11 Commercial Jetliners Missing after Islamist takeover of Tripoli Airport

Wednesday, 03 September 2014

Islamist militias in Libya took control of nearly a dozen commercial jetliners last month, and western intelligence agencies recently issued a warning that the jets could be used in terrorist attacks across North Africa.

Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington, said U.S. officials familiar with the reports.

“There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,” said one official. “We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.”

 

Continue reading “11 Commercial Jetliners Missing after Islamist takeover of Tripoli Airport”

Russian scientists raising funds to rebuild Tesla Tower, satisfy world energy hunger

Published time: July 04, 2014 15:56

Reuters/Sheng Li

Reuters/Sheng Li

 

Two Russian physicists are fundraising to realize their project for wireless energy transmission once proposed by brilliant 20th-century scientist Nikola Tesla. Solar panels and an upgraded Tesla Tower could solve global energy hunger, they say.

 

Leonid and Sergey Plekhanov, graduates of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology, claim they have spent years scrutinizing the Nikola Tesla’s patents and diaries and they believe that with his most ambitious project – transcontinental wireless energy transmissions – Tesla came very close to unprecedented scientific discovery that could be brought to fruition.

The enthusiasts say they need about $800,000 to reconstruct the famous Wardenclyffe Tower once created by Tesla himself to implement his ideas and find a commercial application for his ideas on long-distance wireless energy transmission.

 

The Plekhanov brothers are raising money through IndieGogo kickstarter. The campaign will last until July 25. So far the project has managed to collect only 2 percent of the desired sum (about $18,000 out of the desired $800,000 as we publish this article).

According to the authors of the project, as of today all human civilization’s electric energy needs could be covered with a single installation of solar panel measured approximately 316 by 316 kilometers (100,000 square kilometers altogether) positioned in a desert somewhere near the equator.

They believe the only stumbling block to such a project is the delivery of electric energy to final consumers, as the loss of energy directly depends on the distance of transmission.

The Plekhanov brothers believe that only experimental verification of the theory could help the original idea become reality. They also say that their “creative interpretation” of the physical model proposed by Tesla has already been confirmed by “numerical simulation in Ansoft HFSS software.”Russian scientists raising funds to rebuild Tesla Tower, satisfy world energy hunger — RT News

Tesla Tower (Photo from Wikipedia.org)

Tesla Tower (Photo from Wikipedia.org)
The original Wardenclyffe Tower (also dubbed the “Tesla Tower”), was constructed by Nikola Tesla in Shoreham, about 100 kilometers from New York, in 1901–17. It never became fully operational.

 

The 57-meter-high tower was made of wood and copper and after a number of experiences to perform trans-Atlantic wireless power transmission, as well as commercial broadcasting and wireless telephony, the tower was disassembled in 1917.

Leonid and Sergey Plekhanov believe the construction of their “Planetary Energy Transmitter” would be much lighter than that of Tesla’s, decreased from over 60 to mere 2 tons – all because of the modern materials used for the framework and up-to-date conducting materials. Naturally, the installation would be equipped with advanced electronics.

“We’ve conducted the fundamental research studies, implemented the computational models and designed all the parts of the experiment. We will be able to perform energy transmission and measure the results. Will it be ‘global’ as Tesla suggested? Based on the research that we’ve already done – we believe it will be, and we going to prove it experimentally,” the scientists wrote.

The scientists are going to repeat Tesla’s experiment in the fall of 2014.

And if the experiment works, the scientists say that a free energy world with limitless global energy transmission is possible.

Still, there are a number of considerations regarding the huge solar panel installation proposed by the Plekhanovs. Besides the fact that the very production of solar panels, at least on the modern level of technology, is really damaging for the environment, the efficiency of such power generation is still very low.

Besides that, such production is very expensive. A square meter of solar panel costs approximately $200. A simple multiplication of the sum by the proposed 100,000 square kilometers give us a stunning sum of $20 trillion, more than the gross GDP of either the US or EU. That’s without infrastructure. And even if the cost of production falls by several times, it would still be unspeakably expensive, experts say.

Eccentric philanthropist is taking 1,000 homeless New Yorkers out to lunch in the hope it will inspire Wall Street to open its pockets

 EEV Note – If you have any love of country left, do not let this happen

Article Quotes:

 they must sing for their supper – the patriotic ditty Learn from the Good Model Citizen Lei Feng, named after the supposedly selfless People’s Liberation Army soldier hailed by Mao Zedong.

– Overseeing proceedings will be 200 Chinese volunteers recruited from Columbia and New York universities dressed in green military uniforms.

– “If I am wealthy enough, I will purchase CNN,” he said. “I hope Hong Kong tycoons can lend me money to complete this deal and let’s together promote ‘positive energy’ worldwide.”

 

Eccentric philanthropist Chen Guangbiao on a mission in New York (and he sings too)

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 June, 2014, 10:41pm

Alice Yan

ting.yan@scmp.com

153933883a248058e516da280bc3301e.jpg

Chen Guangbiao says he has a big heart. “Every single cent I earn is earned through honest and legal means.” Photo: Simon Song

 

Controversial Chinese philanthropist Chen Guangbiao arrives in New York tomorrow bursting with ideas for how he can help America’s poor and the country’s ailing newspaper industry. But first he has some requirements. Continue reading “Eccentric philanthropist is taking 1,000 homeless New Yorkers out to lunch in the hope it will inspire Wall Street to open its pockets”

Billionaire Chen Guangbiao invites 1,000 poor Americans to dinner in Central Park

Controversial entrepreneur sets out to change Americans’ perceptions about wealthy Chinese

.PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 June, 2014, 1:16am

Mimi Lau in Guangzhou
mimi.lau@scmp.com
.

// Billionaire Chen Guangbiao invites 1,000 poor Americans to dinner in Central Park | South China Morning Post

// // // // //

 

Chen Guangbiao

Controversial billionaire Chen Guangbiao placed a full-page advertisement in Monday’s New York Times and a half-page advertisement in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal, inviting 1,000 underprivileged Americans to dine with him.

In the latest eye-catching campaign following his unsuccessful bid to buy The New York Times earlier this year, Chen said he would also hand out red packets of US$300 to each participant after the charity lunch in New York on June 25. Continue reading “Billionaire Chen Guangbiao invites 1,000 poor Americans to dinner in Central Park”

Book: US Stock Market is Rigged

Monday, 31 March 2014


This month marks the fifth anniversary of the current bull market on Wall Street, making it one of the longest and strongest in history. Yet U.S. stock ownership is at a record low and less than half of Americans trust banks and financial services. And in the last two weeks, the New York attorney general and the Commodities Futures Trading Commission in Washington have both launched investigations into high-frequency computerized stock trading that now controls more than half the market. Continue reading “Book: US Stock Market is Rigged”

US judge rules Baidu has First Amendment right to block content / Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom

EEV: Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom

PUBLISHED : Friday, 28 March, 2014, 11:58pm

Reuters in New York
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Internet giant Baidu has won the dismissal of a US lawsuit by pro-democracy activists who complained that China’s most widely used search engine illegally suppressed political speech.

Eight New York writers and video producers had accused Baidu of creating search-engine algorithms, at the behest of Beijing, to block users in the United States from articles, videos and other information advocating greater democracy in China.

The plaintiffs in the case, which was heard in Manhattan, said this kept Baidu users from seeing their work, unlike users of other search engines such as Google and Microsoft’s Bing.

Continue reading “US judge rules Baidu has First Amendment right to block content / Political Censorship is now an editorial freedom”

‘Vegetarians are rapists’: Shocking Facebook posts of U.S. diplomat and his embassy worker wife expelled in slave maid row deepen rift with India

  • Wayne May and his wife Alicia Muller May were effectively deported last week by Indian authorities
  • The move was apparently in retaliation for the U.S. expulsion of Indian envoy Devyani Khobragade in December
  • But the outrageous comments have only just come to light – and the couple’s respective social media pages are awash with them
  • Mrs May wrote on Facebook that Indian vegetarians were responsible for a wave of violence: ‘Applies only to Indians, not westerners!’ she added
  • She also put up a picture of a cow, sacred in India, with the label ‘stupid cow’ then admitted insulting Hindus, saying ‘Not the first time, not the last!’

By Associated Press and Helen Pow

PUBLISHED:          15:50 EST, 15 January 2014       | UPDATED:          19:06 EST, 15 January 2014

 

An American diplomatic couple kicked out of India in retaliation for the U.S. expulsion of an Indian envoy triggered a new controversy by posting offensive comments about their former host country on Facebook.

Wayne May and his wife Alicia Muller May, from Corinth, New York, were effectively deported last week by Indian authorities.

But their outrageous comments on social media, including one in which they call India a ‘zoo,’ have only just come to light.

In one shocking musing, Mrs May wrote that Indian vegetarians were responsible for a wave of sexual assaults. Continue reading “‘Vegetarians are rapists’: Shocking Facebook posts of U.S. diplomat and his embassy worker wife expelled in slave maid row deepen rift with India”

Dozens of US nuclear missile officers caught up in drug and cheating scandals

– 11 air force officers are suspected of illegal drug use, and 34 officers have been implicated in cheating

– Missile-launch officers work in part in underground bunkers on bases equipped with nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. Affected ICBM sites included bases in Minot, North Dakota, and Great Falls, Montana

Investigation that began with accusations of illegal drug use expands into allegations of cheating on proficiency exams

in New York

theguardian.com,              Wednesday 15 January 2014 17.26 EST

Air force drug investigation
Air force chief of staff General Mark A Welsh testifies about pending legislation regarding sexual assaults in the military. Photograph: Larry Downing/Reuters

A US air force investigation into illegal drug use by officers charged with overseeing and launching nuclear missiles expanded on Wednesday when the military announced the suspension of dozens of additional officers for cheating on proficiency exams. Continue reading “Dozens of US nuclear missile officers caught up in drug and cheating scandals”

NY politician steps down after women employees claim he asked them to dress as sexy elves, took them to strip clubs and even sent oral sex video

  • Gabryszak, 62, stepped down after accusations of taking staffers to massage parlors and telling them about trips to strip clubs
  • Jamie L. Campbell, 24, says she received a video of him ‘appearing to be receiving a sex act’
  • Annalise C. Freling, 28, claims he tried to take her out on Valentine’s Day and give her pearls
  • Gabryszak, a married father of two, endorsed a 2012 bill to stop psychological abuse and intimidation in the workplace

By Zoe Szathmary and Ryan Gorman

UPDATED:          09:05 EST, 13 January 2014

 

New York Democratic Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak resigned Sunday after mounting accusations of sexual harassment from several staffers led to calls for him to step aside.

Mr Gabryszak, a married father of two, announced he would ‘retire’ after demands he step down came from all corners of state government, including Gov. Andrew Cuomo. The Buffalo-area politician has been accused of harassment by at least seven staffers

Six current female staffers, as well as a former employee, claim the assemblyman’s unwanted advances include taking them to massage parlors and sending at least one woman a video of a sex act being performed on him.

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, speaks last year in the Assembly Chamber at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. The embattled politician resigned Sunday amid several claims of sexual harassment 

Assemblyman Dennis Gabryszak, D-Cheektowaga, speaks last year in the Assembly Chamber at the Capitol in Albany, N.Y. The embattled politician resigned Sunday amid several claims of sexual harassment

 

The embattled politician claimed in his announcement that he is innocent, but said he was stepping aside to mitigate the negative impact the scandal is having on both his family and the state assembly. Continue reading “NY politician steps down after women employees claim he asked them to dress as sexy elves, took them to strip clubs and even sent oral sex video”

Michael Bloomberg ‘spent $650 million of own money’ as New York mayor

– ” The mayor’s free-spending ways are also being felt in London, where he has been cultivating political leaders and the cultural elite and is expected to spend much of his post-mayoral time “

Outgoing mayor spent vast amounts of personal cash on New York City during 12 years in office, research by New York Times finds

Critics of the mayor noted that for his final address, he chose to address a Wall Street audience – the so-called

Critics of the mayor noted that for his final address, he chose to address a Wall Street audience – the so-called “1 per cent” Photo: AP Continue reading “Michael Bloomberg ‘spent $650 million of own money’ as New York mayor”

Doctors Sue United Healthcare for Bad Faith

BROOKLYN (CN) – A 22,000-member physicians’ group sued United Healthcare Insurance, claiming the money-grubbing, multibillion-dollar insurance company is illegally terminating them from its Medicare network on Jan. 1 to cut its losses from reduced federal payments under the Affordable Care Act. Continue reading “Doctors Sue United Healthcare for Bad Faith”

Russian diplomats accused of $1.5m fraud in US – but immunity prevents arrests

 

The accused and a number of unnamed co-conspirators gamed the system to the tune of $1.5m, say US law enforcement officials

Nikhil Kumar

Friday, 6 December 2013

In November 2010, Nailya Babaeva, a Russian citizen in the US, allegedly applied for pregnancy benefits under Medicaid, a federally funded programme that is meant to help needy families get access to healthcare.

Ms Babaeva, who was pregnant with twins, lived in New York, where women can get immediate access to prenatal care under the programme based on a preliminary income assessment.

For her initial application to succeed, Ms Babaeva would have had to show that her household income was no more than $3,052 per month.

According to a criminal indictment unsealed in New York earlier this week that includes details of the case, that’s exactly what she allegedly did, supplying in a letter signed by an employee at her husband Timur Salomatin’s workplace reporting his salary as $3,000 per month.

Continue reading “Russian diplomats accused of $1.5m fraud in US – but immunity prevents arrests”

Media Smoke and Mirror game at the expense of a child?

EEV: Commentary

Rarely do I comment on events; However, when it involves children I do. Recently an article was run titled “ Boy, 7, born with rare cancer loses his insurance because of  Obamacare…leaving his parents needing $50,000 to pay for life-saving  chemotherapy ” . This article ran on November 28th 2013.

 

A Hoax article was than run on Dec 1st ” Baby not covered under ObamaCare family plan ” Than shortly followed by “Chris Hayes mocks New York Post: Obamacare toddler horror story was pure bunk

Chris Hayes 120413 [MSNBC]

 

The New York Post, The Raw Story, Nor MSNBC host Chris Hayes from my knowledge, mentioned the original true story. Leading to many readers associating the hoax, with the 7 year old who is ill and in need of support.

This may just be an amazing coincidence, that however is not for me to decide.

 

 

 

NY Schools Plan Called Threat to Privacy / Giving student data to a private company for storage

 

By MARLENE KENNEDY

ShareThis

ALBANY, N.Y. (CN) – New York’s plan to turn over massive amounts of student data to a private company for online storage violates privacy laws and could expose the information to hacking, a dozen parents and guardians claim in court.

The plaintiffs, who have 19 children in public and charter schools in New York City, say they want to halt “the unnecessary and unprecedented mass disclosure of the records and personal information of millions of New York state school children.”

Lead plaintiff Mona Davids claims in Albany County Supreme Court that New York privacy law requires written consent before a government agency can disclose personal information, and that the plaintiffs did not authorize the release of data on their minor children and wards.

Continue reading “NY Schools Plan Called Threat to Privacy / Giving student data to a private company for storage”

Reclusive heiress Huguette Clark’s estate sues New York hospital and doctor ‘for failing to discharge her for 20 years in order to extract gifts’

  • Dr Henry Singman and Beth Israel Medical Center were less dedicated to Huguette Clark’s welfare than their own,  says  the new lawsuit
  • Clark died at Beth Israel aged 104 in  2011, leaving no close relatives and a roughly $300 million  estate

By  Associated Press

PUBLISHED: 01:46 EST, 22  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 01:46 EST, 22 November 2013

A reclusive copper heiress’ estate is seeking  more than $100 million from a doctor and a hospital where she spent two decades,  furthering a fight over her fortune after a feud over her disputed will was  resolved.

Dr. Henry Singman and Beth Israel Medical  Center were less dedicated to Huguette Clark’s welfare than their own, says a  lawsuit filed on Thursday.

A public administrator’s office, a local  government entity, represents the estate of Clark, whose father was a Montana  copper baron and founded Las Vegas.

Continue reading “Reclusive heiress Huguette Clark’s estate sues New York hospital and doctor ‘for failing to discharge her for 20 years in order to extract gifts’”

De Blasio ‘Needs To Explain Himself’ Over Cuba Honeymoon, Sandinista Support / Which he is proud of

The story of a Cambridge-raised  Sandinista supporter who married a  former lesbian and rose through the political ranks to become mayor of America’s  largest city

  • Bill De Blasio is a political insider who  worked on campaigns of Bill and Hillary Clinton
  • Grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and  is a lifelong Red Sox fan
  • Traveled to Nicaragua as a student in the  1980s and became supporter of the socialist government
  • Married Chirlane McCray in 1994 after  meeting at City Hall
  • McCray wrote a seminal 1979 magazine  article declaring that she was a black lesbian

By  Michael Zennie

PUBLISHED: 14:44 EST, 6  November 2013 |  UPDATED: 19:05 EST, 6 November 2013

Bill De Blasio, the first Democrat elected  mayor of New York City in a generation, is a Massachusetts-raised former  supporter of the communist Sandinistas who married a lesbian poet.

And he’s a lifelong Boston Red Sox fan.

De Blasio’s path to becoming the leader of  America’s largest city was unorthodox – especially compared with his Democratic  predecessors.

He rose up the ranks of Democratic politics.  He worked as a junior aide to the last Democratic mayor, David Dinkins. He  served in the Clinton Administration and ran Hillary Clinton’s 2000 bid for the  U.S. Senate. He served three years as a Democrat on the City Council.

But he is not necessarily a product of the  party political machine like previous Democratic mayors – in part because that  machinery no longer exists in the way it once did.

Partners: Bill De Blasio's marriage to Cirlane McCray, a former lesbian, was a major development in De Blasio's ride to power. The couple are seen today after their landslide victory 

Partners: Bill De Blasio’s marriage to Cirlane McCray, a  former lesbian, was a major development in De Blasio’s ride to power. The couple  are seen today after their landslide victory

Landslide: Bill De Blasio cruised to victory on Tuesday night - becoming the first Democratic mayor in a generationLandslide: Bill De Blasio cruised to victory on Tuesday  night – becoming the first Democratic mayor in a generation

Rising star: De Blasio worked in the Clinton Administration and managed the 2000 senate campaign of Hillary ClintonRising star: De Blasio worked in the Clinton  Administration and managed the 2000 senate campaign of Hillary Clinton

Childhood in Cambridge,  Massachusetts

De Blasio was born Warren Wilhelm, Jr. in  Manhattan in to an  Italian-American mother and a German American father. For  reasons  unknown, he has always gone by Bill.

Both were highly-educated – Warren Wilhelm  Sr. had degrees from both  Harvard and Yale and Maria De Blasio went to Smith  College.

Before De Blasio was born, both his  parents  had worked for the federal government, but had to flee  Washington after being  accused of being communists.

When De Blasio was a few years old, the  family moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of Harvard University.

He lived outside Boston until attending  college at New York University.  One result of his Massachusetts upbringing:  He’s as fan of the Boston  Red Sox – the arch-rivals of New York’s hometown  baseball team, the  Yankees.

But life in the Wilhelm house was not happy.  His father was a war hero who lost a leg to a Japanese grenade  while serving in  the Pacific during the Second World War.

When De Blasio was seven, his father suddenly  left the family. Warren Sr.  was battling alcoholism, which De Blasio believes  was a result of the  horrors he saw in war.

In 1979, when De Blasio was still a teenager,  Warren Sr. committed suicide.

After his father’s death, he changed his last  name from Wilhelm to his mother’s maiden name: De Blasio.

He told New York magazine: ‘She was often  very, very sad about thing that  had happened to her, but she had a fierce  resilience – a very sharp and  purposeful resilience. She was very  practical.’

‘IF YOU WANT TO UNDERSTAND ME, UNDERSTAND CHIRLANE’: NEW  FIRST LADY IS POET, FORMER LESBIAN AND A SAVVY POLITICAL OPERATIVE

Chirlane McCrayNew York City has been without a First Lady  for nearly all of the 21st Century, so New Yorkers have welcomed  the presence  of Bill De Blasio’s wife Chirlane McCray on the campaign  trail.

But, De Blasio himself has promised that  McCray will be unlike any First Lady the city has ever seen.

‘All I can say is buckle your seat belt. Get  ready for Chirlane McCray,’ he told a crowd last month, according to the New York Daily News.

McCray will, indeed, be different the the  other spouses who have lived in Gracie Mansion.

For starters, she’s a black former lesbian.

When her family moved to Longmeadow,  Massacushuetts, where she grew up, they were the second black family in the area  and neighbors started a  petition to get them to move out.

She attended in Wellesley College and moved  to New York to work in publishing.

In 1979, she write a story in Essence  magazine titled ‘I am a Lesbian.’  The piece is still celebrated by gay and  lesbian leaders for working to  dispel the myth that there were not homosexuals  in the black community.

'If you want to understand me, understand Chirlane,' De Blasio saysShe was an aide to Mayor David Dinkins in  1991, when she met De Blasio, who was a deputy mayor’s aide.

‘The way Bill describes it, I walked in with  my African dress and my nose ring, and he heard choirs singing,’ McCray told New Yorker.

‘I did not have that  experience.’

Eventually she showed him the Essen article  she wrote. De Blasio wasn’t deterred. He persisted in courting her and McCray  said she fell in love. They married two years later in 1994.

Daughter Chiara was born six months  later.

De Blasio has promised that his wife would  take an active role.

She was an ever-present face on the campaign  trail – along with the couple two children, 18-year-old Chiara and 16-year-old  Dante.

The Daily News reports that she also helped  vet staffers. She is expected the play a large role in his  administration.

‘If you want to understand me, understand  Chirlane,’ he told the newspaper.

Greetings from Italy

Maria De Blasio was from Southern Italy and  De Blasio still speaks Italian – he even uttered a few words of Italian during  his victory speech Tuesday night in Brooklyn.

Meanwhile, in Sant’Agata de’ Goti, Italy, his  maternal grandfather’s hometown, villagers gathered to celebrate De Blasio’s  victory. The mayor of the town of 11,000 said he hopes that one day the Mayor of  New York will visit the small hamlet outside Naples.

International appeal: The mayor of Sant'Agata de' Goti in Italy, De Blasio's grandfather's hometown, celebrated the victory from EuropeInternational appeal: The mayor of Sant’Agata de’ Goti  in Italy, De Blasio’s grandfather’s hometown, celebrated the victory from  Europe

Italians in De Blasio's ancestral hometown gathered to celebrate the victory of the half-Italian-AmericanItalians in De Blasio’s ancestral hometown gathered to  celebrate the victory of the half-Italian-American

Supporting a brutal socialist  regime

When De Blasio was in the college in the  1980s, he made a trip to Nicaragua. The Central American nation was in the midst  of a bloody civil war between the Soviet-backed socialist Sandinista government  and the U.S.-backed rightist Contras.

De Blasio initially said he visited the  capital of Managua on a relief mission to hand out supplies to war refugees.

However, once there, he grew to admire the  socialist regime, which President Ronald Reagan was attempting to help  overthrow.

On his return, he joined the Nicaragua  Solidarity Movement of Greater New York, which had a goal to ‘end capitalism,  replace with democratic socialism.’

Towering: At 6-foot-5, De Blasio is likely the tallest man ever elected to be mayor. He is taller even than Abraham Lincoln, who was just 6-foot-4Towering: At 6-foot-5, De Blasio is likely the tallest  man ever elected to be mayor. He is taller even than Abraham Lincoln, who was  just 6-foot-4

De Blasio and McCray married in 1994. It has been reported that they honeymooned in communist CubaDe Blasio and McCray married in 1994. It has been  reported that they honeymooned in communist Cuba

His support for the Sandinistas, who were  accused of slaughtering hundreds of innocent civilians and ‘disappearing’  political opponents, became an issue on the campaign trail.

Republican Joe Lohda told WCBS-TV: ‘Mr De Blasio’s involvement with the  Sandinistas didn’t happen in 1917; it happened 70 years later when the cruelty  and intrinsic failure of communism had become crystal clear to anyone with a  modicum of reason.

Mr De Blasio’s class warfare strategy in New  York City is directly out of the Marxist playbook. Now we know why.’

But De Blasio didn’t shy away from his past  political views, saying he was ‘very proud’ of his activism on Nicaragua.

‘I think at that time, United States policy  towards Central America was wrong,’ he said in September.

‘I think most Americans came to believe it  was wrong. I was proud to be an activist working against it.’

It was also revealed that in 1994, he and his  wife Chirlane McCray honeymooned in communist Cuba – at a time when it was  illegal for Americans to travel there. It was a fact that De Blasio and McCray  didn’t even tell their two teenage children.

A political fixer goes  public

De Blasio has been interested in politics his  whole life. In high school, he was nicked named ‘Senator Provolone,’ a nod to  both his Italian heritage and his love of student government.

He attended New York University, where he led  student protests to keep the library open longer and oppose tuition hikes. He  went on to earn a Masters of International Affairs from Columbia  University.

In 1989, he joined the campaign for Mayor  David Dinkins as a volunteer. His hard work was rewarded with a posting as an  aide to a deputy mayor in the Dinkins administration.

It was there that he met his wife, who is six  years older and was a speechwriter for Dinkins at the time.

After working on the re-election campaign for  President Bill Clinton, he was appointed as a regional director for federal  Department of Housing and Urban Development. In that director, he was the  highest-ranking HUD official in the New York and New Jersey area.

In 2000, the Clintons tapped him to run  Hillary’s U.S. Senate campaign.

The next year, De Blasio stepped out of the  shadows for the first time and ran for public office himself. He won a crowded  primary for the 39th district in Brooklyn with 32percent of the  vote.

After serving three terms – including one in  which he was the leader of the Brooklyn coalition, he won city-wide office as  Public Advocate.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2488607/The-story-Cambridge-raised-Sandinista-supporter-married-lesbian-rose-political-ranks-mayor-Americas-largest-city.html#ixzz2jv5NVjDa Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Soros backs push for Hillary Clinton for US presidency

Billionaire adds his influence to unofficial Ready for Hillary campaign to back moves for her to run for the White House in 2016

PUBLISHED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 9:07pm
UPDATED : Friday, 25 October, 2013, 9:07pm

Reuters in Washington

  • ea0eba3c579d89ce9b142a09479f7f26.jpg
  • 3ecee6000cdd1b4531974ef0e8debb5d.jpg
George Soros backs Hillary Clinton. Photo: Reuters

Billionaire financier George Soros, a major Democratic donor, has signed on as co-chairman of financing for an effort to persuade Hillary Clinton to run for president in 2016, a spokesman said.

“George Soros is delighted to join more than one million Americans in supporting Ready for Hillary,” Michael Vachon, Soros’ political director, said. “His support for Ready for Hillary is an extension of his long-held belief in the power of grass-roots organising.”

The Ready For Hillary political action committee (PAC) is the largest and best-funded independent group backing a potential Clinton candidacy.

The former United States Secretary of State, wife of former president Bill Clinton, would be widely viewed as the favourite for the Democratic presidential nomination if she decided to run.

Soros’ pledged an initial US$25,000 which put him on the PAC’s national finance council, along with several other major Democratic donors and officials, the group said.

The commitment represents an early engagement in the 2016 presidential race by Soros, a long-time backer of liberal causes.

For Ready for Hillary, which supporters started earlier this year, scoring the support of such a heavyweight donor helps bolster its establishment credentials. The other members of its finance council include Esprit co-founder Susie Tompkins Buell, entrepreneur Jo Ousterhout and lawyers Steve and Amber Mostyn.

But symbolically, Soros’ support could mean the most, particularly at a time when Clinton’s supporters are seeking to ward off potential challengers to her in Democratic presidential primaries.

Soros was a huge financial backer of Democrats during the 2004 election cycle, donating an estimated US$27.5 million. He also contributed heavily to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in 2008. Clinton lost the Democratic nomination to Obama that year.

During last year’s election, however, Soros largely stayed on the sidelines, expressing a distaste for new election laws that allowed unlimited fundraising and spending by new “super PACs” and non-profit groups. Soros eventually supported some independent Democratic groups during the November election.

He waited until a month before election day before giving US$1 million to Priorities USA Action, a super PAC backing Obama’s re-election bid.

Clinton, 65, a former senator from New York whose four-year run as secretary of state ended in February, has acknowledged that she is considering another run for president but she has said that she was unlikely to decide until next year.

In the meantime, she has begun to look like a candidate, staying in the spotlight by appearing at a series of paid speeches and fundraisers. Last weekend she publicly endorsed family friend Terry McAuliffe, the Democratic nominee for Virginia governor.

Ready For Hillary, which is not officially affiliated with Clinton, was founded this year by a former aide in Clinton’s unsuccessful campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008.

The group had raised US$1.25 million by July and now claims to have more than 20,000 donors, including many long-time Democratic fundraisers and Obama supporters. Members of Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign also have signed on.

Democratic legislators such as senators Claire McCaskill and Kirsten Gillibrand have publicly urged Clinton to run for the presidency.

The most recent Reuters/Ipsos tracking poll in mid-September showed Clinton nearly 40 percentage points ahead of her nearest potential challenger in a Democratic presidential campaign, Vice-President Joe Biden.

Reuters/Ipsos polling also showed her to be Americans’ top choice for president, with New Jersey governor Chris Christie as her closet potential challenger among Republicans. Americans preferred Clinton over Christie by 19 points, the poll, held last month, said.

Ready for Hillary says that it had more than 1 million supporters, including 30,000 new online sign-ups it got last weekend when Clinton campaigned for McAuliffe.

The group plans to back other candidates Clinton may endorse.

“Our strategy is to amplify what Hillary is doing and promote the candidates she is out there advocating for,” spokesman Seth Bringman said.

Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse

http://www.scmp.com/news/world/article/1339864/soros-backs-push-hillary-clinton-us-presidency

 

Billionaire scam artist who swindled $22m from clients asks for more lenient late-night curfew so he can visit opera

  • Alberto Vilar, 73, was found guilty of  stealing $22million from his clients
  • Con artist used ill-gotten gains to fund  donations to New York operas
  • He was jailed for nine years in 2010 but  has been released pending an appeal
  • Vilar is under curfew but has asked to be  allowed out for a night at the opera

By  Sara Malm

PUBLISHED: 05:35 EST, 11  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 08:26 EST, 11 October 2013

A billionaire scam artist put under house  arrest after funneling millions from his clients has asked to be allowed a more  lenient curfew so he can go to the opera.

Disgraced financier Alberto Vilar, 73, used some of the $22million he stole from his clients to fund his favourite philanthropies, including the Metropolitan Opera.

The opera-loving swindler was sentenced to  nine years in prison in 2010 but was released under a strict 11pm curfew last  year pending an appeal.

Illegal libretto: Alberto Vilar, pictured in 2007, stole $22million from his clients to fund his lavish life style and pay for donations to his favourite opera houses 

Illegal libretto: Alberto Vilar, pictured in 2007, stole  $22million from his clients to fund his lavish life style and pay for donations  to his favourite opera houses

 

Now the septuagenarian libretto-fan wants to  be allowed to stay out beyond 1am in the morning so he can be allowed to watch  his favourite opera and ‘socialise’ after the curtain closes.

‘Alberto Vilar has been offered free tickets  to a sold-out opera this Saturday night by the conductor, his original bail  signer Valery Gergiev,’ his lawyer said Wednesday in a letter to Manhattan  Federal Court Judge Richard Sullivan.

‘The opera does not let out until after his  curfew. Mr Vilar would like the opportunity to socialize after the opera for a  short time, and asks that his curfew be extended to 1:30 a.m.,’ lawyer Vivian  Shevitz said in the letter.

Vilar’s request was swiftly denied by Judge  Sullivan, but his lawyer is requesting a reconsideration, NY Daily News reports.

Pet project: Vilar has requested to be allowed to stay beyond his curfew to see Tchaikovsky's 'Eugene Onegin', pictured during a London production, at the Metropolitan Opera this weekend 

Pet project: Vilar has requested to be allowed to stay  beyond his curfew to see Tchaikovsky’s ‘Eugene Onegin’, pictured during a London  production, at the Metropolitan Opera this weekend

Stolen gift: Alberto Vilar, center, poses with tenor and artistic director of the Los Angeles Opera, Placido Domingo, right, and Valery Gergiev, of Russia's Mariinsky Opera and Ballet, as they announce Vilar's multi-milion gift to the operas in 2000 

Stolen gift: Alberto Vilar, center, poses with tenor and  artistic director of the Los Angeles Opera, Placido Domingo, right, and Valery  Gergiev, of Russia’s Mariinsky Opera and Ballet, as they announce Vilar’s  multi-milion gift to the operas in 2000

 

 

Vilar built up a billion dollar fortune as a  star of the dot-com era, thanks to early bets on companies such as Microsoft and  Intel.

His business Amerindo Investment Advisers at  one stage had $10billion (£6.6billion) under management.

In 2000, Vilar was claiming to be ‘the  largest supporter of classical music, opera, and ballet in the world’.   Among his gifts was £10million to London’s Royal Opera House for the Vilar  Floral Hall, its showpiece foyer, now simply Floral Hall.

When the dot-com bubble burst, he began  siphoning money out of his clients’ accounts to fund his philanthropies and to  pay the mortgage on his New York apartment, and stole a total of  $22million.

Vilar and his business partner Gary Tanaka  were arrested in May 2005, after one of their clients, heiress Lily Cates, the  mother of Hollywood actress Phoebe Cates, claimed they had stolen $5million from  her.

They were charged in 2006 and Vilar was found  guilty on all 12 counts of fraud.

 

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2454107/Billionaire-scam-artist-curfew-swindling-22m-clients-asks-stay-later-opera.html#ixzz2hQTFLX5h Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

It’s ILLEGAL for federal employees on furlough to check their work email during the government shutdown

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 16:04 EST, 1  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 16:37 EST, 1 October 2013

Federal employees who have been furloughed  could lose their jobs if they check their work email during the government  shutdown.

The prohibition comes from an obscure law  known as the Antideficiency Act that was first passed in 1884, the  Washington Post reports.

Federal agencies say a violation of the law  could result in a termination of employment.

Oklahoma National Guard human resource specialist Major James R Baxter II calls up the notice he was tasked to send to federal employees slated for furlough 

Oklahoma National Guard human resource specialist Major  James R Baxter II calls up the notice he was tasked to send to federal employees  slated for furlough

 

The law bars the government from funding  certain services during a shutdown, which includes government-issued email  addresses.

Agencies could go so far as to take away  staff BlackBerrys, but most have instructed employees to power off their phones,  instead.

‘Due to legal requirements, working in any  way during a period of furlough (even as a volunteer) is grounds for  disciplinary action, up to and including termination of employment,’ reads a  letter from the House Administration Committee that was obtained by Politico.

‘To avoid violating this prohibition, we  strongly recommend that you turn your BlackBerrys off for the duration of the  furlough.’

A man tries 

A man tries to get into the closed Internal Revenue  Service’s offices in Midtown after nonessential work was halted due to the  United States federal government shutdown in New York, New York

 

The prohibition against using work email goes  into effect the moment that a furlough begins.

That means that if employers haven’t had a  chance to notify employees that they have been furloughed before a shutdown goes  into effect, they can’t resort to using work email as a means of  notification.

The Office of Personnel Management recommends  using ‘800 numbers and emails to home email accounts’ once a furlough begins.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2440571/US-government-shutdown-ILLEGAL-federal-employees-furlough-check-work-email.html#ixzz2gWi7Ojpl Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

College enrolment down by a half million students in 2012 with older students the most turned off further studies

  • Half a million fewer students enrolled in  colleges in 2012 than 2011
  • Biggest drop is in mature students ages  25 and older
  • However, there has been an increase in  the number of Hispanics enrolling
  • Hispanics account for 17 percent of the  student population, up from 11 percent in 2006

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 19:17 EST, 3  September 2013 |  UPDATED: 19:20 EST, 3 September 2013

College enrolment in 2012 dropped by a half  million students compared to the year before.

Figures released by the U.S. Census Bureau  also show the number students who are over the age of 25 also fell.

There are 419,000 fewer students that have  enrolled at universities across the country.

College dropoff: The number of U.S. university students declined by almost half a million last year, following years of growth
College dropoff: The number of U.S. university students  declined by almost half a million last year, following years of growth

Conversely, there has been an increase in  college enrollments with  3.2 million new students entering classrooms  between 2006 and 2011.

Enrollment by Hispanics in U.S. colleges rose  15 percent from 2011 to 2012 even as the overall college population  declined.

Nearly 3.4 million Hispanics enrolled in  college undergraduate or graduate programs in 2012, as the adult Hispanic  population grew and because of greater demand from within the ethnic group, the  bureau said.

Hispanic students have grown as a percentage  of the overall college student population from 11 percent in 2006 to 17 percent  in 2012.

On the rise: Enrollment by Hispanics in U.S. colleges rose 15 percent from 2011 to 2012 even as the overall college population declined
On the rise: Enrollment by Hispanics in U.S. colleges  rose 15 percent from 2011 to 2012 even as the overall college population  declined

‘This increase in the number of Hispanics  enrolled in college can be attributed to the combination of an increase in the  adult Hispanic population and their climbing likelihood of being enrolled,’  Julie Siebens, a statistician for the Census Bureau, said in a  statement.

The Census Bureau report, titled School  Enrolment: 2012, is the latest in a series of studies that seem to show that  older people who fled to colleges and universities during tough economic times  might be heading back into the workforce.

President Barack Obama took a two-day tour in  late August to campaign for college affordability, stopping at locations in New  York and Pennsylvania.

Among other initiatives, Obama pushed for a  college rating system that would help students and their parents determine which  colleges would provide the best return for their tuition dollars.

‘We’ve got a crisis in terms of college  affordability and student debt,’ Obama said during a stop at the State  University of New York at Buffalo. ‘We can’t price the middle class, and  everybody working to get into the middle class, out of an education.’

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2410627/College-enrolment-half-million-students-2012-older-students-turned-studies.html#ixzz2dtKpg7Kx Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Quinn campaign tells students: skip school to work for us

  • By SALLY GOLDENBERG
  • Last Updated:  4:18 AM, August 30, 2013
  • Posted: 1:03 AM, August 30, 2013
        

EXCLUSIVE

Christine Quinn’s mayoral campaign is encouraging her interns to skip the first days of school so they’ll be available for the critical get-out-the-vote drive before the Democratic primary, The Post has learned.

In an e-mail blast to all the campaign’s summer volunteers, Quinn staffer Ross Adair said he was “pretty sure” that teachers wouldn’t mind if their students miss class on primary day, Tuesday, Sept. 10, “or even Monday and Tuesday” — a reference to the day before the primary.

“Thinking about election day: ALL INTERNS WHO PARTICIPATE IN ELECTION DAY WILL RECEIVE BOTH A LETTER EXCUSING THEM FROM CLASS IN ADDITION TO A LETTER OF RECOMMENDATION FROM THE CAMPAIGN AND CHRIS,” Adair wrote, adding the capital letters for emphasis.

IT’S CHRIS-MAS! Christine Quinn stumps yesterday, while her campaign e-mailed (above) her young interns, urging them to cut the first two days of school for the mayoral primary.

R. Umar Abbasi
IT’S CHRIS-MAS! Christine Quinn stumps yesterday, while her campaign e-mailed (above) her young interns, urging them to cut the first two days of school for the mayoral primary.

He told the high school- and college-age workers that the rewards of working for Quinn would be paid back big-time when they move on to careers.

“If you want me to be real for a second, a letter coming from the next mayor of New York City saying that you helped her on election day is something you can definitely put on your resume or application, and I’m pretty sure your teacher will be ok with you missing Tuesday, or even Monday and Tuesday,” he wrote.

The e-mail was sent to all of Quinn’s past and present interns.

Campaign spokesman Mike Morey said the excused-absence offer was par for the course in all political campaigns.

“We have thousands of students who have been working hard all summer long to help elect Chris Quinn mayor of New York. If their professors are willing to give them an excused absence to work on a political campaign on Election Day, we will certainly provide a note to their teachers to prove they did work that day,” he said.

“We can’t think of anything better for a student to do on Election Day than get some hands-on experience in a major political campaign,” he added.

But the e-mail made no mention of the interns asking their instructors for permission in advance.

Additional reporting by Beth DeFalco and Yoav Gonen

 

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/local/quinn_kid_plan_weird_but_truant_Al9L6oaaqD2qUU04xxDf9L

Codename ‘Apalachee’

The servers for the EU mission to the United Nations in New York are located on...

The servers for the EU mission to the United Nations in New York are located on the 26th floor. The NSA obtained a floor plan of the offices in the autumn of 2012.

 

 

How America Spies on Europe and the UN

By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach and Holger Stark

President Obama promised that NSA surveillance activities were aimed exclusively at preventing terrorist attacks. But secret documents from the intelligence agency show that the Americans spy on Europe, the UN and other countries.

The European Union building on New York’s Third Avenue is an office tower with a glittering facade and an impressive view of the East River. Chris Matthews, the press officer for the EU delegation to the United Nations, opens the ambassadors’ room on the 31st floor, gestures toward a long conference table and says: “This is where all ambassadors from our 28 members meet every Tuesday at 9 a.m.” It is the place where Europe seeks to forge a common policy on the UN.

To mark the official opening of the delegation’s new offices in September 2012, EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy flew in from Brussels, and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was on hand as guest of honor. For “old” Europe — which finances over one-third of the regular UN budget — this was a confirmation of its geopolitical importance.

For the National Security Agency (NSA), America’s powerful intelligence organization, the move was above all a technical challenge. A new office means freshly painted walls, untouched wiring and newly installed computer networks — in other words, loads of work for the agents. While the Europeans were still getting used to their glittering new offices, NSA staff had already acquired the building’s floor plans. The drawings completed by New York real estate company Tishman Speyer show precisely to scale how the offices are laid out. Intelligence agents made enlarged copies of the areas were the data servers are located. At the NSA, the European mission near the East River is referred to by the codename “Apalachee”.

The floor plans are part of the NSA’s internal documents relating to its operations targeting the EU. They come from whistleblower Edward Snowden, and SPIEGEL has been able to view them. For the NSA, they formed the basis for an intelligence-gathering operation — but for US President Barack Obama they have now become a political problem.

Just over two weeks ago, Obama made a promise to the world. “The main thing I want to emphasize is that I don’t have an interest and the people at the NSA don’t have an interest in doing anything other than making sure that (…) we can prevent a terrorist attack,” Obama said during a hastily arranged press conference at the White House on August 9. He said the sole purpose of the program was to “get information ahead of time (…) so we are able to carry out that critical task,” adding: “We do not have an interest in doing anything other than that.” Afterward, the president flew to the Atlantic island of Martha’s Vineyard for his summer vacation.

Wide Range of New Surveillance Programs

Obama’s appearance before the press was an attempt to morally justify the work of the intelligence agencies; to declare it as a type of emergency defense. His message was clear: Intelligence is only gathered because there is terror — and anything that saves people’s lives can’t be bad. Ever since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, this logic has been the basis for a wide range of new surveillance programs.

With his statement delivered in the White House briefing room, Obama hoped to take the pressure off, primarily on the domestic political front. In Washington the president is currently facing opposition from an unusual alliance of left-wing Democrats and libertarian conservatives. They are supported by veteran politicians like Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, one of the architects of the Patriot Act, which was used to massively expand surveillance in the wake of 9/11. On July 24, a bill that would have curtailed the power of the NSA was only narrowly defeated by 217 to 205 votes in the House of Representatives.

Even stalwart Obama supporters like Democrat Nancy Pelosi, minority leader in the House of Representatives, are now calling into question the work of the intelligence agency. Pelosi says that what she reads in the newspapers is “disturbing.” It wasn’t until late last week that news broke that the NSA had illegally collected tens of thousands of emails over a number of years.

Obama’s public appearance was aimed at reassuring his critics. At the same time, he made a commitment. He gave assurances that the NSA is a clean agency that isn’t involved in any dirty work. Obama has given his word on this matter. The only problem is that, if internal NSA documents are to be believed, it isn’t true.

The classified documents, which SPIEGEL has seen, demonstrate how systematically the Americans target other countries and institutions like the EU, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and the UN. They show how the NSA infiltrated the Europeans’ internal computer network between New York and Washington, used US embassies abroad to intercept communications and eavesdropped on video conferences of UN diplomats. The surveillance is intensive and well-organized — and it has little or nothing to do with counter-terrorism.

Targeting Foreign Governments

In an internal presentation, the NSA sums up its vision, which is both global and frighteningly ambitious: “information superiority.” To achieve this worldwide dominance, the intelligence agency has launched diverse programs with names like “Dancingoasis,” “Oakstar” and “Prism.” Some of them aim to prevent terrorist attacks, while others target things like arms deliveries, drug trafficking and organized crime. But there are other programs, like “Blarney” and “Rampart-T,” that serve a different purpose: that of traditional espionage targeting foreign governments.

Blarney has existed since the 1970s and it falls under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978, at least according to the NSA documents, which state that it is based on the cooperation of at least one US telecommunications company that provides services to the agency. The NSA describes the program’s main targets as “diplomatic establishment, counter-terrorism, foreign government and economic.” These documents also say that Blarney is one of the “top sources” for the President’s Daily Brief, a top-secret document which briefs the US president every morning on intelligence matters. Some 11,000 pieces of information reportedly come from Blarney every year.

No less explosive is the program dubbed “Rampart-T” by the NSA and which, by the agency’s own accounts, has been running since 1991. It has to do with “penetration of hard targets at or near the leadership level” — in other words: heads of state and their closest aides.

This information is intended for “the president and his national security advisors.” Rampart-T is directed against some 20 countries, including China and Russia, but also Eastern European states.

The Americans recently drew up a secret chart that maps out what aspects of which countries require intelligence. The 12-page overview, created in April, has a scale of priorities ranging from red “1” (highest degree of interest) to blue “5” (low interest). Countries like Iran, North Korea, China and Russia are colored primarily red, meaning that additional information is required on virtually all fronts.

But the UN and the EU are also listed as espionage targets, with issues of economic stability as the primary concern. The focus, though, is also on trade policy and foreign policy (each rated “3”) as well as energy security, food products and technological innovations (each rated “5”).

Bugging the EU

The espionage attack on the EU is not only a surprise for most European diplomats, who until now assumed that they maintained friendly ties to the US government. It is also remarkable because the NSA has rolled out the full repertoire of intelligence-gathering tools — and has apparently been taking this approach for many years now. According to an operational overview from September 2010 that is rated “secret,” not only have the Americans infiltrated the EU mission to the UN in New York, but also the EU embassy in Washington, giving the building in the heart of the American capital the code name “Magothy.”

According to this secret document, the NSA has targeted the European missions in three ways:

  • The embassies in Washington and New York are bugged.
  • At the embassy in New York, the hard disks have also been copied.
  • In Washington the agents have also tapped into the internal computer cable network.

 

The infiltration of both EU embassies gave the technicians from Fort Meade an invaluable advantage: It guaranteed the Americans continuous access, even if they temporarily lost contact with one of the systems — due, for instance, to a technical update or because an EU administrator thought that he had discovered a virus.

The embassies are linked via a so-called virtual private network (VPN). “If we lose access to one site, we can immediately regain it by riding the VPN to the other side and punching a whole (sic!) out,” the NSA technicians said during an internal presentation. “We have done this several times when we got locked out of Magothy.”

Of particular note, the data systems of the EU embassies in America are maintained by technicians in Brussels; Washington and New York are connected to the larger EU network. Whether the NSA has been able to penetrate as far as Brussels remains unclear. What is certain, though, is that they had a great deal of inside knowledge from Brussels, as demonstrated by a classified report from the year 2005 concerning a visit by top American diplomat Clayland Boyden Gray at Fort Meade.

‘Best Friends’ at the NSA

Gray was on his way to Brussels as the new US ambassador to the EU. Before he left the country, he was invited by the corresponding NSA department to Fort Meade, where he was allowed to peek inside their treasure chest. The ambassador was “apprised of NSA’s capabilities and limitations in collecting communications in Europe,” the documents note.

 

Gray was presented with a selection of intercepted and bugged reports relating to diplomacy, business and foreign trade along with information on his future contacts at the EU. “I had no idea I would receive such detailed information,” the ambassador said afterwards in amazement, according to NSA documents. That was “fabulous,” he told them, adding: “You people at the NSA are becoming my new best friends.”

Beyond their infiltration of the EU, the Americans are also highly interested in intelligence on the UN and the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA. The IAEA has been given a red “1” in the area of arms control, while the focus at the UN is on foreign policy (“2”) along with human rights, war crimes, environment issues and raw materials (each “3”).

The NSA has its own team stationed at the UN, with each of the specialists disguised as diplomats. A secret crew from Washington regularly comes to town to bolster the team’s ranks before each session of the General Assembly.

But the Americans also eavesdrop wherever possible during the day-to-day — and they have been particularly successful at it for quite some time, as the corresponding department proudly reported in June 2012. In a status report they wrote that they had gained “a new access to internal United Nations communication.”

Spies Spying on the Spies

Furthermore, NSA technicians working for the Blarney program have managed to decrypt the UN’s internal video teleconferencing (VTC) system. The combination of this new access to the UN and the cracked encryption code have led to “a dramatic improvement in VTC data quality and (the) ability to decrypt the VTC traffic,” the NSA agents noted with great satisfaction: “This traffic is getting us internal UN VTCs (yay!).” Within just under three weeks, the number of decrypted communications increased from 12 to 458.

Occasionally this espionage verges on the absurd in a manner that would fit in perfectly with a John le Carré novel. According to an internal report, the NSA caught the Chinese spying on the UN in 2011. The NSA succeeded in penetrating their adversary’s defenses and “tap into Chinese SIGINT (signals intelligence) collection,” as it says in a document that describes how spies were spying on spies. Based on this source, the NSA has allegedly gained access to three reports on “high interest, high profile current events.”

The internal NSA documents correspond to instructions from the State Department, which then-US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton signed off on in July 2009. With the 29-page report called “Reporting and Collection Needs: The United Nations,” the State Department called on its diplomats to collect information on key players of the UN.

According to this document, the diplomats were asked to gather numbers for phones, mobiles, pagers and fax machines. They were called on to amass phone and email directories, credit card and frequent-flier customer numbers, duty rosters, passwords and even biometric data.

When SPIEGEL reported on the confidential cable back in 2010, the State Department tried to deflect the criticism by saying that it was merely helping out other agencies. In reality, though, as the NSA documents now clearly show, they served as the basis for various clandestine operations targeting the UN and other countries.

Experts on the UN have long suspected that the organization has become a hotbed of activity for various intelligence agencies. After leaving Prime Minister Tony Blair’s cabinet, former British Secretary of State for International Development Clare Short admitted that in the run-up to the Iraq War in 2003 she had seen transcripts of conversations by then-UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Snooping on Partners

Short’s statement, which sparked a vehement reaction at the time it was made, has now been confirmed for the first time by the NSA. According to an internal document, the intelligence results had a key influence on “American negotiating tactics at the UN” in connection with the Iraq War. Thanks to the intercepted conversations, the NSA was allegedly able to inform the US State Department and the American Ambassador to the UN with a high degree of certainty that the required majority had been secured before the vote was held on the corresponding UN resolution.

Snooping on negotiating partners is so rewarding that the NSA engages in this activity around the world, and not just on its home turf. There are secret eavesdropping posts in 80 US embassies and consulates around the world, internally referred to as the “Special Collection Service” (SCS) and jointly operated with the CIA.

The presence of these spying units ranks among the agency’s best-guarded secrets. After all, they are politically precarious: There are very few cases in which their use has been authorized by the local host countries.

The small SCS teams (motto: “Vigilantly keeping watch around the world”) intercept communications in their host countries. The required antennas and dishes are usually disguised. According to the documents seen by SPIEGEL, such “concealed collection systems” as they are internally referred to at the NSA, can be hidden behind “roof maintenance sheds” on embassy buildings. Highly classified technical surveillance operations in diplomatic missions such as embassies and consulates are referred to internally in the NSA under the codename “Stateroom.”

The SCS teams are often disguised as diplomats and their actual mission is “not known by the majority of the diplomatic staff.” According to the Snowden documents, such an SCS branch exists in Frankfurt, another one in Vienna. The existence of bugging units in embassies and consulates is to be kept secret under all circumstances, as it says in the material: If it were leaked, this would “cause serious harm to relations between the US and a foreign government.”

‘Thou Shalt Not Get Caught’

With few exceptions, this electronic eavesdropping not only contravenes the diplomatic code, but also international agreements. The Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations of 1946, as well as the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations of 1961, long ago established that no espionage methods are to be used. What’s more, the US and the UN signed an agreement in 1947 that rules out all undercover operations.

But even in UN circles a little bit of spying has always been viewed as a minor offense and, according to statements made by former government employees, the Americans have never paid much attention to the agreements. But this could change with the revelations of US spying on the EU. “The US has violated the 11th commandment of our profession,” says a high-ranking US intelligence official: “Thou shalt not get caught.”

The spying scandal has strained relations between the trans-Atlantic partners more than any other security-policy issue in recent history. The espionage is “absolutely unacceptable,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius inveighed after it became known that the French embassy in Washington was also on the surveillance list. “We cannot negotiate on a large trans-Atlantic market if there is the slightest suspicion that our partners are spying on the offices of our chief negotiator,” European Commissioner for Justice Viviane Reding angrily said.

Even a conservative politician like the chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee at the European Parliament in Brussels, Elmar Brok — a member of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) — spoke of an “enormous loss of trust.” Other parliamentarians have threatened to pressure the US by suspending talks on a free trade agreement, and an EU delegation has traveled to Washington and confronted the Americans with the allegations.

Clean?

The talks are scheduled to resume in September. The litmus test will be whether the American government is prepared to offer the EU a no-spy agreement similar to the one that is currently being negotiated with the German government — and in which both contracting partners pledge not to spy on each other.

Such an agreement can of course also be violated, but it would at least offer the Europeans a modicum of protection. For the Americans, it would mean renouncing exclusive inside views of the EU. It remains to be seen whether the Obama administration is prepared to take this step, despite the president’s solemn statements that the surveillance focuses on counter-terrorism. A spokeswoman for the White House told SPIEGEL that the American government will respond to the allegations “via diplomatic channels,” adding: “We have made it clear that we gather intelligence abroad just like any other nation.”

On Monday of last week, the elevator stopped on the 26th floor of the EU’s building on Third Avenue in New York. Press officer Matthews led the way through the delegation’s working area, located high above the East River. Those seeking access to this zone must pass through checkpoints consisting of a number of doors made of bulletproof glass. Each door only opens after the door that has just been passed through is locked. A few meters further on, on the right, is the server room, where red lights are blinking. The security systems are new and were just installed over the past few weeks after SPIEGEL first reported on attempts to spy on the EU. The EU has launched an investigation, prompting technicians to search for bugs and check the computer network.

In September, America’s Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power will visit the EU offices on third Avenue. The American-European free trade agreement will be on the agenda — but also the espionage affair.

If the European security experts do everything right, it could be that — for the first time in a long time — the Americans won’t know what to expect.

Translated from the German by Paul Cohen

DoD training manual suggests Founding Fathers followed ‘extremist ideology’

 Published time: August 25, 2013 11:41                                                                            

A man is arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protest September 17, 2012 on the one year anniversary of the movement in New York.(AFP Photo / Stan Honda)A man is arrested during the Occupy Wall Street protest September 17, 2012 on the one year anniversary of the movement in New York.(AFP Photo / Stan Honda)

A Department of Defense training manual obtained by a conservative watchdog group pointed to the original American colonists as examples of an extremist movement, comments that have sparked fear of a broader crackdown on dissent in America.

The training manual provides information that describes, among  other things, “common themes in extremist ideologies.”

Now, if the Department of Defense has its way, historical figures  who risked their lives to free America from British colonial rule   – names like Paul Revere, Thomas Paine, Benjamin Franklin and  Samuel Adams – will be rebranded as dangerous extremists,  alongside the likes of skinheads and neo-Nazis.

The first paragraph of the section entitled ‘Extremist  Ideologies’ opens with a statement that has drawn heated  criticism: “In US history, there are many examples of  extremist ideologies and movements. The colonists who sought to  free themselves from British rule and the Confederate states who  sought to secede from the Northern states are just two  examples.”

In America’s early colonial period, many colonists served in  state militias under the direction of the Continental Army in an  effort to free the Thirteen Colonies from British rule. Indeed,  the Second Amendment of the US Constitution clearly states: “A  well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free  state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be  infringed.”

The   document, entitled Equal Opportunity and Treatment Incidents  (EOTI), was obtained on Thursday by Judicial Watch, a watchdog  group, through a Freedom of Information Act request.

The military manual defines extremism as a “term used to  describe the actions or ideologies of individuals or groups who  take a political idea to its limits, regardless of unfortunate  repercussions, and show intolerance toward all views other than  their own.”

Some would argue the military manual invokes a rather broad and  loose definition that may be applied to any number of persons and  organizations, including the Girl Scouts of America, for example,  selling cookies door-to-door.

The manual warns military personnel that “the objectives of  extremist organizations is [are] viewed as detrimental to the  good order, discipline, or mission accomplishment of the unit and  is [are], therefore, subject to appropriate disciplinary  action.”

The manual goes on to discuss “Doomsday thinking” under   “traits or behaviors that tend to represent the extremist  style.”

 

A participant in Occupy Wall Street protest is arrested by police during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the movement in New York.(AFP Photo / Emmanuel Dunand)A participant in Occupy Wall Street protest is arrested by police during a rally to mark the one year anniversary of the movement in New York.(AFP Photo / Emmanuel Dunand)

 

Extremists often predict dire or catastrophic consequences  from a situation or from a failure to follow a specific course,  and they tend to exhibit a kind of crisis-mindedness. It can be a  Communist takeover, a Nazi revival, nuclear war, earthquakes,  floods, or the wrath of God. Whatever it is, it is just around  the corner unless we follow their program and listen to their  special insight and wisdom, to which only the truly enlightened  have access.

Nowadays,” the manual continues, “instead of dressing  in sheets or publicly espousing hate messages, many extremists  will talk of individual liberties, states’ rights, and how to  make the world a better place.”

Many Americans and civil rights groups fear that in the event of  another national emergency, perhaps on the scale of a 9/11, the  US military will take over the role of ‘maintaining law and  order’ inside of American communities. These fears were increased  after US President Barack Obama signed into law on Dec. 31, 2011  the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which grants  sweeping powers to the US military.

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) came out with a harsh  rebuke immediately following passage of the controversial  legislation.

President Obama’s action today is a blight on his legacy  because he will forever be known as the president who signed  indefinite detention without charge or trial into law,” said  Anthony D. Romero, ACLU executive director.

The statute is particularly dangerous because it has no  temporal or geographic limitations, and can be used by this and  future presidents to militarily detain people captured far from  any battlefield.  The ACLU will fight worldwide detention  authority wherever we can, be it in court, in Congress, or  internationally.

The signing of the NDAA nullifies the Posse Comitatus Act, which  worked to prevent the US military from taking over police  functions within local communities.

The US Congress passed a bill (on Jan. 1, 2012, known as the  National Defense Authorization Act) that repeals Posse Comitatus,  which means that we have now institutionalized and codified  martial law,” Congressman Ron Paul told a group of supporters  in June 2012, as reported by Live Leaks. “Right now the battle  against terrorism involves all of us. Everybody in this country  is a potential terrorist.

If you happen to visit a website, or attend a meeting that  contains a particular viewpoint…you can be accused of being a  terrorist and the bill says you have no right to a lawyer,”   Paul added.

In January 2012, a study funded by the Department of Homeland  Security (“Hot Spots of Terrorism and Other Crimes in the  United States, 1970 to 2008”) characterizes Americans who are   “suspicious of centralized federal authority,” and   “reverent of individual liberty” as “extreme  right-wing” terrorists.

Robert Bridge, RT

Bridge is the author of the book,   Midnight in the American Empire, which examines the dangerous  consequences of extreme corporate power in the United States.

 

http://rt.com/usa/us-military-extremism-terrorism-right-963/

US spy agency broke encryption on UN communications – report

Эдвард Сноуден шпион Цру CIA Призма Призм Prism слежка шпионаж США

© Collage: Voice of Russia

The US National Security Agency broke the encryption securing the United Nations’ internal video conferencing at its New York headquarters, German news weekly Der Spiegel reported Sunday, citing secret NSA documents.

0The move provided the agency with “a dramatic improvement of data from video teleconferences and the ability to decrypt this data traffic”, the magazine quoted an NSA document as saying.

0It said the NSA, which for months has been at the centre of revelations by intelligence leaker Edward Snowden, broke the encryption in the summer of 2012 and within nearly three weeks, had bumped up the number of decrypted communications from 12 to 458.

0The NSA, on one occasion, also allegedly caught the Chinese secret services eavesdropping on the UN in 2011, it added, quoting an internal report.

0Der Spiegel also claims that the US agency kept tabs on the European Union after it moved into new offices in New York in September 2012.

0Among documents provided by Snowden were plans of the EU’s premises, which the NSA codenamed “Apalachee”.

0Earlier reports in Der Spiegel and Britain’s the Guardian newspaper had detailed alleged widespread covert surveillance by the NSA of EU offices, including diplomatic missions in Washington and at the United Nations in New York, as well as at the 28-member bloc’s Brussels headquarters.

0The US administration has scrambled to defend spying programmes in the wake of the leaks by Snowden, a former IT contractor at the NSA.

0Revelations about PRISM and other programmes by the NSA to capture and store personal information gleaned from emails, phone calls and web searches have sparked outrage in Europe.

0Snowden received temporary asylum in Russia on August 1 but is wanted by Washington on espionage charges linked to his media disclosures.

0Voice of Russia, AFP

http://voiceofrussia.com/news/2013_08_25/US-spy-agency-broke-encryption-on-UN-communications-report-5674/

 

Cyberspy Network

EEV: I can only specualte why Guccifer’s PDF, as well as other major sources of Intel Compromise are so openly exposed. I am counting on this data being obsolete, or ineffective as the whole world has it by now. Why they would release the names of CIA employee’s as well as others again, is a total mystery to me. I am certain a vast majority of Intel operatives on these public lists are totally unaware, they have been openly compromised.

11 August 2013

This event, co-hosted by the FBI and Fordham University’s International Conference on Cyber Security, on 8 August 2012 in New York City, was closed to the public.

Journalists were allowed entry but could not ask questions; students could.

No full recording of the event has been published.

Fordham University is a top educator and network of spies, the FBI in particular.

Related networks:

3,000+ Members of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance:

Click to access insa-spies-01.pdf

1,400 Council on Foreign Relations Spies:

Click to access guccifer-cfr-spies.pdf

Online Spying Guides:

http://cryptome.org/isp-spy/online-spying.htm

2,619 CIA Sources:

http://cryptome.org/cia-2619.htm

——————————————————————————–

Cyberspy Education

http://www.wnyc.org/articles/wnyc-news/2013/aug/08/nsa-director-defends-surveillance-programs-

cybersecurity-conference/

NSA Director Defends Surveillance Programs at Cybersecurity Conference

Thursday, August 08, 2013

By Daniel P. Tucker : Associate Producer, WNYC News

As the privacy debate continues following revelations about the federal government’s surveillance programs, the director of the National Security Agency is defending his organization’s tactics.

Speaking at an annual cybersecurity conference at Fordham University on Thursday, General Keith Alexander said privacy is safeguarded by the constitution and that the methods used by the NSA do not constitute “domestic spying.”

“No one has willingly or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacy,” he told a room of industry insiders at the fourth annual International Conference on Cyber Security. “There were no mistakes like that at all. I think that’s important to understand.”

Alexander added that Congress could help improve cybersecurity by passing legislation that dictates how the private sector can work with agencies like the CIA, FBI and NSA to defend against cyber attacks.

Network of Spies

http://www.iccs.fordham.edu/program/iccs2013/#ICCS

Keynote and Distinguished Speakers

Gen. Keith B. Alexander

Director

National Security Agency Commander, CYBERCOM

Preet Bharara

United States Attorney

Southern District of New York, United States Department of Justice, New York, NY USA

Michael Chertoff

Former Secretary

United States Department of Homeland Security, Washington, DC USA

Jared Cohen

Founder and Director

Google Ideas, New York, NY

Joseph M. Demarest

Assistant Director

Cyber Division, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Washington, DC USA

Ruby B. Lee, Ph.D.

Forrest G. Hamrick Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science

Princeton University, Princeton, NJ USA

Ian Levy

Technical Director

United Kingdom’s Government Communications Headquarters, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire UK

Kevin Mandia

Chief Executive Officer

Mandiant, Washington, DC USA

Lisa Monaco

Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, Deputy National Security Advisor

The White House, Washington, DC USA

Robert S. Mueller

Director, Federal Bureau of Investigation

Washington, DC USA

George O. Strawn

Director, Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program

National Coordination Office, Washington, DC USA

Plenary and Parallel Speakers

Hira Agrawal

Senior Scientist

Applied Communications Systems

Rich Baich

Executive Vice President, Chief Information Security Officer

Wells Fargo, Charlotte, NC USA

Sean Barnum

Security Principal

The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA USA

Elisa Bertino

Professor of Computer Science

Purdue University

Richard Carback

Principal Researcher and Security Engineer

Charles Stark Draper Laboratories

Robin DeStefano

Co-Lead

Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Five (CNCI-5)

Andre Dornbusch

Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt)

Wiesbaden, Hesse DEU

Stephen R. Flatley

Senior Examiner

Computer Analysis Response Team, Federal Bureau of Investigation, New York, NY USA

Gary J. Gagnon

Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer

The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA USA

Melissa Hathaway

Hathaway Global Strategies, Washington, DC USA

Kristin Heckman, D. Sc.

Lead Scientist

The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA USA

S.S. Iyengar

Director of Research

NuLogix

Merike Kaeo

Security Evangelist

IID

David Knox

Vice President, National Security Group

Oracle, Redwood City, CA USA

Martin Libicki, Ph.D.

Senior Management Scientist

RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, CA USA

Bruce Maggs, Ph.D.

Professor of Computer Science, Duke University, Durham, NC USA and

Vice President for Research, Akamai Technologies, Cambridge, MA USA

Matthew McCabe

Senior Vice President

Marsh

Petros Mouchtaris, Ph, D.

Chief Operating Officer

Applied Communications Science, Basking Ridge, NJ USA

Jonathan Perlstein

Special Agent

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Natalie Runyon

Chief Security Officer

Thomson Reuters, New York, NY USA

Marek Rusinkiewicz, Ph.D.

Professor of Computer Science

Florida International University, University Park, FL USA

Kathryn Scott

Special Agent

Federal Bureau of Investigation

Antonio Scurlock

Co-Lead

Comprehensive National Cybersecurity Initiative Five (CNCI-5)

Shane Snyder

Computer Engineer

U.S. Army CERDEC

Tony Spinelli

Senior Vice President and Chief Security Officer

Equifax, Atlanta, GA USA

Sandra Stanar-Johnson

NSA/CSS Representative

Department of Homeland Security

Frank Stech, Ph. D.

Principal Investigator, Research Projects

The MITRE Corporation, McLean, VA USA

John Stewart

Senior Vice President, Chief Security Officer, Global Government and Corporate Security

Cisco Systems, Inc., San Jose, CA USA

Edward M. Stroz

Co-President

Stroz Friedberg, New York, NY USA

Andras Szakal

Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

IBM, Armonk, NY USA

Emily Vacher

Manager, Trust and Safety

Facebook, Menlo Park, CA USA

Anthony Vigilante

Managing Director and Chief of Technology

MacKay Shields, New York, NY USA

Mauro Vignati

Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance MELANI

Schwarztorstrasse, Bern CHE

Marisa Viveros

Vice President, Cyber Security Innovation

IB

http://cryptome.org/2013-info/08/cyberspy-net/cyberspy-net.htm

NSA gets burned by a sysadmin, decides to burn 90% of its sysadmins

 

Need to end planet-wide-snooping leaks? That’ll do the trick, thinks US spymaster

By       Jasper Hamill

        9th August 2013 11:23 GMT      

The NSA has announced its brainwave to end further leaks about its secret operations by disaffected employees: it will simply sack 90 per cent of all its sysadmins.

The US surveillance agency’s spyboss General Keith Alexander told a computer security conference in New York that automating much of his organisation’s work – such as snooping on anyone with an internet connection – will make it more secure.

The inner workings of the NSA’s massive PRISM and XKEYSCORE programmes were exposed to the world by Edward Snowden, an ex-CIA techie and NSA contractor who had access to highly classified material, along with about 1,000 other sysadmins.

Gen Alexander said: “What we’re in the process of doing – not fast enough – is reducing our system administrators by about 90 percent.”

Until now, the chief spook continued, the NSA has “put people in the loop of transferring data, securing networks and doing things that machines are probably better at doing”.

Replacing these leaky humans with computers would make the spooks’ work “more defensible and more secure”. However, the general said his agency had been planning these changes for some time. He did not refer to Snowden by name while announcing his layoffs.

The head spook has previously discussed security measures employed by the agency, such as the requiring the presence of two people before certain sensitive data can be accessed.

“At the end of the day it’s about people and trust,” Gen Alexander added. “No one [at the NSA] has wilfully or knowingly disobeyed the law or tried to invade your civil liberties or privacies. There were no mistakes like that at all.” ®

 

 

Syrian sharia committee issues fatwa against croissants

Posted By Charles Rollet On 4:03 PM  07/31/2013 In World | No Comments

While the croissant-doughnut or “cronut” is all the rage in New York, some in Syria have pushed back against the famous French component of the trendy new pastry.

A sharia committee in a rebel-controlled part of Aleppo has issued a fatwa condemning croissants due to their “colonial” origins, according to the pan-Arab daily Asharq al-Awsat.

The fatwa, which declared croissants “haram” or forbidden under Islamic law, said the pastries’ trademark crescent shape celebrates European victory over Muslims. Restrictive fatwas have recently proliferated in areas of Syria under Islamist influence.

But perhaps unsurprisingly, the croissant fatwa’s reasoning has been called into question.

Asad Ahmed, associate professor of Arab and Islamic studies at UC Berkeley, told The Daily Caller there was “absolutely no basis” for the fatwa in Islamic law and history.

“It has indeed been the case that, in the past, temporary bans on products — such as tobacco — took place in certain parts of the Muslim world. This was the case because, in such circumstances, these products were considered to be not just a health hazard, but also a commodity of economic and imperial oppression. I am not sure one can say the say of croissants,” said Ahmed.

Follow Charles on Twitter


Article printed from The Daily Caller: http://dailycaller.com

URL to article: http://dailycaller.com/2013/07/31/syrian-sharia-committee-issues-fatwa-against-croissants/

Dominque Strauss Kahn to face trial for pimping / in connection with an alleged prostitution ring at a Lille hotel

French former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn will face trial on pimping charges along with 12 others in connection with an alleged prostitution ring at a Lille hotel, the local prosecutors’ office said on Friday.

Dominique Strauss-Kahn makes French parliament comeback

Dominique Strauss-Kahn was answering questions in his capacity as economic expert  Photo: AFP
Alex Spillius

By , and Agencies

3:16PM BST 26 Jul 2013

Prosecutors had in June called for the charges of “aggravated pimping as part of an organised gang” against Strauss-Kahn to be dropped, but investigating magistrates have decided he should face trial. The charges carry a sentence of up to 10 years.

The 64-year-old former presidential hopeful has admitted attending sex parties there, or what his lawyer called “libertine soirees”, but says he did not know that some of the women were paid prostitutes.

The case is the last of the sex-related allegations faced by Mr Strauss-Kahn, who had begun to re-emerge in the public eye with a speech in parliament and a public outing at the French tennis open with a new girlfriend.

He had faced two years of legal turmoil involving multiple sexual allegations, but has not been convicted for any crime. He was head of the IMF and poised to stand as a Socialist presidential candidate when in 2011 he was accused by a New York chambermaid of attempted rape. He maintained that the sexual act that took place was consensual, but was sued by his accuser, Nafissatou Diallo.

The two sides reached an undisclosed financial settlement late last year, reported to be about £950,000.

Last October, a French prosecutor dropped a criminal investigation connecting Mr Strauss-Kahn to a possible gang rape in Washington DC.

A Belgian woman withdrew her allegations, and said she would not press charges, despite initially insisting that he had attacked her.

Mr Strauss-Kahn faced further allegations two years ago when Tristane Banon, a young Paris writer, said he had tried to rape her in 2003. But prosecutors said the case could not be pursued because of a statute of limitations.

Mr Strauss-Kahn denied the allegations and has since filed a counter claim in France, alleging slander.

Earlier this month, he was involved in a fresh sex scandal, as claims emerged that he tried to assault an Italian television journalist in the late 1990s.

New theory uncovers cancer’s deep evolutionary roots / Cancer is realated to embryo development

Contact: Skip Derra skip.derra@asu.edu 480-965-4823 Arizona State University

 

Tracing cancer back to the dawn of multicellularity could explain its mysterious properties and transform therapy

TEMPE, Ariz. — A new way to look at cancer — by tracing its deep evolutionary roots to the dawn of multicellularity more than a billion years ago — has been proposed by Paul Davies of Arizona State University’s Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science in collaboration with Charles Lineweaver of the Australian National University. If their theory is correct, it promises to transform the approach to cancer therapy, and to link the origin of cancer to the origin of life and the developmental processes of embryos.

Davies and Lineweaver are both theoretical physicists and cosmologists with experience in the field of astrobiology — the search for life beyond Earth. They turned to cancer research only recently, in part because of the creation at Arizona State University of the Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology. The Center is one of twelve established by the National Cancer Institute to encourage physical scientists to lend their insights into tackling cancer.

The new theory challenges the orthodox view that cancer develops anew in each host by a series of chance mutational accidents. Davies and Lineweaver claim that cancer is actually an organized and systematic response to some sort of stress or physical challenge. It might be triggered by a random accident, they say, but thereafter it more or less predictably unfolds.

Their view of cancer is outlined in the article “Exposing cancer’s deep evolutionary roots,” written by Davies. It appears in a special July issue of Physics World devoted to the physics of cancer.

“We envisage cancer as the execution of an ancient program pre-loaded into the genomes of all cells,” says Davies, an Arizona State University Regents Professor. “It is rather like Windows defaulting to ‘safe mode’ after suffering an insult of some sort.” As such, he describes cancer as a throwback to an ancestral phenotype.

The new theory predicts that as cancer progresses through more and more malignant stages, it will express genes that are more deeply conserved among multicellular organisms, and so are in some sense more ancient. Davies and Lineweaver are currently testing this prediction by comparing gene expression data from cancer biopsies with phylogenetic trees going back 1.6 billion years, with the help of Luis Cisneros, a postdoctoral researcher with Arizona State University’s Beyond Center.

But if this is the case, then why hasn’t evolution eliminated the ancient cancer subroutine?

“Because it fulfills absolutely crucial functions during the early stages of embryo development,” Davies explains. “Genes that are active in the embryo and normally dormant thereafter are found to be switched back on in cancer. These same genes are the ‘ancient’ ones, deep in the tree of multicellular life.”

The link with embryo development has been known to cancer biologists for a long time, says Davies, but the significance of this fact is rarely appreciated. If the new theory is correct, researchers should find that the more malignant stages of cancer will re-express genes from the earliest stages of embryogenesis. Davies adds that there is already some evidence for this in several experimental studies, including recent research at Harvard University and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

“As cancer progresses through its various stages within a single organism, it should be like running the evolutionary and developmental arrows of time backward at high speed,” says Davies.

This could provide clues to future treatments. For example, when life took the momentous step from single cells to multicellular assemblages, Earth had low levels of oxygen. Sure enough, cancer reverts to an ancient form of metabolism called fermentation, which can supply energy with little need for oxygen, although it requires lots of sugar.

Davies and Lineweaver predict that if cancer cells are saturated with oxygen but deprived of sugar, they will become more stressed than healthy cells, slowing them down or even killing them. ASU’s Center for the Convergence of Physical Science and Cancer Biology, of which Davies is principal investigator, is planning a workshop in November to examine the clinical evidence for this.

“It is clear that some radically new thinking is needed,” Davies states. “Like aging, cancer seems to be a deeply embedded part of the life process. Also like aging, cancer generally cannot be cured but its effects can certainly be mitigated, for example, by delaying onset and extending periods of dormancy. But we will learn to do this effectively only when we better understand cancer, including its place in the great sweep of evolutionary history.”

‘YOU WORTHLESS LITTLE S***’: Photographer blasted as ‘poor, miserable social climber’ by wealthy Chilean couple who kept nanny ‘as slave’ after he requested payment for his work

  • Email came from Micky Hurley, 35 – a New  York socialite from a prominent Chilean families who called the photographer  ‘lower class’

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 23:31 EST, 21  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 23:31 EST, 21 June 2013

Now a second former employee is complaining  of mistreatment by a wealthy New York City family who refused to pay a  photographer his fee and dismissed him with an offensive, elitist  note.

Malu Custer Edwards, 28, and Micky Hurley,  35, both from well-known families in Chile, first came under fire when their  Chilean nanny filed a suit against them claiming that they kept her ‘as a  virtual slave’ in their Upper East Side apartment and only paid her $2-per-hour  as she worked 12-hour days.

The latest complaint comes from photographer  Roque Rodriguez who asked for $240 following some photography work that he did  for the family in 2009.

His request for payment was met with a  hate-filled email that read: ‘DON’T COME THREATENING ME YOU WORTHLESS LITTLE  S***. NEVER.’

Accusations: Socialites Malu Custer Edwards, 29, left, and Mickey Hurley, 35, right, are being sued by their former nanny and now a former photographer released emails that he exchanged with the husband 

Accusations: Socialites Malu Custer Edwards, 29, left,  and Mickey Hurley, 35, right, are being sued by their former nanny and now a  former photographer released emails that he exchanged with the husband

‘Remember, you are ALWAYS going to be from a  different class, you were born where you were born,’ Hurley wrote, according to  Gawker.

The aristocrat went on to paint a contrast  between their two families, saying that Rodriguez was ‘a great-grandson of a  seamstress.’

The online drama began after Rodriguez shot  some photos of Hurley’s interior design work.

Photographer: Roque Rodriguez requested $240 payment for his work 

Photographer: Roque Rodriguez requested $240 payment for  his work

The New York  Post reports that when Hurley asked  for copies of the images so that he could use them in a magazine spread,  Rodriguez said only if he was paid his fee first.

‘Listen you poor, miserable low-born social  climber. Delete your grubby photos…This is what I get for working with street  trash like you,’ Hurley wrote.

‘Just remember, because you have angered me  you will NEVER work for ANY magazine or newspaper in Chile.’

This tirade comes after the couple’s behavior  was called into question following the publication of a lawsuit filed by their  former nanny.

Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica, 50  alleges she was locked in the socialite couple’s Upper East Side apartment,  physically abused by their three children and forced to work 12 hours a day for  just $2 an hour for three months until she finally mustered the courage to  leave.

She says Malu Custer Edwards, 28, and Hurley,  35, brought her to the U.S. with a fake passport and had her lie to customs  officials about her true intentions in the country.

Villanueva claimed the New York Post that the couple often left her  with only small slices of bread and milk to eat, while they were regulars at the  exclusive French restaurant Balthazar – where entrees run $30 to $45.

The couple denies Villaneuva’s allegations  and are fighting the lawsuit.

‘The claims are completely without merit and  will be fully refuted in court,’ attorney Robin Alperstein told the Post.

 

Villanueva finally  fled the home in March 2011 after one of the children slammed her  head with a  refrigerator door so hard that she nearly lost  consciousness, she alleges.

Villanueva says she began working for Edwards  and Hurley in Chile in December 2010.

They decided to move to New York in January 2011 so Edwards could enroll the the New  School. Villanueva says the couple told her they would pay her $10 an hour and  give her health benefits if she came with them and looked after their three  children, ages 6, 8 and 10.

Upscale: The couple were regulars at the posh French restaurant Balthazar, while Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica claims she often had only milk and bread to eat 

Upscale: The couple were regulars at the posh French  restaurant Balthazar, while Felicitas del Carmen Villanueva Garnica claims she  often had only milk and bread to eat

When she arrived in New York, though, she  alleges the couple began paying her only $800 a month, allegedly claiming no  nanny in New York makes more than $700 a month.

She claims she worked 12 hours a day and had  only one day off in three months.

‘They brought me here to mistreat me,’  Villanueva told the Post. ‘They were telling me I don’t have any rights of any  sort.’

She claims in court documents the job  amounted to ‘forced labor’ and ‘involuntary servitude.’ The Post says  Villanueva was kept as a ‘virtual  slave.’

She alleged in an interview with the Post  that she begged to be sent back to Chile, but the couple refused to let her move  home – saying she signed a two-year contract.

Instead, she claims, she was often locked in  rooms, forced to sleep on the floor.

She says she was promised health care  benefits, but the couple allegedly refused to let her refill her hypertension  medication.

Villaneuva said she was happy working for the  couple when she lived in Chile, but it changed after they brought her to the  U.S. on a fake passport.

Edwards, a graphic designer, is related to  Agustín Edwards McClure, a Chilean diplomat who led the League of Nations in  1922. Hurley, an interior decorator, is a descendant of the country’s founding  settlers and related to opera set designer Pier Luigi Samaritani.

‘All Chile knows them. They come from a  family with lots of resources,’ Villanueva said of Edwards’ family.

Despite the denials from Edwards and Hurley,  the New York Department of Labor ordered the couple to pay Villanueva $6,302 in  back wages in 2011.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2346293/Malu-Custer-Edwards-Micky-Hurley-Photographer-blasted-poor-miserable-social-climber-wealthy-Chilean-couple-kept-nanny-slave-requested-payment-work.html#ixzz2Wxu9m3iK Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

We’ll be uploading our entire MINDS to computers by 2045 and our bodies will be replaced by machines within 90 years, Google expert claims

  • Ray Kurzweil,  director of engineering at Google,  believes we will be able to upload our entire brains to computers within the  next 32 years – an event known as singularity
  • Our ‘fragile’ human body parts will be  replaced by machines by the turn of the century
  • And if these predictions comes true, it  could make humans immortal

By  Victoria Woollaston

PUBLISHED: 09:22 EST, 19  June 2013 |  UPDATED: 09:22 EST, 19 June 2013

In just over 30 years, humans will be able to  upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal – an event  called singularity – according to a futurist from Google.

Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at  Google, also claims that the biological parts of our body will be replaced with  mechanical parts and this could happen as early as 2100.

Kurweil made the claims during his conference  speech at the Global Futures 2045 International Congress in New York at the  weekend.

Scroll down  for video

Ray Kurzweil - director of engineering at Google - claims that by 2045 humans will be able to upload their entire minds to computers and become digitally immortal - an event called singularity 

Ray Kurzweil – director of engineering at Google –  claims that by 2045 humans will be able to upload their entire minds to  computers and become digitally immortal – an event called singularity. He made  the statement at the Global Futures 2045 International Congress in New York

WHAT IS  SINGULARITY?

Technological singularity is the development  of  ‘superintelligence’ brought about through the use of technology.

The first use of the term ‘singularity’ refer  to technological minds was by mathematician John von Neumann. Neumann in the  mid-1950s.

He said: ‘ever accelerating progress of  technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of  approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which  human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.’

The term was then used by science fiction  writer Vernor Vinge who believesbrain-computer interfaces are causes of the  singularity.

Ray Kurzweil cited von Neumann’s use of the  term in a foreword to von Neumann’s classic The Computer and the  Brain.

Kurzweil predicts the singularity to occur  around 2045 while Vinge predicts it will happen before  2030.

The conference was created by Russian  multimillionaire Dmitry Itskov and featured visonary talks about how the world  will look by 2045.

Kurzweil said: ‘Based on conservative  estimates of the amount of computation you need to functionally simulate a human  brain, we’ll be able to expand the scope  of our intelligence a  billion-fold.’

He referred to Moore’s Law that states the  power of computing doubles, on average, every two years quoting the developments  from genetic sequencing and 3D printing.

In Kurweil’s book, The Singularity Is Near,  he plots this development and journey towards singularity in a graph.

 

This singularity is also referred to as  digital immortality because brains and a person’s intelligence will be digitally  stored forever, even after they die.

He also added that this will be possible  through neural engineering and referenced the recent strides made towards  modeling the brain and technologies which can replace biological  functions.

Examples of such technology given  by LiveScience include the cochlear implant – an implant that is attached to the brain’s  cochlear nerve and electronically stimulates it to restore hearing to someone  who is deaf.

Other examples include technology that can  restore motor skills after the nervous system is damaged.

Also at the conference, Ray Kurzweil, pictured, said that 'frail, biological parts' of human bodies will be replaced with 'non-biological' parts in the future.  

Ray Kurzweil, pictured, said that ‘frail, biological parts’ of human bodies will be replaced with ‘non-biological’ parts in the future. He added that the non-biological part will become so powerful it can completely model and understand the biological part and make it redundant

Earlier this year, doctors from Cornell  University used 3D printing to create a prosthetic ear using cells of  cartilage.

A solid plastic mould was printed and then  filled with high-density collagen gel.The researchers then added cartilage cells  into the collagen matrix.

Kurweil was invited to the conference because  he has previously written books around the idea of singularity.

Expanding on this idea Martine Rothblatt, CEO  of biotech company United Therapeutics introduced the idea of  ‘mindclones’.

These are digital versions of humans  that  can live forever and can create ‘mindfiles’ that are a place to store aspects of  our personalities.

She said it would run on a kind of software  for consciousness and told The Huffington  Post: ‘The first company that  develops mindware will have  [as much success as] a thousand  Googles.’

Rothblatt added that the presence of mindware  could lead to replacing other parts of the body with ‘non-biological’ parts.

During Kurzweil's conference talk, and in his book The Singularity Is Near, he refers to Moore's Law of Computing, pictured. 

During Kurzweil’s conference talk, and in his book The  Singularity Is Near, he refers to Moore’s Law of Computing, pictured. The law  claims that the power of computing doubles, on average, every two years which  puts us on course for singularity by 2045

This is a concept that Kurweil also discussed  and was the basis of his book Fantastic Voyage.

In this book he discusses immortality and how  he believes the human body will develop.

He said: ‘We’re going to become increasingly  non-biological to the point where the non-biological part dominates and the  biological part is not important any more.

‘In fact the non-biological part – the  machine part – will be so powerful it can completely model and understand the  biological part. So even if that biological part went away it wouldn’t make any  difference.

 

DIGITAL AVATARS USED TO CURE  SCHIZOPHRENIA

 

An avatar system that can help schizophrenics  control the voices in their heads is being developed by British  researchers.

As part of the therapy, patients create an  avatar by choosing a face and a voice for the person, or persons, they believe  are inside their head.

Therapists can then encourage the patients to  oppose the avatar and force it away, which boosts their confidence in dealing  with their hallucinations.

The first stage in the therapy is for  the  patient to create a computer-based avatar, by choosing the face and  voice of  the entity they believe is talking to them.

The system then synchronises the  avatar’s  lips with its speech, enabling a therapist to speak to the  patient through the  avatar in real-time.

The therapist encourages the patient to  oppose the voice and gradually teaches them to take control of their  hallucinations.

The avatar doesn’t address the patients’  delusions directly but the study found the hallucinations improve as an  overall effect of the therapy.

This is because patients  can interact with the avatar as though it was a real person, because they  have  created it, but they know it cannot harm them.

Many of the voices heard by schizophrenics  threaten to kill or harm them and their family.

‘We’ll also have non-biological bodies – we  can create bodies with nano technology, we can create virtual bodies and virtual  reality in which the virtual reality will be as realistic as the actual reality.

‘The virtual bodies will be as detailed and  convincing as real bodies.

‘We do need a body, our intelligence is  directed towards a body but it doesn’t have to be this frail, biological body  that is subject to all kinds of failure modes.

‘But I think we’ll have a choice of bodies,  we’ll certainly be routinely changing our parent body through virtual reality  and today you can have a different body in something like Second Life, but it’s  just a picture on the screen.

‘Research has shown that people actually  begin to subjectively identify with their avatar.

‘But in the future it’s not going to be a  little picture in a virtual environment you’re looking at. It will feel like  this is your body and you’re in that environment and your body is the virtual  body and it can be as realistic as real reality.

‘So we’ll be routinely able to change our  bodies very quickly as well as our environments. If we had radical life  extension only we would get profoundly bored and we would run out of thing to do  and new ideas.

‘In additional to radical life extension  we’re going to have radical life expansion.

‘We’re going to have million of virtual  environments to explore that we’re going to literally expand our brains – right  now we only have 300 million patterns organised in a grand hierarchy that we  create ourselves.

‘But we could make that 300 billion or 300  trillion. The last time we expanded it with the frontal cortex we created  language and art and science. Just think of the qualitative leaps we can’t even  imagine today when we expand our near cortex again.’

VIDEO: Ray Kurzweil – Immortality by 2045

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2344398/Google-futurist-claims-uploading-entire-MINDS-computers-2045-bodies-replaced-machines-90-years.html#ixzz2Wrb7595l Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

I have watched Barack Obama transform into the security president

During his 10 years as the Observer’s correspondent in America, Paul Harris has seen a new toughness from the once fiery campaigner

Paul Harris contributor jan 2013

 

Paul Harris in New York

The Observer, Saturday 15 June 2013 11.11 EDT

 

Barack Obama 2004

Barack Obama giving the keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. Photograph: Ron Edmonds/AP

It is all too easy to look back on some moments in the past and claim their significance was obvious at the time. That it was clear – even as the event unfolded and you frantically scribbled details down in a notebook – that you were witnessing a historic moment.

Certainly that was the case when Barack Obama gave the keynote address at the 2004 Boston convention that anointed John Kerry as the champion of a Democratic party frantic to defeat George W Bush. Obama – then a state senator from Illinois – delivered one of the finest speeches in modern times. His oratory lit up that dull Boston shindig like 4 July fireworks.

Or at least I remember it that way. The morning after his speech, I trailed Obama through a series of events, seeking an interview. It was too late. He was already becoming a political rock star, viewable only behind a freshly minted posse of minders.

Change happens quickly in America; it is part of the genius of the nation. Four years after that night, Obama was in the White House, having ridden a wave of hope and optimism that made him a global hero and America’s first-ever black president. Four years on again, he would win a second term, defeating Mitt Romney and the Tea Party hordes at his back.

Surely that early promise of Boston had been fulfilled. Everything presaged in that remarkable 2004 speech had come true. I had indeed witnessed history in a glorious moment of its making. Sadly, I now think not.

Over the last two weeks, the world has seen an extraordinary series of revelations about the scale, size and activities of the National Security Agency under Obama’s administration. Though he came to power decrying the secret actions of Bush, Obama has embraced and extended many of the same activities. His NSA uses a secret court system to get permission for its shadowy work, hauls out “metadata” on millions of Americans’ phone calls, taps into the biggest and most powerful internet companies of the information age – Facebook, Skype, YouTube, Yahoo, Google – to monitor and snoop. Its tools have names like Prism and Boundless Informant, as if their inventors were all too aware that they resembled dystopian science fiction.

Yet Obama has flippantly dismissed the controversy. Resorting to the worst tactics of the Bush years, his message is: “Trust us. We’re the good guys.” And then Congress is briefed – in secret, of course – about the “dozens” of terrorist plots such industrial-scale espionage has stopped.

No one in that hall in Boston in 2004 could have imagined that the young, eloquent and inspiring politician would have transformed so dramatically less than a decade later. Yet the age of Obama is not one of hope and change; it is the era of the national security president. Obama has overseen increasing use of drones, in a targeted killing programme across the globe. No doubt they wipe out legitimate targets. But the drones also murder American citizens, such as Anwar al-Awlaki and his son Abdulraman in 2011, with no trial, amid a legal framework that – again – is kept largely secret. They wipe out wedding parties by accident. Any “military-aged male” in a drone strike zone is called a legitimate target, turning the innocent into the guilty to justify death from above. Then there is Guantánamo Bay, that bleeding sore on the face of American civil liberties. It is a tropical gulag of 166 men – more than half cleared for release but still kept behind bars – who are starving themselves out of desperation. Obama promised to close it  down in 2008. He failed. He promised again last month. But nothing has happened. Meanwhile, the regime inside the camp is growing more savage.

Obama has cracked down aggressively on whistleblowers, using the Espionage Act – a hangover from the first world war – more times than all his predecessors combined. He has presided over an explosion of over-classification, as millions of government documents are shuttered away from public eyes. His Department of Justice has collected the phone records of AP journalists and accessed the emails of a Fox News reporter.

It’s the stuff of conspiracy theorist fantasies. But these abuses of power are real and are playing out on the front pages of America’s papers every day. When the IRS searched for conservative groups to target for special treatment, it confirmed the worst fears of every rightwinger in America.

How on earth did we get here from Boston 2004? Bush – a cipher of a politician whose only belief was in his right to rule – surrounded himself with Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, John Bolton and an army of whispering neocons. Obama does not have that excuse. When his staff meets to mull over the latest names in their killing programme – an event dubbed “Terror Tuesdays” – Obama himself is often present.

Neither is Obama ignorant of the law; he’s a constitutional law professor. In turning America into a national security state, the awful truth is that he knows full well what he is doing.

There are three more years of this to come. Involvement in  Syria’s war looms, and more terrorist attacks like the one that hit the Boston marathon could lurk in the future. Where will Obama take America in that time? Judging him on his past actions, I think it will be no place good.

Due to his race, Obama is often cast in the light of America’s civil rights movement and its heroic leader, Martin Luther King. Among King’s most famous words are his hopes that his “four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the colour of their skin, but by the content of their character”.

That dream of King’s was what many believed Obama would one day fulfil. Perhaps he has, just not in the way anyone thought. In 2013 – amid drones, assassinations, mass spying, secret courts and tapping journalists’ phones – it seems that Obama’s race matters less and less, while his inner character is shining through for judgment. It is sorely wanting.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jun/15/broken-promise-barack-obama?guni=Network

 

We want to put a KILL SWITCH into your PHONE, say Feds

 

The only good mobe is a dead mobe

By Bill Ray

Posted in Security, 14th June 2013 11:44 GMT

Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Backup/Recovery

US law enforcement is calling for a mandatory kill switch on all mobiles, enabling the shut down of stolen phones in the hope of rendering them worthless.

Mobile phone theft keeps rising, with one in three US robberies involving mobile kit, apparently. A coalition of US law enforcement agencies calling itself “Secure our Smartphones” is therefore calling for manufacturers to take responsibility for their products – to the point of reaching out and locking them down if they get nicked.

This plays nicely into the hands of Apple, whose latest mobile OS (announced last week) coincidentally has exactly that feature. Samsung has promised something similar, and both Google and Microsoft came along to the Smartphone Summit to talk about the idea.

And it’s not a bad idea. Yet, like all “not-so-bad” ideas, the devil is in the detail.

To reach out to a stolen phone it has to be identifiable, beyond the easily-changed mobile number. All (GSM) phones have an International Mobile Equipment Identifier (IMEI – press *#06# to see it) number, and the majority of mobile networks subscribe to a system which blocks stolen IMEI numbers from their networks.

That system, known as the Central Equipment Identity Register or CEIR, theoretically makes stolen phones useless, but this is assuming that the IMEI hasn’t been changed, the handset isn’t shipped to a developing market which hasn’t coughed up the CEIR fee, and (perhaps most importantly) that the thief knows all this.

Most UK muggings, for example, include the theft of a mobile phone, but it’s rarely the phone the thieves want. They’ve read about tracking and hidden camera apps [1], and few of them have the technical nous to spot such a thing.

The purpose of stealing the handset and then discarding it is to delay pursuers, thus providing more time during which stolen credit cards and other spoils can be turned into cash.

But that can skew the crime figures, making it look as though mobile theft is reaching the epidemic proportions described by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman.

That’s not to say stolen phones are without value. Changing the IMEI of a phone is illegal in the UK (even advertising one’s ability to perform the act is against the law) but on most handsets it remains possible.

Once it has been changed, the phone can be used anywhere. Failing that, there’s always a market in the dwindling number of countries who’ve not yet implemented CEIR, despite international pressure.

Manufacturers could make it all but impossible to change the IMEI. That would address many of the issues, but it wouldn’t give them greater control over their customers and an excuse to stay in touch throughout the life of the product (“send in your warranty documents or we’ll kill the phone, and be sure to tell us if you decide to sell it on”).

For Apple this is perfect, and the timing couldn’t have been better – though the consortium is reserving judgment on iOS7 [2] until it has been seen in action.

The surprise absentee from the list of firms considering implementing a killswitch function is BlackBerry, whose infrastructure and customer relationships makes this eminently practical and already available.

But if one discovered that thefts of BlackBerry devices were just as high as the rest, that would make this whole “Save our Smartphones” consortium look like a pointless political exercise. Perish the thought. ®

Study links chemicals widely found in plastics and processed food to elevated blood pressure in children and teens

Contact: Lorinda Klein lorindaann.klein@nyumc.org 212-404-3533 NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

Data from nearly 3,000 children shows dietary exposure to certain plastics may play a hidden role in epidemic increases in childhood hypertension

NEW YORK, May 22, 2013. Plastic additives known as phthalates (pronounced THAL-ates) are odorless, colorless and just about everywhere: They turn up in flooring, plastic cups, beach balls, plastic wrap, intravenous tubing and—according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the bodies of most Americans. Once perceived as harmless, phthalates have come under increasing scrutiny. A growing collection of evidence suggests dietary exposure to phthalates (which can leech from packaging and mix with food) may cause significant metabolic and hormonal abnormalities, especially during early development.

Now, new research published this Wednesday in the Journal of Pediatrics suggests that certain types of phthalates could pose another risk to children: compromised heart health. Drawing on data from a nationally representative survey of nearly 3,000 children and teens, researchers at NYU Langone Medical Center, in collaboration with researchers at the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine, have documented for the first time a connection between dietary exposure to DEHP (di-2-ethyhexylphthalate), a common class of phthalate widely used in industrial food production, and elevated systolic blood pressure, a measure of pressure in the arteries when the heart contracts.

“Phthalates can inhibit the function of cardiac cells and cause oxidative stress that compromises the health of arteries. But no one has explored the relationship between phthalate exposure and heart health in children” says lead author Leonardo Trasande, MD, MPP, associate professor of pediatrics, environmental medicine and population health at NYU Langone Medical Center. “We wanted to examine the link between phthalates and childhood blood pressure in particular given the increase in elevated blood pressure in children and the increasing evidence implicating exposure to environmental exposures in early development of disease.”

Hypertension is clinically defined as a systolic blood-pressure reading above 140 mm Hg. It’s most common in people over 50 years old, although the condition is becoming increasingly prevalent among children owing to the global obesity epidemic. Recent national surveys indicate that 14 percent of American adolescents now have pre-hypertension or hypertension. “Obesity is driving the trend but our findings suggest that environmental factors may also be a part of the problem,” says Dr. Trasande. “This is important because phthalate exposure can be controlled through regulatory and behavioral interventions.”

Researchers from NYU School of Medicine, the University of Washington and Penn State University School of Medicine examined six years of data from a nationally representative survey of the U.S. population administered by the National Centers for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Phthalates were measured in urine samples using standard analysis techniques. Controlling for a number of potential confounders, including race, socioeconomic status, body mass index, caloric intake and activity levels, the researchers found that every three-fold increase in the level of breakdown products of DEHP in urine correlated with a roughly one-millimeter mercury increase in a child’s blood pressure. “That increment may seem very modest at an individual level, but on a population level such shifts in blood pressure can increase the number of children with elevated blood pressure substantially,” says Dr. Trasande. “Our study underscores the need for policy initiatives that limit exposure to disruptive environmental chemicals, in combination with dietary and behavioral interventions geared toward protecting cardiovascular health.”

###

 

This research was made possible through the generous support of KiDs of NYU Langone, an organization of parents, physicians, and friends that supports children’s health services at New York University Langone Medical Center through philanthropy, community service, and advocacy.

About NYU Langone Medical Center

NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class, patient-centered, integrated, academic medical center, is one on the nation’s premier centers for excellence in clinical care, biomedical research and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is composed of four hospitals – Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute care facility; the Hospital for Joint Diseases, one of only five hospitals in the nation dedicated to orthopaedics and rheumatology; Hassenfeld Pediatric Center, a comprehensive pediatric hospital supporting a full array of children’s health services; and Rusk Rehabilitation, ranked the best rehabilitation program in New York and one of the top ten in the country since 1989, when U.S. News & World Report introduced its annual “Best Hospitals” rankings– plus NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. The medical center’s tri-fold mission to serve, teach and discover is achieved 365 days a year through the seamless integration of a culture devoted to excellence in patient care, education and research. For more information, go to http://www.NYULMC.org

Study suggests US children born outside the United States have lower risk of allergic disease

Contact: Richard Bory rbory@chpnet.org 212-523-6069 The JAMA Network Journals

 

 

A study by Jonathan I. Silverberg, M.D., Ph.D., M.P.H., of St. Luke’s—Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York,  and colleagues suggests children living the in the United States but born outside the U.S. have a lower prevalence of allergic disease that increases after residing in the United States for one decade. (Online First)

The cross-sectional questionnaire used for the study was distributed to 91,642 children aged 0 to 17 years enrolled in the 2007-2008 National Survey of Children’s Health. The main outcomes measured were prevalence of allergic disease, including asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies.

According to the study results, children born outside the United States had significantly lower odds of any atopic disorders than those born in the United States, including ever-asthma, current-asthma, eczema, hay fever, and food allergies. Children born outside of the United States whose parents were also born outside the United States had significantly lower odds of any atopic disorders than those whose parents were born in the United States. Children born outside the United States who lived in the United States for longer than 10 years when compared with those who resided for only 0 to 2 years had significantly higher odds of developing any allergic disorders, including eczema and hay fever, but not asthma or food allergies.

“In conclusion, foreign-born Americans have significantly lower risk of allergic disease than US-born Americans. However, foreign-born Americans develop increased risk for allergic disease with prolonged residence in the United States,” the study concludes.

###

(JAMA Pediatr. Published online April 29, 2013. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2013.1319. Available pre-embargo to the media at http://media.jamanetwork.com.)

Editor’s Note: Please see the articles for additional information, including other authors, author contributions and affiliations, financial disclosures, funding and support, etc.

Is the White House Correspondents’ dinner being dumbed down? Tom Brokaw blasts low-brow guest-list of latest ‘nerd prom’

By  Meghan Keneally

PUBLISHED: 23:18 EST, 26  April 2013 |  UPDATED: 23:47 EST, 26 April 2013

The White House Correspondents’ Dinner is an  annual tradition where Washington’s political elite and the journalists that  cover them commune for some laughs, but some are smirking at the other guests  who are making the cut.

NBC’s Tom Brokaw, one of the best-respected  living journalists, announced that he is boycotting this year’s event because it  has become too much of a Hollywood spectacle.

He even pointed to actress Lindsay Lohan as  the tipping point, saying that when she was invited as a guest of Fox News, he  felt enough was enough.

Out of hand: Longtime NBC journalist Tom Brokaw is speaking out about the White House Correspondents' Dinner, saying that it has turned too 'Hollywood'Out of hand: Longtime NBC journalist Tom Brokaw is  speaking out about the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, saying that it has  turned too ‘Hollywood’

reallyTipping point: Brokaw wasn't in attendance at last year's function where Lindsay Lohan was seen as a 'star guest', but he spoke out about it afterwards saying that it was wrong

Tipping point: Brokaw wasn’t in attendance at last  year’s function where Lindsay Lohan was seen as a ‘star guest’, but he spoke out  about it afterwards saying that it was wrong

‘The breaking point for me was Lindsay  Lohan,’ he told Politico  on Friday, the day before the dinner.

‘She became a big star at the White House  Correspondents’ Dinner. Give me a break.’

The tradition of news outlets bringing some  boldface names to their tables began when the cast of Saturday Night Live was  brought down from New York to D.C. in the mid-1970s.

That pairing seemed fair, the newsman deemed,  because they devoted so much of their show to political satire, but the guest  list has deviated in the following decades.

He said that the optics of the evening are  particularly jarring, especially when public opinion of both politicians and  journalists is low, and he decided to stop going when there was too much  ‘sophomoric humor, a lot of people drinking way too much’.

Political reality: Kim and Kris Kardashian were invited by Fox and were the butt of some jokes in the speechesPolitical reality: Kim and Kris Kardashian were invited  by Fox and were the butt of some jokes in the speeches

Apolitical: Actresses Kate Hudson and Charlize Theron were in attendance in 2012 and Joan Rivers in 2011Apolitical: Actresses Kate Hudson and Charlize Theron were in attendance in 2012 and Joan Rivers in 2011Apolitical: Actress Kate Hudson, singer Cee Lo Green, and actress Charlize Theron were all in attendance in 2012

Apolitical: Actresses Kate Hudson and Charlize Theron  were in attendance in 2012 and Joan Rivers in 2011

Strange bedfellows: Actress Sofia Vergara was seated next to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2012Strange bedfellows: Actress Sofia Vergara was seated  next to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2012

‘It became more of a tabloid kind of dinner,’  he told Politico.

Among the ‘Page Six’ stars who have been  taken as guests in the past are Kim and Kris Kardashian, Kate Hudson, Reese  Witherspoon, the casts of both Glee and Modern Family.

‘What a collection of people! Here in one  room we have members of the media, politicians, corporate executives,  advertisers, lobbyists and celebrities: everything that is wrong with America is  here in this room tonight,’ comedian host Jimmy Kimmel said at last year’s  dinner.

Brokaw is certainly not the first to protest  the coziness of the dinner.

Cozy: One of the problems that some in the media have with the dinner is that it shows a close relationship between politicians and stars rather than the people. Jimmy Kimmel was the comedian of choice in 2012Cozy: One of the problems that some in the media have  with the dinner is that it shows a close relationship between politicians and  stars rather than the people. Jimmy Kimmel was the comedian of choice in  2012

Understandable: George Clooney and Kerry Washington, who both attended in 2012, made sense because they campaigned for the President and are active in certain political causesUnderstandable: George Clooney and Kerry Washington, who both attended in 2012, made sense because they campaigned for the President and are active in certain political causes

Understandable: George Clooney and Kerry Washington, who  both attended in 2012, made sense because they campaigned for the President and  are active in certain political causes

The New York  Times announced that they would not  be sending any journalists to the dinners starting in 2008 because they felt it  shows the ‘crystallization of the press’s failures in the post-9/11  era’.

That doesn’t stop the Grey Lady’s journalists  from heading to the afterparties, as David Carr reported how cavorted with  director Judd Apatow, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and Academy Award winner  George Clooney.

Coming back: Actresses Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson, who both attended in 2012, will be back this yearComing back: Actresses Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett Johansson, who both attended in 2012, will be back this year

Coming back: Actresses Reese Witherspoon and Scarlett  Johansson, who both attended in 2012, will be back this year

This year’s guest-list is expected to be  similarly packed, with Michael Douglas, Nicole Kidman, Stephen Spielberg and the  cast of hit political drama House of Cards including Kevin Spacey and Robin  Wright. Scarlett Johansson and Reese Witherspoon are making a repeat appearance  on Saturday.

Another returning customer will be Conan  O’Brien, the headliner for the 2013 dinner. He previously performed at the  dinner in 1995 when President Bill Clinton was in office.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2315617/Tom-Brokaw-blasts-White-House-Correspondents-Dinner-saying-fact-Lindsay-Lohan-invited-political-event-breaking-point.html#ixzz2RgTxdiv7 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Chinese National who had his Merecedes Car-Jacked by Boston Bombers did not recognize the suspects in a ‘drive-by lineup,’

‘Girls, the marvels of the Mercedes ML 350 and whether anyone still listens  to CDs’: Terrified car-jacking victim reveals the light-hearted jokes of  Boston bombers

  • A Chinese  internet entrepreneur has spoken about being held against his will by the Boston  bombers
  • Danny says he  heard the brothers discuss driving to New York as well as more mundane matters  such as asking about payments on his Mercedes
  • He feared  for his life and grabbed his opportunity to escape when they stopped for gas at  a Shell Service Station

PUBLISHED: 00:37 EST, 26  April 2013 |  UPDATED: 03:54 EST, 26 April 2013

A 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur  has  spoken about his life-threatening meeting with the Boston bombers after  they  carjacked his Mercedes last Thursday evening.

The incident occurred at almost  11p.m. when  the man, who has asked to only be identified by his American nickname Danny, had  just pulled his car to the curb on  Brighton Avenue, Boston.

While Danny was texting, a man in dark clothes approached his car and knocked on the window. Before the driver could  react the man had unlocked the door, climbed in and was brandishing a  silver  handgun, according to the Boston  Globe.

Scroll down for video

On the run: A man thought to be 19-year-old Dzhokhar Tsarnaev enters a gas station in Cambridge, Massachusetts, wearing a gray hoodie and carrying snacks on Thursday evening. He appears to be followed by her brother Tamerlan in a beige capOn the run: A man thought to be 19-year-old Dzhokhar  Tsarnaev enters a gas station in Cambridge, Massachusetts, wearing a gray hoodie  and carrying snacks on Thursday evening. He appears to be followed by her  brother Tamerlan in a beige cap

Chilling: Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, now wearing a beige cap, captured on camera using an ATM card hours before a police shoot-out where his brother and accomplice died Chilling: Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar  Tsarnaev, now wearing a beige cap, captured on camera using an ATM card hours  before a police shoot-out where his brother and accomplice died

The man, who would later be  identified as  Tamerlan Tsarnaev, 26, asked Danny if he had followed the news  about Monday’s  Boston Marathon bombings.

‘I did that,’ said the man. ‘And I just  killed a policeman in Cambridge.’

Danny  says he has been able to fill in important blanks between the  murder of MIT  police officer Sean Collier, just before 10:30 p.m. on  April 18, and the  Watertown shootout that ended just before 1 a.m. with  the death of Tamerlan  Tsarnaev and the serious wounding of his brother  Dzhokhar, 19.

Danny has described a truly harrowing ordeal  which included a bizarre mix of bursts of life-threatening violence and everyday  conversation on mundane subjects such as girls, how much  payments on his  Mercedes ML 350 were, the iPhone5 and whether anyone still  listens to  CDs.

At one point Tamerlan told Danny not to look  at his face, to he said he would not remember his face.

The bomb suspect replied: “It’s like white  guys, they look at black guys and think all black guys look the same. And maybe  you think all white guys look the same.’

In another moment during the carjacking, the  suspects were disappointed that Danny did not have any CDs in his car. They  flipped through the radio avoiding news stations and later put on a CD of  chating after they had made a stop.

Escape: The two bombing suspects pulled up at the Shell gas station to use a stolen ATM card from a man they had taken hostage. He managed to escape to the Mobil gas station across the street and call for help (right)Escape: The two bombing suspects pulled up at the Shell  gas station to use a stolen ATM card from their hostage Danny. He managed to  escape to the Mobil gas station across the street and call for help  (right)

Trapped: With his head down and wearing a cap, the suspected terrorist withdraws money from the machine hours after a surveillance picture of him had been beamed around the worldTrapped: With his head down and wearing a cap, the  suspected terrorist withdraws money from the machine hours after a surveillance  picture of him had been beamed around the world

To begin with Danny was driving his  car with  Tamrlan in the passenger seat beside him, while Dzhokhar  following behind in a  sedan. Later the brother’s moved all the gear into Danny’s car and Tamrlan drove.

The late-night drive lasted an hour and a  half. At one stage during his ordeal, Danny  says a friend called him on his  phone and he was told by Tamerlan that he would be killed if he spoke to the  person in Chinese.

‘Death is so close to me,’ said Danny,  recalling his thinking at the time. ‘I don’t want to die.’

‘I have a lot of dreams that haven’t come  true yet,’ said the student from central China, who attended a graduate school  at Northeastern University before joining a tech start-up company.

After the shootout: Investigators take a look at a car driven by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects after they exchanged gunfire on a residential street in WatertownAfter the shootout: Investigators take a look at the  stolen car driven by the Boston Marathon bombing suspects after they exchanged  gunfire on a residential street in Watertown

Danny had come to the US in 2009 for a  master’s degree and graduated in January 2012, before returning to China to  await a work visa.

He had returned two months ago, however he  chose to told Tamerlan that he was still a student and had been in the U.S.  barely a year.

He says the brothers had some difficulty  understanding his English when he tried to tell them he was from  China.

‘Oh, that’s why your English is not very  good,’ said Tamerlan. ‘OK, you’re Chinese… I’m a Muslim.’

‘Chinese are very friendly to Muslims!’ Danny  said. ‘We are so friendly to Muslims.’

Danny also revealed that could hear the  brothers openly discussing driving to New York, although he couldn’t  make out  if they were planning another attack or just looking to escape.

Fortunately for Danny there was a problem  because his  car was almost out of gas and then a set of circumstances played  out which afforded him  an opportunity to escape his captors.

In search of petrol they stopped at a Shell  Station, but younger brother Dzhokhar was forced to go inside the  Shell Food  Mart to pay for petrol.

When older brother Tamerlan put his  gun in  the door pocket to fiddle with a navigation device, Danny seized  his moment to  escape.

‘I was thinking I must do two things:  unfasten my seatbelt and open the door and jump out as quick as I can. If I  didn’t make it, he would kill me right out, he would kill me right away’.

Deadly shootout: In a gun battle where over 200 shots were fired, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was hit multiple timesDeadly shootout: In a gun battle where over 200 shots  were fired, 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev was hit multiple times

He unbuckled his seat belt, opened  the door,  then slammed it behind, and sprinted off at an angle that  would be a hard shot  for any marksman.

‘F***!’ he heard Tamerlan say, but the man  did not follow.

Danny reached the safe haven of a Mobil  station across the street and sought cover in a supply room, while he shouted  at the clerk to call 911.

Authorities have said that Danny’s quick-thing escape allowed police to swiftly track down the Mercedes, abating a possible attack by the brothers on New York City and precipitating a wild shootout in Watertown that killed Tamerlan and left a severely injured Dzhokhar hiding in the neighborhood.

After an hour of talking to police — as the  shootout and manhunt erupted in Watertown –Danny was brought to East Watertown  for a ‘drive-by lineup,’ studying faces of detained suspects in the street from  the safety of a cruiser.

He did not recognize the suspects in the  line-up. He spent the night talking to local and state police and the FBI before  being dropped at home at 3p.m. the next afternoon.

Danny said, when he was back in Cambridge,  after questioning, ‘I think, Tamerlan is dead, I feel good, obviously safer. But  the younger brother — I don’t know.’

Danny had wondered if Dzhokhar had  discovered his address and would come looking for him. But the police knew the  wallet and registration were still in the bullet-riddled Mercedes, and that a  wounded Dzhokhar could not have gone far.

That night, Dzhokhar was caught, ending a  harrowing week across Greater Boston and in particular for  Danny.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2315047/Car-jacking-victim-reveals-light-hearted-banter-Boston-bombers.html#ixzz2RdGzJA3i Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Bloomberg: New Yorkers will ‘never know where our cameras are’

Published time: April 26, 2013 22:49                           

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visits the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative on April 23, 2013 in New York City. (AFP Photo / John Moore)

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg visits the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative on April 23, 2013 in New York City. (AFP Photo / John Moore)

New York City police officials intend to expand the already extensive use of surveillance cameras throughout town. The plan, unveiled Thursday, comes as part of a drive for increased security around the US following the Boston Marathon attack.

New York City Police Department Commissioner Ray Kelly announced the plan during a press conference with Mayor Michael Bloomberg, in which the two announced that the suspected Boston Marathon bombers were planning to attack New York next. The pair said they hope to discourage criminals by using so-called “smart cameras” that will aggregate data from 911 alerts, arrest records, mapped crime patterns, surveillance cameras and radiation detectors, among other tools, according to The Verge.

You’re never going to know where all of our cameras are,” Bloomberg told reporters gathered outside City Hall. “And that’s one of the ways you deter people; they just don’t know whether the person sitting next to you is somebody sitting there or a detective watching.”

Kelly said the Domain Awareness System, nicknamed “the dashboard,” would centralize already existing data captured on the between 3,500 and 6,000 cameras already placed throughout the city with new technology developed in conjunction with Microsoft. The project is expected to take three years to complete and cost between $40 and $50 million.

Police and private security personel monitor security cameras at the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative on April 23, 2013 in New York City. (AFP Photo / John Moore)

Police and private security personel monitor security cameras at the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative on April 23, 2013 in New York City. (AFP Photo / John Moore)

 

The commissioner previously said that at least 16 terror plots had been thwarted in New York City since the attack on September 11, 2001, asserting that such  law enforcement success show that the surveillance tools put in place since then have been effective. His boast came in the face of the New York Civil Liberties Union and similar privacy advocates who have asked for more transparency on the issue of police monitoring.

The privacy issue has really been taken off the table,” Kelly said Thursday. “I don’t think people are concerned about it. I think people accept it in a post-9/11 world.”

Mayor Bloomberg agreed, using the press conference to slam the “special interests” who have objected to his policies. The American Civil Liberties Union, for one, has criticized Bloomberg’s administration for installing thousands of cameras in Lower Manhattan in a surveillance initiative that has since expanded north through Midtown.

The role of surveillance cameras played in identifying the suspects was absolutely essential to saving lives, both in Boston, and now we know here in New York City,” the mayor said Thursday. “We’ve made major investments in camera technology – notwithstanding the objections of some special interests.”

People are all worried about privacy,” he continued. “Yes, it is a concern, but given the balance you have between keeping people safe and total privacy, the direction the whole world is going is more cameras and better-quality cameras.”

 

http://rt.com/usa/bloomberg-never-know-where-cameras-477/

U.S. sues Novartis over kickbacks, 2nd case this week : The $10,000 Dinner for 3

Source: Reuters – Fri, 26 Apr 2013 08:44 PM

Author: Reuters

* Second civil fraud lawsuit by U.S. in four days

* U.S. says Novartis sought to boost sales of drugs

* Dinners held at pricey Chicago, D.C. restaurants

* Novartis disputes claims, says will defend itself

By Jonathan Stempel

NEW YORK, April 26 (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Friday announced its second civil fraud lawsuit against Novartis AG in four days, accusing a unit of the Swiss drugmaker of paying multimillion-dollar kickbacks to doctors in exchange for prescribing its drugs.

Authorities said the Basel-based company for a decade lavished healthy speaking fees and “opulent” meals, including a nearly $10,000 dinner for three at the Japanese restaurant, Nobu, to induce doctors to prescribe its drugs.

They said this led to the Medicare and Medicaid programs paying millions of dollars in reimbursements based on kickback-tainted claims for medication such as hypertension drugs Lotrel and Valturna and the diabetes drug Starlix.

The charges are detailed in a whistleblower lawsuit first filed against Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp by a former sales representative in January 2011 and which the U.S. government has now joined.

Twenty-seven U.S. states, the District of Columbia and the cities of New York and Chicago are also plaintiffs in the lawsuit, which seeks triple damages under the federal False Claims Act.

“Novartis corrupted the prescription drug dispensing process,” U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara in Manhattan said in a statement. “For its investment, Novartis reaped dramatically increased profits on these drugs, and Medicare, Medicaid, and other federal healthcare programs were left holding the bag.”

On Tuesday, the government accused Novartis of inducing pharmacies to switch thousands of kidney transplant patients to its immunosuppressant drug Myfortic in exchange for kickbacks disguised as rebates and discounts.

Novartis spokeswoman Julie Masow said the company disputes the claims in both lawsuits and will defend itself. She also said physician speaker programs are “an accepted and customary practice” in the industry.

People who file whistleblower lawsuits, sometimes known as “qui tam” lawsuits, on behalf of the government under the False Claims Act share in recovered damages.

The United States does not participate in all such lawsuits, but often joins cases it believes have greater merit.

The original lawsuit against East Hanover, New Jersey-based Novartis Pharmaceuticals was filed by Oswald Bilotta, who now lives in North Carolina. He did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“We believe that Novartis’ alleged payment of kickbacks is yet another example of abuse in the pharmaceutical industry that contributes to skyrocketing medical costs,” James Miller, a partner at Shepherd, Finkelman, Miller, and Shah in Chester, Connecticut representing Bilotta, said in a statement.

A $9,750 DINNER

According to the complaint, from January 2002 to November 2011, Novartis often paid doctors to speak about its drugs and programs that were supposed to have educational purposes, but which in reality were often social occasions or not held at all.

Authorities said that for Lotrel, Valturna and Starlix alone, the company spent nearly $65 million and conducted more than 38,000 speaker programs over the decade.

The complaint describes a variety of alleged improper programs, including seven at Hooters restaurants that Novartis sales representatives attended, and pricey meals to which Novartis allegedly treated doctors.

Among these meals were dinners at high-end Chicago restaurants such as Japonais and L20, a $2,016 dinner for three at Smith & Wollensky in Washington, D.C. and the $9,750 dinner for three at Nobu in Dallas in December 2005.

Satow, the Novartis spokeswoman, said speaker programs are “promotional programs” designed to inform physicians how to use the company’s medicines.

Novartis “invests significant time and resources to help ensure these programs are conducted in an ethical and responsible manner,” she said. “We are dedicated to doing it right.

Bilotta filed his lawsuit four months after Novartis in September 2010 agreed to pay $422.5 million to resolve criminal and civil liability over its marketing of several drugs, including the epilepsy drug Trileptal.

The case is U.S. ex rel. Bilotta v. Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York, No. 11-00071.

http://www.trust.org/item/20130426204414-nx7or/?source = hpbreaking

 

They talked about girls, credit limits and whether anyone listens to CDs any more: Boston carjack victim breaks silence over harrowing 90 minutes with bomb suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev

EEV: Article quote ” Danny’s refusal at giving his full Chinese name is telling of his humility, wary of attracting too much attention “

Chinese entrepreneur known only as Danny recalls night of terror that sparked 9,000-strong manhunt

Steve Anderson

Friday, 26 April 2013

The man taken hostage by the Boston bombing suspects last week has broken his silence on the harrowing 90 minutes he spent with the brothers in a carjacking that sparked a city-wide manhunt and his miraculous escape from those who were briefly America’s most wanted men.

The 26-year-old Chinese entrepreneur, giving only his American nickname ‘Danny’, described how the ordeal began when he pulled up to a curb just outside of Cambridge in his rented Mercedes to answer a phone call last Thursday night at around 11pm.

Speaking to The Boston Globe newspaper, Danny said that an old saloon screeched to a halt behind his car before a black-clad man appeared beside him and rapped on the window. As Danny opened the window to hear better, the man reached in and unlocked the door, revealing a silver handgun, before climbing into the car.

The man was 26-year-old Tamerlan Tsarnaev, who was wanted in connection with the Boston marathon bombings earlier that week.

Tamerlan asked if Danny had been following the news about the bombings. “I did that,” he told Danny. “And I just killed a policeman in Cambridge.”

Tamerlan then ordered Danny to drive, giving him directions to follow through the suburban streets. At first, ‘suspect number 2’ – later identified as Tamerlan’s 19-year-old brother Dzhokhar – was following in a second car, but he later joined in the back of the Mercedes.

Describing his time spent in the car with the men, Danny recalls thinking: “Death is so close to me… I don’t want to die. I have a lot of dreams that haven’t come true yet.”

During the hour-and-a-half circling the suburbs of Boston, Danny says the bomb suspects talked of the most mundane things – girls, credit limits for students, the marvels of the Mercedes-Benz ML 350, the iPhone­ 5, whether anyone still listens to CDs.

The pair openly discussed driving to New York. Danny said at one point they spoke in a foreign language, with “Manhattan” being the only word he could make out.

Tamerlan asked Danny if the car could be driven out of state. Asked what he meant, one brother replied: “Like New York.”

When a friend tried to contact Danny, first texting him in Mandarin and then calling him, Tamerlan ordered him to reply to his questions in English, saying he was ill and spending the night with a friend.

“If you say a single word in Chinese, I will kill you right now,” Tamerlan had said.

Danny had first come to the US in 2009 for his master’s degree and graduated in January last year. After briefly returning to China to wait for a visa he returned to America two months ago.

He had told Tamerlan he was still a student and had barely been there a year.

“Oh, that’s why your English is not very good,” the brother had replied, finally figuring it out. “OK, you’re Chinese . . . I’m a Muslim.”

“Chinese are very friendly to Muslims!” Danny had said. “We are so friendly to Muslims.”

After being threatened with guns by both brothers as Tamerlan zigzagged the car through the outskirts of the city, Danny’s saving grace came in the form of a Shell petrol station.

The car was running low on fuel so Tamerlan pulled over. Having coaxed Danny’s PIN number from him earlier, Dhokhar went inside to pay with his credit card before returning after being told it was a cash only till.

Tamerlan handed him some cash, and as the younger brother disappeared inside to pay the older one put his gun in a door pocket and began to fiddle with a navigation device.

Knowing this split second was his chance, Danny unbuckled his seat belt, opened the door, jumped out and began to sprint away in a direction which would be awkward for Tamerlan to fire in.

“I was thinking I must do two things: unfasten my seat belt and open the door and jump out as quick as I can. If I didn’t make it, he would kill me right out, he would kill me right away,” Danny told the Globe. “I just did it. I did it very fast, using my left hand and right hand simultaneously to open the door, unfasten my seat belt, jump out . . . and go.”

Tamerlan had tried to grab him and failed, shouting as Danny fled.

Danny ran across the forecourt towards the lights of a nearby Mobil petrol station, where he hid in the supply room, shouting at the cashier to call the police.

The brothers took off in the Mercedes. Shortly after they would be involved in a shootout with police that killed Tamerlan and left an officer seriously injured. Dhokhar would escape badly hurt before being found almost 20 hours later hiding in boat in a back garden after a 9,000-strong manhunt across the wider city area.

Police praise Danny’s quick thinking, saying it allowed police to swiftly track the Mercedes via his iPhone, and possibly prevent an attack on New York City.

Danny’s refusal at giving his full Chinese name is telling of his humility, wary of attracting too much attention.

“I don’t want to be a famous person talking on the TV,” Danny told the Globe. “I don’t feel like a hero. . . . I was trying to save myself.”

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/they-talked-about-girls-credit-limits-and-whether-anyone-listens-to-cds-any-more-boston-carjack-victim-breaks-silence-over-harrowing-90-minutes-with-bomb-suspects-tamerlan-and-dzhokhar-tsarnaev-8589767.html#

How the rich got RICHER during the economic recovery – while the other 93 percent became worse off

  • Average net worth  of households in the upper 7 percent rose by an estimated 28 percent
  • Households in the  lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent
  • Reason found:  Affluent households typically own stocks and other financial holdings that  increased in value
  • Less wealthy tend  to have more of their assets in their homes which haven’t rebounded in  value

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 12:32 EST, 24  April 2013 |  UPDATED: 13:24 EST, 24 April 2013

 

The richest Americans got richer during the  first two years of the economic recovery while the average net worth declined  for the other 93 percent of U.S. households, a report released on Tuesday  finds.

The upper 7 percent of households owned 63  percent of the nation’s total household wealth in 2011, up from 56 percent in  2009 according to the report from the Pew Research Center using last month’s  Census Bureau data.

The main reason for the widening wealth gap  is that affluent households typically own stocks and other financial holdings  that increased in value, according to the report.

Levels: The richest Americans saw a 28 percent rise in net wealth during the first two years of the economic recovery, as seen above, while the average net worth declined by 4 percent for the other 93 percent of U.S. households 

Levels: The richest Americans saw a 28 percent rise in  net wealth during the first two years of the economic recovery, as seen above,  while the average net worth declined by 4 percent for the other 93 percent of  U.S. households

Shared fall: Homes, cars, business and property values tumbled for all households regardless of their net worth, as seen here 

Shared fall: Homes, cars, business and property values  tumbled for all households regardless of their net worth, as seen here

On the other hand, the less wealthy tend to  have more of their assets in their homes, which haven’t rebounded from the  plunge in home values.

‘Among households with net worth of less than  $500,000, just 33% of their wealth comes from financial assets and 50% comes  from their home,’ thereport  stated of the  differences.

The findings is the latest to point up  financial inequality that has been growing among Americans for decades, a  development that helped fuel the Occupy Wall Street protests.

A September Census Bureau report on income  found that the highest-earning 20 percent of households earned more than half of  all income the previous year, the biggest share in records kept since 1967.

Raise: The overall wealth of American households rose by $5 trillion, or 14 percent, with that wealth being the sum of all assets such as a home, car and stocks, minus the sum of all debts 

Raise: The overall wealth of American households rose by  $5 trillion, or 14 percent, with that wealth being the sum of all assets such as  a home, car and stocks, minus the sum of all debts

A 2011 Congressional Budget Office report  said incomes for the richest 1 percent soared 275 percent between 1979 and 2007  while increasing just under 40 percent for the middle 60 percent of  Americans.

AMERICANS UPS AND DOWNS:

  • Overall wealth of American households rose  by $5 trillion, or 14 percent
  • Average net worth of households in the upper  7 percent of the wealth distribution rose by an estimated 28 percent:  $2.5 million to an estimated $3.2  million
  • Those upper 7 percent were the households  with a net worth above $836,033
  • Households in the lower 93 percent dropped  by 4 percent: $140,000 to roughly $134,000

Other details of Tuesday’s report found that  the overall wealth of American households rose by $5 trillion, or 14 percent,  during the period to $40.2 trillion in 2011 from $35.2 trillion in 2009 –  household wealth being the sum of all assets such as a home, car and stocks,  minus the sum of all debts.

The average net worth of households in the  upper 7 percent of the wealth distribution also rose by an estimated 28 percent,  while that of households in the lower 93 percent dropped by 4 percent.

That is, the mean wealth of the 8 million  households in the more affluent group rose to an estimated $3.2 million from an  estimated $2.5 million while that of the 111 million households in the less  affluent group fell to roughly $134,000 from $140,000.

The upper 7 percent were the households with  a net worth above $836,033. The 93 percent represented households whose worth  was at or below that.

Not all households among the 93 percent saw a  decline in net worth, but the average amount declined for that  group.

On an individual household basis, the average  wealth of households in the more affluent group was almost 24 times that of  those in the less affluent group in 2011. At the start of the recovery in 2009,  that ratio was less than 18 to 1.

During the study period, Standard &  Poor’s 500 stock index rose by 34 percent, while the Standard &  Poor’s/Case-Shiller index for home prices fell by 5 percent.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2314168/How-rich-got-richer-economic-recovery-93-percent-declined.html#ixzz2RSZxzsJb Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

The United States charged six politicians with fraud, extortion and conspiracy

 

Six Politicos Charged With Bribes & Extortion

 

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (CN) – In a lurid indictment, the United States charged six politicians with fraud, extortion and conspiracy, in the plan to run a Democratic state senator for mayor of New York City as a Republican.

Defendant New York City Councilman Daniel Halloran, accused of taking bribes, was recorded saying: “That’s politics, that’s politics, it’s all about how much. Not about whether or will, it’s about how much, and that’s our politicians in New York, they’re all like that, all like that. And they get like that because of the driver that the money does for everything else. You can’t do anything without the fucking money,” according to the 10-count indictment.

It continues: “During the meeting, the CW [cooperating witness] paid Halloran $7,500 in cash. Near the end of the conversation, Halloran remarked, ‘Money is what greases the wheels – good, bad or indifferent.'”

State Sen. Malcolm Smith, a Democrat, needed approval of three Republican Party county chairmen to run for mayor on the Republican ticket.

All the defendants are accused of paying or taking bribes to throw half a million dollars of state money at a construction project they believed was run by men who actually were an undercover FBI agent and a cooperating witness.

All the quotations and allegations that follow are from the 32-page indictment.

Indicted on charges of bribery conspiracy, wire fraud, extortion and mail fraud were state Sen. Malcolm A. Smith, a Queens Democrat who sought to run for mayor as a Republican, in pursuit of bribes;

New York City Councilman Daniel J. Halloran, a Republican from Queens;

Bronx County Republican Party Chairman Joseph J. Savino;

Queens County Republican Party Vice Chairman Vincent Tabone;

Village of Spring Valley Mayor Noramie Jasmin, and its Deputy Mayor Joseph Desmaret.

They are accused of “three separate, but related, bribery schemes.”

Halloran is accused of taking “cash payments totaling tens of thousands of dollars” to help Smith bribe Republican Committee leaders.

Tabone and Savino are accused of taking $40,000 in cash bribes to “approve and obtain approval” for Smith to run as a Republican.

Smith, unfortunately for him, “used an undercover FBI agent (the ‘UC’) and a cooperating witness (the ‘CW’) to negotiate and pay the bribes on his behalf,” according to the indictment.

It continues: “In return for the assistance of the UC and the CW, Smith agreed to use his office as a New York state senator to help the UC and the CW obtain $500,000 in New York State transportation money for a road project associated with a real estate development project in the Village that Smith understood the UC and the CW to be developing; …

“Daniel J. Halloran, the defendant, accepted bribes in exchange for his use of his office as a New York City Council member to allocate City funds to a company he understood was controlled by the UC and the CW;

“Noramie Jasmin and Joseph Desmaret, the defendants, accepted money and property in exchange for using their official positions as mayor and deputy mayor and members of the Board of Trustees of the Village to approve the real estate project and to divert state transportation money to a company controlled by the UC and the CW.”

The indictment cites times and places where bribes were allegedly paid and accepted, and transcripts of apparently incriminating conversations.

Midway through the alleged bribery scheme, Smith was recorded telling the FBI agent: “Whatever you gave them, you know, is you know there. And trust me, they don’t, even if they screw, let’s just say they screwed you and me and said, you know, I’m not doing anything. The worst part about that is, when you screw somebody over money like that … you know, that’s the worst … you’re looking over your shoulder all the rest of your life. … You’re looking over your shoulder because, because, not only that, this world is too small. … Yeah, the world is too small. And any time you do that, imagine you came to me and said, Malcolm, they screwed me. … I got them already asking me about judgeships, because you know judgeships now come through here, it comes through the governor.” (Ellipses in indictment.)

Prosecutors seek forfeiture of assets, including proceeds of the scheme

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/04/19/56862.htm

How Low Can a TV Show Go?

 

By ROBERT KAHN

 

MANHATTAN (CN) – ABC TV filmed a man dying in a hospital, and a doctor telling his family he had died, and broadcast it all on the show “NY Med” without telling the family or the dead man it was filming them, the family claims in court.

The family claims the defendants neither informed them nor asked their permission, and that they found out about it all by seeing themselves and their late husband and father on TV.

Anita Chanko says ABC filmed and broadcast the dying words of her husband as he was being treated at co-defendant New York Presbyterian Hospital aka Weill Cornell Medical Center, on East 68th Street.

Chanko and her three children also sued three doctors: Sebastian Schubl, Anil S. Ranawat, and Travis Maak, in New York County Supreme Court.

Chanko claims her husband, Mark, was admitted to the hospital on April 29, 2011, and the three defendant doctors were his treating physicians.

She claims the hospital let ABC in to film its TV show, and that it filmed her dying husband.

The complaint states: “That on April 29, 2011 Mark S. Chanko, deceased, died while being treated by said hospital and physicians and his final words, treatment and death were recorded by defendant American Broadcasting Companies Inc. and used in an episode of ‘NY Med’ that was first broadcast on the ABC television network on August 21, 2012 and that was then rebroadcast as an on demand program and was made available for viewing on the Internet.”

The widow says she and her family “were present at the hospital at the time he was treated and died. That at the said time and place defendant Sebastian Schubl, M.D. and a social worker employed by defendant hospital verbally informed the said plaintiffs of the death Mark S. Chanko. The delivery of the news of the death to the family was recorded by ABC News and broadcast as a scene in the above described episode of ‘NY Med.'”

The complaint continues: “That neither Mark S. Chanko, deceased, nor any of the plaintiffs were aware that they or the events above recited were being recorded and they never gave written or oral consent to the use and broadcasting and dissemination of any of the recorded events.

“That plaintiffs first became aware that the medical treatment and death of Mark S. Chanko, and the delivery of the news of the death to the family had been recorded for use in a television show when Mark S. Chanko’s widow, plaintiff Anita Chanko, watched a broadcast of the above described episode of ‘NY Med’ on her television and when said episode was subsequently viewed by each of the plaintiffs.”

The family adds: “That no member of the public had or has any legitimate interest in this information.”

The family seeks punitive damages for privacy invasion, wantonness, outrage, and emotional distress.

They are represented by Mark J. Fox.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/03/22/55977.htm

New York town bans unrelated roommates from living together after neighbor complains about man shacking up with his fiancee and two friends

By  Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 11:16 EST, 1  March 2013 |  UPDATED: 12:11 EST, 1 March 2013

A town in upstate New York has has banned  unrelated roommates from living together, in a move that has outraged some  residents who claim the town is discriminating against non-traditional families

Deborah Cavallario became upset last year  that her neighbor lived with his fiancee and two friends in a house together.  She asked the city council of Watertown, NY to pass a zoning regulation that  would prevent unrelated roommates from sharing a house together.

The neighbor, 27-year-old Travis Hartman,  said he rented out the room to his friends to help cover the mortgage on his  home.

image002.pngimage001.png

Neighborly feud: Deborah Cavallario (left) complained  that her neighbor Travis Hartman (right) shared a house with his fiancee and two  friends

In a debate before the city council in late  2012, Mrs Cavallario had described Hartman as a good neighbor.

‘This is not a dirt bag kind of thing that  I’m trying to drag my neighbors through,’ she told the governing board of her  town, located 70 miles north of Syracuse.

She said she didn’t like the number of cars  parked in front of the home in her neighborhood and wanted to prevent the  neighborhood from being overrun.

Mr Hartman, a city employee, also appeared  before the council to plead his case.

‘All I’m trying to do is just go out there  and have a normal life, a quiet life,’ he pleaded.

Watertown Local gov’t: The Watertown City Council voted to approve  the ban, 3-2. Now the zoning proposal is under review of the planning committee

He said he was just starting out and needed  multiple roommates to help cover expenses.

A former neighbor of Cavallario testified at  the town hearing that when Cavallario was a young resident and moved to the  wealthy neighborhood near Thompson Blvd., there were residents that complained  that she and her husband weren’t rich enough.

‘She considered them ‘servant class,’  Watertown resident Linda Morrison told the council this unnamed resident had  said about Cavallario.

Morrison warned it was a slippery slope of  neighbors having the right to boot an unwanted resident.

The issue was passed by the city council,  3-2, and was forwarded on to the city’s planning committee.

QuaintQuaint: The quiet town of Watertown has a population of  approximately 30,000

The Mayor of Watertown, Jeffrey Graham, voted  against the measure. He told the MailOnline that it’s a slippery slope when a  town rules who can and cannot live together in a home.

‘From a public relations perspective this is  seen as a tolerance issue, not a land use issue,’ he said.

Many in the town are complaining about the  measure, including young people distraught at the financial cost of housing in a  flagging economy.

‘As a young 20-something, I am livid,’  Marissa J.G. Richardson, a resident who will soon graduate from college, wrote  to the Watertown Daily Times on February 20  about the measure.

‘If I wanted to live independently, I’d have  to get a roommate, no way around it considering how there are very few full-time  jobs (with benefits) in town.’

‘It’s very sad how because one woman feels  the need to get upset about unmarried people living together.’

Watertown has a population of approximately  30,000 residents and is located near Fort Drum.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2286618/New-York-town-bans-unrelated-roommates-living-neighbor-complains-man-shacking-fiancee-friends.html#ixzz2MMctG2E8 Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Bristol-Myers Squibb need not face claims related to 24 New Jersey residents who died after alleged exposure to toxic substances from the pharmaceutical giant

 Bristol-Myers Fends Off Suit Over Toxic Deaths

By ROSE BOUBOUSHIAN

(CN) – Bristol-Myers Squibb need not face claims related to 24 New Jersey residents who died after alleged exposure to toxic substances from the pharmaceutical giant, a federal judge ruled.

Around May 2008, more than 100 complaints were filed in state court against Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. over the deaths of people who lived near its New Brunswick, N.J., plant, which allegedly emits toxic chemicals.

After parallel mass tort litigation began in the Atlantic County Superior Court later that year, Bristol-Myers Squibb removed the cases to federal court.

With Cynthia Fuqua leading 23 other estate administrators seeking pecuniary losses, Bristol-Myers Squibb fought the claims under two-year statute of limitations of the New Jersey Wrongful Death Act.

Initially, the state court had given the heirs a chance to show that they may qualify for tolling if “the complainant has been induced or tricked by his [or her] adversary’s misconduct” into missing the filing deadline.

U.S. District Judge Freda Wolfson was not as generous and dismissed the wrongful death claims on Feb. 15, saying the discovery rule cannot toll the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims.

“The decedents’ deaths provided these plaintiffs the notice to investigate the cause of death through the means available at the time of death,” Wolfson wrote. “Thus, there is no basis to extend the application of the discovery rule to permit the filing of wrongful death actions beyond the specified statutory period.”

Heirs of the decedents cannot calims that Bristol-Myers Squibb prevented the diligent pursuit of the case by fraudulently concealing the toxic contamination.

“While plaintiffs allege that they were unable to obtain access to the concealed information regarding the contamination, they fail to aver what actions they took to discover that information and, relatedly, the complaints are also devoid of any facts relating to the exercise of due diligence on the part of plaintiffs to discover the existence of fraud notwithstanding defendant’s alleged wrongdoing,” Wolfson wrote. “More particularly, plaintiffs neglect to assert any facts regarding their due diligence in ascertaining the cause of death of the respective decedents as it relates to defendant’s concealment of contamination. Importantly, those allegations should be specific to each plaintiff’s conduct, and not be pled in a generalized manner. In short, these glaring deficiencies preclude the court from applying an equitable tolling doctrine that is generally used sparingly.”

Since 2008, the plaintiffs have failed to uncover sufficient evidence to warrant equitable tolling, according to the ruling.

“Plaintiffs in these federal actions, having had the benefit of the state court litigation – as they are represented by the same counsel – have filed complaints here that are substantially similar to those brought in the state court four years ago,” Wolfson wrote. “No more specifics are included in these complaints to buttress plaintiffs’ claims of fraudulent concealment. Clearly, these pleadings do not meet the requirements of a properly pled concealment defense. Therefore, there is no basis for this court to apply the doctrine to toll plaintiffs’ untimely wrongful death claims. As a result, these claims are dismissed without prejudice.”

The plaintiffs may still amend their claims to argue for application of the equitable tolling doctrine.

Bristol-Myers Squibb’s sales totaled $17.6 billion in 2012, according to its website.

 

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/02/25/55162.htm

EPA plays legal games to prevent banning of allegedly poisonous Chlorpyrifos

Pesiticide Foes Will Try to Work It Out With EPA

By JUNE WILLIAMS

SEATTLE (CN) – A 9th Circuit hearing over a pesticide that allegedly poisons farm workers and children ended with environmentalists agreeing to mediation.

Chlorpyrifos is an insecticide used on various crops and golf courses, and as a wood treatment or mosquito hunter.

Concerned about its allegedly harmful health effects to humans, the Pesticide Action Network North America and Natural Resources Defense Council sued the Environmental Protection Agency in 2007 to force a ban on the chemical.

That federal case is currently stayed in New York pending a writ of mandamus that the groups are seeking in the 9th Circuit. Mandamus relief compels a public agency or governmental body to act on a usually neglected legal requirement.

The environmentalists told a three-judge panel of the federal appeals court last week that mandamus relief is necessary because the EPA has taken five years to respond to their petition asking for the ban.

Earthjustice attorney Kristen Boyles said the EPA had missed two previous deadlines for answering claims about the pesticide. The agency made a commitment to respond by November 2011, then changed the date to February 2012 but also missed that deadline.

Without a court-mandated deadline, the case would “languish and slip even further,” Boyles said.

When Judge Richard Paez asked for a possible timeframe, Boyles said: “The most important thing is you give them a date.”

“We believe that the evidence in the petition of 2007 was sufficient to support the ban of chlorpyrifos,” she added.

Paez then asked if the EPA could just ban the pesticide outright, leading Boyles to suggest three possible actions.

It could immediately issue a ruling that bans some or all usage; it could put out a proposed rule for comment; or it could deny the petition to ban chlorpyrifos, she said.

Until the EPA does one of those things, the case was “entirely in limbo,” Boyles added.

The FDA has a “tentative date” to respond by February 2014, but she urged the court to order a final ruling on any of the three options by that date.

EPA attorney David Carson called mandamus an “extreme remedy” and said this was not an extreme case. He said the EPA had dealt with “most” of the issues raised in the complaint, and had implemented “buffer zones” and “reduced application rates” to prevent spray drift of the pesticide.

The EPA needs more time to complete epidemiological studies before deciding whether to ban chlorpyrifos, he added.

Judge Ronald Gould said that it would be ideal if the EPA could complete the studies, but “it can’t go on forever.”

With prompting from Judge Raymond Fisher, who participated in the hearing through a remote video feed, both sides agreed to attempt resolution in mediation.

http://www.courthousenews.com/2013/02/11/54763.htm

 

20 hours of TV a week almost halves sperm count

Contact: Stephanie Burns sburns@bmjgroup.com 44-020-738-36920 BMJ-British Medical Journal

But 15 or more hours a week of moderate to vigorous exercise improves it

Healthy young men who watch TV for more than 20 hours a week have almost half the sperm count of men who watch very little TV, indicates a study published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Conversely, men who do 15 or more hours of moderate to vigorous exercise every week have sperm counts that are 73% higher than those who exercise little, the findings show.

Semen quality seems to have deteriorated over the past few decades, although it’s not clear why, say the authors.

To find out if an increasingly sedentary lifestyle might be a contributory factor, they analysed the semen quality of 189 men between the ages of 18 to 22 in 2009-10, all of whom were from Rochester in New York State, USA.

The men were asked about the quantity and intensity of weekly exercise they had had over the preceding three months, and how much time they spent watching television, DVDs, or videos over the same period.

And they were asked about factors that might affect sperm quality, including medical or reproductive health problems, diet, stress levels, and smoking.

Over half the men were within the normal range for weight for their height, and three out of four were non-smokers. The prevalence of reproductive health problems was low.

The amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity taken every week ranged from 5 to 14 hours, while weekly TV screen time varied from 4 to 20 hours. Men who were more physically active tended to have a healthier diet than those who watched a lot of TV every week.

The analysis showed that those who were the most physically active—15+ hours a week—had a 73% higher sperm count than the least physically active. Exercise did not affect sperm motility, shape, or sample volume.

When analysed by exercise intensity, the results showed that light physical exercise made no difference to the sperm count, no matter how frequent it was.

TV viewing had the opposite effect. Those who watched the most—20 or more hours a week—had a sperm count that was 44% lower than those who watched the least. It had no impact on sperm motility, shape, or sample volume.

And unlike smoking or weight, the amount of TV viewing seemed to counteract the beneficial effects of exercise, although this may be a chance finding, say the authors.

The authors caution that a reduced sperm count does not necessarily curb a man’s fertility or his chances of being able to father a child, but the findings do suggest that a more physically active lifestyle may improve semen quality.

The type of exercise might also be important, say the authors, who conclude: “Future studies should also evaluate the extent to which different exercise types affect semen quality as previous studies suggest that there might be opposing effects of different types of activity on semen characteristics.”

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[Physical activity and television watching in relation to semen quality in young men Online First doi 10.1136/bjsports-2012-091644]

Mayor Bloomberg: ‘Look at the ass on her’

11:53 AM  01/28/2013
Caroline May / Political  Reporter

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg had his eyes less on the evils of guns and  big gulps at a Christmas party last month than on the assets of a female party  guest.

In a New York Magazine profile of New York City Council Speaker  Christine Quinn, author Jonathan Van Meter recalls how in researching Quinn’s  prospects as a candidate for mayor at “a Christmas party for the rich,” he was  introduced to Mayor Michael Bloomberg who subsequently ignored praise for his  gun-control advocacy to instead admire a woman’s backside.

“Later in the evening, the host interrupted me to point out that the mayor  himself had just arrived. Did I want to meet him? Sure,” Van Meter writes. “My  friend and I followed the host over, shook Bloomberg’s hand, and my friend  thanked him for his position on gun control. Without even acknowledging the  comment, Bloomberg gestured toward a woman in a very tight floor-length gown  standing nearby and said, ‘Look at the ass on her.’”

Later in the piece Quinn, one of the most prominent lesbians in New York,  detailed to Van Meter how Bloomberg insists that women wear high heels. “The  mayor has no use for flat shoes,” she said.

“I was at a parade with him once,” Quinn explained, “and he said, ‘What are  those?’ and I said, ‘They’re comfortable,’ and he said, ‘I never want to hear  those words out of your mouth again.’”

According to Quinn, “He likes me in high heels,” and offers her hair  tips.

“Another big thing with the mayor, when I am rooting … like, the couple of  days a week before I need to get my hair colored,” Quinn said, “he’ll say, ‘Do  you pay a lot to make your hair be two colors? Because now it’s three with the  gray.’ And I’m like, ‘Did you wake up being this big of an asshole? Or did it  take, like, all day to ramp up to it to be able to insult me like that?’ ”

Despite the fashion criticism, Quinn acknowledged her “good relationship with  Bloomberg” and explained that while they do not agree on everything they have a  good working relationship, free of “petty politics or stupid foolery.”

“He’s actually much more silly than people think. Sometimes in meetings he’s  just telling stories and goofing around,” she said. “And he’s got a potty  mouth.”

Read more:  http://dailycaller.com/2013/01/28/mayor-bloomberg-look-at-the-ass-on-her/#ixzz2JNlXt5Sg

FDA approves recombinant flu vaccine : Was rejected in 2009, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that the vaccine was safe

17 Jan 2013 | 19:49 GMT | Posted by Heidi Ledford |

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first seasonal flu vaccine comprised of recombinant proteins, rather than inactivated or weakened virus.

The 16 January approval of Flublok, developed by Protein Sciences Corporation in Meriden, Connecticut, arrives as US emergency rooms are clogged with victims of an early and severe flu season. Thirty states are reporting high levels of flu-like illness this season, and New York state and the city of Boston have declared public health emergencies. Vaccine supplies are dwindling.

Flublok is one of a new wave of flu vaccines intended to make production more nimble. The three influenza hemagglutinin proteins comprising Flublok are made in insect cells rather than in chicken eggs, the classical incubator for seasonal flu vaccine. It is the second egg-free vaccine to be approved by the FDA. In November, the agency approved Flucelvax, made by the Swiss pharmaceutical firm Novartis.

But it has been a long road to approval for Protein Sciences. FDA advisors narrowly rejected the vaccine in 2009, arguing that there was insufficient evidence that the vaccine was safe. Development of Flublok and a related pandemic flu vaccine called Panblok was subsidized by a Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) contract awarded in 2009, but then threatened when Emergent BioSolutions of Rockville, Maryland and two other creditors sued Protein Sciences for failing to repay over $11 million in loans. The lawsuit was settled in 2010.

Flublok will be out on the market in full force in time for the 2013-2014 flu season, and limited supplies will be available to help out during the current season.

 

http://blogs.nature.com/news/2013/01/fda-approves-recombinant-flu-vaccine.html

H. pylori isn’t a major cause of death and may protect against stroke and some cancers

Contact: Lorinda Klein lorindaann.klein@nyumc.org 212-404-3533 NYU Langone Medical Center / New York University School of Medicine

Disappearing bacterium may protect against stroke

New York (January 9,  2013) — A new study by NYU School of Medicine researchers reveals that an especially virulent strain of the gut bacterium Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori) isn’t implicated in the overall death rate of the U.S. population,  and may even protect against stroke and some cancers. The findings, based a nationwide health survey of nearly 10,000 individuals over a period of some 12 years, are published online, January 9, in the journal Gut.

Those individuals carrying the most virulent strain of H. pylori, the study found, had a 55 percent reduced risk of deaths from stroke compared with their counterparts who were not infected with H. pylori. Participants with the most virulent strain also had a 45 percent reduced risk of death from lung cancer.

These surprising findings emerged from an analysis by Yu Chen, PhD, MPH, associate professor of population health and environmental medicine, and Martin J. Blaser, MD, professor of internal medicine and professor of microbiology, of individuals who participated in a national survey designed to assess the health and nutritional status of adults and children in the United States. Previous studies by Dr. Blaser have confirmed the bacterium’s link to gastric diseases ranging from gastritis to stomach cancer. He and Dr. Chen have more recently shown that H. pylori may protect against childhood asthma. The most virulent H. pylori strains have a gene called cagA.

“The significance of this study is that this is a prospective cohort of participants representative of the U.S. population with a long follow-up,” says Dr. Chen. “We studied both the overall H. pylori as well as cagA strain of H. pylori, which is more interactive with the human body. We found that H. pylori is not related to the risk of death from all causes, despite it being related to increased risk of death from gastric cancer.”

“This finding confirms earlier work, however, that gastric cancers are now uncommon in the United States,” says Dr. Chen. “We also found that H. pylori was related to a reduced risk of stroke and lung cancer, and these effects were stronger for the cagA strain, suggesting its mixed role in human health,” she says.

H. pylori, an ancient bacterium, lives in the mucous layer lining the stomach where, until recently, it survived for decades. More than half of the world’s population harbor H. pylori in their upper gastrointestinal tract. Mainly transmitted in families, the bacterium is usually acquired before age 10. In developing countries H. pylori is still prevalent, but is vanishing in the developed world thanks to better sanitation and widespread use of antibiotics.

To better understand the relationship between H. pylori and the overall death rate, or all-cause mortality, the researchers analyzed data from 9,895 participants in the National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES III), enrolled from 1988 to 1994. Test results for H. pylori and cagA were available on 7,384 subjects at the time of enrollment, and participants were followed until 2000.

There was no association of either H. pylori-positivity or cagA-positivity with all-cause mortality in the population, the researchers found.  Participants with and without H. pylori experienced a similar risk of death from all causes. Consistent with past reports, a strong association was observed between H. pylori and gastric cancer mortality, according to the study. Individuals who were H. pylori positive were 40 times more likely to die from gastric cancer. The study also found that participants with cagA-positivity had a 55 percent reduced risk of deaths from stroke compared with their counterparts who were H. pylori negative/ cagA-negative. Participants with cagA-positivity also had a 45 percent reduced risk of deaths from lung cancer.

“The most interesting finding was that there is a strong inverse association with stroke which could be protective,” says Dr. Blaser. “There is some precedent for this and it is possible that the same cells (T reg cells) that H. pylori induces that protect against childhood asthma could be the protective agents, however, the findings need to be confirmed.”

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Authors: Yu Chen. PhD, MPH, associate professor, Departments of Population Health and Environmental Medicine; Stephanie Segers, MPH, statistician, Department of Population Health; Martin J. Blaser, MD, professor, Departments of Medicine  and Microbiology.

Competing Interests: None reported.

Funding/Support: This work was supported in part by grants R01DK090989, R01GM63270, ES000260, and P30CA16087 from the National Institutes of Health, and by the Diane Belfer Program for Human Microbial Ecology.

About NYU School of Medicine:

NYU Langone Medical Center, a world-class, patient-centered, integrated, academic medical center, is one on the nation’s premier centers for excellence in clinical care, biomedical research and medical education. Located in the heart of Manhattan, NYU Langone is composed of three hospitals – Tisch Hospital, its flagship acute care facility; the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, the world’s first university-affiliated facility devoted entirely to rehabilitation medicine; and the Hospital for Joint Diseases, one of only five hospitals in the nation dedicated to orthopaedics and rheumatology – plus the NYU School of Medicine, which since 1841 has trained thousands of physicians and scientists who have helped to shape the course of medical history. The medical center’s tri-fold mission to serve, teach and discover is achieved 365 days a year through the seamless integration of a culture devoted to excellence in patient care, education and research.