This requires a metric of importance for prioritizing Web pages. The importance of a page is a function of its intrinsic quality, its popularity in terms of links or visits, and even of its URL (the latter is the case of vertical search engines restricted to a single top-level domain, or search engines restricted to a fixed Web site). Designing a good selection policy has an added difficulty: it must work with partial information, as the complete set of Web pages is not known during crawling.

Cho et al. made the first study on policies for crawling scheduling. Their data set was a 180,000-pages crawl from the stanford.edu domain, in which a crawling simulation was done with different strategies.[8] The ordering metrics tested were breadth-first, backlink count and partial Pagerank calculations. One of the conclusions was that if the crawler wants to download pages with high Pagerank early during the crawling process, then the partial Pagerank strategy is the better, followed by breadth-first and backlink-count. However, these results are for just a single domain. Cho also wrote his Ph.D. dissertation at Stanford on web crawling.[9]

Najork and Wiener performed an actual crawl on 328 million pages, using breadth-first ordering.[10] They found that a breadth-first crawl captures pages with high Pagerank early in the crawl (but they did not compare this strategy against other strategies). The explanation given by the authors for this result is that “the most important pages have many links to them from numerous hosts, and those links will be found early, regardless of on which host or page the crawl originates.”

Abiteboul designed a crawling strategy based on an algorithm called OPIC (On-line Page Importance Computation).[11] In OPIC, each page is given an initial sum of “cash” that is distributed equally among the pages it points to. It is similar to a Pagerank computation, but it is faster and is only done in one step. An OPIC-driven crawler downloads first the pages in the crawling frontier with higher amounts of “cash”. Experiments were carried in a 100,000-pages synthetic graph with a power-law distribution of in-links. However, there was no comparison with other strategies nor experiments in the real Web.

Boldi et al. used simulation on subsets of the Web of 40 million pages from the .it domain and 100 million pages from the WebBase crawl, testing breadth-first against depth-first, random ordering and an omniscient strategy. The comparison was based on how well PageRank computed on a partial crawl approximates the true PageRank value. Surprisingly, some visits that accumulate PageRank very quickly (most notably, breadth-first and the omniscient visit) provide very poor progressive approximations.[12][13]

Baeza-Yates et al. used simulation on two subsets of the Web of 3 million pages from the .gr and .cl domain, testing several crawling strategies.[14] They showed that both the OPIC strategy and a strategy that uses the length of the per-site queues are better than breadth-first crawling, and that it is also very effective to use a previous crawl, when it is available, to guide the current one.

Daneshpajouh et al. designed a community based algorithm for discovering good seeds.[15] Their method crawls web pages with high PageRank from different communities in less iteration in comparison with crawl starting from random seeds. One can extract good seed from a previously-crawled-Web graph using this new method. Using these seeds a new crawl can be very effective.

Restricting followed links

A crawler may only want to seek out HTML pages and avoid all other MIME types. In order to request only HTML resources, a crawler may make an HTTP HEAD request to determine a Web resource’s MIME type before requesting the entire resource with a GET request. To avoid making numerous HEAD requests, a crawler may examine the URL and only request a resource if the URL ends with certain characters such as .html, .htm, .asp, .aspx, .php, .jsp, .jspx or a slash. This strategy may cause numerous HTML Web resources to be unintentionally skipped.

Some crawlers may also avoid requesting any resources that have a “?” in them (are dynamically produced) in order to avoid spider traps that may cause the crawler to download an infinite number of URLs from a Web site. This strategy is unreliable if the site uses a rewrite engine to simplify its URLs.

URL normalization

Main article: URL normalization

Crawlers usually perform some type of URL normalization in order to avoid crawling the same resource more than once. The term URL normalization, also called URL canonicalization, refers to the process of modifying and standardizing a URL in a consistent manner. There are several types of normalization that may be performed including conversion of URLs to lowercase, removal of “.” and “..” segments, and adding trailing slashes to the non-empty path component.[16]

Path-ascending crawling

Some crawlers intend to download as many resources as possible from a particular web site. So path-ascending crawler was introduced that would ascend to every path in each URL that it intends to crawl.[17] For example, when given a seed URL of http://llama.org/hamster/monkey/page.html, it will attempt to crawl /hamster/monkey/, /hamster/, and /. Cothey found that a path-ascending crawler was very effective in finding isolated resources, or resources for which no inbound link would have been found in regular crawling.

Many path-ascending crawlers are also gallery — from a specific page or host.

Focused crawling

Main article: Focused crawler

The importance of a page for a crawler can also be expressed as a function of the similarity of a page to a given query. Web crawlers that attempt to download pages that are similar to each other are called focused crawler or topical crawlers. The concepts of topical and focused crawling were first introduced by Menczer[18][19] and by Chakrabarti et al.[20]

The main problem in focused crawling is that in the context of a Web crawler, we would like to be able to predict the similarity of the text of a given page to the query before actually downloading the page. A possible predictor is the anchor text of links; this was the approach taken by Pinkerton[21] in the first web crawler of the early days of the Web. Diligenti et al.[22] propose using the complete content of the pages already visited to infer the similarity between the driving query and the pages that have not been visited yet. The performance of a focused crawling depends mostly on the richness of links in the specific topic being searched, and a focused crawling usually relies on a general Web search engine for providing starting points.

Academic-focused crawler

An example of the focused crawlers are academic crawlers, which crawls free-access academic related documents, such as the citeseerxbot, which is the crawler of CiteSeerX search engine. Other academic search engines are Google Scholar and Microsoft Academic Search etc. Because most academic papers are published in PDF formats, such kind of crawler is particularly interested in crawling PDF, PostScript files, Microsoft Word including their zipped formats. Because of this, general open source crawlers, such as Heritrix, must be customized to filter out other MIME types, or a middleware is used to extract these documents out and import them to the focused crawl database and repository.[23] Identifying whether these documents are academic or not is challenging and can add a significant overhead to the crawling process, so this is performed as a post crawling process using machine learning or regular expression algorithms. These academic documents are usually obtained from home pages of faculties and students or from publication page of research institutes. Because academic documents takes only a small faction in the entire web pages, a good seed selection are important in boosting the efficiencies of these web crawlers.[24] Other academic crawlers may download plain text and HTML files, that contains metadata of academic papers, such as titles, papers, and abstracts. This increases the overall number of papers, but a significant fraction may not provide free PDF downloads.

Re-visit policy

The Web has a very dynamic nature, and crawling a fraction of the Web can take weeks or months. By the time a Web crawler has finished its crawl, many events could have happened, including creations, updates and deletions.

From the search engine’s point of view, there is a cost associated with not detecting an event, and thus having an outdated copy of a resource. The most-used cost functions are freshness and age.[25]

Freshness: This is a binary measure that indicates whether the local copy is accurate or not. The freshness of a page p in the repository at time t is defined as:

F_{p}(t)={\begin{cases}1&{{\rm {if}}}~p~{{\rm {~is~equal~to~the~local~copy~at~time}}}~t\&{{\rm {otherwise}}}\end{cases}}

Age: This is a measure that indicates how outdated the local copy is. The age of a page p in the repository, at time t is defined as:

A_{p}(t)={\begin{cases}0&{{\rm {if}}}~p~{{\rm {~is~not~modified~at~time}}}~t\\t-{{\rm {modification~time~of}}}~p&{{\rm {otherwise}}}\end{cases}}

Coffman et al. worked with a definition of the objective of a Web crawler that is equivalent to freshness, but use a different wording: they propose that a crawler must minimize the fraction of time pages remain outdated. They also noted that the problem of Web crawling can be modeled as a multiple-queue, single-server polling system, on which the Web crawler is the server and the Web sites are the queues. Page modifications are the arrival of the customers, and switch-over times are the interval between page accesses to a single Web site. Under this model, mean waiting time for a customer in the polling system is equivalent to the average age for the Web crawler.[26]

The objective of the crawler is to keep the average freshness of pages in its collection as high as possible, or to keep the average age of pages as low as possible. These objectives are not equivalent: in the first case, the crawler is just concerned with how many pages are out-dated, while in the second case, the crawler is concerned with how old the local copies of pages are.

Two simple re-visiting policies were studied by Cho and Garcia-Molina:[27]

Uniform policy: This involves re-visiting all pages in the collection with the same frequency, regardless of their rates of change.

Proportional policy: This involves re-visiting more often the pages that change more frequently. The visiting frequency is directly proportional to the (estimated) change frequency.

(In both cases, the repeated crawling order of pages can be done either in a random or a fixed order.)

Cho and Garcia-Molina proved the surprising result that, in terms of average freshness, the uniform policy outperforms the proportional policy in both a simulated Web and a real Web crawl. Intuitively, the reasoning is that, as web crawlers have a limit to how many pages they can crawl in a given time frame, (1) they will allocate too many new crawls to rapidly changing pages at the expense of less frequently updating pages, and (2) the freshness of rapidly changing pages lasts for shorter period than that of less frequently changing pages. In other words, a proportional policy allocates more resources to crawling frequently updating pages, but experiences less overall freshness time from them.

To improve freshness, the crawler should penalize the elements that change too often.[28] The optimal re-visiting policy is neither the uniform policy nor the proportional policy. The optimal method for keeping average freshness high includes ignoring the pages that change too often, and the optimal for keeping average age low is to use access frequencies that monotonically (and sub-linearly) increase with the rate of change of each page. In both cases, the optimal is closer to the uniform policy than to the proportional policy: as Coffman et al. note, “in order to minimize the expected obsolescence time, the accesses to any particular page should be kept as evenly spaced as possible”.[26] Explicit formulas for the re-visit policy are not attainable in general, but they are obtained numerically, as they depend on the distribution of page changes. Cho and Garcia-Molina show that the exponential distribution is a good fit for describing page changes,[28] while Ipeirotis et al. show how to use statistical tools to discover parameters that affect this distribution.[29] Note that the re-visiting policies considered here regard all pages as homogeneous in terms of quality (“all pages on the Web are worth the same”), something that is not a realistic scenario, so further information about the Web page quality should be included to achieve a better crawling policy.

Politeness policy

Crawlers can retrieve data much quicker and in greater depth than human searchers, so they can have a crippling impact on the performance of a site. Needless to say, if a single crawler is performing multiple requests per second and/or downloading large files, a server would have a hard time keeping up with requests from multiple crawlers.

As noted by Koster, the use of Web crawlers is useful for a number of tasks, but comes with a price for the general community.[30] The costs of using Web crawlers include:

  • network resources, as crawlers require considerable bandwidth and operate with a high degree of parallelism during a long period of time;
  • server overload, especially if the frequency of accesses to a given server is too high;
  • poorly written crawlers, which can crash servers or routers, or which download pages they cannot handle; and
  • personal crawlers that, if deployed by too many users, can disrupt networks and Web servers.

A partial solution to these problems is the robots exclusion protocol, also known as the robots.txt protocol that is a standard for administrators to indicate which parts of their Web servers should not be accessed by crawlers.[31] This standard does not include a suggestion for the interval of visits to the same server, even though this interval is the most effective way of avoiding server overload. Recently commercial search engines like Google, Ask Jeeves, MSN and Yahoo! Search are able to use an extra “Crawl-delay:” parameter in the robots.txt file