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No Agenda Episode 466 - Give Peas a Chance

By Adam Curry. Posted Sunday, December 02, 2012 at 1:51 PM.

Give Peas A Chance

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Give Peas A Chance

Executive Producers: Sven Middelkoop, Mike Keeler

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Knighthoods: Thomas Fields, Adam Mikolajcyzk

Art By: Nick the Rat

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By Adam Curry. Posted Sunday, December 02, 2012 at 1:52 PM.

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By Adam Curry. Posted Sunday, December 02, 2012 at 1:52 PM.

Give Peas A Chance

Executive Producers: Sven Middelkoop, Mike Keeler

Become a member of the 467 Club, support the show here

Knighthoods: Thomas Fields, Adam Mikolajcyzk

Art By: Nick the Rat

ShowNotes Archive of links and Assets (clips etc) 466.nashownotes.com

New: Directory Archive of Shownotes (includes all audio and video assets used) nashownotes.com

The No Agenda News Network- noagendanewsnetwork.com

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NYPD Proves Street Artist Right by Tracking Him Down and Arresting Him

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Fri, 30 Nov 2012 23:04

By Hamilton Nolan, Nov 30, 2012 11:54 AM

Essam Attia is the New York street artist responsible for placing fake NYPD ads reading "Drones: Protection When You Least Expect It" around town. In September, he gave a video interview to Animal NY, with his identity and voice obscured, in which he discussed this project and his art in general. Wednesday morning, the NYPD arrested him at home.

The NYDN reports that he's charged with "56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny possession of stolen property and weapons possession," the last (and possibly worst) charge coming because cops found an unloaded .22 pistol under his bed when they arrested him. On a practical level, Attia was not the most careful art criminal. He signed his work "ESSAM;" and he told Animal that he was a "a 29-year-old art-school grad from Maine, who served in Iraq as a 'geo-spatial analyst.'" It probably did not take an incredible amount of police work to narrow down the possibilities.

Still'--great work by the NYPD to prove Essam's point: you are all being watched. Poke humor at the ALL SEEING GOVERNMENT EYE, and it will make you pay. IT KNOWS ALL. In the Animal interview, author Matt Harvey noted, "He agrees that there is an inherent irony in his spoofs: the very fact that the NYPD (which claims to be strongly pursuing him with their 'counter terrorism squad') hasn't caught him yet, is proof that we have not reached a state of Orwellian control."

Ah.... cancel that.

[Photo via Animal]

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Bekk Fry (and I'm female)

Burn In Your New PC, Practicing Safe Gaming, Dumping Phone... - Tekzilla

CMike- suggests now.nashownotes.com

Drone Nation

HRW-Ban 'Killer Robots' Before It's Too Late

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:30

Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far. Human control of robotic warfare is essential to minimizing civilian deaths and injuries.

Steve Goose, arms director

(Washington, DC) '' Governments should pre-emptively ban fully autonomous weapons because of the danger they pose to civilians in armed conflict, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today. These future weapons, sometimes called ''killer robots,'' would be able to choose and fire on targets without human intervention.

The 50-page report, ''Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots,'' outlines concerns about these fully autonomous weapons, which would inherently lack human qualities that provide legal and non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. In addition, the obstacles to holding anyone accountable for harm caused by the weapons would weaken the law's power to deter future violations.

''Giving machines the power to decide who lives and dies on the battlefield would take technology too far,'' said Steve Goose, Arms Division director at Human Rights Watch. ''Human control of robotic warfare is essential to minimizing civilian deaths and injuries.''

''Losing Humanity'' is the first major publication about fully autonomous weapons by a nongovernmental organization and is based on extensive research into the law, technology, and ethics of these proposed weapons. It is jointly published by Human Rights Watch and the Harvard Law School International Human Rights Clinic.

Human Rights Watch and the International Human Rights Clinic called for an international treaty that would absolutely prohibit the development, production, and use of fully autonomous weapons. They also called on individual nations to pass laws and adopt policies as important measures to prevent development, production, and use of such weapons at the domestic level.

Fully autonomous weapons do not yet exist, and major powers, including the United States, have not made a decision to deploy them. But high-tech militaries are developing or have already deployed precursors that illustrate the push toward greater autonomy for machines on the battlefield. The United States is a leader in this technological development. Several other countries '' including China, Germany, Israel, South Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom '' have also been involved. Many experts predict that full autonomy for weapons could be achieved in 20 to 30 years, and some think even sooner.''It is essential to stop the development of killer robots before they show up in national arsenals,'' Goose said. ''As countries become more invested in this technology, it will become harder to persuade them to give it up.''

Fully autonomous weapons could not meet the requirements of international humanitarian law, Human Rights Watch and the Harvard clinic said. They would be unable to distinguish adequately between soldiers and civilians on the battlefield or apply the human judgment necessary to evaluate the proportionality of an attack '' whether civilian harm outweighs military advantage.

These robots would also undermine non-legal checks on the killing of civilians. Fully autonomous weapons could not show human compassion for their victims, and autocrats could abuse them by directing them against their own people. While replacing human troops with machines could save military lives, it could also make going to war easier, which would shift the burden of armed conflict onto civilians.

Finally, the use of fully autonomous weapons would create an accountability gap. Trying to hold the commander, programmer, or manufacturer legally responsible for a robot's actions presents significant challenges. The lack of accountability would undercut the ability to deter violations of international law and to provide victims meaningful retributive justice.

While most militaries maintain that for the immediate future humans will retain some oversight over the actions of weaponized robots, the effectiveness of that oversight is questionable, Human Rights Watch and the Harvard clinic said. Moreover, military statements have left the door open to full autonomy in the future.

''Action is needed now, before killer robots cross the line from science fiction to feasibility,'' Goose said.

Opinio Juris >> Blog Archive >> DOD Directive on ''Autonomy in Weapons Systems''

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:54

At almost the same moment that Human Rights Watch/Harvard Law School Human Rights Clinic released its report, ''Losing Humanity: The Case Against Killer Robots,'' which called for states to establish a treaty that would prohibit the ''development, production, and use'' of ''fully autonomous weapons,'' the Pentagon (under Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter's signature) issued a DOD Directive, ''Autonomy in Weapons Systems.'' THE DOD Directive sets out standards and mandates review of autonomy and automation features of rapidly proliferating of ''automating'' military systems, as they are developed and evolved, to ensure compliance with the laws of war and, more broadly, to ensure that both design and operational knowledge in the field maintain ''appropriate'' levels of human control in any weapons use. Matthew Waxman and I discussed the HRW report at Lawfare; DangerRoom-Wired's Spencer Ackerman discusses the HRW report, the DOD Directive, and Matt's and my approach in our ''Law and Ethics for Robot Soldiers.'' Benjamin Wittes at Lawfare excerpts some important chunks of the DOD Directive.

Ackerman says of the DOD Directive that the ''Pentagon wants to make sure that there isn't a circumstance when one of the military's many Predators, Reapers, drone-like missiles or other deadly robots effectively automatizes the decision to harm a human being.'' The Directive seeks to '''minimize the probability and consequences of failures' in autonomous or semi-autonomous armed robots 'that could lead to unintended engagements', starting at the design stage.'' Its solution '' unlike HRW's call for what its report terms an ''absolute ban'' '' is based upon constant reviews of the military system (unintended effects on weapons systems might occur because of changes to non-weapons systems, after all) '' from the inception of design forward. The DOD Directive is intended to be flexible in application and to apply to all military systems, so it relies on a general standard of ''appropriate'' levels of human control over the system at issue, without specifying in each case what that will mean.

Ackerman adds that Matt Waxman and I should be pleased with the Directive's approach, and we are. In our ''Law and Ethics for Robot Soldiers'' article, he notes, we

observe that technological advancements in robotic weapons autonomy is far from predictable, and the definition of ''autonomy'' is murky enough to make it unwise to tell the world that it has to curtail those advancements at an arbitrary point. Better, they write, for the U.S. to start an international conversation about how much autonomy on a killer robot is appropriate, so as to ''embed evolving internal state standards into incrementally advancing automation.''

Waxman and Anderson should be pleased with Carter's memo, since those standards are exactly what Carter wants the Pentagon to bake into its next drone arsenal. Before the Pentagon agrees to develop or buy new autonomous or somewhat autonomous weapons, a team of senior Pentagon officials and military officers will have to certify that the design itself ''incorporates the necessary capabilities to allow commanders and operators to exercise appropriate levels of human judgment in the use of force.'' The machines and their software need to provide reliability assurances and failsafes to make sure that's how they work in practice, too. And anyone operating any such deadly robot needs sufficient certification in both the system they're using and the rule of law. The phrase ''appropriate levels of human judgment'' is frequently repeated, to make sure everyone gets the idea. (Now for the lawyers to argue about the meaning of ''appropriate.'')

In one sense, I suppose HRW could say that this is what their report calls for, since it tries to build in a notion of incremental reviews into what a treaty should mandate. But the purpose of these reviews for HRW's proposal seems to be to indicate when the absolute ban on ''development'' of autonomous weapons systems is triggered. The HRW report is not, to my reading at least, completely clear on what ''development'' means in the context of incremental reviews, or in the context of what the report itself calls an absolute ban; it seems to be trying to mix absolute apples with incremental oranges.

The role of incremental reviews for the Directive, by contrast, is not about whether some point triggering an absolute ban has been reached, but instead to determine whether the technological system, at that point in its development, preserves the ''appropriate'' amount of human control and, in the case of a system in the process of design and development, will continue to do so as development continues to a final system that has be legally evaluated for deployment. This is a quite distinct meaning of ''reviews''; it's certainly not an absolute ban on ''development'' of systems that, in a world of murky, incremental technological progress might be closing in on human-less autonomy but might not. It's flexible as applied to incrementally advancing technology, not absolute. It's also worth pointing out that while there is a fundamental legal standard at issue here '' the requirement of legal review of weapons for compliance with the laws of war '' most of this is really policy seen as trying to implement law at the front end, particularly with regards to the incremental, and in some cases incidental-but-dangerous, progression of systems that are at the design stage only.

At the end of the day, I think the DOD Directive approach will be that taken by countries, and not just the US, developing automated technologies in weapons and military systems generally. But Matt Waxman and I will have more to say about both these documents and their respective approaches over the next while.

Pentagon Issues New Killer Robot Protocol

Military Robotic Drones Come In Many Shapes And Sizes

U.S. Expands Its Drone War Into Somalia - NYTimes.com

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:14

WASHINGTON '-- The clandestine American military campaign to combat Al Qaeda's franchise in Yemen is expanding to fight the Islamist militancy in Somalia, as new evidence indicates that insurgents in the two countries are forging closer ties and possibly plotting attacks against the United States, American officials say.

An American military drone aircraft attacked several Somalis in the militant group the Shabab late last month, the officials said, killing at least one of its midlevel operatives and wounding others.

The strike was carried out by the same Special Operations Command unit now battling militants in Yemen, and it represented an intensification of an American military campaign in a mostly lawless region where weak governments have allowed groups with links to Al Qaeda to flourish.

The Obama administration's increased focus on Somalia comes as the White House has unveiled a new strategy to battle Al Qaeda in the post-Osama bin Laden era, and as some American military and intelligence officials view Qaeda affiliates in Yemen and Somalia as a greater threat to the United States than the group of operatives in Pakistan who have been barraged with hundreds of drone strikes directed by the Central Intelligence Agency in recent years.

The military drone strike in Somalia last month was the first American attack there since 2009, when helicopter-borne commandos killed Saleh Ali Saleh Nabhan, a senior leader of the group that carried out the 1998 attacks on the American Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. Although it appears that no senior Somali militants were killed in last month's drone strike, a Pentagon official said Friday that one of the militants who was wounded had been in contact with Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born radical cleric now hiding in Yemen. The news that the strike was carried out by an American drone was first reported in The Washington Post this week.

American military officials said there was new intelligence that militants in Yemen and Somalia were communicating more frequently about operations, training and tactics, but the Pentagon is wading into the chaos in Somalia with some trepidation. Many are still haunted by the 1993 ''Black Hawk Down'' debacle, in which 18 elite American troops were killed in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, battling fighters aligned with warlords. Senior officials have repeatedly said in private in the past year that the administration does not intend to send American troops to Somalia beyond quick raids.

For several years, the United States has largely been relying on proxy forces in Somalia, including African Union peacekeepers from Uganda and Burundi, to support Somalia's fragile government. The Pentagon is sending nearly $45 million in military supplies, including night-vision equipment and four small unarmed drones, to Uganda and Burundi to help combat the rising terror threat in Somalia. During the Ethiopian invasion of Somalia in 2007, clandestine operatives from the Pentagon's Joint Special Operations Command initiated missions into Somalia from an airstrip in Ethiopia.

Even as threat warnings grow, American officials say that the Shabab militants are under increasing pressure on various fronts, and that now is the time to attack the group aggressively. But it is unclear whether American intelligence about Somalia '-- often sketchy and inconclusive '-- has improved in recent months.

This week, Vice Adm. William H. McRaven, who was until recently in charge of the Joint Special Operations Command, told lawmakers that planners were ''looking very hard at Yemen and at Somalia,'' but he said that the effectiveness of the missions there was occasionally hampered by limited availability of surveillance aircraft like drones.

One day later, President Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, said that Al Qaeda's badly weakened leadership in Pakistan had urged the group's regional affiliates to attack American targets. ''From the territory it controls in Somalia, Al Shabab continues to call for strikes against the United States,'' Mr. Brennan said.

Souad Mekhennet contributed reporting from Frankfurt, Germany.

Cultiral Marxism

EUROLand

Germany Approves Another 44 Billion Euro Bailout For Greece

Bloomberg View: The Greek Rescue Plan Is No Rescue at All - Businessweek

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:58

Europe's leaders have reached Plan C in their efforts to rescue Greece. Unfortunately, it lacks a crucial element also absent in Plans A and B: adequate debt relief.

The agreement between euro area finance ministers and the International Monetary Fund provides much-needed support for a Greek government that has taken enormous political risks to meet the conditions for aid. It also puts an end to weeks of bickering between Europe and the IMF over how to cover Greece's funding shortfall'--a delay that had threatened to undermine faith in the bailout program, even among Greeks who believe in making the changes and sacrifices demanded.

The deal, however, doesn't do enough to address the biggest issue: a Greek government debt burden that, at about 170 percent of gross domestic product, remains unbearable under any reasonable scenario. The agreement assumes that Greece will largely grow its way out of the problem, reducing its debt to less than 110 percent of GDP by 2022 even as it endures the crushing austerity required to sustain a budget surplus of 4 percent of GDP.

Germany and other creditor nations refused to consider the simpler and more effective solution of writing off some of Greece's debt to official lenders, a move that would amount to an explicit fiscal transfer. Instead, they agreed to reduce Greece's debt-service costs, extend its repayment period and lend it money to buy back bonds held by private investors. Taken together, these measures are supposed to amount to debt relief equivalent to about 20 percent of GDP by 2020.

The contortions might be necessary to help the deal get through the various national parliaments that must ratify it, but they could extract a higher price down the road. Some euro area countries, for example, will now be paying more to borrow money than they receive in interest from Greece. Much of the burden will fall on countries also in economic trouble. Italy and Spain, for example, will have to pay Greece for the privilege of lending to it, because their financing costs are higher than the reduced interest rate at which Greece will borrow.

The debt buyback from private investors, too, promises to be problematic. In a ham-handed attempt to ensure the buyback's benefits, the bailout agreement stipulates that Greece can't pay more than the closing price of its bonds on Nov. 23. As a result, the government might not be able to find investors willing to sell their bonds at its offer price'--an outcome that could jeopardize the release of the IMF's '‚¬43.7 billion ($56.5 billion) share of the bailout money, which is contingent on the completion of the debt buyback.

Europe's leaders would do well to move ahead with the Greek debt writedown they have tried so hard to avoid. If, for example, they cut the government's debt in half, and if its market borrowing cost could be brought down to about 5 percent, Greece could hold its debt burden steady by running a primary budget surplus (excluding interest payments) of roughly 1.5 percent of GDP. The upfront costs would be greater, but so would the chances of success.

To read Jonathan Weil on the Hewlett-Packard blowup and William Pesek on central bank leaders, go to: Bloomberg.com/view.

ECB Wins Ruling to Deny Access to Secret Greek Swap Files- Bloomberg

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:02

ECB Wins Ruling to Deny Access to Secret Greek Swap Files

By Stephanie Bodoni, Elisa Martinuzzi and Gabi ThesingNovember 29, 2012 5:05 AM EST

The European Central Bank will be allowed to keep private files showing how Greece used derivatives to hide its debt after defeating the first court challenge using the bloc's freedom of information rules.

''Disclosure of those documents would have undermined the protection of the public interest so far as concerns the economic policy of the European Union and Greece,'' the EU General Court in Luxembourg said today, rejecting a request by Bloomberg News initially filed in August 2010.

Today's ruling by three judges denies European taxpayers, on the hook for the cost of Greece's 240 billion-euro ($311 billion) bailout, the opportunity to see whether EU officials knew of irregularities in Greece's public accounts before they became public in 2009. The decision underscores the ECB's lack of accountability as it expands its powers to become the euro area's chief banking regulator, said Georg Erber, a research associate at the German Institute for Economic Research.

''The courts are bending the rules to legalize the policies of the European institutions and help stabilize the region,'' said Erber, a specialist in financial-market regulation. ''It reveals implicitly that the EU was well-informed about what was going on and didn't take steps to avert the crisis.''

Bloomberg's freedom-of-information request was twice rejected by the ECB before the news organization sued in December 2010. Bloomberg sought access to two internal papers drafted for the central bank's six-member Executive Board. The first document is entitled ''The impact on government deficit and debt from off-market swaps: the Greek case.'' The second reviews Titlos Plc, a structure that allowed National Bank of Greece SA (ETE), the country's biggest lender, to borrow from the ECB by creating collateral.

The ECB said at a June hearing that publishing the files could still aggravate the sovereign-debt crisis, putting the future of the single currency at risk. The files contain assumptions and hypotheses that were used to shape decisions and their release could threaten policy making, the ECB argued.

''If it was an internal document and not intended for public view, it might have been speculative about what else was lurking out there,'' said William White, chairman of the economic development and review committee at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and former chief economist at the Bank for International Settlements. ''That might have been what they were concerned about.''

The ECB was entitled to refuse access to protect the confidentiality of the proceedings of its decision-making bodies, the judges ruled after viewing the documents.

''European citizens have the right to know how their money is used to bail out secret financial deals, especially as the European Central Bank takes on more regulatory responsibility for Europe's banks,'' Bloomberg News Editor-in-Chief Matthew Winkler said. ''We are disappointed with the court's ruling to continue the culture of secrecy.''

Officials at the ECB didn't have an immediate comment on the ruling. The central bank, which puts greater limits on its disclosures about its decision making than its British and U.S. equivalents, is under pressure from policy makers including governing council member Erkki Liikanen to boost transparency. ECB President Mario Draghi last month defended the bank, saying it was already a ''very transparent'' institution.

Today's ruling bodes badly for transparency in Europe, said Gunnar Beck, a barrister and a reader in EU law at the University of London.

''The ECB is becoming less transparent, even though it pays lip service to it,'' he said.

The briefings give officials' views on the impact of the swaps and analyzed how the Titlos transaction would affect ''the Eurosystem collateral framework, and associated risk control measures,'' then ECB President Jean-Claude Trichet said in his reply to Bloomberg's initial request for information.

Titlos, created in February 2009, allowed National Bank of Greece to borrow from the ECB by creating collateral from a securitization of swaps on Greek government debt, the Executive Board said in a March 2010 cover note to the two documents seen by Bloomberg News. The Greek lender loaned its government 5.4 billion euros as part of the deal, according to the ECB note.

One of the cornerstones of the ECB's response to the crisis was to provide banks with as much money as they needed in return for collateral. In October 2010, the ECB changed the rules on the asset-backed securities it accepted, and gave itself more discretionary power to reject collateral.

Separately, in April 2009 -- months before the Greek crisis erupted -- ECB officials spotted the ''swap operation in unusual terms'' involving National Bank of Greece, according to the March 2010 cover note.

Repeated revisions of Greece's budget figures starting in October 2009 spurred a surge in the country's borrowing costs, eventually forcing the nation to seek aid from the EU and the International Monetary Fund. In 2010, Eurostat, the EU statistics agency, gained additional powers allowing it to audit countries' financial data.

Under Eurostat accounting rules, nations were permitted until 2008 to use so-called off-market rates in swaps to manage their debt. The use of off-market swaps, which Greece hadn't previously disclosed as debt, let the country increase borrowings by 5.3 billion euros, Eurostat said in 2010.

In the largest derivative disclosed, Greece borrowed 2.8 billion euros from Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) in 2001 through a derivative that swapped dollar- and yen-denominated debt issued by the nation for euros using a historical exchange rate.

The case is: T-590/10, Thesing and Bloomberg Finance v. ECB.

To contact the reporter on this story:

To contact the reporters on this story: Elisa Martinuzzi in Milan at emartinuzzi@bloomberg.net; Gabi Thesing in London at gthesing@bloomberg.net; Alan Katz in Paris at akatz5@bloomberg.net

They're not singing any more: Eurovision suffers rash of withdrawals

Link to Article

Source: The Guardian World News

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:49

They'll miss all this: Moldova's Eurovision entrants for 2011. Photograph: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

One after another they are calling in sick. First, Portugal and Poland and now, short of an economic miracle, Cyprus and Greece. For an event that is meant to be one of the most unifying in Europe, next year's Eurovision song contest is starting to look unusually thin on the ground.

In quick succession this week, all four countries announced, or intimated strongly, that they would not be participating in the jamboree. With the exception of Warsaw, each cited the debt crisis.

"It's a great shame, very sad," said the Greek singer Nana Mouskouri, who was discovered when she performed A Force de Prier, Luxembourg's entry in 1963. "I couldn't perform for Greece back then as we didn't have television '... I know the world progresses," she said, "but the whole thing has just got so big, so expensive."

That is why the competition that has come to be associated with kitsch costumes and iffy music has had to take a back seat for recession-hit nations. Amid the business of meeting budget targets, there is, alas, no room for froth or frizz.

"Public television ought not to participate in this year's Eurovision contest in correspondence with overwhelming public sentiment," said a Greek government spokesman, Simos Kedikoglou. "It is very unlikely that Greece will take part."

With Greeks brought to their knees by the cuts demanded in return for keeping their insolvent economy afloat, officials insisted it would be "distasteful" to be seen to be competing in a contest "that is all about sequins and stage effects".

"It's not just that we don't have the money to pay for the broadcasting rights and participation fees which, at '‚¬120,000, we simply don't have, at this juncture it would be morally wrong," said an official at the state-controlled channel.

In Cyprus, whose financial woes were triggered by its banking sector's exposure to Greece, the state broadcaster PIK went so far as to describe participation as a "possibly provocative" move.

The former British colony is set to become the fourth eurozone member to accept international financial assistance from the EU and IMF to prop up its economy. "With Cyprus' economic situation today there might be some who would consider PIK's presence at such an event provocative," Makis Symeou, the broadcaster's CEO announced. "For this reason cancellation of Cyprus' participation is being seriously discussed."

Poland, which debuted in Eurovision in 1994, issued a statement saying: "After a very careful analysis we made the difficult decision not to take part in the contest in Malmo." It will be the second year in a row that Poland has withdrawn.

Just days after tickets went on sale, there are mutterings as to whether, after 58 years, the institution Europeans love to lampoon can survive '' at least as a phenomenon that reflects Europe.

Organisers brush off such suggestions, making the point that 38 countries have already signed up for the event '' the most-watched show on European TV. "We're doing pretty well," said a source at the Geneva based European Broadcasters Union which oversees the contest.

But agents such as Yannis Koutrakis, who represents Mouskouri and has looked after Greek celebrities who have participated in the show, beg to differ. "You've got so many countries, like Azerbaijan and Georgia, that are not exactly European which are now participating," he said.

"If countries at the heart of Europe leave then what is left? Is it really a European song contest?"

Mouskouri, who is 78, and spends most of her time in Paris agrees. "The Eurovision contest has lost its heart," she says. "It's not about music or the singers anymore. It's more about staging a show. It's become far too much of too much, far too Las Vegas. If you ask me it has to start from the beginning, all over again."

RacialRice

Susan E. Rice | Personal Finance Disclosure

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 12:38

Personal FinancesPersonal finance profiles of recent years and images of all reports are available here.

Profiles2009

2008

Images2011 (filed in 2012)

2010 (filed in 2011)

2009 (filed in 2010)

2008 (filed in 2009)

You'll need the Acrobat Reader plug-in to access the PDF files online. It's available free from Adobe.

Feel free to distribute or cite this material, but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center.

Susan Rice's Enrichment Program | Washington Free Beacon

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 12:38

Rice, a possible nominee to replace Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she steps down, has come under criticism for promulgating erroneous information about the September 11, 2012, attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.

Rice has the highest net worth of executive branch members, with a fortune estimated between $24 to $44 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. A Free Beacon analysis of Rice's portfolio shows thousands of dollars invested in at least three separate companies cited by lawmakers on Capitol Hill for doing business in Iran's oil and gas sector.

The revelation of these investments could pose a problem for Rice if she is tapped by President Barack Obama to replace Clinton. Among the responsibilities of the next secretary of state will be a showdown with Iran over its nuclear enrichment program.

''That Susan Rice invested in companies doing business in Iran shows either the Obama administration's lack of seriousness regarding Iran or Rice's own immorality,'' said Michael Rubin, a former Pentagon adviser on Iran and Iraq. ''Either way, her actions undercut her ability to demand our allies unity on Iran.''

The companies in question appear to have conducted business with Tehran well after Western governments began to urge divestment from the rogue nation, which has continued to enrich uranium near levels needed to build a nuclear bomb.

Financial disclosures reveal that Rice has had $50,001-$100,000 in Royal Dutch Shell, a longtime purchaser of Iranian crude oil.

Royal Dutch Shell currently owes Iran nearly $1 billion in back payments for crude oil that it purchased before Western economic sanctions crippled Tehran's ability to process oil payments, Reuters reported.

''A debt of that size would equate to roughly four large tanker loads of Iranian crude or about 8 million barrels,'' according to the report.

Rice has additional investments in Norsk Hydro ASA, a Norwegian aluminum firm, and BHP Billiton PLC, an Australian-based natural resources company, financial disclosure show.

Norway's Norsk Hydro was awarded in 2006 a $107 million exploration and development contract for Iran's Khorramabad oil block, according to the Wall Street Journal. Rice's portfolio includes an investment of up to $15,000 in the company.

Norsk acknowledged at the time that it was working in Iran against the wishes of the U.S. government.

America is ''not happy that we're there,'' Norsk Hydro spokeswoman Kama Holte Strand told the Journal at the time. Holte admitted that the company was working with Tehran because it is ''profitable.''

Rice has up to $50,000 invested with another Iranian partner, BHP Billiton, which was probed by the Securities and Exchange Commission in 2010 for its dealings with Cuba and Iran, according to reports.

The company, which had leased office space in Tehran, admitted to making more than $360 million from the Iranians, according to The Australian.

BHP Billiton sought to build a natural gas pipeline between 2002 and 2005 in conjunction with the National Iranian Oil Company, according the report. The company's subsidiaries additionally ''sold alumina, coking coal, manganese, and copper to state-owned Iranian companies.''

The House of Representatives passed a bill in 2007 that took aim at these companies and other that had done business with Iran. The bill enabled state and local governments to divest from these companies due to their dealings with Iran.

UN Amb Susan Rice Holds Up To $600000 Dollars In Stock Of Company To Build Tar Sands Pipeline

VIDEO-Shock: Another MSNBC Contributor Accuses GOP of Racism and Sexism for Opposing Rice | MRCTV

Link to Article

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 03:36

MSNBC Contributor Karen Finney became the latest MSNBC pundit to accuse the Republican Party of racism and sexism for opposing the nomination of Ambassador Susan Rice. Keep in mind, this comes from the same network that called Representative Allen West delusional and a criminal. I'm sure Senators Collins and Ayotte will be very surprised to find out that they hate women

Karen Finney - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Elite$

Bill Clinton and the ICANN Silicon Valley Meeting

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:11

A few blogs and a swarm of tweets have announced that former President Bill Clinton will speak at ICANN's Silicon Valley-San Francisco public meeting in March. Some are asking why ICANN hasn't announced this yet.

While it's true that we have invited and he has accepted, we're still working on a contract, and without it a formal announcement cannot be made.

We are also aware that ICANN meetings are highly structured, work-intensive events, and we want to be sure that an appearance by President Clinton enhances the meeting's outcomes rather than distracts from them.

We've seen some wildly inflated figures of what President Clinton would be paid to speak. His speaking fees are a matter of public record, and you can rest assured that the half-million and million-dollar figures some have reported are way out of line. The fees, by the way, will be covered by a targeted sponsorship donated specifically for this purpose. In other words, ICANN's budget is not financing this speaking engagement.

We hope to quickly and successfully conclude the process to allow President Clinton to take part in the meeting. His impressive track record of emphasizing the common humanity of all world citizens blends perfectly with ICANN's mission of enabling the entire globe to unite online. Stay tuned for further developments '' but don't believe everything you read.

Tagged as: Clinton, Meeting, San Francisco, Silicon Valley

Bill Clinton speaks at ICANN 40 - March 16 2011

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:09

Fed Sched

Two Pakistan-born brothers arrested in Florida on terrorism charges | Reuters

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:13

MIAMI | Fri Nov 30, 2012 6:10pm EST

MIAMI (Reuters) - Two Pakistan-born brothers living in Florida have been arrested on charges of providing support to terrorists and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction within the United States, authorities said on Friday.

The men were charged in a grand jury indictment announced by the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Florida. Federal prosecutors allege the men, both U.S. citizens, provided money, housing, communications equipment and transportation as part of a conspiracy.

A statement from prosecutors said the brothers' alleged goal was "to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives) against persons and property within the United States". It did not elaborate and U.S. officials declined to go into details but said the arrests were not the result of a sting operation.

"The investigation is continuing and we just won't be able to give those specific details at this time," said Alicia Valle, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's office in Miami.

"Any potential threat posed by these two individuals has been disrupted," U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer said in a statement.

The accused were identified as Raees Alam Qazi, 20, and Sheheryar Alam Qazi, 30. They were arrested on Thursday in Fort Lauderdale and made an initial appearance in federal court on Friday.

If convicted, each could face a potential sentence of 15 years in prison on the charge of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists.

The charge of conspiracy to use a weapons of mass destruction carries a potential maximum life sentence.

(Additional reporting by Jane Sutton; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Tom Brown and Andrew Hay)

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2 Men Naturalized Citizens From Pakistan Arrested On Terrorism Charges

Peak Fertilizer Ahead?

Link to Article

Source: Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:56

Peak Fertilizer Ahead?Posted on Nov 30, 2012A major slab of the world's supply of phosphorous'--one of the two dwindling, non-synthesizable elements used in industrial agriculture'--sits in highly disputed territory in Morocco, making future access to it uncertain.

Tom Philpott at Mother Jones quotes a 2011 article published by environmental writer Fred Pearce in Yale Environment 360 that gives the historical context of the predicament:

''The Western Sahara is an occupied territory. In 1976, when Spanish colonialists left, its neighbor Morocco invaded, and has held it ever since. Most observers believe the vast phosphate deposits were the major reason that Morocco took an interest. Whatever the truth, the Polisario Front, a rebel movement the UN recognizes as the rightful representatives of the territory, would like it back.''

Another observer, widely trusted and acclaimed investor Jeremy Grantham, calls the Saharan phosphate cache ''the most important quasi-monopoly in economic history.'' That being the case, the Polisario Front is unlikely to let go of its claim without a fight.

As Pearce writes:

If the people of Western Sahara ever resume their war to get their country back'--or if the Arab Spring spreads and Morocco goes the way of Libya'--then we may be adding phosphate fertilizer to the list of finite resources, such as water and land, that are constraining world food supplies sooner than we think.''

'--Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

Tom Philpott at Mother Jones:

Yet something tells me that peak phosphorus will continue to be an obscure topic. I've been writing about it since 2008 (see here, here, here, and here). Foreign Policy ran a major piece on it in 2010; 2011 brought Pearce's article as well as a profile of Grantham in no less a forum than the New York Times Magazine, in which he talked up peak phosphorus at length. Even after all of that, I can think of few crucial issues as far from the center of public conversation than the phosphorus shortage. We've haven't really begun to face the problem of climate change; our reliance on mined phosphorus doesn't register at all. It's easy to ignore crises whose most dire consequences loom decades away.

But the next time someone facilely insists that the ''industrial farms are the future,'' ask what the plan is regarding phosphorus. Developing an agriculture that's ready for a phosphorus shortage means a massive focus on recycling the nutrients we take from the soil back into the soil'--in other words, composting, not on a backyard level but rather on a society-wide scale. It also requires policies that give farmers incentives to build up organic matter in soil, so it holds in nutrients instead of letting them leach away (another massive problem stemming from our reliance on abundant NPK). Both of these solutions, of course, are specialties of organic agriculture.

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Gitmo Nation

Petraeus' Affair And Email Privacy Laws

Link to Article

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 23:16

When retired four-star general and former CIA Director David Petraeus resigned from his post this month after admitting to an extramarital affair, one of the more startling revelations was that the dalliance was discovered when the FBI sifted through his private Gmail account.The spy chief had been out-spied.

More alarming is that the average American could easily be subjected to the same snooping that Petraeus endured. According to current law, police can access email through a provider, like Yahoo or Gmail, without a warrant if the message is more than 180 days old.

The rule is a relic of the Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986, written before legislators could dream of the explosion of technology and ubiquity of email, text messaging, online chatting and other communications that leave behind an electronic trail.

The Senate Judiciary Committee met on Nov. 29 to consider an update to the Act which would require police to get a warrant to read email or other electronic communiques.

The proposed change comes as technological advances continue to give law enforcement more efficient and invasive ways to track people, while privacy laws struggle to keep up. Citizens might be surprised to learn that their email accounts, their phones and even their houses are subject to warrant-free electronic surveillance.

Leap Frog TechnologyWhile the Electronic Communications Privacy Act may be outdated by about 25 years, that doesn't mean that people need give up their reasonable expectation of privacy within new technologies, argues Bruce A. Barket, a criminal law attorney with New York firm Barket Marion.

''The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution was enacted in 1791,'' Barket says. ''It was enacted at a point of time to deal with government intrusion and searches that they could possibly comprehend. Now we have government searches that nobody up until the last 10 years could even envision. Could you ever envision that the government could track every movement by simply calling up a cell provider?''

At times, when lawmakers have been slow to act, courts have stepped in to curb investigative excess, such as in this spring's Supreme Court ruling that police need a warrant to place a GPS tracker on someone's car. The court did not deign to make a decision about tracking cell phones through GPS or other technology, however, an option that law enforcement is still free to take advantage of, sans probable cause.

Barket, who was one of the attorneys to originally challenge police use of GPS devices nearly a decade ago, points out that as even newer technologies emerge, we will be caught in a never-ending loop of efforts to protect privacy from intrusions that aren't yet governed by law.

''It's kind of like a leap frog. Technology will not stop happening,'' the attorney says. ''Courts are going to have to interpret old laws and new technologies to make reasonable decisions as to what law enforcement should be allowed to do and not allowed to do. Ultimately legislators will have to catch up.''

Creep FactorWhile the technologies are new, the debate is old, dating at least as far back as 1928, when the Supreme Court ruled in Olmstead v. United States that eavesdropping on private telephone conversations without a warrant did not constitute a Fourth Amendment violation. The ruling stood until 1967, when in Katz v. United States a different set of justices overturned the previous decision and ruled that callers do have a reasonable expectation of privacy over the telephone.

Cell phones could be the next benchmark, not only because police can see everywhere a person has been using the phone's GPS or cell tower location information, but because if a person is arrested a vast amount of personal information stored on a smartphone could be at an officer's fingertips.

''Someone puts data into their phone, birthdays, anniversaries, contact info, text messages, boyfriends, girlfriends, emails with all these people'' you have the expectation that that information is not going to be shared with the government simply on the whim of their asking,'' says Barket. ''Ultimately, courts, I hope, are not going to let that happen.''

When judging what constitutes a reasonable expectation of privacy, he notes, there is an informal test as to whether police might have gone too far. ''There is a creep factor,'' Barket says. ''How creepy does it make you feel?''

Visit Lawyers.com to learn more about privacy law and to find an attorney in your area who can answer your questions.

Internet Freedom

Preserving Internet Freedom | The White House

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:31

November 30, 2012 at 06:20 PM EST

In the coming week, a delegation of leaders from government, industry, and civil society will represent the United States at the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai. At that meeting, they will underscore the President's commitment to the multi-stakeholder, bottom-up, and decentralized governance structure that has been at the core of the Internet's success and continues to be the bedrock of U.S. global Internet policy.

In the lead-up to the meeting, three of the Administration's lead officials have posted their collective thoughts about the WCIT, viewable at any one of these sites:

Federal Communications Commission

National Telecommunications and Information Administration

State Department

Tom Power is Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy

A quick guide to the ITU's 'Internet takeover' conference, WCIT | Digital Trends

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:45

On Monday, 193 United Nations member states will gather in Dubai to decide the future of the Internet. The details are messy, confusing, and sometimes secret. And nobody knows what's going to happen. Here's a quick-and-dirty guide to filthy chaos that is the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications.

Next week, the United Nations will take over the Internet. Or, actually, it won't take over the Internet, but it's going to let the Russians take over the Internet. Or maybe it's just going to poke the Internet with a stick. No, no, wait, that's not right either'... Nobody's going to take over the Internet, but a bunch of ''important people'' from around the world are going to pretend like they know what's best for the Internet, and all we can do is sit around hoping they don't screw it up.

Yeah, that sounds more like it.

I'm talking, of course '' of course '' about the 2012 World Conference on International Telecommunications, or WCIT, which kicks off in the fun-loving city of Dubai on Monday, December 3, and runs through December 14. During WCIT (pronounced ''wicket''), member states of a UN agency called the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) will talk about a whole bunch of complicated stuff that could, somehow, affect the Internet we all love so much.

Problem is, the whole shebang is a giant mess. Worse, most of the filth is a secret '' one of the many reasons people, Internet advocacy groups, governments, and companies are freaking out.

Enough dilly-dallying: Here's what you need to know about the UN Internet takeover that isn't.

This is all about a treatyAt this year's WCIT, member states of the ITU will vote on changes to an old treaty called the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs). This treaty is what gives the ITU power over things like long-distance calling rates and other aspects of telecommunication.

Because the ITRs was established in 1988, before the Internet was the all-encompassing colossus it is today, its language is vague enough that everyone is bickering over whether the ITU has any power over the Internet. Some say yes. Others say no. So the purpose of WCIT 2012 is to clarify what types of rules the ITU can make concerning the Internet.

Everything was a secret '' but not anymoreOver the past year or more, governments and groups of governments '' the ''Arab states,'' the Asia-Pacific Telecommunity Administrations, etc '' have been hard at work crafting proposals for how to change the ITRs. A big part of the controversy is that most of these proposals were kept secret '' that is, until some rascally researchers at George Mason University's Mercatus Center created a document leak website, WCITLeaks.org. Because of the documents leaked to this website, we now know far more about what might go down in Dubai.

All hell could break looseLike all treaties, the ITRs can be adopted by countries, or not. Because of this, WCIT will be a consensus-building event, with a version of the ITRs that most member states will agree to sign. But it's entirely possible that some countries (like the U.S.) will choose to not sign the new ITRs. In which case, all hell will break loose '' at least, that's my understanding of the situation.

Many countries think the U.S. has too much powerOne thing that could turn WCIT into some type of apocalyptic, Mad Max free-for-all is the fact that most countries think the U.S. currently holds too much sway over the global Internet. That's because Uncle Sam has a whole lot'a sway. Mad sway.

See, the primary governing body over the Internet is the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN. This is the entity that controls things like IP addresses and domain names '' the key components to the Web. ICANN is heavily influenced by the U.S. government, which maintains key powers over the non-profit organization.

Not only is the headquarters of ICANN in Los Angeles, but the U.S. Department of Commerce has ultimate control over the underlying infrastructure of the Web: something called the DNS root zone, which includes the clusters of servers that make it possible for you to go to Google when you type google.com into your Web browser.

In other words: The U.S. has the power to control the Internet at its most basic levels.

Given that the Internet is a global network that has become crucial to virtually everyone on the planet, it's not really surprising that most other countries would want to have greater say in how it works. WCIT is their chance to do so.

Everyone in the U.S. is opposed to giving anyone else more powerThis is one of those rare instances where nearly all interested parties in the U.S. want the same thing. Both the House of Representatives and the White House have vowed to oppose giving the ITU or any other governments more power over the Internet. So has the Internet industry, especiallyGoogle. And even many Internet advocacy groups, like the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Public Knowledge, and the Center for Democracy & Technology think the ITU should keep its nose out of the Internet's business.

U.S. organizations aren't the only ones opposed to changing the status quo; earlier this month, the European Parliament voted on a resolution that directs EU member states to oppose any attempts to give the ITU or other governments more control over the Internet.

Governments, not the ITU itself, are what matterThe ITU is made up of world governments. So whatever happens at WCIT, it will be up to the ITU member states '' all 193 of them '' to decide which proposals make it into the ITRs, and which don't. The ITU is at the mercy of these governments. Whatever Frankenstein they dream up will be the monster that crawls off the operating table.

Censorship is a real concernNot only do they decide on what changes to make, but the governments of ITU member states could also end up with far greater power to control the Internet '' both outgoing traffic and incoming traffic '' in their respective borders. Critics of the ITU proposals, like Google and others, say that proposed changes to the ITRs could allow repressive regimes, like China, Iran, or Russia, to censor Web content, and otherwise make the global Internet less open.

The ITU itself says these fears are overblown.

Russia is a pain in the rearOf all the proposals ready to go on the table at WCIT, Russia's (PDF) is causing the most outrage. (U.S. Ambassador Terry Kramer called the Russian proposal ''shocking.'') That's because Russia wants to take the powers of Internet governance and give it to the governments of the world '' a radical change from the way things work now (i.e., the U.S. is effectively in charge of how the Internet works, at least on a technical level). Many of the concerns about what will happen at WCIT stem from the Russian proposal.

The whole thing is really just about moneyIn addition to concerns from U.S.-based Internet companies, like Google, that changes to the ITRs could result in more rules and burdensome regulation, the real worry is money. Some African and Asian nations, as well as the European Telecommunications Network Operators' Association (ETNO) want to impose something called ''sender party pays,'' which would require Web companies to pay local Internet operators around the world for the data-heavy traffic they send through their system. As former U.S. Ambassador David Gross told me earlier this year, the ETNO proposal would impose ''a radical change'' on ''the economics of the Internet.''

According to Amb. Gross and others, the establishment of ''sender party pays'' could, at the very least, result in companies like Google deciding that it is not worth it financially to operate in developing nations that generate little in the way of advertising revenue. This in turn could result in these countries being kicked further behind due to a lack of access to the open Web we enjoy here in the U.S.

Columnist Michael Geist concurs that ''sender party pays'' would ''create enormous new costs for major content providers such as Google or Netflix.''

''The long-term impact would be to either shift significant new costs to consumers or lead to a global digital divide in which the large content companies stop sending traffic to uneconomic countries where the financial return from sending traffic is outweighed by the new transmission costs,'' Geist wrote.

We don't know what will happenAt this point, nobody seems to know what is going to happen at WCIT. It really could go either way '' and that seems to have companies like Google mighty worried. So if you oppose changing the way the Internet works right now, you can sign Google's petition here, or the Center for Democracy & Technology's anti-ITU letter here.

Sign-on Letter Opposing ITU Authority Over the Internet | Center for Democracy & Technology

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:47

The following letter voices the concerns of civil society groups and academics from around the world about the upcoming conference of the International Telecommunication Union. The undersigned organizations and individuals wish to express to member states and government delegates their concerns about the closed nature of the ITU process and about specific proposals that would threaten Internet openness and the exercise of human rights online.

Civil society organizations and academics are invited to join this call. To sign the letter, contact signon@cdt.org.

Civil society groups around the world are translating this letter and submitting it to relevant government officials in their countries. The letter is available in the following languages:

Spanish (CELE, Argentina)Thai (Thai Netizen Network)Urdu (Bytes for All)Bangla (Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and Communication)Chinese (Human Rights in China)French (ISOC Qu(C)bec)

CDT's ITU Resource Center offers a range of tools, analyses, and links to useful commentary on the ITU conference that can help users understand this complex issue.

To Member States and Government Delegations of the International Telecommunication Union:

In the interests of promoting and protecting global Internet openness and the exercise of human rights online, we write to urge International Telecommunication Union (ITU) member states and their delegates to the World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) to refrain from expanding the scope of the International Telecommunication Regulations (ITRs) treaty to include the Internet.

At the WCIT, governments will consider proposals that would expand the scope of the ITRs to include the Internet. Such expansion could have a significant negative impact on the Internet's openness, its positive effects on economic growth, and the human rights of citizens.

As recently reaffirmed by the UN Human Rights Council, governments have a duty to protect human rights when making policy decisions for the Internet. However, while the ITU has extensive expertise in telecommunications policy and regulation, we do not believe that it is the appropriate forum to develop policies and standards that could affect the exercise of human rights on the Internet.

Further, the ITU maintains a relatively closed, non-transparent decision-making process in which only governments are allowed full participation. In contrast, the Internet has flourished under an open, decentralized model of governance, where groups representing business, the technical community, and Internet users as well as governments focus on different issues in a variety of forums. In keeping with the World Summit on Information Society commitments, we believe that such open, inclusive processes are necessary to ensure that policies and technical standards for the global Internet preserve the medium's decentralized and open nature and protect the human rights of its users.

In recent months, many civil society groups have urged the ITU to reform its process so that it is fully transparent and open to participation by all relevant stakeholders. Advocates have pushed for these changes not only because we believe that transparency and participation are the best approach, even with respect to telephony, but also because we feared that certain countries' proposals would pose grave threats to human rights on the Internet. Leaked documents detailing proposals for the WCIT have confirmed these fears. Thus, we both continue to call on member states to provide full transparency and open participation to all relevant stakeholders as they prepare for the WCIT, and urge all delegates to reject proposals that would threaten openness and human rights online.

We call on member states to:

Hold a transparent, inclusive preparatory process for the WCIT that is open to all relevant stakeholders. We ask that governments:

Publicly release WCIT proposals and position papers, documents from regional meetings they have participated in, and documents issued by other member states.Hold open, public consultations on the WCIT so that delegates may fully consider the interests of citizens as well as those of business and government.Inform citizens of the positions member states intend to take at the WCIT on key proposals made by other governments.Oppose expansion of the International Telecommunication Regulations to the Internet. We ask that delegates:

Rigorously examine proposals for their impact on human rights, Internet openness, innovation, and ICT access and development.Oppose proposals that would diminish the rights of users or limit Internet openness.What Can I Do?

If you're able, please consider circulating the letter among your civil society colleagues or helping to deliver the letter to relevant government officials.

Send the letter to government officials who are participating in the ITU process. This link leads to a full list of ITU member states. By clicking on a member state, you will be taken to a screen that shows various government ministries associated with the ITU. Click on any of these ministries, and you will find a page of contact information for individuals in those ministries. You might also coordinate this effort with other interested civil society groups in your country.Circulate the letter among your networks '' the letter is open for rolling sign-on, and interested groups should contact signon@cdt.org.Post the letter to your own website--add a PDF of the letter, or a link to this page (where sign-ons will be added as they are received.)Translate the letter to the language of your country/region '' we will post links to translations on this page.Sincerely,

AccessArticle 19Association of Digital Culture,TaiwanAsociaci"n por los Derechos Civiles, ArgentinaAssociation for Progressive CommunicationsBytes For All, PakistanCambodian Center for Human Rights, CambodiaCenter for Democracy & Technology, USCenter for Technology and Society - FGV, BrasilCommittee to Protect JournalistsConsumers InternationalDerechos Digitales, ChileEduardo Bertoni, Centro de Estudios en Libertad de Expresi"n y Acceso a la Informaci"n (CELE), Universidad de Palermo, ArgentinaEuropean Digital RightsFriedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, PakistanFundaci"n Karisma, ColombiaHuman Rights in China, USHuman Rights WatchIndex on CensorshipInternet Democracy Project, IndiaInternet Society - BulgariaKictanet, KenyaLa Quadrature du Net, FranceNawaat, TunisiaOpen Rights Group, UKOpen Technology Institute, USPanoptykon, PolandPublic Knowledge, USReporters Without BordersThai Netizen Network

Updated 14 November 2012

Bangladesh NGOs Network for Radio and CommunicationElectronic Frontier Foundation, USEuropean Privacy AssociationFree as the WebGlobal VoicesIndonesia Online AdvocacyInstituto Bem Estar, BrasilInstituto Nupef, BrazilInternet & Telecom Consumer Association of BangladeshISOC - BelgradeISOC - PhilippinesISOC - Qu(C)becISOC - SwedenKictanet, KenyaLIRNEasiaMovimento Mega N£oOpenMedia, CanadaSpanish Internet Users AssociationSociedade Internet no Brasil (ISOC BR)

NA School of Podcasting

Producer Matt

In case the School idea from the latest NA wasn¹t just a one-off joke, I could take care of it for you guys. I¹m a recently-ex-Disney web developer, and my first self-employment project is actually an online courseware system. If it was just a joke, feel free to say ³Ha, someone actually took it seriously² ­ otherwise, let me know and I¹ll finish building the system while you and John (and/or Mr Oil, voidzero, etc) write up some materials.

Ministry of Truth

Russia forced to deny Vladimir Putin's health is preventing him from working - Telegraph

Link to Article

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 04:16

"He is working as before, and plans to continue working at the same pace. He is also not planning to stop his sports activities, and, as any athlete, he may sometimes have pain in back, or arm, or leg - this has never affected his work efficiency," Peskov said.

The globe-trotting Russian strongman, 60, travelled actively ever since embarking on his historic third term in the Kremlin in May, but has not ventured outside Moscow since an official visit to Tajikistan on October 5.

This week the Kremlin confirmed that Mr Putin will be visiting Turkey next Monday, December 3.

Source: AFP

Deadline.com >> Blog ArchiveBBC Scandal: NYT CEO Delays Facing Staff Till "Early In The New Year"

Link to Article

Sun, 02 Dec 2012 12:22

BY THE DEADLINE TEAM | Friday November 30, 2012 @ 6:45pm PSTEmail This

New York Times Co. CEO Mark Thompson, who was interviewed a week ago in London in connection with the BBC scandal involving sex abuse claims against former TV host Jimmy Savile, notified the paper's staff in a memo today that conclusion of the investigation has been delayed. As a result Thompson, a former BBC director general who had planned to face Times staff questions December 17th and 18th, said those meetings won't take place until ''early in the new year''. Thompson was questioned last week about his role in squelching a news program about the claims against Savile. Content of that interview has not been made public but is expected to be disclosed by the time the inquiry wraps.

Related:BBC Directors Face Parliament Over Ongoing Crisis

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Syria

Has President Bashar al-Assad left for Moscow? Breaking

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 12:19

On Saturday evening, December 1, in the Arab blogs and social networks, including the network of microblogging Twitter, word spread that the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad had fled to Moscow. This is reported with reference to several sources, with even called suspicious flight, departing from Damascus. Syrian Air 441 avoiding Turkish airspace on its way from Damascus to Moscow. According to rumors VIP on board.There has been no civil air traffic to and from Syria last days. About 2 hours ago a flight took off from Damascus heading for Moscow. Twitter and Facebook is full of rumors that someone ''very important'' may be onboard that flight. Please notice that the information is unconfirmed.

The flight is avoiding Turkey after the incident in October when a Syrian Air flight was forced to land in Turkey.

The official website of the Russian Foreign Ministry has no posts related to that topic. The latest publication of Syria, dated December 1, reports on the meeting held Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilova with his Syrian counterpart, Faisal Miqdad. While Israeli portal NRG reports that the Russian Foreign Ministry denied the information about the flight of al-Assad to Moscow.

Remember, this is not the first time that the internet rumors about the death or escape of the Syrian president. In mid-July of this year the British newspaper The Guardian claimed that Assad was injured in the attack and left Damascus, and his wife Asma fled to Moscow.

It should be noted that in the discussion of the rumors are active bloggers and pro Israeli bloggers from around the world. Among the sources that are referenced by the authors '' Qatari TV ''Al Jazeera'', belonging to ''Hezbollah'' channel ''Al-Manar'' and the Israeli site Rotter.net, referring to Arab sources.

NWO

Obama Nation

"That's Sorta Like The Lump Of Coal You Get For Christmas! That's A Scrooged Christmas" Pres Obama

President Obama Already Misses Campaigning

Link to Article

Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:25

MRC TV is an online platform for people to share and view videos, articles and opinions on topics that are important to them -- from news to political issues and rip-roaring humor.

MRC TV is brought to you by the Media Research Center, a 501(c) 3 nonprofit research and education organization. The MRC is located at: 325 South Patrick Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For information about the MRC, please visit www.MRC.org.

Copyright (C) 2012, Media Research Center. All Rights Reserved.

Agenda 21

For A Lot Of People Climate Change Is A Distant Threat But We're Actually Seeing It Right Here & Now

Polar Ice Melting 3 Times Faster Than In The Nineteen Nineties

Chasing Ice

Link to Article

Sat, 01 Dec 2012 14:20

ABOUT THE FILMChasing Ice is the story of one man's mission to change the tide of history by gathering undeniable evidence of climate change. Using time-lapse cameras, his videos compress years into seconds and capture ancient mountains of ice in motion as they disappear at a breathtaking rate.

Vaccine$

Producer Teacher Sean

I could honestly say close to 40%. What's more scary is the casual nature which they all have about it.

About 80% of theses kids regularly say they are "so ADD"

And I hear " taking my meds" 10 times a day.

I have an interesting marketing plan using the absurd to combat the current normal.

Discontinue the ban on steroids.

Highschool football is a competitive sport and we need to give our kids every advantage to perform at their best that we can.

This is the theory used for adderall for

Getting better grades.

Crazy shit!

I'm just glad I teach music, I give them a break and let them cut loose.

HIV

VIDEO-gender inequity-Remarks in Recognition of World AIDS Day

Link to Article

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 03:32

Thank you all very much. Oh my goodness. Thank you. I think we could just end the program right now. (Laughter.) Florence, thank you. Thank you for continuing to be a smiling advocate on behalf of an AIDS-free generation. And congratulations on those two sons of yours, who are the strongest evidence of what we can achieve. I'm very grateful to you for sharing your energy, your story, and your passion with us today.I am so pleased to have this opportunity to unveil, formally, the blueprint for an AIDS-free generation. And this could not have happened without Dr. Eric Goosby. I've known Eric a long time. When I decided to accept the President's offer to become Secretary of State, I knew there was only one person that I would hope to recruit to become our Global AIDS Ambassador. Because Eric has both the firsthand experience, going back to the very beginning of his medical training and practice in San Francisco, to the vision he has as to continue to push us to do even more than we think we possibly can, and the drive to actually deliver that. He's a unique human being, and we are so grateful for his service. And I want to return the favor, my friend, and thank you publicly for everything you have done. (Applause.)

Also sitting in the front row is the man who has been leading the government's research efforts from the very early days of the epidemic, Dr. Tony Fauci. Thank you for being here and thank you for everything you have done. (Applause.)

From USAID, we have Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, who has also been, along with everyone at USAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies, one of those public servants who has dedicated his or her life to this work.

So I am grateful to everyone in our government who has done what has made all the difference. We could not be making this announcement had it not been for the countless hours in laboratories, at bedsides, in the field, everything that people have contributed.

And also let me thank Michel Sidibe, who has also been on the frontlines, and from UNAIDS, an absolutely essentially organization in playing the irreplaceable role in this fight. Thank you so much, Michel. (Applause.)

And Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman to chair the African Union Commission, a longtime public servant, government official, activist in South Africa. The AU is a critical partner in our work against HIV/AIDS, and I don't think there's anyone who is better positioned to lead the AU at this time. And the fact she's the first women to lead the AU in its 50-year history is an additional benefit. Thank you so much, my friend. (Applause.)

And to Senator Enzi and Congresswoman Lee and Congressman Bass, who truly have been leaders, but also represent members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. This is a program that really has had bipartisan support '' the leadership of President Bush in creating PEPFAR, the commitment and leadership of President Obama. This is something that I think has really made a difference for Americans and for America. It represents our very best values in practice.

So to all the members of Congress, the advocates and activists, the scientists, people living with HIV, thank you for joining us as we take this next step in the journey we began years ago, but which we formally announced a year ago, to change the course of this pandemic and usher in an AIDS-free generation.

Now, make no mistake about it: HIV may well be with us into the future. But the disease that it causes need not be. We can reach a point where virtually no children are born with the virus, and as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at a far lower risk of becoming infected than they are today. And if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from not only from developing AIDS, but from and passing the virus on to others.

Now earlier this year, at the International AIDS Conference here in Washington, I described some of the steps we have taken to achieve an AIDS-free generation. And today, I want to step back and make two broad points about this goal.

First, let's remember why, after so many years of discouraging news, this goal is now possible. By applying evidence-based strategies in the most effective combinations, we have cut the number of new infections dramatically. Just last week, UNAIDS announced that, over the past decade, the rate of new HIV infections has dropped by more than half in 25 low-and-middle-income countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. Just listen to these numbers: In Zimbabwe, a 50 percent reduction; in Namibia, a 68 percent reduction; and in Malawi, a 73 percent reduction in the rate of new infections.

So as we continue to drive down the number of new infections and drive up the number of people on treatment, eventually we will be able to treat more people than become infected every year. That will be the tipping point. We will then get ahead of the pandemic, and an AIDS-free generation will be in our sight. Now, we don't know how long it will take to do this everywhere, but we know that we can do it.

And that brings me to the second point: We've set the goal. We know it's possible. Now we have to deliver. That may sound obvious, but it isn't, because the history of global health and development is littered with grand plans that never panned out. And that matters, because if we make commitments and then fail to keep them, not only will our credibility be diminished, but people will lose heart. They will conclude, wrongly, that progress just isn't possible, and everyone will lose faith in each other. That will cost lives. And in the fight against HIV/AIDS, failing to live up to our commitments isn't just disappointing, it is deadly.

That's why I am so relentlessly focused on delivering results. In July, I asked Eric Goosby and his team to produce a plan to show precisely how America will help achieve an AIDS-free generation. As I said then, I want the next Congress, the next Secretary of State, and our partners everywhere to know how we will contribute to achieving this goal. And the result is the blueprint we are releasing today. It lays out five goals and many specific steps we will take to accomplish those goals.

First, we are committing to rapidly scaling up the most effective prevention and treatment interventions. And today, I can announce some new numbers that show how far we've already come. This year, through PEPFAR, we directly supported nearly 5.1 million people on antiretroviral treatment. (Applause.) That is a 200 percent increase since 2008.

Now, think for a moment what this means. What did Florence say was the only hope she could give her fellow women living with HIV? She said it was the ARVs. And this year, the American people gave that hope to more than 5 million of their fellow citizens on this earth. And through them, we gave hope to their families and communities, and I think that should make every American profoundly proud.

Now, our second goal is that the blueprint says we have to go where the virus is, targeting the populations at the greatest risk of contracting HIV, including people who inject drugs, sex workers, and those trafficked into prostitution, and men who have sex with men. (Applause.)

When discrimination, stigma, and other factors drive these groups into the shadows, the epidemic becomes that much harder to fight. That's why we are supporting country-led plans to expand services for key populations, and bolstering the efforts of civil society groups to reach out to them. And we are investing in research to identify the interventions that are most effective for each key population.

As part of our effort to go where the virus is, we are focusing even more intently on women and girls, because they are still at higher risk then men of acquiring HIV because of gender inequity and violence. So we are working to ensure that HIV/AIDS programs recognize the particular needs of women and girls, for example, by integrating these efforts with family planning and reproductive health services. (Applause.) We are also working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, invest in girls' education, address gender inequality, and take other steps that have been proven to lower their risk of contracting the virus.

Third, we will promote sustainability, efficiency, and effectiveness. We've already saved hundreds of millions of dollars by switching to generic drugs in our treatment regimen. And we will continue to ensure that we get the most out of every dollar spent.

Fourth, we will promote a global effort to achieve an AIDS-free generation, because this must be a shared responsibility. That means our partner countries must step up to the responsibilities of country ownership. And we look to our partner countries to define the services their people need the most, set priorities, and convene funding partners to coordinate. Donors must meet their funding commitments while also doing more to support country ownership.

To drive all these efforts, the United States will continue to support the Global Fund, we will invest in global health diplomacy, and use our diplomatic leverage to support our goals and bring others to the table.

And I have to say I was so impressed when I was in South Africa this summer. I went to Cape Town. We '' Eric and I went together, Ambassador was there, along with the South African Minister of Health, who has been an exemplary leader. Let's give the Minister of Health of South Africa a round of applause. (Applause.)

He has worked so hard with a great team and with President Zuma's full support to really take on the responsibility of country ownership and management. And when we were in the clinic in Cape Town, we saw some really impressive developments, including a more efficient way to dispense the drugs that are needed. And it was a great tribute to what the South African Government has been able to do in the last four years.

Now finally '' and this is really a call for the entire global health community '' science and evidence must continue to guide our work. For our part, the United States will support research on innovative technologies for prevention and treatment, such as microbicides and approaches that stave off opportunistic infections like TB. We will set clear, measurable benchmarks and monitor our progress toward them so we can focus our funding on what works. It is science that has brought us to this point; it is science that will allow us to finish this job.

So with this blueprint, I firmly believe we have laid out a plan that every American president and secretary and Congress will want to build on. And I urge other countries to develop their own blueprints, because to reach and AIDS-free generation, we have to keep moving forward.

So if we have any doubt about the importance of this work, just think of the joy and that big smile on Florence's face when she told us about giving birth to her two healthy HIV-negative sons. And think of that same sense of joy rippling out across an entire generation, tens of millions of mothers and fathers whose children will be born free of this disease, who will not know the horror of AIDS. That is the world we are working for, and nothing could be more exciting, more inspiring, more deserving of our dedication than that.

So I thank everyone across our government, because I know this was a whole-of-government effort. I thank you all for everything you have done, are doing, and will do to deliver on this important goal.

And now it's my great pleasure to welcome my friend and partner in the effort to the stage, the leader of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe. (Applause.)

VIDEO-Controversial HIV study begins in Montreal - Health - CBC News

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Sat, 01 Dec 2012 04:55

Montreal researchers are rounding up possible recruits for a controversial study on HIV that has already made headlines overseas.

A team of researchers is seeking the help of up to 400 HIV-negative gay men to determine whether an anti-retroviral drug could prevent the disease's spread by being ingested up to two hours before or up to a day after having sexual intercourse.

Dr. C(C)cile Tremblay, an infectious disease specialist at the Universit(C) de Montr(C)al, said the medical world is not doing enough to fight the disease.

"I am not satisfied with the status quo, I am not satisfied with what exists right now because we are not moving forward with this goal of eradicating HIV transmission," she said.

Thirteen per cent of gay men in Montreal are HIV-positive, said Tremblay

MethodologyResearchers will study about 400 men who are at high risk of contracting the disease. This means men with multiple partners, who work in the sex industry or whose partners are HIV-positive.

A three-year study conducted in South America and Thailand, which evaluated the effectiveness of a drug taken once every day, showed a 43.8 per cent reduction in the spread of HIV.

In the first study of its kind in North America, Tremblay will be testing the drug Truvada. Instead of taking a pill every day for the rest of their lives, people in the study will take it only when needed.

The research methods are controversial because half of the study's participants will be taking a placebo and there is fear they could be lulled into a false sense of security and stop using condoms.

Dr. Tremblay said other trials have shown people tend to keep themselves protected.

"That's always a worry," she said. "But what we've seen so far in other trials is that it hasn't been the case."

Tremblay said people will be given counselling to support them and encourage them to wear protection.

Researchers emphasize this drug is not meant to be a replacement for condoms but should be considered as an added tool of prevention.

The research will be conducted in two stages.

First, 100 participants will be enrolled in Montreal, another 200 in Paris.

Researchers will then consider adding more people in both cities.

IPERGAY hopes to study an additional 1,600 candidates in France, Canada and other countries.

Trial overseasThe Montreal trial is part of an on-going study in Paris '' a city considered to be a hotspot in the fight against AIDS '' and is funded by the French National Agency for AIDS Research.

Tom Craig, who is taking part in the French study in Paris, said men should take it upon themselves to participate in the research.

"We have to take an active part in what's going to happen in the future, not just politicians or governments. It's up to us. This is why I am in the study," he said.

VIDEO-The HIV/ AIDS Story is Being Rewritten

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:08

"Leung manages to present a barrage of intriguing theories debunking our generally accepted beliefs... There's no denying, however, the value of exploring such game-changing topics as how HIV-infection numbers are cooked for monetary and political gain; how the effects of global poverty may have led to so many AIDS-related deaths; how such widely used AIDS drugs as AZT have, themselves, often proved fatal; and whether HIV really exists."

Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

What would wipe out the flu? - MarketWatch

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 03:52

By Jen Wieczner

Despite a decades-long public healthy campaign, just over 40% of Americans get the flu shots '-- a number that hasn't budged in years. But research suggests that if twice as many people get them annually, the flu could be all but eradicated.

/conga/story/misc/alerts_sixwide.html238556Doctors and scientists say an 80% vaccination rate is the magic number for flu immunizations, that if reached could significantly reduce outbreaks '' or even wipe out the virus entirely. Studies have shown that when the flu vaccination rate in a community hits or surpasses that threshold, flu cases have dropped off sharply or disappeared altogether.

That hope for more widespread vaccinations is driving National Influenza Vaccination Week, which begins Monday and is sponsored by the Centers for Disease Control. ''When you get high levels of immunity, there's less transmission because the bug can't find the next susceptible person,'' says the CDC's Dr. Carolyn Bridges.

Health professionals, as a result, are increasingly encouraging people'--especially the young and healthy'--to get flu shots not just for the individual benefit of being less likely to get sick, but as an altruistic gesture to benefit society as a whole. See Investing in a better flu shot

/conga/story/misc/personal_finance.html234834''If enough people get vaccinated, you also protect the community,'' says William Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist and chair of the Vanderbilt Medical Center's department of preventive medicine in Nashville, Tenn. ''I always like to put in a very personal way: You don't want to bring influenza home to your grandparents or to a young child.''

The 80% effect is noteworthy: Studies of nursing home residents have shown that reaching that vaccination rate threshold significantly decreases flu outbreaks even in such a susceptible population. ''If it were higher than that, it has even more of an effect,'' Schaffner says.

Am I sick enough to stay at home?How to gauge when to take a sick day.

But health experts have struggled to get the message across to consumers, whose vaccination rates remain static'--even those doctors consider to be at highest risk for serious complications from the flu. The vaccination rate among high-risk adults, such as those with heart disease, has hovered around 40% for years, according to Bridges. ''The community protection is something that's a little harder to persuade people of,'' Schaffner says.

And while doctors see demand for flu shots screech to a halt after Thanksgiving, they still recommend that consumers get them now if they have not already, as flu season doesn't peak until February.

For needle-shy consumers who still have not gotten the vaccines, experts say there are new products aiding the flu-shot movement, such as shots that hurt less or nasal spray options that don't involve a prick at all. (There is also a more potent flu shot for people 65 and older, to address concerns that they weren't feeling the benefit of the regular vaccine.)

Plus, supporters say it's now easier and more convenient than in years past to get a flu shot, which are now offered by drugstores and many employers (14% of adults receive the flu vaccine at work, while a fifth get it at the pharmacy).

If those marketing messages aren't enough, some flu shot advocates may resort to scare tactics: ''If we have lots of people who are unvaccinated, that should put a chill through our spine because they're hazardous not just to ourselves but to their neighbors,'' Schaffner says.

U.S. Plans for New H5N1 Science Reviews Ruffle Researchers - ScienceInsider

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 05:05

The debate is expected to get a full hearing over the next few months. NIH says that it will soon release for public comment a white paper describing the plan in detail. And it plans to present the framework for discussion at an international workshop on H5N1 research that it is holding in Bethesda from 17 to 18 December. "We definitely want to hear what other countries are thinking about this," Patterson said.

"This is a global concern," Atlas says, and any U.S. policy "that can't be globalized is in the long run going to be ineffective."

A long-running debate

The framework has its roots in a long-running debate over how to regulate dual use biological studies that gained momentum after the 2001 anthrax attacks in the United States. After that attack, an expert panel assembled by the U.S. National Academies in 2003 recommended that the government and the scientific community work together to develop systems for identifying potentially risky research before it began, as well as ways to deal with study results that might pose a significant security threat if they fell into the wrong hands. The panel also recommended the creation of a panel similar to NSABB, which was created in 2004.

Both U.S. officials and scientists were caught relatively unprepared, however, when a controversy erupted in late 2011 over how to handle the results of two experiments in which scientists engineered the H5N1 virus, which normally is deadly in birds, to become transmissible between mammals, potentially opening the door to a dangerous human pandemic. The U.S. government asked NSABB to review the two studies, which were funded by NIH and had already been submitted for publication. After initially recommending that Nature and Science not publish the studies, a majority of the panel'--which has no regulatory authority'--lifted its objections to publishing only slightly revised versions of the manuscripts. The journals published the papers, by teams led by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and the University of Tokyo, and Ron Fouchier of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam, the Netherlands, in May and June, respectively.

The fallout from the controversy is far from over, however. This past January, avian influenza researchers imposed a voluntary moratorium on experiments that might make the H5N1 virus more dangerous to humans; it was initially supposed to last just a few months, but it is still in place with no end in sight. In March 2012, the U.S. government added "highly pathogenic" versions of the H5N1 virus to its list of potentially dangerous "select agents," and required funding agencies to take a closer look at the dual use potential of proposed and ongoing H5N1 studies. (Those reviews found just a handful of potentially problematic studies and stopped none, NIH officials say.) NIH officials also say that they are working on a hefty guidance document to help universities conduct their own reviews of potentially risky research'--with an eye toward having campus biosafety committees shoulder some of the responsibility.

Meanwhile, researchers worldwide have been debating whether the kind of H5N1 studies conducted by Fouchier and Kawaoka are actually needed. Known as "gain-of-function" studies, such experiments manipulate viral genes in ways that make the virus more transmissible, pathogenic, or expand its host range (increasing the kinds of animals it can infect). Many researchers say gain-of-function studies are key to understanding which kinds of genetic changes might make H5N1 more dangerous to humans and offer clues to better treatments. The results can also give biologists an early warning of what changes to look for in naturally occurring viruses. Critics, however, say the studies often offer few practical public health benefits, but pose plenty of risks if they enable a dangerous virus to escape from a poorly operated laboratory or provide a roadmap for terrorists.

To fund or not to fund?

The new framework is designed to reduce those risks, Patterson told NSABB, by adding special department-wide or government-wide reviews for experiments that are judged problematic by the first round of reviewers. It "attempts to set forth a conceptual framework for how we might approach, at least within HHS '... decisions about what we would be willing to fund or not fund," she said.

Patterson emphasized that the special reviews would only occur with experiments that propose to manipulate the H5N1 virus in ways that would allow it to "gain" transmissibility, pathogenicity, or host range. It would not apply to routine studies in which public health scientists characterize naturally occurring viruses or test how they respond to various drugs. So far, she added, NIH officials are aware of just "four or five" potential H5N1 grant requests that might trigger the special reviews.

Patterson said an interagency working group comprised of government science and security experts had "sketched out in pencil" seven criteria that studies would have to meet to be eligible for HHS funding. They are:

1. The research addresses a scientific question with high significance to public health;

2. The research does not intend, nor is reasonably anticipated to yield a HPAI H5N1 experimental virus which has increased transmissibility, pathogenicity, or expanded host range, unless there is evidence that such a virus could be produced through a natural evolutionary process in the foreseeable future;

3. There are no feasible alternative methods to address the same scientific question in a manner that poses less risk than does the proposed approach;

4. Biosafety risks to laboratory workers and the public can be sufficiently mitigated and managed;

5. Biosecurity risks can be sufficiently mitigated and managed;

6. The research information is anticipated to be broadly shared in order to realize its potential benefits to global health; and

The research is supported through funding mechanisms that facilitate appropriate oversight of the conduct and communication of the research.Patterson told NSABB that she expects most of the debate to center on the second criterion, which requires researchers to provide evidence that the virus they want to create could arise through natural evolution, meaning it might be something of practical interest to public health officials. "I'll just say outfront [that it] has been very controversial within the U.S. government discussions," she said. In part, that's because it is not clear what kind of evidence would be needed to show that an engineered virus might also arise naturally. "I've heard questions like: 'What constitutes evidence? What's the foreseeable future?' " Patterson said.

Sure enough, several NSABB members expressed doubts about the requirement, prompting Patterson to note that "I'm not hearing much love for criterion two."

"My read of this is that it really would put a stop '... to most of this research," said new NSABB Chair Samuel Stanley, who was trained as a medical doctor and is now president of Stony Brook University in New York. "I'm not sure how one would get that evidence. '... I think it sets a bar that may be too high in my opinion to allow you to do any gain-of-function [experiments]. '... While I certainly appreciate the risks, '... they are very powerful tools when used appropriately."

The idea "that we can do something that nature can't '... doesn't stand the test of credibility," added Kenneth Berns, director of the University of Florida's Genetics Institute in Gainsville. The criterion may need to be fine-tuned, he said.

Practical use?

Atlas, who watched a Web broadcast of the NSABB discussion, predicts that the first criterion, which requires researchers to show that a study has "high significance" to public health, will also spark debate. "It raises the bar," he says. "What is of direct public health benefit? I think we are going to get into a gray area about the differentiation between fundamental scientific knowledge and something that can be directly applied."

Secret science

The sixth and seventh criteria, which deal with the publication of results and funding mechanisms, hint at what might happen if government reviewers decide that a study is worth funding'--but the potential results are judged too risky to let into public view. "If there were a circumstance where it was deemed to be important for public health, but there were concerns about the nature of the research findings, we would reach out to the Department of Homeland Security [DHS], DOD [the Department of Defense], or other agencies that fund classified research and ask them to consider undertaking the project," Patterson said.

Another possibility, she said, is that researchers would be offered a contract (rather than a grant) that might require the work to take place in a highly secure laboratory or place restrictions on how the results could be shared.

After the anthrax attacks, HHS gained authority to classify work it funded but reportedly has never exercised that authority. In part, that is because the department's two major research arms'--NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention'--have policies of funding open science. In contrast, DHS and DOD have a history of conducting classified studies.

The pros and cons of secret research have been the subject of much NSABB debate, Patterson and several panel members noted. During this year's controversy over the two H5N1 studies, for instance, panelists had hoped that the U.S. government could find a legal and practical way to withhold the details from some people but not others, but it couldn't. Still, Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, said he hoped the government and scientists might still find some way of preferentially sharing risky results. "We seem to have somewhat divided into two camps: Those that believe this kind of functional research should be done and those that don't," he said. "To me, there has always been this middle place. '... There's got to be somewhere between [publishing results in the] open source literature and classified that we've got to figure out how to get to, because until we do we are going to be caught."

Mixed reactions

The proposal is drawing mixed reactions from scientists outside NSABB. Many wonder how controversial studies that have come up in the past, such as the Fouchier and Kawaoka studies, would have fared if the criteria had been in place.

Fouchier, for one, thinks that his work would have passed'--probably. "In my opinion our research meets all of these criteria," Fouchier writes in an e-mail to ScienceInsider. "Number 2 is a tough one, as I fail to see how one would get such evidence. It is not clear to me what research would be forbidden given these criteria. Of course, that depends on who will be reviewing the proposals. If it is reviewed by security people '... then a lot of research (and certainly ours) would not be funded by HHS."

Atlas guesses that both studies would have ultimately gotten the green light. "They probably would have triggered [the extra] review," he says, "but they would have met that criteria that [the H5N1 viruses the scientists wanted to create] would be expected to occur naturally." And there was a reasonable argument that the information could help with surveillance efforts.

One influenza researcher, however, believes that NIH's effort is off track. "I believe the NSABB is misguided in making gain-of-function experiments using H5N1 influenza viruses such an issue," virologist Peter Palese of Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City, writes to ScienceInsider in an e-mail. "Gain-of-function experiments are almost always loss-of-function experiments for another property. For example, making H5N1 influenza viruses more transmissible in ferrets (gain-of-function) results in a loss of pathogenicity of these [viral] mutants in the ferret (loss-of-function). Thus, the NSABB looks only at one side of the coin!"

The framework is getting better reviews from researchers who say the U.S. government has been too lax in regulating dual use research. "The proposed review guidelines are a step forward," writes Richard Ebright, a biologist at Rutgers University, Busch Campus, in New Jersey, in an e-mail to Science Insider. "However, they have crucial flaws that need to be addressed before implementation." In particular, he believes "the proposed process does not provide for a bona fide risk'‘benefit assessment," and that required lab security and safety precautions are still inadequate.

The coming debate

Patterson said there will be plenty of time for scientists and the public'--both here and abroad'--to air their views and help shape the final policy. One key question, she said, will be whether H5N1 gain-of-function studies are needed at all. "We need to have the courage to put those issues on the table," she said. "If we don't, '... any answer we come up with will be suspect, whether it is that some of this research should go forward, or none of it should go forward."

Patterson also went out of her way at the NSABB meeting to blunt the notion that the H5N1 framework is a first step toward imposing broader rules on other fields of research. "I would not like anyone to walk out of the room thinking that we are going to impose this on all of infectious disease research," she said. "But I do think it is a fair observation that for any other infectious agent that has pandemic potential, that some of these principles are applicable."

The main goal in creating the framework, she said, is to reduce the uncertainty facing researchers hoping to win U.S. funds for such studies. "People in the [H5N1] field '... do need some very concrete and practical guideposts right now '... to understand whether they can undertake [their work] or not," she said, adding that scientists want to know: "Are they going to get in trouble if they undertake it? Can they publish?"

Kristine Beardsley, a bioterrorism expert on the White House's national security staff who worked on the new framework, seconded that idea. Part of the intent, she said, is to provide "some sort of guidance" so that "scientists themselves can feel comfortable that the government is not going to be big brother and be asking them not to do this type of research."

She and other U.S. officials will soon find out, however, whether scientists see the new plan as comforting or corrosive.

Generic Lipitor lots recalled due to glass particles; Ranbaxy yanks 40 lots of the cholesterol drug

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Fri, 30 Nov 2012 23:15

Mel Evans/APForty-milligram tablets of the drug Lipitor photographed in Glen Rock, N.J., Tuesday, Nov. 15, 2005. Lipitor (atorvastatin calcium) is a prescription drug for lowering cholesterol. At first blush the Medicare drug benefit seniors began signing up for on Tuesday seems like a pharmaceutical executive's dream: Millions of people who formerly lacked drug coverage suddenly having the means to buy medicines. (AP Photo/Mel Evans)

Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals Inc. has recalled dozens of lots of its generic version of cholesterol drug Lipitor because some may contain tiny glass particles, the latest in a string of manufacturing deficiencies that once led U.S. regulators to bar imports of the Indian company's medicines.

Ranbaxy, a subsidiary of Ranbaxy Laboratories Ltd., India's biggest drugmaker, is operating under increased scrutiny from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration because of quality lapses at multiple Ranbaxy factories over the past several years. The FDA also has alleged the company lied about test results for more than two dozen of its generic drugs several years ago.

On Friday, Ranbaxy posted a notice on its U.S. website, saying it's recalling 10-, 20- and 40-milligram doses of tablets of atorvastatin calcium. That's generic Lipitor, the cholesterol fighter that reigned for years as the world's top-selling drug.The recall includes 41 lots of the drug, nearly all with 90 pills per bottle, but three lots contain 500 pills per bottle.

It's unclear how many bottles are in each lot, but medicine batches typically contain many thousands of pills. The 80-milligram strength tablets are not affected.

Ranbaxy spokesman Chuck Caprariello did not answer questions or provide any additional information beyond the statement on the company's website.

"Ranbaxy is proactively recalling the drug product lots out of an abundance of caution," the website statement read. "This recall is being conducted with the full knowledge of the U.S. FDA."

The company also filed a two-sentence statement with the Bombay Stock Exchange stating Ranbaxy's investigation would be completed within two weeks, but that after that temporary disruption to the U.S. supply, the company expected to resume shipments here.

Patients who've filled a prescription can contact their pharmacy to determine whether it was made by Ranbaxy or another generic drugmaker and, if it's from Ranbaxy, whether it came from a recalled lot.

Ranbaxy's manufacturing deficiencies, dating to 2006, led to a lengthy investigation and sanctions by the FDA. During the probe, federal investigators found Ranbaxy didn't properly test the shelf life and other safety factors of its drugs and then lied about the results.

In mid-2008, the FDA barred Ranbaxy from shipping into the U.S more than 30 different drugs made at factories in India. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Justice demanded Ranbaxy turn over internal documents, alleging the company lied about ingredients and formulations of some medications.

In early 2009, the FDA said it would not consider any new applications from Ranbaxy to sell in the U.S. any products made at the troubled factories.

As FDA discussions with Ranbaxy continued, it appeared Ranbaxy would lose its shot at a revenue windfall when Lipitor's generic U.S. patent expired last Nov. 30. At the time, Lipitor brought in almost $8 billion a year in U.S. sales.

As often happens when patents first expire, for the first six months only one generic rival could compete with brand-name Lipitor. Ranbaxy had that right, although an authorized generic from Lipitor maker Pfizer Inc. and partner Watson Pharmaceuticals Inc. went on sale on Dec. 1. With competition so limited, the generic prices only declined a bit from brand-name drug's price of about $115 a month '-- until several other generics entered the market six months later.

The FDA finally ended the suspense, deciding just before midnight on Nov. 30 to let Ranbaxy sell generic Lipitor made at the company's Ohm Laboratories factory in central New Jersey. It was unclear Friday whether the recalled Ranbaxy pills were made there or elsewhere.

Meanwhile, Ranbaxy is operating under a settlement with the FDA, called a consent decree, signed on Dec. 20, 2011. It requires Ranbaxy to improve manufacturing procedures, ensure data on its products is accurate and undergo extra oversight and review by an independent third party for five years.

Ranbaxy at the time set aside $500 million to cover potential criminal and civil liability stemming from the Justice Department investigation.

FDA reversal: Keep taking recalled cholesterol drug - CNN.com

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 05:06

Part of complete coverage on

By Elizabeth Cohen, Senior Medical Correspondent

updated 5:26 PM EST, Fri November 30, 2012

Ranbaxy Pharmaceuticals issued a recall November 9 of a generic form of Lipitor that might contain specks of glass.

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

Atorvastatin, or generic Lipitor, was recalled November 9The FDA changed its guidance after a conference call with pharmacies and other groups"We need to fix our process a little bit," says FDA officialEditor's note: The Empowered Patient is a regular feature from CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen that helps put you in the driver's seat when it comes to health care.

(CNN) -- The Food and Drug Administration advised patients Friday to keep taking a popular cholesterol drug even though it might contain specks of glass, reversing advice it gave just a day ago.

Millions of people take Ranbaxy Pharmaceutical's generic Lipitor, or atorvastatin, and many have been calling pharmacies confused about whether to take the drugs they have in their medicine cabinets.

Ranbaxy initiated a recall November 9 and told pharmacies to stop dispensing the drug, but gave no advice to consumers about what to do with what was in their medicine cabinets.

Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said the agency would review how it handles communication to the public during recalls.

"It took us some time to figure out what was going on," she said. "We need to fix our process a little bit."

FDA: Stop taking recalled cholesterol drug

Between 3 million and 4 million people take Ranbaxy's atorvastatin, according to Ross Muken, senior managing director at ISI Group. The company has more than a 40% share of the generic Lipitor market.

The FDA made no public statements on the recall until Thursday, when the agency said concerned patients should stop taking their medicine if their pharmacist confirmed it was from a recalled lot.

After a conference call Friday afternoon with pharmacies and other groups, the agency decided to change their guidance.

"Yesterday's statement was poorly phrased," Woodcock said Friday. "It made people think they should stop taking their medicine."

The glass particles are "the size of a grain of sand," she added.

The pills "aren't of the quality we would expect of a drug, but they aren't risky, either," Woodcock said.

Ranbaxy has stopped making atorvastatin while they investigate how the glass got into the drug, according to the FDA.

Recall leaves glass-specked drug in hands of patients

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President Obama Already Misses Campaigning

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Source: MRCTV - News & Politics

Fri, 30 Nov 2012 21:25

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Israelis Fear Palestinians Will Use New Status To Take Israel To ICC On War Crimes Charges In Gaza

Germany Approves Another 44 Billion Euro Bailout For Greece

UN Amb Susan Rice Holds Up To $600000 Dollars In Stock Of Company To Build Tar Sands Pipeline

VIDEO-Shock: Another MSNBC Contributor Accuses GOP of Racism and Sexism for Opposing Rice | MRCTV

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Fri, 30 Nov 2012 03:36

MSNBC Contributor Karen Finney became the latest MSNBC pundit to accuse the Republican Party of racism and sexism for opposing the nomination of Ambassador Susan Rice. Keep in mind, this comes from the same network that called Representative Allen West delusional and a criminal. I'm sure Senators Collins and Ayotte will be very surprised to find out that they hate women

VIDEO-The Great Dictator speech gets auto-tuned (Video) : theCHIVE

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Fri, 30 Nov 2012 03:59

November 29, 2012 | In: Awesome, Movies, Music, Random, Video

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If you've never heard Charlie Chaplin's climactic speech from ''The Great Dictator,'' you're in for an incredible treat. And if you have seen it, you're still in for a treat, because this is a pretty awesome remix of it, done by MelodySheep.

VIDEO-gender inequity-Remarks in Recognition of World AIDS Day

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Fri, 30 Nov 2012 03:32

Thank you all very much. Oh my goodness. Thank you. I think we could just end the program right now. (Laughter.) Florence, thank you. Thank you for continuing to be a smiling advocate on behalf of an AIDS-free generation. And congratulations on those two sons of yours, who are the strongest evidence of what we can achieve. I'm very grateful to you for sharing your energy, your story, and your passion with us today.I am so pleased to have this opportunity to unveil, formally, the blueprint for an AIDS-free generation. And this could not have happened without Dr. Eric Goosby. I've known Eric a long time. When I decided to accept the President's offer to become Secretary of State, I knew there was only one person that I would hope to recruit to become our Global AIDS Ambassador. Because Eric has both the firsthand experience, going back to the very beginning of his medical training and practice in San Francisco, to the vision he has as to continue to push us to do even more than we think we possibly can, and the drive to actually deliver that. He's a unique human being, and we are so grateful for his service. And I want to return the favor, my friend, and thank you publicly for everything you have done. (Applause.)

Also sitting in the front row is the man who has been leading the government's research efforts from the very early days of the epidemic, Dr. Tony Fauci. Thank you for being here and thank you for everything you have done. (Applause.)

From USAID, we have Dr. Ariel Pablos-Mendez, who has also been, along with everyone at USAID and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other government agencies, one of those public servants who has dedicated his or her life to this work.

So I am grateful to everyone in our government who has done what has made all the difference. We could not be making this announcement had it not been for the countless hours in laboratories, at bedsides, in the field, everything that people have contributed.

And also let me thank Michel Sidibe, who has also been on the frontlines, and from UNAIDS, an absolutely essentially organization in playing the irreplaceable role in this fight. Thank you so much, Michel. (Applause.)

And Dr. Dlamini-Zuma, the first woman to chair the African Union Commission, a longtime public servant, government official, activist in South Africa. The AU is a critical partner in our work against HIV/AIDS, and I don't think there's anyone who is better positioned to lead the AU at this time. And the fact she's the first women to lead the AU in its 50-year history is an additional benefit. Thank you so much, my friend. (Applause.)

And to Senator Enzi and Congresswoman Lee and Congressman Bass, who truly have been leaders, but also represent members of Congress on both sides of the aisle. This is a program that really has had bipartisan support '' the leadership of President Bush in creating PEPFAR, the commitment and leadership of President Obama. This is something that I think has really made a difference for Americans and for America. It represents our very best values in practice.

So to all the members of Congress, the advocates and activists, the scientists, people living with HIV, thank you for joining us as we take this next step in the journey we began years ago, but which we formally announced a year ago, to change the course of this pandemic and usher in an AIDS-free generation.

Now, make no mistake about it: HIV may well be with us into the future. But the disease that it causes need not be. We can reach a point where virtually no children are born with the virus, and as these children become teenagers and adults, they are at a far lower risk of becoming infected than they are today. And if they do acquire HIV, they have access to treatment that helps prevent them from not only from developing AIDS, but from and passing the virus on to others.

Now earlier this year, at the International AIDS Conference here in Washington, I described some of the steps we have taken to achieve an AIDS-free generation. And today, I want to step back and make two broad points about this goal.

First, let's remember why, after so many years of discouraging news, this goal is now possible. By applying evidence-based strategies in the most effective combinations, we have cut the number of new infections dramatically. Just last week, UNAIDS announced that, over the past decade, the rate of new HIV infections has dropped by more than half in 25 low-and-middle-income countries, most of them in Sub-Saharan Africa. Just listen to these numbers: In Zimbabwe, a 50 percent reduction; in Namibia, a 68 percent reduction; and in Malawi, a 73 percent reduction in the rate of new infections.

So as we continue to drive down the number of new infections and drive up the number of people on treatment, eventually we will be able to treat more people than become infected every year. That will be the tipping point. We will then get ahead of the pandemic, and an AIDS-free generation will be in our sight. Now, we don't know how long it will take to do this everywhere, but we know that we can do it.

And that brings me to the second point: We've set the goal. We know it's possible. Now we have to deliver. That may sound obvious, but it isn't, because the history of global health and development is littered with grand plans that never panned out. And that matters, because if we make commitments and then fail to keep them, not only will our credibility be diminished, but people will lose heart. They will conclude, wrongly, that progress just isn't possible, and everyone will lose faith in each other. That will cost lives. And in the fight against HIV/AIDS, failing to live up to our commitments isn't just disappointing, it is deadly.

That's why I am so relentlessly focused on delivering results. In July, I asked Eric Goosby and his team to produce a plan to show precisely how America will help achieve an AIDS-free generation. As I said then, I want the next Congress, the next Secretary of State, and our partners everywhere to know how we will contribute to achieving this goal. And the result is the blueprint we are releasing today. It lays out five goals and many specific steps we will take to accomplish those goals.

First, we are committing to rapidly scaling up the most effective prevention and treatment interventions. And today, I can announce some new numbers that show how far we've already come. This year, through PEPFAR, we directly supported nearly 5.1 million people on antiretroviral treatment. (Applause.) That is a 200 percent increase since 2008.

Now, think for a moment what this means. What did Florence say was the only hope she could give her fellow women living with HIV? She said it was the ARVs. And this year, the American people gave that hope to more than 5 million of their fellow citizens on this earth. And through them, we gave hope to their families and communities, and I think that should make every American profoundly proud.

Now, our second goal is that the blueprint says we have to go where the virus is, targeting the populations at the greatest risk of contracting HIV, including people who inject drugs, sex workers, and those trafficked into prostitution, and men who have sex with men. (Applause.)

When discrimination, stigma, and other factors drive these groups into the shadows, the epidemic becomes that much harder to fight. That's why we are supporting country-led plans to expand services for key populations, and bolstering the efforts of civil society groups to reach out to them. And we are investing in research to identify the interventions that are most effective for each key population.

As part of our effort to go where the virus is, we are focusing even more intently on women and girls, because they are still at higher risk then men of acquiring HIV because of gender inequity and violence. So we are working to ensure that HIV/AIDS programs recognize the particular needs of women and girls, for example, by integrating these efforts with family planning and reproductive health services. (Applause.) We are also working to prevent and respond to gender-based violence, invest in girls' education, address gender inequality, and take other steps that have been proven to lower their risk of contracting the virus.

Third, we will promote sustainability, efficiency, and effectiveness. We've already saved hundreds of millions of dollars by switching to generic drugs in our treatment regimen. And we will continue to ensure that we get the most out of every dollar spent.

Fourth, we will promote a global effort to achieve an AIDS-free generation, because this must be a shared responsibility. That means our partner countries must step up to the responsibilities of country ownership. And we look to our partner countries to define the services their people need the most, set priorities, and convene funding partners to coordinate. Donors must meet their funding commitments while also doing more to support country ownership.

To drive all these efforts, the United States will continue to support the Global Fund, we will invest in global health diplomacy, and use our diplomatic leverage to support our goals and bring others to the table.

And I have to say I was so impressed when I was in South Africa this summer. I went to Cape Town. We '' Eric and I went together, Ambassador was there, along with the South African Minister of Health, who has been an exemplary leader. Let's give the Minister of Health of South Africa a round of applause. (Applause.)

He has worked so hard with a great team and with President Zuma's full support to really take on the responsibility of country ownership and management. And when we were in the clinic in Cape Town, we saw some really impressive developments, including a more efficient way to dispense the drugs that are needed. And it was a great tribute to what the South African Government has been able to do in the last four years.

Now finally '' and this is really a call for the entire global health community '' science and evidence must continue to guide our work. For our part, the United States will support research on innovative technologies for prevention and treatment, such as microbicides and approaches that stave off opportunistic infections like TB. We will set clear, measurable benchmarks and monitor our progress toward them so we can focus our funding on what works. It is science that has brought us to this point; it is science that will allow us to finish this job.

So with this blueprint, I firmly believe we have laid out a plan that every American president and secretary and Congress will want to build on. And I urge other countries to develop their own blueprints, because to reach and AIDS-free generation, we have to keep moving forward.

So if we have any doubt about the importance of this work, just think of the joy and that big smile on Florence's face when she told us about giving birth to her two healthy HIV-negative sons. And think of that same sense of joy rippling out across an entire generation, tens of millions of mothers and fathers whose children will be born free of this disease, who will not know the horror of AIDS. That is the world we are working for, and nothing could be more exciting, more inspiring, more deserving of our dedication than that.

So I thank everyone across our government, because I know this was a whole-of-government effort. I thank you all for everything you have done, are doing, and will do to deliver on this important goal.

And now it's my great pleasure to welcome my friend and partner in the effort to the stage, the leader of UNAIDS, Michel Sidibe. (Applause.)

VIDEO-The HIV/ AIDS Story is Being Rewritten

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Sun, 02 Dec 2012 04:08

"Leung manages to present a barrage of intriguing theories debunking our generally accepted beliefs... There's no denying, however, the value of exploring such game-changing topics as how HIV-infection numbers are cooked for monetary and political gain; how the effects of global poverty may have led to so many AIDS-related deaths; how such widely used AIDS drugs as AZT have, themselves, often proved fatal; and whether HIV really exists."

Gary Goldstein, Los Angeles Times

VIDEO-Controversial HIV study begins in Montreal - Health - CBC News

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Sat, 01 Dec 2012 04:55

Montreal researchers are rounding up possible recruits for a controversial study on HIV that has already made headlines overseas.

A team of researchers is seeking the help of up to 400 HIV-negative gay men to determine whether an anti-retroviral drug could prevent the disease's spread by being ingested up to two hours before or up to a day after having sexual intercourse.

Dr. C(C)cile Tremblay, an infectious disease specialist at the Universit(C) de Montr(C)al, said the medical world is not doing enough to fight the disease.

"I am not satisfied with the status quo, I am not satisfied with what exists right now because we are not moving forward with this goal of eradicating HIV transmission," she said.

Thirteen per cent of gay men in Montreal are HIV-positive, said Tremblay

MethodologyResearchers will study about 400 men who are at high risk of contracting the disease. This means men with multiple partners, who work in the sex industry or whose partners are HIV-positive.

A three-year study conducted in South America and Thailand, which evaluated the effectiveness of a drug taken once every day, showed a 43.8 per cent reduction in the spread of HIV.

In the first study of its kind in North America, Tremblay will be testing the drug Truvada. Instead of taking a pill every day for the rest of their lives, people in the study will take it only when needed.

The research methods are controversial because half of the study's participants will be taking a placebo and there is fear they could be lulled into a false sense of security and stop using condoms.

Dr. Tremblay said other trials have shown people tend to keep themselves protected.

"That's always a worry," she said. "But what we've seen so far in other trials is that it hasn't been the case."

Tremblay said people will be given counselling to support them and encourage them to wear protection.

Researchers emphasize this drug is not meant to be a replacement for condoms but should be considered as an added tool of prevention.

The research will be conducted in two stages.

First, 100 participants will be enrolled in Montreal, another 200 in Paris.

Researchers will then consider adding more people in both cities.

IPERGAY hopes to study an additional 1,600 candidates in France, Canada and other countries.

Trial overseasThe Montreal trial is part of an on-going study in Paris '' a city considered to be a hotspot in the fight against AIDS '' and is funded by the French National Agency for AIDS Research.

Tom Craig, who is taking part in the French study in Paris, said men should take it upon themselves to participate in the research.

"We have to take an active part in what's going to happen in the future, not just politicians or governments. It's up to us. This is why I am in the study," he said.

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