New England Patriots Cialis Commercial Parody ‘Deflate gate’ NFL Investigating Patriots
‘Deflate-gate': NFL Investigating Patriots
The NFL is investigating whether the New England Patriots deflated footballs that were used in their AFC championship game victory over the Indianapolis Colts. (Jan. 20)
Patriots’ QB Tom Brady Says He Didn’t Deflate the Footballs
CBS Evening News 22 January 2015
Former NFL QB Explains Deflated Footballs
The NFL is investigating whether the New England Patriots used under-inflated footballs in the AFC championship game. Former NFL quarterback Hugh Millen says the footballs give quarterbacks a better grip and faster throws. (Jan. 23)
SportsCenter | Science behind New England Patriots deflated footballs
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The NFL Doesn’t Want to Know How Deflate-gate Happened
By Andrew C. McCarthy
As Brendan’s post reports, at this afternoon’s press conference, Tom Brady flatly denied altering the footballs “in any way,” which I presume includes causing anyone else associated with the Patriots to alter them. Let me add a few points.
The major takeaway of the press conference is that, according to Brady, no one from the NFL has interviewed him. This is simply mind-boggling. Because of the way footballs are handled pregame, the quarterback would be the most essential source of information in the event irregularities occur. Brady is thus the first person the NFL should have spoken with if the league really wanted to get to the bottom of what happened.
One now has to be suspicious that the league would rather not know at this point. Why? Because we are just ten days from the Super Bowl and there is very strong evidence of cheating. If the league quickly learns who is responsible, it would have to suspend the cheater(s) from the big game or be mercilessly ridiculed for turning a blind eye. The NFL obviously does not want to suspend star players or coaches from its showcase event.
But now, the league will be mercilessly ridiculed anyway. There are very few people who handle the balls or might influence how they are handled between the time they are chosen and the time they are used in a game: the starting QB, the equipment manager, the ball boy(s), the referees, and the coaches. That means a competent investigation to get to the bottom of this growing controversy could be completed in a few hours – meaning, it should have been done by now. Plus, if you need to talk to the QB, you do it before he has to start ramping up his prep for the Super Bowl – meaning, between Monday and Wednesday of this week. You don’t wait until now, when he is turning his focus to the game.
If the NFL wanted to interview Tom Brady, it would have been done already. Football turns out to be a lot like politics: Officials avoid information because if they learn something bad has been done, they are expected to do something about it.
This is an extraordinarily foolish way to handle things. The NFL has run out of feet to shoot itself in this year, and this controversy is worse because it actually affects the integrity of the game. Tom Brady and Coach Bill Belichick claim they simply don’t know what happened, but almost everyone who knows football says that is impossible. Either way, because no explanation has been forthcoming from the Pats, there is a media feeding frenzy at the worst time: when over 5,000 international media figures are descending to cover the Super Bowl, which is as much a cultural phenomenon as a sporting event. Deflate-gate will now surely overwhelm coverage of the game, and the league’s incompetent (at best) handling of the investigation will invite endless reminders of its earlier black eyes this season.
A lot of this seems so unnecessary. Before we rehearse the really damaging facts, let’s cover one that is not well understood and that should have undercut the significance of the ball deflation.
Everyone agrees that, after the Colts raised concerns about the balls just before halftime, the balls were reexamined at halftime, and new balls were substituted for the under-inflated ones. That is, the second half was unquestionably played on the up and up . . . and in it the Patriots outscored the Colts 35-0 28-0. So whatever happened with the balls did not affect the outcome of the game – the right team made it to the Super Bowl.
Other than that, though, the story is bad. The refs examined the balls before the game – 12 from the Pats and 12 from the Colts – and found them to fit the specifications, weighing between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds [of air per square inch].
Right before halftime, a member of the Colts intercepted a Brady pass and noticed the ball was soft – something the Colts already had suspicions about based on (a) a prior game with the Pats in which they intercepted a couple of passes and detected under-inflated balls, and (b) similar suspicions about the Pats harbored by the Baltimore Ravens, who apparently shared those suspicions with the Colts after losing a tight playoff game to the Pats two weeks ago.
After the interception before halftime, the Colts’ sideline informed their general manager, who informed league officials. Based on the complaint, the refs re-examined all 24 balls at halftime. The Colts’ balls were all still within the specs, but 11 of the 12 Pats’ balls were under-inflated by up to two pounds per square inch – i.e., about 10.5 pounds. It was unseasonably mild for Foxboro, Mass., in January – about 51 degrees. Between that and the fact that the Colts’ footballs were unchanged, there seems to be no weather-related explanation for a drop in air pressure in the Pats’ footballs.
There are thus only two apparent possibilities, neither of which is good for the Pats: Either (a) the Pats supplied under-inflated balls and the refs did not competently examine them prior to the game; or (b) the Pats, who had control of their chosen footballs after the pregame examination by the refs, deflated the balls before or during the first-half.
Because the league has not done much of an investigation or released much information, we do not know how thorough the refs’ examination process is. I am also not in a position to say how noticeable the difference between 10.5 and 12.5 pounds is. The refs – football lifers – handle the balls on every play, and they obviously did not notice during the first-half. I saw Hall of Fame QB Dan Marino interviewed on Fox News earlier this week, and upon being presented with two footballs, one fully and one under-inflated, he indicated it was hard to tell the difference. But he also said, after squeezing and throwing them a few times, that the under-inflated one was somewhat easier to grip.
I still think the best case scenario for the Pats is that, based on years of experience, the equipment managers know Brady prefers a ball at the very bottom of the 12.5 to 13.5 pound range (as he said today at his press conference). It would not surprise me if, without there needing to be any discussion, the process is for equipment managers to bring Brady only balls that are at or slightly under 12.5 pounds. Those balls no doubt deflate a bit in the four or five days he breaks them in at practice, so by the time he selects a dozen for the game, they are likely to be under 12.5 pounds – perhaps markedly under, but maybe not enough that you could tell unless you examined very closely.
I’m sure Brady and the equipment manager do not measure the air pressure at that point; Brady just picks the ones he wants. Then, as he said at the press conference, he is done with the process and doesn’t deal with the balls again until game-time. That’s what allows him to say both that he doesn’t know what happened after he chose game balls and that he did not deflate those balls.
The equipment manager brings the balls to the refs for pregame inspection a couple of hours before game-time. So it would be important to know how thorough the refs’ inspection is. If the balls were not up to spec because of the Pats’ routine manner of handling them, and then the refs failed to do a careful enough examination to make sure they were up to spec, that could explain why they were under-inflated when checked at halftime. That is, it is not necessarily true that someone deflated them after the refs’ examination.
Of course, if the refs did do a competent pregame examination, then someone on the Pats has to have deflated the footballs.
One more interesting tidbit that could be relevant. Turns out that it is largely because of Tom Brady that the NFL changed its protocols in order to allow each team to supply game balls for its own use. It used to be that the home teams were responsible for supplying all the game balls. But nine years ago, Brady and Broncos star QB Peyton Manning successfully petitioned the competition committee to change the rules. The rationale was that every QB likes the ball to be broken in differently, and since there is some leeway in the rules about inflation (i.e., the 12.5 to 13.5 range), the league should accommodate the slightly different size and contour preferences of different QBs.
Personally, I would have thought the range allowing a pound of difference simply reflected that air pressure can change depending on climate conditions and how the ball is handled – just like it does with your car’s tires. I seriously doubt the rule was written with the thought that players on opposing teams would not be using the same ball. That would be inconceivable in, say, baseball, in which players for both teams pitch and hit balls that are exactly the same.
Tom Brady indicated at today’s press conference that he did not think the balls used made much difference – he did not, he said, notice any difference between the first-half balls that were under-inflated and the second-half balls that were inflated to league specifications. Maybe . . . but sounds remarkably blasé coming from a guy who previously pushed the league to change its rules so he could always have footballs that conformed to his unique preferences.
In many ways, 2013 and early 2014 brought a level of energy to the news industry not seen for a long time. Even as challenges of the past several years continue and new ones emerge, the activities this year have created a new sense of optimism – or perhaps hope – for the future of American journalism.
Digital players have exploded onto the news scene, bringing technological knowhow and new money and luring top talent. BuzzFeed, once scoffed at for content viewed as “click bait,” now has a news staff of 170, including top names like Pulitzer Prize-winner Mark Schoofs, and is the kind of place that ProPublica’s Paul Steiger says he would want to work at if he were young again. Mashable now has a news staff of 70 and enticed former New York Times assistant managing editor Jim Roberts to become its chief content officer. And in January of this year, Ezra Klein left the Washington Post for Vox media, which will become the new home for his explanatory journalism concept. Many of these companies are already successful digital brands – built around an innate understanding of technology – and are using revenues from other parts of the operation to get the news operations off the ground.
Other kinds of new revenue are flowing into news operations as well. A new breed of entrepreneurs – like Jeff Bezos, John Henry and Pierre Omidyar — are investing their own money in the industry, in some cases creating wholly new entities and in others looking to bring new life to long-standing ones. Among their best credentials – beyond deep pockets – is that they are tech industry insiders and news media outsiders. Philanthropic money has grown as well, in many cases focused on smaller outlets seeking to fill the gap in news coverage left by legacy cutbacks. As recently as March 2014, the Jerome L. Greene Foundation announced a $10 million grant to New York Public Radio to help build its digital capabilities, an expressed need among nonprofits.
The year also brought more evidence than ever that news is a part of the explosion of social media and mobile devices, and in a way that could offer opportunity to reach more people with news than ever before. Half of Facebook users get news there even though they did not go there looking for it. And the Facebook users who get news at the highest rates are 18-to-29-year-olds. The same is true for the growth area of online video. Half of those who watch some kind of online video watch news videos. Again, young people constitute the greatest portion of these viewers.
Accompanying this momentum is the question of what it adds up to within the full scope of news that consumers receive. Here the events of the last year get put in some perspective. Our first-ever accounting found roughly 5,000 full-time professional jobs at nearly 500 digital news outlets, most of which were created in the past half dozen years. But the vast majority of bodies producing original reporting still comes from the newspaper industry. But those newspaper jobs are far from secure. Full-time professional newsroom employment declined another 6.4% in 2012 with more losses expected for 2013. Gannett alone is estimated to have cut 400 newspaper jobs while the Tribune Co. announced 700 (not all of them in the newsroom).
The new money from philanthropists, venture capitalists and other individuals and non-media businesses, while promising, amounts to only a sliver of the money supporting professional journalism. Traditional advertising from print and television still accounts for more than half of the total revenue supporting news, even though print ad revenues are in rapid decline. While seeing some small gains in new revenue streams like digital subscriptions and conferences, total newspaper advertising revenue in 2013 was down 49% from 2003. (That 2013 number also includes some niche and non-daily publications.) Television ad revenue, while stable for now, faces an uncertain future as video becomes more accessible online. What’s more, most of the new revenue streams driving the momentum are not earned from the news product itself.
There were a number of other events over the last year for which the impact on citizens is mixed or unclear. Local television, which remains the primary place American adults turn to for news, saw its audience increase for the first time in five years. At the same time, though, there were fewer stations producing original news compared with 2012, primarily the result of television acquisitions that left fewer companies in control of more stations. At this point, fully a quarter of the 952 U.S. television stations that air newscasts do not produce their news programs. Additional stations have sharing arrangements where much of their content is produced outside their own newsroom. The impact on the consumer seems to vary from market to market, with some markets increasing potential reach by airing news on stations that never had it – even if that newscast is the same one that airs on another local station. In other markets the news has contracted, as news organizations have reduced staff or content production for cost efficiency.
In digital news, the overlap between public relations and news noted in last year’s State of the News Media report became even more pronounced. One of the greatest areas of revenue experimentation now involves website content that is paid for by commercial advertisers – but often written by journalists on staff – and placed on a news publishers’ page in a way that sometimes makes it indistinguishable from a news story. Following the lead of early adapters like The Atlantic and Mashable, native advertising, as it is called by the industry, caught on rapidly in 2013. The New York Times, The Washington Post and most recently The Wall Street Journal have now begun or announced plans to begin devoting staff to this kind of advertising, often as a part of a new “custom content division.” eMarketer predicts that native ads spending will reach $2.85 billion by 2014.
Many of these publishers initially expressed caution over such ads, with Wall Street Journal editor-in-chief Gerard Baker even describing it as a “Faustian pact.” In the end, though, many publishers eventually came down with a conclusion similar to Baker’s, who said that he was “confident that our readers will appreciate what is sponsor-generated content and what is content from our global staff,” according to a statement released by The Journal. That may be the case, and it could also be the case that stories created for and paid for by advertisers do not bother consumers as long as they are a good read. At this point, though, there is little if any public data that speak to consumer response one way or the other.
And despite evidence of news consumption by Facebook users—half of whom report getting news across at least six topic areas—recent Pew Research data finds these consumers to have rather low levels of engagement with news sites. Another question looming over developments in social media is whether the self-selective process combined with algorithmic feeds are narrowing the kinds of information Americans are exposed to.
One of the biggest stories of the year, the NSA documents leaked by Edward Snowden, shined light on yet another area of challenge for journalism in the digital age: easy access to web-based content. It threatens the security of journalists’ communications and their ability to get sources to share information with them, the ultimate impact of which could be the stories that don’t get reported on and delivered to consumers.
A year ago, the State of the News Media report struck a somber note, citing evidence of continued declines in the mainstream media that were impacting both content and audience satisfaction. As indicated above and throughout this report, many of these issues still exist, some have deepened and new ones have emerged. Still, the level of new activity this past year is creating a perception that something important, perhaps even game-changing, is going on. If the developments in 2013 are at this point only a drop in the bucket, it feels like a heavier drop than most. The momentum behind them is real, if the full impact on citizens and our news system remains unclear.
This year’s Annual Report, our 11th edition, set out to examine these shifts—in revenue, in jobs, in technology, in content, in consumer behavior. It is structured a bit differently than in the past – to account for the widening of the industry, the growing influence of technology and new ways of sharing of our data. This year’s report includes four original research reports and two graphical presentations, along with key findings and a searchable database of all the statistics gathered in past years. From these reports, six major trends emerge:
1) Thirty of the largest digital-only news organizations account for about 3,000 jobs and one area of investment is global coverage. Vice Media has 35 overseas bureaus; The Huffington Post hopes to grow to 15 countries from 11 this year; BuzzFeed hired a foreign editor to oversee its expansion into places like Mumbai, Mexico City, Berlin and Tokyo. The two-year-old business-oriented Quartz has reporters in London, Bangkok and Hong Kong, and its editorial staff speaks 19 languages. This comes amid pullbacks in global coverage form mainstream media. The amount of airtime network evening newscasts devoted to overseas reporting in 2013 was less than half of what it was in the late 1980s. International reporters working for U.S. newspaper have declined 24% from 2003 to 2010. As the new digital native outlets continue to add staff, the country may be seeing the first real build-up of international reporting in decades – save for a few start- ups like Global Post.
2) So far, the impact of new money flowing into the industry may be more about fostering new ways of reporting and reaching audience than about building a new, sustainable revenue structure. The news industry in the U.S. brings in a little over $60 billion of revenue annually, according to estimates in our report. Advertising, at least for now, accounts for roughly two-thirds of this pie, most of which remains tied to legacy forms. Audience revenue accounts for about a quarter and is growing both in total dollars and in share. But this revenue may also be coming from a smaller—or at least flat—pool of contributors. New kinds of earned revenue streams like event hosting and web consulting account for about 7%, while investment from sources such as venture capital and philanthropy amount to only about 1% of the total. One part of the equation worth exploring is what kind of savings occurs at digital news startups free of the legacy infrastructure, but taking on the newer costs of technology development and maintenance.
3) Social and mobile developments are doing more than bringing consumers into the process – they are also changing the dynamics of the process itself. New survey data released here find that half (50%) of social network users share or repost news stories, images or videos while nearly as many (46%) discuss news issues or events on social network sites. And with broader mobile adoption, citizens are playing important eyewitness roles around news events such as the Boston bombing and the Ukrainian uprising. Roughly one-in-ten social network users have posted news videos they took themselves, according to the data. And 11% of all online news consumers have submitted their own content (including videos, photos, articles or opinion pieces) to news websites or blogs. Just as powerful, though, are the shifts in how news functions in these spaces. On social sites and even many of the new digital-only sites, news is mixed in with all other kinds of content – people bump into it when they are there doing other things. This bumping into means there may be opportunity for news to reach people who might otherwise have missed it, but less of that may be in the hands of news organizations. Only about a third of people who get news on Facebook follow a news organization or individual journalist. Instead, stories get shared from friends in their networks. And few Facebook visitors, according to a separate Pew Research study of traffic to top news sites, end up also coming to a site directly. For news providers, this means that a single digital strategy – both in terms of capturing audience and building a viable revenue base – will not be enough.
4) New ways of storytelling bring both promise and challenge. One area of expansion in 2013 was online news video. Ad revenue tied to digital videos over all (no firm calculates a figure specifically for news videos) grew 44% from 2012 to 2013 and is expected to continue to increase. For now, though, its scale is still small, accounting for just 10% of all digital ad revenue in the U.S. YouTube alone already accounts for 20% of these revenues and Facebook has now entered the digital video ad market and, based on its rapid growth in display ad revenue, is expected to quickly account for a significant portion of these dollars. In terms of audience appeal, one-third of U.S. adults watch online news videos, but that growth has slowed considerably. After a 27% increase from 2007 to 2009, the next four years saw just 9% growth. Again, large distributors of video content like YouTube and Facebook already account for a hefty portion of video watching on the web. Nonetheless, some news providers are making significant investments in digital video. The Huffington Post celebrated the one year anniversary of HuffPost Live, Texas Tribune held a successful Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for the purchase of equipment to stream live video coverage of the 2014 Texas governor’s race, and the multimedia company Vice in early 2014 launched a new multimedia portal just for news stories.
5) Local television, which reaches about nine in ten U.S. adults, experienced massive change in 2013, change that stayed under the radar of most. Nearly 300 full-power local TV stations changed hands in 2013 at a price of more than $8 billion. The number of stations sold was up 205% over 2012 and the value up 367%, with big owners getting even bigger. If all the pending sales go through, Sinclair Broadcasting alone will own or provide service to 167 stations in 77 markets, reaching almost 40% of the U.S. population. Sinclair’s CEO, David Smith, at the UBS conference in December 2013 expressed an interest in growing even more: “I’d like to have 80% of the country if I could get it. I’d like to have 90%.” Much of what is driving these purchases is the growth in fees that local stations are able to charge cable companies for re-airing their content – known by the industry as retransmissions fees. Both Meredith (which owns 13 stations) and Scripps (which owns 19) said they saw their retransmission revenues roughly triple in the last three years. In terms of programming, a clear result is more stations in the same market being operated jointly and sharing more content. As of early 2014, joint service agreements exist in almost half of the 210 local TV markets nationwide, up from 55 in 2011. And fewer stations are producing their own newscasts. The ultimate impact on the consumer is complicated to assess, but the economics benefit to the owner is indisputable.
6) Dramatic changes under way in the makeup of the American population will undoubtedly have an impact on news in the U.S, and in one of the fastest growing demographic groups – Hispanics – we are already seeing shifts. The Hispanic population in the U.S. has grown 50% from 2000 to 2012–to 53 million people. Most of that growth has come from births in the U.S. rather than the arrival of new immigrants, reversing a trend from previous decades. As a result, a growing share of the Hispanic population is American-born and a growing number speak English proficiently. In response to these trends, more general-market media companies—like ABC, NBC, Fox and The Huffington Post—have started Hispanic news operations. Since 2010, six national Hispanic outlets have been launched, all of which are either owned in full or in partnership by a general-market media company. Not all of them have been successes, however. Earlier this year, NBC Latino—a website-only outlet—closed, after only 16 months, and CNN Latino, which had both a web and on-air presence, was shut down just a year after its launch. At the same time, Fusion, a joint effort by ABC and Univision, initially described the channel as aimed at Hispanic millennials but later switched to aiming it at millennials more broadly—currently the largest and most diverse generational group in the U.S. As demographic shifts within the U.S. continue, so too will their impact on the news ecosystem.
In 2013, the cable news audience, by nearly all measures, declined. The combined median prime-time viewership of the three major news channels—CNN, Fox News and MSNBC—dropped 11% to about 3 million, the smallest it has been since 2007. The Nielsen Media Research data show that the biggest decline came at MSNBC, which lost nearly a quarter (24%) of its prime-time audience. CNN, under new management, ended its fourth year in third place, with a 13% decline in prime time. Fox, while down 6%, still drew more viewers (1.75 million) than its two competitors combined (619,500 at MSNBC and 543,000 at CNN).
The daytime audience for cable news was more stable, holding flat at about 2 million viewers across the three news channels. CNN (up 12%) and Fox (up 2%) actually experienced growth here. That was counterbalanced by more deep loses at MSNBC (down 15.5%).
After years in decline, local television news showed new signs of life in 2013. Viewership increased in every key time slot. Local morning news (5 to 7 a.m. Eastern Time or equivalent) gained 6.3%, early evening newscasts followed with a 3.3% increase and late night news programs were flat (up 0.1%). This follows declines every year across all time slots from 2008 to 2012, with the exception of a small uptick in 2011. The jump in viewership in the key timeslots was due largely to significant increases in the November sweeps period when morning news was up 12%, early evening grew by 8% and late night increased by 6%.
The 2013 picture was more mixed for Fox broadcast affiliates. Morning newscasts gained 9% more audience on average, continuing the steady growth of previous years. However, late-night viewership continued to decline, although the loss in 2013 was small, just 1.2%. Over the past six years, these programs have lost more than 25% of their viewers, while one of the worst performing traditional time slots, the 11 p.m. newscasts, have lost 17.3% since 2007.
Local news in nontraditional time slots are expanding their audience. The nontraditional early-morning news slots continued to grow. At 4:30 a.m., viewership increased 13% to 2.9 million. Viewership at 4 a.m. increased by 21% on average, to 257,000, following a 19% increase in 2012. Newscasts at midday and following the network news at 7 p.m. added viewers after having lost audience the year before. Midday newscasts saw a 5% increase of their audience and viewership also grew 2% for 7 p.m. newscasts. Though audiences in these time slots are growing, the programs attract far fewer viewers than some of the most popular hours for local TV. Late-night news programs, for instance, averaged 24.3 million viewers in 2013.
In the evening, an average of 22.6 million viewers tuned into one of the three commercial broadcast news programs on ABC, CBS or NBC, a 2.3% increase over the average viewership for 2012, according to Pew Research analysis of Nielsen Media Research data. The ABC World News increased 2.2% to 7.7 million viewers on average and CBS Evening News increased 6.5% to 6.5 million viewers. NBC Nightly News, the ratings leader, was the only evening news program to decrease, dipping 0.7% to 8.4 million viewers on average.
Morning news saw a 6.7% increase in average viewership compared with 2012, to 13.4 million. For years, NBC’s Today show led in viewership and ratings, but ABC’s Good Morning America took the throne in 2012 and grew its margin of victory in 2013. ABC’s Good Morning America increased 11% to 5.5 million viewers on average, CBS This Morning increased 17.9% to 3.2 million viewers and NBC’s Today show decreased 3.7% to 4.7 million.
Newspapers increased their total circulation by 3% daily and 1.6% Sunday, according to an analysis by the Newspaper Association of America’s John Murray. But that result is influenced by liberalized reporting rules by the Association for Audited Media and includes both paying visitors to digital platforms and distribution of Sunday insert packages to nonsubscribers.
Print now accounts for only 71.2% of daily circulation and 74.9% of Sunday, according to Murray. And Murray’s analysis of 15 of the largest newspapers shows that those papers now have just 54.9% of their total circulation in print.
According to the Alliance for Audited Media, sales of newsstand copies for news magazines, the measure most accepted by the industry, fell 2% on average, following years of declining numbers. In 2013, though, the decrease was smaller than the total industry decline in newsstand sales (10%). The Economist was the hardest hit, losing 16% of its newsstand sales, after a 17% decline in 2012. The Atlantic and The Week were also hit (down 12% and 7% respectively). The New Yorker enjoyed a 16% increase, one of the highest reported in past years. Time posted some significant gains too, up 6% from the year before. Since 2008, when Pew Research started tracking these figures, the news magazines have lost 43% of their single-copy sales on average.
Subscriptions were flat, as they have been in years past. But these are normally kept from declining through discounts or special offers.
Traditional radio continues to reach the vast majority of Americans 12 and older, 91% in 2013 (roughly unchanged from 2012), but online listening is where the growth is. According to Edison Media research, fully 33% of Americans reported listening to online radio “in the last week” in 2013, up from 29% in 2013. In addition, online radio listening in cars (long a stronghold of AM/FM radio) rose to 21%, from 17% in 2012.
Another form of nontraditional radio, podcasting, has largely leveled off. The number of Americans who have “ever” listened to an audio podcast was down slightly from 29% in 2012 to 27% in 2013.
The other main non-AM/FM audio platform, satellite radio, saw moderate growth in subscribers in 2013. By the end of 2013, Sirius XM had 25.6 million subscribers in the U.S., up from 23.9 million at year end 2012.
Circulation for the top 20 alternative weekly newspapers declined again in 2013, but at a slower pace than in previous years: 6% in 2013, compared to 8% in 2012.
The vast majority of Americans now get news in some digital format. In 2013, 82% of Americans said they got news on a desktop or laptop and 54% said they got news on a mobile device. Beyond that, 35% reported that they get news in this way “frequently” on their desktop or laptop, and 21% on a mobile device (cellphone or tablet).
While commercial digital native sites remain a relatively small part of the economics of the news industry, their digital audience figures compete with those of much larger legacy news organizations. In April, May, and June of 2013, for example The Huffington Post averaged 45 million unique monthly visitors, putting it second only to Yahoo among the top news sites. Buzzfeed.com also fared well with 17 million monthly unique visitors, putting it at roughly the same as The Washington Post with 19 million monthly unique visitors.
Audiences of noncommercial digital native news organizations vary widely and can be hard to determine because of syndication and partnership arrangements with other news outlets. On the national level, for example, ProPublica, an investigative journalism nonprofit site founded in 2007, had 544,799 unique visitors to its site in October 2012, according to a Knight Foundation report. While that is a 176% increase over October 2010, it probably misses a fair amount as the organization syndicates its content to various news organizations.
There are also regionally oriented outlets like the New England Center for Investigative Reporting with far fewer visitors per month: 2,362 unique visitors in October 2012, according to self-reported data in the Knight report. Still, that was up 87% from October 2010.
At the local level, MinnPost attracted 268,955 unique visitors in October 2012, according to the report, while The Lens, which focuses on New Orleans and Gulf Coast news, reported just 20,177 unique visitors in October 2012 (though again a huge increase – 375% – over October 2010). The variation in these data speaks to both the diversity in the scope of noncommercial digital start-ups as well as the degree to which collaboration and syndicated content may mean that site visits is not the best way to assess total audience.
The year 2013 was a relatively weak one for economic growth among the cable news outlets. Fox News was projected to increase its total revenue, according to research firm SNL Kagan, by 5% to $1.89 billion. CNN was projected to increase just 2% to $1.11 billion, and MSNBC was projected to decline by 2% to $475 million. Both CNN and MSNBC experienced advertising revenue losses year over year.
Revenue from license fees, which cable channels charge to providers in exchange for the right to carry their programming, continued to grow in 2013, according to projections, becoming a larger part of the revenue pie for the news channels. For CNN, license fee revenue now accounts for 64% of its total intake. For Fox, it is 58%. And for MSNBC, it makes up 51% of total revenue.
Local TV stations make the vast majority of their revenue from on-air advertising, which typically follows a cyclical pattern of increases in election years and decrease in non-election years. In 2013, total local TV ad revenue was expected to decline 2.5% from election-year 2012, according to BIA/Kelsey, amounting to $19.7 billion. But this is less of a decline than in 2011, when advertising revenues dropped by about 8% from the year before, and in 2009, when the decline was 22%.
To calculate ad revenue going just to news-producing stations (i.e. stations that include news programming,) we have to go back one year to 2012, the most recent year that BIA has final station-level data. For that year, news-producing stations took in $17.3 billion in total ad revenue, compared with $20.2 billion in the industry over all.
This year, Pew Research also estimated what portion of the $17.3 billion in ad revenues at these news-producing stations is connected to the news programming. Local TV news directors, in an annual survey by Bob Papper, attributed 48.6% of 2012 stations’ revenues to news. That would amount to $8.4 billion in all. Other sources of revenues for the local TV industry have been growing. Retransmission payments have been increasing rapidly in the past decade, according to data from the investment firm Veronis Suhler Stevenson. In 2011, the last year for which there were final data, retransmission revenues equaled almost $1.5 billion, more than 70 times higher than they had been in 2003 ($20 million). And VSS projects that revenue will more than double—to about $3.7 billion—by 2016. In 2013 alone, 21st Century Fox— created after the split-up of News Corp. — doubled its retransmission revenues. And Nexstar, which owns 108 local stations, reported a 66% increase in its retransmission fee revenues for the fourth quarter 2013, which now account for about 23% of its total revenues.
Digital revenues for the local TV market were forecast to grow 23% in 2013, following 17% growth the previous year, according to Borrell Associates. But, the typical local TV station makes only about 4% of its total revenue from online and mobile ads, according to Borrell Associates.
Newspapers (updated April 22, 2014)
The Newspaper Association of America has stopped compiling quarterly reports on advertising revenue. According to its annual numbers, which were released in April 2014, overall revenue for newspapers in 2013 was $37.6 billion, a decrease of 2.6% from 2012. Within that total, combined print and digital ad revenue decreased by 7%—to $20.7 billion. While daily and Sunday print ad revenue dropped 8.6%, digital advertising edged up by 1.5%. That is a slowdown from the 3.7% digital ad growth rate in 2012.
The news was better with circulation revenue which was up 3.7% in 2013, slightly lower than the growth rate in 2012, 4.6%. Many companies continue to add digital subscriptions and raise rates for a combination of print and digital access. The biggest paywall gains tend to come in the first year with revenues flattening in following years. Many companies are also building other revenue sources like digital marketing services for local businesses, contract printing or events and newsletters. Direct marketing revenue increased by 2.4% in 2013 while new and other revenue increased 5%, in 2013, according to the NAA, but both only constituted a fraction of the total revenue picture.
For a third year in a row, news magazines faced a difficult print advertising environment. Combined ad pages (considered a better measure than ad revenue) for the five magazines studied in this report were down 13% in 2013, following a decline of 12.5% in 2012, and about three times the rate of decline in 2011, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. Again, hardest hit was The Week, which suffered a 20% drop in ad pages. The Atlantic fell 17%, The Economist 16%, and Time about 11%, while The New Yorker managed to keep its ad pages losses in single digits (7%). For print magazines, the number of ad pages sold across the industry over all was down in 2013 (4.1%), after a steep decline in 2012 (8.2%).
According to Kantar Media, ad revenue for network television evening news programs increased 2% in the first three quarters of 2013 to $401 million. ABC’s World News decreased 3% to $130 million, the CBS Evening News saw an 11% increase to $116 million and NBC Nightly News remained steady at $155 million. Revenue for network television morning shows increased 7% in the first three quarters of 2013. At ABC’s Good Morning America revenues increased 12% to $260 million and CBS This Morning fell 2% to $108 million. At NBC’s Today show, revenue increased 6% to $504 million.
Total digital ad spending rose to $42.6 billion in 2013, a 15.7% increase over 2012. But the bigger news was that display made up almost as much of that total as search (which is not a source of revenue for news organizations.) In 2013 display ads accounted for about 42% of the total, or $17.7 billion, according to eMarketer, and are projected to outpace search by 2015.
While the ascent of display is a good thing for news organizations, the dominance of large tech companies remains an issue. In 2012 the top five display advertising companies made 47% of all display ad revenue on the web; in 2013 that proportion increased to 51%. And while Google had been on top, Facebook overtook the search giant in 2013, taking in 17.9% of all display ad revenue to Google’s 16.9%.
Much of the for-profit digital news landscape is occupied by private or unincorporated concerns that do not disclose detailed financial figures. But based on publicly available estimates and reports, Pew Research analysts identified a minimum of roughly $500 million in annual ad revenue from a range of digital news sites. Even that estimate does not include outlets that had been identified, but for whom no revenue estimates were found. That $500 million figure would account for roughly 1% of all known news ad revenue across U.S. media sectors. While the actual figure is almost certainly higher, even if it were doubled, it would still account for a small fraction of all news revenue in the U.S.
About one-fifth of nonprofits (21%) surveyed by the Pew Research Center in 2012 said they generated $50,000 or less in annual revenue in 2011, the latest year for which data were available, and 26% took in between $50,001 and $250,000. Foundations have been prominent sources of funding, particularly in the form of start-up grants. For many outlets, this initial funding has been difficult to replace. Nearly two-thirds of the survey respondents (61%) began with a start-up grant that accounted for at least one-third of their original funding, and a majority of those grants were for $100,000 or more. Yet less than a third of those outlets had the funding renewed. As with the audience for digital native noncommercial sites, discussed above, the economics for these sites also vary, but a 2013 report by the Pew Research Center finds on average total income is quite small and heavily reliant on foundations.
Traditional AM/FM radio remains heavily reliant on “spot” advertising (ads aired during radio broadcasts) for its revenue, which saw virtually no year-over-year change in the third quarter of 2013 (the most current data available) compared with the third quarter of 2012. Digital and off-air advertising saw increases of 15% and 3% respectively, but is just a drop in the network advertising bucket.
Sirius XM, the only satellite radio provider in the U.S., grew its revenue in 2013 as well. In 2013, Sirius XM had $3.8 billion in revenue, up from $3.4 billion in 2012, an 11.7% increase. This follows several years of growth in subscriber revenue after the merger of the two companies (Sirius and XM) in 2007.
Staffing levels in the local TV sector were expected to be stable in 2013, according to the yearly Hofstra University survey. A majority of news directors expected no change in staff size in 2013, while just a third said they anticipated adding more staff, about the same as the year before. And only 2.5% said they expected to have to cut staff, fewer than the year before.
The average amount of weekday local TV news programming declined by six minutes in 2012, the last year for which data exist, to five hours and 24 minutes, according to the same survey. This follows four straight years of increases in the hours of news, but still puts the average hours at 5.4 in 2012, up 46% from what is was in 2003 (3.7 hours). And weekend programming continued to add time: up 11% on Saturday and 6% on Sunday on average.
One area seeing more news is in the very early 4:30 a.m. time slot. The number of stations airing news at 4:30 a.m. increased 159% in 2013 to 634, up from 245 in 2012, according to Nielsen data. Those stations cut across 207 markets, up from 113 in 2012.
Under Jeff Zucker, CNN, already a sizable global news operation, was projected to increase its spending more than either Fox or MSNBC in 2013. SNL Kagan estimated that CNN would grow its news investment by 11% to $757 million in 2013, compared to Fox’s increase of 4% (to $848.5 million) and MSNBC’s scale-back by 4% (to $272 million).
CNN still maintains by far the largest bureau system among the three major news channels with 33 around the world, though the organization laid off at least 40 journalists in late 2013 and lists one fewer domestic bureau than it had the previous year. (Fox lists two fewer bureaus than it did a year earlier, and no updated information was available from NBC News.)
During 2012, the most recent year for which figures are available, full-time professional newsroom employment at newspaper organizations fell by 2,600 jobs, or 6.4%. The total of 38,000 jobs is down 33.2% from its 1989 peak of 56,900, according to the annual census of the American Society of News Editors. Most of that loss was in the last six years. When the organization’s census for 2013 is released, more job losses are likely.
According to various sources, including media accounts, several major companies eliminated hundreds of newspaper jobs in 2013—including two companies that began investing more heavily in local television stations. Gannett is estimated to have cut about 400 newspaper jobs while the Tribune Co. announced about 700 cuts, not all of them in the newsroom. Media reports put newsroom layoffs at The Plain Dealer in Cleveland at about 50 and at The Oregonian in Portland at about 35 in 2013.
In one eye-catching cutback, The Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire 28-person photography department in 2013, but hired back four photographers in December. Even Aaron Kushner, a California publisher who attracted considerable attention for hiring scores of journalists and investing heavily in print journalism, implemented about 70 layoffs at The Orange County Register and The Press-Enterprise in Riverside early in 2014.
One of the noteworthy developments in 2013 (and early 2014) was the growth of editorial jobs in the expanding world of big commercial digital native news outlets. Rapidly growing Buzzfeed added approximately 170 editorial jobs last year, Gawker’s editorial staff grew to 132, almost double what it was two years earlier. Mashable lured former New York Times editor Jim Roberts to oversee its robust investment in news coverage while Yahoo News hired several high profile Times journalists to build up its original content. Henry Blodget’s Business Insider hired 15 new people to grow its editorial staff to 70. The founder of eBay, Pierre Omidyar, is building its growing staff at the fledgling First Look Media around Glenn Greenwald, while Ezra Klein’s Project X at Vox Media is signing up former Washington Post staffers at a brisk clip. Vice Media, which has expanded from a Montreal punk magazine to a worldwide news operation, now has more than 1,100 total global employees (that includes all staff positions), and as of the deadline for this report, had hired nearly 50 U.S. new employees in 2014 alone.
Not all of the news was good.AOL’s network of Patch hyperlocal sites at one time employed about 1,000 reporters and editors but that had been cut back to fewer than 100 by early 2014, signaling the failure of the most ambitious effort to create a universe of digital community news sites under one roof.
In January 2013, Time magazine cut six positions as part of broader wave of layoffs (500 jobs) at Time Inc., the publishing division that houses Time magazine. Those cuts were part of a mandate from Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes to shave $100 million from the publishing division’s annual costs. In late 2013, soon after Nancy Gibbs replaced Rick Stengel as Time’s managing editor (becoming the first women to hold that position), Time announced 11 new hires and three promotions. However, in February 2014 Time Inc. proceeded with another round of reductions, reportedly 500 jobs, as part of a restructuring plan to spin off from its parent company, Time Warner.
News in traditional radio is a hard category to define, one measure being the number of stations that carry news content only. While the number of all-news radio stations in the U.S. remains small, 37 in 2012, according to the latest data available, that number was unchanged from 2011.
Local TV station sales exploded in 2013. Nearly 300 TV stations were sold, up 205% from 2012, according to BIA/Kelsey. Likewise, the total value of these transactions was up, a 367% increase in 2013 from 2012, reaching $8.8 billion.
Sinclair, which already owned more local stations than any other company, purchased 63 more in 2013, the most notable of which were seven stations from Allbritton Communications and 22 from Fisher Communications. Sinclair now operates 167 television stations in 77 markets. The Tribune Co. acquired Local TV Holdings for $2.73 billion (a total of 19 stations) and Gannett purchased Belo, adding 17 stations, in a $2.2 billion transaction. BIA/Kelsey attributes this growth to strong political advertising revenues from the previous year, retransmission consent revenues and continued historically low interest rates.
The only major development in the ownership and executive level positions at the three network news divisions in 2013 was the joint venture between Disney/ABC with Univision to create a new cable channel, Fusion. They each own 50% of the channel.
A process that began in 2012 was completed in mid-2013 when News Corp.—parent of Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network—formally spit in two. The movie and TV division containing the news channels was renamed Twenty-First Century Fox Inc. with Rupert Murdoch continuing as chief executive.
In August of 2013, Qatar-based Al Jazeera Media Network launched a new channel aimed squarely at U.S. audiences—Al Jazeera America. It occupies the same space on the dial held by Current TV.
Within days in August of 2013, two venerable newspapers changed hands. Multi-millionaire and Red Sox owner John Henry bought The Boston Globe and another Massachusetts newspaper, The Worchester Telegram & Gazette, from The New York Times for $70 million. And, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos acquired The Washington Post for $250 million. In other transactions, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway acquired several more newspapers, The News & Record in Greensboro, N.C., and Tulsa World, among them. A. H. Belo sold one its four newspapers – The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, Calif., and plans to sell The Providence Journal in Rhode Island. That will leave just its flagship Dallas Morning News and the nearby Denton Record-Chronicle. Tribune Co., on the other hand, pulled eight of its papers off the market in 2013, after failing to fetch an attractive offer. Tribune now plans to spin them off into a separate company.
Commercial Digital Natives
Unlike other sectors studied here most commercial digital native sites are privately held companies and in 2013 saw little movement. One notable development, though, was AOL’s dropping of the hyperlocal news network Patch. Patch was founded by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong in 2007, at first independent of AOL but then acquired by it in 2009.
In 2009 and 2010, AOL hired 900 employees, Armstrong said, with half of them going to Patch. By early 2011, Patch sites were up and running in about 800 cities and towns across the U.S. Despite this aggressive growth, and plans being made to hire for 1,000 Patch sites by the end of 2011, Armstrong drew back, saying in early 2012, “We don’t have a massive number of Patches on a run-rate profitability, and some of them have bounced in and bounced out.”
Despite the early growth at Patch and investment by AOL the company’s business model quickly came under criticism. In May, 2012 Starboard Value (an investment firm that owned 5.3% of Patch at the time) released a report calling Patch’s business model unsustainable. The report offered some rare estimates of Patch’s finances, which showed that the company had lost $147 million in 2011 and only brought in $13 million in advertising revenue.
Over the course of 2013, Patch suffered more losses. In August 2013 AOL announced the closing of 400 of the 900 Patch sites that existed at the time. Finally, in early 2014, AOL dropped Patch entirely and sold majority ownership of the remaining sites to Hale Global.
In March 2013, Time Warner announced that it would spin off Time Inc. into a separate publicly traded company. In March of 2014, these plans seem to be in full effect as Time Inc. prepares to separate from Time Warner. In the meantime, Time Inc. has been integrating American Express Publishing, which it bought last year.
Even at a time of fragmenting media use, television remains the dominant way that Americans get news at home, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of Nielsen data. And while the largest audiences tune into local and network broadcast news, it is national cable news that commands the most attention from its viewers.
Almost three out of four U.S. adults (71%) watch local television news and 65% view network newscastsover the course of a month, according to Nielsen data from February 2013. While 38% of adults watch some cable news during the month, cable viewers—particularly the most engaged viewers—spend far more time with that platform than broadcast viewers do with local or network news.1
On average, the cable news audience devotes twice as much time to that news source as local and network news viewers spend on those platforms. And the heaviest cable users are far more immersed in that coverage—watching for more than an hour a day—than the most loyal viewers of broadcast television news. Even those adults who are the heaviest viewers of local and network news spend more time watching cable than those broadcast outlets.
The data in this study was prepared specifically for the Pew Research Center by Nielsen, the primary source of ratings and viewership information for the television industry. This comparison of in-home network and local television, cable and internet news consumption offers a unique look at how people get news across different platforms in a rapidly changing media environment. It is based on Nielsen’s national panel of metered homes and reflects viewership in the month of February 2013, which largely coincides with the first television “sweeps” period of the year. (See Methodology)
The numbers in this report dovetail with other data about television news viewership. A 2012 Pew Research Center survey of news consumption habits shows that local television remains the most popular way of accessing news. And Pew Research’s annual State of the News Media reportshows that the nightly network newscasts draw far larger audiences than the prime-time cable news shows.
But the deeper level of viewer engagement with cable news may help to explain why cable television—despite a more limited audience—seems to have an outsized ability to influence the national debate and news agenda. Previous Pew Research Center data have shown that in prime time—when the audience is the largest—cable talk shows tend to hammer away at a somewhat narrow news agenda that magnifies the day’s more polarizing and ideological issues. The Nielsen data make it clear that cable’s audience is staying for a healthy helping of that content.
In one finding that may seem counterintuitive in an era of profound political polarization, significant portions of the Fox News and MSNBC audiences spend time watching both channels. More than a third (34%) of those who watch the liberal MSNBC in their homes also tune in to the conservative Fox News Channel. The reverse is true for roughly a quarter (28%) of Fox News viewers. Even larger proportions of Fox News and MSNBC viewers, roughly half, also spend time watching CNN, which tends to be more ideologically balanced in prime time. (The channel’s new version of Crossfire, which debuted on Sept. 9, follows its formula of delivering opinion from both the left and right.)
Some of the key findings from this initial analysis include:
While the largest portion of Americans watch local and network TV news at home, those who tune into cable news do so for an average of 25 minutes a day. That is more than twice as much time as local and network TV viewers spend getting news on those platforms.
Even heavy viewers of local TV news and network news spend more time watching cable news than they do watching these respective platforms. The heaviest local news viewers spend, on average, 11 more minutes watching cable news than local news. The heaviest network news viewers spend about one more minute watching cable news than they do network news.
Across all three platforms, there is a very large gap between the heaviest news consumers and everyone else. The top third of network news viewers in terms of time spent, for example, average almost 32 minutes a day watching network news. The next third spends about one-sixth as much time, or five minutes, watching network news.
There is no news junkie like a cable junkie. The most dedicated cable news viewers average 72 minutes, more than an hour, of home viewing a day. That compares with about 32 minutes for the heaviest network news viewers and 22 minutes for the most engaged local news audience. There is, however, a precipitous drop—to only three minutes a day—for the second most dedicated group of cable watchers.
There is widespread news consumption across different platforms, particularly with broadcast news. Fully 90% of network news viewers also watch local news and 82% of local news viewers also tune in to network news. The result is that more than half (58%) of U.S. adults watch both network and local news.
How Many Watch TV News and When
Emerging digital technology has changed news consumption choices and habits, and in a report released last fall, Pew Research Center found that local television has experienced viewership declines in the last several years, most acutely among young people. Additionally, Pew Research has documented significant declines in Americans’ reliance on newspaper and radio over time.
At the same time, the Nielsen data provide a reminder of the central role television still plays in news consumption in the comfort of home. Almost three-quarters of Americans, (71%) watch local TV news and almost two-thirds, (65%) watch network news over the course of a month. And more than one-third (38%) of Americans watch news on cable television.
Although broadcast television may have a wider reach, cable news handily wins the competition for the time and attention of news consumers at home. People who watch cable news do so for an average of about 25 minutes a day, compared with the slightly more than 12 minutes a day local television and network news viewers spend on those platforms. Some of this is no doubt due to cable news’ role as an around-the-clock, news-on-demand operation.
On every television platform, viewership is largest in the evening and nighttime hours. The number of viewers watching cable news is quite stable between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., begins to grow modestly in the late afternoon and then peaks between 8-11 p.m.
The local news audience is highest during the late 11 p.m. newscast, with about 15% more viewers than the slots from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. The early morning newscasts, from 6 a.m. to 7 a.m., generate about 60% of the viewership that the late night program does.
Heavy vs. Light TV News Viewers
A deeper analysis of television news watchers reveals major differences in the amount of time they spend on that activity. To illustrate this, the audience data were sliced into thirds based on the time spent watching each platform, and Nielsen averaged the viewing time for each of the three groups of viewers.
Overall, people in the top category for each platform—the heaviest users in terms of time spent—are far more engaged than those in tiers two and three. That is particularly true for cable. The heaviest users of cable news devote, on average, one hour and 12 minutes (72 minutes) a day to that platform. Viewing time drops off dramatically for the bottom two-thirds of cable news viewers. Those in the middle tier average slightly more than three minutes of viewing time and those at the bottom catch a glimpse for less than a minute.
Similarly, for local TV news, the top tier of viewers averages almost 22 minutes a day, compared with six and a half minutes a day for those in the middle tier and one minute for those on the bottom rung. At the network news level, the most engaged viewers watch for almost 32 minutes day. But that drops off to slightly more than five minutes for the next tier and less than one minute for the lightest viewers.
News Viewing is Dominated by the Very Engaged
According to the numbers, people who are heavy users of any type of television news tend to be heavy viewers of other platforms. But the heaviest viewers of cable news far outpace heavy viewers of local and network news, racking up almost 50 more minutes a day, on average, than the most dedicated local news viewers and approximately 40 more minutes than the top tier of network news viewers.
Even the heavy viewers of local and network news spend more time watching cable news than they do watching network and local news.
The most devoted local news viewers spend an average of about 22 minutes a day on local news compared with about 32 on cable. (They also spend almost 24 minutes a day watching network news.) The heaviest network news users spend about a half minute more (32 minutes) watching cable than network.
The heaviest cable news users also spend more time watching local news (almost 14 minutes) and network news (almost 17 minutes) than the average viewerdoes (around 12 minutes). But that time is low compared with the 72 minutes they spend watching cable news in the home.
Crossing Over: Many People Get News from More Than One Source
The Nielsen data clearly indicate that those who watch television news on one platform are likely to watch it on another—particularly when it comes to broadcast news. The greatest overlap occurs between local and network newscasts, which often are on the same channel. Fully 90% of network news viewers also watch local news and 82% of local news viewers also tune in to network news.
The crossover is not as great from broadcast news (network and local) to cable. Slightly less than half—about 44%—of both network and of local news viewers also watch cable news.
Similarly, cable news viewers, while a smaller group overall, are heavy consumers of local and network news. Indeed, cable viewers exhibit the heaviest news consumption habits of any group measured here. Three out of four cable viewers (76%) also watch some network news and even more (82%) watch some local news.
Overall, more than half of adult Americans watch more than one form of television news. The biggest cross platform viewing involves the broadcast platforms, with 58% of the adult population watching both local and network news. Slightly more than half as many, 31%, watch local television and cable news, followed by the 29% of the population that watches both network and cable television news.
Hand Me the Remote: Viewers Flip Among Cable News Channels
The three major cable news competitors differ somewhat in their viewership levels, with CNN reaching 20% of U.S. adults, Fox News reaching 18% and MSNBC reaching 14%. CNN’s viewership lead is supported by years of datashowing it has a wider reach than its competitors, but weaker “appointment” viewership, meaning it is less successful in getting viewers to tune in regularly for scheduled programs, especially in prime time. That helps explain why CNN consistently trails Fox News Channel in the rating wars since Fox News has a clear lead over competitors in its prime-time programming.
One of the most striking findings in this analysis is the degree to which viewers of one of the three cable news channels also view the competition. While the formats of the three major cable news channels are quite similar, there are significant ideological differences, most pronounced in prime time.
In the evening, Fox News boasts a lineup of conservative talk show hosts while MSNBC features a team of liberal ones. CNN, the original cable news outlet, has built its brand around national and global reporting of breaking news events. It also airs opinion in prime time, but includes commentators from both the right and the left.
The perception is that because of their distinct identities—and particularly because of the divergent ideological leanings of Fox News and MSNBC—the cable news channels appeal to different, politically segmented audiences. However the data show something different.
More than one-quarter (28%) of the people who watch Fox News also tune in to MSNBC. An even higher number (34%) of MSNBC viewers turn on Fox News.
There is even more crossover viewing when it comes to CNN. Slightly more than half (54%) of MSNBC viewers watch CNN, while 44% of Fox News viewers tune in to CNN. Healthy segments of the CNN audience also watch Fox News (39%) and MSNBC (38%).
Overall, 5% of the adult American population watches both MSNBC and Fox News. That is slightly lower than the percentage who watches both CNN and Fox (8%) or CNN and MSNBC (also 8%).
Despite some crossover, there are also viewers who watch only one of the three cable channels. Here, Fox News Channel narrowly has the largest singularly dedicated audience. About one- quarter of American adults, (24%) watch only Fox News, 23% watch only CNN and 15% watch only MSNBC.
Online News Consumption at Home
According to the February 2013 data used in this study, about 38% of Americans access news online at home via a desktop or laptop computer. Nielsen’s online numbers—based on those who access news websites—do not measure those getting news at home from a smartphone or tablet device. This data also reflect the fact that those getting online news at home generally spend very small amounts of time on that task. On average, that amounts to 90 seconds per day getting news online.
Looking at the data by intensity of use, the heaviest online news users spent only about four minutes a day on that activity. Medium online news searchers spent about 18 seconds per day at that task, while light users spent less than six seconds.
Overlap Among Cable News Sites
Some of the most popular news websites are affiliated with the three major cable news channels. Though all three are consistently among the top 10 most trafficked news websites, their audiences are fairly small as a percentage of U.S. adults.
Nbcnews.com (formerly MSNBC.com) is one of the most trafficked news sites on the web, but it still only reaches about 9% of adults in America, according to Nielsen. About 6% of the public gets news on cnn.com each day. In addition, 5% of Americans get news from foxnews.com.
When it comes to news consumers visiting multiple sites, 37% of those who visit foxnews.com also go to nbcnews.com, while 22% of those who visit nbcnews.com view foxnews.com. In addition, 28% of those who visited foxnews.com and 21% of those who visited nbcnews.com also go to cnn.com. Among cnn.com users, 26% also went to foxnews.com and 33% also went to nbcnews.com.
For the most part, there is more crossover news consumption on the television side of the three competitive cable news outlets than there is on their digital properties.
PRESIDENT OBAMA ABOUT PARIS TERROR ATTACK SHOOTING FRANCE || VIDEO
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VIDEO : Shooting Terrorists Attack at satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo in Paris, French Magazine
January 2015 Breaking News France Mass shooting ISLAM terror attack France on high alert
Gunmen Kill At Least 12 In ‘Terrorist Attack’ At French Satirical Newspaper
January 7, 2015 1:30 PM
PARIS (CBS News/CBSDC/AP) — Three masked gunmen stormed the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper Wednesday, killing 12 people, including its editor, before escaping in a car. It was France’s deadliest postwar terrorist attack.
CBS News’ Elaine Cobbe reports that, according to witnesses, two armed and masked men walked into the headquarters of the Charlie Hebdo magazine and opened fire in the entrance hallway, killing people as they saw them. The gunmen reportedly sought out members of the newspaper’s staff by name during the rampage through the 2nd floor office, which lasted between five and 10 minutes, according to witnesses.
Security forces were hunting for the gunmen who spoke flawless, unaccented French in the military-style noon-time attack on the weekly newspaper, located near Paris’ Bastille monument. The publication’s caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed have frequently drawn condemnation from Muslims.
President Francois Hollande called the slayings “a terrorist attack without a doubt,” and said several other attacks have been thwarted in France “in recent weeks.”
France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation. Schools closed across Paris, although thousands of people jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims.
Top government officials held an emergency meeting and Hollande planned a nationally televised address later Wednesday evening.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which also left four people critically wounded, and was condemned by world leaders as an attack on freedom of expression, but praised by supporters of the militant Islamic State group.
Clad all in black with hoods and carrying machine guns, the attackers forced one of the cartoonists arriving at the office building with her young daughter to open the door with a security code.
The staff was in an editorial meeting and the gunmen headed straight for the paper’s editor, Stephane Charbonnier – widely known by his pen name Charb – killing him and his police bodyguard first, said Christophe Crepin, a police union spokesman. Minutes later, two men strolled out to a black car waiting below, calmly firing on a police officer, with one gunman shooting him in the head as he writhed on the ground, according to video.
Ten journalists and two police office were killed, Crepin said, including one assigned as Charb’s bodyguard and another who had arrived on the scene on a mountain bike. Among the dead were Bernard Maris, an economist who a contributor to the newspaper and was heard regularly on French radio, and Georges Wolinski, a celebrated cartoonist who also worked for Paris Match magazine.
“Hey! We avenged the Prophet Muhammad! We killed Charlie Hebdo,” one of the men shouted in French, according to a video shot from a nearby building and broadcast on French TV. Other videoshowed two gunmen in black at a crossroads who appeared to fire down one of the streets. A cry of “Allahu akbar!” – Arabic for “God is great”- could be heard among the gunshots.
The video showed the killers moving deliberately and calmly. One even bent over to toss a fallen shoe back into the small black car before it sped off. The car was later found abandoned in northern Paris, police said.
Luc Poignant of the SBP police union said the attackers switched to another vehicle that had been stolen.
A reporter for Britain’s Telegraph newspaper in Paris told Sky News that the first two officers to arrive, who were apparently unarmed, fled after seeing gunmen armed with automatic weapons and possibly a grenade launcher.
Corinne Rey, the cartoonist who said she was forced to let the gunmen in, said the men spoke fluent French and claimed to be from al Qaeda. In an interview with the newspaper l’Humanite, she said the entire shooting lasted perhaps five minutes.
The Guardian reports a witness in the office building said one of the gunman asked where Charlie Hebdo was located.
“Then someone opened the door to our office and asked where Charlie Hebdo was. He had a rifle. We backed away. Afterwards he left, we heard gunfire. We went to the windows, there were two men running with guns, speaking in bad French … They were shouting outside, and shooting again. Afterwards I saw someone leaving the building with his hands covered in blood,” the unnamed witness said, according to The Guardian.
The security analyst group Stratfor said the gunmen appeared to be well-trained, “from the way they handled their weapons, moved and shot. These attackers conducted a successful attack, using what they knew, instead of attempting to conduct an attack beyond their capability, failing as a result.”
Both al Qaeda and the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) have repeatedly threatened to attack France. Just minutes before the attack, Charlie Hebdo had tweeted a satirical cartoon of the Islamic State’s leader giving New Year’s wishes:
Charlie Hebdo has been repeatedly threatened for its caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad and other sketches. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after an issue featured a caricature of the prophet on its cover. Nearly a year later, the publication again published Muhammad caricatures, drawing denunciations from the Muslim world because Islam prohibits the publication of drawings of its founder.
Another cartoon, released in this week’s issue and entitled “Still No Attacks in France,” had a caricature of a jihadi fighter saying “Just wait – we have until the end of January to present our New Year’s wishes.” Charb was the artist.
“This is the darkest day of the history of the French press,” said Christophe DeLoire of Reporters Without Borders.
The last tweet from the magazine came less than an hour before the reports of a shooting. It was a picture depicting Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of ISIS, with a message wishing him, “Best wishes.”
“The motive here is absolutely clear; trying to shut down a media organization that lampooned the Prophet Mohammad,” CBS News security consultant and former CIA deputy chief Mike Morell told “CBS This Morning co-host Charlie Rose. “What we have to figure out here is the perpetrators and whether they were self-radicalized or whether they were individuals who fought in Syria and Iraq and came back, or whether they were actually directed by ISIS or al Qaeda.”
Morrell added a warning that law enforcement and intelligence agencies would need to “worry about copycat attacks, not only in France but in the rest of the world, and I would even say in the broader world to include the United States.”
The New York Police Department released a statement, saying it had a detective stationed in Paris and “will continue to closely monitor the situation.”
“There are standing contingency plans in place to adjust police deployments based on any unfolding situation in the world. That includes how we use and where we position and deploy specialized police resources, said Deputy Commissioner Intelligence and Counterterrorism John Miller.
In the winter 2014 edition of the al Qaeda magazine Inspire, a so-called chief describing where to use a new bomb said: “Of course the first priority and the main focus should be on America, then the United Kingdom, then France and so on.”
In 2013, the magazine specifically threatened Charb and included an article titled “France the Imbecile Invader.”
An al Qaeda tweeter who communicated Wednesday with AP said the group is not claiming responsibility, but called the attack “inspiring.”
CBS News national security analyst Juan Zarate also noted on “CBS This Morning” that “France has been dealing with the problem of French foreign fighters flowing into Syria and Iraq and coming back into France.”
He says it may be more likely, however, that the attack on Charlie Hebdo was carried out by “self-radicalized individuals, individuals who take their prompt from the propaganda of these groups and took it upon themselves, perhaps, to attack.”
Zarate pointed to the attack by young French Muslim man Mohamed Merah, who shot up a Jewish community center in the country’s south in March 2012, as an example of this sort of violence.
“France is not new to this, and the perpetrators could be a wide spectrum of individuals who were inspired to attack fellow French citizens,” said Zarate.
President Obama said he has reached out to Hollande to express his sympathies for the attack in Paris Wednesday. In remarks before a meeting with Secretary Kerry and Vice President Biden, Obama called the shootings “cowardly and evil.”
“The fact that this was an attack on journalists, an attack on our free press, also underscores the degree to which these terrorists fear freedom of speech, freedom of the press,” Obama said.
He continued, “A universal belief in freedom of expression is something that can’t be silenced because of the senseless violence of the few.” The president promised the U.S. would stand with France and said that U.S. counterterrorism was providing assistance to the French to help hunt for those responsible for the shooting.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said his country stood united with France,
“We stand squarely for free speech and democracy. These people will never be able to take us off those values,” Cameron said in the House of Commons.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also condemned the attack as a “cynical crime,” and pledged cooperation in fighting terrorism,
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the “hateful act,” and urged Muslims and Christians “to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue, to make a united front against extremism.”
On social media, supporters of militant Islamic groups praised the move. One self-described Tunisian loyalist of al Qaeda and the Islamic State group tweeted that the attack was well-deserved revenge against France.
Elsewhere on the Internet, the hashtag #JeSuisCharlie was trending as people expressed support for weekly and for journalistic freedom.
Standing together in defiance, thousands gather across France to show support for 12 people slaughtered by ‘Al Qaeda’ gunmen in attack on Paris magazine as manhunt for terrorists continues
Masked gunmen storm Paris headquarters with AK-47s shouting ‘Allahu akbar!’ and ‘the Prophet has been avenged’
Stalked building asking for people’s names before killing the editor, three cartoonists and the deputy chief editor
Editor Stephane Charbonnier had famously shrugged off threats, saying: ‘I’d rather die standing than live kneeling’
Horrific footage shows a police officer begging for his life before being shot in the head at point-blank range
Cartoonist Corrine Rey told how she cowered with her young daughter as she watched two colleagues gunned down
Killers fled in stolen car across eastern Paris after a ‘mass shoot-out’ with police officers and remain on the loose
Militants believed to be from Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula which was behind plane bomb plots in U.S. and UK
Newspaper had earlier posted a picture of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi on its Twitter account
Publication’s offices were firebombed in 2011 for publishing satirical cartoon of Prophet Mohammed
White House had previously criticised Charlie Hebdo in 2012 for publishing its religiously sensitive cartoons
By SIMON TOMLINSON and PETER ALLEN and JAY AKBAR and CHRIS PLEASANCE FOR MAILONLINE
Thousands of people gathered across Europe tonight to show their support to an anti-Islamist newspaper, after its offices in Paris were targeted today by suspected Al Qaeda militants who massacred 12 people.
Among those slaughtered was a police officer as he begged for mercy.
Masked attackers brandishing Kalashnikovs burst into the Charlie Hebdo headquarters, opening fire on staff after seeking out journalists by name in France’s deadliest post-war terrorist attack.
Clad all in black with hoods and speaking flawless French, the militants forced one of the cartoonists – who was at the office with her young daughter – to open the door.
Witnesses said the gunmen were heard shouting ‘we are from the Al Qaeda in Yemen’, ‘the Prophet has been avenged’ and ‘Allahu akbar!’ – Arabic for ‘God is great’ – as they stalked the building.
They headed straight for the paper’s editor and cartoonist, Stephane Charbonnier, killing him and his police bodyguard, who had been recruited to protect him after extremists firebombed the offices in 2011 over a satirical cartoon about the Prophet Mohammed.
A year later, Mr Charbonnier famously dismissed threats against his life, declaring: ‘I would rather die standing than live kneeling.’
The militants also killed three other renowned cartoonists – men who had regularly satirised Islam – and the newspaper’s deputy chief editor.
Despite a shoot-out with armed officers, the gunmen escaped in a hijacked car and remain on the loose this evening, leaving the French capital in virtual lockdown as police and soldiers flooded the streets to join the search.
President Barack Obama offered U.S. help in pursuing the gunmen, saying they had attacked freedom of expression.
But it also emerged that the White House had previously criticised Charlie Hebdo in 2012 over its Prophet Mohammed cartoon, saying the images would be ‘deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory.’
Meanwhile, horrific footage emerged showing an injured police officer slumped on the pavement as two gunmen approached him outside the office minutes later.
In an apparent desperate plea for his life, the officer is seen slowly raising his hand towards one of the attackers, who responds by callously shooting him in the head at point-blank range.
Scroll down for videos and audio
Demonstration: Protesters at the Place de la Republique in Paris tonight, following an attack by gunmen on the offices of Charlie Hebdo
Elsewhere: People gather at the Place Royale in Nantes to show their solidarity for the victims of the attack on the offices of the satirical weekly
Brutal execution: A police officer pleads for mercy on the pavement in Paris before being shot in the head by masked gunmen during an attack on the headquarters of the French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, a notoriously anti-Islamic publication
Gunned down in cold blood: Horrific footage shows the injured police officer slumped on the pavement as two of the gunmen approach. In a desperate plea for his life, the officer slowly raises his hand towards one of the attackers, who callously shoots him at point-blank range
‘Massacre': The gunmen are seen brandishing Kalashnikovs as they move in on the injured police officer from their vehicle outside the office
Emergency: Police officers and firefighters gather in front of the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris today after gunmen stormed the building
Critical: Firefighters carry an injured man on a stretcher in front of the offices of French satirical paper Charlie Hebdo after the shooting
Terrifying video shows trained terrorists gunning down police
Despite a fierce firefight with police, the men were able to get away in a hijacked car, and, within an hour of the atrocity, appeared to have disappeared without trace.
France raised its security alert to the highest level and reinforced protective measures at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transportation.
President Francois Hollande described the bloodbath as a ‘barbaric attack against France and against journalists’ and vowed to hunt down those responsible.
Jacques Myard, French MP with opposition party UMP, said: ‘We knew something would happen. The (security) services used to say to us it’s not if but when and where. We know that we are at war. The Western nations – like Britain, France, Germany – we are at war.’
The Queen today sent her ‘sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed’ in the attack, while Prime Minister David Cameron described the murders as ‘sickening’.
Social media users have responded to the Charlie Hebdo massacre with an outpouring of solidarity using the hashtag #jesuischarlie which is trending on Twitter.
By 4.15pm, nearly five hours after the attack, it had already been tweeted more than 250,000 times, according to one social analytics website.
Thousands of people also jammed Republique Square near the site of the shooting to honor the victims, holding aloft pens and papers reading ‘Je suis Charlie’ – ‘I am Charlie.’
Guy Verhofstadt, the President of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe tweeted: ‘A tragic day for the freedom of speech #jesuischarlie.’
Marches have also been organised through Paris and London in support of journalistic freedom.
As well as the AK47 assault rifles, there were also reports of a rocket-propelled grenade being used in the attack, which took place during the publication’s weekly editorial meeting at around 12pm (11pm GMT), meaning all the journalists would have been present.
A young mother and cartoonist who survived the massacre told how she had let the suspected Al Qaeda killers into the office.
Corrine Rey said she had returned from picking up her young daughter from a kindergarten when she was confronted by two heavily armed men wearing balaclavas.
‘I had gone to pick up my daughter at day care, arriving in front of the building, where two masked and armed men brutally threatened us,’ said Ms Rey, who draws under the name ‘Coco’.
‘They said they wanted to go up to the offices, so I tapped in the code,’ said Ms Rey, referring to the digi-code security system on the interphone.
Ms Rey and her daughter hid under a desk, from where they saw two other cartoonists being executed. ‘They shot Wolinski and Cabu,’ she said. ‘It lasted five minutes. I had taken refuge under a desk.’
Terrifying sounds of gunshots from rooftop above Paris offices
Faces of the victims: Among the journalists killed were (l to r) Charlie Hebdo’s deputy chief editor Bernard Maris and cartoonists Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, aka Cabu, Stephane Charbonnier, who is also editor-in-chief, and Bernard Verlhac, also known as Tignous
At large: The gunmen are seen near the offices of the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo before fleeing in a car. They remain on the loose
Forensic experts examine the car believed to have been used as the escape vehicle by gunmen who attacked the Charlie Hebdo office
A truck tows the car apprently used by armed gunmen who stormed the Paris offices of satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, killing 12 people
A police photographer (partially hidden) works with investigators as they examine the impacts from machine gun fire on a police vehicle
Ms Rey said the men ‘spoke French perfectly’ and ‘claimed they were ‘Al Qaeda terrorists’.
Gunmen reportedly told another witness: ‘You say to the media, it was Al Qaeda in Yemen.’
A police source told the Liberation newspaper the gunmen were asking for the Mr Charbonnier by name, shouting: ‘Where is Charb? Where is Charb?’
The source added: ‘They killed him then sprayed everyone else.’
Mr Charbonnier was included in a 2013 Wanted Dead or Alive for Crimes Against Islam article published by Inspire, the terrorist propaganda magazine published by Al Qaeda.
The latest tweet published by the newspaper’s official Twitter account earlier in the day featured a cartoon of Abu Baghdadi, the leader of Islamic State, who wishes everyone ‘good health’.
Cartoonists Cabu, Tignous and Wolinski were all also reported dead.
Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gilet later announced on Twitter that a contributor, Bernard Maris, was another of the victims.
Meanwhile, there were reports of a car explosion outside a synagogue in Sarcelles, a commune in the northern suburbs of Paris, just hours after the Charlie Hebdo attack.
The blast, which happened at around 1.30pm GMT, is not thought to be connected to the massacre, according to Paris Metro which quoted the mayor of Sarcelles.
Florence Pouvil, a salesperson at Lunas France on Rue Nicolas Appert, opposite the Charlie Hebdo offices, told MailOnline: ‘I saw two people with big guns, like Kalashnikovs outside our office and then we heard firing. We were very confused.’
‘There were two guys who came out of the building and shot everywhere. We hid on the floor, we were terrified.
‘They came from the building opposite with big guns. It has a bunch of different companies inside. Some of our co-workers work there so we were frightened for them.
‘They weren’t just firing inside the Charlie Hebdo offices. They were firing in the street too.
‘We feared for our lives so we hid under our desks so they wouldn’t see us. Both men were dressed in black from head to toe and their faces were covered so I didn’t see them.
‘They were wearing military clothes, it wasn’t common clothing, like they were soldiers.’
According to the New York Times, one journalist at the Charlie Hebdo office, who asked not to be named, texted a friend after the shooting to say: ‘I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there. The jihadists spared me.’
A man is carried into an ambulance. Ten people were reportedly in wounded, four critically, in the attack by suspected Al Qaeda militants
Life-threatening: An injured person is evacuated outside the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo’s office
Several people were left critically wounded when terrorists carried out a ‘military-style’ attack on the newspaper office
Shell-shocked: A woman cries outside the office. Witnesses reported hearing loud gunfire and at least one explosion during the attack
Trail of destruction: Police inspect the damage after a collision between police cars at the scene during a firefight with Islamic militants
ARE PARIS GUNMEN FROM YEMENI AL QAEDA CELL BEHIND PLANE BOMB PLOTS IN THE U.S. AND BRITAIN?
The gunmen being hunted by police over the Charlie Hebdo attack are believed to be from militant group Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP).
The group was established by Yusef al-Ayeri in 2003 in Saudi Arabia, but was forced to flee to Yemen after a series of attacks drove them back.
Yemen’s weak government allowed the group to rally and gain members, though they are only thought to have around 400 troops today.
While their attacks initially focused on targets in the Middle East, such as an attempted suicide attack on Saudi Minister Prince Mohammed bin Nayef, they quickly spread to Western targets.
On Christmas Day in 2009, they were implicated in the underwear bomb plot after Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was discovered on a Detroit-bound plane trying to detonate liquid explosives in his underpants.
The following year AQAP also took responsibility for a plot to blow up two devices hidden inside printer cartridges loaded on to cargo planes travelling from Yemen to the United States.
One device was discovered during a stopover at East Midlands Airport in Britain, while another was uncovered in Dubai.
According to Stanford University the group is currently lead by Yemen-born Nasser al-Wuhayshi, who is an apprentice of Osama Bin Laden and was imprisoned for a time in Yemen, but escaped in 2006 along with 22 others.
The group has a global jihadist agenda. Like ISIS, they aim to create a single Arab caliphate, covering Pakistan Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and the Levant – the area encompassing Lebanon, Jordan, Syria and Israel.
If today’s attack is confirmed as coming from AQAP, it will be the first time the group has used lone-wolf style tactics, in which gunmen act alone or in small groups to attack targets.
Officers were involved in a gunfight with the men, who escaped in a hijacked car and sped away from the office towards east Paris
On red alert: After the first shots rang out, it is thought that three policemen on bicycles were the first to respond to the atrocity
Benoit Bringer, a journalist with Agence Premiere Ligne, told the iTele network he saw several masked men armed with machine guns
Carnage: A police official, Luc Poignant, said he was aware of one journalist dead and several injured, including three police officers
Terror: In footage filmed from a rooftop, people are seen running for cover as the gunmen rampage through the building
A picture posted on Twitter appearing to show people taking refuge on the roof of the Charlie Hebdo office
Targeted: A picture posted on Twitter reportedly showing bullets in one of the windows of the Charlie Hebdo offices
Harrowing Instagram video captures audio of gunfire in Paris
Another witness, Gilles Boulanger, who works in the same building, told Itele: ‘A neighbour called to warn me that there were armed men in the building and that we had to shut all the doors.
‘And several minutes later, there were several shots heard in the building from automatic weapons firing in all directions. So then we looked out of the window and saw the shooting was on Boulevard Richard-Lenoir, with the police. It was really upsetting. You’d think it was a war zone.’
French journalist, Stefan De Vries, told Sky News: ‘There was protection at the door but they killed the police officers, they executed them and they started shooting in the offices.’
An unnamed eyewitness told the BBC World Service: ‘When I arrived at the scene it was quite disturbing as you can imagine. There were several corpses on the floor.
‘We saw the number of casualties was very high, so we just tried to help as we could – there were a lot of people down on the floor and there was blood everywhere.
‘I’m very traumatised by this attack and everything and now we’re in psychological hell where we’re being attended to by professionals.’
Benoit Bringer, a journalist at the scene who works next door, took refuge on the roof of the building, which is in the 11th arrondissement of Paris.
He said: ‘There were very many people in the building. We evacuated via the roof just next to the office. After around ten minutes we saw two heavily armed, masked men in the street’.
Another witness said: ‘There was a loud gunfire and at least one explosion. When police arrived there was a mass shoot-out. The men got away by car, stealing a car.’
A police official, Luc Poignant, said: ‘It’s carnage.’
After the shooting, hundreds of comments were posted on the Charlie Hebdo Twitter page, with one user, David Rault, writing: ‘A sad day for freedom of expression.’
Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief Gerard Biard escaped the massacre because he was in London.
He told France Inter: ‘I am shocked that people can have attacked a newspaper in France, a secular republic. I don’t understand it.
‘I don’t understand how people can attack a newspaper with heavy weapons. A newspaper is not a weapon of war.’
France reinforced security at houses of worship, stores, media offices and transport after masked gunmen stormed the Charlie Hebdo offices
Mr Biard said he did not believe the attack was linked to the newspaper’s latest front page, which featured novelist Michel Houellebecq, who has previously sparked controversy with comments about Islam.
And he said the newspaper had not received threats of violence: ‘Not to my knowledge, and I don’t think anyone had received them as individuals, because they would have talked about it. There was no particular tension at the moment.’
A visibly shocked French President François Hollande, speaking live near the scene of the shooting, said: ‘France is today in shock, in front of a terrorist attack.
‘This newspaper was threatened several rimes in the past and we need to show we are a united country.
‘We have to be firm, and we have to be stand strong with the international community in the coming days and weeks.
‘We are at a very difficult moment following several terrorist attacks. We are threated because we are a country of freedom
‘We will punish the attackers. We will look for the people responsible.’
Defiant: Stephane Charbonnier, known by his pen name Charb, was editor of Charlie Hebdo, and gunned down by men with assault weapons
Mr Charbonnier was named as one of nine men the extreme Islamist group were targetting (pictured centre right). Their photographs were printed alongside the caption ‘a bullet a day keeps the infidel away’
Tragic: Cartoonist Georges Wolinski was named by officials as one of those shot dead at the offices of Charlie Hebdo
Lead cartoonist Jean ‘Cabu’ Cabut (left) was among the 12 massacred by terrorists in Paris today, along with Bernard ‘Tignous’ Verlhac (right)
Radio France chief executive Mathieu Gilet announced on Twitter that a contributor, Bernard Maris (above right) was another of the victims
Committee to Protect Journalists reacts to Paris attack
The Queen today sent her ‘sincere condolences to the families of those who have been killed’ in the attack.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister David Cameron described the murders as ‘sickening’.
He added: ‘We stand with the French people in the fight against terror and defending the freedom of the press.’
The British Foreign Office immediately updated is advice for travellers heading to Pairs, warning: ‘There is a high threat from terrorism.’
It added: ‘If you’re in Paris or the Ile de France area take extra care and follow advice of French authorities.’
Luce Lapin and Laurent Leger, who have both worked at Charlie Hebdo, were using Twitter hours before the attack, with the most recent tweet posted by Lapin praising cartoonist Cabu.
It read: ‘Cabu, a great man! And honest, he doesn’t eat foie gras.’
While Leger’s made a political point about taxes.
It said: ‘Macron [French ministry of economy] wants more billionaires in France, the same that use tricks for not paying ISF [solidarity tax on wealth].’
Mohammed Moussaoui, president of the Union of French mosques, condemned the ‘hateful act,’ and urged Muslims and Christians ‘to intensify their actions to give more strength to this dialogue to make a united front against extremism’.
David Cameron condemns barbaric gun attack in Paris
Location: Officers were involved in a gunfight with the men, who escaped in a hijacked car and sped away from the office towards east Paris
‘100 LASHES IF YOU DON’T DIE OF LAUGHTER': HOW CHARLIE HEBDO HAS BECOME A BYWORD FOR ANTI-ISLAMISM
Charlie Hebdo has become a byword for offensive statements in France after taking several highly provocative swipes at Islam.
The newspaper once named Prophet Mohammed as its guest editor, published cartoons of the holy figure in the nude, and once renamed itself Sharia Hebdo with the cover slogan ‘100 lashes if you don’t die of laughter’.
The controversy began in 2006 when the publication reprinted now-infamous cartoons of Prophet Mohammed by Danish artist Kurt Westergaard.
When the images originally appeared they lead to days of protests across the Middle East and in Western cities. The decision to reprint the images landed the then-editor in court under anti-terror laws, though he was later acquitted.
The Hebdo offices were burned to the ground in 2011 when attackers used Molotov cocktails to start a blaze early in the morning of November 2.
There was nobody in the building at the time, and the target was instead thought to be the newspaper’s computer system, which was completely destroyed.
Riot police were forced to stand guard outside the building for days following the attack, as the editors took a defiant stance, choosing to reprint the cartoon images multiple times.
In 2012 they again printed cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed as a deliberately provocative gesture while violent protests were taking place across the Middle East.
The following year the newspaper’s office again had to be surrounded by riot officers after they published a cartoon booklet depicting the Prohpet naked as a baby and being pushed in a wheelchair.
On the final page of the booklet there was a note from the editor, Stephane Charbonnier, saying the images were ‘halal’ because Muslims had worked on them, and that they were factually accurate as they had been derived from descriptions in the Koran.
The satirical publication, widely seen as France’s answer to Private Eye, prides itself on a mixture of tongue-in-cheek reporting and investigative journalism.
Hebdo’s current office building has no notices on the door to prevent a repeat of the attacks that have occurred in the past.
In an interview with De Volkskrant in January 2013, Mr Charbonnier revealed he had been placed under constant police protection for four months after one of the cartoon issues was published.
He shrugged off criticism that he was only publishing the images to gain notoriety for Hebdo, and insisted that he was instead defending the right to free speech.
Mr Charbonnier pointed out that the newspaper had poked fun at feminism, nuclear energy and homeland security, but the Islam issues always attracted the most publicity.
Charlie Hebdo was previously attacked with a firebomb in 2011
The offices of the same newspaper were burnt down in a petrol attack in 2011 after running a magazine cover of the Prophet Mohammed as a cartoon character.
At the time, the editor-in-chief, Stephane Charbonnier, said Islam could not be excluded from freedom of the press.
He said: ‘If we can poke fun at everything in France, if we can talk about anything in France apart from Islam or the consequences of Islamism, that is annoying.’
Mr Charbonnier, also known as Charb, said he did not see the attack on the newspaper as the work of French Muslims, but of what he called ‘idiot extremists’.
‘We have to be stand strong with the international community': A visibly shocked French President François Hollande arrives at the scene, where he promised to bring those responsible to justice
The cover showed Mohammed saying: ‘100 lashes if you are not dying of laughter’.
This week’s Charlie Hebdo also featured the author Houellebecq, whose new novel imagines Muslims taking over the French government in 2022.
Inside, there was an editorial, attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, and more cartoons – one showing the Prophet with a clown’s red nose.
Depiction of the Prophet is strictly prohibited in Islam, but the newspaper denied it was trying to be provocative.
A firebomb attack gutted the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo in November 2011 after it put an image of the Prophet Mohammed on its cover.
PARIS — At least two masked gunmen on Wednesday burst into the Paris offices of a satirical newspaper that had drawn threats for lampooning Islam, killing 12 people in a methodical hail of gunfire, fleeing by car as they battled on the street with the police and setting off a wide manhunt for the killers.
There were unconfirmed news reports late Wednesday that the police had arrested three suspects, all French nationals, including two brothers.
The terrorist attack on the newspaper, Charlie Hebdo, was among the deadliest in postwar France, setting the nation on edge, sending shockwaves through Europe and threatening to deepen the distrust of France’s large Muslim population. The attack came at a time when Islamic radicalism has become a central concern of security officials across Europe.
The attack, carried out with automatic weapons, was carried out with an unusual degree of military-style precision. President François Hollande of France calledit a display of extraordinary “barbarism” that was “without a doubt” an act of terrorism. He declared Thursday a national day of mourning.
He also raised the nationwide terror alert to its highest status, saying several terrorist attacks had been thwarted in recent weeks as security officials here and elsewhere in Europe have grown increasingly wary of the return of young citizens from Syria and Iraq, where they went to wage jihad.
The French authorities put some schools on lockdown for the day, and added security at houses of worship, news media offices and transportation centers, and conducted random searches on the Paris Metro.
The Paris prosecutor, François Molins, said witnesses said the attackers had screamed “Allahu akbar!” or “God is great” during the attack, which the police characterized as a “slaughter.”
Corinne Rey, a cartoonist known as Coco, who was at the newspaper office during the attack, told Le Monde that the attackers spoke fluent French and had said they were part of Al Qaeda.
An amateur video of the assailants’ subsequent gunfight with the police, showed the men shouting, “We have avenged the Prophet Muhammad. We have killed Charlie Hebdo!” The video, the source of which could not be verified, also showed the gunmen killing a police officer as he lay wounded on a nearby street.
The victims at Charlie Hebdo included some of the country’s most revered and iconoclastic cartoonists. The weekly’s editorial director, Stéphane Charbonnier, had already been received light police protection after earlier threats, the police and the prosecutor said. An officer assigned to guard the newspaper’s offices and its top editor was among the victims.
As news of the attack spread, an outpouring of grief mixed with expressions of dismay and demonstrations of solidarity for free speech. By the evening, not far from the site of the attack in the east of Paris, thousands gathered at Place de La République — young and old, and various classes — some chanting, “Charlie! Charlie!” or holding signs reading, “I am Charlie” — the message posted on the newspaper’s website.
Spontaneous vigils of hundreds and thousands formed in other cities around France and elsewhere in Europe.
Mr. Molin, thprosecutor, said that two men armed with AK-47 rifles and wearing black hoods, had forced their way into the weekly’s offices about 11:30 a.m., firing at people in the lobby, before making their way to the newsroom on the second floor, interrupting a news meeting and firing at the assembled journalists.
The attackers then fled outside, where they clashed three times with the police, shooting one officer as he lay on the ground on a nearby street. They then fled in a black Citroen, and headed north on the right bank of Paris. During their escape, prosecutors said, they crashed into another car and injured its female driver, before robbing and abducting a bystander.
The police said the precision with which the assailants handled their weapons suggested that they had received military training. During the attack, which the police said lasted a matter of minutes, several journalists hid under their desks or went to hide on the roof, witnesses said.
Meziani Zina, 32, who works at the reception of an employment center across from the building, said she heard several loud shots ringing from the weekly’s headquarters.
One journalist who was at the weekly during the attack and asked that her name not be used, texted a friend after the shooting: “I’m alive. There is death all around me. Yes, I am there. The jihadists spared me.”
Treasured by many, hated by some, and indiscriminate in its offensiveness, Charlie Hebdo has long reveled in provoking.
In 2011, the office of the weekly was badly damaged by a firebomb after it published a spoof issue “guest edited” by the Prophet Muhammad to salute the victory of an Islamist party in Tunisian elections. It had announced plans to publish a special issue renamed “Charia Hebdo,” a play on the word in French for Shariah law.
Police said the dead included four celebrated cartoonists at the weekly, including its Mr. Charbonnier, known as Charb, Jean Cabut, Georges Wolinski and Bernard Verlhac.
Mr. Charbonnier stoked controversy and earned the ire of the Muslim community in 2006, when he republished satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad that had been published in a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. His last cartoon for Charlie Hebdo featured an armed man who appeared to be a Muslim fighter with a headline that read: “Still no attacks in France. Wait! We have until the end of January to give our best wishes.”
The police said that an abandoned black Citroen with silvered wing-mirrors, used by the gunmen, was later discovered in the 19th arrondissement of Paris.
A senior United States counterterrorism official said on Wednesday that the American authorities were following the developments in Paris closely, but that they had not yet identified any individuals or groups who might be responsible for the attack.
Michael J. Morell, the former deputy director of the C.I.A. and now a consultant to CBS News, said it was unclear whether the attackers acted on their own or were directed by organized groups.
“This is the worst terrorist attack in Europe since the attacks in London in July of 2005,” Mr. Morell said. “The motive here is absolutely clear: trying to shut down a media organization that lampooned the Prophet Muhammad. So, no doubt in my mind that this is terrorism.”
He added, “What we have to figure out here is the perpetrators and whether they were self-radicalized or whether they were individuals who fought in Syria and Iraq and came back, or whether they were actually directed by ISIS or Al Qaeda.”
Dalil Boubakeur, the rector of the Grand Mosque in Paris, one of France’s largest, expressed horror at the assault on Charlie Hebdo. “We are shocked and surprised that something like this could happen in the center of Paris. But where are we?” he was quoted as saying by Europe1, a radio broadcaster.
“We strongly condemn these kinds of acts and we expect the authorities to take the most appropriate measures.” He added: “This is a deafening declaration of war. Times have changed, and we are now entering a new era of confrontation.”
The attack comes as thousands of Europeans have gone to join jihadist groups in Iraq and Syria, further fueling concerns about Islamic radicalism and terrorism being imported. Those concerns have been particularly acute in France where fears have grown that militants are seeking to target French citizens in retaliation for the government’s support for the United States-led air campaign against jihadists with the Islamic State group in Syria and Iraq.
In Dijon and Nantes, a total of 23 people were injured when men drove vehicles into crowds, with one of the drivers shouting an Islamic rallying cry. The authorities depicted both drivers as mentally unstable. The attacks came after violence attributed to lone-wolf attackers in London in 2013, inCanada in October and last month in Sydney, Australia.
In September, fighters in Algeria aligned with the Islamic State beheaded Hervé Gourdel, a 55-year-old mountaineering guide from Nice, and released a video documenting the brutal killing. Mr. Gourdel was kidnapped after the Islamic State called on its supporters to target Europeans to avenge the airstrikes in Iraq and Syria.
President Obama issued a statement condemning the attack. “Time and again, the French people have stood up for the universal values that generations of our people have defended,” he said. “France, and the great city of Paris where this outrageous attack took place, offer the world a timeless example that will endure well beyond the hateful vision of these killers. We are in touch with French officials, and I have directed my administration to provide any assistance needed to help bring these terrorists to justice.”
The former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, called the assault a “direct and savage attack against one of our most revered republican ideals: the freedom of expression.”
In a condolence letter addressed to President Holland, Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany expressed condolences on behalf of the German people.
“This horrible act is not only an attack on the lives of French citizens and the domestic security of France,” Ms. Merkel said. “It also stands as an attack on the freedom of expression and the press, a core element of our free, democratic culture that can in no way be justified.”
Correction: January 7, 2015
An earlier version of this article misstated the location of the abandoned car believed to have been used by the gunmen, using information from the police. It was found in the 19th Arrondissement, not the 20th.
Charlie Hebdo (French pronunciation: [ʃaʁli ɛbdo]; French for Charlie Weekly) is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone, the publication is strongly antireligious and left-wing, publishing articles on the extreme right, Catholicism, Islam, Judaism, politics,culture, etc. According to its former editor, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier), the magazine’s editorial viewpoint reflects “all components of left wing pluralism, and even abstainers”.
In 1969, the Hara-Kiri team decided to produce a weekly publication – on top of the existing monthly magazine – which would focus more on current affairs. This was launched in February as Hara-Kiri Hebdo and renamed L’Hebdo Hara-Kiri in May of the same year. (‘Hebdo’ is short for ‘hebdomadaire’ – ‘weekly’)
In November 1970, the former French president Charles de Gaulle died in his home village of Colombey-les-Deux-Églises, eight days after a disaster in a nightclub, theClub Cinq-Sept fire caused the death of 146 people. The magazine released a cover spoofing the popular press’s coverage of this disaster, headlined “Tragic Ball at Colombey, one dead.” As a result, the journal was once more banned, this time by the Minister of the Interior.
In order to sidestep the ban, the team decided to change its title, and used Charlie Hebdo. The new name was derived from a monthly comics magazine calledCharlie Mensuel (Charlie Monthly), which had been started by Bernier and Delfeil de Ton in 1968. Charlie took its name from Charlie Brown, the lead character ofPeanuts – one of the comics originally published in Charlie Mensuel – and was also an inside joke about Charles de Gaulle. In December 1981, publication ceased.
In 1991, Gébé, Cabu and others were reunited to work for La Grosse Bertha, a new weekly magazine resembling Charlie created in reaction to the First Gulf War and edited by comic singer Philippe Val. However, the following year, Val clashed with the publisher, who wanted apolitical mischief, and was fired. Gébé and Cabu walked out with him and decided to launch their own paper again. The three called upon Cavanna, Delfeil de Ton and Wolinski, requesting their help and input. After much searching for a new name, the obvious idea of resurrecting Charlie-Hebdo was agreed on. The new magazine was owned by Val, Gébé, Cabu and singer Renaud Séchan. Val was editor, Gébé artistic director.
The publication of the new Charlie Hebdo began in July 1992 amidst much publicity. The first issue under the new publication sold 100,000 copies. Choron, who had fallen out with his former colleagues, tried to restart a weekly Hara-Kiri, but its publication was short-lived. Choron died in January 2005.
In 2000, journalist Mona Chollet was sacked after she had protested against a Philippe Val article which called Palestinians “non-civilized”. In 2004, following the death of Gébé, Val succeeded him as director of the publication, while still holding his position as editor.
Controversy arose over the publication’s edition of 9 February 2006. Under the title “Mahomet débordé par les intégristes” (“Muhammad overwhelmed by fundamentalists”), the front page showed a cartoon of a weeping Prophet Muhammad saying “C’est dur d’être aimé par des cons” (“it’s hard being loved by jerks”). The newspaper reprinted the twelve cartoons of the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy and added some of their own. Compared to a regular circulation of 100,000 sold copies, this edition enjoyed great commercial success. 160,000 copies were sold and another 150,000 were in print later that day.
The suit by the Grand Mosque and the UOIF reached the courts in February 2007. Publisher Philippe Val contended “It is racist to imagine that they can’t understand a joke” but Francis Szpiner, the lawyer for the Grand Mosque, explained the suit: “Two of those caricatures make a link between Muslims and Muslim terrorists. That has a name and it’s called racism.”
On 22 March 2007, executive editor Philippe Val was acquitted by the court. The court followed the state attorney’s reasoning that two of the three cartoons were not an attack on Islam, but on Muslim terrorists, and that the third cartoon with Mohammed with a bomb in his turban should be seen in the context of the magazine in question which attacked religious fundamentalism.
In 2008, controversy broke over a column by veteran cartoonist Siné which led to accusations of antisemitism and Siné’s sacking by Val. Siné sued the newspaper for unfair dismissal and Charlie Hebdo was sentenced to pay him €90,000 in damages. Siné launched a rival paper called Siné Hebdo which later became Siné Mensuel. Charlie Hebdo launched its Internet site, after years of reluctance from Val.
In 2009, Philippe Val resigned after being appointed director of France Inter, a public radio station to which he has contributed since the early 1990s. His functions were split between two cartoonists, Charb (Stéphane Charbonnier) and Riss (Laurent Sourisseau). Val gave away his shares in 2011.
The paper’s controversial 3 November 2011 issue, renamed “Charia Hebdo” (a reference to Sharia law) and “guest-edited” by Muhammad, depicted Muhammad saying: “100 lashes of the whip if you don’t die laughing.”
Debris outside the paper’s offices following the November 2011 attack
In the early hours of 2 November 2011, the newspaper’s office in the 20th arrondissement was fire-bombed and its websitehacked. The attacks were presumed linked to its decision to rename a special edition “Charia Hebdo”, with the Islamic Prophet Mohammed listed as the “editor-in-chief”. The cover, featuring a cartoon of Mohammed by Luz (Renald Luzier), had circulated on social media for a couple of days.
Charb was quoted by AP stating that the attack might have been carried out by “stupid people who don’t know what Islam is” and that they are “idiots who betray their own religion”. Mohammed Moussaoui, head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, said his organisation deplores “the very mocking tone of the paper toward Islam and its prophet but reaffirms with force its total opposition to all acts and all forms of violence.”François Fillon, the prime minister, and Claude Guéant, the interior minister, voiced support for Charlie Hebdo, as did feminist writer Ayaan Hirsi Ali, who criticised calls for self-censorship.
In September 2012, the newspaper published a series of satirical cartoons of Muhammed, some of which feature nude caricatures of him. Given that this came days after a series of attacks on U.S. embassies in the Middle East, purportedly in response to the anti-Islamic film Innocence of Muslims, the French government decided to increase security at certain French embassies, as well as to close the French embassies, consulates, cultural centers, and international schools in about 20 Muslim countries. In addition, riot police surrounded the offices of the magazine to protect against possible attacks.
Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius criticised the magazine’s decision, saying, “In France, there is a principle of freedom of expression, which should not be undermined. In the present context, given this absurd video that has been aired, strong emotions have been awakened in many Muslim countries. Is it really sensible or intelligent to pour oil on the fire?” However, the newspaper’s editor defended publication of the cartoons, saying, “We do caricatures of everyone, and above all every week, and when we do it with the Prophet, it’s called provocation.”
^ Jump up to:abMcNab 2006, p. 26: “Georges Bernier, the real name of ‘Professor Choron’, [… was] cofounder and director of the satirical magazine Hara Kiri, whose title was changed (to circumvent a ban, it seems!) to Charlie Hebdo in 1970.”
Story 1: Part II More On Jonathan Gruber, Basically PhD (Piled Higher and Deeper) on Healthcare, Obamacare and Lack of Transparency — The American Voters Were Not Stupid And Rejected Democrats Who Supported Obamacare By Voting Them Out of Office — But The Democratic Progressive Elitist Establishment Are Liars and Losers — Stupid Is As Stupid Does — Death Knell of Socialized Medicine — Repeal Obamacare Now! — Videos
Stupid Is As Stupid Does
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass….Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
Stupid is as stupid does, Mrs. Blue..
How Did The Media Cover Jonathan Gruber
SMOKING GUN! Gruber Admits Obama Was in Room During Planning of Cadillac Lie
Gruber’s ObamaCare Remarks?
CNN airs New Video of Jonathan Gruber: Exploit the Lack of American Voters’ Economic Understanding
Trey Gowdy on Gruber comments
Megyn Kelly: Democrats Committed Fraud By Not Representing Obamacare as a Tax
Greater Boston Video: Jonathan Gruber Pushes Back
Krauthammer rips Jonathan Gruber: “We’re hearing the true voice of liberal arrogance”
GRUBER: “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.”
The Worst of Jonathan Gruber
Flashback: Obama: Transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency.
The Changing Touchstone of Transparency
Nets Ignore ObamaCare Architect Crediting Law’s Passage On ‘The Stupidity Of The American Voter’
Megyn Slams ObamaCare Architect Who Declined to Appear on ‘Kelly File’
WHY IS OBAMA NOT IN PRISON FOR STEALING TAXPAYER MONEY?
ObamaCare: Bill’s architect Gruber admits lies, deception necessary because Americans are stupid
Dems including Harry Reid, Sebelius, and Obama admit Single Payer Healthcare is ultimate goal
Democrats Push for a Single Payer Health Care System Katie Pavlich Charles Payne 8 12 13
Socialize Medicine! – Influential Democrat Calling For Single Payer System Amid Obamacare Trouble
“If you like your plan, you can keep your plan.” – Barack Obama
Jon Stewart on You Can Keep Your Plan. Period.
Jonathan Gruber on MSNBC says he “regrets” calling the American voter stupid
Conversation: “Health Care Reform,” The Comic Book
Gruber Files- Harvard University
The Cadillac Tax
Obama admits he DID raise taxes
Obamacare’s Cadillac Tax Pushing People To Plans With High Deductible- Union You Got What You Wanted
Jonathan Gruber brags about the “basic exploitation” of American voters
What is the “cadillac tax?” M3 Insurance HCR
Unions & Cadilac Health Care Plans
Obama’s Health Care Lies And Reversals
Obama lies about “cadillac” plan taxation.
Rep Joe Courtney Discusses “Cadillac Tax” with Neil Cavuto on Fox Business News Channel
HealthCare Reform – Modified Community Rating Part 1 – Federal Marketplace
HealthCare Reform – Modified Community Rating Part 2 – Federal Marketplace
Community Rating – How the Affordable Care Act Impacts Small Business Owners
Forrest Gump TRAILER
Honest Trailers – Forrest Gump
Forrest Gump’s most beautiful quote
Funeral Toll & Peal, Mount Angel Abbey
When a monk passes away during the night, the toll is sounded early the following morning. It is repeated after the funeral Mass, when the monks process down to the cemetery, and ends with a peal of all the bells. These are the last few tolls of the sequence on the largest bell in the Pacific Northwest.
Please pray for the eternal repose of the soul of this monk, that he may enter into everlasting life with Christ.
Martin Luther King – For whom the bell tolls
Nancy Pelosi says she doesn’t know who Jonathan Gruber is. She touted his work in 2009.
Many have pointed out since then that Pelosi’s office has cited Gruber’s work in the past. That’s notable, but it’s very unlikely Pelosi herself wrote those press releases herself or even participated in their drafting.
But then there’s this: Pelosi herself has also mentioned Gruber and his work — back in November 2009, at the height of the Obamacare debate.
Here’s the transcript, via Nexis:
Q: As you know, the Republicans released their health- care bill this week. And I wanted to get your comment on the bill, and specifically on the CBO analysis that it would cost significantly less than the Democratic plan and that it would lower premiums.
PELOSI: Let me just say this. Anything you need to know about the difference between the Democratic bill and the Republican bill is that the Republicans do not end the health insurance companies’ discrimination against people with preexisting conditions. They let that stand. That’s scandalous, the fact that it exists. I don’t understand why they have not heard the American people, who have said preexisting conditions should not be a source of discrimination.
And secondly, the Republican plan ensures about 3 million more people than now, and ours does 36 million people. So that’s a very big difference in that.
We’re not finished getting all of our reports back from CBO, but we’ll have a side by side to compare. But our bill brings down rates. I don’t know if you have seen Jonathan Gruber of MIT’s analysis of what the comparison is to the status quo versus what will happen in our bill for those who seek insurance within the exchange. And our bill takes down those costs, even some now, and much less preventing the upward spiral.
So again, we’re confident about what we set out to do in the bill: middle class affordability, security for our seniors, and accountability to our children.
Pelosi’s office told the Washington Post that the minority leader meant that she didn’t know Gruber personally.
“She said she doesn’t ‘know who he is,’ not that she’s never heard of him,” Pelosi spokesman Drew Hammill said.
Hammill added: “We’ve cited the work of dozens upon dozens of economists over the years. As the leader said today, Mr. Gruber played no role in drafting our bill.”
Pelosi clearly wants to distance herself and Obamacare from Gruber, given Gruber’s controversial comments about “the stupidity of the American voter,” and Democrats are going to argue that Gruber wasn’t instrumental in the bill. But, as an architect of the Massachusetts health-care law and a consultant to the White House on Obamacare, he’s been regularly cited by Democrats as an authority on this issue — including, apparently, by Pelosi.
This Philly-Based Investment Adviser Has Become Obamacare’s Digital Menace
You could pardon Rich Weinstein for gloating. These past few days, he’s enjoyed the type of journalistic high that comes with unearthing a particularly meaty scoop.
Except Weinstein is no journalist. He’s a Philadelphia-based investment adviser approaching 50 who, until a half-year ago, was unknown to the political world. A set of videos he found of Jonathan Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology economist who played an important role in drafting the Affordable Care Act, changed all that. The videos have become rich context for a legal challenge to the law now heading to the Supreme Court, and they’ve made Weinstein the celebration of conservative circles.
“This is going to sound a little cocky and I don’t want it to be,” Weinstein told The Huffington Post Tuesday in one of the the media interviews he’s given on his feat. “But I’m not partially responsible for finding those clips. I’m completely responsible.”
Weinstein’s story, in some respects, would be the stuff of a made-for-TV movie — if the director is a member of the tea party and eager to dramatize the Affordable Care Act’s unraveling (those two points, admittedly, are redundant).
Weinstein, who runs his own company, and his family lost their health insurance after Obamacare forced higher standards for policies. On the exchange, the only plan with similar benefits was twice the cost of his old one. Irritated, he began looking into who put together the Affordable Care Act, searching Google with the term “ACA architects.” Days consumed with researching old videos became nights.
“Remember when the husbands used to come home at night in the ’50s and ’60s and grab a newspaper and read it?” said Weinstein. “Well, I’m like that with the iPad. It was a lot of time. For the past year, I put a lot of time into this.”
His break came last winter. An op-ed in the Wall Street Journal by Scott Pruitt, the attorney general of Oklahoma, outlined a long-shot legal argument that said a direct interpretation of Affordable Care Act precluded giving subsidies to people on federally run exchanges. Weinstein had seen that argument before, albeit from a different vantage point. Months earlier, he had stumbled across video of Gruber stating that the subsidies to help low-income Americans buy insurance are reserved for state-established exchanges, if only to give states an incentive to establish an exchange
Weinstein had a smoking gun, but no one to show it to.
“I’ve got the tinfoil hat,” Weinstein said, excusing the reporters who ignored his early entreaties. “People in the media must be overwhelmed with idiots like me who think they have something.”
So he took time off — three to four months — and watched his kids play lacrosse. Then, in July, two conservative justices on a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit ruled that the subsidies for those shopping on federally run exchanges were, indeed, illegal. People were talking about the issue again.
Weinstein dropped comments about his Gruber video onto The Washington Post’s Volokh Conspiracy blog. Eventually, Ryan Radia, of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a libertarian think tank, noticed and turned it into a blog post.
Dominos began to fall. Weinstein’s first video was included in the legal challenge to Obamacare. And that challenge — King v. Burwell — ended up making its way to the Supreme Court. “Which is crazy,” Weinstein said. “Crazy because I found it. Not crazy because it is a crazy legal case.”
This week, another of Weinstein’s videos emerged. This one is of Gruber saying that a bit of budgetary deception helped Obamacare pass in Congress (“call it the stupidity of the American voter, or whatever,” said the professor). This, too, found its way into the mainstream conversation. Gruber on Tuesday went on MSNBC to apologize for his language, though he may have return. Weinstein said he has another video of a similar comment that he will soon release.
Should the Supreme Court ultimately rule against subsidies being available on federally run insurance exchanges, it would, in some ways, make the perfect ending to a conservative-inspired Horatio Alger story.
“I’m kind of a nobody,” said Weinstein. “And, I think, people who are out there, just the average person who gets hacked off about something or has an interest about something, I think I’m a perfect lesson that any one person can make a difference. Anybody. Even guy with the tinfoil hat in his mom’s basement.”
Except life and politics aren’t that simple. There is texture. Weinstein doesn’t live in his mom’s basement. He just says it for rhetorical flair. For those who would like to dismiss him as a knee-jerk partisan, he’s not that, either. He voted for Bill Clinton, he said, before he cast a ballot for Ross Perot and, most recently, Mitt Romney. Certainly, he’s no longer a “nobody” in the fight against Obamacare. Elements of the conservative movement have geared up to both promote and protect his work.
Phil Kerpen, who founded the group American Commitment and formerly was vice president for the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, helped spread the second of Weinstein’s videos. Once Kerpen found out an article was in the works, he sent a tweet suggesting The Huffington Post was “doxxing” Weinstein for attacking Gruber. The tweet came just minutes after The Huffington Post asked Weinstein whether he had used an online alias before commenting on The Volokh Conspiracy.
But the real nuance is in the history and the policy details. Gruber was an architect of Obamacare. But he wasn’t the only architect. The staffs to former Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rep. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.), among others, deserve their fair share of credit or blame, depending on one’s perspective.
On the issue of subsidies, the Gruber statement that Weinstein unearthed remains a gem for a reason. It’s because it’s rare (Gruber called it a “speak-o” — like a typo). There has been one other instance unearthed of Gruber discussing tax incentives as a means of compelling a state to set up an exchange.
For defenders of the law, that’s still thin gruel compared with the widely accepted belief during and after the crafting of the bill that subsidies would be universal. (The IRS ruled this way in May 2012, five months after Gruber’s speech.)
For critics, it’s proof enough.
“I don’t think he misspoke at all. I don’t think he was taken out of context and I don’t think he misspoke,” said Weinstein.
And then there is the issue of practical outcomes. Weinstein became a digital archaeologist after the cost of his insurance went up two-fold. Should a lawsuit succeed in eliminating subsidies for those buying insurance on federally run exchanges, it would result in many people confronting similar, or worse, price hikes. It’s an outcome that Weinstein admitted weighs on him, even as he keeps scanning the Web for more Gruberisms.
“It does,” Weinstein said. “But the way you say it makes it sound like nothing else will happen. Like it is a straight line. Subsidies are taken away and the world ends. And I think that’s not fair. I think there will most certainly be a disruption. No doubt about it. I think some states will go build their own exchanges quickly. But, I think the markets would find a way to adjust.”
“It does bother me,” he added later. “I get it. I’m not an evil person. I just think people should see these videos. I just think people should know what’s going on. “
Hearings floated as Hill Republicans seize on Gruber Obamacare comments
By Robert Costa and Jose A. DelReal
Congressional Republicans seized Wednesday on controversial commentsmade by a former health-care consultant to the Obama administration, with one leading House conservative suggesting that hearings could be called in response as part of the GOP effort to dismantle the law in the next Congress and turn public opinion ahead of the 2016 election.
“We may want to have hearings on this,” said Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), an influential voice among GOP hardliners and a member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, in an interview at the Capitol. “We shouldn’t be surprised they were misleading us.”
The firestorm began when a video emerged showing Jonathan Gruber, a high-profile architect of the Affordable Care Act and one of its fiercest advocates, suggesting that the health reform law passed through Congress because of the “stupidity of the American voter” and a “lack of transparency” over its funding mechanisms. The remarks were originally made in 2013 during a panel discussion at the University of Pennsylvania but began heavy circulation on social media Monday.
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes,” Gruber said. “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the ‘stupidity of the American voter’ or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical to getting the thing to pass.”
Gruber apologized for his incendiary remarks in an on-air interview with MSNBC Tuesday afternoon, calling his comments inappropriate and saying he was speaking “off the cuff.” On Tuesday evening, Fox News’ Megyn Kelly aired a second video, of Gruber calling voters stupid, also from 2013.
The controversy has lit a fire under conservatives eager to dismantle the law and has raised eyebrows among the law’s defenders, who are concerned that such comments will further damage the law’s already shaky standing with American voters. It also comes after a sweeping electoral victory for Republicans last Tuesday, who won control of the Senate and bolstered the size of their majority in the House.
Jordan said House Republicans have been sending each other a blizzard of e-mails and text messages this week, and he expects the interest in “bringing [Gruber] up here to talk” will gain traction as members return to Washington. House Republicans will gather Thursday evening for their first series of votes since the election.
“I just had a colleague text me saying, ‘We’ve got to look into this!” Jordan said as he glanced at his phone outside the House floor Wednesday morning.
The chatter among lawmakers echoes the outrage among the conservative grassroots over the comments. Sen. Ted Cruz in a speech last week said targeting ACA must remain the party’s top priority. “Now is the time to go after and do everything humanely possible to repeal Obamacare,” he said.
House GOP leadership aides expressed new optimism that their desire to target the ACA could get some momentum. While rhetorically committed to full repeal, in order to keep the party’s right flank on board, the party is looking more seriously at undermining specific parts of the law as it navigates divided government next year. Those moves could include repealing the medical device tax; watering down a requirement that employers offer full time workers coverage, which takes effect in January; and changing the definition of a full-time worker from someone who works at least 30 hours a week to someone who works at least 40 — all proposals which could win some Democratic support.
On the other side of the Capitol, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is slated to become chairman of the powerful Senate budget committee, also threw his support behind possible hearings. In a furious gaggle with reporters, Sessions said Gruber’s comments could make dealings with the White House more difficult, days after Republican leaders said they would seek areas of common ground.
“The strategy was to hide the truth from the American people,” Sessions said. “I’m not into this post-modern world where you can say whatever you want to in order to achieve your agenda. That is a threat to the American republic… This is far deeper and more significant than the fact that he just spoke.”
Other Senate Republicans expressed similar discomfort with Gruber, but warned conservatives to not get their hopes up about repealing the health-care law while President Obama remains in office, underscoring the tonal difference between the more rabble-rousing House GOP and the new and more even-tempered Republican Senate majority.
Heading into a party luncheon on Wednesday, retiring Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) said the health care law “is going to still be there regardless because we don’t have the votes” to undo it.
“We can talk all we want but he is going to veto whatever we send him,” Coburn said. “That’s the reality.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) said he was unsure of how Senate Republicans would use the Gruber kerfuffle to go after the law, if at all. For the moment, he said, Republicans should focus on using the episode to highlight how the national press has covered the president’s signature policy.
“What Gruber said should be read and reported on by every news organization,” he said. “People should be aware of how this administration thinks.”
Several Democrats said Wednesday that they were unaware of Gruber’s comments and declined to speculate on whether there could be political consequences, underscoring how much of the discussion is being driven by Republicans. One, however, did distance herself from the arguably aloof phrasing used by Gruber. “I have not seen them,” said Sen. Patty Murrary (D-Wash). “But I do think voters are pretty smart.”
The challenge for Republicans will be balancing the conservative ire surrounding Gruber with the leaders’ political imperative to establish themselves as a governing congressional majority. House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and incoming Senate Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky.) have pledged to bring another repeal bill to floor, but are also focused on achieving incremental legislative gains on Keystone XL and trade agreements.
POSTED AT 6:01 PM ON NOVEMBER 11, 2014 BY NOAH ROTHMAN
On Saturday, Newsbusters was the first major website to feature a video posted to YouTube by AmericanCommitment of Obamacare architect Jonathan Gruber boasting in 2013 how he helped deceive the public via a lack of transparency about that bill. Some readers were anxious about that video being made better known to the public since at the time the article was published, there were only a couple of dozen views of the video on YouTube.
Well they needn’t have worried because since then the video has gone over the top viral to the extent that Rush Limbaugh led his show talking about it at length this morning as did Sean Hannity on his radio show. In addition, the video made it into the mainstream media other than Fox News when Jake Tapper showed the video today on The Lead and The Hill has an article about it as well. As of this writing the video has over 177,000 views and growing fast. Reason today had an excellent analysis of the Gruber revelations:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology Professor Jonathan Gruber was, by most accounts, one of the key figures in constructing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare. He helped designed the Massachusetts health care law on which it was modeled, assisted the White House in laying out the foundation of the law, and, according to The New York Times, was eventually sent to Capitol Hill “to help Congressional staff members draft the specifics of the legislation.” He provided the media with a stream of supportive quotes, and was paid almost $400,000 for his consulting work.
Jonathan Gruber, in other words, knows exactly what it took to get the health care law passed.
And that’s why you should take him seriously when he says, in the following video, that it was critical to not be transparent about the law’s costs and true effects, and to take advantage of the “stupidity of the American voter” in order to get it passed:
Here’s the full quote:
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO [Congressional Budget Office] scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. Okay, so it’s written to do that. In terms of risk rated subsidies, if you had a law which said that healthy people are going to pay in – you made explicit healthy people pay in and sick people get money, it would not have passed… Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical for the thing to pass….Look, I wish Mark was right that we could make it all transparent, but I’d rather have this law than not.”
This validates much of what critics have said about the health care law, and the tactics used to pass it, for years.
For one thing, it is an explicit admission that the law was designed in such a way to avoid a CBO score that would have tanked the bill. Basically, the Democrats who wrote the bill knowingly gamed the CBO process.
It’s also an admission that the law’s authors understood that one of the effects of the bill would be to make healthy people pay for the sick, but declined to say this for fear that it would kill the bill’s chances. In other words, the law’s supporters believed the public would not like some of the bill’s consequences, and knowingly attempted to hide those consequences from the public.
Most importantly, however, it is an admission that Gruber thinks it’s acceptable to deceive people if he believes that’s the only way to achieve his policy preference. That’s not exactly surprising, given that he failed to disclose payments from the administration to consult on Obamacare even while providing the media with supposedly independent assessments of the law.
…Gruber may believe that American voters are stupid, but he was the one who was dumb enough to say all this on camera.
Now that various MSM outlets have begun to pay attention to the Gruber Obamacare deception video, it will be fascinating to see what type of excuses will be made by the pundits to cover for what he admitted. Bonus points to Jonathan Cohn at New Republic or Politico or any of a vast number of liberal sources for whoever can dream up the most entertaining spin control to explain away this viral video.
p.s. Did I mention that Newsbusters was the first major website to feature this video?
Dr. Jonathan Gruber is a Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992. He is also the Director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a Research Associate. He is an Associate Editor of both the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Health Economics. In 2009 he was elected to the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association. He is also a member of the Institute of Medicine, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the National Academy of Social Insurance.
Dr. Gruber received his B.S. in Economics from MIT, and his Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard University. Dr. Gruber’s research focuses on the areas of public finance and health economics. He has published more than 140 research articles, has edited six research volumes, and is the author of Public Finance and Public Policy, a leading undergraduate text, and Health Care Reform, a graphic novel. In 2006 he received the American Society of Health Economists Inaugural Medal for the best health economist in the nation aged 40 and under. During the 1997-1998 academic year, Dr. Gruber was on leave as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department. From 2003-2006 he was a key architect of Massachusettsâ€™ ambitious health reform effort, and in 2006 became an inaugural member of the Health Connector Board, the main implementing body for that effort. In that year, he was named the 19th most powerful person in health care in the United States by Modern Healthcare Magazine.
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Meet Jonathan Gruber, the man who’s willing to say what everyone else is only thinking about Obamacare
By Jason Millman
Jonathan Gruber might not be a household name, but in the world of health care policy, he’s a pretty big deal. And now he’s also known as the guy who’s credited “the stupidity of the American voter” for the passage of the Affordable Care Act.
An old video surfaced this week of Gruber saying that a lack of transparency was one of the reasons Obamacare got through Congress in 2010. Gruber, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology health economist who’s credited as one of the intellectual godfathers of the Affordable Care Act, has apologized for speaking off the cuff, but critics of the law are eagerly highlighting his comments.
That’s because of what Gruber represents. He was one of the architects of the 2006 Massachusetts health care law, which became the basis for the ACA, and he helped craft the federal legislation that used a similar scheme of guaranteed coverage, financial assistance and insurance mandates. He was far from the only person who helped shape the ACA, but he has been one of its most vocal academic defenders in the nearly five years since it passed. (And he’s the only one to write a comic book about the law.)
It’s easy to see why Gruber’s comments get pored over by ACA opponents. There’s plenty of misunderstanding about what’s in the ACA and mistrust of the motivations for passing the law — just recall Nancy Pelosi’s infamous line about needing to pass the bill to find out what’s in it. So when someone like Gruber, who’s supposed to know the law inside and out, seemingly confirms critics’ worst suspicions, that makes for a powerful anecdote.
Gruber, who’s fiercely intelligent and passionate about the health reforms he helped create, also isn’t one to always sugarcoat things.
Earlier this year, a pretty important health policy study showed that the expansion of Medicaid coverage in Oregon was associated with a spike in emergency room visits. The research potentially undercut an argument by supporters of the law who said it would save money since giving more people health insurance meant patients would rely more on primary care providers, rather than expensive trips to the ER. And Gruber, commenting on the study, offered an uncomfortable truth.
“I would view [the study] as part of a broader set of evidence that covering people with health insurance doesn’t save money,” Gruber told the Washington Post at the time. “That was sometimes a misleading motivator for the Affordable Care Act. The law isn’t designed to save money. It’s designed to improve health, and that’s going to cost money.”
You may also remember Gruber from the last presidential campaign, when there was plenty of debate over just how similar Obamacare and Romneycare actually were to one another. It was Gruber who artfully cleared up the confusion. “They’re the same f—— bill,” he told Capital New York in what became a widely circulated interview three years ago. It’s probably what ACA supporters wanted to say all along, but only Gruber went ahead and did it.
His most potentially damaging comments surfaced just over the summer, when Gruber seemingly gave credence to the ACA challenge just taken up by the Supreme Court last week — a challenge that if successful couldtorpedo the law.
The case revolves around whether residents in states that refused to set up their own health insurance marketplaces should still be able to claim tax subsidies to help them afford their insurance. Opponents say no, Congress intentionally didn’t allow that under the law. Democrats say they never intended for people in these 36 states to not have access to the financial assistance.
Here was Gruber again, in January 2012, telling a health-care conference that states refusing to set up their own exchanges would deny their residents premium tax credits. The video wasn’t widely viewed until June of this year, but this is what he said at the time:
I think what’s important to remember politically about this, is if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits. But your citizens still pay the taxes that support this bill. So you’re essentially saying to your citizens, you’re going to pay all the taxes to help all the other states in the country. I hope that’s a blatant enough political reality that states will get their act together and realize there are billions of dollars at stake here in setting up these Exchanges, and that they’ll do it. But you know, once again, the politics can get ugly around this.
Here’s the video, with these comments near the 31:30 mark:
Critics of the law jumped on those comments as further validation of their challenge to the subsidies in the 36 states relying on the federal-run insurance marketplaces, or exchanges. Gruber later said that he misspoke, and that his own work always assumed all exchanges — whether run by the states or the federal government — would be eligible for subsidies.
Gruber’s latest comments have surfaced at an especially inopportune time for the Obama administration. The next enrollment period is approaching this weekend with lowered expectations, just as Republicans reclaimed the Senate and the Supreme Court agreed to hear a new Obamacare challengethat could seriously weaken the law.
The Democrats, realizing how harmful Gruber’s latest comments have become, are already out doing damage control. Former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean was on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” today to put distance between Gruber and the health-care law, saying he’s not even sure that Gruber ever met with President Obama.
“He’s a consultant, not the architect [of Obamacare,” Dean said. “I’m not excusing the language — it’s terrible.”
Jonathan Holmes Gruber is a professor of economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he has taught since 1992. He is also the director of the Health Care Program at the National Bureau of Economic Research, where he is a research associate. He is an associate editor of both the Journal of Public Economics and the Journal of Health Economics.
Gruber’s research has focused on public finance and health economics. He has published more than 140 research articles, and has edited six research volumes. He is a co-editor of the Journal of Public Economics, an associate editor of the Journal of Health Economics, and the author of Public Finance and Public Policy. and Health Care Reform, a graphic novel delineating the Affordable Care Act.
During the 1997–1998 academic year, Gruber was on leave as Deputy Assistant Secretary for Economic Policy at the Treasury Department. From 2003–06 he was a key architect of Massachusetts health care reform, also known as “Romneycare”. In 2006 he became an inaugural member of the Health Connector Board, the main implementing body for that effort. In that year, he was named the 19th most powerful person in health care in the United States by Modern Healthcare magazine. During the 2008 election he was a consultant to the Clinton, Edwards and Obama presidential campaigns.
Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act
In 2009–10 Gruber served as a technical consultant to the Obama Administration and worked with both the administration and Congress to help craft the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, often referred to as the ACA or “Obamacare”. The act was signed into law in March 2010, and Gruber has been described as an “architect”, “writer”, and “consultant” of the legislation. He was widely interviewed and quoted during the roll-out of the legislation. 
One heavily-scrutinized part of the ACA reads that subsidies should be given to healthcare recipients who are enrolled “through an Exchange established by the State”. Some have read this to mean that subsidies can be given only in states that have chosen to create their own healthcare exchanges, and do not use the federal exchange, while the Obama administration says that the wording applies to all states. This dispute is currently part of an ongoing series of lawsuits referred to collectively as King v. Burwell. In July 2014, two separate recordings of Gruber, both from January 2012, surfaced in which he seemed to contradict the administration’s position. In one, Gruber states, in response to an audience question, that “if you’re a state and you don’t set up an exchange, that means your citizens don’t get their tax credits”, while in the other he says, “if your governor doesn’t set up an exchange, you’re losing hundreds of millions of dollars of tax credits to be delivered to your citizens.” When these recordings emerged, Gruber called these statements mistaken, describing them as “just a speak-o — you know, like a typo”.
In a panel discussion about the ACA at the University of Pennsylvania in October 2013, Gruber stated that the bill was deliberately written “in a tortured way” to disguise the fact that it created a system in which “healthy people pay in and sick people get money”. He stated that this obfuscation was necessary, due to “the stupidity of the American voter or whatever”, in order to get the bill passed and that a “lack of transparency is a huge political advantage.” His comments caused controversy after a video of them was placed on YouTubein November 2014.
In a December 4, 2008 New York Times op-ed, “Medicine for the Job Market”, he claimed that expanding health insurance, even in difficult financial times would stimulate the economy.
On February 9, 2011, the Center for American Progress published an article by Gruber titled “Health Care Reform Without the Individual Mandate,” analyzing the health insurance coverage impacts of alternative policy options for encouraging purchase of health insurance under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, including the mandate, a late penalty, and auto-enrollment.
In 2006, Gruber received the American Society of Health Economists Inaugural Medal for the best health economist in the nation aged 40 and under. He was elected a member of the Institute of Medicine in 2005. In 2009 he was elected to the Executive Committee of the American Economic Association.
In 2011 he was named “One of the Top 25 Most Innovative and Practical Thinkers of Our Time” by Slate Magazine. In both 2006 and 2012 he was rated as one of the top 100 most powerful people in health care in the United States by Modern Healthcare Magazine.
Story 1: Breaking News: Second Possible Case of Ebola in Dallas, Texas — How many Biosafety Level 4 Hospital Beds are there in the United States? — 22 Hospital Beds — Too few for An Airborne Ebola Pandemic! — Center for Disease Control (CDC) Sacrifices Hospital and Medical Staff To Open Borders And Amnesty For Illegal Aliens! — Will The Ebola Dallas Strain Jump To Another Human Host? — Breaking News — Videos
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Could take 48 hours to confirm if deputy has Ebola
Marjorie Owens, Jason Whitely, Tanya Eiserer and David Schechter, WFAA
rews transported a patient exhibiting “signs and symptoms of Ebola” from a Frisco CareNow clinic to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas.
“Right now, there are more questions than answers about this case,” said Wendell Watson, a spokesman with the hospital.
The patient was identified as Dallas County Sheriff’s Department Sgt. Michael Monnig, who accompanied county health officials Zachary Thompson and Christopher Perkins into the Dallas apartment where Thomas Eric Duncan had been staying when he fell ill with Ebola.
“Initial reports from the urgent care facility indicated the patient had direct contact with the Dallas ‘patient zero'; however, Frisco firefighter-paramedics now report the patient says he had contact with the apartment and family members related to the Dallas ‘patient zero’ prior to the apartment being decontaminated,” said city of Frisco spokesperson Dana Baird.
The deputy had been ordered to go inside the unit with officials to get a quarantine order signed. No one who went inside the unit that day wore protective gear.
According to Christopher Dyer, president of the Dallas County Sheriff’s Association, Monnig said he was feeling sick to his stomach before his visit to the clinic. Dyer expressed concern for Monnig and his family.
“He’s doing exactly basically what we told him to do: If at any time you don’t feel well, go seek some medical attention,” Dyer said. “I’m being told that he’s not exhibiting classic signs of the Ebola virus. It’s just a matter that he doesn’t feel well, and because he had contact with Mr. Duncan’s apartment, they’re taking every precaution.”
That view was echoed by Frisco Fire Department Chief Mark Piland. “This patient was not experiencing all of those [Ebola] symptoms, just a few,” he said. “Based upon screening criteria from the CDC, the treatment tends to be a little bit more conservative at first.”
Complete coverage of the death of Dallas Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan. WFAA
A staff member at CareNow called 911 to report Monnig as a possible Ebola patient.
“The CareNow staff, following [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] recommended screening protocol, contacted Frisco 911 and a fire department EMS crew was dispatched to the scene,” a CareNow statement said. It went on to say health officials, including those from the CDC, went to the clinic and — after interviews — cleared it to be reopened for patients.
Including staff, there were 14 people inside the CareNow clinic when Monnig arrived. The fire department released all of them to go home.
Frisco Mayor Maher Maso said “risk is minimal” from the new potential Ebola case. Frisco Fire Chief Mark Piland said the patient was transported because he had “a few” symptoms that matched those in the CDC guidelines, but not all of the symptoms.
“At this point, I think we need to take every precaution,” Dyer said. “The hospital will get his blood work tested and we will know whether he is positive or negative for it, so until we know precisely whether he has it or not, we need to take every precaution.”
It will take up to 48 hours to get test results back to determine if Monnig tests positive for the Ebola virus.
The CareNow is located in the 300 block of Main Street. Patients were held inside the clinic as crews at the scene examined staff and others inside the building, but they have since been released.
Frisco’s fire chief said he was still figuring out how to decontaminate the department’s people and gear. “We have calls in to the Centers for Disease Control,” Piland said. “We’re also working with our public health officials here in Denton County. We’re going to get their recommendations on the proper decontamination procedures for the ambulances.”
Health officials said the transportation of the patient was done out of an abundance of caution.
“We are being very cautious and are in contact with the health department to ensure we follow proper protocol,” said Vicki Johns, with CareNow. “Our concern is for the safety and well being of everyone in our clinic.”
News 8’s Jason Whitely spoke to Chuck Moreno, who had gone into the CareNow facility with his 15-year-old son to get a flu shot Wednesday. Moreno said he saw a patient, whose skin was flushed and who was hunched over but walking, enter the clinic with his wife.
Within minutes, police and fire units surrounded the facility, taped off a gray SUV, and isolated other patients at the facility.
Moreno asked a CareNow employee if it was related to Ebola, and he said the employee nodded her head “yes.”
Moreno said he and his son quarantined themselves into an examination room, put on surgical masks they found in the room and sprayed disinfectant on themselves. Moreno said staff told them he and his son couldn’t leave the clinic and would be transferred to a major medical center, but he was unsure which one at the time.
Dallas County Sheriff’s Association President Christopher Dyer has repeatedly said that he did not believe that deputies should have been sent inside the quarantined apartment.
“This is a federal issue,” he said. “The CDC should have come in and taken care of this. A local department is not equipped to deal with a virus that is potentially this deadly.”
Monnig had planned to come back to work Wednesday, Dyer said. A couple of the other deputies have returned to work, he said.
SOUTHCOM Commander: Ebola Outbreak in Central America Could Cause Mass Migration to U.S.
By: Sam LaGrone
Published: October 7, 2014 5:14 PM
Updated: October 7, 2014 10:26 PM
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The head of U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM) warned an Ebola outbreak in Central America or the Caribbean could trigger a mass migration to the U.S. of people fleeing the disease and implied established Central American illegal trafficking networks could introduce the infected into the U.S., during remarks at a Tuesday panel on security issues in the Western Hemisphere at the National Defense University.
“If it comes to the Western Hemisphere, the countries that we’re talking about have almost no ability to deal with it — particularly in Haiti and Central America,” SOUTHCOM Commander, Marine Gen. John F. Kelly, said in response to a question of his near term concerns in the region.
“It will make the 68,000 unaccompanied minors look like a small problem.”
An Ebola outbreak could encourage the poor and increasingly desperate populations in Central American countries — like Honduras, Guatemala and El Salvador — to leave in droves.
“I think you’ve seen this so many times in the past, when in doubt, take off,” he said.
Though an ocean away from Ebola hotspots in Africa, a growing numbers of West Africans are using the illicit trafficking routes through Central America to enter the U.S. illegally and could introduce the disease in the U.S.
Kelly stressed through out the panel session at NDU how effective the criminal transportation networks were at moving people and material into the U.S.
“We see a lot of West Africans moving in that network,” he said.
Kelly passed on a story from a border checkpoint in Costa Rica — told to him by an American embassy official — in which five or six men from Liberia were waiting to cross into Nicaragua.
The group had flown into Trinidad and then traveled to Costa Rica hoping to travel up the Central American isthmus and into the U.S.
Given the length of the journey, “they could have been in New York City well within the incubation period for Ebola,” Kelly said.
The realities of a potential outbreak caused Kelly to ask his staff to start thinking about the affects to the SOUTHCOM area of operations (AO) and pay attention to the response of U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM).
The U.S. has sent 4,000 troops to West Africa to assist countries in dealing with the Ebola outbreaks in the region.
“The five services of the U.S. military will get it done and be a large solution to this problem,” Kelly said.
In the meantime, SOUTHCOM is regular contact with AFRICOM in the event of the worst-case outcome.
“We’re watching what AFRICOM is doing and their plan will be our plan,” Kelly said.
“The nightmare scenario, I think, is right around the corner.”
October 8, 2014 The first patient to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States has died, Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital said Wednesday.
The news of Thomas Eric Duncan’s passing comes as those he came into contact with enter a critical period this week in determining whether they have also contracted the deadly virus.
Duncan, 42, was diagnosed with Ebola on Sept. 30, after arriving in the U.S. from Liberia on Sept. 20. He first went to the Dallas hospital with a fever on Sept. 26, but was sent home,despite telling a nurse he came from the Ebola-stricken country. The information did not reach doctors at the hospital, and he was discharged with antibiotics. He returned to the hospital two days later and was placed in isolation.
Texas officials continue to monitor 10 people who had direct contact with him while he was symptomatic, as well as 38 others who may have had contact. None have shown symptoms of the disease up to this point.
The incubation period of Ebola is a maximum of 21 days, with symptoms commonly beginning to present eight to 10 days after exposure. If Duncan passed the virus onto anyone else, that would likely become evident this week.
If any show signs of a fever, or other symptoms, health officials plan to immediately isolate and test those individuals for the virus.
Duncan was in serious condition until this past weekend, when his condition was changed to critical, and he was given the experimental drug brincidofovir, an oral medicine developed by Chimerix. The Food and Drug Administration granted emergency authorization for the treatment; it had previously been tested against Ebola only in test-tube studies.
Duncan is the first patient to die of Ebola in the U.S. At least five patients already diagnosed with Ebola in West Africa had been taken to the U.S. for treatment. Two were treated and released from Emory University Hospital, one was treated and released from Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, a fourth is currently in treatment at Emory, and a fifth is in treatment in Nebraska.
The current Ebola outbreak has killed more than 2,000 people in Duncan’s native Liberia, according to the latest estimates from the World Health Organization. There have been more than 3,400 total deaths in Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea, and more than twice as many reported cases.
“It is with profound sadness and heartfelt disappointment that we must inform you of the death of Thomas Eric Duncan this morning at 7:51 a.m.,” the hospital said in a statement. “Mr. Duncan succumbed to an insidious disease, Ebola. He fought courageously in this battle. Our professionals, the doctors and nurses in the unit, as well as the entire Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas community, are also grieving his passing. We have offered the family our support and condolences at this difficult time.”
Duncan had reportedly come to the U.S. to marry his girlfriend, Louise Troh, from whom he had been separated for nearly two decades. Troh and three others who live in the apartment where Duncan stayed in Dallas remain in isolation.
Officials continue to closely monitor those who came into contact with Duncan, and they remain confident that an outbreak in the U.S. is unlikely.
The recent expansion of biocontainment laboratory capacity in the United States has drawn attention to the possibility of occupational exposures to BSL-3 and -4 agents and has prompted a reassessment of medical management procedures and facilities to deal with these contingencies. A workshop hosted by the National Interagency Biodefense Campus was held in October 2007 and was attended by representatives of all existing and planned BSL-4 research facilities in the U.S. and Canada. This report summarizes important points of discussion and recommendations for future coordinated action, including guidelines for the engineering and operational controls appropriate for a hospital care and isolation unit. Recommendations pertained to initial management of exposures (ie, immediate treatment of penetrating injuries, reporting of exposures, initial evaluation, and triage). Isolation and medical care in a referral hospital (including minimum standards for isolation units), staff recruitment and training, and community outreach also were addressed. Workshop participants agreed that any unit designated for the isolation and treatment of laboratory employees accidentally infected with a BSL-3 or -4 pathogen should be designed to maximize the efficacy of patient care while minimizing the risk of transmission of infection. Further, participants concurred that there is no medically based rationale for building care and isolation units to standards approximating a BSL-4 laboratory. Instead, laboratory workers accidentally exposed to pathogens should be cared for in hospital isolation suites staffed by highly trained professionals following strict infection control procedures.
The construction of a number of new federally funded biocontainment laboratories in response to the 2001 terror attacks, in compliance with Homeland Security Presidential Directives 10 and 18,1,2 has raised concerns that a significant expansion in the laboratory workforce will result in an increased number of accidental exposures, some of which might lead to actual infection.3 While it is true that accidental infections of laboratory workers studying pathogenic bacteria and viruses were at one time fairly common, their incidence has been markedly reduced as a result of the standardization of laboratory design, biosafety practices, and employee training, so that only a handful of cases have occurred in the past few decades.4
Much of this new capacity in Biosafety Level-4 (BSL-4) biocontainment laboratories will be centered on the National Interagency Biodefense Campus (NIBC) at Fort Detrick, which includes the existing United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) and a planned expansion, plus the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Integrated Research Facility (NIAID-IRF) and a new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) laboratory, the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC). NIH also has upgraded the laboratory capacity at its Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton, Montana, by expanding the amount of Biosafety Level-3 (BSL-3) space and adding a new BSL-4 lab, and it is supporting the construction of National Biocontainment Laboratories at Boston University and at the University of Texas Medical Branch, Galveston, both of which will contain BSL-3 and -4 units. In anticipation of public concerns, the NIBC Executive Steering Committee tasked its Scientific Interactions Subcommittee with organizing a workshop to review procedures for dealing with accidental exposures in laboratories currently conducting research on highly pathogenic (BSL-3 and -4) agents and to recommend optimal strategies for their detection and management in the future expanded biodefense research community.
The first prototype Class III (maximum containment) biosafety cabinet was fashioned in 1943 by Hubert Kaempf Jr., then a U.S. Army soldier, under the direction of Dr. Arnold G. Wedum, Director (1944–69) of Industrial Health and Safety at the United States Army Biological Warfare Laboratories, Camp Detrick, Maryland. Kaempf was tired of his MP duties at Detrick and was able to transfer to the sheet metal department working with the contractor, the H.K. Ferguson Co.
On 18 April 1955, fourteen representatives met at Camp Detrick in Frederick, Maryland. The meeting was to share knowledge and experiences regarding biosafety, chemical, radiological, and industrial safety issues that were common to the operations at the three principal biological warfare (BW) laboratories of the U.S. Army.Because of the potential implication of the work conducted at biological warfare laboratories, the conferences were restricted to top level security clearances. Beginning in 1957, these conferences were planned to include non-classified sessions as well as classified sessions to enable broader sharing of biological safety information. It was not until 1964, however, that conferences were held in a government installation not associated with a biological warfare program.
Over the next ten years, the biological safety conferences grew to include representatives from all federal agencies that sponsored or conducted research with pathogenic microorganisms. By 1966 it began to include representatives from universities, private laboratories, hospitals, and industrial complexes. Throughout the 1970s, participation in the conferences continued to expand and by 1983 discussions began regarding the creation of a formal organization. The American Biological Safety Association (ABSA) was officially established in 1984 and a constitution and bylaws were drafted the same year. As of 2008, ABSA includes some 1,600 members in its professional association.
CDC technician dons an older-model positive-pressure suit before entering one of the CDC’s earlier maximum containment labs.
Biocontainment can be classified by the relative danger to the surrounding environment as biological safety levels (BSL). As of 2006, there are four safety levels. These are called BSL1 through BSL4, with one anomalous level BSL3-ag for agricultural hazards between BSL3 and BSL4. Facilities with these designations are also sometimes given as P1 through P4 (for Pathogen or Protection level), as in the term P3 laboratory. Higher numbers indicate a greater risk to the external environment. Seebiological hazard.
At the lowest level of biocontainment, the containment zone may only be a chemical fume hood. At the highest level the containment involves isolation of an organism by means of building systems, sealed rooms, sealed containers, positive pressure personnel suits (sometimes referred to as “space suits”) and elaborate procedures for entering the room, and decontamination procedures for leaving the room. In most cases this also includes high levels of security for access to the facility, ensuring that only authorized personnel may be admitted to any area that may have some effect on the quality of the containment zone. This is considered a hot zone.
Biosafety level 1
This level is suitable for work involving well-characterized agents not known to consistently cause disease in healthy adult humans, and of minimal potential hazard to laboratory personnel and the environment (CDC,1997).
It includes several kinds of bacteria and viruses including canine hepatitis, non-pathogenic Escherichia coli, as well as some cell cultures and non-infectious bacteria. At this level, precautions against the biohazardous materials in question are minimal and most likely involve gloves and some sort of facial protection. The laboratory is not necessarily separated from the general traffic patterns in the building. Work is generally conducted on open bench tops using standard microbiological practices. Usually, contaminated materials are left in open (but separately indicated) waste receptacles. Decontamination procedures for this level are similar in most respects to modern precautions against everyday microorganisms (i.e., washing one’s hands with anti-bacterial soap, washing all exposed surfaces of the lab with disinfectants, etc.). In a lab environment all materials used for cell and/or bacteria cultures are decontaminated via autoclave. Laboratory personnel have specific training in the procedures conducted in the laboratory and are supervised by a scientist with general training in microbiology or a related science.
Laboratory personnel have specific training in handling pathogenic and potentially lethal agents, and are supervised by competent scientists who are experienced in working with these agents. This is considered a neutral or warm zone.
All procedures involving the manipulation of infectious materials are conducted within biological safety cabinets, specially designed hoods, or other physical containment devices, or by personnel wearing appropriate personal protective clothing and equipment. The laboratory has special engineering and design features.
It is recognized, however, that some existing facilities may not have all the facility features recommended for Biosafety Level 3 (i.e., double-door access zone and sealed penetrations). In this circumstance, an acceptable level of safety for the conduct of routine procedures, (e.g., diagnostic procedures involving the propagation of an agent for identification, typing, susceptibility testing, etc.), may be achieved in a biosafety level 2 (P2) facility, providing
the filtered exhaust air from the laboratory room is discharged to the outdoors,
the ventilation to the laboratory is balanced to provide directional airflow into the room,
access to the laboratory is restricted when work is in progress, and
the recommended Standard Microbiological Practices, Special Practices, and Safety Equipment for Biosafety Level 3 are rigorously followed.
The decision to implement this modification of biosafety level 3 recommendations is made only by the laboratory director.
This level is required for work with dangerous and exotic agents that pose a high individual risk of aerosol-transmitted laboratory infections, agents which cause severe to fatal disease in humans for which vaccines or other treatments are notavailable, such as Bolivian and Argentine hemorrhagic fevers, Marburg virus, Ebola virus, Lassa virus, Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever, and various other hemorrhagic diseases. This level is also used for work with agents such as smallpox that are considered dangerous enough to require the additional safety measures, regardless of vaccination availability. When dealing with biological hazards at this level the use of a positive pressure personnel suit, with a segregated air supply is mandatory. The entrance and exit of a level four biolab will contain multiple showers, a vacuum room, an ultraviolet light room, and other safety precautions designed to destroy all traces of the biohazard. Multiple airlocks are employed and are electronically secured to prevent both doors from opening at the same time. All air and water service going to and coming from a biosafety level 4 (or P4) lab will undergo similar decontamination procedures to eliminate the possibility of an accidental release.
Agents with a close or identical antigenic relationship to biosafety level 4 agents are handled at this level until sufficient data are obtained either to confirm continued work at this level, or to work with them at a lower level.
Members of the laboratory staff have specific and thorough training in handling extremely hazardous infectious agents and they understand the primary and secondary containment functions of the standard and special practices, the containment equipment, and the laboratory design characteristics. They are supervised by qualified scientists who are trained and experienced in working with these agents. Access to the laboratory is strictly controlled by the laboratory director.
The facility is either in a separate building or in a controlled area within a building, which is completely isolated from all other areas of the building. A specific facility operations manual is prepared or adopted. Building protocols for preventing contamination often use negatively pressurized facilities, which, even if compromised, would severely inhibit an outbreak of aerosol pathogens.
Within work areas of the facility, all activities are confined to Class III biological safety cabinets, or Class II biological safety cabinets used with one-piece positive pressure personnel suits ventilated by a life support system.
According to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report published on October 4, 2007, a total of 1,356 CDC/USDA registered BSL-3 facilities were identified throughout the United States (GAO-08-108T ). This represents a very conservative estimate of the number of facilities in the US in 2007. Approximately 36% of these laboratories are located in academia. Only 15 BSL-4 facilities were identified in the U.S. in 2007, including nine at federal labs.
The following is a list of existing BSL-4 facilities worldwide.
Virology Laboratory of the Queensland Department of Health
Wuhan Institute of Virology already hosts a BSL-3 laboratory. A distinct BSL-4 facility is currently being built based on P4 standards, the original technology for confinement developed by France. It will be the first at level 4 in China, under the direction of Shi Zhengli.
The “National Institute of Infectious Diseases” used to operate within the Lazzaro Spallanzani hospital; the facility is now independent and is home to five BSL-3 labs as well as a single BSL-4 laboratory, which was completed in 1997. 
Located at National Institute for Infectious Diseases, Department of Virology I; this lab has the potential of operating as a BSL-4, however it is limited to perform work on only BSL-3 agents due to opposition from local residents and communities.
(CNN) — [Breaking news update, posted at 3:28 p.m. ET]
The body of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died in Texas from Ebola, will be cremated, state health officials said Wednesday.
Pastor George Mason of Wilshire Baptist Church in Dallas said Wednesday that he told Duncan’s partner of his death. “It was a painful and difficult time for her. She reacted as almost anyone would, with great shock and despair. She expressed that in her own personal way, with great emotion,” Mason told reporters.
Duncan’s family members were devastated upon learning of his death, Mason said, and worried that “this will be the course that their life will take next.”
Duncan’s partner responded with many “what ifs” about his care when she learned about his death from Ebola, Mason said.
“She is not seeking to create any kinds of divisions in our community over this. She certainly, like all of us, would want to see justice done. She wants to see that people are treated well and treated fairly, and that includes Mr. Duncan. But this is a human drama. It’s not a political drama. … It is a drama of human grief,” Mason said.
A memorial for Duncan be held Wednesday evening, Mason said. The event was originally planned as a prayer vigil, but will now be a memorial for Duncan, Mason said.
[Previous story, posted at 2:49 p.m. ET]
(CNN) — Thomas Eric Duncan, a man with Ebola who traveled to the United States from Liberia, died Wednesday morning at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, the hospital said.
He had been in critical condition after being diagnosed with the virus in mid-September. People who had contact with the 42-year-old Liberian national are being monitored for symptoms.
Louise Troh, Duncan’s longtime partner, said through a public relations firm that she believes “a thorough examination will take place regarding all aspects of his care.”
“I am now dealing with the sorrow and anger that his son was not able to see him before he died,” Troh said. “This will take some time, but in the end, I believe in a merciful God.”
Did Duncan know he had Ebola?
U.S. to check travelers for fevers
Some members of Duncan’s family are being monitored for the virus — their temperatures taken twice daily — to make sure they don’t have symptoms. Ebola can take 21 days to show itself. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that as of Tuesday, they had not shown any symptoms.
Several who have had contact with him were moved to a secure location Friday.
After word of the death, CNN correspondent Gary Tuchman went to a Dallas apartment where Duncan’s family members were previously and spoke with the adult daughter of Duncan’s partner.
The daughter, Youngor Jallah, is not considered to have come into contact with Duncan. She was crying and declined to speak, though she did say the family had received a call from the hospital and knew that Duncan had died.
Five Dallas schoolchildren who possibly had contact with Duncan remain on the school district’s homebound program during the 21-day wait, and none are showing symptoms, the district said Wednesday.
It has just been a little over a week since Duncan was hospitalized for treatment.
Those days have been an “enormous test of our health system,” said Dr. David Lakey, the commissioner of the Texas Department of State Health Services.
“For one family it has been far more personal,” he said in a statement. “Today they lost a dear member of their family. They have our sincere condolences, and we are keeping them in our thoughts.”
He vowed that health care workers will continue to try to stop the spread of the virus “and protect people from this threat.”
The Ebola virus can live in dead bodies, the CDC says, and it can be transmitted after death if the body is cut, body fluids are splashed, or if the body is handled. Only personnel trained in handling infected human remains, wearing protective gear, should touch or move Ebola-infected remains, the agency says. An autopsy should be avoided, it says, but if one is necessary, the CDC should be consulted.
New measures at U.S. airports to screen for people possibly carrying the Ebola virus will include taking passengers’ temperatures and handing them questionnaires, according to a federal official and a second person briefed on an announcement the federal government plans to make Wednesday.
The enhanced methods, focused on people coming from West African nations hit by the Ebola crisis, will begin soon at New York’s JFK airport and then expand to four other major international airports: Newark, Chicago, Washington Dulles and Atlanta.
A federal official says the enhanced screening will apply only to passengers arriving from Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
The new measures at U.S. airports come a day after Dr. Thomas Frieden, the director of the CDC, told reporters that devising travel guidelines was in the works but nothing had yet been finalized enough to announce.
The Ebola virus can spread through contact with bodily fluids — blood, sweat, feces, vomit, semen and saliva — and only by someone who is showing symptoms, according to the CDC.
People with Ebola may not be symptomatic for up to 21 days.
Symptoms generally occur abruptly eight to 10 days after infection, though that period can range from two to 21 days, health officials say.
Air travelers must keep in mind that Ebola is not transmitted through the air, said Dr. Marty Cetron, director of the CDC’s Division of Global Migration and Quarantine.
“There needs to be direct contact frequently with body fluids or blood,” he stressed.
Questions about Duncan’s case
Duncan came to the U.S. to visit family and friends, departing Liberia on September 19, according to the CDC. It was his first trip to America, his half-brother Wilfred Smallwood said. Liberian authorities said he was screened for Ebola before flying.
It’s unclear how he got Ebola, but witnesses have said that he had been helping victims of the virus in Liberia, and The New York Times said he’d had direct contact with an Ebola-stricken pregnant woman. Duncan answered “no” to questions about whether he’d cared for someone with the virus.
His symptoms first appeared “four to five days” after he landed in the U.S., Frieden said.
Duncan went to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital after 10 p.m. on September 25 and was treated for a fever, vomiting and abdominal pain — all symptoms of Ebola — but he was sent home with antibiotics and a pain reliever and was not screened for Ebola.
He returned two days later and was then tested for Ebola, after which his treatment at the hospital began.
There are a lot of questions about the handling of Duncan’s case.
Dr. Alex Van Tulleken, an expert in tropical diseases at Fordham University in New York who is not involved in the case, said on CNN on Wednesday that the two-day lag time could have been “significant.”
Cases in Europe
Meanwhile, Frederic Vincent, a spokesman for the European Commission, told CNN on Wednesday that there have been eight confirmed cases of Ebola in European countries. There is one case in the United Kingdom that has been treated and the person has recovered; one case in France like that; two cases in Germany in which patients are receiving treatment; and three cases in Spain: two deceased Spanish missionaries and a nurse’s assistant who is being treated.
There is also a case in which a Norwegian staffer with Doctors Without Borders is being treated, he said.
Also in Spain, health officials said four more potential Ebola cases — in addition to the nurse’s assistant — are under observation.
The nurse’s assistant said that she had no idea how she had contracted the virus, but a doctor treating her said that she may have been exposed while she removed her protective suit.
Dr. German Ramirez said the assistant, who is in isolation at Madrid’s Carlos III Hospital, had told him it was possible that a part of the suit — possibly the gloves — touched her face.
On Wednesday, top British officials discussed ways to contain the virus. Prime Minister David Cameron, who led the meeting, received the latest updates about the United Kingdom’s efforts in Sierra Leone, where it has provided support. The UK will also deploy 750 defense personnel to help establish the Ebola treatment centers.
The globe’s largest outbreak of Ebola has killed more than 3,400 people in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone. Since March, more than 7,400 people have contracted Ebola in those nations, according to the World Health Organization.
Steven Jay Hatfill (born October 24, 1953) is an American physician, virologist and bio-weapons expert who underwent what was considered by many[who?] to be a trial by media with great toll on his personal and professional life. After eight months of pressure from the media and amateur detectives, the US Department of Justice identified the former government scientist as a “person of interest” in its investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks. FBIsearches of his apartment in July and August 2002 were well-attended by journalists, many of whom had been pointing at Hatfill for months. Hatfill later sued the government for ruining his reputation, a case which the government settled for US$ 5.8 million. He also filed lawsuits against several periodicals that had identified him as a figure warranting further investigation. Hatfill’s lawsuit against The New York Times was dismissed on the grounds that he was a “public figure” and malice had not been proven. His lawsuit against Vanity Fair and Reader’s Digest was settled out of court, and the details were not disclosed. FBI and DOJ officials later blamed another government scientist, Bruce Edwards Ivins, although questions about the validity of that assertion have persisted.
Hatfill was enlisted as a private in the U.S. Army from 1975 to 1977. (In 1999, he would tell a journalist during an interview that he had been a “captain in the U.S. Special Forces“, but in a subsequent investigation the Army stated that he had never served with the Special Forces.) Following his Army discharge, Hatfill qualified and worked as a medical laboratory technician, but soon resolved to become a doctor.
By this time there had been a number of hoax anthrax mailings in the United States. Hatfill and his collaborator, SAIC vice president Joseph Soukup, commissioned William C. Patrick, retired head of the old US bioweapons program (who had also been a mentor of Hatfill) to write a report on the possibilities of terrorist anthrax mailing attacks. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg (director of the Federation of American Scientists‘ biochem weapons working group in 2002) said that the report was commissioned “under a CIA contract to SAIC”. However, SAIC said Hatfill and Soukup commissioned it internally — there was no outside client.
The resulting report, dated February 1999, was subsequently seen by some as a “blueprint” for the 2001 anthrax attacks. Amongst other things, it suggested the maximum amount of anthrax powder – 2.5 grams – that could be put in an envelope without making a suspicious bulge. The quantity in the envelope sent to Senator Patrick Leahy in October 2001 was .871 grams. After the attacks, the report drew the attention of the media and others, and led to their investigation of Patrick and Hatfill.
Assertions by Rosenberg
In October 2001, as soon as it became known that the Ames strain of anthrax had been used in the attacks, Dr. Barbara Hatch Rosenberg and others began suggesting that the attack might be the work of a “rogue CIA agent”, and they provided the name of the “most likely” person to the FBI. On November 21, 2001, Rosenberg made similar statements to the Biological and Toxic Weapons convention in Geneva. In December 2001, she published “A Compilation of Evidence and Comments on the Source of the Mailed Anthrax” via the web site of the Federation of American Scientists (FAS) suggesting the attacks were “perpetrated with the unwitting assistance of a sophisticated government program”.
Rosenberg discussed the case with reporters from the New York Times. On January 4, 2002, Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times published a column titled “Profile of a Killer” stating “I think I know who sent out the anthrax last fall.” For months, Rosenberg gave speeches and stated her beliefs to many reporters from around the world. She posted “Analysis of the Anthrax Attacks” to the FAS web site on January 17, 2002. On February 5, 2002 she published an article called “Is the FBI Dragging Its Feet?” At the time, the FBI denied reports that investigators had identified a chief suspect, saying “There is no prime suspect in this case at this time.”The Washington Post reported that “FBI officials over the last week have flatly discounted Dr. Rosenberg’s claims.”
On June 13, 2002, Rosenberg posted “The Anthrax Case: What the FBI Knows” to the FAS site. On June 18, 2002, Rosenberg presented her theories to senate staffers working for Senators Daschle and Leahy. One week later, on June 25, the FBI publicly searched Hatfill’s apartment, turning him into a household name. “The FBI also pointed out that Hatfill had agreed to the search and is not considered a suspect.” Both The American Prospect and Salon.com reported that “Hatfill is not a suspect in the anthrax case, the FBI says.” On August 3, 2002, Rosenberg told the media that the FBI asked her if “a team of government scientists could be trying to frame Steven J. Hatfill.”
Person of interest
In August 2002, Attorney GeneralJohn Ashcroft labeled Hatfill a “person of interest” in a press conference, although no charges were brought against him. Hatfill, a virologist, vehemently denied he had anything to do with the anthrax (bacteria) mailings and sued the FBI, the Justice Department, John Ashcroft, Alberto Gonzales, and others for violating his constitutional rights and for violating the Privacy Act. On June 27, 2008, the Department of Justice announced it would settle Hatfill’s case for $5.8 million.
Hatfill later went to work at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, LA. In September 2001 SAIC was commissioned by the Pentagon to create a replica of a mobile WMD “laboratory”, alleged to have been used by Saddam Hussein, who was President of Iraq at the time. The Pentagon claimed the trailer was to be used as a training aid for teams seeking weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
His lawyer, Victor M. Glasberg, stated: “Steve’s life has been devastated by a drumbeat of innuendo, implication and speculation. We have a frightening public attack on an individual who, guilty or not, should not be exposed to this type of public opprobrium based on speculation.”
In an embarrassing incident, FBI agents trailing Hatfill in a motor vehicle ran over his foot when he attempted to approach them in May 2003. Police responding to the incident did not cite the driver, but issued Hatfill a citation for “walking to create a hazard”. He and his attorneys fought the ticket, but a hearing officer upheld the ticket and ordered Hatfill to pay the requisite $5 fine.
FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III changed leadership of the investigation in late 2006, and at that time another suspect, USAMRIIDbacteriologistBruce Ivins, became the main focus of the investigation. Considerable questions have been raised, however, about the credibility of the case against Ivins as well.
60 Minutes interview
Hatfill’s lawyer, Tom Connolly, was featured in a CBS News60 Minutes interview about the anthrax incidents on March 11, 2007. In the interview it was revealed that Hatfill forged a Ph.D. degree certificate. “It is true. It is true that he has puffed on his resume. Absolutely”, Connolly acknowledged. “Forged a diploma. Yes, that’s true.” He went on to state, “Listen, if puffing on your resume made you the anthrax killer, then half this town should be suspect.”
The New York Times stated in their paper that Hatfill had obtained an anti-anthrax medicine (ciprofloxacin) immediately prior to the anthrax mailings. Connolly explained, “Before the attacks he had surgery. So yes, he’s on Cipro. But the fuller truth is in fact he was on Cipro because a doctor gave it to him after sinus surgery”. Hatfill had previously said the antibiotic was for a lingering sinus infection. The omission in the Times’ article, of the reason why he had been taking Cipro, is one reason Hatfill sued the newspaper. The newspaper won a summary judgment ruling in early 2007, squelching the libel suit that had been filed by Steven Hatfill against it and columnist Nicholas Kristof.
On March 30, 2007, US District Judge Reggie Walton issued an order warning Hatfill that he could lose his civil lawsuit over the leaks if he did not compel journalists to name their sources. He gave Hatfill until April 16 to decide whether to press the journalists to give up their sources.
On April 16, Hatfill gave notice that he would “proceed with discovery to attempt to obtain the identity of the alleged source or sources at the Department of Justice and the Federal Bureau of Investigation who allegedly provided information to news reporters concerning the criminal investigation of Dr. Hatfill.”
On April 27, 2007, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, federal prosecutors[clarification needed] wrote that Steven Hatfill had overstepped court orders allowing him to compel testimony from reporters whom he had already questioned and had instead “served a new round of subpoenas” on organizations “that he failed to question during the discovery period.”
The Justice Department responded to Hatfill’s subpoenas, saying that they went too far. “The court should reject this attempt to expand discovery,” prosecutors wrote. In a status conference on Friday 11 January 2008, U.S. District Judge Reggie B. Walton ordered the attorneys for the government and for Hatfill to seek mediation over the next two months. According to the Scheduling Order, the parties will be in mediation from January 14 until May 14, 2008. The prospects of a mediated settlement notwithstanding, Walton said he expected that a trial on the lawsuit could begin in December. Afterward, Hatfill’s attorney Mark A. Grannis said: “The court has set a schedule for bringing this case to trial this year, and we’re very pleased at the prospect that Dr. Hatfill will finally have his day in court.”
On March 7, 2008, Toni Locy of USA Today was ordered to personally pay contempt of court fines of up to $5,000 a day which begin the following Tuesday, until she identifies her sources.
On June 27, 2008 Hatfill was exonerated by the government and a settlement was announced in which the Justice Department has agreed to pay $4.6 million (consisting of $2.825 million in cash and an annuity paying $150,000 a year for 20 years) to settle the lawsuit in which Hatfill claimed the Justice Department violated his privacy rights by speaking with reporters about the case.
In a sealed motion on December 29, 2006, The New York Times argued that the classification restrictions imposed on the case were tantamount to an assertion of the state secrets privilege. Times attorneys cited the case law on state secrets to support their argument that the case should be dismissed. The “state secrets” doctrine, they said, “precludes a case from proceeding to trial when national security precludes a party from obtaining evidence that is… necessary to support a valid defense. Dismissal is warranted in this case because the Times has been denied access to such evidence, specifically documents and testimony concerning the work done by plaintiff [Hatfill] on classified government projects relating to bioweapons, including anthrax.”
A redacted copy of the December 29, 2006 New York Times Memorandum of Law in Support of Defendant’s Motion for an Order Dismissing the Complaint Under the “State Secrets” Doctrine was obtained by Secrecy News.
Attorneys for Hatfill filed a sealed response on January 12, 2007 in opposition to the motion for dismissal on state secrets grounds. A redacted copy of their opposition has been made available by Secrecy News.
On January 12, 2007, a judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Hatfill against The New York Times.
On January 30, 2007, Judge Hilton’s order dismissing the Hatfill v. The New York Times was made public, along with a Memorandum Opinion explaining his ruling.Kenneth A. Richieri, Vice President and General Counsel of The New York Times scored what he called a “very satisfying win” at the beginning of 2007 in the Eastern District of Virginia. The newspaper won a summary judgment ruling squelching a libel suit that had been filed by anthrax poisoning “person of interest” Steven Hatfill against it and columnist Nicholas Kristof.
The US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit reversed the trial court, ruling that a jury should decide that issue. In March 2008, the Supreme Court refused to grant certiorari in the case, effectively leaving the appeals court decision in place.
The case was dismissed in a Summary Judgment on January 12, 2007. The appeals were heard on March 21, 2008, and the dismissal was upheld by the appeals court on July 14, 2008. The case was appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court and was rejected by the Supreme Court on Dec. 15, 2008. The basis for the dismissal was that Dr. Hatfill was a “public figure”, and he had not proved malice on the part of The New York Times.
Hatfill v. Foster
Donald Foster, an expert in forensic linguistics, advised the FBI during the investigation of the anthrax attacks. He later wrote an article for Vanity Fair about his investigation of Hatfill. In the October 2003 article Foster described how he had tried to match up Hatfill’s travels with the postmarks on the anthrax letters, and analyzed old interviews and an unpublished novel by Hatfill about a bioterror attack on the United States. Foster wrote that “When I lined up Hatfill’s known movements with the postmark locations of reported biothreats, those hoax anthrax attacks appeared to trail him like a vapor cloud”.
Obama: U.S. strategy over Islamic State requires Sunni cooperation in Iraq, Syria
News Wrap: Islamic State executes captured Syrian fighters
Beyond Iraq, what’s next for the Islamic State?
What is ISIS, ISIL, Islamic State?
Is the U.S. underestimating the Islamic State?
The Islamic State (Full Length)
Irreconcilable differences: genocide in Iraq, Part 1
By Raymond Thomas Pronk
Map of Iraq. Credit: theguardian.com
U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker, when asked in November 2008 what one word best describes Iraq, answered “fear.” Today it’s terror.
When Barack Obama was elected president in November 2008, he said in his victory speech “To those who would tear the world down, we will defeat you.”
The Islamic State, formerly known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), certainly qualifies as a terrorist army of extremist fanatics who want to “tear down the world” and transform it into a global Islamic state, called the caliphate, ruled by Islamic Shariah law.
The last caliphate was the Ottoman Empire until its collapse in 1918. It was abolished in 1922 and included what is today the nations of Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria,, Jordan, Lebanon, Israel, Palestine, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
In World War I (1914-1918) the Allied Powers including Great Britain, France, Russia, Italy and the United States defeated the Central Powers of Austria-Hungry, German and Ottoman Empires. The victorious nations split up the Ottoman Empire into a number of nations including Iraq and Syria.
States or governments kill people, especially when they go to war. About 16 million died in World War I of which an estimated 8 to nearly 11 million were military and about 2 to nearly 7 million were civilian deaths. Another 22 to 23 million were wounded military casualties.
When governments systematically kill people due to their ethnic, national, racial or religious group membership, it is called genocide, a term coined in 1944 by Raphael Lemkin that combines the Greek genos (“race, people”) and Latin cidere (“to kill”).
Today, according to Dr. Hisham al-Hashimi, Iraq’s leading expert on ISIS, “I would say there are now between 30,000 and 50,000 of them. Of those, I would say 30 percent are ideologues. The others have joined out of fear or coercion.” They are noted for their brutality and violence directed primarily at Iraq Shia Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities and the Iraq army, police and government dominated by Shia Muslims.
On June 29, ISIS changed its name to Islamic State and proclaimed a caliphate with its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, named caliph. The Islamic State is systematically killing those who do not share their religious Sunni Islamic faith, including Shia Iraqis, Sunni Kurds, Yasidis, Christians and those who do not speak Arabic and do not obey Sharia law.
The genocidal atrocities committed by the Islamic State are graphically displayed and documented in many videos posted on YouTube and used by the Islamic State as propaganda to terrorize all those living in Iraq as well as abroad. Iraqis fleeing their homes and communities are literally running for their lives.
The inspiration of most modern violent Islamic terrorist jihadist groups including Hamas, al-Qaeda and the Islamic State is the Muslim Brotherhood, also known as the Ikhwan and Society of Muslim Brotherhood, founded in 1928 by a school teacher, Hassan al-Banna. .
The Brotherhood is a totalitarian and Islamic supremacist movement that seeks world domination mainly through violent jihad or holy war as mandated by Allah through his prophet, Mohammed. One of Mohammed’s final “revelations” set out in the Quran is the “Verse of the Sword” which states in part: “When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and render the alms levy, allow them to go their way. God is forgiving and merciful.” (9:5)
The doctrine of a violent or offense jihad or holy war against all infidels of other religious faiths including Christians, Jews, Hindis, and Buddhists is the mainstream interpretation of Islamic scripture, not just the interpretation of terrorist Jihadists such as the newly created Islamic State.
The Muslim Brotherhood’s Yusuf al-Qaradawi is one of the world’s most well-known and respected Sunni clerics and Islamic scholars based in Qatar who broadcasts a weekly program on al-Jazeera, “Shariah and Life” to an estimated audience of 60 million worldwide. Al Qaradawi is the spiritual leader of Hamas and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. He has sanctioned the use by the Palestine brothers of suicide bombings in Israel as divine justice and stated Shias are not Muslims and must be killed, according to videos posted on YouTube. He inspires the Islamic State’s genocide in Iraq of Shias, Kurds, Yazidis, Christians and other religious minorities.
What motivates the Muslims of the Islamic State to embrace the violent jihadist ideology? A former terrorist named Tawik Hamid explains how he embraced the jihidist mindset of the violent Islamic Salafi sect: “I passed through three psychological stages to reach this level of comfort with death: hatred of non-Muslims or dissenting Muslims; suppression of my conscience; and acceptance of violence in the service of Allah. Salafi religious indoctrination played a major role in this process. Salafists promoted our hatred for non-Muslims …” quoted in the book authored by Erick Stakelbeck, “The Terrorist Next Door.”
The Islamic State’s violent jihadist ideology and indoctrination directly leads to the systematic killing or genocide of those who do not share their religious beliefs and ideology. Convert or be killed.
Parst 2 and 3 of this column will address how Obama and the U.S. government are responding to the terrorist threat posed by the Islamic State and their continuing genocide or mass murder in Iraq and Syria.
Story 1: Russian Separatist Rebels in Ukraine Shot Down Malaysian Airline Flight MH 17 Killing 298 Passengers and Crew With A Russian Provided SA 11 Gadfly Surface to Air Missile (SAM) From A BUK Launcher — Videos
Scenes reminiscent of MH370 disaster as distraught MH17 relatives gather at airports to learn the fate of their missing loved ones
Relatives gathered at airports in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur
Nine Britons and 27 Australians were among those on board, according to Dutch authorities
Fears that up to 23 Americans could have been on Malaysian Airlines flight
Plane was shot down over territory held by Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine
In scenes reminiscent of the MH370 disaster four months ago, sobbing relatives of passengers travelling on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 have gathered at airports in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur to learn the fate of their missing loved ones.
Clutching the side of an escalator for support, one man weeps after finding out the fate of his relative at an information point set up at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, where the doomed plane took off from at lunchtime today.
At Kuala Lumpur International Airport, where flight MH 17 was due to land shortly after 6am local time on Friday morning, women cry into tissues as they hear about the fate of their loved ones.
Up to 100 children were thought to be among the 283 passengers and 15 crew who died when the plane was shot down in an ‘act of terrorism’ on the Russia-Ukraine border.
Scroll down for videos
A woman who believes that a relative was travelling on Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 cries as she waits for more information about the crashed plane at Kuala Lumpur International Airport
A relative of a passenger on flight MH17 walks past members of the press as he arrives at Schiphol airport in Amsterdam, to find out more information
A woman sobs on the phone after finding out the fate of her relative who was on board flight MH17. A full passenger list of those who were travelling on the plane has still not been published
A man clutches his head in anguish as he leaves Schiphol airport on a bus provided for the families of passengers travelling on MH17
A woman weeps into a tissue after hearing news regarding a relative who was travelling on the plane. She was one of a group of people who gathered in Kuala Lumpur International Airport early on Friday morning local time
Izzy Sim is visibly shaken after learning that she cheated death
Nine British passengers are among the 298 feared dead after a Malaysian Airlines plane was ‘shot down’ on the Russia-Ukraine border, according to Dutch authorities.
There were are fears that there were up to 23 Americans on the flight, though it has yet to be confirmed that any were on board.
In one image taken from the crash site, a pile of passports can be seen scattered amid the rubble.
Witnesses say body parts are scattered over a distance of 15km, suggesting the plane broke up in mid-air.
As shocking images emerged of bodies amid the smouldering wreckage of the Boeing 777 it raised concerns of renewed tension between the US and Russia.
A woman lights a candle in front of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kiev on Thursday night to commemorate passengers of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17
A young girl places her head on a teddy bear as people around her light candles at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kiev. They gathered on Thursday night to pay tribute to those on flight MH17
Flowers, signs and candles line the street in front of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Kiev. They commemorate the 295 passengers who died when flight MH17 was shot down
Tearful family members leave Schiphol airport in a bus provided after finding out the fate of their relatives. The crash site was littered with remains of charred passports
A tearful couple, who had loved ones on board flight MH 17, hold on to each other for support as they leave Schiphol airport on Thursday evening
Relatives, eyes red from crying, head towards the area in Schiphol airport in Amsterdam where family members of the victims are gathering to await further information
A family anxiously await news of passengers on flight MH17 at Kuala Lumpur International Airport early on Friday morning local time
Smoke and debris believed to be from flight MH17 falling to Earth
Pictures and footage taken from the wreckage show the charred remains of passports and suitcases scattered on the crash site.
MH17: DEATH TOLL SO FAR
154 Dutch nationals 45 Malaysians (including 15 crew members) 27 Australians 12 Indonesians Nine Britons Four Germans Four Belgians Three Filipinos One Canadian 41 unconfirmed
Emergency workers are seen tackling the blazes that broke out after the aircraft crashed near Donestsk, where pro-Russian rebels have been fighting Ukrainian government forces. TV pictures from the scene showed a pall of smoke billowing into the sky apparently from the stricken aircraft. Among those feared dead is a Dutch man who posted a photo on Facebook of the plane on the tarmac just hours before the crash.
Initially, friends commented on the photo wishing him happy holidays. But their messages turned to ones of concern once news of the crash broke.
Based on the number of flights leaving Amsterdam’s Schiphol airport, and the timing of his Facebook status, it is feared he was on the fated flight. His cousin later posted the flight number beneath the picture and shortly after friends began leaving messages saying ‘rest in peace’. Another said that his girlfriend was on the flight with him.
A relative of passengers onboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 from Amsterdam speaks on the phone as he waits for information outside the family holding area at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport
A couple walks towards the information point at Schiphol Airport that has been set up for loved ones of passengers travelling on flight MH17
One passenger is believed to have posted this picture of the doomed flight on the tarmac of Amsterdam airport just hours before it was shot down over Ukraine
Passports from some of the doomed passengers on-board MH17 found
Prime Minister David Cameron said: ‘I’m shocked and saddened by the Malaysian air disaster. Officials from across Whitehall are meeting to establish the facts.’
In a statement on Thursday night Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: ‘We do believe that there were British Nationals on board the flight we’re currently working through passenger data cross checking it and referencing it to establish exactly the numbers and identities of those British nationals and as soon as we have further information we will be in contact with the families.’
It is believed the plane was struck by BUK surface-to-air missile at 33,000ft around 20 miles before entering Russian airspace.
Russian news footage taken from the crash site shows passports on the ground among the wreckage of MH17
A suitcase is found among the wreckage of flight MH17. Six British passengers were killed after the aircraft was shot down, according to Dutch authorities
Suitcases and bags are pictured at the crash site of Malaysian Airways flight MH17
A spokesman from the Foreign Office would not be drawn on whether any British nationals had been on board the plane.
‘We are aware of the reports and are urgently working to establish what has happened,’ he said.
Asked about reports that up to 10 British people had been on board, the spokesman added: ‘Our first priority is to establish if there are any British persons on board but we are not in a position to go beyond that line.’
David Cameron has summoned officials from across Whitehall for urgent talks at 7pm to discuss the latest on the crash, and what is known about any British casualties.
The Foreign Office is in talks with consular teams in Amsterdam and Kuala Lumpur to obtain passenger lists to establish how many UK nationals were on board.
Malaysian Airlines said they have no information about any survivors.
An armed pro-Russian separatist stands at a site of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region
Charred plane parts litter the ground at the crash site of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash site in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region
Firefighters put out smouldering wreckage of ‘shot down’ MH17
In a tweet, the airline said: ‘Malaysia Airlines has lost contact of MH17 from Amsterdam. The last known position was over Ukrainian airspace. More details to follow.’
A Boeing spokesman said: ‘Our thoughts and prayers are with those on board the Malaysia Airlines airplane lost over Ukrainian airspace, as well as their families and loved ones.
‘Boeing stands ready to provide whatever assistance is requested by authorities.’
The jet would have been flying at high altitude on an intercontinental flight that took it over the crisis hit region of Ukraine, where the authorities have accused Russia-backed separatists of previous attacks on aircraft.
A firefighter tackles a blaze at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine
Carnage: A firefighter tackles a blaze at the site of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane crash in the settlement of Grabovo in the Donetsk region of Ukraine
Kuala Lumpur International airport after plane downed
The crash comes four months after the mysterious disappearance of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 which is thought to have crashed into the Indian Ocean. Two weeks ago, investigators say what little evidence they have to work with suggests the plane was deliberately diverted thousands of kilometres from its scheduled route before eventually plunging into the Indian Ocean. The search was narrowed in April after a series of acoustic pings thought to be from the plane’s black box recorders were heard along a final arc where analysis of satellite data put its last location
2014 – BBC World News – Obama: US Has Evidence MAS Plane Shot Down from Inside Ukraine – 19/7/14
Malaysian MH17 : SA 11 Buk Missile Dating to Soviet Era Eyed in MH17 Attack
U.S. Evidence Points to Separatist Missile Downing Airliner
Flight MH17: Ukraine releases video of ‘Buk missile unit’
Footage Emerges Of BUK Missile Launcher Being Smuggled Back To Russia ~ MISSING TOW ROCKETS!!!
Malaysia Airlines MH17 killed by Buk missile launcher in Ukraine rebel territory
SA-11 Gadfly (9К37 Бук) Soviet SAM System
The Buk missile system is the successor to the NIIP/Vympel 2K12 Kub (NATO reporting name SA-6 “Gainful”).
The first version of Buk adopted into service carried the GRAU designation 9K37 and was identified in the west with the NATO reporting name “Gadfly” as well as the US Department of Defense designation SA-11. Designed: 1972-1977, testing in 1977-1978, operation in 1979
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 17 Crash: Timeline Of Flight MH17 Malaysian Plane Shot Down In Ukraine
List of Nationalities Aboard Malaysia Airlines MH-17
Obama says Malaysian plane shot down by missile from rebel-held part of Ukraine
President Obama said Friday that a Malaysia Airlines plane carrying nearly 300 people, including at least one U.S. citizen, was evidently shot down by an antiaircraft missile fired from an area controlled by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. In a White House news conference a day after the Boeing 777 crashed en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Obama stopped short of saying who fired the missile or directly blaming Russia for the deaths, which he called “an outrage of unspeakable proportions.” But he said the separatists “have received a steady flow of support from Russia,” including heavy arms, training and antiaircraft weapons. Pointing to rebel claims to have shot down several Ukrainian aircraft in recent weeks, including a Ukrainian fighter jet, Obama said it was “not possible for these separatists to function the way they’re functioning . . . without sophisticated equipment and sophisticated training, and that is coming from Russia.” Russian President Vladimir Putin “has the most control over that situation, and so far at least, he has not exercised it,” Obama said. He spoke after U.S. officials disclosed a preliminary intelligence assessment indicating that Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was likely shot down by pro-Russian separatists with an SA-11 missile. The SA-11 is an early version of the Buk antiaircraft system that was previously identified by Ukrainian authorities as the weapon used to bring down the airliner.
As emergency workers continue to search for victims of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 after it was shot down near the Russian border, world leaders are calling for a cease-fire in Ukraine. (AP)
In public statements, senior members of the administration from the president down did not specify the perpetrators of the shootdown, although they made it clear that the rebels are the likeliest suspects.
Because of the “technical complexity” of the Russian-made surface-to-air missile system, “it is impossible to rule out Russian technical assistance” to the separatists in operating it, Samantha Power , the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, told the U.N. Security Council earlier Friday. Separately, military and intelligence officials said Friday that the United States has gathered a significant body of evidence that Ukrainian separatists have been trained on Russian territory in recent weeks to fire antiaircraft missiles. Obama identified the American victim on the plane as Quinn Lucas Schansman, a 19-year-old U.S.-Dutch dual national who reportedly lived in Amsterdam and was traveling to Kuala Lumpur to meet his family for a vacation. The president called for “a credible international investigation” into the tragedy and urged Russia to cooperate with it. As the shootdown sent the Ukraine war into the realm of international crisis, Obama called it a “global tragedy,” saying that “it is not going to be localized; it is not going to be contained.” He joined calls for an international investigation and said investigators from the FBI and National Transportation Safety Board have already been dispatched. At an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting Friday morning, Power was much more direct in holding Russia responsible for the shootdown, detailing the volume of weapons and other assistance that Moscow has provided to the separatists.
“Russia can end this war,” she said. “Russia must end this war.”
Among the 298 victims, Power said, were 80 children and three listed on the passenger manifest as infants. In response, Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin did not directly address charges that Moscow bears responsibility and was complicit in the missile attack. Agreeing that an international investigation is needed, Churkin criticized those who he said are “trying to prejudge the outcome with broad statements and insinuations,” and he accused the Ukrainian government of failing to warn international aviation to avoid the conflict area in eastern Ukraine. “Why did Ukrainian aviation dispatchers send [the Malaysian plane] to an area of strife, where there were antiaircraft systems in operation?” he asked. By continuing its military offensive to dislodge the separatists, Ukraine “chose the wrong path, and their Western colleagues supported them,” Churkin said. “I’m talking about the United States; they actually pushed them to escalate,” he said, and now “they are trying to lay the blame on Russia.” Britain, which lost nine citizens in the crash and called for the emergency Security Council meeting, demanded an independent international investigation. “The immediate priority has to be for investigators to gain access to the crash site,” British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant said. “There must be no interfering or tampering with the evidence.” As the council session continued, and before any Russian response, most representatives concentrated on the need for an immediate cease-fire in eastern Ukraine and an independent probe. Many indirectly accused Russia of responsibility for the separatists’ actions, although China cautioned member nations not to “jump to any conclusions . . . or trade accusations.”
Speaking later in the White House briefing room, Obama said it was “too early for us to be able to guess what the intentions were of those who might have launched” the missile. “What we know right now, what we have confidence in saying right now, is that a surface-to-air missile was fired, and this is what brought the jet down. . . . That shot was taken within territory that was controlled by the Russian-backed separatists.” The identities of “what individuals or groups of personnel ordered” the strike, he said, are “still subject to additional information that we’re going to be gathering.” But after months of conflict in Ukraine, the shootdown should “snap everyone’s head” to action, he said. “We don’t have time for propaganda; we don’t have time for games.” “Time and again, Russia has refused to take the concrete steps necessary to de-escalate the situation,” Obama said. At least in public, the leaders of Germany, France and Britain expressed outrage over the downing of the airliner but were careful not to rush to judgment or publicly accuse Russia. Countries in the region considered more hawkish on Russia, however, were more willing to assign blame. “We are concerned over press reports that the Ukrainian side has captured phone conversation recordings indicating that pro-Russian separatists might be responsible for shooting the plane down,” the Polish Foreign Ministry said in a statement. British and German leaders were more cautious. “We have some information, but we need to find more information,” said British Prime Minister David Cameron. He called for an proper international investigation but added, “until we know more, it’s not really possible to say more.”
German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Friday pressed Russia to work harder toward a political solution in the Ukrainian conflict. But she also drew a line between the Russians and the separatists. “We’re assuming that the Russian president of course has an influence on Russian separatists,” Merkel told reporters in Berlin. “But still one has to differentiate between the separatists and the Russian government.” On Wednesday, both the United States and European Union slapped new sanctions on Russia, but the European moves were significantly less stinging. Suggesting Friday that she was in no rush to go further, Merkel called Wednesday’s move “an adequate response to what happened in the past few days.” But she also noted that the E.U. decision had left open the door to “act on a new level” if necessary. As the day wore on, and particularly after the Security Council meeting, the rhetoric grew somewhat harsher. “Those who are responsible for this would forfeit their right to claim their own concerns in the name of humanity,” German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said in Mexico City. In France, pressure mounted on the government to cancel the $1.7 billion sale to Russia of two Mistral-class helicopter carriers — capable of transporting 16 attack helicopters, dozens of tanks and 700 soldiers. Philippe Migault, a Russia expert at the Institute of International and Strategic Relations in Paris, said canceling the sale would cost the nation hundreds of jobs, result in a substantial cash penalty and portray France a nation that does not meet its defense contracts.
But, he said, “if there is further evidence of the responsibility of the pro-Russian rebels, there are chances that it might be” canceled. European governments have been more reluctant than the Americans to slap tougher sanctions on the Russians largely due to Moscow’s economic clout in the region. Should the pro-Russian separatists — with the direct or indirect aid of Russia — ultimately be proven responsible for the shootdown, analysts said the calculations in the region could change. “It’s a game-changer because it’s very difficult to see how anyone in Europe can continue as business as usual,” said Jonathan Eyal, director of international security studies at the Royal United Services Institute in London. “This time we have our own European casualties. It’s not a theoretical conflict in which people we do not know are dying.” Yet other analysts insisted that the desire of the Europeans to sidestep truly forceful sanctions to protect their economies should not be underestimated. Just as vital to their calculations, analysts said, will be a desire not to take steps that could dramatically ratchet up tensions and prompt the Russians to respond by cutting off important energy supplies to the region. “How Europe reacts, we don’t know. It could go either way,” said Andrew Wilson, senior policy fellow in the London office of the European Council on Foreign Relations. Jakov Devcic, deputy bureau chief of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Kiev, a group associated with Merkel’s CDU party, said that in Europe, as in the United States, military intervention remained ruled out. But if the rebels are found to have filed the missile, Germany and the E.U. will consider further sanctions, including import bans on luxury goods and, as a second step, moves targeting Russian financial transactions.
The U.S. intelligence assessment that rebels were responsible for the shootdown came as Ukrainian leaders stepped up their condemnation of Russia over the crash, calling for Moscow to be held accountable for allegedly supplying the missile system that they said was used by the rebels in eastern Ukraine. “This is a crime against humanity,” Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said, as he called for swift international justice. “All red lines have been already crossed. . . . We ask our international partners to call an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting and to [do] everything we can to stop this war: a war against Ukraine, a war against Europe, and after these terrorists shot down a Malaysian aircraft, this is a war against the world.” Yatsenyuk added: “Everyone is to be accountable and responsible. I mean everyone who supports these terrorists, including Russians and the Russian regime.” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, addressing the nation early Friday, also blamed pro-Russian separatists and those he called their Russian masters for the downing of the Boeing 777 with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board. The victims included “nearly 100 researchers and advocates” who were en route from Amsterdam via Kuala Lumpur to attend an AIDS conference in Australia, Obama said. “They were taken from us in a senseless act of violence,” he said. AIDS conference organizers have confirmed only seven names and said they think the number of people flying to the conference on the Malaysian flight could be much lower than 100.
“War has gone beyond the territory of Ukraine,” Poroshenko said earlier Friday. “Consequences of this war have already reached the whole world.” Russia and the separatists both denied any responsibility for the shootdown, pinning the blame instead on the Ukrainian government. But Poroshenko said recordings of what the Ukraine Security Service described as intercepted phone conversations between separatist rebels and Russian intelligence officials implicated them in the shootdown. The Security Service released new recordings Friday in which it said rebels discussed possessing and moving the Russian-made Buk missile launcher that Ukraine says shot down the airliner. The Ukrainian government released video purporting to show rebels moving a Buk antiaircraft missile system to the Russian border Friday from eastern Ukraine. The government claimed that the missile-launcher was missing one of its missiles. Neither the claims nor the authenticity of the video could be independently verified. Russia pushed back Friday, accusing Poroshenko of poisoning efforts to investigate the crash. A rebel leader on Thursday had briefly claimed responsibility for downing a plane that he described as a Ukrainian military aircraft. Soon after it was established that a commercial airliner had been shot down, the claim was removed. Ukraine’s top intelligence official said Friday that the plane crash was being investigated as a criminal case under Ukraine’s terrorism laws. Valentyn Nalyvaichenko, head of the Ukraine Security Service, said Ukraine now believes that the Boeing 777 was shot down by rebel forces using a Buk antiaircraft missile launcher that had recently been moved over the border from Russia. He said Ukraine has detained two Russian citizens who allegedly helped bring the missile launcher into Ukraine. Ukrainian intelligence services also observed rebels trying to move back into Russia a Buk launcher that had fired two missiles, he added. It was not immediately possible to independently verify the claims.
“The terrorists are trying to hide the crime,” Nalyvaichenko said. The Ukraine Security Service on Friday released a second series of recordings of what it said were intercepted phone calls between pro-Russian separatists over the last few days, in which the voices describe being in possession of and moving the Buk missile launcher. In the first conversation, which the Security Service said took place on July 14, an alleged rebel called “Oleg” said he missed a plane flying above a village. “We already have the Buk,” a woman identified as “Oreon” told him. “We’ll be knocking it down.” The Security Service said that on additional tapes from July 17, rebels discuss moving the Buk launcher. “Where do we ship this beauty to, Nikolayevich?” asked an alleged rebel identified by the Security Service as “Buryat.” “It’s not necessary to hide it anywhere,” came the reply. The rebel identified as Nikolayevich, also known as “Khmuri,” also talked about stocks of other weapons and the rebels’ relationship with the Russians at one point. “The thing is, we have Grads, but no spotters,” he said, referring to the mobile, Russian-made multiple rocket launcher. “We are waiting. Supposedly Russia should strike from that side at their positions.” In recent months, the rebels have shot down numerous Ukrainian military aircraft using short-range surface-to-air missiles. Experts said such missiles probably could not reach a plane flying at 33,000 feet, the reported altitude of Flight 17. But Ukrainian authorities have said the rebels recently obtained Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missiles — a complex system using ground radar to guide a missile to its target. Experts said it requires expertise and training to operate.
In Moscow, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday that the international community could not expect Russia to get the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine to lay down their arms. But Lavrov said he hoped that the OSCE would send monitors to the Russian-Ukrainian border before the end of the week. In an interview with Rossiya-24 television, he added that Russia was ready to guarantee the safety of those observers at Russia’s own border checkpoints but could make no promises about keeping them safe from bombardments from Ukraine, Interfax reported. Lavrov also accused Poroshenko of potentially poisoning the investigation of the plane crash by calling for a commission to look into it while also declaring it an act of terrorism. “Of course, attempts to claim that this was a terrorist act, so the Ukrainian researchers will be guided by this in their work — this is unacceptable, this pressure on the acts of the this commission,” Lavrov said. In an effort to cooperate with international investigations, Lavrov said, Russia would not accept the black box that rebels said they had recovered from the plane. “We are not going to take away these boxes,” he said. “We are not going to violate the rules existing with regard to this sort of cases within the international community.” Aleksey Komarov, a spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, called for “a thorough investigation with the use of representatives from all the interested international organizations.” He alleged that, according to the information available to the Russians, a Ukrainian military Buk-M1 type air defense system capable of bringing down the jet as it cruised at 33,000 feet was stationed in the area near the crash.
“Ukrainian Air Force planes armed with various types of missiles are constantly present in the Donetsk region airspace,” he said on Rossiya 24 TV. “This is an indisputable fact.” He said Kiev’s claims that these systems or planes did not shoot at airborne targets “raise serious doubts.” He added that “planes of the Russian Air Force did not fly in Russian regions bordering the Donetsk region on July 17, 2014.” The Ukrainians, however, have cited the purported intercepts and conflicting claims by the pro-Russian rebels, who have been operating with tactical Russian assistance, as evidence of their guilt. In recent days, the rebels, who have shot down numerous Ukrainian military aircraft using shorter-range missiles, claimed to have obtained more advanced antiaircraft missile systems. “Evidence and information we have as of now confirm that it was pro-Russian groups, and unfortunately this tragedy took the lives of 298 people,” Ihor Dolhov, Ukraine’s ambassador to NATO, told the BBC. Sergei Kavtaradze, a representative of the separatist militias, told Interfax on Friday that the purported recordings of intercepted phone calls amounted to “unprofessional propaganda.” http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/missile-downs-malaysia-airlines-plane-over-ukraine-killing-298-kiev-blames-rebels/2014/07/18/d30205c8-0e4a-11e4-8c9a-923ecc0c7d23_story.html
Did MH17 pilot divert INTO the danger zone? Aviation expert claims captain made last-minute change of course over Ukraine because he ‘felt uncomfortable’
Russian military expert claims pilot radioed his concerns about the route before diverting over rebel-held territory
Russian media explores theory that Ukrainian armed forces shot down Boeing 777 after mistaking it for Putin’s jet
Malaysia Airlines filed flight plan requesting 35,000 feet through airspace but was told to fly at 33,000
Kremlin leader was flying back to Moscow from Brazilian World Cup at around same time passenger plane crashed
Russian aviation sources said the routes of the two planes ‘crossed at the same point and on the same altitude’
Ukrainian official accuses Putin of smuggling missile launcher back into Russia to cover up Kremlin involvement
Malaysian transport minister said MH17 was flying on approved route and pilot given no last-minute instructions
Putin calls for a ceasefire by pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces to allow for negotiations
Confusion over the two black boxes: Rebel says none found, another said it has eight, Ukraine says it has both
Ukrainian officials issue plea for respect as it emerges looters are raiding the possessions of dead passengers
PUBLISHED: 02:07 EST, 18 July 2014 | UPDATED: 13:36 EST, 18 July 2014
The pilot of MH17 radioed that he ‘felt uncomfortable’ about the route he was flying while over Ukraine and fatally altered his course to hostile territory, according to an expert. Dr Igor Sutyagin, Research Fellow in Russian Studies from the Royal United Services Institute, believes that MH17 was shot down by rebels based in the 3rd District of Torez, in eastern Ukraine, after mistaking his plane for a government military transport aircraft. He told MailOnline that information had been leaked from a source he was unwilling to name that the pilot of MH17 ‘felt bad’ about his course over Ukrainian airspace, so changed direction. Little did he know, according to Dr Sutyagin, that his plane would then be mistaken by rebels who brought it down using a ground-to-air Buk missile system. Malaysia Airlines today denied that the plane was told to alter its course. His comments come as Vladimir Putin called for a ceasefire by pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian government forces to allow for negotiations. A top separatist leader in east Ukraine has ruled out a truce with government forces but pledged to allow investigators to access the crash site. ‘There is no question of a ceasefire but we will let experts access the site of the catastrophe,’ Alexander Borodai, the prime minister of the self-proclaimed ‘Donetsk People’s Republic’, told journalists.
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Is this proof that MH17 change course into a war zone? A route map compiled by Twitter user Vagelis Karmiros using data from flight-tracking website Flightaware claims to show how the doomed Malaysia Airlines plane took a different flightpath to the ones taken by the previous ten MH17 flights
Stunned: Ukrainians inspect the wreckage of MH17 as coal miners, farmers and other volunteers help with the grisly task of clearing up the crash sites after the Malaysia Airlines jet was shot down by a surface-to-air missile over the east of the country
Decimated: A pro-Russian separatist looks at wreckage from the nose section of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 plane which was downed near the village of Rozsypne
Disturbing: A woman walks past a body covered with a plastic sheet in a sunflower field near the site of a crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne
All hand on deck: Coal miners help with the search effort at the crash site near the village of Rozsypne in eastern Ukraine
Emergency workers, police officers and even coal miners spread out across the sunflower fields and villages of eastern Ukraine, searching the wreckage of MH17
Out of the blue: A Ukrainian covers a body with a plastic sheet in a field. Malaysia’s prime minister said there was no distress call before the plane went down and that the flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation
BRITAIN BLAMES PUTIN AS UKRAINE CALLS ON WORLD LEADERS TO ‘BRING THOSE B******* TO JUSTICE’
Britain today formally accused Russia of being responsible for bringing down flight MH17 over Ukraine – killing on 298 passengers on board. The UK’s representative at the UN said it was ‘clear’ who was to blame for shooting down the Malaysian Airways aircraft over Ukraine. Speaking at the UN in New York today, Ambassador Peter Wilson said the blame lay with ‘the senseless violence of armed separatists and with those who have supported, equipped and advised them’. Earlier, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk urged Western leaders to ‘bring justice to those b*******’ who brought down the flight. He said world leaders needed to realised there was ‘a war in the heart of Europe’ taking place, amid growing fury at Moscow’s backing the pro-Russian separatists suspected of carrying out the assault.
Dr Sutyagin’s theory appears to be supported by a route map which shows the passenger plane travelling on a different course to the ones taken by the previous ten MH17 flights. Twitter user Vagelis Karmiros collated the information from Flightaware, the largest flight tracking website in the world. Dr Sutyagin said: ‘There is a Ukrainian mechanised brigade blocked by separatists near the Russian border.
‘It’s blocked on three sides by separatists and behind the brigade is the Russian border, so they can’t get out. The Ukrainians try to resupply them from the air by transport aircraft. ‘Now, the pilot of MH17 said that he “felt bad” and wanted to change course south to get out of the danger zone. But several kilometers to the south is a Ukrainian Army heavy transport plane, an IL76, or Candid, which has the same echo as a 777 on a radar screen. ‘The two planes came close. They tried to shoot down the transport delivering supplies to the brigade. They believed that they had been firing at a military plane, but they mistakenly shoot down a civilian airliner.’ His comments came as Malaysia Airlines said it filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000 feet through Ukraine airspace but was instructed by Ukraine air traffic control to fly at 33,000. It would still have been in range of the missile were it flying at the higher altitude, however.
Rescue workers, police and even coal miners are today combing the site where a Malaysian Airlines jet crashed after being shot from the sky by a surface-to-air missile, scattering wreckage and bodies across the Ukrainian countryside.
Ukraine accused pro-Russian separatists of shooting down the plane which was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 298 people on board, while the Russian media today blamed everyone but pro-Moscow rebels for the Malaysia Airlines horror.
One theory explored by TV and newspapers was that the Ukrainian armed forces may have shot the Boeing out of the sky after mistaking it for Vladimir Putin’s official Ilyushin jet.
The Kremlin leader was flying back to Moscow from Brazil at around the same time that the Boeing 777 was downed, stated TV and newspaper reports.
Video of debris at the site of MH17 plane crash in Ukraine
Blaming the Ukraine: Self-proclaimed Prime Minister of the pro-Russian separatist Donetsk People’s Republic, Alexander Borodai (centre), arrives at the crash site
Blame game: The pro-Russian self-proclaimed governor of the Donetsk region Paul Gubarev (centre) is surrounded by armed guards as he looks at debris of the Boeing
Under pressure: Ukrainian Defense Minister Valeriy Geletey arrives for a meeting with media in Kramatorsk as global demands mounted to find those responsible for downing the airliner
HORRIFIC IMAGE OF DEAD BABY IN FIELD ‘ON PUTIN’S CONSCIENCE’
A shocking photograph released today by an Ukrainian official shows the harrowing image of an infant victim lying on its own in a field. The baby, who is pictured sprawled in the dirt near the crash site, is thought to be the youngest victim of the crash. Ukraine government advisor Anton Gerashchenko, who published the picture, said in a statement: ‘This baby’s death is on your conscience Putin’ – placing the blame squarely on Russia. The nationality of the baby is still unknown.
Evidence for the theory seems scant, but an anonymous source in Russia’s Federal Agency for Air Transportation was quoted saying that there was a crossover flight path between the doomed Malaysian aircraft and Russian plane ‘number one’ used by Putin.
A source at the agency was quoted by Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper as saying: ‘Vladimir Putin’s plane could have been a target for a Ukrainian missile.’
NTV cited a source from the same body as saying: ‘I can say that the routes of plane Number One and the Malaysian Boeing crossed at the same point and on the same altitude.
‘It was near Warsaw at altitude 10,100 metres, echelon 330. The plane Number One was at that point at 16.21 Moscow time, the Malaysian plane was there at 15.44 Moscow time.’
The source also said that the ‘plane’ contours are similar in principle, the real sizes are also similar, and ‘as for their liveries then at the distance they are almost identical’.
Putin’s equivalent of Air Force One is a specially modified Ilyushin, the Il-96 300. It is a four-engine long distance aircraft, with a length of 55 metres, and a wingspan of 60 metres.
The Boeing 777-200 is 63 metres long, and its wingspan 61 metres.
Asked last night on the route of Putin’s plane, agency head Alexander Neradko said: ‘We never comment on the routes and other details of the flights of the president of Russia.’
Obama: Ukraine crash is an outrage of unspeakable proportions
Political storm: Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the Malaysian Airlines tragedy that claimed the lives of all 298 people on board
Crumpled: Wreckage of the Malaysia Airlines jet carrying 298 people from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur a day after it crashed, near the town of Shaktarsk, in east Ukraine
Complex investigation: Rescue workers pick through the debris of Flight MH17 at the crash site outside Shakhtyorsk in the Donetsk region, eastern Ukraine
‘Circumstances need to be investigated carefully and objectively': Vladimir Putin has called for a thorough probe into the cause of disaster
Earlier, Ukrainian government official Anton Gerashchenko accused Mr Putin of ‘a desperate attempt to hide the consequences of his deeds’ by permitting the smuggling of the Buk rocket launcher – suspected of being used to shoot down the Boeing – across the frontier into Russia.
An effort during the night was made ‘to hide the Buk rocket complex on Russian territory’, he alleged.
He did not say if it was known whether or not it had moved into Russia.
‘It is most likely that the machinery which fired the missiles at Malaysian aircraft will be destroyed and the people who committed the act of terror will be annihilated,’ warned Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Interior Ministry in Kiev.
‘Several hours ago, Putin made a statement in regard the catastrophic crash of the Malaysian Boeing in which he blamed it all on Ukrainian side. What else is there to be done for an international terrorist? Only lie.’
Missile system ‘seen in Ukraine’ hours before MH17 shot down
Poignant: A white flag placed by the Ukrainian Emergency Services marks the location of a body (not pictured) the settlement of Grabovo
Mangled: Malaysia Airlines is trying to arrange safe access for relatives of victims to the site in eastern Ukraine where its Boeing 777 airliner crashed
Distressing: Cards, games and money belonging to passengers on MH17 lie strewn across the grass near the town of Shaktarsk, in rebel-held east Ukraine
Clear-up operation: Personal luggage is collected at the site of the crashed Malaysia Airlines passenger plane near the village of Rozsypne
Global response: The UN Security Council has called for ‘a full, thorough and independent international investigation’ after approving a statement expressing ‘deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims’
Meanwhile, Pro-Kremlin Izvestia cited separatists claiming the shooting out of the sky was ‘a planned provocation by Kiev’.
‘Judge for yourself, who could have done it? The rebels don’t have weapons that you could use to shoot down a plane at such a height, but Kiev does,’ one local leader told the paper.
Tabloid Tvoi Den splashed a full-page cover photograph of the crash scene with a line reading: ‘Donetsk People’s Republic Authorities Claim Plane Destroyed by Ukrainian Buk Missile,’ an anti-aircraft system.
Rebel official Sergei Kavtaradze was quoted saying: ‘According to our information, this plane was shot down by Ukrainian armed forces.’
Other media claimed it could have been a Ukrainian plot to give the Americans an excuse to deploy NATO on the ground in the eastern European country.
But a Ukrainian military expert, Igor Levchenko, told Kommersant business daily that although Kiev did have several Buks in the conflict zone, they ‘definitely would not be used against such a target as a passenger liner.’
IS THIS THE SMOKING GUN THAT PROVES SEPARATISTS WERE TO BLAME? FOOTAGE SHOWS MISSILE LAUNCHER BEING SMUGGLED BACK TO RUSSIA WITH TWO ROCKETS MISSING
An expert believes that MH17 was downed by a missile fired from rebel-held Torez in eastern Ukraine – and a BUK anti-aircraft launcher has been pictured rumbling into the town just two hours before the crash, leading to speculation that it was this piece of equipment that was used to bring about the tragedy.
On Friday a missile launcher with two rockets missing was then filmed by Ukrainian intelligence services being smuggled on the back of a truck to Russia.
Anton Gerashchenko, from Ukraine’s interior ministry, said of the missing missiles that ‘it’s not hard to guess why’.
Suspicious: Ukrainian spies reportedly filmed the launcher used in the attack being smuggled to Russia – with two missiles missing
A view of what is believed to be a BUK surface-to-air missile battery being driven along a path on July 17 in Torez, Ukraine
Launch site? The BUK missile system photographed in Torez hours before MH17 was downed
‘It was exactly these missiles which brought death to almost 300 innocent passengers of the ill-fated Malaysian Boeing,’ he said, according to the Telegraph.
He continued: ‘International terrorist Igor Strelkov, aka Girkin, last night visited Snizhne to settle the situation with the downed Malaysian Boeing.
‘In the night the Buk system, from which the missile was launched, was removed to Russia, where it is likely to be destroyed.’
He claimed that the ‘direct performers of the terrorist attack’ are also likely to have been killed to avoid any witnesses.
The rebels ‘happily announced that they had downed the Ukrainian AN-26′ when in fact they had shot the Boeing, he said.
Dr Igor Sutyagin, Research Fellow in Russian Studies from the Royal United Services Institute, believes that MH17 was shot down by rebels based in the 3rd District of Torez.
Russian air defense missile system BUK M2 seen at a military show at the international forum in Zhukovsky outside Moscow, in 2010
A map showing the distance between the launch site and the MH17 crash site
Is this SAM, missing 2 missiles, being smuggled out of Ukraine?
Missile system ‘seen in Ukraine’ hours before MH17 shot down
Dr Sutyagin said the evidence that Russian separatists were responsible was very strong – and that there’s even a suggestion the BUK missile launcher was being manned by soldiers from Russia.
He said: ‘These separatists boasted on Twitter about capturing an BUK SA11 missile launcher [capable of downing high-flying airliners] on June 29, and several hours before the downing of the plane locals in Torez reported seeing BUK missile launchers and separatist flags around the city.
‘Later, there was lots of video posted of the plane falling down and rebels saying that “it was not pointless moving it [the BUK] there”.’
Dr Sutyagin then underscored the emerging Russian link to the tragedy.
He said: ‘The military leader of the Donetsk Republic, Igor Strelkov, real name Girkin, a Muscovite, a Russian citizen, posts a video of the intercept.’
This video was taken down once it was discovered that the downed plane was civilian.
The expert implicated Russia further, revealing that the former commander of Russian Air Force Special Operations Command, a Colonel-General, stated recently in an interview that the separatists did not have the expertise to operate the BUK launchers, that only Russian personnel could do so.
It’s also suspicious, Dr Sutyagin said, that Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported the crash at 16.13 Moscow time, several minutes before the crash actually happened – at 16.20.
‘The plane is safely in the sky, and RIA Novosti publishes information that it has been shot down,’ he said.
Grim: Bodies lie strewn among the wreckage of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 a day after it was shot down over pro-Russian rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine
Macabre: As shocking pictures of bodies and debris emerged, the tragedy sparked a full-blown international crisis, increasing tension between Moscow and Washington
Devastation: Dutch authorities have said that at least nine Britons, 154 Dutch, 27 Australians were among the passengers and crew killed on board the flight
Turning some of the blame towards the aviation industry, the same paper cited aviation sources saying it was ‘reckless’ to allow passenger flights over the region.
Government newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta said: ‘It remains unclear how a Boeing 777 came to be above a conflict zone and why air traffic controllers didn’t prevent a potentially dangerous situation.
Malaysia’s transport minister today insisted there were no last-minute instructions to the pilots of MH17 before it took off.
Liow Tiong Lai said the Boeing 777 was flying on an internationally-approved route which other airlines had been using ‘in the hours before the incident’.
He said: ‘Our sympathies are with those affected by this tragedy. There were 298 passengers and crew. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families at this incredibly difficult time for them.’
Mr Lai reiterated that the plane had ‘a clean bill of health’ and all its systems were functioning normally.
The route taken over Ukraine was one approved by the International Civil Aviation Authority and by the International Air Transport Association.
He went on: ‘There were no last-minute instructions given to the pilots to change the route. In the hours before the incident, a number of airlines used this route.’
Mr Lai said that of the 41 passengers whose nationalities were initially unknown, 21 had now been identified.
Listing the nationalities, he confirmed that nine UK passengers were among those lost.
He added that the full passenger manifesto would be released once all next of kin had been informed.
Mr Lai called for the crash site to be preserved, adding that Malaysia was sending a dozens-strong team to Ukraine, which would include 15 medical staff. Malaysia Airlines is also sending 40 staff to Amsterdam to support families there.
Speaking at a media conference in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Lai said Ukraine would start the investigation into the crash and he supported a call for an international investigation.
LOOTERS RAIDING POSSESSIONS OF 298 PASSENGERS AND CREW STREWN BETWEEN DEAD BODIES
Cash and jewellery is being stolen from victims of the Malaysian plane crash, Ukrainian politicians claim. The missile strike which brought down the MH17 flight left naked bodies strewn across fields surrounded by hundreds of possessions including children’s books, playing cards, slippers, letters and old vinyl records. But tonight it has emerged looters have descended on the distressing scene, stealing valuable goods from the 298 passengers and crew, who all died in the blast. Anton Gerashchenko, an advisor to the Kiev government, said: ‘I have received information that terrorist death-hunters were collecting not only cash and jewellery of the crashed Boeing dead passengers but also the credit cards of the victims. ‘Currently, they might as well try to use them in Ukraine or pass them on to Russia. ‘My humble request to the relatives of the victims to freeze their credit cards, so that they won’t loose their assets to terrorists.’
The Duke of Cambridge spoke today of his ‘deep sadness’ over the Ukraine plane disaster.
Speaking at an event at Australia House in London to remember a British explorer, William said words ‘cannot do justice to our sense of loss’.
Prime Minister David Cameron said the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Ukraine was ‘an absolutely appalling, shocking, horrific incident’ and said his thoughts were with the families of those killed.
Mr Cameron said: ‘If, as seems possible, this was brought down, then those responsible must be held to account and we must lose no time in doing that.’
Emergency workers, police officers and even off-duty coal miners spread out Friday across the sunflower fields and villages of eastern Ukraine, searching the wreckage of a jetliner shot down as it flew miles above the country’s battlefield.
By midday, 181 bodies had been located, according to emergency workers in contact with officials in Kiev.
Malaysia Airlines said the passengers included 189 Dutch, 29 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians, nine Britons, four Germans, four Belgians, three Filipinos and one person each from Canada and New Zealand.
Still Nataliya Bystro, a spokeswoman for Ukraine’s emergency services, said rebel militiamen were interfering with the recovery operation.
It came as the UN Security Council has called for ‘a full, thorough and independent international investigation’ after approving a statement expressing ‘deepest sympathies and condolences to the families of the victims and to the people and governments of all those killed in the crash’.
Security Council members stood in a moment of silent tribute to the 298 victims at the start of an emergency council meeting.
The council called for an investigation ‘in accordance with international civil aviation guidelines and for appropriate accountability’.
It stressed the need for ‘immediate access by investigators to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident’.
The crash site is spread out between two villages in eastern Ukraine with pro-Russia separatists apparently controlling access in and out.
Confusion surrounds the fate of the plane’s flight recorders after conflicting reports over whether they had been found.
An assistant to the insurgency’s military commander, Igor Girkin, said earlier that eight out of the plane’s 12 black boxes had been located and that he was considering whether to give international crash investigators access to the crash site.
Since planes usually have two black boxes – one for recording flight data and the other for recording cockpit voices – it was not clear what the number 12 referred to.
But another separatist leader, Aleksandr Borodai, said later: ‘No black boxes have been found. We hope that experts will track them down and create a picture of what has happened.’
Earlier, the separatists claimed that one of the black boxes had been sent to Moscow.
Meanwhile, Kostyantyn Batozsky, adviser to the Donetsk regional governor, claimed the voice and data recording devices by the Ukrainian Emergency Services Ministry after workers were granted access to the crash site by rebels, it was reported by The New York Times. But Mr Batozsky said he did not know the current location of the devices or who had them.
Large chunks of the Boeing 777 that bore the airline’s red, white and blue markings lay strewn over a field.
The cockpit and one of the turbines lay more than half a mile (1km) apart and residents said the tail landed about six miles (10km) away, indicating that the aircraft probably broke up before hitting the ground.
PASSENGERS AND CREW WILL HAVE BEEN OBLIVIOUS TO HORROR AS MISSILE BLEW APART AIRCRAFT
The 298 passengers and crew aboard MH17 will have been oblivious to the horror as a shrapnel-based missile instantly shredded the doomed plane, experts claim. The SA-11 missile – known as a Grizzly – that hit the doomed Malaysian Airlines flight is designed to pulverise aircraft on impact. It will have perforated the plane at various points, ignited the fuel, and taken out the engines and the wings within a split second – meaning the people aboard will have been unconscious almost instantly. Justin Bronk, researcher analyst at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), told MailOnline: ‘An SA-11 missile is designed to shred aircraft. ‘The extent at which the remains of the aircraft are spread across a large area seems to confirm that. ‘The missile is programmed using a tracker to get within a metre of the target then let off a ring of shrapnel, which will enter the aircraft at various points. ‘The shrapnel will have hit the wings, the engines and the fuel tanks, igniting the fuel. ‘A large aircraft like that is highly pressurised to allow humans to breathe at that altitude so it will have exploded instantly.’
Bodies and body parts strewn across the field outside the village of Rozsypne about 2.5 miles (4km) away from the crash site. Shocking new accounts of the carnage emerged today. ‘The plane broke up in the air and the parts and human bodies are lying within a three-kilometre area,’ said a post by Vsevolod Petrovsky after visiting the scene. ‘One body broke a hole in the thin roof of a summer terrace in a private house. I got out of the car and immediately saw the naked body of a woman, covered by some leaves. ‘There were many bodies without clothes around. Probably, their clothing was torn away after the loss of pressurisation. Horrible. ‘I go further and see a hill made of the cockpit parts. The area is lit. The pilot’s body is in this seat, with seat belt fastened, he is dressed in his clothes. ‘Among the plane parts there were many parcels. Letters tied with a rope, books, old vinyl records, somebody’s shoes. Children’s caps with the Dutch national flag colours. Amazingly, almost all of these things are not destroyed. ‘There was no fire in this part of the plane. The fire was in the back part which is lying not far from Grabovo village.’ A local farmer said: ‘I was herding my cows and heard a buzzing noise. I lay on the ground and thinking only that it would not hit me and my cows. ‘Then I looked and saw that something turns sharply and two big wings were flying. Bang. And something explodes. It came from eastern side, from the side of Sokholikha mountain.’
American intelligence authorities believe a surface-to-air missile brought the plane down but are still working on who fired the missile and whether it came from the Russian or Ukrainian side of the border, a U.S. official said.
Malaysia’s prime minister said there was no distress call before the plane went down and that the flight route was declared safe by the International Civil Aviation Organisation.
More than half of the passengers on board – 154 – were Dutch citizens, with 43 from Malaysia, including the 15 crew members.
Another 27 were Australians, 12 from Indonesia, and nine Britons. The victims included three infants.
Earlier it was feared that 23 Americans had perished based on a Reuters report, but there has been no confirmation of any U.S. deaths since then from the State Department.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called it an ‘act of terrorism’ and demanded an international investigation. He insisted his forces did not shoot down the plane.
U.S. Senator John McCain said there ‘would be hell to pay’ if the plane was shot down by the Russian military or separatists.
Putin lays blame on Ukrainian government after MH17 tragedy
Earlier this week, the rebels claimed responsibility for shooting down two Ukrainian military planes.
In Kuala Lumpur, several relatives of those on board the jet gathered at the international airport.
A distraught Akmar Mohamad Noor, 67, said her older sister was coming to visit the family for the first time in five years.
‘She called me just before she boarded the plane and said, “See you soon”,’ she said.
Counsellors were meeting with a few family members in the airport viewing gallery, sealed off from a horde of journalists. One woman emerged in tears and was escorted out of the airport by a security officer without saying anything.
‘This is just too much,’ said Cindy Tan, who was waiting at the airport for a friend on another flight.
‘I don’t know really why this happened to a MAS (Malaysia Airlines) plane again.’
Ukraine’s security services produced what they said were two intercepted telephone conversations that showed rebels were responsible.
In the first call, the security services said, rebel commander Igor Bezler tells a Russian military intelligence officer that rebel forces shot down a plane.
In the second, two rebel fighters – one of them at the crash scene – say the rocket attack was carried out by a unit of insurgents about 15 miles (25km) north of the site.
MH17 WASN’T THE ONLY ONE FLYING OVER DANGER ZONE: 55 OTHER AIRCRAFT ALSO DID ON THE SAME DAY
A Singapore Airlines passenger plane was flying just 15 miles away from flight MH17 when it was shot out of the sky over Ukraine.
Data from Flightradar24.com reveals the Copenhagen to Singapore flight was in airspace above the dangerous Donetsk region just two minutes before a surface-to-air missile hit the Malaysia Airlines plane on Thursday.
Figures also reveal 55 planes – including six flights from London’s Heathrow Airport – flew over the war zone on the same day the tragedy happened.
The flights were still operating in the conflict zone despite warnings from as far back as April from the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) about potential risks to commercial planes.
Danger zone: Flightradar24.com data shows the closest plane in the air to MH17 just two minutes before it was shot out of the sky over Ukraine was a Singapore Airlines flight
The radar route of Malaysian Airlines plane MH17
Neither recording could be independently verified.
Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Sergey Kavtaradze, a special representative of the Donetsk People’s Republic leader, as denying that the intercepted phone conversations were genuine.
U.S. President Barack Obama called the crash a ‘terrible tragedy’ and spoke by phone with Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as Mr Poroshenko. Britain called for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council on Ukraine.
Later, Mr Putin said Ukraine bore responsibility for the crash, but he did not address the question of who might have shot it down and did not accuse Ukraine of doing so.
‘This tragedy would not have happened if there were peace on this land, if the military actions had not been renewed in southeast Ukraine,’ he said, according to a Kremlin statement issued early today.
‘And, certainly, the state over whose territory this occurred bears responsibility for this awful tragedy.’ At the United Nations, Ukrainian Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev told the AP that Russia gave the separatists a sophisticated missile system and thus Moscow bears responsibility, along with the rebels.
SHOT OUT OF THE SKY: OTHER PLANES HIT MID-FLIGHT
April 20, 1978: Korean Airlines Flight 902, which diverted from its planned course on a flight from Paris to Seoul and strayed over the Soviet Union. After being fired upon by an interceptor aircraft, the crew made a forced landing at night on the surface of a frozen lake. Two of the 97 passengers were killed by the hostile fire September 1, 1983: Korean Air Lines Flight 007 shot down by at least one Soviet air-to-air missile after the 747 had strayed into Soviet airspace. All 240 passengers and 29 crew were killed July 3, 1988: Iran Air Flight 655 Aircraft was shot down by a surface to air missile from the American naval vessel U.S.S. Vincennes. All 16 crew and 274 passengers were killed
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament today that authorities owe it to the families of the dead to find out exactly what happened and who was responsible.
‘As things stand, this looks less like an accident than a crime. And if so, the perpetrators must be brought to justice,’ he said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he was ‘horrified’ by the crash, and the United States was prepared to help with an international investigation.
Ukraine’s crisis began after pro-Moscow President Viktor Yanukovych was driven from office in February by a protest movement among citizens angry about endemic corruption and seeking closer ties with the European Union.
Russia later annexed the Crimean Peninsula in southern Ukraine, and pro-Russians in the country’s eastern regions began occupying government buildings and pressing for independence. Moscow denies Western charges that it is supporting the separatists or sowing unrest.
Kenneth Quinn, of the Flight Safety Foundation, said an international coalition of countries should lead the investigation.
Safety experts say they are concerned that, because the plane crashed in area of Ukraine that is in dispute, political considerations could affect the investigation.
The RIA-Novosti agency quoted rebel leader Alexander Borodai as saying that talks were under way with Ukrainian authorities on calling a short truce for humanitarian reasons. He said international organisations would be allowed into the conflict-plagued region.
Aviation authorities in several countries, including the FAA in the United States, had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to yesterday’s crash, but many carriers, including cash-strapped Malaysia Airlines, had continued to use the route because ‘it is a shorter route, which means less fuel and therefore less money,’ said aviation expert Norman Shanks.
Within hours of the tragedy, several airlines said they were avoiding parts of Ukrainian airspace.
A U.S. official said American intelligence authorities believe the plane was brought down by a surface-to-air missile but are still working to determine additional details about the crash, including who fired the missile and whether it came from the Russian or Ukraine side of the border.
But American intelligence assessments suggest it is more likely pro-Russian separatists or the Russians rather than Ukrainian government forces shot down the plane, according to the official.
The United States has sophisticated technologies which can detect missile launches, including the identification of heat from the rocket engine.
Anton Gerashenko, an adviser to Ukraine’s interior minister, said on his Facebook page the plane was flying at about 33,000ft (10,000m) when it was hit by a missile from a Buk launcher, which can fire up to an altitude of 72,000ft (22,000m). He said only that his information was based on ‘intelligence’.
Igor Sutyagin, a research fellow in Russian studies at the Royal United Services Institute, said both Ukrainian and Russian forces have SA-17 missile systems – also known as Buk ground-to-air launcher systems.
Rebels had recently bragged about having acquired Buk systems.
Mr Sutyagin said Russia had supplied separatists with military hardware but had seen no evidence ‘of the transfer of that type of system from Russia’.
Earlier yesterday, AP journalists saw a launcher that looked like a Buk missile system near the eastern town of Snizhne, which is held by the rebels.
Mr Poroshenko said his country’s armed forces did not shoot at any airborne targets.
Separatist leader Andrei Purgin told the Associated Press news agency he was certain that Ukrainian troops had shot the plane down, but gave no explanation or proof.
There have been several disputes over planes being shot down over eastern Ukraine in recent days.
A Ukrainian fighter jet was shot down on Wednesday by an air-to-air missile from a Russian plane, Ukrainian authorities said, adding to what Kiev says is mounting evidence that Moscow is directly supporting the insurgents.
Pro-Russia rebels claimed responsibility for strikes on two Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 jets on Wednesday. Ukraine’s Defence Ministry said the second jet was hit by a portable surface-to-air missile but the pilot landed safely.
The tragic victims of Flight MH17: EIGHTY children among the 298 who perished on doomed plane – including a brilliant young British mathematician, Catholic nun, UN worker and leading Aids doctor
Three Australian children – Mo, Evie and Otis Maslin, aged between eight and 12 – were among those killed
An entire Indonesian family – including a five-year-old boy and a three-year-old girl, also died in the attack
Two British students – Richard Mayne, 20, and Ben Pocock, in his early 20s, were also named as victims today
Also named were press officer Glenn Thomas, 49, and Newcastle United fans John Alder and Liam Sweeney
As many as 100 of the victims are thought to have been Aids experts on their way to a conference in Melbourne
By SIMON TOMLINSON and MICHAEL SEAMARK and LOUISE ECCLES and WILL STEWART and TED THORNHILL
Eighty children were among the victims killed when a passenger jet was shot out of the sky at 32,000ft by a surface-to-air missile yesterday.
Two Indonesians aged just three and five who were flying with their parents, as well as three Australian children headed home with their grandfather, numbered among the 298 dead after Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was shot down over rebel-held Ukraine yesterday.
Also on board the doomed flight were around 100 Aids experts on their way to an international conference, a Catholic nun from Australia and a British university student.
The nationalities of more victims were confirmed today – with the toll now including 189 Dutch, 44 Malaysians, 27 Australians, 12 Indonesians and nine Britons. Four passengers are yet to be verified. No victims are thought to be U.S. citizens.
The Boeing 777 aircraft was travelling from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur when it was hit by a sophisticated surface-to-air missile over territory near Donetsk held by pro-Russian rebels who the Ukrainian government says are backed by the Kremlin. Russian President Vladimir Putin has blamed Ukraine for the attack.
Children: Evie (left), Mo (centre) and Otis (right) Maslin, pictured celebrating a birthday, are among the Australian victims of the disaster, in which a Malaysia Airlines plane was shot down by a missile over Ukraine
Young: Evie Maslin, 10, from Australia was flying with her siblings
Accompanying: Grandfather Nick Norris, pictured, was on board the flight with his three grandchildren
Pose: Mo Maslin has is pictured above at a parade
Child victims: Three grandchildren, Mo Maslin, 12, (left), his brother Otis, eight, (centre) and sister Evie Maslin, 10, (right) were killed on the flight along with their grandfather Nick Morris
At one swoop: An entire Indonesian family was killed in the attack: John Paulissen, his wife Yuli Hastini and two children, Martin Arjuna Paulissen, five and Sri Paulissen, three
Devastation: A surviving relative shows photographers images of the family, who were on the doomed plane
The plane was shot down in an ‘act of terrorism’, killing all 298 passengers and crew on board, including three Australian children, aged between eight and 12, who were travelling with their grandfather. The family had been on holiday and the children’s parents had remained in Amsterdam for a few extra days, but Mr Norris took his grandchildren on MH17 to get them back to Australia in time for school, Australian broadcasters reported.
The tragedy has sparked outrage across the globe, with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk leading calls on world powers to support his government in bringing to justice ‘those b****** who committed this international crime’ after a passenger plane was shot down over his country.
Security forces from Ukraine claim to have intercepted two phone conversations in which in which pro-Russian separatists seem to celebrate hitting the plane. In the wake of the aviation disaster tributes have poured in for the victims, who include families and renowned researchers.
Nick Norris, from Perth, Australia, was flying on the service with his grandchildren Mo, 12, Evie, 10, and Otis Maslin, eight, when it was shot down at around 16.00 BST yesterday.
Mr Norris’s son Brack, 24, paid tribute to his father, niece and nephews. ‘I’m a bit dizzy right now,’ he told MailOnline in Australia. The family had been on holiday and the children’s parents had remained in Amsterdam for a few extra days, but Mr Norris took his grandchildren on MH17 to get them back to Australia in time for school, Australian broadcasters reported. Mr Norris, the managing director of management consulting firm Collaborative Systemic Change Pty Ltd, is survived by his son Brack, who is the company’s marketing manager, and daughter Kirstin, a marine engineer with the Royal Australian Navy. He was a well-known member of the South Perth Yacht Club. The identities of British victims also emerged today, including two Newcastle United fans on their way to see the club play in New Zealand, and a student from Leeds University.
A Leeds university student has also been named as one of the British nationals who died when flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine. Richard Mayne, 20, was originally from Leicester where he lived with his parents.
He also leaves behind his brothers Thomas, 24, and William, 19. Mr Mayne was studying maths and finance at the university.
Student: Richard Mayne, 20, was another of the British victims, who studied maths and finance at Leeds University
Traveller: Mr Mayne was on his way to spend a year in Australia, friends said, and had been at a celebratory barbecue days before where he was wished good luck
Speaking from the family home today, his father Simon, 53, said: ‘He was on his way to Perth. When we were looking at flights together, there was this one that stopped in Amsterdam and we thought it would be perfect.
‘I took him to the airport at 3am myself, to fly to Amsterdam. When I first saw it on the news, my heart dropped. I just thought, oh god, oh god – I couldn’t believe it. We were hoping and praying he had fallen asleep at Amsterdam and missed his flight. ‘You think you’ve got problems and them something like this happens and it all just takes over. I can’t even bring myself to look at a photograph of him. We are beyond devastated. It is such a beautiful sunny day but our lives have been torn apart.’ Student Ben Pocock from Bristol was also named today as one of the victims. Mr Pocock, who was in his early 20s, had just finished studying at Loughborough University and was headed to Australia for a year’s placement abroad. The university paid tribute to Mr Pocock, today, saying he was destined to achieve a first-class degree. ‘We are incredibly saddened to hear that one of our students, Ben Pocock, was believed to be a passenger on flight MH17,’ a spokesman said.
Student: Ben Pocock, a student from Bristol who had just finished exams at Loughborough University, was headed to a holiday in Australia on MH17
‘Ben had just completed the second year of his international business BSc degree and was flying out to begin a professional placement and to study abroad at the University of Western Australia as part of his third year. ‘Ben was an excellent student and on course to gain a first class degree. He was also a fine athlete, who played on the university athletic union’s Ultimate Frisbee team and won their Player of the Year honour.’ Glenn Thomas, a 49-year-old UN worker from Blackpool, was on board the flight. Mr Thomas was a media relations co-ordinator for the World Health Organisation, an agency of the United Nations agency, and had previously worked as a journalist for the BBC.
Malaysia Airlines has confirmed that 189 Dutch, 44 Malaysian (including 15 crew and two infants), 12 Indonesian, nine British, four German, three Filipino, and one Canadian citizen were also on the plane.
Mr Thomas grew up in Blackpool and worked as a journalist in the Lancashire seaside resort in the early 1990s, where his twin sister Tracey Withers still lives. The Blackpool Gazette reported that he moved to Geneva, Switzerland, a decade ago to start working for the WHO. He was said to have posted a status update shortly before starting his journey, which was supposed to end in Melbourne.
He caught a place from Geneva to Amsterdam, and boarded the doomed service from the Dutch capital to Kuala Lumpur, where he would have boarded a connecting flight. Mr Thomas lived in Geneva with his partner who lived in Geneva with his partner Claudio-Manoel Villaca-Vanetta, but is said to have kept up his ties to Blackpool.
Today one of his nephews said the family was ‘totally torn up’ by his death. The relative, a son of Mr Thomas’s sister Tracey and her husband Mark, said his parents were on holiday in Spain when they heard the news. He said: ‘She is on her way home; she is totally torn up. Like any twins they are very close-one of them feels everything the other does.She must have known in her mind something terrible was going on.’
Tributes were paid to Mr Thomas today, whom colleagues described as ‘a wonderful personal and a great professional’. WHO spokesman Fadela Chaib said: ‘I can confirm he was on the flight travelling to Australia to attend the Aids conference in Australia.
Victim: Briton Glenn Thomas, 49, was among the 298 killed when Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 was blasted out of the sky by a surface-to-air missile
International: Mr Thomas (circled) is pictured above at a press conference delivered by the World Health Organisation – an agency of the United Nations – and is surrounded by high-ranking experts from the body
‘For the time being we would like to give his family time to grieve. We have lost a wonderful person and a great professional. Our hearts are broken. We are all in shock.’
It was also revealed that two Newcastle United fans were among the nine Britons killed. A fan site for the football club posted that two people were aboard MH17 on their way to New Zealand, where the team is playing in a pre-season tour.
One of the men is thought to be fan John Alder, who was in his 60s. The loyal supporter is known to other fans as The Undertaker because of his tradition of wearing a suit to every game.
He is thought only to have missed a single match since he started attending in 1973, and follows the team around the world for their away games.
It is believed John was travelling to the game with another 28-year-old fan, believed to be Liam Sweeney, from Newcastle.
Before the flight John had made his way from Amsterdam, then boarded the flight destined for Kuala Lumpur.
Tributes have started to pour in for the former BT worker, who was also known for his mullet-style haircut.
Newcastle Fans: John Alder, pictured left, and Liam Sweeney, right, were football supporters who were travelling to watch Newcastle United play in New Zealand when MH17 was shot out of the skies
GROWING LIST OF THE DEAD: NAMED VICTIMS FROM THE MH17 TRAGEDY
Mo Maslin, 12, Australian Otis Malsin, eight, Australian Evie Maslin, 10, Australian John Paulissen, Indonesian Yuli Hastini, Indonesian Martin Arjuna Paulissen, five, Indonesian Sri Paulissen, three, Indonesian Glenn Thomas, 49, British, WHO press officer Richard Mayne, 20, British, student John Alder, 60s, NUFC fan Liam Sweeney, 28, NUFC fan Elaine Teoh, student, Australian Nick Norris, Australian Albert Rizk, Australian, estate agent Mari Rizk, Australian Sister Philomene Tiernan, Australian, nun Roger Guard, Australian, pathologist Jill Guard, Australian Joep Lange, leading HIV expert Pim de Kuijer, Aids expert Martine de Schutter, Aids expert Eugene Choo Jin Leong, Malaysian, pilot Regis Crolla, Dutch Azrina Yakob, Malaysian, air stewardess Sanjid Singh Sandu, 41, Malaysian, air steward Shazana Salleh, Malaysian, air hostess Angeline Premila, Malaysian, air hostess Ben Pocock, early 20s, British, student Fatima Dyczynski, Australian, entrepreneur Liliane Derden, Australian, researcher Willem Witteveen, 62, Dutch, senator Cameron Dalziel, British, helicopter pilot Fan Shun-Po, Hong Kong, chef
Newcastle United manager Alan Pardew said today his players were ‘deeply shocked and saddened’ at the deaths of two such ‘dedicated’ fans.
The club said both men were familiar faces at every United away game and attended reserve and academy matches as well as first-team games.
The sixth Briton named today was helicopter rescue pilot and father-of-two Cameron Dalziel.
Mr Dalziel, 43, is from South Africa but travels on a British passport, it is believed. He moveed to Malaysia last October with his wife Reine, and their two sons Sheldon, 14, and four year-old Cruz, to take up a job with CHC Helicopter.
He had previously worked as a helicopter rescue pilot in KwaZulu-Natal, a province of South Africa.
Mr Dalziel’s brother-in-law, Shane Hattingh, said his sister Reine was so traumatised she has not been able to answer phone calls from anxious relatives, according to Eye Witness News.
He said: ‘She is basically alone there other than with new friends. So she couldn’t even talk to me. Apparently three people from the company were there with her. It’s crazy, the kids are going to be absolutely shattered.’
It is understood Mr Dalziel had been sent for training in the Netherlands and was returning on yesterday’s Malaysia Airlines flight when the plane was shot down.
Helicopter pilot: Cameron Dalziel, who lived in South Africa but used a British Passport, was named today as another victim, the sixth Briton
The airline has now said that all European flights operated by Malaysia Airlines will now be taking alternative routes, avoiding the usual route over Ukraine. A real estate agent, from Victoria, Australia, his wife, a Perth management consultant, a Melbourne university student and a Sydney Catholic nun are among the Australian dead on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 that was shot down on the Russian-Ukraine border. A Catholic nun from Sydney was also on board the flight. Sister Philomena, a teacher at girls’ high school Kincoppal-Rose Bay, was the relative of school students at St Mary’s Catholic Primary School in North Sydney. Malaysian student Elaine Teoh, who had been studying at Melbourne University, was on the flight, along with recently retired pathologist Roger Guard and his wife Jill from Toowoomba in Queensland, have also been identified from the MH17 flight. Dr Guard was well regarded in the medical community, acting as the director within the Pathology Queensland laboratory in Toowoomba Hospital. He also helped perform autopsies on the victims of the Queensland flood and was well known for organising local marathon events in his local community for the Toowoomba Road Runner fitness group. A Victorian couple Frankie Davison and her husband Liam were on MH17. Mrs Davison was a teacher at Toorak College Community, south-east of Melbourne.
Entrepreneur: Fatima Dyczynski, the founder of data company Xoterra Space, is thought to have been on board. Her parents are believed to be Australian
Pilot: Eugene Choo Jin Leong was flying MH17 when it was shot down. Malaysia Airlines has described him as one of their most trusted pilots
Victims: Melbourne student Elaine Teoh
Perth man Nick Norris
Mr Rizk’s wife Marie
It has also been confirmed that NSW resident Sister Philomene Tiernan (centre), a teacher at eastern Sydney’s Catholic girls’ school in Kincoppal-Rose Bay, was also on the plane
Shot down: Recently retired pathologist Roger Guard (left) and his wife Jill (right) from Toowoomba in Queensland, have also been identified from the MH17 flight
Scientist: Leading HIV researcher Joep Lange (pictured) died in the MH17 crash
Conference: Pim de Kuijer, another AIDS researcher, was on his way to the Melbourne conference
Victim: Martine de Schutter, pictured, was another one of the delegation
‘Toorak College Community is saddened by the loss of much loved teacher Frankie Davison and her husband Liam who were on the Malaysia Airlines flight that was brought down over Ukraine, this morning,’ said a statement on the college Facebook page. ‘Our hearts and sympathy goes out to their children Milly and Sam, and family. We are devastated by the news of this tragedy.’ Victorian real estate agent, Albert Rizk, and his wife Marie also died in the crash.
They had been in Europe on holidays for several weeks. They had been travelling with family friends who took an earlier flight and were waiting for the Rizks to arrive home in Sunbury, Victoria, where they were high-profile members of a tight-knit community.
Mr Rizk was a director of Raine & Horne in Sunbury.
President of the Sunbury Football Club Phil Lithgow said Mr Rizk was a sponsor of the AFL club as well as an enthusiastic community worker and his wife worked in the club canteen.
The couple’s son James, who is also a real estate agent, plays football for the Sunbury club.
‘He is a very good footballer and Albert and Marie were just lovely people,’ Mr Lithgow told Daily Mail Australia.
‘It is a shock to us all, Albert was just such a community person in the area.’
Australian death: Liliane Derden, from Canberra, was also named as a victim. She worked for the National Health and Medical Research Council
Victims from around the world: Regis Crolla, left, was one of the 189 Dutch nationals on board the flight out of Amsterdam, while stewardess Azrina Yakob, right, was thought to have been working on board the flight
Twist of fate: Sanjid Singh Sandu, 41, switched shifts on to the doomed liner at short notice
Loss: Shazana Salleh, pictured, was reportedly one of the Malaysian flight attendants on board
‘Killed': Angeline Premila was another airline worker thought to have been on board
A spokesman for The University of Melbourne released a statement saying they were ‘saddened’ to hear reports about one of their students.
‘Ms Teoh graduated from the University of Melbourne with a Bachelor of Commerce in 2008,’ the spokesman said. ‘Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.’
Other victims from around the world were also name today, including four members of the Malaysia Airlines cabin crew and the pilot. Authorities confirmed that almost two thirds of those on board were Dutch, including a member of the country’s Senate, Professor Willem Witteveen. Also named was Hong Kong native Fan Shun-po, a chef at an Asian restaurant in Rotterdam. He is thought been on board with his Malaysian wife Jenny Loh, who owns the restaurant.
Denis Napthine, a political leader in Victoria, Australia, confirmed MH17 was to connect with MH129 arriving in Melbourne this evening.
‘It is with deep regret that I can now confirm nine Australian nationals from Victoria are among those who have been killed in the MH17 tragedy,’ he said.
‘This is a sad and tragic day, not just for Victorians, but for all people and all nations. The shooting down of a passenger aircraft full of innocent civilians is an unspeakable act that will forever leave a dark stain on our history.’
Travellers: Asian chef Fan Shun-Po, left, from Hong Kong, and Dutch senator Willem Witteveen, right, were also named today as victims
Mourners have laid flowers at the doorstep of the embassy to pay respect to victims
Passengers board their Malaysia Airlines flight at Bangkok airport as it prepares to depart for Kuala Lumpur early on July 18
Relics in the rubble: Passports of victims, such as this one which appears to show a Dutch teenager, were found in the crash site wreckage
UN chief expresses “deep condolences” over MH17 crash
Leading HIV researchers, including former president of the International Aids Society Joep Lange, were en route to the 20th International Aids Conference, AIDS2014, which will begin this weekend despite the attack. It was also revealed today that the U.S. government does not believe any of its own citizens were on board, as nobody used an American passport to get on the plane. Internal White House emails shown to Buzzfeed indicate that a list of passengers on the flight seen by government officials did not include details of U.S. passports.
Although there is a possibility that U.S. citizens with dual nationalities – which could give them access to another passport – were on board, nobody is thought to have contacted the U.S. consulate in Amsterdam.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17/MAS17)[a] was a scheduled international passenger flight from Amsterdam toKuala Lumpur that appears to have been shot down by a surface-to-air missile launched from Ukraine on 17 July 2014 near Hrabove in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine, about 40 km (25 mi) from the Ukraine–Russia border. All 283 passengers and 15 crew members on board the Malaysia AirlinesBoeing 777-200ER aircraft were killed. The crash occurred in the conflict zone of the ongoing Donbass insurgency. Ukrainian Interior Ministry advisor Anton Gerashchenko said a Buk missile hit the aircraft at an altitude of 10,000 m (33,000 ft). Ukrainian security services said they intercepted two phone conversations in which pro-Russian separatists discuss having just shot down a civilian plane with Russian intelligence officers. Russia’s Defence Ministry said that a Ukrainian Buk missile system radar was operational in the area where the Malaysian plane was downed. Pro-Russian separatist rebels, however, accused the Ukrainian government of shooting down the plane. U.S. President Barack Obama, citing U.S. intelligence officials, said the plane was shot down by a missile and that there was “credible evidence” it was fired from a rebel-held location. The crash, Malaysia Airlines’ deadliest ever, was the airline’s second major incident of the year; Flight 370 (9M-MRO) disappeared on 8 March en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur. With 298 deaths, MH17 was the deadliest aviation incident since the 11 September 2001 attacks and the deadliest-ever Boeing 777 hull loss.
Flight 17 was operated with a Boeing 777-2H6ER,[b] serial number 28411, registration 9M-MRD. The 84th Boeing 777 produced, it first flew on 17 July 1997, exactly 17 years before the incident, and was delivered new to Malaysia Airlines on 29 July 1997. Powered by two Rolls-Royce Trent 892 engines and configured to carry 282 passengers in a 35-Business and 248-Economy configuration, the aircraft had logged more than 43,000 hours of flight time, including 6,950 cycles, before the crash. The Boeing 777 entered commercial service on 7 June 1995; as of June 2014, there were more than 1,200 in service. Aviation experts say it has one of the best safety records in commercial aircraft. Only four other 777s have suffered a hull loss: British AirwaysFlight 38 in January 2008; a cockpit fire in a parked EgyptAir777-200 at Cairo International Airport in 2011; and Asiana AirlinesFlight 214 in July 2013, in which three people died. Another Malaysia Airlines 777, Flight 370(registration 9M-MRO), went missing on 8 March 2014 and was still being searched for at the time of Flight 17’s crash.
Location of crash site, departure and destination airports
The aircraft departed from Amsterdam Airport Schiphol Gate G03 at 12:14 CEST (10:14 UTC). It was due to arrive at Kuala Lumpur International Airport 11 hours and 45 minutes later at 06:00, 18 July MYT(22:00, 17 July UTC). According to Malaysia Airlines, MH17 filed a flight plan requesting to fly at 35,000 feet throughout Ukrainian airspace, but “upon entering Ukrainian airspace, MH17 was instructed by Ukrainian air traffic control to fly at 33,000 feet”.Malaysia Airlines released a statement saying “it received notification from Ukrainian ATC that it had lost contact with flight MH17 at 1415 (GMT)[f] at 30 km (19 mi) from [the] TAMAK waypoint (47°51′24″N39°13′6″E), approximately 50 km (31 mi) from theRussia–Ukraine border.” The plane crashed near the village of Hrabove just north of Torez, a city in eastern Ukraine’s Donetsk Oblast, as it was approaching the Russian border. The moment at which a fireball rose due to the impact was captured on a video clip.Flightradar24 reported that a Singapore AirlinesBoeing 777-200ER (Flight SQ351) and an Air IndiaBoeing 787-8 (Flight AI113) were each about 25 km (16 mi) away from the Malaysian airliner when it disappeared. Photographs from the site of the crash show scattered pieces of broken fuselage and engine parts, as well as bodies and passports. Some of the wreckage fell close to houses in Hrabove. In the evening on 17 July, the lifenews.ru portal released the following statement “On July 17 near the village of Rassypnoye over the Torez city in Donetsk region an An-26 transport plane of Ukrainian Air Force was taken down, said the militia. According to them, the plane crashed somewhere near the “Progress” mine, away from residential areas. According to one of the militias, at approximately 17:30 local time an An-26 flew over the city. It was hit by a rocket, there was an explosion and the plane went to the ground, leaving a black smoke. Debris fell from the sky”.ITAR-TASS and RIA Novosti had also reported that an An-26 had been shot down by the militia near Torez at around 16:00 local time.
Closure of airspace
As a result of the incident, Ukraine closed all routes in the Eastern Ukraine airspace, at all altitudes. The airspace above Donetsk Oblast had been previously closed by Ukraine on 1 July 2014 below 26,000 feet (7,900 m), and on 14 July 2014 below 32,000 feet (9,800 m).Eurocontrol issued a statement in which it explained that at the time of the crash the MH17 was at Flight Level 330 (33,000 feet or 10,058.4 metres), so the aircraft was above restricted airspace. A few airlines, such as Qantas, Korean Air Lines and British Airways, had already been avoiding the area for a number of months because of security concerns.
On the day of the crash, a meeting was convened in the Trilateral Contact Group (consisting of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the Ukrainian national government, and Russia). After they had held a video conference with representatives of the Novorossiya rebels (who control the area where the plane crashed), the rebels promised to “provide safe access and security guarantees” to “the national investigation commission” by cooperating with Ukrainian authorities and OSCE monitors. However, on 18 August the militants denied the OSCE team free access to the crash site; after spending only 75 minutes on the site, the team returned to Dontesk. According to National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine, “all evidence being seized” by the militants who “have surrounded the crash site and SES crews work literally at gunpoint”. Off-duty coal miners, along with local police and rescue crews, were assisting in the immediate response to the crash, by combing through debris and searching for survivors. A senior U.S. administration official said to ABC News that FBI and NTSB officials are poised to head to Ukraine in an “advisory role” in the investigation.
Events before the crash
On 29 June, NTV reported that separatists had access to a Buk after taking control of a Ukrainian air defence base A-1402. On the same day, the Donetsk People’s Republic claimed possession of such a system in a since-deleted tweet.
On 10 July, shorter-range vehicle-mounted 9K35 Strela-10 missiles were filmed by Russian Lifenews team near Donetsk. On the other hand, high ranking Ukrainian officials have stated that rebels do not possess Buk systems. Ukraine’s foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, additionally stated that the Ukraine did not have sophisticated surface-to-air missile systems in the area.
On 13 July Sergey Kurginyan declared that Buk launchers taken over from Ukrainian army were going to be fixed soon by specialists from Russia.
On 14 July, a Ukrainian military An-26 transport aircraft was shot down (confirmed to be shot using “Buk”).
On 16 July, a Ukrainian military Sukhoi Su-25 close air support aircraft was shot down and Ukrainian government officials accused the Russian military of downing the aircraft, but a spokesman for Russia’s Defence Ministry rejected those accusations as absurd.
On 17 July, an unnamed Associated Press journalist had seen a Buk launcher in Snizhne, a town in the Donetsk Oblast, roughly 10 miles southeast of the crash site. The reporter also saw seven rebel tanks at a filling station near the town.
Multiple sources cited a post on the VKontaktesocial networking service that was attributed to Igor Girkin, commander of the pro-Russian Donbass People’s Militia, in which he acknowledged shooting down an aircraft at approximately the same time that the flight was reported to have crashed in eastern Ukraine in the same area near the Russian border. The post specifically referenced how warnings were issued for planes not to fly in their airspace and the downing of an Antonov An-26 which the Ukraine Crisis Media Center suggested was a case of misidentification with MH17. The post was deleted later in the day and the account behind it said that Igor Girkin had no official account on that social network. Ukrainian interior ministry official Anton Gerashchenko stated that the airliner was “shot down with a surface-to-air missile by terrorists”, referring to militants seeking to unite eastern Ukraine with Russia. Later the Ukrainian President stated that Ukrainian authorities “don’t exclude” the possibility that the plane was shot down. This was denied by the rebels, stating that they have no weapons capable of shooting down planes at the height the Malaysian airliner was flying. A defence expert later reported that to shoot down an aircraft at such a high altitude would have required a long-range surface-to-air missile, possibly assisted by radar, or an air-to-air missile from another aircraft. After the MH17 crash, the DNR said on numerous occasions that they “do not have access to weapons able to reach airplane at 10 km”. Just before the MH17 crash, DNR reported having access to a Buk missile system that can fire missiles up to 22,000 metres (72,000 ft), and uses radar guidance for targeting. On 18 July, a Ukrainian newspaper said that a column of three tanks, 2 BTR vehicles and Buk transported on a lorry was photographed near Dmitrovka village.Jane’s Defense Weekly and Defense24.pl stated in their analyses that a Buk missile launcher vehicle without well trained crew or without its support vehicles (command vehicle and acquisition radar vehicle) would have been unable to tell a civilian Boeing 777 from a military AN-26 aircraft, but would still would be able to hit it. Brig. Gen. Kevin Ryan, director of the Defense and Intelligence Project at Harvard University said that without extensive training crews would be unable to hit anything at all. According to The Wall Street Journal, U.S. agencies are divided over whether the plane was downed by the Russian military or by pro-Russia separatists, who may lack the expertise required. Still they insist that, “All roads lead to the Russians to some degree”. On 18 July 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama said in a White House briefing that the missile was fired from a territory controlled by Russian-supported separatists. A source from Russia’s Agency Rosaviatsia said the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine had closed its airspace over eastern Ukraine because of what it called “anti-terrorist operation[s].” Shortly after the crash theInternational Air Transport Association wrote in a statement: “Based on the information currently available it is believed that the airspace that the aircraft was traversing was not subject to restrictions.” The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) published what they said were wiretaps of separatist commanders reporting that a civilian airliner had been shot down. According to the recording, Flight 17 was shot down by a group of pro-Russian separatists manning a checkpoint near the village of Chornukhine, Luhansk Oblast, some 80 km (50 mi) north-west ofDonetsk. On 18 July, Russian Defence Ministry declared that at the time of the crash “anti-aircraft units of Russian Federation did not operate in that area”. Russia said that Ukrainian Buk-M1 units were located north-west from Donetsk and that Russian units detected their radar activity at the time of the incident. The Ministry also stated that the Ukrainian Buk battery was deployed at a site from which it could have fired a missile at the airliner.DPR representatives made a number of statements, some reporting seeing that a military An-26 transport aircraft was hit, others stating they had no missiles that could reach 10 km altitude and hit an airliner , while LPR representatives said that they had witnessed a Ukrainian aircraft, identified as a Su-25, shoot down the Boeing. Gazeta.ru pointed out that both sides of the conflict, Ukraine and DPR, have Buk missiles capable of reaching 10 km altitude, but that the service ceiling at 5 km of Su-25 aircraft make it impossible for it to shoot down a high altitude airliner.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko vowed support for a Dutch probe into the crash, which he called an act of terrorism. He offered condolences for the air disaster in a telephone conversation with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte. Ukrainian citizens spontaneously brought flowers to the Dutch and Malaysian embassies in support.
Malaysian Deputy Foreign Minister Hamzah Zainuddin said that the foreign ministry would be working closely with the Russian and Ukrainian governments with regard to the incident. Prime Minister Najib Razak later said on his statement that “At this stage, however, Malaysia is unable to verify the cause of this tragedy. But we must, and we will, find out precisely what happened to this flight. No stone will be left unturned”. He also added “If it transpires that the plane was indeed shot down, we insist that the perpetrators must swiftly be brought to justice”. The Malaysian government has declared to fly the country national flagat half-mast from 18 July until 21 July.
Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott said that if the incident was proven to be a shoot-down, it would be a crime and the perpetrators would be brought to justice. The Australian Department of Foreign Affairs said the incident was a huge tragedy and that any Australians who were concerned about family members’ wellbeing should try to contact them directly. It also said it was awaiting confirmation on the number of Australian passengers on board.
Belgian Prime Minister Elio Di Rupo said “On behalf of the Belgian government, he expressed his sincere condolences to the families and friends of the many victims of the flight of Malaysia Airlines. His thoughts are paying particular to the five Belgian victims, their families. He also spoke of his deep sympathy for the Dutch people and the Dutch authorities, as stood on his statement issued in Friday. Di Rupo wants “full clarity comes over the exact circumstances of this tragedy and those who are responsible should be quickly identified and brought to justice”.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said that “Canada stands ready to provide whatever support it can to assist authorities in determining the cause of the crash.”
The Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it is important that an independent international body investigate the shooting and name those responsible for “this cowardly and inhumane act”. Hungarian Prime MinisterViktor Orbán described the crash as “unusual, rare and shocking”, and added that “a significant influx of refugees from eastern areas of Ukraine has been registered in Transcarpathia. These movements affect the Hungarian community living there as well as Hungary itself”.
India Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in his Twitter feedback, “Our thoughts & prayers are with the families of those who lost their lives on board Flight MH17. We stand with them in this hour of grief.”
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono stated that the aircraft downing is “a violation against international law and the law of war“. He asked that whoever shot down the aircraft be punished unequivocally, and offered to help with the investigation.
Philippines Deputy Presidential SpokespersonAbigail Valte said in a statement “Malacañang offer our sincerest condolences to the families of all the victims, recognising full well the enormity of their loss. At this difficult time, we stand with them in solidarity as one people and one country”.
Russian President Vladimir Putin expressed his deepest condolences and his most sincere words of compassion and support to the families and friends of the victims, but said responsibility for the crash rests with “the country in whose airspace the plane was in when it crashed”, and that “the disaster wouldn’t happen if the military action in south-east of Ukraine was not reenabled”.
British Prime MinisterDavid Cameron described the crash as “an absolutely appalling, shocking, horrific incident”, and stated that “if, as seems possible, this was brought down then those responsible must be brought to account and we must lose no time in doing that”. The United Kingdom has requested an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council.
U.S. President Barack Obama said, “The U.S. will offer any assistance we can to determine what happened and why. As a country our thoughts and prayers are with all the families of the passengers, wherever they call home.” In a press statement, White House spokesman Josh Earnest called for an immediate ceasefire. Vice President Joe Biden said the plane appeared to have been deliberately “blown out of the sky”, and vowed U.S. assistance for the investigation into the crash.U.S. Ambassador to the United NationsSamantha Power stated that the flight “was likely downed by a surface-to-air missile, an SA-11, operated from a separatist-held location in eastern Ukraine,” that the U.S. could not “rule out technical assistance by Russian personnel” in operating the system, and that “Russia must end this war.”
The UN Security Council was scheduled to hold an emergency meeting on the Ukraine crisis. A British-drafted statement calling for “a full, thorough and independent international investigation” into what caused the crash and stressing the need for “all parties to grant immediate access by investigators to the crash site to determine the cause of the incident” will be discussed.
Airline Aeroflot, Transaero, Air France, Turkish Airlines, Virgin Airlines, Lufthansa and S7 announced their intention to make flights overflew Ukraine. Eurocontrol airspace closed in eastern Ukraine for civil aviation.
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