The sound of status: People know high-power voices when they hear them

Being in a position of power can fundamentally change the way you speak, altering basic acoustic properties of the voice, and other people are able to pick up on these vocal cues to know who is really in charge, according to new research published in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science.

We tend to focus on our words when we want to come across as powerful to others, but these findings suggest that basic acoustic cues also play an important role:

“Our findings suggest that whether it’s parents attempting to assert authority over unruly children, haggling between a car salesman and customer, or negotiations between heads of states, the sound of the voices involved may profoundly determine the outcome of those interactions,” says psychological scientist and lead researcher Sei Jin Ko of San Diego State University.

The researchers had long been interested in non-language-related properties of speech, but it was former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher that inspired them to investigate the relationship between acoustic cues and power.

“It was quite well known that Thatcher had gone through extensive voice coaching to exude a more authoritative, powerful persona,” explains Ko. “We wanted to explore how something so fundamental as power might elicit changes in the way a voice sounds, and how these situational vocal changes impact the way listeners perceive and behave toward the speakers.”

Ko, along with Melody Sadler of San Diego State and Adam Galinsky of Columbia Business School, designed two studies to find out. Continue reading “The sound of status: People know high-power voices when they hear them”

74 percent of parents would remove their kids from daycare if others are unvaccinated

41 percent of parents say under-vaccinated kids should be excluded from daycare, according to U-M’s National Poll on Children’s Health

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – Most parents agree that all children in daycare centers should be vaccinated, and that daycare providers should be checking vaccine records every year, according to the University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital National Poll on Children’s Health.

All states require vaccines for children who attend daycare, but those requirements may not include every vaccine from birth to age 5 years. As a result, some children still don’t receive all recommended vaccines–leaving daycare providers and parents to decide how to handle the situation of a child who is not up-to-date on vaccines.

In this national sample of parents of child 0-5 years, most indicate that daycare providers should review children’s immunization status every year to ensure they are up-to-date (52 percent strongly agree, 22 percent agree).

“Results of this poll indicate that most parents want strong policies around making sure children in daycare are up-to-date on vaccines,” says Sarah J. Clark, M.P.H. , associate director of the National Poll on Children’s Health and associate research scientist in the University of Michigan Department of Pediatrics. “Checking vaccination records every year is beyond the scope of many state requirements, and may represent a significant change in practice at many daycares.”

The poll gave parents a scenario where 1 in 4 children in their daycare center were not up-to-date on vaccines. In response to this scenario, 74 percent of parents would consider removing their own child from the daycare.

“This scenario mirrors the national statistics that show approximately 25 percent of preschool children in the United States are not fully vaccinated,” says Clark. “Parents may not realize that so many children are not up-to-date; in some daycares, this scenario is a reality.” Continue reading “74 percent of parents would remove their kids from daycare if others are unvaccinated”

Seattle Times ‘outraged’ that FBI created fake story on bogus Times Web page to catch suspect

POSTED 8:29 PM, OCTOBER 27, 2014,

SEATTLE — The Seattle Times said Monday night it was “outraged” to learn that the FBI in Seattle created a fake news story on a bogus Seattle Times Web page to plant software in the computer of a bomb-threat suspect in order to track him down.

The FBI deception took place in 2007, according to documents obtained by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) in San Francisco.

The Times said the deception was publicized Monday when Christopher Soghoian, the principal technologist for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington, D.C., revealed it on Twitter. Continue reading “Seattle Times ‘outraged’ that FBI created fake story on bogus Times Web page to catch suspect”

Poll: Only 18% of Americans trust their TV News

Thursday, 19 June 2014

MINA Breaking News – Poll: Only 18% of Americans trust their TV News


Public confidence in television news is at an all-time low, according to a survey released today by Gallup.

Only 18 percent of the Americans surveyed expressed either a “great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in that news medium.

Gallup has been asking the following question annually since 1993: “Now I am going to read you a list of institutions in American society. Please tell me how much confidence you, yourself, have in each one–a great deal, quite a lot, some or very little?” Continue reading “Poll: Only 18% of Americans trust their TV News”

He was sullen, arrogant, and no one wanted to sail with him: Crew member says captain played by Tom Hanks in new blockbuster Somali pirate film was no hero

  • Captain Richard Phillips has been labeled  a hero after pirates took him hostage from the Maersk Alabama, but a fellow  sailor says that’s a lie
  • ‘Phillips wasn’t the big leader like he  is in the movie’: The captain played so sympathetically by Hanks has been  accused of putting the crew in danger with his self-righteous  attitude
  • The film Captain Phillips details how  Somali pirates hijacked a U.S. cargo ship in 2009 for the the first time in 200  years

By  Joshua Gardner and Ap Reporter

PUBLISHED: 13:15 EST, 13  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 16:42 EST, 13 October 2013

A dramatic new blockbuster starring Tom Hanks  paints cargo ship Captain Richard Phillips as a hero, but some crewmembers say  he was no leader and even blame him for the 2009 hijacking by Somali pirates  that made him famous.

The film version portrays Phillips’ crew as  layabouts who fell into the hands of pirates, the first time a U.S. cargo ship  was hijacked in 200 years, before Navy SEALS arrived to bail them out. But a  recent lawsuit and firsthand account say just the opposite.

‘Phillips wasn’t the big leader like he is in  the movie,’ says a crewman who served under the Phillips, no doubt one of the 11  who are now suing Maersk, the company that owns the ship, for nearly $50  million.

Telling a lie? Captain Richard Phillips' story has been turned into a blockbuster film starring Tom Hanks. But crew who were there during the 2009 Somali pirate saga allege that the hero Hanks plays has little to do with the real Captain Phillips 

Telling a lie? Captain Richard Phillips’ story has been  turned into a blockbuster film starring Tom Hanks. But crew who were there  during the 2009 Somali pirate saga allege that the hero Hanks plays has little  to do with the real Captain Phillips


‘No one wants to sail with him,’ the  anonymous sailor told the New York Post.

The source said that’s because Phillips has a  reputation for being ‘sullen and self-righteous’ and alleges that in April 2009  his arrogance led to the hijacking of the U.S.-flagged Maersk  Alabama.

‘The crew had begged Captain Phillips not to  go so close to the Somali coast,’ Deborah Waters, the attorney who brought the  claim, told the Post. ‘He told them he wouldn’t let pirates scare him or force  him to sail away from the coast.’

The lawsuit alleges that Phillips was left an  anti-piracy plan when he took command of the ship in March 2009.

'Shoot me': Hanks plays the title role in Captain Phillips, and portrays the real life mariner as selfless and dedicated to his crew 

‘Shoot me’: Hanks plays the title role in Captain  Phillips, and portrays the real life mariner as selfless and dedicated to his  crew


Drama: The film dramatizes the April 2009 attack on the Maersk Alabama, which ended with a SEAL Team 6 amphibous rescue of Phillips, who was tied up but unhurt with the pirates in the ship's tiny life boat (pictured) 

Drama: The film dramatizes the April 2009 attack on the  Maersk Alabama, which ended with a SEAL Team 6 amphibous rescue of Phillips, who  was tied up but unhurt with the pirates in the ship’s tiny life boat  (pictured)


‘He didn’t want anything to do with it,  because it wasn’t his plan,’ the crew member claimed. ‘He was real  arrogant.’

His fault? Captain Phillips became a hero in the press, wrote a book on the ordeal, and even met the president, but at least one crew member on the scene says he was actually the reason they were hijacked 

His fault? Captain Phillips became a hero in the press,  wrote a book on the ordeal, and even met the president, but at least one crew  member on the scene says he was actually the reason they were hijacked


Phillips denies such a plan  existed.

Whether the plan existed or not, the crux of  the suit lies in whether 57-year-old Phillips intentionally ignored repeated  warnings that he keep the ship at least 600 miles from the Somali  coast.

The crew member said the ship was just 235  miles from the coast, while Phillips has admitted to putting the ship around 300  miles from shore.

Either way, he hasn’t admitted to wrongdoing  in the matter and is a witness for the defense in the case.

An even bigger mischaracterization  crewmembers see in Phillips’ account and in the film is in the moment the  captain says he gave himself up to the pirates to save his crew.

‘If you’re gonna shoot somebody, shoot me!’  Tom Hanks’ character says tells the pirates in the film.

But crew members say it didn’t happen that  way at all.

‘We vowed we were going to take it to our  graves, that we weren’t going to say anything,’ Chief Engineer Mike Perry told  CNN in 2010. ‘Then we hear this PR stuff about him giving himself up . . . and  the whole crew’s like, “What?”‘

According to Perry and others, Phillips never  said that. When the crew tried to swap a pirate who Perry had taken hostage for  Phillips, the hijackers simply sped away with the captain.

The crew wouldn’t see their captain again  until days later after a daring rescue by Navy SEALs, who found Phillips tied up  but unharmed in the ship’s life boat.

Phillips would later pen a book on the ordeal, one that paints him in a far more positive light than do his  former  mates. He would also go on to meet President Obama in the Oval  Office.

Director Paul  Greengrass said the movie  wasn’t intended to tackle every twist and turn but defended the film and said it  hews to the truth.

However, Greengrass said: ‘Movies are not  journalism. Movies are not history.’


'He was real arrogant': According to an anonymous crew member and a lawsuit against his company, it was Captain Phillips' arrogant disregard for repeated warnings about pirates that got the ship hijacked 

‘He was real arrogant’: According to an anonymous crew  member and a lawsuit against his company, it was Captain Phillips’ arrogant  disregard for repeated warnings about pirates that got the ship  hijacked



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Report: Pundits for war with Syria failed to disclose defense industry ties

Posted By Brendan Bordelon On 11:19 AM  10/12/2013 In Daily Caller News Foundation | No Comments

A new study shows that most of the talking heads urging war with Syria last month worked for powerful defense contractors, a fact rarely disclosed during interviews.

The left-leaning Public Accountability Initiative (PAI) released a report on Friday, listing 22 commentators who appeared on major media outlets during August and September to discuss what, at the time, seemed like impending military strikes against Syria for violating President Obama’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons.

Most were extremely supportive of President Obama’s plan to bomb the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and all possessed extensive ties to defense companies and military contractors.

But out of the 111 total appearances by the pundits, the commentator’s relationship with the defense industry was disclosed in only 13 of those appearances.

“The public has a right to know that the pro-war analyst on their television is also working for the defense industry,” said Kevin Connor, director of PAI and the co-author of the report, in a statement. “The consistent failure of media outlets and experts to disclose these ties is an abuse of the public trust. It has a corrupting effect on policy debates like the one surrounding Syria.”

The report points to Stephen Hadley, a former national security adviser to George W. Bush, as a prime example. Hadley appeared on CNN, MSNBC and Bloomberg TV last month to tell Republicans they had “better be voting favor of this resolution [authorizing military force against Syria],” or else threats against Iran for pursuing its nuclear program would not be credible.

But none of those media outlets disclosed that he is on the board of Raytheon, the fourth-largest U.S. defense contractor and manufacturer of Tomahawk cruise missiles, which were expected to factor heavily in any Syrian bombardment. In addition to a six-figure salary from Raytheon, Hadley also owns around $900,000 in the defense contractor’s stock.

There’s also General Anthony Zinni, a retired Marine Corp General and former commander of U.S. Central Command. Zinni appeared multiple times on CNN and CBS to talk about strikes on Syria. “We have to do something because the President laid a red line down,” he said on CBS. “I think we need to think in terms of a longer campaign, not that this shot might be just one act and then finished.”

Zinni is an outside director at BAE Systems, the third-largest military contractor in the world in 2011 and the recipient of $6.1 billion federal contracts in 2012. He was acting CEO of the company from 2009 to 2012. None of this information was disclosed during any of his media appearances.

NBC revealed their guests’ defense industry connections more than any other major outlet in the study, informing audiences of the commentator’s defense ties about one-third of the time. CNN disclosed industry ties in fewer than one out of every five appearances, while Fox News and Bloomberg never once acknowledged the defense affiliations of their guests.

After weeks of escalating rhetoric and the gathering of American warships off the Syrian coast, President Obama called off planned strikes in mid-September after Congress balked at another war and the Assad regime promised to destroy its chemical weapons. Should the U.N.-led disarmament plan fail, however, the Obama administration has indicated it would once again consider the use of force.

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Saudi Arabian cleric says female drivers risk damaging ovaries ( Says “medical studies show” ) ?

Saudi Arabian cleric says female drivers risk damaging ovaries

Conservative’s comments aimed at activists protesting against Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules

Female Saudi motorist

A female Saudi motorist speaks to the media in 2011 after driving her vehicle in defiance of the ban on  women driving.  Photograph: Fahad Shadeed/Reuters

A conservative Saudi Arabian cleric has said women who drive risk damaging their ovaries and bearing children with clinical problems, countering activists who are trying to end the Islamic kingdom’s male-only driving rules.

A campaign calling for women to defy the ban in a protest drive on 26 October has spread rapidly online over the past week and gained support from prominent women activists. On Sunday, the campaign’s website was blocked in the kingdom.

In an interview published on Friday on the website, Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan, a judicial adviser to an association of Gulf psychologists, said women aiming to overturn the ban on driving should put “reason ahead of their hearts, emotions and passions”.

Lohaidan’s strong endorsement of the ban demonstrates how entrenched the opposition is to women driving among some conservative Saudis.

“If a woman drives a car, not out of pure necessity, that could have negative physiological impacts as functional and physiological medical studies show that it automatically affects the ovaries and pushes the pelvis upwards,” he told Sabq. “That is why we find those who regularly drive have children with clinical problemsof varying degrees.”

He did not cite specific medical studies to support his arguments.

The ban on women driving is not backed by a specific law, but only men are granted driving licences. Women can be fined for driving without a licence but have also been detained and put on trial in the past on charges of political protest.

Sheikh Abdulatif al-Sheikh, the head of the morality police, told Reuters last week that there was no text in the documents making up sharia law that bars women from driving.

King Abdullah has pushed some cautious reforms aimed at expanding women’s freedoms in Saudi Arabia, including opening more employment opportunities for them, but he has not addressed the issue of driving.

• This story was amended on 29 September 2013. The original wrongly identified Sheikh Saleh bin Saad al-Lohaidan as Sheikh Saleh bin Mohammed al-Lohaidan, one of the 21 members of the senior council of scholars. This has been corrected.

Seymour Hersh on Obama, NSA and the ‘pathetic’ American media

Pulitzer Prize winner explains how to fix journalism, saying press should ‘fire 90% of editors and promote ones you can’t control’


Seymour Hersh

Seymour Hersh exposed the My Lai massacre during the Vietnam war, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. Photograph:   Wally McNamee/Corbis

Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn’t even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Snowden changed the debate on surveillance

He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “changed the whole nature of the debate” about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government’s policy.

“Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we’ve all written the notion there’s constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it’s real now,” Hersh says.

“Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn’t touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game,” he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

“But I don’t know if it’s going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters ‘al-Qaida, al-Qaida’ and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic,” he says.

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London’s summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

Hope of redemption

Despite his concern about the timidity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

“I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it’s not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity.”

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: “Sergeant, I want Calley out now.”

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. “I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000.”

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Put in the hours

For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been “despoiled”.

“I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there’s nothing there, it doesn’t go anywhere.”

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

“Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What’s going on [with journalists]?” he asks.

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

“Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It’s journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize,” he adds. “It’s a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don’t mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that’s a serious issue but there are other issues too.

“Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren’t we doing more? How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence? Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?

“Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues. That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it’s like you don’t dare be an outsider any more.”

He says in some ways President George Bush‘s administration was easier to write about. “The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era,” he said.

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

“I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn’t stop with newspapers.

“I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let’s start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won’t like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” he says.

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” And he implores journalists to do something about it.


Putin’s Weapon in the War of Images : Russia Today the anti-CNN

By Benjamin Bidder

Russian President Vladimir Putin has created an anti-CNN for Western audiences with the international satellite news network Russia Today. With its recipe of smart propaganda, sex appeal and unlimited cash, it is outperforming its peers worldwide.

The political evening program often kicks off with a mixture of chaos and tabloid news. Abby Martin, the American host working for the Kremlin, has her lips slightly parted and is applying red lipstick, which goes well with her black top, high heels and ankle tattoo. Then she swings a sledgehammer and destroys a TV set tuned to CNN, the American role model and nemesis of her employer, the Russian international satellite TV network Russia Today.

This show opening is apparently meant to illustrate one thing over all else: that Russia is aggressive and enlightened — and looks good in the process.

A photo of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower the United States wants to bring home to face charges, is projected onto the studio wall. Then there is a report on the detention camp at Guantanamo, which has hurt America’s reputation. Russia Today uses the source material America supplies to its rivals untiringly and with relish. Even Washington’s relatively minor peccadilloes don’t escape notice. For instance, the show also includes a story about Gabonese dictator Ali Bongo Ondimba, whom US President Barack Obama supports.

Many in the West are also interested in seeing critical coverage of the self-proclaimed top world power. Russia Today is already more successful than all other foreign broadcast stations available in major US cities, such as San Francisco, Chicago and New York. In Washington, 13 times as many people watch the Russian program as those that tune into Deutsche Welle, Germany’s public international broadcaster. Two million Britons watch the Kremlin channel regularly. Its online presence is also more successful than those of all its competitors. What’s more, in June, Russia Today broke a YouTube record by being the first TV station to get a billion views of its videos.

The station was even more triumphant when it signed Larry King, a legend of American radio and TV journalism who began working for Russia Today this summer. Before that, King was the face of CNN for 25 years. His suspenders are even more striking than Abby Martin’s lipstick antics. “America’s best known TV interviewer is defecting to the Russians,” wrote the London-based Times in May.

King and his new colleagues have a simple assignment: They are to “break the monopoly of the Anglo-Saxon mass media,” President Vladimir Putin said during a studio visit a few weeks ago. The Russians’ recipe for success has three ingredients: sex appeal, which has been atypical for most news channel; a rigidly anti-American stance; and a never-ending flow of money from the Kremlin.

The Ministry of Media Defense

Since 2005, the Russian government has increased the channel’s annual budget more than tenfold, from $30 million (€22.6 million) to over $300 million. Russia Today’s budget covers the salaries of 2,500 employees and contractors worldwide, 100 in Washington alone. And the channel has no budget cuts to fear now that Putin has issued a decree forbidding his finance minister from taking any such steps.

The Moscow leadership views the funds going to the channel as money “well invested,” says Natalya Timakova, the press attaché to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. “In addition, Russia Today is — and I hope the Germans will forgive me for this remark — significantly more modern than Deutsche Welle, for example, and it also has more money.”

The government has also spent a lot of money on the new broadcasting center in northeast Moscow, which Russia Today moved into in May. The station, citing confidentiality requirements, isn’t willing to quote an exact price tag. On the grounds of a former Soviet tea factory, the broadcaster is now creating programming in Arabic, English and Spanish. In 2009, it rebranded its English- and Spanish speaking divisions as simply “RT.” The evening news is currently focused on the euro crisis, social protests in Portugal and the NSA surveillance scandal.

Russia Today sees itself as a champion of a global audience critical of the West. But it is also meant to amplify the self-doubts of Europeans and Americans who have been forced by recent events to wonder if their own countries — like Russia and China — are corrupt and in the grip of a pervasive intelligence apparatus.

In any case, the station has a rare knack for propaganda. The average age of the Russian editors is under 30, and almost everyone speaks fluent English. To spice up the news, directors sometimes use Hollywood-like special effects, such as a computer-animated tank that looks like it is rolling over the newscaster’s feet or Israeli fighter jets that fly a virtual loop through the studio before dropping their bombs over a map of Syria. There is also a logic behind such visual effects, especially since the station sees itself as a sort of ministry of media defense for the Kremlin.

An Arms Race on the Airwaves

Margarita Simonyan is the woman who shaped Russia Today into Russia’s most effective weapon in the battle for influencing the opinions of the global public. In her office on the eighth floor of its headquarters in Moscow, the editor-in-chief has Orthodox icons on her desk and a dozen flickering screens around it. Putin made Simonyan the head of the new station in 2005. At the time, she was only 25 and derided as an unknown reporter from the crowd of journalists that accompany the president at meetings.

Simonyan’s mission is to prevent Russia from ever losing a war of images like the one it did in August 2008. At the time, Russian tanks were advancing into the southern Caucasus, stopping just short of Tbilisi, the capital of the small country of Georgia. The young Georgian president at the time, Mikheil Saakashvili — eloquent and educated in the United States — appeared on all channels to condemn Russia as an aggressor, even though he had provoked the war and was the first to order an invasion of the separatist republic of South Ossetia, which has close ties with Russia.

CNN showed images of destroyed buildings, allegedly taken after a Russian bomb strike on the Georgian provincial city of Gori. According to Russia Today, however, they were actually shots of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali after a Georgian attack. “There is no objectivity,” Simonyan says today, “only approximations of the truth by as many different voices as possible.”

Mistrust of the domestic media is also greater than ever in the United States. CNN, for example, is struggling to cope with a massive loss of viewers. And sometimes US politicians make it particularly easy for the Russians to launch their attacks. When the plane carrying Bolivian President Evo Morales was forced to land in Vienna because US intelligence agencies believed that Snowden was on board, Abby Martin expressed what many were thinking: “Who the hell does Obama think he is?”

At the same time, Russia Today also uses a chaotic mixture of conspiracy theories and crude propaganda. On the program “The Truthseeker,” the attack on the Boston Marathon, in which two ethnic Chechens killed three people with bombs in April, mutated into a US government conspiracy.

Peter Oliver, Russia Today’s Berlin correspondent, has absurdly accused ZDF, one of two public German broadcasters, of engaging in bribery. Oliver claims that the network paid intellectuals to say positive things about the anti-Putin group Pussy Riot. As his star witness, he interviewed the editor-in-chief of Zuerst!, a monthly magazine published by German right-wing extremists.

Props and Propaganda

This is the company that legendary talk show host Larry King has joined. In 2000, King conducted the first major interview with Putin on Western television. Since then, the talk show legend has raved about the Russian politician’s charisma. Putin, he says, has qualities that “change a room” and “a certain magnetism.”

King’s new show, “Politicking,” has been on Russia Today since June. His guests have included former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Senator Joe Lieberman, two men who would normally never set foot in a Russian studio.

Abby Martin, the woman with the sledgehammer, recently had her new colleague King as a guest on her own show. At a certain point in the interview, he became critical of “pundits who are not journalists” who use guests as “a prop for their opinion.” Perhaps the great Larry King still hasn’t figured out that this is precisely what he is on Putin’s new station: a prop and a trophy.

Translated from the German by Christopher Sultan

Government launches program to Modify the Behavior of bureaucrats and citizens through clinical experimentation

Federal ‘nudge squad’ led by 20-something wunderkind gears up to change  Americans’ behaviors – for our own good

By  David Martosko In Washington

PUBLISHED: 14:00 EST, 30  July 2013 |  UPDATED: 14:06 EST, 30 July 2013

Maya Shankar's mandate is to supervise the organization of a federal government 'nudge squad' that will subtly change the behaviors of bureaucrats -- and the rest of us
Maya Shankar is a senior policy advisor at the White  House Office of Science & Technology Policy. Her mandate is to supervise the  organization of a federal government ‘nudge squad’ that will subtly change the  behaviors of bureaucrats — and the rest of us

When does a nudge become a shove?

Americans may find out in coming years, as  the federal government is setting up a ‘behavioral insights team’ to tinker with  the way we accomplish everything from saving money and staying in school to  losing weight and becoming more energy-efficient.

A document from Maya Shankar, a late-20s Yale graduate  and former violin prodigy, sketches out the Obama administration’s grand plans  for behavioral science.

Shankar joined the Obama administration in  April as a senior policy advisor at the White House Office of Science &  Technology Policy.

‘[I]nsights from the social and behavioral  sciences can be used to help design public policies that work better, cost less,  and help people to achieve their goals,’ says her proposal,  first spotted by Fox News when Shankar sought help from a university  professor.

In 2006 Shankar was named one  of Glamour magazine’s ‘Top Ten College Women,’ telling the editors that her dream job was  to become ‘Science advisor to the president.’ A handful of years later, she’s  already there.

Shankar’s mandate is to reproduce  a British pilot project in the U.S. Launched in 2010, it identifies and tests  ‘interventions’ that can save the government money, and drives ordinary Britons  to embrace behaviors that the government finds desirable and  cost-effective.

Nudge or Noodge? Cass Sunstein, formerly the Director of the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and Budget, is regarded as the godfather of modern government paternalismNudge or Noodge? Cass Sunstein, formerly the Director of  the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs at the Office of Management and  Budget, is regarded as the godfather of modern government paternalism
Overreach: Following a 'Million Big Gulp March in lower Manhattan, an appeals court has ruled against Mayor Michael Bloomberg's proposal to prohibit the sale of soft drinks in cups that hold more than 16 ouncesOverreach: Following a ‘Million Big Gulp March in lower  Manhattan, an appeals court has ruled against Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proposal  to prohibit the sale of soft drinks in cups that hold more than 16  ounces

In the UK, a series of bulletins from the  office of the Prime Minister’s cabinet sketch out how broad the approaches have  become. They have already tackled wasting food, cheating on exams, job-seeking  schedules, skimping on charitable giving, drinking milk, morning commutes,  choosing sources of energy and sticking to New Year’s resolution.

Now the concept is poised to enter America  with a formal structure consisting of a team to oversee clinical experiments to  see what works and what doesn’t. Shankar’s memo suggests the project is already  up and running.

‘We are already working with over a dozen  federal departments and agencies on newly-designed behavioral insights  projects,’ the document reads, ‘including the Department of Labor, Department of  Health and Human Services, Department of Education, Veterans Administration,  Department of Treasury, Social Security Administration, Department of Housing  and Urban Development, and the United States Department of  Agriculture.’

Shankar did not respond to a request  for  comment. She finished her postdoctoral  research at Stanford this year, where  her faculty advisor was Dr. Samuel  McClure.

McClure studies ‘delay discounting,’ the  habit of giving up large future rewards in favor of smaller bonuses in the short  term.

Coming to America? The UK's 'Behavioural Insights Team' works 'with almost every government department,' and consults with 'local authorities, charities, NGOs, private sector partners and foreign government[s]'
Coming to America? The UK’s ‘Behavioural Insights Team’  works ‘with almost every government department,’ and consults with ‘local  authorities, charities, NGOs, private sector partners and foreign  government[s]’

Some behavioral scientists believe  they can  improve people’s self-control by understanding the relationship between short  term memory, intelligence and delay discounting.

This has mostly been used to counter  compulsive gambling and substance abuse, but Shankar’s entry into  government  science circles may indicate that health insurance objectors  and lapsed  recyclers could soon fall into a similar category.

The science community is split on the value  of ‘nudge paternalism’ in government.

Richard Thaler, who co-authored the  book  ‘Nudge’ with former White House regulatory czar Cass Sunstein, toldFox  News that anyone ‘who would  not want such a program … must  either be misinformed or  misguided.’

‘The goal is to improve the  efficiency and  effectiveness of government by using scientifically  collected evidence to  inform policy designs. What is the alternative?’  Thaler asked.

But Utah State University economist  Michael Thomas said he was ‘very skeptical of a team promoting nudge policies’ in  Washington.

‘Ultimately, nudging … assumes a  small  group of people in government know better about choices than the  individuals  making them.’

'Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth, and Happiness' has become a bible for advocates of 'choice architecture' decision-making in government, but detractors call it nanny-state paternalismMaya Shankar, Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy

The book ‘Nudge’ has become a bible for advocates of  ‘choice architecture’ decision-making in government, but detractors call it  nanny-state paternalism. Maya Shankar (R) will find herself navigating the  controversy

After three years, the British government  announced in  May that it would seek to find a commercial  sponsor and privatize the entire project, making it ‘the first policy unit to  spin off from central government,’ according to Cabinet Minister Francis  Maude.

Initial reports that the agency is on course  to save the government $483 million over five years may make it a valuable  takeover target for a private industry seeking to trim its own fat while  acquiring the cachet of scientific relevance.

David Halpern, its government director, has  claimed that ‘billions will be saved.’

In the U.S., however, there’s no indication  that the White House’s ‘nudge unit’ will be anything other than a government  enterprise.

That may not bode well for the Obama  administration, given the cautionary tale posed by New York City Mayor Michael  Bloomberg, whose long-ridiculed ban on large-size fizzy drinks has officially  fallen flat.

An appeals court ruled Tuesday that the  city’s Board of Health didn’t have the constitutional authority to limit how  much soda can go into a restaurant’s cup.

The measure was originally hailed as a  perfect example of ‘nudge’ paternalism that would subtly change behaviors  without preventing the truly thirsty from buying two cups.

But the ruling will set a precedent that  opens up such government interventions to legal nannying of its own from  industries whose bottom lines are affected when bureaucracies try to tweak what  ordinary people do, and how they do it

Read more:–good.html#ixzz2aaf5mMgU Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

White House enlists Hollywood to help pitch ‘Obamacare’ to youth

Source: Reuters – Mon, 22 Jul 2013 09:15 PM

Author: Reuters


By Roberta Rampton

WASHINGTON, July 22 (Reuters) – Senior White House officials met with a group of Hollywood stars and entertainers on Monday to talk about how to use pop culture to persuade young Americans to sign up for new medical insurance coverage this fall.

For President Barack Obama’s 2010 healthcare reform law to succeed, the White House needs to attract 2.7 million younger consumers between the ages of 18 to 35, mostly male and non-white, to participate in new online health insurance exchanges.

Obama dropped by the meeting, which included comedian Amy Poehler, actor Jennifer Hudson, representatives for Oprah Winfrey and Alicia Keys and websites Funny or Die and YouTube.

“The reach of these national stars spreads beyond the Beltway to fans of their television shows, movies, and music – and the power of these artists to speak through social media is especially critical,” a White House official said.

Obamacare needs young, healthy people to register for the new health insurance plans to counterbalance older, sicker enrollees and hold down costs.

But first the government needs to overcome skepticism that the new plans are worthwhile.

The artists are interested in helping explain the health care law and the sign-up period, which begins Oct. 1, the White House said, and met with Obama senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and other officials involved in rolling out the program.

Several stars have already begun to publicize the program. Funny or Die, a comedy video website with more than 19 million unique users per month and 6.4 million Twitter followers, is already working on several videos featuring celebrities, the White House said.

Earlier this year, the administration sought help from major U.S. sports organizations including the National Football League on advertising campaigns. But Republicans publicly warned the leagues to steer clear of the efforts, and the NFL backed off.

Republicans argue the law is too expensive and confusing, and the Republican-led House of Representatives has voted dozens of times to try to repeal it.  (Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

U.S. foreign propaganda to be directed at Americans

сша закат сша упадок сша америка закат Америки 2012 апрель коллаж

Collage: Voice of Russia

The United States has enacted a law on the modernization of the Smith-Mundt Act, which for the first time in 65 years gives American media outlets legal access to content and foreign directed propaganda that is covered by state media.

 Earlier in accordance with the act adopted at the beginning of the Cold War era, and aimed at promoting opposition to Communist ideas in other states, the United States was prohibited from distributing media content such as that broadcast on the “Voice of America” and “Radio Liberty” to American citizens.

 The new law abolishes this rigid rule and now private media companies in the United States, have the right to distribute to the domestic market American propaganda messages intended for the people of other countries.

 Voice of Russia, RIA


Mysterious privacy board touted by Obama has deep government ties – Even worse may all be a Lie

Privacy & Civil Liberties Board at the heart of Obama’s effort to address NSA surveillance scandal is itself a Washington enigma

in Washington,    Friday 21 June 2013 13.33 EDT

PCLOB K street

A security guard at 2100 K Street in Washington said he had no record of the mystery body that claimed to occupy suite 500. Photograph: Dan Roberts for the Guardian

The body charged by President Obama with protecting the civil liberties and privacy of the American people exists in shadows almost as dark as the intelligence agencies it is designed to oversee.

The Privacy & Civil Liberties Board (PCLOB) was due to meet Obama at the White House on Friday afternoon at 3pm in the situation room to discuss growing concerns over US surveillance of phone and internet records – or, at least, that’s what unnamed “senior administration officials” said would happen.

The meeting did not appear on the president’s official diary issued to journalists, nor has the PCLOB issued much public confirmation beyond saying “further questions were warranted”.

To be fair, that might be because the PCLOB does not have a website, nor an email address, nor indeed any independent full-time staff. Its day-to-day administration is currently run by a government official on secondment from the office of the Director of National Intelligence.

In fact, even the office address given out by the PCLOB in the few public letters that exist does not appear to be functioning. A security guard at the federal buildings on 2100 K Street in Washington said he had no record of the mystery body that claimed to occupy suite 500.

On Tuesday, Obama announced that the PCLOB would be at the heart of his efforts to address the growing scandal over the National Security Agency’s surveillance programmes.

“I’ll be meeting with them and what I want to do is to set up and structure a national conversation not only about these two programs but also about the general problem of these big data sets because this is not going to be restricted to government entities,” he told Charlie Rose in a TV interview.

Yet, the White House appears to be scrambling to set up infrastructure that can support such a conversation and has placed its trust in a body with a chequered history of independent scrutiny.

Set up as an agency within the Executive Office of the President in 2004, the PCLOB for many years had no members at all. After criticism, in the words of a congressional report, that it “appeared to be presidential appendage, devoid of the capability to exercise independent judgement and assessment or to provide impartial findings and recommendations”, it was reconstituted as an independent agency in August 2007 on the recommendations of the 9/11 commission.

But even then, oversight moved at a glacial pace. Obama nominated two members in January 2011 and a further three in December 2012 but the Senate only confirmed four of them in August 2012. The fifth, chairman David Medine, was confirmed just last month.

Obama told Charlie Rose that it was “made up of independent citizens, including some fierce civil libertarians”.

But there is little in the published biographies to elaborate on that.

Medine is a partner in the law firm DC WilmerHale and previously served as a senior advisor to the White House National Economic Council.  From 1992 to 2000, he worked at the Federal Trade Commission and previously worked at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and US Securities and Exchange Commission. The White House says he has long been interested in “internet privacy and data security”.

Three of the others meeting Obama on Friday have also worked for the government or courts. Rachel Brand is now a regulatory lawyer at the US Chamber of Commerce, but formerly worked at the Department of Justice. Patricia Wald is a former DC appeals court judge and Elisebeth Collins Cook is also a lawyer at Wilmer Hale, who once worked for the Department of Justice.

Only Jim Dempsey, of the Center for Democracy and Technology, does not appear to have worked for the government or served on the judiciary. The Washington Post described him as “a reasoned and respected civil liberties advocate routinely summoned to [Capitol] Hill by both political parties to advise lawmakers about technology and privacy issues.”

Following a meeting with intelligence chiefs on Wednesday, Medine said: “Based on what we’ve learned so far, further questions are warranted.” He told the Guardian by email on Friday that the board would issue a statement after the meeting with Obama.

NSA director Keith Alexander implied it understood the need for such programmes. “My deputy met with the board yesterday and actually briefed them for a couple of hours on both programs so that they understood,” he told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing on Thursday.

Official board meetings of the PCLOB are closed to the public, because of the classified issues to be discussed, a notice published on the Federal Register said.

In his email, Medine told the Guardian that the board was moving ahead with plans to step up its operations. He said: “The bipartisan members of the independent board have been at work since last September. In the three weeks since I became chairman, the board is moving rapidly forward to complete its efforts to operate a website and hire permanent staff, the latter being something only the chairman has authority to do.”

A senior administration official defended the White House’s transparency record.

“Over the past few weeks, in the wake of disclosures related to sensitive NSA collection activities, the president directed the Director of National Intelligence (DNI) to declassify information to better contextualize these programs, correct misrepresentations, and provide an opportunity for the dialogue he welcomes about the right balance between national security and privacy,” said the official.

“In fact, yesterday (Thursday), at the request of the President, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco directed the DNI – in consultation with the DOJ – to review Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court opinions and filings relevant to the programs and to determine what additional information the Government can responsibly share about the sensitive and necessarily classified activities undertaken to keep the public safe.”   The official said the administration was seeking “to declassify a significant amount of information regarding these programs.”

“The president’s direction is that as much information as possible be made public while being mindful of the need to protect sources and methods and National Security.” the unnamed official added. “In the last few weeks, we have provided enhanced transparency on, and engaged in robust public discussion.”

Speaking later White House spokesman Jay Carney said the PCLOB was required to report to Congress at least twice a year.

“The president will be meeting with a range of stakeholders in the coming weeks on these issues,” added Carney.

4.45pm ET update

The board issued a statement after meeting Obama. It reads, in full:

We were very pleased to meet with the President today. We informed the President that the Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB), an independent, bipartisan federal agency, is undertaking a review of the recently revealed surveillance programs as a top priority. We conveyed our appreciation for the briefings we have received to date. We informed the President that we plan to seek additional briefings, including as to the effectiveness and practical aspects of these programs. We informed the President that as part of our oversight effort, we are scheduling a full day public workshop to seek input from invited experts, academics and advocacy organizations as to the legal bases for these programs and potential options to address privacy and civil liberties concerns.

We discussed with the President our recommendation that every effort be made to publicly provide the legal rationale for the programs in order to enhance the public discussion and debate about the legality and propriety of the country’s counterterrorism efforts.

As we informed the President, and have informed Senators in response to a specific inquiry, we will produce a public report containing our conclusions and recommendations.

Government spent more than $16 billion on advertising, marketing in last decade

Requested Repost from Nov 2012


EEV: As all of us in the U.S. have experienced the barrage of dull, poorly done,  depressing, fear driven Government  during our favorite T.V. or Radio programs. For me personally the Government advertising has become so bizarre and disturbing it has forced me to stop listening. When writing the Radio stations in question, their response normally is that the U.S. government is now their largest accounts, and keeps them afloat.

However, I am willing to compromise if I can see a few Made in the U.S.A. commercials. Those would make me smile, even only if nostalgic.

Federal agencies spent more than $16 billion on advertising, marketing, PR contractors in last decade
UPDATED 0:06 AM EST, November 30, 2012  |  By Phillip Swarts, John Solomon and the Medill News Service
Why It Matters:

As America faces a massive deficit and impending budget cuts, federal agencies are spending about $1.5 billion a year on advertising, raising questions on whether promoting programs, policies and industries is really the best use of taxpayer dollars.

The government has spent more than $16 billion over the last decade on outside advertising, marketing and public relations contractors, feeding a cottage industry of inside-the-Beltway and Madison Avenue firms that help federal agencies burnish their images and tailor their messages, an investigation by the Washington Guardian and Northwestern University’s Medill News Service has found.

Many of the contracts are awarded without full competition, and some of the funding goes to foreign contractors whose names the government refuses to disclose, the review of federal spending records from fiscal years 2002 through 2012 found.

The money is above and beyond the millions of dollars a year that agencies already spend on their fulltime press, communications and media operations, and it has gone to pay for projects as varied as NASCAR and sports sponsorships, recruitment efforts for the military services, veterans benefits, welfare aid, and programs that help multi-billion dollar multinational corporations pitch their products to overseas customers, the records show.

Those on the front lines of the work say federal agencies’ reliance on advertising, PR and media firms is just one of the many signs of how much the era of instant 24/7 Internet and TV access has transformed the government’s job of communicating to Americans.

1960s Labor Department ad

A few decades ago, the government’s main advertising business focused on pitching public service announcements, like the U.S. Forest Service’s Smokey the Bear fire prevention commercials or a 1960s-era Labor Department commercial featuring the comic book heroes Batman and Bat Girl talking about equal wages for women.

Today, consultants are brought in for communication projects as targeted as recruiting translators and linguists for national security agencies and as urgent as launching advertising campaigns like the one the Obama administration rushed onto airwaves in Pakistan in September, featuring the president and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton apologizing for an Internet video that originated in the United States and offended Muslims worldwide. “We reject all efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others,” the president was quoted as saying in an ad designed to lower tensions in Islamic countries.

Some advertising campaigns identified by the Washington Guardian and Medill News Service, however, are likely to leave taxpayers and policymakers who advocate a smaller government scratching their heads. For instance:

  • The Veterans Affairs Department has spent $25 million on advertising since 2011 to encourage more retired troops to take advantage of its mental health services, luring new customers into a system that is suffering historic backlogs for the people it already tries to serve. The Washington Guardian reported earlier this month that the backlog of benefits cases has nearly doubled in the last two years alone. VA officials said they did not have any statistics to show how effective the campaign “Make the Connection” has been in getting vets suffering from mental illness to go to a Web site to enroll. But a key veterans’ mental health expert, Dr. Tom Berger, who serves on one of the VA’s oversight committees, has criticized the ad campaign, saying it lacks targeting and fails to engage those vets who are older and have limited knowledge of using technology.
  • The Labor Department spent a half-million dollars on a public relations firm to advertise the benefits of a clean energy retraining program, which the Washington Guardian reported in September missed– by far — its goals of retraining workers.
  • The Agriculture Department spent millions since 2008 on ads designed to encourage more Americans to enroll for food stamps — many in Spanish and targeted at Hispanics — at a time when the government safety net program already has record expenditures. The department ended the ads shortly before the election, after conservatives complained.

Federal agencies insist the advertising and marketing help is essential to their missions, saying the money has gone to recruit workers, sell American products overseas, advertise services and inform and educate the public about dangers as well as opportunities and assistance.

“We really want to represent America’s farmers and ranchers, and those are raw commodities.  They demonstrate a full array of the types of food that are produced here in the United States,” explained Matt Herrick, a spokesman at the U.S. Agriculture Department that has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to help American companies market their agriproducts overseas.

Nonetheless, the entire line of spending is likely to draw scrutiny as congressional budget-cutters look for savings to reduce massive federal deficits.

“At a time when we’re facing a $16 trillion debt and the impending bankruptcy of safety-net programs like Medicare and Social Security, spending $16 billion on advertising consultants raises troubling questions,” says Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who is retiring at the end of 2016 but spent years in Congress seeking elusive deals to cut spending. “Congress has an obligation to find out who made these decisions, and for what purpose, and then hold agencies accountable for any misuse of taxpayer funds.”

The Washington Guardian and Medill News Service reviewed a decade’s worth of federal spending records to provide the first-ever accounting of how much money the government spent hiring contractors to create or place ads, tailor messages, handle public relations or craft communication strategies. The computer analysis found that federal agencies awarded more than 190,000 contracts and spent more than $16.3 billion since 2002 on the various efforts — an average of about $1.5 billion annually. (Click here to see the methodology.)

That total, however, does not include the amounts spent each year by the various military services on the hundreds of promotional flyovers they stage with aircraft to wow audiences at sporting events. The Pentagon doesn’t know how much is spent on those efforts, because it doesn’t track the costs.

The biggest spenders among the agencies were the Pentagon, and the departments of the Treasury and Health and Human Services.  The spending on the ads and image-making appears to have peaked under President George W. Bush in 2008 at nearly $2 billion, and has fallen under President Barack Obama to $1.3 billion in 2011, the last year with full spending records available.

Though most ad and communications campaigns were months or years in the making, federal agencies frequently skipped bargain shopping that would have gotten taxpayers the best deal. At least 30 percent of the advertising, marketing and communications contracts were awarded without full and open competition, the review found.

A handful of firms around the country are the biggest beneficiaries of the burgeoning workload, hauling in significant tax dollars.  New York-based ad firm McCann-Erickson Worldwide raked in $1.3 billion in contracts since 2002.  Chicago ad firm Leo Burnett USA was also a big winner, getting $921 million in contracts, mostly from the Defense Department.

Not all of the contractors can be publicly tracked. The government — especially the Defense and State Departments — hires many foreign firms for advertising, marketing or communications work, and refuses to disclose their names. About $161 million over the last decade was awarded to “miscellaneous foreign contractors” for contracts ranging from a Fourth of July fireworks show to sculptures for embassies to expenditures for the newspaper “Baghdad Now,” the Washington Guardian and Medill News Service review found.

Sometimes, different federal agency campaigns offered conflicting messages. For instance, the Health and Human Services Department was spending millions crafting and placing ads encouraging Americans to eat healthier and be more fit, while the U.S. Agriculture Department was spending tens of millions pitching wines, popcorn, hard liquor and chocolates to foreign markets — a delicious dichotomy for sure.

The value of the government’s billion-and-a-half-dollar-a-year outside messaging machine lies in the eye of the beholder. “Advertising is one of the more effective ways of [recruitment] … advertising is one of the two resources that you can turn on and off easier,” said James Dertouzos, a former economist with RAND Corporation that published a 2009 study that concluded the Army’s ads were effective in attracting new recruits, but could be made more effective.

Rep. Jack Kingston, R-Ga., sees it a different way. This summer he and Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., led an unsuccessful effort in Congress to ban the military services from spending money on sports sponsorships, such as putting the National Guard’s logo on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s race car or the Marines’ sponsorship of mixed martial arts competitions. Kingston’s amendment to the military’s spending bill, which would have saved taxpayers between $70 million and $80 million in 2013, was narrowly defeated in the House in July by a 216-202 vote.

But along the way, Kingston and McCollum educated their colleagues about some of the issues involved and signaled it is a fight that is unlikely to go away in an era of burgeoning debt and fiscal cliffs. For instance, they noted that only 10 percent of NASCAR fans fall between the ages of 18 and 24, an optimal recruitment age for the military. They also questioned the need for aggressive military recruitment advertising when the Marines and Army plan to cut 103,000 from their ranks.

And they noted comments made by a National Guard official to USA Today that the Guard’s $26.5 million sponsorship generated 24,800 recruitment inquiries in fiscal year 2012, of which only 20 were qualified.

“I just don’t see how seeing a logo on their favorite race car or on a fisherman’s visor is going to encourage someone to join the military,” Kingston declared during the debate.

But Kingston’s and McCollum’s efforts did appear to have an impact: This summer, the Army announced it was ending its sponsorship of sporting events.

Like Kingston and McCollum, Sen. Coburn has sought to shine light on the Agriculture Department’s Market Access Program, which since 1999 has doled out more than $2.1 billion to help American agriculture companies pitch their products in foreign markets. He issued a report this summer questioning why the government was using tax dollars to assist large agribusinesses and its industry trade groups — such as California winemakers, almond growers, candy and popcorn manufacturers and distillers — compete overseas, when combined they had billions of dollars in annual revenues.

“Despite the billions of dollars in taxpayer funds, little, if any, data exist to show how the program has had any significant impact on American agriculture’s total share of global exports,” Coburn declared in his report. “…The time has come to debate whether the federal government should be in the business of promoting private market goods to foreign buyers.”

The Republican senator may have found an ally in the Obama administration, which has tried to cut MAP and declared in its 2011 budget savings proposal that the program’s “economic impact is unclear and it does not serve a clear need.”

While bipartisan sentiments to rein in advertising and marketing spending appear to be rising, the actual job of making cuts is complicated by politics. Big contractors, major agribusinesses, trade lobbies and even NASCAR have their protectors in Congress, and thus far they have been fairly effective in warding off major cuts. And then there’s the added challenge of determining what constitutes advertising and marketing.

The Congressional Research Service’s Kevin Kosar noted in an April 2012 report that there is no official definition for what constitutes federal advertising and no central authority for approving such expenditures. He also noted that the intention of the ad often determines the public’s perception of its value.

“Americans have long been of mixed mind about advertising. On the one hand, advertising is beneficial insofar as it provides information. On the other hand, advertising (be it private or governmental) often attempts to persuade individuals to alter their behaviors,” Kosar wrote. “Unease with advertising can be magnified if the advertiser is the government, especially if an advertisement conflicts with widely held beliefs about government.”

Americans widely back NSA phone tracking: poll

11   Jun 2013

A solid majority of Americans support the US government’s programs tracking telephone records to try to uncover terror, a Washington Post-Pew Research Center poll found Monday.

Despite US intelligence concerns raised by contractor Edward Snowden’s leak of the government’s monitoring of private users’ Web traffic and US citizens’ phone records, Americans may be surprisingly comfortable with their loss of privacy in the interest of national security.

Overall, 56 percent of Americans told pollsters it was “acceptable” for the National Security Agency to access the telephone records of millions of Americans through secret court orders, compared to 41 percent who said it was not.

And 45 percent said the government should be able to prod further and monitor everyone’s online activity if the surveillance would prevent another terror attack like 9/11 in 2001.

However, a slim majority of 52 percent said they were against such sweeping measures.

Snowden, 29, is holed up in Hong Kong, which has an extradition treaty with the United States, and he is cooperating with the British-based Guardian newspaper, which revealed his identity at his own request.

Officials have refused to be drawn on whether Washington plans to demand Snowden’s extradition.

But President Barack Obama’s spy chief, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, has described the leak as gravely damaging to US intelligence gathering, and referred the matter to the Justice Department, which has launched an investigation

UN Counters Misinformation by Media: Syrian ‘Rebels’ used Chemical Weapons, not Govt


Monday, 06 May 2013

UN human rights investigators have spoken to the victims of Syria’s civil war and gathered medical testimonies which point to the Syrian terrorists having used sarin nerve gas, while any allegations of its use by the government remain unsubstantiated.

The United Nations independent commission of inquiry on Syria has concluded that no evidence of the use of sarin by Syria’s government troops has so far been uncovered, said the lead commission member Carla Del Ponte on Sunday.

In an interview to Swiss-Italian television, Del Ponte revealed that the “investigators have been in neighboring countries interviewing victims, doctors and field hospitals and, according to their report of last week which I have seen, there are strong, concrete suspicions but not yet incontrovertible proof of the use of sarin gas, from the way the victims were treated.”

The new report now makes the long-standing accusations of the use of chemical weapons by Syrian President Bashar Assad look weaker: “This was use on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not by the government authorities,” Del Ponte continued, though she has given no indication yet of where and when the nerve agent was used.

However, in an apparent attempt to walk back claims made by Del Ponte, the commission released a statement Monday stating no “conclusive findings” had been reached on the use of chemical weapons in Syria.

“The Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Syrian Arab Republic wishes to clarify that it has not reached conclusive findings as to the use of chemical weapons in Syria by any parties to the conflict. As a result, the Commission is not in a position to further comment on the allegations at this time,” the statement read.

Despite the apparent turn-around, the Commission’s investigation is still separate from the one initiated by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The latter has stalled, for the time being.


Food labelling underestimating calorie content of some foods, scientists say ( News has become Automated !!!? )

EEV: If you follow this article through the current post in the Telegraph, Guardian, and Independent. You will find different authors and pretty much the exact same article. All in the lead headline section of each paper. For a minor obscure  misinformed story, the placement, timing and coordination of its release in separate independent papers deserves notice.

Food labelling underestimating calorie content of some foods, scientists say

ScreenHunter_75 Feb. 18 12.57

Dieters who eat high-fibre foods consume more calories than they think because retailers’ calorie count system is out of date

  • , science correspondent
  • The Guardian,              Monday 18 February 2013 10.44 EST

Dieters have been misled by the outdated system for assessing the calorie content of food for decades, according to research that could redefine how people attempt to lose weight.

People who eat high-fibre foods such as vegetables and muesli are consuming more calories than they think because the current food labels do not take into account the calories in fibre.

Meanwhile the system overestimates, by up to 20%, the content of some protein-rich foods such as tuna steak that can take more energy to digest than simple carbohydrates such as white bread.

The scientists behind the research also reveal that consumers could reduce their calorie intake by eating raw rather than cooked foods. They argue that the way calories are assigned to foods by manufacturers needs a significant overhaul because calories are currently both over and under estimated by up to 25%.

“There is a lot of misinformation around calories, and it is crucial for the consumer, whether they are on a diet or not, to have the correct information about what they eat,” said Professor Richard Wrangham, a primatologist at Harvard University.

He said the public was being given “erroneous information about the energy value of many foods”.

Wrangham convened a session to raise the issues around measurement of calories on Monday at the annual meeting in Boston of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). He believes the current system produces mistakes in calorie counts in both directions.

Apart from underestimating the calorific value of fibre, the standard system also does not take into account the way foods are prepared and eaten.

The calorie contribution from raw and cooked versions of the same food are different for example, but that is not reflected on food packaging.

For more than a century, the energy value in foods has been calculated using the Atwater system. “Nutritionists calculate the calorie values of individual foods by applying calorie conversion factors to each gramme of protein, fat, and carbohydrate analysed in foods,” said British nutritionist Geoffrey Livesey, who also spoke on the AAAS panel.

In general terms, this system means that a gramme of protein or carbohydrate provides four calories, while a gramme of fat provides nine calories. Food manufacturers work out how much protein, carbohydrates and fat there is in a food and multiply up using the Atwater factors to get the total calories.

“The Atwater Convention yields realistic values for foods that are highly digestible, such as white bread,” said Wrangham. But the system leaves out fibre – assuming that this component of food has no energy value to the body, he said.

Raw foods, he added, were also systematically less energy-producing than the same foods cooked, but regulators that collate data from relevant laboratories did not reflect these differences. “There are two basic reasons why raw foods provide less calories than cooked foods – they are less digestible and also the bits that can be digested cost more to break down. We are talking at least a difference of between 10% to 30%. So eating raw food is a good way to lose weight, but you need to be careful about it long-term and it would not be advisable in children.”

Professor Martin Wickham, head of nutrition at the independent analysts Leatherhead Food Research said: “I think it’s very important, it’s an urgent issue.

“The amount of calories of a particular food has implications not only to us as consumers because we like to be able to keep on top of the number of calories we’re taking on board but if you take somebody who has diabetes, where the number of calories they take on board is vital to their wellbeing, it’s very important. We are effectively reading information off the back of a pack which is incorrect. It’s very misleading.”

Catherine Collins, chief dietitian at the St George’s Hospital Medical School in London was unsure if large-scale changes to food labelling were necessary or practical.

“We can’t move to a situation where manufacturers can use evidence as to digestibility of their foods to determine whether it has the full calculable effect on our energy intake, as we are physiologically variant and it would be impossible to recommend, for example, a daily calorie goal based on this premise,” she said.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “We want to help all consumers make healthier choices based on a range of nutritional information, including the energy content of food.

“The way we calculate energy for labelling purposes has been agreed at European level and is set out in EU legislation.

“The difficulties of implementing a change to the current system of calculating energy content would far outweigh the minor gains in accuracy from such a change and would offer little practical assistance to consumers.”

Calorie levels on food packaging ‘wildly misleading’ “OMG WHAT FIBER AGAIN?”

EEV: The lead story now in two lead publications, seems to have misunderstanding of fiber. This appears to be more of an experiment on hype and misinformation, then actually health or news.

Calorie levels printed on food packaging are wildly misleading and should not be relied upon by dieters, nutritionists claim.

ScreenHunter_74 Feb. 18 12.09


By Nick Collins, Science Correspondent

2:17PM GMT 18 Feb 2013

Manufacturers’ measurements of energy levels in their food do not include fibre, which accounts for about five per cent of our calorie intake.

Dieters who eat Muesli for breakfast, for example, may wonder why they are struggling to lose weight because the packaging ignores “invisible calories” contained in its high fibre content.

In contrast, those eating large amounts of protein may be taking in less energy than they realise because the current system overestimates the number of calories it contains by 20 per cent.

To add to the confusion, nutrition advice also fails to account for whether the food is raw or cooked and processed or unprocessed.

Cooking and processing food can alter calorie levels by up to 30 per cent because we burn more energy digesting things which are hard and uncooked, experts explained.

It means people trying to stick to the daily recommended calorie limits of 2,500 for men and 2,000 for women may be taking in significantly more or less energy than they realise, researchers said.

Speaking at the annual meeting of the American Academy for the Advancement of Science in Boston on Monday Dr Geoffrey Livesey, an independent nutritionist, explained: “In Britain we have not assigned a value for fibre, so calorie counts have normally been lower – on average around five per cent of energy in food is fibre.

“So consumers have been eating more calories than they thought they were, particularly if the food was high-fibre….when people eat muesli, it is a healthy food but they are often putting on lots of weight.”

For decades calorie levels in Britain have been calculated according to the “general factor system”, a simple formula based on how many grammes of fat, protein and carbohydrates there are in the food.

Each gram of protein or carbohydrate contains four calories, according to the system, while a gram of fat contributes nine calories to the total displayed on the package.

But research in the early 1990s established that each gram of fibre is worth another two calories, and this additional information has yet to be included on food in Britain.

Nutritionists recommend that an adult should consume 18g of fibre per day, the equivalent of an additional 250 calories per week.

Rules introduced by the European Commission last year require food manufacturers across the continent to include fibre in their calorie calculation, but Dr Livesey said it remains unclear how many are complying with the new system.

Studies have also established that each gramme of protein contains 3.2 calories rather than four, but there is currently no move to update the general factor system to take this into account.

Prof Richard Wrangham, of Harvard University, added that nutrition advice should also factor in the difference in energy contained in raw and cooked foods.

“There are two basic reasons why raw food provide less calories than cooked foods – they are less digestible and also the bits that can be digested cost more to break down,” he explained. “We are talking at least a difference of between 10 to 30 per cent.

“There is a lot of misinformation around calories, and it is crucial for the consumer, whether they are on a diet or not, to have the correct information about what they eat.”

Fat chance of slimming: dieters who eat high-fibre foods consume more calories, scientists say ” YES YOU READ IT RIGHT”

“So eating raw food is a good way to lose weight, but you need to be careful about it long-term and it would not be advisable in children,”


Manufacturers’ measurements do not take into account the caloric value of fibre

Steve Connor

Monday, 18 February 2013

Food manufacturers and government agencies have consistently misled consumers over many years about the number of calories contained in food, nutritional experts said today.

Calorie-counting people trying to lose weight do not realise that the official system for assessing the caloric value of food is seriously flawed and incapable of providing accurate estimates of the amount of energy in a product, they said.

Food companies for instance do not take into account the caloric value of fibre in food with the effect that some high-fibre foods which are sold as low in calories may actually contain, in the extreme, up to 25 per cent more calories than the label suggests.

It means that some high-fibre foods targeted at people on a diet are actually more fattening than people are led to believe, said Geoffrey Livesey, an independent nutritionist based in Britain who has advised the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation.

“The problem is the system did not consider fibre, but it has a big impact on the variance of energy content in food. What the old system gave us is a very general calorific value,” Dr Livesey said.

“In Britain, we have not assigned a value for fibre, so calorie counts have normally been lower – on average around five per cent of energy in food is fibre,” Dr Livesey told the American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting in Boston.

“So consumers have been eating more calories than they thought they were, particularly if the food was high-fibre. When people eat muesli, it is a healthy food but they are often putting on lots of weight,” he told the meeting.

Consumers have been unknowingly consuming extra calorie in high-fibre food for decades because the system for assessing calories goes back to the 1970s and even earlier. It means that if people follow the daily recommended intake of 18 grams of fibre, they could be consuming more than 250 extra calories each week without realising it, Dr Livesey said.

Under new European guidelines, overseen by the Department of Health and the Food Standards Agency, food companies are being asked to make more accurate assessments of calories but it is unclear how many are doing so, he said.

It is not only the presence of fibre that has upset the calorie estimates. Scientists have known for many years that the calorie counts on food labels do not take into account the energy expended by the body in eating and digesting a particular type of food, said Richard Wrangham of Harvard University.

Government assessments about the amount of energy in food assume that the caloric value is the same whether the food it cooked or raw, but scientists know that raw food provides fewer calories because the body expends energy breaking it down, Professor Wrangham said.

“We are talking about at least a difference of between 10 and 30 per cent. So eating raw food is a good way to lose weight, but you need to be careful about it long-term and it would not be advisable in children,” he said.

“There is a lot of misinformation around calories, and it is crucial for the consumer, whether they are on a diet or not, to have the correct information about what they eat,” he told the meeting.

“These problems have been recognized by specialists for many years but have been regarded as insufficiently important to warrant a change in the way that food value is assessed. As a result the public is given erroneous information about the energy value of many foods,” he added.

“The public is thus misled.”


ScreenHunter_17 Feb. 18 09.55



New study finds neither HFCS nor table sugar increases liver fat under ‘real world’ conditions !!! STUDY designed to FAIL !!!

EEV: This study must be faulted in two area’s immediately:

1. Length of Study 10 Weeks, like Huh?

2. “Not only is it safe to consume caloric sweeteners at recommended levels, it is important for consumers to understand that high fructose corn syrup and table sugar have the same amount of calories and studies like this indicate your body metabolizes them about the same.” Huh, Huh?

3. Study Participants had to be disease free between 25 and 35 kg yet consume no more than more than 14 alcoholic beverages per week.

4. HFCS was based upon percentage of calories required for weight maintenance, not real world caloric intake.

5. Even though all caloric intake equal, the 30% sweetener group gained weight, but no fat?

6. Lots of holes in this partial blind study, but the researches did report honestly. Even though the study sucked and open to experimenter bias in its reporting and design.

7. Oh and the COI’s

Steve Bravo: Has received consulting fees and equipment support from Siemens Inc.

James M. Rippe: Dr. Rippe’s research organization has received funding and Dr. Rippe has received consulting fees from ConAgra Foods, PepsiCo International,

Kraft Foods, the Corn Refiners Association and Weight Watchers Internationals

Contact: Carol Moreau 508-756-1228 Rippe Lifestyle Institute

Adds to scientific evidence that the sweeteners are metabolically equivalent

SHREWSBURY, MA — A study published today in the Journal of Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism presented compelling data showing the consumption of both high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) and sucrose (table sugar) at levels consistent with average daily consumption do not increase liver fat in humans, a leading cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The findings also add to an already well-established body of science that high fructose corn syrup and table sugar are metabolically equivalent.

Increased fat levels in the liver and muscle tissue have also shown to contribute to insulin resistance, a key factor in the development of type 2 diabetes.

The study, conducted by James Rippe, MD, Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida, examined sixty-four individuals who consumed low-fat milk sweetened with either HFCS or sucrose with the added sugar matching the 25th, 50th and 90th percentile population consumption levels of fructose for ten weeks.

The results showed fat content of the liver remained unchanged when the six HFCS and sucrose groups were averaged. Fat content in muscle tissue was also unchanged over the 10 weeks when the six HFCS and sucrose groups were averaged.

“The study’s results are compelling because this is the first study of its kind to test the effects of HFCS and sucrose on liver fat levels in humans using real world conditions,” said Dr. Rippe, who received a grant from the Corn Refiners Association (CRA) to conduct the study. “Previous studies that sought to find a link between caloric sweeteners and diseases such as type 2 diabetes and liver disease often subjected individuals to unrealistically high levels of fructose or had subjects consume fructose independent of glucose, which is just not how fructose is consumed in our daily diet.  Using real world conditions, we find that HFCS and other caloric sweeteners do not appear to increase liver fat or contribute to insulin resistance.”

The two largest sources of fructose in the human diet are sucrose (containing 50% fructose and 50% glucose) and HFCS which is present in the human diet in two forms:  HFCS-55 (which consists of 55% fructose, 42% glucose and 3% other carbohydrates) and HFCS-42 (which consists of 42% fructose and 58% glucose).

“This study seems to confirm what physicians, registered dietitians and healthcare associations such as the American Medical Association have been saying for decades,” said Dr. Mark Haub, Associate Professor in the Department of Nutrition at Kansas State University. “Not only is it safe to consume caloric sweeteners at recommended levels, it is important for consumers to understand that high fructose corn syrup and table sugar have the same amount of calories and studies like this indicate your body metabolizes them about the same.”

For further information or to obtain a copy of this study, please visit


Dr. Rippe is a cardiologist and graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Medical School. His research laboratory has conducted numerous studies and published widely in the areas of nutrition and weight management. He is an advisor to the food and beverage industry and has received unrestricted educational grants from the Corn Refiners Association. He is the Founder and Director of the Rippe Lifestyle Institute, and Professor of Biomedical Sciences at the University of Central Florida.

Bomb materials, weapons found in Ridgewood home : A 60-year-old doctor with ties to the Occupy Wall Street move­ment

Bomb materials, weapons found in Ridgewood home

Saturday, November 17, 2012    Last updated: Sunday November 18, 2012, 9:51 AM

The Record

RIDGEWOOD — A 60-year-old doctor with ties to the Occupy Wall Street move­ment has been charged with possessing a large amount of chemicals commonly used for making bombs and explosive devices, authorities said on Saturday.

Officials worked at 183 Union Street in Ridgewood on Saturday morning, November 17.

Officials worked at 183 Union Street in Ridgewood on Saturday morning, November 17.

Roberto E. Rivera of 183 Union St. was arrested following a multiagency investiga­tion, that included the FBI and Bergen County Bomb Squad. Authorities found several chemicals, assault rifles and other weapons in Rivera’s home, Bergen County Prosecutor John Molinelli said.

Rivera was charged with recklessly creat­ing a risk of widespread injury and unlawful possession of a destructive device, a large­capacity ammunition magazine and a stun gun, prosecutors said. His bail was set at $1 million.

In October last year, Rivera was pho­tographed by Bloomberg News for a feature on Occupy protesters. He is quoted saying, “I’m glad that at last the youth of America is able to stand on two feet and take a position that millions of people around the world have taken that they will not be intimidated by the capitalist free market paradigm and they will fight against gross inequality in distribution of income and assets.”

Occupy Wall Street organizers distanced themselves from Rivera. William Dobbs, a spokesman, said the movement is about protesting “Wall Street greed and is firmly committed to non-violence.”

Rivera, who is unemployed, has a license to practice medicine in New York State, prosecutors said. Electronic records show only one Roberto Rivera registered to practice medicine in New York. Rivera’s license lists an address in Yonkers.

A woman who answered the phone at the Yonkers address on Saturday said she did not know anything about the charges yet. After further questioning, she said, “I’m going to have to go, sorry,” and hung up.

Ridgewood police first responded to Rivera’s home on a report of potential hazardous material at 6:15 p.m. on Friday, prosecutors said.

Police found a “highly volatile chemical” on the property, and after obtaining a search warrant, the FBI and bomb squad located several other chemicals, which are “commonly used in the making of explosive devices,” prosecutors said. A further search revealed a number of assault rifles and other weapons in the home.

The case remains under investigation by local, county and federal agencies.

55 days until fiscal cliff in US: “There is every chance for Moscow to become a new international financial centre”

Pavel Orlov
Nov 7, 2012 15:40 Moscow Time

США экономика Уолл-стрит Уолл стрит Wall Street  08.08.2011\n

Photo: EPA

There are 55 days left until a fiscal cliff in the US. In January, all tax remissions for business will be abolished, which means that the White House will have to sharply cut down expenses and raise the state debt level once again. The previous time, the Congress established the upper limit of state borrowing at $16trln 390bln. Today, the US has only $150bln to meet its budget commitments. Considering the pace of the country’s spending, this is in fact an impossible task.

A fiscal cliff is an instant U-turn in a country’s financial policy. In the US, this could happen on the 1st of January 2013 when the tax concession period expires. The US economy could lose up to 5% of the GDP and another several hundred thousand people could be made redundant. The crisis in the US is likely to seriously hit the world economy again, Doctor of Economics Pavel Medvedev believes.

“If the US purchase power drops the country will buy less, which means fewer commissions for China, Japan and Europe. Those regions would also have fewer jobs as a result. It is a domino effect.”

The US has never faced a fiscal cliff throughout its history, so measures required for stabilizing the country’s economy would be unprecedented. In this connection, the finance ministers of the G20 countries are calling on the US authorities to speedily take a decision regarding the economic risks, which they declared at the Mexico summit. In this situation, the US president is practically given the main role in finding a compromise between a budget savings policy and tax concessions.

In any case, the Congressmen will have the last word. The future of the US economy depends on their efficiency. But if Washington fails to overcome the political differences the country could face another Great Depression. However, even this kind of economic shock is incapable of shaking the Russian economy, Managing Director of the ALOR company Sergey Khestanov says.

“In the worst case, we could face a short-term considerable slump in oil prices, to $80 and even $60 a barrel. If this situation lasts for a few months the reserve funds that Russia has at its disposal will allow it to survive the slump painlessly.”

Experts share the opinion that if the White House consents to a fiscal cliff the US could lose the status of a leading world economy in the new year. US agencies are already secretly discussing the possibilities of changing the sovereign rating. Investors would look for better markets for their capitals again, and China and Europe that depend on the US economy are unlikely to top the list of good markets. There is every chance for Moscow to become a new international financial centre.

China wants to buy its way onto your TV screen. Will it work?

Coming to America


Last November, Michelle Makori, a business reporter formerly of Bloomberg News, joined a small group of seasoned Western television journalists for a whirlwind tour of China. The trip, arranged by China Central Television (CCTV), the world’s largest broadcaster, culminated in a visit to the network’s two headquarters: on the quiet, far west side of Beijing, a drab campus that sits in the shadow of a giant space needle, and, in the frenzied Central Business District, the new digs — a twisted pretzel of steel and glass dreamed up by Rem Koolhaas’s architecture firm, an engineering marvel that manages to look both muscular and terribly fragile.

Makori and her soon-to-be colleagues had come to China to learn about CCTV America from their new employers, who had plucked them from other networks to develop another peculiar headquarters: a roughly 100-person bureau in the center of Washington, D.C., producing a slick news channel aimed at delivering China-centric news to a U.S. audience. “China has a place in the world economy, so it’s only befitting that China has a place in the global media platform,” a senior CCTV executive told them, according to Makori. “The reason you people are before us is because we want to be recognized as a legitimate, objective journalistic force,” he continued. “The idea is for this to be not a Chinese mouthpiece, not a Chinese propaganda tool, but a global channel produced with a Chinese flair.'”

Nearly a year later, that vision is coming into focus, and it offers a curious indication of China’s search for soft power. Despite the promise of wider editorial latitude, CCTV America’s coverage of China is largely scrubbed of controversy and upbeat in tone, with a heavy emphasis on business and cultural stories in places where Beijing hopes to gain influence. Reporting on topics sensitive to Beijing, like unrest in Tibetan regions of China or the Tiananmen Square Massacre is off limits. Coverage of scandals involving disgraced Chongqing Party chief Bo Xilai and dissident legal activist Chen Guangcheng — topics that dominated U.S. and European headlines over the summer — were confined to reports that echoed official government statements. (CCTV America broadcast a stern-faced anchor in Beijing reading the statement “China has called on the United States to apologize over the issue of a Chinese citizen entering the U.S. embassy here in Beijing in late April,” after Chen escaped to the U.S. embassy there.)

“Foreign audiences expect to hear stories about China from Chinese media, and CCTV has nothing to say about the two most important stories of the year?” asked Michael Anti, a Chinese blogger and free speech advocate. “Why would an American audience want to listen?”

Since the U.S. bureau began broadcasting in February, CCTV’s fresh cast of reporters and producers have been struggling to answer that question. Based out of a sparkling new office in Washington, the service comprises a block of news on CCTV News, the network’s recently-revamped 24/7 English-language channel, and covers a range of U.S. and international stories with a cast of 60 reporters, producers, and technicians who have experience at established news organizations like CNN, CBS, and the BBC. Long news pieces, Western accents, slick graphics, live stand-ups in foreign locales, and prominent guests (the likes of Thomas Friedman and Tom Brokaw have appeared on a weekendevening talk show called The Heat), emanate a feel of credibility that has long been absent in CCTV’s dull, starchy news coverage. “They were saying ‘we want you to be doing breaking news and investigative pieces’ and this was the first time a lot of the senior people in China had heard this,” Barbara Dury, a former 60 Minutes producer who now runs CCTV’s Sunday newsmagazine programAmericas Now, said of initial discussions with top CCTV officials. “And they were asking, ‘how’s this all going to play out?'”

In a turbulent and uphill battle for the world’s hearts and minds, and in an effort to stem what it sees as anti-China coverage in the Western media, Beijing’s global television gambit — part of a multi-billion dollar propaganda push by the Chinese government — is its most ambitious yet. And CCTV America is one of the main beneficiaries of Beijing’s largesse. With heavy emphasis on coverage of under-reported places in Latin America and Africa, the network aims to be what some at CCTV call “China’s CNN.” But it takes its biggest cues from Al Jazeera, the state-funded upstart from Qatar that, despite distribution challenges, has won many supporters in the United States.

“CCTV’s strategy is to find niches where other people have let down the global TV audience in the English sphere,” said Jim Laurie, a two-decade veteran of ABC who has consulted for new broadcast ventures around the world, and who is helping CCTV develop its American service. From the new U.S. headquarters on New York Avenue, less than a mile from the White House, Laurie and a team of producers and editors, as well as three Chinese managers who have relocated from Beijing, oversee 16 bureaus in North and South America, supplementing hundreds of Chinese and African reporters working at offices in Africa, Europe, and Asia. On another floor, some 40 Chinese journalists and technicians prepare reports for the domestic service.

In one corner of the bustling, glassy newsroom, a giant central desk is surrounded by a phalanx of screens carrying CNN, Fox, Bloomberg, Al Jazeera, and CCTV’s other news channels. Seen together, CCTV’s broadcast looked buttoned-up and serious next to CNN’s unceasing parade of graphics and heavy emphasis on pop culture. (And yet CCTV America surprised The Atlantic’s national correspondent Jim Fallows, who spent three years living in China and estimated he’s watched “thousands” of hours of CCTV, as he channel surfed. Compared with CNN, “I’ve generally heard a lot more, and in a lot more detail and less tendentiously and cutesily, from, gasp, CCTV America,” he wrote on his blog in April.)

Currently, the bureau produces seven hours of English-language content per week split across three shows, but plans to grow to over 20 hours by next spring, and to add over a dozen more producers and correspondents. “The mentality is expand, expand, expand” said Dury. Half of the service’s new coverage will emphasize business, Laurie said, “because the Chinese believe that the business of China is business.”

Thanks to government investment and growing revenues from big advertisers in China like Procter and Gamble and Coca-Cola, CCTV’s own business is booming. The network now boasts international channels in five languages and claims a total global audience of about 125 million. In January, the company opened a studio in Nairobi, Kenya, and has plans to increase the size of its overseas staff dramatically by 2016. New production centers in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Middle East are scheduled to open by the end of 2015. The eventual idea, Makori explained, is to rely on a continuous flow of reports from outposts around the world, “a global 24-hour news operation — we come to America during its relevant hours, go to Kenya, and China.”

Beyond CCTV, China’s news media reach now extends from mobile phones in Nairobi to newsstands in London to the radio dial in Boston, where WILD-AM, formerly home to the city’s “home for classic soul and R&B,” now hosts the state-owned broadcaster China Radio International. Cut-rate prices on syndicated articles and news footage have made Chinese outlets a popular source for media organizations in developing nations. CCTV has also formed partnerships with Western media organizations, inking syndication deals with Reuters, the Associated Press, and NBC.

Even as China deals with a decline in exports and a softening economy, the global economic tumult has also given Beijing a new opening to lucrative resource-for-development deals in Africa and Latin America, and boosted its confidence in promoting a “China model” of development. The same holds true in the media industry. With budgets shrinking and bureaus shutting among major news outlets, the tumult has left room for new entrants. CCTV America claims to have more television correspondents in Africa and Latin America than either Al Jazeera, CNN, or the BBC, and is one of the only major services to boast of a bureau in Havana (one October story by former BBC correspondent Michael Voss even examinedCuba’s “democratically questionable” upcoming elections). “Global TV news competition has only gotten stiffer over the past 10 years,” says Dave Marash, Al Jazeera English’s first American anchor, and an ABC veteran. “It’s broken the mold of Western dominance of news media, and who gets to define ‘current affairs.'”

The rise of state-funded English-language television outlets from places like France, Iran, and Russia has made the State Department anxious, and led a frustrated Hillary Clinton in March of 2011 to praise Al Jazeera for its “real news around the clock instead of a million commercials,” while lamenting the de-funding of Voice of America. “CCTV already has a tremendous influence on Africa and certain parts of the Middle East, too,” says media scholar Ying Zhu and author of Two Billion Eyes, a book-length investigation of the network published in October 2012. “It’s building its empire in regions where Western media are having trouble.”

In 2011, two years after President Hu Jintao announced a $7 billion plan for China to “go out” into the world, a shake-up at CCTVlanded Hu Zhanfan at the top of the media empire’s hierarchy. The former editor of Beijing-based intellectual newspaper Guangming Daily, CCTV head Hu had cautioned journalists against placing the truth above Party loyalty, reminding them that news must always reflect “our party and country’s political stance.”

Even as reforms meant to loosen state control over the media industry began in 2009, CCTV was not among the companies chosen for reorganization. Right now, weeks away from a once-in-a-decade leadership transition on Nov. 15, thinking outside of the box is not encouraged, said political scientist Joseph Nye. “There are some people in the system who clearly get it. But right now is not the time to stick their heads above the fox hole.”

While a near-monopoly on advertising in China earns CCTV over $2 billion in revenues each year, CCTV is still funded by the government, which still exercises editorial control, just as has since its launch, as Beijing Television, in 1958. “They’ve got the mechanics down to a ‘T,'” says David Shambaugh, director of George Washington University’s China Policy Program. “But the substance is another story. You have Western faces with unstilted English reading off teleprompters. The key question is, what’s on the teleprompter?”

* * *

For an hour each weekday at 9pm Eastern time, a program called Biz Asia America –anchored by Makori and Philip Yin, both veterans of Bloomberg News — features top national and international stories. Aside from business and political news in Asia and the Americas, the service includes reports from correspondents in cities across Europe and the Middle East, delivering dispatches on stories like Spain’s growing reliance on Chinese trade, Syrian refugees seeking shelter in Turkey, and volunteer medical centers in Greece.

The day begins with a morning pitch meeting, where the evening’s prospective stories are discussed. Nothing is off limits, but editorial decisions ultimately fall with Chinese news managers, led by Director General Ma Jing, who have relocated from Beijing. (Ma Jing and all Chinese staff contacted declined to be interviewed for this story.) “There’s vigorous debate about what stories will be covered on that day,” said Laurie. “It’s a process you see in every newsroom, wherever you are. But when there’s a lack of decision, then the managing editor who’s Chinese will step in.”

The roughly 10,000 people that work at CCTV around the world produce over 20 channels, from sports to entertainment to news, all intended to serve the network’s ultimate mandate: promote the values of the Communist Party. Still, Laurie believes that CCTV’s newest foreign broadcasts have arrived at a critical juncture for China, amidst an embryonic debate about further loosening foreign media from the restrictions that dictate domestic broadcasts. “The people that I have learned to know since 2007,” he said, “have been bright, sometimes courageous, young journalists who, just like journalists in Europe and America, want to do good journalism, want to push the envelope, want to be responsible people.”

“Our operation has to be guided in the end by the limits that Beijing would allow,” said Laurie, who speaks in the tidy sentences of a seasoned television correspondent. “There’s no getting around that.” Still, Laurie likes to urge skeptics to stay tuned. The idea with CCTV America, he said, was “to do broadcasts that would be able to push the envelope in ways that weren’t possible before on China’s domestic television.”

Laurie’s relationship with CCTV is in many ways as complex and puzzling as the media conglomerate itself. While he began working with the company in 2007, his first encounter with CCTV was in the late 1970s, on a black-and-white television across the border in Hong Kong. As a young reporter for ABC News when China was still in the thrall of Mao Zedong’s Cultural Revolution, Laurie and his colleagues would gather over bottles of beer and study CCTV’s 7:00 p.m. domestic news broadcast for clues to the current ranking of Communist officials. “We’d take a stopwatch and measure how many seconds each leader had [on screen],” he said, referring to a longstanding practice on CCTV of allotting screen time to officials according to their standing in the Party. The more airtime officials receive the more in favor they’re seen to be. The young journalists would then trek out to the border between Hong Kong and Chinaand look longingly across. “I remember thinking,” said Laurie, “‘shit, why can’t I be in there?'”

A few years after winning a Peabody Award for his reporting for NBC in Vietnam in 1975, Laurie landed in Beijing as one of the city’s first Western correspondents in decades. In 1989, when students began gathering in Tiananmen Square, ABC sent Laurie, who was then chief of its Moscow bureau, back to Beijing to cover the protests.

In the late morning hours of June 5, 1989, after witnessing soldiers shoot at dozens of civilians as they fled for safety in and around Tiananmen Square, Laurie and a camerawoman turned down a side street. In the crowd they spotted a tall man in a sport coat named Xiao Bin, frantically ranting about what he had witnessed and overheard from others. “The bastards killed thousands!” said the man, a factory worker from the northern city of Dalian, when they interviewed him. “Tanks ran over people. Crushing them.” While no official death tally exists, estimates of the dead, including soldiers, now range from the hundreds to the thousands. Laurie told his camerawoman he thought Xiao was exaggerating. “She said, ‘yes, but it’s awfully good television.’ I said ‘you’re right,'” Laurie recounted.

As Chinese officials rushed to cover up the events of the previous night, Laurie and his colleague managed to send their footage to Hong Kong for transmission by satellite to ABC’s studios in New York. But somehow, someone in Beijing was watching.

“The Chinese — and its unclear to me this day how they actually did it — intercepted the outgoing signal,” said Laurie. The unencrypted signal from Hong Kong had been hijacked. Around the time that ABC’s audiences in New York listened to Xiao Bin’s testimony, so did 200 million Chinese viewers of CCTV, with a subtitle underneath: “This man is wanted,” it read. “‘He is a rumor-monger and counter revolutionary. Please turn him in to your nearest Security Bureau office.'”

A few days later, Xiao was turned in, and in a public hearing also broadcast on CCTV, accused of “hooliganism” and forced to apologize for spreading “rumors.” He was sentenced to 10 years in a labor camp.

Laurie was horrified. “The Xiao Bin story is probably the most traumatic journalistic event in my life,” he said. “Very rarely in a career as a journalist do you, in effect, send someone to prison. The story is very complicated, and with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, you can always say ‘that could have been prevented if you had done A, B, and C.’ But in the context of the day after the Tiananmen massacre, it was almost unavoidable, in a way.”

Laurie returned to Moscow to witness the end of the Soviet Union, and in 1994 reported on South Africa’s democratic transition under Nelson Mandela, earning more plaudits along the way. But the memory of Xiao Bin lingered. In 1997, he returned to Beijing, and learned that Xiao had been released after five years. “He was living quietly, but I can’t say happily, back in his hometown of Dalian.” Through a friend, Laurie sent a few hundred dollars. “Once you go through the Chinese prison system, your life is pretty messed up.”

Laurie, who taught journalism at Hong Kong University from 2005 to 2011, acknowledges the irony of his consulting for the network that once turned his reporting against an innocent man. But, now 65, he points out, mustering a chuckle, that the current group of CCTV America’s Chinese editors “were all four years old in 1989.” And given his experience, he sees his role as nudging the network in a more open direction, an approach he said some elements at CCTV have tried to embrace. “There are limitations, and they’re constantly trying to find ways they can work around those limitations. They absorb some ideas [from me], adopt some and not adopt others.”

* * *

Despite the challenges, a tough economy with dwindling prospects for television journalists can make the attraction of a job at a place like CCTV hard to resist. Western staff at CCTV like Laurie and Makori have been lured by the promise of highly competitive salaries, bigger responsibilities, and ample resources for travel and production. And it’s a chance to be on the ground floor of China’s first big foray into Western media.

“China is the emerging/emerged superpower, so it was a no-brainer for me,” Makori explained after a taping of her show in April at the NASDAQ site in Times Square. A few blocks away, the square’s tallest billboard was cycling through a bucolic slideshow of Chinese landscapes — an advertisement for Xinhua, the state-owned wire service that’s another beneficiary of Beijing’s media push.

“It’s like getting on the ground floor of Facebook or Google. You already know that China’s going to be a huge player,” she said. “It’s exciting, it’s innovative. China’s obviously pegged to be one of the global leaders, if not the global leader. So for me as a journalist to develop expertise in China, that’s not a bad career move.”
Makori told me that even though Chinese editors in Washington and Beijing vetted all stories, censorship was not an explicit policy, and said she was surprised that her reporting on more sensitive issues, like trade disputes, hadn’t been a problem.
“Honestly, a part of me thought that these would be taboo topics, but on the contrary, we highlight them,” said Makori, in her light South African accent. “We really try to have a balanced view of both sides, but we make sure to also show the Chinese side of the story.” Asked if there were omissions, she said that editorial freedom was greater at CCTV than at a previous employer, SABC, South Africa’s state broadcaster. “I can tell you that CCTV, in my experience, has not been controlling at all from an editorial point of view, from a content point of view — certainly not more so than any other news channel that I’ve worked at.”
Nina Donaghy, who left her job as a reporter at theBBC to work as the network’s Washington correspondent, insisted that her coverage was not done “in coordination” with Beijing. “Otherwise I wouldn’t be here, frankly. With my kind of background, I wouldn’t.”

Censorship isn’t the network’s only challenge. Distribution remains a hurdle. While CCTV already has greater reach in the United States than Al Jazeera, finding the channel on your television can be difficult, and the network hasn’t generated much buzz among viewers or critics. Like some other foreign broadcasters in the United States, there are no public ratings for CCTV America. Its clunky, often poorly translated website occasionally descends into accidental comedy (“Egypt’s Mubarak in comma, but ‘not clinically dead'” [sic]), and its live stream is often broken. It was only after Barbara Dury’s lobbying, she said, that CCTV agreed in June to launch its first channel on YouTube — a service, she noted with a chuckle, that’s banned in China.

Laurie is hoping to solve CCTV’s distribution problem in the United States by getting the channel into hotel rooms, a tactic that helped CNN gained traction among business travelers during the 1990s.For now, the hopes of CCTV America’s journalists are pinned on emulating the success of that upstart from Qatar. “I remember when Al Jazeera started, people called it ‘the terror network,”’ said Walter. “But now, years later, they’re producing really quality stuff that’s being recognized. That’s what I hope for CCTV. I think it will just get better.”

Still, CCTV’s Western employees are taking their new jobs in stride. Donaghy complained that the CCTV label can be an annoying liability. “You get some comments. Running from, ‘I’m sure you’re paid a fortune!’ to ‘Do you speak Chinese?'” When The Heat host Mike Walter, a former anchor at the CBS affiliate in Washington, interviewed for his CCTV job, the station’s chief Ma began by reading him a newspaper report skeptical of the new network. “The argument was, it’s basically going to be a puppet for the Chinese government, basically a propaganda instrument, and she said, ‘what do you think of that?'” recounted Walter. “I said, ‘obviously it was a concern of mine. I don’t want me working for CCTV to change the circuitry in my brain.'”

“Personally, I think their mission is to learn as much as they can,” said Donaghy. “And to open up, and to look to the United States to see how to run an international cable network. They’re very open. It’s very early days yet.”

Being on the ground floor also means the chance to do good reporting on topics that can’t offend government sensibilities — and, perhaps, on topics that might. “The wall is always shifting,” said Walter, whose TV anchor affability seems to belie an eagerness to probe some boundaries. “It’s always good to bump up against a wall and see how strong it is, and whether there’s some softness. I think we are going to chart new territories.”

With broader distribution, the network may have a chance to woo audiences in Latin America and Africa, where television reporting has dwindled in recent years. To make inroads in the United States, CCTV will continue to focus on business stories, coupled with a greater emphasis on cultural documentaries about Chinese history, culture, and nature — programming that projects a “cute” image of the country, says Ying, the media scholar. As for its news content, “CCTV won’t change until the government changes.”

Marash, Al Jazeera English’s first American anchor, cautioned against writing off the network just yet. If it can manage to loose itself of Beijing’s grip, gain wider distribution, and sway audiences with marquee interviews and exclusive coverage of the Chinese economy, for instance, it might find a foothold on Wall Street, if not on Capitol Hill. “And it’s almost certainly going to get better.”

But Walter said that pushing the envelope, even a little bit, was a challenge for the network’s newest journalists, and for the Chinese producers who serve as a middleman with Beijing. “You got all these Western journalists who want to push this further, and then you work with the other side which says, ‘wait, don’t push too much.’ They have to find a happy balance and operate within these confines. That’s not easy.”
“American journalists have the attitude that it’s better to ask forgiveness rather than permission,” added Walter. “In China, it’s better to ask permission than forgiveness. We’ve run headlong into that. The approach is very different. It’s something that will be a struggle here.”


Breast cancer screening saves lives, says study??? that screening only narrowly decreased risks that a 50-year-old woman would die from breast cancer within 10 years — from 0.53 percent to 0.46 percent.

Engineering Evil Note: There seems to be conflicting studies being utilized to favor screening. I found this report stating that they used no current data for the meta analysis. The data they claimed to have used here was over 20 years old. I am withholding my humble opinion to see if there were current studies, and if they used the superior MRI  overt he  antiquated mammograms. There seems to be a few different press releases quoting different studies, in addition now to a few broken links to those reports.


Breast cancer screening saves lives, says study

PARIS (AFP)  Benefits of preemptive breast cancer screening outweigh the risks, a study said Tuesday, insisting the practice saves thousands of lives.The new research adds to the debate about the dangers of overdiagnosis, which sees some women undergo invasive treatment for cancers that would never have made them ill or even been diagnosed were it not for the scans.”Breast screening extends lives,” concluded a panel of researchers in The Lancet medical journal.

The team had analysed data from other trials conducted over many years in Britain, where women aged 50 to 70 are invited for a screening mammogram every three years.

The data, it said, pointed to a 20 percent reduction in mortality — or one death prevented for every 180 women screened.

This meant that the UK screening programmes “probably prevent about 1,300 breast cancer deaths every year,” said the report.

But there is a cost.

Nearly 20 percent of breast cancer diagnosed by screening would never have caused any problems, said the study.

The panel, set up to advise British policymakers, estimated that among every 10,000 women invited to screening from the age of 50 in the Britain, 681 cancers would be discovered, of which 129 would be overdiagnoses, and 43 deaths prevented.

The report showed that “the UK breast-screening programme extends lives and that, overall, the benefits outweigh the harms,” The Lancet wrote in an editorial.

“Women need to have full and complete access to this latest evidence in order to make an informed choice about breast cancer screening.”

The team conceded there were limitations to its work, including that all the data scrutinised was more than 20 years old.

Cancer experts have been at loggerheads for years about whether the benefits of screening outweigh the harm of overdiagnosis.

All cancer, once picked up in the screening process, is treated, often with surgery as well as radio- and chemotherapy, as it is impossible to tell which growths would have remained undetected for the remainder of a woman’s life.

In August, medical experts Steven Woloshin and Lisa Schwartz wrote in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) that screening only narrowly decreased risks that a 50-year-old woman would die from breast cancer within 10 years — from 0.53 percent to 0.46 percent.

Up to half of women screened annually over 10 years experienced at least one false alarm that required a biopsy, they said.

And in 2010, a report in the New England Journal of Medicine said mammograms have only a “modest” impact on reducing breast cancer deaths.

The latest panel had been created by the national cancer director for England, Mike Richards and Cancer Research UK chief executive officer Harpal Kumar.

Its work, said The Lancet, “should begin to lay the benefits versus harm controversy to rest”.

Did Obama camp borrow racy virginity video idea from Putin?

 Campaign video that compares voting for Obama to a  girl losing her virginity prompts furious reaction

LAST UPDATED AT  13:01 ON Fri 26 Oct 2012

HAS the Barack Obama camp taken a leaf out of Vladimir Putin’s campaign book  with his “virginity” pastiche ad (see video below)?

The US President is targeting young voters with a racy video clip that bears  similarities to a campaign Putin released ahead of the Russian presidential  election in March.

Lena Dunham, the writer and star of television hit Girls, appears in  the Obama video, The First Time. “Your first time shouldn’t be with  just anybody,” Dunham tells viewers. “You want to do it with a great guy.”

Flogging the metaphor, she says “the first time” should be with someone who  cares about women and whether they get health insurance and birth control.

“My first time voting was amazing,” she says, finally making the metaphor  clear. “There’s a line in the sand. Before I was a girl, now I was a woman. I  went to the polling station, I pulled back the curtain. I voted for Barack  Obama.”

Fans of Girls, which has just started airing in Britain, won’t be surprised  to see Dunham endorsing Obama via an edgy, feminist monologue about sex, says New York magazine. But in the few hours that the ad has  been out, conservatives have already expressed outrage over the “disgusting” and  “astoundingly tasteless” clip.

Fox News analyst and conservative author Monica Crowley calls the ad “sick”  and “degrading” on Twitter, while RedState editor-in-chief Erick Erickson claims  the ad is “proof we live in a fallen world destined for hell fire”.

But as the Atlantic Wire points out, if conservatives really wanted a  cause for outrage they could have focused on the fact that “Obama stole the idea  from Putin”.

Putin used a similar concept in his election campaign earlier this  year. In an ad (see video below) that picked up 680,000 views on  YouTube, a young Russian woman is told by a fortune-teller that her “first time”  will be with Putin. The video ends with the woman entering a polling station and  the words: ‘Putin. Only for love the first time.’

“Now that’s the real crime,” says Atlantic Wire. “He had to steal from the  Russians.”

Putin video:


Read more:

Same Report 2 Titles ( Organic fruit and vegetables are no better for children, pediatricians claim ) – ( American Academy of Pediatrics Reviews The Benefits of Organic Foods )

Article # 1


2nd article  at Bottom
3rd and 4th  article link to the Actual PR release…From the OTA the Other the Original Release from the AAP

Organic fruit and vegetables are no better for children, pediatricians  claim

By Associated Press

PUBLISHED:16:43 EST, 22  October 2012| UPDATED:16:44 EST, 22 October 2012

Organic fruits and vegetables are not necessarily safer or more nutritious than  conventional foods, a leading pediatricians group has claimed.

Parents who  want to reduce their kids’ exposure to pesticides may seek out organic produce,  but science has not proven that eating  pesticide-free food makes people healthier, the American Academy of Pediatrics  said.

‘Theoretically there could be negative  effects, especially in young children with growing brains,’  said Dr. Janet Silverstein, a co-author on the report.

Findings: Pediatricians have claimed pesticide-free foods, as those pictured, aren't necessarily safer or more nutritious for children than conventional foods
Findings: Pediatricians have claimed pesticide-free  foods, as those pictured, aren’t necessarily safer or more nutritious for  children than conventional foods

Yet Silverstein, a  pediatric endocrinologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville, added that rigorous scientific evidence  is lacking.

‘We just can’t say for certain that organics  is better without long-term controlled studies,’ she said.

The report was published online on Monday in  Pediatrics and echoes a Stanford University study released last  month.

That research concluded that while eating  organic fruits and vegetables can reduce pesticide exposure, the amount measured  in conventionally grown produce was within safety limits.

More digging: Doctors said there were limited studies showing its damage
More digging: Doctors said there were limited studies  showing its damage

Since organic foods tend to be costlier, a  good strategy for penny-pinching parents concerned about pesticides is to buy  only organic versions of foods with the most pesticide residue – including  apples, peaches, strawberries and celery, Silverstein said.

But the pediatricians group says higher  prices on organic foods might lead some parents to buy fewer fruits and  vegetables over all.

They fear this is not a good strategy since  both have health benefits including reducing risks for obesity, heart disease  and some cancers.

Parents should aim to provide their families  a diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whether organic or not, along with plenty  of whole grains and low-fat or fat-free dairy products, the report  says.

Read more: Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Article # 2

American Academy of Pediatrics Reviews The Benefits of Organic Foods

by in Parenting

In the last few years the benefits of organic foods has always been a big question for many families. In fact Stanford University doctors recentlyrevealed that because they were ‘inadequately prepared when it came to answering their patients’ questions regarding the nutritional value of organic foods, they combed through thousands of studies on 237 of the most commonly compared organic and conventionally grown foods. In the end it was found that organic foods did not prove themselves to be any more nutritious than conventionally grown foods.  The big issue, however, is pesticide exposure.

Looking to make things a little easier for parents ‘confused by conflicting marketing messages regarding healthy food choices for their children’, the American Academy of Pediatrics(AAP) did their own research, which is scheduled to appear in the November issue of the journal Pediatrics. Calling the report a major milestone for the organic sector, the Organic Trade Association (OTA) hails it as a confirmation of the significance of the benefits that organic provides.

“OTA commends the American Academy of Pediatrics—which is THE authority for pediatricians and parents—for examining the health and environmental benefits of organic foods. The science cited in this report points firmly towards positive aspects of organic farming, and confirms many reasons for purchasing organic foods,” said Christine Bushway, OTA’s CEO and Executive Director. She added, “This information will help empower parents as they make decisions about what to feed their children.”

Overall, the clinical report cited the following contributions of organic farming and food consumption:

  • Lower exposure to pesticides known to cause disease
  • Lower exposure to drug-resistant bacteria
  • Higher beneficial nutrient levels such as Vitamin C, total phenols and phosphorus
  • Lower levels of detrimental substances such as nitrates
  • Yields comparable to those of conventional farming techniques while avoiding environmental pollution and reducing fossil fuel consumption
  • Lower pesticide exposure for farm workers
  • Lower overall environmental impact than conventional farming.

Co-authors Dr. Joel Forman and Dr. Janet Silverstein added that there is a need for additional studies to improve our understanding of the long-term health effects of pesticide exposure from conventional foods and from the consumption of meat from hormone-treated animals, as well as to study nutritional aspects of food grown organically.

Agreeing that additional scientific research is needed to improve understanding of long-term health effects from dietary choices, Bushway added,

“It is clear that organic presents a valuable option for consumers who want to lower their families’ exposure to pesticides and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, and reduces risk to farm workers and their families from exposure to toxic pesticides while maintaining agricultural productivity. With scientific research already demonstrating that pregnant women and children are uniquely vulnerable to exposure to pesticides, it is important to remember that organic food—particularly produce—is available at competitive prices at many venues, making this decision easier for parents.”

Double-Take: EU ‘Tolerance’ Poster Includes the Cross, the Star of David, And … Wait, What Is That?

Journalist and Conservative MEP for South East England Daniel Hannan on Friday posted to his blog the following picture of a Europe4All poster currently on display at the European Commission:

Daniel Hannan Posts a Photo of Europe 4 Alls Soviet Inclusive Tolerance Poster

Courtesy The Telegraph

Oh, that’s nice. Tolerance and inclusion? It’s like one of those “coexist” bumper stickers you see in the U.S. (usually right next to the sticker that says “My other car is a broom”):

Daniel Hannan Posts a Photo of Europe 4 Alls Soviet Inclusive Tolerance Poster

You know, it’s this sort of magnanimous inclusivity that won the European Union the Nobel Peace Prize. As this poster clearly illustrates, people of all — Wait, what is that?

Daniel Hannan Posts a Photo of Europe 4 Alls Soviet Inclusive Tolerance Poster

Seriously? The hammer and sickle symbol made infamous by the Soviet Union made its way onto a poster promoting inclusion and tolerance? We could go on about the irony of placing a symbol that’s as closely tied to communism as the swastika is to Nazism next to the symbols of Christianity, Judaism, and Hinduism, but Hannan says it best:

For three generations, the badge of the Soviet revolution meant poverty, slavery, torture and death. It adorned the caps of the chekas who came in the night. It opened and closed the propaganda films which hid the famines. It advertised the people’s courts where victims of purges and show-trials were condemned. It fluttered over the re-education camps and the gulags. For hundreds of millions of Europeans, it was a symbol of foreign occupation. Hungary, Lithuania and Moldova have banned its use, and various  former communist countries want it to be treated in the same way as Nazi insignia.

Yet here it sits on a poster in the European Commission, advertising the moral deafness of its author (I hope that’s what it is, rather than lingering nostalgia). The Bolshevist sigil celebrates the ideology which, in strict numerical terms, must be reckoned the most murderous ever devised by our species. That it can be passed unremarked day after day in the corridors of Brussels is nauseating.

Final Thought: IfEurope4All’s idea of “tolerance” includes embracing the same regime responsible for the Ukrainian famine, then this author is the least tolerant person in the world.

Mitt was correct to attack Obama over Libya killings after siding with President . . . as cameras catch Michelle breaking rules by clapping husband

  • Moderator said Romney was incorrect to  question whether the President called the killing of the U.S. ambassador in  Benghazi an ‘act of terror’
  • Crowley claimed she waded in over Libya to  ‘bring clarity’ to debate
  • Later backtracked and admitted Romney ‘was  right in the main’
  • Michelle Obama caught on camera applauding  controversial moment
  • GOP aides say moderator ‘had no business’  interrupting the candidate
  • Obama spoke for three more minutes than  Romney during New York debate
  • Republican extends lead in national polls  released on Wednesday morning

By Louise Boyle and Hugo Gye

PUBLISHED:20:23 EST, 16  October 2012| UPDATED:13:12 EST, 17 October 2012

Candy Crowley admitted that Mitt Romney was  RIGHT to criticise Barack Obama for his response to the attack on the U.S.  consulate in Benghazi just hours after she apparently sided with Obama at a  crucial point in the high drama presidential debate on Tuesday night.

The moderator’s shock intervention, in which  she cut Romney short when he claimed that Obama had failed to say the  attack was the work of terrorists in  the his Rose Garden statement the following day, has been met with  outrage.

However, Crowley appeared to backtrack just a  few hours after she left the GOP candidate exposed on the stage in front of  millions of viewers. She admitted that Romney had been ‘right in the main’ but  added that he had ‘picked the wrong word’.

The row intensified when Michelle Obama was  caught on camera applauding Crowley’s intervention – despite rules banning  members of the audience from clapping or otherwise showing support during the  debate, which has been called the ‘most rancorous’ in history.

The fiery clash came as President Obama  continued to struggle in the polls, with the latest data showing a six-point  lead for Romney, who is also performing strongly in the Democratic-leaning swing  state of Wisconsin.

Scroll down  for footage of the electric clash

Hot seat: Moderator Candy Crowley talks to the audience at Hofstra University on Long Island last night before Barack Obama and Mitt Romney took to the stage for the second presidential debateHot seat: Moderator Candy Crowley talks to the audience  at Hofstra University on Long Island last night before Barack Obama and Mitt  Romney took to the stage for the second presidential debate

At loggerheads: Both candidates talk at once as they disagree over how Obama handled the Benghazi attack

At loggerheads: Both candidates talk at once as they  disagree over how Obama handled the Benghazi attack

No pussyfooting around: Crowley often struggled to control the candidates as they spoke over each other

No pussyfooting around: Crowley often struggled to  control the candidates as they spoke over each other

Not impressed: Mr Obama fixes an angry stare at his opponent

Not impressed: Mr Obama fixes an angry stare at his  opponent


A storm of protest has followed the incident.  Top Romney allies said  Crowley ‘had no business’ intervening in the argument,  accusing her of  ‘getting in the game’ rather than being an impartial  observer.

During a question about security at  the  Benghazi compound, where four American officials including  ambassador Chris  Stevens were killed on September 11, Obama said he was  ultimately responsible  as commander-in-chief.

Romney then questioned whether or not Obama  had called the consulate attack an ‘act of terror’ in his Rose Garden address  the following day.

While Obama cut across Romney – saying ‘look  at the transcript’ – Crowley  seemed to back up the President, telling the  Republican governor that  Obama did ‘call it an act of terror’.


ROMNEY: You said in the Rose Garden the day  after the attack it was an act of terror. It was not a spontaneous  demonstration.

OBAMA: Please proceed.

ROMNEY: Is that what you’re  saying?

OBAMA: Please proceed,  Governor.

ROMNEY: I want to make sure we get that for  the record, because it took the president 14 days before he called the attack in  Benghazi an act of terror.

OBAMA: Get the transcript.

CROWLEY: It – he did in fact,  sir.

OBAMA: Can you say that a little louder,  Candy?

CROWLEY: He did call it an act of terror. It  did as well take two weeks or so for the whole idea of there being a riot out  there about this tape to come out. You are correct about that.

Her interjection drew applause from the  audience, led by Mrs Obama, but angered political commentators, who accused  Crowley of stepping in on behalf of the President.

Breitbart editor Ben Shapiro called the  moderator’s reactions a ‘disgrace’ while  his colleague John Nolte said Crowley  ‘lied to save Obama’.

Democratic strategist Joe Trippi told Fox  News the exchange was ‘going to help the President’, adding: ‘There’s a ref, and the ref just threw the  flag.’

Romney advisor Ron  Kaufman continued the sporting metaphor as he said: ‘At different times tonight,  she in fact got into the game, and she wasn’t on the  sidelines.’

And former New Hampshire governor John Sununu  said: ‘Candy was  wrong, and Candy had no business doing that, and Candy didn’t even keep the time  right.’

However, top Romney  aide Eric Fehrnstrom insisted he was relaxed about the controversial  intervention, saying: ‘I don’t complain about the refs – I think Candy was  dandy.’

The shock moment came  in the middle of what CBS News anchor Scott Pelley described as  ‘the most rancorous presidential  debate ever’, adding: ‘We have never seen  anything like that in presidential history. They turned every  question from the  audience into an attack on the other.’

Crowley often struggled to control the  candidates as they spoke over each other amid angry exchanges.

The pair bordered on being physically  aggressive, coming toe-to-toe and  looming over each other as they gesticulated  at each other.

Obama’s in-your-face performance was a major  improvement on his display in Denver, and viewers rated him the  winner by a  seven-point margin in a CNN poll – 46 per cent, compared to 39 per cent for the  challenger.

But Romney scored a number of points, especially on the economy, and in the CNN poll only 38 per cent felt  Obama had  a clear plan for the country while 50 per cent thought Romney  had one.

In another poll by CBS, 37 per cent of those surveyed said Obama won with Romney trailing at 30  per  cent.

Obama’s much better showing might not be  enough to halt his slide in the national polls, which has seen  Romney gain  around five points nationally and take a narrow but clear  lead.

The Gallup tracking poll on Wednesday gave  the Republican a lead of six points as he took 51 per cent of the vote, with 45  per cent for Obama, while he was just one point behind in Wisconsin, where the  incumbent has until now held on to a large lead.

Early reports indicated that the debate on  Long Island had pulled in a smaller audience than the first event in Denver,  with around six per cent fewer tuning in.

Crowley's interjection angered political commentators, who said she had stepped in on behalf of the PresidentCrowley’s interjection angered political commentators,  who said she had stepped in on behalf of the President

Rule-breaking: Michelle Obama can be seen clapping in the bottom right corner of this imageRule-breaking: Michelle Obama can be seen clapping in  the bottom right corner of this image

Obama at one point said it was  ‘offensive’  of Romney to suggest that his administration’s response to  the Libya consulate  attack was politically motivated.

Obama said: ‘The  day after the attack,  Governor, I stood in the Rose Garden, and I told  the American people and the  world that we are going to find out exactly  what happened, that this was an act  of terror.’

Romney then questioned the veracity of  Obama’s remarks. He said: ‘I want to make  sure we get that for the record, because it took the  president 14 days before  he called the attack in Benghazi an act of  terror.’

While Romney continued to question Obama’s  claims, Crowley interjected: ‘He [Obama] did in fact, sir.’

Obama then said: ‘Can you say that a little  louder, Candy?’ to laughter and applause from the audience.

Then rather belatedly, Crowley told Romney:  ‘He did call it an act of  terror. It did as well take – it did as well take two  weeks or so for  the whole idea of there being a riot out there about this tape  to come  out. You are correct about that.’

The exchange was the only point during the  debate when Crowley sought to correct one of the candidates on a point of  fact.

Barack ObamaBarack Obama

The morning after: Obama leaves the White House on  Wednesday morning after the debate

Happy? Romney walks up to his campaign plane at the airport in Ronkonkoma, New York on WednesdayHappy? Romney walks up to his campaign plane at the  airport in Ronkonkoma, New York on Wednesday


Last night’s  second presidential debate reignited the controversy over Obama’s words  following the September 11 attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya.

The following  day, he made this speech from the White House Rose Garden:

‘Of course, yesterday was already a painful  day for our nation as we marked the solemn memory of the 9/11 attacks. We  mourned with the families who were lost on that day. I visited the graves of  troops who made the ultimate sacrifice in Iraq and Afghanistan at the hallowed  grounds of Arlington Cemetery, and had the opportunity to say thank you and  visit some of our wounded warriors at Walter Reed.

‘And then last night, we learned the news of  this attack in Benghazi.

‘As Americans, let us never, ever forget that  our freedom is only sustained because there are people who are willing to fight  for it, to stand up for it, and in some cases, lay down their lives for it. Our  country is only as strong as the character of our people and the service of  those both civilian and military who represent us around the globe.

‘No acts of terror will ever shake the  resolve of this great nation, alter that character, or eclipse the light of the  values that we stand for.

‘Today we mourn four more Americans who  represent the very best of the United States of America. We will not waver in  our commitment to see that justice is done for this terrible act.  And make  no mistake, justice will be done.’

A number of audience members could  clearly  be heard applauding the line. Nearly all the applause came from  the higher  levels of the auditorium, not from the debate participants.

But one person within the inner circle did  participate in the illicit  ovation – Mrs Obama was caught on camera clapping  during the heated  back-and-forth.

The  First Lady was given three tickets to  the debate and allowed to sit  among the participants who were involved with  questioning the  candidates.

The moderator later appeared to backtrack on  her own comments, saying ‘it  was just the natural thing to come out of me’ but  admitting that the  substance of Romney’s assertion was correct.

‘He was right in the main, I just think he  picked the wrong word,’ she said during a post-debate appearance on  CNN.

The audience member who asked the question  which touched off the controversy said he did not feel Obama had answered his  query.

‘I really didn’t think he totally answered  the question satisfactorily as far as I was concerned,’ Kerry Ladka told the  Washington Post.

Ladka, 61, asked who ‘denied enhanced  security’ to the Benghazi consulate – but the President avoided the issue,  instead offering a tribute to U.S. diplomats and an attack on his  opponent.

After the debate, Obama approached Ladka for  a two-minute conversation in which he said he could not answer the question  because ‘releasing the individual names of anyone in the State Department would  really put them at risk’.

The undecided voter told the Post, ‘I  appreciate his private answer more than his public answer’ – though his high  regard for Romney’s business record means he has still not made up his mind how  to vote.

Another questioner, Jeremy Epstein, did  decide whom to vote for during last night’s debate – but has refused to say  which candidate he now supports.

The 20-year-old student paid tribute to both  participants, saying: ‘Mitt Romney’s first answer – I felt like he was staring  into my soul, just right through me, when he was asking me the  question.

‘And then when the President came up, I felt  like he, you know he started up by saying my future’s bright – I feel like they  were both sincere.’

Epstein spoke to the two candidates after the  debate – and argued with Obama over whether he would beat him in a one-on-one  game of basketball.

Carol Goldberg said she had been swayed  towards the President based on his answer to her question about how to keep jobs  from being outsourced overseas.

Obama replied, ‘There  are some jobs that are not going to come back. Because they are low-wage,  low-skill jobs. I want high-wage, high-skill jobs.’

‘I believe that’s true,’ Goldberg told the  Huffington Post. ‘I thought that was a very good answer.’

Embattled: Crowley applauds both candidates as the debate, which was often vicious, got under way
Fighting talk: Romney and Obama clash during the debate, with the President on more aggressive form than the first time they metFighting talk: Romney and Obama clash during the debate,  with the President on more aggressive form than the first time they met

Anger: Romney lost his temper at one point as he ordered the President not to interrupt himAnger: Romney lost his temper at one point as he ordered  the President not to interrupt himDuring his Rose Garden address on  September  12, the day following the attack in Benghazi, Obama said: ‘No  acts of terror  will ever shake the resolve of this great nation, alter  that character or  eclipse the light of the values that we stand for.’

While he did therefore establish a link  between the raid and ‘terror’ as a  whole, he did not explicitly say that he  believed it to have been  conducted by terrorists.

And over the next few days, the President  repeatedly linked the attack to  protests against a U.S.-made YouTube video  mocking the Prophet Muhammad  which were sweeping the Muslim world at the  time.

The attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi  was a talking point again during Vice President Joe Biden’s debate last  week.

Biden claimed in the debate with Republican  VP nominee Paul Ryan that ‘we  weren’t told’ about requests for extra security  at the consulate.


September  11: Ambassador Chris Stevens and three others are killed in an attack on  the U.S. consulate in Benghazi.

September  12: Barack Obama makes a statement saying, ‘No acts of terror will ever  shake the resolve of this great nation,’ but does not explicitly label the raid  a terrorist attack.

September  13: White House press secretary Jay Carney blames the assault on a  U.S.-made YouTube video mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

September  16: Susan Rice, American ambassador to the UN, says she believes the  attack ‘began as a spontaneous, not premeditated, response’ to protests over the  video.

September  20: Carney says, ‘It is self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a  terrorist attack.’

September  25: Obama declines to label the attack as terrorism during an appearance  on The View.

October  9: State Department officials insist they never linked the attack to the  video protests.

Relief: The GOP candidate kisses his wife Ann on stage at the end of the evening's proceedingsRelief: The GOP candidate kisses his wife Ann on stage  at the end of the evening’s proceedings

Embrace: The First Couple hugged after the debate, with Mrs Obama, like her counterpart, dressed in pinkEmbrace: The First Couple hugged after the debate, with  Mrs Obama, like her counterpart, dressed in pink

In waiting: Romney, his wife Ann, their son Matt and his wife Laurie sit backstage before the debateIn waiting: Romney with his wife Ann, in a pink brocade  coat over her neon dress, and their son Matt and his wife Laurie sit backstage  before the debateOn Monday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton  was forced to come to his defence.

Pushing back against Republican criticism of  the Obama administration for its  handling of the situation, Clinton said that  security at all of  America’s diplomatic missions abroad is her job, not that of  the White  House.

She said: ‘I take  responsibility… The  President and the Vice President wouldn’t be  knowledgeable about specific  decisions that are made by security  professionals.’

The Libya question was one moment when  Crowley struggled to rein in the debate on Tuesday night.

She failed to shut down  both Obama and  Romney when they ran over allocated times and attacked  each other in angry  exchanges.

In her opening statement at the town hall  debate in New York,Ms Crowley said:  ‘Because I am the optimistic sort, I’m sure the  candidates will oblige by  keeping their answers concise and on point’.

It was revealed from CNN  timekeeping on the debate, that Obama had spoke for three extra  minutes

The President got 44:04 minutes of speaking  time, while Romney got 40:50.


On the  budget:

‘Governor Romney’s allies in Congress have  held the 98 per cent hostage because they want tax breaks for the top 2 per  cent.’

On Romney’s  economic plan:

‘Governor Romney doesn’t have a five-point  plan, he’s got a one-point plan. To make sure that the folks at the top play by  a separate set of rules.’

On Romney’s  investments in China:

‘Governor, you are the last person who is  going to get tough on China.’

On his  pension:

‘I don’t look at my pension, it’s not as big  as yours, so it doesn’t take as long.’

On being defended  by the moderator:

‘Can you say that a little louder,  Candy?’


On his  opponent:

‘Thank you, Mr President, for being a part of  this debate.’

On the  deficit:

‘I know what it takes to balance budgets.  I’ve done it my entire life.’

On  interruption:

‘You get your chance in a moment, I’m still  speaking.’

On Obama’s  response to the Libya attack:

‘The President, the day after it happened,  flies to Las Vegas for a political fundraiser.’

On the President’s  rhetoric:

‘He’s great as a speaker, and describing his  plans and vision. That’s wonderful, except we have a record to look  at.’

Pressure to perform: Obama arrives at JFK Airport in New York yesterday afternoonPressure to perform: Obama arrives at JFK Airport in New  York yesterday afternoon
Rose Garden: Obama with Hillary Clinton on September 12, the day after the Libya attacks. He used the phrase 'acts of terror' but Romney last night claimed this was not specifically about the killings in BenghaziRose Garden: Obama with Hillary Clinton on September 12,  the day after the Libya attacks. He used the phrase ‘acts of terror’ but Romney  last night claimed this was not specifically about the killings in Benghazi
Killings: Ambassador Chris Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack on September 11 (right)Killings: Ambassador Chris Stevens was one of four Americans killed in the Benghazi attack on September 11 (right)

Killings: Ambassador Chris Stevens was one of four  Americans murdered in Benghazi on September 11 (right)

Obama and Romney had both expressed concern  over Crowley’s role ahead of the debate because she was robust in saying  beforehand that she would not shirk from guiding the conversation.

Lawyers for both Democratic and Republican  campaigns complained about comments  the CNN journalist made ahead of the town  hall-style debate at Hofstra  University in Hempstead, New York  tonight.

Her job was to referee the two  presidential  candidates as they answered questions from online viewers  and members of the  audience.

But in an interview, she indicated that she  planned to take a more aggressive  stance than the last moderator Jim Lehrer who  was roundly criticized for a listless performance and letting Obama and Romney  walk all over him.

Where PBS veteran Lehrer said his job was to  stay out of the way, Crowley planned a different set of tactics.

The political correspondent said: ‘Once the  table is kind of set by the town hall questioner, there is then time for me to  say, “Hey, wait a second, what about x, y, z?”‘

Both candidates appeared less than pleased  with her remarks – and they weren’t the only ones.

The Commission on Presidential Debates  has  also complained, saying Crowley’s remarks are vastly different from  the memo  that was signed by lawyers for both campaigns.

‘In managing the two-minute comment  periods,  the moderator will not rephrase the question or open a new  topic,’ the legal  document obtained by Time  says.

Watch the  video of Michelle clapping

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EU wins Nobel Peace Prize for ‘advancing peace in Europe’ (Huh ?)

The European Union (EU) has won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for helping to transform Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

News Desk October 12, 2012 05:57

Eu wins nobel peace prize 2012 20121012

A photo taken on September 4, 2012 in Lille, northern France shows flags of European countries displayed in front of a flag of the European Union. The crisis-torn European Union (EU) won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, it was announced October 12, 2012. (PHILIPPE HUGUEN/AFP/Getty Images)
What do you think?

The European Union (EU) has won the 2012 Nobel Peace Prize for helping to transform Europe “from a continent of war to a continent of peace.”

The Nobel committee said the EU won the peace prize “for over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.”

But the award comes as the EU is mired in the biggest financial crisis of the organization’s 54-year history.

“The EU is currently undergoing grave economic difficulties and considerable social unrest,” said the announcement from the Nobel committee in Oslo, Norway.

“The Norwegian Nobel Committee wishes to focus on what it sees as the EU’s most important result: the successful struggle for peace and reconciliation and for democracy and human rights.”

More from GlobalPost: Euro zone launches rescue fund

The prize committee highlighted the history of Germany and France, noting that the two countries fought three wars over a 70-year-period, but “today, war between Germany and France is unthinkable.”

“This shows how, through well-aimed efforts and by building up mutual confidence, historical enemies can become close partners,” the announcement said.

The committee also pointed out that in the 1980s, Greece, Spain and Portugal joined the EU under condition that they introduce democracy.

“The fall of the Berlin Wall made EU membership possible for several Central and Eastern European countries, thereby opening a new era in European history,” the announcement said.

“The division between East and West has to a large extent been brought to an end; democracy has been strengthened; many ethnically-based national conflicts have been settled.”

The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was shared by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

Brutal ad hits White House on Libya timeline contradictions [VIDEO]

It has been a month since an attack in Libya took the lives of Ambassador  Chris Stevens and three other Americans, and the Obama administration is still  revising its story.

A video from the Heritage Foundation documents the evolution of the  federal government’s explanation of the tragic event and the multiple  contradictions among members of the current administration.


“It appears to me that the situation has been grossly mishandled, and the  American people deserve better,” said Peter Brookes, senior fellow at the  Heritage Foundation. “It’s been my sense that the last thing the administration  wanted was to admit that al-Qaida had attacked.”

The State Department acknowledged that it denied requests for more security  in Benghazi at a heated congressional hearing yesterday. Republicans  accused the Obama administration of using the anti-Islamic video as a scapegoat  to cover up a terrorist attack so that it could avoid political vulnerability,  while Democrats at the hearing accused Republicans of operating a biased  investigation.

The recent unrest in Benghazi can be traced as far back as April 6, when an  IED was tossed over the fence of the U.S. Consulate. Gun battles, kidnappings,  carjackings and attacks on other NATO embassies in late April and early May  elicited a request for a safer means of transportation to and from the U.S.  Embassy in Libya. The State Department denied that request.

Two attacks on the International Committee of the Red Cross building forced  it to close down, leaving the U.S. Consulate as the lone international presence  in Benghazi, the only remaining target for attackers.

On June 6, an IED blew a sizable hole in the security perimeter of the U.S.  Consulate that was reportedly “large enough for 40 men to go through.”

On Oct. 8 a security officer warned American officials about deteriorating  security in the area. And three days later — the attack, for which White House  Press Secretary Jay Carney said the administration had no “actionable  intelligence,” struck the consulate.

A report published on Sept. 26 showed that the intelligence community and the  Obama administration knew within 24 hours that the attack was an act of terror  carried out by an al-Qaida affiliated group. This was affirmed by Carney in an  Oct. 10 press briefing when he also said that the administration had kept its  word to disclose new information as it became available.

However, President Barack Obama and other members of his administration have  since refused to call the attack an act of terror, despite twice receiving word  from Libyan President Mohamed Magarief that the attack was indeed a “pre-planned  act of terrorism directed against American citizens.”

On Sept. 16, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice said on a talk show that the attacks  were provoked exclusively by the “Innocence of Muslims” video.

On Sept. 17, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland refused to call the  attack on Benghazi an act of terror.

On Sept. 20, President Obama cited insufficient information when refusing to  declare the attack a terrorist act, only to be contradicted by Secretary of  State Hillary Clinton the following day.

“We’re obviously very, very concerned about the apparent insecurity in a very  threatening environment,” Said Brookes. “(Sept. 11) wasn’t the first time they  were threatened.”

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Senior State Department officials publicly acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that the deadly attack on the U.S. consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, was not preceded by protests as previously thought.

New vivid account of deadly attack on U.S. embassy in Libya that reveals how  security forces attempted to save Americans under fierce fire

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:22:24 EST, 9  October 2012| UPDATED:00:22 EST, 10 October 2012

Senior State Department officials publicly  acknowledged for the first time on Tuesday that the deadly attack on the U.S.  consulate in Libya that killed four Americans, including the ambassador, was not  preceded by protests as previously thought.

Briefing reporters ahead of a hotly  anticipated congressional hearing Wednesday, officials provided a more detailed  account of the attack, painting a vivid picture of how a peaceful day in  Benghazi devolved into a sustained attack that involved multiple groups of men  armed with weapons such as machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars  over an expanse of more than a mile.

‘The lethality and number of armed people is  unprecedented,’ an official stated. ‘There was no attack anywhere in Libya — Tripoli or Benghazi — like this, So it is unprecedented and would be very, very  hard to find a precedent like that in recent diplomatic history.’

Rage: A protester holding his rifle during the assault on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11thRage: A protester holding his rifle during the assault  on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi on September 11th

Attack: The four men died after riots over an anti-Islamic film stormed past the U.S. embassy in BenghaziAttack: Four U.S. citizens died in the raid on the  consulate in Benghazi, including Mr Stevens

According to the latest account of the  attack, there were no protests before the assault on the embassy. Also, State  Department officials stated that former Navy SEALs Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods  died from a mortar attack, and that officials still do not know how Ambassador  Christopher Stevens made it from the compound to the hospital.

September 11, 2012, started out as a regular  day in the U.S. consulate in Benghazi which sits on a property the size of a  football field surrounded by a nine-foot wall topped by barbed wire and other  security upgrades.

Ambassador Stevens arrived in the city the  day before accompanied by a five-person security detail. On the anniversary of  9/11, the American envoy decided to hold meetings inside the secured compound,  fearing possible acts of violence.

At around 8:30pm that night, Stevens  concluded his final meeting of the day and escorted Turkish diplomat outside the  main entrance of the consulate. At the time, everything appeared calm and there  were no protests in the streets.

A little over an hour later, security agents  started hearing loud noises, gunfire and explosions near the front gate. A  barracks at the entrance housing the local militiamen was burnt down, and a  large group of armed men was captured on a security camera flowing into the  consulate.

Inferno: Armed attackers dumped jerry cans of diesel fuel in the building and set ablaze part of the exterior of the consulate's exterior Inferno: Armed attackers dumped jerry cans of diesel  fuel in the building and set ablaze part of the exterior of the consulate’s  exterior

Aftermath: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi the day after last month's deadly assaultAftermath: The U.S. consulate in Benghazi the day after  last month’s deadly assault

Alarm was sounded, and consulate officials  proceeded to alert their colleagues in the embassy in Tripoli, officials in  Washington, the Libyan authorities and a U.S. quick reaction force located at a  second compound a little over a mile away.

One agent, armed with a sidearm and an M4  submachine gun, led Stevens and computer specialist Sean Smith to a safe room  inside one of the compound’s two main residences which was equipped with a heavy  metal grill and several locks, as well as windows that can be opened only from  the inside.

The other security officials armed themselves  with long guns, body armor, helmets and ammunition at other buildings. Two of  them made an attempt to enter the building with Stevens, but were forced to  retreat after meeting resistance. .

Attackers eventually managed to enter the  building where the ambassador was hiding and attempted to open the door to the  safe room, but to no avail. They dumped jerry cans of diesel fuel in the  building, lit furniture on fire and set aflame part of the exterior of the  building.

Sean Smith Ambassador Chris Stevens

Innocent: Computer specialist Sean Smith, left, died at  the consulate from smoke inhalation, while Ambassador Chris Stevens, right,  passed away at the hospital, although it remains unclear how he got  there

Doherty Benghazi Attacks

Heroic: Former Navy SEALs Tyrone Woods, right, and Glen  Doherty, left, were killed in a mortar attack

Two of the remaining four agents barricaded  inside the compound’s other residence, preventing the armed men from entering.  The protesters then attempted to gain access to the tactical operations center,  but were unable to enter the building despite smashing the door.

Meanwhile, the building that was housing the  ambassador rapidly began filling up with thick diesel smoke and fumes from the  burning furniture. Inside, visibility was less than three feet.

Unable to breathe, the Americans opened a  window in the bathroom, but it proved insufficient to fill the room with fresh  air.  At that point, a decision was made to leave the building.

The agent went out first, flopping out onto a  patio enclosed by sandbags and immediately taking fire, including probably  rocket-propelled grenades.

Stevens and Smith did not come out, so the  agent, suffering severely from smoke inhalation, went in and out of the building  several times to look for them. He then climbed to the roof  and collapsed,  but not before radioing the other agents to alert them.

Haven: Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith were hiding in a safe room which later filled with diesel smoke Haven: Ambassador Stevens and Sean Smith were hiding in  a safe room which later filled with diesel smoke

Under siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and gun fire during the attack which lasted several hours Under siege: The compound came under heavy mortar and  gun fire during the attack which lasted several hours

The other four agents were able to reunite  and take an armored vehicle to Stevens’ building. They reached the agent on the  roof and tried to set up a perimeter. Taking turns enter the building, the  agents scoured the premises on their hands and knees for the missing  Americans.

Smith was eventually pulled out dead, but  Stevens was not found.

A six-person quick reaction security team  arrived from their compound across town accompanied by about 60 Libyan  militiamen accompany. They also attempted to secure a perimeter around the  building, but determined that they can’t hold it.

Outnumbered by ‘an unbelievable amount of bad  guys’ in the compound the militia fighters told the security team they had to  evacuate, according to a State Department official.

‘We’ve got to leave, we can’t hold the  perimeter,’ the official said the militia told the team.

After taking fire, a decision was made to  evacuate the compound and return with everyone to the reaction force’s  compound.

Agents piled into an armored vehicle, with  Smith’s body in tow, and left through the main gate under fire. Crowds and  groups of men blocked two different routes to the security compound, creating  heavy traffic that slowed down the escaping Americans to about 15mph.

Official version: The State Department says the attack on the Benghazi compound was not preceded by protests Official version: The State Department says the attack  on the Benghazi compound was not preceded by protests

Locked and loaded: Men who attacked the U.S. consulate came armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars Locked and loaded: Men who attacked the U.S. consulate  came armed with machine guns, rocket-propelled grenades and mortars

Traveling a narrow street, they reached a  group of men who signaled for them to enter a compound. However, the security  officials ‘smelled a rat’ and sped away, taking heavy fire from AK-47 machine  guns at a distance of only two feet, and hand grenades thrown against and under  the car which blew two of the tires. .

They sped past another crowd of men and onto  a main street and across a grassy median into opposing traffic. The agents drove  against traffic, eventually reaching their compound, where they took more heavy  fire for several hours.

In the night, a team of reinforcements from  the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli arrived on a chartered aircraft at the Benghazi  airport and reached the security compound.

At around 4am, the compound’s building was  hit by mortar fire which killed agents Doherty and Woods. One agent who was  involved in the attack from the beginning was severely wounded.

The men then decided to evacuate the city  entirely. The following several hours were spent securing the annex and moving a  large convoy of vehicles to the airport before they were evacuated on two  flights.

Stevens was not seen by the security team  again until his body was delivered to the airport, officials said, and they  still do know how he reached the Libyan hospital where attempts were made to  treat him for smoke inhalation.

Officials said that they were informed that  Stevens was at the hospital only after doctors found his cell phone and began  calling the most recently dialled numbers.

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NPR anchor ties term ‘illegal immigrant’ to Nazi Germany: “I don’t think I’ve known a single person who hasn’t broken the law,”

Engineering Evil: Comments on this article are turned off…..This article has impact due to an attempt to control the language of the debate. Control the language and you influence the outcome. Even though there may be historical inaccuracies as well as poorly drawn comparisons, the article has tremendous weight. This is a well thought out campaign to associate the term illegal immigrant with a racist connotation.

By Arturo Garcia Sunday, October 7, 2012 12:49 EDT

Maria Hinojosa on Up With Chris Hayes 100612

NPR Latino USA anchor María Hinojosa told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Sunday her opposition to the term “illegal immigrant” stemmed from a conversation with Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel years ago in which Wiesel said the term was part of the horrors he faced in his youth.

“If there is an authority, you should be it,” Hinojosa said she told Wiesel. “And he said, ‘María, don’t ever use the term ‘illegal immigrant.’ And I said, ‘Why?’ And he said, ‘Because once you label a people ‘illegal,’ that is exactly what the Nazis did to Jews.’ You do not label a people ‘illegal.’ They have committed an illegal act. They are immigrants who crossed illegally. They are immigrants who crossed without papers. They are immigrants who crossed without permission. They are living in this country without permission. But they are not an illegal people.”

The use of the term resurfaced for debate this week, with undocumented journalist and immigration advocate Jose Antonio Vargas and New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan recently discussing the use of it in the press.

“I see no advantage for Times readers in a move away from the paper’s use of the phrase ‘illegal immigrant,’” Sullivan wrote in an Oct. 2 column. “It is clear and accurate; it gets its job done in two words that are easily understood. The same cannot be said of the most frequently suggested alternatives — ‘unauthorized,’ ‘immigrants without legal status,’ ‘undocumented.’”

Vargas, founder of the advocacy group Define American, reiterated his call Sunday for media outlets to stop using the term, saying the term ‘illegal’ underscores the media’s tendency to discuss the issue simplistically.

“We have so largely dehumanized this issue,” Vargas said. “And our job as journalists — and I’m speaking as somebody who’s been doing this for more than a decade — is really being more descriptive in the way we use this term.”

When Hayes brought up Sullivan’s point that “illegal” is a technical term while “undocumented” has its own connotation, Hinojosa asked if he knew someone who had broken the law.

“I don’t think I’ve known a single person who hasn’t broken the law,” Hayes answered, at which point Hinojosa offered up hypothetical examples of people who have broken traffic laws, or failed to pay child support, or have not paid taxes.

“That means that now your friends are an ‘illegal driver,’ an ‘illegal taxpayer’ and an ‘illegal father,’” Hinojosa suggested. “It is not a Latino issue. It is not an immigrant issue. Frankly, it’s not even an American issue. It’s a worldwide issue.”

Raw Story (

‘Food terrorism’ a new concern in China-Japan rift

KuchikomiOct. 07, 2012 – 06:30AM JST( 2 )


In a matter of weeks from mid-September, Japan-China relations have chilled to a level not seen in recent memory.

“In China, Japanese nationals have been singled out for attacks, such as the hot broth from a bowl of noodles being flung on a Japanese customer, or a man assaulted on the street in Hong Kong,” a Japanese exchange student in China tells Shukan Jitsuwa (Oct 18).

“There’s also been rumors going around that Japanese women in China were raped. Everybody’s terrified that sooner or later one of these rumors will prove to be true.”

With some Japanese in China afraid to go out in public, another concern has surfaced: that something will happen in Japan as well.

“It’s ‘food terrorism,’” says a source employed by one of Japan’s security agencies. “Concerns have surfaced that the incident of poisoned ‘gyoza’ (pot-sticker dumplings) will be repeated. The existence has been confirmed of Chinese terrorists who may be plotting to lace food imports bound for Japan with poison, moved by the slogan ‘Ai guo wu sui’ (no guilt for criminal acts perpetuated in the name of patriotism).”

The previous incident dates back four years, when 10 Japanese children and adults who had consumed frozen gyoza produced by Tenyo Shokuhin in China and sold through a cooperative in Japan reported symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea. Fortunately there were no fatalities.

It was determined that the gyoza had been laced with an agricultural pesticide.

“Initially when the news broke, China tried to avoid any responsibility, insisting that the poison had been added after the food arrived in Japan,” says a source described as an “Foreign Ministry agent.” “Several months later, however, similar reports of poisoning occurred in China, and the police, who were concerned over protests, announced they’d arrested a temporary worker at Tenyo Shokuhin, who had poisoned the gyoza out of dissatisfaction over wages. The incident was reported in China via the Internet and in newspapers, so Chinese are well aware of what happened.”

But now Japan’s security apparatus is concerned that terrorists with “patriotic” motives will adopt similar measures.

“We’ve also received data concerning this via the CIA,” says the aforementioned security source. “The plot involves a fanatical right-wing Chinese organization that is planning to pay some poor worker at a factory to poison food. In China now, the gap between rich and poor has widened remarkably and education in morals has been lacking. The data we’ve obtained appears to be highly accurate.”

About 60% of the vegetables, sea foods and other semi-processed and frozen foods imported into Japan are sourced from China. Over the last decade, the volume of imports have jumped fivefold.

“Gyoza are not the only item to be concerned about,” says a journalist covering foreign affairs. “Japan imports ‘udon’ (a type of noodle), croquettes, rice pilaf dishes, hamburgers, cutlets and so on. Likewise for frozen vegetables—there are potatoes, ‘edamame’ (unshelled soya beans), string beans, spinach, corn, broccoli, mixed vegetables and so on. Japan is dependent on China for over half the vegetables on its dining tables. It’s occurred to practically anybody that workers, either through bribery or acting out of a sense of righteous resentment are capable of poisoning a batch.

“Should such a thing occur,” he adds, “panic would break out in Japan. The controversy over the Senkakus would disappear.”

“The Noda-led government has no ability to contain the present situation,” remarks the aforementioned security source. “The police and foreign ministry security groups and the special intelligence unit attached to the cabinet have been collating this data and issued warnings, but to be frank, it’s like trying to grab hold of a cloud—there are limits to what we can accomplish. All we can do is go on collecting the data.”

Despite possible blows to its trade, tourism and retail sectors, the magazine warns, Japan will need to maintain close vigilance for the duration.

World of Warcraft hobby sparks US political row

5 October 2012 Last updated at 06:29 ET

Playing WoW leads people to live a “bizarre double life” say Maine Republicans

Screenshot of Santiaga

The gaming hobby of a political candidate has become an issue in a state senate race in New England, US.

Maine Republicans have created a webpage revealing that Democrat candidate Colleen Lachowicz plays an orc rogue in World of Warcraft (WoW).

Ms Lachowicz’s liking for back-stabbing and poison in WoW raise questions about her “fitness for office”, they claim.

Ms Lachowicz has hit back saying the attack showed the Republicans were “out of touch”.

Weird focus

The state senate seat known as District 25 in Maine, is currently being contested by Ms Lachowicz and incumbent Republican Tom Martin. Voting takes place on 6 November.

As part of its campaign efforts, the Republican party in the state created “Colleen’s World” – a website that compiles information about Ms Lachowicz’s orc rogue Santiaga. An orc is a mythical human-like creature, generally described as fierce and combative.

In a statement that accompanies the webpage, Maine Republicans said playing the game led Ms Lachowicz to live a “bizarre double life” that raised questions about her ability to represent the state.

The page also detailed some of the comments Ms Lachowicz has made while talking about her orc rogue, in particular it highlights her affection for Santiaga’s ability to stab things and kill people without suffering a jail sentence.

“These are some very bizarre and offensive comments,” said Maine Republican Party spokesman David Sorensen in a statement. “They certainly raise questions about Lachowicz’s maturity and her ability to make serious decisions for the people of Senate District 25.”

The site also lists many of the 400 comments she has posted to left wing political news and discussion site Daily Kos. Maine Republicans have also posted leaflets that reproduce the information on the website.

“I think it’s weird that I’m being targeted for playing online games,” said Ms Lachowicz in a statement. “Apparently I’m in good company since there are 183 million other Americans who also enjoy online games.

“Instead of talking about what they’re doing for Maine people, they’re making fun of me for playing video games,” said Ms Lachowicz.

It is not clear what effect the Republican tactic will have on the state senate race in Maine. However, many messages of support have been left on Ms Lachowicz’s own webpage with some pledging cash to her campaign.

Gaming researcher Ladan Cockshut said the row revealed how gaming can be seen as a bad thing to do.

“In my work, I’ve spoken with many people who in their regular lives have roles of significant responsibility (as doctors, managers, or educators) but who choose carefully with whom they disclose their gaming activity,” she told the BBC. “And disclosing their gaming activity is often accompanied by a degree of apology or embarrassment.”

But, she added, having a gamer run for office was a “heartening” development.

“This would seem to run contrary to the other stereotypes that we love to assign to gamers: that they are lazy, antisocial people who don’t have a ‘real life’,” she said. “Maybe this will trigger some dialogue about our perceptions of gamers and the role that games can and should play in modern society.”

You wouldn’t think the undead would be so good at CPR! Zombies save dying woman from cardiac arrest in creepy PSA video

By Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED:21:44 EST, 5  October 2012| UPDATED:23:49 EST, 5 October 2012

With Halloween just around the corner, the  Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada has decided the time is right for an  hilarious Zombie-themed public service announcement.

Their new video, ‘The Undeading,’ is a  Walking Dead-style take on the lifesaving  procedure featuring a horde of zombies  performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) on a hapless victim.

The video starts with a lone woman in the  middle of a urban landscape during a zombie  apocalypse.

Scroll down  for video

Zombie apocalypse: The video starts with a lone woman wandering a seemingly abandoned city Zombie apocalypse: The video starts with a lone woman  wandering a seemingly abandoned city


Suddenly something stirs... it's a zombieSuddenly something stirs… it’s a zombie


Suddenly the woman finds herself surrounded by a gang of zombiesThe woman quickly finds herself surrounded by a gang of  zombies

She manages to kill one zombie, but quickly  finds herself  surrounded on all sides by a mob of zombies. Suddenly  she begins to experience a heart attack, but fortunately one of the zombies is a former doctor and has a plan to save her  life.

The PSA cleverly plays off the notion that  zombies like only victims who are still alive and breathing. And as it cheekily  notes, ‘CPR makes you undead.’

According to the American Heart Association, nearly 383,000 out-of-hospital cases of  sudden cardiac arrests occur each year, mostly at home.

Effective CPR from a bystander can double or  triple a victim’s chances of survival.

The campaign is edgy, horror-movie style  video, but also informative that teaches people what to do if someone suffers  cardiac arrest.

The shocked woman goes into cardiac arrestThe shock of seeing the zombies sends the woman into  cardiac arrest


Fortunately one of the zombies used to be a doctor and knows what to doFortunately one of the zombies used to be a doctor and  knows what to do


One of the zombies starts to give the woman CPROne of the zombies starts to give her CPR

According to the Heart  and Stroke Foundation, the video is  targeted at youth and young adults aged 15-30 and has been posted on YouTube and  social networking sites.

‘Regardless of age, everyone can benefit from  the lesson embedded in humor in the video: As zombies covet only the living,  they need to move quickly to bring cardiac arrest victims back to life. We all  should do the same,’ said Director of  Health Promotion and Public Affairs Mark  Holland.

The video was directed by Hollywood-Canadian  director Vincenzo Natali (Splice, Cube) and stars actress Michelle  Nolden  (Red, The Time Traveler’s Wife and CSI).

She's alive! The zombies have managed to save the woman from dying from a heart attackShe’s alive! The zombies saved the woman from dying of a  heart attack


Of course the zombies wanted her alive - they enjoy feasting on the livingOf course the zombies wanted her alive – they enjoy  feasting on the living


Fate worse than death? The woman survives her heart attack only to be turned into a zombieFate worse than death? The woman survives a heart attack  only to be turned into a zombie

Video: The Undeading

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Chinese video-sharing sites crack down on Japanese TV shows and movies

By   /   October 5, 2012  /

Chinese video-sharing sites crack down on Japanese TV shows and movies
Major Chinese video-sharing websites are noticeably lacking one country in their categories list: Japan. Sites like Youku, Tudou and PPS have deleted Japan from the list of countries, although you could still search for some videos, if you knew them by name. And the main suspected reason for the deletion? The ongoing territorial dispute between Japan and China over the Senkaku Islands.Netizens have expressed this suspicion because the sites still maintain the same categories as before, with just Japan being the notable exception. It’s being talked about on Weibo, China’s main micro-blogging site and by visitors of the websites. Some have complained that boycotting Japanese videos will not actually bring back Senkaku to China so it’s rather pointless.

Still, other observers say that this move is more about the crackdown on illegal versions of copyrighted videos. The aforementioned websites’ users are notorious for uploading  pirated versions of famous TV shows and movies, although uploading original material is their main “business”. The Tokyo based Content Overseas Distribution Association (CODA) has been working hard since 2009 to protect copyrighted materials from illegal uploads. In fact, they’ve required some overseas website operators to delete these illegally obtained materials. From August 2011 to September 2012, they have managed to get 98,913 pages deleted from nine websites (seven of these are Chinese sites) and 96% have been deleted.

Whether the exclusion of Japan on these websites is due to the dispute between the two countries, or simply Chinese websites complying with CODA, it is clear that netizens are unhappy about it and will probably find alternative ways to actually get to watch the Japanese videos they want to enjoy.

Hacker catches Facebook registering private links as ‘likes’

If you’ve sent Facebook friends a link to something out on the wilds of the World Wide Web, the social network knows and they’re telling others about it.

A video published online this week by a poster on Hacker News reveals that Facebook scans private messages and registers links in them as “likes.” That means if you’ve ever privately sent your friends a link to something you’d rather not publicize, well, too bad.

The “likes” problem could better be described as an exploit of Facebook’s code that can be used to fraudulently inflate the number of “likes” an external page gets.

For instance, if a company wanted a product to appear popular, they could set up dozens of fake Facebook accounts and begin trading messages back and forth, adding “likes” just as fast as they can click “send” — up to 1,800 an hour, according to the anonymous person behind the video.

“[It] won’t drive any traffic to your website,” a commenter on Hacker News noted. “But if your visiting an online store and you see a lot of likes under the product then this might cloud your judgement.”

For a publicly-traded company, the potential for “like” fraud is a serious threat to their credibility — perhaps even moreso than the obvious concerns over collecting metrics data from ostensibly private communications.

Facebook didn’t commented on the exploit, but Raw Story‘s own tests showed that the “likes” were no longer appearing on public-facing profiles. The “likes” were instead only visible in Facebook Insights for domain owners.

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg said Thursday that the social network has over 1 billion monthly active users, making the site by far the largest of its kind in the world.

This video was published to YouTube on October 3, 2012

Athens profits from “Samardziev” case, questions EU Report

Thursday, 04 October 2012

Official Athens didn’t waste a moment to confirm what MINA’s Gorazd Velkovski stated on Monday, that the “Samardziev Case” had the Stamp of the Greek Secret Service from day one.

Namely, Greece’s MEP in Brussels Yorgos Komucakos attacked EU Enlargement Commissioner Stefan Fule for writing a tweet that he was concerned about the situation in Solun-iki.

According to Komucakos, Fule was a victim of propaganda from Skopje, of course. Komucakos also wonders whether Fule’s EU report on Macedonia is ‘believable’ after falling for the “Samardziev” case. The Nea Demokratia MP stated that nothing coming out of Skopje is believable, and the EU report must be rechecked from multiple source.

We saw this pre cooked statement coming from Greek officials four days ago.

Meanwhile, Greek politicians continued to wave their hands and exaggerate the Samardziev case in Brussels. A case the Greek Secret Service cleverly created by employing a seemingly disturbed young man who was dished out as a bait to Macedonian media.

As MINA’s Gorazd Velkovski stated on October 1st , the timing of the Samardziev case was not accidental, it was constructed precisely to align with Stefan Fule’s visit to Athens and the EU report on Macedonia. Greece isn’t able to fix their economy, budget, unemployment, their country in general, but have shown time and time again they are always ready to serve up a good piece of propaganda, even if it means (ab)using psychologically disturbed people to do it.

The question here is, who is more disturbed, Samardziev who told notorious lies about the death of his cousin, or the people who instructed Samardziev to do so?

As MINA’s Velkovski stated, this was a good propaganda win for official Athens, and they did exactly what was expected of them to do, exaggerate the “Samardziev” case, and make it look like Macedonian media had abused the otherwise exceptionally good nature of the Greek Government – well documented by the UN Human Rights Committee.

After this, one must admit that the problem lies with Macedonian media. Although most of the Macedonian media have been fairly good to recognize propaganda coming out of Greece, we all had a hiccup this time because Athens got smarter, the “news” did not come from their media, but from a well trained “ethnic Macedonian”.

Live and learn. //Marina Stojkovska

‘Bahrain buys favorable CNN content’

Engineering Evil : This is second confirmation on CNN becoming a propaganda venue for those willing to pay…. Keep in mind RT is the 2nd source, which I do not feel comfortable with yet. (Which is EE’s personal prejudice )

Prior link is from the Guardian 04 Sep 2012

‘Bahrain buys favorable CNN content’

Amid a violent crackdown on a popular uprising, Bahrain paid CNN to get favorable coverage, says a former reporter who believes her documentary on the protests there was censored by the network.

­Former CNN journalist Amber Lyon made the documentary more than six months ago. It was aired domestically in the US, but never made it to CNN international, raising claims that the management pulled the plug on the story. RT spoke to Lyon to get the full story of what happened.

RT: You feel your documentary should have been aired internationally. Why?

Amber Lyon:I’ve created a lot of documentaries for CNN that didn’t air internationally. Most I feel should’ve been aired internationally because seasoned, decades-long employees have approached me after it wasn’t aired and told me this should’ve been aired on CNN International and told that they felt that something strange was going on and that I should investigate it. And that’s where it was uncovered that we felt that this documentary was censored, because Bahrain was actually a paying customer for CNN. Bahrain is paying CNN to create content that shows Bahrain in a favorable light. Even though CNN says its content is editorially independent Bahrain can affect that – what we’ve seen with that documentary not airing and also with the constant struggle I had at CNN to get Bahrain coverage, accurate coverage of the human rights abuses on-air while I was there.

RT: CNN prides itself as a bastion of excellent journalism and impartiality, but in this case have they let themselves down?

AL: What CNN is doing is they are essentially creating what some people have termed “infomercials for dictators.” And that’s the sponsored content that they are airing on CNN International that is actually being paid for by regimes and governments. And this violates every principle of journalistic ethics, because we’re supposed to be watchdogs on these governments. We are not supposed to allow them to be a paying customer as journalists. And that’s the issue here – that CNN is feeding, then, this propaganda to the public and not fairly disclosing to the public that this is sponsored content.

For example CNN has been doing these programs for Georgia, Kazakhstan, also as we said Bahrain. One of the programs that they aired for Bahrain was called Bahrain i-List and had a CNN reporter Richard Quest lie from Bahrain for one full week. He was live at the racetrack at one point. There were mentions on his page about pearl diving and all the happy sides of Bahrain. But hard to find were the actual accusations from the majority of the Bahrain people that this regime needs to get out and that this regime is abusing and torturing doctors and journalists. Also difficult to find [were] accurate, simple disclosures on the CNN site and on this video telling viewers that this video you’re watching on this news channel – the most trusted name in news – is being paid for by this regime.”

RT: You witnessed first-hand some heavy-handed tactics in Bahrain while you were making this report. Can you tell us about that?

AL:We were able to kind of dodge our minders and sneak into some of the villages and actually see these atrocities – patients who had run out of hospitals that were shot with birdshot, ambulance drivers who were beaten. And as we were heading back out of these villages we were violently detained by security forces in Bahrain. About 20 masked men with machine guns, who then tried to erase all the video that they found, and luckily my female producer and I were able to hide some discs in our bras and we were able to actually get out of the country with this content. You can imagine Bahrain’s surprise when we got back to the US and this content was airing on CNN, and right after that is when the phone calls started coming into the network complaining about me and trying to get my coverage off the air.

There is constant demonization of Syria, Iran and other countries on the US mainstream media, but similar atrocities are happening in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia and I think this is an overall really harmful to journalism [sic] theme of these mainstream outlets following in the steps of US government and kind of shadowing how the US government feel about these areas.

You are very hard-pressed to find criticizing [sic] going on of Saudi Arabia and Bahrain, but you just see it all day long, demonization of Iran and Syria. This is dangerous to the American public because they are not being given the accurate story and accurate picture of our foreign policy and what’s happening in these other countries, and I fear that we are starting to see a constant demonization of Iran on US networks in what appears to be a systematic matter. For many of us, journalistically, that are noticing this, we are fearing [that] we are going to head into Iraq Number Two, except this time it’s with Iran.

“Samardziev” case, nice work of the Greek Secret Service

Monday, 01 October 2012

We haven’t been screwed this well since Greek Nato helicopters airlifted Ali Ahmeti (6 times) to safety.

How does a Greek citizen become a hero, over night, in the eyes of the Macedonian public?

Keep in mind this is happening at a time when Macedonia is about to get the most positive EU report to date. The scenario may go something like this.

An individual named Stiljan Samardziev (Stilijanos Samrdzis) shows up in the public eye out of nowhere, puts up a Macedonian flag at a police station in Solun. Every Macedonian applauded and bought the move “Good on you, Son”.

And here comes the tragic part. “Our” Stiljan Samardziev (Greek citizen) was jailed for 13 days for his deed and released. An actual Macedonian would have never seen the day of light for putting a Macedonian flag at a police station in Solun-iki.

The Bait was Set!

Every single Macedonian news outlet with no exception (we fell for it as well) reported the story.

This Macedonian “patriot” in meantime creates a Facebook profile and sends friend requests to over 50 Macedonian journalists, few politicians and people working in the cultural/media/arts sector in the country.

Once again, no one stopped to ask how did Samardziev, our phantom patriot have this compiled list of people to befriend.

After 2-3 weeks from the sensational news of putting the Macedonian flag on a police station in Solun, Stiljanos Samardzis goes on to report (on Facebook) that his cousin was beaten by Golden Dawn members. The poor kid named “Aleksandar” died from his injuries at a local hospital.

The ‘news’ spread like fire as many Macedonian journalists once again swallowed the bait. Sadly, even we fell for this, although to be fair to our MINA correspondent, he simply stated the report came from Macedonian media (Dnevnik, Kurir, Vecer…).

The bait was floated perfectly, Macedonian killed in Greece… so by default it’s the Macedonians turn to do something!

The goals of the director and producer of this scenario almost came true… the Macedonians were suppose to have entered casinos in Gevgelija and crack several Greek heads as well as burn the Greek Communication office in Skopje.

It was the Macedonian Government who once again outsmarted the rest of the Macedonian public especially the media. After pressure by the public for the Macedonian Government to “react”, the MoFA simply stated “We know nothing of this case, the information came from GREEK citizen Stilijanos S.”

That means the Macedonian Government was already aware that the Greek Secret Service for few euros used Samardzis and had been manipulating everyone involved by installing a supposed ethnic Macedonian in this fantastic theatrical play.

Even EU Commissioner Stefan File fell in the trap. He announced on his Twitter profile that he was concerned by what is happening in Soluniki.

Tomorrow File is traveling to Athens to tell the Government there that Macedonia will get an exceptionally positive EU Report and yes the report will have the people living there named as Macedonians and their language as Macedonian and will ask them not to make too much noise and fuss about it.

The Greek Government on the other hand will speak of the ‘latest provocations’ from Skopje and laugh at Stefan File telling him that he was manipulated about a non existing incident “hey brother, the skopianos are messing with you”. The Greek MoFA had already drafted a deceptive statement which states they were shocked by the lowly provocation from Skopje, even though the Macedonian Government did just the opposite – its spokespman Aleksandar Georgiev stated “We have no information on the case”.

The Greek Secret Service has released numerous baits in the past few months. First it was daily Katimerini (funded by official Athens) who stated Macedonia would enter NATO by December under the name “Upper Macedonia”. This was completely ignored by everyone in Macedonia. The second bait came with the phantom patriot Stiljanos Samardzis.

Greece has been under great deal of pressure due to its constant state of bankruptcy and losing legal battles to Macedonia in regards to the name dispute.

Although it failed to receive the reaction they certainly looked for, the Samardzis case was a nice PR win for Greece and their Secret Service.

Fake TV News: Widespread and Undisclosed

2008 report posted for filing

Although the number of media formats and outlets has exploded in recent years, television remains the dominant news source in the United States. More than three-quarters of U.S. adults rely on local TV news, and more than 70 percent turn to network TV or cable news on a daily or near-daily basis, according to a January 2006 Harris Poll. The quality and integrity of television reporting thus significantly impacts the public’s ability to evaluate everything from consumer products to medical services to government policies.

To reach this audience—and to add a veneer of credibility to clients’ messages—the public relations industry uses video news releases (VNRs). VNRs are pre-packaged “news” segments and additional footage created by broadcast PR firms, or by publicists within corporations or government agencies. VNRs are designed to be seamlessly integrated into newscasts, and are freely provided to TV stations. Although the accompanying information sent to TV stations identifies the clients behind the VNRs, nothing in the material for broadcast does. Without strong disclosure requirements and the attention and action of TV station personnel, viewers cannot know when the news segment they’re watching was bought and paid for by the very subjects of that “report.”

From an ad for the broadcast PR firm D S Simon ProductionsIn recent years, the U.S. Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, journalism professors, reporters and members of the general public have expressed concern about VNRs. In response, public relations executives and broadcaster groups have vigorously defended the status quo, claiming there is no problem with current practices. In June 2005, the president of the Radio-Television News Directors Association (RTNDA), Barbara Cochran, told a reporter that VNRs were “kind of like the Loch Ness Monster. Everyone talks about it, but not many people have actually seen it.”

To inform this debate, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) conducted a ten-month study of selected VNRs and their use by television stations, tracking 36 VNRs issued by three broadcast PR firms. Key findings include:

VNR use is widespread. CMD found 69 TV stations that aired at least one VNR from June 2005 to March 2006—a significant number, given that CMD was only able to track a small percentage of the VNRs streaming into newsrooms during that time. Collectively, these 69 stations broadcast to 52.7 percent of the U.S. population, according to Nielsen Media figures. Syndicated and network-distributed segments sometimes included VNRs, further broadening their reach.

VNRs are aired in TV markets of all sizes. TV stations often use VNRs to limit the costs associated with producing, filming and editing their own reports. However, VNR usage is not limited to small-town stations with shoestring budgets. Nearly two-thirds of the VNRs that CMD tracked were aired by stations in a Top 50 Nielsen market area, such as Detroit, Pittsburgh or Cincinnati. Thirteen VNRs were broadcast in the ten largest markets, including New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Boston.

TV stations don’t disclose VNRs to viewers. Of the 87 VNR broadcasts that CMD documented, not once did the TV station disclose the client(s) behind the VNR to the news audience. Only one station, WHSV-3 in Harrisonburg, VA, provided partial disclosure, identifying the broadcast PR firm that created the VNR, but not the client, DaimlerChrysler. WHSV-3 aired soundbites from a Chrysler representative and directed viewers to websites associated with Chrysler, without disclosing the company’s role in the “report.”

TV stations disguise VNRs as their own reporting. In every VNR broadcast that CMD documented, the TV station altered the VNR’s appearance. Newsrooms added station-branded graphics and overlays, to make VNRs indistinguishable from reports that genuinely originated from their station. A station reporter or anchor re-voiced the VNR in more than 60 percent of the VNR broadcasts, sometimes repeating the publicist’s original narration word-for-word.

TV stations don’t supplement VNR footage or verify VNR claims. While TV stations often edit VNRs for length, in only seven of the 87 VNR broadcasts documented by CMD did stations add any independently-gathered footage or information to the segment. In all other cases, the entire aired “report” was derived from a VNR and its accompanying script. In 31 of the 87 VNR broadcasts, the entire aired “report” was the entire pre-packaged VNR. Three stations (WCPO-9 in Cincinnati, OH; WSYR-9 in Syracuse, NY; and WYTV-33 in Youngstown, OH) removed safety warnings from a VNR touting a newly-approved prescription skin cream. WSYR-9 also aired a VNR heralding a “major health breakthrough” for arthritis sufferers—a supplement that a widely-reported government study had found to be little better than a placebo.

The vast majority of VNRs are produced for corporate clients. Of the hundreds of VNRs that CMD reviewed for potential tracking, only a few came from government agencies or non-profit organizations. Corporations have consistently been the dominant purveyors of VNRs, though the increased scrutiny of government-funded VNRs in recent years may have decreased their use by TV newsrooms. Of the VNRs that CMD tracked, 47 of the 49 clients behind them were corporations that stood to benefit financially from the favorable “news” coverage.

Satellite media tours may accompany VNRs. Broadcast PR firms sometimes produce both VNRs and satellite media tours (SMTs) for clients. SMTs are actual interviews with TV stations, but their focus and scope are determined by the clients. In effect, SMTs are live recitations of VNR scripts. CMD identified 10 different TV stations that aired SMTs for 17 different clients with related VNRs. In only one instance was there partial disclosure to viewers. An anchor at WLTX-19 in Columbia, SC, said after the segment, “This interview … was provided by vendors at the consumer trade show,” but did not name the four corporate clients behind the SMT.

In sum, television newscasts—the most popular news source in the United States—frequently air VNRs without disclosure to viewers, without conducting their own reporting, and even without fact checking the claims made in the VNRs. VNRs are overwhelmingly produced for corporations, as part of larger public relations campaigns to sell products, burnish their image, or promote policies or actions beneficial to the corporation.

European Central Bank and the Federal Reserve succesful in their plan to devalue the Dollar to protect the Euro


US Dollar takes a Hit


Sunday, 30 September 2012


The Dollar Index fell by the most since the first quarter of 2011 after the European Central Bank pledged to protect the euro from unraveling and the Federal Reserve committed to reduce unemployment via open-ended debt buying, which may debase the U.S. currency.

Since July 26, when ECB President Mario Draghi said he would do “whatever it takes” to save the euro, the 17-nation currency rose versus 15 of its 16 most-traded counterparts tracked by Bloomberg. Amid the Fed’s expansion of monetary stimulus, the Dollar Index lost 2.1 percent in the third quarter. The Bank of Japan, which followed the Fed and the ECB in expanding its balance sheet by 10 trillion yen ($130 billion), is scheduled to announce its next policy decision on Oct. 5.

“The ECB announcement to buy one- to three-year bonds in the periphery” shaped currency markets last quarter, George Davis, chief technical analyst for fixed income and currency strategy in Toronto at Royal Bank of Canada, said in an interview. “It was the opening of a new chapter.”

The dollar fell 1.5 percent during the past three months to $1.2866 in New York and touched $1.3172 on Sept. 17, the least since May. The common currency weakened 0.8 percent to 100.21 yen. The dollar lost 2.3 percent to 77.96 yen

Gaddafi was killed by French secret serviceman on orders of Nicolas Sarkozy, sources claim

* Engineering Evil: Waiting for 2nd Confirmation

By Peter Allen

PUBLISHED:06:43 EST, 30  September 2012| UPDATED:06:45 EST, 30 September 2012

A French secret serviceman acting on the  express orders of Nicolas Sarkozy is suspected of murdering Colonel Gaddafi, it  was sensationally claimed today.

He is said to have infiltrated a violent mob  mutilating the captured Libyan dictator last year and shot him in the  head.

The motive, according to well-placed sources  in the North African country, was to stop Gaddafi being interrogated about his  highly suspicious links with Sarkozy, who was President of France at the  time.

There are still pockets of support for former leader Muammar Gaddafi's regime in Libya, despite his deathNicolas Sarkozy, France's former president

Nicolas Sarkozy, France’s former president, allegedly  ordered the murder of former Libyan dictator Colonel Gaddafi

Other former western leaders, including ex  British Prime Minister Tony Blair, were also extremely close to Gaddafi,  visiting him regularly and helping to facilitate multi-million pounds business  deals.

Sarkozy, who once welcomed Gaddafi as a  ‘brother leader’ during a state visit to Paris, was said to have received  millions from the Libyan despot to fund his election campaign in  2007.

The conspiracy theory will be of huge concern  to Britain which sent RAF jet to bomb Libya last year with the sole intention of  ‘saving civilian lives’.

A United Nations mandate which sanctioned the  attack expressly stated that the western allies could not interfere in the  internal politics of the country.

Instead the almost daily bombing runs ended  with Gaddafi’s overthrow, while both French and British military ‘advisors’ were  said to have assisted on the ground.

Now Mahmoud Jibril, who served as interim  Prime Minister following Gaddafi’s overthrow, told Egyptian TV: ‘It was a  foreign agent who mixed with the revolutionary brigades to kill Gaddafi.’

Gaddafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. The moment was captured on video 

Gaddafi was killed on October 20 in a final assault on  his hometown Sirte by fighters of the new regime, who said they had cornered the  ousted despot in a sewage pipe waving a golden gun. The moment was captured on  video


Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, covered in blood, is pulled from a truck by NTC fighters in Sirte before he was killed 

Former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, covered in blood,  is pulled from a truck by NTC fighters in Sirte before he was killed

Revolutionary Libyan fighters inspect a storm drain where Muammar Gaddafi was found wounded in Sirte, Libya, last year 

Revolutionary Libyan fighters inspect a storm drain  where Muammar Gaddafi was found wounded in Sirte, Libya, last year


Diplomatic sources in Tripoli, the Libyan  capital, meanwhile suggested to the Italian newspaper Corriere della Serra that  a foreign assassin was likely to have been French.

The paper writes: ‘Since the beginning of  NATO support for the revolution, strongly backed by the government of Nicolas  Sarkozy, Gaddafi openly threatened to reveal details of his relationship with  the former president of France, including the millions of dollars paid to  finance his candidacy at the 2007 elections.’

One Tripoli source said: ‘Sarkozy had every  reason to try to silence the Colonel and as quickly as possible.’

The view is supported by information gathered  by investigaters in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and the place where the ‘Arab  Spring’ revolution against Gaddafi started in early 2011.

Rami El Obeidi, the former head of foreign  relations for the Libyan transitional council, said he knew that Gaddafi had  been tracked through his satellite telecommunications system as he talked to  Bashar Al-Assad, the Syrian dictator.

Nato experts were able to trace the  communicatiosn traffic between the two Arab leaders, and so pinpoint Gaddafi to  the city of Sirte, where he was murdered on October 20 2011.

Nato jets shot up Gaddafi’s convoy, before  rebels on the ground dragged Gaddafi from a drain where he was hiding and then  subjected him to a violent attack which was videod.

In another sinister twist to the story, a  22-year-old who was among the group which attacked Gaddafi and who frequently  brandished the gun said to have killed him, died in Paris last  Monday.

Ben Omran Shaaban was said to have been  beaten up himself by Gaddafi loyalists in July, before being shot twice.He was  flown to France for treatment, but died of his injuries in hospital.

Sarkozy, who lost the presidential election  in May, has continually denied receiving money from Gaddafi.

Today he was unavailable for comment, but is  facing a number of enquiries into alleged financial irregularities

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Revealed: Army scientists secretly sprayed St Louis with ‘radioactive’ particles for YEARS to test chemical warfare technology

By Emily Anne Epstein

PUBLISHED:09:16 EST, 29  September 2012| UPDATED:11:21 EST, 29 September 2012

The United States Military conducted top  secret experiments on the citizens of St. Louis, Missouri, for years, exposing  them to radioactive compounds, a researcher has claimed.

While it was known that the government  sprayed ‘harmless’ zinc cadmium silfide  particles over the general population in St Louis,  Professor Lisa Martino-Taylor, a sociologist at St. Louis Community College,  claims that a radioactive additive was also mixed with the  compound.

She has accrued detailed descriptions as well  as photographs of the spraying which exposed the  unwitting public, predominantly in low-income and minority communities,  to radioactive particles.

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Test: Sociologist Lisa Martino-Taylor, right, a  sociologist at St. Louis Community College, has spent years tracking down  declassified documents to uncover the lengths which the US experimented on  people without their knowing. At left, cadmium sulfide, the ‘harmless’ chemical  sprayed on the public is pictured


Spray: She has accrued detailed descriptions as well as  photographs of the spraying, which took place as part of Manhattan-Rochester  Coalition, which was an operation that dispersed zinc cadmium silfide particles  over the general population, a compound that was presented as completely  safe

‘The study was secretive for reason. They  didn’t have volunteers stepping up and saying yeah, I’ll breathe zinc cadmium  sulfide with radioactive particles,’ said Professor Martino-Taylor to KSDK.

Through her research,  she found photographs of how the particles were distributed from 1953-1954 and  1963-1965.

In Corpus Christi, the chemical was dropped  from airplanes over large swathes of city.  In St Louis, the Army put  chemical sprayers on buildings, like schools and public housing projects, and  mounted them in station wagons for mobile use.

Despite the extent of the experiment, local  politicians were not notified about the content of the testing. The people of St  Louis were told that the Army was testing smoke screens to protect cities from a  Russian attack.

‘It was pretty shocking. The level of  duplicity and secrecy. Clearly they went to great lengths to deceive people,’  Professor Martino-Taylor said.


Controversial: But Professor Martino-Taylor says that it  wasn’t just the ‘harmless’ compound, radioactive particles were also sprayed on  the unwitting public. A woman refills the spray canisters in this archive  picture


Scope: In St Louis, the Army put chemical sprayers on  buildings, like schools and public housing projects, and mounted them in station  wagons for mobile use

She accrued hundreds of pages of declassified  information, which she has made available online.

In her research, she found that the greatest  concentration of spraying in St Louis was at the Pruitt-Igoe public housing  complex, which was home to 10,000 low income residents.  She said that 70  per cent of those residents were children under the age of 12.

Professor Martino-Taylor became  interested  in the topic after hearing independent reports of cancers  among city residents  living in those areas at the time.

‘This was a violation of all medical ethics,  all international codes, and the military’s own policy at that time,’ said  Professor Martino-Taylor.

How To: Despite the extent of the experiment, local politicians were not notified about the content of the testing. In this picture, a man demonstrates how to spray the canisters

How To: Despite the extent of the experiment, local  politicians were not notified about the content of the testing. In this picture,  a man demonstrates how to spray the canisters


School: The people of St Louis were told that the Army  was testing smoke screens to protect cities from a Russian attack. A canister is  positioned on top of a school in this photo

‘There is a lot of evidence that shows people  in St. Louis and the city, in particular minority communities, were subjected to  military testing that was connected to a larger radiological weapons testing  project.’

Previous investigations of the compound were  rebuffed by the military, which insisted it was safe.

However, Professor Martino-Taylor believes  the documents she’s uncovered, prove the zinc cadmium silfide was also mixed  with radioactive particles.

She has linked the St Louis testing to a  now-defunct company called US Radium. The controversial company came under fire,  and numerous lawsuits, after several of its workers were exposed to dangerous  levels of radioactive materials in its fluorescent paint.

Spray image001

Contaminated: The Army has admitted that it added a  fluorescent substance to the ‘harmless’ compound, but whether or not the  additive was radioactive remains classified


Exposed: In her research, she found that the greatest  concentration of spraying in St Louis was at the Pruit-Igoe public housing  complex, which was home to 10,000 low income residents. She said that 70 per  cent of those residents were children under the age of 12

‘US Radium had this reputation where they had  been found legally liable for producing a radioactive powdered paint that killed  many young women who painted fluorescent watch tiles,’ said Professor  Martino-Taylor.

In her findings, one of the compounds that  was sprayed upon the public was called ‘FP2266’, according to the army’s  documents, and was manufactured by US Radium. The compound, also known as Radium  226, was the same one that killed and sickened many of the US Radium  workers.

The Army has admitted that it added a  fluorescent substance to the ‘harmless’ compound, but whether or not the  additive was radioactive remains classified.

Professor Martino-Taylor has not been able to  find if the Army ever followed up on the long term health of the residents  exposed to the compound. In 1972, the  government destroyed the Pruitt-Igoe houses.

Upon learning of the professor’s findings,  Missouri lawmakers called on the Army to detail the tests.

‘I share and understand the renewed anxiety  of members of the St. Louis communities that were exposed to the spraying of  (the chemicals) as part of Army tests during the Cold War,’ Senator Claire  McCaskill wrote to Army Secretary John McHugh.

‘The impacted communities were not informed  of the tests at the time and are reasonably anxious about the long term health  impacts the tests may have had on those exposed to the airborne  chemicals.’

Senator Roy Blunt called the findings  ‘absolutely shocking.’

‘The idea that thousands of Missourians were  unwillingly exposed to harmful materials in order to determine their health  effects is absolutely shocking. It should come as no surprise that these  individuals and their families are demanding answers of government officials,’  Senator Blunt said.

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10 Things the Food Industry Doesn’t Want You to Know

2008 study posted for filing


By Adam Voiland Adam Voiland


Two nutrition experts argue that you can’t take marketing campaigns at face value



With America’s obesity problem among kids reaching crisis proportions, even junk food makers have started to claim they want to steer children toward more healthful choices. In a study released earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that about 32 percent of children were overweight but not obese, 16 percent were obese, and 11 percent were extremely obese. Food giant PepsiCo, for example, points out on its website that “we can play an important role in helping kids lead healthier lives by offering healthy product choices in schools.” The company highlights what it considers its healthier products within various food categories through a “Smart Spot” marketing campaign that features green symbols on packaging. PepsiCo’s inclusive criteria–explained here–award spots to foods of dubious nutritional value such as Diet Pepsi, Cap’n Crunch cereal, reduced-fat Doritos, and Cheetos, as well as to more nutritious products such as Quaker Oatmeal and Tropicana Orange Juice.



But are wellness initiatives like Smart Spot just marketing ploys? Such moves by the food industry may seem to be a step in the right direction, but ultimately makers of popular junk foods have an obligation to stockholders to encourage kids to eat more–not less–of the foods that fuel their profits, says David Ludwig, a pediatrician and the co-author of a commentary published in this week’s Journal of the American Medical Association that raises questions about whether big food companies can be trusted to help combat obesity. Ludwig and article co-author Marion Nestle, a professor of nutrition at New York University, both of whom have long histories of tracking the food industry, spoke with U.S. News and highlighted 10 things that junk food makers don’t want you to know about their products and how they promote them.



1. Junk food makers spend billions advertising unhealthy foods to kids.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, food makers spend some $1.6 billion annually to reach children through the traditional media as well the Internet, in-store advertising, and sweepstakes. An article published in 2006 in the Journal of Public Health Policy puts the number as high as $10 billion annually. Promotions often use cartoon characters or free giveaways to entice kids into the junk food fold. PepsiCo has pledged that it will advertise only “Smart Spot” products to children under 12.



2. The studies that food producers support tend to minimize health concerns associated with their products.

In fact, according to a review led by Ludwig of hundreds of studies that looked at the health effects of milk, juice, and soda, the likelihood of conclusions favorable to the industry was several times higher among industry-sponsored research than studies that received no industry funding. “If a study is funded by the industry, it may be closer to advertising than science,” he says.



3. Junk food makers donate large sums of money to professional nutrition associations.

The American Dietetic Association, for example, accepts money from companies such as Coca-Cola, which get access to decision makers in the food and nutrition marketplace via ADA events and programs, as this release explains. As Nestle notes in her blog and discusses at length in her book Food Politics, the group even distributes nutritional fact sheets that are directly sponsored by specific industry groups. This one, for example, which is sponsored by an industry group that promotes lamb, rather unsurprisingly touts the nutritional benefits of lamb. The ADA’s reasoning: “These collaborations take place with the understanding that ADA does not support any program or message that does not correspond with ADA’s science-based healthful-eating messages and positions,” according to the group’s president, dietitian Martin Yadrick. “In fact, we think it’s important for us to be at the same table with food companies because of the positive influence that we can have on them.”



4. More processing means more profits, but typically makes the food less healthy.

Minimally processed foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables obviously aren’t where food companies look for profits. The big bucks stem from turning government-subsidized commodity crops–mainly corn, wheat, and soybeans–into fast foods, snack foods, and beverages. High-profit products derived from these commodity crops are generally high in calories and low in nutritional value.



5. Less-processed foods are generally more satiating than their highly processed counterparts.

Fresh apples have an abundance of fiber and nutrients that are lost when they are processed into applesauce. And the added sugar or other sweeteners increase the number of calories without necessarily making the applesauce any more filling. Apple juice, which is even more processed, has had almost all of the fiber and nutrients stripped out. This same stripping out of nutrients, says Ludwig, happens with highly refined white bread compared with stone-ground whole wheat bread.



6. Many supposedly healthy replacement foods are hardly healthier than the foods they replace.

In 2006, for example, major beverage makers agreed to remove sugary sodas from school vending machines. But the industry mounted an intense lobbying effort that persuaded lawmakers to allow sports drinks and vitamin waters that–despite their slightly healthier reputations–still can be packed with sugar and calories.



7. A health claim on the label doesn’t necessarily make a food healthy.

Health claims such as “zero trans fats” or “contains whole wheat” may create the false impression that a product is healthy when it’s not. While the claims may be true, a product is not going to benefit your kid’s health if it’s also loaded with salt and sugar or saturated fat, say, and lacks fiber or other nutrients. “These claims are calorie distracters,” adds Nestle. “They make people forget about the calories.” Dave DeCecco, a spokesperson for PepsiCo, counters that the intent of a labeling program such as Smart Spot is simply to help consumers pick a healthier choice within a category. “We’re not trying to tell people that a bag of Doritos is healthier than asparagus. But, if you’re buying chips, and you’re busy, and you don’t have a lot of time to read every part of the label, it’s an easy way to make a smarter choice,” he says.



8. Food industry pressure has made nutritional guidelines confusing.

As Nestle explained in Food Politics, the food industry has a history of preferring scientific jargon to straight talk. As far back as 1977, public health officials attempted to include the advice “reduce consumption of meat” in an important report called Dietary Goals for the United States. The report’s authors capitulated to intense pushback from the cattle industry and used this less-direct and more ambiguous advice: “Choose meats, poultry, and fish which will reduce saturated fat intake.” Overall, says Nestle, the government has a hard time suggesting that people eat less of anything.



9. The food industry funds front groups that fight antiobesity public health initiatives.

Unless you follow politics closely, you wouldn’t necessarily realize that a group with a name like the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) has anything to do with the food industry. In fact,Ludwig and Nestle point out, this group lobbies aggressively against obesity-related public health campaigns–such as the one directed at removing junk food from schools–and is funded, according to the Center for Media and Democracy, primarily through donations from big food companies such as Coca-Cola, Cargill, Tyson Foods, and Wendy’s.



10. The food industry works aggressively to discredit its critics.

According to the new JAMA article, the Center for Consumer Freedom boasts that “[our strategy] is to shoot the messenger. We’ve got to attack [activists’] credibility as spokespersons.” Here’s the group’s entry on Marion Nestle.



The bottom line, says Nestle, is quite simple: Kids need to eat less, include more fruits and vegetables, and limit the junk food.

Science warns that your voting choices may be completely irrational

By David Ferguson Wednesday, September 26, 2012 13:47 EDT

Subconscious mind via Shutterstock

Are you voting for the more attractive candidate to represent your district in Congress?  Are you backing Barack Obama for president because you prefer the sound of his voice to that of Mitt Romney’s?  According to an article in Scientific American, you may not think you are, but issues of policy and political affiliation may well be polite fictions that your conscious mind tells itself while it carries out decisions you made without ever realizing it.

A new book by Leonard Mlodinow, titled Subliminal: How Your Unconscious Mind Rules Your Behavior suggests that much of our decision-making about public figures happens offstage, out of reach of the practical concerns of the conscious mind.

Mlodinow’s research suggests that voters prefer politicians with deeper voices.  Deep voices convey a sense of confidence, whereas the sound of a higher pitched voice conveys to listeners a sense of nervousness, a lack of empathy and even a tendency toward dishonesty, according to the book.  Looks, however, may override everything.

Princeton University psychologist Alexander Todorov and his colleagues asked volunteers to rate politicians for “competence” based on black-and-white head shots of the 600 candidates for the House of Representatives and the 95 candidates for U.S. Senate in the 2000, 2002 and 2004 elections.  Results found that candidates rated “more competent” based on appearance alone won 67 percent of the House races and 72 percent of the Senate contests.

Similar testing done before the 2006 elections of Senate and gubernatorial candidates produced another 72 percent success rate for choosing Senate winners and a 69 percent success rate picking gubernatorial candidates based on appearance alone.

Scientific American presented as an example the famous televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard M. Nixon during the presidential race of 1960.  Kennedy, fresh from campaigning in California was tanned and golden before the cameras, whereas Nixon, who shunned his advisers’ attempts to polish him up for television, came across as pale and tense under the lights, his heavy five o’clock shadow making him look rumpled and unkempt.

Polling done after the debate gave a startling result.  ”According to a study published in the trade journal Broadcasting, those who saw the debate thought Kennedy won, whereas those who heard it gave Nixon the nod.”  Radio listeners ceded the debate to Nixon, in theory because his deep, resonant voice contrasted so sharply with Kennedy’s clipped, higher voice with its upper-crust New England overtones.  On television, however, Kennedy looked calm, handsome and in control, leading to TV viewers naming him the winner.

Our impressions, these findings suggest, hinge a great deal on our perceptions of candidates’ superficial traits.  The mission of the voter, said Scientific American is to “try to override your predictably irrational propensity to succumb to these influences and engage your rational brain to vote the issues and not the person.”

Raw Story (

Christian Copt to face trial in Egypt for blasphemy

Posted 2012/09/24 at 6:09 pm EDT

CAIRO, Sep. 24, 2012 (Reuters) — An Egyptian Copt arrested on suspicion of posting an anti-Islam video online that ignited Muslim protests around the world will stand trial next Wednesday on charges of insulting religions, the state news agency MENA said on Monday.

Computer science graduate Alber Saber, 27, was arrested at his Cairo home on September 13 after neighbors accused him of uploading sections of the film “Innocence of Muslims” and making another movie mocking all religions.

His case has raised concerns over freedom of expression under Islamist President Mohamed Mursi, who came to power in free elections earlier this year after the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

Many Christian Copts have been concerned about the political rise of Islamists since Mubarak’s fall and fret about any action that could stoke tensions with their Muslim compatriots.

The crude film made in California portrayed the Prophet Mohammad as a womanizer, thug and child molester. Angry Muslim crowds stormed U.S. embassies around the Arab world. In Libya, the U.S. ambassador was killed by Islamist militants.

Human rights lawyers say Saber was arrested without a prosecutor’s warrant and that he was beaten during interrogation. Security officials have refused to talk publicly about the case, but a judicial source said the police had acted on the instructions of prosecutors.

Prosecutors have accused him Alber of running Facebook pages calling for atheism, insulting Islam and Christianity and questioning religious beliefs, and have referred him to a Cairo misdemeanor court.

Saber’s lawyer wasn’t immediately available for comment. His mother, Kariman Ghali, said her son had done nothing wrong.

(Reporting by Tamim Elyan and Ali Abdelattai; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Half of trials supporting FDA applications go unpublished

2008 study posted for filing

Contact: Andrew Hyde
Public Library of Science

Over half of all supporting trials for FDA-approved drugs remained unpublished 5 years after approval, says new research published in this week’s PLoS Medicine. The most important trials determining efficacy, and those with statistically significant results and larger sample sizes, are more likely to be published.

Ida Sim and colleagues from the University of California San Francisco searched the medical literature to determine the publication status of all 909 clinical trials that supported the 90 new drug approval applications approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) between 1998 and 2000. Although 76% of the pivotal trials (typically large Phase II or III trials designed to provide evidence on the overall risks and benefits of a drug) had been published in medical journals—usually within 3 years of FDA approval—only 43% of all of the submitted trials had been published.

The researchers also found evidence of selective reporting of the results from these trials. For example, Sim and colleagues report that a pivotal trial in which a new drug works better than an old drug is more likely to be published than a trial in which the new drug does no better. This is a form of publication bias that may lead to an inappropriately favorable record in the medical literature of a drug’s true risk-benefit profile relative to other standard therapies, and can lead to preferential prescribing of newer and more-expensive treatments, say the authors.

These new results provide a baseline for monitoring the effects of the FDA Amendments Act 2007, which was introduced to improve the accuracy and completeness of drug trial reporting. Under this Act, all trials supporting FDA-approved drugs must be registered when they start and the results of all the outcomes declared at trial registration as well as specific details about the trial protocol must be publicly posted within a year of drug approval on the US National Institutes of Health clinical site.



In July the PLoS Medicine editors published an editorial discussing the FDA Amendment Act and what it means for medical journals: The PLoS Medicine Editors (2008) Next Stop, Don’t Block the Doors: Opening Up Access to Clinical Trials Results. PLoS Med 5(7): e160 doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050160

Citation: Lee K, Bacchetti P, Sim I (2008) Publication of clinical trials supporting successful new drug applications: A literature analysis. PLoS Med 5(9): e191. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.0050191



Ida Sim
University of California, San Francisco
Department of Medicine and the Program in Biological and Medical Informatics,
400 Parnassus Ave., A-405
San Francisco, CA 94143-0320
United States of America
(415) 502-1954
(415) 476-7964 (fax)


Vietnam bloggers ‘anti-state propaganda’ trial open

By Agence France-Presse
Monday, September 24, 2012 7:25 EDT

This file photo shows policemen standing guard in front of Ho Chi Minh City People's Court House in 2010 via AFP

Hundreds of police surrounded a court in Vietnam on Monday for the opening of the trial of three bloggers, including one whose case has been raised by US President Barack Obama.

Heavy security flanked the building in southern Ho Chi Minh City as the case began against Nguyen Van Hai, alias Dieu Cay, Phan Thanh Hai and policewoman-turned-dissident Ta Phong Tan, an AFP reporter saw.

The trio face charges of conducting propaganda against the one-party communist state, which are routinely used to prosecute dissidents in a country that rights groups say is conducting a growing crackdown against freedom of expression.


There were no sign of supporters outside the court, after a popular banned blog, Dan Lam Bao (the People Report), claimed they had been prevented from approaching the area by security forces.

The blog ran photographs of people carrying large signs calling for the trio’s release, and reported that at least seven supporters had been arrested early Monday. Police would not comment on any arrests.

Mobile phone signals had apparently been blocked inside the court compound, the AFP reporter said.

The bloggers are to be tried under Article 88 of the Criminal Code, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail, a lawyer for Dieu Cay told AFP earlier.

In a desperate protest over the detention of her daughter, Tan’s mother committed suicide by setting herself on fire in front of a local authority building in July, causing one of several postponements to the controversial trial.

Tan was arrested last year, while Phan Thanh Hai, who blogs under the name Anhbasg, was arrested in 2010.

Nguyen Van Hai has been in detention since September 2008, when he was jailed for two-and-a-half years for tax fraud.

The trio are all accused of posting political articles on the banned Vietnamese website “Free Journalists Club” as well as writing on their own blogs, denouncing corruption and injustice and criticising Hanoi’s foreign policy.

Communist Vietnam bans private media — all newspapers and television channels are state-run.

In May, Obama said “we must not forget (journalists) like blogger Dieu Cay, whose 2008 arrest coincided with a mass crackdown on citizen journalism in Vietnam”.

Rights groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have repeatedly called upon the government to drop the charges and release the three bloggers immediately.

Reporters Without Borders ranked Vietnam 172 out of 179 countries in its 2011-2012 press freedom index and identified the authoritarian state as an “Enemy of the Internet” because of systematic use of cyber-censorship.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]