Tuesday, June 25, 2013

The London Foodie: London Restaurant Reviews - Bibigo

Hosted by Luiz Hara of The London Foodie

Location: my home, Islington, from 7pm (supper club) or from 11am to 4pm or 6:30pm to 10:30pm (cookery class)

Cost: ?38 + service (supper club) or ?75 (cookery class), BYO

Japanese Cookery Classes

Book: using Japanese Cookery Class in Subject Line, e-mail luizharaAThotmailDOTcom

6th July 2013 - Saturday (11am - 4pm)

Japanese Supper Club

Book: using Japanese Supper Club in Subject Line, e-mail luizharaAThotmailDOTcom

25th June 2013 - Tuesday (Kate's Private Event)

27th June 2013 - Thursday

28th June 2013 - Friday

29th June 2013 - Saturday

18th July 2013 - Thursday

19th July 2013 - Friday

20th July 2013 - Saturday

25th July 2013 - Thursday

26th July 2013 - Friday

27th July 2013 - Saturday (Natasha's Private Event)

French Supper Club

Book: using French Supper Club in Subject Line, e-mail luizharaAThotmailDOTcom

11th July 2013 - Thursday

12th July 2013 - Friday

13th July 2013 - Saturday

Source: http://www.thelondonfoodie.co.uk/2013/06/london-restaurant-reviews-bibigo.html

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Obama Plans Marathon Sprint on Climate Change

President Obama is ready to take one more shot at global warming with the last, least-popular, and messiest tool he?s got left: regulations administered by the politically besieged Environmental Protection Agency.

It won?t be popular, it might not work, and it could jeopardize his pick to head EPA. But the reality is that, three years after Congress killed a cap-and-trade bill, Obama is running out of time. If he doesn?t finalize EPA rules controlling greenhouse-gas emissions before he leaves the White House, a Republican president, or a GOP-controlled Senate, could undo the rules?and his environmental legacy.

?He is serious about making it a second-term priority,? Heather Zichal, Obama?s top energy and climate adviser, said at an event last week. ?He knows this is a legacy issue.?

The effort amounts to both a marathon and a sprint, in which Obama must simultaneously navigate political, legal, and policy hurdles that could halt his efforts if he fails to map out a clear way forward.

At issue is a pair of regulations controlling greenhouse-gas emissions from new and existing power plants, the latter of which account for nearly 40 percent of the country?s heat-trapping emissions. EPA proposed rules for new plants last spring but missed its April deadline to finalize them. The agency has also put on ice parallel rules targeting almost 600 existing coal-fired power plants. The rules covering existing plants could have the greatest impact, both on cutting carbon emissions and raising the cost of electricity, because coal is the cheapest, most prevalent, and dirtiest way to produce electricity.

In a speech at Georgetown University on Tuesday, Obama will outline a timeline for EPA to move forward regulating carbon emissions at new and existing power plants.

?The time will go very quickly because regulations don?t move quickly through the process,? said Joe Kruger, who served as deputy associate director for energy and climate change at the White House Council on Environmental Quality during Obama?s first term. ?It will be a bit of a time crunch to get it done by the end of the Obama second term.?

Kruger, who now directs energy and environmental policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center, predicted the administration will succeed because Obama is putting his own political capital into the issue. ?They will figure out one way or another how to get it done,? he said.

Yet the president will face his first political hurdle immediately. The Senate has not yet confirmed Obama?s nominee to head EPA?Gina McCarthy, the agency?s assistant administrator for air quality. Obama?s announcement Tuesday is likely to further inflame what has already been an incendiary confirmation process for McCarthy.

?The Obama administration may conclude that the policy priority of moving forward on [greenhouse-gas] emissions reductions outweighs the political gain of confirming McCarthy in a timely manner,? according to analysis published Monday by ClearView Energy Partners, a Washington-based nonpartisan consulting firm.

The fact is that McCarthy could execute Obama?s directive from her current post at EPA. And under the agency?s organizational plan, acting Administrator Bob Perciasepe could remain in his post indefinitely.

The second political hurdle is the 2014 midterm elections. The National Republican Senatorial Committee is already targeting vulnerable Democrats up for reelection, including Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Begich of Alaska, and Mark Pryor of Arkansas. ?Landrieu Ushers in Obama?s Climate Change Agenda,? said one NRSC statement released Monday.

The administration must thread its regulatory process carefully through the midterms, and not just to avoid endangering Democrats. If Republicans were to win back the Senate, it could create yet another hurdle for Obama?s agenda: Senate Republicans are expected to invoke the Congressional Review Act to undo the rules.

The act, used successfully only once since its creation in 1996, allows senators to bypass the majority leader and force a vote requiring only 51 votes to pass a resolution nullifying regulations finalized within 60 days. It was used twice in the last session of Congress to try to undo EPA rules, and was unsuccessful both times.

The White House is reportedly worried such an effort could succeed against EPA?s climate rules.

Obama is ?concerned about whether or not he has enough support in the Senate to defend vetoes of environmental regulations,? said Michael Kieschnick, CEO and cofounder of CREDO, a cell-phone service provider heavily involved in advocating for action on climate change. Kieschnick has attended private fundraisers with Obama in recent months where the president addressed climate change.

An industry source aware of the White House strategy says EPA may seek to finalize rules for new and existing power plants at the same time, thus allowing only one Senate vote under the Congressional Review Act.

?Given the uncertainty of the 2014 elections in the Senate, the White House would prefer to be in a position where only one veto would be necessary,? said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Obama has so far vetoed just two pieces of legislation, compared with the 12 bills vetoed by George W. Bush and 36 by Bill Clinton.

Amid these political obstacles, Obama must also navigate significant legal and policy challenges, which will inevitably come along with a regulation whose wide-reaching scope surpasses any other EPA rule, according to experts.

?Two years is about the minimal time it would take to go from soup to nuts on a rule like this,? said Roger Martella, who was EPA general counsel under Bush. ?These rules don?t come out of the clear blue sky and involve lengthy internal deliberations before the public even gets a first peak at them.?

Once EPA is done writing the rules, a flood of lawsuits is likely to pour in from both sides of the issue. Litigation also takes time, and some analysts say Obama will want to be in the White House while the challenges wind through the courts. ?We reason the Obama administration wants to defend its power plant GHG ... rule(s) against legal challenges rather than leaving it to another, potentially less simpatico administration,? states the analysis by ClearView Energy Partners.

In the end, the calendar might be the biggest hurdle of all.

?Part of the challenge is how much can they do in a limited amount of time,? said Jody Freeman, who worked on energy and climate issues in the White House during Obama?s first term. ?This plan is a race against time. We?re already six months into a second term.?

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/obama-plans-marathon-sprint-climate-change-221143418.html

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Pleasure response from chocolate: You can see it in the eyes

June 24, 2013 ? The brain's pleasure response to tasting food can be measured through the eyes using a common, low-cost ophthalmological tool, according to a study just published in the journal Obesity. If validated, this method could be useful for research and clinical applications in food addiction and obesity prevention.

Dr. Jennifer Nasser, an associate professor in the department of Nutrition Sciences in Drexel University's College of Nursing and Health Professions, led the study testing the use of electroretinography (ERG) to indicate increases in the neurotransmitter dopamine in the retina.

Dopamine is associated with a variety of pleasure-related effects in the brain, including the expectation of reward. In the eye's retina, dopamine is released when the optical nerve activates in response to light exposure.

Nasser and her colleagues found that electrical signals in the retina spiked high in response to a flash of light when a food stimulus (a small piece of chocolate brownie) was placed in participants' mouths. The increase was as great as that seen when participants had received the stimulant drug methylphenidate to induce a strong dopamine response. These responses in the presence of food and drug stimuli were each significantly greater than the response to light when participants ingested a control substance, water.

"What makes this so exciting is that the eye's dopamine system was considered separate from the rest of the brain's dopamine system," Nasser said. "So most people- and indeed many retinography experts told me this- would say that tasting a food that stimulates the brain's dopamine system wouldn't have an effect on the eye's dopamine system."

This study was a small-scale demonstration of the concept, with only nine participants. Most participants were overweight but none had eating disorders. All fasted for four hours before testing with the food stimulus.

If this technique is validated through additional and larger studies, Nasser said she and other researchers can use ERG for studies of food addiction and food science.

"My research takes a pharmacology approach to the brain's response to food," Nasser said. "Food is both a nutrient delivery system and a pleasure delivery system, and a 'side effect' is excess calories. I want to maximize the pleasure and nutritional value of food but minimize the side effects. We need more user-friendly tools to do that."

The low cost and ease of performing electroretinography make it an appealing method, according to Nasser. The Medicare reimbursement cost for clinical use of ERG is about $150 per session, and each session generates 200 scans in just two minutes. Procedures to measure dopamine responses directly from the brain are more expensive and invasive. For example, PET scanning costs about $2,000 per session and takes more than an hour to generate a scan.

Source: http://feeds.sciencedaily.com/~r/sciencedaily/top_news/~3/sP3xYVux-9w/130624111014.htm

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Monday, June 24, 2013

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Russian media has confirmed that Edward Snowden is now in Moscow after leaving his secret Hong Kong hideout. The same sources reported he has a ticket for an Aeroflot flight to Havana, Cuba, leaving tomorrow at 2PM. The former NSA contractor has been on the run since he first revealed details of Verizon's participation in a telecommunications industry program to store information on all telephone calls, and then broke news of the NSA/Silicon Valley PRISM system that watches over the whole Interent. Developing...

Snowden's final destination may not be Havana, however. The current speculation is that he may go to Caracas after landing in Havana. Other rumors point to Iceland. Wikileaks claims his final destination is Ecuador. Julian Assange and his organization claim they are helping him.

Latest updates

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

U.K. Internet Spying & U.S. Drone Evidence

Friday, June 21, 2013 3:40 PM?The extent of the FBI's domestic drone spying is revealed by "drone licenses" released to the Electronic Freedom Foundation. News of the drone documents follow FBI Director Robert Mueller's admission to U.S. senators that drones are already spying on Americans on U.S. soil. The Guardian continues revealing details of the massive spying operations, with new evidence showing the U.K. intelligence services tapped into the same Internet pipelines fully monitored by the NSA.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

NSA and Silicon Valley In Same Business

Thursday, June 20, 3:25 PM?The National Security Agency wants information on everybody. Tech giants such as Facebook and Apple and Google have information on everybody. They're all in the same business, and the subject of this massive combined technology-intelligence operation is you. Using Prism, the NSA snatches all Internet traffic as it flows in and out of the United States, which violates the U.S. Constitution.

And it's not just data that flows between the California technology giants and the NSA. Facebook's former security chief, Max Kelly, left the social network to take a similar job with the National Security Agency.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Snowden's "Wargame," FBI Drones Over USA

Wednesday, June 19, 2013 3:39 PM?The veteran leaks site Cryptome.org calls Edward Snowden's NSA leaks part of a growing "wargame," while the FBI's director has admitted to the Senate that drones are currently spying on Americans from the skies above the United States.


Some tech experts say all this should be expected, some say it's no big deal.

Others say it's a march to fascism. Is privacy officially dead?

The story so far...

In reverse chronological order

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Tuesday, June 18, 10:45 PM?The surveillance of Americans' phone calls and Internet activity is "transparent," President Barack Obama said on television Monday night. The names of these secret programs revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden are turning up on job sites all over the Internet.

The NSA and FBI has had access to private accounts on Facebook, Microsoft, Google and Apple during the last six months, and appears to be expanding and extending online surveillance that first began with the controversial Patriot Act programs launched after the 9/11 attacks in 2001.

Monday, June 17, 10:45 PM?Edward Snowden?the NSA contractor employee who revealed the secret US government spy program Prism on June 6?now says that more details are coming.

11:23 AM?Answering The Guardian readers' questions, Prism whistleblower Edward Snowden claims that more details are coming no matter what happens to him: "All I can say right now is the US Government is not going to be able to cover this up by jailing or murdering me. Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped."

10:42 AM?Today, Apple has admitted that the government obtained data from 9,000 to 10,000 devices as part of investigations on "robberies and other crimes, searching for missing children, trying to locate a patient with Alzheimer?s disease, or hoping to prevent a suicide." The company also claims it doesn't chat messages or videoconferences and that "it doesn't store Maps, location, or Siri data in any way that could identify you."

Saturday, June 15, 2013 3:00 PM?The Associate Press has numerous sources detailing that Prism's collaboration with tech companies is just the tip of the iceberg?the NSA actually captures every single bit of data that comes in and out the United States, storing it for analysis:

...larger NSA effort that snatches data as it passes through the fiber optic cables that make up the Internet's backbone. That program, which has been known for years, copies Internet traffic as it enters and leaves the United States, then routes it to the NSA for analysis.

Thursday, June 13, 2013 1:55 PM?The Silicon Valley giants are telling a very different story than the NSA, which explained in top secret Power Point presentations exactly how the data comes from the biggest Internet companies to the government's massive spying operations.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Patriot Or Traitor: Edward Snowden and the NSA Prism Surveillance Web

Wednesday, June 12, 2013, 7:25 PM?More Americans see Prism whistleblower Edward Snowden as a patriot than as a traitor, according to a new opinion poll. But the 29-year-old former intelligence contractor who leaked the details of the NSA's massive data mining operation is still unknown to most Americans?46% have no opinion on his motivations.

1:40 PM?Prism whistleblower Edward Snowden has resurfaced in Hong Kong, telling the South China Morning Post that he's "revealing criminality" and has no other motives. He plans to stay in Hong Kong and has more secrets to reveal.

Since the shocking revelations were revealed a week ago, Snowden has been vilified as a defector but also hailed by supporters such as WikiLeaks? Julian Assange.

?I?m neither traitor nor hero. I?m an American,? he said, adding that he was proud to be an American. ?I believe in freedom of expression. I acted in good faith but it is only right that the public form its own opinion.?

Snowden tells the Hong Kong paper, ?I will never feel safe."

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Ron Paul Fears Edward Snowden Will Be Assassinated

Tuesday, June 11, 2013 11:39 PM?Congressman Ron Paul, the Texas Republican who first became a hero to young computer technicians in 2007, said today that he fears that the United States government will assassinate Edward Snowden using either a "cruise missile or a drone missile."

Google, Microsoft and Facebook released open letters today asking the U.S. government to get the tech firms off the hook for cooperating with widespread electronic spying on Americans by the biggest tech firms as revealed by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

In Maryland, the father of Snowden's girlfriend described Snowden as a man of "strong convictions of right and wrong." But because Snowden is generally "shy and reserved," Jonathan Mills said he was shocked by the revelations.

Lindsay Mills, the 29-year-old girlfriend of Snowden, reportedly texted her father but did not reveal her whereabouts. Snowden disappeared from his Hong Kong hotel at least a day ago, and has yet to surface.

6:40 PM?While the world's attention turned to Edward Snowden's pole-dancing ballerina girlfriend today, the American Civil Liberties Union launched a legal backlash against the NSA and FBI's widespread domestic spying as Google and Apple sought permission from the U.S. government to disclose at least some of what's going on.

The ACLU lawsuit is the first challenge to the widespread phone company spying revealed by former intelligence contractor Edward Snowden, the 29-year-old American who has single-handedly brought the nation's attention back to the long forgotten issue of constant surveillance.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

2:31 PM?The Guardian's Glenn Greenwald wrote the shocking stories based on Snowden's leaks, but Greenwald knows firsthand that surveillance dragnets allegedy created to target foreign terrorists are just as easily?and clumsily?turned on U.S. citizens critical of an overreaching government that increasingly seems to exist only to protect itself from the nation it ostensibly serves. The Nation's Lee Fang describes what was revealed just two years ago:

Two years ago, a batch of stolen e-mails revealed a plot by a set of three defense contractors (Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies, and HBGary Federal) to target activists, reporters, labor unions, and political organizations. The plans ? one concocted in concert with lawyers for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to sabotage left-leaning critics, like the Center for American Progress and the SEIU, and a separate proposal to "combat" WikiLeaks and its supporters, including Glenn Greenwald, on behalf of Bank of America ? fell apart after reports of their existence were published online. But the episode serves as a reminder that the expanding spy industry could use its government-backed cyber tools to harm ordinary Americans and political dissident groups.

The episode also shows that Greenwald, who helped Snowden expose massive spying efforts in the U.S., had been targetted by spy agency contractors in the past for supporting whistleblowers and WikiLeaks.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Majority of Americans Support NSA Spying

Monday, June 10, 2013 5:42 PM?NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has left his Hong Kong hotel as Republican members of Congress call for his extradition and the White House. The 29-year-old contractor for U.S. intelligence services provided details of Washington's decade-long spree of data collection on the phone calls and Internet use of all Americans, and now fears for his life.

Nearly 19,000 people have signed the "Pardon Edward Snowden" petition at WhiteHouse.gov. Daniel Ellsberg, whose life was upended by his decision to leak the Pentagon's bleak assessment of its war in Vietnam, today is praising Snowden's "conscience and patriotism."

Meanwhile, a solid majority of Americans surveyed by Pew Research Center say they're just fine with the constant surveillance of telephone calls and Internet use?56% of Americans support the illegal domestic spying, but only 27% of Americans claim to be closely following the scandal.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

3:04 PM?Palantir, the Silicon Valley startup named for an evil all-seeing rock from Lord of the Rings reportedly behind the NSA's Prism program to spy on all Internet activity, takes the hobbit life very seriously. A company director explained in 2010 that a surveillance program called "Save the Shire" saw America's perceived enemies as orcs and dark wizards.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Sunday, June 9, 10:00PM?Edward Snowden: This is the man who told the world about PRISM, the NSA spy network capable of grabbing all your personal data?including private messages, photos and videos?with the help of America's top tech companies.

According to the Guardian, Snowden worked for the last four years at the National Security Agency. "I have no intention of hiding who I am because I know I have done nothing wrong," Snowden told The Guardian. ?I don?t want public attention because I don?t want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the U.S. government is doing.?

Following the revelation of his identity, Edward Snowden was hiding in a Hong Kong hotel.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Despite Denials, Tech Companies Collaborated With NSA

Saturday, June 8, 3:30 PM?The Guardian has revealed the existence of a second NSA surveillance network. Its name is Boundless Informant and, unlike PRISM, it covers the entire planet. Unlike PRISM, however, this network doesn't capture the data but merely organizes it, indexing countries by the metadata obtained from local phone and computer networks.

3:10 AM?The New York Times says that Facebook, Google and Apple are collaborating with the NSA, rebutting the companies' carefully worded statements. According to their sources, companies like Facebook built specific systems so the government could easily request and access their data.

This information contradicts Zuckerberg's denial, posted on his Facebook page Friday afternoon, which has the vague sound of many, many lawyers parsing their own language:

Facebook is not and has never been part of any program to give the US or any other government direct access [added emphasis] to our servers. We have never received a blanket request or court order from any government agency asking for information or metadata in bulk, like the one Verizon reportedly received. And if we did, we would fight it aggressively. We hadn't even heard of PRISM before yesterday.

Google's Larry Page posted something that sounds remarkably similar to Zuckerberg's statement:

First, we have not joined any program that would give the U.S. government?or any other government?direct access [added emphasis] to our servers. Indeed, the U.S. government does not have direct access or a ?back door? to the information stored in our data centers. We had not heard of a program called PRISM until yesterday.

According to the Times, the key words here are direct access. The government didn't have a backdoor to access the data, but these companies built a system for them:

New York Times | Tech Companies Concede to Surveillance Program

[C]ompanies were essentially asked to erect a locked mailbox and give the government the key, people briefed on the negotiations said. Facebook, for instance, built such a system for requesting and sharing the information, they said.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Obama Says PRISM Exists To "Keep Us Safe"

Friday, June 7, 3:31 PM?A mysterious Facebook-connected startup called Palantir?a Lord of the Rings reference to a magical method of surveillance?appears to be the entity that runs the NSA's PRISM program just revealed to be spying on all Americans at all times, with Barack Obama's approval. Obama was in Silicon Valley this morning shaking down the tech billionaires for campaign money:

1:36 PM?Obama claimed the massive, unprecedented national surveillance system involves only "modest encroachments on privacy." As for any political fallout in Congress, Obama also made it clear that "your duly elected representatives have been consistently informed on exactly what we're doing."

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

12:41 AM?Barack Obama, speaking live in Silicon Valley right now, said the electronic snooping "helps protect us from terrorism" and insists all the eavesdropping of every mobile call, email, instant message and file attachment is completely legal. Obama is in San Jose raising campaign money from the Internet billionaires who allow the NSA to spy on all Americans.

11:18 AM?The nine major tech companies letting the U.S. government spy on all Americans all the time have denied being part of the wholesale surveillance program run by the National Security Agency and the FBI. The spies have full access to all Internet communications and mobile call data coming in and out of the United States and Britain?but the online collective known as Anonymous has already retaliated by dumping a huge trove of NSA documents on the Internet.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

NSA Surveillance Program Is Called PRISM

Thursday, June 6, 2013 10:29 PM?The Washington Post reports that the NSA and FBI are working with the top nine U.S. tech companies?including Microsoft, Google, Facebook and Apple?to capture all your e-mails, photographs, audio, video, and documents, in addition to wiretapping all your calls.

Their spying system is called PRISM. As a response, hackers group Anonymous have published 13 secret US government documents, including documents about PRISM and the Department of Defense's Strategic Vision for controlling the internet.

Newly exposed proof that all the major telecommunication companies in America continue to hand over all phone data to the National Security Agency means that the White House's illegal mass wiretapping of people suspected of no crime has continued for a dozen years.

Along with monitoring of web traffic, email and searches through the major telecom carriers, all phone calls been wiretapped with full cooperation of the communications companies since at least 2001. That the practice is illegal hasn't stopped the White House or NSA from continuing the wholesale surveillance. Congress reliably moves to make illegal spying legal whenever there's a scandal like the current Verizon outrage.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

White House Says Spying On Millions of Verizon Calls a "Critical Tool"

Wednesday, June 6, 2013 9:03 AM?America's spy agencies have had full access to US cellphone call data to and from Verizon customers since April, the Guardian reports. The Obama Administration is defending the National Security Agency phone spying as a "critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States."

The secret order was obtained by the British newspaper and reported Wednesday night.

NSA Surveillance Scandal: Snowden Now In Moscow, Havana Tomorrow

Reuters | Obama administration defends phone record collection

The Obama administration on Thursday acknowledged that it is collecting a massive amount of telephone records from at least one carrier, reopening the debate over privacy even as it defended the practice as necessary to protect Americans against attack. Read...

AP | White House Defends Collecting Phone Records

The White House on Thursday defended the National Security Agency's need to collect telephone records of U.S. citizens, calling such information "a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats." Read...

Forbes | NSA's Verizon Spying Specifically Targeted at Americans

[T]he extent of the NSA?s surveillance shows that it has focused specifically on Americans, to the degree that its data collection has in at least one major spying incident explicitlyexcluded those outside the United States. Read...

CNN | Obama administration reacts to phone records report

A senior Obama administration official [...] stressed that the information acquired by the purported order "does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call." Read...

Data from all incoming and outgoing calls is provided to the NSA under the top secret order, which the Washington Post describes as a "routine renewal of a similar order first issued in 2006." The White House did not specifically address the Verizon order this morning, but referred to at least one telecommunications company.

Past revelations of major U.S. telecommunications companies spying on Americans suspected of no crimes has shown that the other carriers have consistently opened their lines and data banks to America's spy agencies since 2001.

[Photos by the Associated Press and Getty Images. Illustrations by Front]

You're reading Front, the showcase for the very best, must-see stories and discussions in Gawker Media blogs and the Kinja universe. Follow us on Twitter.

Source: http://front.kinja.com/nsa-surveillance-scandal-snowden-now-in-moscow-havana-511588927

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Judge: No audio testimony in Zimmerman trial

By Barbara Liston

ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) - Two voice identification experts who suggested that unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin screamed for help before he was shot and killed by George Zimmerman will not be allowed to testify at his murder trial, the judge in the case has ruled.

The ruling by Judge Debra Nelson was released on Saturday, marking the last major hurdle before opening statements in the high-profile case begin on Monday in Seminole County courthouse in Sanford, Florida.

Prosecutors had sought to call audio experts to testify about a 911 emergency call in which screams for help can be heard in the background during an altercation between Zimmerman and Martin before the shooting.

The screams could be pivotal evidence and help identify who was the aggressor on the night of the February 2012 killing. Zimmerman's family and supporters claim the voice was his, while Martin's parents insist the voice belonged to their son.

Last year, an FBI expert said a voice analysis of the call was inconclusive.

David Weinstein, a Miami lawyer and former prosecutor, called the ruling a victory for Zimmerman's defense team.

"Now there won't be a witness who can 'identify' the voice with certainty as a particular person," he said. "Each side can argue who they believe the voice belongs to and the jurors will have to decide who they hear."

Prosecutors say Zimmerman followed and confronted Martin despite a police dispatcher telling him not to pursue the 17-year-old. Zimmerman, 29, has said the two fought and that he shot Martin because he feared for his life.

An all-female jury will decide whether Zimmerman is guilty of second-degree murder, a charge that carries a potential life sentence. Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty.

Nelson said in her 12-page order that the decision does not prevent either side from playing the 911 tape and presenting witnesses familiar with Zimmerman's and Martin's voices from stating their opinions.

Lead defense attorney Mark O'Mara has called the recording "the most significant piece of evidence in the case."

Two state experts, in what they qualify as tentative or probable findings because of the poor quality of the recording, have said that the chilling screams heard in the background came from Martin.

Lawyers for Zimmerman, a former neighborhood watch volunteer, sought to block the testimony on grounds that the methods used by the state's voice recognition experts were based on questionable science.

Audio experts who testified for the defense in a lengthy pre-trial hearing argued that voice recognition techniques cannot identify an individual from screams made under extreme duress.

On Friday, the judge also dismissed a defense motion to bar certain words and phrases from the prosecution's opening statement.

She ruled prosecutors could allege that Zimmerman, who is Hispanic, "profiled" Martin but ordered them not to use the term "racial profiling."

(Additional reporting by David Adams; Writing by Kevin Gray; Editing by Eric Beech and Eric Walsh)

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/judge-blocks-audio-expert-testimony-trayvon-martin-case-153333340.html

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Pakistani Taliban kill nine foreigners at foot of world's ninth highest mountain

A Pakistani Taliban spokesman said the attack was retaliation for the killing of the group's No. 2 in a US drone strike last month.

By Taha Siddiqui,?Correspondent / June 23, 2013

Nine foreign tourists and one Pakistani guide have been shot dead in the Himalayas of northern Pakistan, a region considered relatively insulated from the country's extremist violence.

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According to the police, the attack took place in the middle of the night when armed men dressed up as local paramilitary police ambushed a base camp in the Gilgit-Baltistan region. The camp lies at the foot of Nanga Parbat, the world's ninth highest mountain, and is usually inhabited by mountaineers for climbing expeditions.?

Although the identities of the tourists have yet to be verified, Pakistan?s interior ministry has confirmed that they hailed from China, Russia, and Ukraine.

In a country already struggling with its image abroad, many in the tourism industry fear that the latest attack on foreigners will discourage thousands of other international tourists who come every year to Pakistan to one of the only remaining safe regions in the country.

?Around fifteen to twenty thousand tourists including mountaineers came to Pakistan each year during the summer season. Each one of them spends over five to six thousand dollars. The loss to Pakistan because of this attack will be in billions of rupees,? says Ghulam Nabi, a representative of Pakistan Tour Operators? Association. ?And it?s not just tourists that run away then, it also affects the foreign investor confidence."

Following the attack, this Monitor reporter received a call from an undisclosed location in which Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesperson for the banned terrorist group Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack.

?We will continue to target the foreigners until the drone strikes stop. This attack was particularly in revenge for the killing of our commander Wali-ur-Rehman. Our local Taliban faction in the area carried it out under our instructions,? Mr. Ehsan said.

Wali-ur-Rehman, who was killed last month in one of the first drone strikes after the new government in Pakistan came to power, served as the deputy commander of the TTP, operating out of the tribal region of Waziristan where the US has focused much of its drone activity. Following his killing, the Taliban withdrew an offer for?peace talks with Nawaz Sharif, whose party was elected into power after the?May 11?general elections.

The newly elected Prime Minister has openly condemned the drone attacks and has asked the United States to stop using drones. He is of the view that peace talks are one of the main options to tackle the issue of insurgency led by the Pakistani Taliban.

But analysts believe that the government?s insistence on peace talks has helped the Taliban gain strength and that is why there is an increase in their attacks once again. ?When the government and especially the leadership calls for a dialogue with the Taliban, the security forces become relaxed thinking that their job is over ? which actually gives the Taliban time to regroup and rebuild. We have seen this happen many times before,? says Khadim Hussain, a development specialist who has worked on counter-terrorism projects in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region where the Taliban are headquartered.

Mr. Hussain says that the solution to end terrorism in Pakistan can only be through a multifaceted policy which should include use of force, political strategy, and social changes.

?There is a strong ideological support in the general Pakistani population for these elements because of years of state indoctrination through education, media, mosques, etc. We need to use the same tools to create an alternative discourse for jihad and teach values that inculcate pluralistic and democratic principles,? he adds.

Source: http://rss.csmonitor.com/~r/feeds/csm/~3/c4zQrO_KbKs/Pakistani-Taliban-kill-nine-foreigners-at-foot-of-world-s-ninth-highest-mountain

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Zimmerman family reacts to judge's exclusion of expert audio ...

Robert Zimmerman, Jr., the brother of George Zimmerman, released an exclusive statement to The Daily Caller Saturday on Judge Debra Nelson?s decision today to exclude testimony from two state expert witnesses, stating that?he and the Zimmerman family ?respect the court?s ruling and are relieved the confusion that would have ensued by presenting the State?s witnesses will be avoided altogether.?

Judge Nelson issued a written ruling?Saturday morning excluding the testimony of Tom Owen and Dr. Alan Reich, which pertained to the identity of a voice heard screaming in the background of the 911 phone call ? the same phone call that captured the sound of the gunshot that killed 17-year-old ?Trayvon Martin.

The identity of the person screaming is crucial in determining whether Zimmerman?s claim that he shot Martin in self-defense is true.

Judge Nelson wrote that Owen and Reich ?have an interest in the outcome of this issue because it is their methodologies being tested.?

Ultimately, Judge Nelson sided with Zimmerman?s defense:??[The] Court accepts?that reliable comparisons of normal speech to the screams in the 911 call is not possible.?

Zimmerman, Jr. said in a statement that he was not surprised by the state attorney?s pursuit of the witnesses, ?considering the ?conviction by any means? approach the State appears to be taking.?

A series of experts testified for both sides in the pre-trial hearing, which concluded Thursday after the completion of jury selection.

James Wayman, a biometrics researcher from San Jose State University, was the final expert brought in by the defense.

?I know when to punt,? Wayman told state attorney Richard Mantei in cross-examination on Monday, indicating that the 911 tape wasn?t worth serious scientific analysis. He testified that some of the methods the state?s experts used were ?confusing on a number of accounts.?

Wayman was one of four experts brought by the defense to rebut the state?s experts? claims. ?Dr. Peter French, George Doddington and Hirotake Nikosane all testified that there was no known technology to match screaming voices to natural, normal speech.

In his analysis, Owen excluded Zimmerman as the screamer. Owen told the court on June 7 that his exclusion of Zimmerman was ?highly probable? rather than a positive determination, and admitted that he earns a commission on sales of the software used in his analysis.

Dr. Reich, a speech scientist formerly from the University of Washington, testified that he had been able to isolate words heard in the background alongside the scream, and determined that the voice was George Zimmerman?s. ?Reich attributed those utterances, along with what he said were ?religious-sounding phrases,? to Zimmerman.

Mantei sought to establish that the underlying methods used by Owen and Reich were commonly accepted in the field of speech and voice recognition.

However, Judge Nelson ruled that Owen?s and Reich?s methods did not meet any of the elements required by Florida?s Frye standard for the admissibility of evidence and expert testimony.

?The scientific methodologies and techniques using by Mr. Owen and Dr. Reich are not reliable, as they are not sufficiently established and not generally accepted in the scientific community,? Nelson wrote.

Nelson did, however, rule that people familiar with the voices of Zimmerman or Martin could testify as to the identity of the screams heard on the call.

Trayvon Martin?s father, Tracy Martin, reportedly told police after hearing the 911 call that his son was not the one screaming. ?He has since said that he believes that his son was the one screaming in the background of the call.

Zimmerman, Jr. said he has no doubts that the voice heard screaming on the recording came from his brother, adding that??many members of our family are simply unable to listen to that recording, because it is so disturbing.?

Zimmerman, Jr. also said that he was glad that a full jury was empaneled by Seminole County citizens.

?I think the result will be viewed as legitimate by the community when members of the community are the decision makers,? he said.

Opening statements begin on Monday.

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Source: http://dailycaller.com/2013/06/22/zimmerman-family-reacts-to-judges-exclusion-of-expert-audio-testimony/

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