Europol’s annual terrorism report identified 219 completed or failed attacks in 2012 in EU-member states. The numbers represent a 26 per cent rise from 2011, when 174 such incidents were reported. Europol defines a “terrorist” offense as an intentional act which may seriously damage a country or international organization when committed to intimidate a population, compel a government to act, or destabilize political, economic, or social structures.”The threat from terrorism … remains strong in Europe. It also continues to evolve from structured groups and networks to smaller EU-based groups and solo terrorists or lone actors,” the EU Terrorism Situation and Trend Report stated on Thursday. Seventeen people died last year across the EU in terror plots. The deadliest were attacks by a lone gunman in France and a bombing at Bulgaria’s Burgas airport, each of which killed seven. But according to the agency, Europe may be facing more terror troubles in the future – and those threats may come from non-European countries. Europol warned of the “volatile situation in Mali,” saying it “offers a new theater that may appear an attractive destination for those seeking to engage in armed conflict in support of religiously inspired insurgents.”"These individuals may pose a threat on their return to the EU,” the report added. France has been aiming to drive out Al-Qaeda linked insurgents in Mali since January. Europol Director Rob Wainwright has acknowledged the events in Mali, saying they are of “major interest to the security situation of the EU,” Reuters reported. The same warnings went for Syria, which saw a rise in the number of EU citizens traveling to the country as jihadists to “fight alongside groups associated with religiously inspired terrorism.” The report also said that Syria was the “destination of choice for foreign fighters in 2012,” citing the risk of EU citizens, upon their return, using their new training and knowledge for activities in Europe. EU citizens have also been detected in Somalia, where they are believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda, the report added. …
President Ueli Maurer told reporters on Sunday he saw “no need to change strategy” after Luxembourg announced its plan to ease their banking secrecy practices.Swiss Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf delivered a similar message, emphasizing Switzerland’s independence from the EU.”We are not part of the European Union and decide independently. But obviously, we also have to find a solution with the EU,” Widmer-Schlumpf told Swiss newspaper Finanz und Wirtschaft on Saturday.Luxembourg Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker announced on Wednesday that starting in 2015, the country would share personal bank account details of EU citizens, which will bring to light any illegitimate business or money laundering. Juncker hopes this new regulation will foster greater transparency in the banking industry as well as minimize tax evasion.The ‘Swiss bank account’ has recently come under fire, as the EU and US lead a campaign against untaxed funds, but Swiss officials continue to refuse an automatic exchange of information.Many foreigners profit from the policies of Swiss banking, making it a desirable destination to stash untaxed money. President Maurer believes account information is ‘comparable’ to medical confidentiality, and should remain private.”The state must absolutely respect the private sphere,” said Maurer.Like Luxembourg, Switzerland is a banking economy, but Swiss officials don’t feel it should be forced to comply with EU measures. American and Asian financial centers have also rejected the automatic exchange of information as “not the best option to combat tax evasion,” instead advocating the Swiss model of the flat tax.”The banking center’s strength also has to do with Switzerland’s political stability, its reliability and its credibility.”Swiss officials have reached a unifying consensus that the financial center will not adopt any of the banking secrecy policies of their EU neighbors.It is “dangerous time for Switzerland (but) unlike Luxembourg, Switzerland is not part of the EU,” said Maurer.When the IMF announced the Cyprus bailout package, managing director Christine Lagarde asserted the crisis was driven by the bloated banking sector, which exceeds the country’s GDP by a factor of 7- and for this reason, was ‘unsustainable’. Luxembourg’s banking sectors exceeds its GDP by a factor of 23.Cyprus isn’t the only country in the EU with a grossly disproportionate banking sector. Austria, Luxembourg, and Malta also have big banking sectors, relative to their GDP.Luxembourg is the largest international private banking sector in Europe and home to over 150 banks, including the European Investment Bank- a financial institution of the EU. Along with Austria, it has often been referred to as one of the Eurozone’s biggest champions of banking secrecy.A founder member of the euro, Luxembourg will now ‘open’ information on its assets, which total more than $1 trillion, to other EU member states. …
Credit Suisse spokesman Marc Dosch told the Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that the bank is cracking down on tax evaders, and all account holders will need to provide documents proving account funds have been taxed.“We’re advising German customers to check their personal situation and if necessary to clean it up,” Dosch told Bloomberg.“If that doesn’t happen we will have to terminate the client relationship at some point,” said Dosch. The policy applies to all accounts held by German clients, who are being asked to ‘clean up’ their accounts. The move by Credit Suisse relates to the German parliament’s decision in December to reject a tax treaty between Germany and Switzerland, which would have retroactively taxed all the money German’s held in Swiss bank accounts ($12.9 billion), at a rate between 21-41%, and then starting in 2013, their accounts would be taxed at German rates. Under this condition, German tax evaders would remain anonymous. The bill was expected to pass, but was blocked by Germany’s upper chamber, saying the agreement didn’t go ‘far enough’, Spiegel reports.After the legislation was blocked, Swiss banks began to watch German clients’ accounts much more meticiulously. UBS, Switzerland’s biggest bank by assets, is also asking German clients to ‘clean up’ their accounts, a spokesperson confirmed on Sunday.“We support clients in regularizing their assets,” Christoph Meier, a Zurich-based spokesman told Bloomberg. Julius Baer is also following suit. “We are encouraging our [German] clients to carefully assess their fiscal duties and advising them to seek professional advice,” Jan Vonder Muehll, a spokesman said today. Switzerland is an attractive destination for offshore wealth and is trying to jettison its image as an offshore haven of illicit wealth, largely in reaction to a crackdown by US and European governments.Swiss officials began to retreat from absolute banking secrecy in 2008, after OECD countries threatened to put Switzerland on an offshore ‘black list’. Tax evasion has become an increasingly hot political topic, and last week the issue blew up on when the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists offshore account information in the British Virgin Islands, the Cook Islands, and other ‘havens’, even releasing identities. Governments are now cracking down, or at least launching a public campaign that depicts them cracking down, on offshore tax-evasion. The European Commission, along with the G20, have made it their goal to oust secret banking regimes, but Austria and Luxembourg haven’t officially signed on. The two countries are now under pressure from the EU commission to make foreign depositor information available and transparent. …
Supermarkets and restaurants add fuel to fire embracing a throw-away culture and binning tonnes of perfectly good products each year.“At the moment we pay supermarkets and other food businesses to trash the planet, to grow food, and then waste a third of it. We need to make a demand as consumers that they change their behavior as well,” Tristram Stuart, author of ‘Waste: Uncovering the Global Food Scandal’ told RT.“When we go to a supermarket and see that all the carrots are straight and all the apples look the same we need to say, ‘Hold on a sec, why do all these fruits and vegetables look the same? What did that supermarket do with all the wonky ones?’ and demand that actually they stock all the vegetables as they’re grown,” Stuart added. Oxfam warns that over 13 million people in the UK do not have enough to live on. The rest spend an average of 11 per cent of their budgets on food. The head of energy and environment at the UK’s Institute of Mechanical Engineers, Dr. Tim Fox, was quoted as saying that, “In developed countries like the UK, food waste is largely the result of commercial practices, such as the demand for aesthetically pleasing food products, and wasteful behavior in the home.”As a matter of fact, according to a survey by the institute, more than 80 per cent of British shoppers would be willing to buy fruit and vegetables which are not perfect in shape or color. “This survey clearly indicates that, despite perceptions held by commercial buyers, UK consumers are willing to purchase imperfect-looking fruit and vegetables. This food, which is perfectly good to eat, is often rejected by buyers before it leaves the farm as it does not meet cosmetic requirements,” Fox said. While landfill sites become the final destination for much of the UK’s ugly fruit and vegetables, volunteers at the so-called People’s Kitchen in East London have found their way to solve the problem. The challenge for the eco-conscious group of people is to save food that would have been otherwise thrown away by shops and markets at the end of a day’s trading. They are treating local residents to free meals.“As a chef I’ve seen food being wasted at every restaurant and every event I’ve ever done, and on a bigger scale at the supermarkets and an even larger scale at these big markets,” Tom Fletcher from Beggar’s Banquet told RT. Beggar’s Banquet has been salvaging surplus food from London’s restaurants and markets to “funnel the waste product of a destructive economy into one of abundance.” “The food that we are taking is not good enough to sell, but too good to throw away…It’s just kind of OK to get someone to throw it in the bin when there’s people starving. Not just in other countries where the food came from, but in this country,” Fletcher explained. While every link in the supply chain continues to throw away perfectly good produce, up to 50 per cent of food bought from supermarkets is thrown away. Fiercely competitive stores attract customers with ‘buy-one-get-one-free’ deals. Consumers are lured into buying excessive quantities of food half of which ends up in the bin. “I spent many years visiting the skips of supermarkets and literally, you open up a skip and what you see is an array of perfectly good vegetables and fruit that have been thrown away. And most people think, ‘Gosh, how disgusting to get food out of a bin.’ It’s true, it is disgusting. But what’s disgusting is that we’re throwing away fit-for-consumption food,” Stuart told RT. …
In the public policy basket case that is my
native state of California, one of the most underrated of the many
mind-blowing statistical measures of decline is the fact that–for
the first time in recorded history–a
majority of the Golden State’s residents were born there. Which
helps explain, among other things, why California in 2010, again
for the first time,
failed to pick up a seat in the House of Representatives. A
state whose very identity and economic engine were founded on
attracting dreamers from elsewhere has not really come to grips
with the fact that it is no longer doing that anymore.
Well, here comes an even ruder shock: Not only are a majority of
residents native-born across the entire state, a majority of
residents are native-born in that
By the end of the year, the majority of residents in Los Angeles
County will be native Californians for the first time in recorded
to a recent report. And the share of residents who are native
Californians is expected to increase to nearly two-thirds by
The report, released by University of Southern California’s
Population and Dynamics Research Group, shows a reversal of the
long-running influx of immigrants into the city. [...]
“It’s an extraordinary moment in Los
Angeles history–everything we know about L.A. will change,” said
report co-author Dowell Myers in a statement. [...]
Chapman University urban theorist Joel Kotkin – ;on
a panel that discussed the recent findings ;– said the
decline in the number of immigrants is connected to the suffering
local economy, which has been stagnant for about a decade. That
decline, he believes, will undoubtedly have ramifications for the
“You can go back to Athens, Baghdad, London, Berlin in 1900, New
York in the early part of the century and L.A. more recently, they
were made and recreated from someplace else,” Kotkin said. “When
you lose that and in such a dramatic way, I think it’s going to
have some effect on the dynamism.”
Researchers also found that – as with immigrants – fewer people
from other U.S. states are drawn to California, prompting concerns
that the Golden State will be unable to meet its needs in the
future for labor.
Reason on California
here. Link via the Twitter feed of Joseph
In 2010 after Hollywood studios obtained injunctions against the site’s former hosting providers, The Pirate Bay turned to the Swedish Pirate Party for support.
The party, which has long stood for the same free sharing of information ideals as The Pirate Bay, agreed to begin supplying bandwidth to the site. For three years the arrangement went along just fine, but now there is a serious challenge to the status quo.
This Tuesday the Pirate Party announced that they had received legal threats from the Swedish Rights Alliance. Stop serving TPB with Internet connectivity, they ordered, or face legal action in a week. But can the party be held liable as a traditional host might?
Yesterday, in an attempt to illustrate the relationship the party has with the site, former Pirate Bay spokesman Peter Sunde described the technical setup and how it differs from a regular hosting arrangement.
“There is no question of the Pirate Party being a final destination for The Pirate Bay, but rather a stretch of road. [The party's systems] store no data, there is no data in them. Everything is in cables only temporarily,” he wrote.
But despite the technical differences between hosting and simply pushing data around, the threats from Rights Alliance persist.
Serious Tubes, the company that sells bandwidth to the Pirate Party, also received similar threats from Rights Alliance. They were ordered to stop providing bandwidth to the Pirate Party and must now consider their position and reveal their intentions by next Tuesday, February 26.
But not content with moving at least two steps up the bandwidth chain with legal threats, new information has revealed that Rights Alliance have taken things even further by threatening to sue Portlane, the Swedish Internet provider that supplies Serious Tubes with bandwidth.
To underline just how detached this situation has become, picture this. The Pirate Bay (hosted who-knows-where) is connected directly (or maybe indirectly) to the Pirate Party. In turn the party are connected to Serious Tubes, who in turn are connected to Portlane. So what we have here is the supplier of the supplier of the supplier of bandwidth to The Pirate Bay coming under legal threat. That’s quite a chain.
Nevertheless, indications are that the long chain of intermediaries, all of which act as “mere conduits” as far as Internet connectivity is concerned, are taking the threats fairly seriously.
A little while ago Cluez, a member of the Pirate Party’s admin group, told TorrentFreak via party founder Rick Falkvinge that Portlane are no longer involved in the supply chain to Pirate Bay.
“Serious Tubes routed past Portlane on their own initiative, because of a threat against Portlane, as to not put Portlane in unnecessary trouble,” he confirmed.
But before readers begin frantically opening new tabs to check that The Pirate Bay is still alive, rest assured that panic is not required. Measures are already in place to safeguard the site’s uptime.
“Obviously, Serious Tubes (and Pirate Party) are now getting their bandwidth from elsewhere,” comments Rasmus Fleischer, one of the founders of Piratbyrån, the group that founded The Pirate Bay.
“No one should think that TPB will stand or fall solely with the Pirate Party supply.”
It’s clear that The Pirate Bay are well prepared for these kinds of attacks on their infrastructure, as the lack of downtime shows. Furthermore, when their entire site can be squeezed onto the smallest of USB sticks, reappearance in new locations is possible in a matter of minutes.
TorrentFreak contacted Portlane for an official comment but we are yet to receive a response.
Source: Pirate Bay Bandwidth Supplier Disconnected, But The Ship Sails On
POINT REYES, Calif. — A man has been swept to sea and drowned while trying to save his dog hit by a rogue wave on a Northern California beach.The Coast Guard says the man and his wife were walking on the beach near Point Reyes on New Year’s Day when a wave overtook the dog. Point Reyes is a popular tourist destination about 30 miles northwest of San Francisco.Read More…