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Posts tagged ‘Norway’

China F-35: Secrets Stolen From US Show Up in Its Stealth Fighter.

China obtained F-35 secrets through an extensive cyber spy operation carried out in 2007 against U.S. defense contractor Lockheed Martin, U.S. officials and defense analysts said, and they have shown up China’s new stealth fighter jet.

Codenamed Operation Byzantine Hades, the multiyear cyber-espionage operation yielded sensitive technology about the United States’ latest fighter jet which in turn was incorporated into the development of China’s new J-20 fighter, the Washington Times reported.

According to Defense officials, a Chinese military unit known as the Technical Reconnaissance Bureau (TRF), located in the nation’s Chengdu province, was behind the cyber-espionage. Once the data had been acquired, the TRF is said to have transferred it to the state-run Aviation Industry Corp. of China, which then used that stolen data in building the J-20 fighter jet, the Washington Free Beaconreported.

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Having started 10 years ago, the F-35 development program is a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon that has cost $392 billion, making it the Pentagon’s most expensive weapons program ever. The program’s original price tag was $233 billion; however it ballooned due to delays brought on by cost overruns.

Referred to as a “fifth-generation” warplane, the F-35 fighter jet will be replacing the popular F-16 and more than a dozen other warplanes that are currently in use by the United States and foreign governments around the world.

As of late 2013, the U.S. partner countries of Britain, Canada, Australia, Norway, the Netherlands, Italy, Turkey and Denmark, Israel, and Japan have already ordered F-35 fighter jets from Lockheed Martin.

Also known as the Joint Strike Fighter, the F-35 is said to be the most technically-advanced plane in the United States’ arsenal with 7.5 million lines of computer code controlling its weapons system, which is triple the amount of coding currently used in the top Air Force fighter, the Government Accountability Office told The Wall Street Journal.

“You’ve seen significant improvements in Chinese military capabilities through their willingness to spend, their acquisitions of advanced Russian weapons, and from their cyber-espionage campaign,” James A. Lewis, a cyber-policy expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told The Washington Post. “Ten years ago, I used to call the [People’s Liberation Army] the world’s largest open-air military museum. I can’t say that now.”

In addition to the apparent cyber theft of secrets pertaining to the F-35’s development, China has also reportedly accessed other U.S. weapons systems, including the Patriot missile system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, and the Army’s ballistic missile interceptor program.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Michael Mullins

McCain Bashes ‘Ignorant’ Obama Ambassador Nominees.

Sen. John McCain admits it is “kind of entertaining and amusing” to see how “ignorant” some of President Barack Obama’s ambassador nominees are about the countries they will be serving in, but it’s also worrying, he says.

“[I]t’s also really disturbing because it’s a disservice to our country to send that kind of unqualified candidate to represent us and our interest there in these countries,” the Arizona Republican said Thursday on Fox News Channel’s “On the Record with Greta Van Susteren.” 

McCain appeared to be having a good time grilling a trio of nominees earlier this year who clearly knew little to nothing about the countries where they are set to serve.

Norway ambassador nominee George Tsunis had positive words for the country’s president even though it doesn’t have one. It is a constitutional monarchy. He also stumbled through an answer in which he said that the Progress Party was denounced by the government. McCain reminded him that the Progress Party is part of Norway’s coalition government.

Story continues below video.

Video of that exchange has gone viral in Norway, McCain told Van Susteren, and “Frankly, the Norwegian people are not very happy about getting that kind of ambassador to represent the United States in their country.”

He and other Republicans are objecting to the nominees, he said, but Democrats have the majority. And since Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the “nuclear option” last year, nominees now need only 51 votes. Republicans have only 45 members in the Senate.

The appointees to Norway, Argentina, and Iceland all admitted they had never been to the countries to which they were being appointed. Another thing they have in common is big political donations to Obama’s re-election campaign.

On Wednesday night’s “Daily Show,” host Jon Stewart then noted that the future Norway ambassador raised $850,000, while the Argentina nominee raised $500,000 and the Iceland nominee raised $1.6 million.

Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., last week was confirmed by the Senate to be ambassador to China by a 96-0 vote. Baucus is not an Obama campaign bundler, offering Stewart hope that he knows more about that country because of the business and political sensitivites between them and the United States.

“I am no real expert on China,” Baucus said in a clip.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.
By Greg Richter

Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama.

Image: Report: US Press Freedom Declines Under Obama

By Melissa Clyne

Freedom of the press in the United States has plunged during the Obama administration, according to the 2014 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.

“The U.S. under President Obama, who once promised to run the ‘most transparent’ administration in the country’s history, fell from 32nd to 46th in the 2014 World Press Freedom Index, a drop of 13 slots,” The Washington Times reports.

The report reviews the state of media freedoms in 180 countries. Major declines occurred in the United States, the Central African Republic, and Guatemala, while marked improvements took place in Ecuador, Bolivia, and South Africa, according to the index compiled by the press advocacy group.

Finland, the Netherlands, and Norway continue to lead the index for press freedoms and government openness, while Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea “continue to be the biggest information black holes, again occupying the last three positions.” Syria also ranked near the bottom.

The rating was based on seven criteria: the level of abuses, the extent of pluralism, media independence, the environment and self-censorship, the legislative framework, transparency, and infrastructure, according to Reporters Without Borders Secretary-General Christophe Deloire.

“It makes governments face their responsibilities by providing civil society with an objective measure, and provides international bodies with a good governance indicator to guide their decisions,” Deloire said in a statement.

The report cited the handling of three events as major contributors to the declining rating for reporter freedoms the United States, according to The Washington Times.

• Former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosure of top secret information related to U.S. spying programs;

• Army Pvt. Bradley Manning’s leak of classified documents to WikiLeaks;

• The Justice Department’s handling of a probe of The Associated Press and other media organizations suspected of receiving leaked data.

Freedom of the press is increasingly under siege as governments around the globe are targeting journalists — to get to their sources and those people who leak sensitive information, according to the report.

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© 2014 Newsmax. All rights reserved.

Obama to Pitch Ideas in Speech for Spurring ‘Upward Mobility’.

President Barack Obama will urge the U.S. Congress on Tuesday to do more to help poor and middle-class Americans move up the economic ladder.

Both Obama and congressional Republicans view that issue as a high priority, a rare point of agreement between the two sides. But the Democratic president and Republicans disagree on the remedies, setting up a debate that Obama will discuss in his State of the Union address to Congress.

In the speech, scheduled for 9 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Obama will push an agenda for increasing economic upward mobility and propose aid to the long-term unemployed, an increase in the minimum wage and an expansion of early-childhood education.

After Obama’s speech, Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the fourth-ranking Republican in the House of Representatives, will deliver a response on behalf of her party. She will likely emphasize free-market ideas for improving prosperity.

Senator Marco Rubio and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, two Republicans who are both seen as potential 2016 presidential candidates, spoke this month on proposals for helping people climb out of economic hardship.

Rubio has suggested shifting responsibility for many federal benefit programs to the states. Ryan has floated the idea of providing a single benefit to low-income families, modeled on one in Great Britain.

The problem of economic stagnation is expected to be a theme in congressional election campaigns this year.

Analysts said social mobility was a potent political issue because the United States has long seen itself as a place where anyone with grit and determination can succeed.

In recent years, however, the wages of many low- and middle-income workers have held steady or fallen on an inflation-adjusted basis. The slow growth after the 2007-2009 recession has exacerbated this trend.

At the same time, the wealthiest and most highly educated Americans, referred to as the “1 percent,” have grown more prosperous.


Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed concern about studies showing that economic mobility in the United States lags that of some other industrialized economies, calling into question the nation’s reputation as a land of opportunity.

More than 40 percent of American men born into the poorest one-fifth of earners remain there, a 2006 study led by Finnish economist Markus Jantti showed. In Denmark, Norway, Finland and Sweden, only about 25 percent of such men stay in that income segment.

American sons of low-income fathers are more likely to remain stuck in the bottom tenth of earners as adults than are Canadian sons, University of Ottawa economist Miles Corak said in a study published in 2010. In the United States, 22 percent of men born to low-income families stayed in that category, while the same was true of only 16 percent of Canadians.

In 2012, former U.S. Council of Economic Advisers Chairman Alan Krueger published a study that linked income inequality with low levels of upward mobility. He devised a chart he named “The Great Gatsby Curve” after the fabulously wealthy protagonist of the novel by F. Scott Fitzgerald.

It showed the United States toward the upper end of the range of both inequality and low economic mobility, along with Argentina, Chile, and Brazil. At the opposite extreme, with low inequality and high mobility, were Denmark, Norway and Finland.

A study from a group led by Harvard University economist Raj Chetty added a new wrinkle to the debate with its finding that American children’s chances of moving up the economic ladder had not changed much in the past few decades. The study also made clear that children’s prospects were tightly linked to their parents’ socio-economic status – more so in the United States than in some other leading economies.

“It’s not so much that we’re losing the American dream,” said Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren, one of the study’s authors. “It’s did we ever have it, and do we want it?”

The focus on economic mobility builds on a pledge Obama has emphasized over the past two years: to improve the standing and security of the middle class.

The theme is newer for Republicans, who failed to capture the White House in 2012 in part because many voters perceived their party’s candidate, Mitt Romney, as dismissive of the struggles of the poor and working classes.

But analysts say a promise to boost economic mobility could resonate across the ideological spectrum.

“The idea of the United States being exceptional in its ability to promote economic opportunity or the notion of the nation being suited to help people rise is very much part of our national ethos,” said Erin Currier, director of economic mobility for the Pew Charitable Trusts.

“Americans feel strongly that the United States should be the land of opportunity.”

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

Foreskin 419 – The Heaviest Assault On African Men’s Sexual Life Since Colonial Times Remains Uncovered.

By Felix Riedel

In the ages of Muslim, Christian and indigenous slavery, many African men were castrated to serve as eunuchs. In colonial racist regimes African men were forbidden to mate white women. Not few were abused for medical experiments in the twentieth century – even in the USA, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment denied treatment to 399 poor black men until 1972[1]. Racism has always paired with sexual aggression. Today, African men take part in a mass-experiment by the WHO and UNAIDS[2] and African doctors, who all promise to eradicate HIV through circumcision – the force is less brutal but far more effective than ever. Global health agencies and local authoritarian structures pressurize and bribe men into sacrificing a part of their genitals.

Zimbabwe’s circumcision rates had been as low as 10 % until 2009, when a government campaign vowed for the circumcision of at least 1.2 million men.[3] From 1997 to 2007 the HIV-infection rates dropped from 29% to 16% of the population,[4] but the winning team of awareness campaigns was changed in favour of circumcision. This campaign no longer alters the minds of men and women but male genitals. Authoritarian systems don’t want their populace to think, but to obey with their bodies. Similar campaigns are running in Uganda and Swaziland. Discrimination of uncircumcised men has been reported in the course of those campaigns. Uncircumcised Ugandan men were threatened by mobs who blamed them for infecting women. At the same time circumcision rates dropped heavily in Western countries, where individuals have free access to information about circumcision.

The moderate sceptic might ask: To eradicate HIV, wouldn’t it be a small price to sacrifice a tiny part of male skin?

First of all, it is not a tiny part of skin. The external part of the foreskin protects the glans from sunburn and injuries while the interior mucosa keeps the glans moist and sensitive. Both parts together make up to 60 % of the penile skin including the most sensitive areas of the penis at the tip of the foreskin. You would not sacrifice a finger to prevent HIV, but the foreskin underwent decades of heavy discrimination as small, smelly, wizened, ugly and useless – a discrimination strategy well known from the discrimination of female genital organs.

But does circumcision indeed prevent HIV? First of all, circumcision inflicts a wound that needs at least 4 weeks to heal. In the meantime the entire penis remains swollen and is very open to infections of all kind. The scar is vulnerable to unsensitive techniques of masturbation and rough sexual intercourse – it can open up any time and especially in the first year which results in bleedings and itching. In the months after circumcision, the glans skin totally alters into a rather dry, hard skin with sharp transition areas around the external urethral orifice. The peeling of callused skin often creates micro-fissures on the glans. Any of these side-effects increases the risk of infection with HIV. Also consider the fact, that the foreskin provides moisture and enables the penis to perform elastic movements, and that the inflexible state of a circumcised penis creates more friction and fissures on all involved sexual organs.

Therefore, common sense dismisses the claim, that circumcision would decrease the risk of contracting sexual diseases. Anyone can easily compare infection rates in different countries and find not a single hint at any beneficial effect of circumcision. Just the opposite: the HIV-rates in the USA (0.6%) with a majority of circumcised men are six times higher than in Norway (0.1%) with only a small minority of circumcised men.[5] If other factors dominate the infection rates in such a massive way, it is irresponsible to promote the amputation of the foreskin as a cure for HIV.

The most optimistic studies boast 60% of prevention rates for circumcised men. Here we come to methods. Critical medical doctors are very wary against strategies used by pharmaceutical companies to produce bloated figures to sell their products. If you have two cohorts of 1000, then the difference between 4 infected persons in the first cohort and 6 infected persons in the other, the overall insignificant difference can be inflated easily through percentage calculation. Undisputedly, a condom offers up to 99% of protection – subject to the condition of proper use. In the aftermath of circumcision-campaigns, more men and women will pressurize and seduce their partners into unprotected intercourse.

Until more of the affected African men will have the means to question the onslaught carried out on their private sphere by campaigns masked as modern medicine, some will already have died from fatal complications, others will have suffered from severe complications like necrosis of the penis and all will have lost their foreskin. In a far future, cultural anthropology will produce nice volumes discussing the bygone bio-politics of African authoritarian systems. They should rather use their privileges now and today to advise African men against such campaigns and to speak out publicly against one of the most destructive features of Global Health policies in recent times.




[3] See: National AIDS Council Zimbabwe.



French Upper House Backs Same-Sex Marriage Law.

PARIS — France’s Senate upper house voted in favor of same-sex marriage on Friday, paving the way for it to enter law after street marches rallied hundreds of thousands of demonstrators both for and against it.
The move is France’s most important social reform since the 1981 abolition of the death penalty and was a keynote campaign pledge by President Francois Hollande’s ruling Socialists.
But it is opposed by social conservatives in the majority Catholic country, and by many French Muslims and evangelical Christians.
The bill, approved by a show of hands with minor amendments, returns in May to the National Assembly lower house where the Socialists have an absolute majority. After final approval there, it is due to take effect mid-year.
France joins 11 other countries including Belgium, Portugal, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Norway, and South Africa where same-sex marriage is legal.


© 2013 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.


How Japan’s ‘flammable ice’ breakthrough could revolutionize the energy industry.



The country may have found the successor to fracking

On Tuesday, Japan became the first country to ever successfullyextract natural gas from underwater deposits of methane hydrate, a frozen gas sometimes referred to as “flammable ice.” The breakthrough could be a boon to the energy-poor nation, which imports almost all of its energy. And if the technology provescommercially viable, it could benefit other countries — including Canada, the U.S., Norway, and China — that are also seeking to exploit methane hydrate deposits.

Japan has reportedly spent hundreds of millions of dollars in pursuit of flammable ice, a Holy Grail that could satisfy the country’s future energy demands as Japan weans itself off nuclear power in the aftermath of the leak at the Fukushima Daichii plant. Japanese officials are virtually giddy at the prospect. “Japan could finally have an energy source to call its own,” proclaimed Takami Kawamoto, a spokesperson for the Japan Oil, Gas, & Metal National Corp. (Jogmec), the government-run company that is leading the effort.

According to The New York Times, “Methane hydrate is a sherbet-like substance that can form whenmethane gas is trapped in ice below the seabed or underground.” Jogmec says there are at least 1.1 trillion cubic meters of the stuff in the trough where it is currently drilling, just off the Pacific Coast. If Japan can perfect its extraction technique, the area would provide the country with enough natural gas to last 11 years. Japan’s waters reportedly contain a total of 7 trillion cubic meters of flammable ice, which would supply the country with natural gas for many, many decades to come.

How does the drilling process work exactly? “Japan used depressurization to turn methane hydrate to methane gas,” says Reuters, “a process thought by the government to be more effective than using the hot water circulation method the country had tested successfully in 2002.”

The technology, however, is still in its infant stage. At the moment, it’s far too expensive to be sustainable, though Japan hopes to have a commercially viable model in place by 2019. Furthermore, flammable ice remains something of a mystery, which could result in technical glitches and setbacks in the future. “We are studying many things that are not yet known about methane hydrate,”according to Kawamoto.

Still, Japanese officials point to the U.S.’s recent natural gas boom as evidence that technologically complex drilling processes can result in an energy bonanza. The U.S.’s production of natural gas has skyrocketed due to hydraulic fracturing — or fracking — of shale rock, an intensive process that has become widespread in recent years.

Fracking remains a controversial technique, with environmentalists claiming that it could do significant damage to the environment. So far, scientists know little about the impact flammable gas extraction could have on the environment.


By Ryu Spaeth | The Week

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