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Organizers of a private Mars colonization effort may have to rethink their ambitious plans, a new study reports.

An analysis led by students at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has identified a few purported problems with the blueprint laid out by the Netherlands-based nonprofit Mars One, which aims to land four people on the Red Planet in 2025 as the vanguard of a permanent settlement.

“We’re not saying, black and white, Mars One is infeasible,” study co-author Olivier de Weck, a professor of aeronautics and astronautics and engineering systems at MIT, said in a statement. “But we do think it’s not really feasible under the assumptions they’ve made. We’re pointing to technologies that could be helpful to invest in with high priority, to move them along the feasibility path.” [Mars One's Red Planet Colony Project (Gallery)]

The Dutch nonprofit Mars One aims to land four colonists on the Red Planet in 2023. Do you want to be one of them?

The study team looked at many different aspects of the proposed Mars One mission, from the rockets needed to get gear to the Red Planet to the details of how settlers would grow their food. The results are sobering for would-be colonists, more than 200,000 of whom have applied to be a one-way Mars One astronaut. (There are no plans at the moment to bring the settlers back to Earth.)

For example, Mars One aims to source the colony’s drinking water on-site by baking Red Planet soil, which is known to harbor water ice, at least in some locations. But the technology needed to do this is not yet ready to fly on a space mission, study authors said.

Furthermore, the new analysis suggests that growing crops within settlers’ habitats, as Mars One envisions, would generate enough oxygen to make the living spaces a fire hazard.

Piping in nitrogen could lower the oxygen to safe levels, researchers said, but this fix would likely deprive the colony of a vital gas needed to compensate for leakage into the surrounding Martian atmosphere. The possible end result? A space that would quickly become unlivable, suffocating colonists after about 10 weeks, the study found.

There are ways to prevent this scenario growing food in isolated greenhouses, for example, or implementing an oxygen-extraction system. But the best alternative is to nix the idea of Mars farms and bring all the colony’s food from Earth, the study determined.

“We found [that] carrying food is always cheaper than growing it locally,” said study lead author Sydney Do, an MIT grad student. “On Mars, you need lighting and watering systems, and for lighting, we found it requires 875 LED [light-emitting diode] systems, which fail over time. So you need to provide spare parts for that, making the initial system heavier.”

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Private Mars Colony Project May Not Be Feasible, Study Suggests

The Mars One Foundation’s plan to send colonists to Mars in 2024 is judged unrealistic.

The Mars One Foundation’s ambitious plan to send colonists to Mars in 2024 is an unrealistic goal given current technology levels, according to a group of Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduate engineering students.

Most troubling for the tens of thousands of would-be Mars colonists who’ve applied with the foundation, lead author Sydney Do wrote that growing crops in a Mars habitat would quickly “produce unsafe oxygen levels.”

Do, along with colleagues Koki Ho, Samuel Schreiner, Andrew Owens, and Olivier de Weck, published an assessment of the Mars One program’s timetable and likelihood of success, presenting the paper at the 65th International Astronautical Congress in Toronto.

The Mars One Foundation, a non-profit based in the Netherlands, held an open casting call for would-be Mars colonists last summer, with the idea of forming a 40-candidate group that would begin training in 2015 for a series of colonizing missions launching in about a decade. More than 100,000 people from around the globe applied, according to the foundation, including 30,000 Americans.

Mars One founder and CEO Bas Lansdorp claimed last year that it would cost in the neighborhood of $6 billion to send the first four-person crew to Mars, with additional colonists sent later.

The good news for Mars One is that Do and his colleagues think that first mission could be done for even cheaper.

“The space logistics analysis revealed that, for the best scenario considered, establishing the first crew fora Mars settlement will require approximately 15 Falcon Heavy launchers and require $4.5 billion in funding,” the MIT students wrote.

Unfortunately, that’s about the only positive about the Mars One program in the researchers’ paper, titled “An Independent Assessment of the Technical Feasibility of the Mars One Mission Plan.”

Do and his colleagues figure the cost of maintaining the Mars colony while adding additional colonists would grow and grow, perhaps prohibitively. Though the colonists would presumably try to utilize Martian materials as much as possible, the graduate students estimated that only 8 percent of the colony’s needs would be met by in-situ resource utilization (ISRU).

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MIT Students Bash Mars Colonization Plan



Air strength at the heart of eastern defence
The new NATO Secretary General visits fighter pilots from Canada, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and the United States, as well as the AWACS aircraft and crew at ask Air Base in …

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Air strength at the heart of eastern defence – Video

Zutphen, The Netherlands, Sept 25, 2014 – (ACN Newswire) – Esperite (Euronext:ESP), the European leader in stem cells cryopreservation now entering the fields of predictive medicine and translational regenerative medicine R&D, implements its own proprietary new technology for clinical grade production of autologous mesenchymal and stromal stem cells in its business unit The Cell Factory. The …

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Esperite's R&D Division "The Cell Factory" implements GMP Stem Cell Bioproduction Technology and aims the Cerebral …

North Atlantic Treaty Organization(NATO),military alliance established by the North Atlantic Treaty (also called the Washington Treaty) of April 4, 1949, which sought to create a counterweight to Soviet armies stationed in central and eastern Europe after World War II. Its original members were Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Joining the original signatories were Greece and Turkey (1952); West Germany (1955; from 1990 as Germany); Spain (1982); the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland (1999); Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia (2004); and Albania and Croatia (2009). France withdrew from the integrated military command of NATO in 1966 but remained a member of the organization; it resumed its position in NATOs military command in 2009.

The heart of NATO is expressed in Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty, in which the signatory members agree that

an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in 2001, after terrorist attacks organized by exiled Saudi Arabian millionaire Osama bin Laden destroyed the World Trade Center in New York City and part of the Pentagon outside Washington, D.C., killing some 3,000 people.

Article 6 defines the geographic scope of the treaty as covering an armed attack on the territory of any of the Parties in Europe or North America. Other articles commit the allies to strengthening their democratic institutions, to building their collective military capability, to consulting each other, and to remaining open to inviting other European states to join.

After World War II in 1945, western Europe was economically exhausted and militarily weak (the western Allies had rapidly and drastically reduced their armies at the end of the war), and newly powerful communist parties had arisen in France and Italy. By contrast, the Soviet Union had emerged from the war with its armies dominating all the states of central and eastern Europe, and by 1948 communists under Moscows sponsorship had consolidated their control of the governments of those countries and suppressed all noncommunist political activity. What became known as the Iron Curtain, a term popularized by Winston Churchill, had descended over central and eastern Europe. Further, wartime cooperation between the western Allies and the Soviets had completely broken down. Each side was organizing its own sector of occupied Germany, so that two German states would emerge, a democratic one in the west and a communist one in the east.

In 1948 the United States launched the Marshall Plan, which infused massive amounts of economic aid to the countries of western and southern Europe on the condition that they cooperate with each other and engage in joint planning to hasten their mutual recovery. As for military recovery, under the Brussels Treaty of 1948, the United Kingdom, France, and the Low CountriesBelgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourgconcluded a collective-defense agreement called the Western European Union. It was soon recognized, however, that a more formidable alliance would be required to provide an adequate military counterweight to the Soviets.

By this time Britain, Canada, and the United States had already engaged in secret exploratory talks on security arrangements that would serve as an alternative to the United Nations (UN), which was becoming paralyzed by the rapidly emerging Cold War. In March 1948, following a virtual communist coup dtat in Czechoslovakia in February, the three governments began discussions on a multilateral collective-defense scheme that would enhance Western security and promote democratic values. These discussions were eventually joined by France, the Low Countries, and Norway and in April 1949 resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty.

Spurred by the North Korean invasion of South Korea in June 1950, the United States took steps to demonstrate that it would resist any Soviet military expansion or pressures in Europe. General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the leader of the Allied forces in western Europe in World War II, was named Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) by the North Atlantic Council (NATOs governing body) in December 1950. He was followed as SACEUR by a succession of American generals.

The North Atlantic Council, which was established soon after the treaty came into effect, is composed of ministerial representatives of the member states, who meet at least twice a year. At other times the council, chaired by the NATO secretary-general, remains in permanent session at the ambassadorial level. Just as the position of SACEUR has always been held by an American, the secretary-generalship has always been held by a European.

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) — Encyclopedia …

Vodafone Group Plc (VOD) Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao, asked today whether John Malones Liberty Global Plc (LBTYA) might be a good fit for the U.K. wireless carrier, said he would consider it for the right price.

Colao made the comments in a brief interview with Bloomberg News after making a presentation to investors at a conference organized by Goldman Sachs Group Inc. in New York. Goldman analyst Tim Boddy, citing the closed-door presentation, said in a note that Vodafone may consider a transformational M&A deal in the longer term.

Vodafone, the second-largest mobile-phone carrier by subscribers, spent the past two years acquiring cable and broadband providers in Germany and Spain to help stem declining wireless service revenue. That has put more pressure on Liberty Global, which owns cable assets in Vodafones European markets including Germany, the U.K. and the Netherlands.

Liberty Global jumped 4.2 percent to $43.86 at the close today in New York, the biggest gain since February. The London-based company ended the day with a market value of $33.2 billion. Including debt, the cable companys enterprise value is almost $74 billion, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Vodafone, based in Newbury, England, fell as much as 2.7 percent. It closed 0.8 percent lower at 203.45 pence in London, valuing the carrier at 53.9 billion pounds ($87.5 billion).

Vodafone Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao. Close

Vodafone Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao.

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Vodafone Group Plc Chief Executive Officer Vittorio Colao.

Marcus Smith, a Liberty Global spokesman, declined to comment.

As more consumers download and watch videos on smartphones and tablets, putting strain on carriers networks, Vodafone is adding faster mobile technology and broadband Internet lines — spending a total of 19 billion pounds through March 2016 — in a network-improvement plan called Project Spring. The investment is funded with cash from the sale of its stake in Verizon Wireless for $130 billion.

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Vodafone CEO Says Liberty May Be Good Fit for Right Price

Coordinates: 505234.16N 42519.24E / 50.8761556N 4.4220111E / 50.8761556; 4.4220111

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO; pron.: /neto/ NAY-toh; French: Organisation du trait de l’Atlantique Nord (OTAN)), also called the (North) Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance based on the North Atlantic Treaty which was signed on 4April 1949. The organization constitutes a system of collective defence whereby its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party. NATO’s headquarters are in Brussels, Belgium, one of the 28 member states across North America and Europe, the newest of which, Albania and Croatia, joined in April 2009. An additional 22countries participate in NATO’s “Partnership for Peace”, with 15other countries involved in institutionalized dialogue programs. The combined military spending of all NATO members constitutes over 70% of the world’s defence spending.[3]

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However, the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two US supreme commanders. The course of the Cold War led to a rivalry with nations of the Warsaw Pact, which formed in 1955. The first NATO Secretary General, Lord Ismay, stated in 1949 that the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down.” Doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defence against a prospective Soviet invasiondoubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO’s military structure in 1966.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became drawn into the breakup of Yugoslavia, and conducted their first military interventions in Bosnia from 1992 to 1995 and later Yugoslavia in 1999. Politically, the organization sought better relations with former Cold War rivals, which culminated with several former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance in 1999 and 2004. The September 2001 attacks signalled the only occasion in NATO’s history that Article5 of the North Atlantic treaty has been invoked as an attack on all NATO members.[5] After the attack, troops were deployed to Afghanistan under the NATO-led ISAF, and the organization continues to operate in a range of roles, including sending trainers to Iraq, assisting in counter-piracy operations[6] and most recently in 2011 enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1973. The less potent Article 4, which merely invokes consultation among NATO members has been invoked three times, and only by Turkey: once in 2003 over the Second Iraq War, and twice in 2012 over the Syrian civil war after the downing of an unarmed Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet and after a mortar was fired at Turkey from Syria.[7]

The Treaty of Brussels, signed on 17March 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France, and the United Kingdom, is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union’s Defence Organization in September 1948. However, participation of the United States was thought necessary both to counter the military power of the USSR and to prevent the revival of nationalist militarism, so talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately resulting in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on 4April 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states plus the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland.[9] Popular support for the Treaty was not unanimous, and some Icelanders participated in a pro-neutrality, anti-membership riot in March 1949.

The members agreed that an armed attack against any one of them in Europe or North America would be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agreed that, if an armed attack occurred, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence, would assist the member being attacked, taking such action as it deemed necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area. The treaty does not require members to respond with military action against an aggressor. Although obliged to respond, they maintain the freedom to choose the method by which they do so. This differs from ArticleIV of the Treaty of Brussels, which clearly states that the response will be military in nature. It is nonetheless assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. The treaty was later clarified to include both the member’s territory and their “vessels, forces or aircraft” above the Tropic of Cancer, including some Overseas departments of France.[10]

The creation of NATO brought about some standardization of allied military terminology, procedures, and technology, which in many cases meant European countries adopting U.S. practices. The roughly 1300Standardization Agreements codified many of the common practices that NATO has achieved. Hence, the 7.6251 NATO rifle cartridge was introduced in the 1950s as a standard firearm cartridge among many NATO countries. Fabrique Nationale de Herstal’s FAL became the most popular 7.62 NATO rifle in Europe and served into the early 1990s.[citation needed] Also, aircraft marshalling signals were standardized, so that any NATO aircraft could land at any NATO base. Other standards such as the NATO phonetic alphabet have made their way beyond NATO into civilian use.

The outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950 was crucial for NATO as it raised the apparent threat of all Communist countries working together, and forced the alliance to develop concrete military plans. SHAPE, the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe, was formed as a consolidated command structure, and began work under Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower in January 1951.[12] The 1952 Lisbon conference, seeking to provide the forces necessary for NATO’s Long-Term Defence Plan, called for an expansion to ninety-six divisions. However this requirement was dropped the following year to roughly thirty-five divisions with heavier use to be made of nuclear weapons. At this time, NATO could call on about fifteen ready divisions in Central Europe, and another ten in Italy and Scandinavia. Also at Lisbon, the post of Secretary General of NATO as the organization’s chief civilian was created, and Lord Ismay was eventually appointed to the post.[15]

In September 1952, the first major NATO maritime exercises began; Exercise Mainbrace brought together 200 ships and over 50,000 personnel to practice the defence of Denmark and Norway.[16] Other major exercises that followed included Exercise Grand Slam and Exercise Longstep, naval and amphibious exercises in the Mediterranean Sea,[17] Italic Weld, a combined air-naval-ground exercise in northern Italy, Grand Repulse, involving the British Army on the Rhine (BAOR), the Netherlands Corps and Allied Air Forces Central Europe (AAFCE), Monte Carlo, a simulated atomic air-ground exercise involving the Central Army Group, and Weldfast, a combined amphibious landing exercise in the Mediterranean Sea involving British, Greek, Italian, Turkish, and U.S. naval forces.[citation needed]

Greece and Turkey also joined the alliance in 1952, forcing a series of controversial negotiations, in which the United States and Britain were the primary disputants, over how to bring the two countries into the military command structure.[12] While this overt military preparation was going on, covert stay-behind arrangements initially made by the Western European Union to continue resistance after a successful Soviet invasion, including Operation Gladio, were transferred to NATO control.[citation needed] Ultimately unofficial bonds began to grow between NATO’s armed forces, such as the NATO Tiger Association and competitions such as the Canadian Army Trophy for tank gunnery.[citation needed]

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North Atlantic Treaty Organization: Definition from …



Freedom: China vs. the West (ranywayz vlog 32)
List of websites blocked in mainland China: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Websites_blocked_in_China Legal age of consent: The Netherlands: 16, China: 14 http://www.ageofconsent.com/ageofconsent.htm…

By: Ran Zhang

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Freedom: China vs. the West (ranywayz vlog 32) – Video

Aug 312014

San Francisco, California (PRWEB) August 29, 2014

10 Best SEOs list of top search engine optimization experts comprises individuals who have proven themselves flexible and capable of adapting to the changes of search engine algorithms in order to stay on top. While some of these professionals offer consultancy services and may be contacted by businesses to advocate the best marketing strategies in terms of SEO, other SEO experts included on the list have completely different stories to tell. The best SEO experts have also utilized their skills in managing their personal e-commerce websites and have built profitable Internet empires that thrive solely on traffic fetched from the search engines.

Zachary Chen, co-founder and CEO of Local PhD & Impressions Holdings, tops the 2014 list of best SEO experts. Zack Chen was introduced to online marketing and search engine optimization during a college lecture. He later joined hands with two experts in web-based applications to build an online marketing empire that receives millions of visitors from a diverse set of industries.

Matijn Scheijbeler, lead SEO at The Next Web, stands at second place in the 2014 list of SEO experts. After graduating from Hogeschool van Utrecht, Netherlands, Martijn quickly made his way to become one of the top SEO consultants around the world. He currently heads the online marketing team of The Next Web, the worlds largest online publication that fetches more than 7 million monthly visits.

Dan Petrovic, managing director of Dejan SEO, comes at third place in 10 Best SEOs list of best SEO professionals. Dejan SEO is one of the most popular search marketing firms of Australia. Dan also appears as guest lecturer in numerous colleges and universities and speaks on topics related to search marketing.

10 Best SEO notes that not every SEO expert listed in the list offers marketing consultancy services. However, businesses can and should follow their SEO techniques and practices to improve their website SEO.

10 Best SEOs list of top SEO experts is an invaluable compilation that gives great insight on the efforts of individuals who proved themselves by virtue of their hard work and determination. The work of these professionals is an inspiration for others to follow.

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Top SEO Experts Ranked by 10 Best SEO

Geert Wilderss Freedom Party may lose support in todays European Parliament elections in the Netherlands, polls indicate, bucking a trend thats seeing support for anti-European Union groups rise elsewhere.

Amid the debt crisis thats roiled Europe, parties that share Wilderss anti-EU message are challenging for first place in countries such as the U.K. and France. In the Netherlands, while support has plunged for Mark Ruttes Liberal-led coalition with the Labor Party, the biggest beneficiary has been the D66 party, which is campaigning for a strong Netherlands in a strong Europe.

Polls this week showed the Freedom Party with enough backing for four of the 26 Dutch seats at stake, compared with the five they won in the last elections five years ago. D66 is on course for first place, taking five seats, the polls suggest.

Wilders sought this week to galvanize backing for his party by cutting a star representing the Netherlands out of an EU flag in Brussels. Im taking this star back with me to the Netherlands and theyre never getting it back from us in Brussels, he said in front of photographers and television crews outside the European Parliament.

The Freedom Party leader told reporters in The Hague last week that his aim was to form an alliance with similar-minded parties, including the U.K. Independence Party and Frances Front National, to repatriate powers to national capitals.

Voting takes place today in the Netherlands as well as Britain three days ahead of most of the 28-nation bloc. While no results can be published before voting ends on May 25, NOS television will be giving an indication of how the Dutch have cast their ballots when polls close at 9 p.m. local time.

A weighted average of polls conducted by TNS Nipo and published by PollWatch 2014 shows the Liberals and Labor are set to take seven of the 26 Dutch seats between them. Thats about half the level of support they got in the September 2012 general election, when they won a majority in parliament between them.

Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem announced 6 billion euros ($8.3 billion) of austerity measures last year on top of a previously outlined 16 billion-euro package. Ruttes coalition has been continuing to lose popularity after announcing cuts in health-care spending and changes to the pension system and the housing market.

The European elections could lead to more tensions within the coalition, Sarah de Lange, associate professor of political science at the University of Amsterdam, said in a phone interview.

To contact the reporter on this story: Corina Ruhe in Amsterdam at cruhe@bloomberg.net

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Wilders May Suffer Setback in Europe Vote, Polls Indicate

A weekly column that puts the fun into learning

Lets admit it. Most of us get a little thrill out of finding new ways to save taxes. This is exactly what corporate biggies such as Google, IBM and Amazon have been doing too. Theyve been cleverly routing their global profits through subsidiaries set up in destinations called tax havens. This has been going on for long. But, having been denied their fair share of taxes, governments are now cracking the whip.

What is it?

Tax havens are countries that have low or near-zero tax rates, especially for some kinds of transactions. Switzerland, Singapore, Hong Kong and Mauritius are the popular ones. But the list includes others such as Luxembourg, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, the Netherlands and Bermuda too.

Multinationals set up their holding companies in these locations which then invest in operations located at other high-tax locations. So, even as the company carries out its real business in a high-tax regime such as the US or India, its able to dodge the taxman by showing a large share of profits as emanating from a tax haven.

But its not just companies; tax havens have something on offer for rich individuals too, promising complete confidentiality. Now youre wondering if everything about tax havens is so clandestine, why havent they been banned at the outset? Well, this is not how things were meant to be. When tax havens first sprang up, they came up in small countries endowed with limited natural resources or other competitive advantages. Such nations saw near-zero tax rates as a good way to attract reluctant foreign capital. But with corporations and affluent individuals taking advantage of the secrecy to save taxes, the whole thing went awry.

Why is it important?

Irked by tax revenue losses, governments have now begun to come down heavily on the menace of tax havens, threatening to revoke tax treaties and demanding more disclosures from them. In India, the phenomenon of routing black money to tax havens has given birth to what is called round-tripping. Foreign direct inflows from Mauritius, Indias second biggest source, totalled $4.5 billion during April-Feb of the last fiscal. But is the tiny island nation really such as industrial powerhouse? Not really. Cynics suspect a large part of the investment flowing in from Mauritius is actually Indian money sent abroad and routed back to avoid taxes. If its Mauritius for us, its British Virgin Islands for UK and Luxembourg for Russia.

The worry is that the anonymity that tax havens offer allows other kinds of illegal activity to flourish too. The world over billions made through illegal routes such as drug trafficking and arms smuggling are said to be laundered through tax havens.

Why should I care?

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All you wanted to know about tax havens

By Peter Campbell

Published: 15:55 EST, 9 May 2014 | Updated: 15:55 EST, 9 May 2014

The US drugs giant that plans to take over AstraZeneca has almost 200 offices registered in tax havens across the world, the Daily Mail can reveal.

Pfizer uses a complex network to run its global businesses. Almost half of its subsidiaries some 40 per cent are based in offshore shelters or other low-tax regimes such as the Cayman Islands and Jersey.

The revelations come after it emerged that the company took 67m more from the UK Government than it paid in tax over three years.

Revelation: Almost half of Pfizer’s subsidiaries are based in offshore shelters or other low-tax regimes such as the Cayman Islands

Some 85 Pfizer companies are registered in the US state of Delaware, a highly controversial tax shelter. It also has dozens of businesses registered in the Netherlands, Ireland and Luxembourgs.

In total, 185 of its 468 subsidiary companies are based in low-tax areas.

The group has an estimated 43bn nestled away in havens a sum tax experts expect to grow by 6bn a year.

Tax accountant Richard Murphy said: It has accumulated 43bn in tax havens across the world, and that doesnt happen by accident. Its profits from everywhere outside the US end up in low-tax jurisdictions and there is no doubt that the same would happen if it acquired AstraZeneca.

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US drugs giant Pfizer builds up 43bn in tax havens

Security researcher Sergio Demian Lerner estimates that Satoshi – the pseudonymous creator of the currency, mined around 1,000,000BTC in the early days, but has never spent any. At a price of around $400 each, that would make him worth around $400 million.

Libertarians have some good points. I certainly believe that people should have as much liberty and freedom to choose and freedom to act as is possible, while compatible with a society that is in other ways fair and functional. But the notion that they can free currency from governments is really misguided. One of the few functions of government that I thought was unassailable was providing a stable currency.

What is a stable currency? It used to be a currency that was either made up of or backed by gold or silver. In modern era its more a currency thats backed by the full faith and credit of the government. Bitcoin is backed by the full faith and credit of wasted computer time.

Wasted computer time. Its like stock in a company that doesnt do anything. One of these totally speculative IPOs. Its a promise. I think its a distraction.

I think the enthusiasm for Bitcoin will, if were lucky, will help us make some progress towards a more rational digital currency. Ultimately the providers of those currencies are probably going to be governments.

Borenstein awknoledges that many people have made their fortunes on the huge price fluctuations seen by Bitcoin in recent years, he says it is nothing more concrete than the tulip bubble seen in the Netherlands around 1637. In March that year a single bulb of one species of tulip was being traded for around ten times the income of the average skilled craftsman.

“I have no doubt that not only have people made a fortune on Bitcoins, but some people in the fortune will make a fortune on Bitcoins, because it’s a speculation. Some people will lose a fortune. At the level of an investment it may be a little more than tulips but on the level of a technological indicator it may be a pointer towards a multi-currency digital future,” he said.

First Virtual took initial funding, including from established firms like GE Capital, and floated in a 1996 IPO. It was later bought out by DoubleClick in the dot com crash.

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Bitcoin 'a distraction', says online payment pioneer

Two years ago, a Dutch law firm prepared a pitch in Moscow to Russian businesses: come to the Netherlands and we can help you avoid taxes and keep your assets safe. Russia's biggest oil, gas, mining and retail companies — including some run by billionaires close to President Vladimir Putin — have moved tens of billions of corporate assets to the Netherlands and other European countries often …

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How Russia Inc. Moves Billions Offshore — and a Handful of Tax Havens May Hold Key to Sanctions

Summary: The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a military alliance of countries from Europe and North America promising collective defence. Currently numbering 26 nations, NATO was formed initially to counter the communist East and has searched for a new identity in the post-Cold War world. Background:

In the aftermath of the Second World War, with ideologically opposed Soviet armies occupying much of Eastern Europe and fears still high over German aggression, the nations of Western Europe searched for a new form of military alliance to protect themselves. In March 1948 the Brussels Pact was signed between France, Britain, Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, creating a defence alliance called the Western European Union, but there was a feeling that any effective alliance would have to include the US and Canada.

In the US there was widespread concern about both the spread of Communism in Europe strong Communist parties had formed in France and Italy – and potential aggression from Soviet armies, leading the US to seek talks about an Atlantic alliance with the west of Europe. The perceived need for a new defensive unit to rival the Eastern bloc was exacerbated by the Berlin Blockade of 1949, leading to an agreement that same year with many nations from Europe. Some nations opposed membership and still do, e.g. Sweden, Ireland.

NATO was created by the North Atlantic Treaty, also called the Washington Treaty, which was signed on April 5th 1949. There were twelve signatories, including the United States, Canada and Britain (full list below). The head of NATO’s military operations is the Supreme Allied Commander Europe, a position always held by an American so their troops dont come under foreign command, answering to the North Atlantic Council of ambassadors from member nations, which is led by the Secretary General of NATO, who is always European. The centrepiece of the NATO treaty is Article 5, promising collective security:

“an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all; and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.”

NATO had, in many ways, been formed to secure West Europe against the threat of Soviet Russia, and the Cold War of 1945 to 1991 saw an often tense military standoff between NATO on one side and the Warsaw Pact nations on the other. However, there was never a direct military engagement, thanks in part to the threat of nuclear war; as part of NATO agreements nuclear weapons were stationed in Europe. There were tensions within NATO itself, and in 1966 France withdrew from the military command established in 1949.

The end of the Cold War in 1991 led to three major developments: the expansion of NATO to include new nations from the former Eastern bloc (full list below), the re-imagining of NATO as a co-operative security alliance able to deal with European conflicts not involving member nations and the first use of NATO forces in combat. This first occurred during the Wars of the Former Yugoslavia, when NATO used air-strikes first against Bosnian-Serb positions in 1995, and again in 1999 against Serbia, plus the creation of a 60,000 peace keeping force in the region.

NATO also created the Partnership for Peace initiative in 1994, aimed at engaging and building trust with ex-Warsaw Pact nations in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and later the nations from the Former Yugoslavia. Other 30 countries have so far joined, and ten have become full members of NATO.

Member States:

1949 Founder Members: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France (withdrew from military structure 1966), Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, United Kingdom, United States 1952: Greece (withdrew from military command 1974 80), Turkey 1955: West Germany (With East Germany as reunified Germany from 1990) 1982: Spain 1999: Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland 2004: Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia

Excerpt from:

About the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)

Washington (AFP) – World press freedom has hit its lowest level in a decade after a regression in Egypt, Turkey and Ukraine, and US efforts to curb national security reporting, a watchdog said Thursday.

A report by Freedom House, which has been conducting annual surveys since 1980, found that the share of the world’s population with media rated “free” was 14 percent in 2013, or only one in seven people.

Meanwhile, 44 percent of the world population lived in areas where the media was “not free” and 42 percent in places where press was “partly free,” the Freedom of the Press 2014 report said.

“The overall trends are definitely negative,” said Karin Karlekar, project director of the report.

Karlekar said press freedom is under attack in many regions of the world.

“We saw a real focus on ‘attacking the messenger,’” she told a news conference, including “deliberate targeting of foreign journalists” in many countries.

“In every region of the world last year, we found both governments and private actors attacking reporters, blocking their physical access to newsworthy events, censoring content, and ordering politically motivated firings of journalists,” she said.

Of the 197 countries and territories evaluated in 2013, Freedom House found 63 rated “free,” 68 “partly free” and 66 “not free.”

The top-ranked were the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, and the lowest North Korea, which ranked just behind Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.

The report expressed concern on use of new technologies by authoritarian governments to filter online content and to monitor the activities of reporters.

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Global press freedom slips to decade low



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NATO planes chase out Russian bombers
Russian forces found over the North Sea, near the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands. CNN's Jim Sciutto reports. Danish fighter jets v. Russian bombers: 18-minu…

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NATO planes chase out Russian bombers – Video

the North Atlantic Treaty Organizationwas originally created by representatives of twelve Western powers: Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom, and the United States, in 1949, as a military security alliance to deter the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics’ (USSR) expansion on the European Continent. From 1945 to 1949, to widen the Communist sphere of influence, the USSR had annexed Czechoslovakia, East Prussia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, and sections of Finland, and had penetrated into the governments of Albania, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

The foundation for NATO had been set in Brussels, Belgium, in March 1948, when representatives of Belgium, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom met to forge a mutual assistance treaty to provide a common defense system. The Brussels Treaty stipulated that should any of the five signatories be the target of armed aggression in Europe, the other treaty parties would provide the party attacked all the military aid and assistance in their power. In June 1948, after a losing battle by isolationists, the U.S. Congress adopted a resolution recommending that the United States join in a defensive pact for the North Atlantic area. President Harry S. Truman urged U.S. participation in NATO as a critical part of his policy of containment of Soviet expansion. Containment had begun with the Truman Doctrine of 1947 with military assistance to Greece and Turkey to resist Communist subversion. The North Atlantic Treaty was signed on 4 April 1949 in Washington, D.C. It formally committed the European signatories and the United States and Canada to the defense of Western Europe. The U.S. Senate ratified the treaty, 82 to 13. This treaty marked a fundamental departure with tradition of the United States because it was Washington’s first peacetime military alliance since the FrancoAmerican Alliance of 1778. In October 1949, in the Mutual Defense Assistance Act, Congress authorized $1.3 billion in military aid for NATO. Greece and Turkey joined NATO in 1952. The Federal Republic of Germany joined in 1955 following an agreement on the termination of the Allies’ postwar occupation of West Germany and an understanding that the country would maintain foreign forces on its soil. A rearmed Germany became a major component of NATO.

The USSR strongly opposed the NATO alliance. The Berlin Blockade in 194748 and the threat of war had in fact given impetus to the creation of NATO. Following the outbreak of the Korean War in June 1950, fearing the possibility of a Soviet invasion of Western Europe as a result of a miscalculation by Moscow, NATO countries expanded their military forces in Europe. Allied forces in Western Europe numbered twelve divisions to deter a Soviet threat of eighty divisions. The sending of several U.S. divisions to Europe was strongly debated in the U.S. Congress. Proponents of isolationism, including former President Herbert Hoover and Senator Robert Taft, opposed the assignment of ground troops to Europe. Others, including retired Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supported an increase in the U.S. commitment to the Cold War and urged expansion of NATO forces. The isolationists lost, and Truman in 1951 added four more to the two divisions already in Germany to bring the Seventh U.S. Army to six divisions. Truman also brought Eisenhower out of retirement to become Supreme Allied Commander in Europe (SACEUR), following the creation of Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in 1951. NATO ministers, in the Lisbon Agreement on NATO Force Levels of February 1952, set new force goals for 1954 consisting of 10,000 aircraft and 89 divisions, half of them combatready. These were unrealistic; but by 1953, NATO had fielded 25 active divisions, 15 in Central Europe, and 5,200 aircraft, making it at least equal to Soviet forces in East Germany. In 1955, Moscow created the Warsaw Pact, a military alliance composed of Albania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, the German Democratic Republic (GDR), Hungary, Poland, and Romania.

EastWest relations were further strained by Nikita Khrushchev, who emerged as the Soviet leader after Josef Stalin’s death in 1953. Although he had criticized Stalin’s dictatorship and had accused his predecessor of escalating international tensions, Khrushchev ordered a Soviet force into Hungary to suppress a rebellion and maintain Communist rule in 1956. In 1957, the USSR’s launching of Sputnik, the first of the space satellites, indicated that the Soviet Union was developing longrange nuclear missiles. NATO had planned in 1954 to use nuclear weapons in case of a massive Soviet invasion. In 1957, it planned to make the thirty NATO divisions and its tactical aircraft nuclearcapable. By 1960, NATO’s commander, SACEUR, probably had some 7,000 nuclear weapons; but two SACEURs, Gen. Alfred Gruenther and Gen. Lauris Norstad, warned of NATO’s declining conventional capabilities as a result of reductions or redeployments in British and French forces.

During the 1960s, French president Charles de Gaulle rejected the lead of the United States and Britain in Europe and pushed for a larger diplomatic role for France. The French developed their own nuclear capacity; then, in 1966, while still remaining a part of the NATO community, France withdrew its troops from the alliance and requested that NATO’s headquarters and all allied units and installations not under the control of French authorities be removed from French soil. NATO headquarters officially opened in October 1967, in Brussels, where it has remained. East and West efforts to achieve peaceful coexistence decreased a year later when the Soviet Union and four of its satellite nations invaded Czechoslovakia.

In an effort to reach an era of detente, a relaxation of tensions reached through reciprocal beneficial relations between East and West, the Nixon administration took the lead with the Leonid Brezhnev government in Moscow, and NATO members and Warsaw Pact members opened the Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT) in November 1969. In May 1972, the first series of SALT Treaties was signed. The following year a SALT II agreement was reached, although it was never ratified by the United States. Further efforts during the 1970s for EastWest balanced force reductions proved unsuccessful. The ArabIsraeli War did little to ease world tensions when it erupted on 6 October 1973, after which the Soviets implied that they might intervene in the crisis due to the strategic importance of oil reserves in that part of the world. A year later, Brezhnev accused NATO of creating a multinational nuclear force and called for cancelation of the alliance as a first step toward world peace. In 1979, the USSR invaded Afghanistan and that ongoing conflict caused the suspension of negotiations between the United States and the USSR on reductions in intermediaterange nuclear forces (INF) that had opened in 1981. Talks resumed in 1984 primarily to prevent the militarization of outer space and then led to negotiations on arms control and disarmament. Reformer Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the USSR in March 1985, and that October he met President Ronald Reagan in Reykjavik, Iceland, to discuss ceilings of 100 nuclear missile warheads for each side (none of which would remain in Europe) and 100 residual warheads to remain in Soviet Asia and on U.S. territories in the Pacific. Verification arrangements were also agreed upon for the first time.

By the end of the 1980s, dramatic changes had occurred in the Warsaw Pact countries. In November 1989, the Berlin Wall was opened, which led the way to a unified Germany ten months later. Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and Romania took steps toward breaking from Soviet domination. When Russian troops were withdrawn from Eastern Europe in 1990, the Warsaw Pact was dissolved. In response to these events, NATO members at a summit conference in London in July 1990 declared that they no longer considered the Soviets to be an adversary and laid plans for a new strategic concept that was adopted in 1991 in Rome. The concept reaffirmed the significance of collective defense to meet evolving security threatsparticularly from civil wars and massive refugee problemsand established the basis for peacekeeping operations, as well as coalition crisis management both inside and outside the NATO area. It also stressed cooperation and partnership with the emerging democracies of the former Warsaw Pact.

The North Atlantic Cooperation Council (NACC) was created in 1991 to draw former Soviet republics, as well as the Baltic states and Albania, into a closer relationship with NATO countries. The same year, the Soviet Union established diplomatic links with NATO and joined the NACC on a foreign ministerial level. Hungary and Romania entered a twentyfivenation Partnership for Peace (PFP), an arm of NATO created in 1994. The PFP administers exercises, exchanges, and other military contacts to encourage military reform. The partnership also provides for peacekeeping, humanitarian, and rescue operations. Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, Poland, and the Czech Republic aspired to become full members of NATO, and debate opened on a secondtier Russian NATO membership allowing for political, but not military, integration for the former Soviet Union. In June 1994, Russian leader Boris Yeltsin announced that the Russians would join the PFP, but Russian fears of an eastward expansion of NATO remained a contentious issue.

In 1992, due to the escalation of the Bosnian Crisis, and Serbia’s armed support of the Bosnian Serbs against Muslims and Croats, NATO’s mission was expanded to include peacekeeping operations in support of United Nations (UN) efforts to restrain the fighting and find a solution to the conflict. In July 1992, NATO ships and aircraft commenced monitoring operations in support of the UN arms embargoes on Serbia and Bosnia from the former Yugoslavia. In April 1993, NATO aircraft began patrolling the skies over Bosnia to monitor and enforce the UN ban on Serbian military aircraft. In November 1995, following U.S.sponsored peace talks in Dayton, Ohio, a peace agreement was signed in Paris in December calling for a MuslimCroat federation and a Serb entity in Bosnia. During 1996, fourteen nonNATO countries (Austria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Pakistan, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, and Ukraine) were invited to contribute to the NATOled Implementation Force (IFOR). All the NATO countries with armed forces (Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Turkey, United Kingdom, and the United States) pledged to contribute military forces to the operation, and Iceland provided medical personnel. With 60,000 troops, 20,000 of them from the U.S. forces, IFOR was the largest military operation ever undertaken by NATO. It was the first ground force operation, the first deployment out of area, and the first joint operation with NATO’s PFP partners and other nonNATO countries. NATO’s IFOR halted the pitched battles and urban sieges that ravaged Bosnia during the fouryear war. National elections were held in September 1996, and plans were made for a reduced IFOR force.

The collapse of Communism in Europe led NATO to search for new roles beyond that of a mutual defense pact. One was to bolster democracy and national security in former Warsaw bloc nations; consequently in March 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland were made members of NATO. The other new role for NATO was as a regional policeman seeking to restrict ethnic wars, terrorism, and the generation of massive flows of refugees through genocidal violence. Consequently, as a result of military and paramilitary actions by Serbian president Slobodan Milosevic against hundreds of thousands of ethnic Albanians in the Serbian province of Kosovo, NATO in late March 1999 began a military offensive against Serbian forces and installations By April 1999, when the 50th anniversary of the establishment of NATO was observed, NATO forces in the Kosovo Crisis were engaged in the largest military assault in Europe since World War II. The NATO air offensive ended successfully with the Serbian forces withdrawal from Kosovo in June and the establishment of a UN administered and NATO implemented peacekeeping force there. With the end of the Cold War (and NATO’s first war), a new era for NATO had clearly emerged.

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NATO: Definition from Answers.com – Answers – The Most …

Apr 262014

From New World Encyclopedia

Coordinates: 505234.16N, 42519.24E

NATO countries shown in green

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO); French: Organisation du Trait de l’Atlantique Nord (OTAN); (also called the North Atlantic Alliance, the Atlantic Alliance, or the Western Alliance) is a military alliance established by the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty on 4 April 1949. Headquartered in Brussels, Belgium, the organization constitutes a system of collective defense in which its member states agree to mutual defense in response to an attack by any external party.

For its first few years, NATO was not much more than a political association. However the Korean War galvanized the member states, and an integrated military structure was built up under the direction of two U.S. supreme commanders. The first NATO Secretary General Lord Ismay, famously described the organization’s goal was “to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down”.[2] Throughout the Cold War doubts over the strength of the relationship between the European states and the United States ebbed and flowed, along with doubts over the credibility of the NATO defense against a prospective Soviet invasiondoubts that led to the development of the independent French nuclear deterrent and the withdrawal of the French from NATO’s military structure from 1966.

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the organization became drawn into the Balkans while building better links with former potential enemies to the east, which culminated with the former Warsaw Pact states joining the alliance. Since the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, NATO has attempted to refocus itself to new challenges and has deployed troops to Afghanistan and trainers to Iraq.

The Treaty of Brussels, signed on March 17, 1948 by Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, France and the United Kingdom is considered the precursor to the NATO agreement. The treaty and the Soviet Berlin Blockade led to the creation of the Western European Union’s Defense Organization in September 1948.[3] However, participation of the United States was thought necessary in order to counter the military power of the USSR, and therefore talks for a new military alliance began almost immediately.

These talks resulted in the North Atlantic Treaty, which was signed in Washington, D.C. on April 4, 1949. It included the five Treaty of Brussels states, as well as the United States, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Norway, Denmark and Iceland. Support for the Treaty was not unanimous; Iceland suffered an anti-NATO riot in March 1949 which may have been Communist-inspired. Three years later, on 18 February 1952, Greece and Turkey also joined.

The Parties of NATO agreed that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all. Consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defense will assist the Party or Parties being attacked, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force does not necessarily mean that other member states will respond with military action against the aggressor(s). Rather they are obliged to respond, but maintain the freedom to choose how they will respond. This differs from Article IV of the Treaty of Brussels (which founded the Western European Union) which clearly states that the response must include military action. It is however often assumed that NATO members will aid the attacked member militarily. Further, the article limits the organization’s scope to Europe and North America, which explains why the invasion of the British Falkland Islands did not result in NATO involvement.

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NATO – New World Encyclopedia



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