Saturday, August 31, 2013

Horoscope: Pisces,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Pisces
PiscesSome letters, checks, or phone calls you may have been expecting for a long time could still be delayed, Pisces. There's no reason to get too frustrated, as the delays are beyond your control. The best course is to find something else to do and let whatever you're waiting for come when it will. It hasn't been lost - it will come!

Horoscope: Aquarius,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Aquarius
AquariusA member of your household could be depressed over their job, Aquarius. Something may have gone wrong that wasn't their fault. You might be called upon to distract this person and get him or her going again. You won't be alone in this. More than one visitor could drop by to bring good news and information, thereby improving the mood. You'll enjoy this, too!

Horoscope: Capricorn,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Capricorn
CapricornToday you might be eagerly awaiting a phone call that never seems to come from a current or potential romantic partner, Capricorn. This could awaken your insecurity and cause you to think the worst. You should be relieved when the call finally comes, probably in midafternoon. Relax, hang in there, and keep busy!

Horoscope: Sagittarius,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Sagittarius
SagittariusToday you might feel a little out of sorts, Sagittarius, perhaps because of overindulgence from last night. You might be tempted to stay home in spite of other commitments. This actually might be a wise course of action, though you may feel better by midafternoon. Spend the morning relaxing and taking care of yourself. See what the rest of the day brings.

Horoscope: Scorpio,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Scorpio
ScorpioAttempts to reach a potential or current business partner could go awry today, Scorpio. Phone messages may not get delivered, emails could get lost, and letters remain unopened. This person is having a hectic day. Don't think he or she is upset with you. If you really need to reach this person now, you might have to go over there. Technology isn't going to do it for you today.

Horoscope: Libra,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Libra
LibraIf you've been thinking about investing, Libra, this isn't the day to start. Not only would there be delays in processing your investment but it also probably won't pay off the way you hope. Read about the options open to you and then consult with someone knowledgeable in a few days. Think about it and then if you're so inclined, go ahead. Don't do it now!

Horoscope: Virgo,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Virgo
VirgoSome pressing matters might have you worried that you may have to postpone a much-needed vacation, Virgo. You could be tempted to go into a funk over it, but don't. It could create the very situation you don't want. If you budget your time and work efficiently, you'll probably be able to go on your trip as planned and have a wonderful time.

Horoscope: Leo,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Leo
LeoA delay in completing an important project could have you feeling irritated, frustrated, and inadequate, Leo, even though you've done your best. The problem is probably beyond your control. There isn't much you can do about this but wait. There are probably a lot of other important tasks waiting. Take care of them and get your mind off the other. It'll get done eventually.

Horoscope: Cancer,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Cancer
CancerToday it looks like you might not be able to attend a group activity that you've been anticipating, Cancer. Other pressing matters may demand your immediate attention. This could prove frustrating. However, if you work quickly and efficiently, you might be able to make it after all. Budget your time carefully and get to it!

Horoscope: Gemini,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Gemini
GeminiToday you might feel very low, Gemini, though you may not have any idea why. Your life is going well, so there's no real reason for you to feel this way. Chances are that you saw something that triggered an unconscious memory without even being aware of it. Discern what it was and then release it. Find something to do that you love!

Horoscope: Taurus,AUG 31, 2013.

Horoscope: Taurus
TaurusDelays in accomplishing certain goals could have you feeling down today, Taurus. You could wonder if you did something wrong. Chances are you didn't. The delays probably stem from poor communication. Letters, emails, and other messages might not have been delivered in a timely manner. Hang in there and continue to believe in yourself.

Horoscope: Aries,AUG 31, 2013.

AriesSome news about money, perhaps a check in the mail you've been waiting for still might not come. This could be frustrating, Aries, especially since there isn't much you can do about it. It will come, so the best thing to do is distract yourself and get your mind off it. Find a good book and catch up on your reading!

Health of California prison hunger-strikers in decline, despite help from Gatorade

Health of California prison hunger-strikers in decline, despite help from GatoradeJustin Sullivan / Getty Images / AFP

California prisoners on hunger strike to protest solitary confinement policies are losing dangerous amounts of weight, even though they have been allowed to drink sports drinks and eat vitamins to help protect against starvation.
The hunger strike is approaching the end of its second month, with 123 inmates across 30 prisons refusing food. Fifteen of the 123 inmates have lost dangerous amounts of weight, while nearly all others have experienced feelings of weakness and low body temperature, Liz Gransee, a spokeswoman for the officer in charge of prison healthcare told Reuters Friday. 
Some of them aren’t handling this as well as the others,” she said. “Some of them have had IV fluids multiple times.” 
Forty-one inmates have consistently refused food since the strike began on July 8, with others joining and leaving the strike intermittently. 
Many have subsisted on vitamins and sports drinks, including Gatorade, a popular sports drink in the US that replenishes electrolytes and can provide inmates with 625 calories each day, slowing the progress of a prisoners’ starvation. 
The average 30-year-old man must consume between 2400 and 2600 calories every day, part of the reason Gatorade will not be enough to save an individual’s life, Elena Kret-Sudjian the medical director of clinical nutrition at the University of California Davis Medical Center, told Reuters.
When the body burns fat it also burns the muscle and it’s very dangerous. When humans lose 40 percent of muscle they will die,” Kret-Sudjian said. “People may feel initially very irritable, even depressed. They may have reduced body temperature, be extremely sensitive to cold, or have chronic diarrhoea, decreased sex drive and other complications.” 
This strike is the second in California in just a few years. At its peak, 30,000 inmates throughout the state were involved in the demonstration against solitary confinement policies that isolate gang leaders indefinitely, sometimes for decades. 
Earlier this month a federal judge granted the California Department of Corrections permission to begin force-feeding inmates who appeared to be on the verge of death. The so-called “refeeding” process involves feeding prisoners intravenous fluids through their noses and into their stomachs. Judge Henderson instructed officials to act only if the chief medical executive at a facility determines a hunger striker is at risk of “near-term death or great bodily injury.” 
Both prison officials and attorneys representing the remaining demonstrators claim they are willing to compromise. Lawmakers say the effort is fueled by gang leaders seeking more power behind bars, while inmates’ attorneys have repeatedly told the media they are seeking a compromise to benefit both parties. 
Being rational seems to have left this debate,” Jeanne Woodford, former head of the California prison system under Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s people who have dug their heels in on both sides.” 

Microsoft, Google sue US for right to reveal nature of surveillance requests

Microsoft, Google sue US for right to reveal nature of surveillance requestsAFP Photo / Lionel Bonaventure

Microsoft and Google announced Friday they are going forward with a lawsuit against the US government for the right to reveal more information about official requests for customer data by American intelligence.
The companies originally filed suits in June following revelationsprovided by Edward Snowden of their relationship with the National Security Agency and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, which oversees the government’s requests of the companies’ systems.

Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith announced the companies were following through with a suit, saying negotiations with the government since June have not yielded significant progress. The companies maintain they should be allowed to disclose the nature of their relationship with government spying -- via the program known as PRISM -- in the face of public criticism after the NSA stories were reported by The Guardian and The Washington Post.

“On six occasions in recent weeks we agreed with the Department of Justice to extend the Government’s deadline to reply to these lawsuits.  We hoped that these discussions would lead to an agreement acceptable to all.  While we appreciate the good faith and earnest efforts by the capable Government lawyers with whom we negotiated, we are disappointed that these negotiations ended in failure,” Smith wrote in a post entitled “Standing Together for Greater Transparency” on Microsoft’s corporate blog.

The companies deny PRISM allows the government direct access to their systems, but they are not legally able to disclose how often they have been asked to provide information on users.

"We believe we have a clear right under the US Constitution to share more information with the public,"Smith wrote. "The purpose of our litigation is to uphold this right so that we can disclose additional data."

Though the US government has said it will reveal more details of the nature and scope of their requests of the companies in 2012, Smith said it’s not enough.

“We believe it is vital to publish information that clearly shows the number of national security demands for user content, such as the text of an email,” he wrote.

In 2012, the secret FISA court granted 1,856 government requests for customer data while rejecting none. 

DoD has problems locating Damascus in new map quiz

DoD has problems locating Damascus in new map quizscreenshot from

As military actions against the Syrian government remains a hot topic of negotiations, it has inspired professional quizzers to ask people to pinpoint Damascus on an interactive map. The US Department of Defense has apparently encountered problems.
“Where is Damascus? The US and the UK (crossed out) are probably to bomb it. Do you know where it is?”ask the authors of the game, suggesting that players click on the map and pinpoint the city.

A fresh map then appears, showing you how many miles away from reality your answer is.

In general results show that people know the Syrian capital is located in the Middle East and close to the sea.
The social media website, whose team created the game, said in an analysis released on Friday that "More than 50% of our players guessed within 200 miles." 
However, government departments’ results were traced and yielded some worryingly inaccurate estimates. 

“We…had 65 guesses from within the US Department of Defense,”
 revealed the statistics. “57% got it right at the DoD, compared to 64% in the [UK] Houses of Parliament [out of 139 guesses].”
65 guesses came from within the US Department of Defense (Picture from
65 guesses came from within the US Department of Defense (Picture from

While some British lawmakers seemed to be engaging in deliberate self-sabotage, placing the country in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean, for example, it looked like the DoD employees were making errors completely obliviously.

“The folks in the DoD haven’t gone for blatantly wrong places; instead they’re still guessing all over the Middle East. We don’t think they’re joking,”
 said the report released on Friday.

While it might be difficult to pinpoint a city on a blank map, still “quite a few people knew” where Damascus was, according to the game’s creators. 
However, some accidentally picked the Black or Caspian Seas rather than the Mediterranean Sea as touching its coastline.

“Many of these guessed somewhere in the Sahara Desert, or in the Balkan states. Two people picked Siberia. One person picked Texas. They were probably joking,” a team of Us Vs Th3m wrote.
In total, more than 100,000 people played the game by the moment the report was released, according to their figures. 

Open-sea US Navy testing will kill hundreds of dolphins and whales

Open-sea US Navy testing will kill hundreds of dolphins and whalesDavid McNew / Getty Images / AFP

The US Navy admits its underwater training and experiments will result in the deaths of hundreds of dolphins and whales over the next five years – but insists that its testing program is essential.
Computer models showed that the Navy will likely kill 186 whales and dolphins off the East Coast and 155 near the coast of Hawaii and Southern California – its main operation areas – between 2014 and 2019. 
Results also showed that marine mammals on both coasts would likely suffer more than 13 thousand serious injuries and nearly 4 million minor ones.
Most of these will be the result of underwater explosions, though some injuries will be the result of physical contact with ships, or sonar testing. Larger species are particularly vulnerable to Navy activities.
The Navy is obliged to annually commission these studies - which take existing data about the impact of military activities on marine wildlife, and project it into the future – due to federal environmental regulations. If it injured animals without having done the impact study, it would risk seeing its off-shore activities suspended altogether, as it would be a violation of federal environmental law.
Rear Adm. Kevin Slates, the energy and environmental readiness division director for the Navy, defended the planned operations, regardless of the figures.
“Without this realistic testing and training, our sailors can’t develop or maintain the critical skills they need or ensure the new technologies can be operated effectively,” he told the media earlier this week.
The influential non-profit National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has said that the studies show that the Navy’s open-sea program is “simply not sustainable”.
Michael Jasny, senior policy analyst at NRDC, says that the real impact is greater still than what the Navy has projected.
The Navy studies show that there will be almost 28 million “minor instances” of behavior change that will occur as a result of the testing. But Jasny believes that these temporary disturbances – such as a dolphin that is not able to use a feeding ground, or a whale that is scared and starts panicking – can also prove to be fatal. 
"These smaller disruptions short of death are themselves accumulating into something like death for species and death for populations," Jasny said.

White House visitor logs not subject to public information requests, court rules

White House visitor logs not subject to public information requests, court rulesAFP Photo / Eva Hambach

White House visitor logs for the president and most of his staff members are not subject to public information requests via the Freedom of Information Act, a federal appeals court ruled unanimously Friday.
The watchdog group Judicial Watch had asked for Secret Service records in order to access White House visitor information for President Obama's first seven months in office.

Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, said in the ruling opinion that conflating Secret Service "agency records" to extend to White House visitor logs could hamper the executive’s ability to meet confidentially with visitors.

"Congress made clear that it did not want documents like the appointment calendars of the president and his close advisers to be subject to disclosure" under the Freedom of Information Act, wrote Garland.

Current rules allow for White House visitor records to stay confidential up to 12 years after a president has left office.

In May 2006, the Bush White House and the Secret Service asserted visitor logs are presidential records that can be shielded, unlike Secret Service agency records that are subject to FOIA requests unless one of nine exemptions applies.

Judicial Watch, a conservative group, said it was considering an appeal of the ruling.

"Decisions like this turn the Freedom of Information Act from a transparency law to a secrecy law," the group's president, Tom Fitton, told AP. 

Washington’s threats to attack Syria unacceptable – Russia

Washington’s threats to attack Syria unacceptable – Russia

The headquarters of the Foreign Ministry of Russia in Moscow (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)The headquarters of the Foreign Ministry of Russia in Moscow (Reuters / Maxim Shemetov)

Washington’s threat to use military force against Syria unilaterally is unacceptable, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said in a statement. He urged the US to wait the results of the UN chemical weapons investigation.
Given the lack of evidence, any unilateral military action bypassing the UN Security Council – “no matter how limited it is”– would be a direct violation of international law and would undermine the prospects for a political and diplomatic solution to the conflict in Syria and will lead to a new round of confrontation and victims, Lukashevich concluded.

“Instead of executing the decisions of G8’s summit in Lough Erne and subsequent agreements to submit comprehensive report from experts investigating possible cases of use of chemical weapons in Syria to the UN Security Council, in the absence of any evidence, we hear threats of a strike on Syria,” the statement read.

Lukashevich emphasized that even “US allies” wanted to wait for the completion of the UN chemical expert group “in order to get an unbiased picture of what really happened and decide on further steps in terms of the Syrian crisis.” 
While the international community has yet to be convinced - the British Parliament rejected a motion authorizing military action in Syria Thursday - Kerry did say the August 21 attack killed 1,429 Syrians, including no less than 426 children. He also said the situation was not the same as Iraq in 2003, a memory that has inspired doubt throughout the UK and the US.

“Our intelligence community has carefully reviewed and re-viewed information regarding this attack,”
Kerry said. “And I will tell you it has done so more mindful of the Iraq experience. We will not repeat that moment. Accordingly, we have taken unprecedented steps to declassify and make facts available to people who can judge for themselves.”
Syrian troops fire a heavy machine gun mounted on a pick-up truck in the Eastern Ghouta area on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus on August 30, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sam Skaine)
Syrian troops fire a heavy machine gun mounted on a pick-up truck in the Eastern Ghouta area on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus on August 30, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sam Skaine)

He went on to outline the suspicions on which US leaders have formulated their theory.

“We know that the Assad regime has the largest chemical weapons programs in the entire Middle East,”Kerry continued. “We know that the regime has used those weapons multiple times this year, and has used them on a smaller scale but still it has used them against its own people…We know that the regime was specifically determined to rid the Damascus suburbs of the opposition, and it was frustrated that it hadn’t succeeded in doing so.”

‘No exit polls and preliminary results’

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council may have to wait as long as two weeks before reviewing the final results of an analysis of samples taken from where chemical weapons were used in Syria, diplomats told Reuters on Friday. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon warned representatives from China, Russia, the United States, Britain, and France, of the time period on the eve of a possible US missile strike on the Syrian regime.

“The samples that have been collected will be taken to be analyzed in designated laboratories, and the intention of course is to expedite the analysis of that sampling that's been taken," said UN spokesman Martin Nesirky. “This is not an electoral process, where you have exit polls and preliminary results.”

“The only result that counts is the result of the analysis in laboratories and the analysis of the evidence that's been collected through witness statements and so on,"
 Nesirky explained, adding that UN inspectors would return later to investigate several other sites of alleged chemical weapon attacks.
A Syrian soldier gives a thumbs-up as he stands on top of a tank alongside two fellow soldiers in the Eastern Ghouta area on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus on August 30, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sam Skaine)
A Syrian soldier gives a thumbs-up as he stands on top of a tank alongside two fellow soldiers in the Eastern Ghouta area on the northeastern outskirts of Damascus on August 30, 2013 (AFP Photo / Sam Skaine)

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon meanwhile briefed representatives from the Security Council on the ongoing investigation in Syria. Although the envoys of permanent members did not comment on the details, two diplomats told Reuters that analysis of the samples could take up to two weeks, according to Ban.

This news comes after the remaining UN inspectors in Syria have moved up their departure time. Most of the 20 scientists and other UN staff had already left Syria, but a remaining core group scheduled to leave at 7:00 am Saturday instead left at 4:00 am Friday. It was unknown if the early departure was because of an impending US military strike or because of continuing violence in the streets of Damascus.

The UN has received at least 14 reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, Reuters reported, and the team of inspectors arrived on August 18 after months of negotiation. The team, led by Swedish scientist Ake Sellstrom, had initially set out to analyze three locations in the Middle Eastern country, but re-prioritized after a chemical weapons strike killed over 1,000 people on August 21.

“The team was able to do some preliminary work about the three sites it was initially looking into but it has not been able to conduct onsite visits… basically because this new priority rose up while they were in the country,” UN spokesperson Fahran Haq told Reuters.

“The Secretary General does expect to have some form of oral briefing from the investigators once they are out of the country,” Haq continued. “The investigators as currently scheduled expect to wrap up their work by Saturday morning.” 

US intel assessment based on ‘terrorist lies’ and ‘media hype’ – Syrian Foreign Ministry

US intel assessment based on ‘terrorist lies’ and ‘media hype’ – Syrian Foreign MinistryAFP Photo / Str

The intelligence assessment the US administration presented as evidence that the Syrian government deployed chemical weapons on its own people is baseless and based on “terrorist lies” and “media exaggeration,” Syrian foreign ministry sources say.
A source at the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry told Sana, Syria’s state-owned news agency, that any American military action in Syria would only serve the political interests of the United States, despite pledges from US lawmakers that the action is meant to curb the use of chemical weapons against civilians.

In a statement released in tandem with remarks by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday, the US government says they assess “with high confidence” that the Syrian government and President Bashar al-Assad in particular were responsible for killing hundreds of people in a chemical weapons attack last week.

The source at the Syrian ministry, in response to Kerry’s accusation said that the US intelligence assessment is based on fabrication and lies and unverified social media stories that were published by“terrorists” over a week ago.

“The Syrian government affirms that Kerry’s allegations that the Syrian Army knew about chemical weapons use three days prior to the incident are lies,” the source told Sana, “as proven by the fact that Syria requested the investigation committee to visit al-Bahaia area where Syrian Army soldiers were exposed to toxic gas, and the committee met the affected soldiers in the area.”

The ministry source accused the US of failure to provide “one piece of true and logical evidence” that the government was behind the attack, saying that instead Washington relies on “fabricated images from the internet, and the alleged call made by a Syrian officer after the alleged attack is too ridiculous to be discussed.”

Syria maintains that it never hindered the UN investigation committee from doing their work on the ground. The source emphasized that the Syrian government did not delay the expert’s access to the alleged attack site.

“The UN itself said time and again that the traces of using any form of toxic gas do not dissipate over time, and the proof of this is that the UN sent the investigation committee 5 months after the Syrian government requested an investigation of Khan al-Assal incident,”
 Sana reports. 
A United Nations (UN) arms expert collects samples as they inspect the site where rockets had fallen in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb during an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons strike near the capital (AFP Photo / Ammar Al-Arbini)
A United Nations (UN) arms expert collects samples as they inspect the site where rockets had fallen in Damascus' eastern Ghouta suburb during an investigation into a suspected chemical weapons strike near the capital (AFP Photo / Ammar Al-Arbini)

The Ministry also alleged that Washington pushed for a limited mandate of the UN investigating team to be able to interpret the results of the probe as they pleased.
“Regarding Kerry's hints which he made to bypass the Security Council under the pretext that the investigation committee isn't responsible for determining who used chemical weapons and that it's task is only to verify that such weapons were used or not, the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry would like to affirm that the committee's tasks were decided upon by the Security Council, and that the US had pressured the committee to make its authority this limited, something which Kerry, being State Secretary, certainly knows.” 

In the extracts of the classified US report released Friday, the American intelligence community had been aware of an impending chemical weapon attack three days before the August 21 crisis.

While US officials cannot determine for certain that Assad forces launched the assault, Kerry did say it claimed the lives of 1,429 Syrians, including no less than 426 children.

“Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the US Intelligence Community can take short of confirmation,”
 a government report read in part. “We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.”

More than 100,000 people have been killed and over one million displaced since the Syrian civil war began over three years ago. United Nations investigators have spent the final days of August attempting to determine just what kind of weapons have been used on the streets of Damascus, where the Assad government has been trying to clear out opposition forces.

Legally blind man files first ‘stop-and-frisk’ lawsuit

Legally blind man files first ‘stop-and-frisk’ lawsuitMario Tama / Getty Images / AFP

A legally blind African-American man has filed a lawsuit against the New York Police Department, claiming he was falsely arrested under the department’s controversial stop-and-frisk program.
Allen Moye, a 54-year-old man from Jamaica, Queens, is the first person to file a lawsuit against the NYPD since a federal court ruled against the stop-and-frisk program earlier this month. In the suit, Moye says that police illegally came after him and violated his civil rights.
He says he was arrested on false charges while he was waiting for a friend at a Harlem street corner in September 2010. Wearing glasses and using a cane to get around, he was approached by a half-dozen NYPD officers on W. 118thStreet. Police stopped and frisked him in a manner that Moye described as “rough.”
“And they didn’t tell me what I did or nothing,” he told the New York Post. “They just went through [my clothes] like I wasn’t even there, and told me, ‘What are you doing here?’ What do you mean, like I’m from another planet? I thought this was a free country and you can go anywhere.”
Moye says that after he complained about the search, he was taken into custody for making the complaint.
“It was racial profiling, what they did,” he told the New York Daily News. “…It’s a different Jim Crow. They try to put everybody behind bars to do their work.”
Moye says he is traumatized by the incident and has not returned to Harlem since the day he was arrested. He says the police there are “like Nazis.”
In the lawsuit, Moye cites the decision made by US District Court Judge Shira Sheindlin, who issued an opinion ruling that the NYPD violated the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments through the manner in which they conducted stop-and-frisks.
The Manhattan judge ordered the NYPD to end the policy, which is part of the city’s “Clean Halls” program of stopping ‘suspicious’ people outside of residential apartment blocks and subjecting them to random searches.
“While it may be difficult to say when precisely to draw the line between constitutional and unconstitutional police encounters, such a line exists, and the NYPD has systematically crossed it when making trespass stops outside buildings,” Scheindlin’s ruling reads.
Moye is seeking monetary damages for the alleged trauma he endured as a result of racial profiling.
Although Moye’s lawsuit is the first filed in wake of the federal ruling on stop-and-frisk, it is unlikely to be the last. Earlier this week, New York City lawyers predicted that a slew of lawsuits would likely follow the decision made by Judge Scheindlin, with plaintiffs arguing that their civil rights were violated by the city. The Bloomberg administration is still trying to appeal the decision, and city lawyers have asked Scheindlin to hold off on court-ordered reforms for the time being.
“Individuals who believe they are aggrieved during the pendency of the requested stay will still have full opportunity to litigate any claims for money damages due to alleged unconstitutional  stop-and-frisk activity,” the lawyers wrote.

UK officials asked New York Times to destroy Snowden docs

UK officials asked New York Times to destroy Snowden docsReuters / Brendan McDermid

The New York Times was asked by British authorities to destroy classified intelligence files leaked to the media by former national security contractor Edward Snowden, Reuters reports.
According to the report published Friday afternoon, the executive editor of the Times was approached by a senior official at the British Embassy earlier this month and was asked to purge any files her paper had received about UK intelligence from Mr. Snowden.
The editor, Jill Abramson, responded to the Britain’s request with silence, sources told Reuters journalist Mark Hosenball.
The Times has not verified the allegation, but UK officials reportedly made a similar request earlier this year to the Guardian newspaper.
The Guardian, which along with the Washington Post first published leaked intelligence attributed to Snowden, reported previously that they used power tools to break a collection of computer drives and other data devices at the paper’s London office on July 20 upon demand from the UK’s GCHQ intelligence agency.
Two days after those machines were rendered useless, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said he alerted British authorities that the Times and the independent, investigative journalism outlet ProPublica had received copies as well. According to Rusbridger, it took officials more than a month to approach the Times about the files, and ProPublica was reportedly never contacted at all.
British authorities did not admit to the latest allegations regarding an incident at the Times, but a spokesperson at their embassy in DC said, “it should come as no surprise if we approach a person who is in possession of some or all of this material."
The spokesperson made sure to address to Reuters the latest incident in the Snowden saga, which has taken twist after turn since the Guardian and Washington Post first began publishing leaked files on June 5 of this year. Earlier Friday, it was revealed that the  partner of Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald had in his possession a trove of encrypted British intelligence documents when he was apprehended last month at London’s Heathrow airport.
"We have presented a witness statement to the court in Britain which explains why we are trying to secure copies of over 58,000 stolen intelligence documents - to protect public safety and our national security,” the spokesperson said.
Those documents, a senior UK security advisor told London’s High Court, were accessed by intelligence officials because Greenwald’s partner, David Miranda, carried with him a sheet of paper that on it contained the passcode necessary to decrypt the files.
The documents were taken from Miranda while he was en route to Brazil, where he lives with Greenwald.
I can confirm that the disclosure of this information would cause harm to UK national security,” Oliver Robbins, the deputy national security adviser for intelligence, security and resilience in the Cabinet Office, said in court papers released Friday and obtained by the Guardian.
The fact that ... the claimant was carrying on his person a handwritten piece of paper containing the password for one of the encrypted files ... is a sign of very poor information security practice,” he said.
According to Reuters, the Guardian’s Rusbridger said the latest claims from the British government with regards to the national security concerns surrounding leaked documents contrast with the lackadaisical approach to investigating the Times and ProPublica.
"This five week period in which nothing has happened tells a different story from the alarmist claims made" by the British government, he said in reference to the Miranda court documents.

Toledo hospital sued for throwing out donor kidney

Toledo hospital sued for throwing out donor kidneyAFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski

An Ohio medical center admits that it accidentally discarded a kidney from a 17-year-old teenage donor before it could be transplanted into his sister, who was suffering from end-state renal failure and was already under anesthesia to receive the organ.
Now the University of Toledo Medical Center is asking a state court to dismiss the lawsuit that was filed by the patient’s family. The medical center denies it was negligent, even though it admits that a nurse accidentally threw the organ into the garbage.
“They are admitting they threw the kidney away, but they are not admitting substandard medical care,”lawyer James Arnold, who represents the family, told ABC News. “They must think that it is within standard care to throw a kidney away. It would be more decent to admit substandard care, and the family shouldn’t have to be going through litigation to prove it.”
Last August, Paul Fudacz donated one of his kidneys to his older sister, who was in desperate need of a new organ. After the kidney was removed from the live donor, a nurse threw the organ, which was stored in protective slush, into the garbage. When doctors noticed her mistake, they removed it from the trash and tried to resuscitate the kidney, but it was ultimately deemed unusable.
Sarah A. Fudacz, the 24-year-old sister of the donor, was already under anesthesia, waiting to receive her new organ. But she never received it, and subsequently “suffered through painful dialysis, four painful surgeries… and was forced to live through the uncertainty of whether she would ever find a kidney suitable for transplant before dying,” the Fudacz family wrote in a lawsuit filed against the medical center.
The renal failure patient received a suitable kidney about three months later. Judith K. Moore, the part-time nurse responsible for discarding the kidney, resigned shortly after making her mistake, and the center’s administrator of surgical services was placed on paid administrative leave. Melanie Lemay, a long-time nurse who was covering for Moore on her lunch break and failed to update her on the status of the operation, was fired by the medical center for “procedural infractions.”
“We cannot fathom the disappointment that those impacted have experienced over the course of last week,” Dr. Jeffrey Gold, University of Toledo chancellor and dean of the College of Medicine, said in a statement after the incident. “The university cannot begin to express the sorrow that we feel that this unfortunate incident occurred. We apologize sincerely.”
But on July 29 of this year, the Fudacz family filed a lawsuit against UTMC, alleging medical negligence and loss of consortium. They are asking for damages of $25,000 for each of the eight family members, which comes out to $200,000 total.
“Paul Jr.’s kidney was considered a ‘perfect match’ for Sarah," the lawsuit reads. "Sarah seeks damages she has suffered and will continue to suffer due to the loss of Paul Jr.’s perfect kidney. Paul Jr. seeks damages he has suffered and will continue to suffer for having to undergo a painful and risky surgery, and for having to live the rest of his life with only one kidney, all in vain."
Arnold, the family’s attorney, told ABC that “it’s obvious to everyone but the university” that the medical center was negligent, but by asking the state to dismiss the suit, a legal battle is likely to ensue between the family and the University of Toledo.
In the US, coming across a kidney is no easy task, especially since they are the country's most sought-after organs. In 2010, about 93,000 patients were listed on the United Network for Organ Sharing's kidney transplant waiting list. As of Sept. 2012, that number had risen to more than 115,000. But between January and June of that year, there were only 6,931 kidney donors, making the University of Toledo's mistake a very costly one.

Obama considers 'limited' military action against Syria

Obama considers 'limited' military action against SyriaBarack Obama (AFP Photo / Jim Watson) President Barack Obama said Friday that he has not yet decided what action, if any, will be taken by the United States military against the regime of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad.

Following a Friday afternoon press conference in which Secretary of State John Kerry said Pres. Assad’s regime used chemical gas last week to kill more than 1,000 Syrian civilians, Obama said he has yet to decide how the US will respond.
The world has an obligation to make sure that we maintain the law against the use of chemical weapons,” Obama said from the White House’s oval office. “I have not made a final decision about the various actions that might be taken to help us enforce that goal. But, as I already said, I have had my military and our team look at a wide range of options.”
The president added that his administration has consulted with US allies and Congress, and that conversations have occurred “with all of the interested parties.”
Obama also echoed Kerry’s statement from earlier in the day when he promised he wouldn’t put any “boots on the ground” should the US military be ordered to strike Assad’s army.
In no event are we considering any kind of military action that would involve boots on the ground, that would involve a long term campaign, but we are looking at the possibility of a limited, narrow act that would help make sure that not only Syria but others around the world understand that the international community cares about this chemical weapons ban,” Obama said.
Earlier this week, the president said that the US intelligence community would release a report justifying any action taken by the US against Assad. The report, released Friday at the same time as Kerry’s address, concluded that the US government “assesses with high confidence that the Syrian government carried out a chemical weapons attack in the Damascus suburbs on August 21, 2013.”
Our high confidence assessment is the strongest position that the US intelligence community can take short of confirmation,” the report reads in part. “We will continue to seek additional information to close gaps in our understanding of what took place.”
The US currently has five warships deployed outside of Syria and has the largest military on the planet at its disposal.
On Thursday, Pres. Assad said “Syria will defend itself against any aggression."

Snowden files show Pentagon conducted DNA tests after bin-Laden's death

Snowden files show Pentagon conducted DNA tests after bin-Laden's deathOsama bin Laden.(Reuters / Pentagon)

United States intelligence documents leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden now confirm that US authorities positively identified the body of Osama bin Laden with a DNA test shortly after his May 2011 execution.
According to the Washington Post, top-secret documents provided by the national security whistleblower revealed that a DNA sample was taken from bin Laden’s body around eight hours after he was killed inside his Abbottabad, Pakistan compound.
The sample, the Post reported, “provided a conclusive match” between the DNA taken from the corpse and other bin Laden intelligence.
When the Associated Press filed a Freedom of Information Act request after the May 2, 2011 killing, the Pentagon responded that it had no such testing documents in its possession. Post reporters Craig Whitlock and Barton Gellman wrote Thursday that information about the test was included within the secretive “black budget” document leaked by Mr. Snowden and published in part by the paper this week.
The Post has published only a portion of a lengthy budget summary detailing the funds requested by the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency and others for fiscal year 2013 through a budget that has never before been publically disclosed.
As RT reported on Thursday, the budget summary reveals that the CIA, NSA and other agencies requested $52.6 billion in federal funding that would have likely remained unreported had the document not been leaked.
Snowden, 30, quit his job with contractor Booz Allen Hamilton earlier this year and fled to Hong Kong, then Russia, after releasing a trove of top-secret files to journalists at the Post and the UK’s Guardian newspaper.
According to the Post’s latest reporting, intelligence documents supplied by Snowden provide a number of details about the Navy SEAL raid in 2011 that has largely been shrouded in secrecy since the moment President Barack Obama confirmed the killing of the former al-Qaeda leader more than two years ago.
Excerpts of the black budget, the Post reported, reveal that the CIA was able to pinpoint the geographic location of bin Laden’s Pakistani compound by tracking mobile phone calls linked to al-Qaeda operatives along with other intelligence gathered over the course of several months.
Whitlock and Gellman wrote that the National Reconnaissance Office performed over 387 “collects” of intelligence ahead of the raid which provided details “critical to prepare for the mission and contributed to the decision to approve execution.” Additionally, the US relied on an advanced stealth drone to collected private conversations from the sky as well as a fleet of satellites.
After bin Laden was assassinated, intelligence agencies also reportedly invested $2.5 million in emergency funds to do forensics on computer files collected from evidence removed from bin Laden’s compound. According to the Post, the US purchased 36 computer workstations to assess that intelligence.

Nuremberg to spend €70 million on re-building Nazi rally grounds

Nuremberg to spend €70 million on re-building Nazi rally groundsFormer Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, Germany. (AFP Photo / DPA / Daniel Karmann / Germany out)Former Nazi Party Rally Grounds in Nuremberg, Germany. (AFP Photo / DPA / Daniel Karmann / Germany out)

Nuremberg plans to spend up to 70 million euro restoring the sprawling complex used by Adolf Hitler for his mass rallies, as debate continues in Germany over what to do with Nazi-era architecture.
“This is a job of national importance, we cannot take it on alone,” said Ulrich Maly, the Social Democrat mayor of the Bavarian city, who added he would ask for federal funds to complete the project.
A survey of the Nazi rally complex, which originally occupied 11 square kilometers (6 square miles), is set to be completed in the coming months, with a final estimate to be produced early next year.
The complex, whose grandeur and style were inspired by classical Roman architecture, served as the site for the ritualistic Nazi party rallies between 1933 and 1938. Constructed by ‘Hitler’s favorite architect’ and Nazi minister Albert Speer, it formed the backdrop to the synchronized marching and showmanship captured in Leni Riefenstahl’s propaganda film 'Triumph of the Will'.

Large parts of Speer’s intended complex, such as the world’s biggest stadium, were never completed after the outbreak of World War II, however, and much of the architecture was defaced by advancing Allied soldiers at the end of the war. Nonetheless, the iconic Zeppelin grandstand – a 360 meter-wide construction, from which Hitler addressed hundreds of thousands of his followers during the climactic moments of the rallies as spotlights behind him shone into the night sky – survives intact.

Underneath the main tribune is the Golden Hall, a mosaic-covered, windowless chamber that the Fuhrer used for his private meetings. 
The Golden Hall. (Image from
The Golden Hall. (Image from

The city of Nuremberg has been understandably apprehensive about what to do with the historically important and architecturally impressive grounds, due to their reviled Nazi legacy.
In the decades after the war, much of the complex was demolished (some to make room for housing). The Zeppelin field itself was used as a football field for an American school, a racetrack and an audience space for a rock festival.

But further demolition is not possible, as the complex has now been granted protected status.

Doing nothing is also not an option.

Rainwater has seeped through the Zeppelin building and damaged the interior. Any further deterioration will force the local government to seal off the huge area for safety reasons.

But spending tens of millions on rebuilding a now-purposeless Nazi-era arena and other buildings amid a prolonged economic crisis is politically controversial.

Maly has been careful to avoid the word “restoration,” and he said the city will not be looking to return the buildings to their former state.

"This is not about beautification. We will not be looking for original-style sandstone,” Maly was quoted as saying by Süddeutsche Zeitung.
Instead, the complex will likely become a preserved memorial, like the Auschwitz death camp in Poland.
200,000 people – most of them from abroad – already visit the site annually, and the number could rise further. Maly says that visitors will be able to spend more than 10 hours at the grounds, which include a historical museum containing archive materials from the Nazi era. 

Friday, August 30, 2013

The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade

These are the concepts that never left the corral.
In Mustang’s storied 50-year existence, numerous concepts and prototypes never made the jump to production. Over the decades, the Lee A Iacocca commissioned pony car has maintained its original characteristics of sporty affordability. Yet as everyone’s favorite secretary’s car evolved, plenty of ponies were sacrificed throughout the generations. Ford is celebrating these forgotten Mustangs, opening its archives ahead of the 2015’s model expected debut at the 2014 New York Auto Show where it first took a bow.
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
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In the early sixties Ford designers played around with sporty coupe themes based on the Falcon resulting in the Avventura, Avanti and Allegro, whose fastback profile was eventually adopted by the Mustang MkIII. The Allegro Design study was where the Stang’s basic proportions: long hood, short deck, and compact greenhouse, were born. Two-seater studies followed along with the 1962 Mustang I, a mid-engine coupe concept that bore aesthetic cues of the 1966 GT40. In 1965, Ford produced a four-door concept, considered to be its first major styling faux pas, and in 1966 a station-wagon concept followed.
The Mach 1 and Mach 2 Concepts represented the last of the Sixties prototypes, and in 1970 the Mustang Milano broke cover in Chicago, whose extended nose found its way onto the 1971 model. The final three Mustang Concepts include the 1980 Ghia-penned RSX rally special based on the third-gen Fox-body Stang, the “Bruce Jenner” and “Rambo” concepts from 1990, and the 1992 Mach III Concept, which offered clues as to the fourth-gen's design direction.
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade
The Ford Mustang Concepts that Missed the Grade