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No Agenda Episode 449

By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 12:36 PM.

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By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 12:37 PM.

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By Adam Curry. Posted Thursday, October 04, 2012 at 12:37 PM.

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Executive Producers: Sir Adam Johnson, Mathias Andersen, Sir Frank Ajzensztat

Associate Executive Producers: Paul J Sankowski, Rick Cable, Sizzy

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Ministry of Truth

Wikimedia U.K. under investigation, fund access cut | Internet & Media - CNET News

Link to Article

Mon, 01 Oct 2012 22:39

The Wikimedia Foundation has stepped in with an ethics investigation into Wikimedia U.K.'s conduct in a paid-PR scandal that isn't likely to go away anytime soon.

Two weeks ago, a Wikimedia U.K. trustee named Roger Bamkin was exposed in a paid PR scandal that embarrassed the organization behind the Internet's community encyclopedia. Bamkin was accused of doing special favors on Wikipedia for a paid client, the tiny country Gibraltar.A week later, Bamkin quit, but was not exactly apologetic.

But that's not the end of the story. Wikimedia U.K. has had control of its funding taken away and is under investigation by the parent Wikimedia Foundation.

A joint statement issued by the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia U.K. said an ethics investigation will begin, and Wikimedia U.K.'s name will need to be cleared before the British chapter would be able to access the current year's donations. The Wikimedia Foundation wrote:

Over the past six months, a Wikimedia U.K. trustee led two Wikipedia-related projects, Monmouthpedia and Gibraltarpedia, in a way that seemed to some observers to blur his roles as a Wikimedia U.K. trustee, a paid consultant for the projects' government partners, and an editor of the English Wikipedia. This raised questions in the Wikimedia community about whether a trustee was able to balance appropriately the interests of his clients with his responsibilities to Wikimedia U.K., the values and editorial policies of Wikipedia, and whether any conflict of interest that arose as a result was effectively managed.

To better understand the facts and details of these allegations and to ensure that governance arrangements commensurate with the standing of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikimedia U.K. and the worldwide Wikimedia movement, Wikimedia U.K.'s trustees and the Wikimedia Foundation will jointly appoint an independent expert advisor to objectively review both Wikimedia U.K.'s governance arrangements and its handling of the conflict of interest...

Once the review is completed, it will be reviewed by both the Wikimedia Foundation and Wikimedia U.K. and then published. At the same time, Wikimedia U.K. has agreed with the Wikimedia Foundation that the foundation shall process payments for the United Kingdom during this year's fundraiser...

The Wikimedia Foundation is the organization that funds Wikipedia. Here's how it works: Countries are broken into individual chapters. Each chapter, like Wikimedia U.K., is a charitable, not-for-profit foundation that must adhere to its country's laws for charity status, and must adhere to the Wikimedia Foundation's rules in exchange for using the Wikimedia name and its brand benefits, among other things.

Until yesterday, people in the U.K. who wanted to give money to Wikipedia ended up at the Wikimedia U.K. Web site (where U.K. law applied in regard to things like tax receipts and gift-matching).

Now those people will end up at the main Wikimedia Foundation fundraising site in the United States. The U.K. donations will go to the U.S.-based foundation.

With Wikimedia U.K. no longer allowed to handle its own donations locally, tax-wise it is the same as if Wikimedia U.K. were not a charity at all.

It remains to be seen how this might impact Wikimedia U.K.'s budget for next year, but it's a serious slap in the face for Wikimedia U.K.

Bamkin has not admitted to any ethical breach. Most of his colleagues at Wikimedia U.K. have defended him with vitriol and unapologetically stand by his conduct in advancing the interests of his clients.On the public Wikimedia e-mail list, Bamkin has expressed his disappointment in the joint statement in a situation he sees as "an unfortunate bit of publicity for Wikimedia U.K. and the Foundation." He maintained that he made his business interests clear to Wikimedia U.K., yet then contradicted himself on his own page saying "It could be that you were unaware of my declared conflicts of interest, however it wasn't your job to be aware..."

Bamkin also reasserted the necessity of retaining his paid-PR Wikipedia clients with the parenthetical, "I have to eat."

Nonetheless, the Wikimedia Foundation has announced that independent investigators will be deciding the fate of $2 million in funds the foundation has frozen, unless Wikimedia U.K. and its trustees can be cleared of ethical impropriety.

When Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales was told about Bamkin's client in relation to Wikimedia U.K. Wales wrote:

It is wildly inappropriate for a board member of a chapter, or anyone else in an official role of any kind in a charity associated with Wikipedia, to take payment from customers in exchange for securing favorable placement on the front page of Wikipedia or anywhere else. - Jimbo Wales (talk) 00:54, 17 September 2012 (UTC)

The paid-PR scandal is the second scandal to hit Wikimedia U.K. this year. Just two months ago, Wikimedia U.K.'s chair was forced to resign after he was accused of violating rules around linking to explicit sexual material in the biographies of living persons, as well as using multiple accounts ("sock puppeting") and launching ad hominem attacks.

Perhaps now is a good time for the Wikimedia Foundation to play a stronger role in the guidance of its wayward U.K. organization.

DHS

Hidden Government Scanners Will Instantly Know Everything About You From 164 Feet Away

AP News: Intelligence effort named citizens, not terrorists

Link to Article

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 02:18

WASHINGTON (AP) - A multibillion-dollar information-sharing program created in the aftermath of 9/11 has improperly collected information about innocent Americans and produced little valuable intelligence on terrorism, a Senate report concludes. It portrays an effort that ballooned far beyond anyone's ability to control.

What began as an attempt to put local, state and federal officials in the same room analyzing the same intelligence has instead cost huge amounts of money for data-mining software, flat screen televisions and, in Arizona, two fully equipped Chevrolet Tahoes that are used for commuting, investigators found.

The lengthy, bipartisan report is a scathing evaluation of what the Department of Homeland Security has held up as a crown jewel of its security efforts. The report underscores a reality of post-9/11 Washington: National security programs tend to grow, never shrink, even when their money and manpower far surpass the actual subject of terrorism. Much of this money went for ordinary local crime-fighting. Full Story

Elite$

Bosom buddies: Hillary Clinton honours Christina Aguilera's achievements!

Link to Article

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 11:32

By James Nye

PUBLISHED: 20:31 EST, 3 October 2012 | UPDATED: 05:59 EST, 4 October 2012

Hillary Clinton and Christina Aguilera were bosom buddies for the day as the Grammy-award winning singer was honoured at the State Department for her work against global hunger.

Wearing a low-cut purple dress that showed off her fuller figure, Aguilera, 31, was watched intently by the Secretary of State in a stare which would have surely landed her husband Bill Clinton in trouble.

Celebrating Aguilera's achievements as a United Nations World Food Program Ambassador Against Hunger, Clinton today hosted a ceremony as part of the 11th annual George McGovern Leadership Award in Washington D.C.

Christina Aguilera and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at this year's McGovern Awards that were handed to Aguilera for her help fighting global hunger, on October 3, 2012, at the US Department of State

The ceremony concluded with a special tribute to The Voice star from Clinton as well as a roundtable discussion between Aguilera, CEO of Yum! Brands Inc David Novak and U.S. Agency for International Development administrator Raj Shah.

Clinton and Aguilera seemed to get along famously at the event, held to mark the nearly $115 million raised by the pop-star for the United Nation's World Food Program and other international hunger relief organisations since 2007.

Marking just over two-years since her appointment as an ambassador against hunger by the United Nations, Aguilera has spoken in the past on how seriously she takes her role.

'A child dies every 6 seconds of hunger, which is a huge statistic for me,' said Aguilera to Oprah Winfrey, as she announced her appointment on Winfrey's popular TV talk show in 2010.

'After having my own child, I just had to be a part of it and do something about it and help change that situation," she said.

United Nations World Food Program Ambassador Against Hunger Christina Aguilera kisses Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during the 11th annual George McGovern Leadership Award ceremony on October 3, 2012 in Washington, DC.

The Voice star Christina Aguilera and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 11th annual George McGovern Leadership Award ceremony

Pop star Christina Aguilera went for a demure look with her hair tied back for her meeting with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

Looking very demure with her hair tied back, Aguilera looked comfortable surrounded by high-level CEO's and the United States' top diplomat.

Aguilera's appearance came just two days after she denied describing herself as a 'fat girl' in a new interview.

The Voice star was thought to have spoken out about her body image in a series of quotes widely attributed to Billboard magazine.

But her spokesman has since described the comments as 'made up'.

The mother-of-one was reported to have said: 'During the promotion of Stripped in 2002 I got tired of being a skinny, white girl.'

Christina Aguilera's work in combating global hunger was marked at the U.S. State Department today

Christina Aguilera talks with Yum! Chairman and CEO David Novak at the George McGovern Leadership Award Ceremony

Christina Aguilera and David Novak were honored for their world hunger relief efforts by the World Food Program in Washington

The fabricated quote continued: 'I am Ecuadorian but people felt so safe passing me off as a skinny, blue-eyed white girl.

'The next time my label saw me, I was heavier, darker and full of piercings! Let me tell you, that wasn't an easy pill for them to swallow. I had gained about 15 pounds during promotion and during my Stripped tour.

She's back: After her 2010 album Bionic flopped Christina has a new release, Lotus

'They called this serious emergency meeting about how there was a lot of backlash about my weight.

'Basically, they told me I would affect a lot of people if I gained weight - the production, musical directors.'

'[They claimed] people I toured with would also miss out if I gained weight because I would sell no records or tickets for my shows.

'I was young, so I lost the weight quickly and was toothpick thin during Back to Basics promos and touring.'

Reports claimed she decided to stand up to record executives while promoting her new release Lotus by saying: 'You are working with a fat girl. Know it now and get over it.

'They need a reminder sometimes that I don't belong to them. It's my body.

'My body can't put anyone in jeopardy of not making money any more - my body is just not on the table that way any more.'

But the extensive anecdote does not in fact feature in Billboard magazine's cover story and her spokesperson told MailOnline: 'These quotes are wrong '' she never said them.'

Aguilera is currently promoting her new album Lotus, in stores November 13, and she is no doubt hoping for a strong comeback after 2010 flop Bionic.

While her body image was not mentioned, she did speak to Billboard that about her new release, saying: 'It represents a celebration of the new me.

'And to me the lotus has always represented this unbreakable flower that withstands any harsh weather conditions in its surroundings.

'It withstands time and remains beautiful and strong throughout the years.

'I tried to infuse as much as I could to promote strength and inspire people with that message.

'And now I'm at a place at 31, where the last time I felt this way was when I was 21... and I had a lot to say and a lot to express.'

Remarks at the World Food Program

Link to Article

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:00

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. Halima, please tell all of the women in the valley how proud I am of them and what they are doing, and thank them for taking such good care of that sweet pepper plant '' (laughter) '' so it would have a good yield. And thank you for coming to be with us for this event today, because really what you represent and what you just said is so important to us to know that our efforts are helping you make a difference.

And let me welcome all of you here to the State Department, to the Benjamin Franklin Room. I think Mr. Franklin would be very happy we're having this event here. There are so many champions in the fight against hunger and food insecurity who are here with us today. I thank Frank Sesno for once again lending his experience and expertise to this important mission that we share. I thank Hunter Biden for, as was said, continuing his extraordinary family's record of service and stewardship. Thank you so much, Hunter. And Rick Leach, who provides essential leadership for World Food Program USA.

And I also want to pay tribute to Dr. Raj Shah, who is here in his capacity as the Administrator of USAID, but the real story behind his becoming Administrator of USAID is that I stole him from USDA, where he was working on these issues and was one of our absolutely indispensible partners in conceiving and putting together Feed the Future. And under Raj's leadership, USAID is doing an amazing job of implementing the vision that we had at the beginning of this Administration.

I also want to thank David Lane, Ambassador Lane, who is our Ambassador to the World Food Program. And it's good to see you here and thank you for your leadership. I also want to acknowledge a dear friend, a Congressman who, upon hearing that I would be nominated to be Secretary of State, set up an appointment to talk to me about hunger. Jim McGovern, thank you for your years of commitment on these issues that affect people's lives and futures. (Applause.)

Dan Glickman, a former Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and one of the real brains behind the Chicago Council Report on Food Security and Ending Hunger, and so many others who are here who have been involved in this struggle. And of course, we wouldn't be here were it not for the man who inspired this award, Senator George McGovern, who his entire 90 years has been at the forefront of our nation's fight against hunger. And I was thrilled to receive this award from him two years ago because I admire and respect the work that he's done over a lifetime.

And then finally, the two people that we are here to honor today. You'll hear more about David and Christina, but I am personally delighted that they would come from the world of business and entertainment and, with such passion and commitment, really give of themselves to this global issue. And we are so grateful to you both. If I could sing, Christina, I would '' (laughter) '' want to be on your team. (Laughter and applause.) But since I can't, I'm glad you're on this team. (Laughter.)

Before we hear from David and Christina, I want to take just a moment to look at how far we have come since starting this journey together four years ago. We had studied the historic trends and saw that while the Green Revolution had lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, it had largely bypassed many others, especially in Africa. At the same time, if you remember back to the global economic crisis of 2008, one of the impacts was skyrocketing food prices combined with climate problems that really conspired to put so many people into hunger and malnutrition. There were, for the first time in history, more than one billion hungry people in the world.

And so the Obama Administration and partners around the world looked at how both the trend lines and the headlines were talking to us, and said: Look, we can't wait; we have to act now. And we called on G-8 donor partners, and at the G-8 Summit in L'Aquila, they came up with the Food Security Initiative, which was an unprecedented $22 billion commitment. And the United States did our part with President Obama's announcement of a $3.5 billion pledge, which led to our Feed the Future program.

As you saw on the video, our efforts are starting to pay off. Feed the Future has helped 9 million children get the nutrition they need to thrive, especially in those first 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child's second birthday. We're working with the private sector to help farmers connect with markets where they get better prices for their products. Nearly 2 million more farmers are producing the high-quality, sustainably grown products '' like rice, coffee, and cacao '' that businesses and customers are demanding. Now, we have an ambitious research agenda, collaborating with the private sector, on the next generation of tools that will accelerate our progress. And we will soon launch an action plan to deepen our work with civil society groups.

So we have a full agenda and we're moving ahead. But I think it's fair to say that we're quite humble about the challenges ahead of us. We are racing to stay ahead of climate change, of droughts, in our country and around the world. We're racing to stay ahead of conflict that disrupts markets and terrorizes smallholder farmers, particularly women. We're racing to stay ahead of corruption that stands in the way of farmers getting a decent price for their products or even getting their harvest to market unspoiled.

So we know we face a lot of very big obstacles. But what I'm encouraged by, and excited even, is how far we have come and the fact that we have a vision and a plan about how we're going to get the rest of the way, because we cannot accept a world where children go hungry simply because of where they are born.

So I often say we need everyone who cares about this issue to stand up and use their voice. And well, with Christina, that is literally true. (Laughter.) Now, although she is best known for her chart-topping hits and her top-rated television show, she's also a mom and a concerned citizen. And as a World Food Program Ambassador Against Hunger, she has traveled to Latin America and seen firsthand the devastation that malnutrition, especially early in life, can cause. And of all the videos that Christina has made over the years, to me the most heartwarming may be the one where she sits with a group of kids in Haiti and sings ''Itsy Bitsy Spider.'' I even know that song, Christina. (Laughter.)

But I am so appreciative of what you're giving to the cause. I mean, it's easy when you're a big star, as you rightly are, to just stay focused on what you're doing and producing. But you've used your talent to help others, and that is a great gift.

Now, if there is a rock star of the food industry, that is David, the man who oversees some of the best-known brands in the world, and now he is turning his relentless drive and enthusiasm to Yum! Brands' World Hunger Relief initiative.

With Christina as its global spokesperson, this program has become one of the largest private sector hunger relief efforts in the world, raising $115 million for the World Food Program and other organizations, and providing 460 million meals to hungry children around the globe. That's the kind of commitment that Rick and the World Food Program here in the United States and around the world are really grateful for. So thank you for taking your business success and just matching those up with values and compassion and doing so much for others.

Now as we look ahead, we are hoping to keep expanding the circle of partners. We want to bring in more private sector partners, more civil society groups, more faith communities, and we want to bring in people who are on the front lines, women who themselves know what we're talking about. And we need to measure progress not just by what individuals can do, but by what we all together can achieve.

So it's been my great privilege to work with all of you, and we're going to make sure that this commitment stays institutionalized at USAID and the State Department for the foreseeable future, because we have a lot to do before we can rest easy.

But it's been a great honor for me, and now I think we're going to give out some awards, right? Oh, we're going to do another video, Frank. Okay. So we're going to do another video '' (laughter) '' and pay attention to the video and then we'll hear from our two honorees. (Applause.)

Cyber War$

Washington confirms Chinese hack attack on White House computer | Fox News

Link to Article

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 09:35

White House sources partly confirmed an alarming report that U.S. government computers -- reportedly including systems used by the military for nuclear commands -- were breached by Chinese hackers.

''This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network,'' a White House official told FoxNews.com. ''These types of attacks are not infrequent and we have mitigation measures in place.''

A law enforcement official who works with members of the White House Military Office confirmed the Chinese attack to FoxNews.com on Monday, but it remains unclear what information, if any, was taken or left behind.

"This [White House Communications Agency] guy opened an email he wasn't supposed to open," the source said.

That email contained a spear phishing attack from a computer server in China, the law enforcement source told FoxNews.com. The attack was first reported by the conservative blog Free Beacon. Spear phishing involves the use of messages disguised to appear as valid; in fact, they contain targeted, malicious attempts to access sensitive or confidential information.

By opening the email, which likely contained a link to a malicious site or some form of attachment, the agency member allowed the Chinese hacker to access a system, explained Anup Ghosh, founder and CEO of security company Invincea.

"The attack originated in the form of a spear phish, which involves a spoofed inbound email with either a link to a malicious website or a weaponized document attachment such as a .pdf, Microsoft Excel file or Word document," he told FoxNews.com.

'Today, training is the primary solution to this problem ... and training simply does not work.'

- Cybersecurity expert Anup Ghosh

Free Beacon claimed that the U.S. government's most sensitive networks were breached in the incident, which took place early last month.

''One official said the cyberbreach was one of Beijing's most brazen cyberattacks against the United States,'' the report said.

The law enforcement source told FoxNews.com he was notified of the successful phishing incident but did not know what information was actually accessed. A White House official downplayed that report, saying that the system involved was not a sensitive nuclear system, and no evidence indicated that information was actually taken.

''In this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever that any exfiltration of data took place. Moreover, there was never any impact or attempted breach of any classified system,'' he said.

The attempted hacking of U.S. military networks used by the White House is a common occurrence, but success is rare.

Due to the volume of these attempts on secure computers, law enforcement, military, and members of other agencies with access to those systems and other White House secure networks have strict rules about email and Internet usage, the law enforcement official explained to FoxNews.com.

Chinese hackers are often cited as the cause of such incidents, Ghosh said.

"Over the past 24 months, China has been aggressively targeting America's corporations for their intellectual property and our government agencies and departments for critical national security information," he told FoxNews.com.

The incident underscores the real cybersecurity challenge today: people.

"The cybersecurity industry is woefully behind the curve in terms of protecting the network from spear-phishing attacks against employees," Ghosh said. "Today, training is the primary solution to this problem ... and training simply does not work."

"The White House, every Fortune 1,000 and Global 2,000 organization -- medium-sized business, small businesses, consumers -- ALL are at risk from spear-phishing attacks."

Technologies need to be developed to protect against such attacks, Ghosh said, and government and private companies will remain at risk until computer users are placed in some form of "protective bubble" when they encounter untrusted content.

America is on the losing end of an aggressive cyberconflict waged by nation states, organized cybercriminals and hacktivists, he said.

"We need to give this critical priority -- it needs to be a discussion at every level of our government and we must rapidly adopt new technologies to protect our nation from this threat."

Hackers break onto White House military network

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Mon, 01 Oct 2012 23:47

Hackers reportedly attempted a brazen attack on a White House military network in charge of the president's nuclear football.

US officials familiar with the incident said unidentified hackers launched an attack early last month on the network used by the White House Military Office (WHMO), an military office in charge of sensitive communications, including systems to send and authenticate nuclear strike commands. The office is also responsible for arranging presidential communications and travel. However it seems only less significant systems were targeted by an assault that was, in any case, ultimately unsuccessful.

An unnamed Obama national security official said: "This was a spear phishing attack against an unclassified network."

"In this instance the attack was identified, the system was isolated, and there is no indication whatsoever that any exfiltration of data took place," the official said, the Washington Free Beacon (a Conservative blog that broke the story) reports.

Follow-up reports suggest that a dodgy email with a malicious attachment made it past perimeter defences and onto someone's desktop, where it might have been opened, and a machine infected. But this machine was quickly identified and isolated before any damage was done.

Rob Rachwald, director of security strategy at Imperva, said the attempted attack should nonetheless act as a wake up call.

"Yet again traditional security software has failed to keep the bad guys out. Enterprise needed to assume that they have been compromised which means we need to detect abnormal access to data and Intellectual Property. This is yet another example of why we need to rethink the current security model and implement a new one that puts cameras on sensitive information."

The attack was launched from Chinese networks, which by itself doesn't mean much. However some officials seem to reckon the Chinese military cyber warfare specialists, working as part of a unit called the 4th Department of General Staff of the People's Liberation Army, or 4PLA, are the most likely suspects behind the attack. ®

Da Bruddahood

Top Islamic group calls for ban on offending Prophet Muhammad, equating it with hate speech

Link to Article

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 04:09

UNITED NATIONS '-- The head of a leading Islamic organization Saturday called for a global ban on offending the character of the Prophet Muhammad, saying that it should be equated with hate speech.

Such a ban would demonstrate how an interconnected world respected different cultural sensitivities, said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation in an interview with The Associated Press.

By Executive Order

Obama waives sanctions on countries that use child soldiers - Africa - Stripes

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Wed, 03 Oct 2012 01:05

WASHINGTON '-- President Barack Obama issued a new executive order last week to fight human trafficking, touting his administration's handling of the issue.

"When a little boy is kidnapped, turned into a child soldier, forced to kill or be killed '-- that's slavery," Obama said in a speech at the Clinton Global Initiative. "It is barbaric, and it is evil, and it has no place in a civilized world. Now, as a nation, we've long rejected such cruelty."

But for the third year in a row, Obama has waived almost all U.S. sanctions that would punish certain countries that use child soldiers, upsetting many in the human rights community.

Last week Obama issued a presidential memorandum waiving penalties under the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 for Libya, South Sudan and Yemen, penalties that Congress put in place to prevent U.S. arms sales to countries determined by the State Department to be the worst abusers of child soldiers in their militaries. The president also partially waived sanctions against the Democratic Republic of Congo to allow some military training and arms sales to that country.

Human rights advocates saw the waivers as harmful to the goal of using U.S. influence to urge countries that receive military assistance to move away from using child soldiers and contradictory to the rhetoric Obama used in his speech.

"After such a strong statement against the exploitation of children, it seems bizarre that Obama would give a pass to countries using children in their armed forces and using U.S. tax money to do that," said Jesse Eaves, the senior policy advisor for child protection at World Vision.

The Obama administration doesn't want to upset its relationships with countries that it needs for security cooperation, but the blanket use of waivers is allowing the administration to avoid the law's intent, which was to use force the U.S. government to put a greater priority on human rights and child protection when doling out military aid, he said.

"The intent in this law was to use this waiver authority only in extreme circumstances, yet this has become an annual thing and this has become the default of this administration," Eaves said.

The Romney campaign has made Obama's record on human rights a feature of its foreign-policy critique, with top advisers accusing the president of giving the issue less importance.

"Barack Obama has broken with a tradition that goes back to Woodrow Wilson about human rights and values animating our foreign policy. This administration has not been an effective voice for human rights," said Romney campaign senior adviser for foreign policy Rich Williamson, who also served as George W. Bush's special envoy to Sudan, told The Cable in July.

Bush signed the child-soldiers law in 2008. It prohibits U.S. military education and training, foreign military financing and other defense-related assistance to countries that actively recruit troops under the age of 18. Countries are designated as violators if the State Department's annual Trafficking in Persons report identifies them as recruiting child soldiers. The original bill was sponsored by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

Jo Becker, advocacy director for the children's rights division at Human Rights Watch, told The Cable that where the United States has used some pressure, such as in Congo, where there was a partial cutoff of military aid last year, there was a positive effect.

"After years of foot-dragging, Congo is close to signing a U.N. action plan to end its use of child soldiers," she said. "But in other countries with child soldiers, including South Sudan, Libya and Yemen, the U.S. continues to squander its leverage by giving military aid with no conditions."

NSC Spokesman Tommy Vietor did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Follow the Pipes

Putin Profits as US Ally Saakashvili Loses Election Vote '' Businessweek

Link to Article

Source: News 1 Stop

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 14:10

Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably benefit from the election defeat of U.S.-backed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who led his nation to war with Russia in 2008, said researchers from London to Moscow.

Putin, who threatened four years ago to hang Saakashvili ''by the balls'' and refused any contact with the 44-year-old U.S.-educated lawyer, will now have the option to deal with billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, poised to form the next government. Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russia, promised to mend ties between Georgia and its powerful neighbor.

The U.S. and European Union, which backed Saakashvili's Rose Revolution in 2003 as well as the Orange Revolution a year later in Ukraine, have seen the pro-Western leaders that came to power suffer electoral reversals, boosting Russian influence in its former Soviet empire. Georgia, home to energy links between Europe and the Caspian that bypass Russia, angered Putin by seeking NATO entry.

''Saakashvili was very much disliked in Moscow, to put it mildly,'' said Fyodor Lukyanov, an analyst at the Moscow-based Council on Foreign and Defense Policy. ''While relations won't change dramatically, the overall atmosphere will improve.''

The Georgian president, who has one year left of his mandate, yesterday conceded defeat in the election and said his party was going into opposition after garnering 40 percent of the vote to 55 percent for Ivanishvili's Georgian Dream coalition with 98.8 percent of the ballots counted.

Most of the powers of the presidency will pass to the prime minister after Saakashvili's term ends because of legislative changes two years ago.

'More Constructive'Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev yesterday said the opposition's victory showed a desire for change and offered a chance for dialog with Georgia.

''We can only welcome this as it likely means that there will be more constructive and responsible forces in parliament,'' Medvedev told reporters in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan, the Russian region neighboring Georgia.

The Russian Foreign Ministry today said Saakashvili's defeat may allow the Black Sea nation to bring about the ''normalization'' of ties with its neighbors and to establish ''constructive and respectful relations.''

Ivanishvili, 56, said yesterday that he would end Saakashvili's policy of ''waving a red flag'' in front of Russia, while still seeking membership of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

'Not Impossible'''We will have to sort out our relations with Russia,'' he told reporters in Tbilisi. ''It will be hard, but not impossible.''

Georgia, the birthplace of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin, was incorporated into the Russian empire in the late 18th century, and enjoyed only three years of independence, from 1918-1921, until the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union. It withdrew from the post-Soviet Commonwealth of Independent States after losing a five-day war with Russia over a breakaway region in August 2008.

Russian-Georgian relations were tense even before the 2008 war, which was sparked by Saakashvili's attempt to regain control of South Ossetia. Putin cut transport and postal links and blocked money transfers in October 2006 in a dispute over Georgia's arrest of Russian servicemen it accused of espionage.

Russia had earlier banned imports of Georgian wine and mineral water, hurting the agricultural industry. Flights resumed in March 2008 before being halted again by the conflict, restarting in 2010.

'No Stooge'Saakashvili, in a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, said last week that Russia was plotting to influence the outcome of the election, and called on ''friends and allies'' to support Georgia's independence.

There's no reason to believe that Ivanishvili is a ''Kremlin stooge,'' said Gemma Ferst, a London-based analyst with Eurasia Group.

''He's pro-Russian insomuch as he wants to improve relations with Russia,'' which is in line with what the majority of Georgians want according to public-opinion polls, she said by phone yesterday.

While Saakashvili's party held a lead of more than 20 percentage points last month, the Sept. 18 release of footage showing prison guards beating and raping male inmates with a broom handle and truncheon sparked mass protests in the country ruled for the past nine years by Saakashvili.

'Immediate Problems'''The Georgian public apparently voted decisively for Georgian Dream not only because of disillusionment with Saakashvili and his government, and not only because of the extremely damaging visual evidence of prison abuse, but because of Georgian Dream's promise that immediate economic and social problems will be addressed,'' Neil MacFarlane, who researches the South Caucasus at Oxford University, said by e-mail.

Saakashvili was seen as a ''loose cannon'' by some western powers and his departure may ease strains with Russia, their biggest strategic relationship in the region, said MacFarlane.

'Close Relationship'The NATO military alliance is committed to its ''close relationship'' with Georgia, Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said today. Four months before the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, NATO rebuffed bids by Georgia and Ukraine to be put on a fast-track toward membership, with Germany and France leading opposition to the U.S.-backed initiative.

Matthew Bryza, a former U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, said that Saakashvili may still manage to retain influence in the country.

''Is President Putin happy to see Saakashvili go? Well Saakashvili isn't gone,'' he said by phone from Istanbul. ''Saakashvili is still president for another year and if the opposition wins a narrow victory in parliament, then there is still political jockeying that is going to take place over selecting the prime minister and the presidential elections.''

If the Georgian leader does lose power, he will have laid the foundations of a democratic system in his country, said Bryza, who was responsible for the South Caucasus at the State Department and later served as ambassador to Georgia's neighbor, Azerbaijan.

Ivanishvili doesn't accept that good relations with Europe and Russia are mutually exclusive, James Nixey, Russian and Eurasia Program Manager at Chatham House in London, which advises European governments, wrote in a research note.

There is no proof that Ivanishvili ''is in any way beholden or even amenable to the Kremlin's unconcealed desire for influence,'' Nixey wrote. ''But he is likely to take a less antagonistic policy than Saakashvili.''

To contact the reporter on this story: Henry Meyer in Moscow at hmeyer4@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Balazs Penz at bpenz@bloomberg.net

Take Your Meds Slave

Massachusetts Health Care Law - C-SPAN Video Library

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Wed, 03 Oct 2012 02:12

C-SPAN | Washington Journal

Christine McConville talked about Massachusetts's 2006 health care law signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney. Topics included Mitt Romney's role in passing the law, and how the law works, employers' responses, and its .. Read MoreChristine McConville talked about Massachusetts's 2006 health care law signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney. Topics included Mitt Romney's role in passing the law, and how the law works, employers' responses, and its costs and effects. She also answered questions from viewers.

54 minutes | 99 Views

View Full Event (5 Programs)

Estate Recovery

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Wed, 03 Oct 2012 01:06

MassHealth has the right to get back money from the estates of certain MassHealth members after they die. In general, the money that must be repaid is for services paid by MassHealth for a member after the member turned age 55 or for a member who is any age and for whom MassHealth paid for care in a nursing home.If a deceased member leaves behind a child who is blind, permanently and totally disabled, or under age 21, or a husband or wife, MassHealth will not require repayment while any of these persons are still living.

If real property, like a home, must be sold to get money to repay MassHealth, MassHealth, in limited circumstances, may decide that the estate does not need to pay MassHealth. The property must be left to a person who meets certain financial standards, and who has lived in the property, without leaving, for at least one year before the now-deceased member got MassHealth.

Certain income, resources, and property of American Indians and Alaska Natives may be exempt from estate recovery.

This information is provided by MassHealth.

Syria

Clinton 'outraged' after Syria mortar strikes Turkey (ITV News video)

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Source: WT news feed

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 21:59

9:12pm, Wed 3 Oct 2012 Turkey retaliates after bombingLast updated Wed 3 Oct 2012Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was "outraged" after a mortar bomb fired from Syria hit a Turkish border town.

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Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC)

Daily Press Briefing - October 3, 2012

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Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:01

12:14 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: All right. Afternoon, everybody. Just barely afternoon. We actually got out a little early today. I have nothing at the top. As you know, the Secretary has just seen Afghan Foreign Minister Rassoul and the Binational Commission folks, and she will see the Kazakh Foreign Minister in about an hour.

Matt.

QUESTION: Well, I don't really have anything huge, but just on the '' have you gotten a response from the Hill to the Secretary's response, or is that not '' was that not expected?

MS. NULAND: A response to our response of their response?

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. Or did you just '' did you not expect one?

MS. NULAND: I don't think we would '' we were responding to their letter.

QUESTION: I know. Well --

MS. NULAND: So clearly, we're in a process now where we will work with them.

QUESTION: And that process, today as opposed to yesterday, stands '' does it stand any different? Is --

MS. NULAND: No. You saw her letter. She put it out publicly.

QUESTION: Well, I know. But I mean, has anything happened between the time that she sent the letter and 12:05 today?

MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, nothing that rises to your level of interest. Perhaps we've had staff-to-staff talks, but --

QUESTION: I don't know. The level of interest in this is pretty --

MS. NULAND: Yeah, I know, I know.

QUESTION: -- the bar is pretty low, so --

MS. NULAND: I would guess we've had some staff-to-staff talks, but nothing significant to report.

QUESTION: Has it been decided yet '' sorry. Has it been decided yet who will actually attend the October 10th hearing?

MS. NULAND: No. We've got a lot of work to do ahead of us first. Yeah.

QUESTION:Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Victoria, Mr. Lavrov in an interview is '' basically accused the West of having an agenda in Syria and not really wanting to bring all the different parties together for a dialogue. Could you comment on that?

MS. NULAND: Well, I haven't seen Foreign Minister Lavrov's comments. As you know, the Secretary has had intensive conversations with Foreign Minister Lavrov, endeavoring to get Russia's support for implementation of Geneva-style transition process, along the lines that we agreed way back in July but with real consequences. We're going to continue to have that conversation with the Russians. We've been absolutely transparent about our policy, about our intentions, and have been urging the Russians to do more to use their own influence on the Assad regime.

QUESTION: His message seems to be that the West is so fixated on Assad leaving the scene that they don't see '' or they don't have any elbow room to really work around any other accommodations.

MS. NULAND: The Secretary has said repeatedly '' and she said it again when we were in New York after she saw Envoy Brahimi '' that we still see merit in the arrangement that the P-5 foreign ministers and others worked out in Geneva way back in July that provided some preliminary thinking on what a transition structure might look like '' that's something that the Russians themselves signed up to '' but that we only think it's going to work if it has real consequences, consequences for both sides, if it's not implemented. So we are prepared to move forward on that basis. It's been the Russian side that has blocked consequences in the Security Council.

QUESTION: Sorry. When you say '' you just said Geneva-style transition process. Is that the new language? And if it is, what does that mean? Does that mean it comes with fondue too or something? (Laughter.) What does --

MS. NULAND: What I meant was to use the template put down in Geneva. Obviously, it's up to the Syrian side if they have '' Syrian opposition if they have improvements or additive --

QUESTION: Well, I think this goes to the question that came up in New York last week, which is whether or not the absolute '' what '' word-for-word the document that was adopted in Geneva is still operative. And I just want to make sure that by saying Geneva-style, we're not talking about like Geneva-light, where several --

MS. NULAND: Didn't mean light, didn't mean fondue. Simply meant the transition plan.

QUESTION: All right. Okay.

QUESTION: On that very point, Victoria, I mean, you talk about the June 30th Geneva, whatever point that would come out, which did not stipulate or did not say clearly for Assad to step aside.

MS. NULAND: It says very clearly that we would see the opposition working with those members of the existing governing structure who would be acceptable by mutual consent. And as we said at the time, as the Secretary said at the time, we don't see any way that Assad himself or any of those with blood on their hands would meet that standard.

QUESTION: Also on Syria. I'm wondering if the U.S. Government, either at the Secretary's level or below, has had any contact with the Turks on the latest mortar that landed in Turkish territory.

MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that, Andy. We did want to make reference to that today. We do understand that a mortar from Syria landed in Turkey just a couple of hours ago, killing at least four children and one woman, wounding others. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and we strongly condemn this clear violation of Turkish sovereignty. We expect that the Secretary will be talking to Foreign Minister Davutoglu about this incident later in the day today.

QUESTION: And Davutoglu has already been on the line with Ban Ki-moon and with Brahimi. Do you think that this signals a potential change in the dynamics between Turkey and Syria?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think we'll wait and hear what Foreign Minister Davutoglu's report is on this. But the Turks have been very clear all along how seriously they take their sovereignty and they've been warning very clearly, particularly after the airplane incident, against further violations. So we will wait to speak to our Turkish ally.

Please. In the back here.

QUESTION: On that airplane --

QUESTION: Yeah. Afghanistan.

QUESTION: On Turkey still.

MS. NULAND: Sorry. Still on Syria. Let's stay on Syria. We'll come back to you.

QUESTION: On that airplane incident, did any clarity ever come out of that? Because there were a lot of questions at the time, and I know you were in discussions with the Turks.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I mean, the Turks themselves conducted an investigation. I'm going to send you to them. Frankly, I don't know whether that was concluded and what the ultimate findings were there.

QUESTION: But you referenced it. That's why I bring it up.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: And it just seemed unclear at last time it was a relevant subject whether '' where fault lied and how exactly the plane came down.

MS. NULAND: Well, there was no question in any of the reporting that an unarmed Turkish aircraft was fired upon by the Syrian side. There were questions as to exactly what the circumstances of that were. But again, I'll send to you to the Turkish side, because they did do a full investigation.

Jo.

QUESTION: Just staying on Syria, do you '' does the United States have any reaction to the news that some Hezbollah fighters were actually killed in Syria as well?

MS. NULAND: I hadn't said '' I hadn't seen that particular report, but you know we've been very clear about our concerns about Iran's involvement, about Hezbollah's involvement, and making clear that all of this was making the situation more violent, more dangerous.

QUESTION: Sorry. Do you '' you expect that '' her conversation with Davutoglu sometime this afternoon? Is that what you said?

MS. NULAND: We do.

QUESTION: And then just tangentially related to this, is there anything new on that '' the video and on Mr. Tice?

MS. NULAND: I don't have anything new on Mr. Tice. I wish I did.

QUESTION: Or on the actual video?

MS. NULAND: No, no. Still on Syria? I promised our colleague back here on Afghanistan. Please.

QUESTION: People in Afghanistan worried about the security transition in Afghanistan --

MS. NULAND: The security --

QUESTION: Security transition. And still the situation in Afghanistan is still tough and rocket fire from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and 2014 also close. And you know the Strategic Partnership was signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Afghan people don't like that they are under attack. And they say although Pakistan '' still didn't change this policy toward Afghanistan. Just generally, what do you think about this general situation in Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary spoke quite extensively to our relationship with Afghanistan, to the Afghan-Pakistan relationship, before '' or after her meeting with Foreign Minister Rassoul today, so I obviously can't improve on what she said. We obviously focus very intensively still on security with the Afghans. We have strongly supported Afghan-Pakistan-NATO-U.S. conversations about the cross-border issues, and we will continue to do that.

Please.

QUESTION: Sorry. Could you update us on where '' the status of the talks with the Taliban at the moment? Foreign Minister Rassoul made a vow that they would continue this peace process. Where are we in terms of the United States engagement on that?

MS. NULAND: I don't have anything new to report to you, Jo. I think we have been saying for a number of weeks that we support an Afghan-led process, that we've created this Afghan-Pakistan-U.S. group to facilitate Afghan-led reconciliation. It's got some working groups on things like safe passage. But the Taliban have not been interested in coming to the table for some time. So the door is open there; they have to make a choice.

QUESTION: Just on the U.S.-Afghan security partnership talks, the Secretary and Foreign Minister Rassoul both named the diplomats that would head their respective sides in these. Does this meeting they're having today mark a start to that process, or is this more '' are we still in the sort of talks about talks stage?

MS. NULAND: I think the process today was to establish the sides. You'll recall that in the Strategic Partnership Agreement, we speak about trying to complete those bilateral security agreement talks within a year. So I think when you see that first meeting occur between the Afghan and U.S. sides, which this was not today '' it'll be at some point in the future '' that'll start our 12-month clock that we hope to be able to meet.

And this is just, for those of you who aren't aware, as we transfer Afghan security lead by the end of 2014, the U.S. security and training relationship with Afghan National Security Forces will continue but will need a new underlying bilateral agreement for that. That's what this bilateral security agreement is about, to replace the existing --

QUESTION: When is the first meeting of the two groups (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don't think they've set a precise time. They are working on how this is exactly going to work and where. But we'll let you know when we have something to announce. As Andy said, we announced our negotiators on each side at the Secretary's meeting with Foreign Minister Rassoul today.

Please.

QUESTION: On Saudi Arabia?

MS. NULAND: Anything else on Afghanistan before we move off?

QUESTION: Yeah, one more.

QUESTION: Can I stay on Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, please.

QUESTION: Okay. As you negotiate with the Afghan Government this new agreement, which I guess is going to supercede the current SOFA --

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: -- they have events coming up, such as the local elections, and there's the reconciliation talks, and obviously that'll decide, to some extent, I guess, U.S. success in Afghanistan. To what extent are you concerned about those domestic affairs that are going to be taking place in Afghanistan? To what concern are you concerned, if you will, with their local events?

MS. NULAND: Well, the electoral process is obviously an important milestone in Afghanistan's democracy. This would be the third election, I think, and it'll be very important that it be free, fair, transparent, that they allow international monitors, that there be a stable environment for it. So obviously, we're very focused on that in our political conversations and in our security conversation with the Afghans.

On the reconciliation side, as we've said for a long time now, we support an Afghan-led process, and there has been a lot of work done to prepare the ground for that. It's really '' the ball is in the Taliban court, whether they want to play or not.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: What is the '' what's the basis for [inaudible] that Taliban is no longer interested in talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: They themselves made an announcement back in March that they were suspending participation. And so they've got to make the decision whether they're going to take advantage of the opportunities that are open to them.

QUESTION: But to follow up on [inaudible] question, does the electoral calendar impact the security arrangements?

MS. NULAND: Well, it's part of the evolution. There's a security evolution; there's a political evolution; they obviously have to go hand in hand. As the Afghans take on more of the responsibility for their own security, we will obviously work with them, as we do with many countries, on election security, to the extent that they want support, they want help. The elections are supposed to be in 2014, so presumably we won't have completed the full transition, but as we have in past elections, we would expect that we would be open to Afghan requirements and requests for support. But it's obviously going to be their lead in how this is structured.

QUESTION: So --

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Goyal.

QUESTION: Madam, as far as reconciliation is concerned, do you think it's working now? And what is the future, because still there are some attacks that are going on? And also, what she was asking, that unless there is full cooperation and really understanding from Pakistan as far as the '' ending the war in Afghanistan, it cannot work. And because in the south there are still problems of Taliban across the border from Pakistan. So what do you think the future will be for the people of Afghanistan? They have been fighting for this free and fair election and also freedom for the last 20-plus years.

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously I don't have a crystal ball as to where reconciliation is going to go. I think I said a couple of times here earlier in this brief that it's '' we have supported the Afghan-led process. They've got an open door to it. It's now for the Taliban to decide if they want to take advantage of it.

Moving on? Moving on?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Alan Gross's condition?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I'm sorry. The question was: Do we have an update?

QUESTION: Yeah. And what do you make of the disconnect between what his physician has said and also what the Cubans are saying?

MS. NULAND: Well, my understanding of the situation is that the Cubans turned over some of the test results that they had done on Alan Gross, and it was as a result of those that the public statements were made. As you know, Alan Gross's wife, Judy Gross, has long asked the Cuban Government to allow an American physician, his personal physician, to go and to see him, and we strongly support that request. More broadly, obviously, we think he ought to be released immediately.

Please.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: On Kashmir, last week Pakistan President Zardari, at the UNGA, said that not resolving the Kashmir issue is a sign of UN failure. And this week on Monday, the '' India's External Affairs Minister said these remarks by President Zardari was unwarranted. There has been exchange of words between the two countries on Kashmir issue.

Two questions: What is U.S. position on Kashmir? Do you think UN still has a role to play in resolving that dispute? And secondly, these exchange of words, do you think, will derail the peace process which is going on between India and Pakistan right now?

MS. NULAND: Well, more broadly, we have said for some time that we applaud the progress that India and Pakistan have made in their dialogue, particularly on the economic side. We are encouraged that they've taken some concrete steps to normalize trade relations, including the recently signed agreement on visa liberalization. We want to see this economic warming extend to other areas.

With regard to our own policy on Kashmir, it hasn't changed. It's been the same for a very long time.

Please.

QUESTION: Just to follow?

QUESTION: On Iran?

MS. NULAND: Yes. Oh, sorry. Let's finish on Kashmir first. Sorry, Margaret.

QUESTION: Sorry. Madam, what I feel and say, after talking to many Indians and Pakistanis in the area, there is always '' every year, there's a tug of war between India and Pakistan at the United Nations, like this '' and also same thing. If this thing continues, then India brings up the issue of terrorism, that unless Pakistan stops terrorism into India, then no talks will continue because of this Kashmir issue they keep bringing.

My question is here. I have been interviewing and talking a lot of Kashmiris from the occupied Pakistan Kashmir, and what they are saying is always U.S. and others talking about the human rights in India's Kashmir but nobody talks about in Pakistan's Kashmir, which is '' situation is horrible. And nobody talks, and time has come '' what they are saying, that U.S. should bring this issue what is happening inside Pakistan Kashmir.

MS. NULAND: Well, more broadly, I would say that we do talk about human rights regularly with the Pakistan Government. We report on these things in our annual Human Rights Report. So obviously, human rights in Pakistan is something that we watch carefully and that's important to us.

On the broader issue of Kashmir, as I said, we want to see this economic warming now translate into a better conversation on that issue as well.

QUESTION: Did this issue came up when Secretary met External Affairs Minister Krishna and President Zardari in New York '' Kashmir issue?

MS. NULAND: I don't think it came up in the Pakistan meeting. I will check for you on the Krishna meeting. As you know, I was here, so I'll check on that one.

QUESTION: Can I just '' one more, quickly?

MS. NULAND: We '' yeah.

QUESTION: Just '' any readout, Madam, on the meeting between Secretary and the Indian Foreign Minister Krishna, please?

MS. NULAND: I think we had a written readout on that that came to some of you on the day. Let me see what I have here.

So they reviewed the trilateral meeting that we had '' Afghanistan, India, U.S. They also talked about regional economic integration, including the TAPI pipeline '' Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India pipeline. They discussed our joint efforts on energy, civil nuclear cooperation, visas, trade and bilateral investment, cooperation with India's near neighbors. And as I said, the Secretary commended India on India-Pakistan work together on the economic side.

QUESTION: Did you say a trilateral between U.S., India, and Afghanistan, Madam?

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: So what will be the role of India's role in the future in Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Well, India's been a big economic investor. It's been a big development investor. It's been supportive of police force strengthening in Afghanistan. And they've been a big contributor to the broader Silk Road vision that the Secretary strongly supports. So India is playing a constructive role in Afghanistan's future.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma'am.

MS. NULAND: Margaret has been patient.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam.

QUESTION: In Iran today, there are many reports that protests had been building about what's happening with the local currency there, but that the size of the protests had picked up, that they were targeted more, and discussed the role of the President, Ahmadinejad, in allowing for the circumstance. And there were also reports that the government was jamming some of the radio signals, BBC Persia and whatnot. Is there a U.S. readout on what the situation actually is inside Iran right now?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know that obviously we don't have our own mission there. We are watching the situation very closely. We've seen what you've seen, that protests are growing on the ground. Clearly, the Iranian people are demanding better from their government and speaking out against the gross mismanagement of the economy and of the situation in the country of the current regime. So we are watching carefully. And obviously, as we have continued to say, the Iranian Government bears responsibility for the bad choices that it is making on behalf of its people.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say, though, that these protests are a reflection of the impact of the sanctions and thus putting pressure on the government at this point?

MS. NULAND: Well, first and foremost, the Iranian state has horribly mismanaged all aspects of their internal situation, but certainly the economy and certainly their reaction to the run on the rial. But on top of that, the economic sanctions that the international community has put on the government as a result of its lack of forthcomingness on its nuclear program are having a profound impact on the ground and are being felt in what's happening to the rial.

QUESTION: Sorry. When you say that you're watching very closely the situation, do you mean to say you're watching very closely on television?

MS. NULAND: We are watching closely with our partners who do have missions on the ground. We're watching closely through your fantastic reporting.

QUESTION: That would be '' since the Canadians closed their embassy, that would be what, the Swiss, and that's about it?

MS. NULAND: The Swiss are there. I don't have a full picture of who's there.

Please.

We did '' I'm going to guess you're going to ask me about the horrific bombing into Turkey. I did speak to it at the top of the brief, yeah.

Please.

QUESTION: On Korea?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Media reports say South Korea and the United States have reached an agreement on expanding South '' the range of South Korea's ballistic missiles. I think you may have some information on the subject. What's your '' what's the State Department position on the matter?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we continue to talk about bilateral security arrangements. We've made that clear here. The Secretary, as you know, saw the Prime Minister when we were in '' saw the Korean side when we were in Vladivostok. We also had a trilateral meeting '' Japan, Korea '' in New York. But I don't have anything new to report to you today on the missile side. If we do, we'll get back to you.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one more --

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- about Korean culture?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I'm, of course, wondering if you know Korean singer Psy and his song ''Gangnam Style.'' Do you know?

MS. NULAND: No, but I bet you my daughter does. She loves Korean pop.

QUESTION: It's a big hit here in the United States and --

MS. NULAND: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: -- on the YouTube.

MS. NULAND: I'm going to dial it up and see that --

QUESTION: It's number-two song on the Billboard chart. Do you think such popularity of a Korean song will help promote people-to-people exchanges and ties between South Korea and the United States?

MS. NULAND: Let me be cool enough to have seen it first, and then I'll get back to you. How about that? I'm sure my daughter's seen it, though.

QUESTION: Maybe tomorrow.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Jill.

QUESTION: Toria, on Iran '' I'm sorry I was late for the briefing, but --

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: -- I just wanted to ask, with the demonstrations that are taking place now, upheaval '' was that asked?

MS. NULAND: Yes, Margaret just asked it and '' yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Is the ultimate intent right now of all of these sanctions '' which are going to be increased not only by the U.S. but the Europeans now are planning '' is it to tip over and, let's say, destroy, bring to its knees the Iranian economy?

MS. NULAND: Let me start by saying what the President said, what the Secretary said repeatedly. We have no quarrel with the Iranian people. We don't want the Iranian people to suffer. Our quarrel is with the bad choices that the regime has made, and particularly the bad choices that they're making to continue to pursue their nuclear agenda, to refuse to come clean with the international community about what's really going on, not to allow the IAEA in, not to make a really substantial effort in the P-5+1 talks, not to take up the offer that we've got on the table. So it is as a result of that that the international community is tightening and tightening and tightening the sanctions, and it is now clearly being felt on the streets of Tehran and elsewhere in the country.

QUESTION: Right, but right now, it's getting to a very serious point --

MS. NULAND: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- you would agree?

MS. NULAND: Absolutely.

QUESTION: So is there any effort, I mean, right now, just to tip it over the edge?

MS. NULAND: As we've said, we want to see the Iranian Government change course in their discussions with us. If they change course, then we're prepared to match steps with steps. But this pressure is real because our concern is very real, and we're not going to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Please.

QUESTION: Change topic?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that come what may, they will submit the application for a vote for a nonmember state observer, a nonmember state in the General Assembly in about a month and a half, at a time when (inaudible) is about to fall off a financial cliff and the money that is in '' and jeopardized '' I mean the aid, $200 million aid. Is anyone making that point clear to the Palestinian Authority, the connection between the two?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the Secretary saw President Abbas when she was in New York.

QUESTION: Right, right.

MS. NULAND: She obviously made the points that we always make, that the way to get to the goal that we all seek, which is a Palestinian state that lives securely next to Israel, is through the negotiating table, not through action in New York. But she also said that we are working with Congress to try to get the 200 million that has not yet been released to the Palestinian people because we very much understand the needs there, and we support the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority in its ability to meet the needs of its people.

QUESTION: Okay. So was the point lost on Mr. Abbas? Because he made that statement yesterday about going forward with the application. And second --

MS. NULAND: Well, we're going to ''

QUESTION: -- do you separate between the two efforts?

MS. NULAND: There's no question that in our discussions with the Congress, our effort to get this money released is made more difficult by strong statements.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. NULAND: And the more progress we can make at the peace table, the easier it is to get support for the Palestinian Authority. These are points that we continue to make. That said, we will continue to work with the Congress because the need is urgent.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Jill.

QUESTION: One more on Syria.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Let's see. Certain European countries are providing cash to the opposition in areas that are now under control of the opposition, towns that are now liberated, so-called. So is the United States considering doing that in addition to, of course, what it already does, which is provide communications equipment and training, et cetera, for city services? Is the U.S. planning on or contemplating handing out cash?

MS. NULAND: In general, as you know, nowhere in the world do we write checks and hand out cash. That's not the way we operate.

QUESTION: Except '' well, except in Iraq and other places that the military does.

MS. NULAND: That was a separate effort having to do with the Iraqi '' the military's operations in individual towns. In general, the way State Department and USAID programs work, as you know well, is that we provide training, we provide material support '' in this case, nonlethal support like communications equipment, et cetera. So my expectation is that our aid will continue to be in that form, it'll be concrete or in terms of training rather than cutting checks, which are hard to have a trail of accountability on.

QUESTION: And they're also hard to cash.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. (Laughter.) Exactly. Exactly.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. considered areas under rebel control liberated areas?

MS. NULAND: I think I've used the L-word here in recent days.

QUESTION: So there are liberated areas?

MS. NULAND: Clearly, there are increasing parts of Syria that have been liberated from the regime's control, yeah.

Michel.

QUESTION: On Libya --

QUESTION: On Syria --

QUESTION: A quick follow-up, just --

MS. NULAND: Still on Syria, yeah.

QUESTION: Just a second. Have you been able to talk to Turkish officials today since the shelling happened?

MS. NULAND: I did speak to this at the beginning of the briefing and made clear that the Secretary intends to talk to Foreign Minister Davutoglu later today.

Please, Jo.

QUESTION: Can I --

QUESTION: Excuse me. To clarify the statement '' I am sorry to miss the statement, but we know that '' the U.S. State Department position on this issue in terms of this military intervention in Syria is not, I mean, supporting of this idea. But Turkish officials, including the Foreign Ministry and other agencies' top officials are gathered today to discuss all the options of Turkish Government on this issue. Is there anything, any change, on your position in terms of limited military intervention to stop this violence at the border of Syria and Turkey?

MS. NULAND: U.S. position is not changed with regard to the contribution that we are making to the Syrian opposition.

Please.

QUESTION: I have a question on Mali.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Europeans today are saying that the '' an intervention in Mali is its top foreign policy priority at the moment. I wondered if you could --

MS. NULAND: They said that at the EU? I didn't see that.

QUESTION: No. It was the French, actually. The French saying it's Europeans' top policy. The French are saying it's the Europeans' top policy. The French '' one of the French ministers is saying that.

MS. NULAND: Minister Fabius said that? I didn't see that.

QUESTION: Defense Minister.

QUESTION: Defense Minister, thank you. I wondered if you could give us an assessment of --

MS. NULAND: Agence France ici?

QUESTION: Oui, bien sur. (Laughter.) If you could give an assessment from the U.S. perspective of the threat levels coming out of Mali, not just for the region, but more importantly for U.S. national security. And what, if any, planning is going on within the U.S. Administration to deal with this?

MS. NULAND: Well, as the Secretary made clear when we were in New York, we do have growing concerns '' we've had concerns all along, but they are continuing to grow '' about al-Qaida in the Maghreb and their abuse of ungoverned space or space that's been ceded to extremists like in northern Mali, and their ability to use places like that as platforms for more mischief, and particularly mischief that could endeavor to destabilize some of the fragile democracies.

We are, in the Mali context, working closely to support the efforts of ECOWAS to further elaborate a robust peacekeeping plan with the new interim government of Mali that would work both on securing the capital and on pushing north. And we have said that we're prepared to support a well thought out plan in the Security Council when it comes forward but with ECOWAS very much in the lead.

QUESTION: Do you think there'll be any instances or room for any kind of unilateral U.S. action in that area?

MS. NULAND: Well, I'm obviously not going to rule anything in or out here, but our focus in Mali is on the ECOWAS effort and what they are talking about with the Government of Mali.

That said, we work across the region with our partners on counterterrorism efforts, including sharing of intelligence and local efforts to go after terrorist cells.

Please.

QUESTION: Saudi Arabia.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Director of Saudi Arabia religious police has said that his forces are losing some of their key powers, including arrests and investigations and raiding houses. How do you view this development in Saudi Arabia?

MS. NULAND: I haven't seen those comments, and frankly, I don't have anything particularly new to comment on with regard to the security situation in Saudi.

Samir.

QUESTION: A Bahraini court rejected today or yesterday the medics' appeal. Do you have any reaction to this?

MS. NULAND: We are deeply concerned that the court of cassation upheld the rulings against the nine medical professionals who were associated with the protest last year against the Salmaniya Medical Complex. We're also concerned that these convictions serve to further restrict freedom of expression and hurt the atmosphere that's so necessary in Bahrain for national reconciliation. And we understand that as of this morning, the government has begun taking these people into custody. So we've repeatedly voiced concern about this case; we're going to continue to do it both publicly and privately at the highest levels in Bahrain.

QUESTION: Mexico?

QUESTION: Does that include the Ambassador directly?

MS. NULAND: Of course.

QUESTION: Has the Ambassador been here, for instance?

MS. NULAND: Of course. Yeah.

Roz.

QUESTION: In Mexico, is there an update on the investigation on the U.S. officials who were attacked near Cuernavaca?

MS. NULAND: I don't have anything new to report on that, Roz.

QUESTION: There's also a report suggesting that Mexican officials suspect that they may have been targeted by federal police working on behalf of one of the main drug cartels. Is the U.S. concerned about the ongoing infiltration of the federal police by criminal elements, and does that raise any questions about joint work to deal with the drug problem between Mexico and the U.S.?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, our concerns about the need to strengthen the Mexican security services have been ongoing. This is the basis for the Merida Initiative that we have going together. It looks not just at rule of law issues, but it also looks at vetting of police, it looks at auditing of activities, and all those kinds of things. And the Mexicans have made considerable progress both on the basis of their own investment and on the basis of substantial Merida investment that we have made, but clearly, all sides have more work to do.

Please. Goyal.

QUESTION: Burma?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: After meeting Burmese President at the United Nations, so what do you get now out of '' I mean, can you update as far as political prisoners and also further opening for the businesses and also as far as sanctions are concerned, madam?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary spoke to the Burma issue after her meeting with President Thein Sein, and we also had a background briefing in New York. As you know, we took a couple of steps to ease sanctions. We've eased some name sanctions on individuals, and we also began the process of lifting sanctions '' easing sanctions on the import of Burmese goods into the United States. So this reflects the continued progress that the government is making, but there's obviously more progress to be made on the political prisoners, on national reconciliation within Burma, and on the relationship with the DPRK.

QUESTION: Where will be this triangle of Burma-China/Burma-India, and now there's a U.S. '' so where '' what will the position of China and also India, because before these changes, India was there and China was there.

MS. NULAND: Well, they're obviously both neighbors of Burma. We talk very extensively with the Indian side on support for reform within Burma. Secretary has also talked about Burma with Foreign Minister Yang, and when we were in Beijing, about the fact that the U.S. wants to see a Burma that is opening to the world, increasingly democratic, but a level playing field for all investors there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:48 p.m.)

DPB # 170

Video Of Missing Journalist Surfaces On Youtube

Austin Tice still alive - [VIDEO]

Bank$ters

SEC Sues the One Rating Firm Not on Wall Street's Take.

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:30

The Securities and Exchange Commission, it seems, has finally lost its mind.

In April, motivated by what I consider pure maliciousness, the SEC initiated a ''cease and desist'' administrative proceeding it deemed ''necessary for the protection of investors and in the public interest'' against Egan-Jones Ratings Co., a privately owned, 20-person firm based in Haverford, Pennsylvania, and against its principal owner, Sean Egan.

Egan-Jones, founded in 1995, is one of nine ratings companies that the SEC has accredited as ''nationally recognized,'' allowing the firm to rate the debt of sovereign nations, companies and asset-backed securities, among others. Notably, it is the only one of the nine that gets paid by investors instead of by the issuers of securities.

The bigger and better-known ratings companies -- Standard & Poor's (owned by McGraw-Hill Cos. (MHP)), Moody's Corp. (MCO) and Fitch Ratings Ltd. -- are paid by the Wall Street banks that underwrite the debt securities of corporate issuers. That is, the companies are beholden to the sellers of the products they are supposed to pass judgment on, not the buyers. That's akin to allowing the Hollywood studios to pay the nation's film critics for their opinions.

Shopping AroundWe all saw the result in 2007 and 2008. A major cause of the financial crisis was that S&P, Moody's and Fitch, while being paid hundreds of millions of dollars by Wall Street, gave AAA ratings to complicated, risky securities that turned out to be anything but AAA. If a big bank didn't like a proposed rating, it just shopped the deal until it found a firm that would provide something it liked better.

Who can forget this memorable April 2007 instant-message exchange between two S&P analysts, Rahul Dilip Shah and Shannon Mooney?

''Btw, that deal is ridiculous,'' Shah wrote to Mooney about some mortgage securities they were asked to rate.

''I know, right . . . model def(initely) does not capture half the risk,'' she replied.

''We should not be rating it,'' he answered.

''We rate every deal,'' Mooney replied. ''It could be structured by cows and we would rate it.''

You would have thought that after the crisis exposed this kind of abhorrent behavior -- to say nothing of the obvious conflict of interest -- the SEC would have considered scrapping the issuer-pays model on ratings. You might have even thought the SEC would have sued S&P, Moody's and Fitch for their reckless conduct.

Alas, such obvious steps are out of the question at an SEC headed by Mary Schapiro, who previously led the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, Wall Street's self-financed, self-serving watchdog organization. (When Schapiro left Finra, it gave her a $9 million bonus).

True, for a while, the SEC put on a good show of wanting to reform the ratings companies. It held round-table discussions with interested parties to discuss rectifying the horrific shortcomings of S&P, Moody's and Fitch. Robert Khuzami, the SEC's chief enforcement officer, suggested in an interview with Reuters a year ago that the SEC was considering a lawsuit against S&P for its role in the financial collapse. But in the end, nothing changed. The issuer-pays model is still the dominant architecture for the ratings firms.

Debt DowngradeNow, incredibly, Egan-Jones is the sole rater that the SEC has decided to attack. The trouble for the firm started on July 16, 2011, when Egan-Jones downgraded the U.S.'s sovereign debt by one notch, to AA+ from AAA. Egan-Jones cited ''the relatively high level of debt and the difficulty in significantly cutting spending.'' Two days later, the SEC's Office of Compliance Inspections and Examinations contacted the firm seeking information about its rating decision. (The next month, S&P also downgraded the U.S.'s sovereign debt, but neither Moody's nor Fitch did.)

Then, on Oct. 12, Egan-Jones received a call from the SEC notifying the firm of a Wells Notice, an indication that it was being investigated. On April 5 of this year, Egan-Jones again downgraded the U.S. sovereign debt, to AA from AA+. On April 19, leaks started emanating from the SEC that it had voted to start an ''administrative law proceeding'' against the firm. And on April 24, the SEC filed its complaint.

Just what does the SEC object to so vehemently about Egan- Jones? The commission claims that on its 2008 supplemental application to be a ''nationally recognized'' ratings firm, Egan- Jones ''falsely stated'' that it had already rated the credit of 150 asset-backed securities and of 50 sovereign-debt issues. The SEC claims Egan-Jones ''willfully made these misstatements and omissions to conceal the fact that it had no experience issuing ratings on ABS or government issuers.'' The SEC intends to fine Egan-Jones and to possibly censure Sean Egan -- neither move would be good for business.

Egan says the SEC is making a mountain out of a molehill. He says the paperwork requirements to comply with the Credit Rating Agency Reform Act, which had been passed by Congress in 2006, was still being worked out, and that the SEC has had no problem with his firm's annual applications since then.

His lawyer, Alan S. Futerfas, told the Wall Street Journal that the SEC knows that Egan did rate the securities in question but it is ''saying he didn't disseminate it publicly.'' Futerfas continued: ''It's a very technical argument the SEC is using; it's not substantive. There's nothing in this complaint that suggests or alleges that any rating was without integrity or was not accurate or was not predictive.''

If he is right, that raises a question: Is the SEC retaliating against Egan and his firm for downgrading the U.S. sovereign debt?

Principled StandEgan told me he is determined to fight the charges because ''the issuer-paid rating firms were identified as a significant source'' of the worst economic catastrophe since the Great Depression, and yet the SEC's ''response has been to hobble, in any way possible, the most vocal counterbalance to those inflated ratings.''

Egan is standing on principle even though his legal fees will probably far exceed a fine if he loses. ''Anybody who looks at this would realize that this is wrong,'' he said. ''It provides an opportunity for a spotlight on what's been going on over the recent past, and hopefully it will change so that it's a more even playing field.''

Don't get your hopes up for that, Mr. Egan.

(William D. Cohan, the author of ''Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World,'' is a Bloomberg View columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)

Read more opinion online from Bloomberg View. Subscribe to receive a daily e-mail highlighting new View editorials, columns and op-ed articles.

Today's highlights: the editors on the Obama administration's transparency shortcomings and on the resurgent European debt crisis; Noah Feldman on the Supreme Court's torture case; Albert R. Hunt on Obama's biggest liability in debating Romney; Simon Johnsonon how to assess the soundness of banks; Richard Vedder asks why colleges are too big to fail.

To contact the writer of this article: William D. Cohan at wdcohan@yahoo.com.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net.

About William D CohanWilliam D. Cohan is the author of the recently released "Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World" and the New York Times bestsellers "House of Cards" and "The Last Tycoons."

More about William D Cohan

Christine Lagarde on signs of an improving U.S. economy - CBS News Video

Link to Article

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 15:49

Swing state polls give Obama large lead

"The Washington Post" finds the presidential race very tight, but polls coming out of the biggest swing states find President Obama with a much bigger lead. Scott Pelley spoke with CBS News political director John Dickerson on the difference between polls in battleground states and at the national level.

Food Safety

PEANUT BUTTER RECALL EXPANDED!

Waarschuwing voor meer gerookte zalmproducten

Link to Article

Source: VK: Home

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:50

03/10/12, 23:31 '' bron: ANP

(C) ANP. Zalm- en palingrokerij Foppen in Harderwijk.

De Nederlandse Voedsel- en Warenautoriteit (NVWA) waarschuwt consumenten ook voor producten waarin gerookte zalm van visfabrikant Foppen is verwerkt. Het gaat onder meer om bepaalde maaltijd salades met zalm en zalmsalades, meldt de autoriteit woensdagavond.

Deze producten zijn door de supermarkten uit de schappen gehaald, maar het is mogelijk dat consumenten deze producten wel in hun koelkast of vriezer hebben liggen.

Eerder werden ongeveer 200 mensen sinds eind juli ziek na het eten van gerookte zalm van de visfabrikant uit Harderwijk. In de vis zit de salmonella-bacterie, die kan leiden tot onder meer koorts, diarree, misselijkheid, overgeven, buikkrampen, rillingen, spierpijn en hoofdpijn.

Omdat bedrijven op dit moment nog verder onderzoeken in welke producten de besmette zalm verwerkt is, is het waarschijnlijk dat er de komende dagen meer producten besmet blijken, zegt de NVWA.

More Information On Massive Nationwide Peanut Butter Recall Because Of Salmonella Risk

The New FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA)

Federal Register | Notice of Establishment of Biosurveillance Advisory Committee

Link to Article

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 16:33

Pursuant to the Homeland Security Presidential Directive (HSPD-21); Section 222 of the Public Health Service Act, [42 U.S.C. 217a] as amended, the Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), announces the establishment of the National Public Health Surveillance and Biosurveillance Advisory Committee (NPHSBAC).

The National Public Health Surveillance and Biosurveillance Advisory Committee shall advise the Secretary, HHS; the Assistant Secretary for Health; the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response; the Director, CDC; and the Director, Office of Surveillance, Epidemiology and Laboratory Services (OSELS) regarding the broad range of issues impacting the human health component of biosurveillance.

For information, contact Pamela Diaz, M.D., Designated Federal Officer, National Public Health Surveillance and Biosurveillance Advisory Committee, OSELS, Public Health Surveillance Program Office, CDC, 1600 Clifton Road, NE., Atlanta, Georgia 30333, telephone (404) 498-0476, or email: pdiaz@cdc.gov.

The Director, Management Analysis and Services Office, has been delegated the authority to sign Federal Register notices pertaining to announcements of meetings and other committee management activities for both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

Dated: September 24, 2012.

Elaine L. Baker,

Director, Management Analysis and Services Office, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

[FR Doc. 2012-24423 Filed 10-2-12; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 4163-18-P

Registration of Food Facilities

The Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (the Bioterrorism Act) directs the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), as the food regulatory agency of the Department of Health and Human Services, to take additional steps to protect the public from a threatened or actual terrorist attack on the U.S. food supply and other food-related emergencies. To carry out certain provisions of the Bioterrorism Act, FDA has established new regulations requiring that: Food facilities are registered with FDA, and FDA be given advance notice on shipments of imported food. The Bioterrorism Act requires domestic and foreign facilities that manufacture, process, pack, or hold food for human or animal consumption in the U.S. to register with the FDA by December 12, 2003. Owners, operators, or agents in charge of domestic or foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food for consumption in the U.S. are required to register the facility with the FDA. Domestic facilities are required to register whether or not food from the facility enters interstate commerce. Foreign facilities that manufacture/process, pack, or hold food also are required to register unless food from that facility undergoes further processing (including packaging) by another foreign facility before the food is exported to the United States. However, if the subsequent foreign facility performs only a minimal activity, such as putting on a label, both facilities are required to register.

EUROLand

Al-Qaeda blamed for Europe-wide forest fires - Telegraph

Troika Target Of Truculence As Greek Tax Evaders Terrified

Link to Article

Source: Zero Hedge

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 04:27

The Troika technical team was chased from their Greek offices on Tuesday by an angry mob of Muni workers(who proclaimed that "they got our labor rights and conditions back to the Middle Ages"). As KeepTalkingGreece notes, this is the third incident in 24 hours as since the team arrived they have had water bottle thrown at them as well as cars kicked and 'hurled coffees'. The clip below shows the Troika member looking rather anxious as he runs from the crowd (and NewsIt reported a female Troika member seeking refuge in a bookstore). It is not just the municipal workers who are in fear though, as GreekReporter notes the unbelievable story of the re-appearance of a 'mysterious' CD containing the names of 2000 ultra-rich Greek Swiss-bank account-holders is now back in the hands of the Greek government as they press for bilateral taxation on those huge deposits. It seems rich and poor alike are not happy with the Troika's exposure of tax cheats across the desparate nation.

Via KeepTalkingGreece:

Trash cans and debris piled up in front of the Troika offices in Greece...

and the video of the anxious-looking Troika member running from the crowd..

and the incredibly 'dodgy' sounding story of the mysterious CD...

Via GreekReporter: Venizelos Gives List of 2,000 Greeks With Swiss Deposits

A list of some 2,000 Greeks with large deposits in a Swiss bank '' that had been on a missing CD '' was given to the government on Oct. 2 by PASOK leader Evangelos Venizelos, who said he had been given the information while he was finance minister in a former government but didn't act on it because it was not legally obtained.

The list is thought to have been first compiled by French authorities in 2010 and submitted to then-Finance Minister George Papaconstantinou by his French counterpart Christine Lagarde, who now heads the International Monetary Fund, one of the Troika of international lenders providing Greece with rescue loans.

Venizelos is now in the coalition government headed by New Democracy leader and Prime Minister Antonis Samaras and the tiny Democratic Left and said he had been given the list by the former head of the Financial Crimes Squad SDOE Yiannis Dotis, who was replaced by a friend of Samaras' just as an investigation into alleged high-level tax evaders was proceeding.

Papaconstantinou later claimed that he had passed the contentious CD over to SDOE, which at the time was headed by Yiannis Kapeleris, and that somewhere along the line the data went ''missing,'' although no one could account for it.

Current Finance Minister Yannis Stournaras told the Financial Times that he would make a ''priority'' of tracking down the CD containing the names of about 2,000 Greeks who had deposited money in the Geneva branch of HSBC. ''I first learnt of its existence last week from the newspapers'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰but if SDOE can't track it down, then we'll ask our European partners for another copy,'' Stournaras told the FT.

Venizelos said that Diotis had informed him of the contents of the list in August 2011, but had expressed the opinion that the CD was presented to him ''unofficially'' by Papaconstantinou and that the data contained on it ''do not constitute a record that was submitted by due legal process to my service and therefore cannot be subject to legal inquiry and certainly not to publication.

On Oct. 2, he repeated what he said were reservations from Diotis about the legality of the list and said that any questionable use of the data could jeopardize Greece's efforts to convince Swiss authorities to release the details of account holders in the country who are suspected to tax evasion or other financial crimes.

''Our main priority then as now is to strike a bilateral agreement between Greece and Switzerland to tax the deposits of Greeks in Switzerland along the same lines of similar agreements signed with Germany and the United Kingdom,'' Venizelos said. ''I hope that the agreement will be completed soon and will benefit public revenues,'' he added.

In the meantime, the government is trying to keep the list secret to prevent another embarrassing gaffe after the names of 33 politicians, including seven former ministers, said to be under review to explain huge sums in their bank accounts and whether they evaded taxes, was leaked to media sources and put on the Internet.

Unbelievable!... is it any wonder the Germans are a little apprehensive? or that the Greek people are revolting?

Average:Your rating: NoneAverage: 5(6 votes)

Griekse overheid pompt 28 miljoen in Formule

Link to Article

Source: Een andere kijk op nieuws @infomagnl » Nieuws items

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 06:22

Geplaatst @ 2 oktober 2012

De Griekse minister van Ontwikkeling Notis Mitarakis heeft de geblokkeerde subsidies van een aantal investeringen toch teruggedraaid. In totaal gaat het om een bedrag van 73 miljoen euro. Zo wordt er toch een bedrag van 28,9 miljoen gestoken in een Formule I racebaan bij Xalandritsa.Ook de subsidies voor een glasfabriek in Noord-Griekenland en een luxe resort op Kreta zijn teruggedraaid, een investering van in totaal 44,4 miljoen euro. De drie projecten samen zijn de eerst van de zeven die vertraging opliepen te midden van problemen van de financile crisis en de twee verkiezingen in Griekenland. De drie projecten samen zullen volgens de minister 800 nieuwe banen scheppen. De werkloosheid in Griekenland is inmiddels gestegen tot 25 procent. Zo'n 55 procent van de Griekse jongeren zit thuis De economie krimpt dit jaar zeker meer dan 6 procent en ook moet het land dik 13 miljard bezuinigen.

Haiti

Haiti takes on dreaded disease elephantiasis one mouth at a time

Link to Article

Source: Delicious/pwarnock/NANN

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 06:20

In JACMEL, Haiti '-- In a sunny courtyard of the Evelina Levy School for Girls, hundreds of girls in blue uniforms did their part to rid Haiti of an ancient and reviled disease.

They lined up in pairs to get three pills dropped into their mouths. They swallowed them down with a quarter-cup of water. They got a second medicine, a flavored tablet, to chew as they walked back to class.

Drone Nation

Professor: Drones Will Soon Be Able To Kill During War Without Human Assistance CBS DC

Link to Article

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 02:03

File photo of a drone. (credit: ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Latest PollsUS Senate VirginiaKaine 44% Allen 44%Source: Suffolk/ WWBT 9/24-26US Senate VirginiaKaine 47% Allen 43%Presidential Election VirginiaObama 49% Romney 47%WASHINGTON (CBSDC) '-- Drones could soon operate without the help of humans.

Agence France-Presse is reporting that the Pentagon wants its drones to be more autonomous, so that they can run with little to no assistance from people.

''Before they were blind, deaf and dumb,'' Mark Maybury, chief scientist for the U.S. Air Force, told AFP. ''Now we're beginning to make them to see, hear and sense.''

Ronald Arkin, a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology, believes that drones will soon be able to kill enemies on their own independently.

''It is not my belief that an unmanned system will be able to be perfectly ethical in the battlefield, but I am convinced that they can perform more ethically than human soldiers are capable of,'' Arkin told AFP.

Arkin added that robotic weapons should be designed as ''ethical'' warriors and that these type of robots could wage war in a more ''humane'' way.

The U.S. military says people will be on the ground to control the drones despite the unmanned robots gaining more independence.

Peter W. Singer, a senior fellow in Foreign Policy at The Brookings Institution, believes there could be legal hurdles in regards to using robot-controlled drones.

''These responses that are driven by science, politics and battlefield necessity get you into areas where the lawyers just aren't ready for it yet,'' Singer told AFP.

Earlier this year, Singer wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times about the use of drones. In the piece, entitled ''Do Drones Undermine Democracy?'' he says the use of drones is ''short-circuiting the decision-making process.''

''Without any actual political debate, we have set an enormous precedent, blurring the civilian and military roles in war and circumventing the Constitution's mandate for authorizing it,'' Singer wrote. ''Freeing the executive branch to act as it chooses may be appealing to some now, but many future scenarios will be less clear-cut. And each political party will very likely have a different view, depending on who is in the White House.''

AFP reports that new military drones will most likely be implemented with more powerful jet engines and have longer range in combat.

There are currently more than 7,000 drones being used in combat.

Nukes

Chile, Dutch and others vie for nuclear treaty top job

Link to Article

Source: Reuters: World News

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 11:43

By Fredrik Dahl

VIENNA | Thu Oct 4, 2012 7:15am EDT

VIENNA (Reuters) - Chile, the Philippines and the Netherlands are among countries lobbying for their candidates to head an international body set up to monitor a planned global ban on nuclear weapon tests, diplomats said on Thursday.

Senior officials from Burkina Faso and Mongolia are also seeking the job as executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in a vote expected later this month.

"It is quite open. There are five good candidates" with nuclear and disarmament experience, one European diplomat said about the campaign to succeed Tibor Toth, an Hungarian who now holds the post. Another envoy in Vienna predicted a close race.

The successful candidate will take over at a potentially important time for the future of the treaty, with proponents hoping the United States will finally ratify it and give it a much-needed momentum towards becoming international law.

It is one of eight countries - together with China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, North Korea and Egypt - whose approval is needed for the pact that was negotiated in the 1990s and has so far been ratified by 157 states to take effect.

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon last week called on them to ratify it, saying they were "failing to live up to your responsibility" as a member of the international community.

"There is a direct link between ending nuclear testing and eradicating nuclear weapons," he said.

The United States and China are two of the world's five officially recognized nuclear weapons states, together with Britain, Russia and France.

NUCLEAR TESTS

India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel are also outside the separate nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the 1970 pact to prevent the spread of nuclear arms. Iran is part of the NPT but the West accuses it of seeking to develop a capability to build atomic bombs. Tehran denies the charge.

Proponents say U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), rejected by lawmakers in 1999, could encourage others to follow.

The administration of U.S. President Barack Obama - who seeks a second term next month - said last year it was preparing a push for approval, arguing the country no longer needs to conduct atom tests but does need to stop others from doing so.

More than 2,000 nuclear tests were carried out between 1945 and 1996, when the CTBT opened for signature, most of them by the United States and the then Soviet Union.

Since then, only India, Pakistan and North Korea have conducted such blasts, supporting the view by its supporters that the treaty has already had a major impact.

At the time of the U.S. Senate vote on the CTBT 13 years ago, opponents argued that a permanent end to testing could erode the reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The United States last carried out a nuclear test two decades ago.

The Arms Control Association, a Washington-based research and advocacy group, said nuclear testing was a "dangerous and unnecessary vestige" of the Cold War. But, "without positive action on the CTBT, however, the risk that one or more states could resume nuclear testing will only grow", it added.

The CTBTO has a verification regime to detect any nuclear blasts, including more than 280 monitoring facilities across the globe - a system that helped track radioactive particles from Japan's Fukushima nuclear accident in 2011.

His successor is due to be picked at an October 22-23 meeting in Vienna of the more than 180 states which have signed the CTBT. In the absence of a consensus, a vote will take place.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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The Cycles

World economy will be in crisis for at least a decade, says IMF chief economist.

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:06

Chief economist Olivier Blanchard was speaking to Hungarian website Portfolio.huHe said Germany would have to accept higher inflation and a real strengthening of its purchasing powerHe said U.S. still has big problems to solveJapan's crisis 'may take decades to solve'By Matt Blake

PUBLISHED: 09:24 EST, 3 October 2012 | UPDATED: 14:26 EST, 3 October 2012

Bleak prediction: Olivier Blanchard said Germany would have to accept higher inflation and a real strengthening of its purchasing power as part of the solution to Europe's problems

The world is not even halfway through the financial crisis and should brace itself for another six years of turmoil, according to a leading global watchdog.

Olivier Blanchard, chief economist at the International Monetary Fund, said it will take at least 10 years to recover from the meltdown caused by the banking crash of 2008.

'It is not yet a lost decade but it will surely take at least a decade from the beginning of the crisis for the world economy to get back to decent shape,' he said.

Olivier Blanchard told Hungarian website Portfolio.hu that Germany would have to accept higher inflation and a real strengthening of its purchasing power as part of the solution to Europe's problems.

But even though the focus was on Europe's troubles now, he said, the United States also had a fiscal problem which it had to resolve.

'Japan is facing a very difficult fiscal adjustment too, one which will take decades to solve. China has probably taken care of its asset boom but has slower growth than before, but we do not forecast any really hard landing,' he added.

Blanchard said that adjustment in the euro zone required a decrease in prices in the bloc's indebted southern half and a rise in core countries.

For the European Central Bank to maintain 2 per cent inflation for the bloc as a whole, core states would have to have higher inflation than 2 per cent - something strongly resisted in Germany, where 1920s hyperinflation still haunts the popular debate on interest rates.

'A somewhat higher inflation rate in Germany should simply be seen as a necessary and desirable, relative price adjustment,' Blanchard said.

'Given overall demand conditions and the ECB's strong mandate to ensure price stability, this is not the beginning of hyperinflation,' he said.

Price control: Blanchard said that adjustment in the euro zone required a decrease in prices in the bloc's indebted southern half, such as Spain and Greece (pictured), and a rise in core countries

On the debt crisis, Blanchard said that debt reductions were unavoidable but it should be done without stifling growth, walking on a 'narrow middle path.'

'If you do it too slow, the market thinks you're not serious, if you do it too fast, you kill the economy. For each country you have to find the right path of consolidation,' he said.

He said inflation-targeting had serious limitations and using just the main policy rate was not enough.

'You can have an economy in which inflation is stable and low, but behind the scenes the composition of the output is wrong, and the financial system accumulates risks.'

'The way to think about monetary policy in the future is that the central bank has in effect two sets of tools,' he said.

FnF

EARon

Shut Up Slave!

U.S. Military May Consider You a Potential Terrorist If You Are Young, Use Social Media, Or Question ''Mainstream Ideologies''

Link to Article

Source: Dprogram.net

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:56

October 3rd, 2012

Terrorist?

See Also: (PaulWatson) '' U.S. Army Characterizes People ''Frustrated With Mainstream Ideologies'' As Terrorists '' Read More Here

(WashingtonsBlog) '' Wired reports today:

These are some warning signs that that you have turned into a terrorist who will soon kill your co-workers, according to the U.S. military. You've recently changed your ''choices in entertainment.'' You have ''peculiar discussions.'' You ''complain about bias,'' you're ''socially withdrawn'' and you're frustrated with ''mainstream ideologies.'' Your ''Risk Factors for Radicalization'' include ''Social Networks'' and ''Youth.''

***

That was the assessment of a terrorism advisory organization inside the U.S. Army called the Asymmetric Warfare Group in 2011, acquired by Danger Room.

And the government has more or less classified journalists as terrorists.

So it's time for an updated list of actions and beliefs which government officials have said may indicate ''potential terrorism'' '...

The following actions may get an American citizen living on U.S. soil labeled as a ''suspected terrorist'' today:

Holding the following beliefs may also be considered grounds for suspected terrorism:

Source: Washingtons Blog

Related posts:

Social Media, Smartphones and Police Ctreate a Stasi Web of SurveillanceConfirmed: Terrorist Organization Trained on US Soil by US MilitaryThe Mainstream Media: Caught in the ActAlternative Media Becoming MainstreamIs US government setting stage to outlaw Vitamin D like raw milk? Mainstream media attacks nutrition '' Mike AdamsTrayvon vs Zimmerman: Mainstream Media Weapon of Mass DistractionNew York Times openly admits mainstream media stories are scripted by the White HouseHow Dare You Question the Word of Government Authorities!Tags: mainstream ideologies, potential terrorist, social media, u.s. militaryThis entry was posted on Wednesday, October 3rd, 2012 at 4:37 am and is filed under Dictatorship, Education/Mind Control, Fascism, Martial Law/Police State, NWO. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Asymmetric Warfare Group - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

AWG

Agenda 21

Scampaign

Zombies!

2TTH

Latvian model, 23, dies after falling from ninth-floor balcony of luxury apartment block where Labour Party delegates were also staying

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Source: WT news feed

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 13:30

Laura Pahomova landed on balcony at the Light Aparthotel in ManchesterLatvian model was pronounced dead at the scene in city's Northern QuarterGreater Manchester Police are not treating death as suspiciousBy Daily Mail Reporter

PUBLISHED: 03:39 EST, 3 October 2012 | UPDATED: 07:26 EST, 3 October 2012

A model has died after plunging nine floors from the balcony of a luxury apartment block and hotel.

Latvian Laura Pahomova fell from a high balcony at the 16-storey Light Boutique Aparthotel in Manchester's Northern Quarter.

The 23-year-old landed on another balcony below and was pronounced dead at the scene in Joiner Street. The lavish block was also housing some of the delegates at the Labour Party Conference.

Tragic: Laura Pahomova, 23, fell to her death at the Light Aparthotel in Manchester's Northern Quarter on Sunday

Police said that they are not treating her death, at 11.30am on Sunday, as suspicious.

Miss Pahomova moved to Blackburn, Lancashire, four years ago from her native Latvia, and was believed to be renting one of the £99 a night apartments in Manchester.

Her flatmate, who asked not to be named, said: 'Laura was my best friend. We are still trying to find out what happened, but the police said she fell.'

Miss Pahomova had worked for several years as a model, with an extensive portfolio of work for local photographers and companies.

Luxury: Miss Pahomova fell from the ninth floor of the Light Aparthotel in Manchester, landing on another balcony

Plush: A picture of one of the rooms in the Light Aparthotel shows a lavishly decorated interior

On networking website 'Model Mayhem' she described herself as a Blackburn-based model and wrote: 'I am fun, enthusiastic, easygoing and have a funny accent :)'

Manchester-based photographer Dan Tyack, who had worked with Miss Pahomova, told the Manchester Evening News: 'She was a lovely girl. The last I heard from her she was in Latvia and was thinking about coming back to the UK.'

Beauty: The model's death is not being treated as suspicious by Greater Manchester Police

Relaxed: Miss Pahomova described herself as 'laidback' and is pictured playing with two dogs in this photo from her Facebook page

Promising: Miss Pahomova (left) had worked as a model for some years and worked with a number of photographers and agencies

A spokesman for the hotel said Laura fell from a balcony in the 'apartments' section of the property.

The Light Boutique Aparthotel features 55 serviced apartments, located between floors six and 14 as well as several penthouse apartments.

Labour Party delegate Dina Livingston, 24, said: 'I was in my room having a nap when the police knocked on my door.

'They said a woman had fallen on to a balcony and died. I think they were unsure whether it was an accident or not and were asking all the guests what they had seen.

Active: The model's housemate described Miss Pahomova as her 'best friend'

Shock: The 23-year-old plunged to her death from the ninth floor of the building

'I didn't see anything myself but it's harrowing for someone to lose their life like this.'

An eyewitness, who did not want to be named, said: 'It was quite a disturbing scene. There were loads of police cars, the street was closed off and there was tarpaulin covering the balcony.'

A Greater Manchester Police spokesman said: 'Officers attended and found that a 23-year-old woman had fallen from a balcony several floors up and landed on another balcony nine floors below.

'The woman suffered serious injuries and was pronounced dead by paramedics at the scene.

'Inquiries are ongoing to establish the circumstances surrounding this woman's death, but it is not believed to be suspicious.'

Loss: Miss Pahomova lived with a housemate in Blackburn

Loved: Miss Pahomova was believed to have rented one of the £99 a nigh apartments at the hotel

Lucy the Luddite Redux

Out There

Vaccine$

Vaccination requirements for adjustment of status and immigrant visa applicants

Link to Article

Mon, 01 Oct 2012 01:28

United States immigration law requires all applicants for lawful permanent resident (either adjustment of status in U.S. or immigrant visa abroad) to obtain certain vaccinations (listed below) against vaccine-preventable diseases, prior to the issuance of an immigrant visa, adjudication of permanent residence. If you refuse to take the vaccines required for immigration purposes, your petition for permanent residency may be denied.Most nonimmigrant visa applicants are not required to comply with the vaccination requirements to a get visa.

If the applicant is in the U.S., vaccinations are administered by Civil Surgeon. If the applicant is outside the U.S., vaccinations are administered by Panel Physician. This document will refer them as 'designated physician' for ease of understanding.

Following vaccinations are required:

MumpsMeaslesRubellaPolioTetanus and Diphtheria toxoidsPertussis - Acellular pertussis-containing vaccines are available for use in persons at least 10 years age.Influenza Type B - Given annually to children 6 through 59 months of age; It continues to be required for adults 50 years of age or older.Hepatitis B - Given to all applicants from birth through 18 years of age.Seasonal flu if you have the medical examination completed between October 1 and March 31.Effective Dec 14, 2009, Zoster and Human Papillomavirus (HPV) are not required. Therefore, even if your medical examination was done before that and you didn't take those vaccines, you are fine.Any other vaccinations recommended by the Advisory Committee for Immunization Practices (ACIP).In order to assist the designated physician, and to avoid delays in the processing, all applicants should have their vaccination records available for the designated physician's review at the time of the medical examination. This is especially important for pre-school and school-age children. Applicants should consult with their regular health care provider to obtain a copy of their immunization record, if one is available. If you do not have a vaccination record, or if you never had certain vaccines, the designated physician will work with you to determine which vaccinations you may need to meet the requirement. In certain cases where the designated physician can not administer in their office or hospital, he/she will guide where you can get them, such as local public health department. After evaluation by the designated physician, you may alternatively go to your family doctor to get the required vaccines administered and show the records to the designed physician to note on Form I-693.If you are immune to vaccine-preventable diseases, and if you know of the immunity because your private health care provider has tested you, if you have any written evidence of immunity, you can take this documentation to the designated physician so that he/she can determine which vaccines you need to received.

If you have a medical condition that prevents you from receiving a vaccine that is appropriate for your age, the designated physician will decide and annotate the form accordingly and mark the vaccine as contraindicated. A contraindication is a condition that prevents you from receiving a particular vaccine.

If the designated physician can not administer all the required vaccinations at once, he/she will ask you to come back later to complete it before the form can be completed.

Certain waivers of the vaccination requirement are available upon the recommendation of the designated physician. Only a designated physician can determine which of the listed vaccinations are medically appropriate for you, given your age, medical history and current medical condition. e.g., if you are pregnant, Mumps, Measles, Rubella (MMR) will not be given to you or your husband. USCIS can grant this waiver based on the designated physician's certification on the vaccination supplement. You don't have to file a separate waiver application or pay a fee.

A vaccine is "not medically appropriate" if:

the vaccine is not recommended for your specific age group;there is a medical reason why it would not be safe to have the vaccine; e.g., allergies to eggs and yeast, pregnancy, hypersensitivity to prior vaccines, or other medical reasons;you are unable to complete the entire series of a required vaccine within a reasonable amount of time.If you initially did not have documents proving you received all the required vaccines but later submit those documents, or if the designated physician certifies that it is not medically appropriate for you to have one or more of the missing vaccine(s), USCIS may grant you a waiver based on the civil surgeon's certification on the vaccination requirement.Do not try to fulfill your vaccination requirements before you meet the designated physician, in case it is not medically appropriate for you to have one or more of the required vaccines.

Also look at medical examination for

Adjustment of Status

Consular Processing

It will provide more information about the designated civil surgeons (in the U.S.) and panel physicians (outside the U.S.).

Technical instructions for designated physicians

Q: Are all shots in each vaccine series required to be completed before applying for adjustment of status?

Waiver for vaccinations may be available to you, if:You are opposed to vaccinations in any form - that is, you cannot obtain a waiver based on an objection only as to one vaccinationYour objection must be based on religious beliefs or moral convictions; andThe religious or moral beliefs must be sincere.You will need to apply for a waiver of vaccination requirements by applying Form I-601, Application for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability, with fee.Refugees, instead, should file Form I-602, Application by Refugee for Waiver of Grounds of Excludability, and there is no fee. If you believe there is any other humanitarian reason (to assure family unity or when it would otherwise be in the public interest) why USCIS should waive the vaccination requirements for you, you need to submit Form I-602 with your adjustment of status application.When the applicant is child, decision may be taken according to parent's beliefs.

Orphans age 10 and under who are applying for IR-3 and IR-4 visas at a U.S. consulate don't have to comply with vaccination requirements before issuance of an immigrant visa. However, the adoptive parent must sign an affidavit that the child will be vaccinated within 30 days of arrival or at the earliest time that it is medical appropriate.Adoptive parents who can't sign the affidavit in good faith because of certain beliefs, look at the section above, to apply for a waiver on behalf of a child.

You are responsible for paying for all the vaccinations you take, directly to the healthcare provider. Before get the vaccines, you should ask them for its prices. If you cannot afford the vaccinations, there is no waiver available for that reason.

Moonshine

VIDEO

NASA Photoshops the Curiosity Mars Maps - Video

Clinton 'outraged' after Syria mortar strikes Turkey (ITV News video)

Link to Article

Source: WT news feed

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 21:59

9:12pm, Wed 3 Oct 2012 Turkey retaliates after bombingLast updated Wed 3 Oct 2012Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the US was "outraged" after a mortar bomb fired from Syria hit a Turkish border town.

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PEANUT BUTTER RECALL EXPANDED!

More Information On Massive Nationwide Peanut Butter Recall Because Of Salmonella Risk

Massachusetts Health Care Law - C-SPAN Video Library

Link to Article

Wed, 03 Oct 2012 02:12

C-SPAN | Washington Journal

Christine McConville talked about Massachusetts's 2006 health care law signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney. Topics included Mitt Romney's role in passing the law, and how the law works, employers' responses, and its .. Read MoreChristine McConville talked about Massachusetts's 2006 health care law signed into law by then-Governor Mitt Romney. Topics included Mitt Romney's role in passing the law, and how the law works, employers' responses, and its costs and effects. She also answered questions from viewers.

54 minutes | 99 Views

View Full Event (5 Programs)

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Daily Press Briefing - October 3, 2012

Link to Article

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:01

12:14 p.m. EDT

MS. NULAND: All right. Afternoon, everybody. Just barely afternoon. We actually got out a little early today. I have nothing at the top. As you know, the Secretary has just seen Afghan Foreign Minister Rassoul and the Binational Commission folks, and she will see the Kazakh Foreign Minister in about an hour.

Matt.

QUESTION: Well, I don't really have anything huge, but just on the '' have you gotten a response from the Hill to the Secretary's response, or is that not '' was that not expected?

MS. NULAND: A response to our response of their response?

QUESTION: Yeah, exactly. Or did you just '' did you not expect one?

MS. NULAND: I don't think we would '' we were responding to their letter.

QUESTION: I know. Well --

MS. NULAND: So clearly, we're in a process now where we will work with them.

QUESTION: And that process, today as opposed to yesterday, stands '' does it stand any different? Is --

MS. NULAND: No. You saw her letter. She put it out publicly.

QUESTION: Well, I know. But I mean, has anything happened between the time that she sent the letter and 12:05 today?

MS. NULAND: To my knowledge, nothing that rises to your level of interest. Perhaps we've had staff-to-staff talks, but --

QUESTION: I don't know. The level of interest in this is pretty --

MS. NULAND: Yeah, I know, I know.

QUESTION: -- the bar is pretty low, so --

MS. NULAND: I would guess we've had some staff-to-staff talks, but nothing significant to report.

QUESTION: Has it been decided yet '' sorry. Has it been decided yet who will actually attend the October 10th hearing?

MS. NULAND: No. We've got a lot of work to do ahead of us first. Yeah.

QUESTION:Syria?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Victoria, Mr. Lavrov in an interview is '' basically accused the West of having an agenda in Syria and not really wanting to bring all the different parties together for a dialogue. Could you comment on that?

MS. NULAND: Well, I haven't seen Foreign Minister Lavrov's comments. As you know, the Secretary has had intensive conversations with Foreign Minister Lavrov, endeavoring to get Russia's support for implementation of Geneva-style transition process, along the lines that we agreed way back in July but with real consequences. We're going to continue to have that conversation with the Russians. We've been absolutely transparent about our policy, about our intentions, and have been urging the Russians to do more to use their own influence on the Assad regime.

QUESTION: His message seems to be that the West is so fixated on Assad leaving the scene that they don't see '' or they don't have any elbow room to really work around any other accommodations.

MS. NULAND: The Secretary has said repeatedly '' and she said it again when we were in New York after she saw Envoy Brahimi '' that we still see merit in the arrangement that the P-5 foreign ministers and others worked out in Geneva way back in July that provided some preliminary thinking on what a transition structure might look like '' that's something that the Russians themselves signed up to '' but that we only think it's going to work if it has real consequences, consequences for both sides, if it's not implemented. So we are prepared to move forward on that basis. It's been the Russian side that has blocked consequences in the Security Council.

QUESTION: Sorry. When you say '' you just said Geneva-style transition process. Is that the new language? And if it is, what does that mean? Does that mean it comes with fondue too or something? (Laughter.) What does --

MS. NULAND: What I meant was to use the template put down in Geneva. Obviously, it's up to the Syrian side if they have '' Syrian opposition if they have improvements or additive --

QUESTION: Well, I think this goes to the question that came up in New York last week, which is whether or not the absolute '' what '' word-for-word the document that was adopted in Geneva is still operative. And I just want to make sure that by saying Geneva-style, we're not talking about like Geneva-light, where several --

MS. NULAND: Didn't mean light, didn't mean fondue. Simply meant the transition plan.

QUESTION: All right. Okay.

QUESTION: On that very point, Victoria, I mean, you talk about the June 30th Geneva, whatever point that would come out, which did not stipulate or did not say clearly for Assad to step aside.

MS. NULAND: It says very clearly that we would see the opposition working with those members of the existing governing structure who would be acceptable by mutual consent. And as we said at the time, as the Secretary said at the time, we don't see any way that Assad himself or any of those with blood on their hands would meet that standard.

QUESTION: Also on Syria. I'm wondering if the U.S. Government, either at the Secretary's level or below, has had any contact with the Turks on the latest mortar that landed in Turkish territory.

MS. NULAND: Well, thank you for that, Andy. We did want to make reference to that today. We do understand that a mortar from Syria landed in Turkey just a couple of hours ago, killing at least four children and one woman, wounding others. We extend our sincere condolences to the families and we strongly condemn this clear violation of Turkish sovereignty. We expect that the Secretary will be talking to Foreign Minister Davutoglu about this incident later in the day today.

QUESTION: And Davutoglu has already been on the line with Ban Ki-moon and with Brahimi. Do you think that this signals a potential change in the dynamics between Turkey and Syria?

MS. NULAND: Well, again, I think we'll wait and hear what Foreign Minister Davutoglu's report is on this. But the Turks have been very clear all along how seriously they take their sovereignty and they've been warning very clearly, particularly after the airplane incident, against further violations. So we will wait to speak to our Turkish ally.

Please. In the back here.

QUESTION: On that airplane --

QUESTION: Yeah. Afghanistan.

QUESTION: On Turkey still.

MS. NULAND: Sorry. Still on Syria. Let's stay on Syria. We'll come back to you.

QUESTION: On that airplane incident, did any clarity ever come out of that? Because there were a lot of questions at the time, and I know you were in discussions with the Turks.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I mean, the Turks themselves conducted an investigation. I'm going to send you to them. Frankly, I don't know whether that was concluded and what the ultimate findings were there.

QUESTION: But you referenced it. That's why I bring it up.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: And it just seemed unclear at last time it was a relevant subject whether '' where fault lied and how exactly the plane came down.

MS. NULAND: Well, there was no question in any of the reporting that an unarmed Turkish aircraft was fired upon by the Syrian side. There were questions as to exactly what the circumstances of that were. But again, I'll send to you to the Turkish side, because they did do a full investigation.

Jo.

QUESTION: Just staying on Syria, do you '' does the United States have any reaction to the news that some Hezbollah fighters were actually killed in Syria as well?

MS. NULAND: I hadn't said '' I hadn't seen that particular report, but you know we've been very clear about our concerns about Iran's involvement, about Hezbollah's involvement, and making clear that all of this was making the situation more violent, more dangerous.

QUESTION: Sorry. Do you '' you expect that '' her conversation with Davutoglu sometime this afternoon? Is that what you said?

MS. NULAND: We do.

QUESTION: And then just tangentially related to this, is there anything new on that '' the video and on Mr. Tice?

MS. NULAND: I don't have anything new on Mr. Tice. I wish I did.

QUESTION: Or on the actual video?

MS. NULAND: No, no. Still on Syria? I promised our colleague back here on Afghanistan. Please.

QUESTION: People in Afghanistan worried about the security transition in Afghanistan --

MS. NULAND: The security --

QUESTION: Security transition. And still the situation in Afghanistan is still tough and rocket fire from Pakistan to Afghanistan, and 2014 also close. And you know the Strategic Partnership was signed between Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Afghan people don't like that they are under attack. And they say although Pakistan '' still didn't change this policy toward Afghanistan. Just generally, what do you think about this general situation in Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary spoke quite extensively to our relationship with Afghanistan, to the Afghan-Pakistan relationship, before '' or after her meeting with Foreign Minister Rassoul today, so I obviously can't improve on what she said. We obviously focus very intensively still on security with the Afghans. We have strongly supported Afghan-Pakistan-NATO-U.S. conversations about the cross-border issues, and we will continue to do that.

Please.

QUESTION: Sorry. Could you update us on where '' the status of the talks with the Taliban at the moment? Foreign Minister Rassoul made a vow that they would continue this peace process. Where are we in terms of the United States engagement on that?

MS. NULAND: I don't have anything new to report to you, Jo. I think we have been saying for a number of weeks that we support an Afghan-led process, that we've created this Afghan-Pakistan-U.S. group to facilitate Afghan-led reconciliation. It's got some working groups on things like safe passage. But the Taliban have not been interested in coming to the table for some time. So the door is open there; they have to make a choice.

QUESTION: Just on the U.S.-Afghan security partnership talks, the Secretary and Foreign Minister Rassoul both named the diplomats that would head their respective sides in these. Does this meeting they're having today mark a start to that process, or is this more '' are we still in the sort of talks about talks stage?

MS. NULAND: I think the process today was to establish the sides. You'll recall that in the Strategic Partnership Agreement, we speak about trying to complete those bilateral security agreement talks within a year. So I think when you see that first meeting occur between the Afghan and U.S. sides, which this was not today '' it'll be at some point in the future '' that'll start our 12-month clock that we hope to be able to meet.

And this is just, for those of you who aren't aware, as we transfer Afghan security lead by the end of 2014, the U.S. security and training relationship with Afghan National Security Forces will continue but will need a new underlying bilateral agreement for that. That's what this bilateral security agreement is about, to replace the existing --

QUESTION: When is the first meeting of the two groups (inaudible)?

MS. NULAND: Again, I don't think they've set a precise time. They are working on how this is exactly going to work and where. But we'll let you know when we have something to announce. As Andy said, we announced our negotiators on each side at the Secretary's meeting with Foreign Minister Rassoul today.

Please.

QUESTION: On Saudi Arabia?

MS. NULAND: Anything else on Afghanistan before we move off?

QUESTION: Yeah, one more.

QUESTION: Can I stay on Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Yeah, please.

QUESTION: Okay. As you negotiate with the Afghan Government this new agreement, which I guess is going to supercede the current SOFA --

MS. NULAND: Right.

QUESTION: -- they have events coming up, such as the local elections, and there's the reconciliation talks, and obviously that'll decide, to some extent, I guess, U.S. success in Afghanistan. To what extent are you concerned about those domestic affairs that are going to be taking place in Afghanistan? To what concern are you concerned, if you will, with their local events?

MS. NULAND: Well, the electoral process is obviously an important milestone in Afghanistan's democracy. This would be the third election, I think, and it'll be very important that it be free, fair, transparent, that they allow international monitors, that there be a stable environment for it. So obviously, we're very focused on that in our political conversations and in our security conversation with the Afghans.

On the reconciliation side, as we've said for a long time now, we support an Afghan-led process, and there has been a lot of work done to prepare the ground for that. It's really '' the ball is in the Taliban court, whether they want to play or not.

QUESTION: Thank you.

QUESTION: What is the '' what's the basis for [inaudible] that Taliban is no longer interested in talks with Afghanistan and Pakistan?

MS. NULAND: They themselves made an announcement back in March that they were suspending participation. And so they've got to make the decision whether they're going to take advantage of the opportunities that are open to them.

QUESTION: But to follow up on [inaudible] question, does the electoral calendar impact the security arrangements?

MS. NULAND: Well, it's part of the evolution. There's a security evolution; there's a political evolution; they obviously have to go hand in hand. As the Afghans take on more of the responsibility for their own security, we will obviously work with them, as we do with many countries, on election security, to the extent that they want support, they want help. The elections are supposed to be in 2014, so presumably we won't have completed the full transition, but as we have in past elections, we would expect that we would be open to Afghan requirements and requests for support. But it's obviously going to be their lead in how this is structured.

QUESTION: So --

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Goyal.

QUESTION: Madam, as far as reconciliation is concerned, do you think it's working now? And what is the future, because still there are some attacks that are going on? And also, what she was asking, that unless there is full cooperation and really understanding from Pakistan as far as the '' ending the war in Afghanistan, it cannot work. And because in the south there are still problems of Taliban across the border from Pakistan. So what do you think the future will be for the people of Afghanistan? They have been fighting for this free and fair election and also freedom for the last 20-plus years.

MS. NULAND: Well, obviously I don't have a crystal ball as to where reconciliation is going to go. I think I said a couple of times here earlier in this brief that it's '' we have supported the Afghan-led process. They've got an open door to it. It's now for the Taliban to decide if they want to take advantage of it.

Moving on? Moving on?

QUESTION: (Inaudible) Alan Gross's condition?

MS. NULAND: Yeah. I'm sorry. The question was: Do we have an update?

QUESTION: Yeah. And what do you make of the disconnect between what his physician has said and also what the Cubans are saying?

MS. NULAND: Well, my understanding of the situation is that the Cubans turned over some of the test results that they had done on Alan Gross, and it was as a result of those that the public statements were made. As you know, Alan Gross's wife, Judy Gross, has long asked the Cuban Government to allow an American physician, his personal physician, to go and to see him, and we strongly support that request. More broadly, obviously, we think he ought to be released immediately.

Please.

QUESTION: Change of subject?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: On Kashmir, last week Pakistan President Zardari, at the UNGA, said that not resolving the Kashmir issue is a sign of UN failure. And this week on Monday, the '' India's External Affairs Minister said these remarks by President Zardari was unwarranted. There has been exchange of words between the two countries on Kashmir issue.

Two questions: What is U.S. position on Kashmir? Do you think UN still has a role to play in resolving that dispute? And secondly, these exchange of words, do you think, will derail the peace process which is going on between India and Pakistan right now?

MS. NULAND: Well, more broadly, we have said for some time that we applaud the progress that India and Pakistan have made in their dialogue, particularly on the economic side. We are encouraged that they've taken some concrete steps to normalize trade relations, including the recently signed agreement on visa liberalization. We want to see this economic warming extend to other areas.

With regard to our own policy on Kashmir, it hasn't changed. It's been the same for a very long time.

Please.

QUESTION: Just to follow?

QUESTION: On Iran?

MS. NULAND: Yes. Oh, sorry. Let's finish on Kashmir first. Sorry, Margaret.

QUESTION: Sorry. Madam, what I feel and say, after talking to many Indians and Pakistanis in the area, there is always '' every year, there's a tug of war between India and Pakistan at the United Nations, like this '' and also same thing. If this thing continues, then India brings up the issue of terrorism, that unless Pakistan stops terrorism into India, then no talks will continue because of this Kashmir issue they keep bringing.

My question is here. I have been interviewing and talking a lot of Kashmiris from the occupied Pakistan Kashmir, and what they are saying is always U.S. and others talking about the human rights in India's Kashmir but nobody talks about in Pakistan's Kashmir, which is '' situation is horrible. And nobody talks, and time has come '' what they are saying, that U.S. should bring this issue what is happening inside Pakistan Kashmir.

MS. NULAND: Well, more broadly, I would say that we do talk about human rights regularly with the Pakistan Government. We report on these things in our annual Human Rights Report. So obviously, human rights in Pakistan is something that we watch carefully and that's important to us.

On the broader issue of Kashmir, as I said, we want to see this economic warming now translate into a better conversation on that issue as well.

QUESTION: Did this issue came up when Secretary met External Affairs Minister Krishna and President Zardari in New York '' Kashmir issue?

MS. NULAND: I don't think it came up in the Pakistan meeting. I will check for you on the Krishna meeting. As you know, I was here, so I'll check on that one.

QUESTION: Can I just '' one more, quickly?

MS. NULAND: We '' yeah.

QUESTION: Just '' any readout, Madam, on the meeting between Secretary and the Indian Foreign Minister Krishna, please?

MS. NULAND: I think we had a written readout on that that came to some of you on the day. Let me see what I have here.

So they reviewed the trilateral meeting that we had '' Afghanistan, India, U.S. They also talked about regional economic integration, including the TAPI pipeline '' Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India pipeline. They discussed our joint efforts on energy, civil nuclear cooperation, visas, trade and bilateral investment, cooperation with India's near neighbors. And as I said, the Secretary commended India on India-Pakistan work together on the economic side.

QUESTION: Did you say a trilateral between U.S., India, and Afghanistan, Madam?

MS. NULAND: Correct.

QUESTION: So what will be the role of India's role in the future in Afghanistan?

MS. NULAND: Well, India's been a big economic investor. It's been a big development investor. It's been supportive of police force strengthening in Afghanistan. And they've been a big contributor to the broader Silk Road vision that the Secretary strongly supports. So India is playing a constructive role in Afghanistan's future.

QUESTION: Thank you, ma'am.

MS. NULAND: Margaret has been patient.

QUESTION: Thank you, Madam.

QUESTION: In Iran today, there are many reports that protests had been building about what's happening with the local currency there, but that the size of the protests had picked up, that they were targeted more, and discussed the role of the President, Ahmadinejad, in allowing for the circumstance. And there were also reports that the government was jamming some of the radio signals, BBC Persia and whatnot. Is there a U.S. readout on what the situation actually is inside Iran right now?

MS. NULAND: Well, you know that obviously we don't have our own mission there. We are watching the situation very closely. We've seen what you've seen, that protests are growing on the ground. Clearly, the Iranian people are demanding better from their government and speaking out against the gross mismanagement of the economy and of the situation in the country of the current regime. So we are watching carefully. And obviously, as we have continued to say, the Iranian Government bears responsibility for the bad choices that it is making on behalf of its people.

QUESTION: Is it fair to say, though, that these protests are a reflection of the impact of the sanctions and thus putting pressure on the government at this point?

MS. NULAND: Well, first and foremost, the Iranian state has horribly mismanaged all aspects of their internal situation, but certainly the economy and certainly their reaction to the run on the rial. But on top of that, the economic sanctions that the international community has put on the government as a result of its lack of forthcomingness on its nuclear program are having a profound impact on the ground and are being felt in what's happening to the rial.

QUESTION: Sorry. When you say that you're watching very closely the situation, do you mean to say you're watching very closely on television?

MS. NULAND: We are watching closely with our partners who do have missions on the ground. We're watching closely through your fantastic reporting.

QUESTION: That would be '' since the Canadians closed their embassy, that would be what, the Swiss, and that's about it?

MS. NULAND: The Swiss are there. I don't have a full picture of who's there.

Please.

We did '' I'm going to guess you're going to ask me about the horrific bombing into Turkey. I did speak to it at the top of the brief, yeah.

Please.

QUESTION: On Korea?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Media reports say South Korea and the United States have reached an agreement on expanding South '' the range of South Korea's ballistic missiles. I think you may have some information on the subject. What's your '' what's the State Department position on the matter?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, we continue to talk about bilateral security arrangements. We've made that clear here. The Secretary, as you know, saw the Prime Minister when we were in '' saw the Korean side when we were in Vladivostok. We also had a trilateral meeting '' Japan, Korea '' in New York. But I don't have anything new to report to you today on the missile side. If we do, we'll get back to you.

QUESTION: Can I ask you one more --

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: -- about Korean culture?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: I'm, of course, wondering if you know Korean singer Psy and his song ''Gangnam Style.'' Do you know?

MS. NULAND: No, but I bet you my daughter does. She loves Korean pop.

QUESTION: It's a big hit here in the United States and --

MS. NULAND: Yeah, yeah.

QUESTION: -- on the YouTube.

MS. NULAND: I'm going to dial it up and see that --

QUESTION: It's number-two song on the Billboard chart. Do you think such popularity of a Korean song will help promote people-to-people exchanges and ties between South Korea and the United States?

MS. NULAND: Let me be cool enough to have seen it first, and then I'll get back to you. How about that? I'm sure my daughter's seen it, though.

QUESTION: Maybe tomorrow.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. Jill.

QUESTION: Toria, on Iran '' I'm sorry I was late for the briefing, but --

MS. NULAND: Yes.

QUESTION: -- I just wanted to ask, with the demonstrations that are taking place now, upheaval '' was that asked?

MS. NULAND: Yes, Margaret just asked it and '' yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Is the ultimate intent right now of all of these sanctions '' which are going to be increased not only by the U.S. but the Europeans now are planning '' is it to tip over and, let's say, destroy, bring to its knees the Iranian economy?

MS. NULAND: Let me start by saying what the President said, what the Secretary said repeatedly. We have no quarrel with the Iranian people. We don't want the Iranian people to suffer. Our quarrel is with the bad choices that the regime has made, and particularly the bad choices that they're making to continue to pursue their nuclear agenda, to refuse to come clean with the international community about what's really going on, not to allow the IAEA in, not to make a really substantial effort in the P-5+1 talks, not to take up the offer that we've got on the table. So it is as a result of that that the international community is tightening and tightening and tightening the sanctions, and it is now clearly being felt on the streets of Tehran and elsewhere in the country.

QUESTION: Right, but right now, it's getting to a very serious point --

MS. NULAND: Absolutely.

QUESTION: -- you would agree?

MS. NULAND: Absolutely.

QUESTION: So is there any effort, I mean, right now, just to tip it over the edge?

MS. NULAND: As we've said, we want to see the Iranian Government change course in their discussions with us. If they change course, then we're prepared to match steps with steps. But this pressure is real because our concern is very real, and we're not going to allow Iran to have a nuclear weapon.

Please.

QUESTION: Change topic?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said yesterday that come what may, they will submit the application for a vote for a nonmember state observer, a nonmember state in the General Assembly in about a month and a half, at a time when (inaudible) is about to fall off a financial cliff and the money that is in '' and jeopardized '' I mean the aid, $200 million aid. Is anyone making that point clear to the Palestinian Authority, the connection between the two?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, the Secretary saw President Abbas when she was in New York.

QUESTION: Right, right.

MS. NULAND: She obviously made the points that we always make, that the way to get to the goal that we all seek, which is a Palestinian state that lives securely next to Israel, is through the negotiating table, not through action in New York. But she also said that we are working with Congress to try to get the 200 million that has not yet been released to the Palestinian people because we very much understand the needs there, and we support the strengthening of the Palestinian Authority in its ability to meet the needs of its people.

QUESTION: Okay. So was the point lost on Mr. Abbas? Because he made that statement yesterday about going forward with the application. And second --

MS. NULAND: Well, we're going to ''

QUESTION: -- do you separate between the two efforts?

MS. NULAND: There's no question that in our discussions with the Congress, our effort to get this money released is made more difficult by strong statements.

QUESTION: Right.

MS. NULAND: And the more progress we can make at the peace table, the easier it is to get support for the Palestinian Authority. These are points that we continue to make. That said, we will continue to work with the Congress because the need is urgent.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Jill.

QUESTION: One more on Syria.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: Let's see. Certain European countries are providing cash to the opposition in areas that are now under control of the opposition, towns that are now liberated, so-called. So is the United States considering doing that in addition to, of course, what it already does, which is provide communications equipment and training, et cetera, for city services? Is the U.S. planning on or contemplating handing out cash?

MS. NULAND: In general, as you know, nowhere in the world do we write checks and hand out cash. That's not the way we operate.

QUESTION: Except '' well, except in Iraq and other places that the military does.

MS. NULAND: That was a separate effort having to do with the Iraqi '' the military's operations in individual towns. In general, the way State Department and USAID programs work, as you know well, is that we provide training, we provide material support '' in this case, nonlethal support like communications equipment, et cetera. So my expectation is that our aid will continue to be in that form, it'll be concrete or in terms of training rather than cutting checks, which are hard to have a trail of accountability on.

QUESTION: And they're also hard to cash.

MS. NULAND: Yeah. (Laughter.) Exactly. Exactly.

QUESTION: Has the U.S. considered areas under rebel control liberated areas?

MS. NULAND: I think I've used the L-word here in recent days.

QUESTION: So there are liberated areas?

MS. NULAND: Clearly, there are increasing parts of Syria that have been liberated from the regime's control, yeah.

Michel.

QUESTION: On Libya --

QUESTION: On Syria --

QUESTION: A quick follow-up, just --

MS. NULAND: Still on Syria, yeah.

QUESTION: Just a second. Have you been able to talk to Turkish officials today since the shelling happened?

MS. NULAND: I did speak to this at the beginning of the briefing and made clear that the Secretary intends to talk to Foreign Minister Davutoglu later today.

Please, Jo.

QUESTION: Can I --

QUESTION: Excuse me. To clarify the statement '' I am sorry to miss the statement, but we know that '' the U.S. State Department position on this issue in terms of this military intervention in Syria is not, I mean, supporting of this idea. But Turkish officials, including the Foreign Ministry and other agencies' top officials are gathered today to discuss all the options of Turkish Government on this issue. Is there anything, any change, on your position in terms of limited military intervention to stop this violence at the border of Syria and Turkey?

MS. NULAND: U.S. position is not changed with regard to the contribution that we are making to the Syrian opposition.

Please.

QUESTION: I have a question on Mali.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Europeans today are saying that the '' an intervention in Mali is its top foreign policy priority at the moment. I wondered if you could --

MS. NULAND: They said that at the EU? I didn't see that.

QUESTION: No. It was the French, actually. The French saying it's Europeans' top policy. The French are saying it's the Europeans' top policy. The French '' one of the French ministers is saying that.

MS. NULAND: Minister Fabius said that? I didn't see that.

QUESTION: Defense Minister.

QUESTION: Defense Minister, thank you. I wondered if you could give us an assessment of --

MS. NULAND: Agence France ici?

QUESTION: Oui, bien sur. (Laughter.) If you could give an assessment from the U.S. perspective of the threat levels coming out of Mali, not just for the region, but more importantly for U.S. national security. And what, if any, planning is going on within the U.S. Administration to deal with this?

MS. NULAND: Well, as the Secretary made clear when we were in New York, we do have growing concerns '' we've had concerns all along, but they are continuing to grow '' about al-Qaida in the Maghreb and their abuse of ungoverned space or space that's been ceded to extremists like in northern Mali, and their ability to use places like that as platforms for more mischief, and particularly mischief that could endeavor to destabilize some of the fragile democracies.

We are, in the Mali context, working closely to support the efforts of ECOWAS to further elaborate a robust peacekeeping plan with the new interim government of Mali that would work both on securing the capital and on pushing north. And we have said that we're prepared to support a well thought out plan in the Security Council when it comes forward but with ECOWAS very much in the lead.

QUESTION: Do you think there'll be any instances or room for any kind of unilateral U.S. action in that area?

MS. NULAND: Well, I'm obviously not going to rule anything in or out here, but our focus in Mali is on the ECOWAS effort and what they are talking about with the Government of Mali.

That said, we work across the region with our partners on counterterrorism efforts, including sharing of intelligence and local efforts to go after terrorist cells.

Please.

QUESTION: Saudi Arabia.

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: The Director of Saudi Arabia religious police has said that his forces are losing some of their key powers, including arrests and investigations and raiding houses. How do you view this development in Saudi Arabia?

MS. NULAND: I haven't seen those comments, and frankly, I don't have anything particularly new to comment on with regard to the security situation in Saudi.

Samir.

QUESTION: A Bahraini court rejected today or yesterday the medics' appeal. Do you have any reaction to this?

MS. NULAND: We are deeply concerned that the court of cassation upheld the rulings against the nine medical professionals who were associated with the protest last year against the Salmaniya Medical Complex. We're also concerned that these convictions serve to further restrict freedom of expression and hurt the atmosphere that's so necessary in Bahrain for national reconciliation. And we understand that as of this morning, the government has begun taking these people into custody. So we've repeatedly voiced concern about this case; we're going to continue to do it both publicly and privately at the highest levels in Bahrain.

QUESTION: Mexico?

QUESTION: Does that include the Ambassador directly?

MS. NULAND: Of course.

QUESTION: Has the Ambassador been here, for instance?

MS. NULAND: Of course. Yeah.

Roz.

QUESTION: In Mexico, is there an update on the investigation on the U.S. officials who were attacked near Cuernavaca?

MS. NULAND: I don't have anything new to report on that, Roz.

QUESTION: There's also a report suggesting that Mexican officials suspect that they may have been targeted by federal police working on behalf of one of the main drug cartels. Is the U.S. concerned about the ongoing infiltration of the federal police by criminal elements, and does that raise any questions about joint work to deal with the drug problem between Mexico and the U.S.?

MS. NULAND: Well, as you know, our concerns about the need to strengthen the Mexican security services have been ongoing. This is the basis for the Merida Initiative that we have going together. It looks not just at rule of law issues, but it also looks at vetting of police, it looks at auditing of activities, and all those kinds of things. And the Mexicans have made considerable progress both on the basis of their own investment and on the basis of substantial Merida investment that we have made, but clearly, all sides have more work to do.

Please. Goyal.

QUESTION: Burma?

MS. NULAND: Yeah.

QUESTION: After meeting Burmese President at the United Nations, so what do you get now out of '' I mean, can you update as far as political prisoners and also further opening for the businesses and also as far as sanctions are concerned, madam?

MS. NULAND: Well, the Secretary spoke to the Burma issue after her meeting with President Thein Sein, and we also had a background briefing in New York. As you know, we took a couple of steps to ease sanctions. We've eased some name sanctions on individuals, and we also began the process of lifting sanctions '' easing sanctions on the import of Burmese goods into the United States. So this reflects the continued progress that the government is making, but there's obviously more progress to be made on the political prisoners, on national reconciliation within Burma, and on the relationship with the DPRK.

QUESTION: Where will be this triangle of Burma-China/Burma-India, and now there's a U.S. '' so where '' what will the position of China and also India, because before these changes, India was there and China was there.

MS. NULAND: Well, they're obviously both neighbors of Burma. We talk very extensively with the Indian side on support for reform within Burma. Secretary has also talked about Burma with Foreign Minister Yang, and when we were in Beijing, about the fact that the U.S. wants to see a Burma that is opening to the world, increasingly democratic, but a level playing field for all investors there.

QUESTION: Thank you.

MS. NULAND: Thank you very much.

QUESTION: Thank you.

(The briefing was concluded at 12:48 p.m.)

DPB # 170

Austin Tice still alive - [VIDEO]

U.S. Embassy Vehicle Attack in Mexico: Cartels Involved | Occupy America

Remarks at the World Food Program

Link to Article

Thu, 04 Oct 2012 00:00

SECRETARY CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. Halima, please tell all of the women in the valley how proud I am of them and what they are doing, and thank them for taking such good care of that sweet pepper plant '' (laughter) '' so it would have a good yield. And thank you for coming to be with us for this event today, because really what you represent and what you just said is so important to us to know that our efforts are helping you make a difference.

And let me welcome all of you here to the State Department, to the Benjamin Franklin Room. I think Mr. Franklin would be very happy we're having this event here. There are so many champions in the fight against hunger and food insecurity who are here with us today. I thank Frank Sesno for once again lending his experience and expertise to this important mission that we share. I thank Hunter Biden for, as was said, continuing his extraordinary family's record of service and stewardship. Thank you so much, Hunter. And Rick Leach, who provides essential leadership for World Food Program USA.

And I also want to pay tribute to Dr. Raj Shah, who is here in his capacity as the Administrator of USAID, but the real story behind his becoming Administrator of USAID is that I stole him from USDA, where he was working on these issues and was one of our absolutely indispensible partners in conceiving and putting together Feed the Future. And under Raj's leadership, USAID is doing an amazing job of implementing the vision that we had at the beginning of this Administration.

I also want to thank David Lane, Ambassador Lane, who is our Ambassador to the World Food Program. And it's good to see you here and thank you for your leadership. I also want to acknowledge a dear friend, a Congressman who, upon hearing that I would be nominated to be Secretary of State, set up an appointment to talk to me about hunger. Jim McGovern, thank you for your years of commitment on these issues that affect people's lives and futures. (Applause.)

Dan Glickman, a former Secretary at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and one of the real brains behind the Chicago Council Report on Food Security and Ending Hunger, and so many others who are here who have been involved in this struggle. And of course, we wouldn't be here were it not for the man who inspired this award, Senator George McGovern, who his entire 90 years has been at the forefront of our nation's fight against hunger. And I was thrilled to receive this award from him two years ago because I admire and respect the work that he's done over a lifetime.

And then finally, the two people that we are here to honor today. You'll hear more about David and Christina, but I am personally delighted that they would come from the world of business and entertainment and, with such passion and commitment, really give of themselves to this global issue. And we are so grateful to you both. If I could sing, Christina, I would '' (laughter) '' want to be on your team. (Laughter and applause.) But since I can't, I'm glad you're on this team. (Laughter.)

Before we hear from David and Christina, I want to take just a moment to look at how far we have come since starting this journey together four years ago. We had studied the historic trends and saw that while the Green Revolution had lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty, it had largely bypassed many others, especially in Africa. At the same time, if you remember back to the global economic crisis of 2008, one of the impacts was skyrocketing food prices combined with climate problems that really conspired to put so many people into hunger and malnutrition. There were, for the first time in history, more than one billion hungry people in the world.

And so the Obama Administration and partners around the world looked at how both the trend lines and the headlines were talking to us, and said: Look, we can't wait; we have to act now. And we called on G-8 donor partners, and at the G-8 Summit in L'Aquila, they came up with the Food Security Initiative, which was an unprecedented $22 billion commitment. And the United States did our part with President Obama's announcement of a $3.5 billion pledge, which led to our Feed the Future program.

As you saw on the video, our efforts are starting to pay off. Feed the Future has helped 9 million children get the nutrition they need to thrive, especially in those first 1,000 days from pregnancy through a child's second birthday. We're working with the private sector to help farmers connect with markets where they get better prices for their products. Nearly 2 million more farmers are producing the high-quality, sustainably grown products '' like rice, coffee, and cacao '' that businesses and customers are demanding. Now, we have an ambitious research agenda, collaborating with the private sector, on the next generation of tools that will accelerate our progress. And we will soon launch an action plan to deepen our work with civil society groups.

So we have a full agenda and we're moving ahead. But I think it's fair to say that we're quite humble about the challenges ahead of us. We are racing to stay ahead of climate change, of droughts, in our country and around the world. We're racing to stay ahead of conflict that disrupts markets and terrorizes smallholder farmers, particularly women. We're racing to stay ahead of corruption that stands in the way of farmers getting a decent price for their products or even getting their harvest to market unspoiled.

So we know we face a lot of very big obstacles. But what I'm encouraged by, and excited even, is how far we have come and the fact that we have a vision and a plan about how we're going to get the rest of the way, because we cannot accept a world where children go hungry simply because of where they are born.

So I often say we need everyone who cares about this issue to stand up and use their voice. And well, with Christina, that is literally true. (Laughter.) Now, although she is best known for her chart-topping hits and her top-rated television show, she's also a mom and a concerned citizen. And as a World Food Program Ambassador Against Hunger, she has traveled to Latin America and seen firsthand the devastation that malnutrition, especially early in life, can cause. And of all the videos that Christina has made over the years, to me the most heartwarming may be the one where she sits with a group of kids in Haiti and sings ''Itsy Bitsy Spider.'' I even know that song, Christina. (Laughter.)

But I am so appreciative of what you're giving to the cause. I mean, it's easy when you're a big star, as you rightly are, to just stay focused on what you're doing and producing. But you've used your talent to help others, and that is a great gift.

Now, if there is a rock star of the food industry, that is David, the man who oversees some of the best-known brands in the world, and now he is turning his relentless drive and enthusiasm to Yum! Brands' World Hunger Relief initiative.

With Christina as its global spokesperson, this program has become one of the largest private sector hunger relief efforts in the world, raising $115 million for the World Food Program and other organizations, and providing 460 million meals to hungry children around the globe. That's the kind of commitment that Rick and the World Food Program here in the United States and around the world are really grateful for. So thank you for taking your business success and just matching those up with values and compassion and doing so much for others.

Now as we look ahead, we are hoping to keep expanding the circle of partners. We want to bring in more private sector partners, more civil society groups, more faith communities, and we want to bring in people who are on the front lines, women who themselves know what we're talking about. And we need to measure progress not just by what individuals can do, but by what we all together can achieve.

So it's been my great privilege to work with all of you, and we're going to make sure that this commitment stays institutionalized at USAID and the State Department for the foreseeable future, because we have a lot to do before we can rest easy.

But it's been a great honor for me, and now I think we're going to give out some awards, right? Oh, we're going to do another video, Frank. Okay. So we're going to do another video '' (laughter) '' and pay attention to the video and then we'll hear from our two honorees. (Applause.)

CBS WKBT News Anchor's On-Air Respsonse to Viewer Calling Her Fat (Oct. 2nd, 2012) - YouTube

Link to Article

Tue, 02 Oct 2012 23:32

Christine Lagarde on signs of an improving U.S. economy - CBS News Video

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Tue, 02 Oct 2012 15:49

Swing state polls give Obama large lead

"The Washington Post" finds the presidential race very tight, but polls coming out of the biggest swing states find President Obama with a much bigger lead. Scott Pelley spoke with CBS News political director John Dickerson on the difference between polls in battleground states and at the national level.

Comments, suggestions etc all welcome here!

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