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This is Where the Government Will Hide During a Nuclear War 

Maybe Doomsday preppers aren’t so crazy after all.

Journalist Garrett Graff takes readers through the 60-year history of the government’s secret Doomsday plans to survive nuclear war in his painstakingly researched book Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die (Simon & Schuster), out now.

[Order the book Raven Rock:Story of the U.S. Government’s Secret Plan to Save Itself–While the Rest of Us Die from Amazon.com]

He focuses on the Cold War-era government bunkers across the country that were built to house the President and various Washington elites — members of a so-called “shadow government” in the worst nuclear Armageddon scenario.

Since September 11, 2001, Congress has intensified their interest in and funding of top secret “Continuity of Government” (COG) in ways not seen since the Cold War. With hundreds of newly declassified documents, the book, currently in development with NBC as a TV show, includes never-before-heard intel on the country’s top secret bunkers — mythical places like Raven Rock and Mount Weather.

Here’s the low down on some of these bunkers down below…

Raven Rock

Lillington, NC • For military
Built near Camp David to house the military, as a backup for the Pentagon — and perhaps even the President — during an emergency, Raven Rock has retained an air of secrecy ever since construction started in 1948.

Not that it could remain completely clandestine, given the 300-person team (including miners poached from theLincoln Tunnel dig) who carved a 3,100-foot tunnel out of granite in Raven Rock Mountain near Blue Ridge Summit, Pennsylvania.

“There were very few engineers with the expertise to hollow out a mountain and build, in essence, a free-standing city inside of it. The US government turned to the construction firm Parsons Brinckerhoff, which had developed unique tunneling expertise working on the New York City subway,” Graff told The Post.

Locals caught on and word spread to the media, who dubbed the project “Harry’s Hole,” after President Truman who greenlit the project.

Opened in 1953 and designed “to be the centerpiece of a large military emergency hub,” Raven Rock provided 100,000 feet of office space (not counting, Graff writes, “the corridors, bathrooms, dining facility, infirmary or communications and utilities areas”) that could hold about 1,400 people comfortably. Two sets of 34-ton blast doors and curved 1,000-foot-long tunnels reduce the impact of a bomb blast. The compound has undergone several rounds of upgrades — new buildings were added as well as updated technology and air filtration systems. Read the rest of this entry »

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Camille Paglia: How to Age Disgracefully in Hollywood

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The social critic and academic blames 1960s disruptions of gender roles (and not the entertainment industry) for Madonna’s and J. Lo’s difficulty letting go of their youth as she chastises them to “stop cannibalizing the young.”

Camille Paglia writes: In December, at the Billboard Women in Music Awards in New York City, Madonna was given the trophy for Woman of the Year. In a rambling, tearful acceptance speech that ran more than 16 minutes, she claimed to be a victim of “blatant misogyny, sexism, constant bullying and relentless abuse.”

It was a startling appropriation of stereotypical feminist rhetoric by a superstar whose major achievement in cultural history was to overthrow the puritanical old guard of second-wave feminism and to liberate the long-silenced pro-sex, pro-beauty wing of feminism, which (thanks to her) swept to victory in the 1990s.

Madonna’s opening line at the awards gala was edited out of the shortened official video: “I stand before you as a doormat — oh, I mean a female entertainer.” Merciful Minerva! Can there be any woman on Earth less like a doormat than Madonna Louise Ciccone? Madonna sped on with shaky assertions (“There are no rules if you’re a boy”) and bafflingly portrayed the huge commercial success of her 1992 book, Sex, as a chapter of the Spanish Inquisition, in which she was persecuted as “a whore and a witch.”

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

I was singled out by name as having accused her of “objectifying” herself sexually (prudish feminist jargon that I always have rejected), when in fact I was Madonna’s first major defender, celebrating her revival of pagan eroticism and prophesying in a highly controversial 1990 New York Times op-ed that she was “the future of feminism.”

Swanson in <em>Sunset Boulevard</em>, in which her character &quot;has gone bonkers and thinks she's the sexy Salome of her youth.&quot;

Swanson in Sunset Boulevard, in which her character “has gone bonkers and thinks she’s the sexy Salome of her youth.” Getty Images

Crawford exhibits “crazed willpower and misery in her facial muscles,” says Paglia. Getty Images

But I want to focus here on the charge of ageism that Madonna, now 58, leveled against the entertainment industry and that received heavy, sympathetic coverage in the mainstream media. Her grievances about the treatment of women performers climaxed with this: “And finally, do not age, because to age is a sin. You will be criticized, you will be vilified and you will definitely not be played on the radio.”

[Read the full story here, at Hollywood Reporter]

First of all, lack of radio airplay may indeed hamper new or indie groups, but in this digital age, when songs go viral in a flash, rich and famous performers of Madonna’s level fail to get airplay not because of their age, but because their current music no longer is attracting a broad audience. When was the last time Madonna released hit songs of the brilliant quality of her golden era of the 1980s and ’90s? Lavish, lucrative touring rather than sustained creative work in the studio has been her priority for decades. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] SAY WHAT? CNN Anchor: Generals Oppose Saying ‘Radical Islamic Jihadist’ 

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At Least 9 Dead, Dozens More Injured After Truck Plows into Berlin Christmas Market

A truck plowed into a crowded Christmas market in Berlin Monday night, killing at least nine people and injuring dozens of others in what witnesses described as a deliberate attack.

The large Scania truck with a Poland license plate crashed into the market outside the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church. Television footage showed the truck with its windshield smashed out on the sidewalk alongside the market, with a swarm of ambulances nearby. A large Christmas tree with a gold star on top was toppled over nearby in the street, and tree branches were crushed under the truck’s tires.

Police said a suspect believed to be the driver was arrested nearby and a passenger was dead. Authorities estimated that 50 people were injured, but an exact number was not immediately available.

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Police said they are still investigating whether the crash was an accident or an attack, but the incident had a chilling echo of the July 14 truck attack in Nice, France that killed 86 people.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the Nice attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian living in France. ISIS and Al Qaeda have both called on followers to use trucks in particular to attack public places.

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Die Welt newspaper reported that a Polish TV station had interviewed a man named Ariel Zurawski, who said that his cousin was assigned to drive the truck involved in the incident. Zurawski claimed he had last spoken to his cousin at noon Monday and said he suspected the truck had been hijacked. He added that the truck had been loaded with steel structures weighing 25 tons. Read the rest of this entry »


Cosmic Dust Grains Found on City Rooftops for the First Time

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Sifting through muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin yielded 500 tiny particles from the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Cosmic dust raining down from space has been discovered on rooftops in three major cities.

“We’ve known since the 1940s that cosmic dust falls continuously through our atmosphere, but until now we’ve thought that it could not be detected among the millions of terrestrial dust particles, except in the most dust-free environments such as the Antarctic or deep oceans.”

The tiny particles date back to the birth of the solar system 4.6 billion years ago.

Scientists usually collect cosmic dust in the frozen wastes of Antarctica. Now, for the first time, the space debris has been found hidden in city dirt.

“The obvious advantage to this new approach is that it is much easier to source cosmic dust particles if they are in our backyards.”

—  Matthew Genge, Imperial College London

Researchers sifted through 300 kilograms of muck trapped in roof gutters in Paris, Oslo and Berlin. Using magnets to pull out the particles, which contain magnetic minerals, they identified a total of 500 cosmic dust grains. Read the rest of this entry »


Russian Scientists Unearth Remains of Secret Nazi Arctic Base

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  reports: Scientists at the Russian Arctic National Park have unearthed the remains of a secret Nazi base on the remote island of Alexandra Land that was abandoned during the latter stages of World War II.

“The station was called ‘secret’ because during the Second World War its existence was unknown in the USSR. Starting from 1952, Soviet polar explorers were living there, waiting for the opening of a new weather station. In 1956, the German station was destroyed.”

— Russian National Park Service spokeswoman

Due to this year’s warm Arctic summer, experts could fully explore the ground where the military weather station was located, finding more than 600 items.

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“These artifacts unmistakably advise about the German identity of the station, and also suggest that its designation was both military and meteorological,” explained a spokeswoman for the Russian Arctic National Park, in an email to FoxNews.com.

Researchers found German mines, hand grenade fragments, cartridge boxes, cartridges for Mauser 98 rifles and boxes for MG-34 submachine gun feed belts. Parts of uniforms, overcoats, underwear, socks, and pieces of footwear, were also discovered, as well as sacks bearing the label of the German army.

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[Read the full story here, at Fox News]

Scientific items found include pieces of weather balloons, thermometers, astronomic tables, journals with meteorological data and textbooks on meteorology stamped with the seal of Germany’s Navy. Books of fiction such as “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” were discovered, as well as packages for food and even toothpaste.

The German weather station Schatzgräber (Treasure Hunter) was located on Alexandra Land, an island in the Franz Josef Land archipelago, from September 1943 to July 1944, during which time it sent more than 700 meteorological reports. Military personnel at the weather station fell ill after eating polar bear meat contaminated with roundworms, forcing the base’s evacuation in 1944. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTOS] The Last Days of East Germany: 40 Fascinating Photographs That Capture Everyday Life in Berlin in the late 1980s

From vintage everyday: Between 1961 and 1989, the Berlin Wall divided East and West Germany and prevented the mass defection that took place after World War II. It also acted as a symbolic partition between democracy and Communism during the Cold War period. The wall was erected in the middle of the night, but it was torn down just as quickly 28 years later, leading to Germany’s reunification.

In January 1988, Erich Honecker paid a state visit to France. By all indications, the long stretch of international isolation appeared to have been successfully overcome. The GDR finally seemed to be taking its long-sought place among the international community of nations. In the minds of the GDR’s old-guard communists, the long-awaited international political recognition was seen as a favorable omen that seemed to coincide symbolically with the fortieth anniversary of the East German state.

In spite of Honecker’s declaration as late as January 1989 that “The Wall will still stand in fifty and also in a hundred years,” the effects of glasnost and perestroika had begun to be evident in the Soviet Union and throughout Eastern Europe. Although the GDR leadership tried to deny the reality of these developments, for most East Germans the reforms of Soviet leader Gorbachev were symbols of a new era that would inevitably also reach the GDR. The GDR leadership’s frantic attempts to block the news coming out of the Soviet Union by preventing the distribution of Russian newsmagazines only strengthened growing protest within the population.
Read the rest of this entry »

BREAKING: ‘Explosive Device’ Goes Off in Germany City 

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BERLIN –  An “explosive device” blew up in the center of the Bavarian city of Ansbach, killing one person and injuring 11 others, the city’s mayor told local media early Monday.

Mayor Carda Seidel was quoted by Munich’s Focus magazine as saying that the explosion late Sunday night was near the entrance to an open-air music festival.

The website for a group of local newspapers, nordbayern.de, reported that Seidel said it was not yet clear if it was an attack.

German police told the dpa news agency earlier that the explosion was outside a cafe in Ansbach, which is near Nuermberg.

Ansbach police could not immediately be reached for comment. Read the rest of this entry »


‘After America, There Is No Place to Go’

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‘I cannot tell you that Hitler took Austria by tanks and guns; it would distort history.’

If you remember the plot of the Sound of Music, the Von Trapp family escaped over the Alps rather than submit to the Nazis. Kitty wasn’t so lucky. Her family chose to stay in her native Austria. She was 10 years old, but bright and aware. And she was watching.

“Totalitarianism didn’t come quickly, it took 5 years from 1938 until 1943, to realize full dictatorship in Austria. Had it happened overnight, my countrymen would have fought to the last breath. Instead, we had creeping gradualism. Now, our only weapons were broom handles. The whole idea sounds almost unbelievable that the state, little by little eroded our freedom.”

“We elected him by a landslide – 98 percent of the vote,” she recalls.

She wasn’t old enough to vote in 1938 – approaching her 11th birthday. But she remembers.

“Everyone thinks that Hitler just rolled in with his tanks and took Austria by force.”

No so.

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Hitler is welcomed to Austria

“In 1938, Austria was in deep Depression. Nearly one-third of our workforce was unemployed. We had 25 percent inflation and 25 percent bank loan interest rates.

“If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.”

Farmers and business people were declaring bankruptcy daily. Young people were going from house to house begging for food. Not that they didn’t want to work; there simply weren’t any jobs.

“My mother was a Christian woman and believed in helping people in need. Every day we cooked a big kettle of soup and baked bread to feed those poor, hungry people – about 30 daily.’

“We looked to our neighbor on the north, Germany, where Hitler had been in power since 1933.” she recalls. “We had been told that they didn’t have unemployment or crime, and they had a high standard of living.

Possible Presidential Candidates Attend South Carolina Democratic Convention

“Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands.”

“Nothing was ever said about persecution of any group – Jewish or otherwise. We were led to believe that everyone in Germany was happy. We wanted the same way of life in Austria. We were promised that a vote for Hitler would mean the end of unemployment and help for the family. Hitler also said that businesses would be assisted, and farmers would get their farms back.

“Ninety-eight percent of the population voted to annex Austria to Germany and have Hitler for our ruler.

“We were overjoyed,” remembers Kitty, “and for three days we danced in the streets and had candlelight parades. The new government opened up big field kitchens and everyone was fed.

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“The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free.”

“After the election, German officials were appointed, and, like a miracle, we suddenly had law and order. Three or four weeks later, everyone was employed. The government made sure that a lot of work was created through the Public Work Service.

“Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.”

“Hitler decided we should have equal rights for women. Before this, it was a custom that married Austrian women did not work outside the home. An able-bodied husband would be looked down on if he couldn’t support his family. Many women in the teaching profession were elated that they could retain the jobs they previously had been required to give up for marriage.

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“Then we lost religious education for kids”

“Our education was nationalized. I attended a very good public school.. The population was predominantly Catholic, so we had religion in our schools. The day we elected Hitler (March 13, 1938), I walked into my schoolroom to find the crucifix replaced by Hitler’s picture hanging next to a Nazi flag. Our teacher, a very devout woman, stood up and told the class we wouldn’t pray or have religion anymore. Instead, we sang ‘Deutschland, Deutschland, Uber Alles,’ and had physical education.

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“Sunday became National Youth Day with compulsory attendance. Parents were not pleased about the sudden change in curriculum. They were told that if they did not send us, they would receive a stiff letter of warning the first time. The second time they would be fined the equivalent of $300, and the third time they would be subject to jail.”

And then things got worse.

“The first two hours consisted of political indoctrination. The rest of the day we had sports. As time went along, we loved it. Oh, we had so much fun and got our sports equipment free.”

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“We would go home and gleefully tell our parents about the wonderful time we had.”

“My mother was very unhappy,” remembers Kitty. “When the next term started, she took me out of public school and put me in a convent. I told her she couldn’t do that and she told me that someday when I grew Alle_zehnjaehrigen_zu_unsup, I would be grateful. There was a very good curriculum, but hardly any fun – no sports, and no political indoctrination.

“I hated it at first but felt I could tolerate it. Every once in a while, on holidays, I went home. I would go back to my old friends and ask what was going on and what they were doing.

“Their loose lifestyle was very alarming to me. They lived without religion. By that time, unwed mothers were glorified for having a baby for Hitler.

“It seemed strange to me that our society changed so suddenly. As time went along, I realized what a great deed my mother did so that I wasn’t exposed to that kind of humanistic philosophy.”

“In 1939, the war started, and a food bank was established. All food was rationed and could only be purchased using food stamps. At the same time, a full-employment law was passed which meant if you didn’t work, you didn’t get a ration card, and, if you didn’t have a card, you starved to death.”

“Women who stayed home to raise their families didn’t have any marketable skills and often had to take jobs more suited for men.”

US President Barack Obama attends a military briefing with US Ambassador to Afghanistan James Cunningham (L) at Bagram Air Field, north of Kabul, in Afghanistan, May 25, 2014. Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

“Soon after this, the draft was implemented.”

“It was compulsory for young people, male and female, to give one year to the labor corps,” remembers Kitty. “During the day, the girls worked on the farms, and at night they returned to their barracks for heller_5military training just like the boys.

“They were trained to be anti-aircraft gunners and participated in the signal corps. After the labor corps, they were not discharged but were used in the front lines.

“When I go back to Austria to visit my family and friends, most of these women are emotional cripples because they just were not equipped to handle the horrors of combat.

“Three months before I turned 18, I was severely injured in an air raid attack. I nearly had a leg amputated, so I was spared having to go into the labor corps and into military service.

“When the mothers had to go out into the work force, the government immediately established child care centers.

“You could take your children ages four weeks old to school age and leave them there around-the-clock, seven days a week, under the total care of the government.

“The state raised a whole generation of children. There were no motherly women to take care of the children, just people highly trained in child psychology. By this time, no one talked about equal rights. We knew we had been had.”

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“After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything.”

“Before Hitler, we had very good medical care. Many American doctors trained at the University of Vienna..

“After Hitler, health care was socialized, free for everyone. Doctors were salaried by the government. The problem was, since it was free, the people were going to the doctors for everything.

“When the good doctor arrived at his office at 8 a.m., 40 people were already waiting and, at the same time, the hospitals were full.

“If you needed elective surgery, you had to wait a year or two for your turn. There was no money for research as it was poured into socialized medicine. Research at the medical schools literally stopped, so the best doctors left Austria and emigrated to other countries.

“As for healthcare, our tax rates went up to 80 percent of our income. Newlyweds immediately received a $1,000 loan from the government to establish a household. We had big programs for families.

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“All day care and education were free. High schools were taken over by the government and college tuition was subsidized. Everyone was entitled to free handouts, such as food stamps, clothing, and housing.”

“We had another agency designed to monitor business. My brother-in-law owned a restaurant that had square tables.

AFP PHOTO / BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI / FILESBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

“Government officials told him he had to replace them with round tables because people might bump themselves on the corners. Then they said he had to have additional bathroom facilities. It was just a small dairy business with a snack bar. He couldn’t meet all the demands.”

“Soon, he went out of business. If the government owned the large businesses and not many small ones existed, it could be in control.”

“We had consumer protection, too”

“We were told how to shop and what to buy. Free enterprise was essentially abolished. We had a planning agency specially designed for farmers. The agents would go to the farms, count the livestock, and then tell the farmers what to produce, and how to produce it.”

01 Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during Hitler's 1938 state visit to Italy

“In 1944, I was a student teacher in a small village in the Alps. The villagers were surrounded by mountain passes which, in the winter, were closed off with snow, causing people to be isolated. Read the rest of this entry »


ISIS Supporters Release Video with Exploding Eiffel Tower 

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‘We will invade London, Brussels and Berlin, like we did in Paris before…at the earliest time.’

Bridget Johnson writes: A new video posted online by ISIS supporters shows the Eiffel Tower exploding and crashing to the ground in stylized, video game animation.

The video begins with a river of blood pooling and dripping off a wooden table filled with stacks of American money, guns, knives and bullets.

“We will come to you and terrify you everywhere. We will come after you from where you don’t expect…and fill your streets with blood.”

It’s ripped from a video game, as betrayed by the name of a video game designer with a U.S. company carved in the wood of the animated table.

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[Read the full story here, at PJ Media]

The video is titled “A message to the Western Kafir [Disbelievers] from the Supporters of the Caliphate.” It’s narrated in English and subtitled in Arabic, and was posted on YouTube and other file-sharing sites.

It included Defense Department footage related to strikes on the Islamic State and news footage of ISIS attacks. Read the rest of this entry »


Terrorism Isn’t Scaring Americans; Obama Is 

News Flash for Barack Obama: Americans are not afraid of terrorism. We’re afraid of you.

Andrew Malcolm writes: Your chronic diffidence, dismissal and downplaying terrorism — especially from radical jihadi extremists, in both word and deed — is scaring the hell out of your countrymen.

“Obama seems so dim, so unwilling and/or unable to grasp the international reality of terror beyond rhetoric that there’s now more fear about his military myopia. We expect arrogance from Harvard grads. But not stupidity.”

Get over it! It’s not cool. Nor is it presidentially-composed to disregard the palpable fear that permeates America today. Even if we’re all so ignorant, naive and unworldly as to elect you twice.

Leading from behind does not work as United States commander-in-chief.

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Sunday night was only Obama’s third Oval Office address. (Scroll down for the C-SPAN video.) The first was also overdue, about the Gulf oil spill. The second was a victory lap about withdrawing all U.S. troops from Iraq, which created the inviting power vacuum for the current ISIS problem.

It’s one measure of the detached president’s willful public cluelessness about terrorism that the big news from Sunday evening’s 1,970 words was his admission that last week’s San Bernardino attack killing 14 was terrorism. Is there any sentient American who hadn’t figured that out? The clues were as abundant as empty shell casings. And a garage pipe-bomb factory did not speak of global warming.

In fact, such Obama condescension fuels our fears, that he feels the need to share with us the obvious, belatedly, from within his towering intellect and fortified residence.

“The threat from terrorism is real,” added President Sherlock Holmes. Imagine President Roosevelt informing the nation that Japan’s Pearl Harbor bombing 74 years ago this morning was an attack. And waiting four days to do so.

That’s the country’s core concern right now. Obama keeps saying accurately the top priority of any U.S. president is protecting the people. No sensible person wants war. All presidents should be reluctant warriors, never committing — or withdrawing — American volunteers for mere political purposes. Read the rest of this entry »


Tony Stark, Global Taxation Advocate: Elon Musk Just Demanded a Carbon Tax in Paris

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Matthew DeBord reports: Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk gave a speech in Paris on Wednesday at the Sorbonne, and he called in no uncertain terms for a carbon tax.

“Musk isn’t a newcomer to the idea of a carbon tax. He’s been calling for one for years. But the evolution of his businesses and the advent of Tesla Energy, his power-storage undertaking, appear to have sharpened his pitch.”

“We have to fix the unpriced externality,” he told the audience, shifting into the wonky quasi-academic mode that he actually appears to enjoy indulging in, when he isn’t running two companies and serving as the Chairman of a third, Solar City.

[Also see – Elon Musk says the refugee crisis is ‘just a glimpse of what’s to come if we ignore climate change‘]

[Musk has never just been about building cars, or going to Mars, or applying solar power more widely]

His entire speech hinged on this simple observation: that the addition of carbon to the atmosphere is effectively a worldwide subsidy that’s contributing to global warming and preventing humanity from freeing itself from the fossil fuel era.

Musk in Paris Slide

[Read the full story here, at Business Insider]

Musk called this a “hidden carbon subsidy of $5.3 trillion per year,” citing the IMF. In response to questions after his speech, he said that a good outcome of the current UN Climate Summit (COP21) taking place in France would be that governments “put their foot down” and use a revenue neutral, gradually applied carbon tax to accelerate the shift from an economy driven by fossil fuels to one driven by sustainable energy.

Musk in Paris

ScreenshotThe “untaxed negative externality” is the right to put carbon into the atmosphere for free.

Musk is convinced that the current fossil fuel era will end — it’s just a question of when. In his analysis, the transition will occur simply because we’ll run out of carbon-based stuff that we can dig out of the ground and burn. But the existing carbon subsidy, in his estimation, is slowing down progress. Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Administration Promotes Fast Lanes to Accelerate Processing of Incoming Syrians

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Screening outposts to be set up in Iraq, Lebanon as U.S. urges Arab nations to do more.

The Obama administration is moving to increase and accelerate the number of Syrian refugees who might be admitted into the United States by opening new screening outposts in Iraq and Lebanon, administration officials told Reuters on Friday.

The move comes after President Barack Obama pledged in September to admit an additional 10,000 Syrian refugees in 2016, torn by four years of civil war and disorder.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the plans to open a refugee settlement processing centre in Erbil, Iraq, before the end of 2015, and to resume refugee processing in Lebanon in early 2016, said spokeswoman Danna Van Brandt.

The White House would not say how many additional refugees it may take in beyond the 10,000, but two senior administration officials said they are seeking ways to increase the number.

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Refugees and migrants arrive from the island of Lesbos to the port of Piraeus on Friday. About 25,000 refugees and other migrants are heading to the Greek mainland from the eastern Aegean islands after the country’s seamen’s union called off ferry strikes. (Thanassis Stavrakis/Associated Press)

“We want to be in a place where we can push out really ambitious goals,” said one of the officials, who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

The State Department runs nine screening centres worldwide that serve as meeting points for refugees and U.S. Department of Homeland Security employees who have to decide who is suitable for resettlement in the United States.

The additional centres will double the number available to refugees in the Middle East. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] President Obama Ranks Third in Forbes ‘Most Powerful’ List, First Time Sitting U.S. President Drops Out of Top Two

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 reports: President Obama ranked third in the Forbes “World’s Most Powerful People” list released Wednesday, the first time the sitting U.S. president has ever not ranked No. 1 or 2 in the annual survey.

For the third straight year, Russian president Vladimir Putin was listed at No. 1, but German chancellor Angela Merkel came in at No. 2. CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King expressed surprise at Obama’s standing while the show’s panel interviewed Forbes‘ Luisa Kroll about how the magazine came up with its list.

“That’s the first time since we’ve been doing the list that any U.S. president falls out of the top two spots,” Kroll said. “Again, I think that has a lot to do with the fact that this is going to be hist last year in office. He’s a little bit more hamstrung, both domestically and internationally, and it’s just a nod to his decreasing power at this time.”

On Obama, Forbes wrote:

“There’s no doubt that the United States remains the world’s greatest economic, cultural, diplomatic, technological and military power. But as Obama enters the final year of his presidency, it’s clear his influence is shrinking, and it’s a bigger struggle than ever to get things done. At home, his approval ratings are perpetually stuck under 50%; abroad, he’s outshined by Angela Merkel in Europe, and outmaneuvered by Putin in the Middle East.”

“I was stunned by that, because the U.S. economy is five times larger than the Russian economy,” co-host Norah O’Donnell said. “We spend 10 times more on the military than the Russians do, so how do you define power for this issue?”

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“It’s money, it’s the use of power, it’s the spheres of influence, and it’s the number of people,” Kroll said. “Obviously, it’s also a subjective list … It’s not that we’re saying the U.S. isn’t powerful. It is definitely still the most powerful country.” Read the rest of this entry »


Obama Humiliated as Putin Resets Mideast 

Russia launched its first airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday. They were almost all in western Syria. They did not fall on the Islamic State or the other terrorist groups raping and pillaging the Syrian countryside, creating the largest international refugee crisis in decades.

Rather, the Russian airstrikes fell on the moderate rebel groups that the U.S. has been notionally supporting against the country’s tyrant Bashar al-Assad.

President Obama seems surprised by this, but his surprise is inexcusably disingenuous or obtuse.

McCain: Putin’s Ambitions ‘Blindingly Obvious’

Assad is and has long been an ally of Russia and its president, Vladimir Putin. Russia entered the Syrian civil war as any rational person would have expected, on the side of his ally and of the Iranian paramilitaries that support him.

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Does anyone in the administration dare to say they were shocked — shocked — that Putin is indifferent to both the horror and the strategic threat posed by the Islamic State. Why, yes the Obama administration does dare to claim surprise. When Russian bombs began to fall on their predictable targets, American officials reacted by claiming they were “taken aback,” as if they were genuinely wounded and upset.

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On Monday, Obama had addressed the United Nations with the ridiculous idea that Washington and Moscow might would work together in Syria. “The United States is prepared to work with any nation, including Russia and Iran, to resolve the conflict,” Obama said. Read the rest of this entry »



Germany in a State of Siege After Angela Merkel Opened Floodgates to Migrants 

Now, with gangs of men roaming the streets and young German women being told to cover up, the mood’s changing.

Sue Reid In Giessen, Germany: On the busy shopping street in Giessen, a German university town twinned with Winchester, migrant Atif Zahoor tucks into a chicken dish with his brother and cousin at the curry restaurant Chillie To Go.

“We paid a trafficking agent for false visas to fly here to Germany. We claimed asylum and came to Giessen camp with other migrants. Three weeks ago, because we had families, they gave us a proper home.”

They have left good jobs back in Karachi, Pakistan, and now want to be Europeans.

In late July the three slipped into Germany with their wives and children, using illegal documents. They live together in a five-bedroom house, rented for them by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s government, a 40-minute drive away from Giessen, which is home to the biggest migrants’ camp in the country.

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Migrants and refugees pictured waiting for a bus outside the Migrant Receiving Camp on the outskirts of the German city of Giessen. Social workers and women's groups warned that facilities were hopelessly inadequate and security was a problem for female residents 

Migrants and refugees pictured waiting for a bus outside the Migrant Receiving Camp on the outskirts of the German city of Giessen. Social workers and women’s groups warned that facilities were hopelessly inadequate and security was a problem for female residents

“Mrs. Merkel’s offer last month to accept all refugees from war-ravaged Syria opened the floodgates. More than a million migrants are expected this year alone, the bulk of them far from genuine asylum seekers.”

Migrants and refugees queue at the compound outside the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs as they wait for their registration. But there are warnings that millions more newcomers should be expected in the current migrant crisis

‘We paid a trafficking agent for false visas to fly here to Germany,’ says 34-year-old Atif. ‘We claimed asylum and came to Giessen camp with other migrants. Three weeks ago, because we had families, they gave us a proper home.’

[Read the full story here, at Daily Mail Online]

Atif is well-dressed and speaks perfect English. He used to be a transport manager at Karachi airport and is from a well-to-do family. Between mouthfuls of curry, he adds: ‘But there is violence between political gangs in Karachi. Lots of people are leaving for Europe. The trafficker decided that Germany was the place for us because it is welcoming refugees.’

There is violence between political gangs in Karachi. Lots of people are leaving for Europe.
Migrants and refugees queue at the compound outside the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs as they wait for their registration. But there are warnings that millions more newcomers should be expected in the current migrant crisis

Migrants and refugees queue at the compound outside the Berlin Office of Health and Social Affairs as they wait for their registration. But there are warnings that millions more newcomers should be expected in the current migrant crisis

“There is now deepening disquiet in this Christian country, dotted with churches, that it is being overwhelmed by people of a different religion and culture.”

Yet the raw truth is that Atif is not fleeing war or persecution. He is one of thousands of economic migrants getting into Germany as the EU’s immigration crisis grows bigger each day.

[Read the full story here, at Daily Mail Online]

This week, David Cameron said Europe must send failed asylum claimants back to their own countries, while European Council president Donald Tusk has warned that millions more migrants are on their way and ‘the policy of open doors and windows’ must be scrapped.

David Cameron said Europe must send failed asylum claimants back to their own countries, while European Council president Donald Tusk has warned that millions more migrants are on their way and ‘the policy of open doors and windows’ must be scrapped

David Cameron said Europe must send failed asylum claimants back to their own countries, while European Council president Donald Tusk has warned that millions more migrants are on their way and ‘the policy of open doors and windows’ must be scrapped

“Many women have felt the need to sleep in their clothes… they won’t go to the toilet at night because rapes and assaults have taken place on their way to, or from, there. Even in daylight, a walk through the camp is fraught with fear.”

They are tough words, but it’s action that is needed. As Jens Spahn, a deputy finance minister in Chancellor Merkel’s government, said this week: ‘Not everyone can stay in Germany, or in Europe. If people are coming for poverty reasons… we have to send them back.’

Mrs Merkel’s offer last month to accept all refugees from war-ravaged Syria opened the floodgates. More than a million migrants are expected this year alone, the bulk of them far from genuine asylum seekers. There is now deepening disquiet in this Christian country, dotted with churches, that it is being overwhelmed by people of a different religion and culture.

Refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan inside a tent shared by more than 60 men at the refugee registration center for the German state of Hesse in Giessen, 40km southwest of Frankfurt

Refugees from Afghanistan and Pakistan inside a tent shared by more than 60 men at the refugee registration center for the German state of Hesse in Giessen, 40km southwest of Frankfurt

Yesterday, the Mail reported how social workers and women’s groups in Giessen wrote a letter to the local state parliament claiming that rape and child abuse were rife in the refugee camp. The allegations were corroborated by Atif over his curry. ‘The camp is dangerous,’ he agreed. ‘Men of different nationalities fight and women are attacked.’ Read the rest of this entry »


Richard Whittle : Military Exercise ‘Black Dart’ to Combat Nightmare Drone Scenario

Three images here of Outlaw G2 made by Griffon Aerospace. Photos provided by JIAMDO. For Sunday PostScript story on drones.

Richard Whittle writes: Sweat the small stuff.

A nuclear power station in France. In October and November, French security officials were investigation a wave of drones that illegally flew over more than a dozen nuclear plants across France.Photo: Reuters

That’s the unofficial motto for this year’s edition of the military exercise Black Dart, a two-week test of tactics and technologies to combat hostile drones that begins Monday on the Point Mugu range at Naval Base Ventura County in California.

Steam rises at night from the cooling towers of the Electricite de France (EDF) nuclear power station in Dampierre-en-Burly, France in this March 8, 2015 file photo. French power utility EDF is expected to hold its AGM this week.   REUTERS/Christian Hartmann/Files   GLOBAL BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD PACKAGE - SEARCH "BUSINESS WEEK AHEAD MAY 18" FOR ALL IMAGES

The military categorizes Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) by size and capability, from Group 5 drones that weigh more than 1,320 pounds and can fly above 18,000 feet like the Reaper, down to Group 1, mini- and micro-drones less than 20 pounds that fly lower than 1,200 feet. Previous Black 51pQLTbdHvL._SL250_Darts have covered threats to troops overseas and targets at home posed by drones of all sizes.

Order Richard Whittle’s book “Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution” from Amazon.com

But small drones are this year’s focus, said the director of this 14th edition of Black Dart, Air Force Maj. Scott Gregg, because of worrisome incidents since the last exercise.

Gregg cited the quadcopter that a drunk crashed onto the White House lawn in the wee hours of Jan. 26 and sightings of unidentified small drones flying over nuclear reactors in France. In the wake of those events, he said, “Even though we’ve been looking at [the small drone threat], it’s taken on a new sense of urgency.”

Gregg also could have mentioned how, to protest government surveillance, the Pirate Party of Germany flew a small drone right up to the podium as Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke in Dresden two years ago. Or how in Japan last April, a nuclear-energy foe landed a drone carrying radioactive sand on the roof of the prime minister’s residence. And there was a report last week that British officials are worried ISIS may try to bomb festival crowds using small drones.

Target practice

The drones that Black Dart participants will attempt to shoot down.Photo: Post Illustration

The drones that Black Dart participants will attempt to shoot down.Photo: Post Illustration

The United States enjoyed a near-monopoly on armed drones for much of the past 15 years, but with more than 80 countries now buying or building drones of their own, and with terrorist groups such as Hezbollah, Hamas and ISIS known to have used unarmed drones in the Middle East, that advantage has evaporated.

[Read the full story here, at the New York Post]

Few countries and no terrorist groups are likely to emulate the complex and costly US system of undersea fiber-optic cables and satellite earth terminals in Europe that allows crews in the United States to fly drones carrying missiles and bombs over Africa, the Middle East and South Asia.

The 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System was successful at Black Dart 2011.Photo: U.S. Navy

The 30-kilowatt Laser Weapon System was successful at Black Dart 2011.Photo: U.S. Navy

But anyone can buy a Group 1 drone for a couple of hundred dollars and put it to nefarious use. Arm it with plastic explosives, radioactive material, biological or chemical agents, and it can be crashed, kamikaze-style, into a target.

“I’d say for the Department of Homeland Security, it’s one of the biggest concerns,” Gregg said.

The threat isn’t imaginary. Former Northeastern University student Rezwan Ferdaus is now serving 17 years in prison for plotting to pack C-4 plastic explosives into 1/10 scale radio controlled models of F-4 and F-86 fighter jets and fly them into the Capitol and Pentagon. Ferdaus also supplied cellphone detonators for IEDs to people he thought were agents of al Qaeda but turned out to be working for the FBI….(read more)

What’s worked

 Innovations that have previously found success at Black Dart.Photo: Post Illustration

Innovations that have previously found success at Black Dart.Photo: Post Illustration

This year the surrogate threats will include three Group 1 drones — a Hawkeye 400 hexacopter, a Flanker and a Scout II — and one Twin Hawk drone from the Group 2 category (21 to 55 lbs., slower than 250 knots, lower than 3,500 feet). Six Group 3 drones, all of them 13.5-foot wingspan Outlaw G2s made by Griffon Aerospace, also will be targets. Read the rest of this entry »


Apple’s Share of Smartphone Industry’s Profits Soars to 92%

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Apple’s share of profits is remarkable given that it sells fewer than 20% of smartphones

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“Roughly 1,000 companies make smartphones. Just one reaps nearly all the profits.”

Read more…

WSJ


It Was #Socialism, Not #Austerity or Alexis Tsipras, That Wrecked #Greece

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Matt Purple writes: The stock market is getting walloped today and the reason is grave: Greece, dogged by enormous debt and an anemic economy, may be about to walk away
Marx-TVfrom its German creditors.

“Thanks to Greece’s socialist policies, its economy has long been creaking under the weight of crushing debt. It only endured in the debt-averse European Union because, with the help of Wall Street honchos like Goldman Sachs, it cunningly concealed its red ink for over a decade.”

Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has called for a referendum over the latest concessions demanded by Germany and the European Commission. Votes will be cast on Sunday and Tspiras is actively campaigning against Greek cooperation. Four days earlier comes Tuesday, which is the deadline for Greece forking over an additional 1.6 billion euros to the International Monetary Fund. It’s now unknown whether Tspiras intends to default.

Greeks protest in Athens in 2010. (Photo: Thanassis Stavrakis, AP, 2010)

What is known is that the uncertainty is causing Greeks to party like it’s 1930. NBC News reports:

Greece imposed restrictions on money withdrawals and banking transactions to keep its financial system from collapsing due to a run on the banks.

Anxious Greeks rushed to ATMs to withdraw cash after Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras called late Friday for a referendum on the creditors’ reform proposals. …

Meanwhile, retirees lined up just after dawn at bank branches hoping they would be able to receive their pensions, which were due to be paid Monday. The finance ministry said the manner in which pensions would be disbursed would be announced later in the afternoon.

The euro tumbled to a nine-year low Monday as new worries flared over Greece, where a woman in Athens passed a currency-changing business. Associated Press

The president of the European Commission has declared that Greece’s departure from the euro is not an option, but even the most impenetrable of Eurocrats must comprehend that their little science project is falling apart.

[Read the full text here, at Rare]

This weekend’s referendum isn’t just about the current bailout package; a “no” vote will effectively jettison Greece from the euro and resurrect their old drachma currency. A “Grexit,” the prospect of which has long triggered dramatic sting music in the minds of European financial ministers, is looming over the Continent.

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“That debt is often attributed to the fact that ‘Greeks don’t pay their taxes,’ which has now reached near-aphorism status among economic writers. But rarely does anyone explore the reasons for all this tax dodging.”

And why not? The referendum is likely a leverage tactic by Tspiras—who’s resorted to such risibly desperate measures in the past as calling on Germany to pay Greece Nazi war reparations—but it intersects with one of the seminal themes of his election campaign last year: giving the Greek people a choice. Why should Athens, fuzzily remembered as the “birthplace of democracy,” have its finances determined in the back room of a foreign accounting office? Read the rest of this entry »


Garry Kasparov: The Global War on Modernity

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Islamists set the time machine to the Dark Ages. Putin dreams of czarist Russia. A common enemy: Americakasparov-tall

Garry Kasparov writes: The recent terror attacks in Paris at the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, and at a kosher supermarket, leaving 17 people dead, represented the latest offensive in a struggle that most people, even many of its casualties, are unaware is even taking place.

“The guaranteed freedoms represented by the First Amendment frighten the radical mullahs and dictators more than any drone strike or economic sanction.”

Globalization has effectively compressed the world in size, increasing the mobility of goods, capital and labor. Simultaneously this has led to globalization across time, as the 21st century collides with cultures and regimes intent on existing as in centuries past. It is less the famous clash of civilizations than an attempt by these “time travelers” to hold on to their waning authority by stopping the advance of the ideas essential to an open society.

ISIS-terror

“Many politicians and pundits in the Free World seem to think that refusing to acknowledge you are in a fight means you can avoid losing it. But ignoring the reality of the conflict puts more innocents like the Paris victims—instead of trained soldiers and law enforcement—on the front lines.”

Radical Islamists, from the Taliban and al Qaeda to Boko Haram and Islamic State, set the time machine to the Dark Ages and encourage the murder of all who oppose them, often supported by fatwas and funds from terror sponsors like Iran. The religious monarchies in the Middle East are guilty by association, creating favorable conditions for extremism by clamping down on any stirring of freedom.

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 “There are no easy ways to deter homegrown terrorists or nuclear-armed dictators, but this culture of denial must end before true progress can be made.”

Vladimir Putin wants Russia to exist in the Great Power era of czars and monarchs, dominating its neighbors by force and undisturbed by elections and rights complaints. The post-Communist autocracies, led by Mr. Putin’s closest dictator allies in Belarus and Kazakhstan, exploit ideology only as a means of hanging on to power at any cost.

ISIS-swells-numbers

Since the time travelers cannot fight head-to-head with the ideas and prosperity of the Free World, they fall back on their arsenal of ideology, violence and disregard for human life.”

In the East, Kim Jong Un ’s North Korea attempts to freeze time in a Stalinist prison-camp bubble. In the West, Nicolás Maduro in Venezuela and the Castros in Cuba use anachronistic socialist propaganda to resist increasing pressure for human rights. Read the rest of this entry »


[PHOTO] Berlin, 1962

Berlin, 1962 - Photo by Floris Neusüss


[VIDEO] Paris Vigil for Charlie Hebdo Massacre Victims

Europe Correspondent Nick Miller says there are a mix of emotions on the streets of Paris as thousands gather in solidarity with those killed.

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[PHOTO] 8,000 Glowing Balloons Will Recreate the Berlin Wall this Weekend

berlin-balloons

Wired


The ‘Weather App’ Agent: Germany Demands Full Explanation from U.S. on Arrested Spy

germany-horiz

Investigators found an encrypted communication application hidden on his computer

BERLIN – For the TelegraphJustin Huggler reports: A suspected double agent under arrest in Germany has been spying for the CIA for two years, German intelligence officials investigating the case now believe.

“All the evidence suggests that he was working for the Americans,” an unnamed senior security official has told Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung newspaper.

The country’s top security official has demanded a full American response to German investigations. “I expect everyone now to assist quickly in clearing up the accusations – and quick and clear statements, from the USA too,” Thomas de Maiziere, the Interior minister said.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry summoned the America ambassador on Friday but German authorities have confirmed only that a 31-year-old man is under arrest.

The first indications that investigators believe a confession by the arrested man is true. If the suspicions against him are confirmed, the case could cause grave damage to US-German relations.

Read the rest of this entry »


THAT’S Where They Are: Archaeologists Find World’s Oldest Pair of Pants in China

4069-516TARIM BASIN, China (UPI)  Levis and Wrangler often boast about the durability of their denim, but can their blue jeans last 3,000 years? That’s how long a pair of trousers in China — the oldest in the world — have remained intact.

The pants in question were found recently by archaeologists digging in the ancient Yanghai Tombs in China’s Tarim Basin. Fragments of the trousers were recovered from the tombs of two men, dating between the 13th and 10th century BCE. Both men, apparent horseback riders, died around the age of 40.

The archaeologists say the discovery is the oldest evidence of trouser-wearing, and evidence the pants were developed to enable horseback riding.

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“Together with horse gear and weapons as grave goods in both tombs our results specify former assumptions that the invention of bifurcated lower body garments is related to the new epoch of horseback riding, mounted warfare and greater mobility,” wrote lrike Beck and Mayke Wagner of the German Archaeological Institute in Berlin, whose paper on the subject was published this week in the journal Quaternary International. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] Director George Stevens’ Rare Color Footage of D-Day Invasion Released

The only known Allied colour footage of World War Two was uncovered in the attic of a Hollywood director by his son

From the Telegraph.uk:gungadin

When the warship HMS Belfast fired the shot that launched the D-Day landings, it was carrying an unlikely passenger – Hollywood film director George Stevens.

With Allied forces set to storm the Normandy beaches of Nazi-occupied France, Stevens was on-board making a unique16 millimetre colour film journal.

He had made his name in the 1930s, directing the likes of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers in ‘Swing Time‘ (1936) and Cary Grant in ‘Gunga Din‘ (1939).

But in 1942, after seeing Leni Riefenstahl‘s Nazi propaganda movies, Stevens enlisted.

General Dwight Eisenhower assigned him to head up the combat motion-picture coverage, a unit covering the war in black-and-white 35 millimetre film for newsreels and military archives.

“We thought at the time that this was the only colour film of the war in Europe. As it turned out, there was some German film that had not yet been discovered”

But while documenting the Allied forces’ advance towards Berlin, he took with him a 16 millimetre camera and boxes of Kodachrome film on which he would shoot a personal visual diary of the war.

ww2_2925648cThe film canisters of the war were developed back in the US, but Stevens stored them and for decades they went untouched.

That changed when his son, George Stevens Jr, also a filmmaker, decided to make a documentary on his father’s life and was amazed to discover what he found.

An emotional Stevens remembers the first time he watched the films, astonished to see his young father heading to France on HMS Belfast. Read the rest of this entry »


Snowden to be Called to German Parliament Spying Investigation Hearing

Report: Snowden impersonated NSA officials to access some files

UPI 5/8/2014 8:05:23 PM

BERLIN, May 8 (UPI) — Edward Snowden will be called to testify as a witness, the German parliamentary committee investigating the U.S. National Security Agency‘s activities said Thursday.

Testimony from the American whistleblower and former NSA contractor was agreed to by all political parties in the investigative committee, said Martina Renner of the socialist Die Linke party. Since the German government will likely prevent Snowden from attending a hearing, he is expected to be questioned by either a video link, or a visit from a parliamentary delegation to Moscow, his current home. Read the rest of this entry »


What Selfies Reveal About Cultural Stereotypes

A new project by data visualization wunderkind in collaboration with Lev Manovich, Jay Chow, and Nadav Hochman, SelfieCity is an attempt to analyze the data of more than 3,000 self-portraits and, in doing so, extrapolate what a selfie is even meant to say in the first place.

A new project by data visualization wunderkind in collaboration with Lev Manovich, Jay Chow, and Nadav Hochman, SelfieCity is an attempt to analyze the data of more than 3,000 self-portraits and, in doing so, extrapolate what a selfie is even meant to say in the first place.

John Brownlee  reports:  Moritz Stefaner and his collaborators analyzed more than 3,000 Instagram selfies from around the world, revealing everything from the age of the average selfie taker to how much she opens her mouth and more.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, how many is a selfie worth?

That’s what SelfieCity wants to find out. A new project by data visualization wunderkind in collaboration with Lev Manovich, Jay Chow, and Nadav Hochman, SelfieCity is an attempt to analyze the data of more than 3,000 self-portraits and, in doing so, extrapolate what a selfie is even meant to say in the first place. In the process, SelfieCity was able to figure out everything from the age of the average selfie takers to how much they opened their mouth and more…

“People take fewer selfies than you’d think.”

• People take fewer selfies than you’d think. According to SelfieCity’s data, only 3% to 5% of the 300,000-plus images that they examined were actually selfies.

• Women take more selfies than men. “In every city we analyzed, there are significantly more women selfies than men taking, from 1.3 times as many in Bangkok to 1.9 times more in Berlin,” Stefaner says. In Moscow, the discrepancy is even more striking: 4.6 times more women take selfies in the Russian capitol then men. No matter where, if a man takes selfies, though, he’s likely to be older: the median age of men who post selfies on Instagram is more than 30 years old.

“People are happiest in Bangkok and São Paulo, and more miserable in Moscow.”

• Women strike more extreme poses in selfies (especially in São Paulo). According to SelfieCity’s research, women tend to take more expressive, sexy poses than men in their selfies. On average, the head tilt of a woman’s selfie is 150% higher than for men (12.3° vs. 8.2°). Translated, this means an awful lot of women take selfies holding their cameras way above their heads. But in São Paulo, it’s even crazier: there, the average head tilt for females is 16.9°! Guess they want to fit their bikinis in-frame.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chinese Thriller Takes Top Berlin Prize

Diao Yinan (R) director of "Bai Ri Yan Huo" (Black Coal, Thin Ice) poses with his Golden Bear for Best Film next to actor Liao Fan (L) who poses with his Silver Bear for Best Actor during a news conference after the awards ceremony of the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

Diao Yinan (R) director of “Bai Ri Yan Huo” (Black Coal, Thin Ice) poses with his Golden Bear for Best Film next to actor Liao Fan (L) who poses with his Silver Bear for Best Actor during a news conference after the awards ceremony of the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 15, 2014. REUTERS/Thomas Peter

BERLIN (Reuters) – Michael Roddy and Alexandra Hudson report: Asian films were big winners at the Berlin International Film Festival on Saturday, led by gritty Chinese thriller “Bai Ri Yan Huo” (Black Coal, Thin Ice) about an overweight detective pursuing a serial killer which took the top Golden Bear prize.

“We are seeing Chinese cinema becoming more cinematically adept, not so overtly political. Chinese film makers are more confident, more open to the world”

— Scott Roxborough, Berlin bureau chief for the Hollywood Reporter

Liao Fan, who said he put on 20 kg (44 lb) and drank more alcohol to play the role of detective Zhang Zili, was named Best Actor.

“Chinese films are accepted more and more,” Diao Yinan, director of the winning film, told reporters.

“It seems every time we take them abroad, there is a greater enthusiasm for Chinese cinema. We hadn’t expected that, but film is global nowadays.”

[Now in paperback: 101 Essential Chinese Movies at Amazon] [Also, China on Screen: Cinema and Nation (Film and Culture Series) at Amazon]

Asked about censorship in China, Diao said: “Of course there is censorship, I believe that exists around the whole world, doesn’t it? When it comes to Chinese censorship, I think the fact we are here in Berlin shows our censors are becoming more open, although there are difficulties.”

Read the rest of this entry »


Question: How Widespread is Islamic Fundamentalism in Western Europe?

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Erik Voten writes: One narrative about Muslim immigrants in Europe is that only a relatively small proportion holds views that are sometimes labeled as “fundamentalist.” Ruud Koopmans from the Wissenschaftszentrum in Berlin argues that this perspective is incorrect. He conducted a telephone survey of 9,000 respondents in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, France, Austria, and Sweden and interviewed both Turkish and Moroccan immigrants as well as a comparison group of Christians.

His first finding is that majorities of Muslim immigrants believe that there is only one interpretation of the Koran possible to which every Muslim should stick (75 percent), and that religious rules are more important than the laws of the country in which they live (65 percent). Moreover, these views are as widespread among younger Muslims as among older generations.

Graph by Ruud Koopmans
Graph by Ruud Koopmans

He then looks at hostility toward out-groups. Fifty-eight percent do not want homosexual friends, 45 percent think that Jews cannot be trusted, and 54 percent believe that the West is out to destroy Muslim culture. Among Christians, 23 percent believe that Muslims are out to destroy Western culture. Koopmans says these results hold when you control for the varying socio-economic characteristics of these groups (although the analyses are not presented).

Read the rest of this entry »


First glimpse of newly uncovered, Nazi looted art collection released on German website

The Austrian home of German Cornelius Gurlitt in Salzburg, Austria, on Nov. 11, 2013. The German government said some 590 artworks discovered in Gurlitt's Munich apartment may have been looted by the Nazis from Jewish collections.

The Austrian home of German Cornelius Gurlitt in Salzburg, Austria, on Nov. 11, 2013. The German government said some 590 artworks discovered in Gurlitt’s Munich apartment may have been looted by the Nazis from Jewish collections.

Josie Le Blond in Berlin and Damien McElroy report:  The German government has bowed to international pressure and begun publishing an online list of works from a huge art trove found in a Munich flat.

Twenty-five of the 1,406 paintings discovered in Cornelius Gurlitt’s home will be displayed on a website created to help establish the provenance of works seized by the Nazis, following calls from Jewish groups and art experts.

The government has been heavily criticised for keeping silent for 21 months about the cache – thought to be worth up to $1.4 billion – notably by families whose relatives were robbed by the Nazis.

Mr Gurlitt has been seen in public for the first time since the discovery was made public two weeks ago.

Handout photos made available by German prosecutors on the German Federal official website www.lostart.de shows 25 paintings found in a Munich apartment. CLICK TO ENLARGE.

Handout photos made available by German prosecutors on the German Federal official website http://www.lostart.de shows 25 paintings found in a Munich apartment. CLICK TO ENLARGE. http://www.lostart.de/AFP/Getty Images

The 80-year-old collector, who has been in hiding, was spotted in a winter coat and scarf as he wandered around a Munich shopping centre.

He was reported Tuesday to have written to the news magazine Der Spiegel asking that his name never appear again on its pages.

Read the rest of this entry »


Whose Side Are You On, Germany?

BERLIN—The cover of this week’s Die Zeit, Germany’s leading newspaper, says it all: “Goodbye, Friends.”

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Pacifism is part of Germany’s DNA. But so is confusion about its true friends and adversaries—like Snowden and the NSA.

 writes:  Illustrated by a broken heart half-painted with the German flag and the other with the American one, the image speaks to the widespread feelings of betrayal many Germans have expressed towards the United States in the wake of revelations made by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden about American spying operations abroad.

Never mind that the claim causing so much outrage—that the United States was sweeping up the personal data of tens of millions of European citizens—proved false. In reality, the records analyzed by the NSA were supplied to them by European intelligence agencies, and were collected in war zones and other locales abroad, not in Europe.

Read the rest of this entry »


Fork-Funk Stevie Wonder-Bot [VIDEO]

Behold: Fork-O-DrumBot

Vito Caiata is an Italian maker living in Berlin. He recently got his Arduino to talk to his computer sound card via MIDI, then connected a pull-type solenoid to bang on an improvised drum. He started off with a wooden fork as the drumstick, then kept adding to the project. Now it has two drumsticks plus a hi-hat! 

 

 MAKE [via Hackaday]


The Obama Blockade

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In the spring of ’48, the collision of wills between the free world and the red slave empire of the east came to a head in Berlin.

The Communist strategy had been to push forward, to violate the spirit of the agreements and then the letter of the agreements while always claiming to be the aggrieved party.

The Allies had treated the Soviet Union as if it were a credible partner that wanted to work together with them on rebuilding Europe. The Soviet Union did indeed want to rebuild Europe. It just wanted to do it under a red flag.

guard lincoln memorialCommunist takeovers in Eastern Europe baffled a West that could not believe the Reds would show such poor sportsmanship even though generations of terror and oppression should have already made it painfully clear that the Communists were ruthless and unconcerned with any of the niceties of democratic governance or international law.

Stalin had advised Mao to be patient, but patience was a quality that he himself lacked. Had the USSR waited and feigned cooperation in the rebuilding efforts, a weary United States would have withdrawn and the Communists could have taken over.  Read the rest of this entry »


Obama hits a wall in Berlin

George is old-school, but sometimes has a good turn-of-phrase

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The question of whether Barack Obama’s second term will be a failure was answered in the affirmative before his Berlin debacle, which has recast the question, which now is: Will this term be silly, even scary in its detachment from reality?

Before Berlin, Obama set his steep downward trajectory by squandering the most precious post-election months on gun-control futilities and by a subsequent storm of scandals that have made his unvarying project — ever bigger, more expansive, more intrusive and more coercive government — more repulsive. Then came Wednesday’s pratfall in Berlin.

There he vowed energetic measures against global warming (“the global threat of our time”). The 16-year pause of this warming was not predicted by, and is not explained by, the climate models for which, in his strange understanding of respect for science, he has forsworn skepticism.

Regarding another threat, he spoke an almost meaningless sentence that is an exquisite example of why his rhetoric cannot withstand close reading: “We may strike blows against terrorist networks, but if we ignore the instability and intolerance that fuels extremism, our own freedom will eventually be endangered.” So, “instability and intolerance” are to blame for terrorism? Instability where? Intolerance of what by whom “fuels” terrorists? Terrorism is a tactic of destabilization. Intolerance is, for terrorists, a virtue.

It is axiomatic: Arms control is impossible until it is unimportant. This is because arms control is an arena of competition in which nations negotiate only those limits that advance their interests. Nevertheless, Obama trotted out another golden oldie in Berlin when he vowed to resuscitate the cadaver of nuclear arms control with Russia. As though Russia’s arsenal is a pressing problem. And as though there is reason to think President Vladimir Putin, who calls the Soviet Union’s collapse “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the century,” is interested in reducing the arsenal that is the basis of his otherwise Third World country’s claim to great-power status.

Shifting his strange focus from Russia’s nuclear weapons, Obama said “we can . . . reject the nuclear weaponization that North Korea and Iran may be seeking.” Were Obama given to saying such stuff off the cuff, this would be a good reason for handcuffing him to a teleprompter. But, amazingly, such stuff is put on his teleprompter and, even more amazing, he reads it aloud.