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 veryhotthread  Author  Topic: Stuff & Nonsense  (Read 147753 times)
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« Reply #10230 on: Mar 9th, 2014, 12:50pm »

GOOD MORNING CRYSTAL AND THE CASEBOOK KREW...

WE ALL THIRST FOR THAT KNOWLEDGE~IF YOU ARE A GUEST OR A MEMBER~PRETTY MUCH WHY WE ALL ARE HERE~HAVING SAID THAT~SOMETIMES TO QUENCH THAT THIRST~ONE MUST PUT THEIR BEST FACE FORWARD AND LOOK BEYOND THE PAIL/PALE...QUESTIONING WHETHER THE GLASS IS HALF FULL OR HALF EMPTY...SOMETIMES SUCH REFERENCE IS IRRELEVANT...WHEN YOUR THIRSTY cool

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« Reply #10231 on: Mar 9th, 2014, 11:34pm »

Why we need the war in Afghanistan
http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175815/tomgram%3A_mattea_kramer%2C_is_the_pentagon_doomed_--_to_be_flush_forever/#more



Washington and Kabul have, for endless months, been performing a strange pas de deux over the issue of American withdrawal. Initially, the Obama administration insisted that if, by December 31, 2013, Afghan President Hamid Karzai didn't sign a bilateral security agreement the two sides had negotiated, the U.S. would have to commit to “the zero option”; that is, a total withdrawal from his country -- not just of American and NATO “combat troops” but of the works by the end of 2014. Getting out completely was too complicated a process, so the story went, for such a decision to wait any longer than that. Senior officials, including National Security Adviser Susan Rice, directly threatened the Afghan president: sign or else. When Karzai refused and the December deadline passed, however, they began to hedge. Still, whatever happened, one thing was made clear: Karzai must sign on the dotted line “in weeks, and not months,” or else. Washington couldn’t possibly wait for the upcoming presidential elections in April followed by possible run-offs before a new Afghan leader could agree to the same terms. When, however, it became clear that Karzai simply would not sign -- not then, not ever -- it turned out that, if necessary, they could wait.

And so it goes. At stake has been leaving a residual force of U.S. and NATO trainers, advisors, and special operations types behind for years to come, perhaps (the figures varied with the moment) 3,000-12,000 of them. With time, things only got curiouser and curiouser. The less Karzai complied, the more Obama administration and Pentagon officials betrayed an overwhelming need to stay. In the 13th year of a war that just wouldn’t go right, this strange dance between the most powerful state on the planet and one of the least powerful heads of state anywhere, to say the least, puzzling. Why didn't the Americans just follow through on their zero-option threats and pull the plug on Karzai and the war? Obviously, fear that the Taliban might gain ground in a major way after such a departure was one reason.

In January, David Sanger and Eric Schmitt of the New York Times provided another. They reported that a paramount issue for Washington was “concerns inside the American intelligence agencies that they could lose their [Afghan] air bases used for drone strikes against al-Qaeda in Pakistan.” It might, it turned out, be difficult to find other regimes in the region willing to lend bases in support of the U.S. drone campaigns in the Pakistani tribal areas and possibly Afghanistan as well.

Today, TomDispatch regular Mattea Kramer provides a third potential reason in her striking explanation of just how the Pentagon has been managing to avoid serious sequestration cuts. It turns out that billions of dollars in extra funding are being salted away in a supplementary war-fighting budget that Congress grants the U.S. military, which is subject to neither cuts nor caps. But here’s a potential problem: that budget relies on the existence of an Afghan War. What if, after 2014, there isn’t even a residual American component to that war? Not that the Pentagon wouldn't try to keep "war budget" funding alive, but it's clearly a harder, more embarrassing task without a war to fund.

That's just one of the questions that emerges from Kramer’s clear-eyed look at what -- once you’ve read her piece -- can only be considered the Pentagon’s sequestration con game. It’s a shocking tale largely because, while the budget figures are clear enough, you can’t read about them anywhere except here at TomDispatch. Tom


same link something amazing happened with the Pentagon Sequester shocked shocked
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« Reply #10232 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 07:51am »

GOOD MORNING Z AND SYS cheesy

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« Reply #10233 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 07:53am »

Associated Press

US network to scan workers with secret clearances

By STEPHEN BRAUN
— Mar. 10, 2014 3:41 AM EDT

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. intelligence officials are planning a sweeping system of electronic monitoring that would tap into government, financial and other databases to scan the behavior of many of the 5 million federal employees with secret clearances, current and former officials told The Associated Press.

The system is intended to identify rogue agents, corrupt officials and leakers, and draws on a Defense Department model under development for more than a decade, according to officials and documents reviewed by the AP.

Intelligence officials have long wanted a computerized system that could continuously monitor employees, in part to prevent cases similar to former National Security Agency analyst Edward Snowden. His disclosures bared secretive U.S. surveillance operations.

An administration review of the government's security clearance process due this month is expected to support continuous monitoring as part of a package of comprehensive changes.

Privacy advocates and government employee union officials expressed concerns that continuous electronic monitoring could intrude into individuals' private lives, prompt flawed investigations and put sensitive personal data at greater risk. Supporters say the system would have safeguards.

Workers with secret clearances are already required to undergo background checks of their finances and private lives before they are hired and again during periodic re-investigations.

"What we need is a system of continuous evaluation where when someone is in the system and they're cleared initially, then we have a way of monitoring their behavior, both their electronic behavior on the job as well as off the job," Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told Congress last month.

Clapper provided lawmakers with few details but said the proposed system would extend "across the government," drawing on "six or seven data streams." Monitoring of employees at some agencies could begin as early as September and be fully operational across the government by September 2016. The price tag, Clapper conceded, "is going to be costly."

In separate comments last week, retiring NSA Director Keith Alexander said intelligence, Defense and Cyber Command officials are collaborating on "insider threat" planning. Recently declassified federal documents show that the NSA is already conducting electronic monitoring of agency staffers involved in surveillance operations.

Budget documents released this week show the Pentagon requesting nearly $9 million next year for its insider threat-related research.

Current and former officials familiar with the DNI's planning said the monitoring system will collect records from multiple sources of information about employees. They will use private credit agencies, law enforcement databases and threat lists, military and other government records, licenses, data services and public record repositories. During random spot checks, the system's software will sift through the data to spot unusual behavior patterns.

The system could also link to outside databases to flag questionable behavior, said the officials, who spoke anonymously because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the plans. Investigators will analyze the information along with data separately collected from social media and, when necessary, polygraph tests, officials said.

The proposed system would mimic monitoring systems already in use by the airline and banking industries, but it most closely draws from a 10-year-old Pentagon research project known as the Automated Continuous Evaluation System, officials said. The ACES program, designed by researchers from the Monterey, Calif.,-based Defense Personnel and Security Research Center and defense contractor Northrop Grumman, has passed several pilot tests but is not yet in full operation.

The ACES project and clearance-related Defense Department research cost more than $84 million over the past decade, documents show.

Gene Barlow Jr., a spokesman for the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive, the DNI agency coordinating the system's development, said ACES would be part of the DNI's "continuous evaluation solution." The DNI's system would extend across the executive branch, he said.

Clapper and other senior administration officials cited the ACES program in a February 2010 report laying out the government's plan for improving security clearances. Former Adm. Mike McConnell, who headed the DNI during the Bush administration, was an early proponent of electronic monitoring research.

"If one guy has a Jaguar on a (government) GS-12 salary, that's a red flag," McConnell said.

According to project documents, ACES links to up to 40 databases. While many are government and public data streams already available, ACES also taps into the three major credit agencies — Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.

One former official familiar with ACES said researchers considered adding records from medical and mental health files but due to privacy concerns left that decision unresolved for policy makers.

The government's inability to review information from local police reports, his employer, family and personal health records was cited as a glaring weakness in background checks on computer specialist Aaron Alexis, who fatally shot 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard last September before killing himself.

The Alexis case and the Snowden disclosures raised concerns about the flawed or inadequate work of outside contractors in background checks.

A federal official acknowledged that outside contractors would likely be used to support electronic monitoring. It was not clear whether Northrop Grumman, the company that helped develop ACES, would have a role in its government-wide deployment.

Critics worry about the potential misuse of personal information. Private contractors supporting the monitoring system would have access to sensitive data. Credit agencies and other outside data sources would know the identities of government employees under scrutiny.

"The problem is you're spreading all this private data around to more and more people, both inside and outside," said David Borer, general counsel for the American Federation of Government Employees.

The union represents federal workers with top secret clearances but recently joined in a lawsuit against the government to prevent lower-level employees from being reclassified into jobs requiring clearances.

"As a result of the Snowden disclosures I think we're seeing what an open book workers' lives are becoming," Borer said.

Lee Tien, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Freedom Foundation, a civil liberties group, said workers' free speech, political allegiances and outside activities could be chilled under the threat of constant monitoring. Some workers might face scrutiny because of inaccurate reporting, Tien said.

Officials familiar with the DNI's system said internal guidelines, audits, encryption and other precautions built into the proposal were designed to minimize abuses of private information. A 2007 Homeland Security review of the ACES project concluded that "the system contains security and procedural controls to ensure that data is made available to only those with a legitimate need as defined by the underlying legal authorities."

Congressional officials said the DNI already has sufficient permission under U.S. law to launch the new electronic monitoring on its own, but a bill recently introduced by Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, would provide additional legal support. Collins' bill calls for at least two random computerized reviews every five years for each of the 5 million government workers with a secret clearance.

Intelligence community veterans said electronic monitoring was designed to detect lavish spending and discipline problems that can go undetected during the years between a worker's first background check and re-investigation — every 5 or 10 years, depending on the clearance level.

The Intelligence and National Security Alliance, a consortium of public and private national security interests, called for continuous monitoring in a new report released last week.

Intelligence veterans say rogue agents John Walker, Aldrich Ames and Robert Hanssen might have been exposed much earlier by such a system.

"We have to be willing to look at indications of behavior," said Joel Brenner, former senior counsel at the NSA and head of counterintelligence for the DNI. Brenner pointed to Hanssen as the sort of "serial rule-breaker" who might have been quickly detected by electronic monitoring.

Brenner cautioned that the success of electronic monitoring depends on those manning its controls. "The system only works well," he said, "if it has thoughtful, educated, careful human beings behind it."

Associated Press writer Jack Gillum contributed to this report.

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/us-plans-scan-workers-secret-clearances

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« Reply #10234 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 07:59am »

Wired

After Recent Ruling, America’s Commercial Drone Pilots Come Out of the Shadows

By David Kravets
03.10.14
6:30 AM

It’s blue skies for U.S. drone entrepreneurs!

For the last two years, the FAA has been sending nastygrams to anyone caught flying model planes or other unmanned arial vehicles over U.S. airspace for “commercial purposes” – like professional photography, journalism or farmland surveying. But last week, a judge clipped the FAA’s wings, ruling that the agency doesn’t have the authority to regulate small unmanned drones.

As you’d expect, the ruling is being welcomed by the recipients of the FAA warnings, who’ve been using drones for a variety of purposes — and can now do so without fear of a $10,000 fine.

Matt Gunn, an independent drone pilot in Cleveland, says last week’s court ruling against the FAA mounts to “mud being flung in their face.”

Gunn is among more than a dozen small-scale drone operators whom the FAA ordered to cease-and-desist their commercial work with unmanned vehicles. The operator of Gunn Photography in Ohio says he never stopped performing commercial services such as agricultural mapping and real-estate filming despite the cease-and-desist letter.

“There wasn’t any sort of validity to it in my opinion,” he says.

How true that is.

An administrative law judge of the National Transportation Safety Board on Thursday agreed with Gunn’s assessment.

The agency was reviewing a $10,000 fine levied against renowned drone operator Raphel Pirker. He got dinged for “recklessly” doing a commercial shoot of the University of Virginia with a 4.5-pound Ritewing Zephyr-powered glider . He challenged the citation, contending the FAA had no authority to regulate model-aircraft drones because the public wasn’t given a chance to comment on the agency’s rules .

Pirker’s legal battle spotlighted a commercial drone scene in the United States operating in a grey area. the FAA’s cease-and-desist letters to operators of commercial model aircraft have forced some companies to shut down. Others, however, continued their aerial filming and crop and real estate surveying businesses underground — or sometimes right in the open.

Jack Quirk, the operator of KJ Productions in Oklahoma, applauds the ruling. (.pdf) He had gotten a cease and desist letter, too. “I continued operating, but carefully,” he says.

He specializes in filming car dealerships and oil fields.

“I didn’t directly charge for the aircraft. I would charge for the production and include the aircraft for it,” he says. “It’s kind of embarrassing. Your customers come to you. You have to do this shady deal to be able to use it. This decision will help me to go back to where I was. I can market openly and not be too worried about it.”

The case turned on an argument made by Pirker’s attorney, Brendan Schulman, who maintained that the FAA could not simply declare a regulation without having a public notice-and-comment period. His argument went like this: Congress has delegated to its bureaucracy the authority to make rules, but when new regulations have a substantial impact on the general public, the government must have hearings and take comments.

Schulman won that argument Thursday.

“I think the decision is also important became it establishes that before the federal government imposes reasonable restrictions on new technologies, the government must consult with its citizens and obtain comments on how those restrictions will affect people,” he says. “That’s a very important part of our legal system.”

Pirker lives in Hong Kong, so the decision won’t immediate affect him, other than nullifying his five-figure fine.

But don’t expect the Amazons of the world to begin immediately delivering packages via drones. The FAA is still under orders by Congress to adopt rules governing drone use for commercial purposes. The agency has begun the process of formally enacting rules that might better survive a legal challenge. The rules won’t likely be open for public debate until year’s end.

Phil Jackson, the IT director of commercial real estate firm Price-Edwards in Oklahoma, had used drones to survey the properties he was offering until he received a cease-and-desist letter from the FAA more than a year ago.

“We haven’t flown a drone in a long time,” he says.

However, Jackson said Price-Edwards isn’t going to immediately let loose the Phantom quad-copter they were employing. “We’re willing to comply with whatever rules are set forth,” he says.

The term drone — appropriated from the military’s unmanned aerial vehicles — is relatively new. But model air-planing has a long history. Just 20 years after the Wright brothers’ first flight, the nation’s first National Aeromodeling Championships were held in 1923. The American Academy of Model Aeronautics, of Muncie, Indiana, boasts some 170,000 members today.

The 2007 Federal Register describes what an unmanned vehicle is: “They range in size from a wingspan of 6 inches to 246 feet; and can weigh from approximately 4 ounces to over 25,600 pounds.”

For Mark La Boyteaux, the operator of Hawkeye Media in Texas, he immediately dismissed a cease-and-desist letter he got 17 months ago from the FAA.

He continued shooting commercials for the City of Dallas, and filming local banks, commercial real estate and farmland.

“My own personal opinion was it was not illegal,” he says. “I never stopped. I just ignored it.”

http://www.wired.com/threatlevel/2014/03/drone-pilots-flying-high/

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« Reply #10235 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 12:04pm »

User ImageSpace debris orbiting Earth to be targeted with giant lasers fired from Australia

Scientists in Australia say they have begun work on a project that will see lasers fired from Earth to blast away the thousands of tonnes of space debris orbiting our planet.

http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/nasaspacedebrisjpg-9181311.html
Though it sounds like a plan taken straight from science fiction, researchers at the Australian National University (ANU) have been given a very real grant of $20 million (£10.8 million).

Alongside $40 million (£21.6 million) of private investment, it will allow the team to set up as the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC), a state-of-the-art observatory building lasers which will initially track tiny piece of debris.

The ultimate goal of actually destroying some of the estimated 300,000 pieces of orbital rubbish could be working within the next 10 years, said Matthew Colless, director of ANU’s Research School of Astronomy and Astrophysics.

“It's important that it's possible on that scale because there's so much space junk up there,” he said.

“We're perhaps only a couple of decades away from a catastrophic cascade of collisions ... that takes out all the satellites in low orbit.”

Scientists say the debris around the Earth is made up of everything from tiny screws and bolts to large parts of rockets, mostly moving in low orbits at tremendous speeds.

The growing mass of rubbish accumulating around the planet has led to calls from Nasa for urgent action, and public concerns around events like those depicted in the 2013 Hollywood movie Gravity.

Australia now has a contract with Nasa to track and map this junk with a telescope and laser at the Mount Stromlo observatory near Canberra.

Speaking about the risks involved in plans to zap chunks of debris so they burn up harmlessly in the upper atmosphere, Colless said: “There's no risk of missing and hitting a working satellite. We can target them precisely. We really don't miss.”

Colless said he envisages the eventual need for a global network of stations set up under international auspices but, that right now the CRC is doing the research to make it possible.

The CRC is made up of universities, space agencies and companies including Lockheed Martin, Optus and EOS Space System Australia
Australia now has a contract with Nasa to track and map this junk with a telescope and laser at the Mount Stromlo observatory near Canberra.

Speaking about the risks involved in plans to zap chunks of debris so they burn up harmlessly in the upper atmosphere, Colless said: “There's no risk of missing and hitting a working satellite. We can target them precisely. We really don't miss.”

Colless said he envisages the eventual need for a global network of stations set up under international auspices but, that right now the CRC is doing the research to make it possible.

The CRC is made up of universities, space agencies and companies including Lockheed Martin, Optus and EOS Space System Australia

wow wee
If iot can knock out debris...what else can it knock out. grin?

[img][/img]
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« Reply #10236 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 1:57pm »

CRYSTAL~HAVE A LOVELY DAY~ALONG WITH THE CASEBOOK KREW cool

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« Reply #10237 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 5:14pm »

Sys, what does Independent Living Bullion have to do with the laser/space debris project? Some of the text appears to be missing? They are a bullion investment firm? Are they financing it? What would their ROI be?

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« Reply #10238 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 8:45pm »

on Mar 10th, 2014, 5:14pm, Swamprat wrote:
Sys, what does Independent Living Bullion have to do with the laser/space debris project? Some of the text appears to be missing? They are a bullion investment firm? Are they financing it? What would their ROI be?

Swamp


bad paste its supposed to be
http://www.independent.co.uk/incoming/nasaspacedebrisjpg-9181311.html

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« Reply #10239 on: Mar 10th, 2014, 11:09pm »

HMMM...JUZZZ GOT THE WORD THAT GOOGLE EARTH STREET VIEW IS NOW SET UP ON MARS...HERE'S THE FIRST PICTURE SENT...

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IT DOES SEEM THAT PHRASE~WHEN YOU'RE BURIED UP TO YOUR HEAD IN SAND(THERE WAS ANOTHER WORD USED)...IT'S BEST TO KEEP ONES MOUTH CLOSED cool

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« Reply #10240 on: Mar 11th, 2014, 10:02am »

BUENOS DIAS CRYSTAL Y TODOS CASEBOOK AMIGOS cool
MAKE YOUR DAY SPECIAL!!!

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« Reply #10241 on: Mar 11th, 2014, 10:42am »

THANKS Z cheesy

GOOD MORNING UFOCASEBOOKERS grin

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« Reply #10242 on: Mar 11th, 2014, 10:48am »

Der Spiegel

Beyond Ukraine: Russia's Imperial Mess

By SPIEGEL Staff
March 10, 2014 – 07:02 PM

Everything in Simferopol, the capital of the Ukrainian Autonomous Republic of Crimea, has suddenly changed. Shortly after noon on Thursday of last week, Cossacks from Russia sealed off the Crimean parliament building. The Russians, who had identified themselves as tourists a short time earlier, claimed that they were there to "check identification papers." Now Russia's white, blue and red flag flies above the building.

Two men accompany us as we walk up the steps to meet with the new premier of Crimea, who has taken over the office in a Moscow-backed coup. Under his leadership and with instructions from Russian President Vladimir Putin, the Crimean lawmakers have just voted to join the Russian Federation. Their decision is to be sealed with a referendum scheduled for Sunday, March 16.

Prime Minister Sergey Aksyonov, 41, a former businessman with a highly dubious reputation, tries to make a serious impression, but so far, he has been unsuccessful in his attempts to shed his reputation as an underworld figure nicknamed "Goblin." Despite the Russian flag on display in the reception room, Aksyonov insists that rumors that he was installed by the Kremlin are nothing but lies. "The people here asked me to do it," he says. But he knows that neither Kiev nor the West will accept the annexation of Crimea. "No one dictates anything to us," he insists.

The new premier speaks rapidly, as if to drown out any skepticism. "We want no violence or casualties," he says, adding that everything should proceed peacefully. "However, we are not letting the Ukrainians out of their barracks, so that they can no longer act on any criminal orders from Kiev." He says that his people are in control of all of Crimea, but NATO experts claim that at least 2,000 Russian soldiers have been brought to the peninsula by air, for a total of 20,000 troops in Crimea. Another 20,000 are supposedly standing ready nearby.

"Nonsense," says Aksyonov, still insisting that Moscow has not sent in any soldiers at all. This, despite the fact that the men in ski masks and uniforms -- which have been stripped of Russian insignia -- are grinning under their disguises. If the situation weren't so serious, it would almost be comical.

At this point, no one is laughing. Russian soldiers have repeatedly prevented military observers from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) from entering Crimea. Pro-Russian "civil defense squads" have threatened United Nations special envoy Robert Serry in Simferopol. "Militarily speaking, Crimea is already lost," says a NATO general. "The Ukrainian army is fighting a lost cause." According to a German military internal situation report, the events in Crimea could be repeated in eastern Ukraine.

So far, Moscow's provocations in Crimea haven't resulted in any deaths. Nevertheless, all it takes is one murder or one gun battle to ignite the powder keg of tensions in the region. It begs the question: Almost 100 years after the beginning of World War I, and almost 25 years after the end of the Cold War and the realignment of Europe, could there possibly be a new military conflict between the major powers in Europe?

'Most Serious Crisis' Since Cold War

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has called it the "most serious crisis since the fall of the Berlin Wall" -- seemingly ignoring the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. US President Barack Obama characterized Moscow's intervention as a "violation of international law," while former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton compared Putin's alleged concerns over "ethnic" Russians in eastern Ukraine to Adolf Hitler's actions in Sudetenland in 1938.

Officials at NATO and the European Union have been meeting almost around the clock. Late last week, Obama spent more than an hour on the phone with Putin, who has shown no sign of backing down. The Western leaders now face the challenge of exerting pressure on Russia while simultaneously keeping the channels of communication open.

They are also being confronted with a different series of questions: What kinds of sanctions could even persuade Russia's aggressive leader to withdraw? What does Vladimir Putin want? Does he want to annex Crimea or even eastern Ukraine, or perhaps seize control of even more territory along Russia's borders? And are these merely the actions of a cornered fighter or does he truly believe he can create a modern reincarnation of the Soviet Union?

The United States and the EU approved initial sanctions against Moscow late last week, Washington sent military reinforcements to Poland and the Baltic countries and the German federal police promptly suspended half a dozen cooperative programs with Russia. On Sunday, the Polish Defense Minister announced that the US was sending 12 fighter jets to Poland.

But aside from these measures, the situation has thus far been characterized by a horrifying sense of helplessness. On the one hand, Russia is part of the globalized community of nations, tightly interconnected through regular political consultations, the economy and tourism. Russia's commodities exports to Europe make up close to half of the central government budget, and its connections to the rest of the world are obvious. But then, on the other hand, there is the Russian president, who is apparently trying to break ranks with this interdependent, civilized world.

Ignorance and Incomprehension

The events of the last few weeks have underscored a lack of understanding between East and West, as well as the West's crass ignorance and incomprehension of Putin's motives. As much as the leaders on both sides feel that they know each other, vast differences remain.

"Putin is living in another world!" German Chancellor Angela Merkel reportedly exclaimed in a phone call with Obama last week. Putin, for his part, voiced almost identical opinions about the West in a press conference with handpicked journalists, saying, "They sit there across the pond as if they're in a lab running all kinds of experiments on rats, without understanding consequences of what they're doing." By "rats" he apparently meant the new Ukrainian leadership, which Putin believes is being controlled by Washington.

But the Kremlin leader has succeeded in one respect: He has divided the West. This process began months before his foray into Crimea, when he granted temporary asylum to US whistleblower Edward Snowden. Snowden had leaked documents on the massive surveillance activities of the NSA, heightening the distrust among the Western allies to levels unseen since World War II. And the fact that Washington has made no effort to conclude a no-spying agreement with Berlin has only worsened the sense of alienation between the two countries.

Searching for the Right Measure

Germany is playing a central role in resolving the current Ukraine crisis. Both the United States and Russia see Merkel as the politician who is best equipped to defuse the explosive situation in Ukraine. She addresses Putin with the informal "du" in German, and has met with him dozens of times. Despite their many differences, their close partnership has created a bond between Berlin and Moscow. And with its aspiration to embark on a new, more active foreign policy, the German government has placed itself under more pressure to succeed.

But Europe's impotence and trepidation are not as clear-cut as they appear. Even though a reversal of the Russian takeover of Crimea may seem hopeless at this point, joint EU actions against Moscow could be promising in the long term. Putin is not as strong as he makes himself out to be, and Russia is vulnerable, particularly on the economic front.

It is merely a question of finding the most effective way to make an impression on Putin and curb his expansion plans -- and of whether the West has the will to follow a course of action that will be painful for everyone involved. Either way, the decisions now being made in Crimea, Kiev, Moscow, Brussels and Washington will shape policy in the coming years and possibly even decades.

In Kiev: Pride and Powerlessness

While Russians and Ukrainians continue to face off in Crimea -- with US President Obama threatening to skip the G-8 summit in Sochi in June and the Russian parliament, the Duma, considering the seizure of Western company assets in response to sanctions -- the new government is meeting in Kiev. Less than two weeks after entering office, it is desperately trying to regain control over the situation in Ukraine.

The seat of the government, located in a massive Stalin-era building on Kiev's Grushevsky Street, seems caught in the past. The hallway floors are covered with sound-absorbing green carpeting from the Yanukovych era, the names of the country's new leaders have already been engraved onto brass signs on the doorways.

Room 460, on the fifth floor, is the office of the new economics minister, Pavlo Sheremeta. The office hasn't been completely furnished yet, and there are only two pictures on the wall -- a portrait of national poet Taras Shevchenko and a photo, titled "Heavenly One Hundred," depicting the photos of the 67 people who died on Maidan Square. The view from the window is of a barricade on Grushevsky Street, now covered with flowers, where many of former President Viktor Yanukovych's opponents died.

"We owe a great deal to the dead," says Sheremeta. It angers him that Moscow is calling the change in government in Kiev a "coup" and the protesters "fascists." Radical right-wing agitators, he says, were clearly in the minority among the protesters on Independence Square.

more after the jump:
http://www.spiegel.de/international/europe/ukraine-invasion-reveals-flaws-in-politics-of-putin-and-russia-a-957815.html

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« Reply #10243 on: Mar 11th, 2014, 10:55am »

Variety

SXSW: Lionsgate Acquires Rights to Bigfoot Found Footage Pic ‘Exists’

March 8, 2014

Hot on the tracks of Saturday’s midnight premiere at SXSW, Lionsgate has acquired the North American distribution rights to the Bigfoot found footage pic “Exists.” International Film Trust will rep international sales.

The horror film from “Blair Witch Project” director Eduardo Sánchez and screenwriter Jamie Nash marks Bigfoot’s return to the big screen. The movie, starring Chris Osborn, Dora Madison Burge and Roger Edwards, follows a familiar formula, but adopts a new spin on the Sasquatch myth.

It follows a group of five friends as they struggle to fight off the fabled predator during a camping trip in the remote Texas woods. Viewers took to Twitter following the early morning sold-out screening to write about how petrifying they found the pic.

“Exists” is produced by Jane Fleming, Mark Ordesky, Robin Cowie and J. Andrew Jenkins, and exec produced by George Waud, D. Todd Shepherd, Gregg Hale and Reed Frerichs.

“It is especially gratifying to sell the film at SXSW in Austin so close to Bastrop, Texas where we shot EXISTS with an amazing Texas-based cast and crew,” Fleming and Ordesky, who developed and produced the film with Haxan Films through their production company Court Five, said in a press release.

http://variety.com/2014/film/news/sxsw-lionsgate-acquires-rights-to-bigfoot-found-footage-pic-exists-1201128296/

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xx Re: Stuff & Nonsense
« Reply #10244 on: Mar 11th, 2014, 11:55am »

EXCELLENT POST CRYSTAL...THERE IS A MASSIVE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN 9~1~1 IN THAT THESE ARE TROOPS WITH UNIFORMS (INSIGNIAS OR NOT) SPONSORED BY A MEMBER OF THE UNITED NATIONS~HMMM~THE $$$ THE U.S. THROWS AT THE U.N.~WE'RE REALLY GETTING A BANG FOR OUR BUCK rolleyes rolleyes rolleyes

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