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NATO conducts 1st drill to test new rapid response force created to face Russian challenges

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO conducts 1st drill to test new rapid response force created to face Russian challenges
Apr 112015
 

Czech Republic’s soldiers from the 43rd airborne battalion take part in the NATO drill “The Noble Jump” at the airport in Chrudim, Czech Republic, Thursday, April 9, 2015. NATO is completing an initial exercise and first testing of its new rapid response force that has been created to face new challenges from Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)(The Associated Press)

Czech Republic’s soldiers from the 43rd airborne battalion take part in the NATO drill “The Noble Jump” at the airport in Pardubice, Czech Republic, Thursday, April 9, 2015. NATO is completing an initial exercise and first testing of its new rapid response force that has been created to face new challenges from Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)(The Associated Press)

Czech Republic’s soldiers from the 43rd airborne battalion line up to board an aircraft during the NATO drill “The Noble Jump” at the airport in Pardubice, Czech Republic, Thursday, April 9, 2015. NATO is completing an initial exercise and first testing of its new rapid response force that has been created to face new challenges from Russia. (AP Photo/Petr David Josek)(The Associated Press)

CHRUDIM, Czech Republic NATO is completing a first testing of its new force created to face new challenges from Russia.

Some 150 soldiers from the Czech army’s 43rd airborne battalion have been training to be ready for deployment within 48 hours “as NATO reevaluates the risks,” Maj. Gen. Jiri Baloun said Thursday. The previous NATO standard times for that were between 10 and 80 days, Baloun said.

In the Netherlands, 900 German and 200 Dutch soldiers have been doing the same. The units will be moved for further trials to Poland in June while some 25,000 NATO troops will complete the exercise of the new force in Italy, Portugal and Spain in October and November.

The units belong to NATO’s new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force.

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NATO conducts 1st drill to test new rapid response force created to face Russian challenges

$32 Trillion Stashed in Offshore Bank Accounts – Asset Protection Planners Examine the Facts

 Offshore Banking  Comments Off on $32 Trillion Stashed in Offshore Bank Accounts – Asset Protection Planners Examine the Facts
Apr 032015
 

VALENCIA, Calif., April 3, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — Offshore banking is growing in leaps and bounds as both the rich and the not so rich look for safe places to stash their cash. They are doing it in record numbers and record amounts according to a recent Bloomberg News report, which said that as much as $32 trillion has been stuffed in offshore bank accounts. Of the world’s 50 safest banks, according to Global Finance, not even one of the top 25 safest are in the United States. In fact, there were 45 banks outside of the US that were on the top 50 safest bank list and only five (5) headquartered inside the US, California based Asset Protection Planners reports.

“For most people, it is not only the objective of not paying taxes,” says Philip Marcovici, a tax lawyer and board member a Lichtenstein wealth adviser. “It’s the objective of obtaining the right to privacy and seeking financial confidentiality.”

Asset protection from lawsuits is another major objective. E. Valdes, a firefighter located in Miami, Florida says, “I just don’t trust the courts here. I want to set up an offshore account to protect myself from the unknown. Plus, if I can put my money in a safer bank than any of the local banks, I don’t see why I shouldn’t.”

Mr. Valdes is not alone. The debt of nations can wreak havoc on its banking system and US isby far the most in-debt country in the world. The United States has over $18 trillion in debt. That is a little over $58,000 per citizen and an unsustainable 106% of its gross domestic product. China, on the other hand, the world’s fifth (5th) most in-debt country, has $3 trillion in debt, which is just a little over $2,000 per citizen, or 37.5% of its GDP.

Where are the Safest Banks Located?

Regarding the safest banks, Canada has six (6) banks on the world’s 50 safest banks list. The United States, which has nine (9) times as many people as Canada, has onlyfive (5) banks on the list. Germany, which is about one-fourth (1/4) the size of the United states has six (6) banks on the world’s safest banks list. The United States is almost fourteen (14) times bigger than Australia in population, yet the Aussies have four (4) banks showing, all of which are on the top half of the 50 safest banks list.

The top 10 safest banks are located in Germany, Switzerland, Germany, Germany, Netherlands, Netherlands, Germany, France, Luxembourg and France, in that order. Of the top 50 safest banks,zero (0) were in Africa, 15 were located in Asia, four (4) in Australia, 19 in Europe, 11 in North America and one (1) in South America.

Banks in jurisdictions such as Switzerland can also act as money management firms. They have expert financial advisors who work with their clients to invest funds in a combination of interest bearing and stock market investments that suit their clients’ desires.

Who Has Offshore Accounts?

There are an estimated 26.2 million US citizens who have offshore bank accounts. Many of these individuals do not hold their bank accounts in their own names but in companies and/or trusts for enhanced protection from US litigation. Plus many foreign banks will not open personal accounts for US people, so a foreign corporation or LLC must be filed to hold title to the account.

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$32 Trillion Stashed in Offshore Bank Accounts – Asset Protection Planners Examine the Facts

NATO Fast Facts

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO Fast Facts
Apr 012015
 

Facts: The organization’s charter states that the signing parties will “seek to promote stability and well-being in the North Atlantic area,” and will “unite their efforts for collective defense and for the preservation of peace and security.”

April 4, 1949 – Established when 12 nations sign the North Atlantic Treaty in a ceremony in Washington, D.C.

2009-present – The current secretary general is Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark.

28 Member Countries: Albania (2009) Belgium (1949) Bulgaria (2004) Canada (1949) Croatia (2009) Czech Republic (1999) Denmark (1949) Estonia (2004) France (1949) Germany (1955, as West Germany) Greece (1952) Hungary (1999) Iceland (1949) Italy (1949) Latvia (2004) Lithuania (2004) Luxembourg (1949) Netherlands (1949) Norway (1949) Poland (1999) Portugal (1949) Romania (2004) Slovakia (2004) Slovenia (2004) Spain (1982) Turkey (1952) United Kingdom (1949) United States (1949)

Timeline (selected): April 4, 1949 – The 12 nations of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, the United Kingdom and the United States sign the North Atlantic Treaty in Washington, D.C.

July 25, 1950 – First meeting of NATO Council Deputies in London. U.S. Ambassador Charles M. Spofford is elected permanent chairman.

December 19, 1950 – General Dwight Eisenhower is appointed the first supreme allied commander.

April 2, 1951 – Allied Command in Europe becomes operational with Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Roquencourt, near Paris.

March 12, 1952 – Lord Ismay is named the first secretary general of NATO and appointed vice chairman of the North Atlantic Council.

April 10, 1952 – Allied Command Atlantic (ACLANT) becomes operational, headquartered in Norfolk, Virginia.

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NATO Fast Facts

Top NATO military commander in Europe says alliance needs to improve intelligence-sharing

 NATO  Comments Off on Top NATO military commander in Europe says alliance needs to improve intelligence-sharing
Mar 262015
 

NATO’s top commander in Europe U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove gestures when addressing a conference in Soest, central Netherlands, Wednesday March 25, 2015. NATO defense ministers agreed last month to create a quick-reaction force of 5,000 troops to meet challenges from Russia and Islamic extremists, Breedlove said that alliance nations must be willing to share their intelligence faster if its new rapid reaction force is to be effective in countering threats. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)(The Associated Press)

NATO’s top commander in Europe U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove gestures when addressing a conference in Soest, central Netherlands, Wednesday March 25, 2015. NATO defense ministers agreed last month to create a quick-reaction force of 5,000 troops to meet challenges from Russia and Islamic extremists, Breedlove said that alliance nations must be willing to share their intelligence faster if its new rapid reaction force is to be effective in countering threats. (AP Photo/Mike Corder)(The Associated Press)

SOEST, Netherlands NATO’s top commander in Europe says that alliance nations must be willing to share their intelligence faster if its new rapid-reaction force is to be effective in countering threats.

U.S. Gen. Philip Breedlove says that “we need to change our culture of intelligence-sharing.” He adds that NATO nations have a tendency to only share intelligence well “when we are scared.”

NATO defense ministers agreed last month to create a quick-reaction force of 5,000 troops to meet challenges from Russia and Islamic extremists.

But Breedlove told a conference in the Netherlands on Wednesday that the troops can only be quickly and effectively deployed “if we have an indications and warning apparatus that tells us when we need its high readiness.”

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Top NATO military commander in Europe says alliance needs to improve intelligence-sharing

Mars One comes under increasing criticism, accused of …

 Mars Colonization  Comments Off on Mars One comes under increasing criticism, accused of …
Mar 192015
 

Mars One, the project being conducted by a Dutch nonprofit that purports to have as a goal the establishment of a Mars colony, is coming under increasing criticism. A Monday article in Space Review suggests that the people running Mars One have not thought through the challenges of Mars colonization and lack the resources, technology, and knowledge to accomplish such a fear. Medium, having interviewed a Mars One finalist who happens to be a former NASA researcher, goes a step further and accuses the project of being an elaborate scam designed to separate people from their money.

Much of the technical criticism of the Mars One project has already been covered by the now famous MIT study. The technology that the project claims is available would be inadequate to get people to Mars, not to mention sustaining them over the long run. If Mars One proposes to develop new technology, questions arise about reliability and costs. Those running the project seem overly optimistic about the latter factor.

The Space Review also suggests that the psychological stress of being the subject of a reality show the main vehicle that Mars One proposes to make money on the project would be unbearable when added to the dangers of settling a hostile planet. The project also does not seem to have developed adequate provisions for the health and well being of the colonists. What happens if, as likely, the Mars One settlers start dying?

Some political and diplomatic impediments may stand in the way of a Mars Colony, at least as Mars One proposes. The Netherlands, where Mars One is incorporated, is a party to the infamous Moon Treaty, which most countries on the planet have rejected as an impediment to space settlement and development. However, the country is still a party to it and is bound by it. However, fears that the idea of a colony may be anathema to the world community because the sad history of western imperialism is likely overblown. No native Martians exist for human colonist to oppress and exploit.

A Mars One finalist named Dr. Joseph Roche, an assistant professor at Trinity Colleges School of Education in Dublin, with a Ph.D. in physics and astrophysics, has started to raise questions about the project as well. He applied on a lark and was surprised when he was picked as a finalist. The reason is that Mars One in no way approaches NASAs rigorous criteria for selecting astronauts, who for now only venture into low Earth orbit and not the 100 million mile journey to Mars.

Furthermore, Roche has noted that the Mars One finalists are being exploited by the project to generate revenue, even going so far as to be encouraged to donate a large percentage of the profits for paid media interviews. Indeed, he suspects that some of the finalists are on the list not for the skills they may bring to establishing a Mars colony, but rather because they bought their way onto it.

The obvious conclusion one might draw is that it is fortunate that Mars One is not likely to get off the ground. Every analysis suggests that it would fail spectacularly, in full view of the world. This might, in turn, poison the well for more legitimate Mars efforts, even the one that NASA is contemplating, which have funding problems of their own. Indeed, Mars One, if Roche is correct, can be condemned for exploiting the greatest of all dreams of forging a brighter future among the stars for profit without any hope of delivering on said dream.

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Mars One comes under increasing criticism, accused of …

NSA reportedly collaborated with Britain to steal cell phone codes

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Mar 092015
 

Published February 20, 2015

June 6, 2013: A sign stands outside the National Security Administration (NSA) campus in Fort Meade, Md.(AP)

Britains electronic spying agency, along with the NSA, reportedly hacked into the computer networks of a Dutch company to steal codes, which allowed both governments to spy on mobile phones worldwide.

The documents given to journalists by Edward Snowden did not offer details on how the agencies used the eavesdropping capabilities. However, it certainly shows how the NSA and Britains spy organization will push the limit of their surveillance prowess.

The company in question was the Netherlands-based SIM card giant Gemalto. Its SIM cards are used in mobile phones and credit cards. Its clients included AT&T, T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint, The Intercept reported.

The Intercept did not reveal any evidence of eavesdropping against American customers. Company officials told the website they had no idea their networks were compromised.

Gemalto is also the leading maker of encryption systems for other business and industrial uses. The company makes smart key cards for businesses and government agencies to restrict access to sensitive material.

The British spies targeted Gemalto engineers around the world and stole encryption keys to allow them to decode the data that passes between cellphones and cell towers, The Intercept reported. The process allows them to acquired texts or emails out of the air.

At one point in June 2010, Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters, or GCHQ, as its signals intelligence agency is known, intercepted nearly 300,000 keys for mobile phone users in Somalia, The Intercept reported. “Somali providers are not on GCHQ’s list of interest,” the document noted, according to the Intercept. “(H)owever, this was usefully shared with NSA.”

Earlier in 2010, GCHQ successfully intercepted keys used by wireless network providers in Iran, Afghanistan, Yemen, India, Serbia, Iceland and Tajikistan, according to the documents provided to The Intercept. But the agency noted trouble breaking into Pakistan networks.

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NSA reportedly collaborated with Britain to steal cell phone codes

Czech companies seek benefits of tax havens and foreign locations

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Czech companies seek benefits of tax havens and foreign locations
Feb 122015
 

Tax havens and tax avoidance are a big issue at European level with rarely a week going by without some scandal about a big business earner paying a pittance in taxes with, or without, the help of certain states. Surprising as it might seem, many Czech companies have also fled from their roots to register elsewhere for fairly pragmatic tax and investment reasons and because of reasons they are not so keen to talk about.

Foto: T24 In the Czech Republic it might be argued that some companies are both more Czech, and more equal, than others. For while two decades ago the idea of Czech companies being registered abroad or based in some sun-kissed tax havens might have appeared absurd, the reality is that more and more local firms have and are now going down that road.

In fact, such is the exodus of some major firms that those that have stayed behind to pay Czech tax, such as state-controlled energy giant EZ, or the Agrofert agricultural conglomerate of Minister of Finance Andrej Babi, expressly underline their upstanding tax contributions in their corporate information.

Zdenk Bakala, photo: YouTube Some of the others, the likes of the PPF company of the Czech Republics richest man Petr Kellner; the KKCG empire of oil and gas magnate Karel Komrek, and BXR Group of Zdenk Bakala, have taken another route. In fact, all three have significant parts of the business empires based in the Netherlands. And in the case of Komrek, while some of his companies have gone Dutch the main mother company is based in Cyprus, a location which often boasts of its bank and corporate secrecy.

Photo: Radio Prague According to a survey carried out by the Bisnode consultancy at the end of September last year, the Netherlands tops the league of destinations for Czech companies to relocate outside their homeland with 4,222 firms now registered there. Cyprus comes second with almost 2,100 firms and then Luxembourg third with just over 1,100. Then come a series of more exotic paradise locations such as the Seychelles, British Virgin Islands, and Panama. Altogether, its estimated that around 13,000 Czech companies are registered in what might be described as tax havens.

The business weekly Ekonom estimated this year that the Czech state has lost out on around 200 billion crowns in tax income from dividends and perhaps around another 100 billion crowns on top of that from other taxes because of companies being based outside the country.

The Netherlands, photo: Alphathon, Wikimedia CC BY-SA 3.0 Lets perhaps have a look at the Dutch example first. On basic tax rates, companies pay 20 percent, or a higher 25 percent rate, in the Netherlands and 19 percent in the Czech Republic. So on normal grounds the Netherlands cannot be regarded as a tax haven.

However, the Netherlands is a much more sophisticated tax location which does not, for example, tax dividend earnings abroad and capital gains on the sales of assets. And, in some cases, the losses made in one tax location can be used to write off the gains in another. That can mean a lot to multinational companies such as some of the Czech groups which have set up there. There is also the impression that a Dutch name plaque can help when you are looking to raise money internationally or is a better place to structure some international deals.

There are obviously both push and pull factors working here. Vladimra Chsk is chairwoman of the Czech Dutch Chamber of Commerce and sees things from both sides of the fence so to speak as a Czech promoting business links with the Netherlands.

She says the Czech Republic is partly to blame if some of its biggest and best companies decide to take their pick from the corporate locations on show internationally. On the other side, its also the problem of the Czech Republic where the system is not so developed and so controlled. And also, if you are a big company and doing business internationally you want to protect your assets and the base in the Czech Republic, its still doubtful whether it will be stable later on or if you have some problems. So, I think it would be important to develop the Czech and political system so that it would be more stable.

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Czech companies seek benefits of tax havens and foreign locations

Footsteps of Freedom – Video

 Freedom  Comments Off on Footsteps of Freedom – Video
Feb 092015
 



Footsteps of Freedom
Kickstarter Project – https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/178287087/footsteps-of-freedom My girlfriend and I are making a documentary. We're going backpacking from the Netherlands to Spain,…

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Footsteps of Freedom – Video

Interview with Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan on freedom and security – Video

 Free Speech  Comments Off on Interview with Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan on freedom and security – Video
Jan 112015
 



Interview with Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan on freedom and security
An interview with the Mayor of Amsterdam, Netherlands, Eberhard van der Laan, conducted by NL Times Managing Editor, Zachary Newmark. The interview took place at a rally for free speech days…

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Interview with Amsterdam Mayor Eberhard van der Laan on freedom and security – Video

Joseph Stalin honoured in NATO Country (Holland) ! – Video

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Dec 232014
 



Joseph Stalin honoured in NATO Country (Holland) !
CCCP Dictator Stalin honoured in Holland/ Netherlands Warsaw Pact vs NATO The Hague/ City of Justice International Court of Justice The Hague NATO member Holland/ The netherlands.

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Joseph Stalin honoured in NATO Country (Holland) ! – Video

History foreshadows against the use of torture

 Fifth Amendment  Comments Off on History foreshadows against the use of torture
Dec 132014
 

The Senate Intelligence Committee’s report on the CIA detention and interrogation program has quickly stirred up a white-hot debate on the use of torture to extract information from our enemies.

And though there is great passion on both sides, this is not a new topic to be argued.

In the late 16th century, some 200 years before the formation of our republic, the French nobleman Michel de Montaigne shifted the centuries-old debate about the use of torture from the question of its effectiveness to the question of its inhumanity. That is, while earlier writers had worried above all about the reliability of testimony extracted from tortured suspects, Montaigne was horrified that a civilized society would make use of such a barbaric practice.

Montaigne’s new perspective would come to exercise considerable influence over the ways in which intellectuals and political elites viewed torture down to our own time.

But it was above all a thin volume titled Of Crimes and Punishments, first published anonymously in 1764, that served as the clarion call for the abolition of torture. The secret of the author’s identity was not held for long. The Milanese philosopher Cesare Beccaria had completed this revolutionary work at the age of 26.

Beccaria’s text would have a cascading influence. Its translation into many languages paralleled an era that saw regime after regime dismantle the use of torture: Prussia in 1754, Denmark in 1770, Poland in 1776, France in 1789, the Netherlands in 1798 and Portugal in 1826.

Beccaria was influential in the United States as well. Thomas Jefferson read him with appreciation, as did James Madison and John Adams. When the Founders crafted the Bill of Rights, Beccaria’s ideas made themselves palpable. We see this in the Eight Amendment, which prohibited the use of “cruel and unusual punishments” one of the enduring bases to the principle that neither the courts nor the federal government may use torture.

But the Fifth Amendment, with its stipulation that no person “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself,” was perhaps an even clearer constitutional obstacle to the use of torture. If a person suspected of a crime could not testify against himself, then torture could really play no role, since one of the key aims of torturers is to extricate self-incriminating evidence from a suspect, whether of a common criminal or a terrorist.

Historians are right therefore to stress that the period running from the Renaissance (the age of Montaigne) to the Enlightenment (the age of Beccaria) witnessed the emergence of new ideas about the person. These ideas would shape many contemporary values, as reformers drew on them not only to end torture but also slavery and religious repression.

These same ideas were, not incidentally, fundamental to shaping democratic and open institutions. This doesn’t mean the ideas were always successful or without contradictions, but they unquestionably enabled a new notion of the human person and the political community to emerge. It is within this cluster of new ideas that men and women came to see torture not merely as ineffective but as fundamentally wrong. Torture degrades both the victim and its perpetuator. It strips both of their dignity and their humanity. The ends cannot justify the means.

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History foreshadows against the use of torture

NATO to form rapid-response force amid tensions in Ukraine, Middle East

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO to form rapid-response force amid tensions in Ukraine, Middle East
Dec 032014
 

BRUSSELS NATO officials said Tuesday that they will form an interim military force equipped to deploy quickly if the conflicts in Ukraine and the Middle East spill across borders.

The spearhead force, formally known as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, will use 3,000 to 4,000 troops from Germany, Norway and the Netherlands. It is expected to be ready early next year and marks NATOs biggest military expansion since the Cold War.

The decision to have a rapid-reaction force in place soon is a tacit recognition of how events on the periphery of nations that are part of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization have outpaced the alliances ability to respond.

NATO decided at its summit in September that it needed a permanent rapid-response force of as many as 6,000 troops, reflecting growing concerns among foreign ministers from all 28 alliance members, including U.S. Secretary of State John F. Kerry.

But with Russian troops helping pro-Kremlin rebels in Ukraine, Russian military planes repeatedly probing NATO airspace, and Islamic State extremists in Syria and Iraq posing a threat to alliance member Turkey, NATO decided that it could not wait a year for a permanent force to be ready.

The Associated Press reports that thousands of businesses have been seized from their owners in Crimea under new pro-Moscow leaders since the region was annexed in March. (AP)

Monday, several officials expressed alarm about the potential for a broader confrontation with Russia after Moscow announced that it will increase military exercises next year.

What we are doing is in response to Russia, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said. More military presence on the border, more staff exercises, more military activities in the air increase the danger, from accidents and misunderstandings, that the situation can spiral out of control.

Kerry said every country in the alliance needs to help defend NATOs borders.

Declaring that every ally has to pull their weight, he said: We cant have 21st-century security on the cheap.

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NATO to form rapid-response force amid tensions in Ukraine, Middle East

NATO chief: Interim rapid-response expected next year

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO chief: Interim rapid-response expected next year
Dec 012014
 

Published December 01, 2014

BRUSSELS NATO expects to have an interim rapid-reaction force in place by next year to deal with new security challenges in Europe and elsewhere, the alliance’s secretary-general said Monday.

Jens Stoltenberg said the force would be a provisional step until a full-scale unit can be organized in 2016.

Stoltenberg said Germany, Norway and the Netherlands have agreed to contribute troops to the initial force. The bigger rapid-reaction force was agreed to at a NATO summit in September as a response to Russian actions in Ukraine.

The NATO chief met with reporters to preview the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting of alliance foreign ministers in Brussels. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is scheduled to attend the session, which will cover a broad range of issues, from reviewing actions taken by NATO since the September summit in Wales to NATO’s planned non-combat mission in Afghanistan starting Jan. 1.

On Wednesday, Kerry will chair a separate meeting at NATO headquarters of countries involved in the campaign against the Islamic State extremist group.

Douglas Lute, U.S. ambassador to NATO, said the prototype of what’s officially called the High Readiness Joint Task Force will be used as a “test bed” to gauge its command and control, logistics, sustainability and connections with host nations and NATO’s supreme commander in Europe.

The goal is to hone response time throughout 2015 so the unit will be able to deploy within days, Lute said.

The actual size and composition of the force is expected to be set by NATO defense ministers in February. Lute said many questions about it still remain to be answered, not least how it will be paid for.

Stoltenberg said the interim unit’s creation proves NATO is moving faster to beef up security than foreseen at the Wales summit.

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NATO prepares 'spearhead' to ward off Russia

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO prepares 'spearhead' to ward off Russia
Dec 012014
 

Beginning early next year NATO will have a new reaction force ready, which can be deployed more rapidly on its eastern border. This new force, called “interim spearhead,” will consist of a few hundred troops from Germany, the Netherlands and Norway. Troops will rotate in terms of their state of readiness, but remain at bases in their home countries.

The new secretary general of NATO, Jens Stoltenberg, announced the plan to support the Baltic members of the alliance during his first major press conference in Brussels at NATO headquarters.

Concerned by increased Russian military activities on land, at sea and in the air in the wake of the crisis around Ukraine, NATO decided at its summit meeting in Wales in early September to strengthen its military presence in the Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, which have a common border with either Russia or Belarus.

NATO chief diplomat Jens Stoltenberg told reporters that, in his view, Russia continues to violate international law and is shipping goods and weapons to the pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine. In 2016, he said, NATO intends to have a fully equipped spearhead force in place, which could be deployed to the Baltic member states in 48 hours to “deter and defend” in every possible crisis. The secretary general called on Russia to make a choice and to return to the negotiating table. “It will be an advantage for Russia, but also an advantage for NATO, if Russia chooses another path and starts to respect international law and the sovereignty of all nations and the rule-based system, we have tried to establish for so many years in Europe”, said Stoltenberg.

Russia wary of ‘destabilization’

The reaction from Moscow was quick. NATO was destabilizing northern Europe by holding exercises and “transferring aircraft carriers able to carry nuclear weapons to the Baltic sea”, the Russian deputy ministers for foreign affairs, Alexei Meshkow, told the news agency Itartass.

However, Stoltenberg stressed the alliance would not have any direct military role in the crisis around Ukraine. The western alliance would not deliver weapons or equipment, Stoltenberg told the international press, but some NATO-member states could do that on a bilateral basis.

NATO set up several trust funds to finance military reforms and better training for the armed forces in Ukraine. “We stick to our open door policy”, said Stoltenberg.

Ukraine, Georgia and other democracies can become NATO members in the future. There will be no formal or informal guarantees to Russia in that respect, underlined NATO diplomats in Brussels. Russia is opposing the possible enlargement of NATO vigorously. “My main message is that I respect the decisions taken by the Ukrainians. Ukraine decided some years ago to be a non-bloc nation. Then, I respected that. Now, I have seen that the new government is announcing that they will change that. If they do, I will of course respect that too”, said Stoltenberg.

Conciliatory approach

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NATO prepares 'spearhead' to ward off Russia

NATO Secretary General with Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 24 NOV 2014 – Video

 NATO  Comments Off on NATO Secretary General with Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 24 NOV 2014 – Video
Nov 282014
 



NATO Secretary General with Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 24 NOV 2014
Joint press point with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, 24 November 2014. Secretary General's openin…

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NATO Secretary General with Prime Minister of the Netherlands, 24 NOV 2014 – Video

What regular people think about bitcoin – Video

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Nov 252014
 



What regular people think about bitcoin
In November we took to the streets of Breda, The Netherlands, to ask ordinary people what they think about bitcoin. We talked to 40 people. 50% had heard of …

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What regular people think about bitcoin – Video

NATO jets scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 due to Russia aerial provocations

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Nov 222014
 

THE HAGUE, Netherlands, Nov. 21 (UPI) — NATO jets were scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 in response to Russian aerial provocations near unauthorized airspace, the alliance’s secretary general reported Thursday.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg discussed NATO’s mandate “to protect and defend our Allies” during a visit Thursday to Estonia’s Amari Airbase. During a meeting with Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas, the secretary general spoke about the substantial increase in Russian air activity “all over Europe.”

“NATO jets have been scrambled over 400 times close to NATO airspace — 50 percent more than last year. This pattern is risky and unjustified. So NATO remains vigilant. And we are ready to defend all Allies against any threat.”

Of those 400 intercepts, 100 of them were conducted by NATO’s Baltic air police, triple the number of incidents in the region last year.

“They are not filing their air flight plans. They are not turning on the transponders. And they are not communicating with the civilian air traffic control,” Stoltenberg said.

“We are calling on Russia to conduct their military air activities in a responsible way and respecting international norms for this kind of air activity,” he added.

Earlier this month, the London-based European Leadership Network released a report that found the incidence of encounters by Russian military planes is at Cold War levels. 2014 marked “the first time since the end of the Cold War that Russia has been rather openly treating NATO and its partners as potential opponents, training accordingly and testing our defenses.”

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NATO jets scrambled more than 400 times in 2014 due to Russia aerial provocations

Shane Wright: Companies dodging tax on an industrial scale

 Tax Havens  Comments Off on Shane Wright: Companies dodging tax on an industrial scale
Nov 212014
 

The tax official leant across the table in a sign he was revealing a secret. As a person who had been both a corporate tax payer and a corporate tax chaser, he was keen to explain the problem.

“A few years ago, the aim was to cut your tax by 20 or 30 per cent,” he said.

“If you cut it by 30 per cent, that was seen as pretty good and everyone, from the board down, was happy.

“But now, you’ve got the same businesses saying they want to cut their tax bill by 80 or 90 per cent or just not pay anything at all.”

And there is the problem.

At the G20 summit in Brisbane, there was again much debate about how to deal with the efforts of multinational firms to shift their cash around the globe to avoid tax.

As the release of highly confidential documents out of Luxembourg showed recently, the breadth of companies which are trying to wipe away their tax bill is staggering.

The lengths they are going to are astounding. Tax havens are a new industrial pursuit by some countries.

More than 15 per cent of total American foreign direct investment goes into The Netherlands (with an economy half the size of Australia’s), with 80 per cent of that $700 billion going into various holding companies.

Luxembourg, a principality not much bigger than Canberra, attracted $US2.4 trillion in foreign direct investment, more than Germany and France combined. Luxembourg really only has one industry, however, and that’s tax minimisation.

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Shane Wright: Companies dodging tax on an industrial scale

Private Mars Colony Project May Not Be Feasible, Study Suggests

 Mars Colonization  Comments Off on Private Mars Colony Project May Not Be Feasible, Study Suggests
Oct 162014
 

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

MIT Students Bash Mars Colonization Plan

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Oct 142014
 

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




Pierre Teilhard De Chardin | Designer Children | Prometheism | Euvolution | Transhumanism