1004: Micro Livestock

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 54m
February 1st, 2018
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Executive Producers: Sir Onymous of Dogpatch & Lower Slobbovia, Sir Dwayne Melancon. Grand Duke of the Pac NW, Jan Fure, david van rood

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Pat, Vincent Pernot, Dame Susan, Arthur Thompson

Cover Artist: Comic Strip Blogger

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Ten-code - Wikipedia
Thu, 18 Jan 2018 22:40
Ten-codes, officially known as ten signals, are brevity codes used to represent common phrases in voice communication, particularly by law enforcement and in Citizens Band (CB) radio transmissions.
The codes, developed in 1937 and expanded in 1974 by the Association of Public-Safety Communications Officials-International (APCO), allow brevity and standardization of message traffic. They have historically been widely used by law enforcement officers in North America, but, due to the lack of standardization, in 2006 the U.S. federal government recommended they be discontinued in favor of everyday language.[1]
APCO first proposed Morse code brevity codes in the June 1935 issue of The APCO Bulletin, which were adapted from the procedure symbols of the U.S. Navy.[2]
The development of the APCO Ten Signals began in 1937 to reduce use of speech on the radio at a time when police radio channels were limited. Credit for inventing the codes goes to Charles "Charlie" Hopper, communications director for the Illinois State Police, District 10 in Pesotum, Illinois. Hopper had been involved in radio for years and realized there was a need to abbreviate transmissions on State Police bands.[3] Experienced radio operators knew the first syllable of a transmission was frequently not understood because of quirks in early electronics technology. Radios in the 1930s were based on vacuum tubes powered by a small motor-generator called a dynamotor. The dynamotor took from 1/10 to 1/4 of a second to "spin up" to full power. Police officers were trained to push the microphone button, then pause briefly before speaking; however, sometimes they would forget to wait. Preceding each code with "ten-" gave the radio transmitter time to reach full power. An APCO Bulletin of January 1940 lists codes assigned as part of standardization;[4]
The Ten Signals were included in APCO Project Two (1967), "Public Safety Standard Operating Procedures Manual", published as study cards in APCO Project 4 (1973), "Ten Signal Cards", and then revised in APCO Project 14 (1974).[5][6][7][8]
Ten-codes, especially "10-4" (meaning "understood") first reached public recognition in the mid- to late-1950s through the popular television series Highway Patrol, with Broderick Crawford. Crawford would reach into his patrol car to use the microphone to answer a call and precede his response with "10-4".
Ten-codes were adapted for use by CB radio enthusiasts. C. W. McCall's hit song "Convoy" (1975), depicting conversation among CB-communicating truckers, put phrases like 10-4 and what's your twenty? (10-20 for "where are you?") into common use in American English.
The movie Convoy (1978), loosely based on McCall's song, further entrenched ten-codes in casual conversation.
The ten-codes used by the New York Police Department[9] have returned to public attention thanks to the popularity of the television series Blue Bloods. However, it must be noted that the ten-codes used by the NYPD are not the same as those used in the APCO system (see below). For example, in the NYPD system, Code 10-13 means "Officer needs help," whereas in the APCO system "Officer needs help" is Code 10-33.
The New Zealand Reality Television show Police Ten 7 takes its name from the New Zealand Police ten-code 10-7, which means "Unit has arrived at job".
In the last episode of the anime "Kekkai Sensen & Beyond", Leonardo uses the code 10-33 in a message to signal that he is in a situation beyond his control.
While ten-codes were intended to be a terse, concise, and standardized system, the proliferation of different meanings can render them useless in situations when officers from different agencies and jurisdictions need to communicate.
In the fall of 2005, responding to inter-organizational communication problems during the rescue operations after Hurricane Katrina, the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) discouraged the use of ten-codes and other codes due to their wide variation in meaning.[10][11] The Department of Homeland Security's SAFECOM program, established in response to communication problems experienced during the September 11 attacks also advises local agencies on how and why to transition to plain language,[12] and their use is expressly forbidden in the nationally standardized Incident Command System, as is the use of other codes.[13]
APCO International's current position states that plain speech communications over public safety radio systems is preferred over the traditional 10-Codes and dispatch signals,[14] As of 2011[update], ten-codes remain in common use in many areas, but are increasingly being phased out in favor of plain language,[1] with nineteen states planning to change to plain English as of the end of 2009[update].[15]
Many additional codes have been added by individual local or regional first-response agencies; these are not standard across jurisdictions and may be problematic if multiple organizations must respond to the same incident.
SignalAPCO Meaning1937 APCO1939 First Published Set (17 signals)[17]1940 (APCO Standards Committee)[18]1955 (National Operating Procedure Committee)[19]APCO Project 2 (1967)[20]APCO Project 4 (1973)APCO Project 14 (1974)[21][22]Clear Speech(c. 1971)
(plain language to replace Ten Codes)[23]
Phrase Word Brevity Code (c. 1979)[24]Procedure and Officer DetailsGo AheadUnder ControlIn PursuitTraffic Stop10-0'--'--'--'--Use caution10-1Receiving poorly.Receiving poorlyUnable to copy - change locationSignal WeakUnable to copy - change locationUnreadable10-2Receiving well.Receiving wellSignals goodSignal Good'--10-3Stop transmitting.Disregard last informationStop transmittingStop TransmittingStop transmitting10-4Acknowledgement.Message receivedAcknowledgementAffirmative (Ok)RogerRoger/Affirmative10-5Relay.RelayRelayRelay (To)Relay10-6Busy.Busy, stand byBusy -Stand by unless urgentBusyBusy10-7Out of service.Out of serviceOut of service (Give location and/or telephone number)Out of ServiceOut at ...Out of Service10-7 A'--Not Available10-7 B'--Off Radio10-8In service.In serviceIn serviceIn ServiceClearIn Service10-9Repeat, conditions bad.RepeatRepeatSay AgainSay againSay Again10-10Out of service--subject to call.On minor detail, subject to callFight in progressNegative'--10-11Dispatching too rapidly.Stay in serviceDog Case... On Duty'--On Radio10-12Officials or visitors present.Visitors or officials presentStand by (stop)Stand By (Stop)Stand byStand By10-13Advise weather and road conditions.Weather and road conditionsWeather and road reportExisting ConditionsWeather report/road report10-14Convoy or escort.Convoy or escortReport of prowlerMessage/Information'--Prepare to Copy10-15We have prisoner in custody.We have prisoner in custodyCivil disturbanceMessage DeliveredDisturbance10-16Pick up prisoner at ...Pick up prisoner atDomestic troubleReply to Message'--10-17Pick up papers at ...Pick up papers atMeet complainantEnroute'--Responding10-17 A'--'--'--'--Theft10-17 B'--'--'--'--Vandalism10-17 C'--'--'--'--Shoplifting10-18Complete present assignment as quickly as possible.Anything for us?Complete assignment quicklyUrgentUrgentPriority10-19Return to your station.Nothing for youReturn to ...(In) ContactReturn to ...10-20What is your location?LocationLocationLocationLocation10-21Call this station by telephone.Call ... by phoneCall ... by telephoneCall (...) by PhoneCall ...Telephone10-22Take no further action last information.Report in person to ...DisregardDisregardDisregardDisregard10-23Stand by until no interference cause to Iowa (Mo.) etc.Arrived at sceneArrived at sceneArrived at SceneOn scene10-24Trouble at station--unwelcome visitors--all units vicinity report at once.Finished with last assignmentAssignment completedAssignment Completed'--Available10-25Do you have contact with...?Operator or officer on duty?Report in person to (meet) ...Report to (Meet) ...Meet ... or contact ...10-26Can you obtain automobile registration information?Holding subject, rush replyDetaining subject, expediteEstimated Arrival TimeDetaining subject, expedite10-27Any answer our number...?Request driver's license informationDrivers license informationLicense/Permit InformationDrivers license information on ...10-28Check full registration information.Request full registration informationVehicle registration informationOwnership InformationRegistration information on ...10-29Check for wanted.Check record for wantedCheck records for wanted.Records CheckCheck for wanted on ...Emergency or Unusual10-30Does not conform to rules and regulations.Does not conform to rules and regulationsIllegal use of radioDanger/Caution'--Use Caution10-31Is lie detector available?Emergency basis, all squads, 10-11Crime in progressPick Up'--10-31 A'--'--'--'--Burglary10-31 B'--'--'--'--Robery10-31 C'--'--'--'--Homicide10-31 D'--'--'--'--Kidnapping10-31 E'--'--'--'--Shooting10-32Is drunkometer available?Chase, all squads stand byMan with gun... Units Needed (Specify)'--10-33Emergency traffic at this station--clear?Emergency traffic this stationEMERGENCYHelp Me Quick'--Help Officer10-34Clear for local dispatch?Trouble at station, assistance neededRiotTime'--10-35Confidential information.Major crime, blocadeMajor crime alert'--Reserved'--'--10-36Correct time?'--Correct time'--Reserved'--'--10-37Operator on duty?No rushInvestigate suspicious vehicle'--Reserved'--'--10-38Station report--satisfactory.Hurry, but do not use red light or sirenStopping suspicious vehicle (Give station complete description before stopping).'--Reserved'--Traffic stop on ...10-39Your Nr...delivered to addressee.Use red light and sirenUrgent-Use light and siren'--Reserved'--'--General UsePrivate Use10-40Advise if Officer...available for radio call.NotificationSilent run - No light or siren'--10-41Tune to ... kcs. for test with mobile unit or emergency service.Car change at ...Beginning tour of duty'--10-42'--Crew change at ...Ending tour of dutyOff duty10-43'--Take school crossingInformation'--10-44'--'--Request permission to leave patrol ... for ...Request for ...10-45'--'--Animal carcass in ... lane at ...'--10-46'--'--Assist motoristAssist motorist10-47'--'--Emergency road repairs needed'--10-48'--'--Traffic standard needs repairs'--10-49'--Hourly report markTraffic light outEast bound green light out (etc.)Accident and Vehicle Handling10-50'--Auto accident, property damage onlyAccident -- F, PI, PDTraffic (F, PD)Trafic
Hit and runInjuryNo injury reportedUnknownPrivate property, location10-51'--Auto accident, wrecker sentWrecker needed'--10-52'--Auto accident, personal injuries, ambulance sentAmbulance needed'--10-53'--Auto accident, fatalRoad blocked'--10-54'--'--Livestock on highway'--10-55'--Drunken driverIntoxicated driver'--10-56'--'--Intoxicated pedestrianDrunk pedestrian10-57'--'--Hit and run -- F, PI, PD'--10-58'--Is wrecker on the way?Direct traffic'--10-59'--Is ambulance on the way?Convoy or escort'--Net Message Handling10-60What is next item (message) number?What is your next message number?Squad in vicinity'--10-61Stand by for CW traffic on ... kcs.CW trafficPersonnel in area.'--10-62Unable to copy phone--use CW.Any answer our Nr. ...Reply to message'--10-63Net directed.TimePrepare to make written copyPrepare to copy10-64Net free.'--Message for local delivery'--10-65Clear for item (message) assignment?Clear for message assignmentNet message assignment'--10-66Clear for cancellation?Clear for cancellationMessage cancellation'--10-67Stations...carry this item (message).Clear for net messageClear to read net message'--10-68Repeat dispatch.'--Dispatch information'--10-69Have you dispatched...?'--Message received'--Fire10-70Net message (State net traffic).Fire, phone alarmFire alarmFire10-71Proceed with traffic in sequence (busy here).Box alarmAdvise nature of fire (size, type, and contents of building)'--10-72'--Second alarmReport progress on fire'--10-73'--Third alarmSmoke report'--10-74'--Fourth alarmNegativeNegative10-75'--Fifth alarmIn contact with'--10-76'--Fire equipment neededEn RouteEn route ...10-77'--Fire, grassETA (Estimated Time of Arrival)ETA (Estimated time of arrival)10-78'--Set up command postNeed assistanceRequest Assistance10-79'--Report progress on fireNotify coronerNotify coroner (to be done by phone whenever possible)The 80 series is reserved for assignment by nets for local use.Personal Favors'--10-80... tower lights at this station burned out.'--'--Chase10-81Officer Nr. ... will be at your station ...'--'--'--10-82Reserve room with bath at hotel for officer Nr. ...Reserve hotel roomReserve lodging'--10-83Have officer Nr. ... call this station by telephone.'--'--'--10-84Advise telephone Nr. ... your city that officer Nr. ... will not return this date.'--If meeting ... advise ETA'--10-85Officer ... left this station for ... (Jefferson City) (Des Moines) at ...'--Will be late'--10-86Officer ... left this station for ... at ...'--'--'--10-87Officer Nr. ... will be in ... if officer Nr. ... will be in.'--Pick up checks for distribution'--10-88What phone number shall we call to make station to station call to officer Nr. ...?Advise phone number for station to station callAdvise present telephone number of ...'--10-89Request radio service man be sent to this station...Radio transmission'--Bomb threatTechnical10-90Radio service man will be at your station ....Transmit on alternate frequencyBank alarmAlarm (type of alarm)10-91Prepare for inspection (date) ... (time) ...'--Unnecessary use of radioPick up prisoner10-92Your quality poor--transmitter apparently out of adjustment.'--'--Parking complaint10-93Frequencies to be checked this date.Frequency checkBlockade'--10-94Test--no modulation--for frequency check.Give me a testDrag racing'--10-95Test intermittently with normal modulation for ...'--'--Prisoner in custody10-96Test continuously with tone modulation for ...'--Mental subject'--10-97'--'--'--Check traffic signal10-98'--'--Prison or jail breakPrison/jail break10-99'--'--Records indicate wanted or stolenWanted/stolenClear Speech (c. 1971) (plain language to replace Ten Codes)[23]Procedure Word/CodeMeaningROGERTo be used as acknowledgement.AFFIRMATIVETo be used when "yes" is needed.HELPTo be used when in danger and urgent assistance is needed.CODE ONEInforms all units to STANDBY - STOP TRANSMITTING. Do not transmit, except for emergency messages, while Code 1 is in effect. Dispatch shall announce, "Clear Code 1," when the condition is secured.CODE TWOIndicates an "urgent" call short of an "emergency" situation. A Code 2 call has priority over all other police activities except "emergencies".Proceed directly to Code 2 calls as quickly as is consistent with safety. Agents may, in exceptional cases, use their emergency equipment (both visual and audible to comply with state law) to transverse an otherwise clear intersection against a red traffic control device. Once clear of the intersection - turn off the emergency equipment.
CODE THREEIndicates an EMERGENCY call. Red lights and siren are authorized. Proceed as quickly as possible with due regard for safety, and in compliance with the laws governing emergency vehicles.CODE FOURUsed to indicate that sufficient units have responded to a location, or that assistance is not needed, or is no longer needed.CODE FIVEUsed when Wanted/Records checks are requested by an agent to alert the agent of a wanted felon, a person known to be dangerous or a person known to be mentally unstable.A backup unit shall be dispatched Code 2 on all Code 5's.
Personnel will NOT proceed with Code 5 details until the receiving unit requests same. The unit receiving a Code 5 will request the details when he is in a safe position to do so, which might not be until his backup arrives.
CODE SIXWhen an agent is dispatched to a traffic accident, and the dispatcher states, "Code 6," the agent will advise the drivers involved to proceed to the situation to file their reports. This will only be done if there are no injuries, no unusual circumstance and the vehicles are safely operable. Driver Exchange Forms will be completed at the scene to include the C. R. number.CODE SEVENIndicates "out of service - personal."CODE EIGHTAssist a fire department.
Apple to take on messaging rivals with launch of Business Chat | TechCrunch
Sat, 27 Jan 2018 22:00
Apple is preparing to roll out a new feature in iMessage that will allow consumers to chat directly with businesses through Apple's messaging platform. The feature, called Business Chat, was announced last year at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference, and will debut this spring with launch partners including Discover, Hilton, Lowe's and Wells Fargo.
The feature will allow consumers to talk to a business's service rep in iMessage, make payments via Apple Pay, and schedule appointments, depending on the business's needs.
The move represents a major push by Apple to shift B2C communications, payments, and customer service to its own messaging platform, and away from tech companies that today dominate business messaging, like Facebook Messenger, Google, Twitter, and, as of this month, WhatsApp, which has just launched its own WhatsApp Business app.
While it may seem like an odd fit to chat with businesses in iMessage where people today keep up with friends and family via personal conversations, it's not surprising to see that Apple is entering this space.
After all, iMessage isn't often considered the first place you check for business communications, beyond the occasional appointment reminder text or an alert from your bank.
But that could easily change. The demand for business messaging is growing, not only in the U.S., but also in emerging markets that skipped the PC cycle altogether and are joining the web for the first time via smartphones. For them, messaging a business feels as natural as shooting off an email to customer service seems to those of us who grew up with computers.
Plus, a majority of consumers said they would rather message a business than call customer service, according to a Facebook-commissioned study by Nielsen released last fall, which found that 56 percent want to text, not phone. A further 67 percent said they expect more to message more businesses over the next two years.
That said, Apple will not be without sizable challenges as it enters this market, given the size and scale of the platforms it's going up against with its new Business Chat feature.
Facebook Messenger, for example, already has some 1.3 billion users on its app, which is connected with Facebook's wider social network where businesses can manage their own presence, through branded Pages, posts, media, promotions and advertising. Facebook said last year that 80 percent of its then 65 million active businesses were using Messenger to reach customers. It's also been expanding B2C communications on Instagram, as well '' an app that has also begun testing a standalone mobile messenger.
WhatsApp, meanwhile, may have only just entered the space with WhatsApp Business, but its service also has 1.3 billion users and traction in emerging markets, like India.
You also have Google, often the starting place for many people looking to find business contact information via the web, and which offers a similar chat solution through Google My Business.
And then there's Twitter, a service that has become the de facto place for making general customer service complaints, in the hopes that your angry tweet will be seen by the company and handled. Twitter has doubled down in this area, too, by offering a suite of tools to companies running customer service operations on its network.
Where does that leave Apple's Business Chat? While it has the benefit of an iMessage install base in the hundreds of millions, it may feel like just one more place to check. And with only a handful of launch partners, consumers may not remember who is available over iMessage and who's not, so just go elsewhere.
However, Apple does have the advantage of not requiring an app download as iMessage ships with iOS devices. It also has its own built-in payments platform with Apple Pay, which could make transactions easier.
But as Apple joins the fray, its rivals are preparing to do battle. In addition to WhatsApp's preemptive launch of its business app, Facebook also just added Kenneth I. Chenault, CEO of American Express, to its board of directors. Said CEO Mark Zuckerberg of the addition, the exec has ''unique expertise'' in areas Facebook is lacking, including ''customer service'' and ''direct commerce.'' Sounds like shots fired, Apple.
Apple says Business Chat will launch with the public release of iOS 11.3 this spring.
Deepfakes-VIDEO CELEB PR0N SOFTWARE
Sun, 28 Jan 2018 13:47
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'Music's biggest night?' The 2018 Grammys were an embarrassment
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:09
CLOSEArtists wear white roses to Grammy Awards to fight sexual harassment. Josmar Taveras
Sting and Bruno Mars, two faces that got plenty of screen time during Sunday night's Grammys. (Photo: Theo Wargo, WireImage)
Another year. Another Grammys. Another telecast that extinguished fans' hopes of a forward-thinking awards show, in favor of a night that celebrated men, pop music, and not much else.
Several months ago, we celebrated the Grammy nominees' slate for its impressive diversity, with its major categories dominated by artists of color. In the lead-up to the awards, we hoped that song or record of the year could be claimed by a rap song, or a Spanish-language track via Despacito, for the first time in modern-day Grammys history. And with such a strong hip hop field, led by Kendrick Lamar and Jay-Z, 2018 seemed like the Grammys where voters would finally take the genre seriously, hopefully with a long-overdue album of the year win.
That's not what happened Sunday night. Bruno Mars swept the main categories with his pop-friendly brand of R&B that shares much more of its DNA with Ed Sheeran than Beyonc(C). Jay-Z went 0 for 8 in his nominations, despite being feted with the Recording Academy's Industry Icons award at Clive Davis' party the night before. Alessia Cara won best new artist over SZA, a disappointing choice that still managed to be the only award a female artist would take home during the telecast. And the Grammys extended their shameful streak of awarding album of the year to the obvious radio-friendly pop release over the category's more critically-acclaimed hip hop nominee.
Grammy Awards 2018:Bruno Mars wins six honors, including song, record and album of the year
More:Brutally honest rankings of every 2018 Grammy performance
Just look at the dismal album of the year trajectory since 2014, in which Daft Punk, Beck, Taylor Swift, Adele and now Bruno Mars have beaten, in order, Kendrick Lamar, Beyonc(C), Kendrick Lamar, Beyonc(C) and, with last night's defeat of Damn, Kendrick Lamar once again.
Yes, many of those pop releases deserved some sort of Grammys recognition. But the pattern here is undeniable: the Grammys look at Kendrick Lamar, and by extension hip hop, as music that isn't "album of the year" material. It's a confounding trend that continues to torture both the artists' fans and the music critics that continually declare albums such as Jay-Z and Lamar's the best releases of the year. The racial dynamics of this trend are also impossible to deny; the snubbed artists are often people of color, with Mars ending an all-white streak of album of the year winners stretching back to Herbie Hancock in 2008.
And yet several months ago, when everything looked so rosy with the Grammys' diverse nominees, there was an inkling that women, and particularly women of color, were headed for a dismal night of little recognition in the major categories. Watching the telecast, many of the night's strongest performances '-- Lady Gaga, Maren Morris, Rihanna, Cardi B and particularly Kesha '-- came from female artists. Yet, there were few women even nominated for televised awards, and considering all the additional ways the Grammys could've celebrated female artistry amid the entertainment industry's Me Too-gripped climate, the first real mention of the movement wasn't until a Janelle Monae speech that didn't arrive until halfway through the show.
Add the fact that Lorde, the only woman nominated for album of the year, was not scheduled to perform at the Grammys. Instead, viewers got multiple performances from Sting and Bono alike, with Grammys president Neil Portnow nevertheless claiming that there wasn't time for a Lorde performance in his comments after the show.
That's extra concerning, considering that Portnow, along with the Grammys producers and the Recording Academy, needs to be tasked with modernizing their dinosaur of an awards show.
It's 2018. Hip hop is officially America's most listened-to genre. Women have mobilized across industries, declaring Time's Up on gender-based inequality in their professional fields. If the awards show that claims to be ''music's biggest night,'' a slogan that becomes more of a joke with every passing year, isn't willing or able to make the changes that its community of artists deserves, it's time to declare the Grammys extinct.
Grammys president:Women need to 'step up' after men sweep this year's awards
News & Views:Why #MeToo hasn't taken off in the music industry
Read or Share this story: https://usat.ly/2DXu7nC
Why the Grammys continue to fail women and hip-hop | Music | The Guardian
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:41
The event may yoke itself to issues like #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, but when it comes to actual awards, women and hip-hop continue to be overlooked
Kendrick Lamar performing at the 2018 Grammy awards. Photograph: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for NARASE xpecting radical action from an awards ceremony is like expecting the weather forecast to rearrange the skies. These events reinforce cultural norms rather than setting them, even if institutions such as the Oscars and Golden Globes are trying to reinvent themselves in the aftermath of Harvey Weinstein, Donald Trump and Black Lives Matter. But rarely has that culture of affirmation been more apparent than at this year's Grammys, which rode numerous political moments without contributing to or rewarding them.
The Grammys' 60th year boasted two advance headlines. One was that hip-hop might finally get its dues at the ceremony. The first hip-hop record to win the album of the year category was Lauryn Hill's The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill in 1999; the second, and latest, was Outkast's Speakerboxxx/The Love Below in 2004. This year marked the rare occasion when no white men were up for the award, populated instead by Bruno Mars' 24K Magic, Childish Gambino's Awaken, My Love!, Jay-Z's 4:44, Kendrick Lamar's Damn and Lorde's Melodrama. Yet Mars won with his third album of cosy funk and R&B. His acceptance speech nodded to its retro influences '' 80s and 90s stars Babyface, Teddy Riley, and Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis '' putting him in stark contrast with his more progressive, political competitors.
Elsewhere in hip-hop, Jay-Z received the most nominations of any artist, with eight nods for 4:44, but won no awards. Lamar won in the rap categories for album, song, performance and collaboration, but lost in the top-billing general slots for album, video and record. The Grammys' failure to recognise hip-hop undermines its flashy overtures to the genre, and fails to reflect its status as the most popular genre in the US.
Blue Ivy appears to hush parents Beyonc(C) and Jay-Z at Grammys '' videoThe ceremony's other advance headline was that this year's Grammys might provide music's inexplicably overdue ''#MeToo moment''. Following the campaign for Golden Globes nominees to wear black in solidarity with victims of sexual violence, a group of female major-label employees under the name Voices in Entertainment suggested that attendees wear a white rose as a symbol of ''hope, peace, sympathy and resistance''. Host James Corden said he thought it would be ''a moving moment''. The Recording Academy had also booked Kesha to perform her song Praying '' implicitly understood to reference her allegations of sexual and physical abuse against former producer Dr Luke '' as a way of recognising the ongoing cultural dialogue.
Kesha's performance was wrenching. Backed by a choir including Camila Cabello, Cyndi Lauper and Julia Michaels, she cried in her collaborators' arms after the final note. Yet it also felt exploitative on the Grammys' part. Kesha lost her case against Dr Luke, who is now suing her for defamation, and she cannot discuss the case directly; the Grammys put the burden of representing a new era of zero tolerance in entertainment on a woman who remains trapped in its grey areas.
This hypocrisy was further entrenched by the awards' failure to recognise women. Out of 86 categories, only 17 were handed to women, or female-fronted bands. The televised ceremony only featured one female winner, Alessia Cara for best new artist. Lorde was the only album of the year nominee who wasn't asked to perform solo, but reportedly was invited to join a tribute to the late Tom Petty, which she allegedly declined. ''We have a box and it gets full,'' Grammys producer Ken Ehrlich said of the snub. ''She had a great album. There's no way we can really deal with everybody.'' And yet, Sting and Shaggy '' Sting and Shaggy '' performed two '' two! '' songs from their forthcoming collaborative album.
A night of protest at the Grammys 2018 '' videoAfter the ceremony, Variety asked Recording Academy president Neil Portnow about the #GrammysSoMale hashtag circulating throughout the broadcast. He put the onus of change on women ''who have the creativity in their hearts and souls, who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level '... [They need] to step up because I think they would be welcome. I don't have personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face, but I think it's upon us '' us as an industry '' to make the welcome mat very obvious, breeding opportunities for all people who want to be creative and paying it forward and creating that next generation of artists.''
Few things leave a bad taste like powerful men undermining their immense influence to suggest that it's up to marginalised groups to better their own fortunes, wilfully ignoring the systemic barriers that women, people of colour and the LGBTQ community face when navigating any establishment. Just last week, a number of reports were published confirming music's gender inequality issue. A study by the University of Southern California analysed 600 songs from the Billboard Hot 100 between 2012 and 2017, finding that women accounted for just 22.4% of artists and 12.3% of all songwriting credits. It also found that women comprised just 9% of Grammy nominees from the past six years. Billboard published its 2018 Power List, ranking the most influential people in the music industry. Universal Music Publishing's Jody Gerson was the only standalone woman in the top 25 (four other women shared billing with male colleagues).
Never mind the Recording Academy's hopes of kickstarting music's #MeToo moment; by systemically underrepresenting women's achievements and contributing to a lack of female visibility, they're helping to entrench its absence. There is a direct correlation between a lack of opportunity for women in music and the underreporting of abuse that is a widely acknowledged failure of the industry. When men such as Portnow admit to not having ''personal experience of those kinds of brick walls that you face'', how can they know where change needs to happen? When men predominantly occupy positions of power, and a woman has been exploited by a powerful man, who can she trust with her allegations? Unrelated to the Grammys, I was struck by DJ Annie Mac's comments in a recent Guardian webchat when asked if she could name ''three male allies'' to women's rights in the music industry. ''I have been racking my brains and the answer is no,'' she said. ''I cannot name a man who is publicly pushing forwards women's rights and making a point of appointing women.''
There have been many conversations in recent weeks about whether entertainment and symbolic protests can constitute activism. Many of the performances on the Grammys' stage last night felt like arguments in its favour: Kendrick Lamar's radically black work, Kesha's liberationist balladry, and Alessia Cara, Logic and Khalid's anti-suicide anthem 1-800-273-8255. These displays have provided a necessary image rehabilitation for the Grammys, long dogged by accusations of irrelevance. But image is all it is until the members of the Recording Academy reflect this aesthetic change in their list of winners. Their time to do so is running out.
Rather than wear a white rose, Lorde pinned an edited version of feminist artist Jenny Holzer's ''THE APOCALYPSE WILL BLOSSOM'' manifesto to the back of her dress. She left off the line, ''do not support palliative gestures'', perhaps aware that her placard could be read as one when she still turned up (albeit defiantly swigging from a hip flask). But it was one of several signs of unrest coming from inside Madison Square Garden last night. Lorde's statement was obviously in reference to the reckoning awaiting the entertainment industry's exploiters, as was Janelle Mone's introduction to Kesha's performance. Both contained subtle messages for the Recording Academy. ''Just as we have the power to shape culture, we also have the power to undo the culture that does not serve us,'' Mone said.
More and more artists aren't bothering with the event at all. Drake declined to submit anything from his 2017 ''playlist'' More Life for the Grammys' consideration; Frank Ocean similarly withheld music from his 2016 releases Blonde and Endless, telling the New York Times: ''That institution certainly has nostalgic importance. It just doesn't seem to be representing very well for people who come from where I come from, and hold down what I hold down.'' By glomming on to the flattering aesthetic of protest, the Grammys has made itself a target.
Kenneth Ehrlich - Wikipedia
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:13
Ehrlich has produced network television programs since 1974, when he created the PBS music series, Soundstage for Chicago public television. He moved to Los Angeles two years later and began his career, which has included more than three decades of telecasting Grammy and Emmy Award ceremonies. Beginning in 1980, he began producing the Grammy Award telecasts for CBS, and is responsible for creating the concept of ''Grammy moments'', which have included such memorable performances by Prince and Beyonc(C), Aretha Franklin's operatic debut, the famous Eminem-Elton Johnduet, as well as the Melissa Etheridge-Joss Stone duet, and historic reunions between Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel, and the musical group, The Police.[7] In 2010, he was presented with the Recording Academy's President's Award for his long-time service to the Grammy Awards event.[citation needed ]
Ehrlich has produced such specials as "The Sports Illustrated 20th Century Sports Awards" (2000), "In Performance at the White House; Music of the Civil Rights Movement" (2009), "The NFL Kickoff Spectacular in Times Square" (2002), "Mandela Freedomfest" (1988), "Live 8 the Philadelphia LIVE 8 event" (2006) as well as numerous other prime time specials for both broadcast and cable networks. In 2012, he produced the Rolling Stones' highly successful 50th Anniversary pay per view special.[8] He also directed Celine Dion's New Las Vegas Show, which has just completed the first three-year leg of an extended run at the Colosseum at Caesars Palace. He has worked with Dion and husband Rene Angelil on Dion's television specials since 1995.[9][10]
In 2006, Anschutz Entertainment Group, AEG, purchased an unspecified piece of Ken Ehrlich Productions, and in 2012,that joint venture was extended for a second five-year term.[11]
Since 2010, Ehrlich has produced annual PBS shows produced (in cooperation with WETA and the Grammy Museum) in the East Room of the White House, with a broad spectrum of artists ranging from Mick Jagger, Bob Dylan, Aretha Franklin and Justin Timberlake to Mavis Staples, Ariana Grande, Gary Clark Jr. and Cyndi Lauper.[12]
In 2006, Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG) purchased Ehrlich's Ken Ehrlich Productions.[13][14]
In 2012, the Grammys, which Ehrlich executive produces, received a 39.9 rating, its highest rating since 1984, beating the Academy Awards for the first time since that date. Observers credited some of the rise to the show's response to the death of Whitney Houston, while producers said that an extremely strong show that ranged from performances by Katy Perry, Paul McCartney, Bruce Springsteen, Taylor Swift and tributes to the Beach Boys and Glen Campbell were heavily responsible for the ratings bump. The show also featured the return of Chris Brown after a three-year absence. (Brown's last appearance on the show was cancelled due to his attack on his then-girlfriend Rihanna the night before the Grammy Show in 2009.)[15][16]
In 2014, on two successive nights, Ehrlich executive produced the 56th Grammy Awards, his 34th Grammy show, and then The Beatles; The Night that Changed America, an all star celebration commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Beatles appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show.
Ehrlich did it again in 2015 Executive Producing the 57th Grammy Awards followed up by Stevie Wonder: Songs in the Key of Life A Grammy Salute special two days later.[17]
Ehrlich also directed Mariah Carey's residency show, #1 to Infinity, at The Colosseum at Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas in 2015.[18]
Honors and awards Edit Ehrlich has been nominated for five Emmy Awards, is the recipient of one Golden Globe Award, and was presented with the Producer's Guild of America Visionary Award in 2007.[citation needed ]
Ehrlich was invited to the February 11, 2014 White HouseState Dinner.[19]
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce honored television producer Ken Ehrlich with the 2,541st star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on January 28, 2015. The star in the category of Television was dedicated in front of the historic Capitol Records Building at 1750 N. Vine Street.
It is time we honor the man who successfully elevated and transformed the artists and their music we love into memorable moments on live Television. Ken Ehrlich's magical productions have touched millions of people watching these shows around the world and we are pleased to welcome him to our family of stars on Hollywood Walk of Fame. - Leron Gubler, President of the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce[20]
Helping him to unveil the star were his friends John Legend, Stevie Wonder, LL Cool J and Smokey Robinson.[20]
Voting Process Frequently Asked Questions | GRAMMY.com
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:11
What's the difference between an entry and a nomination?
The Recording Academy receives over 20,000 entries per year. Entries are recordings submitted for GRAMMY consideration. Entries that meet all eligibility requirements are then voted on by the Academy's Voting members, and the results of that vote are the nominations.
What are the eligibility requirements?
For the 60th Annual GRAMMY Awards, albums must be released between Oct. 1, 2016, and Sept. 30, 2017. Recordings must be commercially released in general distribution in the United States, i.e. sales by label to a branch or recognized independent distributor, via the internet or mail order/retail sales for a nationally marketed product. Recordings must be available for sale from any date within the eligibility period through at least the date of the current year's voting deadline (final ballot).
How are recordings entered?
The Academy accepts entries online from its members and from registered media companies. Entrants are provided information on how to submit their recordings electronically for consideration.
Who can vote?
Recording Academy Voting members only. Media companies do not vote.
How are GRAMMY win and nomination totals counted?
In most cases, a person's GRAMMY win and nomination count simply reflects their listed totals. However, there are certain instances where there may appear to be a discrepancy between listed GRAMMY Awards and nominations and the total Awards and nominations count, which could be due to one of the following:
Since 2001, eligibly credited producers, recording engineers and mixing engineers who work on more than 51 percent of the playing time of the winning albums in the genre album categories receive a GRAMMY, although they are not nominees.Since 1989, Orchestras in Best Orchestral Performance receive a GRAMMY as an ensemble, although the ensemble is not a nominee.Since 2016, Choruses in Best Choral Performance receive a GRAMMY as an ensemble, although the ensemble is not a nominee. Between 1965 and 1980, a self-produced artist received one GRAMMY nomination and Award as an artist and an additional nomination and GRAMMY as a producer in Record Of The Year and Album Of The Year categories.Between 1965 and 1981 in the Musical Theater Field, a Composer and/or Lyricist could receive an additional nomination and GRAMMY as producer. Who qualifies as a Voting Member?
Recording Academy Voting members are professionals with creative or technical credits on at least six commercially released tracks (or their equivalent). These may include vocalists, conductors, songwriters, composers, engineers, producers, instrumentalists, arrangers, art directors, album notes writers, narrators, and music video artists and technicians.
How many GRAMMY categories are there?
There are currently 30 fields (General, Pop, Gospel, Classical, etc.) and 84 categories within those fields.
How are categories changed or added?
Proposals for changes to the categories are reviewed each year by the Academy's Awards & Nominations Committee, with final approval by the Academy's Trustees. Proposals may be submitted by any member. Contact the Awards department for more information.
What is the difference between Record Of The Year and Song Of The Year?
The Record Of The Year category recognizes the artist's performance as well as the overall contributions of the producer(s), recording engineer(s) and/or mixer(s) if other than the artist. The Song Of The Year category recognizes the songwriter(s).
Are there vote solicitation guidelines?
Yes, see the Recording Academy Vote Solicitation Guidelines.'‹
TV Ratings: Grammy Awards Shed Nearly 10 Million Viewers From 2017 '' Variety
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 18:55
UPDATED: Viewership of Sunday's 60th annual Grammy Awards is down significantly from the 2017 telecast, nabbing the smallest audience in the show's history in the key demo. In addition, the three and a half hour awards show is averaged a 6.9 rating in adults 18-49 and 19.8 million viewers, according to time zone adjusted numbers. ['...]
Pink, Sheryl Crow and more slam Grammys boss for telling women to 'step up' | Music | The Guardian
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:28
Musicians hit back after Neil Portnow suggested women must seize initiative to succeed in the music industry
Pink performing at the Grammy awards at Madison Square Garden, New York. Photograph: Matt Sayles/Invision/APNumerous female musicians have criticised Grammy awards president Neil Portnow after he said that it was the responsibility of women to ''step up'' if they wanted to achieve success in the music industry.
Neil Portnow at last weekend's 60th annual Grammy Awards at Madison Square Garden, New York. Photograph: Charles Sykes/Invision/APThe Recording Academy boss was interviewed backstage at this year's Grammys ceremony on 28 January '' where only 17 out of 86 awards went to women or acts fronted by women '' about the obstacles facing women in the industry. ''I think it has to begin with women who have the creativity in their hearts and their souls who want to be musicians, who want to be engineers, who want to be producers, who want to be part of the industry on an executive level to step up,'' Portnow said, adding that the industry should create opportunities ''not only for women but for all people who want to be creative''.
He also said technology was making it easier for people trying to start a career in the music industry: ''If someone's passionate about it, doesn't matter what your gender, genre, geography '' do it yourself, take it from your heart and put it out there.''
Pink, who performed at the awards and lost out in the pop solo performance category to Ed Sheeran, responded to Portnow by saying: ''Women in music don't need to 'step up'. Women have been stepping up since the beginning of time. Stepping up, and also stepping aside ... When we celebrate and honour the talent and accomplishments of women, and how much women step up every year, against all odds, we show the next generation of women and girls and boys and men what it means to be equal.''
Nine-time Grammy winner Sheryl Crow wrote: ''I wish the Grammys would return to female/male categories. Who will young girls be inspired by to pick up a guitar and rock, when most every category is filled with men? I'm not sure it is about women needing to 'step up', (as said by the male in charge).''
British pop singer Charli XCX was more blunt, writing on Twitter: ''Ugh bout 2 step up on 2 ur face.. women are making amazing music right now. wtf is this dude talking about?'' Rapper Iggy Azalea called Portnow's words a ''bullshit statement''.
As well as criticism over the number of awards given to women '' only one of which was in the top televised categories '' there was anger that the male album of the year nominees were offered solo performance slots, but Lorde wasn't. She alluded to the controversy after the ceremony, tweeting her tour dates with the line: ''If you're debating whether or not I can murder a stage ... come see for urself.''
The Secret Sun: The Grammys, Fallen Angels and the Never-Ending Ritual
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 17:07
Jesus, the Grammys. Why do I do this to myself? You know, sometimes I wonder about people who feel compelled to amputate their own legs or eat broken glass or tattoo their eyeballs. Only not so much when I force myself to watch things like the Grammys. Who am I to judge, right? But there are emerging archetypal dominants-- which is just a fancy way of saying "occult totems and icons" -- to glean, so here we all are. Now, the boring old crap we've been used to seeing for the past decade-- the fusty old crypto-Masonic stuff and the dopey Satanist shit-- is over. Sure, it might still still be bouncing around the lower rungs on the ladder of the spectacle industry (see above), but the needle moved forward because the next phase of the program has fired up. So get your notebooks out, because there was quite a bit of it to be found Sunday night. Let me say this: you all out there are getting in on the ground-floor with this new symbolism, which seems to be settling in much sooner than I anticipated. So strap in. The ride is going to be getting bumpy in the near future. Let's start with Watson, the IBM AI that CBS is using to "explore" Grammy history. Whatever the hell that means. Besides "die, meat puppets, die," I mean. This shitshow was MC'd by James Corden, whose fame just absolutely stultifies me. Especially since I can't decide who he looks more like; Chaz Bono or the guys I used to see in Artist Alley who specialized in softcore Disney Princess and Teen Titans pinups. Maybe I should flip a coin. Or maybe he's just laughing at the blatant Sirius reference. Now, you know the Grammys sucked when only Lady Gaga and Childish Gambino's performances interrupted my telepathic pleas to the Vegas to please nuke us all from orbit now, I mean tonight, It's all over, the experiment failed, just wipe us all off the planet now. Oddly enough, the formerly-funny Sarah Silverman agrees with me. Though given the fact she was accompanied by a Victorious NFLim Giant at the time, she may be working off inside information. That being said, I admired Gaga's act more than I liked it, having been raised by a professional singer/keyboardist. It's about the craft of it. But I do keep wondering if Gaga isn't actually the genespliced progeny of Madonna and Freddie Mercury, since she has the latter's talent and the former's looks and desperate, grasping need for constant, unyielding attention. It's not like you'd have to work hard to get DNA samples from either of them back in the 80s. Childish Gambino was a surprise for me, since I hadn't heard much of his work before. "Terrified" is v ery sleek and stylish old-school R&B, with traces of New Orleans voodoo-funk and postpunk atmospherics. Kind of like if one of the Delfonics heard The Cure and Joy Division while he was up at some freaky witch-chick's apartment in late 1979 but was kind of high and couldn't really recall any of the tunes. But he really felt like all that crazy-white-boy guitar really jibed with his mellow and the freaky witch-sex, so he wrote it into a few songs for the other fellas to try out. And I encourage them. We'll get to the angel stuff shortly. But I really couldn't wait for October 1, 2044 to arrive after hearing tired old corn like DJ Khaled (Ricky Martin called, Khaled; he wants his 90s backing tracks back) or that incoherent hallucination by Lamar Kendrick, who was joined by Dave Chappelle (who looked like he'd be having a word with his agent after the show) and tax-pirates-slash-Bond villain arch-globalistsBono and the Edge, who seem intent on pulverizing the last micron of my happy teenage memories of listening to U2 and staring at the stars on the roof of my garage. The absolute low-point for me was Miley Cyrus-- looking even more manic and molly'd up than usual-- crawling all over Elton John's baby grand. Much to his apparent chagrin, I should add. Both of them sounded like they just got over the flu. Elton was looking- and sounding-- like he's been constipated for weeks and had canceled his irrigation-therapy appointment to duet with this lunatic. I mean, "Tiny Dancer" has a beautiful melody (not that you'd know from this disaster) but let's face the facts; the song is popular now because it was featured in a movie about Led Zeppelin and their favorite 14 year-old girlfriends. Now, I'm not going to talk about the show's "politics" for the same reason the adults don't talk about Uncle Joe's incessant farting at the dinner table. Sure, it gives the kids a cheap thrill but it's embarrassing and Uncle Joe can't help it. There's something wrong with him. But I should note that Hillary Clinton-- looking like she either had a Botox pick-me-up or her favorite underground plasma bank got in a fresh shipment of Guatemalan orphans-- appeared to be trying out a clumsy bit of witchery when she read a passage from Fire and the Fury about Trump's fear of being poisoned. The crowd lapped it up like Huma after a week in Riyadh. The crowd loved that too. Oh well, so much for Nazi-punching. Of course, the ostensible theme of the night was "Time's up," meaning time's up for all the sexual predators who also happen to occupy wide swathes of the upper management and executive level of the music industry. Yeah, good luck with that. But maybe Gaga (or her handlers) were thinking more along the lines of what Sarah Silverman was saying; time's up for Earth. Which I couldn't help but think of with this odd turn of phrase. Who exactly are "we?" Because that expression has pretty much only one connotation in the public lexicon. Especially since the Awards weren't quite the triumph the "Time's Up" crowd was hoping for. Hmm, I sense some subliminal messaging. The Grammys were the coronation Jay-Z seemed to be expecting either. And he even went and dropped the All-Important 44 into his latest collection of trite rhymes and adenoidal, colorless rapping. Plus, all the sacrifices and blood oaths-- what was it all for? But do I have to say, Lady BeyoncIsis looked ravishing. And our top story tonight is Mars Attacked! It appears a more capable magician was involved in titling the Martian Bear's latest. Let me break it down for you: 24K Magic--> 20--4--K Magic. --> 20--4 x K=11 Magic. --> 20--44 Magic. The All-Important 2044. Tough break, Z. The All-Important 2044 when Venus Occults Regulus and Apollyon and his Vegas are loosed from the Abyss. Bonus factoid: Not only did NASA open its doors on the day of the coming Occultation, it did so the same year as the first Grammy Awards. Oh, you thought this was an actual news story? C'mon, NASA was involved! Everything they do is ritual! And what happens next? After the All-Important 2044? Well, according to some, then the Pearly is bound to our souls. I mean, you do realize that Lady Gaga is actually referring to a Fallen Angel with this stage set, right? I mean, look at it. It's as obvious as the nose on her face. Plus, here. Still don't see it? Try this. See if that helps. But where is my sensitivity? This song is actually a tribute to Gaga's beloved aunt, who passed away at an early age. It says so in the music video. I mean, losing an aunt who was only 19 must have been a tough break for Gaga. How old was her father at the time? Well, that means Gaga was, what, minus 12 at the time? Jeez, that's too early an age to lose a beloved aunt. Luckily, Aunt Joanne stuck around as a familiar spirit. Or maybe it's not Joanne after all. Maybe it's one of those serpent-faced Watchers we talked about recently. You know, like Phylax. Just a thought. Besides the serpent ring, Gaga was also wearing oooh-black diamond earrings. Which are kind of related to all this junk we've been talking about here. And the Angel theme was all over this year's Grammys, like with this getup Lana Del Rey paraded around in. And the winning Country song. And this tribute to the victims of the Vegas. And SZA's outfit here, which also looks quite Pearly to me. As does Elton's jacket here. Only those are real Pearly Dew-Drops. Despite the 'Time's Up' theme, I didn't see any Pearly lapel pins at the Grammys, like the one Guy Bannister here is rocking. I guess that's more a movie thing. We'll follow up on that during the Oscars. Well, that's all well and good, I hear you saying. But what does any of this crap have to do with Elizabeth Fraser? Get on with it! The Weeknd won a big Grammy for Starboy. Not sure if the star in question is Regulus. And then there's this- The National's Sleep Well Beast won "Best Alternative Album," which I think they hand out at a Gray's Papaya on Ninth Avenue. It's a 4AD release. I don't know if 4AD won a Grammy before. I'm thinking they haven't. Not even for "Song to the Siren." And I thought Sleep Well Beast's album cover looked familiar! "4AD" and "Cocteau Twins" essentially being synonymous back in the day. Sleep well indeed, dead-but-dreaming Beast: soon you shall be released from the Abyss, where you will make war with the Saints and have power over all the Nations. There's more-- Shakira won for El Dorado, or as I like to call it, Ruby Star Dorado. Seventeen won Best International Act or whatever, Ke$ha showed up with giant Blue Roses embroidered into her outfit, Leonard "Hallelujah" Cohen won a posthumous Grammy for Best Rock Performance (?) or something. Other stuff I'm too tired to include.
Target commercial was the Illuminati segment
James Cordon has T-Rex arms
Sza All seeing eye
SZA, The Grammys' Most-Nominated Woman, Didn't Win Anything | Time
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 11:42
SZA has had a breakout year, releasing acclaimed debut album Ctrl and developing a passionate following for her brand of honest, melodic R&B. So fans were excited when she was nominated in five different categories at the 60th Annual Grammy Awards, including Best New Artist, Best Urban Contemporary Album, Best R&B Performance, Best R&B Song and Best Rap/Sung Performance.
Unfortunately'--despite the fact that she was the most-nominated woman of the year'--SZA did not win any of the awards she was up for, losing out to Alessia Cara as new artist, The Weeknd for urban contemporary album, Bruno Mars for both R&B categories and Kendrick Lamar and Rihanna's ''Loyalty.'' for rap/sung performance.
Her losses were not overlooked by fans and supporters online, including her label head Punch of Top Dawg Entertainment.
In the meantime, fans can see SZA starring in the latest Gap commercials'--and expect much more to come from the rising star. ''This is just my prerequisite, honestly,'' SZA told TIME this summer of her debut album. ''This is just my entry chord into even understanding how to write.''
Fake News
FAKE NEWS: Public Broadcaster Admits To Increasing Booing Sounds During Trump Davos Speech
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:39
President Trump gave his speech at Davos on Thursday, again delivering sharp criticism to the mainstream media. He stated: ''it wasn't until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how fake the press can be.''
ARD released a clip of the speech on the Twitter account for its popular news programme ''Tagesschau'' in which distinct boos could be heard directly after the President's comments. A short time later the programme admitted it had booted the volume of the audio in order to showcase the booing. The show has since been accused of ''manipulation'', Sternreports.
Those behind the programme wrote on Twitter, ''We did actually make the sound a little louder at the end so that you can hear the booing. Only in this way can we reflect what our correspondents have reported.''
Editor-in-chief of the German tabloid newspaper Bild Julian Reichelt called out those involved saying it was, ''hard to imagine that you would have done the same for applause.''
Kai Gniffke, the editor in chief of ARD defended the move saying that it proved the reporting of his journalists.
''By the way, newspapers also make comparisons when they enlarge image sections and may even mark them with a red circle '' nobody would come up with the idea of calling this manipulation, but rather journalistic precision,'' he said.
The move is not the first time the German media has shown a bias against the U.S. President.
German left-leaning magazine Der Spiegel has been slammed by many for its various magazine covers including one that depicted President Trump cutting off the head of the Statue of Liberty designed to be reminiscent of Islamic State executions.
Some in the German press have also engaged in radical rhetoric regarding Trump and his presidency with Josef Joffe, editor and publisher of left-wing paper Die Zeit, saying last year on a political panel television programme that the only way to end the ''Trump catastrophe'' was a ''murder in the White House.''
In a more bizarre comment, editor in chief of the centre-right paper Die Welt Ulf Poschardt said that the best way for Germans to oppose Trump was to be more multicultural and more ''gay.''
Germany's establishment media collectively lost their minds when Breitbart London reported on a cathedral being set on fire in January last year, in addition to the use of an illustrative jetski photo which happened to include a barely recognisable, famous semi-retired footballer.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com
Fake Alerts
Former President Clinton Visits Big Island | Big Island Now
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:19
Former President Bill Clinton is currently enjoying time on the Big Island of Hawai'i.
Sen.Kai Kahele, President Bill Clinton and Sen. Brickwood Galuteria. PC: Sen. Kahele.
Clinton was the 42nd president to serve our country, serving from 1993 to 2001.
Hawai'i State Sens. Kai Kahele and Brickwood Galuteira got to meet with him on Friday, Jan. 12, 2018, for about 45 minutes.
''We talked about Hawai'i and how much it has to offer the world and how America could use a little bit of aloha right now,'' said Sen. Kahele.
Besides talking with the former president, the Senators gave him a portrait of the famed Polynesian voyaging canoe HōkÅle'a.
The former president will be on the Big Island until Monday, Jan. 15.
#MeToo
Whistling at women & asking for phone number could cost men '‚¬350 in France '-- RT World News
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 19:55
Men in France could be fined '‚¬350 (US$435) if they follow women in the street, whistle at them, make loud comments about their appearance or ask for their phone numbers, according to a draft proposal to combat ''sexual contempt.''
The new report will be presented to the French government in the coming days, local media report. The plans come from a parliamentary working group set up by France's secretary of state for equality, Marlene Schiappa. The politicians behind the proposal suggest that men who ''violate women's freedom of movement in public space'' should face a minimum fine of '‚¬90 for those who can pay on the spot. If the fine is delayed, it could reach '‚¬350, the report says. The document will be presented to Schiappa, Minister of Justice Nicole Belloubet, and Minister of the Interior Gerard Collomb.
Read more
Schiappa initially called for the legislation in October 2017, saying that street harassment should be a punishable offence. The 34-year-old feminist is working closely with French President Emmanuel Macron, who once said that harassment could be combated by creating a ''simpler verbalization procedure'' so that ''there is an immediate response'' when it occurs.
The 25-page report has yet to be made public, and it's unclear what its authors define as being an example of ''sexual contempt'' towards women. Ouest-France newspaper, which saw the report, says that following a woman, asking for her phone number and whistling at her could all be punishable, as would making loud remarks about a woman's looks. ''This all happens before insults and sexual assault, which are already punished by the Penal Code,'' says Erwan Balanant, one of the authors behind the report. Balanant explains that the measures are necessary as there isn't a police officer on every corner to stop every stalker.
READ MORE: #MeToo frenzy deprives men of 'indispensable freedom' to hit on women '' Catherine Deneuve
According to the High Council for Equality between Women and Men, 100 percent of women claim they have been harassed on public transport at least once, with 82 percent of those questioned being younger than 17 years old.
If approved, the proposal will be presented at parliamentary debates in the National Assembly and the Senate later this year. Before receiving the report, Schiappa indicated she favors even stronger measures, telling LCI news channel that a '‚¬90 fine is ''a bit weak.''
Read more
Critics of the measure also say it might not go far enough and may be purely symbolic. ''Stalkers don't wait for a police officer to harass a woman,'' Anais Bourdet, founder of the Pay Ta Shnek Facebook group, which lists the testimonies of harassed women, told L'Obs newspaper.
French media, however, have questioned how ''sexual contempt'' would be separated from flirting. MEP Elise Fajgeles, another author of the report, has been accused of vagueness by answering: ''Seduction should be done in a relationship of equality and not domination.''
Earlier in January, Paris authorities announced a new measure to tackle harassment on public transport. Passengers on certain buses now have a chance to hop off at night even when the vehicle is not at a designated stop.
While the campaign against sexual harassment continues to gather pace across the globe, numerous French celebrities have rallied against the #MeToo movement. Catherine Deneuve, Brigitte Bardot and Laetitia Casta are among those who do not consider themselves to be feminists, and say that flirting with a woman is not offensive.
Modeling Agencies Enabled Sexual Predators For Years, Former Agent Says | HuffPost
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:44
In October 2017, Carolyn Kramer received a disturbing phone call. The former modeling agent listened intently as a model she used to represent told her that a famous French photographer, who still shoots for top publications, raped her when she was 16. Shortly after meeting the man at a restaurant in 1983, the model said she blacked out after drinking one glass of champagne, then woke up in his bed the next morning with a sore and bruised vagina.
The woman, who preferred to remain anonymous, confirmed this story with HuffPost, but did not want to name the photographer for fear of legal repercussions.
''He was one of the photographers that agents and clients and young girls basically knew was lecherous,'' Kramer said, claiming that she and other agents sent their models to him in the '80s anyway. ''[But] what I didn't realize [at the time] is that he was raping girls.''
Kramer said she broke down crying after the woman relayed her story of assault. ''In that moment I felt that I let down the models who I represented over the course of 20 years,'' she said. ''It made me feel like, here it is in front of my face now and I didn't do anything to change [it.]''
It's been 14 years since Kramer left the fashion business. But throughout the two decades she spent working as a modeling agent in New York City in the 1980s, '90s and early 2000s, Kramer said she knew about rampant sexual misconduct in her industry '• and didn't protect her models from the egregious behavior.
Now, amid the domino-like fall of so many high-profile alleged sexual offenders, the 58-year-old can't stop thinking about how she and other agents sent girls, some as young as 13, to modeling gigs with photographers who were rumored to be sexual predators. So i n October, the former agent decided to speak out.
''Many of these girls who are assaulted [as models] aren't older than 15 years old,'' she wrote in a Facebook post. ''And I stand here to say how ashamed I am of myself for not having had the tools or the resources or guts to stop it.''
Kramer's peers queued up in the post's comments section to corroborate her story. One of her former colleagues, ex-model Kristen Noel, said her agency, Elite Model Management, sent her to Paris in the early '80s to stay with an agent who repeatedly groped and forcibly kissed her. She was 16. ''Elite protected him and disconnected from their responsibility to me,'' Noel told HuffPost.
Another commenter, hair and makeup artist Dawn Jacobson, said she saw agencies regularly endanger models when she worked in Milan in the '80s. According to her, companies sent young women to live in residences '• one of which was reportedly known as ''Clitoride,'' Italian for ''clitoris'' '• where they were preyed on by wealthy Italian men. ''I think the agencies have massive culpability because they don't necessarily care about anything other than who gets the booking,'' the 59-year-old, who still works in fashion, told HuffPost. ''It becomes a little bit of a human trafficking kind of thing.''
Kramer's post, her first public denouncement of the sexual harassment and abuse she'd witnessed and heard about in the fashion industry, clearly struck a nerve. As the #MeToo revolution continues to spark a national dialogue on sexual misconduct, the former agent wants to expose exactly how the very modeling agencies she worked for enabled predators, a disturbing reality that she believes still exists today.
''A Culture Of Compliance''
Kramer, a New Jersey native, doesn't seem like the type to stay silent. She has a self-described ''big personality'' and speaks bluntly with a slight New York accent. In a recent Facebook profile photo, she's wearing a shirt that reads ''Fuck Trump'' and raising her middle finger. But since she retired from the fashion world in 2004, Kramer said she felt like nobody '• primarily, the media '• was interested in what she had to say.
Only recently, the former agent noted, have news outlets begun systematically covering the kinds of abuse allegations she wants to condemn. It's true that sexual assault accusations made against fashion photographer Terry Richardson date back to 2001, and that he was only officially dropped by certain top magazines and brands in October 2017. (Richardson has long denied any nonconsensual behavior.) And while at least 18current and former male models recently accused famed photographer Bruce Weber of sexual harassment (Weber has denied these claims), one of whom has filed a lawsuit, industry insiders claim there is a long list of predators who still thrive in a largely unregulated profession that combines young models, big male egos and drugs.
Kramer's story dates back to 1983, when she was hired by the industry's top agency, Elite Model Management, as an assistant booking agent in New York. Her previous fashion industry jobs had been horrible. Kramer once worked with a photographer who she said cornered her in his office and tried to forcibly kiss her. And she worked for Foster-Fell Model Management, which she called a ''slimy, horrible'' agency.
''The models were basically prostitutes,'' she said. ''[The owner] would have parties I would be at with licentious business men who were only there to fuck the models.''
(Jeremy Foster-Fell, who co-founded the now-defunct agency in 1970, denied these claims to HuffPost. ''To say there was an arrangement of financial exchange and sexual favors would be completely out of whack,'' he said, adding, however, that ''if you're looking after a whole bunch of good-looking ladies who are running around Manhattan, you're going to be running into trouble here and there sometimes.'')
But at 24, Kramer found herself employed by the modeling world's gold standard, an agency that represented Cindy Crawford and Linda Evangelista, where she didn't expect to encounter abusive men. Her transition to Elite was ''like going from community college to Harvard,'' she said.
Sadly, Kramer's optimism was quickly dashed.
At Elite New York, her job frequently involved booking models on ''go-sees,'' the name for appointments during which photographers or designers scout new faces for upcoming shoots. In these meetings, vulnerable young women's success often depends on impressing (mostly) powerful men.
Kramer said she and other Elite agents would send models, who in many cases were under 16 and had never been to New York City, on appointments with nothing more than subway fare and a map. According to Kramer, the girls mostly went alone, because at the time there were no laws requiring guardians to accompany underage models on shoots. New York passed a bill in 2013 that, among other things, requires models under 16 to have chaperones. But before that, a 2012 study by Model Alliance, an organization that advocates for labor rights in fashion, found that 52 percent of models are rarely or never accompanied by guardians to a shoot, despite the fact that the majority of models start working between age 13 and 16.
Kramer quickly learned about the perils of go-sees and photo shoots. Though the former agent says that the models she represented at the time didn't tell her directly about being sexually harassed or assaulted by photographers '• likely, she said, because they were terrified of losing job opportunities '• Kramer soon heard through industry gossip with colleagues who the predators were.
''I wouldn't have even called it a secret,'' she said. ''It was just sort of common hearsay that this list of photographers were pigs...I had to make the appointments with [these men]. It would make me gag, but I had to do my job or I'd be fired.''
Another Elite employee, Marie Anderson Boyd, who was an agent and vice president at the company's Chicago office between 1985 and 1990, said models would regularly tell her about the sexual misconduct they experienced on go-sees. ''[Some photographers] will think nothing of walking over to some teen girl who's brand new to the business, taking her top off, unbuttoning her bra and saying something like, 'I want you to look at me and think of ... giving me oral sex,''' she said. ''And a lot of girls have never even done that [before], so they don't even know what the [photographers] mean.''
Anderson Boyd said she never told her managers at Elite about the models' abusive stories, in part because executives like John Casablancas and Gerald Marie also allegedly engaged in misconduct. ''They established a culture of compliance with sexually predatory behavior,'' she said. ''That trickled down into everything everybody did.''
''Statutory Rape Is In Front Of My Face''
Indeed, during Kramer's first year at Elite, the agency's late founder, the then-41-year-old Casablancas, was having a public affair with an underage model named Stephanie Seymour. Kramer was horrified that Casablancas, with his movie-star good looks and ''intoxicating'' charisma, was committing statutory rape .
''As a young little upstart, I was very in awe of him,'' she said. ''But at the same time I'm thinking to myself, Stephanie's supposed to be at a Vogue shooting at 9 a.m. and she's still in bed with John. I thought it was wrong and I honestly couldn't believe it went on. It made me sick.''
Other alleged abuses at Elite unfurled from there. Gerald Marie, the head of Elite Paris, was in his 30s when he allegedly raped a 17-year-old model named Carr(C) Otis on multiple occasions, which she detailed in her 2011 memoir. At the time, Otis was temporarily staying with him while she was modeling abroad in the mid-'80s. She didn't feel as though she could tell the agency about the abuse.
''When [Elite] New York said goodbye to me and put me in Gerald's apartment, he was like my new owner,'' Otis told HuffPost. ''There was no one in New York who created a connection with me and said, 'Hey, here's the way it should go, and if it doesn't go this way, here's a number to call.' It was just really a hand-off.''
''There was a below-the-radar understanding that the [executives] of Elite [Casablancas and Marie] were sleeping with young women,'' Kramer said. ''I'm working at an agency where statutory rape is in front of my face and yet I can't do anything.''
Kramer said at 24 she herself was groped by a high-profile agent who went on to become an Elite executive. ''I was sitting on his lap and his hands were all over me, coming around [my waist] and trying to grab my breast,'' she said. ''I didn't react because I was so accustomed to seeing photographers be touchy-feely with models.''
Kramer did not tell anyone at Elite about the misconduct, because she said it never occurred to her that such commonplace behavior was worth reporting, never mind addressing. And those who tried to call out problematic behavior didn't get very far. In 2000, Anderson Boyd told New York Magazine that she remembered watching two female executives plead with Marie and Casablancas to stop sleeping with underage women. Anderson Boyd says Marie's response was, ''We are men. We have our needs.''
''I was grossed out by what was happening,'' the 59-year-old told HuffPost. ''And that's why I quit.''
''The Culture Was: You Did What You Were Told''
Ultimately, Anderson Boyd and Kramer agreed that Elite never trained agents to speak with models about sexual misconduct. Both women say they and other agents they knew did not prepare models for how to deal with predatory behavior.
''It was not handled like a traditional corporation where you're handed a sexual harassment manual,'' Anderson Boyd said. ''I did not know how to help [the models'] working conditions.''
Their account matches the experiences of women at other agencies at the time. For example, when former model Lesa Amoore was 17, she said her agent at the now-defunct Riccardo Gay Model Management company warned her that a photographer she was about to shoot with in Milan could ''be a little weird.'' Amoore said that during the subsequent shoot, when she was wearing only a bra and underwear, the photographer unzipped his pants, pulled out his penis and asked whether he could masturbate. According to the former model, now 48, she put on her clothes and ran out of the room.
Amoore said that when she told her agent about the photographer's behavior, he responded, ''I'm so sorry, that happens sometimes with him.''
Sara Ziff, who began modeling at age 14 in the late '90s and later founded Model Alliance, told The New York Times last year that she too was regularly asked by photographers to get naked or topless without prior warning and, in at least one instance, was told to sit on her male booker's lap.
''When I first started modeling, I did not feel protected by my agency [Next Management],'' she told HuffPost. ''In some cases, I felt like they were facilitating meetings [with powerful people] that were not clearly work opportunities '• they felt more like being set up on a date.''
Though the modeling industry is now more regulated than it was in decades past, abuse is reportedly still frequent. A whopping 87 percent of models say they've been asked to get naked without prior warning, while 30 percent have experienced ''inappropriate touching'' on the job and 28 percent have been pressured to have sex at work, according to Model Alliance .
Model Cameron Russell's Instagram is filled with her own colleagues' stories of being preyed on at go-sees and shoots. A 22-year-old model wrote about how a male photographer pulled down her bra and started kissing her breasts six months ago. Another woman recalled how, as a 14-year-old model, a photographer made her change in front of him, rubbed oil on her legs, and, after asking if she was a virgin, said, ''You make me want to go to jail.''
The collection of horror stories portrays male photographers masturbating in front of young models, asking for sexual favors, and, in one case, penetrating a 15-year-old with his finger to make the photos ''look more sensual.''
Ziff said that beyond adhering to the 2013 bill, even the best-intentioned agencies still don't have firm policies in place to protect their models from sexual misconduct.
''They tell the girls that if they are in a situation that feels uncomfortable: 'Go to the bathroom and walk out,' 'Feel free to call me,' and 'You don't have to do anything you don't want to do,''' the 35-year-old explained. ''[They should] take a preventative approach that doesn't allow those situations to happen in the first place. It's much easier said than done to walk out of a shoot, especially if you're young, maybe English isn't your first language, and you're working with someone who could make or break your career.''
In fact, Model Alliance found that 70 percent of models surveyed didn't feel they could report sexual misconduct to their agencies. Of those who did, two-thirds said their agents didn't consider the behavior problematic, and, in a few cases, even encouraged models to sleep with predators to advance their careers.
Model Jason Boyce, who filed a lawsuit against Bruce Weber for sexual misconduct last year, is also suing his agency, Soul Artist Management. According to the court filing, Boyce claimed the agency knew about Weber's predatory behavior and alleged that his agent told him to ''nail'' his shoot with the famous photographer.
''The culture was: You did what you were told. That was how they sold it,'' he said in an interview with The Business of Fashion. ''If you do what I tell you, you'll make it. ... My agent told me that all the time.''
''I'm Sick To My Stomach That I Was Part Of This Poison''
Jilian Gotlib, a manager and booking agent who worked for Elite in the '80s and re-joined the company in 2005, spoke to HuffPost on behalf of the organization. She disputed Kramer's assertion that agents knowingly sent models to photographers who were rumored to be sexual predators, suggesting that Kramer ''goes overboard, maybe, with criticizing the industry.''
''We would always be careful, check out [the photographer] and tell our models, 'If [the photographers] ask you to do anything that we didn't tell you was going to happen, let us know,''' she explained. ''Some girls would just go ahead anyway, but we would always warn people: 'Call me if anything seems untoward.' I think we would try not to work with a lot of those photographers if we heard problems.''
Trudi Tapscott, who worked as an agent and director at Elite from the early '80s until the early '90s, reiterated Gotlib's point, explaining that she told young women about potentially creepy photographers ahead of time. ''I've had very honest conversations [about] what to do when [photographers] do this and what to do when [photographers] do that,'' she told HuffPost.
However, Tapscott added: ''At this point I consider [those conversations] complicit. But then I thought I was helping them survive, which sounds so stupid now.''
As for alleged in-house predators such as Marie, Gotlib said, ''I knew nothing about anything that might have been going on there.''
Throughout her career Kramer worked at four other agencies '• the now-defunct Name Management and Company Management, as well as Next Management and the Marilyn Model Agency '• where she said she also regularly witnessed young girls being preyed on at dinner parties and clubs. She said agencies organized events at hot spots such as New York's Indochine or the Ritz in Paris, where models mingled in clouds of cigarette smoke with important editors and photographers who could ''make or break careers.''
''I saw 14- and 15-year-olds sitting on the laps of these photographers,'' she said. ''These guys would just have their hands all over these girls.''
Ultimately, Kramer said she didn't think she could call out the complicit behavior without losing her job. ''Working for Elite [and the other agencies] manipulated me into thinking it was OK,'' she said. ''I'm not trying to squiggle out of this, by the way. I'm sick to my stomach that I was part of this poison. It sickens me.''
Representatives for Next Management and the Marilyn Model Agency did not respond to HuffPost's request for comment.
Kramer left the industry in 2004 when she was working at the Marilyn Model Agency, saying she was disgusted by how young the models had become. But the former agent said she didn't process the sexual misconduct '• or her role in enabling it '• until the following year, when she planned to write a book about her career.
''I really started becoming more in touch with, 'Holy shit, what did I do? What did I see? What did I feel? What did I know?''' she said.
Kramer never wrote the book, but since her October Facebook post, models have contacted her with more and more stories recalling sexual harassment and assault in the fashion world.
Even before posting on social media, Kramer had started working with Ziff at Model Alliance to publicize industry abuse. The organization recently proposed a program to address sexual misconduct in the fashion, entertainment and media industries that would, among other things, have a third party provide sexual harassment training and implement proper complaint procedures.
But Kramer says agents still working in the business aren't embracing her efforts. ''A lot of people aren't talking to me anymore because they know I'm on top of this,'' she said. ''They are afraid of losing their standing with these photographers and editors.''
There are still many ''Terry Richardsons'' in the industry, Kramer said, men whose predatory behavior the fashion world ignores. ''We all knew Terry Richardson was sexually abusing these girls and yet we still kept sending them on go-sees and to the bookings themselves,'' she said. ''If you've got a $20 million Revlon contract weighing in the balance ... yet you know Terry is abusing these girls, what do we do? Do we say no to Terry? No, [we] don't.''
Moving forward, Kramer believes that if executives at top agencies spoke out about malpractice, they could truly force industrywide change. Kramer also thinks agencies need to stop accepting models under 16, but at the very least, she urges them to better protect young women against possible predators.
''If I could get the owners to say to themselves, 'Maybe we shouldn't send 14-year-olds out on go-sees,' and, 'Maybe we should make sure these photographers that are on the blacklist are never alone with a model,' I would feel my own shame and guilt for not having done more when I was an agent [slightly dissipate],'' she said. ''[Then] maybe I'd be able to let myself off the hook a little bit.''
Do you have a story about harassment or discrimination that you'd like to share? Email: angelina.chapin@huffpost.com.
Migrants
CBP not at foreign airports yet
Also, if you remember CBP announced plans to have Border
processing at airports outside the USA like Amsterdam a couple of years ago,
but the program is still only operating in Canada and a few other random places
like Abu Dhabi, Nassau, and Dublin.
Don't mention me by name, but here is why it has not rolled
out. Presently, there is a fee of about $8 in the price of intl tickets
to pay for CBP processing. CBP has told airlines they will need another
$62 per passenger ($70 total!) for these out of country locations which amounts
to $500,000 per CBP officer. Their average pay is around $85,000, so the
rest is all overhead and pay bumps for out of country work. The airlines
have said "oh hell no" and have so far staved it off, but CBP
continues to push for it. This is why Mexico doesn't even have this CBP
program, because it would be half the ticket price. Sad...
DACA
To Protect Illegals from Deportation, Denver Decriminalizes Pooping on the Pavement
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 16:26
Although a bit uncivilized, it stands to reason that Denver, the first US city to legalize social marijuana, felt it was imperative to decriminalize the non-violent act of urinating or pooping on the pavement. After all, studies show that occasionally cannabis smoking has a laxative effect on the body.
Runny innards aside, statewide, it's still against the law to borrow a vacuum cleaner from a neighbor or to mutilate a rock in a state park. Therefore, the passage of Denver's public elimination ordinance means that if a hiker happens upon a boulder in one of Denver's state parks he or she is prohibited from etching a heart with an arrow into the stone.
However, if a lactose intolerant hiker eats too much queso fresco at lunch, and can't make it to the park restroom in time, the non-violent crime of using a rock as a toilet will no longer get that person a one-way ticket back to a country where E-Coli is spread on more than cilantro.
Likewise, if a homeless illegal migrant should happen to squat on the sidewalk in front of a Denver residence, borrowing a wet/dry shop-vac from a neighbor to clean up the walkway could result in the person using the suction device having to pay $1,000 fine, or having to spend the night in jail.
Unlike criminal vacuum-borrowers and lawless rock-desecrators, henceforth, in Denver, vagrant illegals, who came to America from countries Donald Trump less-than-tactfully described as sewers, will be able to freely spread diversity like organic fertilizer in a multicultural garden
Then again, decriminalizing public defecation is just one step forward in the global advancement of diversity. Speaking on behalf of the city's ruling, Mark Silverstein, Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said that the decision to permit public pooping was made because ''Many times it becomes a deportable offense if you've been convicted of even a minor ordinance violation that's punishable by a year in jail.''
What's confusing for those who regularly use restrooms is that a better life was supposed to be the excuse undocumented travelers gave for coming to America, to begin with. How does permitting people to leave human excrement on the sidewalk cultivate an environment unlike the one migrants came from? And if the culture illegals left behind ends up being foisted upon America '' how does that improve anyone's life?
Yet pro-illegal immigrant activist-types seem to believe it is ''soft bigotry'' to insist illegals assimilate by finding their way to a restroom like the rest of the civilized world. Ironically, by allowing in Denver what is common for 40-million people in Pakistan, the left not only encourages unsanitary conditions, they also tacitly insinuate that people from certain countries are incapable of learning to use the bathroom.
And who's the bigot?
Denver, Colorado has a larger illegal migrant population than Philadelphia and San Francisco, which is probably why the progressive sanctuary city was inspired to embrace a global mindset and allow illegals to reminisce about home-and-hearth by dropping their draws and crouching on the footpath outside of Starbucks.
Instead of raising the standard, Denver city leaders lowered the bar and opened their minds by allowing destitute illegal immigrants to open their bowels on the sidewalk. The result of this particular progressive legislation is that another American city is being turned into the type of feces-strewn sewer those on the left incessantly argue Americans are responsible to help illegal immigrants escape.
Recently, it's even been alleged that President Donald Trump coined Haiti a ''sh*thole'' country because, due to lack of sanitation, Haitians do what Denver has just made legal -- they relieve themselves on the street.
Offended Trump-haters reacted by charging the President with racism and xenophobia for speaking the truth. After all, why would Denver have to allow public pooping for immigrants if immigrants didn't come from countries where pooping publicly was the norm?
To protest Trump's perceived insult, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused the POTUS of wanting ''to make America white again.'' To stress the point, Nancy decided to show her disapproval by announcing she'll be bringing potty-trained illegals to the State of the Union address. Think of it, since Barack Obama lionized unlawfulness and convinced people who entered America dishonestly that they were victims with rights, people who should be detained and deported now have the gall to show up at the State of the Union to taunt America's Chief Law Enforcement Officer.
Thus far, President Trump has not responded by threatening to bring a posse of ICE agents to the SOTU or by proposing that an empty cargo plane will be at the ready fueled and aimed toward countries where public defecation is a national pastime.
Either way, back in Denver, San Francisco, and even New York City, illegals that weren't asked to attend the SOTU will continue to be coddled by city ordinances that have chosen to overlook resettled migrants transforming what were once iconic cities into poop-strewn public latrines. And so, once again, liberal politicians have aided and abetted the progressive destruction of cities where pooping on the pavement is no longer considered a crime but an inescapable expression of cultural diversity.
Jeannie hosts a blog at www.jeannie-ology.com
Although a bit uncivilized, it stands to reason that Denver, the first US city to legalize social marijuana, felt it was imperative to decriminalize the non-violent act of urinating or pooping on the pavement. After all, studies show that occasionally cannabis smoking has a laxative effect on the body.
Runny innards aside, statewide, it's still against the law to borrow a vacuum cleaner from a neighbor or to mutilate a rock in a state park. Therefore, the passage of Denver's public elimination ordinance means that if a hiker happens upon a boulder in one of Denver's state parks he or she is prohibited from etching a heart with an arrow into the stone.
However, if a lactose intolerant hiker eats too much queso fresco at lunch, and can't make it to the park restroom in time, the non-violent crime of using a rock as a toilet will no longer get that person a one-way ticket back to a country where E-Coli is spread on more than cilantro.
Likewise, if a homeless illegal migrant should happen to squat on the sidewalk in front of a Denver residence, borrowing a wet/dry shop-vac from a neighbor to clean up the walkway could result in the person using the suction device having to pay $1,000 fine, or having to spend the night in jail.
Unlike criminal vacuum-borrowers and lawless rock-desecrators, henceforth, in Denver, vagrant illegals, who came to America from countries Donald Trump less-than-tactfully described as sewers, will be able to freely spread diversity like organic fertilizer in a multicultural garden
Then again, decriminalizing public defecation is just one step forward in the global advancement of diversity. Speaking on behalf of the city's ruling, Mark Silverstein, Director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado, said that the decision to permit public pooping was made because ''Many times it becomes a deportable offense if you've been convicted of even a minor ordinance violation that's punishable by a year in jail.''
What's confusing for those who regularly use restrooms is that a better life was supposed to be the excuse undocumented travelers gave for coming to America, to begin with. How does permitting people to leave human excrement on the sidewalk cultivate an environment unlike the one migrants came from? And if the culture illegals left behind ends up being foisted upon America '' how does that improve anyone's life?
Yet pro-illegal immigrant activist-types seem to believe it is ''soft bigotry'' to insist illegals assimilate by finding their way to a restroom like the rest of the civilized world. Ironically, by allowing in Denver what is common for 40-million people in Pakistan, the left not only encourages unsanitary conditions, they also tacitly insinuate that people from certain countries are incapable of learning to use the bathroom.
And who's the bigot?
Denver, Colorado has a larger illegal migrant population than Philadelphia and San Francisco, which is probably why the progressive sanctuary city was inspired to embrace a global mindset and allow illegals to reminisce about home-and-hearth by dropping their draws and crouching on the footpath outside of Starbucks.
Instead of raising the standard, Denver city leaders lowered the bar and opened their minds by allowing destitute illegal immigrants to open their bowels on the sidewalk. The result of this particular progressive legislation is that another American city is being turned into the type of feces-strewn sewer those on the left incessantly argue Americans are responsible to help illegal immigrants escape.
Recently, it's even been alleged that President Donald Trump coined Haiti a ''sh*thole'' country because, due to lack of sanitation, Haitians do what Denver has just made legal -- they relieve themselves on the street.
Offended Trump-haters reacted by charging the President with racism and xenophobia for speaking the truth. After all, why would Denver have to allow public pooping for immigrants if immigrants didn't come from countries where pooping publicly was the norm?
To protest Trump's perceived insult, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi accused the POTUS of wanting ''to make America white again.'' To stress the point, Nancy decided to show her disapproval by announcing she'll be bringing potty-trained illegals to the State of the Union address. Think of it, since Barack Obama lionized unlawfulness and convinced people who entered America dishonestly that they were victims with rights, people who should be detained and deported now have the gall to show up at the State of the Union to taunt America's Chief Law Enforcement Officer.
Thus far, President Trump has not responded by threatening to bring a posse of ICE agents to the SOTU or by proposing that an empty cargo plane will be at the ready fueled and aimed toward countries where public defecation is a national pastime.
Either way, back in Denver, San Francisco, and even New York City, illegals that weren't asked to attend the SOTU will continue to be coddled by city ordinances that have chosen to overlook resettled migrants transforming what were once iconic cities into poop-strewn public latrines. And so, once again, liberal politicians have aided and abetted the progressive destruction of cities where pooping on the pavement is no longer considered a crime but an inescapable expression of cultural diversity.
Jeannie hosts a blog at www.jeannie-ology.com
SCIENCE!
Smelling Your Partner's Farts Will Make You Live Longer | Men's Health Magazine Australia
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 23:04
It takes a lot for your relationship to survive after your girlfriend lets the puppy of its leash in front of you. It might even scar you for life. But turns out she could be doing you a favour: Smelling your partner's farts will make you live longer, reveal scientists.
Research published in the journal of Medicinal Chemistry Communications studied the effects of the gas hydrogen sulfide - the very same substance that leaves your rear end.
Scientists found that exposure to the gasses can stave off mitochondrial damage - a cause for multiple health problems.
"Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero," says researcher Dr Mark Wood from the University of Exerter .
The study suggests that the toxic winds your letting off can also research illnesses such as cancer, stroke and heart attacks while preventing arthritis and dementia in old age.
"We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria," says Professor Matt Whiteman who resides at the University's medical school.
So next time your partner lets one off, you might be tempted to suck in a few big ones...or you could just smell some rotten eggs ( probably the more hygienic option.) If you are wondering why your farts are smelling so bad, find out more here.
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Featured news - Rotten egg gas holds key to healthcare therapies - University of Exeter
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 23:04
It may smell of flatulence and have a reputation for being highly toxic, but when used in the right tiny dosage, hydrogen sulfide is now being being found to offer potential health benefits in a range of issues, from diabetes to stroke, heart attacks and dementia.
A new compound (AP39), designed and made at the University of Exeter, could hold the key to future therapies, by targeting delivery of very small amounts of the substance to the right (or key) places inside cells.
Scientists in Exeter have already found that the compound protects mitochondria '' the ''powerhouse'' of cells, which drive energy production in blood vessel cells. Preventing or reversing mitochondrial damage is a key strategy for treatments of a variety of conditions such as stroke, heart failure, diabetes and arthritis, dementia and ageing. Mitochondria determine whether cells live or die and they regulate inflammation. In the clinic, dysfunctional mitochondria are strongly linked to disease severity.
Professor Matt Whiteman, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: ''When cells become stressed by disease, they draw in enzymes to generate minute quantities of hydrogen sulfide. This keeps the mitochondria ticking over and allows cells to live. If this doesn't happen, the cells die and lose the ability to regulate survival and control inflammation. We have exploited this natural process by making a compound, called AP39, which slowly delivers very small amounts of this gas specifically to the mitochondria. Our results indicate that if stressed cells are treated with AP39, mitochondria are protected and cells stay alive.''
Dr. Mark Wood of Biosciences, at the University of Exeter, added ''Although hydrogen sulfide is well known as a pungent, foul-smelling gas in rotten eggs and flatulence, it is naturally produced in the body and could in fact be a healthcare hero with significant implications for future therapies for a variety of diseases.''
The research is being conducted in several models of disease, and pre-clinical results are promising. For example, in models of cardiovascular disease, research shows that more than 80 per cent of the powerhouse mitochondria cells survive under otherwise highly destructive conditions, if the AP39 is administered. Professors Whiteman and Wood are now working towards advancing the research to a stage where it can be tested in humans.
The study was published in the journal Medicinal Chemistry Communications. A follow-up study, published in The Nitric Oxide Journal with collaborators from the University of Texas Medical Branch, also found that the compound selectively prevented mitochondrial DNA in mitochondria. Once damaged, this DNA cannot be repaired, leaving individuals more vulnerable to disease symptoms.
Early indications in small-scale studies, presented at this year's 3rd International Conference on Hydrogen Sulfide in Biology and Medicine in Kyoto, also show that in high blood pressure, AP39 reversed blood vessel stiffening and lowered blood pressure. It also dramatically improved chances of survival after a heart attack by slowing the heartbeat, improving its efficiency.
The collaboration was one of 20 research projects highlighted by Universities UK in their 'Ideas for Life' compilation for Universities Week of some of the most exciting, innovative research coming from higher education institutions across the UK.
Shut Up Slave!
§ 18.2-373. Obscene items enumerated
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:47
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Obscene items shall include:
(1) Any obscene book;
(2) Any obscene leaflet, pamphlet, magazine, booklet, picture, painting, bumper sticker, drawing, photograph, film, negative, slide, motion picture, videotape recording;
(3) Any obscene figure, object, article, instrument, novelty device, or recording or transcription used or intended to be used in disseminating any obscene song, ballad, words, or sounds; or
(4) Any obscene writing, picture or similar visual representation, or sound recording, stored in an electronic or other medium retrievable in a perceivable form.
Code 1950, § 18.1-229; 1960, c. 233; 1975, cc. 14, 15; 1981, c. 293; 1989, c. 546; 2000, c. 1009.
The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.
§ 18.2-372. "Obscene" defined
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:46
The word "obscene" where it appears in this article shall mean that which, considered as a whole, has as its dominant theme or purpose an appeal to the prurient interest in sex, that is, a shameful or morbid interest in nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, excretory functions or products thereof or sadomasochistic abuse, and which goes substantially beyond customary limits of candor in description or representation of such matters and which, taken as a whole, does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.
Code 1950, § 18.1-227; 1960, c. 233; 1975, cc. 14, 15.
The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.
§ 18.2-347. Keeping, residing in or frequenting a bawdy place; "bawdy place" defined
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:45
It shall be unlawful for any person to keep any bawdy place, or to reside in or at or visit, for immoral purposes, any such bawdy place. Each and every day such bawdy place shall be kept, resided in or visited, shall constitute a separate offense. In a prosecution under this section the general reputation of the place may be proved.
As used in this Code, "bawdy place" shall mean any place within or without any building or structure which is used or is to be used for lewdness, assignation or prostitution.
Code 1950, §§ 18.1-195, 18.1-196; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.
The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.
Virginia Misdemeanor Crimes by Class and Sentences | CriminalDefenseLawyer.com
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:43
Virginia lawmakers designate crimes as felonies (more serious crimes punishable by state imprisonment or death) or misdemeanors (less serious crimes punishable by up to 12 months in local jail). Misdemeanors are classified as Class 1, 2, 3, or 4, but lawmakers can also set specific penalties. (Va. Ann. Code § § 18.2-8, 18.2-9.)
For more information on felonies in Virginia, see Virginia Felony Crimes by Class and Sentences.
Class 1 MisdemeanorsClass 1 misdemeanors are the most serious misdemeanors in Virginia. A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by:
up to 12 months in jaila fine of up to $2,500, orboth.If lawmakers fail to designate a misdemeanor or set forth a particular punishment, then a crime is punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
(Va. Ann. Code § § 18.2-11, 18.2-12.)
Domestic violence, and carrying a gun without a permit are examples of Class 1 misdemeanors.
Class 2 MisdemeanorsClass 2 misdemeanors are punishable by:
up to six months in jaila fine of up to $1,000, orboth.(Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-11.)
For example, possession of drug paraphernalia and reckless driving are Class 2 misdemeanors in Virginia.
Class 3 and 4 MisdemeanorsClass 3 and 4 misdemeanors, the least serious misdemeanors, are punishable by fines, but no jail time. A Class 3 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $500. A Class 4 misdemeanor is punishable by a fine of up to $250. (Va. Ann. Code § 18.2-11.)
A first conviction for public intoxication is an example of a Class 4 misdemeanor. For more information on this crime, see Virginia Public Intoxication Laws.
Statutes of LimitationsMost crimes have a statute of limitations, a time period during which the state must begin criminal prosecution or the defendant can have the case dismissed. When the crime is committed, the statute of limitations begins to ''run.'' Misdemeanors in Virginia have statutes of limitations of one year.
For more information, see Virginia Criminal Statute of Limitations.
The Value of Legal RepresentationCriminal convictions, even for misdemeanors, can have very serious consequences. If you are charged with a crime, the best way to avoid a conviction is to talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney. A local defense attorney can help you navigate the criminal justice system so that you can obtain the best possible outcome.
§ 18.2-344. Fornication
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:43
Any person, not being married, who voluntarily shall have sexual intercourse with any other person, shall be guilty of fornication, punishable as a Class 4 misdemeanor.
Code 1950, §§ 18.1-188, 18.1-190; 1960, c. 358; 1975, cc. 14, 15.
The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.
§ 18.2-386.2. Unlawful dissemination or sale of images of another; penalty
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:42
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A. Any person who, with the intent to coerce, harass, or intimidate, maliciously disseminates or sells any videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever that depicts another person who is totally nude, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubic area, buttocks, or female breast, where such person knows or has reason to know that he is not licensed or authorized to disseminate or sell such videographic or still image is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. However, if a person uses services of an Internet service provider, an electronic mail service provider, or any other information service, system, or access software provider that provides or enables computer access by multiple users to a computer server in committing acts prohibited under this section, such provider shall not be held responsible for violating this section for content provided by another person.
B. Venue for a prosecution under this section may lie in the jurisdiction where the unlawful act occurs or where any videographic or still image created by any means whatsoever is produced, reproduced, found, stored, received, or possessed in violation of this section.
C. The provisions of this section shall not preclude prosecution under any other statute.
2014, c. 399.
The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.
Code of Virginia § 18.2-386.1 - Unlawful filming, videotaping or photographing of another; penalty :: Chapter 8 - Crimes Involving Morals and Decency :: Title 18.2 '-- CRIMES AND OFFENSES GENERALLY. :: 2006 Code of Virginia :: Code of Virginia :: US Code
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:41
18.2-386.1. Unlawful filming, videotaping or photographing of another;penalty.
A. It shall be unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionallyvideotape, photograph, or film any nonconsenting person or create anyvideographic or still image record by any means whatsoever of thenonconsenting person if (i) that person is totally nude, clad inundergarments, or in a state of undress so as to expose the genitals, pubicarea, buttocks or female breast in a restroom, dressing room, locker room,hotel room, motel room, tanning bed, tanning booth, bedroom or otherlocation; or (ii) the videotape, photograph, film or videographic or stillimage record is created by placing the lens or image-gathering component ofthe recording device in a position directly beneath or between a person'slegs for the purpose of capturing an image of the person's intimate parts orundergarments covering those intimate parts when the intimate parts orundergarments would not otherwise be visible to the general public; and whenthe circumstances set forth in clause (i) or (ii) are otherwise such that theperson being videotaped, photographed, filmed or otherwise recorded wouldhave a reasonable expectation of privacy.
B. The provisions of this section shall not apply to filming, videotaping orphotographing or other still image or videographic recording by (i)law-enforcement officers pursuant to a criminal investigation which isotherwise lawful or (ii) correctional officials and local or regional jailofficials for security purposes or for investigations of alleged misconductinvolving a person committed to the Department of Corrections or to a localor regional jail, or to any sound recording of an oral conversation made as aresult of any videotaping or filming pursuant to Chapter 6 ( 19.2-61 etseq.) of Title 19.2.
C. A violation of subsection A shall be punishable as a Class 1 misdemeanor.
D. A violation of subsection A involving a nonconsenting person under the ageof 18 shall be punishable as a Class 6 felony.
(1994, c. 640; 2004, c. 844; 2005, c. 375.)
Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Virginia may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.
§ 18.2-374.1. Production, publication, sale, financing, etc., of child pornography; presumption as to age
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:40
Creating a Report: Check the sections you'd like to appear in the report, then use the "Create Report" button at the bottom of the page to generate your report. Once the report is generated you'll then have the option to download it as a pdf, print or email the report.
A. For purposes of this article and Article 4 (§ 18.2-362 et seq.) of this chapter, "child pornography" means sexually explicit visual material which utilizes or has as a subject an identifiable minor. An identifiable minor is a person who was a minor at the time the visual depiction was created, adapted, or modified; or whose image as a minor was used in creating, adapting or modifying the visual depiction; and who is recognizable as an actual person by the person's face, likeness, or other distinguishing characteristic, such as a unique birthmark or other recognizable feature; and shall not be construed to require proof of the actual identity of the identifiable minor.
For the purposes of this article and Article 4 (§ 18.2-362 et seq.) of this chapter, the term "sexually explicit visual material" means a picture, photograph, drawing, sculpture, motion picture film, digital image, including such material stored in a computer's temporary Internet cache when three or more images or streaming videos are present, or similar visual representation which depicts sexual bestiality, a lewd exhibition of nudity, as nudity is defined in § 18.2-390, or sexual excitement, sexual conduct or sadomasochistic abuse, as also defined in § 18.2-390, or a book, magazine or pamphlet which contains such a visual representation. An undeveloped photograph or similar visual material may be sexually explicit material notwithstanding that processing or other acts may be required to make its sexually explicit content apparent.
B. A person shall be guilty of production of child pornography who:
1. Accosts, entices or solicits a person less than 18 years of age with intent to induce or force such person to perform in or be a subject of child pornography; or
2. Produces or makes or attempts or prepares to produce or make child pornography; or
3. Who knowingly takes part in or participates in the filming, photographing, or other production of child pornography by any means; or
4. Knowingly finances or attempts or prepares to finance child pornography.
5. [Repealed.]
B1. [Repealed.]
C1. Any person who violates this section, when the subject of the child pornography is a child less than 15 years of age, shall be punished by not less than five years nor more than 30 years in a state correctional facility. However, if the person is at least seven years older than the subject of the child pornography the person shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than five years nor more than 30 years in a state correctional facility, five years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of this section where the person is at least seven years older than the subject shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than 15 years nor more than 40 years, 15 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.
C2. Any person who violates this section, when the subject of the child pornography is a person at least 15 but less than 18 years of age, shall be punished by not less than one year nor more than 20 years in a state correctional facility. However, if the person is at least seven years older than the subject of the child pornography the person shall be punished by term of imprisonment of not less than three years nor more than 30 years in a state correctional facility, three years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment. Any person who commits a second or subsequent violation of this section when he is at least seven years older than the subject shall be punished by a term of imprisonment of not less than 10 years nor more than 30 years, 10 years of which shall be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment.
C3. The mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment prescribed for violations of this section shall be served consecutively with any other sentence.
D. For the purposes of this section it may be inferred by text, title or appearance that a person who is depicted as or presents the appearance of being less than 18 years of age in sexually explicit visual material is less than 18 years of age.
E. Venue for a prosecution under this section may lie in the jurisdiction where the unlawful act occurs or where any sexually explicit visual material associated with a violation of this section is produced, reproduced, found, stored, or possessed.
1979, c. 348; 1983, c. 524; 1986, c. 585; 1992, c. 234; 1995, c. 839; 2007, cc. 418, 759, 823; 2013, cc. 761, 774; 2015, c. 709.
The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of this section may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.
Va. bill would require filter on phones, computers to limit access to 'obscene content' | WCHS
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:38
FILE - In this Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, file photo, a guest looks at the Touch Bar on a MacBook computer shown in a demo room following the announcement of new products at Apple headquarters, in Cupertino, Calif. Higher-end models of Apple's MacBook Pro now come with a narrow touch screen above the regular keyboard for quick access to common settings and tasks. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez, File)
RICHMOND, Va. (WSET) -- A bill being proposed in the Virginia House of Delegates is looking to reduce trafficking by making pornography less accessible on the Internet.
House Bill 1592, also known as the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, would require a filter for providers of devices that have access to the Internet, like your phone or computer.
Users, who are of legal age, would have to pay a $20 fee to remove the filter on any new device they buy.
"By public education, the next generation is very well informed that exploitation has consequences," Jessica Neely, a human trafficking survivor told WRIC in Richmond. "Endorsing this bill, getting behind it and making sure it passes, your state '-- Virginia '-- makes the choice that girls like myself can choose recovery."
Opponents of the bill believe it would impact freedom of the Internet.
Supporters said that users who never access obscene content would not notice a difference and that it would also prevent minors from stumbling upon the content.
Professor Ted
Fitness app Strava lights up staff at military bases - BBC News
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 11:43
Image copyright Strava Image caption The movements of soldiers within Bagram air base - the largest US military facility in Afghanistan Military personnel around the world have been publicly logging their exercise routes online, raising security concerns for their bases.
Online fitness tracker Strava has published a "heatmap" showing the paths its users log as they run or cycle.
It appears to show the structure of foreign military bases in countries including Syria and Afghanistan, as soldiers move around.
The US military was examining the heatmap, a spokesman said.
How does Strava work?San Francisco-based Strava provides an app that uses a mobile phone's GPS to track a subscriber's exercise activity.
It uses the collected data, as well as that from fitness devices such as Fitbit and Jawbone, to enable people to check their own performances and compare them with others.
It says it has 27 million users around the world.
What is the heatmap?The latest version of the heatmap was released by Strava in November last year.
It is a data visualisation showing all of the activity of all of its users around the world.
Strava says the newest version has been built from one billion activities - some three trillion points of data, covering 27 billion km (17bn miles) of distance run, jogged or swum.
But it is not a live map. The data aggregates the activities recorded between 2015 and September 2017.
So why is it in the news now?That is thanks to Nathan Ruser, a 20-year-old Australian university student who is studying international security at the Australian National University and also works with the Institute for United Conflict Analysts.
He said he came across the map while browsing a cartography blog last week.
It occurred to him that a large number of military personnel on active service had been publicly sharing their location data and realised that the highlighting of such exercises as regular jogging routes could be dangerous.
"I just looked at it and thought, 'oh hell, this should not be here - this is not good,'" he told the BBC.
"I thought the best way to deal with it is to make the vulnerabilities known so they can be fixed. Someone would have noticed it at some point. I just happened to be the person who made the connection."
What does the heatmap show?Although the location of military bases is generally well-known and satellite imagery can show the outline of buildings, the heatmap can reveal which of them are most used, or the routes taken by soldiers.
You might also be interested in: It displays the level of activity - shown as more intense light - and the movement of personnel inside the walls.
It also appears that location data has been tracked outside bases - which may show commonly used exercise routes or patrolled roads.
Mr Ruser said he was shocked by how much detail he could see. "You can establish a pattern of life," he said.
A significant riskBy Jonathan Marcus, defence and diplomatic correspondent
Many years ago, operational security was a relatively simple matter of not being physically overheard by the enemy.
Think of the British WWII poster with the slogan "Careless Talk Costs Lives".
Well, no more. Our modern electronic age means that we all move around with a number of "signatures"; we send and receive a variety of signals, all of which can be tracked. And as the episode with the exercise tracker shows, you do not need to be an American or Russian spy to be able to see and analyse these signals.
Russian troops have been tracked in Ukraine or in Syria by studying their social media interactions or geo-location data from their mobile phone images.
Each piece of evidence is a fragment, but when added together it could pose a significant risk to security - in this case highlighting the location of formerly secret bases or undisclosed patterns of military activity.
Which bases are affected and why?The app is far more popular in the West than elsewhere and major cities are aglow with jogging routines.
But in remote areas foreign military bases stand out as isolated "hotspots" and the activities of a single jogger can be illuminated on dark backgrounds.
Exercise activities stand out in such countries as Syria, Yemen, Niger, Afghanistan and Djibouti, among others.
A US base at Tanf in Syria, near the Iraqi border, is an illuminated oblong, while forward bases in Helmand, Afghanistan, are also lit up.
Although US bases have been frequently mentioned it is by no means just an American problem.
One image shows the perimeter of the main Russian base in Syria, Hmeimim, and possible patrol routes.
The UK's RAF base at Mount Pleasant in the Falkland Islands is also lit up with activity, as are popular swimming spots nearby.
And it is not exclusively the more remote areas either. Jeffrey Lewis in the Daily Beast highlights one potential security flaw at a Taiwan missile command centre.
Neither is it just military personnel who could be affected, but also aid workers and NGO staffers in remoter areas too.
Both state and non-state actors could use the data to their advantage.
Can't you apply a privacy setting?Yes. The settings available in Strava's app allow users to explicitly opt out of data collection for the heatmap - even for activities not marked as private - or to set up "privacy zones" in certain locations.
Strava has not said much since the concerns were raised but it released a brief statement highlighting that the data used had been anonymised, and "excludes activities that have been marked as private and user-defined privacy zones".
But journalist Rosie Spinks is one of those who has expressed concern at the privacy system.
In an article for Quartz last year she said there was too much onus on the consumer to navigate an opting-out system that required different levels.
Then there is the fear that hackers could access Strava's database and find the details of individual users.
What have authorities said?A US Department of Defense spokeswoman, Maj Audricia Harris, said it took "matters like these very seriously and is reviewing the situation to determine if any additional training or guidance is required".
The US has been aware of such problems, publishing a tract called Enhanced Assessments and Guidance Are Needed to Address Security Risks in DOD.
In 2016, the US military banned Pokemon GO from government-issued mobile phones,
An image of the Pentagon on the Strava heatmap showed no activity.
Image copyright Strava The UK's Ministry of Defence said it also took "the security of its personnel and establishments very seriously and keeps them under constant review" but would not comment on specific security arrangements.
Agenda 2030
'Science Guy' Attends State Of The Union Address, And Some Scientists Aren't Happy : The Two-Way : NPR
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:26
Bill Nye, left, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, right, pose for a photo in a photo from February 2017 that was provided by the Office of Congressman Jim Bridenstine. Megan Wenrich/APhide caption
toggle captionMegan Wenrich/AP Bill Nye, left, and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, right, pose for a photo in a photo from February 2017 that was provided by the Office of Congressman Jim Bridenstine.
Megan Wenrich/AP The decision by Bill Nye to attend the State of the Union Address alongside the Trump administration's nominee to head NASA has put the celebrity science educator at odds with many scientists.
Nye, who starred in the children's program Bill Nye the Science Guy and now has his own Netflix original series, Bill Nye Saves the World is also CEO of the Planetary Society.
On its website earlier this month, The Planetary Society made the announcement that Nye had been asked and accepted an invitation to attend the speech with Oklahoma Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine: "When a congressman and current nominee for NASA Administrator asks you to be his guest at the state of the union address in Washington, D.C., how do you respond? For us, the answer was easy. Yes, Bill would be there."
Nye and The Planetary Society took pains to say that accepting the invitation was not an endorsement of the administration or its policies.
Even so, that did not sit well with many in the scientific community, who are not happy about Bridenstine, a tea party conservative who has espoused climate denial myths in the past and who navigated a fine line on the subject during his Senate nomination hearing in November.
In an editorial published Tuesday on Scientific American magazine's website, a group known as 500 Women Scientists argued, "by attending the SOTU as Rep. Bridenstine's guest, Nye has tacitly endorsed those very policies, and his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large."
"Rep. Bridenstine is a controversial nominee who refuses to state that climate change is driven by human activity, and even introduced legislation to remove Earth sciences from NASA's scientific mission," the editorial said.
"Further, he's worked to undermine civil rights, including pushing for crackdowns on immigrants, a ban on gay marriage, and abolishing the Department of Education."
"As women and scientists, we refuse to separate science from everyday life. We refuse to keep our heads down and our mouths shut," the editorial read. "As someone with a show alleging to save the world, Bill Nye has a responsibility to acknowledge the importance of NASA's vast mission, not just one aspect of it. He should use his celebrity to elevate the importance of science in NASA's mission'--not waste the opportunity to lobby for space exploration at a cost to everything else."
In a rebuttal to the editorial, The Planetary Society's director of space policy, Casey Dreier wrote, "I want to restate the fact that attending the SOTU as Bridenstine's guest does not mean that either Bill Nye or The Planetary Society is endorsing his nomination. The Society does not make endorsements for NASA Administrator nominees'--we are committed to working with whomever serves in that position."
"Our relationship with Bridenstine and his office goes back years due to his involvement in the House Space Subcommittee, which has oversight over NASA," Dreier said.
"Space exploration is one of the few areas of politics that still offers significant opportunities for bipartisan rapprochement. A shared passion for space can lay the groundwork for a relationship between individuals of very different political beliefs," he added.
However, the address may have been something of a disappointment for Nye, who said ahead of it that he hoped "to hear the president present plans for an ambitious, science-driven space exploration agenda."
On Tuesday night, the president's speech contained nothing about NASA or the future of America's space program.
The Memo
Rosenstein approved surveillance extension of former Trump adviser: NYT
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 16:39
(Reuters) - U.S. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein approved to extend surveillance of former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page shortly after assuming office last spring, the New York Times reported, citing people familiar with a secret Republican memo.
The extension shows the Department of Justice, under President Donald Trump, saw reason to believe that Page was acting as a Russian agent, the paper reported on Sunday.
The memo paints the investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the U.S. presidential election as tainted from the start, the paper said.
FILE PHOTO - One-time advisor of U.S. president-elect Donald Trump Carter Page addresses the audience during a presentation in Moscow, Russia, December 12, 2016. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin The Times report did not reveal the evidence Rosenstein relied on to authorize extension of the surveillance.
Rosenstein, also a Republican, took office in April after being nominated by Trump.
The Republican Party and the Democratic Party were not immediately available to comment late on Sunday. Reuters could not contact Carter Page for comment.
Reporting by Shubham Kalia in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier
FBI Statement on HPSCI Memo '-- FBI
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 04:11
>>Washington, D.C.
FBI National Press Office
(202) 324-3691
January 31, 2018
The FBI takes seriously its obligations to the FISA Court and its compliance with procedures overseen by career professionals in the Department of Justice and the FBI. We are committed to working with the appropriate oversight entities to ensure the continuing integrity of the FISA process.
With regard to the House Intelligence Committee's memorandum, the FBI was provided a limited opportunity to review this memo the day before the committee voted to release it. As expressed during our initial review, we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy.
LGBBTQQIAAP
People who practice yoga contribute to white supremacy, professor claims | New York Post
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:05
White people who do a downward-facing dog are contributing to a ''system of power, privilege, and oppression,'' according to a Michigan State University professor.
Shreena Gandhi, a religious studies professor at Michigan State, claims in an article she recently co-authored that Americans who practice yoga are contributing to white supremacy and promote the ''yoga industrial complex.''
White Americans should learn yoga's history, acknowledge the cultural appropriation they engage in and possibly reduce the cost of yoga classes for poor people, a group that often includes people of color and ''recent immigrants, such as Indian women to whom this practice rightfully belongs,'' Gandhi argued.
She co-authored the piece titled ''Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation,'' with Lillie Wolff, a self-described ''anti-racist white Jewish organizer, facilitator, and healer,'' who has called for ''decolonizing'' yoga, the College Fix reported.
The two argued ''the explosion of yoga studios, yoga video, apps, yoga pants, and other yoga swag over the last two decades is evidence'' of the ''(mis)appropriation of yoga'' that ''is part of systemic racism'' built on ''the labor of black people and people of the global south.''
''We would argue one of the goals of white supremacy is to buffer white people from the pain that comes from the process of exchanging cultural grounding for the unearned power and privilege of whiteness,'' they wrote. '''...this modern-day trend of cultural appropriation of yoga is a continuation of white supremacy and colonialism, maintaining the pattern of white people consuming the stuff of culture that is convenient and portable, while ignoring the well-being and liberation of Indian people.''
Gandhi and the Religious Studies Department at MSU did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Gandhi said few white people ''make the connection between their attraction to yoga and the cultural loss their ancestors and relatives experienced when they bought into white dominant culture in order to access resources,'' Gandhi wrote.
But white people who twist their bodies in different yoga positions can do something about it, according to Gandhi.
''Given a deeper analysis of yoga, white yoga practitioners and teachers can engage in yoga in a decolonizing way that reduces harm and seeks greater cultural accountability,'' she wrote.
''Especially during this time when the underbelly of capitalism '-- white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, and xenophobia '' is being exposed, it is imperative that everyone, especially those who have access to spiritual practices like yoga, ask difficult questions of ourselves and one another,'' the two concluded. ''We must ask, in what ways are we complicit in a system that harms people of color, queer and trans people, poor people, people with disabilities, and immigrants?''
Hate Trumps Love
5G
Google's Influence in 5G Plan Reveals Urgency of Tech Giants to Join A.I. Arms Race '' Old-Thinker News
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 21:47
Old-Thinker News | Jan. 31, 2018
By Daniel Taylor
Jerome Corsi: '''...certain individuals within the Trump administration NSC acted as co-conspirators with Google in the plan for the government to nationalize the U.S. next-generation 5G telecommunications network.''Jeremy Straub wrote in the Daily Mail recently that, ''I worry that the world may be entering '' or perhaps already in '' another cold war, fueled by AI.''
The world's superpowers, namely the United States, China and Russia are racing toward a new ''Sputnik moment'' with artificial intelligence. Vladimir Putin has stated that ''Whoever becomes the leader in this sphere will become the ruler of the world.'' Last year, China released a government plan to become the world leader in AI.
Evidence of this ongoing A.I. war emerged recently with revelations regarding Google's heavy influence in a proposed National Security Council plan to nationalize the 5G infrastructure.
Jerome Corsi reports for infowars that President Trump has rejected the nationalization plan. Interestingly, Corsi revealed that the plan included Google insiders, and that the proposal would be a ''counter to'... China's dominance of Artificial Intelligence.'' Corsi writes, '''...certain individuals within the Trump administration NSC acted as co-conspirators with Google in the plan for the government to nationalize the U.S. next-generation 5G telecommunications network.''
While working to influence policy in the United States, Google is playing both sides in the push for A.I. The company recently opened a large artificial intelligence research facility in Beijing, China.
Fei-Fei Li, head of Google Cloud, said that, ''Whether a breakthrough occurs in Silicon Valley, Beijing or anywhere else, it has the potential to make everyone's life better for the entire world.''
The 5G infrastructure will provide a foundation for an ''Internet of Things'', a system that former CIA Director David Petraeus said would revolutionize ''clandestine tradecraft.'' He continued, ''Items of interest will be located, identified, monitored, and remotely controlled through technologies such as radio-frequency identification, sensor networks'...''
According to Investors Business Daily, 5G will provide a network for '''...augmented reality, autonomous vehicles and smart cities.''
Related
BTC
How blockchain could kill both cable and Netflix | VentureBeat
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 11:48
Blockchain technology, powered by nodes of peer-to-peer computers around the world, is on the rise. So can we expect decentralized entertainment applications built on blockchain to replace streaming services like Netflix or Amazon and be the final death knell for Cable?
Video production studios have already seen a lot of disruption recently. Websites like Youtube and Twitch have created a mass market for user-generated content, stripping the cable networks and studios from their positions as the sole creators of mass-market video content. Yet, despite the rise of these mega-websites, most high quality scripted entertainment content today, still comes via a largely centralized model.
Studios and networks (now expanded to include streamers Netflix and Amazon) fund the development of content, and the content follows an orderly approach to distribution '' from the studio to the end user along one of the pre-defined channels: cable or broadcast or mobile device or website.
Blockchain has the power to fundamentally disrupt the entertainment industry because it brings out a completely new, decentralized model for content distribution. In a blockchain, computers all over the world act together in a peer-to-peer network to work on some task '-- there is no central server or authority.
Today Netflix and Cable still rely on the idea of ''centralized'' aggregation and distribution. Content creators must get past some number of ''gatekeepers'' and strike business deals with the network, which then puts the content on a server and distributes it over the air, via coaxial, or more recently, over the internet directly using CDNs (Content Delivery Networks like Akamai or Amazon CloudFront). Decisions about what content is offered, when it's offered, the price, and the distribution route are still very proprietary and hierarchical.
In a decentralized world, no single website or authority would have a say over what content is to be distributed and how it will reach the ''last mile.'' No website would be able to block specific content. With decentralized apps (Dapps) for entertainment, whether it's for live streaming or on-demand video, thousands of computers around the world would act as broadcasters in a mesh network that is not hierarchical. These ''super nodes'' would solve the last mile problem by broadcasting the signal to computers that are geographically nearby. This will be particularly effective in countries that don't have lots of presence from existing CDNs.
A number of new crypto projects have cropped up that use either existing blockchains or completely new blockchains as infrastructure for decentralized video streaming. Some of these are optimized for ingesting and compressing content to make it available, such as LivePeer, built on the Steem blockchain, and Viuly, built on Ethereum. Some are application level tokens for streamers and influencers, such as Stream Token and YouNow/PROPS, both on Ethereum. Spectiv VR is focused on the advertising model and making sure content creators get a larger part of it, particularly for VR content. And LBRY and my company, Theta Labs, are building new blockchains/protocols to support third-party DApps for entertainment, esports, and more.
Not only could these blockchain projects completely disrupt the distribution world because they no longer require centralized architectures, they can also disrupt the Netflixes of the world and make the idea of channels on cable completely obsolete. What is a channel but an aggregation of curated content over a well-defined distribution network?
Here are a few ways that a fully decentralized blockchain based entertainment network might disrupt the industry:
Free Up Content Creators. Content creators could create shows and make them available over a decentralized platform instantly '' no need to go pitch a studio or try to get Netflix to put you on their system. No more gatekeepers that have to approve your content.New Channels. New ''channels'' could emerge in a completely decentralized way. You could envision channels for esports, live events, fantasy, sci fi, news, etc. These channels could be set up by anyone and joined by content creators.Advertising and Free Content. Free content could even disrupt the traditional TV advertising model (which sites like YouTube are also following) by using tokens on these networks. The new blockchain video projects usually provide coins or tokens that advertisers can use to buy exposure on these decentralized channels. They can specify that those coins go directly to the content creator without having to a middleman take a big chunk of the revenue '-- a large departure from existing practices where the middleman gets the biggest chunk.Paid Content. As for paid entertainment or the subscription model, viewers could use the new tokens issued by decentralized content networks to subscribe to particular channels or to pay a particular content creator. This could replace cable on-demand and give viewers unlimited choice of what can be seen ''on-demand.'' HBO and other subscription networks recently released their own apps so you don't need a cable subscription to watch them. The next HBO may be a completely decentralized network that is not tied to cable at all!Conclusion: Watch out.
Technology changes have always impacted the entertainment industry. While the internet has created new ways to consume content, the creation and distribution of high quality shows has, for the most part, still been dominated by a small number of players, studios, TV networks, cable providers, and aggregators like Netflix. This hasn't led to the democratization of content that was the promise of the internet.
Blockchain technology has the ability to fundamentally disrupt the entertainment industry by breaking that pseudo monopoly, replacing the centralized gate-keepers with a peer-to-peer network.
Many of these projects will be going live towards the end of this year, and we can expect to see rapid growth of the new players in 2019 and 2020. Just as it took Netflix a number of years to displace Blockbuster and video rental stores as the dominant way to consume on-demand entertainment, it may take a number of years before the new decentralized approach becomes the dominant trend. Look to the 2020s to be the decade of blockchain in entertainment.
Rizwan Virk is an advisor, investor, and the Head of Corporate Development at SLIVER.tv, and a member of the founding team at Theta Labs. He also serves as the current director of Play Labs @ MIT. He is an early investor in cryptocurrency and many blockchain companies, including Ripio/BitPagos, CoinMkt, Bex.io, and has been active with BitAngels since 2013. He was also the designer of Bitcoin Bazaar, one of the first peer-to-peer mobile applications for in-person trading of Bitcoin.
Coincheck: $530M cryptocurrency heist may be biggest ever - Jan. 29, 2018
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 17:17
The exchange, Coincheck, has promised to partially refund the 260,000 cryptocurrency investors affected by the theft, although it didn't say when it would do so or where it's getting the money from.
The hacking at Coincheck, which bills itself on its website as "the leading bitcoin and cryptocurrency exchange in Asia," came to light over the weekend. If confirmed, it's expected to rank as the biggest such theft on record, eclipsing the estimated $400 million in bitcoin stolen from Mt Gox in 2014.
Coincheck said the hackers stole customer deposits of NEM, a less well known digital currency.
The exchange promised to use cash from its own funds to pay out ¥46.3 billion ($426 million) toward covering its users' losses. That's about 20% less than the total value of the virtual tokens that were stolen.
Related: What is bitcoin?
Coincheck said in a blog post that the hack "has caused immense distress to our customers, other exchanges, and people throughout the cryptocurrency industry."
"We would like to offer our deepest and humblest apologies to all of those involved," the exchange said. It has currently suspended trading in all virtual currencies apart from bitcoin.
The price of NEM plunged almost 20% after the theft came to light over the weekend, but it has since recovered those losses.
Coincheck didn't respond to repeated requests for comment on how exactly it will fund the customer refunds.
Managers of Coincheck bowing in apology at a news conference following the exchange's loss of $530 million in cryptocurrency in a hack.A Japanese government spokesman said Monday that Coincheck would be asked to improve its business practices following the hack. Financial authorities are supervising the company's response to the theft, he said.
The Coincheck hack is the latest in a series of attacks targeting digital currency exchanges. Cybercriminals have been taking advantage of security weaknesses at young, often unregulated businesses that are handling huge sums of other people's money.
"Large scale hacks are among the biggest risks faced today by the global crypto community," said Henri Arslanian, a financial technology expert at consulting firm PwC in Hong Kong.
Related: Davos: Bitcoin is not a currency
Mt Gox, also based in Japan, was the world's biggest cryptocurrency exchange when hackers broke in and stole an estimated $400 million worth of bitcoin almost four years ago. Mt Gox went bankrupt shortly afterward and affected users still haven't been compensated.
The meteoric rise in the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies over the past year or so appears to have intensified interest from thieves.
Last month, South Korean bitcoin exchange Youbit filed for bankruptcy after being targeted by cybercriminals twice in the space of a few months.
In a separate incident last month, hackers made off with more than $70 million worth of bitcoin from NiceHash, a digital currency trading platform based in Slovenia.
Many exchanges have grown very quickly as trading has taken off but haven't focused on improving cybersecurity, Arslanian said.
That situation has created difficult questions for national governments on how to regulate the industry.
Related: I bought $250 in bitcoin: Here's what I learned
Some countries have taken a tough approach. China has tried to effectively ban trading in bitcoin.
Japan has taken a lighter touch. Last year, the government officially recognized bitcoin as a form of currency and started licensing exchanges.
But because Coincheck was already in business before the new rules came into effect, it wasn't yet registered with authorities.
-- Yoko Wakatsuki contributed to this report.
CNNMoney (Hong Kong) First published January 29, 2018: 3:36 AM ET
Facebook is banning all ads promoting cryptocurrencies '-- including bitcoin and ICOs - Recode
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:15
Facebook is banning all ads that promote cryptocurrencies, including bitcoin, in an effort to prevent people from advertising what the company is calling ''financial products and services frequently associated with misleading or deceptive promotional practices.''
That means no advertiser '-- even those that operate legal, legitimate businesses '-- will be able to promote things like bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, initial coin offerings '-- ICOs for short '-- or binary options, according to a Facebook blog post.
A James Altucher crypto ad, delivered by Facebook's Audience Network
Peter Kafka
That also means that ''crypto-genius'' James Altucher, whose ads have appeared all over the internet and have become a meme of sorts for the entire crypto industry, won't be able to advertise on Facebook.
Ads that violate the company's new policy will be banned on Facebook's core app, but also in other places where Facebook sells ads, including Instagram and its ad network, Audience Network, which places ads on third-party apps.
''This policy is intentionally broad while we work to better detect deceptive and misleading advertising practices,'' wrote Rob Leathern, one of Facebook's ad tech directors. ''We will revisit this policy and how we enforce it as our signals improve.''
The cryptocurrency boom/bubble has led to scams and wild price fluctuations that have cost a lot of people '-- including unsophisticated investors '-- a lot of money. Scams are illegal, but gambling on investments you don't understand is not.
Look for blowback from entrepreneurs and investors who argue that the move unfairly punishes legitimate cryptocurrency companies and related crypto products. Facebook's board of directors includes two investors '-- Marc Andreessen and Peter Thiel '-- whose firms have been prominent crypto backers. Facebook Messenger boss, David Marcus, is also on the board at the popular crypto exchange Coinbase.
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Worries Grow That the Price of Bitcoin Is Being Propped Up - The New York Times
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:10
''This became more and more concerning, because every time the markets went down, you have seen the same thing happen,'' said Joey Krug, the co-chief investment officer at Pantera Capital, which runs several virtual currency hedge funds. ''It could mean that a lot of the rally over December and January might not have been real.''
Long before news of the subpoena, Bitfinex, which is believed to host more trading than any other Bitcoin exchange in the world, had gained a reputation for a lack of transparency and a confusing structure, with European executives, offices in Asia and registration in the Caribbean.
It is not yet clear what information the regulators are seeking. Technically, the Tether tokens are issued by a separate company (called Tether) that is owned and operated by the same people who run Bitfinex. The C.F.T.C. subpoenaed that company at the same time that it subpoenaed Bitfinex, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Bitfinex has not commented on the subpoena or recent reports about Tether, and company officials did not respond to repeated requests for comment. In the past, the exchange's executives and spokesman have said that its customers are simply using Tether to buy virtual currencies as they might otherwise use United States dollars.
Bitfinex had contracted with an American firm, Friedman, to audit its records and prove that its operation of Tether is above board. But last week, Bitfinex said it was cutting ties with Friedman, after waiting months for it to finish the audit. That news generated more suspicion.
''It's a signal to the market of what those who have scrutinized the situation already believe: There is a problem here,'' said Jill Carlson, a former trader at Goldman Sachs who now consults with a variety of virtual currency companies. ''The dissolution of a relationship between an auditor and a company is very rarely a good sign that the company is behaving in accordance with market best practices.''
The concern about Bitfinex is one of several issues that have helped depress the value of virtual currencies over the last month, after a roaring, yearlong rally. Regulators in several countries, like South Korea and the United States, have expressed concerns about manipulation and fraud, and hinted at a crackdown.
In Japan, a large virtual currency exchange, Coincheck, was hacked in late January and lost nearly $500 million worth of a virtual currency known as NEM, raising questions about the relatively untested security practices of virtual currency exchanges.
Still, Japan is one of the few places where virtual currency exchanges are overseen by regulators. Many of the largest virtual currency exchanges, including Bitfinex, operate with essentially no regulatory oversight.
Photo Coincheck's president, Koichiro Wada, left, bowed in apology at a news conference in Tokyo on Friday. Coincheck lost nearly $500 million worth of a virtual currency after it was hacked. Credit Takuya Inaba/Kyodo News, via Associated Press Bitfinex was hacked in 2015 and again in 2016, and Tether was hacked at the end of last year '-- with the combined losses totaling more than $100 million.
The company shared few details about these hacks. But after the biggest theft, in 2016, it was cut off by Wells Fargo and its banks in Taiwan.
The banking problems have made it hard for customers to get money in and out of Bitfinex, but traders have continued to use the exchange, in part because of Tether.
Tether offered a preliminary report last year from Friedman, the accounting firm, suggesting that it had bank accounts with dollars corresponding to all the Tether that had been issued. But the report was far from conclusive and Tether has never produced a real audit, leading to suspicions that Bitfinex may be printing virtual money backed by nothing.
The Tether currency has been valuable to traders because it allows them to hold a stable token, tied to the value of the dollar, and move it quickly between virtual currency exchanges.
But there is a downside. Because the identity of Tether holders is not always clear, the movement of the virtual token between exchanges '-- and across national borders '-- has raised concerns among lawyers about money laundering. The spread of Tether beyond Bitfinex has also spread the risk of its failure to other exchanges.
Market analysts have grown particularly concerned with the rapid pace at which new Tether have been issued and their timing. In a single week in mid-January, $450 million new Tether were created, bringing the total amount of Tether to more than $2 billion.
Several anonymous reports circulating among traders, including one posted to a website last week, have pointed to data from Bitfinex itself, showing that the price of Bitcoin has frequently gone up soon after new Tether were created, generally as a result of big trades on Bitfinex.
''This absolutely reeks of price manipulation,'' a security researcher and market analyst, Tony Arcieri, wrote on his blog in mid-January.
Many investors and traders have pushed back against that criticism, noting that smart traders simply may be looking to buy when the markets are down.
''My personal biases make me inclined to believe that Bitfinex is not using Tether to manipulate the price of Bitcoin,'' said Jeremy Gardner, a managing partner at the investment firm Ausum Ventures. ''If they have attempted to do so, which would be deeply concerning, it's hard to imagine that such fraudulent issuance at its current volume could single-handedly buoy the price of Bitcoin.''
But Mr. Krug, at Pantera Capital, said that if Tether were really being used by investors, they would probably also want to buy new Tether when the markets were going up, which has not been the case. Also, they would not always want it in exact increments of $100 million, as has been the case.
''After you see this enough times, you just start to wonder what's really going on here,'' Mr. Krug said.
The Bitcoin community is sensitive to the possibility of price manipulation because a team of academics published an article in early January suggesting that the price of Bitcoin was artificially inflated in 2013 by a single player operating on the largest exchange at the time, Mt. Gox.
One of the author's of that paper, Tyler Moore, said it could be hard to tell if similar price manipulation were going on today, though he noted that a lack of transparency made it hard for anyone to be certain of anything.
''Greater assurances are needed that the trades taking place are in fact legitimate and reflect buying and selling by independent actors,'' said Mr. Moore, an assistant professor at the University of Tulsa. ''Unless and until such oversight is implemented, we cannot trust the exchange rate to reflect only legitimate sources of supply and demand.''
Follow Nathaniel Popper on Twitter: @nathanielpopper
A version of this article appears in print on February 1, 2018, on Page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: Currency Investors Fear Bitcoin Is Being Propped Up by a Shadowy Exchange.
Continue reading the main story
War on Cash
Millennial counting change
As an 18 year old high
school student who has worked part time at a movie theater for the last 2
years, I found the discussion you and John had on the last show about money and
counting back change to be very interesting. The Cinema I work for is a locally
owned family business that is not a franchise of any sort. The owner
purposefully has the registers programed so that it does not tell us how much
change to give a customer back, we are expected to count the correct way,
backwards, to the customer. The interesting thing is that the older crowds are
very thankful for this, but the millennials get annoyed by it as the want
to move on as quickly as possible. Most of the time I don't think they even
understand what is going on. The issue is that they do not have enough of
an attention-span when it comes to money.
Poppie$
Drug firms shipped 20.8M pain pills to WV town with 2,900 people | Health | wvgazettemail.com
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 11:37
Over the past decade, out-of-state drug companies shipped 20.8 million prescription painkillers to two pharmacies four blocks apart in a Southern West Virginia town with 2,900 people, according to a congressional committee investigating the opioid crisis.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee cited the massive shipments of hydrocodone and oxycodone '-- two powerful painkillers '-- to the town of Williamson, in Mingo County, amid the panel's inquiry into the role of drug distributors in the opioid epidemic.
''These numbers are outrageous, and we will get to the bottom of how this destruction was able to be unleashed across West Virginia,'' said committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and ranking member Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., in a joint statement.
The panel recently sent letters to regional drug wholesalers Miami-Luken and H.D. Smith, asking why the companies increased painkiller shipments and didn't flag suspicious drug orders from pharmacies while overdose deaths were surging across West Virginia.
The letters outline high-volume shipments to pharmacies over consecutive days and huge spikes in pain pill numbers from year to year.
Between 2006 and 2016, drug wholesalers shipped 10.2 million hydrocodone pills and 10.6 million oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug in Williamson, according to Drug Enforcement Administration data obtained by the House Committee.
Springboro, Ohio-based Miami-Luken sold 6.4 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Tug Valley Pharmacy from 2008 to 2015, the company disclosed to the panel. That's more than half of all painkillers shipped to the pharmacy those years. In a single year (2008 to 2009), Miami-Luken's shipments increased three-fold to the Mingo County town.
Miami-Luken also was a major supplier to the now-closed Save-Rite Pharmacy in the Mingo County town of Kermit, population 400.
The drug wholesaler shipped 5.7 million hydrocodone and oxycodone pills to Save-Rite and a branch pharmacy called Sav-Rite #2 between 2005 and 2011, according records Miami-Luken gave the committee. In 2008, the company provided 5,624 prescription pain pills for every man, woman and child in Kermit.
In its letters, the panel also raised questions about Miami-Luken's shipments to Westside Pharmacy in Oceana, Wyoming County. The committee cited documents that show a Miami-Luken employee reported a Virginia doctor, who operated a pain clinic located two hours from Oceana, was sending his patients to Westside Pharmacy, which filled the prescriptions.
In 2015, more than 40 percent of the oxycodone prescriptions filled by Westside Pharmacy in Oceana were coming from the Virginia doctor, according to the committee's letter. The following year, the Virginia Board of Medicine suspended the doctor's license, finding his practice posed a ''substantial danger to public health and safety.''
The panel's letter also mentions Miami-Luken's suspicious shipments to Colony Drug in Beckley. In a five-day span in 2015, the drug wholesaler shipped 16,800 oxycodone pills to the pharmacy.
''In several instances, Colony Drug placed multiple orders for what appears to be excessive amounts of pills on consecutive days,'' the committee wrote.
The House committee questioned H.D. Smith's painkiller shipments to Family Discount Pharmacy in Logan County. The drug shipper distributed 3,000 hydrocodone tablets a day to the pharmacy in 2008, a 10-fold increase in sales from the previous year, according to the committee's letter. The pharmacy, located in a town of 1,800 people, was shipped 1.1 million hydrocodone pills in 2008.
The House panel also cited Springfield, Illinois-based H.D. Smith for spikes in painkiller shipments to Sav-Rite, Westside Pharmacy, Tug Valley Pharmacy and Hurley Drug.
Oxycodone is sold under brand names like OxyContin, while hydrocodone brands include Vicodin and Lortab.
''The committee's bipartisan investigation continues to identify systemic issues with the inordinate number of opioids distributed to small town pharmacies,'' Walden and Pallone said in the statement. ''The volume appears to be far in excess of the number of opioids that a pharmacy in that local area would be expected to receive.''
In a statement, H.D. Smith said it was reviewing the committee's letter Monday.
''H.D. Smith works with its upstream manufacturing and downstream pharmacy partners to guard the integrity of the supply chain, and to improve patient outcomes,'' the company said.
Miami-Luken did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
In February 2016, West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey ended a state lawsuit against Miami-Luken after the company agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle allegations that it flooded the state with painkillers. Morrisey, a former lobbyist for a trade group that represents Miami-Luken and other drug distributors, inherited the lawsuit in 2013 after ousting longtime Attorney General Darrell McGraw.
H.D. Smith paid the state $3.5 million to settle the same pill-dumping allegations in January 2017.
The committee gave H.D. Smith and Miami-Luken until Feb. 9 to turn over documents and answer dozens of questions about what steps, if any, the companies took to stop the flood of pain pills into Southern West Virginia.
''We will continue to investigate these distributors' shipments of large quantities of powerful opioids across West Virginia, including what seems to be a shocking lack of oversight over their distribution practices,'' Walden and Pallone said.
The state has the highest drug overdose death rate in the nation. More than 880 people fatally overdosed in West Virginia in 2016.
ShitHole Nation
The profitable business of selling to the hard-up - Thrifty living
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 13:17
''THEY want to build one every four miles,'' says the cashier at Dollar General, a discount shop, in Lewisburg, a small town in the rolling hills of central Tennessee. Situated on a big parking lot, next to a provider of payday loans open 24 hours a day, a supermarket chain called Priceless and Dirt Cheap, another southern chain of discount shops flogging the unsold or returned merchandise of other retailers, the shop is one of three Dollar Generals in Lewisburg. Tennessee is the home state of Dollar General, which in recent years overtook its rivals to become the retailer of choice of low-income Americans, so it has one of the denser statewide networks of shops. Yet with well over 14,000 outlets across America (about the same number as there are McDonald's restaurants) almost 75% of Americans now live within five miles of a Dollar General.
''Over the last five years a new Dollar General opened every four-and-a-half hours,'' says Garrick Brown at Cushman & Wakefield, a property agent. The chain's profits have risen like a helium balloon since the recession, to more than double those of Macy's, one of the most famous brands in retail, in the past fiscal year. Its market value is a whopping $28bn.
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How does Dollar General thrive when so many other retailers are struggling, downsizing or, in the case of Sears, Bon-Ton, 99 Cents Only, Neiman Marcus, Land's End, Nine West and J. Crew, are close to bankruptcy? One reason is that it filled a void. ''They set up shop where Walmart does not want to make an effort,'' says Christopher Merrett at the Illinois Institute for Rural Affairs, referring to the world's biggest retailer. Around 70% of Dollar General's customers live in rural places which have been slow to recover from the recession. Another reason for its success is that it caters to those who are financially stretched. Dollar General sells everything from packaged food and toys to linens and household-cleaning products, but in smaller packages for those who cannot afford to buy in bulk. And although, contrary to popular belief, not all items cost a dollar, a quarter of them do; three-quarters cost less than $5, and most of the rest will set you back less than $10.
Dollar General promises low prices and quick, convenient shopping, but so do other dollar stores, such as Dollar Tree, Family Dollar or the near-bankrupt 99 Cents Only. Their secret sauce, explains Mike Paglia at Kantar, a retail consultant, is to pick a good site. They vet them diligently, opening their shops next to highways, post offices, churches or schools. (A church close to the array of deep discounters in Lewisburg assures its worshippers that ''God has a 100% refund policy''.) In Uptown, a down-at-heel neighbourhood in Chicago that is home to one of the few Dollar Generals in big cities, the company picked a spot behind a big parking lot next to a Shell petrol station, a branch of Chase, Chicago's most popular bank, and Planned Parenthood, a non-profit offering advice on family planning.
The typical Dollar General shopper is white, working class and tends to rely on some form of government assistance. ''The economy is continuing to create more of our core customer,'' the company's chief executive, Todd Vasos, told the Wall Street Journal in an unguarded moment in December. He is also likely to be a supporter of President Donald Trump, says Mr Merrett, although this is changing as rural America gains pockets of diversity, for example next to slaughterhouses such as Tyson's plant in Storm Lake, Iowa. Dollar General has tried to expand in ethnically diverse, left-leaning cities: in 2015 it tried to buy the more urban Family Dollar. Last year it took over 322 mostly urban stores from a private-equity firm that had bought them from Dollar Tree, which had trumped Dollar General in the battle over Family Dollar and needed to shrink a bit for antitrust reasons. The new urban shops will be laboratories for a different type of customer. On a frigid evening just before Christmas, the shoppers at Dollar General's Uptown outlet were mostly black or brown'--and almost certainly Democrats.
Dollar General intends to continue its vertiginous expansion, with plans to open another 900 shops this year. Yet rural communities account for only 46m, or 15%, of the population'--and they are shrinking fast. Many small towns have only 75% of the population they had 25 years ago. In 33 counties in Illinois, the population peaked over a century ago, says Mr Merrett. To keep expanding so rapidly, Dollar General will need to appeal to those with a higher income than the working poor. It has already made inroads into more affluent groups. According to Nielsen, a marketing researcher, 43% of customers with household income of $29,000 or less but also 23% of those earning more than $70,000 said they shopped at a dollar store in 2016. The new shop in Lewisburg is on Yell Road, which is lined with pretty houses and big gardens; the cars parked in front of the shop are mostly gleaming SUVs and big pickup trucks. The ''market'' outlet offers fresh shrimp, Chobani yogurts and other fancy foodstuffs.
Walmart's rapid rise caused resentment in rural communities as it killed smaller local shops and was said to treat its workers poorly. Dollar General, however, ventures into places where the last grocery shop often closed years ago, which is why its reception by locals tends to be much friendlier. The same is likely to be true as Dollar General expands into troubled urban neighbourhoods such as Chicago's South Side, where rents are cheap. In these so-called food deserts, an investment by any retailer is good news.
This article appeared in the United States section of the print edition under the headline "One buck at a time"
Trains Good Planes Bad
Checkpoints the day before and day of
Checkpoint was the day before the crash. Same timeframe.
Checkpoint was the day before the crash. Same timeframe.
I went through the checkpoint five times. Then yesterday, I crossed the tracks
20 minutes before the collision.
I heard the impact and then noticed a helicopter on the
scene almost immediately. Thought the helicopter was for a drug raid, thinking
the checkpoint was some how connected.
Turned on the scanner to listen to the fire and rescue
channel. From there I learned there was an incident on the tracks and all
manpower in the area was being called in.
Please do not mention my name on the show, but here if
you have any other questions.
> I live very very close to the scene and they had a
police check point
> at this same intersection all day yesterday.
Stopping every vehicle
> requesting licenses from drivers. There must have
been 18 officers at this check point.
>
>
> This is a very remote area and it made no sense why
a checkpoint would
> have been established there on a random Tuesday.
I went through the checkpoint five times. Then yesterday, I crossed the tracks
20 minutes before the collision.
I heard the impact and then noticed a helicopter on the
scene almost immediately. Thought the helicopter was for a drug raid, thinking
the checkpoint was some how connected.
Turned on the scanner to listen to the fire and rescue
channel. From there I learned there was an incident on the tracks and all
manpower in the area was being called in.
Please do not mention my name on the show, but here if
you have any other questions.
> I live very very close to the scene and they had a
police check point
> at this same intersection all day yesterday.
Stopping every vehicle
> requesting licenses from drivers. There must have
been 18 officers at this check point.
>
>
> This is a very remote area and it made no sense why
a checkpoint would
> have been established there on a random Tuesday.
Vaccine$
Family to Receive $1.5M+ in First-Ever Vaccine-Autism Court Award - CBS News
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:02
Nine-year-old Hannah Poling is shown. (AP Photo/Atlanta Journal-Constitution, John Spink)
The first court award in a vaccine-autism claim is a big one. CBS News has learned the family of Hannah Poling will receive more than $1.5 million dollars for her life care; lost earnings; and pain and suffering for the first year alone.
In addition to the first year, the family will receive more than $500,000 per year to pay for Hannah's care. Those familiar with the case believe the compensation could easily amount to $20 million over the child's lifetime.
Hannah was described as normal, happy and precocious in her first 18 months.
Then, in July 2000, she was vaccinated against nine diseases in one doctor's visit: measles, mumps, rubella, polio, varicella, diphtheria, pertussis, tetanus, and Haemophilus influenzae.
Afterward, her health declined rapidly. She developed high fevers, stopped eating, didn't respond when spoken to, began showing signs of autism, and began having screaming fits. In 2002, Hannah's parents filed an autism claim in federal vaccine court. Five years later, the government settled the case before trial and had it sealed. It's taken more than two years for both sides to agree on how much Hannah will be compensated for her injuries.
Read Sharyl Attkisson's 2008 report on Hannah Poling
In acknowledging Hannah's injuries, the government said vaccines aggravated an unknown mitochondrial disorder Hannah had which didn't "cause" her autism, but "resulted" in it. It's unknown how many other children have similar undiagnosed mitochondrial disorder. All other autism "test cases" have been defeated at trial. Approximately 4,800 are awaiting disposition in federal vaccine court.
Time Magazine summed up the relevance of the Poling case in 2008: ...(T)here's no denying that the court's decision to award damages to the Poling family puts a chink -- a question mark -- in what had been an unqualified defense of vaccine safety with regard to autism. If Hannah Poling had an underlying condition that made her vulnerable to being harmed by vaccines, it stands to reason that other children might also have such vulnerabilities."
Then-director of the Centers for Disease Control Julie Gerberding (who is now President of Merck Vaccines) stated: "The government has made absolutely no statement indicating that vaccines are a cause of autism. This does not represent anything other than a very specific situation and a very sad situation as far as the family of the affected child."
Read the newly-released decision on Hannah Poling's compensation.
(C) 2010 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
MH-17
Miljoenen schadevergoeding voor nabestaanden MH17 | Binnenland | Telegraaf.nl
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:12
Het gaat om een groep familieleden van 25 slachtoffers, onder wie tien Nederlanders. De zaak werd aangespannen tegen de leider van de separatisten in Oekra¯ne Igor Girkin. Deze Russische officier leidde de opstand en wordt nu door de Amerikaanse rechter verantwoordelijk gehouden voor het neerhalen van MH17 met een BUK-raket op 17 juli 2014.
De kans dat familieleden van slachtoffers deze bedragen daadwerkelijk kunnen incasseren, is overigens vrijwel nihil. Igor Girkin heeft zich niet verdedigd tijdens de rechtszaak en op zijn officile woonadres in Moskou was hij voor de advocaten niet te vinden.
MH17: Russian separatist leader sued for $900 million by crash victims - Telegraph
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:12
Igor Girkin
Attention focused on Mr Girkin after a Russian social media page, with which his group was linked, claimed responsibility for taking out a Ukrainian An-26, adding, ''We warned them - don't fly in our sky.''
The post, which was swiftly removed, led to accusations that Mr Girkin's militiamen could have brought down the Boeing 777 by mistake.
However the Donetsk People's Republic has always denied responsibility for the MH17 disaster.
This has been challenged by the court papers in Chicago which claimed: ''Flight 17 flew over the airspace of the area in which the aforesaid rebel army was waging its war activities and the rebel army under the command responsibility of defendant Girkin shot down the subject Boeing 777-200 aircraft.''
Mr Girkin, it added: ''ordered, aided and/or abetted this action and/or conspired with those persons who fired the missile or missiles.''
Myroslava Reginskaya, a spokesman for Igor Girkin, who also goes by the non-de-guerre Igor Strelkov, said the former commander would not be responding to the allegations.
"We have no comment to make and we will not be making a comment in this situation. If these people are idiots then they are idiots," she said.
The writ also alleged that individuals under his command ''took responsibility'' for shooting down the aircraft.
In addition the writ accused the Kremlin of being complicit in the atrocity.
It said the missile which brought down the aircraft came from Russia to the Ukraine.
''Defendant Girkin acted with the actual or apparent authority of individuals in the Government of Russia,'' the lawsuit added.
Floyd Wisner, the lawyer who has instigated the action, has used the US Torture Victim Protection Act, which can be used against foreign nationals, to bring a case against Mr Girkin in an American court.
''It is not about money, it is about getting answers from Girkin and putting pressure on Russia to co-operate with the international tribunal,'' Mr Wisner said.
Wreckage of MH17
''There is no cost to the families. We are doing this as a service to them and they want some answers and they don't want to be forgotten,'' he added.
A case has also been lodged against Malaysia Airlines on behalf of Reine Dalziel, whose husband Cameron was killed in the crash.
It is alleged that the carrier was negligent in plotting a route over eastern Ukraine. At the time it was an ''internationally recognised conflict zone'' over which US airlines had been banned from flying.
It was also being avoided by other major international carriers, including British Airways.
The claim has been submitted on his behalf, because Mr Dalziel had bought the plane ticket in the US.
Malaysia Airlines declined to comment.
Donations
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Sirius XM's Radio of the Future Is a Game-Changer
Thu, 25 Jan 2018 12:19
The fight for eardrums is intensifying in the premium market. Sirius XM Holdings(NASDAQ: SIRI) is teaming up with Fiat Chrysler(NYSE: FCAU) to roll out the next-gen SiriusXM with 360L platform on the 2019 Ram 1500 pickup truck.
The new platform -- "360L" stands for "360-degree listening" -- will give SiriusXM All Access subscribers enhanced entertainment options on the Fiat Chrysler's all-new half-ton pickup through Ram's Uconnect 4C NAV. The embedded connectivity will mean access to more than 200 channels, including streams that were previously only available online.
SiriusXM with 360L will also provide access to thousands of hours of on-demand content, improved play-by-play sports coverage, and the ability to use Uconnect's touchscreen to check out streaming recommendations that are custom-tailored to the user. There are also new features that improve the user interface and experience. In short, SiriusXM with 360L means a whole world of audio content beyond just what's beaming in real time.
The interior of the Ram 1500
More Image source: Fiat Chrysler.
Sirius XM is in a good place these days. It closed out 2017 with a record 32.7 million subscribers. Growth is slowing, but subscriber counts, average revenue per user, and free cash flow are all trending higher.
Critics figuring that Sirius XM would be transitory technology -- bridging the gap between terrestrial radio and mobile streaming, before fading away -- couldn't have been more wrong. Satellite-radio consumption continues to grow as its fan base of well-heeled drivers relish the seamless access to premium audio entertainment to score their daily commutes.
SiriusXM with 360L could be a game-changer, but not in the obvious way of beefing up content offerings. Sure, access to thousands of hours of on-demand content and personalized programming streams will increase engagement, making Sirius XM stickier and increasing the perceived value of the service.
The real bar-raising aspect here is that connectivity with Sirius XM will make the media giant smarter and better suited to monetizing its growing subscriber base. We've seen what access to consumption data has done for the leaders in streaming video, social networking, and online search. The press release detailing 360L offers an example where someone is listening to Howard Stern's show, and the Fiat Chrysler touchscreen offers the option to check out a Stern interview with a musical celebrity; that could result in the further options of hearing the artist's music, or the Sirius XM channel specializing in that genre. The process will weave listeners deeper into the Sirius XM ecosystem, but it will also arm the satellite-radio heavy with data on what folks are clicking and what they're not clicking.
A smarter Sirius XM can not only make smarter programming decisions, but also ultimately serve up more successful ads by targeting specific users on the platform. Ad revenue remains a thin slice of the model here, but it can become a more critical component as Sirius XM gets to know its audience through two-way communication.
The needle may not be moving right now; we're talking about one new pickup-truck model. And we're in the early stages of what Sirius XM can do with the data it's collecting, and the tools to push personalized content and individual messages. Give it time. Sirius XM isn't going away anytime soon.
More From The Motley Fool
Rick Munarriz has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
Podcast Listeners Really Are the Holy Grail Advertisers Hoped They'd Be | WIRED
Mon, 29 Jan 2018 12:22
Misha Euceph was nervous. The public radio producer had started a podcast as a side project in early 2017, and the exploration of her experience as a Pakistani-American immigrant had taken off faster than she'd ever imagined, making its way to the top 50 in the Society & Culture category on Apple's Podcasts chart and attracting some big-name advertisers. But the same question that has long plagued many podcasters nagged at the back of Euceph's head: Were people actually listening all the way through her show? Were the ''midroll'' ads that played throughout an episode breaking up the narrative? When she finally got detailed data on how people listened to Beginner, would she have to rethink the way she structured her show?
Since the beginning of the current podcast boom, often attributed to 2014's Serial, data on how people listen to podcasts has remained woefully scarce, even as advertising spending climbed to an estimated $220 million in 2017. When Apple Podcasts announced last year that it would soon be offering podcasters more data on their listenership, some worried it would force a ''reckoning'''--and possibly an ''ad apocalypse,'' if brands decided that the fledgling new medium wasn't worth their dollars, after all.
Apple's Podcast Analytics feature finally became available last month, and Euceph'--along with podcasters everywhere'--breathed a sigh of relief. Though it's still early days, the numbers podcasters are seeing are highly encouraging. Forget those worries that the podcast bubble would burst the minute anyone actually got a closer look: It seems like podcast listeners really are the hyper-engaged, super-supportive audiences that everyone hoped.
Forget those worries that the podcast bubble would burst the minute anyone actually got a closer look: It seems like podcast listeners really are the hyper-engaged, super-supportive audiences that everyone hoped.
''I think some people had an apocalyptic fear that, 'Oh my God, we're going to get this data and see no one's listening,''' says Erik Diehn, CEO of Midroll Media. Thanks to surveys and data from Stitcher, Midroll's distribution platform, the podcast network had long felt confident that a nightmare scenario was unlikely'--and now thanks to Podcast Analytics, Diehn says, it's finally indisputable fact. On average, according to Midroll's data, podcast listeners are making it through about 90 percent of a given episode, and relatively few are skipping through ads.
Across the podcast ecosystem, the results are similarly uplifting. At Panoply, home to podcasts like Slate's Political Gabfest and Malcolm Gladwell's Revisionist History, CTO Jason Cox says that listeners are typically getting through 80-90 percent of content; the same is true at Headgum, the podcast network started by Jake Hurwitz and Amir Blumenfeld. Those numbers tend to be steady regardless of the length of the show'--and according to Panoply, the few listeners who do skip ads continue to remain engaged with the episode, rather than dropping off at the first sign of an interruption. ''I think people are overall very relieved to see that people are actually listening the way that we hoped,'' says Headgum CTO Andrew Pile. ''There are really audiences out there who listen to every word that comes out of [a host's] mouth.''
So what does this all mean for podcast listeners? For starters, it means you don't need to worry that your feed will become populated with shows nearly identical in structure and length as podcasters rush to optimize around the new data'--the doomsday podcast equivalent of, say, pivoting to video. ''What we're not seeing is any glaring indication that all podcasts should be, say, 15 minutes and 30 secs long, and that's the optimal length,'' says Cox. Quite the contrary, in fact: podcast enthusiasts may expect to see more experimentation in form over the coming months, as podcasters are now able to evaluate how their audiences respond when they drop an entire season at once or switch to a daily format for a week.
That's exactly what Nastaran Tavakoli-Far did on her podcast, The Gender Knot. The first season of her show featured 45-minute episodes interspersed with shorter, newsier dispatches, but she suspected that the longer episodes were performing better'--and Apple's data confirmed that hunch. ''It helped validate the decision to move back toward a 45-minute format,'' she says. Mark Pagn, host and producer of Other Men Need Help, has been similarly emboldened by Apple's new tool: Though the first season of his show adhered to a three-act, roughly 20-minute structure, he's now inspired to get a bit more playful and see what sticks. ''To do something where it's like, boom, this is a five-minute musical, and we're just going to do that and see if this is engaging the same sort of listenership'--it'll be nice to be able to chart that a little bit easier,'' says Pagn.
On the business side, it's likely that these high engagement rates and low levels of ad skipping will see a flood of new advertisers who have until now been reticent to enter the Wild West of podcasting'--welcome news to anyone who feels about ready to throw their phone across the room any time they hear another ad for Squarespace or Casper. ''What this will do now is give us a better story and more data to show to brands who maybe haven't been in the podcasting space,'' says Panoply's Cox.
There's also reason to believe that ads on podcasts will become increasingly entertaining'--something so organic to a show itself that you might not want to skip it. ''When it really does feel like part of a show, there's less of a skip rate, which just confirms what we've been telling advertisers for years and years,'' says Midroll's Diehn, noting that when Earwolf put Hollywood Handbook on Stitcher Premium and removed the show's ads, listeners actually complained. ''Native spots in the style of the show keep people engaged, keep them from skipping, and now we have data that frankly proves it.''
Still, Apple's new tool comes with caveats. For starters, it currently only counts users listening with devices that have been upgraded to iOS 11, so it's best viewed as a representative sample of listeners, rather than hard data on how a show's listenership is growing over time. And tracking ad-skipping is still a squishy business: Thanks to new technology that supports dynamic ad insertion, the length of a given ad break can vary depending on when a listener downloads a new episode, which can make it difficult to get an exact read on how many people might be skipping past the branded bits. But for a digital medium that's had comically little data available to date, even slightly imprecise numbers will go a long way.
Podcasters and advertisers alike have long suspected that their listeners might just be a holy grail of engagement. The medium is inherently intimate, and easily creates a one-sided feeling of closeness between listener and host'--the sense that the person talking into your ear on your commute is someone you know, whose product recommendations you trust, and whose work you want to support. Cox describes it as a ''lean in'' medium: ''People are really listening and want to consume all of the content that is there and available. There's a level of dedication that comes from podcast listeners that you otherwise don't find.'' And now the numbers prove it. Podcasts aren't a bubble, they're a boom'--and that boom is only getting louder.
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Round Table Rewards
Brisket and barrel aged Copper Ale
Pinball & Power Chords
Goat Chops and Goat Milk
Polish Potato Vodka
Diet Soda and Video games
Fish Pie and Fellatio
brown cheese and aquavit and smalahove
hjemmebrent
Harlets & Haldol
Pepperoni Rolls and Pale Ales
Mostacioli and Margarita's
Redheads & Ryes
Organic Macaroni and Plasticers
Beer & Blunts
Brazilian Hotties and Cachaça (pronounced ka-sha-sa)
Cowgirls and Coffin Varnish
SET 2
cheap cookies and cold coffee
Carabiners and Coors
Blanton's Bourbon
straight tea and soba
Buckwheat Cakes & Jim Beam Black Label
Burbon and Beccas
Adderall and LSD
Opium and Saffron Juice with Gold Flake Rice
Burbon and Bone in Ribeye
Bong Rips & Big Booty Bitches
McAllan Dimsum
Ketamine and Kombucha
Tofu & Tumeric
Pipelines & Poppies!
Runny Eggs and Grapefruit Juice
WWE & Dabs
Arrow Gay & Ambien
Leadslingers Whiskey and Gunpowder
Brisket and Brown Ale
malt vinegar and manual transmissions
Nicaraguan Cigars Rolled in Panama Papers
Sake & Sushi with Wasabi and soy sauce on the side
strong black coffee and chocolate chip cookies
Labia & Lasanga
Whiskey and Bacon
Safo & Spice
Harf eggs with Lee sauce
White Widow & Brownies
Sake and Skanks
Mangos and Filet Mignon
Cookies & Vodka
Tacos and Tequila
kilts and kilt lifter ale
Meth Sluts & Moonshine
Samosa and Chai
Legos and Legwarmers
Poutin and Rye Whiskey
Meat and Water
Garlic & Broccoli
Espresso & Hemp Milk
Fry-bread and Fembots
Dilaudid and Dramamine
Crickets and Cream
DMT and Astral Travel
Black Hoes and MD 2020
Shibari and Fat Rooster CraftBeer
Cheap Wine & Chili Dogs
Raspberry Pi's and Breakfast Burritos
pork ribs and Pale Ale
Drams & DMT
Bad science and perky breasts
Johnnie Walker Green Label
Video Games and Vaporizers
Progressive Rock and Russian Imperial Stout
Saki and Sushi
Root Beer and Pepperoni Pizza
Puppies and Tailor's Vintage Port.
Hookers & Blow
malted barley and hops
Hookers & Molly
Dos Equis and a dutch dominatrix
Root Beer & Legos
Ass Cream with Bear Fillings
Edradour (Single malt Scotch - John, it’s the best ever made!) and Montecristo #4’s (Cuban).
Girlfriend Experience and Good Bourbon
Pornstars and Pot
Makers Mark and Mushrooms
Whiskey and Wet-Wipes
Cunilinni Yoga and Jambo
Cuban Cigars and Single Malt Scotch
Canabis & Cabernet
Libararians and Jaeger bombs
Opium and warm orange juice
Pappi van winkelburbon served by october fest fraulines
Hookers and Blow
3 geishas and a bucket of fried chicken
Rentboys and Chardonnay
Hotpants and Booze
long-haired heavy metal guys and scotch
Wenches and beer
Rubinesque Women and Rose
Geishas and sake
Vodka and Vanilla
Bong hits and Burboun
Sparkling Cider and Escorts
Gin erg-Ale and Gerbils
Mutton & Mead
Breats Milk and Pablum
------------------------------------------------
Knights
Don Mills -> Sir Donald, Earl of Mills
Birthdays
John Gardiner (60 on Dec 22nd)
Sir Steven of Lincolnshire -> his smokin hot wife Tarrah (40 on Feb 2nd)
Sir Alexander
Dame Susan -> Seth 02-02 maybe 28
Make Good for Sir Wire of the Hidden Jewell - James Pyers:
I
wanted to offer belated congratulations for the exceptional NoAgenda milestones
of 10 years and show 1000 - anniversary's that prove beyond a reasonable doubt
- NoAgenda’s value for value model. THANKS!
Today
is my daughter, Sarafina’s 10th birthday, thus she has been listening to
NoAgenda for her entire life!
Please
wish her a happy one and play her favorite jingles: (it’s a long list but she
is special)
1)
ITM Chinese, ITM French, ITM Spanish, ITM
2)
Don’t Laugh (Raaf)
3)
Time to Stand
4)
Yeah No
5)
Please ban all “Goat Screams :>)
Congrats
& Thanks again and PLEASE keep up your fantastic work - love me some
NoAgenda!
"Sir
Wire of the Hidden Jewell"
James
Pyers
------------------------------------------------
STORIES
Hillary Clinton's #MeToo apology misses the mark '-- RT US News
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:22
Hillary Clinton has explained her failure to fire a sexual harasser during her 2008 presidential campaign. In classic Clinton fashion, her apology read more like an extension of What Happened rather than an exercise in regret.
Clinton posted her apology statement on Facebook just before President Donald Trump's State of the Union address Tuesday. Starting out by saying how she works to ''support and empower women,'' Clinton went on to lay out an explanation for actions when an employee in her 2008 campaign complained of being sexually harassed.
''The short answer is this: If I had it to do again, I wouldn't,'' she said of her decision to go against advice and allow the man to remain working for her campaign after he was found to have acted inappropriately.
The complaints were made against Burns Strider, Clinton's senior adviser and director of faith outreach, whose role included helping the campaign to target religious voters. The harassment claims was first reported by the New York Times last Friday.
Clinton said the woman's complaints, which included suggestive touching and inappropriate emails were taken seriously, with senior staff and legal counsel speaking with the woman and the offender.
Though campaign manager Patti Solis Doyle advised Clinton to fire Strider, Clinton asked her to come up with an alternative to termination. She said she did this because she ''didn't think firing him was the best solution to the problem.''
''He needed to be punished, change his behavior, and understand why his actions were wrong. The young woman needed to be able to thrive and feel safe,'' Clinton said. This, despite the fact that termination would have been a clear punishment and made the woman who had been harassed at her workplace feel safe. The woman was moved to a different office.
Clinton said she believed her preferred punishment was ''severe and the message to him unambiguous.'' However, it could be argued that allowing someone to remain working after they'd been caught sexually harassing staff a little ambiguous.
Strider remained with the campaign and went on to join a pro-Clinton super PAC, Correct the Record in 2013. He was fired in 2015, after sexually harassing a number of employees.
''That reoccurrence troubles me greatly, and it alone makes clear that the lesson I hoped he had learned while working for me went unheeded.'' Clinton said, before going on to question if it would have been any better if she had fired him. ''There's no way I could go back 10 years and know the answers,'' the 2008 presidential candidate said.
''When faced with a situation like this, if I think it's possible to avoid termination while still doing right by everyone involved, I am inclined in that direction.'' she said further.
She framed learning of the New York Times report as a moment in which her ''first thought was for the young woman involved.''
Clinton said she called the woman who told her how she appreciated working on a campaign where she was comfortable in coming forward, and that she did indeed ''flourish.'' This was reassuring, Clinton wrote. She added she's glad her campaign had a process for dealing with complaints.
She went on to turn on the New York Times in a dazzling display of whataboutism, pointing to the fact that the news organization recently suspended and reinstated a journalist who behaved inappropriately. ''A decade from now, that decision may not look as tough as it feels today,'' she said.
''Even those of us who have spent much of our life thinking about gender issues and who have firsthand experiences of navigating a male-dominated industry or career may not always get it right,'' Clinton said.
Clinton then tweeted a barb against Trump, saying she wrote about ''an issue you didn't hear a single word about tonight.''
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Conspiracy theorists are making wild claims on the GOP train crash
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:10
Conspiracy theorists are making wild claims on the GOP train crashBusiness Insider LogoChevron IconChevron IconChevron IconChevron IconChevron Icon Logo for Business Insider over a transparent background.
Tech An angled chevron icon.Finance An angled chevron icon.Politics An angled chevron icon.Strategy An angled chevron icon.Life An angled chevron icon.Justin Ide/Crozet Volunteer Fire Department The Amtrak passenger train carrying Republican members of Congress from Washington to a retreat in West Virginia is seen after colliding with a garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia, January 31, 2018.
Conspiracy theories were spread after an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers collided with a truck.The cause of the crash has yet to be determined and the scene is still under investigation.Various social media accounts propagated the conspiracy theories Wednesday night, some of which linked them to a secret GOP memo on the Russia investigation that is expected to be released.Following a Wednesday morning train crash that killed one person and severely injured another in the Washington D.C. area, conspiracy theorists attempted to commandeer the story on social media.
The Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers and their family members to an annual retreat struck a garbage truck on its way from Washington D.C. to West Virginia. The incident spurred multiple conspiracy theories in light of heightened partisan bickering over the Russia probe and accusations of law-enforcement bias against President Donald Trump.
Some of the conspiracy theories claimed the train incident was perpetrated by so-called "deep-state" actors - a term used by fringe right-wing groups to describe rogue government employees who secretly attempt to manipulate US policy.
"If you think that that truck just stalled there by itself, and somebody didn't kill that guy and park it up there on the tracks, that's how they like to do it," InfoWars host Alex Jones said on Wednesday. "It's a classic CIA tactic too."
"You'll kill somebody, have them in the car, and remote control it into the next vehicle. That is the standard assassination tool right now," Jones continued. "This is standard dump truck ... that is CIA playbook 100%."
Jones' website suggested someone hacked the traffic controls in the area, prompting the collision.
Others began analyzing images of a damaged train to support a theory that a truck intentionally rammed the train to derail it.
@jerome_corsi/Twitter
The timing of the crash also raised eyebrows amongst purveyors of the "deep-state" conspiracy, amid the looming release of a polarizing House Intelligence Committee memo that claims anti-Trump bias at the FBI.
@jerome_corsi/Twitter
Conspiracy theorists also drew connections between tweets allegedly posted by political personalities. A screenshot purporting to show an ill-timed tweet from the conservative political analyst Bill Kristol attracted suspicion as well.
"Once we're sure everyone involved is ok, assuming they are, I hereby give permission to Twitter to indulge in all manner of GOP train wreck jokes. I do think that by having the train hit...yes, a garbage truck...the scriptwriters of '2018' jumped the shark," the purported tweet read.
The alleged Kristol tweet, as illustrated by the screenshot, had an 11:07 a.m. time stamp, meaning it would have been sent 13 minutes before the train crash occurred.
@willsommer/Twitter
Meanwhile, the cause of the crash is still under investigation, Reuters reported.
A search of "GOP train crash" on Twitter yielded results from users who have made unverified claims about the incident. Top tweets with the most engagements included posts from users who amplified the conspiracy theories.
"Isn't it odd that a dump truck was on the tracks of a scheduled GOP retreat? Are we supposed to believe this was an 'accident' ?," one tweet with over 870 retweets and 1,700 likes said. "Don't forget when republicans were targeted by a crazy liberal when they had a baseball game!"
"Wray should be worrying about a truck that just happened to crash into a GOP train," another user tweeted. "Not covering the asses of corrupt FBI agents. Wake up!"
The conspiracy claims also spread to Facebook, as posts made by users not affiliated with news organizations began adding their own comments to otherwise-reputable news articles, which then began appearing at the top Facebook's curated news sections.
Facebook responded to the incidents. calling them a "bad experience" and saying it would "work to fix the product."
"Trending includes a separate section of people's individual posts related to the news event; it's essentially a comments section," a Facebook spokesperson said in a Daily Beast report. "We built this as a way for you to easily see what others are saying around a topic."
SEE ALSO: Train carrying GOP members of Congress collides with truck, leaving one person dead NOW WATCH: How airplanes fly those giant banner ads - it's more dangerous than you think
Share This PostConspiracy theorists are making wild claims on the GOP train crashBusiness Insider LogoChevron IconChevron IconChevron IconChevron IconChevron Icon Logo for Business Insider over a transparent background.
Tech An angled chevron icon.Finance An angled chevron icon.Politics An angled chevron icon.Strategy An angled chevron icon.Life An angled chevron icon.Justin Ide/Crozet Volunteer Fire Department The Amtrak passenger train carrying Republican members of Congress from Washington to a retreat in West Virginia is seen after colliding with a garbage truck in Crozet, Virginia, January 31, 2018.
Conspiracy theories were spread after an Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers collided with a truck.The cause of the crash has yet to be determined and the scene is still under investigation.Various social media accounts propagated the conspiracy theories Wednesday night, some of which linked them to a secret GOP memo on the Russia investigation that is expected to be released.Following a Wednesday morning train crash that killed one person and severely injured another in the Washington D.C. area, conspiracy theorists attempted to commandeer the story on social media.
The Amtrak train carrying Republican lawmakers and their family members to an annual retreat struck a garbage truck on its way from Washington D.C. to West Virginia. The incident spurred multiple conspiracy theories in light of heightened partisan bickering over the Russia probe and accusations of law-enforcement bias against President Donald Trump.
Some of the conspiracy theories claimed the train incident was perpetrated by so-called "deep-state" actors - a term used by fringe right-wing groups to describe rogue government employees who secretly attempt to manipulate US policy.
"If you think that that truck just stalled there by itself, and somebody didn't kill that guy and park it up there on the tracks, that's how they like to do it," InfoWars host Alex Jones said on Wednesday. "It's a classic CIA tactic too."
"You'll kill somebody, have them in the car, and remote control it into the next vehicle. That is the standard assassination tool right now," Jones continued. "This is standard dump truck ... that is CIA playbook 100%."
Jones' website suggested someone hacked the traffic controls in the area, prompting the collision.
Others began analyzing images of a damaged train to support a theory that a truck intentionally rammed the train to derail it.
@jerome_corsi/Twitter
The timing of the crash also raised eyebrows amongst purveyors of the "deep-state" conspiracy, amid the looming release of a polarizing House Intelligence Committee memo that claims anti-Trump bias at the FBI.
@jerome_corsi/Twitter
Conspiracy theorists also drew connections between tweets allegedly posted by political personalities. A screenshot purporting to show an ill-timed tweet from the conservative political analyst Bill Kristol attracted suspicion as well.
"Once we're sure everyone involved is ok, assuming they are, I hereby give permission to Twitter to indulge in all manner of GOP train wreck jokes. I do think that by having the train hit...yes, a garbage truck...the scriptwriters of '2018' jumped the shark," the purported tweet read.
The alleged Kristol tweet, as illustrated by the screenshot, had an 11:07 a.m. time stamp, meaning it would have been sent 13 minutes before the train crash occurred.
@willsommer/Twitter
Meanwhile, the cause of the crash is still under investigation, Reuters reported.
A search of "GOP train crash" on Twitter yielded results from users who have made unverified claims about the incident. Top tweets with the most engagements included posts from users who amplified the conspiracy theories.
"Isn't it odd that a dump truck was on the tracks of a scheduled GOP retreat? Are we supposed to believe this was an 'accident' ?," one tweet with over 870 retweets and 1,700 likes said. "Don't forget when republicans were targeted by a crazy liberal when they had a baseball game!"
"Wray should be worrying about a truck that just happened to crash into a GOP train," another user tweeted. "Not covering the asses of corrupt FBI agents. Wake up!"
The conspiracy claims also spread to Facebook, as posts made by users not affiliated with news organizations began adding their own comments to otherwise-reputable news articles, which then began appearing at the top Facebook's curated news sections.
Facebook responded to the incidents. calling them a "bad experience" and saying it would "work to fix the product."
"Trending includes a separate section of people's individual posts related to the news event; it's essentially a comments section," a Facebook spokesperson said in a Daily Beast report. "We built this as a way for you to easily see what others are saying around a topic."
SEE ALSO: Train carrying GOP members of Congress collides with truck, leaving one person dead NOW WATCH: How airplanes fly those giant banner ads - it's more dangerous than you think
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Why I left Google to join Grab '' Steve Yegge '' Medium
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:24
Note: This is my first time using Medium. Please forgive any faux pas. Also, it's pretty long even for me, so you might want to go grab a coffee. I'll wait.
Also, please note that these are my own personal opinions: I do not speak for my employers, old or new.
After nearly 13 years at Google, I have finally left the nest! Never thought it would happen. I always thought I would die at Google'Š'--'Šmaybe choking to death on one of their free chocolate brownies, or maybe finally having a heart attack over YouTube's increasingly bizarre policy enforcement. But regardless of how I envisioned the Grim Reaper catching up with me, I always assumed he'd be hauling me in surrounded by colorful furniture, free food and snacks, and slightly entitled geniuses.
It is difficult to pry people away from Google. Even after almost 20 years of operation, Google is still one of the very best places to work on Earth, just about any way you care to measure it.
I have a lot of good stories saved up that I'd love to share. Google corporate didn't much care for my blogging, and even though they never outright forbade it, I received a lot of indirect pressure from various VPs. So eventually I stopped. Sad.
But that's not where my mind's at today. Those stories will have to wait for my book. Today I just want to tell you about my new gig, because I think you're going to be amazed. In fact I think I can safely predict that no matter who you are, something in this post is going to amaze you.
Before I tell you about the new gig, I'll share a few brief observations about Google, to help paint a backdrop for why, of all the great companies out there, I chose to join Grab.
Why I left Google
The main reason I left Google is that they can no longer innovate. They've pretty much lost that ability. I believe there are several contributing factors, of which I'll list four here.
First, they're conservative: They are so focused on protecting what they've got, that they fear risk-taking and real innovation. Gatekeeping and risk aversion at Google are the norm rather than the exception.
Second, they are mired in politics, which is sort of inevitable with a large enough organization; the only real alternative is a dictatorship, which has its own downsides. Politics, as ex-Google SVP Bill Coughran once said, is the best solution humanity has come up with to this problem in the past 5000 years: the problem of resource contention. So it's not necessarily bad. But politics is a cumbersome process, and it slows you down and leads to execution problems.
Third, Google is arrogant. It has taken me years to understand that a company full of humble individuals can still be an arrogant company. Google has the arrogance of the ''we'', not the ''I''. When a company is as dramatically successful as Google has been, the organization can become afflicted with a sense of invincibility and almost manifest destiny, which leads to tragic outcomes: complacency, not-invented-here syndrome, loss of touch with customers, poor strategic decision-making. So I love the people at Google; they're super smart and world class and always humble individuals, no matter how badass they are in their respective disciplines. But the company strategy is a mess.
I think this is obvious to anyone who has followed Google's public launches over the past five or ten years. Google does all sorts of things these days that leave everyone scratching their heads: Picking unwinnable fights and then trying to force their product on us (e.g. Google+), launching products that are universally panned (e.g. Allo), deprecating and turning down well-loved services (e.g. Reader, Hangouts), launching official APIs with competing and incompatible frameworks (e.g. gRPC vs. REST), launching obviously competing stacks that don't talk to each other (e.g. Android native vs. Dart/Flutter), etc. Their attempts at innovation have been confusing and mostly unsuccessful for close to a decade. Googlers know this is happening and are as frustrated by it as you are, but their leadership is failing them.
But fourth, last, and probably worst of all, Google has become 100% competitor-focused rather than customer focused. They've made a weak attempt to pivot from this, with their new internal slogan ''Focus on the user and all else will follow.'' But unfortunately it's just lip service. It's not that they don't care. The problem is that their incentive structure isn't aligned for focusing on their customers, so they wind up being too busy and it always gets deprioritized. A slogan isn't good enough. It takes real effort to set aside time regularly for every employee to interact with your customers. Instead they play the dangerous but easier game of using competitor activity as a proxy for what customers really need. This is where their incentives are focused. Google incentivizes successful feature and product launches, and by far the easiest, safest way to produce those is by copying competitors.
You can look at Google's entire portfolio of launches over the past decade, and trace nearly all of them to copying a competitor: Google+ (Facebook), Google Cloud (AWS), Google Home (Amazon Echo), Allo (WhatsApp), Android Instant Apps (Facebook, WeChat), Google Assistant (Apple/Siri), and on and on and on. They are stuck in me-too mode and have been for years. They simply don't have innovation in their DNA any more. And it's because their eyes are fixed on their competitors, not their customers.
To be fair, there are exceptions. Google's Cloud Spanner, BigQuery, TensorFlow, Waymo and a few others are generational innovations and will take some time for the industry to catch up with. But they do not excuse nor justify the parade of failed me-too consumer products that Google has been launching of late.
In short, Google just isn't a very inspiring place to work anymore. I love being fired up by my work, but Google had gradually beaten it out of me.
And so, like many Googlers, I'd been thinking of moving on for a few years. But where would you go? It takes a lot to pry someone away from the best place to work on earth, since if nothing else, Google still has a pretty incredible work environment, especially for engineers.
The big name-brand tech companies are almost all operating in the Seattle area, but I think they mostly suffer from the same big-company problems. Facebook gets most of its ''innovations'' from acquisitions these days (Instagram, WhatsApp, Oculus). And I also don't like what I've heard about their culture, from friends who've gone there.
Amazon continues to innovate a fair bit, but they're also not above copying ideas from competitors and trying to squish the smaller ones and generally being big mean bullies. I am tempted to make fun of Jeff Bezos here, but I've heard that nobody has done that three times in a row and lived to tell the tale, so I'll, ah, quit while I'm ahead. But I spent seven years at Amazon and this time around, I was aiming for something different. Oracle, Twitter, Apple, eBay, Microsoft, Adobe, SalesForce, and the other big brands here? They all seem kinda meh.
It seems like you can only really get inspiration from startups these days, so I nearly joined a few. But none seemed just right.
So there I was, scouring the landscape for some inspiration, when I got an email out of the blue from an old Google buddy of mine, Theo Vassilakis. Theo had read the tea leaves years ago and had left Google to do his own big-data startup Metanautix, which he successfully sold to Microsoft.
Theo was writing to let me know he had just become the CTO of Grab, a Singapore-based startup with an eng office here in Seattle.
And that, folks, is where our adventure begins.
Why I joined Grab
To my lasting surprise, I have gone to war.
There is no better way to put it. I feel like I've joined a literal revolutionary war, surrounded by and fighting alongside guerilla troops, and it's win or die.
I have not been this excited about something since maybe the early days of Grok, when I was working 12+ hour days on my mini-startup within Google to revolutionize the way developers interacted with a billion-line code base. But even that was only changing the world for devs. This is so much bigger.
If you look at the heat map of tech opportunities in the greater Seattle area, from the lukewarm (Niantic, OfferUp) to the warm (Facebook, Amazon) to the hot (SpaceX, small startups), then Grab is a huge green ball of flame just about blasting your face off.
Grab is the biggest startup in the history of Southeast Asia. Grab is fighting the most important battle in the world today, on the biggest stage. I am typing this on a plane coming back from Jakarta, where I just witnessed history in the making.
I have not seen a land rush this massive since the early days of the Web, and it just might be even bigger.
So what is Grab? Well, the simple and unsatisfying answer is: They're the Uber of Southeast Asia. But that's a terrible marketing message, because Uber is trying their best to become the most hated company in the U.S. It's like touting them as the Comcast of Southeast Asia. And it's also inaccurate because the Grab and Uber company philosophies are so radically different.
Instead of comparing Grab to Uber, let me try to thread the narrative from my view on the ground, from back when my sister-in-law Cathy and her husband Romano started a food truck. Until then, Cathy had been working at an optometrist's shop and Romano at a library, so we're talking about pretty humble beginnings. They had been saving for years to start their own business, and they had researched the heck out of it so they could be as successful as possible.
In 2012 they launched their Xplosive food truck, serving a Filipino/Vietnamese fusion menu of tasty street food, and it was about as successful as a food truck can be. They won awards, were featured prominently in major Seattle magazines, were introduced by the Seattle Mayor, landed huge catering gigs, and were even the highlight act in a video that Jeff Bezos made for his investors, about how hip Amazon was in the South Lake Union area. Xplosive's customers (mostly Amazon employees) would line up for an hour each day before the truck arrived, and would beg and plead when their full truck ran out of food after just a few hours.
Sounds like success, right? They had ridden the food truck wave at exactly the right time, and for a couple of years, food trucks were everywhere; they were the in thing. But early last year, Cathy and Romano abruptly sold their truck and their coveted city parking spot right next to Amazon, and quietly opened up a full-time commercial kitchen dedicated to food delivery through Peach.
They made this dramatic change because they had their ear to the ground, so they were among the first to recognize the significance of the Restaurant Apocalypse.
Restaurants and food trucks are both about to be obliterated by Peach and Uber Eats. The whole restaurant industry is quaking over this; it's why you've seen some big restaurants starting up food trucks. But that won't save them. The entire food truck industry is about to go tango uniform, disrupted by food delivery just as it was getting off the ground. Trucks will never disappear completely, because they can make money in local venues in good weather. But they're not where the real money is. The best profit for small business owners now lies in food delivery.
Food delivery is hitting the world like a cat-5 hurricane. You can't watch a network football game without seeing commercials about it. It is an exponentially-growing new industry built atop ride-hailing infrastructure, which itself only emerged a few years ago. The driver network can pick up food from literally anywhere and deliver it anywhere within a city-sized radius.
This idea has far-reaching consequences. It turns out that food delivery is a democratization process: It democratizes the restaurant business, creating mom-and-pop entrepreneurial opportunities that simply never existed before. Opening a restaurant is a huge, prohibitively expensive endeavor. Food trucks lowered the barrier to entry significantly, but food delivery lowers it to near-zero. Cathy and Romano realized you can literally cook out of your own commercial kitchen to get started. They are the forefront of a new era. When this idea inevitably takes off, people are going to be able to order take-out from their neighbors, from anyone in the city who wants to cook their family recipe. It will change cuisine forever.
What's astonishing about all this is how fast we went from ride hailing to food delivery to dedicated kitchens for small business owners. In tech years it has unfolded practically overnight. From my perspective, these past few years have been filled with Google teams bickering with each other about what to launch; meanwhile, entire new industries were springing up and evolving through successive disruptors, with more sure to come.
I began this story by grousing that Google can't innovate anymore, but let's face it: Uber, Amazon and Facebook (with Facebook Takeout) all didn't see food coming either. They just copied it.
With that context in mind, let's look at why I jumped on Grab. Because when I heard about the opportunity and finally understood its potential, I couldn't say yes fast enough.
Southeast Asia: The World's Battleground
I've painted ride hailing as a big disruptor, but hey, you already knew that. It has enraged taxi businesses around the world to the point of physical violence. It's a revolutionary change, and it has become a platform that has enabled the burgeoning and incredibly disruptive food delivery industry.
But in the U.S., people love to hate on Uber because ''their drivers are slave labor.'' The driver has to pay for a car, maintain the car, insure it, pay for fuel, clean it, etc., so on the whole Uber is viewed as somewhat predatory. I honestly don't know how much of this is truth vs. perception. But given that millions of drivers are opting in, and given that people are generally pretty clever about optimizing their income, the economics would seem to be at worst a moral gray area in the States and Europe, and more likely a pretty good deal for most drivers.
But ride hailing isn't really changing society for the better in the U.S. and Europe. It's simply making personal transportation a bit cheaper and more accessible. The food delivery revolution is a big social change, but ride hailing itself, not so much.
In Southeast Asia (SEA), however, ride hailing is absolutely transformative and society-changing in ways that we can barely appreciate here in a country where we elect reality TV stars to the office of the presidency. The traffic in SEA is terrible. Aside from Singapore, the traffic infrastructure ranges from bad to terrible to near-nonexistent. (I mean, c'mon, Indonesia alone is 17,000 islands.) The credit-card industry is near-nonexistent. This is a much, much harder problem than it is in the States. But there are half a billion people who desperately need both cheap transportation and jobs. Ride hailing provides both!
It's not uncommon for people in Southeast Asia to get jobs as drivers and make 3 to 5 times their previous income. I don't need to read some Gartner report to know this. I just have to go ask family members. My wife Linh is Vietnamese and she has tons of friends and family in Vietnam, the Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. We already have half a dozen family and close friends who have become Grab drivers in those countries, and they love it. It has changed their lives.
So unlike in the U.S., ride-hailing transport is a game-changer for the entire social and economic infrastructure of Southeast Asia, including Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. That's 620 million people'Š'--'Štwice the size of the US, including 12 cities of 2M+, of which the US has only four. And the middle class in SEA is expected to double in a couple of years to over 400 million.
Did I mention this is a big opportunity?
After transport, you get the food-delivery wave, which is following suit exactly the way it has in the U.S. And it is growing more rapidly in Southeast Asia, because'Š'--'Šas any Asian person will happily tell you'Š'--'Šthey love their food more than you do. Food unites their cultures in a way that's nearly incomprehensible to westerners, especially outside the large cities.
Here's the thing, though: Transport and food are only scratching the surface. Same-day food delivery can be generalized to same-day anything delivery, for instance. We're going to see major disruptors happening yearly (if not faster) for many years to come. Payments and financial services are up next, and they're a staggeringly huge opportunity.
You need to download the Grab app in order to hail a ride or order food. Everyone in Southeast Asia has smartphones, so everyone there is getting the Grab app. Which means the next step is mobile Payments. Grab is signing up local merchants'Š'--'Šand there are millions of them who can participate'Š'--'Šat an incredible rate, so that people can pay for stuff with their Grab app.
Why does that matter? After all, mobile payments aren't really taking off in the U.S. Visa has been pushing them for years and nobody's biting; in fact it's been a disaster. But it matters in Southeast Asia because SEA is primarily a cash economy. Fewer than 2% of adults in SEA have credit cards, and over 60% don't have bank accounts at all. There's still a deep distrust of banks, and of course there's a ton of credit card fraud, which makes the whole thing so dicey that everyone just uses cash there.
But they trust smartphones! You can thank Steve Jobs for that. Southeast Asians use smartphones possibly more than anyone else in the world. Westerners have all these stuffy conventions about not staring into your smartphone while you're eating with your family, or out having fun with friends, or riding as a passenger on a motorbike, or, you know, driving one. Not so in SEA. Everyone stares happily into their smart phones all the time.
SEA is a cash economy. But cash has a ton of problems. Thieves are everywhere, yes; but there is also an old-world substrate of bribery, corruption, scamming and fraud. For instance, getting into a taxi, if you're not careful, can quickly land you in a situation where the driver has no meter and demands an exorbitant fee, which he will split with the police officer who will arrest you if you don't pay up. Heck, we saw a worker today in the Jakarta airport with a company shirt that said ''NO TIPPING'' on the back, because in SEA there can sometimes be a fine line between tipping and mandatory bribes.
If you pay for everything with your Grab app, then all the prices are agreed and decided up front, and you don't need to carry any cash at all. So people are adopting it at a rate that's nothing short of astonishing, given how cash-centric the SEA economy has been, literally forever. But they can ''top up'' their Grab account with cash, so their distrust of banks is bypassed completely.
And payments of course opens up even more verticals and services'Š'--'Špretty much anything you do with money these days in the West, you cannot do in SEA (or you can, but they gouge you on fees, which really hurts when you are poor). Payments are going to open up these verticals to everyone, even people who live out in remote villages. It's nuts. The world is changing right under our noses.
So why do I say I'm going to war?
Well, Uber's there, obviously. Uber is everywhere'... except for China, that is, where they had to pull out because Didi was killing them for various reasons. Uber exiting China highlighted a few important things: Firstly, that this is a winner-take-all space, because it creates a network effect by uniting all the verticals and making competition very difficult. Exactly what happened with Didi in China. So competitors will fight until there is only one left standing. That, folks, is a fight to the death.
Another takeaway is that Uber can be beaten, when a few years ago they seemed unbeatable. Frankly I personally think Uber is gonna lose SEA as well. They're planning an IPO and they need to clean up their books, because Uber, as we all know by now, is losing money faster than any company has lost money in the history of money. As one famous investor put it, the ride-hailing space can be thought of as piling huge heaps of money on a table, pouring gasoline on it and lighting it on fire. Uber is dumping billions of dollars into driver and passenger rewards and incentives and promotions in an effort to buy loyalty for just long enough to drive their local competitors (of which there are perhaps eight worldwide) out of business. And of course their competitors are all forced to respond in kind.
Yuck.
I honestly don't know what's going to happen, and I'm pretty new to this space so if you quote me on any of this then you're an idiot quoting a bigger idiot. But if I were a betting man, I wouldn't be betting on Uber in Southeast Asia long-term. Uber has to cut their losses soon, and they're being out-competed in Southeast Asia.
However'...
There's another player in SEA, strongly resembling Grab. And they're fierce. That competitor is Go-Jek, which my iPhone happily auto-corrects to Go-Jerk. They, uh, might want to get that fixed.
Go-Jek and Grab are mortal enemies, locked in a life-and-death land war that's going to enable the biggest social and economic transformation in modern history. So even though Vizzini warned us not to do exactly that, I'm getting myself involved in a land war in Asia.
I have never been so excited. It didn't really hit home until my first day on the job last week. I went to a Grab leadership conference in Jakarta, and part of it was an Amazing Race where we had to book 2-wheel and 4-wheel rides to get around the city in a race with other teams. When I hopped on the back of that bike, looking up into tropical rain, and the driver headed directly into oncoming traffic and I uttered the words, ''I'm gonna die'', that's when I knew this was real. And when I realized I couldn't look anywhere without seeing a sea of green Grab and Go-Jek helmets, that's when I realized that this is outright war. This is history being made.
This war is happening on two fronts: Online and offline. Online, we have to put together world-class technology in the shortest timeframe it's probably ever been done, and the business requirements and business logic are growing more complicated by the week. And I mean literally by the week. But Grab makes smart tech choices'Š'--'Še.g. AWS, the Go language, Kotlin for Android. And they don't have Not Invented Here syndrome, so they don't waste time reinventing wheels. I have every confidence that we'll win this.
Offline, there are armies of agents (real people) involved in expanding the network of drivers, merchants, passengers, and other participants. We're talking thousands, hundreds of thousands, millions of agents. I'm not going to tell you how it's happening, but those numbers are real.
Oh, and we get to build a platform. :) You know how I love those.
The whole world's attention is focused on Southeast Asia. Banks, investment firms, mega-corporations, government regulators, mafias (!), everyone is charging in, metaphorical guns blazing. This is not hyperbole. This morning I saw a spy photo of an Indonesian mafia-run operation: a big seedy-looking room full of guys with stacks of phones doing fake ride bookings. Amazon just launched same-day Prime delivery in Singapore. Didi and Softbank and countless others are funneling money into the key players. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say the world's attention is focused right here on Grab's territory, on that network of green motorcycle helmets. Oil companies, power companies, car companies, battery companies, credit card companies, banks, international restaurateurs, tourism companies, taxi companies, airlines, retailers'Š'--'Šdozens of major industries are going to be impacted by this land war for better or worse, and they're all fighting to make damn sure it's ''for better'' for themselves.
Jeff Bezos has been trying for twenty years to solve the last-mile problem. Back in 1999 he pulled us all into a room and told all 300-odd of us employees that Amazon was dying. This was during the spectacular inflection point in Amazon's hockey stick growth curve, and we all gaped at him, wondering what the hell he was smoking. He told us calmly that all we sold were books, music and video, and all of them were being digitized and would die soon. Right then and there he predicted the Kindle and iTunes and Amazon Instant Video, none of which emerged until years later. He said that if we didn't get into hardlines and other businesses, we'd be dead in a few years. He told us we had to be able to sell and ship anything, a live elephant if need be. So we solved that.
But at the same time, he told us that if people couldn't get their barbecue on the same day, then we were always going to lose to the local merchants. So he set out to solve the last-mile problem: Getting your order to you within an hour or so. And 20 years later, he still hasn't solved it. Sure, yes, they have same-day delivery for a few SKUs in a few cities, and he's got AmazonFresh and some other fledgling attempts. But for essentially the whole world, the last-mile problem wasn't solved until ride-hailing networks came along.
And there is nowhere more difficult to solve that last mile than Southeast Asia. They have some of the highest population density, the worst traffic, the worst infrastructure, and the most people with smartphones who want their stuff now, now, now.
Grab is going to win this war. I know it now because I've met them, and I've met their allies, and I've met their customers. Grab has an unbelievable team. Unlike Google, who can't be bothered to descend the ivory tower to visit real customers, Grab's mantra is: ''Go to the ground''. They constantly encourage every employee to get involved with actual Grab users as often as possible, so that as an organization they can be instantly aware of both customer needs and incoming market changes, and pivot quickly.
I can't emphasize enough how powerful that mantra is. Amazon's motto is ''Earth's Most Customer-Centric Company'', and they have built a brand trusted by everyone on earth. But they only interact with their customers once a year'Š'--'ŠJeff Bezos mandates that every leader in the company spend a day a year in the customer call centers, because info relayed back from Customer Service reps doesn't paint the full picture. You have to experience it.
And Google (''Focus on the User and all else will follow'') employees basically never interact with their customers. Amazon only puts its ear to the ground sporadically, and Google, never.
If you want to hear the latest rumors and real customer needs, then you need all your leaders to be out talking to real customers. You can predict how innovative a company will be by watching how close they are to their customers. This will also predict how responsive they will be to market shifts. ''Going to the ground'' as a corporate culture is a leading indicator of innovative success. For Amazon it's yearly. Grab is aiming for daily. Their employees all use Grab to commute, which provides direct contact with drivers and other passengers. (We need to find a way in the Grab Seattle eng office, somehow.)
Going to the ground is how Xplosive saw that they needed to sell their truck and start a kitchen, easily a year before anyone else. It's how Peach realized food delivery was going to be huge before Amazon, Uber and Facebook, all of whom only learned about it from competitors. You innovate by going to the ground. And that's Grab's motto, which they take dead seriously.
Grab will win because they go to the ground.
I've seen Grab's hunger. I've felt it. I have it. This space is win or die. They will fight to the death, and I am with them. This company, with some 3000 employees I think, is more unified than I've seen with most 5-person companies. This is the kind of focused camaraderie, cooperation and discipline that you typically only see in the military, in times of war.
Which should hardly surprise you, because that's exactly what this is. This is war.
I am giving everything I've got to help Grab win. I am all in. You'd be amazed at what you can accomplish when you're all in.
But you can't win a war without allies.
So give me a call.
Defence secretary warns of Russia plot against infrastructure - BBC News
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:14
Image copyright Reuters Image caption Gavin Williamson said Russia could cause 'total chaos' in the UK Russia could cause "thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths" by crippling UK infrastructure, the defence secretary has warned.
Gavin Williamson told the Daily Telegraph that Moscow was spying on energy supplies which, if cut, could cause "total chaos" in the country.
He said it was "the real threat... the country is facing at the moment."
Head of the British army, Sir Nick Carter, has warned the UK is struggling to keep up with Russian capabilities.
The UK has four undersea connections for electricity linked to the continent and a further four for gas to bring energy into the country.
Mr Williamson, who became defence secretary last November, said Russia had been researching these types of connections and would be willing to take action "any other nation would see as completely unacceptable".
He told the paper: "The plan for the Russians won't be for landing craft to appear in the South Bay in Scarborough, and off Brighton beach.
"They are going to be thinking, 'how can we just cause so much pain to Britain?
"Damage its economy, rip its infrastructure apart, actually cause thousands and thousands and thousands of deaths, but actually have an element of creating total chaos within the country."
'Monty Python's Flying Circus'Official representative of the Russian Defence, Ministry Major-General Igor Konashenkov, accused the defence secretary of losing "his understanding of where the limits of common sense lie long ago".
He added that Mr Williamson's "morbid fear" of Russian activities belonged in a children's comic book or an episode of Monty Python's Flying Circus.
Past attacksThe BBC's defence correspondent, Jonathan Beale, said some may see the defence secretary's language as "alarmist".
But he was backed by former First Sea Lord and security minister Lord West, who told the paper he was "absolutely certain" Russia was looking at how to get into the UK's critical infrastructure.
The warning comes after the chief of the National Cyber Security Centre, Ciaran Martin, said earlier this week that Russia had already staged attacks against Britain's media, telecommunications and energy sectors over the past year.
It comes as the Ministry of Defence is under pressure to avoid cuts that could be coming from the Treasury.
Mr Williamson has already been told there could be a Tory revolt over reductions to army numbers and naval capability, and suggested he will be asking the chancellor for more money.
The Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road Is One Of China's Master Plans For Africa | Geopolitica.RU
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:13
Strategic Background
The word ''Africa'' conjures vivid images in the minds of many, with most unaware non-Africans reactively recalling stereotypical images of war, famine, and poverty that they were introduced to on a wide scale during the 1990s ''African World War'' in the Congo, but the present-day reality is markedly different than what most people might imagine. Instead of being a 'third world' 'basket case' of all the world's worst problems like the mainstream media persistently tried to present it as for decades, today's Africa is relatively stable and boasts a high rate of growth which has attracted billions of dollars of Asian investment.
In the context of the New Cold War between the unipolar and multipolar worlds, Africa takes on a premier importance as an unavoidable proxy battleground between these two camps, economically led by the US and China, respectively. Each side wants to harness the continent's production and consumption capabilities in order to tap into this promising marketplace, eager to take advantage of its cheap labor and growing need for diverse imports. This is less important for the US as it is for the EU, since Washington always has Latin America which it can rely on for this, but Brussels' Eastern European and Balkan backwaters are no longer as sufficient as they once were in serving as dumping grounds for the Western EU's excess products and as loosely regulated regions for cyclically producing even more of them. France is at the vanguard of the EU's African policy, though the US behaves as the ''Lead From Behind'' ally in providing discrete military assistance whenever necessary, thus heightening its unipolar worth to the EU as a whole.
China, on the other hand, isn't as exploitative as the Europeans are, contrary to its controversial history of relations with Africa (which was admittedly filled with more than enough cultural and economic shortcomings) and what the Western mainstream media still writes about it in this regard. Beijing, unlike Brussels, genuinely needs mutually beneficial development to occur in Africa in order that the continent can function as a large-scale economic partner for sustaining China's own growth by profitably channeling its overcapacity and serving as a destination for much-needed outbound investment. While it's true that China also desires reliable access to Africa's many natural resources, it's also now just as equally important for the People's Republic that the continent's extractive material industry contributes to the development of a viable commercial economy, and to this end, China has reinvested much of its capital in forging a network of multipolar transnational connective infrastructure projects that can assist with this goal. It's not just Africa either, but the whole world that's playing host to China's many One Belt One Road projects commonly referred to as the New Silk Roads.
Qualifying Caveat/Introductory Disclaimer
The author concisely elaborated on the transcontinental projects that China is advancing through East and Central Africa in a previous piece for Oriental Review, but now it's time to explore the northern analogues that collectively constitute the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road from Senegal to Sudan. It's important for the reader to keep in mind that most of these projects aren't even built yet, and it's very possible that this vision will never be actualized in full due to internal corruption, 'budgetary management', and the Western-provoked use of Hybrid War to disrupt these projects, the last of which is comparatively easier to pull off in Africa than most other places in the world in seeking to spark divisive identity-driven conflicts. Having said that, this article is intentioned to provide the reader with the bigger picture behind China's New Silk Road strategy in Africa, particularly as it relates to the transcontinental Sahelian-Saharan. The projected routes of these various infrastructure projects will also provide a clue about where the next Hybrid Wars might break out and could explain why certain ones such as Boko Haram and the civil war in South Sudan have already transpired.
Since most readers will probably be overwhelmed with the details presented in this article, the last part of it ends with a map that illustrates each of the Silk Road projects that are discussed below and concludes with a few strategic observations about the bigger picture being presented.
Bringing Giants Together
In the grand scheme of things and from the perspective of China's New Silk Road vision, natural economic logic suggests that the continent would be best served if its two most populous countries were connected to one another, which would help each of them benefit from the other's growth as well as encourage more intra-African trade in general. In practice, this means that a transport corridor would have to be constructed between Nigeria and Ethiopia (and its Red Sea maritime outlet of Djibouti), with the quickest route being through the resource-rich states of South Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Cameroon. Unfortunately, the first two of the three transit countries were purposely destroyed by the US' meddling intrigue and therefore logistically unreliable and horrendously unsafe.
The CCS Detour
An alternative route had to be blazed which made the best out of the given circumstances and still endeavored to connect the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, which is why China went ahead with funding the oft-delayed Cameroon-Chad-Sudan (CCS) Silk Road from Douala to Port Sudan (via N'Djamena). Still, this project doesn't directly link up with Nigeria, which was supposed to be the main purpose behind the entire vision, though it does get very close to doing so in both the Chadian capital and the Cameroonian port, leaving space for northern and southern branch lines (whether rail or highway) to extend into the country whenever the situation is deemed safe enough. Security is an issue in Northeast Nigeria because of Boko Haram, which coincidentally became a major problem right around the time that both South Sudan and the Central African Republic descended into chaos, while Southeastern Nigeria is recently experiencing a surge of violence from criminal gangs and self-proclaimed separatists, thus explaining why the CCS Silk Road isn't the NCS Silk Road and doesn't formally include Nigeria.
The Nigerian Silk Roads
The purpose of the three Nigerian Silk Roads is therefore to connect the country to the CCS Silk Road via the branch lines that were spoken about above, taking care to run through the most important and economically promising areas of the country in order to best utilize this game-changing series of infrastructure investments.
Lagos-Calabar:
The first project of significance is the $11 billion Lagos-Calabar Silk Road that was agreed to in July and which plans to run along the entirety of the Nigerian coastline, though dangerously through the oil-rich southeastern region currently beset by low-intensity criminal-separatist violence. Although ending right before the Cameroonian border, a short interconnector could foreseeably be built one day in linking Calabar with Douala and thus joining the Lagos-Calabar Silk Road with the CCS one. Functionally speaking, this would accomplish the goal of connecting the Atlantic Ocean with the Red Sea, and while the CCS Silk Road (which itself isn't yet built) doesn't penetrate into Ethiopia, a branch line could be constructed one of these days in finally fulfilling the master plan of bringing the Nigerian and Ethiopian giants together.
Lagos-Kano:
The second Nigerian Silk Road route is the one between Lagos and Kano by means of Abuja, which will connect the two largest cities in the country via the capital when it's finally completed. This is a strategically crucial route because it doesn't run through any ongoing Hybrid War-afflicted areas, as in it's not affected by Boko Haram nor any of the Southern separatists. That isn't to say that its long-term security is inherently guaranteed and couldn't be offset by a future conflict between the central authorities and the Yoruba-nationalist Oodua People's Congress, but that it's generally the safest of the three Nigerian Silk Roads and the least likely to be destabilized in the short term.
Port Harcourt-Maiduguri:
The last branch of the Nigerian Silk Road runs from the southeastern oil capital of Port Harcourt to the capital of Boko Haram's Borno State, Maiduguri, in the northeast of the country. This corridor is the eastern counterpart of the Lagos-Kano line, but unlike its western analogue, it passes through the doubly destabilized regions of the criminal-separatist Southeast and the Salafist Northeast, making it the most strategically risky of the three routes but also the one which would most directly connect Nigeria with N'Djamena and thenceforth with the rest of the CCS Silk Road up until its Red Sea terminus. It's for this reason, alongside corruption and other related challenges, that the route's modernization has been beset by numerous delays and will probably be the last of the three to enter into operation.
Kano-Maiduguri-N'Djamena Interconnector:
Just like how the Lagos-Calabar Silk Road need a short interconnector to link it up with the CCS Silk Road terminal of Douala, so too does its perpendicular portions of Lagos-Kano and Port Harcourt-Maiduguri need their own for joining together and reaching N'Djamena. While this isn't officially in the cards at the moment, it makes complete sense for it to eventually be built, but only after all three lines are up and running first. Additionally, Boko Haram needs to be defeated beforehand and Northeastern Nigeria needs to be pacified in order to ensure this project's lasting security.
The Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road And The West African Rail Loop
Nigeria is one of the most crucial countries for China's New Silk Road, strategy in Africa not just because of its own promise as the most populous country on the continent and its second-largest economy, but because of the geographically facilitating role that it plays in extending OBOR all across Africa. Nigeria is approximately midway between Senegal and Sudan, and given the existing infrastructure investments that China is partaking in all throughout West Africa's main state, it makes sense for any additional projects west of Nigeria to pass through it en route to Sudan (or eventually Ethiopia one day).
The first project of repute is what the author has dubbed the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road, which is pretty much just Trans-African Highways 5 and 6, the former being from Dakar to N'Djamena and the latter being from the Chadian capital to Djibouti. Trans-African Highway 6 mostly overlaps with the Chadian-Sudanese parts of the CCS Silk Road, with the main exception being that the Chinese-invested rail project breaks with the continental-wide highway one in veering off to Port Sudan instead of Ethiopia, at least for the time being. As for the Trans-African Highway 5, its projected modification is that it has the very real chance of accommodating rail transport just like its eastern is eventually envisioned to, since the Dakar-Bamako portion between the Senegalese and Malian capitals is presently being built with Chinese assistance. If this railroad were extended to the Burkinabe capital of Ouagadougou, then it would successfully link up with the West African Rail Loop, which connects to the Nigerien capital of Niamey, Nigeria's Lagos (and thus to the Lagos-Caladan Silk Road), the largest Beninese city and only seaport of Cotonou, and the Togolese, Ghanaian, and Ivorian capitals of Lom(C), Accra, and Abidjan.
Concerning the remaining portion of Trans-African Highway 5 between Niamey and N'Djamena, that too has the chance to be developed into a railroad and all that it takes is yet another short line being built, though this time between the Nigerien capital and the second-largest Nigerian city of Kano. After that, the Kano-Maiduguri-N'Djamena Interconnector written about above would suffice for completing the last part of Trans-African Highway 5. There is, however, a possibility that a workaround could be constructed between Kano and N'Djamena, especially if Northern Nigeria falls deeper into violence and the original direct route to the Chadian capital becomes unviable. In that case, it might be necessary to construct a detour from Niamey and Kano to the second-largest Nigerien city of Zinder, and thenceforth continue along Niger's densely populated southern border belt all the way to Lake Chad, choosing either to go around it by cutting through the northeastern tip of Nigeria (which might not be feasible amidst the prolonged circumstances of destabilization that gave rise to the rerouting in the first place) or via the longer way around the Chadian section.
Grand Strategy
In summary, Nigeria forms the irreplaceably crucial juncture of China's Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road in linking the Atlantic country of Senegal with the Red Sea-bordering state of Sudan. In principle, Nigeria still functions as a very important node on China's New Silk Road even without its various interconnections to the rest of West Africa or further across the eastern reaches of the continent, in that each of the three Nigerian Silk Roads are economically sound and strategic investments on their own. When all three are taken together as an integrated infrastructural package, the unified project acquires a significance much larger than the sum of its total parts, and this is exponentially multiplied with each of the other Silk Road projects that it ultimately connects to (CCS Silk Road, West African Rail Loop, and Trans-African Highway/Railway 5).
Red: CCS (Cameroon-Chad-Sudan) Silk Road
Gold: Trans-African Highway 5
Lavender: Ethiopia-Nigeria Silk Road (the most direct projected route through resource-rich territory)
Pink: West African Rail Loop
Blue: Lagos-Calabar Silk Road
Green: Lagos-Kano Silk Road
Yellow: Port Harcourt-Maiduguri Silk Road
Strategic Observations
Several salient conclusions can be reached from the above map:
* The Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road is pretty much just a slightly modified and rail modernized version of Trans-African Highways 5 and 6 that aims to connect Dakar with Djibouti;
* France's Operation Barkhane and the US' 'anti-terror' presence along the Sahel almost perfectly overlap with the projected Silk Road route, proving that both Great Powers intend to influence it;
* The Chadian capital of N'Djamena will acquire heightened significance as a crucial juncture and transit point along the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road due to its geographically central location;
* Boko Haram's terrorist insurgency in the Lake Chad basin threatens to sabotage China's transcontinental plans through the formation of a black hole of chaos right in the middle of the route;
* Burkina Faso and the Sudanese region of Darfur lie in the middle of the Western and Eastern parts of this transcontinental corridor and could thus become prime Hybrid War targets for splitting each half;
* and the West African Rail Loop and Nigerian Silk Roads essentially serve as southern branches of the Sahelian-Saharan Silk Road, and the latter is a means for linking the Gulf of Guinea and Red Sea markets.
All personal views are my own and do not necessarily coincide withthe positions of my employer (Sputnik News) or partners unless
explicitly and unambiguously stated otherwise by them. I write in a
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Chinese firms to study feasibility of Chad Sudan railway - Sudan Tribune: Plural news and views on Sudan
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:13
November 7, 2017 (KHARTOUM) - The Sudanese government Tuesday represented by the Ministry of Roads and Bridges, signed an agreement with a Chinese company to build a railway linking Port Sudan on the Red Sea with Chadian capital N'Djamena.
The agreement was signed by the Director General of the Railways Authority, Ibrahim Fadl, representing the Ministry of Roads and Bridges with the Director of the China Railway Design Corporation (CRDC) (CRDC) and China Friendship Development International Engineering Design & Consultation Company (FDDC).
The agreement stipulates that the Chinese side will study the feasibility of the construction of the 3,400 kilometre-long railway linking Port Sudan and N'Djamena within 12 months.
Minister of Transport, Roads and Bridges Makawi Mohamed Awad said that his ministry is continuing to implement its programs until Sudan becomes a link to all the neighbouring landlocked countries, pointing to the importance of the Sudan -Chad railway.
Sudan agreed with the Chad and the Central African Republic to link their capitals with Port Sudan but the regional instability delayed the implementation of the projects.
Also, the funding of this vital railway may involve several partners. The Islamic Cooperation Organization in 2008 agreed to fund the Port Sudan-Dakar Railway Line. This would connect Sudan, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Mali, Burkino Faso, and Senegal.
Also in March 2012, Chadian government and the China Civil Engineering Construction Corporation a contract to build a railway line connecting Chad to Cameroon and Sudan.
Is This The World's Most Critical Pipeline? | OilPrice.com
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:09
The Southern Gas Corridor, connecting Azerbaijan to the world's largest economic block, is one of the most important infrastructure pipeline projects worldwide, bringing Caspian gas into Europe.
Europe wants to become less dependent on Russian gas and use more clean energy, taking advantage of the technological advances made in the renewables sector, along with the use of natural gas.
After 2016's 7 percent growth, European gas consumption continued to rise through 2017. Consumption levels showed a year-on-year increase of 6 percent in the first quarter, supported by low temperatures.
The Southern Gas Corridor is around 80 percent finalized, with the first gas flow for Europe expected around 2020. That's great news not only for Europe, but also for the Azerbaijan economy, which stands to benefit from improved exported gas volumes, with the oil and gas sector accounting for up to 45 percent of their GDP and around 75 percent of state revenues.
Europe's natural gas import needs will continue to increase through the next 10 years, a result of the Netherlands and United Kingdom's shift from gas exporters to importers, and Norway's energy policy to freeze new oil and gas offshore projects.
Azerbaijan will play an essential role in European energy security, not only as a European partner with a stable economy, but also a supplier with growing export potential of the much-needed commodity in a world of rising energy prices. And while the Southern Gas Corridor won't replace Europe's need for Russian gas, it will, however, be an outstanding actor for Southern European countries supplied by liquefied natural gas (LNG) carrying higher shipping costs.
Related: The Blockchain Revolution Is Heading To Space
With gas traders exploiting the price arbitrage between the global LNG market and piped gas coming through the Southern Gas Corridor, we forecast that LNG's market shares will continue to increase in Europe, as new fields were funded in Israel and Egypt.
The Turkish Stream project into Europe will not be a competitor of the Southern Gas Corridor '-- that is the priority of the European Commission. The Turkish Stream project highlights several political and legal issues, exposing the region's energy security and strategies aimed at rendering Europe less dependent on Russian gas.
Assuming that negotiations will need to take place between Russia and Europe in the following months or years, if Russia doesn't receive an iron-clad guarantee from the European Commission, it's very likely '-- in line with Gazprom's shift to the East '-- they'll walk away from the project.
Speaking of Europe's Russian dependency, in light of the Southern Gas Corridor project's potential impact on Europe, Russia's pivot toward the East '-- Gazprom exports to China '-- means any additional or new supply flows into Europe will be of much use, helping the region replenish flows that will be redirected toward the growing and higher paying Asian markets of South Korea and Japan, and newcomers like Pakistan and India.
Related: OPEC Drives Oil Prices Back Up
The Southern Gas Corridor will not only offer supply into Europe, but also help dampen future upside price risk as the cost of wholesale energy (in Europe) becomes significantly susceptible to global LNG markets '-- a change in market dynamics affected by the region's transition from gas exporting to importing, as seen with the United Kingdom.
Despite the fact that expected volume flows may not necessarily be threatening to the dominant position of Russia within the region, global natural gas prices have been weak further out on the curve (NBP Sum'20 contracts onward) as ongoing Australian and Qatari LNG projects come into operation, flooding global markets '-- alongside the goliath that is U.S. shale gas post-2020 '-- with new LNG exporting capacities.
By Luis Colasante & Serge Mazodila
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EXCLUSIVE: Officials Claim Only Half of Las Vegas Shooting Victims Received Full Autopsies
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:51
In a shocking twist in what has already proven to be a shady investigation, this reporter has learned that Las Vegas authorities only conducted autopsies on half of the victims of what is now known as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
LAS VEGAS, NV(Laura Loomer)'Š'--'ŠAccording to two sources within the Clark County coroner's office, only half of the 58 victims who were killed on October 1st, 2017 received a standard autopsy.
The officials, whose identities and professional backgrounds have been independently verified and kept anonymous to protect their jobs, both emphasized their dismay over the fact that some of the victims did not receive fair treatment.
''Our two biggest concerns are an autopsy was not performed on every single homicide victim, which is the standard practice within the Clark County coroner's office,'' one source recounted. ''We also find it troubling that the official number of deaths never increased, despite hearing from colleagues that more victims had died in local area hospitals following the shooting.''
Clark County Nevada Coroner's OfficeHighlighting the sheer irregularity of the decision, one of the officials said, ''I've participated in thousands of autopsies and never had an instance where I didn't conduct a full body autopsy on a homicide victim.''
Adding insult to injury, this reporter can exclusively confirm that the alleged killer, Stephen Paddock, received a meticulously thorough autopsy, performed by Las Vegas Pathologist Dr. Lisa Gavin.
Colleagues of Dr. Gavin noted how oddly excited and eager she was to conduct the autopsy, jokingly adding they ''wouldn't be surprised if she performed a rape kit on Paddock because she seemed to want to perform every test in the book.''
Clark County Coroner Dr. John Fudenbergtold the Associated Press in December that an autopsy on Paddock's body was able to determine he had died by suicide from a single self inflicted gunshot wound to the mouth.
Speaking by phone on Monday, Dr. Fudenberg declined to comment on the report that only half the victims received full autopsies.
Ironically, two days before the Las Vegas shooting, a lawsuit was won resulting in a legal mandate that all autopsies be open to public inspection.
Dr. Fudenberg said his office is defying this order because the ruling was appealed and is currently under review by the Nevada Supreme Court, and until a decision is rendered, all autopsies, not just those from the Las Vegas shooting, will remain sealed.
On the subject of why the Clark County coroner's office was closed to the public during the aftermath of the shooting, Dr. Fudenberg vehemently denied claims there was a lockdown, and referenced safety concerns as to why the doors were locked, and an armed guard was posted outside.
Dr. Fudenberg's duplicitous answer regarding the number of autopsies that were conducted on the victims mirrors the same lack of transparency which has now defined the infamous investigation of the worst mass shooting in U.S. history.
Ultimately, these actions, along with the decision to not perform full autopsies on the bodies of every victim, may cost Las Vegas more than its law enforcement's credibility.
Las Vegas Shooting Victim's MemorialAccording to this reporter's sources in the coroner's office, the failure to conduct proper and thorough examinations of the deceased may unduly effect the amount of monetary damages received by victim's families.
''When this is taken to court to determine how much money in damages each victim's family deserves, they're going to ask the forensic pathologist any number of questions about what they saw in the body,'' one of the medical officials said. ''If they ask that on every single case, the question will be, why didn't you do that? Why not on this one?''
These failures in basic protocol may facilitate crippling lawsuits against the city, from families who may not be able to prove their loved ones actually died from gunshot wounds inflicted by Paddock.
''You want to see the wound path to see which organs the bullet(s) hit,'' the medical officials explained. ''You can't testify to what actually killed someone with 100% certainty unless you go inside the body.''
Pointedly summarizing the infuriating sentiments of this troubling report, one of the medical officials added, ''if my loved one wasn't given a full blown autopsy, I'd want specifics, I'd want to know how exactly the bullet killed them, without it, you just don't know.''
Students hold 'bleed-in' to demand free menstrual products
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:50
University of Florida students walked around campus Tuesday with fake menstrual blood on their pants to protest the lack of free feminine hygiene products on campus.
On January 15, a student government committee rejected a proposal to provide free menstrual products to female students through the mandatory Activity and Service Fee, expressing concerns about applying mandatory fees paid by all students towards ''funding that would only benefit the female half of the UF student body.''
"Today I held a little protest for free menstrual protects...And I say menstrual not feminine because menstruation should not be gendered. Some men get periods."
[RELATED: Tampons coming to men's rooms at Brown University]
A student group called ''Gatters Matter, Period.,'' which began circulating a petition in support of the proposal last fall, responded by organizing a ''bleed-in'' protest during which roughly two-dozen students stained the back of their pants red, according to The Alligator.
''This is a part of reproductive justice,'' Shannon Matthew, who was among the first students to join the protest, told the Alligator. ''I'm not ashamed of my period, and I don't think anyone should be.''
A Facebook event page for the ''Are You Seeing Red?'' demonstration explains that participants wore ''washable dye on our bums, as if we didn't have a pad and the blood bled through.''
The organizers provided ''supplies'' for those in need of them, but encouraged students to ''bleed-in how ever [sic] you want as well.''
[RELATED: NYU students: Men deserve free tampons. Period.]
Following the protest, the proposal was discussed at a meeting of the full Student Senate, where the Alligator reports that Senate President Ian Green announced that a decision had been made to provide free menstrual products at the student union starting in February, though he could not offer details about funding because the arrangement had been worked out by Student Body President Smith Meyers, who was unavailable for comment.
During the meeting, some senators pointed out that free menstrual products are already available on campus through the Field and Fork Pantry.
Students are allowed to take up to three bags of menstrual products per week'--each containing eight tampons, five liners, and five pads'--but student activists retorted that the option is too limited.
''Heteronormativity is rampant on this campus,'' complained Sophia Ahmed, one of the organizers of the ''bleed-in'' protest. ''Today I held a little protest for free menstrual protects. If you saw my butt that was evidence. And I say menstrual not feminine because menstruation should not be gendered. Some men get periods.''
Two student senators, Branden Pearson and Emily Dunson, told The Alligator that they are working to alleviate just such concerns, and hope to secure funding for free menstrual products at several on-campus locations by April 2018.
They estimate that the project will cost just under $5,000, and speculated that the pilot program could eventually be expanded to include roughly 60 gender-neutral restrooms.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @danweldonfb
Americans who practice yoga contribute to white supremacy, Michigan State University professor claims | Fox News
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:42
White people who do a downward-facing dog are contributing to a ''system of power, privilege, and oppression,'' according to a Michigan State University professor.
Shreena Gandhi, a religious studies professor at Michigan State, claims in an article she recently co-authored that Americans who practice yoga are contributing to white supremacy and promote the ''yoga industrial complex.''
White Americans should learn yoga's history, acknowledge the cultural appropriation they engage in and possibly reduce the cost of yoga classes for poor people, a group that often includes people of color and ''recent immigrants, such as Indian women to whom this practice rightfully belongs,'' Gandhi argued.
'WHITE RACISM' COURSE AT FLORIDA UNIVERSITY TEACHES THAT AMERICA IS 'WHITE SUPREMACIST SOCIETY'
She co-authored the piece titled ''Yoga and the Roots of Cultural Appropriation,'' with Lillie Wolff, a self-described ''anti-racist white Jewish organizer, facilitator, and healer,'' who has called for ''decolonizing'' yoga, the College Fix reported.
The two argued ''the explosion of yoga studios, yoga video, apps, yoga pants, and other yoga swag over the last two decades is evidence'' of the ''(mis)appropriation of yoga'' that ''is part of systemic racism'' built on ''the labor of black people and people of the global south.''
''We would argue one of the goals of white supremacy is to buffer white people from the pain that comes from the process of exchanging cultural grounding for the unearned power and privilege of whiteness,'' they wrote. ''...this modern-day trend of cultural appropriation of yoga is a continuation of white supremacy and colonialism, maintaining the pattern of white people consuming the stuff of culture that is convenient and portable, while ignoring the well-being and liberation of Indian people.''
DARTMOUTH COLLEGE TO HOST 'WHAT'S UP WITH WHITE PEOPLE?' EVENT
Gandhi and the Religious Studies Department at MSU did not respond to Fox News' request for comment.
Gandhi said few white people ''make the connection between their attraction to yoga and the cultural loss their ancestors and relatives experienced when they bought into white dominant culture in order to access resources,'' Gandhi wrote.
But white people who twist their bodies in different yoga positions can do something about it, according to Gandhi.
''Given a deeper analysis of yoga, white yoga practitioners and teachers can engage in yoga in a decolonizing way that reduces harm and seeks greater cultural accountability,'' she wrote.
''Especially during this time when the underbelly of capitalism '-- white supremacy, cisheteropatriarchy, and xenophobia '' is being exposed, it is imperative that everyone, especially those who have access to spiritual practices like yoga, ask difficult questions of ourselves and one another,'' the two concluded. ''We must ask, in what ways are we complicit in a system that harms people of color, queer and trans people, poor people, people with disabilities, and immigrants?''
Caleb Parke is an associate editor for FoxNews.com. You can follow him on Twitter @calebparke
China nuclear power group stays committed to UK supply chain
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:21
China General Nuclear Power Group reaffirmed its commitment to buy from UK supply chain companies to build nuclear power plants in the UK and across countries covered by the Belt and Road Initiative ahead of Prime Minister Theresa May's China visit.
"As Chinese indigenous nuclear technology develops a global footprint, Chinese and British supply chain companies have abundant opportunities to collaborate in the UK and other markets, utilizing their respective strengths to achieve win-win partnerships," CGN chairman He Yu said.
With CGN's support, Chinese and British nuclear supply chain companies have already signed preliminary agreements across fields such as civil construction, installation, digital controls, instrumentation and radiation monitoring.
CGN's signature nuclear technology, HPR1000, is currently under General Design Assessment review by the British regulator. Once approved, CGN will use it at Britain's Bradwell B nuclear power station and markets around the world, especially within the Belt and Road region.
First proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative seeks to strengthen connectivity between Asia and Europe through infrastructure investment. CGN is in discussion with more than 20 countries along the Belt and Road for new nuclear projects.
GDA review for HPR1000 began in January 2017, and successfully passed the first stage in November. CGN estimates the whole review to take five years.
If all goes as planned, Bradwell B will become the first plant in a developed country to use HPR1000, and a "window to showcase HPR1000 technology to the world", He said.
Aside from Bradwell B, CGN is also investing in Britain's Hinkley Point C and Sizewell C, alongside France's EDF. CGN and EDF signed the deal for all three plants in October 2015 during Xi's state visit to the UK. The first, Hinkley, will generate 7 percent of UK power supply upon completion in 2025.
Andy Storer, CEO of the UK government-funded Nuclear Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre, said the deployment of HPR1000 in the UK can immediately help UK companies grow capability and aid their longer-term export potential.
"Any partnerships formed through the HPR1000 between UK and Chinese firms could be exploited to generate export opportunity," Storer said.
The UK enjoyed historical leadership in nuclear technology. Its Cumbria-based Calder Hall station, opened in 1956, is the world's first and oldest industrial-scale nuclear power station. But over the past two decades British nuclear supply chain started losing capability, as the country's most recently completed nuclear station, Sizewell B, was completed in 1995.
James McNamara, head of nuclear strategy and development at Hayward Tyler, said CGN's UK investment can crucially "reinvigorate" the UK's nuclear supply chain strength.
Hayward Tyler and China's Shanghai Apollo Machinery joined hands last year to create new nuclear equipment, which they will use to bid for contracts at Hinkley, Bradwell and other international plants. "Opportunity to work with Chinese partners is now prompting British companies like us to reinvest into our nuclear capacity," McNamara said.
Clive White, president of Wood's nuclear business, agrees. "The Belt and Road Initiative could create export opportunities for British companies who have worked with CGN in the UK, and that is clearly an exciting prospect for our industry," he said.
Wood is currently providing technical assistance on GDA for HPR1000.
½½½½
Elon Musk's flamethrower 'incredibly insensitive' in fire-ravaged California, lawmaker says. - The Washington Post
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:20
Inventor and Tesla chief executive Elon Musk claims he's sold thousands of flamethrowers in recent days, turning a online gag into a marketing ploy worth millions.
But a California assemblyman said he plans to introduce legislation to block the distribution of the devices before they end up in customers' hands.
In an email to The Washington Post, Assemblyman Miguel Santiago (D-Los Angeles) said he thought the flamethrower idea was a joke when he first heard about it.
Santiago '' whose home parish was recently damaged by fire '' was surprised anyone would hawk a flamethrower in a state in which devastating fires have recently displaced thousands, causing more than $1 billion in damage. Santiago's statement said he was in awe of ''Musk's genius,'' but believes that the inventor's gifts and successes mean he has unique responsibilities.
''The State of California and the County and City of Los Angeles have entrusted Mr. Musk to help alleviate a real public policy problem here by executing a tunnel under the City to help alleviate traffic,'' the statement said. '' This deviation feels like a complete slap in the face.''
The lawmaker said he can't imagine the problems a flamethrower would cause firefighters and police officers.
''This subject matter, in the wake of the state's deadliest wildfires in history, is incredibly insensitive, dangerous, and most definitely not funny,'' the statement continued. ''Absolutely no public good could come from the sale of this tool. Additionally, if this an elaborate prank, then I have some serious concerns about Mr. Musk and his company collecting sensitive financial information from the number of people who have pre-ordered this product.''
Over the weekend Musk began selling flamethrowers at $500 a pop.
''Guaranteed to liven up any party!'' the company's website mischievously proclaims. ''World's safest flamethrower!''
[See the terrifying personal flamethrower that's apparently legal in 48 states]
In a little over 48 hours, according to Musk's Twitter account, the Boring Company has cleared at least $7.5 million worth of flamethrowers, with 15,000 sold.
Musk noted last year that the company would begin hawking flamethrowers once it had sold 50,000 hats.
Nearly two months later, what seemed like a playful joke turned oddly real, with Musk noting that a flamethrower would come in handy during a zombie apocalypse.
''Don't do this,'' Musk wrote on an Instagram video of him pretending to turn a flamethrower on a camera person. ''Also, I want to be clear that a flamethrower is a super terrible idea. Definitely don't buy one. Unless you like fun.''
Musk claims his flamethrowers '-- which appear to expel a glowing, meter-long stream of sizzling terror '-- are good for roasting nuts.
Despite being phased out by the Defense Department decades ago, flamethrowers are unregulated in almost every state.
As The Washington Post's Jessica Contrera reported in 2015, flamethrowers face limited regulation because they aren't considered a ''firearm,'' which '-- unlike a flamethrower '-- is defined by its ability to expel a projectile using an explosive.
For thousands of years, weapons able to harness the power of fire offered users a gruesome advantage during combat, Contrera noted:
''With flamethrowers, you had the ability to attack without being attacked,'' said Bruce Gudmundsson, a historian at the Marine Corps University in Quantico, Va. Flamethrowers, such as the ones used in world wars I and II, were created by the Germans, but the concept dates back to A.D. 672. That's when ''Greek Fire'' was said to have been invented by a man named Kallinikos to defend the Byzantine Empire's capital of Constantinople, or modern-day Istanbul. His fire siphon would squirt flames from one wooden boat to another.
The California Health and Safety Codes 12750 to 12761 ban owning or selling a flamethrower without a permit granted by a state fire marshal. But there's a catch, because the regulation bans unlicensed possession of ''any non-stationary and transportable device designed or intended to emit or propel a burning stream of combustible or flammable liquid a distance of at least 10 feet.''
If the demonstrations on social media are any indication, Musk's flamethrower doesn't emit a stream of flammable liquid, and its flame falls well short of the 10-foot ban.
The other state with laws regulating flamethrower use: Maryland.
Asked whether the Boring Company's new device was authentic or, in fact, some sort of early April Fools' Day joke, a company spokesman insisted that the device was no joke, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
''It is real,'' he said. ''You can place an order on the website and we will start shipping in the spring.''
MORE READING:
After crash, injured motorcyclist accuses robot-driven vehicle of 'negligent driving'
Big Brother on wheels: Why your car company may know more about you than your spouse.
GM's latest car gives up steering wheels, pedals '-- and human control
Statement from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Regarding CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald | HHS.gov
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:15
"This morning Secretary Azar accepted Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald's resignation as Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Dr. Fitzgerald owns certain complex financial interests that have imposed a broad recusal limiting her ability to complete all of her duties as the CDC Director. Due to the nature of these financial interests, Dr. Fitzgerald could not divest from them in a definitive time period. After advising Secretary Azar of both the status of the financial interests and the scope of her recusal, Dr. Fitzgerald tendered, and the Secretary accepted, her resignation. The Secretary thanks Dr. Brenda Fitzgerald for her service and wishes her the best in all her endeavors."
-- HHS Spokesman Matt Lloyd
###
PiVPN: Simplest setup of OpenVPN
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:09
Simplest OpenVPN setup and configuration,
designed for Raspberry Pi.
SIMPLE ::: Yes, that's it! It is *almost* that simple. To elaborate a little more, you will want to install Raspbian on a Raspberry pi. Strongly recommend using the latest Jessie Lite image but the normal Jessie image will work as well. Preferrably enable ssh access and then begin.
There is a (now slightly outdated) guided walkthrough of the install available here.
More information is also available on the PiVPN GitHub
FLEXIBLE ::: Think if you can figure out how to do this yourself you'll have more options? This installer is no slouch! It'll allow you to customize your VPN port, certificate details, key encryption strength, client DNS server, and more! Even if you are an expert, the options presented within are a perfect foundation for any openvpn server installation. Although this is geared toward running on a $35 Raspberry Pi, the installer will work just as well on an Ubuntu Server running Trusty Tahr 14.04.
MANAGEABLE ::: Installation is finished, now what do you do? No worries, we've got you covered! Provided free of charge on your server is a new 'pivpn' command. Simply run pivpn and you are presented with all of the available options. Easily add client profiles (OVPN), revoke them, list the ones you created, etc. There is also an option to completely remove everything the installer did with the 'pivpn uninstall' command. So you can experiment with pivpn with no fear of irreversible changes to your server.
SECURE ::: Even though this installer makes everything so trivial, it doesn't mean it gives you trivial security settings. Everything has been upgraded right out of the box beyond the default settings to harden the security of the server and client. Starting with offering you the ability to enable unattended-upgrades which will automatically patch your server with security updates. Next the server configuration will only use the latest TLS 1.2 protocol. Both the data and control channels use upgraded AES and SHA256 encryption and hash algorithms. Options are pre-configured to verify your server certificate to battle MITM attack vectors. All this and more are configured out of the box by the pivpn installer. This is a detailed level of hardening you'll have a difficult time finding elsewhere.
AboutOriginThere are quite a few various scripts that in some way install openvpn for you. This project in particular began from the code by StarshipEngineer to help make installing OpenVPN on a raspberry pi as simple as it can be. This is still the striving goal today (see Why This Is Important just below). However, even with the solid foundation provided by StarshipEngineer, I had recently come across the Pi-Hole project and saw just how easy an installation can be! So I took the scripts from StarshipEngineer, the framework and functions from the pi-hole project, and merged them into what you now see as PiVPN. I then added a ton of functionality, failsafe checks, hardened security, etc.... This should be bar none, the simplest and fastest way to setup an OpenVPN server on your raspberry pi that leaves you with an extremely secure configuration. I've made a few additions and tweaks as well to help make managing the OpenVPN server even easier after install. Everything can be managed by using a new 'pivpn' command on your system. This includes adding new client certs, revoking them, and completely uninstalling the pivpn. There is a lot more that can be added and I hope the suggestions and improvements can be contributed by the community at large.
Why This Is ImportantThere are a few driving factors that make this very important to me and I believe the community at large. In this post Snowden era where our privacy and security is infringed upon, not only by bad actors but potentially by those whom we thought should be protecting these very ideals, it is necessary for normal citizens to take matters into their own hands. The trouble with this, many times, is that if you are not very technical you may not know how to begin. I believe the EFF has helped lower a barrier of encrypted sites with their Let's Encrypt initiative. Allowing many to now have their sites on encrypted channels. To me, the next logical step here is also ensuring the pipe you are using is as secure as possible. This not only could include unknown networks at airports, Starbucks, generic public hot-spots; but also your ISP. To that end I'd like to make sure these scripts also work on a Debian Jessie image from an Amazon free tier server. It is important that more and more people have access to protecting their traffic online. It's clear others won't hand you this protection. PiVPN tries to make it easier for you to grab. Enjoy!
Technical InformationGreat news! OpenVPN is undergoing a security audit. This means that at the end of the audit, this software we all rely on to help protect the security of our traffic will be in even better shape. Here is an article announcing the audit.
In regards to PiVPN, this means that once OpenVPN 2.4 is released we will make every effort to have PiVPN use this version. This way we gain the security fixes that will come post audit. At that time we will also be able to use the better EC (elliptic curve) ciphers in creating certificates which should be more secure and also less taxing on clients.
For more information on PiVPN be sure to check the PiVPN Wiki
It could also be helpful to browse closed Issues with the Information or Question tag.
Blogs / Video's About PiVPNThe links below showcase some good write ups and tutorials that use PiVPN. Some other decent information may also be contained regarding VPNs and security in general. If you find you have more questions on this area then read and/or watch some of the below!
Articles / BlogsVideo GuidesFrequently Asked QuestionsThere is a FAQ available on the Github page. Be sure to also check the PiVPN Issues section and especially the closed ones as your question may already be answered!
Miscellaneous How-To's for OpenVPN ManagementThe 'pivpn' command::: Control all PiVPN specific functions!:::::: Usage: pivpn [option]:::::: Options:::: -a, add [nopass] Create a client ovpn profile, optional nopass::: -c, clients List any connected clients to the server::: -d, debug Start a debugging session if having trouble::: -l, list List all valid and revoked certificates::: -r, revoke Revoke a client ovpn profile::: -h, help Show this help dialog::: -u, uninstall Uninstall PiVPN from your system! Contribute!Contributions are Welcome and Encouraged!
The PiVPN installation code is available on github. Please be sure to check out any issues especially with the 'help wanted' label.
Coroner Defies Paddock Autopsy Release | The Daily Caller
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:53
Clark County Nevada Coroner John Fudenberg is defying a court order to release the full autopsy report of Stephen Paddock, the shooter who caused the deadliest mass murder in the nation, killing 58 and wounding close to 700 people at a concert in Las Vegas.
District Court Judge Timothy Williams ordered the coroner Tuesday to immediately release the autopsy. Fudenberg is conferring with others in his office, and no date had been given for his compliance with the judge's order, the corner's office told The Daily Caller News Foundation.
The office also told the Las Vegas Review-Journal, which sued for the autopsy report, they wouldn't release Paddock's autopsy report until it was ''finalized.''
''The coroner's office has fought to keep autopsy reports confidential,'' according to the the Review-Journal.
A judge ordered the coroner Jan. 11 to pay about $32,000 in legal costs to the Review-Journal for refusing to release public records to the newspaper.
Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department released an interim report Jan. 8 on the shooting. The report gave only scant information about the autopsy and did not release either the autopsy or a toxicology report on Paddock.
''Preliminarily, the injuries noted were on the posterior of both calves and a gunshot wound to the upper palette inside the decedent's mouth with obvious damage to the upper teeth,'' the department stated.
''The cause of Paddock's death was an internal gunshot wound and the manner of death was ruled a suicide,'' the report concluded.
''What's glaring are the missing details on the autopsy,'' said Wayne Black, a 40-year veteran law enforcement and private security expert, in an interview with TheDCNF.
''This is probably one of the most significant medical examiner's investigations of the year,'' he said.
''The shooter's body was cremated Dec. 21. How can the autopsy report not be 'finalized' when the body was cremated more than five weeks ago?'' Review-Journal Editor-in-Chief Keith Moyer publicly stated. ''The law is squarely on the side of the public's right to open government.''
The Review-Journal has obtained documents showing Las Vegas authorities were pursing a ''second person of interest'' in the shooting.
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Germany: First construction permit for Nord Stream 2
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:52
From:
To:
Fox News Led All of TV For State of the Union Ratings '-- Most-Watched in Cable News History | Mediaite
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:34
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b=$(window).width()>a?1:-1;$(window).resize(function(){var c=$(window).width(),d=c-a;0>d*b&&(b=-1*b,console.log("reloading gpt"),googletag.cmd.push(function(){googletag.pubads().refresh()}))})},AM.Master.prototype.minHeader=function(){$("header").hasClass("full")&&(console.log("minimizing header"),$("header").removeClass("full"),$("header").addClass("compact")),$("body").hasClass("full")&&($("body").removeClass("full"),$("body").addClass("compact"))},AM.Master.prototype.maxHeader=function(){$("header").hasClass("compact")&&(console.log("maximizing header"),$("header").removeClass("compact"),$("header").addClass("full")),$("body").hasClass("compact")&&($("body").removeClass("compact"),$("body").addClass("full"))},AM.Master.prototype.fakeComment=function(){function a(a,b){return Math.random()*(b-a)+a}$(document).ready(function(){$(".comments-link").each(function(b){randomCommentCount=Math.round(a(0,1500)),element=$("",{"class":" fake-comment"}),$(this).prepend(" 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Fox News Led All of TV For State of the Union Ratings '-- Most-Watched in Cable News History
Fox News completely dominated the television coverage of Tuesday night's State of the Union. And during the period of time that President Donald Trump was speaking to the nation, Fox News not only led the cable news landscape '-- the network led all of television.
According to Nielsen, Fox News drew 11.5 million total viewers and 3.3 million in the key 25-54 demographic during the State of the Union. CNN finished second in cable news in both metrics, averaging 3.1 million overall viewers and 1.3 million demo viewers. MSNBC captured a total viewership of 2.7 million and 659,000 in the demo.
For comparison's sake, here's what the broadcast networks pulled in during the speech, which ran from 9 PM to 10:30 PM:
ABC delivered 5.4 million P2+ and 1.8 million A25-54
NBC delivered 7.1 million P2+ and 2.6 million A25-54
CBS delivered 7 million P2+ and 2.1 million A25-54
FOX delivered 3.6 million P2+ and 1.5 million A25-54
Fox News' coverage, anchored by Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum, marked the highest-rated State of the Union in cable news history. The broadcast far outpaced the network's previous overall viewership record of 6.5 million set in 2006.
The SOTU coverage helped propel Fox News to a dominant primetime ratings win. In the 8 PM to 11 PM time slot, FNC averaged 8.8 million total viewers and 2.4 million in the 25-54 audience. CNN and MSNBC finished neck-and-neck in overall viewership as each grabbed 2.5 million viewers. In the key demo, CNN (1.1 million) placed well ahead of MSNBC (614,000).
[image via Fox News]
'--
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White tennis player to black player: 'At least I know my dad' | New York Post
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 05:07
BOONE, N.C. '-- A white men's college tennis player has been suspended after a black opponent tweeted that his on-court rival told him ''at least I know my dad'' during their weekend match.
Appalachian State University in North Carolina issued a statement Monday saying Spencer Brown, who's white, was suspended indefinitely after Sunday's match with North Carolina A&T State University, a historically black college. Appalachian State apologized in its statement, calling the conduct ''derogatory and offensive.''
John Wilson, the black player who is also A&T's senior class president, said Brown made other offensive comments during Sunday's NCAA Division I match. The tweet included a photo of Brown.
''After yesterday's men's tennis match, an Appalachian State student-athlete engaged in behavior that was derogatory and offensive,'' Appalachian State said in a release. ''This student-athlete has been suspended indefinitely from the team, effective immediately, for violating the student-athlete discipline policy.''
A school spokeswoman says there'll be no additional comment. A recording heard on a call to Appalachian State's men's tennis coach said his number was disconnected.
Men Only: Inside the charity fundraiser where hostesses are put on show
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 03:40
Madison Marriage in London
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At 10pm last Thursday night, Jonny Gould took to the stage in the ballroom at London's Dorchester Hotel. ''Welcome to the most un-PC event of the year,'' he roared.
Mr Gould '-- who presented Channel 5's Major League Baseball show '-- was there to host a charity auction, the centrepiece of a secretive annual event, the Presidents Club Charity Dinner.
The gathering's official purpose is to raise money for worthy causes such as Great Ormond Street Hospital, the world-renowned children's hospital in London's Bloomsbury district.
Auction items included lunch with Boris Johnson, the British foreign secretary, and afternoon tea with Bank of England governor Mark Carney.
But this is a charity fundraiser like no other.
Auction lots included a lunch with foreign secretary Boris Johnson and former England cricketer Ian BothamIt is for men only. A black tie evening, Thursday's event was attended by 360 figures from British business, politics and finance and the entertainment included 130 specially hired hostesses.
All of the women were told to wear skimpy black outfits with matching underwear and high heels. At an after-party many hostesses '-- some of them students earning extra cash '-- were groped, sexually harassed and propositioned.
The event has been a mainstay of London's social calendar for 33 years, yet the activities have remained largely unreported '-- unusual, perhaps, for a fundraiser of its scale.
The questions raised about the event have been thrown into sharp relief by the current business climate, when bastions of sexual harassment and the institutionalised objectification of women are being torn down.
The Financial Times last week sent two people undercover to work as hostesses on the night. Reporters also gained access to the dining hall and surrounding bars.
Over the course of six hours, many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and repeated requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester.
Many of the hostesses were subjected to groping, lewd comments and requests to join diners in bedrooms elsewhere in the Dorchester
Hostesses reported men repeatedly putting hands up their skirts; one said an attendee had exposed his penis to her during the evening.
WPP, the FTSE 100 advertising conglomerate, sponsored a table at the event as it has in previous years. Martin Sorrell, chief executive, was not present this year '-- though he has attended in the past.
Andrew Scott, its chief operating officer for Europe, hosted the table in his absence. Other table sponsors included CMC Markets, the UK-listed spread betting company, and Frogmore, the London-based real estate investment business.
A seating plan for last week's event seen by the FT listed those due to attend as including well-known British business figures such as Philip Green of Arcadia Group, Dragons' Den star Peter Jones, and Ocado boss Tim Steiner.
Financiers on the seating plan included Henry Gabay, founder of hedge fund Duet Group, and Makram Azar, the head of Barclays' investment bank's Middle East business. From the world of politics were Nadhim Zahawi, newly appointed undersecretary of state for children and families, and Jonathan Mendelsohn, a Labour peer and party fundraiser. It is not clear whether those listed all turned up on the night.
The comedian David Walliams was the host for the evening. Previous attendees have included Michael Sherwood, a former vice-chairman of Goldman Sachs, and Poju Zabludowicz, a Finnish real estate billionaire and Conservative party donor.
Current and past supporters provide a roll call of British wealth and business influence: patrons include high-end developer Nick Candy; former Formula 1 magnate Bernie Ecclestone; and TV presenter Vernon Kay. CMC Markets founder Peter Cruddas is also a regular attendee.
The event has a laudable fundraising aim with prestigious prizes offered for auction. During the three decades The Presidents Club has been running, it has raised more than £20m for charity. Thursday's event alone raised more than £2m.
The winner of Lot 7 can host a night at Soho's Windmill Club for up to 100 guests and 50 exotic dancers. The prize includes the first lapdance free, a glass of champagne and a smoked salmon bagel (C) FT montage; DreamstimeThe organisation's charitable trust has two joint chairmen: Bruce Ritchie, a Mayfair property developer who founded Residential Land, and David Meller, from the luxury good specialist Meller Group, who also sits on the board of the Department for Education and the Mayor's Fund for London.
But the auction offers a hint of the evening's seedier side. Lots included a night at Soho's Windmill strip club and a course of plastic surgery with the invitation to: ''Add spice to your wife.''
The accompanying brochure included a full-page warning that no attendees or staff should be sexually harassed. The glossy auction catalogue distributed to attendees during the evening included multiple images of Marilyn Monroe dressed in revealing, tight dresses.
The nature of the occasion was hinted at when the hostesses were hired. The task of finding women for the dinner is entrusted to Caroline Dandridge, founder of Artista, an agency specialising in hosts and hostesses for what it claims to be some of the ''UK's most prestigious occasions''.
It's a Marmite job. Some girls love it, and for other girls it's the worst job of their life and they will never do it again
Caroline Dandridge, founder of Artista agencyAt their initial interviews, women were warned by Ms Dandridge that the men in attendance might be ''annoying'' or try to get the hostesses ''pissed''. One hostess was advised to lie to her boyfriend about the fact it was a male-only event. ''Tell him it's a charity dinner,'' she was told.
''It's a Marmite job. Some girls love it, and for other girls it's the worst job of their life and they will never do it again'‰.'‰.'‰.'‰You just have to put up with the annoying men and if you can do that it's fine,'' Ms Dandridge told the hostess.
Two days before the event, Ms Dandridge told prospective hostesses by email that their phones would be ''safely locked away'' for the evening and that boyfriends and girlfriends were not welcome at the venue.
The uniform requirements also became more detailed: all hostesses should bring ''BLACK sexy shoes'', black underwear, and do their hair and make-up as they would to go to a ''smart sexy place''. Dresses and belts would be supplied on the day.
For those who met the three specific selection criteria (''tall, thin and pretty'') a job paying £150, plus £25 for a taxi home, began at 4pm.
The backgrounds of the dozen or more hostesses met by reporters were varied: many were students, hoping to launch careers as lawyers or marketing executives; others juggled part-time jobs as actresses, dancers or models and did occasional hostessing work to make ends meet.
Upon arrival at the Dorchester, the first task given to the hostesses was to sign a five-page non-disclosure agreement about the event. Hostesses were not given a chance to read its contents, or take a copy with them after signing.
At first, hostesses were assembled in the Dorchester's Orchard Room, where a team of hair and make-up artists prepped women for the evening ahead. During the pre-event preparations, some of the women new to hostess work sought advice from those with more experience. The feedback was mixed.
A number of the hostesses seemed excited about the evening ahead. It was a fun night, they said, especially as '-- unlike most hostessing assignments '-- you could drink on the job.
One experienced hostess acknowledged that a portion of the men were likely to be ''arseholes'', but said others were ''hilarious''. ''It really depends on the luck of the draw,'' she added.
Lot 8 offers procedures including rhinoplasty, liposuction, breast augmentation or facial enhancements and invites the winner to 'add spice to your wife' (C) FT montage; DreamstimeOthers were more apprehensive. One woman who had last worked at the event five years ago sighed to herself: ''I can't believe I'm here again.''
Towards 7pm, during a staff buffet dinner, Ms Dandridge entered wearing a smart black suit and gave a briefing; she said if any of the men became ''too annoying'', the hostesses should contact her.
Hostess uniforms were distributed '-- short tight black dresses, black high heels and a thick black belt resembling a corset. Once dressed, the hostesses were offered a glass of white wine during the final countdown to their entrance into the ballroom.
As the 8pm start time approached, all of the hostesses were told to form two lines in height order, tallest women first, ready to parade across the stage as music began to boom across the venue: ''Power'', by British girl band Little Mix.
Entering in twos from opposite sides on to a stage positioned at the front of the ballroom, hostesses presented themselves to the men before walking towards their allocated tables alongside dinner guests. This continued until all 130 women were spread across the room.
With the dinner properly under way, the hostess brief was simple: keep this mix of British and foreign businessmen, the odd lord, politicians, oligarchs, property tycoons, film producers, financiers, and chief executives happy '-- and fetch drinks when required.
A number of men stood with the hostesses while waiting for smoked salmon starters to arrive. Others remained seated and yet insisted on holding the hands of their hostesses.
It was unclear why men, seated at their tables with hostesses standing close by, felt the need to hold the hands of the women, but numerous hostesses discussed instances of it through the night. For some, this was a prelude to pulling the women into their laps. Meanwhile champagne, whisky and vodka were served.
On stage, entertainers came and went. It was soon after a troupe of burlesque dancers '-- dressed like furry-hatted Coldstream Guards, but with star-shaped stickers hiding nipples '-- that one 19-year-old hostess, recounted a conversation with a guest nearing his seventies: who had asked her, directly, whether she was a prostitute. She was not. ''I've never done this before, and I'm never doing it again,'' she said later. ''It's f***ing scary.''
According to the accounts of multiple women working that night, groping and similar abuse was seen across many of the tables in the room.
Another woman, 28, with experience of hostess work, observing the braying men around her said this was significantly different to previous black tie jobs. At other events, men occasionally would try to flirt with her, she said, but she had never felt uncomfortable or, indeed, frightened.
She reported being repeatedly fondled on her bottom, hips, stomach and legs. One guest lunged at her to kiss her. Another invited her upstairs to his room.
Meanwhile, Artista had an enforcement team, made up of suited women and men, who would tour the ballroom, prodding less active hostesses to interact with dinner guests.
Outside the women's toilets a monitoring system was in place: women who spent too long were called out and led back to the ballroom. A security guard at the door was on hand, keeping time.
At 10pm, the main money-raising portion of the evening got under way: the charity auction, where the lots on offer ranged from a supercharged Land Rover to the right to name a character in Mr Walliams' next children's book.
An image from inside the Dorchester during the Presidents Club event captured by hidden cameraRichard Caring, who made his fortune in the retail sourcing business before scooping up a long list of London's most fashionable restaurants, including The Ivy and Scott's, rounded off the money-raising portion of the evening with a successful £400,000 bid to place his name on a new High Dependency Unit at the Evelina London children's hospital for sick children.
It was a moment of respite for the women, most of whom had been allowed to return to the Orchard Room. Some were excited to have been offered jobs by men in the room. Others had been offered large tips, which they had been obliged to decline. One woman struggled to re-apply her eyeliner. ''I'm so drunk,'' she said apologetically, blaming tequila shots at her table.
The women filed back into the ballroom at 11pm for the final hour of the main event, which would be followed by an ''after-party'' elsewhere in the hotel.
Most hostesses had been told they would be required to stay until 2am. One was told that this final leg of the evening offered a chance to drink what she wanted and seek out those men she found ''most attractive''.
The after-party was held in a smaller room off the main lobby at the Dorchester, packed tight with guests and women.
According to the 28-year-old hostess, while men danced and drank with a set of women on one side of the room, a line of younger women were left seated on a banquette at the back of the room, seemingly dazed. ''They looked shocked and frightened, exhausted by what had happened,'' she said.
Meanwhile, in the centre of the room, Jimmy Lahoud, 67, a Lebanese businessman and restaurateur, danced enthusiastically with three young women wearing bright red dresses.
By midnight, one society figure who the FT has not yet been able to contact was confronting at least one hostess directly.
The brochure for the Presidents Club dinner warned the male guests against 'harassment and unwanted conduct' (C) FT''You look far too sober,'' he told her. Filling her glass with champagne, he grabbed her by the waist, pulled her in against his stomach and declared: ''I want you to down that glass, rip off your knickers and dance on that table.''
_______
In a statement the Dorchester said it had a zero-tolerance policy regarding harassment of guests or employees. ''We are unaware of any allegations and should we be contacted we will work with the relevant authorities as necessary,'' it said.
The Presidents Club said: ''The Presidents Club recently hosted its annual dinner, raising several million pounds for disadvantaged children. The organisers are appalled by the allegations of bad behaviour at the event asserted by the Financial Times reporters. Such behaviour is totally unacceptable. The allegations will be investigated fully and promptly and appropriate action taken.''
Ms Dandridge of Artista stated: ''This is a really important charity fundraising event that has been running for 33 years and raises huge amounts of money for disadvantaged and underprivileged children's charities. There is a code of conduct that we follow, I am not aware of any reports of sexual harassment and with the calibre of guest, I would be astonished.''
None of the trustees of the charity provided a comment for publication.
Harvey Goldsmith, a former trustee, said he was ''gobsmacked'' by the accounts of sexual harassment taking place at the event. ''I'm totally shocked to be quite frank,'' he said.
The BoE said: ''The Bank of England did not approve any prize for auction on the occasion described nor would it have for that organisation under its guidelines for charitable giving.''
Mr Walliams declined to comment. Mr Caring said he ''was not aware of any of the alleged incidents''.
Barry Townsley, a well-known stockbroker and lifetime president of The Presidents Club who helped to set up the charity, said he had not attended the dinner for a decade. He added that it was previously ''very nice and civilised'' and a ''mild-mannered charity''. ''What goes on now is not my business,'' he said.
This article has been revised to make clear that the Jonny Gould referred to is not the radio and TV presenter who has worked at (among others) Smooth Radio, talkRADIO, and Sky News. We apologise for the distress caused.
Have you experienced sexual misconduct in the workplace?Tell us about it.You can reach us securely using this form or emailing investigations@ft.com. The most secure way to contact us is via post or SecureDrop.
Letters in response to this article:Such 'matters' are all about people, and lives being lived / From Brian China, Leicester, UK
Now turn your attention closer to home, FT / From Prof Roger Levy, London School of Economics, UK
Expose the powerful men who exploit their position / From Angela Boyle, Cambridge, UK
The sleaze is secondary to the outmoded thinking / From Dr Anže Slosar, London, UK
In 30 years there has been not one formal complaint about this charity event / From Samuel Beilin, Liverpool, UK
Attendees should be made to pay up all over again / From Judith Martin, Winchester, Hants, UK
Turn your firepower on the Carillion story / From Paul Lyristis, London, UK
The imbalance of power is there for all to see / From Keeley-Jasmine Cavendish, London, UK
Expos(C) may result in less money for good causes / From Michael Davis, Antwerp, Belgium
Your article told me more than any annual report / From Lewis Bassett, London, UK
The online comments point to your expos(C)'s relevance / From Peter Krijgsman, Taunton, Somerset, UK
Apple: We would never degrade iPhone user experience to drive upgrades
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 02:06
Brendan McDermid | Reuters
Apple CEO Tim Cook
Apple on Wednesday responded to reports that the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission are probing its decision to throttle older iPhones, confirming that the U.S government has asked questions.
Apple said it would never intentionally "degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades."
Apple acknowledged in December that it was secretly slowing the speeds of iPhones in an effort to help preserve aging batteries. In response to consumer backlash, the company dropped the price of battery replacements for the iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus from $79 to $29.
In its statement Wednesday, Apple also said it will issue a software update this spring that provides consumers with a more transparent look at how their iPhones are being throttled and will provide an option to turn off automatic speed updates.
Here's the full response from Apple:
"About a year ago, we delivered a software update that improves power management during peak workloads to avoid unexpected shutdowns on certain iPhones with older batteries. We know that iPhones have become an important part of the daily lives of our customers and our intention was to improve the customer experience."
"We sought to further improve the customer experience in December by announcing a significant discount on replacement batteries for certain iPhones. We also announced that we began developing a new iOS feature to show battery health and which would recommend when the user should consider replacing their battery. These actions were taken to further assist our customers and help extend the life of their iPhones. In addition, users will be able to see if the power management feature is being used to prevent unexpected shutdowns, and turn if off if they so choose. These features will be included in a developer release next month and a user release this Spring."
"As we told our customers in December, we have never '-- and would never '-- do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades. Our goal has always been to create products that our customers love. Making iPhones last as long as possible is an important part of that."
"We have received questions from some government agencies and we are responding to them."
'--CNBC's Josh Lipton contributed to this report.
Child abuse allegations put Michigan doctor under ICE scrutiny, official says | WXOK-AM
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 01:42
(CNN) '' A Michigan doctor came under scrutiny from immigration authorities because of child abuse allegations, which were among his 18 encounters with police, an official with US Immigration and Customs Enforcement told CNN.
Dr. Lukasz R. Niec has been in ICE custody since last week. He is a permanent resident, his family says. But he could be deported to Poland '-- a country he's never known. Niec's family has launched a legal fight to keep him in the US and bring him home.
His lawyer Russell Abrutyn said about the abuse allegations: ''From what I understand, the Michigan State Police investigated this allegation and found it to be without merit. We expect the child abuse investigation to be dismissed too.''
CNN has reached out to the Michigan State Police for comment.
His wife, Rachelle Burkart-Niec told CNN affiliate WWMT that the case had no merit.
Niec was 5 years old when his parents fled Poland in 1979, his sister, Iwona Niec-Villaire told CNN. He received a temporary green card and later became a lawful permanent resident, she added.
Niec entered the United States lawfully, ICE said but he was found ''amenable to removal proceedings as a result of two 1992 state convictions for malicious destruction of property and receiving stolen property, both of which are crimes involving moral turpitude.''
The statement defined a crime of moral turpitude as ''a crime against a person (such as assault), fraud, perjury, robbery, theft and bribery.'' A crime of moral turpitude can be either a felony or a misdemeanor, it said.
He was 17 years old when he committed those offenses and one of the charges had been expunged from his record after he completed a youth training program, his family said.
Niec became a doctor, specializing in internal medicine for Bronson Healthcare Group in Kalamazoo.
ICE arrested him on January 16 over ''administrative immigration violations,'' the agency said.
''He most recently came under agency scrutiny as a result of 18 encounters with local law enforcement. He will remain in ICE custody pending the outcome of removal proceedings,'' according to its statement.
In 2013, Niec was charged with domestic violence but was found not guilty by a Kalamazoo County District Court jury, according to court records obtained by CNN. Details of that case were not immediately available.
Niec was convicted of driving while intoxicated in 2008, records say. He completed his probation, paid a fine and the conviction was set aside, the records show.
He also was charged with 20 other minor traffic offenses, such as speeding or failure to change the address on his license, from 1997 to 2016, court records show.
While questions remain about Niec's immigration status, his background and the reason for his detention, his situation offers a cautionary tale for permanent residents with a criminal record, immigration lawyer Charles Kuck said.
Until you become a naturalized citizen, you're still eligible for deportation, he said. Legal permanent residents convicted of crimes have long been the targets of deportation orders.
''(Niec) is a microcosm of what's happening all over the country but doesn't get publicity until it happens to a white guy from Europe living in the suburbs,'' Kuck said.
Click here to read full story >>
Trump's ICE just deported a doctor living in the U.S. for 40 years
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 01:40
President Trump's unlimited antipathy towards immigration has enabled the agents of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement bureau (ICE) to reach new lows in abusing their powers to interpret immigration statutes and initiate deportations.
Now, WOOD-TV, an NBC affiliate in Michigan, is reporting one of the most egregious abuses by ICE to date.
Dr. Lukasz Niec practices internal medicine in Kalamazoo, Michigan where he works at Bronson Methodist Hospital. Having been brought to the United States from his native Poland when he was just five-years-old, Dr. Niec has grown up and lived in the U.S. as a permanent resident green card holder for nearly 40 years now.
Currently, however, Dr. Niec is sitting in an ICE detention center awaiting a ruling on whether he will be sent back to a native country he doesn't know and where he has no family and doesn't even speak the language.
Dr. Niec was at home with his pre-teen daughters when three ICE officers unexpectedly showed up and took him into custody. Dr. Niec is at a loss to explain why he was arrested by the immigration authorities, given his status as a legal resident.
Add your name to demand the president and Congress end the Trump shutdown and reopen the government NOW!
He has been a model physician and other doctors that he works with attest to his sterling character.
''He's been, just completely the model physician that you want a physician to be,'' said Dr. Hussein Akl, a colleague at Bronson Internal Medicine. ''The only danger I can see him on is when he's swinging his golf swing.''
''He's exactly the kind of person our immigration policies should be encouraging to prosper here, he's been here for 40 years, this is a ridiculous situation,'' said Dr. Michael Raphelson, specialist in palliative medicine.
The only blemish on Dr. Niec's reputation is a record of two juvenile misdemeanor convictions that took place when he was only 17-years-old, one for receiving and concealing stolen property, the other for the destruction of property worth less than $100. Dr. Niec pleaded guilty to these charges more than 25 years ago under a plea deal, the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, that leaves young offenders with a clean criminal record if they keep out of trouble.
Obviously, Dr. Niec managed to leave his adolescent mistakes behind and learn from them, moving on to a successful career in medicine, but while he and everyone else in his life believed that his unlawful youthful behavior had been stricken from the record and forgotten, as the plea deal promised, it came as a huge surprise that not only did ICE know about the superannuated conviction, but, as a federal agency, they were free to completely ignore the terms of the state mediated deal .
A Kalamazoo immigration lawyer, Marc Asch, told WOOD-TV that ICE has expanded its scope since Trump took office, pursuing cases that they would never have previously attempted before.
''These days there's less discretion being exercised in who they go after, they're being more aggressive, generally speaking,'' Asch said.
The immigration attorney also said that ICE's case is most likely not very solid and could fall apart. leaving Dr. Niec free to remain in the country he's called home for the last four decades, but the process could take years to resolve with the doctor stuck in detention, separated from his wife and daughters, his friends, and his patients for the entire time.
Like most of Trump's immigration policies, the expansion of immigration enforcement to target legal as well as illegal immigrants and to attempts to deport people for long-forgotten misdemeanors that bear little relevance to their current behavior makes little sense from a standpoint of protecting our citizens or our borders.
ICE's attempts at the second-guessing of decisions made by state justice departments is not only cruel and unproductive, it may not even be legal. The courts will ultimately decide, but the lives being ruined in the meantime will have a hard time recovering from ICE's abuses of power.
Add your name to millions demanding Congress take action on the President's crimes. IMPEACH TRUMP & PENCE!
Vinnie LongobardoVinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.
U.S. regulator warns Canadian drug maker Apotex about quality control - The Globe and Mail
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:49
U.S. regulators are threatening to block imports of some drugs produced by Canada's largest maker of generics after investigators raised questions about quality control at two of its Toronto-area manufacturing facilities.
In a February warning obtained by The Globe and Mail, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said its inspectors have found "repeated deficiencies" in quality-control systems at Apotex Inc.'s facilities.
Foreign inspectors at the facilities found that Apotex released drugs into the U.S. market, despite defects discovered in part of the same batch. They also found that the drug maker did not adequately control or detect microbial growth, which could compromise drug safety.
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The warning did not cite specific drugs and did not say what health risks the lapses created for the public. But the findings shed light on a regulatory disparity after the U.S. raised a flag and Canada didn't.
Apotex, which declined several requests for interviews, said in a statement that it is working with the FDA to address its concerns.
Health Canada said it is not concerned by the U.S. warnings, although Canadian inspectors have not inspected the facilities in question since 2011.
FDA investigators conducted the inspections last August and October at Apotex plants in Richmond Hill and Toronto. The investigators gave the plants a failing grade and told Apotex it had to address the issues. But in a warning letter sent to the company in February, 2013, the FDA said Apotex has not addressed the violations and that an import ban may be put on products coming out of those two plants.
This is the second time Apotex has been warned by U.S. regulators in recent years. In 2009, the FDA imposed a two-year import ban on Apotex after inspectors found major deficiencies in good manufacturing practices, notably failure to investigate how drugs that were rejected for public use became contaminated.
Apotex and Health Canada have been under pressure for their handling of a massive birth-control recall, which was triggered this month after a customer discovered an extra week of sugar pills in a package of Alysena. The dosage problem '' which could dramatically increase the likelihood of pregnancy '' was identified on April 3, but an urgent public warning was not issued by Health Canada until April 8. Spanish firm Laboratorios Leon Farma manufactured the pills, which were distributed in Canada by Apotex.
Federal Health Minister Leona Aglukkaq has ordered Health Canada to investigate the time lag and what factors led to the delayed warning.
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Apotex has submitted its responses to the FDA, the company's statement said, and is "very confident that they will be resolved successfully in a short period of time."
An FDA spokesman said the agency is reviewing Apotex's response.
The problems identified at Apotex's manufacturing facilities should have Canadians questioning the safety of the drug supply, said Joel Lexchin, a health-policy professor at York University and one of Canada's leading experts on drug safety. He also questioned whether Health Canada is doing enough to hold companies to account.
"We should not have to go to the Americans to find out what's going on at plants here in Canada," Prof. Lexchin said.
In an e-mailed statement, Health Canada spokeswoman Blossom Leung said the department found "no evidence of impacts on health products destined for the Canadian market."
Ms. Leung said the violations identified by the FDA relate to drugs that never made it to market, which means there is no cause for alarm. In its warning, the FDA criticized Apotex for failing to discover the source of contamination in numerous drug batches that were rejected for public use.
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She added that Health Canada is overseeing the corrective actions being put in place and "continues to have oversight" on the company's progress.
The department is scheduled to inspect both plants in May and October of this year.
In the letter dated Feb. 21, 2013, the FDA said Apotex kept a batch of drugs on the market despite the fact a separate batch manufactured on the same filling line failed a sterility test. The inspection also cited instances where Apotex released questionable drugs onto the market. In one case, an Apotex employee identified a "critical defect" with drug tablets and held them back. But the rest of the batch was released.
"Please explain the basis for your conclusion that the only affected part of the batch was the rejected portion," the FDA warning letter said. "Your firm's practice of rejecting portions of drug product batches is an indication that your firm does not have well-controlled manufacturing processes."
Apotex donations for Haiti arrive - HPIC
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:46
Apotex donations for Haiti arrive - HPICHPIC Home >> Apotex donations for Haiti arrive
Posted November 3rd, 2016 by Christina Parsons & filed under HPIC at Work, HPIC News.
Wes Robinson, Director of Emergency Relief at HPIC, shows Elie Betito of Apotex the skids of medicines donated by Apotex for Haiti relief.
This week Health Partners International of Canada (HPIC) received a very large donation from Apotex in two different shipments.
The medicines were donated to HPIC for our Haiti emergency medical relief project.
''We are very grateful for the 7 skids of assorted medicines,'' says Denis St-Amour, HPIC's President. ''This is the largest donation we have received for Haiti.''
The donation was an assortment of long-dated medicines specifically requested by HPIC's on-the-ground partner Food For The Poor Haiti. It includes medicines for treating cholera and a host of other health issues Haitians face since Hurricane Matthew struck on Oct. 4, 2016.
Elie Betito of Apotex visited HPIC's distribution centre in Oakville today to see the medicines being prepared for airlift.
212 '' 3633 boul. des Sources, Dollard-des-Ormeaux, Quebec H9B 2K4
1-800-627-1787
Contact
(C) 2016 '' HPIC
[gravityform id="4" name="Keep up to date!" ajax="true"]
76-Ton Airlift of Medicine and Medical Supplies Lands in Puerto Rico | Clinton Foundation
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:45
44 Companies Step Up to Address Severe Shortages
Direct Relief today airlifted 152,604 lbs. of urgently needed medical resources to Puerto Rico, where medical shortages persist more than a month after Hurricane Maria devastated the island.
The Direct Relief-chartered MD-11 cargo jet contained $21 million (wholesale) in donated medical resources from 44 companies (full list of companies below), including extensive quantities of intravenous solutions and prescription medications for acute conditions and chronic diseases such as diabetes and hypertension that can rapidly become medical emergencies if not managed.
''This airlift will go a long way towards helping our fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, and I am eternally grateful to Direct Relief and all of the organizations involved,'' said President Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States, and founder and board chair of the Clinton Foundation. ''Their efforts are a reminder that when so many people need our help, our common humanity matters even more.''
The Clinton Foundation has supported Direct Relief's work for years, including the recovery efforts after the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the response to the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014. In the response to the Caribbean hurricanes this year, the Clinton Foundation has helped to coordinate and advise the team at Direct Relief. Read a from-the-tarmac report from Clinton Foundation staff on the airlift here.
Businesses Step Up to Fill Resource Gap
Direct Relief works with dozens of healthcare companies' philanthropic arms on an ongoing basis to address public health needs and humanitarian crises across the globe and in all 50 U.S. states. This private philanthropic support from businesses, as well as philanthropic support from individuals, foundations, and organizations has enabled a massively stepped-up response to assist in Puerto Rico, where health services have been severely constricted by the extensive damage caused by Hurricane Maria.
44 companies joined in filling specific requests that Direct Relief received from nonprofit health centers, government facilities, and private hospitals in Puerto Rico '' all of which have been struggling to restore and expand services to care for the island's more than 3 million residents.
''Direct Relief has been a wonderful partner for Eli Lilly and Company,'' said Rob Smith, senior director of corporate responsibility and president of the Eli Lilly and Company Foundation. ''We have worked together to get insulin to those impacted by the devastating effects of Hurricane Maria. Lilly could not ask for a more capable, responsive, and compassionate partner. We are so grateful for all of the things Direct Relief is doing to help the great people of Puerto Rico recover from this terrible disaster.''
The medicines and supplies on the flight were donated by the following companies:
3M; Abbott; AbbVie; Alcon; Allergan plc; Amneal Pharmaceuticals; Apotex Inc.; AstraZeneca; Baxter International Inc.; Bayer; BD; Boehringer Ingelheim Cares Foundation; Cares Foundation; Bristol-Myers Squibb; Cera Products, Inc.; Cipla; Coola Suncare; CVS; DayOne Response; Energy Equality For All; Ethicon; GSK; Henry Schein, Inc.; Integra LifeSciences; InTouch Health; Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Kal(C)o; LifeScan; Magno-Humphries Labs; Medtronic; Merck & Co., Inc.; Mylan; Nephron Pharmaceuticals Corporation; Noble Laboratories, Inc.; Novartis; Pfizer Inc.; Prestige Brands; Sagent Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Sanofi Foundation for NA; Sappo Hill Soapworks; Starbucks; Teva Pharmaceuticals, USA; Trividia Health; Vaseline; Wisconsin Pharmacal Company.
Responding to an Unprecedented Hurricane Season
Today's airlift follows several weeks of smaller-scale airlifts and hand-carried medications and emergency medical resources to dozens of Puerto Rico's nonprofit health centers and medical teams organized by the Puerto Rico Department of Health.
Among the critical items has been 565 vials of blood-clotting factor for children with hemophilia, 15,600 vials of insulin, 35 pre-kitted emergency medical packs containing a broad range of Rx medications and supplies, as well as 1500 solar lights and over 4000 bottles of insect repellant to protect against Zika virus.
Direct Relief's response in Puerto Rico has been concurrent with extensive responses to Hurricanes Harvey and Irma that preceded Maria.
Since Hurricane Harvey's landfall on August 25, Direct Relief has sent 148 tons of medications, vaccines, and medical supplies valued at $64.7 million (wholesale) and including 19 million defined daily doses of Rx medications delivered via 560 emergency shipments to 143 partner organizations in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, USVI and seven Caribbean countries.
In addition, Direct Relief has provided and committed financial support in the form of grants totaling over $2.7 million to 43 nonprofit health centers and clinics and their primary care associations in Texas, Florida, and Puerto Rico.
###
Billionaire Couple Murdered Are Linked to Clinton Foundation's Relief Efforts | 'Nox & Friends
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 00:44
From the Gateway Pundit:
Canadian officials announced on Friday that the billionaires Barry and Honey Sherman were murdered in their home in December.For the past month officials called their deaths a murder-suicide.
The couple was found strangled in their Toronto home.
Haaretz is reporting it was a professional contract killing,The New York Post reported:
The billionaire husband and wife found hanging side-by-side in their posh Toronto home last month were both murdered, according to a bombshell report citing a team of private investigators on Saturday.
Multiple killers played a role in the deaths of Barry and Honey Sherman '-- contrary to the widely-circulated murder-suicide theory initially leaked by law enforcement, sources told CBC News, citing a parallel probe by a team of investigators hired by the couple's family.
A real estate agent who was selling the $5.4 million home had discovered pharmaceutical mogul Barry, 75, and Honey, 70, dead on Dec. 15.
Barry Sherman founded Apotex pharmaceutical company.
Apotex supplied generic drugs to Clinton foundation in Haiti and Rwanda.
Apotex also donated medicines and supplies to Clinton Foundation Puerto Rican relief efforts in 2017.
'--oo'--
Gee'... what a surprise.
The Clintons must be doing some house cleaning before their upcoming indictments, prosecutions, and trials.
~ Hardnox
Donald Trump just asked Congress to end the rule of law.
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 23:49
Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for federal agencies.
Win McNamee/Getty Images
Donald Trump's first State of the Union was a deeply dangerous speech.
It was deeply dangerous because he finally followed in the footsteps of European leaders like Hungarian President Viktor Orban who have long ago learned to give an attractive look to authoritarian populism.
Like them, Trump eschewed openly racist remarks in his speech, even emphasizing how much he (supposedly) cares about the fate of Latinos and black Americans. Like them, he called for economic policies, like paid family leave, that would actually benefit ordinary people. And like them, he then cast himself as the only man willing to prioritize the interests of his supporters over those of foreigners and political elites.
It was Bannonism without Bannon's penchant for shock and awe. And it played shockingly well.
But Trump's speech was also deeply dangerous for an even more important reason: Under the cover of his soothing rhetoric about unity and bipartisanship, Trump called on Congress to give him unprecedented and unquestionably antidemocratic powers: ''Tonight,'' he said, ''I call on the congress to empower every Cabinet secretary with the authority to reward good workers'--and to remove federal employees who undermine the public trust or fail the American people.''
By design, it is easy to overlook the true significance of the second half of that phrase. But dwell on it for a moment, and imagine what this would actually look like in practice. Under Trump's proposal, any Cabinet secretary could decide that, say, a law enforcement official investigating the president had ''undermined the public trust'' or ''failed the American people'''--and fire him on the spot. In other words, Trump is calling for an end to any semblance of independence for the IRS, the FBI, the Department of Justice, or any other federal agency.
To be sure, such legislation is unlikely to pass. While the constant standing ovations for Trump from the Republican benches demonstrate the degree to which the GOP has now embraced the president, they are not yet at the point of dismantling the rule of law quite so brazenly; even if they did, the Supreme Court would be very likely to strike such a law down as unconstitutional.
But the fact that Trump's authoritarian demand is unlikely to be realized anytime soon does not make it unimportant. In his first State of the Union, the 45th president of the United States asked Congress for the authority to end the rule of law. And that'--not Trump's supposedly unifying policy proposals, much less his supposedly presidential ability to read a speech off a teleprompter'--should be the headline of every newspaper tomorrow.
Read more in Slate about the State of the Union.
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Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit - The New York Times
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 23:15
Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
In June President Trump ordered the firing of Robert Mueller, who has been leading the Russia investigation. For months, however, Mr. Trump dismissed the idea in his public statements. Published On Jan. 25, 2018Credit Image by Al Drago for The New York Times First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
After receiving the president's order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president's case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump's presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.
Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, believed that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic impact on the presidency and would raise more questions about whether the White House was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation. Credit Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call, via Associated Press The president dismissed the revelations on Friday, when asked about them by reporters as he arrived at the Congress Center in Davos, Switzerland, for meetings with world political and business leaders.
''Fake news, folks,'' Mr. Trump said. ''Fake news. A typical New York Times fake story.''
Ty Cobb, who manages the White House's relationship with Mr. Mueller's office, said in a statement, ''We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.''
Mr. McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign finance lawyer in Washington who served on the Federal Election Commission, was the top lawyer on Mr. Trump's campaign. He has been involved in nearly every key decision Mr. Trump has made '-- like the firing of the former F.B.I. director '-- that is being scrutinized by Mr. Mueller.
Mr. McGahn was also concerned that firing the special counsel would incite more questions about whether the White House was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation.
Around the time Mr. Trump wanted to fire Mr. Mueller, the president's legal team, led then by his longtime personal lawyer in New York, Marc E. Kasowitz, was taking an adversarial approach to the Russia investigation. The president's lawyers were digging into potential conflict-of-interest issues for Mr. Mueller and his team, according to current and former White House officials, and news media reports revealed that several of Mr. Mueller's prosecutors had donated to Democrats.
Mr. Mueller could not legally have considered political affiliations when making hiring decisions. But for Mr. Trump's supporters, it reinforced the idea that, although Mr. Mueller is a Republican, he had assembled a team of Democrats to take down the president.
Another option that Mr. Trump considered in discussions with his advisers was dismissing the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and elevating the Justice Department's No. 3 official, Rachel Brand, to oversee Mr. Mueller. Mr. Rosenstein has overseen the investigation since March, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.
Mr. Trump has significantly ratcheted back his criticisms of Mr. Mueller since he hired Mr. Cobb for his legal team in July. A veteran of several high-profile Washington controversies, Mr. Cobb has known Mr. Mueller for decades, dating to their early careers in the Justice Department.
He advised Mr. Trump that he had nothing to gain from combat with Mr. Mueller, a highly respected former prosecutor and F.B.I. director who has subpoena power as special counsel. Since Mr. Cobb's arrival, the White House has operated on the premise that the quickest way to clear the cloud of suspicion was to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, not to fight him.
President Trump said that Mr. Mueller, who had been a member of his golf club in Sterling, Va., left it years ago after a disagreement about club fees. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times Nonetheless, Mr. Trump has wavered for months about whether he wants to fire Mr. Mueller, which is an omnipresent concern among the president's legal team and close aides. The White House has denied nearly a dozen times since June that Mr. Trump was considering firing Mr. Mueller. The president's lawyers, including Mr. Cobb, have tried to keep Mr. Trump calm by assuring him for months, amid new revelations about the inquiry, that it is close to ending.
Mr. Trump has long demonstrated a preoccupation with those who have overseen the Russia investigation. In March, after Mr. McGahn failed to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the inquiry, Mr. Trump complained that he needed someone loyal to oversee the Justice Department.
The former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Mr. Trump asked him for loyalty and encouraged him to drop an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey said he sidestepped those requests. He was soon fired.
In an interview with The New York Times in the Oval Office in July, the president pointedly kept open the option of firing Mr. Mueller, saying that the special counsel would be passing a red line if his investigation expanded to look at Mr. Trump's finances. Mr. Trump said he never would have made Mr. Sessions the attorney general if he had known he would recuse himself from the investigation.
Last month, as Republicans were increasing their attacks on the special counsel, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Times that he believed Mr. Mueller was going to treat him fairly.
''No, it doesn't bother me because I hope that he's going to be fair,'' Mr. Trump said in response to a question about whether it bothered him that Mr. Mueller had not yet ended his investigation. ''I think that he's going to be fair.''
Mr. Trump added: ''There's been no collusion. But I think he's going to be fair.''
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A1 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump Ordered Mueller's Firing But Was Refused . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box.
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Congressional Letter: Kona Resident Funnels Russian Millions to Sierra Club > Hawaii Free Press
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 23:10
Environmental group may have to register as foreign agents
by Kevin Mooney, Washington Examiner, January 15, 2018
U.S. environmental activists who are working to halt the production and use of fossil fuels could be required to register as foreign agents if Congress gets serious about enforcing an existing law.
There was some potential movement in that direction last October when Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, introduced legislation that would put some teeth into the Foreign Agents Registration Act. The law, which was first passed in 1938, calls for individuals and organizations to provide full disclosure when they are working to advance the public policy interests of a foreign government.
As the Washington Examinerhas reported, Grassley's proposed legislation would close off an exemption that has allowed lobbyists for foreign interests to avoid registration while providing the U.S. attorney general with additional authority to conduct investigations.
While the media remains largely focused on ongoing investigations into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, the connection between Vladimir Putin's government and U.S. environmental groups deserves more scrutiny.
Klein Ltd., a Bermuda-based shell corporation run by executives with strong ties to longtime Putin friend Leonid Reiman and Russian energy investment groups including Firebird New Russia Fund and Vimpelcom Ltd., reportedly funneled $23 million to the Sea Change Foundation , according to a detailed 2014 U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee report.
(Editor's Note: The Sea Change Foundation is controlled by Kona residents Nathaniel Simons and his wife Laura Baxter-Simons. )
Klein's legal counsel dismisses such charges as ''completely false and irresponsible.'' But in a letter addressed to U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, members of Congress document evidence pointing to a paperless money trail that flows from Russia into U.S. environmental groups through the Sea Change Foundation. The implication is that the Russians have been pouring tens of millions of dollars into willing environmental advocacy groups in an effort to spread propaganda directed against fracking in the U.S. and the technology that makes it possible, according to evidence presented in the letter.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, and his colleagues have called on the U.S. Treasury Department to conduct an investigation into the allegations of Russian collusion with U.S. environmental groups. In response to a media inquiry I sent last year asking about the allegations, a U.S. Treasury spokesman said in an email message, ''We respond as appropriate to Congressional inquiries, but wouldn't comment publicly on an investigation.''
The motivation for Russian interference here is clear. As the congressional letter notes, American ingenuity in the oil and gas industry have significant geopolitical ramifications. Thanks to innovative extraction technologies such as hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling, the U.S. now has access to vast reserves of oil and gas previously held to be unrecoverable. The unexpected energy resource bonanza has dramatically shifted the dynamics of the economic and geopolitical landscape in America's favor.
The U.S. is the top producer of natural gas in the world. In 2016, U.S. natural gas imports set a record low even though consumption has increased. In 3 of the first 5 months of 2017, U.S. natural gas exports were greater than imports '-- the growing trend points to the U.S. becoming a net exporter. This new commitment to natural gas means less expensive energy bills for consumers as well as economic, environmental, and national security benefits for the country as a whole. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that the fracking boom has created 2.7 million jobs, with an estimated additional 3.5 million projected by 2035.
From a foreign policy perspective, the U.S. can now export liquefied natural gas to parts of Europe that have been dependent on Putin's government for their gas. This weakens Putin and puts the U.S. in a stronger position to exert influence. Up until now, periodic disputes with Russia have resulted in economic bullying tactics from Moscow that include wintertime threats to close pipelines supplying oil and natural gas. Those days may be over now that American natural gas development is poised to impact Russia and its Gazprom oil company.
However, an international campaign known as ''Keep It in the Ground'' has been pushing an anti-fossil fuel agenda that advances Russia's geopolitical interests at the expense of the U.S. and America's allies. The campaign claims support from more than 400 organizations across the globe, with a sizable percentage operating inside the U.S. The campaign is opposed not just to the extraction of fossil fuels, but to any fossil fuel-related project including pipelines, rail transportation, refineries, and energy exploration.
These groups include Greenpeace, the Sierra Club, 350.org, the Center for Biological Diversity, WildEarth Guardians, the Rainforest Action Network, Earthworks, and the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, to name just a few. Some of the larger environmental advocacy groups in the U.S., such as the Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, don't appear on the list of 400, yet do support the same anti-fossil policy aims and draw from the same pool of financial supporters.
The common denominator here between many of these groups is the San Francisco-based Sea Change Foundation , which has been identified as the incubator for Russian funding of environmental groups. Another key player is the Energy Foundation, which is also based in San Francisco and appears to be an offshoot of the Sea Change Foundation.
If Grassley succeeds in bolstering the Foreign Agents Registration Act, a good starting point for an investigation would be with the ''Keep It in the Ground'' campaign members and with other environmental groups that support the campaign's agenda.
While these groups are free to advocate for their preferred policies, they should not be permitted to posture as grassroots activists if they are in fact doing the bidding of foreign interests, to the detriment of average Americans who benefit from affordable and reliable sources of energy.
---30---
LINK: Top Ten Sea Change Foundation Grant Recipients
Stormy Daniels Cancels 'The View' Appearance | Hollywood Reporter
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:29
10:36 AM PST 1/31/2018 by Jeremy Barr
Stormy Daniels has canceled a planned Thursday morning appearance on ABC's The View following criticism of her by a guest panelist last week, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.
A spokeswoman for the show confirmed to THR that Daniels won't appear as scheduled, but did not provide a reason for her decision to cancel.
The news comes after Jimmy Kimmel pressed the former adult film star about her alleged affair with President Donald Trump on Jimmy Kimmel Live! Tuesday night.
The cancellation is likely connected to comments made on The View last Friday by guest panelist S.E. Cupp, who discussed plans for the Kimmel interview.
Cupp, who has a show on HLN, questioned media interest in Daniels, and said that Bill Clinton accuser Monica Lewinsky should also be landing media interviews.
"Stormy Daniels, she's cleaning up," Cupp said. "She's making a ton of money. Her career is revived. She's just playing the hand she was dealt. No problem there. What bothers me, though, in giving her this platform '-- you know, Monica Lewinsky was also caught having an affair with the president. Who's going to interview her? I'd love to see someone interview her."
Kimmel, on his show on Tuesday night, pointed out that he's interviewed Lewinsky several times.
The Daniels cameo appeared in question on Wednesday morning, when The View co-host Whoopi Goldberg said it was up in the air. "Stormy Daniels was supposed to be coming on The View," she said. "We're not sure if that's happening anymore."
Goldberg pointed out that Cupp was merely a guest on the show, and defended her for giving her opinion. Goldberg added, "You can't really say you're not going to come on because of that." She also said she doesn't "personally care" if Daniels makes her scheduled appearance.
Stormy Daniels' Full Interview: Inside Her Affair With Donald Trump - In Touch Weekly
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:28
Porn star Stormy Daniels confirmed she had an affair with Donald Trump in an exclusive 2011 interview with In Touch, five years before she was reportedly paid $130,000 by the president to stay silent about the fling. Here is the full transcript of the interview conducted by former Bauer Publishing reporter Jordi Lippe-McGraw. Subsequent to the interview, Ms. Daniels took and passed a polygraph test. The account of her affair was corroborated by one of her good friends and supported by her ex-husband, both of whom also passed polygraph tests. This interview has been lightly edited for clarity and style.
IT: When was the first time you met Donald Trump?
Stormy: It was a charity golf tournament in Lake Tahoe. I guess he was there to play golf, and I was there because the company I worked for was doing an appearance in the gift room. The first time I met him was actually out on the course. They brought us out to ride around and he kept looking at me and we were introduced. He was introduced to everybody. He kept looking at me and then we ended up riding to another hole on the same golf cart together and he's like, ''I want to come talk to you later.'' Later, when he was coming to the gift room, he came to talk to me and asked for my number and I gave it to him. Then he asked me if I wanted to have dinner that night and I was like, ''Yeah, of course!'' Who would pass up an opportunity to talk to someone so interesting? I wasn't trying to date him or anything like that.
IT: It was more of a business move on your end?
Stormy: Of course. Whether you're a fan of his or not, which I never really was, you gotta admit he's pretty fascinating. That's one of the best things about my job. I've had the opportunity to really talk to and meet some really fascinating, weird people. So I said yeah, of course. He invited me. He told me to come up to meet him in his room. He told me his room number and whatnot. I can't remember the room number, but I do know that it was the penthouse or at the top of the Harrah's.
IT: What happened next?
Stormy: So I went up to the room and I was met outside by his bodyguard, Keith, who I met every time I saw him. Keith was always with him. That's how I got in touch with him. I never had Donald's cellphone number. I always used Keith's. I went up to the room and he said, ''Oh yeah, he's waiting for you inside.'' I went in and I was all dressed up because I had just assumed that we were going to go to dinner, but he meant to have dinner in his room. Like he wasn't dressed to go out at all, just lounging. I remember taking a jab at him. I remember saying, because he was all sprawled out on the couch, watching television or something. He was wearing pajama pants. And I was like, ''Ha, does Mr. Hefner know that you stole his outfit?'' I was actually really mean to him. He got all huffy and tried to play it off and was like, ''Oh, I just thought we would relax here.'' We ended up having dinner in the room. I cannot remember what we ordered. I remember what I had the second time I had dinner with him but I can't remember what we had. I know that neither one of us had any alcohol, though. I don't drink when I'm working. I barely drink anyway, like ever. Anytime I've been photographed with a glass of champagne in my hand, it's really Red Bull. He didn't have any alcohol, either. I've never seen him drink. Maybe he doesn't. I'm not sure. Which is funny because he has a vodka [brand]. I actually remember saying, ''Aren't you going to drink your vodka?'' at a different party. So yeah, I don't think he drinks. We hung out for a while. We talked. He asked me a lot of questions about my business. You know, the business I work in and how it works and how it functions. All like technical questions. He was very curious. Not necessarily about the sex or anything like that, but business questions. He kept showing me he was on the cover of a magazine that had just come out and it was some sort of money magazine, I wish I could remember which one it was. But he had it in the room and he kept showing it to me and I was like, ''Dude, I know who you are.'' He was trying to sell me, I guess. The first time I met him, the first couple of hours, he was very full of himself, like he was trying to impress me or something. But I do remember he just kept talking about this magazine that he was on the cover of, like, ''Look at this magazine, don't I look great on the cover?''
IT: So this is all conversation while you're eating?
Stormy: Yeah, like before, during, and after. We hung out for quite a while. A few hours at least. I remember it was definitely daylight when I went there. It was like early evening. I remember walking from my hotel to his hotel.
(Photo Credit: MySpace)
IT: And this is the same day, the first time you met?
Stormy: Yeah. It was definitely dark when I left.
IT: And it was only the two of you in the room? The bodyguard stayed outside?
Stormy: Yeah, no one else ever came in. He stood outside. We were talking about all sorts of things. I remember he asked me like, ''I gotta ask you a question and I don't want to get you offended'' and I was like, ''Trust me, you can't.'' I was expecting some sort of vulgar question and it wasn't; it was something about how much money I make off the royalties of something. And then I remember saying to him, ''Ok well I have a question for you and it IS offensive.'' And I asked him about his hair. I was like, ''Dude, what's up with that?'' and he laughed and he said, ''You know, everybody wants to give me a makeover and I've been offered all this money and all these free treatments.'' And I was like, ''What is the deal? Don't you want to upgrade that? Come on, man.'' He said that he thought that if he cut his hair or changed it, that he would lose his power and his wealth. And I laughed hysterically at him.
IT: What did he say?
Stormy: He took it pretty well. He was like, ''Yeah, yeah, my wife even did my son's hair like that, as a joke.'' I was like, ''Yes, speaking of your wife'...''
IT: Did he mention her at all?
Stormy: I mentioned her. I was like, ''Yeah, what about your wife?'' He goes, ''Oh, don't worry about her.'' Quickly, quickly changed the subject.
IT: That's all he said about her?
Stormy: Yup. And then he goes '-- I might be out of order with the conversation because it was so long ago. But he was like, ''You know what? You're really smart. You're not dumb.'' And I was like, ''Thanks, d---. What does that mean?'' And he goes, ''You should be on.'' And I was like, ''Really? No, I don't think so.'' And he just kept thinking about it, I could see his little wheels turning. He goes, ''No, it would be really, really good for you. People would think you're just this idiot with blond hair and big boobs. You would be perfect for it because you're such a smart businesswoman. You write and you direct and you produce and obviously you're hot and you're beautiful.'' And I was like, ''Well, it's never going to happen. NBC is never going to let a porn star on.'' And he was like, ''I can make it happen.'' And I was like, ''You can't. I dare you.'' I was totally egging him on. And that was kind of like the thing, he was like, ''No, we have to work on this for you.'' And that was sort of what he tried to bait me with for an entire year. He was like, ''We have to get together to talk about your appearance on.'' But he was serious. I think when it hit him in the moment, he was like, ''Yeah, this is going to be really good.'' And it could have. Of course, it would have been sensational. He just kept pushing for it, pushing for it. And he was like, ''Would you do it?'' I was like, ''You know what, I'm not going to waste my energy on thinking about it, but if you actually have the power to make it happen, then I'll do it.''
IT: So this was all during this dinner?
Stormy: Yeah. During, after. Yeah, it was definitely the biggest, longest topic of conversation '-- how he could get me on.
Donald and Melania. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
IT: And it was his idea?
Stormy: Oh yeah. 100%. It didn't even occur to me before. Honestly, I have never watched the show, and I still haven't watched the show. I travel too much to watch a lot of TV. I had to use the bathroom and I went to the restroom, which was in the bedroom. Like I said, it was a big suite. I could describe the suite perfectly. When I came out, he was sitting on the bed and he was like, ''Come here.'' And I was like, ''Ugh, here we go.'' And we started kissing. I actually don't even know why I did it but I do remember while we were having sex, I was like, ''Please don't try to pay me.'' And then I remember thinking, ''But I bet if he did, it would be a lot.''
IT: This is what you were thinking during sex?
Stormy: Yeah, isn't that horrible? But I remember thinking, ''I hope he doesn't think I'm a hooker.'' Not that I have anything against hookers. I just personally have never done it. Still, I have no idea why I did it. Honestly, I really don't.
IT: Were you attracted to him?
Stormy: Would you be? I was more like fascinated. I was definitely stimulated. We had a really good banter. Good conversation for a couple hours. I could tell he was nice, intelligent in conversation.
IT: Did you think the conversation would have led to what happened?
Stormy: Yeah.
IT: Going to the bathroom, did you think you were going to come out and encounter that?
Stormy: That he was going to be in bed? No, I just had to pee. So anyway, the sex was nothing crazy. He wasn't like, chain me to the bed or anything. It was one position. I can definitely describe his junk perfectly, if I ever have to. He definitely seemed smitten after that. He was like, ''I wanna see you again, when can I see you again?''
IT: Did he initiate or did you?
Stormy: Here's the weird thing. He had one of my DVDs and he asked me to sign it for him and I did.
IT: He had it on him?
Stormy: Yeah. I don't know if he sent someone out to get it. I take that back, he probably got it in the gift room. It was probably in one of his gift bags that he picked up because we were giving them out. I remember, it was, and I remember I signed it to him.
Donald on the South Lawn of the White House. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
IT: Was that before or after?
Stormy: After. We were still in the bedroom. We hung out for a little while and he just kept saying, ''I'm gonna call you, I'm gonna call you. I have to see you again. You're amazing. We have to get you on.'' I ended up leaving and the next night I saw him again at a party. It was in the downstairs of the hotel I was in and he was hanging out with Ben Roethlisberger. When I got there, he was already with him. He had Keith, his bodyguard, call me and ask me if I was coming. When I got there, I called Keith and he told me where he was sitting and he brought me over. And he was hanging out with Ben for a long time. A couple other people around, nobody famous. Mostly people trying to hang on to them. Ben had just won the Super Bowl that year. Donald excused himself. He had to leave, I don't remember why, and he made Ben promise to take care of me. I stayed another 15-20 minutes and Ben Roethlisberger actually walked me up to my room that night because Donald told him to. Yeah, he walked me all the way to my hotel room.
IT: After you two slept together, did he say anything like ''don't tell anyone,'' or anything along those lines?
Stormy: No. He didn't seem worried about it. He was kind of arrogant. It did occur to me, ''That's a really stupid move on your part.'' And it's not like I went around and told anybody. No one ever really knew.
IT: Did you use protection?
Stormy: No.
IT: Was that a conversation or was it kind of in the moment?
Stormy: It was kind of in the moment. And I was really kind of upset about it because I am so, like, careful. The company I work for is condom-only. But I remember for a fact that we didn't because I'm allergic to latex. And I didn't go up there with condoms on me. I know that for a fact because 99% of men don't carry non-latex condoms on them, so I usually always have one in my backpack but I thought I was going to dinner, so I only had a tiny little cocktail purse.
IT: Was the sex romantic?
Stormy: It was textbook generic. It wasn't like, ''Oh my God, I love you.'' He wasn't like Fabio or anything. He wasn't trying to have, like, porn sex.
IT: Did he say anything to you during?
Stormy: Nothing freaky. Like, ''Oh yeah, that feels good. That's amazing.'' You know. It was one position, what you would expect someone his age to do. It wasn't bad. Don't get me wrong.
Donald, Melania, and son Barron at the inauguration. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
IT: The next night, Ben walked you to your room.
Stormy: Walked to my room. And then I left the next day. Didn't expect anything. Then sure enough, he called me. He always called me from a blocked number. He gave me '-- of course I had Keith, his bodyguard's number '-- he gave me his secretary's number, Rhona, which is his direct office line. Anytime I needed to get ahold of him, he always took my call or called me back within 10 minutes if he was on another call or wasn't there. I think she would call him and he would call me back from his cell if he wasn't in his office. The number was always blocked. He called me about every 10 days. He always called me ''honeybunch.'' He's like, ''How's it going, honeybunch?'' He always started the conversation off, I think it was always his excuse to call, ''I just read about you in such and such or there's a quote about you in magazine, I turned on my channel in my hotel room and guess whose face popped up?'' Just like anytime he saw or read about me somewhere. I was super busy at the time. I've taken a year off because I had a baby, but I was everywhere at the time. That's when I did and was doing red carpets so there was pictures of me like all the time. That was always sort of his excuse to call: ''Hey, did you know that you were on such and such? We need to get together to talk about your thing.''
IT: Did he promise you that?
Stormy: Yeah, absolutely. He told me that he got a wild-card choice. That he could push one person through at will.
IT: And he said it was going to be you?
Stormy: Absolutely. 100% he promised me. And then I was talking about how I was going to be moving to Tampa at the time and he told me he was going to give me a condo there because they were building a Trump Tower there, which I don't think they ever finished, unless they finished it in the last two years since I've moved back from Tampa. I was like, ''You are not going to give me a condo.'' Anytime I called, he would call '-- it was funny if like my assistant or my boyfriend, who is now my ex-husband, he was my boyfriend at the time, was with me, I would always have him on speakerphone. I mean, it's Donald Trump.
IT: Were you with your boyfriend when you slept with Donald Trump?
Stormy: Yeah.
IT: Did he know about the situation?
Stormy: He didn't know that detail but he knew everything else. He called me all the time. Sometimes he would be in LA and he would call me and be like, ''Hey, can you come meet me?'' and I wasn't in LA. I traveled a lot. He was like, ''If you're ever in New York.'' I ended up being in New York, I was dancing at Gallagher's 2000. He insisted that I come and see him at his office. So me and my assistant went. We went straight up to the office. He saw us right in. I've been in his personal office like at the top of his tower in Manhattan.
IT: When was this?
Stormy: It was winter. I would say probably like December, January-ish. I could probably look it up. There's gotta be some sort of old press release about me dancing at Gallagher's that winter. I also went to his Trump Vodka release party. There's pictures of me on the red carpet there at Les Deux in Hollywood.
IT: Did he personally invite you?
Stormy: Yes. I think that was in January. I went in, and I could only stay like 15-20 minutes because I had to catch a flight. But I did the red carpet and I went in and he gave me a hug and a kiss in front of everybody. Keith, once again, took me straight up to the VIP area. He asked me if I could stay but I couldn't, I really couldn't, I had to go somewhere. He also invited me to the Miss USA pageant. He left tickets for me and for my assistant at will-call. And we went. I didn't get to really talk to him that much because there were people waiting to talk to him and I didn't want to be that girl. So I waved and said thank you for the tickets.
IT: During these periods of time when you were invited to these events, in between was he calling you?
Stormy: Oh yeah, at least three times a month.
IT: Was there any mention of hooking up again?
Stormy: Yeah. ''When can I see you, I need to see you again.'' He never was like, ''Let's f---.'' But come on.
IT: It was insinuated?
Stormy: Oh yeah. I mean, come on. If a guy calls you up and says, ''When do I get to see you again, I had such a nice time last time, it was so amazing, when can we get together again?'' what do you think that means?
IT: At these events, was his wife there?
Stormy: I've never seen her. I've never seen her in person, ever. Then the next time I saw him was the end of July and he called me and asked if I could come meet him at the Beverly Hills Hotel. And I went. My boyfriend drove me. Keith came out and met me at my truck and walked me in. He had a private bungalow out back, which is cool because I'd never been there and I haven't been there since. They have these, like, individual cottages there. Cool. They're pretty nice. I went there. We had dinner once again in his room. I had swordfish that time. Once again, no alcohol. The strangest thing about that night '-- this was the best thing ever. You could see the television from the little dining room table and he was watching Shark Week and he was watching a special about the U.S.S. something and it sank and it was like the worst shark attack in history. He is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks. He was like, ''I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.'' He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It's so strange, I know.
IT: So it's just you and him in the bungalow?
Stormy: Yeah. But isn't that weird? So strange. So we finished dinner and we moved to the sofa so he could get a better view of Shark Week . That's when he broke the news to me that it almost went through but there's somebody that had a problem and it got vetoed and blah blah blah. I was like, ''I told you, you couldn't make it happen.'' I was pretty annoyed. He kept rubbing my leg and was like, ''You know, you're so beautiful. I love your little nose, it's like a little beet.'' I go, ''Did you say a beet? Like, what the f---?'' I started giving him a hard time about it. And he goes, ''No, no, no, no! It's majestic. It's a very smart nose, like an eagle.'' I was like, ''Just keep digging, dude. Keep digging that hole.'' Like I said, we had this banter. I was kind of mean to him. He just kept brushing my hair off my shoulder and kissing on my neck. And he was like, ''So, can you stay?'' and I was like, ''No, I gotta go.'' I left. Keith walked me back to my car. I was in there probably two and a half hours. I left and he kept calling me less and less over the coming months. I do remember, it was whatever season Tito Ortiz was on and I guess Jenna was on one of the episodes just with Tito and he called me and I didn't watch the show, I had no idea that Tito was on it, much less Jenna. I think he was afraid I was going to be pissed. So he called me and was like, ''Did you see Jenna Jameson on my show? I didn't know she was going to go on. That's bullshit. She made a fool of herself.'' He said, ''She's a bimbo. You're so much better.'' I was like, ''I didn't even know about it.'' I just thought that was really funny. Don't care. Totally over it.
IT: Prior to the Beverly Hills meeting, when you would see him at different events, would he try to hook up with you or did he kiss you?
Stormy: No. He kissed me, like, hello at the Trump Vodka release party at Les Deux. He would ask, ''Do you have to leave? Can you hang out?''
IT: He would ask you to stay but you had to go?
Stormy: Yeah. And then like I said, he called me a few times after that and it was always like, ''If you ever need anything, let me know.'' He told me if I ever needed to get anything, a round of golf at any of his places, to call him. I think he would have absolutely done that for me. I didn't know anyone who played golf at the time and I don't play golf, so I never called in that favor.
IT: Did he send you any other presents?
Stormy: Nope. And I never asked. Like I said, he always called from a blocked number and for the last year and a half I honestly don't know if he's called me or not because when I got pregnant with my daughter, I completely stopped taking calls that I didn't know. My fans don't know I had a baby. I left LA and lived in Vegas and basically hid out. I just really stopped taking calls from blocked numbers, numbers that I didn't know. I even stopped answering people that I did know, like other celebrities that I'm friends with that would just want to hang out or go out in Hollywood.
IT: When was that?
Stormy: About a year and a half ago.
IT: Was that your last interaction with him?
Stormy: Yeah.
IT: What was the final conversation? The Jenna Jameson thing?
Stormy: No, I talked to him after that. It was just, ''Heeeeey, how's it going?'' It was always a shock to answer a number you expected to be a survey or a bill collector and it's Donald Trump. It's always a blocked number. ''Unknown ID'' is how it always came up. ''How's it going, honeybunch?'' and I was like, ''Oh my God, Donald Trump is calling me.'' ''I just wanted to see what you were doing.'' I don't know if he'd be scrolling through his phone.
IT: The last time you saw him was at the Beverly Hills Hotel?
Stormy: Yeah.
IT: When was your last conversation with him?
Stormy: I don't have the date. It was about a year and a half ago. It was around the time I was just finishing up the whole Senate thing. Because he called and was like, ''Hey, I just saw you on CNN or Fox or something, you looked great. I love how you give it to 'em.''
IT: How do you feel about all this '-- the broken promises? What's your take?
Stormy: I don't really know. I don't have any animosity or whatever.
IT: Do you feel like a fool for believing him about?
Stormy: No. I wasn't like going around telling everybody, ''Oh my God, I'm going to be on.'' It's not like I bought into it 100%. I was challenging him to make it happen. I figured my shot was 50-50 even though he swore up and down it was 100. It's not just him. I never really get my hopes up on big stuff like that.
IT: Did you tell anyone at the time what had happened?
Stormy: A couple people. My assistant. My boyfriend. My friend Randy. The owner of the company I work for. They were excited about the prospect of.
IT: Would you have a message for him or his wife at all?
Stormy: I don't know. Karma will always bite you in the ass.
IT: You know he's married, so how did you feel about engaging with someone who is cheating on their wife?
Stormy: At the time, I didn't think that much about it. But now that I have a baby that's the same age that his was at the time, I'm like, ''Wow, what a d---.''
IT: Do you feel bad? If she ever confronted you, what would you say?
Stormy: Yeah I feel bad. It didn't occur to me at the time.
IT: Why come forward with the story now?
Stormy: It's not something I did come forward with. My friend called me and was like, ''Hey, so I was having a conversation with somebody and they mentioned'...and is it true?'' and I was like, ''Yeah, well over a year, I talked to him all the time.'' And she was like, ''You know, he thinks really lowly of girls who'...'' She said he said some stuff about somebody else, I have no idea who'...it was very derogatory, and that makes me more mad than anything.
IT: What do you mean?
Stormy in 2008. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)
Stormy: That, you know, it's ok to be friends with someone who works in the adult entertainment business in private but publicly, you're going to bash the industry or people who work in it. It was a story that was off the record so I don't even know if you know what I'm talking about. I guess some other chick said something and she's not a porn star, she's no one famous. I don't know who she is. And he like didn't just go, ''No, that didn't happen.'' He went on some tirade how he would never be associated with someone'...blah blah blah. But clearly I do a lot more than just pose for. So that just makes me wonder if he was just flat-out lying the whole time. I didn't have any unrealistic expectations of actually being on the show; I figured my chances were 50-50, I did believe that he was shy. So now I wonder if the whole thing was just a f---ing lie.
IT: Just to impress you, to try to sleep with you?
Stormy: Yeah. And I guess it worked.
IT: Is there anything else that you wanted to add?
Stormy: I don't think so. Like I said, if I was his wife and I found out that my husband stuck his d--- in a hundred girls, I would be less mad about that than the fact that he went to dinner and had like this ongoing relationship.
IT: That it was an ongoing thing, not just a one-night thing?
Stormy: Right.
IT: And he never mentioned her at all?
Stormy: No.
IT: And he didn't make it seem like she was OK with it, he just said don't worry about it?
Stormy: Yup. He bragged about his daughter quite a bit though. He was very proud of her, which is nice. He told me once that I was someone to be reckoned with, beautiful and smart just like his daughter. She is smart and beautiful, so I guess that's a compliment. But as far as family, that's all he ever said. He definitely is very proud of her, as he should be.
IT: Did he mention sleeping with anyone else?
Stormy: No.
IT: What are you up to in terms of your career?
Stormy: I'm doing great. I just had a baby. The whole time I was pregnant I continued writing and directing. I directed all last year. Still directing for Wicked. I have an indefinite contract with them. It's going really well. We just started a new line called Wicked Passions. I'm sort of the director for that. I go back to shooting next month. Same thing. Everything's doing really well. No one even knows I was gone. I timed it perfectly. I did two years of movies in one year so the company I work for could keep releasing my movies on a regular basis so there wasn't like a gap.
IT: If you were approached with the opportunity now, would you take it?
Stormy: I would have to think about just because now that I have a daughter, I don't know if I'd want to be in New York, you know what I mean? But in the end, yes, probably, I'd figure out a way to make it work.
IT: If he pursued you again, or you ran into him, would you sleep with him again?
Stormy: No.
IT: Why?
Stormy: Because I'm with someone now that I feel differently about.
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How To: Update the HOSTS file in Windows 8
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:00
The below does not apply to Windows 10 ... seems Microsoft has finally corrected the issue ...Before you can install a custom HOSTS file in Win8, you will need to make a change in Windows Defender ... otherwise Defender will automatically remove your custom file and replace it with the default from Microsoft.
Hosts file is detected as malware in Windows Defender (Win8)
"This issue occurs because Windows Defender may determine incorrectly that the Hosts file was changed by malware"
Hostsman even has a warning about this issue ...
The folks at Microsoft that write the code detection for Defender are just lazy or don't get it! ... There has never been a malware infection that only affected the HOSTS file ... so why if when nothing else is detected does Defender still determine that you are infected? So in order to avoid the false detection, follow the instructions in the above Microsoft article. Basically you will need to exclude the Hosts file from scanning in Windows Defender. Once you have done this installing/updating should no longer be an issue.Next step
Simply locate the "hosts.zip" file you downloaded, by default it should be located in your "User" Download folder.
Highlight the file (single-click) then right-click and select > Extract All from the menu ...
Next: Make sure there is a check in the "Show extracted files when complete" option [screenshot]
Next: right-click the installer (mvps.bat) and select: Run as Administrator (see below)
Ok the UAC prompt and the batch file will run ... which will backup the existing HOSTS file to HOSTS.MVP then copy the updated HOSTS file to the proper location. You should see a completed prompt (press any key) and that's it ...
If you were previously using the MVPS HOSTS and Windows 7 ... the process is exactly the same.
The below screenshot shows the "MVPS HOSTS FILE IS NOW UPDATED" message ...
Editors Note: in most cases a large HOSTS file (over 135 kb) tends to slow down the machine.
To resolve this issue (manually) open the "Services Editor"
Either Hostsman or Hosts File Editor includes the option to turn off the DNS Service [screenshot]
When set to Manual you can see that the above "Service" is not needed (after a little browsing - when set to Manual) by opening the Services Editor again, scroll down to DNS Client and check the "Status" column. It should be blank, if it was needed it would show "Started" in that column. There are several Utilities that can reset the DNS Client for you ... [more info]
Editors Note: The above instructions are intended for a single (home-user) PC. If your machine is part of a "Domain", check with your IT Dept. before applying this work-around. This especially applies to Laptop users who travel or bring their work machines home. Make sure to reset the Service (if needed) prior to connecting (reboot required) to your work Domain ...
Important! If you are using Network Discovery then the DNS Client service is required and should not be set to either Manual or Disabled.
Workaround for using the MVPS HOSTS file and leaving the DNS Client service enabled (set to: Automatic)
If you find after a period of time that your browser seems sluggish with the DNS Client service enabled you can manually flush the DNS cacheClose all browser windows ... Win8 users - Charms Bar > Search > (type) command prompt > Select: Command Promt (left pane) Ok the UAC prompt (type) ipconfig /flushdns (press Enter) Then close the Command Prompt ...A better Win8 workaround would be to add two Registry entries to control the amount of time the DNS cache is saved. (KB318803)
Editing the HOSTS file
In the event you need to edit the HOSTS file and are unable (system message) it may be due to the "permissions" preventing you from editing the file.
Right click the Hosts file and select > PropertiesClick the Security tabHighlight your user account in the listPress the Edit buttonSelect (place a check in) Full controlPress OK in the various dialogue boxes to confirm the changes.You can also Add "Take Ownership" to Context Menu (recommended)
SendTo Tip: if you add Notepad to your SendTo menu, then you can View/Edit the HOSTS file that way.
Win8 users > Charms Bar > Search (type) run > Select: Run (left pane) (type) shell:sendto (press Ok)Right-click a blank space in the right pane and select: > New > Shortcut then click Browse and navigate to the Windows folder, highlight "notepad.exe"Name your shortcut: Notepad and OkRight-click the Notepad shortcut and select: Properties > click Advanced and place a check in "Run as Administrator". click Ok and then Apply.You cannot modify the Hosts file or the Lmhosts file in Windows Vista and Windows 7
The actual location of the HOSTS file is defined in the following Registry key:
HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SYSTEM\CurrentControlSet\Services\Tcpip\Parameters\DataBasePath
Other strange quirks
I've seen the HOSTS file "Attributes" set to an value of N or I ... as much as I can find it stands for:
FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NOT_CONTENT_INDEXED
On Windows NTFS volumes, the attribute FILE_ATTRIBUTE_NOT_CONTENT_INDEXED can be set for directories and files, so that the directories and files are not indexed by the Windows Indexing Service.
This occurs when (one or more) of the Advanced File attributes are unchecked = File > Properties > Advanced button
Note: to view the "Attributes" you need to add that option in Windows Explorer ... right-click the Header bar and select: More > Attributes
Programs are unable to access the HOSTS file message
Windows may detect that the HOSTS file was updated and it assigns a new Security setting to the HOSTS file.
Right-click the HOSTS file and select: Properties ... if you see the following message (at the bottom)
"This file came from another computer and might be blocked to protect this computer"
Click Unblock, click Apply, click the Security tab (up top) and take "Full Control" of the file (see above)
To view Hidden Files
To allow yourself to view all file types, open File Explorer > View > Options > View tab
or Organize > Folder and search options > View tab [screenshot]
Scroll down to the Hidden Files and Folders sectionSelect: "Show hidden files and folders"Uncheck: "Hide file extensions for known file types"Uncheck: " Hide protected operating system files"Ok the Prompt, click Apply, Ok [screenshot]Editors Note: general users should reverse the above when not in need as this exposes all system files, including several on the Desktop (desktop.ini) which you do not want to mess with ...
Related Utilities
Hosts File Editor ... great little freeware program with all the features of Hostsman ...
HostsMan can Edit, Update and Enable/Disable the HOSTS file ... make sure to "Run as Administrator".Right-click the Hostsman shortcut and select: Properties ... click Advanced
Axios (website) - Wikipedia
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 21:51
AxiosAxios logo
Type of site
News and opinionAvailable inEnglishOwnerAxios Media Inc.Key peopleJim VandeHei (founder and CEO)Mike Allen (founder and executive editor)
Roy Schwartz (founder and president)
Websitewww .axios .com Alexa rank 5,974 (Global November 2017[update])[1]
1,295 (US November 2017[update])[1]CommercialYesRegistrationOptionalLaunched2017Current statusActiveAxios (stylized as AXIOS) is an American news and information website founded in 2016 by Politico co-founder Jim VandeHei, Politico's former Chief White House correspondent Mike Allen, and former Politico Chief Revenue Officer Roy Schwartz. The site's name, based on the term Greek: á¼Î¾Î¹Îς (xios), "worthy", officially launched in 2017.[2]
History [ edit] In the summer of 2016, Axios secured $10 million in a round of financing led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures. Backers include NBC News, Emerson Collective, Greycroft Partners, and David and Katherine Bradley, owners of Atlantic Media.[2] Axios' initial launch partners are JP Morgan & Chase Co., PhRma, Boeing, BP, Bank of America, Koch Industries, S&P Global, United Health Group, Walmart, PepsiCo and Cooley LLP.[3] The NBC Universal partnership has featured Axios co-founder Mike Allen on its show Morning Joe.[4][5]
The company launched with a mission statement that consisted of, "Media is broken'--and too often a scam." It planned to focus on "business, technology, politics, and media trends".[2] Furthermore, they disavowed the use of banner ads, pop-ups and clickbait titles, using native advertising instead. The article style was focused on brevity, clear structure and often features bullet points.[6]
In November 2017, Axios announced that it had raised $20 million to fund an increase in staff and expansion of operations.[7]
References [ edit] Further reading [ edit] External links [ edit]
Axios Raises $20 Million to Fund Newsroom Expansion - WSJ
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 21:51
Other backers from last year also increased their investment, including NBCUniversal, Laurene Powell Jobs's Emerson Collective and Wal-Mart Chairman Greg Penner. WndrCo, a media-and-technology firm founded by Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg, is a new investor in the round.
Axios plans to use some of the financing to expand its capacity for data analysis, product development and audience growth, as well as developing new coverage areas, said Mr. Schwartz, Politico's former chief revenue officer. By the end of 2018, Axios plans to have roughly 150 staffers, up from its current staff of 89.
When Axios made its debut in January, Mr. VandeHei said the company would introduce a high-end paywall, help fix what he called a ''broken'' media business, and create smart, short content and newsletters aimed at corporate executives and other professionals. The Axios website resembles Facebook's news feed, with a chronological stream of concise articles on technology, politics, business and health care.
Today, there's still no paywall. Mr. VandeHei says that has been put off until late 2018, in part to allow the company to continue to build its audience with the free site.
Advertising and audience growth have beat expectations, the chief executive said, so ''we'd be insane not to pour all of our effort into building that audience.''
According to a person familiar with Axios's pitch to investors, the company brought in more than $10 million in revenue in its first seven months, mostly through short-form native advertising that appears in between stories.
Delaying the subscription service means the startup will continue to rely on advertising to drive revenue at a time when many larger digital news organizations are struggling to scale native advertising and maintain ad revenue growth rates overall.
Troubles in the online ad business are making it tough for new-media upstarts to maintain high growth rates and live up to lofty expectations. On Thursday, The Wall Street Journal reported that BuzzFeed and Vice Media are on track to miss their revenue targets for this year. Mashable, meanwhile, has agreed to sell itself to trade publisher Ziff Davis for $50 million, according to people familiar with the matter'--a fraction of its $250 million valuation in March 2016.
Axios's Mr. Schwartz said the company has already persuaded 10 of its advertisers, including Boeing Co. , to renew in 2018 and has five new advertisers booked for next year.
Although the Axios audience is growing, it still lags behind some of its competitors in and around the nation's capital. Axios attracted more than six million unique visitors in September, according to comScore. That same month, Politico drew more than 20 million unique visitors, the Washington Post topped 95 million, and Breitbart had more than 13 million.
Mr. VandeHei said those are encouraging numbers, given Axios's relatively recent launch and small staff. ''Ten months in, by all the measures that we look at, we're doing better than we thought going in,'' he said. ''This inspired us to expedite our plans'--and put our foot on the gas.''
Axios is infused with some of the take-no-prisoners doctrine that defined Mr. VandeHei's Politico tenure, as the outlet fights to land the most influential interviews and breaking news that will make it a must-read inside the Beltway and around the country.
The walls of its offices are adorned with quotes like: ''Suck rolls downhill'' and ''Brevity is confidence. Length is fear.'' There are softer touches, too: a blue couch under a sign labeled ''Relaxios'' and baskets of candy beneath a sign labeled ''Snaxios,'' refilled each week by co-founder and executive editor Mike Allen, who also joined Axios from Politico, where he was chief White House correspondent.
Raju Narisetti, a digital news veteran who has worked for the Journal and Washington Post and is now the chief executive of Gizmodo Media Group, says he reads Axios but that it's still too early to make a definitive judgment on the company's business or editorial success.
''Axios has certainly made great use of its co-founder [Mike Allen] and its $10 million financial runway to create awareness and a reasonably strong impact for the first year of a newsletter-centric media startup in D.C.,'' Mr. Narisetti said. ''Has it become 'Economist mated with Twitter ' that it apparently wants to be? The jury is still way out on it.'''
Axios says it now has 200,000 subscribers across its 11 newsletters, with an average open rate of 52%, and Mr. Schwartz said its readers are highly engaged and belong to demographics that are valuable to advertisers.
The company is planning to expand into other formats, including a smartphone app Axios expects to launch in 2018 and the exploration of a podcast program, said Alexis Lloyd, chief design officer. The company also expects to double the size of its video team, Mr. VandeHei said, and may branch out into five-second video advertisements.
Corrections & Amplifications
E.ventures co-led Axios's second funding round with Greycroft Partners and Lerer Hippeau Ventures, making it a new investor in the media startup, along with WndrCo. An earlier version of this article didn't mention e.ventures' role and incorrectly said WndrCo was the only new investor in the round, based on information provided by the company. (Nov. 17, 2017)
Firestorm Over Govt Ownership of Next 5G Network Ignited by NSC Plan Backed by Google >> Alex Jones' Infowars: There's a war on for your mind!
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 21:48
WASHINGTON, D.C. '' A report by Axios on Monday caused a firestorm in the nation's capital by suggesting Trump administration officials were considering ''an unprecedented federal takeover of a portion of the nation's mobile network to guard against China.''
To back up this claim, Axios published a PowerPoint presentation and a memo, both produced by an unnamed National Security Council (NSC) official that was presented recently to senior officials at other agencies in the Trump administration.
Infowars.com has learned that the plan for the government to take over the creation and ownership of the next generation 5G network has been advanced by a general on the NSC staff whose credentials involve working at the U.S. Embassy in China and top executives of Google involved in the construction and operation of ultra-high-speed next-generation telecommunications networks.
At stake is an NSC proposal that suggests the United States needs ''a centralized nationwide 5G network within three years.'' Two options are proposed.
The first option requires the U.S. government to pay for and build the single network, effectively nationalizing the nation's telecommunications infrastructure. The second is wireless providers would build their own 5G networks that would compete with one another.
The NSC documents strongly favored the first option, in which the federal government would nationalize the nation's next 5G wireless communications network, with the goal of renting access of the government's 5G network to private carriers like AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
The Trump administration memo disclosed by Axios argued that a strong 5G network was needed ''to create a secure pathway for emerging technologies like self-driving cars and virtual reality '' and to combat Chinese threats to America's economy and cybersecurity.''
A PowerPoint slide argued a government-built and owned 5G network would be ''the digital counter to China's One Belt One Road Initiative meant to spread China's influence beyond its borders, extending China's dominance of Artificial intelligence.''
NSC General and Google conspire in government 5G takeover plan
Infowars.com research has established that certain individuals within the Trump administration NSC acted as co-conspirators with Google in the plan for the government to nationalize the U.S. next-generation 5G telecommunications network.
On Dec. 16, 2017, only five days before he resigned, Eric Schmidt, then the CEO of Alphabet, Inc., the parent company of Google, visited the West Wing where various credible sources claim he discussed 5G plans.
Before joining the NSC as a senior director for strategic planning, Spalding served as a senior defense official and defense attach(C) in China for the Defense Intelligence Agency, working out of the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
From July 2013 to June 2014, Spalding worked as a Military Fellow on the Council of Foreign Relations in New York City.
The idea for the government to be involved in 5G originated with Robert Spalding, Director of Strategic Planning at the National Security Council. From his time as a defense Attach(C) in China, he was, and is, concerned about China getting out in front of the U.S. in 5G
Slowly, Spalding pulled private sector people ''into the room.'' The first was the Chief Technology Officer of Samsung. Spalding added Google into the circle early on, largely because Google has such a ubiquitous presence in Washington.
As Spalding's plan evolved, Google's goal became either: (1) to have the government build a 5G network and then lease it to everyone; or (2) to have the government give free spectrum to Google and a consortium of tech companies who would build the network and lease it to everyone else, including AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile.
On Jan. 17, 2017, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce hosted an off-the-record dinner where the NSC's Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding gave remarks calling for the U.S. government to build and own a national 5G network.
In attendance were Google's Lee Bienstock, who heads partnerships for Google Fiber, along with representatives of Samsung who are on record aggressively arguing against spectrum auctions as means for obtaining wireless spectrum, citing the length of the process.
Also working on the 5G project for Google is rumored to be Milo Medin, Vice President of Access Services for Google Fiber in Alphabet, where he has overseen the build-out of an ultra-high-speed network at Google.
At the Chamber of Commerce dinner, Spalding articulated his concerns that China is a huge threat, stressing the importance of 5G technology and U.S. leadership. Spalding expressed his concern that the best way would be for the U.S. government to take the lead in building and owning a single, nationwide network that provides wholesale access to the carriers.
FCC strongly objects
When news of the NSC plan was circulated, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chair Ajit Pai fired off an immediate Tweet saying, ''I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network. The market, not the government is best positioned to drive innovation and investment.''
Pai followed up with an FCC press release in which he expressed in the strongest possible terms his opposition to any plan for the government to nationalize a 5G network.
''I oppose any proposal for the federal government to build and operate a nationwide 5G network,'' Pai reiterated in the FCC press release.
''The main lesson to draw from the wireless sector's development over the past three decades'--including American leadership in 4G'--is that the market, not the government, is best positioned to drive innovation and investment,'' Pai continued.
''What government can and should do is to push spectrum into the commercial marketplace and set rules that encourage the private sector to develop and deploy next-generation infrastructure,'' Pai stressed. ''Any federal effort to construct a nationalized 5G network would be a costly and counterproductive distraction from the policies we need to help the United States win the 5G future.''
Trump rejects 5G nationalization plan
As the firestorm developed in Washington, officials of the Trump administration confirmed to Recode that President Trump has no plans to build a nationalized ultra-fast 5G wireless network, despite the publication of the NSC memo that suggested the idea was under serious consideration.
ZeroHedge.com also reported that the NSC proposal to nationalize 5G was not gaining favor among the nation's four major wireless carriers. AT&T specifically would not comment on the proposal, but the company confirmed to ZeroHedge.com that private sector work on 5G is ''already well down the road.''
Police watched Paddock commit suicide and coroner makes bizarre statement - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 19:55
LAS VEGAS '-- A Clark County Nevada District Court judge ordered Tuesday Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg to release the autopsy reports of Stephen Paddock and all 58 victims of the Oct. 1 Las Vegas massacre.
Fudenberg had previously released a statement that Stephen Paddock had died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head and that all 58 victims at the Route 91 concert venue died of gunshot wounds.
The judge's order was simple enough; release all the autopsy reports. You can't make it any plainer than that.
John Fudenberg
Instead, Fudenberg stated he could not release Paddock's autopsy report because it has not been ''finalized,'' and would release the autopsies of the victims ''as soon as possible.''
Fudenberg did not elaborate on what he meant by ''finalized.''
Paddock's body has already been cremated and his ashes were picked up by his brother, Eric Paddock, earlier this month.
So, the big question here is why hasn't Stephen Paddock's autopsy been ''finalized,'' whatever that means. How could it not be finalized if the coroner already ruled his cause of death as a suicide?
It's statements like this that irritate me.
Why?
Because it's only going to add to a long list of conspiracy theories that I for one don't prescribe to.
I still believe that Stephen Paddock was the lone gunman responsible for the October 1 massacre, however that remark from the coroner bothers me. It is becoming extremely hard for me to maintain that position and retain my objectivity.
This investigation from the outset has been plagued with controversy, in large part due to Clark County Sheriff, Joe Lombardo who runs the LVMPD.
Lombardo's lies, false, misleading, convoluted and contradictory statements just added fuel to the fire of conspiracy.
Now, it appears that Clark County Coroner, John Fudenberg is following in Lombardo's footsteps.
What the hell is going on here?
The judge Mr. Fudenberg, ordered you to release the autopsy reports, so release them immediately, without delay. End of story.
Let's not forget this
The SWAT Team that never showed up for the worst mass shooting in American history. First reported by the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
The homicide unit was not allowed to conduct the investigation of Paddock's suicide, instead, it was given to the Force Investigation Team that at the time was commanded by the wife of Lombardo's number two-man, Undersheriff Kevin McMahill. First reported by the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
The police rolled over Paddock's body before the arrival of the crime scene investigator's. First reported by the Baltimore Post-Examiner.
Then to add insult to injury police personnel leaked photographs of the crime scene to the press, compromising the integrity of the criminal investigation.
Then someone allowed a photographer to breach the Mandalay Bay 32nd floor hallway crime scene to take pictures of the front door suite and the interior directly in front of the door.
Those were police officers that leaked those crime scene photographs. And as first reported in the Baltimore Post-Examiner, I was told, was one of those officers was one of Lombardo's command staff personnel.
The Baltimore Post-Examiner was the first to report that the LVMPD had to borrow three armored vehicles from a private company the night of the massacre. The LVMPD and the private company, both refused to comment on that.
What the hell.
Like I said, I don't prescribe to conspiracy theory, but if I wanted to write a great conspiracy mystery novel, I wouldn't have to go too far for a plot.
If you think what you heard is bad enough, keep on reading, you will be in for a real shocker, as it only gets worse.
I hate to say this but anyone that was involved in this investigation at the LVMPD is quickly losing credibility with me.
You would think that a police department would have wanted the criminal investigation of the worst mass shooting in American history to be their greatest shining moment.
Instead, it is quickly turning into a disaster.
Judge releases LVMPD search warrants
In a separate matter, also on Tuesday, another Clark County District Court judge released the LVMPD search warrant and the affidavits for probable cause for the searches.
In the Order on Petition to Unseal Search Warrant Records, District Court Judge, Elisha F. Cadish wrote:
''The Nevada Supreme Court, as well as the federal courts, have recognized both a common law right and a First Amendment right to access to court records in criminal proceedings. This is recognized to be a qualified right, which has been applied to search warrant proceedings and materials after charges are brought, but not during a pre-indictment investigation. In this case, Stephen Paddock has been determined by law enforcement authorities to be the lone shooter and the only one involved in the planning of the shooting, and he shot himself in connection with the October 1 events. However, there is an ongoing investigation regarding possible charges against another individual arising out of information in connection with the October 1 shooting, but not directly related to the shooting itself.''
''Thus, the Court must be cautious not to reveal documents which would interfere with that investigation and possible charges, as well as avoid threatening the privacy interests and safety of an individual mentioned in the sealed documents. In LVMPD's Sealed Supplemental Response, LVMPD stated it does not object to the unsealing of the search warrant affidavits and returns associated with SW 17-171. And SW 17-998. As to the remaining warrants addressed in the Petition, SW 17-984 through 17-996, LVMPD asserted they should remain under seal and, in the alternative, proposed possible redactions of those documents as it relates to the ongoing investigation of possible charges.''
''The Court finds that the vast majority of the documents Petitioners seek to unseal do not contain any information that would compromise the ongoing investigation in any way nor present any danger to a private citizen. Thus, the Court finds that redaction of a couple of phrases in each of the search warrant affidavits for SW 17-984 through 17-996, which all have the same pertinent language, will sufficiently protect the ongoing investigation while satisfying the public right to access these criminal case records. Additionally, in the course of looking into these issues, the Court discovered that there were three additional warrants related to the October 1 shooting which were not identified in prior pleadings of the parties, specifically SW 17-1047, SW 17-1048, and SW 17-1091, SW 17-1047, and 17-1048 both contain the same phrases the Court is ordering redacted from the warrants identified above. Although not mentioned in the Petition, the same public right of access would apply to these three warrants and thus, the Court is also ordering these warrants to be unsealed, other than the same redactions to SW 17-1047 and 17-1048.''
Person of interest identified
The name 'Haig' was referenced in one of the released documents as a person of interest.
The Associated Press reported on Tuesday that Douglas Haig of Mesa, Arizona gave a statement that he met Stephen Paddock once and sold him some ammunition.
I said in several of my stories that I believed that the subject of the ongoing criminal investigation could be related to the child pornography found on Paddock's computer, the firearms and or the ammunition.
Armor piercing, tracer, and incendiary ammunition were found in Paddock's suite according to the preliminary police report.
The death of Stephen Paddock; a slightly different account
Sheriff Joe Lombardo has said numerous times that when officers breached Stephen Paddock's room, they found Paddock dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
On Tuesday, the Las Vegas Review Journal reported that one of the released documents detailed a telephonic search warrant request from Oct. 2 at 3:02 a.m. that stated, ''as SWAT officers breached room 135, they observed Stephen Paddock place a gun to his head and fire one round.''
According to the LVRJ Sheriff Joe Lombardo on Tuesday said he had not read the document and could not comment on it. Really, we are to believe that the highest law enforcement officer in the county was not aware of this.
This does not look good.
Lombardo referred requests about that document to Sgt. Jerry MacDonald, who according to the LVRJ, is expected to comment on that on Wednesday.
Sgt. Jerry MacDonald is a member of the Force Investigation Team that investigated Paddock's death and according to the 81-page preliminary investigative report, one of the authors of that report.
Why are we first hearing about this after four months?
There is no mention of this in the preliminary report.
On page 15 of that report, it states, ''The Strike Team reported Paddock was down from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.''
On page 30 of the report, it states, ''Team 2 encountered Paddock lying on the floor on his back. The officers believed Paddock had a self-inflicted gunshot wound.''
Did somebody make a major mistake here, because if not, it sounds like somebody committed perjury as telephonic search warrants are sworn to under oath?
This does not look good under any stretch of the imagination. I can only hope that this is just plain incompetence on someone's part and nothing more sinister.
The LVMPD will once again be responsible, unwittingly, for perpetuating what is no doubt going to be more conspiracy theories.
The ones who suffer from all this are the families of those who were killed and the survivors of October 1 and those of us who like them, are just trying to get to the truth.
What has not been released to date
This is what I want to review.
Surveillance video of Stephen Paddock bringing in the suitcases as mentioned in the 81-page preliminary police report. Lock interrogation reports for room 32-134 and 32-135. Documentation to back-up what was written in the police preliminary report.
All evidence in the possession of MGM Resorts International, the owners of the Mandalay Bay Hotel relating to the October 1 massacre.
Never forget the 58 people who died and the 851 who were wounded and or injured in the worst mass shooting in American history that occurred on the Las Vegas Strip on the night of October 1, 2017.
The massacre was preventable, it should never have happened.
Judicial Watch: McCabe 'Used FBI Resources' For His Democrat Wife's Campaign
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 19:21
FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe
and his wife, Dr. Jill McCabe. McCabe
resigned from the FBI on Jan. 29, 2018.
(YouTube)
(CNSNews.com) -- In a statement about the abrupt resignation on Monday of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Judicial Watch noted that it had "uncovered documents months ago that should have triggered Mr. McCabe's removal," that the FBI was still stonewalling on releasing McCabe's text messages, and that other documents confirm "that McCabe used FBI resources for his wife's campaign."
Dr. Jill McCabe, a liberal Democrat, ran for a Virginia senate seat in 2015. She announced her run in March 2015, " the same month it was revealed that Mrs. Clinton had used a private server as secretary of state to send and receive government emails," reported theWall Street Journal.
In late 2015, Jilll McCabe received $675,288 in payments from two different PACs, one run by Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a long-time ally of Bill and Hillary Clinton, and another in which McAuliffe exerts much control.
One of Dr. Jill McCabe's 2015 campaign pictures. (YouTube)
In February 2016, Andrew McCabe became deputy diretor of the FBI, the number two man under then-FBI Director James Comey. As deputy director, McCabe was part of the FBI executive team overseeing the investigation of Hillary Clinton's illicit use of a private email server. Andrew McCabe did not recuse himself from the Clinton investigation until one week before the November 2016 presidential election.
Commenting on McCabe's resignation yesterday, Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said, " Judicial Watch uncovered documents months ago that should have triggered Mr. McCabe's removal '... and last week we were given the full stonewall by the FBI on McCabe's text messages. Nevertheless, the disturbing disclosures about McCabe's conduct from Judicial Watch litigation obviously spurred irresistible public pressure for McCabe's removal."
"It is concerning that Mr. McCabe was allowed to remain in the FBI as long as he did," said Fitton. "Did Director [Christopher] Wray only force out McCabe because of the pending disclosures in the House dossier memo? The FBI is not above the law and the American people expect full accountability."
"We still want the text messages and we want a full investigation of the numerous anti-Trump and other outrageous FBI abuses under Obama and McCabe's mentor, James Comey," said Fitton.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. (YouTube)
He continued, "Judicial Watch recently uncovered that McCabe, despite massive contributions from Clinton ally Terence McAuliffe to his wife's 2015 political campaign, did not recuse himself from the Clinton email investigation until just a week before the 2016 presidential election. Judicial Watch also forced out documents that show that McCabe used FBI resources for his wife's campaign."
Among other things, those documents show
"repeated use of the official FBI email system in connection with Mrs. McCabe's political campaign," said Fitton. For example:
"On March 13, 2015, Mrs. McCabe emails to her husband's official FBI email account a draft press release announcing her run for state Senate.
Former FBI Director James Comey, former FBI Deputy Director
Andrew McCabe, and virulent anti-Trump FBI
counterintelligence officer Peter Strzok. (YouTube)
"In August 2015, McCabe uses his official FBI email account to advise a redacted recipient to visit his wife's campaign website: 'Jill has been busy as hell since she decided to run for VA state senate (long story). Check her out on Facebook as Dr. Jill McCabe for Senate.'
"On November 2, 2015, Mrs. McCabe forwards an email to her husband '' then the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI's Washington Office '' that accuses her opponent of extorting local businessmen. The email was sent to her husband's official FBI account."
Judicial Watch further reported "an October 2016 letter from House Government Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz to McCabe questioning a possible conflict of interest by noting that [Hillary] Clinton headlined a Virginia fundraiser on June 26, 2015, for Mrs. McCabe. 'A significant amount was donated after the FBI had initiated its investigation and begun meeting with Secretary Clinton's attorneys in August 2015.'"
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CDC director bought tobacco stock while in office | TheHill
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:51
The director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Brenda Fitzgerald, bought tobacco stock while in office, Politico reportedTuesday .
The purchase poses a serious risk of conflict of interest given that the CDC helps lead efforts to prevent smoking.
A Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) spokesperson confirmed the ''potentially conflicting'' purchase to The Hill, saying they were handled by her financial manager and she later sold the stock.
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The stock purchase was between $1,001 and $15,000 in Japan Tobacco, Politico reported.
She also reportedly bought stock in a range of health-care companies, including Humana and Merck.
Conflicts of interest due to Fitzgerald's holdings have prevented her from testifying to Congress multiple times since she assumed office in July.
Fitzgerald is the former commissioner of Georgia's public health department and was appointed by former HHS Secretary Tom PriceThomas (Tom) Edmunds PriceWhat Trump didn't say in his State of the Union addressCDC director bought tobacco stock while in officeOvernight Health Care: Senate Dems block 20-week abortion ban | Azar sworn in as HHS chief | Dems demand answers on family planning funds | GOP takes sting out of ObamaCareMORE to lead the CDC.
Price later resigned amid controversy over his use of private jets for official travel.
Updated: 7:08 p.m.
Kabinet vindt verbod op Bitcoin ´wenselijk´ | ThePostOnline
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 14:14
Minister van Financin Wopke Hoekstra (CDA) wil over een paar weken duidelijk maken of een verbod van de bitcoin wenselijk en mogelijk is. Partijen in de Tweede Kamer vragen om maatregelen tegen zogenoemde cryptomunten en andere omstreden financile producten.
Volgens de bewindsman gaan 'onze gezamenlijke gedachten' in de richting dat het wenselijk is, maar dat vraagt om een toets. Dat geldt ook voor de mogelijkheid van een verbod, zei de minister. Hij hoopt de Kamer binnen enkele weken te kunnen informeren.
Hoekstra waarschuwt al tijden voor de bitcoin onder het motto Bezint eer ge begint. Ook toezichthouders Autoriteit Financile Markten en De Nederlandsche Bank wijzen op de risico's. Desondanks is het aantal mensen in Nederland dat er in belegt, niet dramatisch aan het afnemen, constateert de minister.
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Iraqi Kurds' independence referendum illegitimate '' Tillerson '-- RT US News
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:46
The US does not recognize the legitimacy of the unilateral independence referendum staged by the Iraqi Kurdistan Regional Government, US State Secretary Rex Tillerson has said in a statement.
"The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government's unilateral referendum held on Monday. The vote and the results lack legitimacy and we continue to support a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq," Tillerson said.
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Washington also called on all parties, including Iraq's neighbors, to calm down and renounce the use of force following the referendum, apparently referring to the earlier remarks made by Turkey.
It also urged all parties to put an ''end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions'' in the aftermath of the plebiscite.
The Iraqi Kurds held a unilateral independence referendum on September 25. A day later, the President of the Kurdistan Regional Government, Masoud Barzani, said most voters cast their ballots in favor of independence.
According to local media, some 3.45 million people took part in the plebiscite and more than 91 percent of them supported the idea of independence. Baghdad immediately denounced the move as ''unconstitutional.''
The Iraqi parliament even asked the government to send troops into the Kurdish areas. Neighboring Turkey, Iran, and Syria are also opposed to the creation of an independent Kurdistan over concerns that it may spur separatist sentiment in their own Kurdish-populated areas.
The US warned the Kurds ahead of the vote that it ''strongly opposes'' the referendum. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement that the Kurds should instead accept the alternative of engaging in negotiations with Baghdad, and that those talks be facilitated by the US, the UN and other partners.
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The Russian foreign ministry said on September 27 that Moscow continues to support the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Iraq and other Middle East nations. It added that even though it respects the desire of Kurds to have a national state, it also believes that all such issues should be resolved through a peaceful dialogue ''at finding a mutual form of coexistence in a unified Iraqi state.''
The day before, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened the Iraqi Kurds with economic sanctions, adding that ''military options'' are also on the table.
The US has supported the Kurds for years and considers them allies in the fight against Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL). Washington's close ties with Kurds even resulted in a cooling of relations with Turkey, a NATO ally.
In May, President Donald Trump authorized the Pentagon to send arms to Kurdish militia units in Syria, which are known as the People's Protection Units (YPG), and who Ankara sees as closely linked to Turkey's separatist insurgents from the Kurdistan Workers' Party, the PKK.
In July, Turkey's Anadolu news agency reported that the US operates several bases located in the areas controlled by Kurdish militias.
Left Blasts 'Tone Deaf,' 'Inexcusable' Joe Kennedy Pick'--Privileged White Man Who's Not Progressive Enough - Breitbart
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:41
The left-wing media outlet Splinter blasted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) for believing that ''a white man from a storied political dynasty who is, by all accounts, not one of Capitol Hill's pioneering forces'--will 'do an excellent job in making clear that Democrats are laser-focused on enacting policies to benefit middle class Americans, not special interests or the wealthiest.'''
The founder of Moms Demand Action, a prominent gun control group, argued that Democrats should have selected a woman of color to deliver the response. Others echoed the same sentiments, arguing that is is ''really inexcusable,'' ''tone deaf,'' and ''an extraordinary waste of a valuable opportunity'' to not feature a woman of color to represent the resistance.
Another asked: ''Maybe Dems could have tried to find someone who isn't a white guy?''
A Democratic lawmaker reportedly told the Wall Street Journal: ''Kennedy is an establishment pick, which is tone deaf after the 2016 rejection of the Bush and Clinton dynasty.''
The New Republic pointed out that left-wing activists are also upset that Kennedy did not vote for the Medicare-for-all bill or marijuana legalization.
Trump says it will be hard to unify country without a 'major event' | PBS NewsHour
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:37
Hours before his first State of the Union, President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wants to unite the country amid ''tremendous divisiveness'' and hopes he can do so without a traumatic event affecting Americans.
Trump spoke about creating a more united country during a lunch with a number of television news anchors. Trump said the United States has long been divided, including during the impeachment of former president Bill Clinton. Trump also said that Americans usually come together during times of suffering.
''I would love to be able to bring back our country into a great form of unity,'' Trump said. ''Without a major event where people pull together, that's hard to do. But I would like to do it without that major event because usually that major event is not a good thing.''
The president also said the country's divisions date back to both Republican and Democratic administrations, citing the scandals that led to Clinton's impeachment by the House in 1998.
''I want to see our country united. I want to bring our country back from a tremendous divisiveness, which has taken place not just over one year, over many years, including the Bush years, not just Obama.'' he said.
Trump went on to say that uniting people would also be hard because of issues like health care, because some people want ''free health care paid by the government'' and others want ''health care paid by private, where there's great competition.''
The comments came as the president was putting the finishing touches on his first State of the Union address Tuesday night.
According to a White House official, Trump's speech will be about 50 minutes long, and was written with help from H.R. McMaster, the national security advisor, Rob Porter, the White House staff secretary, Gary Cohn, the chief economic advisor, Stephen Miller, the senior policy advisor, and Ross Worthington and Vince Haley, who are both speechwriters.
Marconi Awards 2017: De Juryrapporten - Programma's & sites - Gouden RadioRing ' AVROTROS
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:30
De winnaars zijn inmiddels bekend! Lees hier alle juryrapporten terug.
De vakjury voor de Marconi Awards bestaat uit Uunco Cerfontaine, Ronald Seb¶k, Astrid de Jong, Dave Minneboo, Arjan Penders, Michiel Veenstra, Bart Arens, Dieuwertje Valentijn, Iwan Reuvekamp, Marlise Hamaker en Berber Coeur (juryvoorzitter).
De Marconi Oeuvre Award voor Adam Curry '' Het juryrapport
In een land waar ''zo lekker normaal blijven'' de grootste verdienste is voor BN'ers was een Amerikaan met bijhorende can-do houding een welkome afwisseling. Adam Curry is dan ook altijd al een opvallende verschijning geweest tussen z'n Nederlandse collega's. Outgoing, niet bang om met het hoofd boven het maaiveld uit te steken (niet zo vreemd ook met z'n 1 meter 96) en bovendien als enige ook in staat om fatsoenlijk ''Madonna'' uit te spreken.
Adam Clark Curry wordt in 1964 geboren in Virginia, verhuist na drie maanden naar Oeganda en komt op z'n derde weer terug in Amerika. Als Adam acht is verhuist het gezin Curry naar Amsterdam.
Adam - gewend aan de grote Amerikaanse networks en commercile zenders - weet niet wat ie ziet en hoort: het Nederlandse omroepbestel is een onnavolgbare bron van verbazing.
Op z'n vijftiende stapt Adam voor het eerst bij een lokale omroep naar binnen. Eerst als technicus, maar al snel neemt hij ook achter de microfoon plaats. Via ziekenomroep Radio Tulipa en piraat Radio Picasso treedt hij al snel toe tot de gelederen van het legendarische Radio Decibel, waar hij onder de naam John Holden programma's maakt naast namen als Danil Dekker, Rob van Someren, Simone Walraven en Jeroen van Inkel.
Als die laatste wordt aangenomen door het landelijke Veronica maakt Adam een afscheidsvideo, die ook in Hilversum opvalt; het levert hem een baan op bij datzelfde Veronica, als presentator van het tv-programma Countdown. Het programma maakt van Adam in (C)(C)n klap een bekende Nederlander.
Het duurt niet lang voor Adam ook weer radio gaat maken: als Bart van Leeuwen door ziekte een weekje verstek moet laten gaan voor de vrijdagavondshow Bart & Van Inkel valt Adam naast Jeroen in, tot groot genoegen van radiobaas Lex Harding, die de twee vanaf 12 oktober 1984 elke week loslaat op Hilversum 3.
Ongetwijfeld ook vele malen weer tot zijn eigen spijt, als hij de ene waarschuwende memo na de ander op de twee radio-rebellen moet afvuren, die trouwens dan de vrijdag er op weer keurig op de radio werden voorgelezen. Curry & van Inkel vindt een genre uit, schrijft radiogeschiedenis en inspireert tientallen soundalikes tot op de dag van vandaag.
De internationale allures van Adam leveren hem in 1987 een baan op bij het Amerikaanse MTV. Zijn vertrek bij Veronica lanceert en passant de carri¨re van Rene Froger, die in Adam's laatste Countdown optreedt met het nummer Winter in America.
In Amerika wordt Adam als VJ een grote ster met shows als Headbangers Ball en de MTV Top 20 Video Countdown. Zijn tv-werk combineert hij met radio, door als DJ aan de slag te gaan bij Z100 in New York. Mid jaren '90 maakt hij vanuit Amerika voor Radio Veronica ook het danceprogramma Rave Radio.
In 1993 claimt Adam - met goedkeuring van MTV - de domeinnaam MTV.com, als nog maar weinigen bezig zijn met internet, laat staan er de potentie van inzien. Adam blijkt visionair; hij stort zich door de jaren heen in meerdere techbedrijven als OnRamp, Mevio en Jamby. Hoewel misschien niet allemaal even succesvol, laat het wel zien dat Adam aanvoelt waar de wereld van creatie en mediaconsumptie heengaat. Het eind jaren '90 opgerichte Jamby verwacht dat mensen zelf video-content gaan maken en uploaden, meer dan vijf jaar voor de start van YouTube.
Begin zeroes keert Adam terug naar Europa: Nederlandse tv-kijkers kijken met hem en Patricia thuis mee in de reallife-soap Adam's Family, hij presenteert enkele programma's voor SBS en het net onder Sky Radio opgekrabbelde Radio Veronica strikt hem voor de ochtendshow Curry & the Crew. Het programma trekt landelijke aandacht door een week lang live uit te zenden vanaf legerbasis Camp Smitty in Iraq en vanuit Las Vegas, waar Adam bevoegd is om een paar gelukkige luisteraars in de echt te verbinden.
Rond deze tijd is Adam veel bezig met online publiceren; hij is groot evangelist van het internet-dagboek bijhouden webloggen en experimenteert met het toevoegen van audio aan de dan net uitgevonden RSS-feeds, iets wat uiteindelijk zal leiden tot het fenomeen podcasting.
Niemand minder dan Apple's Steve Jobs vraagt Adam om podcasting officieel in iTunes op te mogen nemen, wat Adam voorgoed de bijnaam Podfather oplevert.
Alhoewel Adam, op een kleine periode in de ochtend van Arrow Classic Rock na, al enkele jaren geen programma meer heeft gemaakt op de Nederlandse radio, is en blijft hij actief in podcasting: radio on demand. Al 1000 afleveringen lang is hij tweemaal per week te horen met de No Agenda podcast, waarin hij samen met co-host John C. Dvorak kritisch het laatste nieuws, politiek en complottheorien bespreekt. De podcast heeft een trouw internationaal publiek, dat door middel van donaties de kas spekt.
Adam Curry heeft niet alleen met Curry & Van Inkel een legendarisch programma neergezet dat de inspiratie bleek voor vele navolgers, zijn nimmer aflatende drang naar vernieuwing en visionaire stappen op online gebied hebben van hem met recht de grote voorganger van social radio gemaakt. Waar DJ's anno 2017 niet meer zonder social media kunnen naast de oude vertrouwde zendmast, is dit voor Adam als eerste een tweede natuur geweest. Zijn uitvinding podcasting is anno nu het toverwoord voor de toekomst van radio, waarin on demand audio in rap tempo van levensbelang zal zijn naast het oude lineaire signaal.
Op zowel traditionele radiozenders op vrijdagavonden, alsmede op miljarden audiodevices wereldwijd is Adam's legacy overduidelijk aanwezig. Dat, en voor het ons leren van de juiste uitspraak van Madonna, is de Marconi Oeuvre Award meer dan terecht voor Adam Curry.
Marconi Award voor Aanstormend Talent - Juryrapporten
Rob Janssen
Rob Janssen (of misschien ken je 'm beter als Piet van Vliet, Lamme Frans of Gerst) is multimediaal duizendpoot. Hij schrijft liedjes, monteert video's, produceert zijn eigen jingles en andere (audio- en video-) vormgeving, is regisseur, en presenteert sinds een paar jaar een radioprogramma op 3FM.
Aan creativiteit geen gebrek. Rob is een explosief kruitvat. Als je met 'm praat, denkt hij non-stop in grappen, jingles, sketches en formats. Hij deelt deze creativiteit niet alleen op de radio, hij is ook online meer dan zichtbaar. Z'n uitspattingen zijn namelijk ook beeldtechnisch op smaak en de moeite van het kijken waard.
De Marconi-nominatie voor 'Aanstormend Talent' wist Rob vorig jaar net niet te verzilveren. Maar dit jaar pakt hij de nominatie gewoon weer, zichzelf wederom onderscheidend met unieke dingen die tijdens het vorige juryberaad het levenslicht nog niet hadden gezien.
Zo speelt Rob zich in 2017 enorm in de kijker door het liedje waarmee hij de week samenvat. Humor, muzikaliteit en creativiteit komen in 2 minuten bruisend samen. En'... wie komt er nou op het idee om luisteraars met een goed verhaal te eren met een foto op d(C) rotonde van Hilversum, v""r het Mediapark? Of om begin december in pak, met zangkoor, een oudejaarsconference te geven (omdat 'ie rond de jaarwisseling nou eenmaal op vakantie is)? Rob!
Rob Janssen hoort thuis in een rijtje creatieve duizendpoten waarin ook Andr(C) van Duin en Wim T. Schippers zijn opgesteld. Qua carri¨re en dienstjaren nog jeugdig, maar qua potentie een hele grote!
Bas Menting
Creatieve groei laat zich niet plannen. Na zijn nominatie voor Aanstormend Talent in 2016 heeft Bas dit gezien als ultieme aanmoediging om zijn unieke stijl en strakke hitradio verder te verenigingen. Iedere presentatie draagt zijn handtekening. Of het nou een video- of social item is of een hilarische parodie die de show verrijkt: Bas lijkt onuitputtelijk in zijn creatieve insteken.
Bas Menting is een radiomaker nieuwe stijl. Bas is h(C)t bewijs dat een DJ / presentator veel kan met z'n doelgroep. Benaderbaar, positief en origineel: Bas heeft goede voelsprieten om te raken, persoonlijk te zijn en contact te maken, maar ook de muziek de ruimte te geven in zijn shows.
Bas doseert bewust, heeft gevoel voor sfeer en timing. Daarnaast beheerst hij de kunst van het weglaten tot in de vingers. Hij is gedurfd, 'test' het medium en laat steeds meer van zichzelf zien in zijn presentaties. Laat dit juryrapport nogmaals uitnodigen n"g meer te verrassen, sfeer te brengen en radio in z'n unieke live (C)n persoonlijke kracht te zetten!
Joost Swinkels
Vorig jaar trok Joost Swinkels al de aandacht van de Marconi Jury, maar dit jaar kon de jury niet meer om hem heen. Zijn enthousiasme, persoonlijkheid, fijne stem en frisse energie maken dat je hem als luisteraar al snel in het hart sluit. Joost laat je dichtbij komen in zijn uitzendingen. Zonder schroom deelt hij zijn angsten, gevoelens of dromen met luisteraars; hij durft kwetsbaar te zijn.
Joost was afgelopen jaar v(C)(C)l te horen op Qmusic, door in te vallen op belangrijke tijdstippen. Naast zijn eigen programma in het weekend verving hij het avondprogramma van Menno Barreveld en de middagshow, smen met zijn radiowederhelft Hila Noorzai. Daarin kreeg hij vleugels; Joost ontwikkelde zich van strakke hitradio naar een jock die de balans vindt tussen snelheid, actualiteit, humor, connectie met luisteraars en een enorme liefde voor muziek.
Joost is het voorbeeld van een multitalent, dat laat zien toekomstbestendig te zijn in het veranderende medialandschap. Zijn video's voor het Qhotel in de Sneeuw, maar ook ''Joost en Hila zijn niet te stoppen'' waarbij het duo in (C)(C)n weekend 40 feestjes bezocht laten zien dat Joost niet alleen radiotalent heeft, maar dat talent ook verzilvert op video. Tel daar een nominatie voor Hitkrant Hittegolf Hunk bij op; de jury verwacht dat we nog h(C)(C)l veel van Joost gaan horen in de toekomst.
Marconi Award voor Beste Zender - Juryrapporten
NPO Radio 2
NPO Radio 2 is een zender die eigenlijk altijd een van de meest relevante en vernieuwende zenders moet zijn, maar deze positie in de loop der jaren verloor door gebrek aan vernieuwing.
Door flinke muzikale en programmatische aanpassingen en vooral het aantrekken van een sterrenteam, zit de zender nu weer enorm in de lift. Sterker nog: de luistercijfers blijven maar stijgen en het plafond lijkt nog steeds niet in zicht.
De over het algemeen wat rijpere dj's zitten er allemaal duidelijk op hun plek en maken allemaal de beste radioshow van hun leven. Gerard Ekdom zet in de ochtend duidelijk de vrolijke toon voor de rest van de dag. En Ruud de Wild maakt zelfs wat onmogelijk leek mogelijk: hij is hard op weg om weer als vanouds 'de nummer 1 van de middag' te worden. De vibe van de zender is zo goed dat vrijwel iedere dj er lijkt te willen werken of blijven werken. Met de immer succesvolle Top 2000 creert de zender een nationaal evenement dat ieder jaar zijn weerga niet kent. En in de weekenden is er nog steeds het good-old Spijkers met Koppen, een van DE uithangborden van de publieke radio.
Radio 2 staat zo stevig op de kaart dat de zender zelfs bleef groeien middenin een van de grootste omroeppolitieke gevechten uit de geschiedenis. De jury van de Marconi Awards had eigenlijk een rode kaart moeten geven voor deze rel, in plaats van deze mooie nominatie. Maar daarmee zouden de baasjes belangrijker worden gemaakt dan ze zijn: het succes van NPO Radio 2 is duidelijk de verdienste van een gemotiveerd en ge¯nspireerd team van makers, voor en achter de schermen!
Radio 10
In 1988 begon een aantal radiofanaten onder leiding van Jeroen Soer via een ingewikkelde U-bocht-constructie vanuit Itali aan een commercieel radio-avontuur dat tot op de dag van vandaag voortduurt.
Radio 10 begon als een vrij progressieve popzender die de concurrentie met het toenmalige Radio 3 aan wilde gaan, maar het echt grote succes kwam in 1990 toen Radio 10 de 'Gold' formule introduceerde.
Programmaleider Tom Mulder haalde de sound van WCBS uit New York naar Nederland en zorgde voor een mix van bekende oldies (meeeeeer Beatles op Rrrrradio 10 Gold) en goed doordachte radiospellen als Kraak de Kluis en Tel & Bel.
Radio 10 bouwde een vaste schare fans op en zelfs na het kwijtraken van de FM-frequentie in 2003 bleek de achterban trouw genoeg om deze moeilijke periode te doorstaan.
In 2013 krijgt Radio 10 de kans om terug te keren op FM en dat begint met een week lang draaien van steeds hetzelfde nummer op repeat: 'Every 1's a Winner' van Hot Chocolate. En een 'winner' werd Radio 10 zeker. De terugkeer op FM zorgde voor een enorme comeback van het station met de grootste hits aller tijden.
Sinds eind 2016 is Radio 10 onderdeel van Talpa Radio en is er veel ge¯nvesteerd in marketing, waardoor het station door een nog groter publiek is (her)ontdekt en het marktaandeel in een jaar tijd is gegroeid van 5,6% naar 7,3%. (okt-nov'17 t.o.v okt-nov '16)
Als je Radio 10 in 1 woord zou moeten vangen, dan zou dat zijn: gezellig. Want gezellig is het bij Radio 10 altijd met de muziekformule van hits die je allemaal mee kan zingen, de lach van 10 en de moppen van Rob van Someren.
Deze unieke sound, gecombineerd met het succes in marktaandeel, maakt Radio 10 volgens de Marconi Jury 1 van de 3 beste radiozenders van 2017!
SLAM!
SLAM! is het jongste kind van de commercile radioklas. SLAM! zorgt altijd voor de juiste energie, loopt voorop in innovatie en biedt sterke content voor een relatief jonge en commercieel interessante groep luisteraars.
Afgelopen jaar steeg het marktaandeel van SLAM! naar 3,1 procent in de doelgroep 20-49. Dit was het hoogste marktaandeel voor SLAM! in zes jaar tijd. Een puike prestatie. Wekelijks bereiken ze zo'n 900.000 luisteraars, wat een flinke hoeveelheid is als je je bedenkt dat ze als Dance-autoriteit een soort speciaalzaak zijn waar je bewust naartoe gaat en niet naar de grote supermarkt waar je toevallig voorbij komt omdat je moeder er naar luistert.
Waar de meeste mensen op Koningsdag over een rommelmarkt liepen, was het op het grote parkeerterrein van het AFAS-stadion een groot feest met SLAM! Koningsdag. 30.000 mensen gingen uit hun dak tijdens het grootste Oranje outdoor dance evenement van Nederland. Ook tijdens ADE gaf SLAM! een goed feest in de Ziggo Dome. Een sterke merkbeleving.
De jury vindt het goed dat SLAM! nieuw talent een prominente plek in de programmering durft te geven. Zo kreeg de 22-jarige Jordi Warners in oktober het drivetime-slot tussen 16.00 en 19.00 uur en ging de ook 22-jarige Tom van der Weerd al eerder naar de prominente avondplek 19.00 - 22.00 uur. Niet alleen nieuwe muziek ontdek je op SLAM!, maar ook nieuw radiotalent.
We zien SLAM! als een succesvolle underdog op de radiomarkt die zich onderscheidt van de gevestigde orde. Iedereen kan strooien met de hoogste luistercijfers. Bij SLAM! is radio m(C)(C)r dan luistercijfers alleen. Met ruim 470.000 abonnees op YouTube en miljoenen views op zowel mix-sets als content uit radioprogramma's zien we dat het bereik van SLAM! veel verder reikt dan de traditionele meting weet te vangen. Daarom is SLAM! genomineerd voor een Marconi Award voor Beste Zender!
Impact Award 2017: Roosmarijn Reijmer - Het Juryrapport
Ze wilde haar nek uitsteken voor vrouwelijke collega's en dat deed ze ook. Roosmarijn Reijmer, op dat moment nog presentator en programmamaker bij 3FM, gaf juni 2017 een spraakmakend interview aan NRC. Ze pleitte voor meer vrouwen op de radio in de dagprogrammering en er moest ook een vrouw het Glazen Huis in.
Reijmer sprak zich niet alleen uit voor meer vrouwen op de radio, ze liet in de praktijk zien dat dat ook gewoon kán. Zo bleek ze al langer een quotum van een derde vrouwelijke artiesten in haar programma 3voor12 te hanteren. En had ze bij wijze van experiment eerder in het jaar acht uitzendingen gemaakt met alleen maar vrouwenstemmen. Van de prijswinnaars tot de kenners, van de nieuwslezers tot de artiesten en natuurlijk Reijmer zelf. Niemand had het opgemerkt. En zo stelde Reijmer in haar eigen programma én in de krant een veelgehoorde aanname - met name als het over muziekzenders gaat - ter discussie: vrouwenstemmen op de radio zijn irritant.
Het interview had grote impact. Er werd online over gepraat, en diverse (nieuws)media besteedden er aandacht aan. De Volkskrant en NRC checkten het wetenschappelijke gehalte van de aanname dat mensen vrouwelijke stemmen op de radio irritant zouden vinden. De conclusie van beide kranten: er is geen bewijs voor.
Daarnaast gebeurde er een en ander in de praktijk. Angelique Houtveen en Eva Koreman kregen een plek in de doordeweekse dagprogrammering van 3FM en Houtveen betrok het Glazen Huis 2017 - als eerste vrouw sinds 2009. Bij Radio 2 kreeg Annemieke Schollaardt een plek in de doordeweekse dagprogrammering, al moest ze die vervolgens weer afstaan aan Rob Stenders.
Geen verandering gaat zonder hobbels in de weg, zo veel is duidelijk. Maar het begin van verandering is sowieso onmogelijk als niemand de weg wijst. Dat is precies de rol die Reijmer in 2017 heeft opgepakt. Door te experimenteren in haar eigen programma, en door de status quo op sterke wijze ter discussie te stellen. Reijmer zelf heeft inmiddels afscheid genomen - op haar laatste dag bij 3FM draaide de zender alleen maar vrouwelijke artiesten.
Met de Impact Award 2017 spreekt de jury grote waardering uit voor het lef dat Reijmer toonde door op de barricade te stappen voor meer vrouwen on air, als ook waardering voor de manier waarop ze dat heeft gedaan. Ze heeft de discussie over vrouwen op de radio niet alleen opengegooid, maar ook echt verder gebracht.
E pluribus unum - Wikipedia
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:24
The 13-letter motto was suggested in 1776 by Pierre Eugene du Simitiere to the committee responsible for developing the seal. At the time of the American Revolution, the exact phrase appeared prominently on the title page of every issue of a popular periodical, The Gentleman's Magazine,[11][12] which collected articles from many sources into one "magazine". This in turn can be traced back to the London-based HuguenotPeter Anthony Motteux, who used the adage for his The Gentleman's Journal, or the Monthly Miscellany (1692-1694). The phrase is similar to a Latin translation of a variation of Heraclitus's 10th fragment, "The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one." A variant of the phrase was used in Moretum, a poem attributed to Virgil but with the actual author unknown, describing (on the surface at least) the making of moretum, a kind of herb and cheese spread related to modern pesto. In the poem text, color est e pluribus unus describes the blending of colors into one. St Augustine used the non-truncated variant of the phrase, ex pluribus unum, in his Confessions (e is the form of the Latin preposition ex that regularly appears before words beginning with a consonant). But it seems more likely that the phrase refers to Cicero's paraphrase of Pythagoras in his De Officiis, as part of his discussion of basic family and social bonds as the origin of societies and states: "When each person loves the other as much as himself, it makes one out of many (unus fiat ex pluribus), as Pythagoras wishes things to be in friendship."[13]
While Annuit cÅ'ptis ("He favors our undertakings") and Novus ordo seclorum ("New order of the ages") appear on the reverse side of the great seal, E pluribus unum appears on the obverse side of the seal (Designed by Charles Thomson), the image of which is used as the national emblem of the United States, and appears on official documents such as passports. It also appears on the seal of the President and in the seals of the Vice President of the United States, of the United States Congress, of the United States House of Representatives, of the United States Senate and on the seal of the United States Supreme Court.
Half Dollar (reverse), 1807The first coins with E pluribus unum were dated 1786 and struck under the authorization of the State of New Jersey by Thomas Goadsby and Albion Cox in Rahway, New Jersey.[14] The motto had no New Jersey linkage but was likely an available die that had been created by Walter Mould the previous year for a failed federal coinage proposal.[15] Walter Mould was also authorized by New Jersey to strike state coppers with this motto and did so beginning in early 1787 in Morristown, New Jersey. Lt. Col. Seth Read of Uxbridge, Massachusetts was said to have been instrumental in having E pluribus unum placed on U.S. coins.[16] Seth Read and his brother Joseph Read had been authorized by the Massachusetts General Court to mint coppers in 1786. In March 1786, Seth Read petitioned the Massachusetts General Court, both the House and the Senate, for a franchise to mint coins, both copper and silver, and "it was concurred".[17][18]E pluribus unum, written in capital letters, is included on most U.S. currency, with some exceptions to the letter spacing (such as the reverse of the dime). It is also embossed on the edge of the dollar coin. (See United States coinage and paper bills in circulation).
According to the U.S. Treasury, the motto E pluribus unum was first used on U.S. coinage in 1795, when the reverse of the half-eagle ($5 gold) coin presented the main features of the Great Seal of the United States. E pluribus unum is inscribed on the Great Seal's scroll. The motto was added to certain silver coins in 1798, and soon appeared on all of the coins made out of precious metals (gold and silver). In 1834, it was dropped from most of the gold coins to mark the change in the standard fineness of the coins. In 1837, it was dropped from the silver coins, marking the era of the Revised Mint Code. An Act of February 12, 1873 made the inscription a requirement of law upon the coins of the United States. E pluribus unum appears on all coins currently being manufactured, including the Presidential dollars that started being produced in 2007, where it is inscribed on the edge along with "In God We Trust" and the year and mint mark. After the revolution, Rahway, New Jersey became the home of the first national mint to create a coin bearing the inscription E pluribus unum.
In a quality control error in early 2007 the Philadelphia Mint issued some one-dollar coins without E pluribus unum on the rim; these coins have already become collectibles.
The 2009 and new 2010 penny features a new design on the back, which displays the phrase E pluribus unum in larger letters than in previous years.[1]
In God We Trust - Wikipedia
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:24
"In God We Trust" is the official motto of the United States. It was adopted as the nation's motto in 1956 as an alternative or replacement to the unofficial motto of E pluribus unum, which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created and adopted in 1782.[1][2]
"In God We Trust" first appeared on the Two-cent piece in 1864[3] and has appeared on paper currency since 1957. A law passed in a Joint Resolution by the 84th Congress (P.L. 84-140) and approved by President Dwight Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, declared "In God We Trust" must appear on American currency. This phrase was first used on paper money in 1957, when it appeared on the one-dollar silver certificate. The first paper currency bearing the phrase entered circulation on October 1, 1957.[3] The 84th Congress later passed legislation (P.L. 84-851), also signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956, declaring the phrase to be the national motto.
Some groups and people have expressed objections to its use, citing its religious reference that violates the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment[4]. These groups believe the phrase should be removed from currency and public property.
It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. Its Spanish equivalent, En Dios Confiamos, is the motto of the Republic of Nicaragua.[5]
The phrase appears to have originated in "The Star-Spangled Banner", written by Francis Scott Key during the War of 1812. The fourth stanza includes the phrase, "And this be our motto: 'In God is our Trust.'" This version of the motto made an early appearance on the twenty dollar interest bearing notes issued in 1864 along with the motto "God and our Right".
Francis Scott Key's "Defence of Fort M'Henry" poem, which soon became "The Star-Spangled Banner", includes the phrase "And this be our motto: In God is our Trust" in its fourth stanzaThe Reverend M. R. Watkinson, in a letter dated November 13, 1861, petitioned the Treasury Department to add a statement recognizing "Almighty God in some form in our coins" in order to "relieve us from the ignominy of heathenism".[7] At least part of the motivation was to declare that God was on the Union side of the Civil War.[8] Treasury Secretary Salmon P. Chase acted on this proposal and directed the then-Philadelphia Director of the Mint, James Pollock, to begin drawing up possible designs that would include the religious phrase. Chase chose his favorite designs and presented a proposal to Congress for the new designs in late 1863.[9]
As Chase was preparing his recommendation to Congress, it was found that the Act of Congress dated January 18, 1837 prescribed the mottoes and devices that should be placed upon the coins of the United States. This meant that the mint could make no changes without the enactment of additional legislation by the Congress. Such legislation was introduced and passed on April 22, 1864, allowing the Secretary of the Treasury to authorize the inclusion of the phrase on one-cent and two-cent coins.[8]
An Act of Congress passed on March 3, 1865, allowed the Mint Director, with the Secretary's approval, to place the motto on all gold and silver coins that "shall admit the inscription thereon".[8][10] In 1873, Congress passed the Coinage Act, granting that the Secretary of the Treasury "may cause the motto IN GOD WE TRUST to be inscribed on such coins as shall admit of such motto".
The use of "In God We Trust" has been interrupted. The motto disappeared from the five-cent coin in 1883, and did not reappear until production of the Jefferson nickel began in 1938.[8] However, at least two other coins minted in every year in the interim still bore the motto,[citation needed ] including the Morgan dollar and the Seated Liberty half dollar. In 1908, Congress made it mandatory that the phrase be printed on all coins upon which it had previously appeared. This decision was motivated after a public outcry following the release of a $20 coin which did not bear the motto.[11] The motto has been in continuous use on the one-cent coin since 1909, and on the ten-cent coin since 1916. It also has appeared on all gold coins and silver dollar coins, half-dollar coins, and quarter-dollar coins struck since July 1, 1908.[8] Since 1938, all US coins have borne the motto.
A quarter dollar with the United States' official motto "In God We Trust" on the obverse sideDuring the Cold War era, the government of the United States sought to distinguish itself from the Soviet Union, which promoted state atheism and thus implemented antireligious legislation.[12] The 84th Congress passed a joint resolution "declaring IN GOD WE TRUST the national motto of the United States". The law was signed by President Eisenhower on July 30, 1956.[13] The United States Code at 36 U.S.C. § 302, now states: "'In God we trust' is the national motto."
The same day, the President signed into law[14] a requirement that "In God We Trust" be printed on all U.S. currency and coins. On paper currency, it first appeared on the silver certificate in 1957, followed by other certificates. Federal Reserve Notes and United States Notes were circulated with the motto starting from 1964 to 1966, depending on the denomination.[8][15] (Of these, only Federal Reserve Notes are still circulated.)
Representative Charles Edward Bennett of Florida cited the Cold War when he introduced the bill in the House, saying "In these days when imperialistic and materialistic communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, we should continually look for ways to strengthen the foundations of our freedom". [16]
In 2006, on the 50th anniversary of its adoption, the Senate reaffirmed "In God We Trust" as the official national motto of the United States of America.[17] In 2011 the House of Representatives passed an additional resolution reaffirming "In God We Trust" as the official motto of the United States, in a 396''9 vote.[18][19] According to a 2003 joint poll by USA Today, CNN, and Gallup, 90% of Americans support the inscription "In God We Trust" on U.S. coins.[20]
The phrase has been incorporated in many hymns and religio-patriotic songs. During the American Civil War, the 125th Pennsylvania Infantry for the UnionArmy assumed the motto "In God we trust" in early August 1862.[21][22][23]
In Judaism and Christianity, the official motto "In God We Trust" resounds with several verses from the Bible, including Psalm 118:8, Psalm 40:3, Psalm 73:28, and Proverbs 29:25.[24] In Islam the word for the concept of reliance on God is called Tawakkul; the phrase "In God We Trust" is found in two places of the Koran, in Surah 10 Yunus, as well as Surah 7 Al-A'raf, although several other verses reinforce this concept.[25][not in citation given ] Melkote Ramaswamy, a Hindu American scholar, writes that the presence of the phrase "In God We Trust" on American currency is a reminder that "there is God everywhere, whether we are conscious or not."[26]
After the September 11 attacks in 2001, many public schools across the United States posted "In God We Trust" framed posters in their "libraries, cafeterias and classrooms". The American Family Association supplied several 11-by-14-inch posters to school systems and vowed to defend any legal challenges to the displaying of the posters.[27]
Pop culture Edit An e-mail conspiracy theory is that "In God We Trust" was intentionally omitted from new U.S. dollar coins in 2007.[28] The first coins produced under the Presidential $1 Coin Program did indeed lack the "In God We Trust" inscription along their edges (along with the "E Pluribus Unum" inscription, the year of production, and the mint mark; these coins, unlike normal dollar coins, had completely blank edges), but these coins, known as "godless dollars", were the result of a minting error, not a deliberate omission.[29][30]Marty Feldman's satirical comedy In God We Tru$t (1980).The film They Live plays on the idea. Special sunglasses allow the wearers to see simple hidden messages instead of the signs they see without them. Advertising is seen as "OBEY", "CONSUME" and "MARRY AND REPRODUCE". Dollar bills are all marked "THIS IS YOUR GOD".[31]License plates Edit As of April 1, 2016 the following U.S. states currently offer an "In God We Trust" license plate as a speciality plate for an additional normal vehicle registration processing which vary from state to state: Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
Florida (Which also offers a speciality plate) and Georgia which both display the county of issuance on their License Plate offer the option of "In God We Trust" in place of the County Name.
Advocates of separation of church and state have questioned the legality of this motto, asserting that it is a violation of the United States Constitution, prohibiting the government from passing any law respecting the establishment of religion.[32] Religious accommodationists state that this entrenched practice has not historically presented any constitutional difficulty, is not coercive, and does not prefer one religious denomination over another.[32]
"In God We Trust" as a national motto and on U.S. currency has been the subject of numerous unsuccessful lawsuits.[33] The motto was first challenged in Aronow v. United States in 1970, but the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled: "It is quite obvious that the national motto and the slogan on coinage and currency 'In God We Trust' has nothing whatsoever to do with the establishment of religion. Its use is of patriotic or ceremonial character and bears no true resemblance to a governmental sponsorship of a religious exercise."[34] In Lynch v. Donnelly (1984), the Supreme Court wrote that acts of "ceremonial deism" are "protected from Establishment Clause scrutiny chiefly because they have lost through rote repetition any significant religious content".[35] In Zorach v. Clauson (1952), the Supreme Court also wrote that the nation's "institutions presuppose a Supreme Being" and that government recognition of God does not constitute the establishment of a state church as the Constitution's authors intended to prohibit.[36]
Aside from constitutional objections, President Theodore Roosevelt took issue with using the motto on coinage as he considered using God's name on money to be sacrilege.[37]
Assange blasts US 'subservience to Saudis' as Trump triples drone strikes in Yemen '-- RT World News
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:14
US drone strikes in Yemen have tripled under the Trump administration, as the US targets Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula while at the same time providing support to ally Saudi Arabia in its attacks there, a new study shows.
''The Trump administration's subservience to Saudi Arabia's military adventurism in Yemen has lead to 8x the drone assassination rate of Obama,'' WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange wrote on Twitter. ''Most killed are civilians. Obama, in turn, had 10x the drone kills of Bush.''
Drone programThe targeted drone program was created during the George W Bush administration and multiplied under President Barack Obama, with Trump then taking the reins and further increasing its operations in the first year of his presidency.
Obama carried out 563 strikes, largely by drone, during his two-term presidency, 10 times more than his predecessor, according to research conducted by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism.
Strikes have increased under Trump, with the number of strikes conducted in Yemen tripling in 2017. The Bureau's research shows there were 127 confirmed US strikes in Yemen in last year, a sizeable increase on 2016's 32 strikes.
US forces have carried out 10 strikes in Yemen in since the start of 2018, a US Central Command spokesperson told the Bureau on January 29.
Loosening restrictions on drone attacksThe uptick in Yemen strikes was helped in part by the Trump administration's March decision to declare parts of Somalia and Yemen areas of ''active hostilities,'' creating a way around a 2013 restriction put in place by the Obama administration which required a sign-off procedure with the White House for strikes in areas of countries not deemed to be active war zones.
According to Obama's Presidential Policy Guidance, for a strike to be carried out outside a war zone, the target must pose a threat to Americans, and there must be near certainty that no civilians would be killed.
Within a month of Trump's relaxation of that criteria, the US had carried out more strikes in Yemen than it had in 2016. In April, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said it had carried out some 50 strikes in Yemen from February 28 to the end of March.
According to Reprieve, the first year of Trump's drone legacy, which includes strikes in Iraq, Syria and Pakistan, has resulted in more loss of life by drone than in Obama's eight-year presidency.
The Bureau says that between 181-235 people were reported killed by US strikes in Yemen in the last year. During the Obama administration, between 801-1100 were killed in Yemen.
One of Trump's earliest operations in Yemen was a January 2017 raid and drone attack which killed 23 civilians, including children, and a special operations soldier in an attack Trump described as a ''win.''
The US first denied reports of civilian casualties in the Yakla attack, which was said to be targeting Al-Qaeda. However, last February, US Central Command admitted''civilian non-combatants were likely killed,'' and that ''casualties may include children.''
Saudi AlliesAside from the US strikes on Yemen as part of its fight against Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, it is also assisting ally Saudi Arabia in its war on the Houthi rebels. The Kingdom uses US aircraft and weapons to conduct its attacks with logistical assistance provided by both the US and the UK.
The United Nations' Human Rights High Commissioner Office reports there have been nearly 14,000 confirmed civilian casualties in Yemen since the Saudi-led coalition began its campaign in March 2015, with coalition strikes the leading cause of casualties. It said that the true figures are likely ''far higher.''
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The media's guilty silence on Hawaii nuclear war alert - World Socialist Web Site
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:14
By Bill Van Auken29 January 2018
Little more than two weeks after Hawaii's 1.5 million people received a false alert of impending nuclear disaster, the media has quietly shelved the story.
The January 13 false alarm sent out messages to hundreds of thousands of cell phones and beamed warnings over television and radio broadcasts that a ballistic missile attack was imminent. The alert'--which continued for a full 38 minutes before being rescinded'--represented one of the most terrifying episodes of the nuclear age.
An entire state's population was essentially told that they had barely ten minutes to live. Parents were sent scurrying to find their children and attempt somehow to shield them from a nuclear blast. Families and loved ones called to deliver last goodbyes.
Yet the story has quickly faded from the pages of major newspapers and disappeared from the news broadcasts of the networks and major cable outlets. There is quite clearly no appetite to dig into the extraordinarily murky facts and feeble explanations surrounding the incident.
The only hearing to be held thus far on the false nuclear war alert was carried out January 25 by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. Representatives of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the CTIA (the wireless communications industry's trade association) and the National Association of Broadcasters who testified before the panel were unable, or unwilling, to provide any substantive answers about the Hawaii alert, while the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) boycotted the session.
The witness for the FCC, Lisa Fowlkes, chief of the agency's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau, told the panel ''it appears that the false alert was issued as a result of human error and the state having insufficient safeguards and process controls in place to prevent that human error from resulting in the transmission of a false alert.''
She went on to inform the committee that, while the FCC was conducting an investigation, ''one key employee'''--the person who transmitted the false alert'--is refusing to cooperate with our investigation.'' The identity of that ''key employee'' remains unknown, concealed by the authorities.
A number of senators expressed frustration at the failure of the government to offer the slightest clarification. ''How is it that a single government employee could trigger an alert without any kind of meaningful mechanism to override?'' asked Senator Shelly Moore Capito, a Republican from the state of Washington.
''That's actually one of the issues that we're exploring as part of our investigation,'' answered the FCC's Fowlkes.
Among other reports, carried only in the local Hawaiian press, a state lawmaker who asked for release of surveillance footage from inside the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency headquarters was told that no such footage exists and no security cameras were in place in one of the most critical security sites in the state. ''If there are no tapes, why would there be no tapes, and what can we do to make sure we have transparency?'' demanded State Representative Gene Ward.
Finally, the Hawaiian media noted that Governor David Ige in his state of the state address last Monday mouthed platitudes about ''the most beautiful place on earth'' but failed to mention the single most momentous event of his one term in office'--the broadcasting of a message to all of his constituents telling them they faced imminent death.
The only clarification of the incident offered by Ige thus far is his claim that the agonizingly protracted gap between the issuing of the alert and the announcement that it was a false alarm was due to his own inability to remember the password to his Twitter account!
With the silence of the media, the refusal of government officials to provide substantive information and the preposterous character of the explanations given thus far, questions as to the real source and motives underlying the false nuclear war alarm become all the more pressing.
Who was responsible for the ''human error''? The lone employee who allegedly clicked on the wrong link'--twice'--ordering a missile alert rather than a test of a missile alert has never been named. Now the public is told that he is refusing to cooperate with federal investigators. Does such an individual even exist, or was the ''error'' invented in order to cover up for a more deliberate and planned action?
What were the Pentagon and the CIA up to during the 38 minutes of sheer terror inflicted on the people of Hawaii? Were they monitoring the population's reaction, gathering intelligence on how the public would behave in the event of a real nuclear exchange?
There is no question that after the alert was issued, the US military and intelligence agencies were carefully observing the response of governments and militaries in the countries that Washington has branded as ''revisionist powers'''--Russia and China'--and ''rogue states'''--North Korea and Iran. Any one of them, and North Korea in particular, would have had to interpret the phony missile alert in Hawaii as a potential provocation aimed at preparing a US nuclear first strike against them.
American spy satellites, the electronic snoops at the National Security Agency and other US military and intelligence assets were given a golden opportunity to watch what ''lit up'' in terms of command-and-control and radar and missile sites, amassing information that would prove valuable in preparing a real first strike.
Given the advanced state of preparations for a potential nuclear first strike against North Korea, with B-2 and B-52 nuclear-capable bombers deployed on Guam, three aircraft battle groups either in theater or en route to the waters off the Korean peninsula and US ground forces carrying out multiple exercises simulating an invasion, the single most salient question about the Hawaii missile alert is whether it was a deliberate act, an operation planned and ordered at the highest levels of the state as part of the preparations for war.
The guilty silence of the major media is in all likelihood based on the suppression of information that the government and its military and intelligence apparatus wants kept from the public. As the former executive editor of the New York Times put it in 2010 ''transparency is not an absolute good,'' and ''freedom of the press includes freedom not to publish, and that is a freedom we exercise with some regularity.''
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Employee Who Sent False Hawaii Ballistic Missile Alert Has Been Fired | Zero Hedge
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:13
Update: Following the publication of an FCC report on the Hawaii ballistic missile false alarm, the as-yet-unnamed employee has finally been fired.
In the days after the epic mistake, the employee was transferred to another department where he wouldn't be near the emergency alert function. The employee's manager had been fired earlier when the employee was moved.
Reuters reported that the FCC blamed the incident on a series of errors, including confusing wording of the original message the employee received, as well as a miscommunication and a lack of supervision of the test drill by the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
* * *
In an interesting twist to the story of the erroneous ballistic missile alert that sent Hawaiians into state of frenzied panic earlier this month after it materialized on their smartphone screens, the Associated Press reported that the Federal Communications Commission said the employee who sent the alert believed at the time that a missile attack was underway.
That differs markedly from the previous official story, which said the employee mistakenly sent the alert during a shift-change drill that takes place three times a day at the emergency command post of Hawaii's Emergency Management Agency.
According to the Associated Press, the employee mistook the drill for a real warning about a missile, and responded by sending the alert without a sign-off from the shift supervisor.
The alert was retracted 38 minutes after it was sent, eliciting swift criticism from the state's leaders, who said the long delay was completely unacceptable.
"What happened today was totally unacceptable," said Gov. David Y. Ige shortly after the incident. "Many in our community were deeply affected by this. I am sorry for that pain and confusion that anyone might have experienced."
The name of the worker hasn't been released. He still works at EMA but has been reassigned to a job without access to the warning system.
The emergency management agency provided the FCC with information from a written statement from the officer after he refused to talk to the federal agency.
"There were no procedures in place to prevent a single person from mistakenly sending a missile alert" in Hawaii, said James Wiley, a cybersecurity and communications reliability staffer at the FCC. There was no requirement to double-check with a colleague or get a supervisor's approval, he said, according to the News Tribute
As the NT explains, citing the FCC statement, the employee heard a recorded message that began by saying "exercise, exercise, exercise" - the script for a drill. Then the recording used language that is typically used for a real threat, not a drill: "this is not a drill." The recording ended by saying "exercise, exercise, exercise."
The worker did not hear the "exercise, exercise, exercise" part of the message and believed the threat was real, according to the employee's statement. He responded by sending an alert.
Additionally, software at Hawaii's emergency agency used the same prompts for both test and actual alerts, and it generally used prepared text that made it easy for a staffer to click through the alerting process without focusing enough on the text of the warning that would be sent.
A nuclear standoff between the US and North Korea has ratcheted up tensions on the West Coast, which is closer to North Korea and therefore more vulnerable to an attack.
The North has previously threatened to launch a missile at the Us territory of Guam, which is about 4,000 miles west of Hawaii.
And as we explained earlier this month, Hawaii is in a relatively weak position to respond to a strike. Its isolation offers little chance for swift evacuation and would likely complicate government efforts to provide medicine and food relief. Its prevailing high winds could have an unpredictable effect on the dispersal of radiation.
Prime Minister announces that the Government of Canada will officially recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent | Prime Minister of Canada
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:12
The Government of Canada is committed to build a better, more inclusive country that recognizes the contributions of all, and creates better opportunities for more Canadians.
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced the Government of Canada will officially recognize the International Decade for People of African Descent. This Decade, which spans from 2015 to 2024, is an opportunity to highlight and celebrate the important contributions people of African descent have made to Canadian society. It also provides a framework for recognition, justice, and development to fight racism, discrimination, and the ongoing inequalities that Canadians of African descent face.
The Government of Canada has heard from concerned citizens and organizations from across Canada, including the Federation of Black Canadians, that we need to do more to work with and support Canadians of African descent.
In recognizing the International Decade, the Government of Canada commits to a better future for Black Canadians. This means learning more about the issues that affect Black Canadians, including improving research and data collection, so we can better understand the particular challenges they face. Mental health challenges and overrepresentation in the corrections system have been raised in particular by community leaders as barriers to Black Canadians experiencing full and equal participation across society.
Over the past two years, the Government of Canada has taken concrete measures to fight inequality and improve the lives of all Canadians, including those of African descent. We have helped parents with the high cost of raising kids through the Canada Child Benefit, and expanded the Canada Pension Plan so more people can retire with security and dignity. We have also made significant investments in student grant programs, mental health initiatives, and affordable child care, and introduced a National Housing Strategy that will solve housing security for many vulnerable Canadians.
The Government of Canada will continue to build on these efforts, and create a country where more Canadians have a real and fair chance at success.
Quote''Today is an important day for Canada. Our commitment to the International Decade will help us better address the very real and unique challenges that Black Canadians face, and bring us closer to a more just and inclusive country.''
'--The Rt. Hon. Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister of Canada
Quick factsThe International Decade for People of African Descent, proclaimed by the UN General Assembly resolution 68/237, began in 2015 and will be observed until 2024.The theme for the International Decade is ''People of African descent: recognition, justice and development.''The objectives of the International Decade include promoting respect, protection of the human rights and fundamental freedoms of people of African descent, as well as encouraging a greater knowledge of and respect for the diverse heritage, culture, and contributions of these communities to society around the world.The Government of Canada also honours Canadians of African descent and their role in Canadian history and society through its annual Black History Month campaign.Associated link
Bill Nye Does Not Speak for Us and He Does Not Speak for Science - Scientific American Blog Network
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:10
Tonight, Bill Nye ''The Science Guy'' will accompany Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine (R-OK), Trump's nominee for NASA Administrator, to the State of the Union address. Nye has said that he's accompanying the Congressman to help promote space exploration, since, he asserts, ''NASA is the best brand the United States has'' and that his attendance ''should not be '... seen as an acceptance of the recent attacks on science and the scientific community.''
But by attending the SOTU as Rep. Bridenstine's guest, Nye has tacitly endorsed those very policies, and put his own personal brand over the interests of the scientific community at large. Rep. Bridenstine is a controversial nominee who refuses to state that climate change is driven by human activity, and even introduced legislation to remove Earth sciences from NASA's scientific mission. Further, he's worked to undermine civil rights, including pushing for crackdowns on immigrants, a ban on gay marriage, and abolishing the Department of Education.
As scientists, we cannot stand by while Nye lends our community's credibility to a man who would undermine the United States' most prominent science agency. And we cannot stand by while Nye uses his public persona as a science entertainer to support an administration that is expressly xenophobic, homophobic, misogynistic, racist, ableist, and anti-science.
Scientists are people, and in today's society, it is impossible to separate science at major agencies like NASA from other pressing issues like racism, bigotry, and misogyny. Addressing these issues should be a priority, not only to strengthen our own scientific community, but to better serve the public that often funds our work. Rather than wield his public persona to bring attention to the need for science-informed policy, Bill Nye has chosen to excuse Rep. Bridenstine's anti-science record and his stance on civil rights, and to implicitly support a stance that would diminish the agency's work studying our own planet and its changing climate. Exploring other worlds and studying other planets, while dismissing the overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change and its damage to our own planet isn't just dangerous, it's foolish and self-defeating.
Further, from his position of privilege and public popularity, Bill Nye is acting on the scientific community's behalf, but without our approval. No amount of funding for space exploration can undo the damage the Trump administration is causing to public health and welfare by censoring science. No number of shiny new satellites can undo the racist policies that make our Dreamer colleagues live in fear and prevent immigrants from pursuing scientific careers in the United States. And no new mission to the Moon can make our LGBTQ colleagues feel welcome at an agency run by someone who votes against their civil rights.
As women and scientists, we refuse to separate science from everyday life. We refuse to keep our heads down and our mouths shut. As someone with a show alleging to save the world, Bill Nye has a responsibility to acknowledge the importance of NASA's vast mission, not just one aspect of it. He should use his celebrity to elevate the importance of science in NASA's mission'--not waste the opportunity to lobby for space exploration at a cost to everything else.
The true shame is that Bill Nye remains the popular face of science because he keeps himself in the public eye. To be sure, increasing the visibility of scientists in the popular media is important to strengthening public support for science, but Nye's TV persona has perpetuated the harmful stereotype that scientists are nerdy, combative white men in lab coats'--a stereotype that does not comport with our lived experience as women in STEM. And he continues to wield his power recklessly, even after his recent endeavors in debate and politics have backfired spectacularly.
In 2014, he attempted to debate creationist Ken Ham'--against the judgment of evolution experts'--which only served to allow Ham to raise the funds needed to build an evangelical theme park that spreads misinformation about human evolution. Similarly, Nye repeatedly agreed to televised debates with non-scientist climate deniers, contributing to the false perception that researchers still disagree about basic climate science. And when Bill Nye went on Tucker Carlson's Fox News show to "debate" climate change in 2017, his appearance was used to spread misinformation to Fox viewers and fundraise for anti-climate initiatives.
Bill Nye does not speak for us or for the members of the scientific community who have to protect not only the integrity of their research, but also their basic right to do science. We stand withothers who have asked Bill Nye to not attend the State of the Union. Nye's complicity does not align him with the researchers who have a bold and progressive vision for the future of science and its role in society.
At a time when our ability to do science and our ability to live freely are both under threat, our public champions and our institutions must do better.
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
500 Women Scientists
500 Women Scientists is a grassroots organization started by four women who met in graduate school at CU Boulder and who maintained friendships and collaborations after jobs and life took them away from Boulder. Immediately following the November 2016 election, we published an open letter re-affirming our commitment to speak up for science and for women, minorities, immigrants, people with disabilities, and LGBTQIA. The mission of 500 Women Scientists is to serve society by making science open, inclusive, and accessible.
FAKE NEWS: Public Broadcaster Admits To Increasing Booing Sounds During Trump Davos Speech
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:10
President Trump gave his speech at Davos on Thursday, again delivering sharp criticism to the mainstream media. He stated: ''it wasn't until I became a politician that I realized how nasty, how mean, how vicious, and how fake the press can be.''
ARD released a clip of the speech on the Twitter account for its popular news programme ''Tagesschau'' in which distinct boos could be heard directly after the President's comments. A short time later the programme admitted it had booted the volume of the audio in order to showcase the booing. The show has since been accused of ''manipulation'', Sternreports.
Those behind the programme wrote on Twitter, ''We did actually make the sound a little louder at the end so that you can hear the booing. Only in this way can we reflect what our correspondents have reported.''
Editor-in-chief of the German tabloid newspaper Bild Julian Reichelt called out those involved saying it was, ''hard to imagine that you would have done the same for applause.''
Kai Gniffke, the editor in chief of ARD defended the move saying that it proved the reporting of his journalists.
''By the way, newspapers also make comparisons when they enlarge image sections and may even mark them with a red circle '' nobody would come up with the idea of calling this manipulation, but rather journalistic precision,'' he said.
The move is not the first time the German media has shown a bias against the U.S. President.
German left-leaning magazine Der Spiegel has been slammed by many for its various magazine covers including one that depicted President Trump cutting off the head of the Statue of Liberty designed to be reminiscent of Islamic State executions.
Some in the German press have also engaged in radical rhetoric regarding Trump and his presidency with Josef Joffe, editor and publisher of left-wing paper Die Zeit, saying last year on a political panel television programme that the only way to end the ''Trump catastrophe'' was a ''murder in the White House.''
In a more bizarre comment, editor in chief of the centre-right paper Die Welt Ulf Poschardt said that the best way for Germans to oppose Trump was to be more multicultural and more ''gay.''
Germany's establishment media collectively lost their minds when Breitbart London reported on a cathedral being set on fire in January last year, in addition to the use of an illustrative jetski photo which happened to include a barely recognisable, famous semi-retired footballer.
Follow Chris Tomlinson on Twitter at @TomlinsonCJ or email at ctomlinson(at)breitbart.com Loading ...
Viewers approve of Trump's first State of the Union address - CBS News poll - CBS News
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:47
11:29 PM EST Politics
CBS News
By Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, Kabir Khanna and Anthony Salvanto
Views of the speechThree in four Americans who tuned in to President Trump's State of the Union address tonight approved of the speech he gave. Just a quarter disapproved.
How did the speech make you feel? Eight in 10 Americans who watched tonight felt that the president was trying to unite the country, rather than divide it. Two-thirds said the speech made them feel proud, though just a third said it made them feel safer. Fewer said the speech made them feel angry or scared.
Party Identification But as is often the case in State of the Union addresses, the people who watched tonight's speech leaned more towards the president's own party, at least compared to Americans overall. In the latest CBS national poll released earlier this month, 24 percent of Americans identified themselves as Republicans. Among those who watched tonight's address, that percentage was 42 percent, bolstering the overall approval of the address.
And while Republicans approved of the speech, most Democrats who tuned in did not. Nine in 10 Republicans said the speech made them feel proud, while just over half of Democrats said it made them feel angry. Independents who watched the speech '' nearly half of whom counted themselves the President's supporters '' tended to approve of the speech, and said it made them feel proud.
After hearing his State of the Union address, most viewers think the policies they heard tonight would help them personally, though Democrats disagree.
Policies you heard in the speech On some of the specific issues the President touched upon, most viewers had a favorable opinion of what Mr. Trump had to say about the nation's infrastructure, immigration, and national security.
Credit for the economyAnd after hearing him speak tonight, 54 percent of speech watchers give him a lot of credit for the current state of the nation's economy, up from 51 percent before they watched the State of the Union.
This CBS News 2018 survey is based on 1,178 interviews conducted on the internet of U.S. residents who watched the State of the Union Address. Panelists were previously interviewed on January 29-30, 2018 to indicate whether they planned to watch the address, and if they were willing to be re-interviewed after the address. Questions asked during this initial interview have the note "Asked before the SOTU address.'' The margin of error is +/- 3.1%.
Poll toplines
Click here to view related media.
(C) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
(C) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.
Trump's Stance on Russia Sanctions Angers Both Moscow and Washington - The New York Times
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:19
President Trump and President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in Hamburg, Germany, last year. Many of Mr. Putin's closest advisers appear on a Trump administration list of people identified because their ''closeness to the Russian regime.'' Credit Stephen Crowley/The New York Times MOSCOW '-- The Trump administration managed the unusual feat this week of outraging both Russia's leaders in Moscow and Russia's biggest critics in Washington with its handling of a new law intended to punish the Kremlin for interference in the 2016 American elections.
The State Department angered members of Congress by announcing on Monday that it did not plan to impose new sanctions called for in a measure that President Trump reluctantly signed into law last year. And the Treasury Department angered Moscow late Monday night '-- Tuesday morning in Russia '-- with a new name-and-shame list identifying 210 senior Russian political and business figures.
The twin announcements left a muddled impression of how Mr. Trump plans to approach the Kremlin in his second year in office even as investigators search for evidence of collaboration between his campaign and Russian agents. His domestic opponents complained that once again Mr. Trump seemed to be in thrall to Russia, while the Kremlin complained that he was a captive of what it described as the American deep state.
''This is definitely an unfriendly act,'' President Vladimir V. Putin said when asked about the Treasury Department list during a campaign event in advance of Russia's own presidential election in March. ''It is complicating Russian-American relations, where the situation is already hard, and is definitely harming international relations in general.''
Mr. Putin said Moscow had pondered virtually breaking ties with Washington over what is known in Russia as the ''Kremlin report,'' but decided against it. ''We were prepared to undertake retaliatory steps, and quite serious ones too, which would cut our relations to zero,'' he said. ''But we will refrain from such steps for the time being.''
On Capitol Hill, lawmakers criticized Mr. Trump for not imposing additional sanctions on Russia as envisioned in the legislation passed over his objections by veto-proof bipartisan majorities in both houses last August.
''It is a grave breach of President Trump's responsibilities to reward President Putin by inaction for his intervention in an American election '-- it represents nothing less than appeasement for an attack on our country's democracy,'' said Representative Adam Smith of Washington State, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee. ''It is time for us time to stand up for our country. We cannot let these actions to continue to go unpunished.''
The new law made Monday an important date for action. The law required Mr. Trump to begin imposing sanctions on large purchasers of Russian military equipment. But the State Department said it did not need to do so at this point because it had been using the threat of the law in recent months to press customers to cancel potential deals that would have been worth billions of dollars to Russia.
The law also directed Mr. Trump to produce a list of ''senior political figures and oligarchs'' in Russia. No actions were required against those on the list, but it was meant to signal those close to Mr. Putin that they had much to lose if Moscow does not pull back from its intervention in Ukraine and its interference in Western elections, and the prospect of being included alarmed many in Russia.
Grilled by Democrats during a congressional hearing, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin rejected suggestions that the administration was delaying action on Russia and said that additional action would be taken. ''There will be sanctions out of this report,'' he said.
But when Senator John Kennedy, Republican of Louisiana, pressed him on whether he agreed that Mr. Putin ''has acted like a thug,'' Mr. Mnuchin demurred.
''Um, I'm not going to use that terminology,'' Mr. Mnuchin said, ''but there are clearly issues that we need to address and that we have done with sanctions.''
''Let's go through the list,'' Mr. Kennedy replied. ''Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, he meddled in our election, he's helping North Korea cheat. I mean it seems to me in terms of sanctions, we only hit him so hard he's coughing up bones. I mean he's not getting better. He's getting worse.''
The announcements came just days after two senior Russian intelligence officials traveled to Washington to meet with Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director. Sergey Y. Naryshkin, director of the foreign intelligence service, was in Washington last week for consultations on terrorism, according to Russian state media, even though he was sanctioned by the American government under President Barack Obama.
According to an American official, he was accompanied by Alexander V. Bortnikov, director of the domestic intelligence service, who has not been sanctioned. The C.I.A. would not confirm the meeting but said any interactions would have been in accordance with American law.
In an interview with the BBC that was broadcast on Monday, Mr. Pompeo said he anticipated that Russia would try to interfere in this year's midterm congressional elections. ''Of course,'' he said. ''I have every expectation that they will continue to try and do that, but I'm confident that America will be able to have a free and fair election, that we will push back in a way that is sufficiently robust that the impact they have on our election won't be great.''
The Treasury list, released just before midnight in Washington, included almost the entire roster of senior Russian government officials as well as 96 billionaires. The document said that inclusion on the list did not mean involvement in ''malign activities.''
Dmitri S. Peskov, Mr. Putin's spokesman, called it an ''enemies list'' that could unfairly tar those on it. ''The fact that this list was made public can potentially do damage to the image and reputation of our enterprises, businessmen, politicians and officials,'' he told reporters, calling the roster ''unprecedented.''
''De facto everyone is called the enemy of the United States,'' Mr. Peskov said. ''If you read the text and the title of this document, all this is done in accordance with the law on countering the enemies of the United States.''
Government figures on the list include more than 40 of Mr. Putin's closest advisers; all 30 members of the cabinet of ministers, including Prime Minister Dmitri A. Medvedev; and the heads of many important state agencies and state-run companies. At least 22 listed people had already been sanctioned by the Obama administration.
The list was met with a combination of disbelief and derision in Russia, as mocking comments ricocheted around social media. Some joked that it had taken the Trump administration six months to photocopy the Forbes list of Russian billionaires, since they were all included, as well as the link detailing senior officials on the Kremlin website. Treasury officials confirmed that they did rely on Forbes, among other publicly available sources.
''The list looks like the book 'Who's Who in Russian Politics,''' Arkady V. Dvorkovich, a deputy prime minister included on the list, was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency. Like many, he shrugged it off as merely a list of names. ''There is no need for action now.''
The 96 oligarchs are each worth more than $1 billion, including well-known people like Mikhail Prokhorov, the owner of the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, and Eugene Kaspersky, whose antivirus technology firm has been under fire in the West over allegations that it cooperates with Russian intelligence. One man on the list, Kirill Shamalov, who married one of Mr. Putin's daughters, might no longer be in the billionaire's club since they have recently split, Bloomberg reported.
Kaspersky Labs issued a statement objecting to its founder's inclusion, saying the company did not have political influence, and Mr. Kaspersky commented on his own Twitter account, emphasizing that the company helps protect customers ''regardless of their origin.''
The businessman Gavril Yushvaev, who said he had invested $500 million in Western start-ups, told the online news website The Bell that his overseas partners had been calling to say that they would ignore the list. ''Everybody needs people who can invest, regardless of these lists,'' he said. ''I am not upset. Whatever happens, happens.''
The announcement said there were more names on a classified annex provided by the Treasury Department, including lesser officials or businessmen worth less than $1 billion.
Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic minority leader, said on Tuesday that Mr. Trump was effectively circumventing the law and ''afraid to sanction Putin'' and his associates.
''If President Trump wishes to save his presidency from the shame of having failed to address one of the gravest threats facing our country, he would announce this evening in no uncertain terms that he was sanctioning President Putin,'' Mr. Schumer said, referring to the president's State of the Union speech on Tuesday evening. ''Any other president would have already made it their priority to take decisive action in their first year.''
Neil MacFarquhar reported from Moscow, and Peter Baker from Washington. Ivan Nechepurenko and Sophia Kishkovsky contributed reporting from Moscow, and Alan Rappeport from Washington.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: Trump's Actions on Russia Draw Anger From Both Moscow and Washington . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box.
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Trump Lawyer Arranged $130,000 Payment for Adult-Film Star's Silence - WSJ
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:49
A lawyer for President Donald Trump arranged a $130,000 payment to a former adult-film star a month before the 2016 election as part of an agreement that precluded her from publicly discussing an alleged sexual encounter with Mr. Trump, according to people familiar with the matter.
Michael Cohen, who spent nearly a decade as a top attorney at the Trump Organization, arranged payment to the woman, Stephanie Clifford, in October 2016 after her lawyer negotiated the nondisclosure agreement with Mr. Cohen, these people said.
...
Porn star Stormy Daniels denies affair with Donald Trump | Fox News
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:47
FILE - In this Feb. 11, 2007, file photo, Stormy Daniels arrives for the 49th Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles. Daniels who had previously alleged an extramarital affair with Donald Trump now says in a statement the affair never happened. A lawyer for porn actress Stormy Daniels confirmed his clients statement on Jan. 30, 2018. Daniels real name is Stephanie Clifford.(AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)
Stormy Daniels, the adult film star whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, is again denying her reported affair with President Donald Trump more than a decade before he was elected to the White House.
"I am not denying this affair because I was paid 'hush money' as has been reported in overseas owned tabloids. I am denying this affair because it never happened," Clifford said in the letter provided to Buzzfeed News on Tuesday. Her attorney confirmed to The Associated Press that his client's signed statement was authentic.
Clifford has been on a publicity tour in recent weeks amid news of the alleged 2006 tryst with the president. She is scheduled to appear Tuesday on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!" following Trump's State of the Union address.
Still, in her Tuesday latter, Clifford reportedly wrote, "I will have no further comment on this matter."
Clifford has sought to tell her story before, in 2011 and again during the 2016 presidential campaign.
Trump's lawyer, Michael Cohen previously denied the allegations in a statement to Fox News.
"These rumors have circulated time and again since 2011," he said. "President Trump once again vehemently denies any such occurrence as has Ms. Daniels."
In a letter previously obtained by Fox News, Daniels appears to have signed a statement saying that any rumors of a romantic involvement between her and the Trump are false. Some have noted that Daniels' signature appears different in the two statements, but TMZ reports a rep for the adult film star has confirmed they both belong to her.
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that Trump's personal lawyer brokered a $130,000 payment to Clifford in October 2016 to keep her from publicly discussing it.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Did the FBI retaliate against Michael Flynn by launching a Russia probe?
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 01:11
The FBI launched a criminal probe against former Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn two years after the retired Army general roiled the bureau's leadership by intervening on behalf of a decorated counterterrorism agent who accused now-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe and other top officials of sexual discrimination, according to documents and interviews.
Related: John McCain's own Russia controversy
Flynn's intervention on behalf of Supervisory Special Agent Robyn Gritz was highly unusual, and included a letter in 2014 on his official Pentagon stationary, a public interview in 2015 supporting Gritz's case and an offer to testify on her behalf. His offer put him as a hostile witness in a case against McCabe, who was soaring through the bureau's leadership ranks.
Related:Senate Judiciary will investigate Loretta Lynch
The FBI sought to block Flynn's support for the agent, asking a federal administrative law judge in May 2014 to keep Flynn and others from becoming a witness in her Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) case, memos obtained by Circa show. Two years later, the FBI opened its inquiry of Flynn.
Related: A breach larger than Snowden?
The EEOC case, which is still pending, was serious enough to require McCabe to submit to a sworn statement to investigators, the documents show.
The deputy director's testimony provided some of the strongest evidence in the case of possible retaliation, because he admitted the FBI opened an internal investigation into Gritz's personal conduct after learning the agent ''had filed or intended to file'' a sex discrimination complaint against her supervisors.
McCabe eventually became the bureau's No. 2 executive and emerged as a central player in the FBI's Russia election tampering investigation, putting him in a position to impact the criminal inquiry against Flynn.
Three FBI employees told Circa they personally witnessed McCabe make disparaging remarks about Flynn before and during the time the retired Army general emerged as a figure in the Russia case.
The bureau employees, who spoke only on condition of anonymity for fear of retribution, said they did not know the reason for McCabe's displeasure with Flynn, but that it made them uncomfortable as the Russia probe began to unfold and pressure built to investigate Flynn. One employee even consulted a private lawyer.
''As far as the troops in the field, the vast-majority were disgusted with the Russia decision, but that was McCabe driving the result that eventually led [former FBI Director James] Comey to make the decision,'' said a senior federal law enforcement official, with direct knowledge of the investigation.
FBI agents' concerns became more pronounced when a highly-classified piece of evidence -- an intercepted conversation between Flynn and Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak -- suddenly leaked to the news media and prompted Flynn's resignation as Trump's top security adviser.
''The Flynn leaks were nothing short of political,'' one FBI employee said, noting the specific contents of the conversation were known by only a handful of government officials when they leaked. ''The leaks appeared to be targeted to take Flynn out.''
Eventually the probe on Flynn moved beyond Russia to questions about whether he properly disclosed foreign payments affecting his security clearance.
FBI officials declined to answer any questions from Circa, including whether McCabe ever considered recusing himself or has recused himself from the Flynn aspects of the Russia probe. McCabe declined comment via the FBI press office.
But one of the FBI's most famous whistleblowers says McCabe has an ethical obligation to recuse himself in the Flynn probe to avoid the appearance of retribution or bias.
''I don't think they have any choice. He has to step aside,'' said Frederic Whitehurst, who as an FBI special agent and forensic chemist blew the whistle on misdeeds inside the FBI crime lab two decades ago and prompted widespread reforms.
''If he stays involved, the case against Flynn has no credibility,'' explained Whitehurst, now often called as an expert witness in court cases. ''If there are criminal charges that could go against Flynn, that's got to go to court. And those agents at some point may be called before a grand jury and anything he (McCabe) said to them about Flynn could be used as exonerating information or evidence of misconduct.''
Whitehurst said he saw senior FBI officials, including then-Director Louis Freeh and then-General Counsel Howard Shapiro, recuse themselves in the 1990s from his whistleblowing case to avoid looking they were involved in retribution after he made allegations of wrongdoing by the bureau
''Louie and Howie did it, and that sets the precedent I think,'' Whitehurst said.
Documents and memos obtained by Circa detail how Flynn and other top officials at other government agencies in 2014 and 2015 came to intervene in the EEOC case of Gritz, who rose over two decades to a supervisory special agent inside the FBI on the strength of her counterterrorism work.
For nearly a decade, Gritz worked with the intelligence community to help successfully track down global terrorists or rescue Western hostages, and was even occasionally called upon to personally brief then-Director Robert Mueller on sensitive cases like the disappearance of a retired agent Robert Levinson inside Iran, memos show.
But her career took a sudden downward turn after she went to work under McCabe and his leadership team in 2012, resulting in her first negative rating after years of outstanding performance reviews. She filed an EEOC complain inside the FBI against a handful of bureau executives in 2012, alleging her career was being derailed by sexual discrimination.
The FBI referred her for an Office of Professional Responsibility investigation for timecard irregularities. As hostilities rose between the two sides, emails and testimony showed senior FBI officials castigated Gritz for being too ''emotional,'' having a possible mental illness and sending inappropriate emails.
The FBI concluded there was no discrimination, arguing Gritz was referred to OPR for investigation on June 20, 2012 before she ever filed her EEOC complaint.
But McCabe's sworn statement offered evidence that actually supported Gritz's claim of retaliation and discrimination, recounting a conversation on June 19, 2012 in which he authorized the OPR investigation of Gritz after one of his deputies told him Gritz was about to file an EEO complaint, his sworn statement shows.
''I first learned of the issues that led to Ms. Gritz's current OPR investigation during a telephone call with Deputy Assistant Director (DAD) Jennifer Ley on June 19, 2012,'' McCabe testified.
''I recalled that during the course of our conversation DAD Ley mentioned to me that Ms. Gritz had filed or intended to file an EEO complaint against her immediate supervisor.''
The very next day, the FBI initiated the OPR investigation of Gritz, according to evidence in the FBI's official personnel files. FBI records support McCabe's version of events, showing Gritz had contacted FBI EEO officials in mid-June before the OPR probe was initiated, then filed her formal complaint a few weeks later. The FBI 's official report of investigation on Gritz's EEO complaint, which absolved the FBI of any discrimination, omitted any mention that McCabe had been aware of the EEO complaint before the bureau filed its OPR action against Gritz.
Gritz's initial complaint in 2012 named the FBI supervisor below McCabe. She chose to resign from the FBI in 2013, her case becoming the poster child for a National Public Radio story on the FBI's allegedly hostile environment for women agents in 2015.
In 2014, Gritz amended her EEOC complaint to specifically name McCabe, alleging she suffered ''a hostile environment, defamation of character through continued targeting by Andrew McCabe in official documents, and continuous patterns and instances of severe and excessive hostile behavior/attitude toward complainant. These actions have a negative impact on the complainant, professionally, financially, and personally.''
Flynn's intervention in the case occurred around the time that McCabe's name was added to the complaint. Flynn's first act was to write a letter of support in her case.
''SSA Gritz was well-known, liked and respected in the military counter-terrorism community for her energy, commitment and professional capacity, and over the years worked in several interagency groups on counter-terrorism targeting initiatives,'' Flynn wrote May 9, 2014.
At the time, Flynn was an Army lieutenant general and the chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency, and he put his letter on official agency stationary to be submitted in Gritz's case.
As soon as Gritz revealed to the FBI that Flynn and other top federal figures had written letters to support her case and likely would be called as witnesses, the bureau dispatched a lawyer to try to block the evidence from being included in the EEO case, documents show.
The FBI ''has reviewed the letters submitted by the Complainant and objects to their inclusion in the record,'' the bureau's lawyer wrote. ''They are selfserving letters, not part of any personnel file nor contemporaneous generated during the period of Ms. Gritz's employment with the FBI, and which she has unilaterally solicited and obtained. They should be excluded.''
While the FBI argued Gritz's had become underperforming, tardy to work, insurbordinate, possibly mentally ill or emotional and deserving of a poor performance review, Flynn argued just the opposite, saying he saw the agent excel while working with the DIA and other intelligence community agencies.
''Her work consistently made a positive difference,'' Flynn wrote. ''.Her tenacity and personal commitment consistently produced outstanding results in the most challenging environments.''
Flynn went further, offering an interview in 2015 with NPR in which he called Gritz one of the ''bright lights and shining stars'' in the intelligence community who ''just kinda got it when it came to the kind of enemy that we were facing and the relationship that was necessary between law enforcement and the military.''
Flynn wasn't alone among top officials who came to Gritz's defense in her battle against the FBI.
''SSA Gritz was without question, the most energetic, most consistently engaged and prepared and single most effective member of this interagency group,'' wrote Navy Rear Admiral B. L. Losey, who served both Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama as the White House's National Security Council Director for Combatting Terrorism.
Losey offered a most poignant endorsement of the female agent. ''If I were taken hostage, I would hope that above all others SSA Robyn Gritz were assigned the task to track and recover me,'' he wrote.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley also afforded Gritz support, asking federal authorities to investigate whether her case was emblematic of a hostile workplace for women inside the FBI.
In a brief interview this weekend, Gritz said she was mortified to think that her request to Flynn to help with her EEOC case in any way affected his relationship with the FBI or his current status as someone under investigation in the Russia case.
''Flynn was the first leader to defend me,'' said Gritz. ''He forwarded a letter to the FBI and I personally think that Comey did not receive it. McCabe knew Flynn and I were friends. I felt that from the beginning it was an issue.''
REPORT: McCabe Threatened To 'Torch The FBI' If Forced Out Of Bureau Without Pension | Daily Wire
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 23:30
In the days before FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was forced out of his job, he threatened to ''torch'' the bureau if he was ousted before his full federal retirement benefits kicked in, according to a new report.
''He was unglued,'' one FBI source told True Pundit. "Someone should keep an eye on him."
But McCabe may also have been reacting, in part, to another growing problem beyond the corruption scandals enveloping McCabe's leadership at the embattled FBI.
An FBI insider with Intel inside the embattled Bureau who has vigilantly worked to uncover systemic corruption inside the FBI, is rumored to be penning a tell-all book that promises to blow the roof off the inner-workings of the FBI's controversial 7th-Floor.
Well, that's mighty cryptic.
McCabe on Monday said he would take an 'indefinite" leave of absence, stepping down from his post months earlier than expected.
McCabe is set to receive a nearly $2 million pension, according to a Washington Free Beacon analysis. But that taxpayer-funded pension doesn't kick in until March 18, which is why McCabe decided to take "indefinite" leave. That way, he'll hit the mark.
His decision came just hours before the House voted to reveal a controversial, GOP-authored memo about FBI procedure alleging that FBI higher-ups, including McCabe, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and former FBI Director James Comey abused the the FISA warrantless surveillance program.
McCabe has been a frequent target of President Donald Trump on Twitter since being named the FBI's interim director (following Comey's firing) and Republicans have viewed McCabe with suspicion, often questioning why the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's mishandling of classified information, which took place under McCabe, was so poorly administered.
Meanwhile, an explosive new book claims that McCabe set up a meeting with the White House which was leaked shortly after and was used to the start the "obstructive" narrative in the media and quite possibly in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
McCabe requested to meet privately with then-White House chief of staff Reince Priebus in February 2017 so that he could tell Priebus that everything in a New York Times article titled, "Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence," was "bulls***." The Federalist reports:
McCabe claimed to want Priebus to know the FBI's perspective that this story was not true. Priebus pointed to the televisions that were going non-stop on the story. He asked if the FBI could say publicly what he had just told him. McCabe said he'd have to check, according to the book.
McCabe reportedly called back and said he couldn't do anything about it. Then-FBI director James Comey reportedly called later and also said he couldn't do anything, but did offer to brief the Senate Intelligence Committee on the matter later that week, suggesting they'd spill the beans publicly.
Sounds like Trump's serious about draining the swamp.
Social media is giving us trypophobia | TechCrunch
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:19
Something is rotten in the state of technology.
But amid all the hand-wringing over fake news, the cries of election deforming Kremlin disinformation plots, the calls from political podia for tech giants to locate a social conscience, a knottier realization is taking shape.
Fake news and disinformation are just a few of the symptoms of what's wrong and what's rotten. The problem with platform giants is something far more fundamental.
The problem is these vastly powerful algorithmic engines are blackboxes. And, at the business end of the operation, each individual user only sees what each individual user sees.
The great lie of social media has been to claim it shows us the world. And their follow-on deception: That their technology products bring us closer together.
In truth, social media is not a telescopic lens '-- as the telephone actually was '-- but an opinion-fracturing prism that shatters social cohesion by replacing a shared public sphere and its dynamically overlapping discourse with a wall of increasingly concentrated filter bubbles.
Social media is not connective tissue but engineered segmentation that treats each pair of human eyeballs as a discrete unit to be plucked out and separated off from its fellows.
Think about it, it's a trypophobic's nightmare.
Or the panopticon in reverse '-- each user bricked into an individual cell that's surveilled from the platform controller's tinted glass tower.
Little wonder lies spread and inflate so quickly via products that are not only hyper-accelerating the rate at which information can travel but deliberately pickling people inside a stew of their own prejudices.
First it panders then it polarizes then it pushes us apart.
We aren't so much seeing through a lens darkly when we log onto Facebook or peer at personalized search results on Google, we're being individually strapped into a custom-moulded headset that's continuously screening a bespoke movie '-- in the dark, in a single-seater theatre, without any windows or doors.
Are you feeling claustrophobic yet?
It's a movie that the algorithmic engine believes you'll like. Because it's figured out your favorite actors. It knows what genre you skew to. The nightmares that keep you up at night. The first thing you think about in the morning.
It knows your politics, who your friends are, where you go. It watches you ceaselessly and packages this intelligence into a bespoke, tailor-made, ever-iterating, emotion-tugging product just for you.
Its secret recipe is an infinite blend of your personal likes and dislikes, scraped off the Internet where you unwittingly scatter them. (Your offline habits aren't safe from its harvest either '-- it pays data brokers to snitch on those too.)
No one else will ever get to see this movie. Or even know it exists. There are no adverts announcing it's screening. Why bother putting up billboards for a movie made just for you? Anyway, the personalized content is all but guaranteed to strap you in your seat.
If social media platforms were sausage factories we could at least intercept the delivery lorry on its way out of the gate to probe the chemistry of the flesh-colored substance inside each packet '-- and find out if it's really as palatable as they claim.
Of course we'd still have to do that thousands of times to get meaningful data on what was being piped inside each custom sachet. But it could be done.
Alas, platforms involve no such physical product, and leave no such physical trace for us to investigate.
Smoke and mirrorsUnderstanding platforms' information-shaping processes would require access to their algorithmic blackboxes. But those are locked up inside corporate HQs '-- behind big signs marked: 'Proprietary! No visitors! Commercially sensitive IP!'
Only engineers and owners get to peer in. And even they don't necessarily always understand the decisions their machines are making.
But how sustainable is this asymmetry? If we, the wider society '-- on whom platforms depend for data, eyeballs, content and revenue; we are their business model '-- can't see how we are being divided by what they individually drip-feed us, how can we judge what the technology is doing to us, one and all? And figure out how it's systemizing and reshaping society?
How can we hope to measure its impact? Except when and where we feel its harms.
Without access to meaningful data how can we tell whether time spent here or there or on any of these prejudice-pandering advertiser platforms can ever be said to be ''time well spent''?
What does it tell us about the attention-sucking power that tech giants hold over us when '-- just one example '-- a train station has to put up signs warning parents to stop looking at their smartphones and point their eyes at their children instead?
Is there a new idiot wind blowing through society of a sudden? Or are we been unfairly robbed of our attention?
Latest Crunch Report Elon Musk's flamethrowers bring in $5 million so far | Crunch Report
Watch More EpisodesWhat should we think when tech CEOs confess they don't want kids in their family anywhere near the products they're pushing on everyone else? It sure sounds like even they think this stuff might be the new nicotine.
External researchers have been trying their best to map and analyze flows of online opinion and influence in an attempt to quantify platform giants' societal impacts.
Yet Twitter, for one, actively degrades these efforts by playing pick and choose from its gatekeeper position '-- rubbishing any studies with results it doesn't like by claiming the picture is flawed because it's incomplete.
Why? Because external researchers don't have access to all its information flows. Why? Because they can't see how data is shaped by Twitter's algorithms, or how each individual Twitter user might (or might not) have flipped a content suppression switch which can also '-- says Twitter '-- mould the sausage and determine who consumes it.
Why not? Because Twitter doesn't give outsiders that kind of access. Sorry, didn't you see the sign?
And when politicians press the company to provide the full picture '-- based on the data that only Twitter can see '-- they just get fed more self-selected scraps shaped by Twitter's corporate self-interest.
(This particular game of 'whack an awkward question' / 'hide the unsightly mole' could run and run and run. Yet it also doesn't seem, long term, to be a very politically sustainable one '-- however much quiz games might be suddenly back in fashion.)
And how can we trust Facebook to create robust and rigorous disclosure systems around political advertising when the company has been shown failing to uphold its existing ad standards?
Mark Zuckerberg wants us to believe we can trust him to do the right thing. Yet he is also the powerful tech CEO who studiously ignored concerns that malicious disinformation was running rampant on his platform. Who even ignored specific warnings that fake news could impact democracy '-- from some pretty knowledgeable political insiders and mentors too.
Biased blackboxesBefore fake news became an existential crisis for Facebook's business, Zuckerberg's standard line of defense to any raised content concern was deflection '-- that infamous claim 'we're not a media company; we're a tech company'.
Turns out maybe he was right to say that. Because maybe big tech platforms really do require a new type of bespoke regulation. One that reflects the uniquely hypertargeted nature of the individualized product their factories are churning out at '-- trypophobics look away now! '-- 4BN+ eyeball scale.
In recent years there have been calls for regulators to have access to algorithmic blackboxes to lift the lids on engines that act on us yet which we (the product) are prevented from seeing (and thus overseeing).
Rising use of AI certainly makes that case stronger, with the risk of prejudices scaling as fast and far as tech platforms if they get blindbaked into commercially privileged blackboxes.
Do we think it's right and fair to automate disadvantage? At least until the complaints get loud enough and egregious enough that someone somewhere with enough influence notices and cries foul?
Algorithmic accountability should not mean that a critical mass of human suffering is needed to reverse engineer a technological failure. We should absolutely demand proper processes and meaningful accountability. Whatever it takes to get there.
And if powerful platforms are perceived to be footdragging and truth-shaping every time they're asked to provide answers to questions that scale far beyond their own commercial interests '-- answers, let me stress it again, that only they hold '-- then calls to crack open their blackboxes will become a clamor because they will have fulsome public support.
Lawmakers are already alert to the phrase algorithmic accountability. It's on their lips and in their rhetoric. Risks are being articulated. Extant harms are being weighed. Algorithmic blackboxes are losing their deflective public sheen '-- a decade+ into platform giant's huge hyperpersonalization experiment.
No one would now doubt these platforms impact and shape the public discourse. But, arguably, in recent years, they've made the public street coarser, angrier, more outrage-prone, less constructive, as algorithms have rewarded trolls and provocateurs who best played their games.
So all it would take is for enough people '-- enough 'users' '-- to join the dots and realize what it is that's been making them feel so uneasy and queasy online '-- and these products will wither on the vine, as others have before.
There's no engineering workaround for that either. Even if generative AIs get so good at dreaming up content that they could substitute a significant chunk of humanity's sweating toil, they'd still never possess the biological eyeballs required to blink forth the ad dollars the tech giants depend on. (The phrase 'user generated content platform' should really be bookended with the unmentioned yet entirely salient point: 'and user consumed'.)
This week the UK prime minister, Theresa May, used a Davos podium World Economic Forum speech to slam social media platforms for failing to operate with a social conscience.
And after laying into the likes of Facebook, Twitter and Google '-- for, as she tells it, facilitating child abuse, modern slavery and spreading terrorist and extremist content '-- she pointed to a Edelman survey showing a global erosion of trust in social media (and a simultaneous leap in trust for journalism).
Her subtext was clear: Where tech giants are concerned, world leaders now feel both willing and able to sharpen the knives.
Nor was she the only Davos speaker roasting social media either.
''Facebook and Google have grown into ever more powerful monopolies, they have become obstacles to innovation, and they have caused a variety of problems of which we are only now beginning to become aware,'' said billionaire US philanthropist George Soros, calling '-- out-and-out '-- for regulatory action to break the hold platforms have built over us.
And while politicians (and journalists '-- and most probably Soros too) are used to being roundly hated, tech firms most certainly are not. These companies have basked in the halo that's perma-attached to the word ''innovation'' for years. 'Mainstream backlash' isn't in their lexicon. Just like 'social responsibility' wasn't until very recently.
You only have to look at the worry lines etched on Zuckerberg's face to see how ill-prepared Silicon Valley's boy kings are to deal with roiling public anger.
Guessing gamesThe opacity of big tech platforms has another harmful and dehumanizing impact '-- not just for their data-mined users but for their content creators too.
A platform like YouTube, which depends on a volunteer army of makers to keep content flowing across the countless screens that pull the billions of streams off of its platform (and stream the billions of ad dollars into Google's coffers), nonetheless operates with an opaque screen pulled down between itself and its creators.
YouTube has a set of content policies which it says its content uploaders must abide by. But Google has not consistently enforced these policies. And a media scandal or an advertiser boycott can trigger sudden spurts of enforcement action that leave creators scrambling not to be shut out in the cold.
One creator, who originally got in touch with TechCrunch because she was given a safety strike on a satirical video about the Tide Pod Challenge, describes being managed by YouTube's heavily automated systems as an ''omnipresent headache'' and a dehumanizing guessing game.
''Most of my issues on YouTube are the result of automated ratings, anonymous flags (which are abused) and anonymous, vague help from anonymous email support with limited corrective powers,'' Aimee Davison told us. ''It will take direct human interaction and negotiation to improve partner relations on YouTube and clear, explicit notice of consistent guidelines.''
''YouTube needs to grade its content adequately without engaging in excessive artistic censorship '-- and they need to humanize our account management,'' she added.
Yet YouTube has not even been doing a good job of managing its most high profile content creators. Aka its 'YouTube stars'.
But where does the blame really lie when 'star' YouTube creator Logan Paul '-- an erstwhile Preferred Partner on Google's ad platform '-- uploads a video of himself making jokes beside the dead body of a suicide victim?
Paul must manage his own conscience. But blame must also scale beyond any one individual who is being algorithmically managed (read: manipulated) on a platform to produce content that literally enriches Google because people are being guided by its reward system.
In Paul's case YouTube staff had also manually reviewed and approved his video. So even when YouTube claims it has human eyeballs reviewing content those eyeballs don't appear to have adequate time and tools to be able to do the work.
And no wonder, given how massive the task is.
Google has said it will increase headcount of staff who carry out moderation and other enforcement duties to 10,000 this year.
Yet that number is as nothing vs the amount of content being uploaded to YouTube. (According to Statista, 400 hours of video were being uploaded to YouTube every minute as of July 2015; it could easily have risen to 600 or 700 hours per minute by now.)
The sheer size of YouTube's free-to-upload content platform all but makes it impossible to meaningfully moderate.
And that's an existential problem when the platform's massive size, pervasive tracking and individualized targeting technology also gives it the power to influence and shape society at large.
The company itself says its 1BN+ users constitute one-third of the entire Internet.
Throw in Google's preference for hands-off (read: lower cost) algorithmic management of content and some of the societal impacts flowing from the decisions its machines are making are questionable '-- to put it politely.
Indeed, YouTube's algorithms have been described by its own staff as having extremist tendencies.
The platform has also been accused of essentially automating online radicalization '-- by pushing viewers towards increasingly extreme and hateful views. Click on a video about a populist right wing pundit and end up '-- via algorithmic suggestion '-- pushed towards a neo-nazi hate group.
And the company's suggested fix for this AI extremism problem? Yet more AI'...
Yet it's AI-powered platforms that have been caught amplifying fakes and accelerating hates and incentivizing sociopathy.
And it's AI-powered moderation systems that are too stupid to judge context and understand nuance like humans do. (Or at least can when they're given enough time to think.)
Zuckerberg himself said as much a year ago, as the scale of the existential crisis facing his company was beginning to become clear. ''It's worth noting that major advances in AI are required to understand text, photos and videos to judge whether they contain hate speech, graphic violence, sexually explicit content, and more,'' he wrote then. ''At our current pace of research, we hope to begin handling some of these cases in 2017, but others will not be possible for many years.''
'Many years' is tech CEO speak for 'actually we might not EVER be able to engineer that'.
And if you're talking about the very hard, very editorial problem of content moderation, identifying terrorism is actually a relatively narrow challenge.
Understanding satire '-- or even just knowing whether a piece of content has any kind of intrinsic value at all vs been purely worthless algorithmically groomed junk? Frankly speaking, I wouldn't hold my breath waiting for the robot that can do that.
Especially not when '-- across the spectrum '-- people are crying out for tech firms to show more humanity. And tech firms are still trying to force-feed us more AI.
Featured Image: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch
Trypophobia - Wikipedia
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:19
TrypophobiaThe holes in lotus seedheads trigger feelings of discomfort or repulsion in some people.[1][2]Trypophobia is a proposed phobia (intense, irrational fear, or anxiety) of irregular patterns or clusters of small holes or bumps.[3][4] The condition is not officially recognized as a mental disorder,[1] and is rarely referenced in scientific literature.[5][6]
Although few studies have been done on trypophobia, researchers hypothesize that it is the result of a biological revulsion that associates trypophobic shapes with danger or disease, and may therefore have an evolutionary basis.[1]
The term trypophobia is believed to have been coined by a participant in an online forum in 2005.[5] Since then, the concept of trypophobia has become popular on social media.[5]
Classification [ edit] Although on blogs and in Internet forums, thousands of people say they have trypophobia,[5][6][7] it is not recognized by name as a mental disorder,[1] and subsequently is not a specific diagnosis in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, Fifth Edition (DSM-5).[5][6] Jennifer Abbasi of Popular Science said that it is rarely referenced in scientific literature, but also that "professionals who study and treat phobias tend not to use all the Latin and Greek names that get tossed around on message boards and in the press."[5] If the fear is excessive, persistent, and associated with significant distress or impairment, trypophobia could fall under the broad category of specific phobia.[1]
Author Kathleen McAuliffe suggested that trypophobia is yet to be extensively studied because researchers have not given as much attention to topics of disgust as they have to other areas of research, and because of the revulsion viewing the images could incite in researchers.[8] Psychiatrist Carol Mathews said, "There might really be people out there with phobias to holes, because people can really have a phobia to anything, but just reading what's on the Internet, that doesn't seem to be what people actually have." Mathews felt that most people writing online are likely disgusted by these types of images without meeting criteria for a real phobia.[7] By contrast, researcher Tom Kupfer said, "I wouldn't be surprised if this is actually a disorder based on disgust and disease avoidance."[9]
Signs and symptoms [ edit] Shapes that elicit a trypophobic reaction include clustered holes in innocuous contexts, such as fruit and bubbles, and in contexts associated with danger, such as holes made by insects and holes in wounds and diseased tissue such as those caused by mango worms in animals, especially dogs. Upon seeing these shapes, some people said they shuddered, felt their skin crawl, experienced panic attacks, sweated, palpitated, and felt nauseated or itchy.[1][10] Some said the holes seemed "disgusting and gross" or that "something might be living inside those holes".[6][11][12] Other reported symptoms include goose bumps, body shakes, feeling uncomfortable, and visual discomfort such as eyestrain, distortions, or illusions.[13][14]
Geoff Cole and Arnold Wilkins of the University of Essex's Centre for Brain Science were the first scientists to publish on the phenomenon. They believe the reaction is based on a biological revulsion, rather than a learned cultural fear. In a 2013 article in Psychological Science, Cole and Wilkins write that the reaction is based on "the primitive portion of the brain" that associates the shapes with danger, and that it is an "unconscious reflex reaction".[10][11] Imagery of various poisonous animals (for example, certain types of snakes, insects, and spiders) have the same visual characteristics. Because of this, Cole and Wilkins hypothesized that trypophobia has an evolutionary basis meant to alert humans of dangerous organisms.[1] They believed this to be an evolutionary advantage, although it also causes people to fear harmless objects.[2]
Cole and Wilkins analyzed videos and images containing clusters of holes, with the images presented in an arrangement that was considered to rank the likelihood they will induce fear. Early images in the series include fruits such as oranges and pomegranates. Then, clusters of holes with a possible association with danger are presented, such as honeycombs, frogs, and insects and arachnids. Finally, images feature wounds and diseases. Using this data, Cole and Wilkins analyzed example images and believe that the images had "unique characteristics".[15] In another research article, An Trong Dinh Le, Cole and Wilkins developed a symptom questionnaire that they say can be used to identify trypophobia.[3]
Cole and Wilkins also stated that "given the large number of images associated with trypophobia, some of which do not contain clusters of holes but clusters of other objects, these results suggest that holes alone are unlikely to be the only cause for this condition" and they "consider that the fear of holes does not accurately reflect the condition."[4]
Other researches have speculated that the images could be perceived as cues to infectious disease (similar to reactions to images of leprosy, smallpox and measles, which manifest as small bumps and clusters on the skin) or parasites, which could be alerts that give one a survival advantage.[9][14] That the images invoke thoughts of decay, which is why mold on bread or vegetables have certain visual cues and characteristics similar to trypophobic stimuli, has also been theorized.[9] Conversely, psychiatrist Carol Mathews believes that trypophobic responses are more likely from priming and conditioning.[7]
Wilkins and Le also considered that the discomfort from trypophobic images is due to the geometry of the holes making excessive demands on the brain; they stated that these excessive demands may cause visual discomfort, eyestrain or headache, adding that these images have mathematical properties that cannot be processed efficiently by the brain and therefore require more brain oxygenation.[14] Wilkins and researcher Paul Hibbard proposed that the discomfort occurs when people avoid looking at the images because they require excessive brain oxygenation, adding that the brain uses about 20 per cent of the body's energy, and its energy usage needs to be kept to a minimum. They stated that mold and skin diseases can provoke disgust in most people, regardless of whether or not the people have trypophobia, and that they are investigating why some people and not others experience an emotional response in these cases.[14]
Treatment [ edit] There are no documented treatments for trypophobia, but exposure therapy, which has been used to treat phobias, is likely to be effective for treating trypophobia.[1]
Epidemiology [ edit] To what extent trypophobia exists is unknown, but the available data suggests that having an aversion to trypophobic imagery is relatively common.[1][16] 16% of a sample of 286 participants in Cole and Wilkins's study reported discomfort or repulsion when presented with an image of a lotus seed pod.[1] They found that non-trypophobic individuals also reported higher discomfort ratings when viewing images with visual characteristics associated with trypophobic patterns than when viewing neutral images.[1]
History [ edit] The term trypophobia is believed to have been coined by a participant in an online forum in 2005.[5] The word is from the Greek: ÏρύÏα , tr½pa , meaning "hole" and φόβÎς , ph"bos , meaning "fear".[5]
Society and culture [ edit] Because trypophobia is not well known to the general public, many people with the condition do not know the name for it and believe that they are alone in their trypophobic reactions and thoughts until they find an online community to share them with.[9] This has led to an increase in trypophobic images on social media; in some cases, people seek to intentionally trigger those with trypophobia by showing them trypophobic images, with the most triggering images being holes and clusters (especially the lotus seedhead) photoshopped onto human skin.[9] Cole and Wilkins also stated that the level of disgust with trypophobia increases if the holes are on human skin.[9]
In 2017, trypophobia received significant media attention when American Horror Story featured a trypophobic character[17] and trypophobic advertisements promoting the storyline; some people were disturbed by the imagery,[9][18] and criticized the show for "insensitivity towards sufferers of trypophobia."[18] Although there was sentiment that the increased media attention could lead to people trying to trigger those with trypophobia, there were also opinions that it might help people understand trypophobia and encourage more research on the matter.[9]
See also [ edit] References [ edit] ^ abcdefghijk Irena Milosevic, Randi E. McCabe (2015). Phobias: The Psychology of Irrational Fear. ABC-CLIO. p. 402. ISBN 1610695763. Retrieved October 25, 2017 . ^ ab Don Hockenbury, Sandra E. Hockenbury (2016). Discovering Psychology. Macmillan Higher Education. p. 32. ISBN 1464176965. Retrieved October 26, 2017 . ^ ab Le, An T. D.; Cole, Geoff G.; Wilkins, Arnold J. (January 30, 2015). "Assessment of trypophobia and an analysis of its visual precipitation". Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology. 68 (11): 2304''22. doi:10.1080/17470218.2015.1013970. PMID 25635930. ^ ab Welsh, Jennifer (August 7, 2015). "Science explains why this image disgusts some people". Tech Insider. Retrieved April 10, 2016 . ^ abcdefgh Abbasi, Jennifer (July 25, 2011). "Is Trypophobia a Real Phobia?". Popular Science. Retrieved October 2, 2012 . ^ abcd Thomas, Gregory (October 1, 2012). "Phobia about holes is not officially recognized, but U.K. scientists look into it". The Washington Post. Retrieved October 2, 2012 . ^ abc Doucleff, Michaeleen. "Fear Of Cantaloupes And Crumpets? A 'Phobia' Rises From The Web". NPR. Retrieved 10 Apr 2016 . ^ Kathleen McAuliffe (2016). This Is Your Brain on Parasites: How Tiny Creatures Manipulate Our Behavior. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. p. 154. ISBN 0544193229. Retrieved October 25, 2017 . ^ abcdefgh LaMottef, Sandee (September 14, 2017). "TV show triggers little-known phobia". CNN. Retrieved October 26, 2017 . ^ ab Cole, Geoff G.; Wilkins, Arnold J. (October 2013). "Fear of Holes". Psychological Science. 24 (10): 1''6. doi:10.1177/0956797613484937. PMID 23982244. ^ ab Elliot, Danielle (September 5, 2013). "Understanding trypophobia: Why some people fear holes". CBS News. Retrieved September 15, 2013 . ^ Eveleth, Rose (September 5, 2013). "Trypophobia Is a Fear of Holes". Smithsonian. Retrieved September 15, 2013 . ^ "Everything You Should Know About Trypophobia". Healthline. August 7, 2015. Retrieved October 26, 2017 . ^ abcd Arnold J Wilkins and An Trong Dinh Le (March 31, 2016). "Could Trypophobia Be Caused By Math Hurting Our Brains?". Popular Science. Retrieved October 26, 2017 . ^ Palca, Joe (September 4, 2013). "The Inside Story On The Fear Of Holes". NPR. Retrieved September 15, 2013 . ^ Daniel Schacter, Daniel Gilbert, Daniel Wegner, Bruce Hood (2015). Psychology: Second European Edition. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 1391. ISBN 1137406755. Retrieved October 25, 2017 . ^ King, Eric (September 6, 2017). "American Horror Story: Cult: Why is Ally afraid of small holes?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved October 26, 2017 . ^ ab Pavey, Harriet (September 5, 2017). "What is trypophobia? Bizarre fear of small holes featured in new American Horror Story series". London Evening Standard. Retrieved October 26, 2017 . Look up trypophobia in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
Poland's Holocaust Blame Bill - The New York Times
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:17
Photo Auschwitz survivors returned on Saturday to mark the 73rd anniversary of the liberation of the Nazi death camp, in Oswiecim, Poland. Credit Kacper Pempel/Reuters It is baffling why Poland's nationalist-controlled Parliament would mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day '-- the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp on Polish soil '-- with a needless, foolish and insulting draft bill that would penalize any suggestion of complicity by the Polish state or the Polish nation in the Nazi death machine.
Apart from raising the very questions about the role of the Poles in the Holocaust that the drafters apparently want to hide, are we not past such self-serving posturing over one of history's greatest crimes? Whatever dubious motives are behind this measure, Poland would do well to erase it as quickly as possible.
No doubt it pains Poles, whose country was overrun and occupied by Nazi Germany in World War II, when foreigners refer to Auschwitz and other extermination centers the Nazis set up in Poland as ''Polish death camps.'' They were Nazi death camps. At least 1.9 million Polish civilians were killed along with three million Polish Jews '-- about half of all Jews killed in the Holocaust. Some Poles tried to help Jews and have been recognized as ''righteous among nations.''
Yet it is also undeniable that Poles were directly or indirectly complicit in the crimes committed on their land and that Poles were guilty of anti-Jewish pogroms during and after the war. These are the facts of that terrible history, and the Poles, like all other nations conquered by Germany that became embroiled in the Nazi atrocities, have an obligation to the victims and to the future to seek the full truth, however painful.
Regardless how it is parsed, the Polish bill is a blatant and chilling effort by a nationalist government waging an offensive against the rule of law and freedom of expression to discourage that search. ''Whoever accuses, publicly and against the facts, the Polish nation, or the Polish state, of being responsible or complicit in the Nazi crimes committed by the Third German Reich '... shall be subject to a fine or a penalty of imprisonment of up to three years,'' reads an article of the draft. But what constitutes an accusation? Who determines the facts? Who will risk three years in prison to seek the historical truth?
Continue reading the main story
Democratic National Committee CEO abruptly steps down | New York Post
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:13
The Democratic National Committee's CEO abruptly stepped down from her post after less than one year on the job, according to multiple reports Monday night.
Veteran operative Jess O'Connell had just taken party reins this past May, and was tasked with stabilizing party operations in the wake of a disastrous 2016.
The party was in shambles following now-President Trump's stunning upset win and charges of DNC favoritism for eventual presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
''Rebuilding the party will take time. While it isn't an easy task, we developed a strategy, we implemented it, and we won races up and down the ballot in 2017,'' O'Connell said in a statement to NBC News.
''While I've made the decision to pass the baton, our work remains far from over and under Tom Perez's leadership and direction, our party will continue to build on the progress we've made in 2017.''
DNC Chairman Tom Perez, who won his post just 11 months ago, thanked O'Connell for leading Democrats to a string of off-year wins in 2017.
''Jess O'Connell joined the DNC at a time when our party needed it the most,'' Perez said in a statement.
''She helped build our 'Every Zip Code Counts' strategy, oversaw unprecedented programming and support for state parties and campaigns, renewed our focus on data and technology, and helped lead us to 100+ victories in elections all across the country in 2017. Jess laid the groundwork for an infrastructure to win in 2018, 2020 and beyond.''
US releases list including names of Russian oligarchs but declines to implement new sanctions | TheHill
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:12
The U.S. Treasury has released a list that includes the names of Russian business and political figures, but the Trump administration declined to implement new Russia sanctions.
The report has the names of senior members of the Kremlin, CNN reported. It also includes the names of Russian oligarchs with a net worth of or more than $1 billion.
The administration clarified the report was not meant to be a "sanctions list."
The list included 114 senior political figures with ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to CNN. It also had 96 oligarchs.
Russia warned that publishing the names could have "very, very serious consequences," according to CNN.
"This is another step, which, obviously, leads to further escalation of tensions," Aleksey Chepa, deputy chairman of the State Duma's international affairs committee, told official news agency RIA Novosti.
Putin also said the move to release the list was a "hostile step," according to The Associated Press.
The release came after the Trump administration told Congress on Monday that bipartisan legislation passed last year authorizing new sanctions on Russia is already "serving as a deterrent," and there is no need to implement the penalties at this time.
A spokesperson for the State Department said the mere possibility of facing sanctions through the Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act has served as an effective countermeasure.
"Given the long timeframes generally associated with major defense deals, the results of this effort are only beginning to become apparent. From that perspective, if the law is working, sanctions on specific entities or individuals will not need to be imposed because the legislation is, in fact, serving as a deterrent," the spokesperson said.
The 2017 legislation allows President Trump to postpone imposing sanctions on people or entities if he determines they are largely scaling back their transactions with Russia's defense or intelligence sectors, as long as he notifies the appropriate congressional committees at least every 180 days that they are seeing such progress.
Crypto coin company 'disappears with millions', leaving one-word message: 'Penis' | Metro News
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:10
The Prodeum website before the website went offline (Picture: Prodeum.io)A crypto coin start-up has disappeared from the internet with a supposed haul of millions in investor cash, leaving a short, succinct message.
Girl's tragic final message to her mum 'before she took her own life' For hours, the site for Prodeum simply read: 'Penis'.
To make the joke even better, Prodium is a medication designed to reduce infections of the urinary tract.
The site had masqueraded as a blockchain start-up which would use crypto technology to ensure fresh vegetable delivery, with its own coin offering.
It had reportedly raised millions in venture capital money, IB Times reports '' although others are more conservative about the sums involved, suggesting that few had responded to the site's amateurish press release and initial coin offering.
Its declared goal, before vanishing, was to 'revolutionise the fruit and vegetable industry', using Ethereum blockchains.
The start-up claimed to be based in Lithuania, and planned to use an Ethereum blockchain to label vegetables (honestly, people fell for this).
'It's an idea whose time has come,' said Prodeum product manager Rokas Vedluga in a press release last year.
'We're proud and excited to bring this remarkable new technology to the world!'
Ethereum (Picture: Prodeum.io)But on close inspection, the founders turned out to have used fake names and images, and LinkedIn profiles have now been deleted.
It's not clear how much money they've vanished with, but LInkedIn profiles for the supposed founders seem to have used images from other people's profiles.
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Steve Wozniak: 'I don't believe anything Elon Musk or Tesla says'
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:05
It's no shocker that Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak is wary of Elon Musk and Tesla '-- he once said there is ''way too much hype'' around the company.
At a conference in Sweden last week, Wozniak, who owns two Model S vehicles, doubled down on his Tesla criticism '-- while still leaving an opening for future optimism.
''Now, I don't believe anything Elon Musk or Tesla says,'' Wozniak said. ''But I still love the car.''
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In his talk about Tesla, Wozniak recounted one incident at Lake Tahoe, where his Tesla skidded off an icy road and fell into a snow bank, according to Business Insider, which reported on the Q&A with Wozniak. Despite the accident, Wozniak said he maintained his trust for Tesla, upgrading his model when Tesla introduced the feature that allows Tesla owners to ''summon'' their self-driving vehicles.
He also bought into Musk's promise that the car would be able to drive itself across the United States by the end of 2016. But after Tesla broke up with the Israel company that developed sensors for Tesla and Musk's promise wasn't realized, his trust was damaged, said Wozniak.''I'm sure the next car will come out and Elon's promise will be that (this is the car that delivers),'' said Wozniak, with author Seth Godin moderating the talk.
Wozniak also took shots at the state of Tesla's current state of self-driving technology. He said longtime car manufacturers such as Audi and BMW are ahead of Tesla in the race for self-driving cars.
Read the full story at SiliconBeat.
Saudi authorities net $106 billion in corruption settlements
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:03
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) '-- A wide-reaching anti-corruption campaign shrouded in secrecy and intrigue has netted more than $106 billion in financial settlements with 56 people remaining in custody, Saudi Arabia said on Tuesday.
Saudi Attorney General Saud al-Mojeb said the settlements reached include seizure of real estate assets, commercial entities, securities and cash.
The statement did not disclose further details on the types of businesses or real estate that was acquired. An earlier statement by the government incorrectly identified 65 people as still being held.
Al-Mojeb said a total of 381 people had been questioned in connection with the anti-corruption campaign, which began Nov. 4 and is being spearheaded by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Last week, al-Mojeb said 90 people had been released after agreeing to financial settlements and that 95 were still being held. It appears close to 40 were released since then.
Among those released over the weekend was billionaire Saudi Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, who is chairman of Kingdom Holding and has investments in major Western firms such as Twitter, Apple, Lyft and Citigroup.
He had been detained for more than 80 days at the luxurious Ritz-Carlton hotel in Riyadh, where dozens of high-profile figures were held, questioned and pressured into forfeiting significant financial assets in exchange for their release. It was not immediately known what kind of settlement Prince Alwaleed had agreed to.
Prince Alwaleed was among at least 11 princes and dozens of businessmen and officials detained in the unprecedented sweep.
Critics say the crown prince has used the purge against high-level individuals to wrangle control of key Saudi companies, sideline potential rivals and silence critics alarmed by his rapid rise to power as he prepares to inherit the throne from his father, King Salman.
Saudi authorities say the campaign is aimed at improving the kingdom's business environment and that sums recovered will be used to fund a cash assistance program for middle and lower-income citizens estimated to cost $8.5 billion this year.
The attorney general said the remaining 56 individuals still in custody have not reached a financial settlement "due to other pending criminal cases, or in order to continue the investigation process." Those still held could now face prosecution and prison time, the government has previously warned.
In the statement released by the government, authorities appeared to be trying to assuage foreign investors, saying the review of case files of those accused of corruption "has been completed."
Despite repeated statements that the purge is nearly over, investors remain concerned about doing business in Saudi Arabia, where key business partners and firms could still be targeted. The government has also not officially released the names of individuals detained nor disclosed the specific allegations against them, leading to concerns of transparency and accountability.
There is also concern that royal family members stung by the sweep and businessmen forced to handover significant financial assets or control of their companies could try and seek some form of retaliation.
Reprieve - Trump's secret assassinations programme
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:59
by Maya Foa, Director of Reprieve
One year on from a disastrous operation in Yemen that left 10 children dead, we take a look at President Trump's secret assassinations programme, its origins in the Bush and Obama administrations, and its horrifying escalation in the last year.
It was approved by President Trump casually over dinner '' a midnight raid and drone strike on the village of Yakla in Yemen. Concerns about the quality of the intelligence and legality of the operation would later prove to be warnings he should have heeded, but he gave the order anyway. What happened next left 10 children dead and was described by President Trump as a ''win''. Reprieve's investigations have revealed that it was anything but. Instead, we have uncovered violations of international law that led to an appalling loss of life.23 innocent people were killed in Yakla, including 10 children aged 12 years and under, and an elderly man of 80. Even senior officials in the US administration have said the raid produced ''no significant intelligence'' and that ''almost everything went wrong'' on the night in question.
To understand what happened that night, we have to go back to a promise made by the Bush administration. Following the horrors of Guantanamo and the CIA's programme of rendition and torture, the US decided to do away with the discomfort of detaining people. In an attempt to avoid scrutiny, legal accountability and international condemnation for its barbaric practices, the US decided it would resort to killing people '' covertly '' instead.
The targeted killing programme began. Drones circled villages in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia '' watching, listening and killing. The programme grew exponentially under President Obama, and so did the death toll.
The US government compiled a 'Kill List' of suspected enemies, who are targeted for assassination. Following their tradition of using sinister euphemisms to conceal wrongdoing, it was named 'the disposition matrix'.
Over 250 children have been killed in Pakistan and Yemen.
But the targeted killing programme turned out to be anything but targeted. The CIA's own leaked documents concede that the US often does not know who it is killing, and that militant leaders' account for just 2% of drone-related deaths. Over 250 children have been killed in Pakistan and Yemen.
The program requires no clear evidence that an attack will take place, due process is laid to waste and there is no scrutiny or accountability for US actions.
More than 80% of those killed have never even been identified by name. In numerous attempts to kill one individual, the CIA killed 76 children and 29 adults, while totally failing to assassinate their target. To get around the problem of civilian casualties, everyone in a strike zone was classified as a combatant.
Then Trump became president.
In his first year in office, President Trump has overseen a dramatic increase in drone strikes in Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Somalia '' all countries against which the US is not officially engaged in a war.
The first year of the Trump administration has resulted in more loss of life from drone strikes than all eight years of Obama's presidency. Trump ripped up the limited safeguards President Obama put in place.This is now industrial-scale executions, hugely expanded in both scale and callousness, conducted with no regard for human life or human rights.
The first year of the Trump administration has resulted in more loss of life from drone strikes than all eight years of Obama's presidency.
The international human rights law that governs the use of lethal force outside of armed conflict permits the use of lethal force only in very narrow circumstances; specifically, only where it is ''strictly unavoidable'' in order to defend against an ''imminent threat of death.''
But Trump's raids and strikes across the globe, exemplified by the disastrous operation in Yakla, follow a pattern of ill-considered and legally questionable operations.
The purpose of the raid in Yakla was initially reported as being to capture or kill a suspected terrorist leader. However, it quickly emerged that he was not in the village at the time. Then the story changed. The US indicated that the aim of the ''highly successful'' mission was, instead, to gather intelligence. Once again, it was a case of targeted killing missing the target and massacring civilians instead.
In the words of US Secretary of Defence James Mattis, this operation, carried out a year ago today, was a ''game changer''. He is right '' now the world can see the scale and reckless brutality of the atrocities being committed by the Trump Administration as part of an ill-conceived, unchecked and never-ending ''War on Terror''.
Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spree | TheHill
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:57
When Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probeMORE was appointed last May as Special Counsel to investigate Trump, Politico Magazine gushed that '' Mueller might just be America's straightest arrow '-- a respected, nonpartisan and fiercely apolitical public servant whose only lifetime motivation has been the search for justice.'' Most of the subsequent press coverage has shown nary a doubt about Mueller's purity. But, during his 11 years as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mueller's agency routinely violated federal law and the Bill of Rights .
Mueller took over the FBI one week before the 9/11 attacks and he was worse than clueless after 9/11. On Sept. 14, 2011, Mueller declared, ''The fact that there were a number of individuals that happened to have received training at flight schools here is news, quite obviously. If we had understood that to be the case, we would have '-- perhaps one could have averted this.'' Three days later, Mueller announced: ''There were no warning signs that I'm aware of that would indicate this type of operation in the country.'' His protestations helped the Bush administration railroad the Patriot Act through Congress, vastly expanding the FBI's prerogatives to vacuum up Americans' personal information.
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Deceit helped capture those intrusive new prerogatives. The Bush administration suppressed until the following May the news that FBI agents in Phoenix and Minneapolis had warned FBI headquarters of suspicious Arabs in flight training programs prior to 9/11. A House-Senate Joint Intelligence Committee analysis concluded that FBI incompetence and negligence ''contributed to the United States becoming, in effect, a sanctuary for radical terrorists . '' FBI blundering spurred the Wall Street Journal to call for Mueller's resignation , while a New York Times headline warned: '' Lawmakers Say Misstatements Cloud F.B.I. Chief's Credibility .'' But the FBI was off and running. Thanks to the Patriot act, the FBI increased by a hundredfold '-- up to 50,000 a year '--the number of National Security Letters (NSLs) it issued to citizens, business, and nonprofit organizations, and recipients were prohibited from disclosing that their data had been raided . NSLs entitle the FBI to seize records that reveal '' where a person makes and spends money, with whom he lives and lived before , how much he gambles, what he buys online, what he pawns and borrows, where he travels, how he invests, what he searches for and reads on the Web, and who telephones or e-mails him at home and at work,'' the Washington Post noted. The FBI can lasso thousands of people's records with a single NSL '-- regardless of the Fourth Amendment's prohibition of unreasonable warrantless searches .
The FBI greatly understated the number of NSLs it was issuing and denied that abuses had occurred, thereby helping sway Congress to renew the Patriot Act in 2006. The following year, an Inspector General report revealed that FBI agents may have recklessly issued thousands of illegal NSLs . Shortly after that report was released, federal judge Victor Marrero denounced the NSL process as ''the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values."
Rather than arresting FBI agents who broke the law, Mueller created a new FBI Office of Integrity and Compliance. The Electronic Freedom Foundation, after winning lawsuits to garner FBI reports to a federal oversight board, concluded that the FBI may have committed ''tens of thousands'' of violations of federal law, regulations, or Executive Orders between 2001 and 2008.
Mueller was a front-and-center Bush cabinet member when the president, scorning a unanimous 1972 Supreme Court ruling , decided he was entitled to impose warrantless wiretaps on Americans. At an April 2005 Senate hearing, Sen. Barbara MikulskiBarbara Ann MikulskiGolden boy Robert Mueller's forgotten surveillance crime spreeClinton: White House slow-walking Russia sanctionsTop Lobbyists 2017: Hired GunsMORE (D-Md.) asked Mueller: ''Can the National Security Agency, the great electronic snooper, spy on the American people?" Mueller replied: "I would say generally, they are not allowed to spy or to gather information on American citizens ."
Mueller presumably knew his answer was at least misleading if not blatantly deceptive. Nearly nine months later, the New York Times revealed that Bush had unleashed NSA to illegally wiretap up to 500 people within the U.S. at any given time and peruse millions of other Americans' emails . Attorney General Alberto Gonzales responded to the uproar by asserting that ''the president has the inherent authority'' to order such wiretaps. Mueller had no trouble with that dictatorial doctrine '-- even though the same claim spurred one of the articles of impeachment crafted against President Nixon.
Mueller's biggest coup against privacy occurred with Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which entitles the FBI to demand ''business records'' that are ''relevant'' to a terrorism or espionage investigation. In 2011 testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Mueller '' suggested the FBI interpreted (Section 215) narrowly and used it sparingly ,'' the ACLU noted. But Mueller was the point man for the Bush administration's bizarre 2006 decision (perpetuated by Obama) that all Americans' telephone records were ''relevant'' to terrorism investigations. Several times a year, Mueller signed orders to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court , swaying it to continually renew its order compelling telephone companies to deliver all their calling records (including time, duration, and location of calls) to the National Security Agency.
On June 5, 2013, leaks from former NSA contractor Edward Snowden blew the lid off this surveillance regime . Federal judge Richard Leon slammed that records roundup as '' almost Orwellian... I cannot imagine a more indiscriminate and arbitrary invasion than this systematic and high-tech collection and retention of personal data on virtually every single citizen for purposes of querying and analyzing it without prior judicial approval.''
Mueller sought to dampen the Snowden uproar by testifying to Congress that the feds could not listen to Americans' calls without a warrant for that '' particular phone and that particular individual .'' But NSA employees had broad discretion to vacuum up Americans' info without warrants, and NSA's definition of terrorist suspect was so ludicrously broad that it includes " someone searching the web for suspicious stuff ."
If Mueller's team finds clear evidence that Trump colluded with Russia in his 2016 presidential campaign, any abuses Mueller sanctioned as FBI director will be irrelevant. But if Mueller's case relies on his halo instead of smoking guns, then Americans should pay more heed to Mueller's record than to his press clips. Gravitas is no substitute for fidelity to the Constitution.
James Bovard is a USA Today columnist and the author of 10 books, including '' Lost Rights: The Destruction of American Liberty '' (St. Martin's Press, 1994).
Amazon, Berkshire And JPMorgan To Form Healthcare Company | Zero Hedge
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:52
In a move that might explain why Amazon has been quietly acquiring pharmacy licenses (not to mention hitting daily all time highs) the e-commerce giant - along with Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase & Co. - announced on Tuesday morning that they would partner to form a new health-care venture.
This 3-way partnership among Amazon, JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway on health care is the most interesting initiative out of corporate America I've seen in quite a while. https://t.co/18AVFnZ5PI.
'-- Erik Schatzker (@ErikSchatzker) January 30, 2018In their release, the companies said they are working toward building an independent company focused on technology solutions ''that will provide [their] US employees and their families with simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.'' They will pursue this end through an independent company that would be free from profit making and other constraints.
They cited the "ballooning costs of health care" as the inspiration for their decision.
Here's more from the press release:
Tackling the enormous challenges of healthcare and harnessing its full benefits are among the greatest issues facing society today. By bringing together three of the world's leading organizations into this new and innovative construct, the group hopes to draw on its combined capabilities and resources to take a fresh approach to these critical matters.
''The ballooning costs of healthcare act as a hungry tapeworm on the American economy. Our group does not come to this problem with answers. But we also do not accept it as inevitable. Rather, we share the belief that putting our collective resources behind the country's best talent can, in time, check the rise in health costs while concurrently enhancing patient satisfaction and outcomes,'' said Berkshire Hathaway Chairman and CEO, Warren Buffett.
''The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,'' said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO. ''Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare's burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner's mind, and a long-term orientation.''
''Our people want transparency, knowledge and control when it comes to managing their healthcare,'' said Jamie Dimon, Chairman and CEO of JPMorgan Chase. ''The three of our companies have extraordinary resources, and our goal is to create solutions that benefit our U.S. employees, their families and, potentially, all Americans,'' he added.
The longer-term management team, headquarters location and key operational details will be communicated in due course, the companies said. According to the release, the project is still in its early planning stages, with the initial formation of the company jointly spearheaded by Todd Combs, an investment officer of Berkshire Hathaway; Marvelle Sullivan Berchtold, a Managing Director of JPMorgan Chase; and Beth Galetti, a Senior Vice President at Amazon.
UnitedHealth, Anthem and their managed-care peers ticked lower in premarket trading on the news, as did a handful of pharmacy names, including CVS (-3.1%) and Walgreens Boots Alliance (-2%).
Facebook to promote local news in drive for 'trusted' content - BBC News
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:46
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Mark Zuckerberg said that the Facebook update would encourage users to be more engaged Facebook says it is changing the way its news delivery service works by focusing on local news sources in its drive for "high quality" content.
"Local news helps us understand the issues that matter in our communities," explained chief executive Mark Zuckerberg on his page on Monday.
The update will initially apply to the US before it is rolled out more widely.
It comes after Facebook announced that it was making posts from businesses, brands and media less prominent.
"Starting today, we're going to show more stories from news sources in your local town or city," Mr Zuckerberg said in his post.
"If you follow a local publisher or if someone shares a local story, it may show up higher in News Feed," he added.
Mr Zuckerberg said that Facebook users who are made aware of what is happening in their communities will be more likely to get involved and "make a difference".
"Research suggests that reading local news is directly correlated with civic engagement," he said.
He added that the changes were part of the company's drive to show more "high quality, trusted news".
In a company statement, Facebook said that the "See First" feature will allow users to choose which news sources, including local or national publications, they want to see at the top of their feeds.
The social media company is making a series of changes to its website and app following criticism over the appearance of misleading news and misinformation in users' feeds.
The company has acknowledged that media organisations posting on its site may see the popularity of their posts decrease as a result.
Earlier this month, Mr Zuckerberg said that he and his team felt a responsibility to make sure that Facebook was good for people's wellbeing.
If public content is to be promoted, he said at the time, it will now have to be seen to encourage community interaction.
Ranking All 50 USA States From Best to Worst - Best State In America - Thrillist
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:44
Seeing how we've already danced with state rankings involving food/drink and beer, we thought it was time to use the perfectly American cliche ''go big or go home'' and rank the states based on everything. More specifically, their contributions to America, so think inventions, food/drink, somewhat productive famous people, unique physical beauty, etc.
Because this is the internet, we expect disagreements. We expect that you will find our placement of Arkansas or New York or Montana infuriating, and accuse us of pandering and showing regional biases. Someone will inevitably use the word ''invalid'' and say they stopped reading as soon as ''X'' happened. Someone else will accuse us of having never been to a state, and say mean things about our hair. This is fine. What we'd prefer, though, is for it to start the same sort of debate Matt and I had when sorting out the rankings. Is the loose-meat sandwich greater than the Juicy Lucy? Is Tonya Harding worse than Skip Bayless? Where does one locate Delaware on a map?
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This Couple Made a Funny Fake Car Commercial and Got $20kAnyway, we'll let you get to it. And to my cousins in Florida: I'm sorry I couldn't help you. It appears nothing could.
50. FloridaWhen putting together a list such as this, there can be some temptation to defy popular expectations, and go against the grain. However, Florida's awfulness resume is so staggeringly impressive that it couldn't go any other way. You were born for this. Embrace it.
49. DelawareDogfish Head, one of the most enduring jokes from Wayne's World, and... that about covers it. Even people from Delaware don't really fight back all that hard when you make fun of Delaware.
48. OhioGetting LeBron back only further cemented its position as the Florida of the North.
47. ArizonaThe inevitable answer to any question that starts with, ''Where do those nice retired people we met on that river cruise live?'', AZ is also home to golf pros playing the Web.com Tour, and college students whose parents don't seem to mind paying down the credit card balance on tribal tattoos. Though the unmitigated beauty of its canyons and deserts is well known, the Northern part of the state actually holds the largest number of ponderosa pine trees in in the world, a fact that would hold more sway in the ranking if they weren't completely useless as Christmas trees.
46. UtahTo this day Utah is still amazed it managed to host the Olympics.
45. MississippiThe only state children actually use in counting games is like a John Grisham book, but Jake Brigance has to quit his lawyer job to work on a catfish aquaculture farm in Yazoo City.
44. ConnecticutInventing the cheeseburger, the can opener, ESPN, and Rick Mahorn can only get you so far. Also, we're subtracting points for John Mayer and warm lobster rolls.
43. North DakotaChuck Klosterman is currently preparing a 3,000-word essay detailing why playing the Queen song ''Tenement Funster'' off their Sheer Heart Attack album during the second season of the show Hang Time proves that the forthcoming statement is incorrect, but it's true: North Dakota is the lesser Dakota.
42. MissouriHome of the Cardinals, who, as you may have heard, have the best fans in baseball. Sorry you couldn't hold onto a football team. Oh right, the Chiefs. Actually, the whole thing with most of Kansas City actually being in Missouri is frustratingly confusing for everyone else. Also, when you have a special type of cheese that is only made for your special variety of pizza and isn't used anywhere else, that is a sign that it's not very good cheese. Good ribs though!
41. NevadaIf a guy tells you he is from Vegas, he's either a mediocre street magician or a budding baseball phenom. If a guy tells you he goes to Vegas all the time, you should probably think twice before trusting him. And if a guy tells you he goes to Reno all the time, you are either about to be murdered or given the hard sell on some discounted irrigation equipment. Great buffet values though!
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist40. NebraskaWhere your grandpa gets his mail-order steaks, and where the good citizens see a football coach and say "now THAT guy should be in Congress."
39. South CarolinaOn the one hand there's Charleston. On the other hand there's ... everything else.
38. Rhode IslandTiny Rhode Island doesn't have a chip on its diminutive shoulder. It's just the wooden spoon from an empty carton of Del's Frozen Lemonade.
37. IdahoThe gun America is menacingly pointing at Canada! It seems kind of unfair that many Americans simultaneously adore potatoes and mock Idaho for farming so many potatoes. It's just hard to get fired up about the state's progress as a hub for semiconducter manufacturing, ya know?
36. West VirginiaWest Virginia is the state equivalent of that friend from college who purposely gets in fights with security guards at free Barenaked Ladies concerts.
35. KansasYou don't become the largest producer of sunflowers by sitting on your ass. Or do you? Agriculture seems complicated.
34. GeorgiaAt the middle school lunch table that is America, Georgia is that kid who everyone kind of can't stand but tolerates because their parents are friends and they usually have good snacks at their house. It makes sense. Think about it. The snacks are Augusta National and connecting flights through the Atlanta airport, if that helps.
33. South DakotaYou don't carve the faces of presidents into a mountain unless you're doing something right. And whatever that right thing is, it might involve fry bread, chislic, kuchen, January Jones, and the location of THE GREATEST HBO SHOW OF ALL TIME. But still, it is a Dakota.
32. OklahomaPoints for onion burgers, Color Me Badd, Louis L'Amour's later works, that flirtatious minx Ado Annie Carnes from the musical Oklahoma!, the first shopping cart, 2007 Wes Welker, and that one song from Cross Canadian Ragweed that they don't play anymore. Negative infinity points for Skip Bayless.
31. VirginiaMinus points for its messy divorce with West Virginia and numerous historical inaccuracies in Remember the Titans, which is really more Disney's fault, but still. Plus points for ham and the good parts about Thomas Jefferson.
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist30. MassachusettsIf America is Sirius Satellite Radio (which it is!), Mass is that station that only plays NPR think pieces on jimmies, mixed in with snippets of sports talk-radio callers yelling (also, some Dropkick Murphys).
29. AlabamaLess a state than two opposing tribes of football fanatics caught up in a Cold War conducted using call-in radio show proxies and tree assassins. Actually needs to be congratulated for figuring out a way to work mayonnaise into its BBQ.
28. IndianaHoosiers like to think of themselves as the living embodiment of a John Mellencamp song, even if they were never actually born in a small town or dated anyone named Diane. While the folksiness can feel a bit forced sometimes, there's definitely something to all that #HoosierHospitality they talked about so much when everyone was mad at them for that thing they did. Everyone was a bit skeptical when they landed a Super Bowl, but people walked away almost universally impressed, which isn't an easy feat (cough Jacksonville cough).
27. IllinoisChicago's a fine city that vacillates between having WAY too high an opinion of itself and desperately needing outside approval. That said, without it, Illinois would really be scraping bottom. Have you ever been to Rockford? That city enjoys bowling to a degree that makes everybody else uncomfortable. Also, since 1961 Illinois has sent an impressive four governors to prison, so watch yourself Bruce Rauner!
26. WyomingA state as played by Jack Palance in City Slickers, you'll recognize Wyoming as the one eating bull fries and venison jerky, dressed in gold and brown, talking shit about Colorado. It should be given credit for creating the USA's first national park in Yellowstone, and giving teenage boys everywhere a chance to snicker at the Grand Tetons.
25. IowaThe Hawkeye State is like that kid you bunk with at camp who has decent snacks, and never tries to steal your diary and read it aloud at lunch, even though he can hear you weeping while you write your missives under the covers. So basically it's pleasant, but not entirely memorable. Though to be fair, in most countries, coming up with the Eskimo Pie, the loose-meat sandwich, and University of Iowa three point-shooting legend Chris Kingsbury would be enough to ensure a place at the top of the heap. But America is not most countries, according to Wikipedia.
24. New HampshirePeople from NH have a random sort of swagger you don't often see in New England, which you can only get from regularly beating up humanities majors from Dartmouth. Quite possibly the most overlooked of the New England states, NH has beautiful lakes, mediocre outlet stores, and a clever political primary system, which ensures that Carly Fiorina will be pretending to like buckwheat pancakes at the Littleton Diner. Also where the rest of New England goes to buy and illegally transport bottle rockets over state lines for the 4th.
23. New MexicoGREEN. CHILE. Also sand. And, like, pretty good skiing.
22. North CarolinaThe land of tobacco, basketball, and Petey Pablo rap tracks has many things going for it: two types of barbecue (with varying amounts of vinegar); the weirdly fascinating bikini string of beachfront known as the Outer Banks; the clothes-ruining delight that is Cheerwine; and the fact that most of the Duke kids go back North after four years.
21. New JerseyDespite all the damage wrought by certain reality TV programs and a certain rotund Cowboys-loving governor, Jersey is actually pretty damn swell. Most of the Jersey Shore (place, not show) is rather pleasant and devoid of laundry-obsessed orange people, South Jersey is basically a pastoral wonderland, and the state arguably does both pizza and cheesesteaks better than its more heralded neighbors in either direction. Plus, our moms really love that Jersey Boys musical.
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist20. MarylandMaryland is a tough state to pin down -- not quite Southern, not quite Northern, split between the influences of DC and Baltimore, speaking with America's most underrated hideous accent. To really understand it you should either read James Michener's epic novel Chesapeake, or just start putting Old Bay on everything and developing an uncomfortably strong attachment to Cal Ripken Jr.
19. ArkansasThe Razorback State is a dark horse of sorts, underrated for both its BBQ and spa town tranquility (conveniently, both happen in the same place). According to your particular palate, it's also got either the best or worst college cheer (''Wooooooo Pig Sooie!''), the best or worst former president (Clinton), and the best or worst former NATO supreme allied commander (Wesley Clark, you divisive beast!). Also, we just read that the pronunciation for Arkansas was a hot debate between its two senators until 1881, as one of them kept calling it ''Arrr-kansas.'' That didn't factor into the ranking but we felt like you needed to know.
18. MontanaMontana's managed to position itself as kind of the hip older brother of the relatively unpopulated/ unheralded Midwest and Mountain West states, with an up-and-coming brewing and distilling scene and some underrated places to party (shout out to Missoula!). As a corollary it's become something of a trendy spot for Hollywood types looking to really make a statement about how much they're ''getting away from it all,'' which can be good or bad depending on how you feel about hanging out in coffee shops formerly owned by Glenn Close.
17. VermontOnce you get past the intellectualized enviro-crunchy aesthetic, which always feels a bit condescending in the chillest way possible, you could fall in love with a place stocked to the brim with the finest of craft beers, cheddar cheeses, and sugary tree sap to pour over your French toast sticks. The only problem is, it's hard to get past an entire gaggle of dudes who used to be in the Peace Corps but now sell vegan grilled cheese and goo balls outside of String Cheese Incident shows while criticizing your car's inability to run on compressed natural gas.
16. AlaskaAmerica's greatest remaining expanse of truly unspoiled wilderness and judgment-free opportunities to hunt wolves with spearguns via helicopter. Watch out for rogue bears and/or Palins. Enjoy the stunning beauty and eerie silence of walking on a glacier, assuming you get there in the next few months while they're still in existence. Also eat some salmon. It's high in Omega 3s.
15. OregonThere is a theory, and it goes like this: in the places with the best weather, there is an onus to be outside, an urge to ditch more intellectual pursuits for the spirit of the outdoors, and while that is fantastic for your calorie intake and calf definition, it inhibits creativity, stifles progressive thinking, and makes it hard to read things without expensive polarized sunglasses. ''If I already have everything, what do I need to create,'' they shout, tan-faced and chiseled in San Diego. Well, the good people of Oregon don't have that problem, which might explain why they're the kings of the DIY movement, and the original craft food/beer/everything scene. It possibly even explains the brilliance of native son Raymond Carver. It does nothing, however, to explain Tonya Harding.
14. TennesseeIn no particular order, things Tennessee gets right include: hot chicken, the Stax Museum, sneakily passionate hockey fanbases, ribs, Beale Street, state songs, dressing weirdly nice for college football games, and theme parks dedicated to busty country musicians.
13. New YorkIn the scheme of things, this is actually a pretty good ranking. And yet, 15 New Yorkers have definitely already commented to tell us that this ranking is an abomination and affront to decency on par with Montreal "bagels" and actual home ownership. That's pretty much all you need to know about New Yorkers.
12. PennsylvaniaDespite being home to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, sandwiches that incorporate French fries as a filling, and football fans who steal prosthetic legs, Pennsylvania still feels like it flies a bit under the radar sometimes. Whether it's a product of being caught between the equally distracting spheres of DC and New York or everyone's lingering confusion about the Pennsylvania Dutch actually being German, who knows.
But Pennsylvania has certain charms that become increasingly apparent when you look past the obvious stuff. Cheesesteaks are great and all, but those roast pork numbers are arguably more delicious. Pittsburgh's underrated both as a cultural center and in its efficient choice to keep the color schemes of its sports teams consistent. Scranton has... the memory of Joe Biden bragging about how rough it was growing up there in a vice presidential debate. But hey, Pennsylvania doesn't want to be perfect. It just wants to consume pretzels at an alarming frequency while ignoring all the bad stuff Ben Roethlisberger probably did and the plot holes in most of the Rocky movies.
11. TexasOne of us here was born in Texas and spent his early years there, and as such, has been blessed with the kind of unshakeable and unexplainable confidence that can only come from someone who has been on the slide inside the Parker Bros Trail Dust Steakhouse.
There is an unmistakable magic to Texas, be it because it takes the ''everything is bigger in Texas'' motto to literal heights with hair, breasts, barbecue, frozen margaritas, and space travel; or possibly because it boasts four cities with food and drink worthy enough to garner regular and repeated coverage in these (digital) pages; or maybe just because of that scene from Friday Night Lights where Riggins toasts to ''Texas forever'' while Lyla Garrity grinds up on Street. There is a thing you can't understand unless you, too, are wearing a giant belt buckle shaped like a Colt revolver, sipping a Dr Pepper in Waco, or playing drug wars on your damn Texas Instruments calculator. Yes, there are unsightly towns and former Plano farmland cut up into suburban sprawl that stretches as far as the eye can see, but that's just part of the big ol' plan. And anyway: remember Tyra Collette?
Jennifer Bui/Thrillist10. ColoradoColorado has life figured out to a degree that is somewhat frustrating for outsiders. Gorgeous hiking in the summer and skiing in the winter that offsets the caloric excesses that accompany the state's position as one of the foremost craft beer-loving, munchie-having states out there. Hurting its ranking? Fake-nice guys with distressingly in-shape calves who've been working as part-time ski instructors for the past decade while depleting their trust funds after failing out of Boulder.
9. CaliforniaYou probably thought you'd be higher, didn't you California? You just assumed because of all your formidable cities to eat/drink in, and your pretty highways jutting out over cliffs, and your hockey team named after a Disney movie about a hockey team that you'd just walk away with the ranking, right? You figured because you have world-famous celebrities like Ethan Embry, Tyler Posey, and Jake Busey that we would just succumb to the tidal wave of collective talent and throw you in the top spot? You think because we want to drink all your delicious craft beers and dip our fries in the burger spread from In-N-Out and eat Mission burritos while listening to claymation California Raisins sing Motown music that we'd just give it up so easily, like Julia Roberts does in that movie about your history where she drives a Lotus to a hotel room then doesn't kiss Richard Gere JUST TO MAKE A POINT ABOUT LOVE?
Well, we're sorry. Your expansive land mass coupled with your anger-inducing 2:30pm traffic jams, weird subcultures of people vain on the outside (Hollywood) and on the inside (Silicon Valley), and potentially apocalyptic future have to be factored in. Now please tell us you're not out of avocados.
8. WashingtonDid you know there are temperate rainforests in the state most often confused with a district very far from it?!!? Or that it's the largest producer of both hops and spearmint oil?!? Or that Seattle would be the greatest city in the US if it didn't rain for 10 straight months and Seahawk fans would occasionally just chill out and stop yelling, and you could just take those ferries Meredith Grey uses in that show about her body parts all the freaking time? Well it would. Also, according to that book Boys in the Boat, its crew team beat Hitler or something.
7. MinnesotaLakes are easily top three in the ''Types of Bodies of Water, Ranked'' story that'll probably be written in a week or so. Since Minnesota has 10,000 of them (or at least CLAIMS to), that's a good place to start, even if Los Angeles jacked their on-theme NBA team. Its people are generally too busy trying to stay warm to be rude to anyone, its burgers are often stuffed with molten cheese, and its summers are as legendary as Gordon Bombay would have been if that jerk coach hadn't been so mean to him in pee-wees.
6. HawaiiOnce you unpack the complicated racial tension caused by the US' unlawful annexation of the island and exposed by that one beach scene from the seminal Hawaii movie of our time (Blue Crush), you come to realize that most people wish they were the ones that grew up here. Of course there is that beauty, the nearly obscene mix of volcanoes and beaches, and beaches made out of old volcanoes. Then there's the food, everything from saimin and malasadas (thanks Portugal!), to poke and plate lunches. And now, thanks to Israel Kaanaoi Kamakawiwo'ole, everyone has heard a much chiller version of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" at a wedding. All told, Hawaii remains America's version of that cooler cousin who knows how to surf, and teaches you complicated swear words.
5. LouisianaMy nephew is under the impression that all people from Louisiana are actually just alligators dressed in bayou-ready attire speaking with Cajun accents, but my nephew is also 3 and likely wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles costume RIGHT THIS MINUTE. In reality, very few alligators in Louisiana speak.
More to the point, we all know the high regard to which we hold the food and drink culture of New Orleans and the rest of Louisiana (thank you for Tabasco, po-boys, and cocktails), but aside from that, the wharves of New Orleans were where craps was invented in the early-19th century, and the term Uncle Sam allegedly started when Louisiana was a US territory, and dockworkers would mark goods from the States with a ''U.S.'' and say they came from ''Uncle Sam.'' Also, there's a 900-ton bronze statue of Shaq dunking on fools at LSU. I'd like to hear what the alligators have to say about that.
4. WisconsinAny state that loves beer enough to name its baseball team after it and loves sausage enough to make anthropomorphic versions of it race during said baseball team's games has its priorities well established. Wisconsinites must chuckle at the notion that a bar focusing on fine ales, house-made charcuterie, and artisanal cheeses can endeavor to position itself as trendy -- beer, cheese, and meat -- really reinventing the wheel there, everybody! Milwaukee's a sneaky, underrated big city and Madison's properly rated as one of the finest college towns in the country. Step by Step was an underrated TGIF sitcom. On Wisconsin! On Wisconsin, indeed.
3. KentuckyThings that are really important to Kentucky: making all the good bourbon, drinking all the good bourbon, drinking all of said good bourbon while wagering on horse races, eating open-faced sandwiches that are covered in an irresponsible amount of liquid cheese, making peace with sleazy basketball coaches you'd otherwise dislike because Ashley Judd needs something to root for, dammit. All things considered, Kentucky has it pretty figured out.
2. MaineMaine is so hot right now. Both literally, because it's the summer, and in a more metaphorical sense, because Portland has become the new Portland, and food journalism is entering its hipster/nostalgia phase, in which it has become recently very cool to rediscover old places that have been doing the same damn thing forever. And outside of Portland, that is Maine. Mainers don't give a damn about your trend forecasts, they're just going to keep naming their children ''Wade,'' selling L.L.Bean backpacks to middle schoolers, using the term ''down East'' to mean South, and hilariously calling ham subs with American cheese ''Italians.''
And we haven't even scratched the surface on its borderline monopoly on the high-end lobster supply, its delicious blueberries, or the fact that it has literally thousands of islands you don't even know about where dudes named Wade are probably eating lobsters and drinking Moxie as we speak.
1. MichiganFar too much of the Michigan narrative centers on Detroit and its many issues. The Motor City's become a scrappily rising underdog you can't help but root for, but Michigan's greatest strengths lie in the state as a whole. Did you know Michigan has more coastline than any state other than Alaska? Did you know it has such an embarrassment of beer riches that you can easily hit Bell's and Founders in the same afternoon? Did you know the UP is so remote and uniquely beautiful that it almost feels like a secret 51st state where they inexplicably love British meat pies? Did you know most residents are more than happy to apologize for Kid Rock? If you answered yes to at least three of these than you already understand Michigan's charms. If you answered no to these questions, you should listen to the dulcet tones of Michigan tourism pitchman Tim Allen and get yourself there immediately.
Kevin Alexander is Thrillist's executive editor, was born in Texas, raised mostly in Massachusetts, and now lives in California. Follow his banishment from several of these states: @KAlexander03.
Matt Lynch is Thrillist's deputy editor, was born somewhere in the middle, and is still there. Try and guess the name of that crazy place: @MLynchChi.
Could this feature have been written by a robot? - BBC News
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:42
Image copyright Getty Images Would you care if a story you read in a newspaper or online was "written" by a machine rather than a stressed-out hack? Would you even be able to tell the difference? Welcome to the world of "robo journalism" - and it's coming faster than you think.
Squirrelled away at the Press Association's (PA) headquarters in London is a small team of journalists and software engineers.
They're working on a computer system that can do the work of multiple human beings, picking out interesting local data trends - everything from crime statistics to how many babies are being born out of wedlock.
As part of a trial, the PA has begun emailing selected machine-generated stories, no more than several paragraphs or so in length, to local newspapers that might want to use such material.
"We've just been emailing them samples of stories we've produced and they've been using a reasonable number of them," says Peter Clifton, editor-in-chief.
Sometimes human journalists will rewrite or add to the algorithms' copy, but quite often, he says, it is published verbatim. Automated stories about smoking during pregnancy, recycling rates, or cancelled operations have all found their way online and in print.
Image copyright PA Image caption The Press Association's Peter Clifton says automation could help, not harm, journalists This "robo-journalism" is becoming increasingly popular throughout the world's newsrooms, as publishers struggle to cope with dwindling newspaper circulations and the switch to online advertising.
Mr Clifton hopes to be distributing 30,000 of these stories every month by the end of April. The project, called Radar - is a partnership with Urbs Media and is funded by a '‚¬706,000 (£620,000) grant from Google.
But how much of a journalist's workload can really be automated? And are jobs ultimately at risk?
Mr Clifton points out that, at this stage, the system simply amplifies the work human journalists do, some of whom are involved in developing the system's output. The automated part is currently limited to trawling through the data, something that would take humans far longer to do.
Image copyright Shutterstock Image caption Automated stories are becoming more prevalent, but at what cost? Nevertheless, stories churned out by machines are becoming more and more common, particularly in the US.
The LA Times' earthquake alerts, based on data from the US Geological Survey (USGS), have been automated since 2014.
But the risks of such systems became clear last June when the newspaper published a report about a 6.8 magnitude quake off the coast of California - it was actually a record of a 1925 earthquake that had been published by the USGS in error.
The LA Times' automated story had appeared just a minute after the USGS published its outdated report. In this case, being first to the news was definitely a disadvantage.
The odd hiccup has failed to deter publishers, however.
The Washington Post announced last year that it would begin publishing automated stories about high school American football matches.
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Tools of a bygone era? "The stories will be automatically updated each week using box-score data submitted by high school football coaches," an article on the scheme explained.
In 2017, research revealed that thousands of stories a month are now being produced in European newsrooms with the help of algorithms.
The survey, from Oxford University's Reuters Institute of Journalism, found that many publishers are using automation to release interesting data quickly - from election results to official figures on social issues.
There are other uses, though. One agency in The Netherlands uses an algorithm to rewrite stories with simpler language, for a news wire aimed at children.
While productive, most of these systems aren't overly sophisticated, concluded author of the report Alexander Fanta, then at the Austrian Press Agency.
Image copyright PA Image caption Rupert Murdoch's News International clashed with UK print unions in 1986 over new technology But more advanced tools are in the works.
Tencent, the Chinese tech giant behind the WeChat messaging app, recently showed off a system that could write a report about a speech automatically. Executive editor of news site Quartz, Zach Seward, had one of his own speeches at a conference written up this way - and he was impressed.
China's state news agency, Xinhua, is now reorganising itself to increase the use of AI.
But could AI really take over more tasks traditionally done by human journalists, such as phone interviews with subjects?
"There could be such a thing as a robot reporter calling up the loved ones of a deceased person and asking them how they feel," says Mr Fanta, referring to "death knock" calls - a sometimes controversial, but often important task for journalists.
Image copyright Panu Karhunen Image caption Alexander Fanta thinks machines will be an extra "prosthetic arm" to help journalists "You could script that - but I guess the question is, do you really want to?"
Instead, he sees automation increasingly becoming just another tool in the journalist's toolbox - a potential "prosthetic arm" for reporters who, in future, might routinely script algorithms to help source stories or produce content.
But isn't there a danger that such automated news generation tools could also be used by propagandists wanted to spread false news for their own political or national objectives? There is already evidence that automation has been used for such purposes on social media sites.
"There's a genuine concern that automation facilitates these kind of attacks on free speech," says Mr Fanta.
The BBC does not currently publish stories that have been generated by algorithms, says Robert McKenzie, editor of the corporation's News Labs research team.
But News Labs has worked on tools to automate other parts of journalists' jobs, he says, including "the transcription of interviews and identification of unusual trends in public data".
Image copyright Getty Images While AI is undoubtedly going to become more present in newsrooms, Joshua Benton at Harvard University's Nieman Journalism Lab doesn't think it yet poses a serious threats to jobs. There are far greater pressures, such as falling advertising revenues, he believes.
And he also says the really difficult and most highly scrutinised part of what professional journalists do - carefully weighing information and presenting balanced, contextualised stories - will be very hard for machines to master.
"Good journalism is not just a matter of inputs and outputs, there is a craft that, however imperfect, has evolved over decades," he explains.
"I'm not saying that machines will never get there, but I think they're still a pretty long way away."
European Pipeline Wars: Realpolitik Meets Geography
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:31
Authored by Tom Luongo,
The headlines are ablaze this month with news from all over about new pipeline projects coming into Europe. Never one to miss an opportunity to do the U.S. State Department's bidding in how it presents pipeline politics, Oilprice.com published a howler of a piece about the Southern Gas Corridor.
Titled, ''Is This the World's Most Critical Pipeline?'' the piece is pure marketing fluff designed to make you think that Azerbaijani gas will change the face of European gas politics.
The beginning is the most telling, ''Europe wants to become less dependent on Russian gas and use more clean energy'...'' This is a lie.
Europe doesn't want this as a continent, the leaders of the European Union who are aligned with the United States who view Russia as the enemy want to become less dependent on Russian gas.
Most of Europe wants Russia to supply them with natural gas because it is 1) cheap and 2) plentiful. For geopolitical reasons the U.S. doesn't want an ascendant Russia. The EU technocracy agrees because a strong Russia owning more than 40% of European gas sales is a Russia that can't be destabilized through currency and proxy wars.
Southern Gas BoondoggleThe Southern Gas Corridor is a nearly 4000km (2500 mile) gas pipeline project to bring Caspian Sea natural gas into southern Europe. It is slated, when completed with all the side projects tying into it, between 60 and 120 billion cubic meters of gas annually (bcma) starting with an unknown amount from Azerbaijan in 2019.
That number comes from an announcement in the Financial Times circa 2008. A better number for it is closer to just 16 bcma.
It's estimated cost at the time of negotiation was over $41 billion. Today, it's $45 billion with corruption and graft likely to take that number higher. This is the very definition of a solution in search of a problem. It is nothing more than a $45 billion bribe to both the U.S.-favorable regime in Azerbaijan and BP who is sitting on the major Shah Deniz gas deposit with out a market to sell it to.
The U.S has been using EU countries hostile to Russia, namely the Baltics and Poland, to delay or scuttle new Russian gas projects into Europe; projects that countries like Italy, Greece and Bulgaria are screaming for.
The Real Southern Gas RouteIn 2014 political pressure on Bulgaria from the EU and the U.S. scuttled the South Stream pipeline from Russia. South Stream was to bring gas from Russia's southern fields across the Black Sea into Bulgaria, who would have profited nicely from the billions in transit fees annually.
Since the South Stream debacle, Bulgaria has had a change in government. The people got rid of the U.S. satrap government and installed one much more hostile to geopolitical games which keep them poor.
Putin and Gazprom, the state gas company behind South Stream, quickly shifted gears and announced a re-route of it through Turkey. The new project is called Turkish Stream and will terminate in Greece. Hungary negotiated a spur off of Turkish Stream with Gazprom last summer. The intervening countries all want the transit fees.
The European Union has not signed off on Turkish Stream legs inside the EU, but the first leg which will bring 15.75 bcma to Turkey will be completed this year and that gas will be used by Turkey to strengthen its relationship with Russia.
The cost for this project? Just $12 billion. And it goes under the Black Sea.
The Nord Stream 2 Gorillia in the RoomThen let's turn our attention to the very controversial NordStream 2 pipeline. This is the one that would double the capacity of the existing Nordstream pipeline bringing cheap Russian gas from basically St. Petersburg to Germany.
It brings 55 bmca a year to the EU as I write this. Nordstream 2 would double that. It's only 780 miles long. It will be finished by next year.
The price tag? Just under $10 billion.
And Gazprom bent over backwards to make this a European-owned project, partnering with no less than five European oil and gas majors to own half of the project. Poland stepped in and declared the joint venture illegal and Gazprom had to go it alone. Eventually it worked out a deal where its former partners became its financiers by getting loans directly from them to build the pipeline. The loans were for the same amount of money they were initially going to put into the joint-venture.
The EU has done everything to stop Nordstream 2 short of simply writing a law outlawing it, which it cannot do. And it finally threw in the towel earlier in the month.
The European Commission antitrust enquiry is effectively retracted from the DG Comp's agenda after Gazprom agreed not to object to cross-border sales of resold Russian gas and make destination clauses flexible.
The EU legal service's legal opinion on the applicability of the Third Gas Package to an offshore pipeline Nord Stream 2 (it found it was not) all but buried any future European Commission aspirations to block the project. The European Council chief, Donald Tusk, keeps on urging member states to adopt new EU gas rules which would specifically target maritime gas pipelines feeding the EU, however, Germany and France seem highly reluctant to go along with it.
Tusk is a Polish EU-Firster and Russophobe par excellence. He's also one of the most odious men in the EU hierarchy, and that's saying something considering the company he keeps there.
The EU changed the rules during the lead up to South Stream as well, implementing new rules for pipeline ownership ex post facto of the contracts being signed and the permits issued. This is what made it easy for Bulgaria to scuttle the project.
Again, all to satisfy a United States hell-bent on keeping Russia bottled up and maintaining political control over the EU.
Politics Over PeopleWhat's important in all of this is the massive effects that power politics plays on the economic welfare of people. Politicians, generals, CEOs of corporatist nightmares don't make decisions in the best interest of the people they are supposed to serve. They make them in the interest of policy goals that more often than not do little more than waste precious capital on boondoggles like the Southern Gas Corridor project.
That project has been the goal of EU and U.S. politicians for more than a decade. It has required an unbelievable amount of political maneuvering to get off the ground. And the final product will be less than twenty percent of its original capacity.
On the other hand, with Putin cancelling South Stream in 2014, he moved quickly on the two projects highlighted here which will be operational despite the roadblocks before the Southern Gas Corridor will be.
The goal of diversifying Europe's gas purchases is one born of politics not energy safety. The immense trade benefits that Russia gains from these pipelines are not things they will jeopardize over a single missed payment.
Energy security is simply a fear-mongering tool to mask banal corruption and articles like the Oilprice.com one that inspired this response are simply cheap forms of propaganda.
Europe's future is more secure with Turkish Stream and Nordstream 2 providing the people of Europe gas at half the price of Caspian gas. Don't believe me? Ask Ukraine, who for three plus years have been buying re-sold Russian gas at twice the price from Germany and Poland to avoid buying it directly from Gazprom. Schools and businesses have had to shut down simply because they don't have the money to heat the buildings.
With this year's frigid winter, they've finally relented and will begin buying gas directly Gazprom again, now that their legal challenge was settled by the Stockholm Arbitration Court.
This is what is driving European politics populist. It, along with insane immigration, is eroding the political power of the globalists who run the EU. Gazprom, despite all of the rhetoric, supplied a record amount of gas to Europe in 2017 and will likely increase those deliveries by another 6% in 2018.
Eventually economic reality overwhelms realpolitik.
CLIPS
VIDEO - MSNBC analyst asks if Devin Nunes is secretly a Russian agent - YouTube
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 16:07
VIDEO - Van Jones: Trump served the nation candy filled with poison tonight - YouTube
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 16:03
VIDEO - The Democrats' Extreme Rhetoric on Immigration | SUPERcuts! #566 - YouTube
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:58
VIDEO - Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Talks DACA, Running For President In 2020 | The View - YouTube
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 15:47
VIDEO - Maxine: I've Been Adopted By Millennials | The Daily Caller
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:25
Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters, who is 79 years old, said on ''MSNBC Live'' Saturday that she's been ''adopted by millennials.''
WATCH:
''I've been adopted by millennials, and they, you know, refer to me as Auntie Maxine,'' the congresswoman said. ''And I want to be an enabler. I want to open up the process for them. We have some very talented young people, who are doing podcasts and who are broadcasters, and they have not really been welcomed into, you know, the Congress of the United States in ways that they have spaces that they can, you know, cover this State of the Union.''
''So I've created a millennial role. And I've invited as many millennials who are doing this kind of work as I possibly can. I've invited members to go in and do interviews with them. And right now, I think we have about 45 members who are going to come, and probably more will be signing up, so they can sit down and get in touch with this population that's gonna make a difference in 2018.''
Waters is set to respond to President Trump's State of the Union speech by giving her own speech. The California congresswoman has made a name for herself since Trump's election by being strongly anti-Trump. (RELATED: Maxine Waters: Trump Involved In 'Collusion, Obstruction Of Justice, Money Laundering' [VIDEO])
The congresswoman joked in October that she wanted to ''take Trump out.'' (RELATED: Maxine Waters Jokes That She Wants To 'Take Trump Out' [VIDEO])
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VIDEO - Watch Dennis Rodman's Big Bang In Pyongyang Online | Watch Full Dennis Rodman's Big Bang In Pyongyang (2015) Online For Free
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 14:03
Share this movie link to your friends. Share to support our website. We wish you have great time on our website and Enjoy Watching Guys!Have a nice day! All The Best
Dennis Rodman's Big Bang In PyongyangDennis Rodman is on a mission. After forging an unlikely friendship with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, he wants to improve relations between North Korea and the US by staging a historic ...
Movie: Dennis Rodman's Big Bang In Pyongyang
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Duration: 93 min
Release: 2015
VIDEO - FCC says false missile alert in Hawaii was sent by employee who thought attack was real | TheHill
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:55
The employee who sent a false emergency alert of an incoming missile on Hawaii earlier this month did not realize it was a drill and thought the attack was real, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigators announced on Tuesday.
The Jan. 13 cellphone message sent to residents on the island led to a state-wide panic, with many people believing they had moments to spare before a ballistic missile hit Hawaii. The message told them to "SHELTER IN PLACE" and that "THIS IS NOT A DRILL."
The alert was not corrected for nearly 40 minutes.
FCC investigators on Tuesday blamed the mistake on a miscommunication between the employee who issued it and supervisors who were announcing a drill.
According to their preliminary report, a supervisor's recorded message included the phrase "exercise, exercise, exercise" but also mistakenly included the phrase "this is not a drill."
A day-shift warning officer, the FCC said, heard the message but not the words "exercise, exercise, exercise" and, believing that it was an actual emergency, issued the false missile alert to the entire state.
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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at a commission hearing said the findings show that Hawaii's emergency agency did not have adequate safeguards in place to prevent false warnings, nor did it have a proper procedure for quickly correcting mistakes.
"Every state and local government that originates alerts needs to learn from these mistakes," Pai said at an FCC meeting. "Each should ensure that it has adequate safeguards in place to prevent the transmission of false alerts, and each should have a plan in place for how to immediately correct a false alert."
Hawaii officials on Tuesday said that the warning officer who issued the alert had been fired and that the top emergency management official had resigned. The lead state investigator, Bruce Oliveira, said at a press conference that the employee had confused drills for real-world events in the past.
The mistake happened after the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency had already conducted a ballistic missile defense drill during the early morning hours that went smoothly.
But later that morning, a night-shift supervisor decided to run another spontaneous drill during a shift change without any advance warning for employees.
The incoming day-shift supervisor believed that the drill would be for the night employees only, and the supervisor was not in place to help properly manage the exercise, investigators said.
While the employee who sent the mistaken message did not realize it was only a drill, other employees told investigators that they understood that the event was a drill.
Officials from the FCC's Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau noted that they still have not spoken with the employee who sent the alert.
That employee has refused to cooperate with the investigation, though they did receive a written statement from the individual from the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency.
Investigators said that because they haven't been able to speak with the employee, they can't verify his story, though they said his claim that the message included the phrase ''this is not a drill'' was accurate.
After the false attack message was sent, emergency officials contacted military and federal officials, Hawaii's governor and the media to clarify that the alert was false. They also canceled retransmission of the alert within minutes, though the report noted that does not trigger a correction of the initial false alert.
Oliveira told reporters that after the officer responsible for issuing the alert realized his mistake, he became confused and another employee had to take over his responsibilities. Pai said Tuesday that after the bureau issues its final report, the FCC will work with officials across the country to determine whether the agency needs to intervene.
''The public needs to be able to trust that when the government issues an emergency alert, it is indeed a credible alert,'' Pai said. ''Otherwise, people won't take alerts seriously and respond appropriately when a real emergency strikes and lives are on the line.''
Read preliminary FCC report by kballuck1 on Scribd
Updated at 12:32 p.m.
VIDEO - Nicole Kidman Eats Bugs | Secret Talent Theatre | Vanity Fair - YouTube
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:36
VIDEO - Paul Ryan's Slip About 'Preventing' Trump Was Best Part Of The SOTU | HuffPost
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:12
Tell us how you really feel!
Donald Trump's supporters may have enjoyed the president's first State of the Union address, but the highlight for many people was the way House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) introduced it.
''I have the high privilege and the distinct honor of preventing, uh, presenting to you the president of the United States,'' Ryan said.
Here's a clip from C-SPAN.
Whether it was a just a verbal slip of the tongue or an inadvertent expression of Ryan's true feelings may never be known '• it's not like Ryan would admit it.
Still, the gaffe provided amusement to many people on Twitter '• and that's what really matters, right?
Of course, a lot of people drew on the lessons learned from their Intro to Psychology class.
Others suspected Ryan's intro was really a cry for help.
Others let GIFs express how they felt.
One man lamented the decline of verbal facility in politicians.
But Ryan was no one-trick pony when it came to meme-able moments, as his reaction when Trump said ''In God We Trust'' amply demonstrates.
As you might expect, the action inspired many comments on Twitter.
Although many people seemed to enjoy making fun of Ryan, one man had a simple solution to help the speaker prevent himself from becoming a meme in the future.
VIDEO - Franklin Township family believes Tamiflu led to teen's suicide | FOX59
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 13:04
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A Franklin Township teen took his life, just days after being diagnosed with the flu. His family worries the medicine prescribed to help him may be to blame.
Charlie Harp's loved ones say he was thriving in his classes and excited about his involvement on the wrestling team. They say they believe the extreme decision to commit suicide may have been caused by severe side effects from the medicine he was taking for the flu.
''He's an amazing child full of life, happy all the time; you just never see him without a smile on his face,'' said Jackie Ray, Charlie's aunt and guardian.
The 16-year-old boy was diagnosed with the flu last Thursday, and like many flu patients, he was prescribed Tamiflu.
"We started it right in the car, get it in him and get him started,'' said Ray.
Less than 24 hours later, Ray said she texted the teen but did not get a response.
''I knew something was wrong. My husband came home and found him in the house,'' said Ray.
Ray's husband, Brad, discovered Harp had committed suicide in the garage.
''Just thinking the whole way here what's different?'' Brad Ray wondered. ''He's been the same. What did we do differently? And it clicked, he just started new medicine.''
The couple told FOX59 the teen had never expressed suicidal thoughts before and had no signs of depression. The only change, they say, had been he started taking Tamiflu.
The Tamilfu warning label clearly states pediatric patients may be at an increased risk of confusion or abnormal behavior. The Rays say they weren't properly warned about what that could mean.
''He had a total of two doses,'' said Jackie Ray. ''Two doses and this is where we are.''
As family awaits answers, the couple says they're finding strength in the outpouring of support from the community and hope to spread the word so other families are aware of the possible side effects from the medicine.
''The thought of someone else not knowing and give it to their children, I can't bear that,'' said Jackie Ray.
FOX59 reached out to the maker of Tamiflu. A spokesperson said they can't comment on this specific case at this time but released the following statement.
Neuropsychiatric events have been reported during the administration of Tamiflu in patients with influenza, especially in children and adolescents.
They add patients should be closely monitored for behavioral changes.
The maker says they take all reports seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation. They also stated there's no data suggesting a link for such events with antiviral treatment.
Harp's visitation is today from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Shirley Brothers Washington Memorial Chapel at 9606 E. Washington Street. His funeral is tomorrow at noon. A GoFundMe page was set up to help with funeral expenses; the family says they plan to use extra funds to create some sort of scholarship in his honor.
VIDEO - Douglas Haig with Attorney Marc Victor - YouTube
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:54
VIDEO - In shocking move, feds drop all charges against Sen. Bob Menendez | NJ.com
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:50
In a shocking turnaround, the U.S. Justice Department has dropped its case against U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez.
In a court in Newark on Wednesday, federal prosecutors moved to dismiss the corruption indictment against the New Jersey Democrat after a federal judge last week acquitted Menendez and his co-defendant, Salomon Melgen, of seven of the 18 counts against them.
Both were facing a retrial after a deadlocked jury could not reach a verdict in the high-profile case in November.
"Given the impact of the court's Jan. 24 order on the charges and the evidence admissible in a retrial, the United States has determined that it will not retry the defendants on the remaining charges," said Department of Justice spokeswoman Nicole Navas Oxman.
Hours later, Chief Judge Jose Linares signed an order of dismissal.
In a statement, Menendez said he never wavered in his innocence and his belief that justice would prevail.
"I am grateful that the Department of Justice has taken the time to reevaluate its case and come to the appropriate conclusion," he said. "I thank God for hearing my prayers and for giving me strength during this difficult time. I have devoted my life to serving the people of New Jersey, and am forever thankful for all who have stood by me. No matter the challenges ahead, I will never stop fighting for New Jersey and the values we share."
Defense attorney Kirk Ogrosky, who represents Melgen, said the case began five years ago when "FBI agents started this ill-fated adventure that destroyed my client's life," when they raided his office in West Palm Beach.
Melgen was later convicted on separate Medicare fraud charges.
"Dr. Melgen is now and has always been innocent of the charges brought in New Jersey," said Ogrosky. "He did not ever give anything to his best friend of over 20 years with an expectation that he would get something in return. We take no pleasure in seeing justice done at this stage in a case that should never have been brought."
The decision to dismiss the charges will have significant political consequences for Menendez, who is seeking re-election to the Senate this year and faced the possibility of a retrial on the eve of that campaign.
It also marks a surprising turnaround for the Justice Department, which had announced that prosecutors would pursue a retrial.
Menendez and Melgen were charged in April 2015, in a case brought out of Washington by the Justice Department's anti-corruption unit. The government had argued that Menendez, 64, traded the power of his office in exchange for six-figure campaign contributions, luxury hotel stays and private jet flights.
They claimed that Melgen, an ophthalmologist and long-time friend of Menendez, had sought the senator's intervention on the doctor's behalf in an $8.9 million Medicare billing dispute, as well as visa applications of Melgen's foreign girlfriends and a contested port security contract in the Dominican Republic that would benefit one of Melgen's companies.
Menendez was also accused of making false statements on Senate disclosure forms by intentionally concealing Melgen's gifts.
He still faces a Senate ethics probe on failing to list those gifts on his disclosure forms.
The defense argued that the gifts came out of 20 years of friendship and that Menendez's staff mistakenly believed they were exempt from disclosure requirements.The senator's lawyers also argued that Melgen's campaign contributions followed years of financial support for political campaigns outside his home state of Florida.
But after a seven-week trial, jurors in Newark said they could not reach a verdict and told reporters they had been deadlocked 10-2 for acquittal.
Just over a week ago, prosecutors said they intended to seek a retrial.
"The conduct alleged in the indictment is serious and warrants retrial before a jury of citizens in the District of New Jersey," said a spokesman following that filing. "The decision to retry this case was made based on the facts and the law, following a careful review."
Last week, however, U.S. District Judge William Walls unexpectedly acquitted Menendez and Melgen on seven major charges against the two men, in connection with political contributions involving hundreds of thousands of dollars by Melgen that went to several political committees with ties to the senator. He said, "There is no there there."
Walls, in his opinion, said the government "failed to produce evidence of facts either direct or circumstantial" to prove a quid pro quo and that from the evidence, a rational juror could not find that Menendez and Melgen were aware of the terms of the alleged quid quo.
Joseph Hayden of Pashman Stein Walder Hayden, a prominent New Jersey defense attorney, was not surprised by the decision of the Justice Department to seek dismissal.
"Given the overwhelming number of the jurors in favor of acquittal, and the decision by Judge Walls entering a judgment of acquittal for insufficient evidence to prove the political contribution counts, it was clear the government had no choice but to dismiss the counts," Hayden said. "They did not have a provable case."
Robert Mintz, a former federal prosecutor and now a criminal defense attorney at McCarter & English, said the decision by Walls had knocked out a major part of the government's case. At the same time, he said it was a political corruption case built entirely on circumstantial evidence.
"With no cooperating witness, no tape recordings and no videotapes, this was always going to be a challenging case for the government," observed Mintz. "The judge's decision to dismiss the bribery charges involving political contributions left prosecutors with an even more difficult case and less evidence with which to prove it."
Ted Sherman may be reached at tsherman@njadvancemedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
VIDEO - Sen. Joe Manchin rips 'disrespectful' Dem colleagues who refused to stand during SOTU | Fox News
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 12:30
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., on Wednesday took a shot at grouchy members of his own party who refused to stand for any of President Trump's State of the Union address -- describing their behavior as ''disrespectful.''
Manchin, whose state voted for Trump in 2016 and who is running for re-election, was speaking on "Fox & Friends" about how he stood when the president entered the chamber, and how he stood and applauded some of Trump's policy proposals.
''That's the way I was raised in West Virginia. We have respect,'' he said. ''There is some civility still yet. There should be civility in this place.''
Manchin stuck out like a sore thumb among his colleagues as he was one of just a few red-state Democrats who applauded some of the president's policy proposals on topics such as clean coal and infrastructure. Sens. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., two other red-state Democrats facing tough re-election bids in November, also applauded some of the president's remarks.
However, many Democrats refused to stand when Trump entered the chamber and stayed seated during the president's applause lines -- even apparently non-controversial lines such as when Trump hailed a record-low black unemployment rate.
Some members even chose not to stand when Trump honored Louisiana Republican Rep. Steve Scalise and praised his resolve for returning to work less than four months after he ''took a bullet'' from a gunman and "almost died.''
Manchin blasted such behavior as ''disrespectful.''
''I've seen it on both sides when Obama gave speeches, Republicans. That's disrespectful and last night was disrespectful,'' he said.
Manchin said he welcomed when the president embraced issues that would help his state, refusing to walk out immediately after the speech as many of his colleagues did.
''Not me, I stayed there and shook his hand and thanked him because he talked about coal, we're gonna do coal research and development, opioid addiction, I need that,'' he said. ''Infrastructure, I've never seen a pothole that belongs to a Democrat or a Republican -- we both get blamed for that one -- so we've got to fix this stuff.''
Republicans seized on the Democrats' refusal to stand as proof that Democrats are now the ''party of sitting on their hands.''
''Democrats are no longer just the party of resistance and obstruction, they are now also the party of sitting on their hands,'' said the Republican National Committee. ''No matter the issue, Democrats chose to sit on their hands tonight.''
Fox News' Joseph Weber contributed to this report.
Adam Shaw is a Politics Reporter and occasional Opinion writer for FoxNews.com. He can be reached here or on Twitter: @AdamShawNY.
VIDEO - Here's Why Other People's Farts Smell Way Worse Than Your Own | HuffPost
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 23:44
So maybe you were too embarrassed to ask, but we're guessing you've been wondering why your flatulence is so much less offensive than that of other people.
It turns out that science has several explanations, according to a new video (above) from the YouTube series ASAPScience.
For starters, "the more familiar you are with something, whether it be a song, picture, or even a smell, the more likely you are to prefer it," series co-creator Mitchell Moffitt says in the video, "and because the bacterial population in your body producing these smells is completely unique from every other individual, our farts truly have a one-of-a-kind brand that your nose can differentiate."
And then there's the fact that others' farts can actually make you sick.
"There are many reported cases of farts spreading Streptococcus pyogenes, a pathogen that can cause tonsillitis, scarlet fever, heart disease, and even flesh-eating disease," Moffitt says in the video. "The pathogen is expelled as fecal matter or poop particles in the air... Of course, this was a major concern for our ancestors who ran around naked, but for us underwear or pant-wearing folks, farts don't pose a real threat."
You're welcome.
VIDEO - Stormy Daniels cancels appearance on 'The View' | TheHill
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 22:30
Stormy Daniels is pulling the plug on an appearance on "The View'' that had been scheduled for Thursday.
The adult film star, who reportedly had an affair with President TrumpDonald John TrumpStormy Daniels on statement denying Trump affair: 'I do not know where it came from'Five Takeaways from Trump's State of the UnionVan Jones: Trump 'selling sweet-tasting candy with poison in it'MORE in 2006, canceled the sit-down the day after an appearance on ''Jimmy Kimmel Live!'' in which she cast doubt on a statement released in her name denying the relationship.
''Did you sign this letter that was released today?'' Kimmel asked on Tuesday night.
''I don't know, did I?'' replied Daniels, whose legal name is Stephanie Clifford. She later added, ''But that does not look like my signature, does it?''
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ABC had touted the ''View'' booking as an opportunity for Daniels to "join the co-hosts at the Hot Topics table live" and "discuss her newfound attention since the allegations have been in the headlines.''But on Wednesday's show, co-host Whoopi Goldberg told the audience, "Stormy Daniels was supposed to be coming on 'The View.' We are not sure that's happening anymore."
The Wall Street Journal reported earlier this month that one of Trump's lawyers paid Daniels $130,000 just before the 2016 election as part of a nondisclosure agreement on the affair, which allegedly occurred after Trump's marriage to now-first lady Melania TrumpMelania TrumpStormy Daniels on statement denying Trump affair: 'I do not know where it came from'Trump makes case he's stoking American dreamTrump: US must get 'much tougher on drug dealers and pushers'MORE .
Following the Journal's report, In Touch magazine published the transcript from a 2011 interview with Daniels in which she detailed her relationship with Trump. The magazine says Daniels passed a lie-detector test and Trump's attorney had threatened to sue if it released the interview.
ITK has learned that Daniels cited criticism from ''The View'' guest co-host S.E. Cupp in canceling her appearance.
Last week, Cupp knocked Kimmel for booking Daniels for his show immediately following Trump's State of the Union address.
"Monica Lewinsky was also caught having an affair with a president," Cupp said. "Jimmy Kimmel needs to have [Lewinsky] on his show if he expects us to watch an interview with Stormy Daniels and take it seriously."
On his Tuesday show, Kimmel played multiple clips of Lewinsky appearing as a guest on his show over the years.
"We do want to point out that S.E. was a guest on the show '-- wasn't a permanent co-host," Goldberg said on Wednesday, "and she gave her opinion, and that's what the show is. We give our opinion."
VIDEO - Franklin Township family believes Tamiflu led to teen's suicide '' FOX59
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 19:27
A Franklin Township teen took his life, just days after being diagnosed with the flu. His family worries the medicine prescribed to help him may be to blame.
Charlie Harp's loved ones say he was thriving in his classes and excited about his involvement on the wrestling team. They say they believe the extreme decision to commit suicide may have been caused by severe side effects from the medicine he was taking for the flu.
''He's an amazing child full of life, happy all the time; you just never see him without a smile on his face,'' said Jackie Ray, Charlie's aunt and guardian.
The 16-year-old boy was diagnosed with the flu last Thursday, and like many flu patients, he was prescribed Tamiflu.
"We started it right in the car, get it in him and get him started,'' said Ray.
Less than 24 hours later, Ray said she texted the teen but did not get a response.
''I knew something was wrong. My husband came home and found him in the house,'' said Ray.
Ray's husband, Brad, discovered Harp had committed suicide in the garage.
''Just thinking the whole way here what's different?'' Brad Ray wondered. ''He's been the same. What did we do differently? And it clicked, he just started new medicine.''
The couple told FOX59 the teen had never expressed suicidal thoughts before and had no signs of depression. The only change, they say, had been he started taking Tamiflu.
The Tamilfu warning label clearly states pediatric patients may be at an increased risk of confusion or abnormal behavior. The Rays say they weren't properly warned about what that could mean.
''He had a total of two doses,'' said Jackie Ray. ''Two doses and this is where we are.''
As family awaits answers, the couple says they're finding strength in the outpouring of support from the community and hope to spread the word so other families are aware of the possible side effects from the medicine.
''The thought of someone else not knowing and give it to their children, I can't bear that,'' said Jackie Ray.
FOX59 reached out to the maker of Tamiflu. A spokesperson said they can't comment on this specific case at this time but released the following statement.
Neuropsychiatric events have been reported during the administration of Tamiflu in patients with influenza, especially in children and adolescents.
They add patients should be closely monitored for behavioral changes.
The maker says they take all reports seriously and will conduct a thorough investigation. They also stated there's no data suggesting a link for such events with antiviral treatment.
Harp's visitation is today from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Shirley Brothers Washington Memorial Chapel at 9606 E. Washington Street. His funeral is tomorrow at noon. A GoFundMe page was set up to help with funeral expenses; the family says they plan to use extra funds to create some sort of scholarship in his honor.
VIDEO - ABC Melts Down Over 'Divisive,' 'Gloomy,' 'Sad' SOTU Speech 'Stoking...Racial Tensions'
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 13:32
To match their vicious pre-State of the Union address coverage, ABC lost its mind following President Trump's first such address, slinging mud at the President for delivering a ''divisive,'' ''gloomy,'' and ''sad speech'' that did nothing to ''unify'' the country and instead ''stok[ed]...racial tensions.''
Chief anchor and former Clinton administration official George Stephanopoulos started by telling chief White House correspondent Jonathan Karl that Trump ''did not unify that chamber'' while Karl swooned that he's ''never seen anything like it'' with ''Democrats...basically run[ning] for the exits.''
Congressional correspondent Mary Bruce sided with the DREAMers in the audience, fretting about ''what they were thinking, as they hear the President talk about this, as they see the divisions there on the floor, concerned that they could face deportation come the beginning of March.''
Senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega was livid at Trump simply mentioning the murderous, illegal immigrant gang MS-13:
One of the things that he said, though, George is that he wants to '-- have the country set aside the differences and went on to talk about undocumented immigrants as MS-13 gang members, demonizing them. I think he's going to have a tough sell when he's trying to sell unity and bringing up this issue of undocumented immigrants as criminals[.]
Vega also declared that the President was ''stoking...racial tensions by bringing up this issue out of kneeling during the National Anthem.''
The View's Meghan McCain took a step down from her more conservative stance on the liberal chatfest, becoming the more familiar, moderate voice as she fretted that ''[i]t was actually surprisingly not as bipartisan as I had anticipated.''
By talking about things like the Star Spangled Banner, guns, and God, McCain argued that ''those are things that will certainly make his base happy'' but were topics that were ''a lot more divisive.''
The always-deranged Matthew Dowd was perhaps most upset, telling Stephanopoulos that Trump did everything but ''give a unifying speech'' because he touched on ''divisive'' issues like immigration, the national anthem, ObamaCare, and even tax cuts. Yes, really.
''Calling this a healing speech is almost like calling, going on a diet by drinking a Diet Coke and eating a pizza. That's as much of a healing speech this was,'' he added.
Martha Raddatz was also on set to tout her Resistance talking points, denouncing the ''particularly gloomy'' and ''sad speech'' that ''did not unify, exactly what everybody is saying about not unifying.''
Longtime liberal commentator Cokie Roberts snuck in before a commercial break, noting how Democrats didn't even clap for the President when he entered the House chamber, but they had good reasons to not clap:
[B]ut he did do a variety of things that clearly did make them angry, and, you know, talking about the national '-- standing for the national anthem, there were many African-Americans members of Congress there wearing kente cloth '-- African cloth. The President never mentioned Africa, never said anything like that, so, there was not anything there for them to '-- to relate to.
Here's the relevant transcript from ABC's State of the Union 2018 coverage on January 30:
ABC's State of the Union 2018 coverage
January 30, 2018
10:31 p.m. Eastern
GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: One thing is pretty clear, Jon. He did not unify that chamber tonight.
JONATHAN KARL: George, I've never seen anything like it. Right now, the Democrats have basically run for the exits. I mean, usually when the President leaves, you still have members applauding. He did not unify this chamber, particularly on the issue of immigration. Not a single Democratic applause on his immigration proposal.
(....)
MARY BRUCE: There is an urgent, looming deadline here and Republicans and Democrats are no closer to solving this and, George, you have to think about those dozens of DREAMers in the audience tonight. What they are thinking, as they hear the President talk about this, as they see the divisions there on the floor, concerned that they could face deportation come the beginning of March and what the DREAMers were thinking when they heard the president say that line that will likely be one of the most memorable moments of the speeches, when he said ''Americans are dreamers, too.''
(....)
CECILIA VEGA: One of the things that he said, though, George is that he wants to '-- have the country set aside the differences and went on to talk about undocumented immigrants as MS-13 gang members, demonizing them. I think he's going to have a tough sell when he's trying to sell unity and bringing up this issue of undocumented immigrants as criminals for a lot of people, particularly those DREAMers in that room that Mary was saying. Again, sort of stoking, I think many would say, racial tensions by bringing up this issue out of kneeling during the National Anthem. The headline out of the speech, for me, George, though, is of course, is that ''Americans are DREAMers too.'' I think many people will see this as clear, concise, and compassion from this President.
(....)
MEGHAN MCCAIN: It was actually surprisingly not as bipartisan as I had anticipated. As Cecilia just said, talking about kneeling, or standing for the national anthem, his commitment to the Second Amendment, emphasizing in god we trust, those are things that will certainly make his base happy, but not necessarily something I anticipated in this kind of state of the union speech. Like I said, it was a lot more divisive than I had originally anticipated, but I'm sure conservatives will be happy tonight.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Matthew Dowd, did the President deliver what he talked to you about earlier today?
DOWD: Well, what I was thinking as I was listening to the speech, is if the president had met with me after the speech, I would say to him, well, that was how not to give a unifying speech. So, let's going back and give a unifying speech. As everybody has mentioned, he mentioned ObamaCare '-- ending ObamaCare? Divisive. Mention the tax cuts? Divisive. Mentioned a whole riff on immigration? Divisive. And the National Anthem? Divisive. Calling this a healing speech is almost like calling, going on a diet by drinking a Diet Coke and eating a pizza. That's as much of a healing speech this was.
(....)
MARTHA RADDATZ: It was also just a particularly gloomy speech. I mean, he didn't mention the word carnage, but he talked a lot about carnage. It was a sad speech there at the end and did not unify, exactly what everybody is saying about not unifying. The Democrats are there. They represent people in the country who probably feel exactly. how they do.
(....)
COKIE ROBERTS: Well, they probably should have been some what more enthusiastic when the President came in. We haven't seen them not clapping for a President who enters the chamber, but he did do a variety of things that clearly did make them angry, and, you know, talking about the national '-- standing for the national anthem, there were many African-Americans members of Congress there wearing kente cloth '-- African cloth. The President never mentioned Africa, never said anything like that, so, there was not anything there for them to '-- to relate to.
VIDEO - The Guy Who Sent Hawaii's Missile Alert Thought it Was Real | Time
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:58
(NEW YORK) '-- The Federal Communications Commission says human error and inadequate safeguards are to blame for a missile alert that was sent mistakenly in Hawaii.
The FCC said Tuesday that the individual who sent the false alert refused to talk to the agency, but provided a written statement. The FCC says Hawaii has been testing alert capabilities, and he mistook a drill for a real warning about a missile threat. He responded by sending the alert. There was no sign-off from a supervisor.
The alert was sent to cellphones, TV and radio stations in Hawaii earlier this month, resulting in panic among Hawaiians.
The FCC says that once the false alert was sent, it took 38 minutes to correct it because Hawaii did not have a standardized system for sending such corrections.
VIDEO - What Stormy Daniels Told Jimmy Kimmel About Donald Trump | Time
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:43
The porn star Stephanie Clifford, a.k.a Stormy Daniels, seemed to do everything with Jimmy Kimmel Tuesday night except confirm that she had an affair with Donald Trump '' or that she had signed a confidentiality agreement.
The adult film actress stopped by Jimmy Kimmel Live! for a limited but hint-laden interview following President Trump's first State of the Union address as part of her publicity tour.
The interview aired weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump's personal lawyer paid Daniels $130,000 to stop her from speaking publicly about an alleged sexual relationship that reportedly occurred while Trump was married to Melania in 2006. (Trump's lawyer Michael D. Cohen has said Trump vehemently denies any relationship.)
She even appeared to deny that she had issued a Tuesday afternoon denial of the affair.
Kimmel went so far as to point out that her signature on the new statement didn't match her signature on multiple previous documents '' including an autographed headshot.
''I do not know where it came from. It came from the internet,'' she said. ''That doesn't look like my signature does it?''
But Kimmel was confident something happened. In between Shark Week talking points, the late night host tried numerous silly, circuitous methods to get Daniels to confirm the reports surrounding her and Trump. Daniels kept tight-lipped '-- mostly laughing in response to the leading questions.
At one point, Kimmel turned to to his guest and said that if she didn't have a non-disclosure agreement, she could say she didn't have a non-disclosure agreement, but if she did have a non-disclosure agreement, she couldn't say she did. Daniels' coy response: ''You're so smart, Jimmy.''
Kimmel went on to get down to the details in an interview that the adult film actress reportedly gave to In Touch magazine before she was allegedly given the payout.
The interview details Trump's alleged sexual relationship with the star. Daniels didn't confirm the transcript in the interview, but said: ''Well, he does have good taste, I guess.''
In an unsuccessful effort to get his straight answer, Kimmel closed by turning to puppet theater featuring doll versions of Clifford and Trump.
Daniels has endeavored to tell her side of the story twice before this: once in 2011 and once again during Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. Another adult film star claimed that Trump once offered her $10,000 for sex, an account a Trump spokesperson disputed.
Kimmel has emerged as a potent spokesperson for Trump's critics on late night, taking every opportunity to lay into POTUS, and Tuesday was no exception.
VIDEO - Stephen Colbert Skewers Trump and Learns Definition of 'Zaddy' in Live 'Late Show' '' Variety
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:27
Stephen Colbert cruised through a live edition of CBS' ''The Late Show'' on Tuesday, thanks to plenty of material from President Trump's State of the Union address and a lively segment with ''2 Dope Queens'' hosts Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson.
Colbert offered his annotated commentary on highlights from Trump's 90-minute speech to Congress. Among the zingers he delivered at the Ed Sullivan Theater were jabs about brewing scandal over Trump's alleged affair and 2016 payoff of porn star Stormy Daniels.
Colbert invoked his peevish Trump impression after a clip of the President praising ''beautiful clean coal.'' ''If I weren't burning coal I might be dating it,'' he said.To Trump's promise of reducing the cost of prescription drugs, Colbert responded: ''Drugs would have really helped me get through his speech.''Trump's promise of offering ''love and loyalty'' to all people in America brought the retort: ''If the government isn't that loyal with their love they get $130,000 to keep quiet about it.''Trump touted the recent tax reform legislation that makes the first $24,000 of income earned by married couples tax-free. ''A benefit Trump will be enjoying for at least a few more weeks,'' Colbert said.Colbert's best line was not about Trump but Rep. Joseph Kennedy III (D-Mass.), a rising star who delivered the Democratic response to Trump's speech. Or as Colbert referred to the tall redheaded Congressman: ''Conan O'Brien.''The live staging of the episode went off without a hitch. During commercial breaks, Colbert conferred with ''Late Show'' executive producer Chris Licht briefly but mostly moved around the set, hamming it up with members of the audience. In the brief pre-show Q&A, Colbert told the crowd the guest he most wanted to have on the show was Pope Francis. He also showed off his ability to speak French and his bona fides as a ''Star Trek'' geek.
During the show, ''Pod Save America'' hosts Tommy Vietor, Jon Favreau, and Jon Lovitt were on hand to offer a harsh assessment of Trump's speech and his first year in office. Favreau said Trump appeared to be ''reading a hostage statement'' and ''didn't use his Twitter voice.''
Williams and Robinson followed, admitting that neither of them watched Trump's address. ''How are two dope queens dealing with the man from Queens,'' Colbert asked the pair. Robinson replied: ''I've been listening to Mary J. Blige non-stop and bathing in cocoa butter.''
''We're like, 'Black Panther' is coming out in two weeks. We don't have time for this,'' Williams said of Trump's speech.
Robinson and Williams dubbed Colbert a ''zaddy,'' or a ''hot dude'' with attitude '-- to Colbert's delight.
The show finished out with a mock-serious taped bit from Michael Weatherly, whose Tuesday night CBS drama ''Bull'' was preempted by the State of the Union. ''I speak on behalf of all Tuesday shows in primetime,'' Weatherly said. ''We're preempting what it means to be an American.''
Country star Chris Stapleton closed out the telecast with a soulful rendition of ''Drunkard's Prayer,'' from his Grammy-winning album, ''From a Room: Volume 2.'' (As he waited to go on, Stapleton did his own version of scatting with ''Late Show'' bandleader Jon Batiste, and he declared himself to be a ''zaddy'' too.)
Colbert had all of seven seconds to say goodnight after Stapleton's performance. He joked that it was the Conan O'Brien joke that put him over on time. ''Somebody was going to make that joke,'' he said. ''And I wanted to beat 'em to it.''
VIDEO - Ryan shouts-out Trump's hotel on Fox & Friends - YouTube
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 12:17
VIDEO - Stormy Daniels doesn't confirm or deny Trump affair on 'Kimmel'
Wed, 31 Jan 2018 06:46
CLOSEAccording to a new report, adult movie actress Stormy Daniels, who denied having an extramarital affair with Donald Trump back in 2006, told a different story in 2011. USA TODAY
Stormy Daniels drops by to chat with Jimmy Kimmel on Tuesday. (Photo: RANDY HOLMES/ABC)
"Whether you like it or not, Stormy is here."
Jimmy Kimmel opened his post-State of the Union episode of ABC's Jimmy Kimmel Live! defending his decision to have former porn star Stormy Daniels as a guest on the show.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, has been making headlines recently about an alleged extramarital affair with Donald Trump, after the Wall Street Journal reported that she was allegedly paid $130,000 through Trump's lawyer to keep silent and an old interview with In Touch magazine in which Daniels went into salacious details about the alleged affair was resurfaced. Daniels has claimed this month that the affair never took place.
More:Porn star Stormy Daniels' alleged affair with Trump takes new twist with old interview
In her actual appearance, Daniels remained coy. In the show's cold open, Kimmel presented Daniels with a Donald Trump puppet and urged her to show what Trump had done with it. In response, Daniels held up a puppet in her likeness with duct tape over its mouth. The interview didn't reveal much more.
Kimmel asked Daniels about a letter from her denying the affair again that was released before her appearance Tuesday, pointing out that her signature looked different than on previous statements and on signed photographs. But Daniels wouldn't confirm or deny that the statement was hers.
The host also pressed Daniels on the In Touch interview, asking if she said what was published. "Not as written. ... I honestly haven't seen the whole transcript, I'm too scared to look at it." When Kimmel started to read the transcript, Daniels interrupted, "I thought this was a talk show, not a horror movie."
When Kimmel continued and asked "is any of that true?" Daniels simply replied, "Define true."
Although Kimmel couldn't get her to say anything definitively about the alleged affair, she did definitively say that she thought it was "dirty" for Trump to bring women who had accused Bill Clinton of sexual misconduct to a debate during the 2016 election.
When asked if she felt guilty, Daniels said that she feels "guilt towards my family," and expressed concerns about what her daughter would read about her on the Internet.
Kimmel later brought the puppets back out for a game of "Never Have I Ever," so that Stormy could use it to answer the questions without violating the "NDA you don't have." The puppet didn't talk, either.
Daniels will also be appearing on ABC's The View on Thursday.
Stormy Daniels uses a puppet to play Never Have I Ever with Jimmy Kimmel. (Photo: Randy Holmes/ABC)
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VIDEO - E-Cigarettes May Lead to Cancer and Heart Disease, New Study Finds - Bloomberg
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 14:00
E-cigarette users are possibly putting themselves at risk for developing heart disease, lung and bladder cancers, according to a new report. The findings, though preliminary, indicate that the devices'--which aerosolize nicotine and contain no tobacco'--may not be as safe as previously assumed.
The study, conducted by researchers from the New York University School of Medicine, exposed mice to e-cigarette smoke (ECS) for 12 weeks at a dose and duration equivalent to light e-cigarette smoking for 10 years in humans. By the end of the trial, the smoke had caused DNA damage in the animal's lungs, bladders and hearts, as well as limiting lung proteins and important DNA repair.
Evidence points to the "almost unambiguous" conclusion that nicotine can convert to a carcinogen once inside the human body, said study author Moon-shong Tang, a professor of environmental medicine and pathology at NYU School of Medicine. "Nicotine is not as innocent as conventional wisdom thinks," he said.
Currently, 18 million Americans smoke e-cigarettes. Sixteen percent of those users are high school students, according to the report. Manufacturers have advertised the devices as a safer alternative to traditional tobacco products.
A slew of studies examining the long-term health consequences of vaping have been conducted, but the conclusions have been mixed.
In 2013, a trial found the practice to be as effective in helping smokers quit as using nicotine patches. Another study, published August 2017, compared cancer potencies of e-cigarettes and tobacco smoke and found most ECS to have a cancer risk of less than 1 percent of that from smoking.
Many are worried that the mild flavor of ECS will hook young people on nicotine, encouraging teenagers to smoke tobacco in the future. In 2016, the U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called e-cigarette use among American youth a "major public health concern," citing a 900 percent growth rate among high school students.
Tang wouldn't recommend vaping to nonsmokers, in particular young people: "Don't think a vapor is harmless." As for cigarette smokers thinking about going electronic, Tang hesitates. "We don't know which one is more harmful," he said.
This latest study is not, by itself, conclusive. Tumors can't develop in 12 weeks'--the length of the study'--and if tobacco smoke-induced cancer is indeed a model for e-cigarette smoking-induced cancer, then meaningful human evidence won't be available for at least another decade.
In the meantime, scientists are turning to animal experiments, which may be able to provide further evidence as to the full-blown effects of e-cigarette smoking in about a year.
VIDEO - Pelosi Clashes With Chris Cuomo on Nunes Memo: 'You Really Don't Know What You're Talking About' | Mediaite
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 13:07
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Pelosi Clashes With Chris Cuomo on Nunes Memo: 'You Really Don't Know What You're Talking About'Hours after the House Intelligence Committee voted '-- along party lines '-- to release the memo written by committee chairman Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) and his staff, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi appeared on CNN to make the case that this was a reckless action. And things got pretty tense between her and anchor Chris Cuomo.
Playing devil's advocate, Cuomo continued to present the Republicans' case for making the four-page document public. After Pelosi claimed the memo was a ''total misrepresentation'' and that Democrats have said nothing should be put out until reviewed and redacted by the intelligence community, Cuomo provided an explanation from the GOP.
''They say they don't want the DOJ to look at it because they are part of their concerns about how things were done during the campaign,'' Cuomo noted.
''The DOJ is only one part of the intelligence community '-- the intelligence community is vast,'' the congresswoman responded. ''It's the CIA, DNI, national defense. Everybody has their element of it, and sources in that that must be protected. Not only that, I can't even reference some words that are in it because that would be a violation of the confidentiality, the classified nature.''
Over the next few minutes, the two bantered over whether President Donald Trump would approve the memo's release and if the American people should see what's in the document, with Pelosi repeatedly stating that the memo wasn't true. At one point, Cuomo stated that the FBI director has recently seen the document and didn't immediately come out and say not to release it.
''Let me just say this with all due respect,'' Pelosi shot back. ''You really don't know what you're talking about right now.''
''But did Christopher Wray look at it or no?'' the anchor asked.
''I can't say whether he did or not,'' the Democratic leader said, adding that the Justice Department has already said not to release it.
Pelosi would continue to battle with Cuomo, explaining time and time again that the memo was a ''distraction'' due to the Republicans' inability to govern properly.
Watch the clip above, via CNN.
[image via NBC News]
'--
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VIDEO - CNN Host Van Jones Thinks US Would Be 'A Lot Better Off' If Trump Acted More Like Rapper Jay-Z
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:51
CNN host Van Jones suggested on Sunday that President Donald Trump would be better off if he acted more like rapper Jay-Z.
''So if you wanted to listen to what Jay-Z says, follow Jay-Z's model, Mr. President,'' Jones said on CNN's ''Reliable Sources.''
''He's a strong guy. He's a rich guy, but he's willing to be confessional. He's willing to grow in public. If you do the same thing, America would be a lot better off.''
Jones' remarks came the day after an interview he conducted with Shawn Carter (a.k.a. Jay-Z) on his program ''The Van Jones Show,'' during which the rapper discussed '-- among other issues '-- his past unfaithfulness to wife Beyonce Knowles Carter, as well as Trump's relationship with African-Americans and the NFL's national anthem protests.
''Shawn 'Jay-Z' Carter came on our air last night and he did the opposite of Trump,'' Jones said. ''He came on, he was confessional. He was vulnerable. He talked about mistakes he made in his marriage.''
TRENDING:Pharmaceutical Billionaires Found Dead in Home, Police Confirm Grisly Homicide
Carter described President Donald Trump's alleged ''s'--hole'' countries comment as ''hurtful.''
''Everyone feels anger, but after the anger it's really hurtful because he's looking down on a whole population of people and he's so misinformed because these places have beautiful people,'' Carter said.
Do you think Trump should act more like Jay-Z?Following the interview, Trump tweeted about the record low African-American unemployment under his administration.
Somebody please inform Jay-Z that because of my policies, Black Unemployment has just been reported to be at the LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 28, 2018
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Carter dismissed that achievement when asked specifically about it by Jones.
''To give him a little bit of credit too, he is somebody who is now saying, look, I'm growing '-- I'm dropping black unemployment,'' the CNN host said. ''Black people are doing well under my administration.''
''Does he have a point that maybe the Democrats have been giving us good lip service, but no jobs. He may say terrible things, but putting money in our pockets. Does that make him a good leader?'' Jones, a former Obama administration official, asked.
Carter, whose estimated worth is over $800 million, indicated that it does not.
''No because it's not about money at the end of the day,'' Carter answered. ''Money is not '-- money doesn't equate to happiness. It doesn't. That's missing the whole point. You treat people like human beings, then '-- that's the main point.''
''It goes back to the whole thing, you going to treat me really bad and pay me well. It's not going to lead to happiness. It's going to lead to, again, the same thing,'' the 48-year-old hip hop artist added.
During the interview, Jones and Carter also spoke admiringly about former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who sparked controversy when he refused to kneel for the national anthem.
''Here is a guy. I think he's now an American hero,'' said Jones. ''Sticking up for civil rights. Sticking up for police reforms. Sticking up for the First Amendment. He's a legend. He's going to go down with the Muhammad Alis, whatever. But he lost his job.''
Carter responded, ''100 percent do it. Look how many people play football. They're not all going to be him. You just put him next to Muhammad Ali.''
The rapper further stated, ''Would you rather be playing football, getting your head dinged in, or would you rather be an iconic figure for the rest of your life?''
''Would you rather be playing football, getting your head dinged in, or would you rather be an iconic figure for the rest of your life?'' Jay-Z tells CNN's Van Jones he doesn't think Colin Kaepernick needs to worry about his next NFL role https://t.co/2Ta4eZwFPrpic.twitter.com/m778m0M2jg
'-- CNN (@CNN) January 29, 2018
Many responded to Carter's interview, pointing out that the singer is standing on shakey ground when he criticizes Trump for not treating people with the respect they deserve.
After shooting his brother, stabbing his producer, and punching his sister-in-law in an elevator, Jay Z says he doesn't like President Trump's tone. #FakeNewsCNN
'-- MARK SIMONE (@MarkSimoneNY) January 28, 2018
Trump-supporting social media stars Lynnette ''Diamond'' Hardaway and Rochelle ''Silk'' Richardson noted that Carter has made millions of dollars rapping about women in the most derogatory terms.
Crybaby Van Jones said that the President could learn a lot from Jay- Z. Well, Van; The only thing we've learned is that Jay-Z drug dealing lifestyle landed him in the game of hip-hop mostly rapping about how women are bitc#@S and ho#$. How does this help Americans? pic.twitter.com/MGJ0T27Tl4
'-- Diamond and Silk® (@DiamondandSilk) January 28, 2018
''Crybaby Van Jones said that the President could learn a lot from Jay- Z,'' the duo tweeted. ''Well, Van; The only thing we've learned is that Jay-Z drug dealing lifestyle landed him in the game of hip-hop mostly rapping about how women are bitc#@S and ho#$. How does this help Americans?''
What do you think? Scroll down to comment below.
VIDEO - Watch: Trey Gowdy Drops a Massive Hint About What's in FBI Abuse Memo
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:50
More reluctance has prevented lawmakers in Washington from discussing a classified four-page memo alleging that surveillance abuses ran rampant in the FBI and Justice Department.
The document alleges that both the FBI and DOJ abused the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act in order to spy on American citizens '-- particularly those associated with the Trump campaign.
Rep. Trey Gowdy spoke with Chris Wallace on ''Fox News Sunday'' and discussed certain clues that might be found in the controversial document, which may be released as early as this week by the House Intelligence Committee.
''If you think your viewers want to know whether or not the dossier was used in court proceedings '... if you are interested in who paid for the dossier, if you are interested in Christopher Steele's relationship with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee, then, yes, you will want the memo to come out,'' Gowdy told Wallace.
''Do you want to know whether or not the primary course in these court proceedings had a bias against one candidate?'' Gowdy asked rhetorically. ''Do you want to know whether or not he said he'd do anything to keep that candidate from becoming president?''
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The question of the particular source opposed to President Donald Trump may be in reference to former British Christopher Steele who wrote the dossier, suggested The Daily Caller News Foundation.
Speculation arises as to whether or not Steele had been hired by opposition research firm Fusion GPS, who was reportedly paid $1 million by the Clinton campaign and DNC to investigate Trump.
Throughout 2016, Steele met with FBI agents to discuss the investigation, with the DOJ allegedly using Steele's work in an application for a surveillance warrant against former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page.
Do you want to see the contents of the memo?It was also around the same time last June that former FBI Director James Comey stated the dossier was ''salacious and unverified.''
Republican lawmakers have raised concern about how heavily both the FBI and DOJ have relied on the dossier for warrants against American citizens, as well as for the investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The lawmakers are also pressing for information on whether or not the agencies vetted the dossier before using its information in any FISA application.
Though the memo remains classified for now, many Republicans are hoping for the Intelligence Committee to release the document, though it's bound to meet up with some resistance.
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Democratic lawmakers have accused the classified documents as being a set of ''talking points'' geared towards helping Trump, with DOJ Committee Chairman Devin Nunes claiming its release would be ''extremely reckless.''
Yet, back in June, Nunes admitted that his investigators had uncovered evidence that the government was abusing surveillance practices, though it seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Gowdy insisted to Wallace that the information contained in the document is based on information already provided by those agencies, and has suggested that Nunes allow the DOJ and FBI to view the memo prior to its release.
''There's nothing in this memo the Department is not already aware of.''
What do you think? Scroll down to comment below.
VIDEO - Melania Trump Responds After Rumors of Marital Problems Surface
Tue, 30 Jan 2018 12:45
First lady Melania Trump is pushing back against headlines claiming that she's having marital problems with President Donald Trump following reports of his alleged adulterous relationship with an adult film star over a decade ago.
Numerous outlets have reported in recent days that she has left the White House and is residing in a ''posh D.C. hotel.'' Claims also include that she has removed herself from president's schedule in order to be away from him.
A spokesperson for Mrs. Trump took to social media to refer to the rumors as ''salacious'' and ''false reporting'' by tabloids.
''BREAKING:The laundry list of salacious & flat-out false reporting about Mrs. Trump by tabloid publications & TV shows has seeped into 'main stream media' reporting,'' Stephanie Grisham wrote on Twitter Friday. ''She is focused on her family & role as FLOTUS '' not the unrealistic scenarios being peddled daily by the fake news.''
In addition, Melania Trump will be on hand to support her husband during his first State of the Union address Tuesday night, The New York Times reported Monday.
Do you believe the media is sensationalizing the president's married life?Media speculation into her marriage began when the Wall Street Journal earlier this month broke the story on a $130,000 payout made to adult film actress Stormy Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, as part of an agreement to not discuss a sexual encounter she had with Trump back in 2006.
The payment was arranged by an attorney for Trump and was made a month before the 2016 election.
However, the non-disclosure agreement proved quite meaningless given that Daniels had already offered an in-depth interview to In Touch Weekly in 2011, offering personal details about her encounter with the man who was elected U.S. president several years later.
In Touch republished their story in light of the revelations.
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In her interview, Daniels discussed intimate details of her time with Trump in 2006, who had been married to his current wife since 2005 and was carrying their newborn son, Barron.
Bound by a non-disclosure agreement, Daniels has walked a fine between not breaking her contract while simultaneously capitalizing off the rush of media interest in her career.
Amid her first television interview since the story broke, Daniels was tight-lipped about her relationship with the current president. The adult actress simply smiled when directly asked if she had intercourse with Trump.
At the same time, Daniels has used her newfound publicity to launch her ''Making America Horny Again'' tour where she has enjoyed a whole new base of fans, according to the New York Post. Also, ABC host Jimmy Kimmel will be interviewing Daniels on Tuesday, the same night as Trump delivers his first State of the Union address.
Melania Trump had prepared to accompany Trump during his attendance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, but plans were suddenly changed due to ''scheduling and logistical issues.''
The change in schedule was made on Jan. 22, the couple's 13th wedding anniversary.
The embarrassing headlines have been a lingering headache for the First Lady.
Her spokesperson's backlash followed a U.K. Daily Mail report that she has