Families with college kids more likely to lose their home during recessions

Public Release: 7-Aug-2018


New research shows that the cost of supporting a child through college exacerbated the foreclosure crisis of the 2000s


In times of economic difficulties, having to pay a child through college could be a major reason for a family to lose their home. This is according to two US researchers, Jacob Faber of New York University and Peter Rich of Cornell University, in a study published in Springer’s journal Demography. Their investigations show that during the Great Recession of the 2000s, banks often foreclosed on the homes of families who were supporting their children’s further education. Faber and Rich therefore recommend that policymakers look for other ways to alleviate families’ financial burdens in addition to curbing risky mortgages.

Between 2005 and 2011, 39.9 per cent of Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 attended a two or four-year college (11.1 per cent more than in 1985). Tuition fees also nearly doubled over the same period. Need-based grants and sliding-scale tuition adjustments have made college more accessible to many people, but families still must make a financial contribution. Parents often draw from savings, earnings, and loans to cover this, and some financial advisors are known to recommend that people borrow against their homes.

Faber and Rich evaluated annual college data and foreclosures from 2005 to 2011 among people living in 305 commuting zones in the US. Their sample covered 84.8 per cent of the total US population and included information from rural and urban counties. They analysed data about foreclosures and federal taxes in these zones, and took note of unemployment rates, refinance mortgage debt, home prices, and the number of 19-year-olds living in these areas.

Their findings show that a higher rate of families sending their children to college predicted a higher rate of foreclosures in the subsequent year. They also verified these findings by analyzing three independent datasets tracking individual households over time, each of which show a greater likelihood of foreclosure among households sending children to college. The results expose an unexplored role that higher education costs had on household financial risk during the 2000s.

“This may help explain why some families with children were more likely to experience foreclosure during this period than childless households – as shown in previous studies. Our findings do not suggest that households’ decisions to send children to college were as consequential as housing or labor market dynamics in shaping the Great Recession, but it is important to understand all contributing factors, especially because the penalties of foreclosure can be substantial and lasting,” says Faber.

The researchers found that the connection between college attendance and foreclosures persisted for families at all points in the income distribution, suggesting that both poor and nonpoor families have had difficulty supporting their children through college. The authors believe that financial aid for college should therefore be more transparent, flexible and comprehensive, to allow parents to see upfront what they should budget for when their child starts studying, even with the help of financial aid. Moreover, they argue, their findings show that college prices have soared beyond what many families can reasonably afford even with tuition offsets, supporting calls to further reign in the high cost of college access.

Rich explained: “Our study warrants policy attention not only to risky home lending, but also to other determinants of financial hazard–such as the cost of college attendance–that can overextend families and render us all vulnerable to future economic crises.”


Reference: Faber, J.W. & Rich, P.M. (2018). Financially Overextended: College Attendance as a Contributor to Foreclosures During the Great Recession, Demography DOI: 10.1007/s13524-018-0702-7

Researchers offer new information warfare model

Public Release: 9-Nov-2017

Sporadic propaganda achieves nothing, say mathematicians

Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology




Russian experts managed to define the mechanism of the very manipulation of the minds of the masses. Mathematics brought a number of formulas that describe the behavior of participants of the information war that allows you to determine the next steps of media propaganda. The model that researchers developed can help to accurately predict the outcome of media battle.

Credit: MIPT Press Office

Researchers from MIPT teamed up with their colleagues from the Keldysh Institute of Applied Mathematics of the Russian Academy of Sciences (KIAM RAS) and Lomonosov Moscow State University to develop a mathematical model of information warfare in a society under periodic destabilization. The authors of the paper, which was published in the journal Mathematical Models and Computer Simulations, have determined for the first time in what way periodic surges of propaganda in the mass media can disturb the balance between two opposing parties. In addition to providing an analytical solution of the problem, the researchers have conducted a numerical experiment that illustrates their model.

The authors envisage their model as a means of simulating real-life information warfare scenarios and determining their outcomes with a high degree of precision.

“With any social study using a mathematical model, it’s all about the adequacy of the assumptions introduced into the model. They determine if the study is going to be a success and put a limit on the potential accuracy of the results,” explains Alexander Petrov, a leading researcher at KIAM RAS, who co-authored the paper.

“This is why many models of social phenomena that assume rational human behavior — that is, individuals seeking to maximize their benefits or minimize their expenses — fail to produce meaningful results. Humans as social beings are much more subtle than what economics imagines them to be.

“So we’re trying to develop information warfare models based on a more complex idea of how decision making works. Some of them, for example, are based on a neurological scheme proposed by Nicolas Rashevsky, a Russian-born U.S. physicist and pioneer of mathematical biology and psychology,” says Petrov.

Because information dominates contemporary societies, modeling its dissemination is a promising emerging line of research. Mathematicians tackle this vast and seemingly subjective problem by formulating differential and integro-differential equations. In simulations, the party that ends up with more supporters is deemed to have defeated the opposing party in information warfare.

The researchers used their model to identify how the number of members in two opposing factions disseminating media propaganda varied with time. To be more realistic, the model is supplied with coefficients accounting for the intensity of information dissemination, the characteristic properties of certain social groups, and how information is consumed and forgotten, among other things. The numeric values of these coefficients to be fed into the equations were obtained by integrating data and thus do not represent individual human features.

“Current social studies are mostly geared toward predicting the outcomes of specific instances of information interactions, drawing on large amounts of initial data. An example of this would be search engine query analysis,” says Olga Proncheva of the Department of Higher Mathematics, MIPT, who co-authored the paper. “But these studies do not aim to develop universal mathematical models, which are essential if we are going to predict arbitrary information interaction outcomes.”

Prior models featured a constant value representing the intensity of information dissemination by the competing parties. Now, MIPT researchers and their colleagues have accounted for the fact that real publicity campaigns are characterized by sporadic information attacks in the media. They introduced a variable representing a destabilizing effect on information warfare — namely, one of the parties stepping up the propaganda for brief intervals. Accordingly, the parameter characterizing the intensity of information dissemination by that party is given by a piecewise periodic function of time.

The analytical solution of the resulting system of differential equations along with the subsequent numerical experiment have shown that, following an intermittent period when the destabilizer operates, periodic behavior is observed. That is to say, brief surges in propaganda intensity have no long-term effects if the capacity of the society to forget information is accounted for.

The researchers have already applied their model to solve a practical problem. Namely, developing an effective advertising campaign for a company selling video games. The team modeled a situation when consumers got interested by a product early enough to buy it before pirated copies became freely available on the internet. In this scenario, the two opposing parties within the mathematical model are the video game developer and the pirates. Using the data provided by the client, the researchers calculated the coefficients for the equations. Based on their model, they successfully predicted how often publicity had to be distributed.

Despite its success, the researchers are willing to venture beyond this model, whose chief weakness is the inability to accommodate faction changes.

Petrov told us about one of the possible modifications: “We have been working with models of this kind for quite a while. At the moment, we’re developing a feature that will enable the members of social groups to change their allegiance from one faction to another, depending on a range of parameters affecting them. In our recent paper called ‘Modeling the Effect of Political Polarization on the Outcome of Propaganda Battle’ we investigate the phenomenon of polarization.

“Members of the society are by nature more inclined to hold either left or right-wing political views. We let one of the competing parties — the left or the right — have more control over mass media. Now, the question is this: If the society becomes polarized — that is, the left move further to the left, and the right shift to the right — which of the two opposing parties will benefit? Will the group with more control over the media gain an advantage or the other one?”

“The answer was not trivial,” Petrov goes on. “As long as the polarization is relatively insignificant, more polarization favors the party that dominates the media. Thanks to polarization, it can find supporters within the society, eventually securing a stable majority by means of propaganda. However, as soon as polarization is too extreme, greater control over the media has no effect, because the left and right radicals cannot convert one another to their respective views. Although this result does not contradict what one might intuitively expect, still it would be hard to obtain without mathematical modeling.”

Trump’s leakers: McMaster, Petraeus, Dina Powell?


Thursday, 01 June 2017

Former CIA director and convicted criminal David Petraeus is under investigation for mishandling classified information yet again. Cernovich first reported that H.R. McMaster had been disclosing classified information to Petraeus.

Today John Crudele of the NY Post reports:

The Justice Department has gotten a warrant from the US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court — also known as the FISA court — to conduct electronic surveillance on a group of journalists who’ve been the recipient of leaked information, the source said.

The journalists are not the target, according to my source — and I say, thank goodness for that. Instead, the Trump administration is looking for the leaker. Who could it be?

Some in the administration are focusing on a retired, high-ranking military officer who held important posts in the intelligence service, according to the source.

McMaster had been having nightly phone calls Petraeus, who had his security clearance pulled after he disclosed classified information to his mistress. (Petraeus was later convicted of this offense.)
McMaster had also been overheard having meetings with media relations members of KKR, where Petraeus is Chairman.
Although Trump has fired several leakers, McMaster remains as NSA.
Trump has been trying to shuffle McMaster to the Army, a move multiple Pentagon sources have stated the Army is blocking.
Most of the negative media coverage has been coming from McMaster, Dina Habib Powell, and Petraeus. Maggie Haberman has been a beneficiary of these leaks, and is no doubt seeking the advice of counsel.


Italian Officials Call For Investigation Of Soros-Supported NGO Migrant Fleet


Monday, 27 March 2017

Italian authorities are calling for monitoring of the funding of an NGO fleet bussing migrants into the EU from the North African coast after a report released the European Border and Coast Guard Agency has determined that the members of the fleet are acting as accomplices to people smugglers and directly contributing to the risk of death migrants face when attempting to enter the EU.

The report from regulatory agency Frontex suggests that NGOs sponsoring  ships in the fleet are now acting as veritable accomplices to people smugglers due to their service which, in effect, provides a reliable shuttle service for migrants from North Africa to Italy.

The fleet lowers smugglers’ costs, as it all but eliminates the need to procure seaworthy vessels capable making a full voyage across the Mediterranean to the European coastline. Traffickers are also able to operate with much less risk of arrest by European law enforcement officers. Frontex specifically noted that traffickers have intentionally sought to alter their strategy, sending their vessels to ships run by the NGO fleet rather than the Italian and EU military.

On March 25th, 2017, Italian news source Il Giornale carried remarks from Carmelo Zuccaro, the chief prosecutor of Catania (Sicily) calling for monitoring of the funding behind the NGO groups engaged in operating the migrant fleet. He stated that “the facilitation of illegal immigration is a punishable offense regardless of the intention.” While it is not a crime to enter the waters of a foreign country and pick them migrants, NGOs are supposed to land them at the nearest port of call, which would have been somewhere along the North African coast instead of in Italy. The chief prosecutor also noted that Italy is investigating Islamic radicalization occurring in prisons and camps where immigrants are hired off the books.

Italy has for some months been reeling under the pressure of massive numbers of migrants who have been moving from North Africa into the southern states of the European Union. In December 2016, The Express cited comments made by Virginia Raggi, the mayor of Vatican City, stating that Rome was on the verge of a “war” between migrants and poor Italians. The wave of migrants has also caused issues in southern Italy, where the Sicilian Cosa Nostra has declared a “war on migrants” last year amid reports that the Italian mafia had begun fighting with North African crime gangs who entered the EU among migrant populations.

In February 2016, numerous reports indicated that multiple ships operating in the fleet mentioned by Frontex are sponsored by NGO groups with financial ties to organizations run by George Soros and donors to Hillary Clinton.

Reports have also emerged citing a study by counter-extremism group Quilliam which states that ISIS now controls the human trafficking scene in North Africa and is actively recruiting from the migrant population. In addition to acting as de facto accomplices of human traffickers, the NGO’s criticized by Frontex may also be contributing to the worsening terror situation in Europe though their actions.


Erdoğan’s calls on all Turks in Europe to have 5 children, so they will be the “future of Europe.”

Le Pen’s niece responds to Erdogan’s Call for having 5 kids

Monday, 20 March 2017

Marion Le Pen, niece of French presidential candidate Marine Le Pen, responded to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s call to Turks in Europe to “have five children” by saying “the future of Turks in Europe is in Turkey.”

“Dear Erdoğan, the future of Turkish people living in Europe is in Turkey,” Le Pen posted on her Twitter (translated from French).

The Turkish President had called on Turkish citizens living in Europe to have five children – two more than what he recommends Turks have in the homeland – in a bid to increase their numbers so that they will be the “future of Europe.”

“Go live in better neighborhoods. Drive the best cars. Live in the best houses. Make not three, but five children. Because you are the future of Europe,” Erdoğan said at a rally Friday.

Marine Le Pen recently condemned Erdoğan’s plans to campaign for an upcoming Turkish referendum in Europe, telling him to do his “evil campaigning back in Turkey.”

“Why should be tolerate on our soil words other democracies refuse? No Turkish election campaign in France,” she tweeted.

Dutch politician Geert Wilders also came out against the Turkish governments plans to campaign in Europe.

“Your government is fooling you into believing that one day you will become a member of the European Union,” he said. “Well forget it. You are no Europeans and you will never be.”

Wilder’s also called Erdoğan is a “dangerous Islamist,” adding, “we do not want more, but less Islam. So Turkey, stay away from us.”

The first round of the French presidential election will take place this April, followed by the second round in May.

Emmanuel Macron, the globalist favorite running against Le Pen, wishes to further federalize Europe and dissolve its borders,” Marion Le Pen said last month.

“I also think that he stands for protecting immigration, and thus is against expectations of the majority of the French people,” she added.


Erdogan tells rally in Istanbul: ‘If I want to, I will come to Germany. If you don’t let me in or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.’

President Erdogan vows to ‘make the world rise up’ after Berlin blocks his referendum rallies in Germany where he hopes to gain support of 1.5 million Turks

  • Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Germany of ‘Nazi practices’
  • Four local authorities cancelled rallies by Turkish ministers ahead of referendum
  • Chancellor Angela Merkel rejected Erdogan’s claims as ‘absurd and out of place’
  • Merkel has also sought to draw a line under the dispute, to let ‘cool heads prevail’

By Abe Hawken For Mailonline and Ap

PUBLISHED: 13:37 EDT, 6 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:58 EDT, 6 March 2017

Chancellor Angela Merkel has sought to calm an escalating row with Turkey, a day after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan labelled a German ban on rallies by his ministers ‘Nazi practices’.

But yet another event cancellation – of a speech Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had planned to give Tuesday in Hamburg, on fire safety grounds – only threatened to reignite the dispute.

Merkel’s office, while firmly rejecting Erdogan’s Nazi jibe as ‘absurd and out of place,’ sought to draw a line under the spat that is further fraying ties between the two countries.

Speaking in Istanbul, the Turkish President, 63, had fanned the flames with a stinging verbal attack.

He said: ‘In Germany they are not allowing our friends to speak. Let them do so. Do you think that by not allowing them to speak the votes in Germany will come out ‘no’ instead of ‘yes?’

Germany, you don’t have anything to do with democracy. These current practices of yours are no different than the Nazi practices of the past.’

Erdogan also told the rally in Istanbul: ‘If I want to, I will come to Germany. If you don’t let me in or if you don’t let me speak, I will make the whole world rise up.’

But Merkel‘s spokesman Steffen Seibert said: ‘To our Turkish partners, let us talk openly and critically, but let us remember the special meaning of our close relationship and let cool heads prevail.

Sharply rejecting Erdogan’s comments, he added: ‘Nazi comparisons are always absurd and out of place, because they lead only to one thing – the trivialising of the crimes against humanity committed by the Nazis.’

The row erupted late last week after three local German authorities banned Turkish ministers’ scheduled appearances ahead of an April referendum on a plan to scrap the prime minister post in Turkey, thereby boosting Erdogan’s powers.

The German authorities cited capacity and security problems in hosting the events, which they said were likely to attract large crowds.

Merkel has said her government did not have a hand in the decisions, which fell under the jurisdiction of local officials.

But Ankara responded with fury to the cancellations, accusing Berlin of working against the referendum.

Erdogan’s Nazi comments came days after a local authority prevented a Turkish minister from addressing a rally.

Meanwhile, at an election campaign event in Amsterdam, Dutch right-wing populist Geert Wilders also resorted to extreme-right comparisons, calling Erdogan an ‘Islamo-fascist leader’.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4287132/President-Erdogan-vows-make-world-rise-up.html#ixzz4bBa3zFZA
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Particles from outer space my be causing your computer to crash

Public Release: 17-Feb-2017

Particles from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on personal electronics

Vanderbilt University



IMAGE: This graph shows estimated failure rates from single event upsets at the transistor, integrated circuit and device level for the last three semiconductor architectures.

Credit: Bharat Bhuva, Vanderbilt University

You may not realize it but alien subatomic particles raining down from outer space are wreaking low-grade havoc on your smartphones, computers and other personal electronic devices.

When your computer crashes and you get the dreaded blue screen or your smartphone freezes and you have to go through the time-consuming process of a reset, most likely you blame the manufacturer: Microsoft or Apple or Samsung. In many instances, however, these operational failures may be caused by the impact of electrically charged particles generated by cosmic rays that originate outside the solar system.

“This is a really big problem, but it is mostly invisible to the public,” said Bharat Bhuva, professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University, in a presentation on Friday, Feb. 17 at a session titled “Cloudy with a Chance of Solar Flares: Quantifying the Risk of Space Weather” at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Boston.

When cosmic rays traveling at fractions of the speed of light strike the Earth’s atmosphere they create cascades of secondary particles including energetic neutrons, muons, pions and alpha particles. Millions of these particles strike your body each second. Despite their numbers, this subatomic torrent is imperceptible and has no known harmful effects on living organisms. However, a fraction of these particles carry enough energy to interfere with the operation of microelectronic circuitry. When they interact with integrated circuits, they may alter individual bits of data stored in memory. This is called a single-event upset or SEU.

Since it is difficult to know when and where these particles will strike and they do not do any physical damage, the malfunctions they cause are very difficult to characterize. As a result, determining the prevalence of SEUs is not easy or straightforward. “When you have a single bit flip, it could have any number of causes. It could be a software bug or a hardware flaw, for example. The only way you can determine that it is a single-event upset is by eliminating all the other possible causes,” Bhuva explained.

There have been a number of incidents that illustrate how serious the problem can be, Bhuva reported. For example, in 2003 in the town of Schaerbeek, Belgium a bit flip in an electronic voting machine added 4,096 extra votes to one candidate. The error was only detected because it gave the candidate more votes than were possible and it was traced to a single bit flip in the machine’s register. In 2008, the avionics system of a Qantus passenger jet flying from Singapore to Perth appeared to suffer from a single-event upset that caused the autopilot to disengage. As a result, the aircraft dove 690 feet in only 23 seconds, injuring about a third of the passengers seriously enough to cause the aircraft to divert to the nearest airstrip. In addition, there have been a number of unexplained glitches in airline computers – some of which experts feel must have been caused by SEUs – that have resulted in cancellation of hundreds of flights resulting in significant economic losses.

An analysis of SEU failure rates for consumer electronic devices performed by Ritesh Mastipuram and Edwin Wee at Cypress Semiconductor on a previous generation of technology shows how prevalent the problem may be. Their results were published in 2004 in Electronic Design News and provided the following estimates:

  • A simple cell phone with 500 kilobytes of memory should only have one potential error every 28 years.
  • A router farm like those used by Internet providers with only 25 gigabytes of memory may experience one potential networking error that interrupts their operation every 17 hours.
  • A person flying in an airplane at 35,000 feet (where radiation levels are considerably higher than they are at sea level) who is working on a laptop with 500 kilobytes of memory may experience one potential error every five hours.

Bhuva is a member of Vanderbilt’s Radiation Effects Research Group, which was established in 1987 and is the largest academic program in the United States that studies the effects of radiation on electronic systems. The group’s primary focus was on military and space applications. Since 2001, the group has also been analyzing radiation effects on consumer electronics in the terrestrial environment. They have studied this phenomenon in the last eight generations of computer chip technology, including the current generation that uses 3D transistors (known as FinFET) that are only 16 nanometers in size.

The 16-nanometer study was funded by a group of top microelectronics companies, including Altera, ARM, AMD, Broadcom, Cisco Systems, Marvell, MediaTek, Renesas, Qualcomm, Synopsys, and TSMC

“The semiconductor manufacturers are very concerned about this problem because it is getting more serious as the size of the transistors in computer chips shrink and the power and capacity of our digital systems increase,” Bhuva said. “In addition, microelectronic circuits are everywhere and our society is becoming increasingly dependent on them.”

To determine the rate of SEUs in 16-nanometer chips, the Vanderbilt researchers took samples of the integrated circuits to the Irradiation of Chips and Electronics (ICE) House at Los Alamos National Laboratory. There they exposed them to a neutron beam and analyzed how many SEUs the chips experienced. Experts measure the failure rate of microelectronic circuits in a unit called a FIT, which stands for failure in time. One FIT is one failure per transistor in one billion hours of operation. That may seem infinitesimal but it adds up extremely quickly with billions of transistors in many of our devices and billions of electronic systems in use today (the number of smartphones alone is in the billions). Most electronic components have failure rates measured in 100’s and 1,000’s of FITs.

“Our study confirms that this is a serious and growing problem,” said Bhuva. “This did not come as a surprise. Through our research on radiation effects on electronic circuits developed for military and space applications, we have been anticipating such effects on electronic systems operating in the terrestrial environment.”

Although the details of the Vanderbilt studies are proprietary, Bhuva described the general trend that they have found in the last three generations of integrated circuit technology: 28-nanometer, 20-nanometer and 16-nanometer.

As transistor sizes have shrunk, they have required less and less electrical charge to represent a logical bit. So the likelihood that one bit will “flip” from 0 to 1 (or 1 to 0) when struck by an energetic particle has been increasing. This has been partially offset by the fact that as the transistors have gotten smaller they have become smaller targets so the rate at which they are struck has decreased.

More significantly, the current generation of 16-nanometer circuits have a 3D architecture that replaced the previous 2D architecture and has proven to be significantly less susceptible to SEUs. Although this improvement has been offset by the increase in the number of transistors in each chip, the failure rate at the chip level has also dropped slightly. However, the increase in the total number of transistors being used in new electronic systems has meant that the SEU failure rate at the device level has continued to rise.

Unfortunately, it is not practical to simply shield microelectronics from these energetic particles. For example, it would take more than 10 feet of concrete to keep a circuit from being zapped by energetic neutrons. However, there are ways to design computer chips to dramatically reduce their vulnerability.

For cases where reliability is absolutely critical, you can simply design the processors in triplicate and have them vote. Bhuva pointed out: “The probability that SEUs will occur in two of the circuits at the same time is vanishingly small. So if two circuits produce the same result it should be correct.” This is the approach that NASA used to maximize the reliability of spacecraft computer systems.

The good news, Bhuva said, is that the aviation, medical equipment, IT, transportation, communications, financial and power industries are all aware of the problem and are taking steps to address it. “It is only the consumer electronics sector that has been lagging behind in addressing this problem.”

The engineer’s bottom line: “This is a major problem for industry and engineers, but it isn’t something that members of the general public need to worry much about.”

Incoming! US air base thrown into panic after warning a missile was about to hit is sent to personnel


  • Message meant for 1 person mistakenly sent to all personnel at NATO airbase
  • Inadvertent incident occurred at NATO airbase in Spangdahlem, Germany
  • Eight minutes later, another message recalled the missile warning

By Forrest Hanson For Dailymail.com

PUBLISHED: 09:43 EST, 19 February 2017 | UPDATED: 10:50 EST, 19 February 2017

For eight panic-stricken moments the airmen of a US airbase in Germany thought that they were under attack when a message was sent warning of an incoming missile attack.

The terse bright red test message was supposed to be sent to one person only, but was instead sent to all wing personnel at NATO’s Spangdahlem Air Base, 100 miles west of Frankfurt.

Labeled ‘high severity’ the warning read: ‘MISSILE INBOUND. SEEK SHELTER IMMEDIATELY!’

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Acknowledged: What was supposed to be a test message sent to one person was instead sent to all wing personnel at Spangdahlem Air Base


Acknowledged: What was supposed to be a test message sent to one person was instead sent to all wing personnel at Spangdahlem Air Base

Humor: Social media users had fun with the mistaken announcement at the NATO air base in Germany. One user added an embarrassed smiley face to the original test message 


Humor: Social media users had fun with the mistaken announcement at the NATO air base in Germany. One user added an embarrassed smiley face to the original test message 

Major Bryon McGarry told Stars and Stripes: ‘One of the command post controllers was building a template for this specific thing that was posted….And he inadvertently sent it to everybody.’

The message was distributed through the base’s AtHoc emergency alert system and appeared on user desktops in a tab that normally shows weather warnings.


Eight minutes later, a blue message recalled the missile warning and cleared up the matter.

It read: ‘A missile warning message was sent out inadvertently. PLEASE DISREGARD AND RESUME NORMAL OPERATIONS.’

Correction: Eight minutes later, a blue message recalled the missile warning and cleared up the matter


Correction: Eight minutes later, a blue message recalled the missile warning and cleared up the matter

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4239608/NATO-air-base-Germany-receives-false-alert.html#ixzz4ZBSMrUDt
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Greek Leftist Govt to replace Classic Literature with ‘Gender Studies’


Sunday, 12 February 2017

    Teachers in Greece have criticised plans by the left-wing Soros run government to scrap the mandatory study of Ancient Greek tragedy in high schools and introduce instead classes on gender and sex education, saying that this could bring about the end of classical studies.

    The plan to drop Antigone by Sophocles comes after Pericles’ Funeral Oration from Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War, was removed.
    The government says it is trying to update the antiquated curriculum and devote more time to teaching modern Greek and new subjects, including gender equality, same-sex marriages and sex education.
    “This is preposterous,” Antonis Mastrapas, of the National Federation of Classical Studies Professors, said. “Not even during Greece’s gruelling years of dictatorship were the works of ancient masters like Sophocles and Thucydides were tossed to the curb.

If passed, the move would be another blow to Classical scholarship, which is in retreat across much of the world.

Greek students have an obvious advantage since ancient Athenian texts – dating to around 450BC – are similar enough to the modern language that they could be read as easily as an English speaker might approach Chaucer.

Elsewhere, studying Greek texts in the original is an increasingly elite discipline, mostly confined to Classics departments in elite universities.

The irony is that many see the replacement of Greek Classical Tragedies with Gender Studies a tragedy in itself.


Former top-security NSA contractor could face 200 years in prison ‘after stealing more than 500 MILLION pages of national defense information over the course of 20 years’


  • Harold T Martin III, 51, worked for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton
  • He allegedly took docs as far back as 1996, keeping them in his home and car
  • Files include ‘NSA and CIA data, hacking tools and info on satellites and spies’
  • Martin’s attorney says his client was a hoarder and never intended any harm
  • It was speculated on his October arrest that Martin had talked to foreign powers
  • But that charge from his arrest was absent in Wednesday’s indictment

By James Wilkinson For Dailymail.com

PUBLISHED: 20:45 EST, 9 February 2017 | UPDATED: 20:45 EST, 9 February 2017

A former defense contractor with top-security clearance spent more than 20 years stockpiling more than 500 million pages of classified national defense information, it has been alleged.

Harold T Martin III, 51, was indicted in a Baltimore court on Wednesday for the alleged security breach. He is currently facing one charge each for 20 documents, each with a maximum ten-year sentence.

The documents included information on the launch of an intelligence collection satellite and ‘an unacknowledged ground station,’ according to court papers seen by Yahoo News.

Martin, a Navy veteran who was working for defense contractor Booz Allen Hamilton when he was arrested, is believed to have started retaining the documents in 1996, and continued up until last year.

He stored them in both hardcopy and digital form in his home and vehicle, police say. 

The acting assistant attorney general for national security, Mary McCord, said Martin ‘violated the trust our nation put in him by stealing and retaining classified documents and other material relating to the national defense’.

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Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4210306/Ex-NSA-contractor-stole-500-million-secret-documents.html#ixzz4YFfCcNnF
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British PM wins landslide final battle in House of Commons to trigger EU exit


Source: Xinhua | 2017-02-09 04:44:54 | Editor: huaxia


British Prime Minister Theresa May leaves 10 Downing Street for Prime Minister’s questions at the House of parliament in London, Britain, Feb. 8, 2017. The British House of Commons on Wednesday night passed the Brexit Bill which gives the British government the power to begin the formal process of Britain leaving the European Union. (Xinhua/Tim Ireland)

LONDON, Feb. 8 (Xinhua) — The parliamentary bill empowering the British government to begin the formal process of leaving the European Union completed its passage Wednesday night in the House of Commons.

Prime Minister Theresa May’s government succeeded in crossing the final crucial hurdle with 494 votes to 122 — a majority of 372.

May sat in the chamber alongside her Brexit ministers as the historic result was announced by deputy speaker Lindsay Hoyle.

It now goes to the unelected House of Lords for further scrutiny before being sent to Queen Elizabeth for royal assent.

Scottish Nationalist MP Alex Salmond criticized the process and accused the government of railroading the legislation through parliament in a “disgraceful fashion.

He said this was the first time a bill of great constitutional importance had been passed in this day since the Defense of the Realm Bill prior to World War One in 1914.

Having won Wednesday night in the Commons, where a string of amendments were defeated, it almost guarantees that May will be on course to tell Brussels within weeks to start the EU exit process.

May’s government only introduced the briefly worded bill into parliament last week, determined to see it fast-tracked through the parliamentary process.

It has meant members of parliament (MPs) sitting until midnight on some occasions to complete a series of debates.

Attempts by the Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP) to ensure the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh could have a vote on Brexit, as well as a call by the minority Liberal Democrats for a second national referendum, each failed, as did a string of proposed amendments by the main opposition Labor party.

In the final vote, the result indicated that some Labor MPs had defied an instruction from their leader Jeremy Corbyn to vote in favor of the Article 50 bill.

A number of his shadow cabinet members have already resigned, and more may quit as a result of the vote.

Before the result was even announced it was reported that Labor’s shadow business secretary Clive Lewis resigned from Corbyn’s shadow cabinet, saying he could not vote in favor of the Brexit bill.

Under parliamentary convention in Britain a minister or shadow minister disobeying the leadership is expected to resign or be fired. The vote will add to the ongoing civil war within the Labor Party that erupted after Corbyn’s election as leader.

During a day of intensive debates, MPs failed by 332 votes to 290 to ensure EU nationals lawfully resident in Britain on the date of last June’s EU referendum would have the right to stay in Britain.

Another vote called for Britain to remain as a member of Euratom, the European Atomic Agency Community. This was also lost with a vote of 287 in support and 336 against, another victory f

Brexit Minister David Jones had confirmed during the debate that Britain leaving the EU also meant leaving Euratom.

But he added that the government wants to maintain successful cooperation with the EU and says this will be a matter for negotiation with Brussels.

On the residence rights of EU nationals in Britain, Jones said the government recognizes issue is extremely important and will addressed as a matter of priority.

As MPs were voting, a group of MPs burst into song in the chamber of Commons where even applause if frowned upon. The choir was silenced by an order from Deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle.



Russia works on massive deportation of migrants


03.02.2017 | Source:


In accordance with a draft bill of the Ministry for Interior Affairs, migrants from the countries of the Eurasian Economic Union will be fined and expelled from Russia for the absence of the employment contract.

For the time being, migrant workers from EEU countries – Armenia, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Russia and Belarus – are exempt from the obligation to obtain work permit in member states of the  union. The period of stay of a migrant in a state of employment is determined by the validity of the employment contract. However, responsibility for its absence is envisaged only in the area of ​​employment, rather than immigration legislation.

According to the draft law of the Interior Ministry, a foreigner who does not require a patent or work permit, shall not be entitled to work in Russia without employment contracts.

A penalty is to be set on the level of up to 5,000 rubles, including administrative deportation from the Russian Federation.

The bill also prohibits employment for foreigners and stateless individuals in case the migration card does not indicate work as the purpose of entry, the Izvestia reports. An exception will be made for citizens of Belarus, who are exempt from obtaining a migration card.

According to police, more than 15 million foreign citizens entered Russia in 2016; about 70 percent of migrants are representatives of former Soviet republics (11.5 percent arrived from EU countries).

– See more at: http://www.pravdareport.com/news/russia/economics/03-02-2017/136780-deportation_migrants-0/#sthash.kORQe0Ep.dpuf

Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data Daily Mail Online


  • The Mail on Sunday can reveal a landmark paper exaggerated global warming
  • It was rushed through and timed to influence the Paris agreement on climate change
  • America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration broke its own rules
  • The report claimed the pause in global warming never existed, but it was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data

By David Rose for The Mail on Sunday

PUBLISHED: 17:57 EST, 4 February 2017 | UPDATED: 20:05 EST, 4 February 2017

Data Science,Climate and satellites Consultant John J Bates, who blew the whistle to the Mail on Sunday

The Mail on Sunday today reveals astonishing evidence that the organisation that is the world’s leading source of climate data rushed to publish a landmark paper that exaggerated global warming and was timed to influence the historic Paris Agreement on climate change.

A high-level whistleblower has told this newspaper that America’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) breached its own rules on scientific integrity when it published the sensational but flawed report, aimed at making the maximum possible impact on world leaders including Barack Obama and David Cameron at the UN climate conference in Paris in 2015.

The report claimed that the ‘pause’ or ‘slowdown’ in global warming in the period since 1998 – revealed by UN scientists in 2013 – never existed, and that world temperatures had been rising faster than scientists expected. Launched by NOAA with a public relations fanfare, it was splashed across the world’s media, and cited repeatedly by politicians and policy makers.

But the whistleblower, Dr John Bates, a top NOAA scientist with an impeccable reputation, has shown The Mail on Sunday irrefutable evidence that the paper was based on misleading, ‘unverified’ data.

It was never subjected to NOAA’s rigorous internal evaluation process – which Dr Bates devised.

His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a ‘blatant attempt to intensify the impact’ of what became known as the Pausebuster paper.

His disclosures are likely to stiffen President Trump’s determination to enact his pledges to reverse his predecessor’s ‘green’ policies, and to withdraw from the Paris deal – so triggering an intense political row.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-4192182/World-leaders-duped-manipulated-global-warming-data.html#ixzz4XnJumUgG
Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

EU to grant legal status to Robots


Thursday, 12 January 2017

A European Parliament committee has voted in favor of a draft report that proposes granting legal status to robots, categorizing them as “electronic persons”.

The draft report, approved by 17 votes to two and two abstentions by the European Parliament Committee on Legal Affairs, proposes that “The most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations, including that of making good any damage they may cause.”

Authored by Luxembourg MEP Mady Delvaux, the report proposes definitions and outlines rules to govern how robots interact with humans “now that humankind stands on the threshold of an era” that it claims will see artificial intelligence (AI) “unleash a new industrial revolution.”

AI developers will have to ensure their creations follow a set of rules that prohibit them from harming a human or allowing a human to come to harm through their inaction. AI can protect their own existence under the rules, if this does not harm any humans.

“A robot may not harm humanity, or, by inaction, allow humanity to come to harm,” the rules state.

An opt-out mechanism or kill switch is also proposed in the report, ensuring any rogue robots can be turned off easily (provided the designer hasn’t let their AI outsmart them).

The report also calls for robot definitions and subcategories to be proposed based on the device’s autonomy, making certain categories with higher autonomy more responsible for their actions.

“Whereas in the scenario where a robot can take autonomous decisions, the traditional rules will not suffice to activate a robot’s liability, since they would not make it possible to identify the party responsible for providing compensation and to require this party to make good the damage it has caused,” the report reads.

In an interview last week Delvaux said standardization and liability were essential for the future of AI.

She claimed robots will not totally replace humans in the workplace, instead “There will be a cooperation between robots and humans. I imagine that everyone can learn to work together with the robots.”

“A robot is not a human and will never be human. A robot can show empathy but it cannot feel empathy,” she added.

Delvaux also proposes a charter for designers that robots “should not be made to look emotionally dependent. You must never think that a robot is a human, that he loves you or he is sad.”


Greece Unleashes ‘Soft’ Cash Ban


Tuesday, 03 January 2017

The spread of global cash bans continues with Greece unveiling their so-called ‘soft’ approach by which taxpayers will only be granted tax-allowances or deductions when payments are made via credit or debit cards. As KeepTalkingGreeece reports, the new guidelines refer to employees, pensioners, farmers, and also the unemployed.

Accepted expenditure will be:

  • purchases for food and supermarket products, electronic and electric devices, household equipment, footwear, clothing, fuel, furniture, cigarettes, drinks
  • Restaurants, cafeterias,bars and hotels
  • Services like by hairdressers and beauty parlors, gyms and dance schools, car repair, plumbers, electricians, painters, carpenters, lawyers and accountants.
  • For doctors and pharmacy the same practice will be valid as in last year. The tax office will accept the expenditure only if payments are made per credit card or bank transfer.
  • Expenditure for utility bills, landlines and mobile phones, heating, rent, loan repayments that in fact swallow the largest amount of monthly expenditure for private households will not be accepted. Also not accepted is expenditure for toll and transport tickets.

In its “wisdom” the Greek Finance Ministry has determined the amount the taxpayers will have to pay with electronic money in order to be able to get the tax allowance:

  • 10% for annual income up to €10,000
  • 15% for annual income €10,001-€30,000
  • 20% for annual income over €30,001

The famous Greek wisdom in times of austerity, bailout agreements and economic crisis remains the same also in 2017 and as neoliberal as possible since 2010: crack the low and medium incomes, let the rich fly free

  • income €7,000: expenditure per plastic money must be €700
  • income €10,000: expenditure per plastic money must be €1,000
  • income €30,000: expenditure per plastic money must be €4,500
  • income  €60,000 expenditure per plastic money must be €12,000

Should a taxpayer not be able to spend the necessary percentage of the annual income according to the guidelines, the punishment will be a penalty of 22% imposed on the missing difference.

I heard on television that couples will have to spend separately – but better check with your accountant. The average taxpayer in Greece needs an accountant anyway, someone who will follow the revenue-expedience balance month by month for the sake of the tax office.

In the bizarre Greek world we live in, households will be obliged to spend money even if they do not want to. As the large part of monthly need coverage (utilities etc) is not accepted by the tax office, households who do not manage to reach the necessary percentage through supermarket percentages will have to go and spend like crazy in retail, dance schools and gyms and other goods and service providers.

Exempted from the compulsory usage of credit/debit cards are seniors over 70 years old, residents of remote areas and people with disability over 80%. I suppose they will have to continue the collection of paper receipts.

KTG understands that with these new system, taxpayers will not need to collect the stupid receipts from cash register, where the amount had faded away when they were supposed to be brought to the tax office in a huge plastic bag.

The cap for cash transactions falls from 1,500 until 31.12.2016 down to 500 euro. In simple words: any purchase of good and service over 500 euro will need to be done via plastic money.


Europe Proposes Confiscating Gold In Crackdown On "Terrorist Financing"


Tuesday, 27 December 2016

Hot on the heels of China gold import restrictions, and India’s demonetization and gold confiscations, The European Commission proposed tightening controls on cash and precious metals transfers from outside the EU under the guise of shutting down one route for funding of militant attacks on the continent, following the Berlin Christmas attack.
China has already begun de facto gold import restrictions, and as Jayant Bhandari detailed previously, India is experiencing a continuation of new social engineering notifications, each sabotaging wealth-creation, confiscating people’s wealth, and tyrannizing those who refuse to be a part of the herd, in the process destroying the very backbone of the economy and civilization. There are clear signs that in a very convoluted way, possession of gold for investment purposes will be made illegal. Expect capital controls to follow.

And now, as Reuters reports, it appears last Monday’s attack on a Christmas market in Berlin, where 12 people were killed as a truck ploughed into a crowd, has given The European Commission just the excuse to tighten capital controls – specifically cash and precious metals – into and out of Europe.

It is part of an EU “action plan against terrorist financing” unveiled after the bombings and shootings in Paris in November 2015.

Under the new proposals, customs officials in European Union states can step up checks on cash and prepaid payment cards sent by post or in freight shipments.

Authorities will also be able to seize cash or precious metals carried by suspect individuals entering the EU.

People carrying more than 10,000 euros (8,413.56 pounds) in cash already have to declare this at customs when entering the EU. The new rules would allow authorities to seize money below that threshold “where there are suspicions of criminal activity,” the EU executive commission said in a note.

EU officials said some of the recent attacks in Europe were carried out with limited funds, sometimes sent from outside the EU by criminal networks.

The Commission is also considering whether to set up an EU-focussed “terrorist finance tracking programme” along the lines of the U.S.-EU TFTP, which has long been opposed by EU lawmakers and privacy campaigners because it allows widespread checks on consumers’ bank transfers.

The plan complements Commission proposals after the Paris attacks to tighten controls on virtual currencies such as bitcoin, and prepaid cards, which French authorities said were used to fund the bombings.

EU states backed these proposals on Tuesday. Under the deal, which still needs European Parliament approval, holders of prepaid cards would have to show some form of identity when they make payments of 150 euros or more.

But it gets better…

The Commission is also proposing common rules for the 28 EU countries on freezing “terrorists’ financial resources” and on confiscating assets even from those thought to be connected to criminals.

So – cash, bitcoin, precious metals, and prepaid cards over $150 are all instruments of the “terrorists” and are now open to confiscation if you are a suspicious person… which, by their rhetoric, you are if you actually hold any of these assets.


Hillary’s Donors ask: What did you do with our $1.5 Billion?


Friday, 23 December 2016

Clinton’s fallout is interestingly causing an internal revolution among Hillary’s big donors. At her New York bash to “thank” her big donors of $1 million or more, she took no blame and pointed the finger at Comey and Putin. Her spin did not work and she has lost a lot of credibility according to confidential sources. They were smart enough to realize that even if Russia “hacked” the DNC and Podesta emails, there would be no release if there had been no wrongdoing to begin with.
Now Clinton’s biggest backers want a “campaign autopsy,” which could expose Clinton’s entire operation. The donors are demanding to know where Clinton spent the near $1.5 billion in campaign resources she collected in the closing months. They want the receipts! They are demanding an honest investigation of how Clinton failed to read the mood in swing states and how her Brooklyn operation misread polling data.
The donors are not buying the Russian hack story, at all. Putin isn’t the only explanation for her failure and they are now pointing the finger at Hillary. She never bothered to go to Wisconsin. The story running behind the curtain is that fundraisers are cutting off all donations to the Democratic Party until this honest review is carried out. They do not want to hear about Comey and Putin.
Foreign governments have been cutting off funds to the Clinton Foundation. At last, the money is being cut off. Bill Clinton has lost it, mocking President-elect Donald Trump’s intelligence. “[Trump] doesn’t know much,” Bill Clinton said of Trump. “One thing he does know is how to get angry, white men to vote for him.” Bill is keeping it racist and gender oriented. Obviously, Bill is lashing out because the Clinton money machine came to a screeching halt.


EU proposes sending Migrants back to Greece


Thursday, 08 December 2016

The European Union’s executive said on Thursday that member states should be allowed to send some asylum-seekers back to Greece from mid-March, in a step Brussels hopes will help restore the bloc’s migration policies, which collapsed under a mass influx last year.
Under EU rules, the first country of entry is responsible for handling an asylum claim, but that system broke down last year in Greece, the main gateway to Europe for more than a million refugees and migrants.
Unable to cope, Greece let many of them pass through on their own to Germany and other wealthy EU states in defiance of the bloc’s rules. That led countries along the route gradually to close their borders, stranding many in Greece, which struggled to offer them proper shelter.
The European Commission on Thursday said Greece has improved in hosting and registering arriving asylum-seekers.
It recommended that EU states be allowed to send back to Greece asylum-seekers who enter the bloc that way and make it deeper into Europe from mid-March onwards. The recommendation does not apply to those who have already made that journey.
“This will provide further disincentives against irregular entry and secondary movements, and is an important step for the return to a normally functioning … system,” the Commission’s deputy head, Frans Timmermans.

The bloc’s asylum policy and its zone of internal free travel both collapsed last year as an uncontrolled flow of migrants and refugees triggered bitter disputes between EU states on how to handle them.
These disputes remain unresolved and more than 62,000 people are still in Greece, even though an EU agreement with Turkey in March reduced the arrivals to a trickle.
The failure is in large part due to reluctance by EU states to take in people from Greece and Italy to help process their asylum requests and ease the burden on the two frontline states.
So far, fewer than 8,200 people have been moved from these two Mediterranean countries to other EU states under a plan that was supposed to cover 160,000 people and which expires next September. The Commission called on EU states to step up.
“Our aim is to relocate all those in Italy and Greece who are eligible for relocation within the next year,” said the bloc’s migration chief, Dimitris Avramopoulos.
Brussels put additional conditions on returning people beyond March, saying Greece should give individual assurances of fair treatment for any returnees and that unaccompanied children not be sent back at all.
Obligatory quotas on refugees are now the focus of a tug of war between EU states seeking to reform their troubled common asylum rules.
The Commission said arrivals from Turkey to Greece stood at an average of 92 people a day since March, compared to thousands that were making at times making it in a single day before the deal with Ankara. It said 1,187 people have been deported from Greece to Turkey since March 2016.
Under the deal with Turkey, which looks fragile now due to a breakdown in ties following Ankara’s crackdown in the wake of a botched military coup in July, Brussels also said it had spent 677 million euros of the 3 billion promised to help Syrian refugees living on Turkish soil.


Italy’s PM Matteo Renzi Resigns Amid Loss in Referendum


    Renzi said he took full responsibility for the defeat and that on Monday afternoon he would convene his cabinet and then hand in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.

    Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi resigned Sunday night before officials results were in after exit polls showed he was facing a major loss in a constitutional referendum.

    “The experience of my government ends here,” Renzi said in a televised address to the nation after early voting results suggested his ‘Yes’ camp may have lost the referendum by as much as 20 points.

    Renzi said he took full responsibility for the “extraordinarily clear” defeat and that on Monday afternoon he would convene his cabinet and then hand in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.

    The euro fell sharply against the dollar as exit polls were released and Renzi announced his resignation.

    Renzi took office in 2014 promising to shake up Italy in an effort to push economic and political reforms.

    Sunday’s referendum, designed to hasten the legislative process by reducing the powers of the senate and regional authorities, was to have been his crowning achievement.


    Italians the latest to say NO to Establishment


    Sunday, 04 December 2016

    To summarize, this is what has happened so far in yet another major overthrow of the political status quo:

    1. Italy PM Renzi lost by a huge margin, with the latest estimate somewhere around 59.3% voting “No” to Renzi’s proposed constitutional referendum.
    2. In a speech moments after the results were announced, Renzi confirmed he would hand in his resignation tomorrow.
    3. As Bloomberg notes, the scale of the loss and how quickly it happened cast a huge shadow on the fate of the continent headed into 2017.
    4. The EURUSD has tumbled to the lowest level since March 2015.

    “The experience of my government ends here,” Renzi said in a televised address to the nation after early voting results suggested his ‘Yes’ camp may have lost the referendum by as much as 20 points.

    Renzi said he took full responsibility for the “extraordinarily clear” defeat and that on Monday afternoon he would convene his cabinet and then hand in his resignation to President Sergio Mattarella.

    Meanwhile, not wasting any time, the man who would likely win an election if one were held today, Five Star founder Beppe Grillo, saidn in a blog post that Italians need elections as soon as possible, adding that the election law for the lower house can be the current one, even though the movement has “always criticized it” and says a new election law for the Senate, with tweaks to make it more governable, can be done in one week.

    The result has hit the EURUSD first and foremost:

    “Expect volatility premiums to rise and the euro to trade below $1.05 against the dollar, potentially testing last year’s low of $1.0460 in a ‘no’ vote scenario,” Petr Krpata of ING Groep said before the referendum. “While the market is positioning for the risk of ‘no’ vote outcome, a knee-jerk reaction is still likely to be a lower euro” as it would “underline the upcoming risk” of other elections in Europe.

    After the referendum, Daisuke Karakama, chief market economist for Mizuho said the EURUSD may fall to 1.02 in January-March period as European elections make investors wary. First reaction to Renzi resigning is EUR selling, JPY buying, but more important event is parliament dissolution and general election in Italy which may not occur until 2017. Daisuke says elections in Netherlands, France, Germany and Italy next year keep euro pressured. He also notes that Italy isn’t a factor-snapping trend of Trump rally and won’t be trigger for all-out JPY buying as market sentiment is somewhere between risk-on and risk-off.

    * * *

    The rejection of Renzi’s reform means Italy’s government bonds, which have been the euro zone’s worst performers in the past six months, may drop Monday. The bond market opens at 8 a.m. Rome time (2am ET). The yield premium demanded by investors for owning the nation’s 10-year bonds instead of benchmark German bunds surged on Nov. 28 to the most since June 2015, before rebounding last week as Italian stocks also gained.


    French president wants to extend state of emergency until next May


    Source: Xinhua   2016-11-16 05:58:47

    PARIS, Nov. 15 (Xinhua) — French President Francois Hollande said Tuesday he wanted to extend the state of emergency until the presidential election in April-May 2017, on the sidelines of the ongoing COP22 in the Moroccan city of Marrakech, the French press reported.

    Faced with terrorist risks, “we need measures that are, of course, exceptional. And since there will be a presidential election, rallies in the coming weeks, the government has made me the proposal to extend the state of emergency and it will be submitted to parliament,” Hollande said, as quoted by the French newspaper Le Parisien on its website.

    Earlier on Tuesday, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls confirmed in Paris that he was going to ask parliament for a further extension of the state of emergency, beyond its normal term in January 2017. The state of emergency rules would, in particular, allow for house arrest and widen the possibility of searches. ​

    According to the official agenda, the results of the first and second tour of the French presidential election will be published on April 23 and May 7 next year.

    Editor: Mu Xuequan


    Researchers found mathematical structure that was thought not to exist

    Public Release: 14-Nov-2016


    The best possible q-analogs of codes may be useful in more efficient data transmission

    Aalto University


    In the 1970s, a group of mathematicians started developing a theory according to which codes could be presented at a level one step higher than the sequences formed by zeros and ones: mathematical subspaces named q-analogs.

    For a long time, no applications were found – or were not even searched for – for the theory until ten years ago, when it was understood that they would be useful in the efficient data transmission required by modern data networks. The challenge was that, despite numerous attempts, the best possible codes described in the theory had not been found and it was therefore believed they did not even exist.

    However, an international research group disagreed.

    ‘We thought it could very well be possible,’ says Professor Patric Östergård from Aalto University and smiles.

    ‘The search was challenging because of the enormous size of the structures. Searching for them is a gigantic operation even if there is very high-level computational capacity available. Therefore, in addition to algebraic techniques and computers, we also had to use our experience and guess where to start looking, and that way limit the scope of the search.’

    The perseverance was rewarded when the group consisting of five researchers found the largest possible structure described by the theory. The results were recently presented in the scientific publication Forum of Mathematics, Pi, which publishes only a dozen carefully selected articles per year.

    Aalto University (Finland), Technion (Israel), University of Bayreuth (Germany), Darmstadt University of Applied Sciences (Germany), University of California San Diego (USA) and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore) participated in the study.

    Green science

    Although mathematical breakthroughs rarely become financial success stories immediately, many modern things we take for granted would not exist without them. For example, Boolean algebra, which has played a key role in the creation of computers, has been developed since the 19th century.

    ‘As a matter of fact, information theory was green before anyone had even mentioned green alternatives,’ says Östergård and laughs.

    ‘Its basic idea is, actually, to try to take advantage of the power of the transmitter as effectively as possible, which in practice means attempting to transmit data using as little energy as possible. Our discovery will not become a product straight away, but it may gradually become part of the internet.”


    Michael Braun, Tuvi Etzion, Patric Östergård, Alexander Vardy, Alfred Wassermann: “Existence of q-analogs of Steiner Systems”. Forum of Mathematics, Pi. Link to the publication https://doi.org/10.1017/fmp.2016.5

    Further information:
    Professor Patric Östergård
    tel. +358 50 344 3610

    Spain proposes a BAN on memes… and its government is immediately mocked with memes


    • Plan put before Congress in Spain by Popular Party led by Mariano Rajoy
    • Law would curb ‘spreading images that infringe the honour of a person’
    • But move immediately sparked a deluge of memes poking fun at the rule


    PUBLISHED: 07:47 EST, 10 November 2016 | UPDATED: 07:51 EST, 10 November 2016

    Spain’s new government has announced plans to ban memes – only to face immediate mockery on social media.  

    The plan has been put before Congress in Spain by the new Popular Party administration of prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

    The controversial regulations would see curbs on ‘spreading images that infringe the honour of a person’.

    But minutes after the proposals were presented, Twitter users in Spain unleashed a deluge of memes poking fun at the prime minister and his government. 

    Spain's new government has announced plans to ban memes - only to face immediate mockery on social media


    Spain’s new government has announced plans to ban memes – only to face immediate mockery on social media

    Minutes after the proposals were presented, Twitter users in Spain unleashed a deluge of memes poking fun at the prime minister and his government. One showed the prime minister as the film character Edward Scissorhands


    Minutes after the proposals were presented, Twitter users in Spain unleashed a deluge of memes poking fun at the prime minister and his government. One showed the prime minister as the film character Edward Scissorhands

    One showed Rajoy as an Ewok character from the movie Star Wars, another showed him as the film character Edward Scissorhands while one Twitter user imagined him as Russell Crowe’s Maximus in Gladiator. 

    Many of the memes were accompanied by the Twitter hashtag #SinMemesNoHayDemocracia  meaning ‘there is no democracy without memes’.

    According to The Local, the Popular Party want the measure included in its Citizens Security Law.

    The legislation, introduced last year, has been branded a ‘gag law’ amid claims it will mean curbs on public protests and online activism.

    Many of the memes were accompanied by the Twitter hashtag #SinMemesNoHayDemocracia meaning 'there is no democracy without memes'


    Many of the memes were accompanied by the Twitter hashtag #SinMemesNoHayDemocracia meaning ‘there is no democracy without memes’

    The legislation, introduced last year, has been branded a 'gag law' amid claims it will mean curbs on public protests and online activism


    The legislation, introduced last year, has been branded a ‘gag law’ amid claims it will mean curbs on public protests and online activism

    Campaigners slammed the latest proposal calling it a threat to freedom of expression.

    Carlos Sánchez Almeida from the Platform in Defence of Freedom of Information is quoted by The Local as saying: ‘If the intent is to pursue those who publish images without consent then an act as widespread as sharing political criticism in the form of memes becomes a risky activity.’ 

    However, there are already reports that the plan will fail to make it through Congress where the party does not have a majority. 

    Spain took 10 months to establish a government after two inconclusive general elections and several unsuccessful attempts to form a coalition in a country where the traditional bi-party system was shattered by new political parties that rose to appeal to a recession-battered electorate.

    Rajoy (pictured) received parliamentary approval for a second term on October 29 thanks to the support of opposition newcomer Ciudadanos's 32 votes, but has the weakest mandate in Spain's modern history


    Rajoy (pictured) received parliamentary approval for a second term on October 29 thanks to the support of opposition newcomer Ciudadanos’s 32 votes, but has the weakest mandate in Spain’s modern history

    Rajoy received parliamentary approval for a second term on October 29 thanks to the support of opposition newcomer Ciudadanos’s 32 votes, but has the weakest mandate in Spain’s modern history.

    He is seven votes short of an absolute majority in the 350-strong Congress, meaning he must scrabble for approval from other opposition parties to push legislation through parliament. 

    This is a far cry from Rajoy’s previous term where he easily passed laws thanks to an absolute majority.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3923656/Spain-proposes-BAN-memes-government-immediately-mocked-memes.html#ixzz4Pd7Jkysb
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    US democracy ‘in crisis’, say Chinese media


    By Asian Correspondent Staff | 9th November 2016 |

    Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump react as they watch the election results during Trump's election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in New York. Pic: AP

    Supporters of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump react as they watch the election results during Trump’s election night rally, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2016, in New York. Pic: AP

    (AP) CHINESE state media outlets are casting the U.S. election as the embodiment of America’s democracy in crisis in contrast to China’s perceived stability under authoritarian rule.

    The state-run Xinhua News Agency says the campaign has highlighted that, in its words, “the majority of Americans are rebelling against the U.S.’s political class and financial elites.”

    The official Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily says in a commentary that the presidential election reveals an “ill democracy.”

    On Tuesday, the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV ran man-on-the-street interviews with unidentified American voters in which they expressed disgust with the system and dissatisfaction with both candidates.

    Chinese state media and government-backed commentators are continuing to signal Beijing’s preference for a Donald Trump win in the U.S. presidential election.

    Like Russia, China is seen as favoring Trump because he appears less willing to confront China’s newly robust foreign policy, particularly in the South China Sea. Clinton, by contrast, is disliked in Beijing for having steered the U.S. “pivot” to Asia aimed at strengthening U.S. engagement with the region, particularly in the military sphere.

    Writing in the Communist Party newspaper Global Times, scholar Mei Xinyu says: “From a comprehensive view, it would make it easier for China to cope if Trump is elected. This is because under the policy line advocated by Obama and Clinton, the political and military frictions between China and the U.S. will be more frequent.”

    Meanwhile, U.S. Ambassador to China Max Baucus says “the world’s most important relationship” between Beijing and Washington will remain stable regardless of the outcome of the U.S. presidential election.

    Asked by a Chinese reporter about Trump’s proposal for a 45 percent tariff on Chinese goods imported in the U.S., Baucus says that “people say a lot of things in the heat of a campaign that are not quite as feasible as they think when they’re elected.”

    Trump has also pledged to withdraw U.S. support for the Paris climate change agreement that was reached largely through hard negotiating with China.

    Baucus says he doesn’t believe the two countries would stop collaborating on issues already agreed to, including climate change, containing North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and reaching a political settlement in Afghanistan.

    In his words, “The issues are the same, the good faith is the same.”


    The Test (False) Presidential Election Results for Nov. 8th – Analysis -Requested Repost of Election results NOV3rd.

    Editor’s Note ( Ralph Turchiano) These are my observations: (Requested repost from Nov 3rd.)

    1. Yes , the was a false (or test) release of the presidential results yesterday.
    2. The news organizations are saying this is a test run ( Their explanation below).
    3. The false reports currently can be pulled up on way back machine, even though the archive for the address only goes back a few months.
    4. Immediately as of Nov 3rd Today, they posted the same report with zero sum totals.
    5. Why they posted candidates election totals on the Nov 2nd and not today, is an unknown. As I do not have any experience in prepping for an election; However, I collected the HTML as well as the screen shots for you to decide.
    6. As an observation the system used to broadcast the totals to the public is highly vulnerable.


    Nov 8th 2106 Election Results HTML SNIP



    News organizations test their election graphics before all elections

    Unpublished test election data appeared for a brief time on public servers this week for multiple news organizations that subscribe to the Associated Press election results service, including WRCB. Part of the test is to determine how the “winner check-mark” graphic and layout will appear on different platforms.

    The test data appeared for several state and national races, including president. Now that testing is complete, WRCB has removed the test data stream to return results to zero in preparation for election night. It is possible the test data stream may need to be turned on again for brief periods of time as designers continue testing the graphics.

    This has been the practice of news organizations for decades.

    The Empire Files: Abby Martin Exposes John Podesta

    With the Wikileaks release of thousands of emails belonging to John Podesta, very little is known in US society about Podesta himself. While he’s maintained a low profile, John Podesta is actually considered one of Washington’s biggest players, and one of the most powerful corporate lobbyists in the world.
    In this episode of The Empire Files, Abby Martin explores John Podesta’s political rise, his vast network of corporate connections and his think tank “Center for American Progress.” Learn why the Podestas and the Clintons are a match made in ruling class heaven.


    Bill Clinton drawn into Prince Andrew sex scandal – Repost from JAN 2015

    Editor’s Note ( Ralph Turchiano) Requested Repost from Jan 2015

    Last updated 14:50, January 6 2015

    Former US president Bill Clinton has been drawn into the scandal surrounding Virginia Roberts’ allegations she was instructed to have sex with Prince Andrew by American financier Jeffrey Epstein.

    Court documents show Clinton was one of many high-profile friends of Epstein to visit his private island and fly on his jet, and that Epstein’s phone directory showed he had 21 phone numbers for Clinton or his aides.

    The documents suggest no wrong-doing on Clinton’s behalf, but they have set off speculation – particularly on the part of conservative online media – about the potential impact of the scandal on Hillary Clinton’s presumed run for the White House.”Bubba and the Palm Beach Pedophile” screams a headline on the Drudge Report, the conservative blog made famous by its Monica Lewinsky scandal revelations, in a headline today.

    Wall Street financier Jeffrey Epstein was convicted in 2008 of soliciting an underage girl for prostitution.

    Virginia Roberts, the woman who has alleged Epstein used her as a “sex slave” and instructed her to have sex with Prince Andrew.

    “The [flight logs] clearly show that Clinton frequently flew with Epstein aboard his plane, then suddenly stopped – raising the suspicion that the friendship abruptly ended, perhaps because of events related to Epstein’s sexual abuse of children,” says a statement of facts lodged by Roberts’ lawyer in a civil case.

    “This information certainly leads one to believe that Clinton might well be a source of relevant information and efforts to obtain discovery from him were reasonably calculated to lead to admissible evidence,” it went on. Continue reading “Bill Clinton drawn into Prince Andrew sex scandal – Repost from JAN 2015”

    Italy Seen More Likely To Exit Eurozone Than Greece; Italian Bond Yields Surge


    Tuesday, 01 November 2016

    In an unexpected reversal of (mis)fortune, this morning Sentix writes that the Eurocrisis creeps back into the heads of the investors in a new way: it is no longer Greece, but Italy which is now the country that is most likely to leave the Eurozone within the year from the perspective of the more than 1,000 investors surveyed. “This development underscores the importance of the referendum to the Constitution in Italy on December, 4th.”

    Sentix adds that while it looked as if a “castle peace” had been concluded a few months ago, the euro concerns are gradually rising again among investors. But this time it is not Greece that dominates the agenda. Although for example the pension funds in Hellas are collapsing, the euro exit probability has fallen to 8.48% – the lowest level since 2014.

    Italy is now the focus country number 1 in the Eurocrisis! The precarious situation of the Italian banks, the political questions surrounding the Constitutional Treaty at the beginning of December, and the economic turmoil of the past have placed the country south of the Alps at the center of investor interest.

    The above graph shows the historical dimension that is inherent in this signal. And it shows that this is not a one-off event, due to an up-to-date message, as we observed in the Netherlands, for example, after the Brexit decision.

    Besides Italy, Sentix also measure a disadvantageous trend in Portugal. While the exit probability is not very high here, the EBI value worsens in small but steady steps. Thus, the risk of contagion as measured in the “Contagion Risk Index” also come back to the agenda.

    And with the Italian referendum coming up fast, scheduled for December 4, the market is starting to noticed. Earlier today, Italy’s borrowing costs hit eight-month highs with investors focused on political risks and stuttering banking sector reforms there as anxiety about other lower-rated euro zone nations has eased, Reuters writes.  The formation at the weekend of a minority Spanish government after a 10-month political stalemate has prompted markets to throw the spotlight east to Italy instead for what could be a nervy year-end.

    The gap between Italian and Spanish 10-year borrowing costs – viewed as a key indicator of political risk – rose on Monday to 41.4 basis points, its highest since 2012. It hovered close to that level at 39.5 bps in early trade on Tuesday. 

    Concern about Italy centres on a referendum on Dec. 4 in which voters will decide whether to approve Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s programme of constitutional reforms to reduce the role of the Senate and the powers of regional governments. Polls suggest Renzi may lose the referendum, “and that would be very bad news,” said DZ Bank strategist Daniel Lenz. “Since Portugal passed the DBRS ratings test and Spain now has a minority government, Italy is where the risks lie,” he said.

    Last month, Portugal came through a DBRS sovereign credit review with its sole investment grade rating intact. Losing that would have made it illegible for the European Central Bank’s bond-buying programme.

    Meanwhile back in Italy all but one of 26 opinion polls published this month have put the “no” camp ahead, with a lead ranging from one to nine percentage points.  Renzi earlier this year said he would step down in the event of a “no”. While he has stopped making that promise in recent months, he would come under huge pressure should he lose the vote.

    With the outcome of next week’s U.S. presidential election uncertain, the direction of the next ECB policy move on Dec. 8 unclear and a U.S. interest rate rise likely on Dec. 14, the timing of the Italian referendum alone could magnify market volatility.

    In addition, and adding to the pressure facing Italian banks, Reuters also reported today that Veteran Italian banker and former industry minister Corrado Passera withdrew his rescue plan for the insolvent Banca Monte dei Paschi di Siena on Tuesday, accusing the bank of obstruction and ignoring the interests of its own shareholders. Passera’s withdrawal leaves Monte dei Paschi, the country’s weakest major lender, tied to a plan drawn up and backed by investment bank JP Morgan to sell some 28 billion euros ($31 billion) in bad loans and raise 5 billion euros in new capital.

    Monte dei Paschi, which failed the European stress test over the summer, is desperate to complete the 5 billion euro cash call by the end of December, an ambitious target given that Italians are to vote on Dec. 4 in a constitutional referendum which could unseat the government and sour market sentiment. The attempted turnaround of Monte dei Paschi is the first big test of a state-backed campaign to steady Italy’s banking sector and clean up 360 billion euros in problem loans.

    “Ours was a serious proposal to turn around and relaunch the bank that would have given a key role to current shareholders,” Passera said in a letter to the bank which was released to media. “We were denied the minimum conditions for proceeding.”

    Passera said in his letter that he had assembled investors willing to invest around 2 billion euros in the bank. He did not name the investors, saying he had been prepared to identify them if Monte dei Paschi signed a confidentiality pact.

    But a spokesman for Passera said the bank had asked for so many restrictions to be included in the pact they had not got round to signing it.

    Finally, as reported before, and adding to the country’s troubles, another powerful earthquake struck over the weekend in the same central regions that have been rocked by repeated tremors over the past two months. The government recently cited earthquakes and the influx of migrants as reasons for submitting a budget plan to the European Union that would increase Italy’s structural deficit.


    Germany’s crime rate increased 80% since 2014, descends into lawlessness

    Merkel’s Germany descends into lawlessness

    Tuesday, 01 November 2016

    During the first six months of 2016, migrants committed 142,500 crimes, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office. 

    And Germany has been hit by a spate of horrendous violent crime including rapes, sexual and physical assaults, stabbings, home invasions, robberies, burglaries and drug trafficking.

    Adding to the country’s woes is the fact that thousands of people have gone missing after travelling there on invitation from Anegla Merkel.

    Germany took in more than 1.1million migrants in the past year and parts of the country are crippled with a lack of infrastructure.

    Angela Merkel is facing tough criticism in Germany

    Now the true reality is hitting home ahead of next year’s elections as the far right surges in the polls threatening to topple the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) leader Mrs Merkel.

    According to a report by the international policy council the Gatestone Institute, local police in many parts of the country admit that they are stretched to the limit.

    The report states: “The rape of a ten-year-old girl in Leipzig, the largest city in Saxony, has drawn renewed attention to the spiralling levels of violent crime perpetrated by migrants in cities and towns across Germany.

    “During the first six months of 2016, migrants committed 142,500 crimes, according to the Federal Criminal Police Office. This is equivalent to 780 crimes committed by migrants every day, an increase of nearly 40 per cent over 2015. The data includes only those crimes in which a suspect has been caught.

    “Thousands of migrants who entered the country as ‘asylum seekers’ or ‘refugees’ have gone missing. They are, presumably, economic migrants who entered Germany on false pretences.

    “Many are thought to be engaging in robbery and criminal violence.”

    According to Freddi Lohse of the German Police Union in Hamburg, many migrant offenders view the leniency of the German justice system as a green light to continue delinquent behaviour, says the report.

    He said: “They are used to tougher consequences in their home countries.

    “They have no respect for us.”

    Meanwhile a female police officer has admitted that officers are under attack and that the courts are a “joke.”

    In a new book, Tania Kambouri, a German police officer, said: “For weeks, months and years I have noticed that Muslims, mostly young men, do not have even a minimum level of respect for the police. 

    “When we are out patrolling the streets, we are verbally abused by young Muslims.

    “There is the body language, and insults like ‘s*** cop’ when passing by. 

    “If we make a traffic stop, the aggression increases ever further, this is overwhelmingly the case with migrants.

    “It cannot be that offenders continue to fill the police files, hurt us physically, insult us, whatever, and there are no consequences. 

    “Many cases are closed or offenders are released on probation or whatever.

    Migrants committed 208,344 crimes in 2015, according to a confidential police report leaked to Bild. 

    This figure represents an 80 per cent increase since 2014 and is equivalent to 570 crimes committed by migrants every day, or 23 crimes each hour, in 2015 alone.

    The report added: “The growing sense of lawlessness is substantiated by an October 24 YouGov poll which found that 68 per cent of Germans believe that security in the country has deteriorated during the past several years.

    “Nearly 70 per cent of respondents said they fear for their lives and property in German train stations and subways, while 63 per cent feel unsafe at large public events.”


    Most British scientists cited in study feel Richard Dawkins’ work misrepresents science

    Public Release: 30-Oct-2016


    Rice University


    Controversial British evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins is well-known for his criticism of religion, but a new Rice University study of British scientists reveals that a majority who mentioned Dawkins’ work during research interviews reject his approach to public engagement and said his work misrepresents science and scientists because he conveys the wrong impression about what science can do and the norms that scientists observe in their work.

    The findings in “Responding to Richard: Celebrity and (Mis)representation of Science” appeared in a recent edition of Public Understandings of Science and are part of a larger Religion Among Scientists in International Context study. The RASIC study includes a survey of over 20,000 scientists from eight countries. In the United Kingdom, 1,581 randomly sampled scientists participated in the survey, and 137 of them also participated in in-depth interviews.

    Although the researchers did not ask questions about Dawkins, 48 scientists mentioned him during in-depth interviews without prompting, and nearly 80 percent of those scientists believe that he misrepresents science and scientists in his books and public engagements. This group included 23 nonreligious scientists and 15 religious scientists. Approximately 20 percent of scientists interviewed – 10 scientists all identifying as nonreligious – said that he plays an important role in asserting the cultural authority of science in the public sphere. One biologist surveyed said Dawkins has “quite an important place in society” in his criticism of creationism and intelligent design.

    Elaine Howard Ecklund, the study’s principal investigator and the Herbert S. Autrey Chair in Social Sciences at Rice, said that some scientists, independent of their religious beliefs, do not view Dawkins as a good representative because they believe he conveys “the wrong impression about the borders of scientific inquiry.”

    “Scientists differ in their view of where such borders rest,” said David Johnson, an assistant professor at the University of Nevada in Reno and the paper’s lead author. “And they may even view belief in a deity as irrational, but they do not view questions related to the existence of deities or ‘the sacred’ as within the scope of science.”

    “Some people like Richard Dawkins,” said a nonreligious professor of biology. “He’s a fundamental atheist. He feels compelled to take the evidence way beyond that which other scientists would regard as possible. … I want [students] to develop [science] in their own lives. And I think it’s necessary to understand what science does address directly.”

    A nonreligious physicist said, “He’s much too strong about the way he denies religion. … As a scientist, you’ve got to be very open, and I’m open to people’s belief in religion. … I don’t think we’re in a position to deny anything unless it’s something which is within the scope of science to deny. … I think as a scientist you should be open to it. … It doesn’t end up encroaching for me because I think there’s quite a space between the two.”

    Dawkins has “gone on a crusade, basically,” another professor of biology said. “Although there is a lot of truth behind what he says, he does it in a way that I think is deliberately designed to alienate religious people.”

    Ecklund said it is important to note that none of the scientists interviewed questioned Dawkins’ integrity as a scientist. Rather, they were critical of his representation of science to the public.

    “In general, scientists in interviews emphasized promotion of science over the scientist, diplomacy over derision and dialogue over ideological extremism,” she said.

    Johnson said he hopes the research will help scientists learn to communicate science without alienating the public.

    “The best science communication does not begin with insults and arrogance,” Johnson said. “It encourages curiosity, open-mindedness and appreciation for science.”


    Kirstin Matthews, a fellow in science and technology policy at Rice’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, and Di Di, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Sociology at Rice, co-authored the paper.

    The research was funded by the Templeton World Charity Foundation and is available online at http://pus.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/10/06/0963662516673501.abstract.

    This news release can be found online at http://news.rice.edu/.

    Follow Rice News and Media Relations via Twitter @RiceUNews.

    Related Materials:

    Study link: http://pus.sagepub.com/content/early/2016/10/06/0963662516673501.abstract

    Elaine Howard Ecklund website: http://www.elainehowardecklund.com

    Located on a 300-acre forested campus in Houston, Rice University is consistently ranked among the nation’s top 20 universities by U.S. News & World Report. Rice has highly respected schools of Architecture, Business, Continuing Studies, Engineering, Humanities, Music, Natural Sciences and Social Sciences and is home to the Baker Institute for Public Policy. With 3,910 undergraduates and 2,809 graduate students, Rice’s undergraduate student-to-faculty ratio is 6-to-1. Its residential college system builds close-knit communities and lifelong friendships, just one reason why Rice is ranked No. 1 for happiest students and for lots of race/class interaction by the Princeton Review. Rice is also rated as a best value among private universities by Kiplinger’s Personal Finance. To read “What they’re saying about Rice,” go to http://tinyurl.com/RiceUniversityoverview.

    Crazy World: Saudis reelected to UN Human Rights Council


    Thursday, 27 October 2016

    As the death toll in Yemen surpasses 10,000, Saudi Arabia, one of the principal parties in the conflict, is poised to be reelected to the UN human rights body. Saudi airstrikes are responsible for the majority of the nearly 4,000 civilian deaths in Yemen.
    A secret ballot vote at the UN General Assembly on Friday will select the 14 members of the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC), or a third of its 47 members. Saudi Arabia, Iraq, China, and Japan are running for the four seats from the Asia-Pacific region, and are all expected to secure seats.
    Riyadh’s term at the UNHRC would be the third in a row, and its presence at the body has been increasingly puzzling to human rights groups, given its record of twisting arms at the UN to hush up its rights abuses.

    In June, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon publicly admitted that Saudi Arabia threatened to withdraw funding from numerous programs due to an upcoming report on violations of children’s rights. The report would list the Arab kingdom among violators over the toll its military campaign and blockade of Yemen has taken on children. The threat resulted in Saudi Arabia’s removal from the blacklist, even though Riyadh’s tactics had been exposed.
    “The report describes horrors no child should have to face,” Ban Ki-moon told reporters at the time. “At the same time, I also had to consider the very real prospect that millions of other children would suffer grievously if, as was suggested to me, countries would defund many UN programs.”
    “It is unacceptable for UN member states to exert undue pressure,” the secretary-general added, pledging to review the removal of the Saudis from the list.
    This incident of Saudi Arabia working against UN human rights efforts is far from being isolated. In Yemen, the kingdom used control of air traffic to prevent foreign journalists, employees of international aid organizations, and UN officials from visiting the war-torn country and reporting on the situation there.

    In September, it used diplomatic pressure against the Netherlands after it introduced a resolution at the UNHRC that would launch an independent investigation into airstrikes on Yemen. The Dutch proposal failed and an Arab version was passed, one which entrusted the probe to the exiled Yemeni government, which the Saudis want to put back into power through its military actions.
    Domestically, Riyadh’s policies often run against those of the UN human rights body. Seven petitions to allow special rapporteurs for the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights to investigate abuses in Saudi Arabia remain pending, some for over a decade.
    The kingdom was also reported to persecute its own subjects who cooperate with UN investigations. For instance, human rights defender Mohammed al-Qahtani, who contributed to several UNHRC reports, was accused of things like “distorting the reputation of the country” and “provoking international organizations to adopt stances against the kingdom.” He is currently serving a lengthy prison term.
    While far from being the only authoritarian regime with a seat at the UNHRC, Saudi Arabia maintains some of the most restrictive domestic policies. Homosexuality and conversion from Islam to another religion are punishable by death. Sentences include corporal punishment, as highlighted by the case of blogger Raif Badawi who is to be flogged 1,000 times while serving a 10-year sentence for “insulting Islam.”
    Saudi Arabia is also one of the world’s most enthusiastic executors. The number of beheadings spiked under King Salman with 157 executions reported in 2015, and 124


    The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate — or is it?

    “vacuum energy is something of which we have absolutely no understanding in fundamental theory.’

    Public Release: 21-Oct-2016


    University of Oxford


    Five years ago, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded to three astronomers for their discovery, in the late 1990s, that the universe is expanding at an accelerating pace.

    Their conclusions were based on analysis of Type Ia supernovae – the spectacular thermonuclear explosion of dying stars – picked up by the Hubble space telescope and large ground-based telescopes. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by a mysterious substance named ‘dark energy’ that drives this accelerating expansion.

    Now, a team of scientists led by Professor Subir Sarkar of Oxford University’s Department of Physics has cast doubt on this standard cosmological concept. Making use of a vastly increased data set – a catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae, more than ten times the original sample size – the researchers have found that the evidence for acceleration may be flimsier than previously thought, with the data being consistent with a constant rate of expansion.

    The study is published in the Nature journal Scientific Reports.

    Professor Sarkar, who also holds a position at the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, said: ‘The discovery of the accelerating expansion of the universe won the Nobel Prize, the Gruber Cosmology Prize, and the Breakthrough Prize in Fundamental Physics. It led to the widespread acceptance of the idea that the universe is dominated by “dark energy” that behaves like a cosmological constant – this is now the “standard model” of cosmology.

    ‘However, there now exists a much bigger database of supernovae on which to perform rigorous and detailed statistical analyses. We analysed the latest catalogue of 740 Type Ia supernovae – over ten times bigger than the original samples on which the discovery claim was based – and found that the evidence for accelerated expansion is, at most, what physicists call “3 sigma”. This is far short of the “5 sigma” standard required to claim a discovery of fundamental significance.

    ‘An analogous example in this context would be the recent suggestion for a new particle weighing 750 GeV based on data from the Large Hadron Collider at CERN. It initially had even higher significance – 3.9 and 3.4 sigma in December last year – and stimulated over 500 theoretical papers. However, it was announced in August that new data shows that the significance has dropped to less than 1 sigma. It was just a statistical fluctuation, and there is no such particle.’

    There is other data available that appears to support the idea of an accelerating universe, such as information on the cosmic microwave background – the faint afterglow of the Big Bang – from the Planck satellite. However, Professor Sarkar said: ‘All of these tests are indirect, carried out in the framework of an assumed model, and the cosmic microwave background is not directly affected by dark energy. Actually, there is indeed a subtle effect, the late-integrated Sachs-Wolfe effect, but this has not been convincingly detected.

    ‘So it is quite possible that we are being misled and that the apparent manifestation of dark energy is a consequence of analysing the data in an oversimplified theoretical model – one that was in fact constructed in the 1930s, long before there was any real data. A more sophisticated theoretical framework accounting for the observation that the universe is not exactly homogeneous and that its matter content may not behave as an ideal gas – two key assumptions of standard cosmology – may well be able to account for all observations without requiring dark energy. Indeed, vacuum energy is something of which we have absolutely no understanding in fundamental theory.’

    Professor Sarkar added: ‘Naturally, a lot of work will be necessary to convince the physics community of this, but our work serves to demonstrate that a key pillar of the standard cosmological model is rather shaky. Hopefully this will motivate better analyses of cosmological data, as well as inspiring theorists to investigate more nuanced cosmological models. Significant progress will be made when the European Extremely Large Telescope makes observations with an ultrasensitive “laser comb” to directly measure over a ten to 15-year period whether the expansion rate is indeed accelerating.’

    Pentagon orders 10,000 California National Guard soldiers to REPAY their enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan


    • California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay their enlistment bonuses
    • The Pentagon demanded the money back after audits revealed overpayments by the California Guard under pressure to fill ranks
    • If soldiers refuse, they could face interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens
    • About 9,700 current and retired soldiers received notices to repay some or all of their bonuses with more than $22million recovered so far


    PUBLISHED: 15:57 EST, 22 October 2016 | UPDATED: 19:14 EST, 23 October 2016

    Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan, it was reported this week.  

    The Pentagon demanded the money back after audits revealed overpayments by the California Guard under pressure to fill ranks and hit enlistment goals. 

    If soldiers refuse, they could face interest charges, wage garnishments and tax liens, the Los Angeles Times said.

    Retired Army major and Iraq veteran Robert D'Andrea (pictured) said he was told to repay his $20,000 because auditors could not find a copy of the contract he says he signed 


    Retired Army major and Iraq veteran Robert D’Andrea (pictured) said he was told to repay his $20,000 because auditors could not find a copy of the contract he says he signed 

    Faced with a shortage of troops at the height of the two wars, California Guard officials offered bonuses of $15,000 or more for soldiers to reenlist.

    A federal investigation in 2010 found thousands of bonuses and student loan payments were improperly doled out to California Guard soldiers. 

    About 9,700 current and retired soldiers received notices to repay some or all of their bonuses with more than $22million recovered so far.

    Soldiers said they feel betrayed at having to repay the money.

    ‘These bonuses were used to keep people in,’ said Christopher Van Meter, a 42-year-old former Army captain and Iraq veteran who was awarded a Purple Heart. ‘People like me just got screwed.’

    Van Meter said he refinanced his home mortgage to repay $25,000 in reenlistment bonuses and $21,000 in student loan repayments that the military says was improperly given to him.

    The California Guard said it has to follow the law and collect the money.

    Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan (file) 


    Nearly 10,000 California National Guard soldiers have been ordered to repay huge enlistment bonuses a decade after signing up to serve in Iraq and Afghanistan (file) 

    ‘At the end of the day, the soldiers ended up paying the largest price,’ Maj. Gen. Matthew Beevers, deputy commander of the California Guard told the Times. 

    ‘We’d be more than happy to absolve these people of their debts. We just can’t do it. We’d be breaking the law.’

    The Pentagon agency that oversees state Guard groups has said that bonus overpayments occurred in every state, but more so in California, which has 17,000 soldiers.

    California Guard officials said they are helping soldiers and veterans file appeals with agencies that can erase the debts. 

    But soldiers said it’s a long process and there’s no guarantee they’ll win.

    Retired Army major and Iraq veteran Robert D’Andrea said he was told to repay his $20,000 because auditors could not find a copy of the contract he says he signed.

    D’Andrea appealed and is running out of options.

    ‘Everything takes months of work, and there is no way to get your day in court,’ he said. ‘Some benefit of the doubt has to be given to the soldier.’

    President Obama discusses U.S. troop numbers in the middle east


    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3862782/California-soldiers-repay-enlistment-bonuses.html#ixzz4Nxybl0xz
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

    The man who controls U.S. voting machines worked for George Soros

    You decide if there is a conflict?




    Lord Mark Malloch-Brown


    Former High Representative of the United Nations and the Foreign Minister of Service of the British government, Mark Malloch-Brown is an accomplished and recognized professional. Now a member of the House of Lords, he is active in the business and non-profit organizations and is actively involved in international issues.
    Mark between the United Nations as administrator of UNDP support the management of United Nations development efforts worldwide. He held this position for six years before being appointed chief of Kofi Annan and Deputy Secretary-General. He then joined the British government led by Gordon Brown and occupies the position of minister of State for Foreign Affairs in charge of Africa and Asia.
    Mark Malloch-Brown started his career as a journalist for the magazine The Economist. He specializes in development. He became vice president of the investment fund led by George Soros, Soros Fund Managment and the Open Society Institute, another group belonging to George Soros. He also held the positions of Vice President at the World Bank, the main partner to the Sawyer Miller firm specializing in policy advice, and Vice President at the World Economic Forum.
    In addition to his new role within SGO, Mark sits on several boards Directors and remains a senior advisor to FTI Consulting, where he was chairman of the division Europe, Middle East and Africa. Invested with non-profit organizations, Mark chairs the boards of several groups including the International Crisis Group, Open Society Foundation, the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation and the Center for Global Development.
    Practitioner recognized the Blavatnik School of Government at the University of Oxford and former Senior Fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of globalization, Mark holds numerous honorary degrees.
    in 2007 he received the title of knight in tribute to his contribution to international affairs. Author of “The Unfinished Global Revolution,” Mark writes, hosts conferences and encourages discussion on major international issues.


    Survey — 2/3 of Americans don’t think presidential campaign addresses their most important concerns

    Public Release: 5-Oct-2016


    The issues that matter most to the public overall are health care, Social Security, education, and terrorism. Partisan differences exist in the levels of importance.

    NORC at the University of Chicago

    Americans remain just as frustrated and angry about the election in the last six weeks of the 2016 presidential campaign as they were in May when the primaries were drawing to a close. In the latest national poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research, the public says the campaigns are not addressing their issues and concerns, and that there is too much focus on personal aspects of the candidates and not enough on their qualifications.

    The issues that matter most to the public overall are health care, Social Security, education, and terrorism. Priorities differ between parties, however, with Republicans caring more about issues like terrorism and taxes while Democrats are more concerned with health care and the environment.

    “Even though interest in the campaign is generally high, a significant proportion of the public feels marginalized by this election,” said Trevor Tompson, director of The AP-NORC Center. “More than a third of Americans don’t hold favorable opinions of either the Democratic or Republican candidate and an overwhelming majority of them tell us they are frustrated by the campaign. With six weeks until the election, many people in this group have tuned out.”

    Some of the poll’s key findings are:

    • The public is more inclined to have negative emotions regarding the 2016 presidential election than positive ones. Three-quarters are frustrated and more than half say the campaign is making them feel angry or helpless. In comparison, only 4 in 10 are hopeful, a quarter are excited, and less than 2 in 10 say they are proud.
    • Thirty-five percent of Americans do not have a positive view of either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump. These people are particularly likely to express feelings of frustration, anger and helplessness about the campaign.
    • Two-thirds of Americans do not think the presidential campaign is adequately addressing the concerns and the issues that matter most to them. While more than half of the public says coverage of the candidates’ experience and qualifications is getting short shrift, about the same number say there is too much focus on the candidates’ personal qualities.
    • While Americans may be unhappy with how the campaign is developing this year, they are not uninterested. Less than 3 in 10 say they are bored by the campaign. Fully 6 in 10 are paying a considerable amount of attention to the campaign so far.
    • Top issues among Republicans include terrorism and national security, economic growth, and taxes, with at least 8 in 10 saying each of these are important to them.
    • For Democrats, their top priorities include health care, education, and Social Security, also with at least 8 in 10 saying each is important to them.
    • The presidential election may be monopolizing the focus of the media, while overlooking other campaigns. Nearly half of Americans say there is not enough media attention being given to down-ticket races in their state, while only a quarter of the public think the media are giving too much attention to those non-presidential campaigns.


    About the Survey

    This survey was conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and with funding from NORC at the University of Chicago. Data were collected using AmeriSpeak Omnibus®. The survey was part of a larger study that included questions about other topics not included in this report. Interviews for this survey were conducted between September 15 and 18, 2016 with adults age 18 and over representing the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Panel members were randomly drawn from AmeriSpeak, and 1,022 completed the survey–821 via the web and 201 via telephone. The final stage completion rate is 29.6 percent, the weighted household panel response rate is 26.2 percent, and the weighted household panel retention rate is 95.0 percent, for a cumulative response rate of 7.4 percent. The overall margin of sampling error is +/- 3.7 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level, including the design effect. The margin of sampling error may be higher for subgroups.

    About The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research

    The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research taps into the power of social science research and the highest-quality journalism to bring key information to people across the nation and throughout the world. http://www.apnorc.org

    The Associated Press (AP) is the essential global news network, delivering fast, unbiased news from every corner of the world to all media platforms and formats. Founded in 1846, AP today is the most trusted source of independent news and information. On any given day, more than half the world’s population sees news from AP. http://www.ap.org

    NORC at the University of Chicago is an independent research institution that delivers reliable data and rigorous analysis to guide critical programmatic, business, and policy decisions. Since 1941, NORC has conducted groundbreaking studies, created and applied innovative methods and tools, and advanced principles of scientific integrity and collaboration. Today, government, corporate, and nonprofit clients around the world partner with NORC to transform increasingly complex information into useful knowledge. http://www.norc.org

    The two organizations have established The AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research to conduct, analyze, and distribute social science research in the public interest on newsworthy topics, and to use the power of journalism to tell the stories that research reveals.

    About AmeriSpeak Omnibus

    AmeriSpeak Omnibus is a once-a-month, multi-client survey using a probability sample of at least 1,000 nationally representative adults age 18 and older. Respondents are interviewed online and by phone from NORC’s AmeriSpeak Panel–the most scientifically rigorous multi-client household panel in the United States. AmeriSpeak households are selected randomly from NORC’s National Sample Frame, the industry leader in sample coverage. The National Frame is representative of over 99 percent of U.S. households and includes additional coverage of hard-to-survey population segments, such as rural and low-income households, that are underrepresented in other sample frames. More information about AmeriSpeak is available at AmeriSpeak.norc.org.

    Contact: For more information, contact Eric Young for NORC at young-eric@norc.org or (703) 217-6814 (cell); Ray Boyer for NORC at boyer-ray@norc.org or (312) 330-6433; or Paul Colford for AP at pcolford@ap.org.

    Republican Committee shielding Clintons E-Mails

    GOP Gets Nowhere on Clinton Probe Redactions


         WASHINGTON (CN) — A congressional hearing into Hillary Clinton’s email activities featured a baffling revelation Monday when Democrats noted that the redacted information over which Republicans are clamoring is being withheld by a different GOP committee.
         “It’s a sad goddamn day for this committee,” lamented Rep. Stephen Lynch, a Massachusetts Democrat, slamming the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for its persistent “grasping of straws” in the already closed Clinton investigation.
         Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Republican who chairs the committee, summoned agents from the FBI, Department of Justice and CIA for the hearing Monday under “threat of subpoena” to explain redactions from the files it has produced about the Clinton investigation.
         Upon closing that investigation in July, the FBI said Clinton’s email habits had been “extremely careless” but lacked the criminal intent necessary to support charges.
         While Republican members of Congress dissatisfied with that explanation have held repeated hearings since then to learn more, Democrats have noted that the hyper-focus on Clinton is at odds with the information the House is receiving. One of the newly released emails, for example, shows that former secretary of state Colin Powell advised Clinton about conducting State Department business on his private email server.
         FBI Acting Assistant Director Jason Herring reminded the committee Monday that the FBI had already provided various FD-302 forms, the official summaries of interviews from the investigation.
         Other forms not yet released to the oversight committee are forthcoming, Herring added.
         When Rep. Trey Gowdy questioned why the FBI had furnished the House Intelligence Committee with documents containing far less redactions, Herring told the South Carolina congressman that the FBI had provided the committee with everything, redactions withstanding, it deemed relevant.
         “Relevant according to whom,” Gowdy asked. “With all due respect, you don’t get to decide what we think is relevant.”
         Herring then echoed statements made by FBI Director James Comey from July about the lack of evidence that Clinton’s activities merited criminal prosecution.
         Along with Neal Higgins, director of congressional affairs for the CIA, Herring repeatedly stressed that the redactions are meant to protect the private information and identities of individuals named in the file, and to protect potential-national security interests.
         Still, members of the committee grappled over certain omissions that appear arbitrary, such as openly naming four of the five attorneys retained by Clinton in the file, but redacting the name of the fifth.
         Higgins responded that he would be willing to answer in a closed session. After close to two hours of gridlock between the committee and State Department officials, the committee passed a motion 25-0 to hold a closed-hearing vote.
         Rep. Carolyn Maloney offered a quick dressing-down of Chaffetz before the vote passed.
         “The accusations and the charges and the attacks are almost out of control,” said Maloney, a New York Democrat. “For several weeks the chairman has appeared in these hearings and has made it sound as if the FBI has refused to provide him with these documents.”
         Maloney added that “the documents are actually being withheld by the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, not the FBI.”
         “I fear it’s just pure plain politics as usual,” she said. “Stirring up a hornet’s nest about documents he can’t see, which are being withheld from him from members of his own party.”
         If Chaffetz really wants the information, Maloney said, all he need do is schedule a hearing with the Intelligence Committee.
         A Sept. 8 hearing meant for this vein rapidly devolved into what Rep. Elijah Cummings called “frantic pre-election fervor,” where much of the focus centered around the Clinton investigation instead of the sluggish Freedom of Information Act process.
         Chaffetz has already scheduled another hearing for Sept. 13 to pick up that matter. Titled “Examining Preservation of State Department Records,” the Sept. 13 session is described on the committee’s calendar as focusing on “a number of disks [the state received] from the FBI containing at least 14,900 emails with the possibility for tens of thousands more.”
         Bryan Pagliano, a former senior adviser on information-resource management for Clinton during her time at State Department, will testify. Bill Thornton and Paul Combetta of Platte River Networks will also testify. Combetta was granted immunity last week.


    When will the Earth’s Batteries run out?

    Public Release: 9-Sep-2016

    Scientists expect to calculate amount of fuel inside Earth by 2025

    With three new detectors coming online in the next several years, scientists are confident they will collect enough geoneutrino data to measure Earth’s fuel level

    University of Maryland




    By 2022, scientists expect to be able to detect at least 536 antineutrino events per year at these five underground detectors: KamLAND in Japan, Borexino in Italy, SNO+ in Canada, and Jinping and JUNO in China.

    Earth requires fuel to drive plate tectonics, volcanoes and its magnetic field. Like a hybrid car, Earth taps two sources of energy to run its engine: primordial energy from assembling the planet and nuclear energy from the heat produced during natural radioactive decay. Scientists have developed numerous models to predict how much fuel remains inside Earth to drive its engines — and estimates vary widely — but the true amount remains unknown.

    In a new paper, a team of geologists and neutrino physicists boldly claims it will be able to determine by 2025 how much nuclear fuel and radioactive power remain in the Earth’s tank. The study, authored by scientists from the University of Maryland, Charles University in Prague and the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences, was published on September 9, 2016, in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

    “I am one of those scientists who has created a compositional model of the Earth and predicted the amount of fuel inside Earth today,” said one of the study’s authors William McDonough, a professor of geology at the University of Maryland. “We’re in a field of guesses. At this point in my career, I don’t care if I’m right or wrong, I just want to know the answer.”

    To calculate the amount of fuel inside Earth by 2025, the researchers will rely on detecting some of the tiniest subatomic particles known to science — geoneutrinos. These antineutrino particles are byproducts of nuclear reactions within stars (including our sun), supernovae, black holes and human-made nuclear reactors. They also result from radioactive decay processes deep within the Earth.

    Detecting antineutrinos requires a huge detector the size of a small office building, housed about a mile underground to shield it from cosmic rays that could yield false positive results. Inside the detector, scientists detect antineutrinos when they crash into a hydrogen atom. The collision produces two characteristic light flashes that unequivocally announce the event. The number of events scientists detect relates directly to the number of atoms of uranium and thorium inside the Earth. And the decay of these elements, along with potassium, fuels the vast majority of the heat in the Earth’s interior.

    To date, detecting antineutrinos has been painfully slow, with scientists recording only about 16 events per year from the underground detectors KamLAND in Japan and Borexino in Italy. However, researchers predict that three new detectors expected to come online by 2022–the SNO+ detector in Canada and the Jinping and JUNO detectors in China–will add 520 more events per year to the data stream.

    “Once we collect three years of antineutrino data from all five detectors, we are confident that we will have developed an accurate fuel gauge for the Earth and be able to calculate the amount of remaining fuel inside Earth,” said McDonough.

    The new Jinping detector, which will be buried under the slopes of the Himalayas, will be four times bigger than existing detectors. The underground JUNO detector near the coast of southern China will be 20 times bigger than existing detectors.

    “Knowing exactly how much radioactive power there is in the Earth will tell us about Earth’s consumption rate in the past and its future fuel budget,” said McDonough. “By showing how fast the planet has cooled down since its birth, we can estimate how long this fuel will last.”


    In addition to McDonough, UMD geology graduate student Scott Wipperfurth also contributed to this study.

    This research was supported by the National Science Foundation (Award Nos. EAR 1068097 and EAR 1067983), and by Fundamental Research Grants for Central Public Research Organizations, Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences (Award No. YYWF201623). The content of this article does not necessarily reflect the views of these organizations.

    The research paper, “Revealing the Earth’s mantle from the tallest mountains using the Jinping Neutrino Experiment,” Ond?ej Šrámek, Bed?ich Roskovec, Scott A. Wipperfurth, Yufei Xi, and William McDonough, was published online September 9, 2016 in the journal Nature Scientific Reports.

    National Borders are Worst Invention ever–says EU president


    Tuesday, 23 August 2016

    Under-fire EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker risked widening divisions with European leaders today by saying borders were the ‘worst invention ever’.

    He called for all borders across Europe to be opened, despite the chaos caused over the last year from the flood in refugees fleeing Syria and the wave of terror attacks hitting various continent’s cities.

    The remarkable comments will further undermine Mr Juncker’s precarious position as European Commission President.
    He has faced repeated calls to quit after his failure to keep Britain in the EU and the refugee and Greek debt crises.

    Today he accepted the Commission ‘deserves criticism’ but insisted national government’s ‘have to share the blame’.

    Speaking at the Alpbach Media Academy this morning, Mr Juncker said: ‘Borders are the worst invention ever made by politicians.’

    The contentious remarks from the Brussels chief are the polar opposite of moves by elected leaders of EU member states who have tighten their borders over recent months after more than a million entered the bloc from Syria in less than a year.

    Mr Juncker also said a stronger EU was the best way of beating the rising trend of nationalism cross Europe.

    In another extraordinary remark, he appeared to warn of war on the continent if the EU disintegrates as he echoed the warning from the former French president Francois Mitterrand, who said nationalism added to nationalism would end in war.

    ‘This is still true so we have to fight against nationalism,’ Mr Juncker said.

    ‘We have to fight against nationalism, we have the duty not to follow populists but to block the avenue of populists.’

    The embattled EU Commission president described Brexit as an ‘unheard-of political crisis’ for the EU but told EU member states that the only way of overcoming the challenge of Britain leaving would be to remain as one.

    ‘In the concentration of globalisation and European problems, we must not lose our way,’ he said. 

    Downing Street said Mr Juncker’s views on borders were ‘not something that the Prime Minister would agree with’.

    The Prime Minister’s spokeswoman added: ‘Indeed, you’ve heard the Prime Minister talk about the views that the British people expressed in the referendum and that the British people think that borders are important, having more control of our borders is important and that’s an issue we need to address.’

    Mr Juncker was speaking as the leaders of Germany, France and Italy met for crisis talks today as they plot to save the EU in the wake of Brexit.

    The aim of the summit – held on the Italian island of Ventotene – is to demonstrate the unity of Europe’s three biggest countries but it is likely to attract questions over the elitist nature of the meeting.


    EU tries to claim Britain’s gold medals as its own


    Friday, 19 August 2016

    The Eu's medal table shows "European Union" as the top "Nation", just ahead of the United States, China, Russia and Japan

    I was in Berlin when Germany won the World Cup in 2014. Fireworks, street parties, singing, dancing and lots of flag waving all spoke to a joyous national celebration – the due of any victor in international sport.

    There is some irony, then, in this week’s stunt from German consultancy Euro Informationen. The company, whose clients include the European Commission and European Parliament, has produced a new Olympics medals table which puts the EU at the top.
    The absurdity as well as the diplomatic idiocy of this gimmick is obvious. The EU – as any of its bureaucrats will proudly drawl – is not a country, it’s a bloc, and the Olympics does not award medals to blocs, much as Fifa does not. But the truly amusing irony is that this ghastly competitor tops the chart largely because of the incredible medal haul of Britain, the very country it is currently absorbed in shaming and punishing for its rankly disobedient vote in June to leave the EU.

    While this reading of Olympics victory is amusing, mainly for its whiff of “sore losers”, its underlying impulse is far more sobering.  For it is the perfect manifestation of the EU’s obsession with conformism and its visceral distrust of individualism – national or otherwise.

    When it comes to the EU – its commissioners, MPs and a large body of unaccountable, long-lunch taking, lurking elites – it’s always a case of “you’re with us or against us”. In fact, there isn’t really a choice in the matter. Even popular democratic attempts to go ‘against’ have a history of being ignored. Famously, in 2005, the French were offered a referendum on whether to ratify a European Constitution. After much thought, debate and a huge turnout, they voted against. So did the Netherlands. So the EU did what any power-crazy bloc would do, and put it through anyway, packaged as the Treaty of Lisbon. A decade on, the French people are well and truly fed up of the EU, of its quotas, its rules, its diktats, its suppression of national free will. A 2015 survey found that a whopping 67 per cent of French people would get out.

    And we all know what happened when Greece tried to disobey Brussels in 2015: to stave off Grexit, the EU dished out a punishment so brutal it involved the country’s full surrender of economic power and the hobbling sale of €50bn in assets.

    The EU may have broken Greece’s spirit. But the British vote to leave – following endemic inflexibility in negotiations with David Cameron last year – sent an unexpected and irreversible firework up its backside. The machine cranked into action: rather than bend an inch, or rethink itself, it opted for an attitude of punishment, hoping to further suppress the discontent of other member states. Post-Brexit, EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker immediately called demands by other EU nations for referendums “crass rabble-rousing” and sinisterly swore that it ‘should soon become clear that the UK was better off inside the EU’.

    The EU’s need to punish individualism and stifle dissent may have bullied the bloc into continuance so far, and the symbolism of its attempt to grab all the Olympics glory as one bland federation is clear. But sorry Brussels, in this case you lose: it’s America first and, amazingly, Britain second, and no amount of huffing and puffing is going to change that.


    Soros Hack reveals Plot for Global Power


    Soros Hack reveals Plot behind European Refugee Crisis

    Tuesday, 16 August 2016

    In the two days since the Soros Open Society Foundation hack by the DCLeaks collective, several notable revelations have emerged among the data dump of over 2,500 documents exposing the internal strategy of the organization, which expose some of Soros’ tactics to influence and benefit from Europe’s refugee crisis, the opportunistic funding and influence of media organizations, providing cash for assorted “pro-democracy” groups,Soros’ funding of various “social justice” organizations while paying to track unfavorable media coverage including that of Pamela Geller.

    One particular leaked memo, profiled earlier by the Daily Caller, argues that Europe’s refugee crisis should be accepted as a “new normal,” and that the refugee crisis means “new opportunities” for Soros’ organization to influence immigration policies on a global scale. OSF program officer Anna Crowley and program specialist Katin Rosin co-authored the May 12 memo, titled “Migration Governance and Enforcement Portfolio Review.”

    The nine-page review makes three key points: OSF has been successful at influencing global immigration policy; Europe’s refugee crisis presents “new opportunities” for the organization to influence global immigration policy; and the refugee crisis is the “new normal.”

    As the authors write in the introduction, one of the purposes of the review “consider the effectiveness of the approaches we have used to achieve change at the international level.” A section of the review titled “Our Work” describes how America’s least transparent think tank has worked with “leaders in the field” to “shape migration policymaking and influence regional and global processes affecting the way migration is governed and enforced.

    This may be of particular interest to Germans, the majority of whom are displeased with Merkel’s “open door” policies in the aftermath of the recent terrorist attacks on German soil.

    In a section titled, “Our Ambitions,” the authors explain: “Our premise for engaging in work related to governance was that, in addition to mitigating the negative effects of enforcement, we should also be supporting actors in the field proactively seeking to change the policies, rules, and regulations that govern migration.”

    They write that “we also believed that advances at the regional or international levels could create impetus for policy change or implementation of existing norms at the national level. We deliberately avoided the term ‘global governance’ because there is no single system at the global level for managing migration.”

    The same section later states that IMI “has had to be selective and opportunistic, particularly at the global level, in supporting leaders in the field to push thinking on migration and better coordinate advocacy and reform efforts. We have supported initiatives, organizations, and networks whose work ties directly to our aims in the corridors.”

    “Early on, IMI identified a handful of organizations able to engage on migration globally and transnationally, elevating IMI’s corridor work beyond the national level,” reads another section of the memo, entitled “Our Place.”

    “These included key think tanks such as the Migration Policy Institute (MPI) and advocacy networks such as the International Detention Coalition (IDC).” (The authors later note that MPI, a strong advocate of amnesty for illegal immigrants in America, “is sometimes criticized for its closeness to governments, [but] flexible funding from OSF has allowed it to maintain some independence from the governments it advises.”)

    The memo also notes that “IMI played a central role in establishing and influencing the goals of two new [European Programme for Integration and Migration] sub-funds on the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) and immigration detention.

    More importantly, the memo explains how Europe’s refugee crisis is opening doors for Soros’ organization to further influence global immigration policy.

    The authors note that “the current refugee crisis is creating space to reconsider the governance of migration and the international refugee regime.” One reason for this is that the developing countries that make up the Group of 77 at the United Nations were motivated by the refugee crisis to keep immigration issues on the “global agenda,” the memo states. “The refugee crisis and the fear that the interests of migrants fleeing poverty, climate change, generalized violence, or natural disaster would be overlooked at these fora have generated a push from G77 countries to ensure other migration issues remain on the global agenda.

    They also explain that the current crisis provides “new opportunities” for influencing immigration policy on a global scale.

    “The current climate presents new opportunities for reforming migration governance at the global level, whether through the existing multi-lateral system, or by bringing together a range of actors to think more innovatively. Our long-standing interest and investment in global work means we have many of the right partners and are positioned to help others navigate this space.”

    The review states, “The refugee crisis is opening new opportunities” for “coordination and collaboration” with other wealthy donors.

    It is almost as if Europe’s refugee crisis was planned and prepared, not just by the Soros organization, but others who would benefit from a shift in the change of regional “migration governance”, i.e., the reimposition of sovereignty terms, as Greece found out the hard way several months ago when its sovereignty was relegated to the country’s willingness to participate in Europe’s refugee scheme.

    It will hardly come as a surprise that according to the review, immigration policy-makers need to accept the refugee crisis as a “new normal.” One of the conclusions listed in the memo is, “Accepting the current crisis as the new normal and moving beyond the need to react.

    “Observing our partners as they respond and adjust to the new reality in light of the crisis in Europe and the Mediterranean, we see little attention given to long-term planning or fundamentally new approaches to advocacy.”

    The conclusion also stresses the need to fight back against “growing intolerance toward migrants.” It is unclear just how Soros plans on “fighting back.”

    * * *

    Needless to say, in order to promote its European refugee agenda, the Soros organization needs close European allies. Conveniently, it has a memo prepared just for that titled “Reliable allies in the European Parliament (2014 – 2019)” in which it notes the importance of building “lasting and trustworthy” relationships with European MEPs “likely to support Open Society’s work.

    This mapping provides the Open Society European Policy Institute and the Open Society network intelligence on Members of the 8th European Parliament likely to support Open Society values during the 2014–2019 legislature.

    It spans 11 committees and 26 delegations, as well as the European Parliament’s highest decision making bodies: 226 MEPs who are proven or likely Open Society allies.

    The presence of an MEP in this mapping indicates that they are likely to support Open Society’s work. They should be approached with an open mind: although they will most likely want to work on areas they’re already interested in, they could also welcome hearing about new issues.

    Beyond discussing individual topics, Open Society should seek to build lasting and trustworthy relationships with these European lawmakers.

    Much more in the full 177 page memo.

    * * *

    Aside from Europe’s refugee crisis, the data leak provides other important glimpses in Soros’ influence of global affairs.

    One memo, which is an overview of the “Ukraine Media Project”  exposes how Soros influences media coverage of events in Ukraine, something previously touched upon in a June 2015 post titled “Hacked Emails Expose George Soros As Ukraine Puppet-Master.”

    In the memo which reveals how Soros hopes to “cover” events in Ukraine, the authors admit that “this isn’t proper independent journalism and we may damage our credibility with journalists”  and admit that “journalists may produce stories that have no relevance for the narrative we seek to inform or stories that are counterproductive (enforcing narratives of fascism etc.)

    Investigative Journalism:Select journalists from the 5 target countries (Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Greece) and

    offer them long stay reporting trips in Ukraine. Rather than specify what they should write about they should make suggestions for articles; we retain a veto on stories we think are counterproductive. Suggestion that we liaise directly with journalists to determine interest.


    Similar approach to what we have done for other press trips
    Opportunity to build relationships with journalists and news outlets
    Opportunity to diversify reporting on Ukraine into longer form content examining non-breaking news angles


    Credibility: the “veto” approach means this isn’t proper independent journalism and we may damage our credibility with journalists
    Control: Journalists may produce stories that have no relevance for the narrative we seek to inform or stories that are counterproductive (enforcing narratives of fascism etc.)
    Interference: however nuanced this is packaged, we may enforce the narrative of GS/OSF manipulation
    Placement: publication of the articles is not guaranteed and presents a significant barrier to success



    German President: The Elites are not the problem, the People are the Problem

    Sunday, 14 August 2016

    Revolution is closer than you think…

    Following Angela Merkel’s earlier calls for German CEOs to hire refugees, and as Martin Armstrong notes, Germany has raided its healthcare funds to support the refugee crisis…

    The government passed a law that allows them to take 1.5 billion euros from the liquidity reserve of the public health care fund (10 billion euros in total, paid by all members and additionally by the taxpayer) and to give that money to refugees / asylum seekers.

    What would you call this? Insane?

    We thought a reminder of the tensions that are bubbling under the surface in Germany.

    As VoxDay noted appropriately, Germany’s elite is going to get a well-deserved one soon as German President Joachim Gauck was booed and attacked in the streets of Sebnitz, Saxony after he blurted out the following unbelievbable statement:

    “The elites are not the problem, the people are the problem.”

    Official German State TV and State Radio reported that “a handful of right wing extremists” have attacked the president and disturbed the otherwise peaceful and welcoming reception of the President.

    This is simply not the case, as seen in the video…

    The people repeatedly shouted “Traitor!”, “Get out!”, “We don’t want STASI Pigs” and “We are the people!”.

    One man, carrying his young son on his shoulders, appears to have spit on him whilst exclaiming insults. Other citizens were heard saying “You killed our children” and “What have you done to us?”. They were blocked by police in riot gear, to whom they said “You are protecting warmongers, shame on you!”

    The situation escalated and the riot police was forced to use pepper spray.

    Heiko Maas, the German Justice Minister, called the attackers “cowards who insult the president because of their personal frustration”. He himself was booed off the stage as a traitor by hundreds of Germans at the annual Labor Day celebration on the 1st of May. He said that they will be persecuted immediately, as “it cannot be allowed that such a tiny minority has influence on the political climate in Germany”.

    Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan explained perfectly…

    The larger point is that this is something we are seeing all over, the top detaching itself from the bottom, feeling little loyalty to it or affiliation with it.

    It is a theme I see working its way throughout the West’s power centers.

    At its heart it is not only a detachment from, but a lack of interest in, the lives of your countrymen, of those who are not at the table, and who understand that they’ve been abandoned by their leaders’ selfishness and mad virtue-signalling.


    ‘Don’t tread on me’ shirts and hats could be officially declared RACIST by the government – even though the symbol is an icon of the American Revolution


    • Equal Employment Opportunity Commission probing ‘Don’t Tread On Me’
    • The logo debate has emerged following a federal employee’s complaint
    • They claimed they were racially harassed by a worker wearing a cap
    • The flag originated during the Revolutionary War ‘in non-racial context’
    • But the EEOC said it may be seen to convey ‘racially-tinged messages’


    PUBLISHED: 06:25 EST, 5 August 2016 | UPDATED: 09:44 EST, 5 August 2016


    The United States workplace discrimination watchdog is considering if employees wearing clothing with a Gadsden flag logo are racial harassing African Americans.

    The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is reportedly investigating the issue surrounding the ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ snake logo after an African American employee of a federal agency complained they were racially harassed when a co-worker wore a cap showing the symbol.

    The complainant said he found the cap racially offensive to African Americans because the flag was designed by Christopher Gadsden, who he described as a ‘slave trader & owner of slaves’.

    A supporter of Donald Trump, presumptive 2016 Republican presidential nominee, holds a 'Don't Tread On Me' flag while rallying at Settlers Landing during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month

    A supporter of Donald Trump, presumptive 2016 Republican presidential nominee, holds a ‘Don’t Tread On Me’ flag while rallying at Settlers Landing during the Republican National Convention in Cleveland last month

    The logo was created by Gadsden, a South Carolina soldier, in 1775 during the American Revolution.

    The claimant complained about the cap to management but, despite assurances, the co-worker still kept wearing the offensive cap.

    The complainant maintained the Gadsden Flag was a ‘historical indicator of white resentment against blacks stemming largely from the Tea Party’, according to a recent interim decision published by the Washington Post.


    American soldier Christopher Gadsden

    American soldier Christopher Gadsden

    The Gadsden flag was designed by South Carolina soldier Christopher Gadsden in the mid 1770s during the American Revolution.

    The Colonel had seen a yellow banner with a hissing, coiled rattlesnake rising up in the center, and beneath the serpent the words: ‘Don’t Tread On Me’.

    Colonel Gadsden made a copy and submitted the design to the Provincial Congress in South Carolina. 

    Commodore Esek Hopkins, commander of the new Continental fleet, carried a similar flag in early 1776 when his ships went to sea for the first time.

    Source: http://www.usflag.org

    The complainant claimed that the the Vice President of the International Association of Black Professional Firefighters cited the Gadsden Flag as the equivalent of the Confederate Battle Flag when he successfully had it removed from a New Haven, Connecticut, fire department flagpole.

    In its decision two months ago, the EEOC said it was clear the Gadsden Flag originated during the Revolutionary War in a non-racial context.

    ‘Moreover, it is clear that the flag and its slogan have been used to express various non-racial sentiments, such as when it is used in the modern Tea Party political movement, guns rights activism, patriotic displays, and by the military,’ the EEOC said.

    But the watchdog said, putting the historic origins aside, the symbol had also since been ‘sometimes interpreted to convey racially-tinged messages in some contexts’.

    ‘For example, in June 2014, assailants with connections to white supremacist groups draped the bodies of two murdered police officers with the Gadsden flag during their Las Vegas, Nevada shooting spree,’ the EEOC said.

    The EEO described the current meaning of the symbol as ambiguous, saying this meant the claim must be investigated to determine the ‘specific context in which (the co-worker) displayed the symbol in the workplace’.

    ‘In so finding, we are not prejudging the merits of Complainant’s complaint,’ the EEO added.

    A Democratic Theory and Practice class at Providence College, Rhode Island used the flag in 2007 to  give presentations that helps explain their personal theory on democracy

    A Democratic Theory and Practice class at Providence College, Rhode Island used the flag in 2007 to  give presentations that helps explain their personal theory on democracy

    ‘Instead, we are precluding a procedural dismissal that would deprive us of evidence that would illuminate the meaning conveyed by C1’s display of the symbol.’

    Eugene Volokh, who teaches free speech law at the UCLA School of Law, writes in the Post that could have implications for someone wearing material relating to Donald Trump’s election campaign in the workplace if material such as a bumper sticker was displayed. 

    ‘He doesn’t say any racial or religious slurs about Hispanics or Muslims, and doesn’t even express any anti-Hispanic or anti-Muslim views,’ Mr Volokh wrote.

    ‘But in “context,” a coworker complains, such speech conveys a message “tinged” with racial or religious hostility, or is racially or religiously “insensitive”.’

    Read more:

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3725168/Don-t-tread-shirts-hats-officially-declared-RACIST-government-symbol-icon-American-Revolution.html#ixzz4GUZFmSzB
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    Merkel prioritizes globalization over German lives “We can do it”

    Germany’s Merkel remains confident in coping with refugee challenges
    Source: Xinhua | 2016-07-28 23:19:24 | Editor:


    German Chancellor Angela Merkel attends a press conference in Berlin, Germany, on July 28. 2016. German Chancellor Angela Merkel repeated her immigration mantra “We can do it” on Thursday after recent string of attacks shocked the country, while raising a nine-point plan to ensure security, which includes increasing security personnel, establishing an information center, and enhancing international cooperation. (Xinhua/Zhang Fan)

    BERLIN, July 28 (Xinhua) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed her confidence in coping with refugee challenges on Thursday, repeating her mantra “We can do it” while raising a nine-point plan to ensure security after recent terror attacks in the country.

    Merkel interrupted her vacation after four attacks claimed more than 10 lives in southern Germany within the past week. Three of the four attackers were refugees, two had connections with the Islamic State.

    “We are facing a huge test,” said Merkel at a press conference in Berlin. “In Germany, in Europe, in our neighboring countries, terror prevails.”

    She condemned the recent attacks saying they were “shocking, distressing and depressing,” and that measures needed to be taken to ensure security.

    Merkel announced a nine-point plan which included lowering the hurdles for the expulsion of asylum seekers, adopting an early warning system for radicalization among refugees, and joint exercises of the police and armed forces.

    In addition to this, the plan would see the establishment of a central agency to decrypt Internet communication, passing an European weapon directive to prevent trading weapons online, enhancing international intelligence cooperation and strengthening work with countries in the Middle East and North Africa to reduce the number of refugees seeking asylum in Europe.

    “Several months ago, I said in this hall that Germany is a strong country. This (refugee) issue is our national task,” the Chancellor said, referring to last summer when she introduced her famous tagline “We can do it” and opened borders to refugees.

    Over 1 million refugees flocked to Germany last year. The German population was welcoming at first, but public opinion has shifted somewhat after mass sexual assaults by refugees in Cologne on New Year’s Eve.

    Recent terror attacks have put more pressure on Merkel for her refugee policy and have fueled anxieties that far-right parties’ political influence will increase.

    “I did not say that it would be an easy task,” Merkel told reporters about finding a solution to the refugee crisis, adding she had expected challenges ahead when she made the decision to open borders last summer.

    She said Germany would stick to its principles and continue to grant asylum protection to those fleeing wars.

    “I am convinced, just as earlier, that we can make our historical task well in the time of globalization,” Merkel reiterated. “We can do it.”


    EU Authorities plan to fight terrorism with censorship and Prozac

    EU Authorities Focus on Censorship Instead of Fighting Against Terrorism

    20:54 29.07.201

    The media coverage of the recent terrorist attacks in Europe have revealed a disturbing tendency as apparently the EU authorities are more than willing to manipulate the facts around the events, according to an independent Italian journalist.

    Enrico Mentana, news director at Italian non-government TV channel LA7, remarked on the recent terrorist attacks in Europe that the authorities appear to be more concerned with placating the citizens rather than actually fighting against terrorism.

    “The situation is deteriorating, but it continues to be downplayed. According to some commentaries, one should be wary not just of Daesh, but also of a state afraid of its own citizens’ depression. The authorities intend to fight terrorism with Prozac,” Mentana wrote on his Facebook page.

    He also said that a considerable number of media reports that came out after the deadly shooting spree in Munich appeared to be quite contradictory, putting the veracity of media coverage of that entire attack in question.

    “First it was reported that there were three terrorists, but it turned out to be one 18-year old man. It was reported that he possessed an arsenal of weapons, but it turned out that he used the same one pistol to kill and wound 25 people and then to kill himself. And this one man was enough to bring one of the most important cities in Germany to its knees for 8 hours, to paralyze it [the city] for an unnecessary chase after a single guy with no accomplices who committed suicide. Was he a madman? A fanatic? A Daesh follower? Maybe we’ll learn the truth, and maybe not,” Mentana surmised.

    Meanwhile, independent Italian journalist Marco Fontana argued that the governments are clearly attempting to influence the public opinion regarding the terrorist attacks, stubbornly refusing to tell people the truth about what happened.

    He pointed out that the French Interior Ministry demanded Sandra Bertin, a police official in Nice responsible for the video surveillance systems, to delete the footage recorded by 180 CCTV cameras, effectively forcing her to lie.

    “If citizens had complete information about the inefficient actions of the authorities, they would’ve opposed the uncontrolled surveillance which could be used for purposes other than just the fight against terrorism… Europe is turning into a conclave of many authoritarian governments that instead of fighting terrorism want to monitor their citizens, placating their doubts and neutralizing those who oppose uniformity,” the journalist laments


    Top French Court International Monetary Fund Managing Director Christine Lagarde Must Stand Trial for corruption

    Top French Court: Legarde Must Stand Trial


         (CN) — France’s top court has ruled that International Monetary Fund chief Christine Lagarde must stand trial in France over a 2008 arbitration ruling that handed 404 million euros to a politically-connected business magnate.
         Lagarde, who was French finance minister at the time of the deal in favor of tycoon Bernard Tapie, is accused of negligence in the case. She has denied wrongdoing.
         A special court ruled in December that Lagarde should stand trial, but she appealed. France’s Court of Cassation on Friday rejected the appeal.
         Lagarde’s lawyers did not immediately respond to the decision. Lagarde, who was in China on Friday at a Group of 20 summit, has said she had acted “in the best interest of the French state and in full compliance with the law.”
         The unusually generous 2008 arbitration deal, paid from public funds, prompted years of legal disputes that remain unresolved.
         Tapie is a well-known businessman, politician and sometime actor in France. Among his many pursuits is owning sports teams. His cycling team La Vie Claire won the Tour de France twice — in 1985 and 1986 — and his football club Olympique de Marseille won the French championship four times in a row, and the Champions League in 1993.
         But in 1994 he became embroiled in a match-fixing scandal and was later put under criminal investigation for complicity of corruption and subornation of witnesses.
         After a high-profile case against public prosecutor Éric de Montgolfier, he was sentenced in 1995 by the Court of Appeals of Douai to 2 years in prison, including 8 months non-suspended and 3 years of deprivation of his civic rights.
         Between1993 and 2008 a long legal battle transpired between Tapie and the Crédit Lyonnais bank. Crédit Lyonnais had allegedly defrauded Tapie in 1993 and 1994 when it sold Adidas on his behalf to Robert Louis-Dreyfus, apparently by arranging a larger sale with Dreyfus without Tapie’s knowledge.
         In 2008 a special judicial panel ruled that Tapie should receive compensation of 404 million euro from the French Ministry of Finance, headed by Christine Lagarde. She did not to challenge the ruling.
         The investigation began in 2011, soon before Lagarde was named to head the IMF in the wake of sexual assault allegations against her predecessor, French economist Dominique Strauss-Kahn. The executive board of the IMF has expressed confidence in Lagarde despite the investigation.
         On December 3, 2015, a French court ruled that Tapie should return this compensation with interest, following investigation into alleged abuse of power by Lagarde. She is accused of negligence in her handling of the matter.
         Negligence” by a person invested with public authority carries a risk of up to a year in prison and a 15,000 euro ($16,500) fine.
         The decision last year to send her to trial had come as a surprise because a prosecutor had earlier argued that the case against her should be dropped.
         She will be tried at the Court of Justice of the Republic, a special body that tries government ministers for alleged wrongdoing while in office. A date has not been set for the trial.


    Obama to voice support for Turkey in upcoming call


    Baku-APA. President Barack Obama will telephone Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, “relatively soon”, the White House said Monday, APA reports quoting Anadolu Agency.

    Obama intends to convey the U.S.’s strong support for Turkey’s “democratically elected civilian government and that country’s democratic institutions,” spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.

    Turkey’s interior ministry says 8,777 officials, including 30 governors, have been suspended in the wake of a failed coup attempt by rogue members of Turkey’s military.

    More than 2,700 judges have also been suspended, according to Turkey’s top judicial board.

    Earnest said that the U.S. “would not pass judgment” on Turkey’s efforts to round up those responsible, saying that Turkish official’s “concern is understandable.

    “The United States government has made a commitment to the Turkish government, that if they would like assistance in investigating this failed coup over the weekend, we are prepared to use resources at our disposal to assist them in that investigation,” Earnest said.

    “At the same time, we believe that the Turkish government has a responsibility — the democratically elected Turkish government has a responsibility to exercise restraint, and certainly to be supportive of due process and the freedoms that are outlined in the Turkish Constitution,” he added.

    More than 200 people were killed in Friday’s overnight coup attempt and nearly 1,500 were wounded.


    ‘Shampoo Socialism’? Hollande’s Hairdresser Costs French Taxpayers $11k Per Month


    Thursday, 14 July 2016

    Amid record unemployment, painful labor reforms, economic collapse, and the most serious social unrest in decades, the shockingly ‘let them eat cake’-ish revelations of French President Hollande’s lifestyle will do little to improve the socialist’s ratings from their record lows. As Bloomberg reports, a French satirical magazine has exposed the fact that Hollande’s hairdresser is paid a gross salary by the state of ~$11,000 per month (more than a European parliament member).

    Although just a third less than Hollande’s salary, it is more than the gross monthly wage of a European Parliament member, which stands at about 8,213 euros, excluding expenses.

    The salary paid to the Socialist president’s coiffeur at the Elysee presidential palace was confirmed by the government after satirical magazine Canard Enchaine published details of the terms, including an image of his contract.

    As The Express reports, despite preaching austerity during his premiership, Mr Hollande’s outrageous contract with the barber is causing outrage.

    The hairdresser, who the leaked contract names only as Oliver B, is set to earn half a million pounds over the course of Hollande’s current premiership, in exchange for being available at every waking moment and signing a contract promising not to speak about his position.

    It read: “Mr B. commits to maintaining the utmost secrecy, during and after the completion of his contract, on the work he has done and the information he has had access to.”

    The hairdresser issue sits at odds with Hollande’s campaign promise in 2012 that he’d be a “normal” head of state in contrast with his predecessor Nicolas Sarkozy, who earned the label of the “bling-bling” president for his Ray-Ban sunglasses and fancy vacations. It also comes at a time when Hollande is seeking to push through a bill that would shrink workers’ benefits and making firings easier.

    “Everyone needs their hair done, no?” Stephane Le Foll, the government spokesman, said after the weekly cabinet meeting at the Elysee Palace Wednesday in Paris. “I can understand people’s questions, I can understand their judgments. He’s not just anybody, that’s all.”

    Revelations about his hairdresser come two years after one of his closest aides, Aquilino Morelle, was forced to resign amid allegations of a conflict of interest and also because he reportedly used his Elysee office, overlooking the palace’s lawn, to have a shoe-shiner come in to brush his expensive leather shoes.

    Vive La Revolution…


    If life can make it here, it can make it anywhere

    Public Release: 11-Jul-2016


    WSU scientist explores the likelihood of complex life existing elsewhere in the universe

    Washington State University

    If the origin of life is common on other worlds, the universe should be a cosmic zoo full of complex multicellular organisms.

    Dirk Schulze-Makuch, a Washington State University astrobiologist, uses the evolution of Earth life as a model to predict what humans might find living on distant planets and moons in a new paper published in the journal Life.

    The results of his work, conducted in collaboration with William Bains, a biochemist working for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, show that once life originates, the evolution of organisms functionally similar to plants or animals on Earth will naturally follow given enough time and a suitable environment.

    “If the origin of life can occur rather easily, a percentage of organisms on other worlds will reach higher levels of animal- or plant-like complexity,” Schulze-Makuch said. “On the other hand, if the origin of life is a rare event, then chances are we live in a rather empty universe.”

    Evolutionary answers

    There are physical and chemical limits to how life can evolve, and scientists have determined that many of those requirements have been met on Earth. Therefore, the route Earthly lifeforms took from simple, single-celled organisms to successively more complex entities can give hints of how life might play out elsewhere in the cosmos.

    In their study, Schulze-Makuch and Bains first identified the key evolutionary innovations that drove the development of Earth life from microbes to space-faring humans. These include the transition from single cell life to multicellular life, the rise of photosynthesis, the evolution of macroscopic life and the rise of intelligent life.

    Then they analyzed whether or not these important evolutionary occurrences happened many times in different organisms or were due to random, isolated events.

    They found that most of the critical innovations were “invented” several times. For example, photosynthesis originated independently at four different points in life’s history, and multicellularity arose several times in different classes of organisms.

    “Given that we have multiple examples of these key evolutionary adaptions occurring along the path from the simplest organism to humans, we must accept that they are not extremely improbable, but that it ‘only’ takes a long time and the proper conditions for them to arise,” Schulze-Makuch said. “Therefore, in any world where life has arisen and sufficient energy flux exists, we are confident that we will find complex, animal-like life.”

    The one caveat is that the research doesn’t address the likelihood of the origin of life occurring elsewhere or of there being aliens with human like intelligence. Earth is the only planet where life is known to exist, and humans are the only known species to have developed technology. So it is impossible to say whether this should be a common occurrence on other worlds, a very rare event or something in between, Schulze-Makuch said.

    Future implications

    The work has major implications for the search for life on other worlds. Schulze-Makuch and Bains write that not only should scientists expect to find microbial biosignatures on a planet with life, but also signatures resulting from large and complex, multicellular organisms such as vegetation’s red edge, which is the wavelength of light suggesting the existence of plant life.

    “In particular, our research is relevant to the selection of tools scientists use in searching for life on planets in other solar systems,” Schulze-Makuch said. “On future missions, researchers at NASA, the SETI (search for extraterrestrial intelligence ) Institute and other organizations should consider using instruments that are capable of finding signatures of a global and diverse biosphere on other worlds.”

    ‘Elites’ called to Arms: ‘Time to rise up against Ignorant masses’

    Wednesday, 29 June 2016

    I was born in 1954, and until now I would have said that the late 1960s was the greatest period of political convulsion I have lived through. Yet for all that the Vietnam War and the civil rights struggle changed American culture and reshaped political parties, in retrospect those wild storms look like the normal oscillations of a relatively stable political system. The present moment is different. Today’s citizen revolt — in the United States, Britain, and Europe — may upend politics as nothing else has in my lifetime.

    In the late 1960s, elites were in disarray, as they are now — but back then they were fleeing from kids rebelling against their parents’ world; now the elites are fleeing from the parents. Extremism has gone mainstream. One of the most brazen features of the Brexit vote was the utter repudiation of the bankers and economists and Western heads of state who warned voters against the dangers of a split with the European Union. British Prime Minister David Cameron thought that voters would defer to the near-universal opinion of experts; that only shows how utterly he misjudged his own people.

    Both the Conservative and the Labour parties in Britain are now in crisis. The British have had their day of reckoning; the American one looms. If Donald Trump loses, and loses badly (forgive me my reckless optimism, but I believe he will) the Republican Party may endure a historic split between its know-nothing base and its K Street/Chamber of Commerce leadership class. The Socialist government of France may face a similar fiasco in national elections next spring: Polls indicate that President François Hollande would not even make it to the final round of voting. Right-wing parties all over Europe are clamoring for an exit vote of their own.

    Yes, it’s possible that all the political pieces will fly up into the air and settle down more or less where they were before, but the Brexit vote shows that shocking change isn’t very shocking anymore. Where, then, could those pieces end up? Europe is already pointing in one direction. In much of Europe, far-right nativist parties lead in the polls. So far, none has mustered a majority, though last month Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party, which traffics in Nazi symbolism, came within a hair of winning election as president. Mainstream parties of the left and right may increasingly combine forces to keep out the nationalists. This has already happened in Sweden, where a right-of-center party serves as the minority partner to the left-of-center government. If the Socialists in France do in fact lose the first round, they will almost certainly support the conservative Republicans against the far-right National Front.

    Perhaps these informal coalitions can survive until the fever breaks. But the imperative of cohabitation could also lead to genuine realignment. That is, chunks of parties from the left and right of center could break away to form a different kind of center, defending pragmatism, meliorism, technical knowledge, and effective governance against the ideological forces gathering on both sides. It’s not hard to imagine the Republican Party in the United States — and perhaps the British Conservatives should Brexit go terribly wrong — losing control of the angry, nationalist rank and file and reconstituting themselves as the kind of Main Street, pro-business parties they were a generation ago, before their ideological zeal led them into a blind alley. That may be their only alternative to irrelevance.
    The issue, at bottom, is globalization. Brexit, Trump, the National Front, and so on show that political elites have misjudged the depth of the anger at global forces and thus the demand that someone, somehow, restore the status quo ante. It may seem strange that the reaction has come today rather than immediately after the economic crisis of 2008, but the ebbing of the crisis has led to a new sense of stagnation. With prospects of flat growth in Europe and minimal income growth in the United States, voters are rebelling against their dismal long-term prospects. And globalization means culture as well as economics: Older people whose familiar world is vanishing beneath a welter of foreign tongues and multicultural celebrations are waving their fists at cosmopolitan elites. I was recently in Poland, where a far-right party appealing to nationalism and tradition has gained power despite years of undeniable prosperity under a centrist regime. Supporters use the same words again and again to explain their vote: “values and tradition.” They voted for Polishness against the modernity of Western Europe.

    Perhaps politics will realign itself around the axis of globalization, with the fist-shakers on one side and the pragmatists on the other. The nationalists would win the loyalty of working-class and middle-class whites who see themselves as the defenders of sovereignty. The reformed center would include the beneficiaries of globalization and the poor and non-white and marginal citizens who recognize that the celebration of national identity excludes them.

    Of course, mainstream parties of both the left and the right are trying to reach the angry nationalists. Sometimes this takes the form of gross truckling, as when Nicolas Sarkozy, who is seeking to regain France’s presidency, denounces the “tyranny of minorities” and invokes the “forever France” of an all-white past. From the left, Hillary Clinton has jettisoned her free-trade past to appeal to union members and others who want to protect national borders against the global market. But left and right disagree so deeply about how best to cushion the effects of globalization, and how to deal with the vast influx of refugees and migrants, that even the threat of extremism may not be enough to bring them to make common cause.
    The schism we see opening before us is not just about policies, but about reality. The Brexit forces won because cynical leaders were prepared to cater to voters’ paranoia, lying to them about the dangers of immigration and the costs of membership in the EU. Some of those leaders have already begun to admit that they were lying. Donald Trump has, of course, set a new standard for disingenuousness and catering to voters’ fears, whether over immigration or foreign trade or anything else he can think of. The Republican Party, already rife with science-deniers and economic reality-deniers, has thrown itself into the embrace of a man who fabricates realities that ignorant people like to inhabit.

    Did I say “ignorant”? Yes, I did. It is necessary to say that people are deluded and that the task of leadership is to un-delude them.
    Is that “elitist”? Maybe it is; maybe we have become so inclined to celebrate the authenticity of all personal conviction that it is now elitist to believe in reason, expertise, and the lessons of history. If so, the party of accepting reality must be prepared to take on the party of denying reality, and its enablers among those who know better. If that is the coming realignment, we should embrace it.

    Authored by James Traub, originally posted at ForeignPolicy.com,


    Mastermind of Istanbul terror attack was "Refugee" protected by EU


    Friday, 01 July 2016

    Following Tuesday’s horrific attack at Istanbul’s Ataturk airport which resulted in 44 death at the hands of 3 suicide bombers, Turkey was quick to blame the Islamic State for the terrorist act. And while that may be accurate, something surprising has emerged about the alleged ringleader of the group of three men who have been since identified as Russian, Uzbek and Kyrgyz nationals. As Russia’s Kommersant and Turkish media report, a Chechen national suspected of being the mastermind behind the deadly Istanbul airport terrorist attack, had previously received refugee status in Austria, which helped him to repeatedly avoid extradition to Russia on terror charges.

    As the complete picture of the latest terrorist attack in Turkey comes together, it has emerged that the attack was allegedly organized by Ahmed Chataev, a Russian citizen of Chechen origin, who joined the Islamic State in 2015 and now fights in Syria, Turkish media report, citing police sources.

    Chataev was assigned a leading role in training extremists that would then commit terrorist attacks in both Russia and Western Europe, the Deputy Chairman of the Russian Investigative Committee Andrey Przhezdomsky said, adding that, in Syria, Chataev also commands a unit consisting “primarily of immigrants from the North Caucasus.”

    It has been also revealed that Chataev was long wanted by the Russian authorities for terrorism-related offenses but he fled to Europe, where he was granted asylum, and successfully managed to escape extradition to Russia. The alleged mastermind joined Islamist secessionist militants that fought against Russia in the Second Chechen War between 1999 and 2000, where he lost an arm. Later, he was considered to be a representative of Dokka Umarov, once a “terrorist #1” in Russia, but protected in Western Europe.

    The attack coordinator was on a wanted list in Russia since 2003 for sponsoring terrorism, recruiting extremists and membership in a terrorist group, Russian media report. However, in the same year, he received asylum in Austria. Chataev reportedly claimed that he lost his arm as he was severely tortured in Russian prison adding that he is being persecuted by Russian authorities.

    In 2008, he was detained with some other Chechen nationals in the Swedish town of Trelleborg as police found Kalashnikov assault rifles, explosives and ammunition in his car. As a result, he spent more than a year in Swedish prison.

    In 2010, Chataev was arrested in Ukraine with his mobile phone files containing a demolition technique instruction and photos of people killed in a blast. Russia requested his extradition on terrorism-related charges but the European Court for Human Rights ordered Ukraine not to hand him over to Russia with Amnesty International also urging Ukrainian authorities to halt extradition as Chataev “could face an unfair trial and would be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment.

    Below is the actual statement filed by Amnesty International titled “Ukraine: Chechen risks torture if returned to Russia

    One year later, he was again detained as he was crossing the border between Turkey and Bulgaria but he again avoided extradition because of the interference of human rights organizations that stressed Chataev had a refugee status in Austria and thus cannot be sent to Russia, Kommersant reported. Between 2012 and 2015, Chataev reportedly lived in Georgia, where he also joined some terrorist groups and served a prison sentence on terrorism-related charges.

    In February 2015, he left Georgia for Syria, where he joined IS militants and soon took a high position in the Islamic State hierarchy.

    Finally, in October 2015, the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the US Department of the Treasury added Chataev to its terrorist list because of his alleged involvement into recruitment of extremists.

    And just like that, in the span of 5 years, a person whose extradition to Russia was prevented by Europe and Amnesty ended up a formally recognized terrorist by the US, and ultimately his actions resulted in the death of 44 people. If only there was less political bickering between Russia and Europe, more than 40 innocent lives could have been spared.

    Finally, in light of these revelations, one wonders precisely what is the function of the ubiquitous NSA in today’s world