1005: Circular Reporting

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 46m
February 4th, 2018
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Associate Executive Producers: Sir Bram of Upper Candanavia

Cover Artist: Almighty Myzee


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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.
Sun, 28 Jan 2018 13:47
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Worse than Nixon!
The Memo
Second Trump-Russia dossier being assessed by FBI | US news | The Guardian
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 21:24
Exclusive: memo written by former journalist Cody Shearer independently sets out some of the allegations made by ex-spy Christopher Steele
Trump and his supporters have been seeking to cast doubt on the credibility of Mueller's investigation. Photograph: Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty ImagesThe FBI inquiry into alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 US presidential election has been given a second memo that independently set out some of the same allegations made in a dossier by Christopher Steele, the British former spy.
Democrats criticize Trump over lack of Russian sanctions '' videoThe second memo was written by Cody Shearer, a controversial political activist and former journalist who was close to the Clinton White House in the 1990s.
Unlike Steele, Shearer does not have a background in espionage, and his memo was initially viewed with scepticism, not least because he had shared it with select media organisations before the election.
However, the Guardian has been told the FBI investigation is still assessing details in the ''Shearer memo'' and is pursuing intriguing leads.
One source with knowledge of the inquiry said the fact the FBI was still working on it suggested investigators had taken an aspect of it seriously.
It raises the possibility that parts of the Steele dossier, which has been derided by Trump's supporters, may have been corroborated by Shearer's research, or could still be.
The revelation comes at a moment when Donald Trump and some Republican lawmakers have been seeking to cast doubt on the credibility of the Mueller inquiry and the motivation of the FBI in examining Russian collusion, including unproven allegations that investigators had a bias in favour of Hillary Clinton when the investigation was initially launched before November.
Republicans on the House intelligence committee voted on Monday night to release a highly contentious memo, commissioned by the Republican chairman of the committee, Devin Nunes. The memo reportedly claims the FBI had an anti-Trump bias when it sought a warrant from the US foreign intelligence surveillance court to collect intelligence on Carter Page, an adviser to the Trump campaign. The Fisa court is a secret court that examines law enforcement requests to surveil Americans suspected of acting as foreign agents.
The Republican memo reportedly alleges that the FBI relied on the Steele dossier, which was partly paid for using Democratic funds, in seeking the Carter Page warrant, according to the New York Times.
Democrats have said that the Republican allegations are misleading and based on selective use of classified materials. Justice department officials have said the release of the document, because of the classified elements, would be ''extraordinarily reckless''.
Trump now has five days to decide whether the Nunes document should become public.
The Shearer memo was provided to the FBI in October 2016.
It was handed to them by Steele '' who had been given it by an American contact ''after the FBI requested the former MI6 agent provide any documents or evidence that could be useful in its investigation, according to multiple sources.
The Guardian was told Steele warned the FBI he could not vouch for the veracity of the Shearer memo, but that he was providing a copy because it corresponded with what he had separately heard from his own independent sources.
Robert Mueller, the former FBI director leading the investigation. Photograph: Joshua Roberts/ReutersAmong other things, both documents allege Donald Trump was compromised during a 2013 trip to Moscow that involved lewd acts in a five-star hotel.
The Shearer memo cites an unnamed source within Russia's FSB, the state security service. The Guardian cannot verify any of the claims.
Shearer is a controversial figure in Washington. Conservative outlets have accused him of being part of a ''hatchet man'' and member of a ''secret spy ring'' and within Clinton's orbit. There is no evidence that the Clinton campaign was aware of the Shearer memo.
But other people who know Shearer say he is not just a Democratic party hack and there is no evidence that his memo was ever sought by Clinton campaign officials.
Sources say that while he lacks the precision and polish of a seasoned former spy like Steele, Shearer has also been described as having a large network of sources around the world and the independent financial means to pursue leads.
The White House has vigorously denied allegations that the US president was ever compromised and has rejected claims that campaign officials ever conspired with the Kremlin before the 2016 election.
Steele's dossier, his motives for writing it and his decision to share it remain controversial among Republicans.
He says he approached the FBI about concerns he had about links between Russia and the Trump campaign after he was commissioned to investigate the matter by a private investigative firm called Fusion GPS on behalf of the firm's clients.
Glenn Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, told congressional investigators that Steele approached the FBI out of a sense of duty and concern for US national security.
Republican supporters of Trump have derided it as ''fake news''. Chuck Grassley, a Republican senator from Iowa and ally of Trump, has called for an investigation into Steele amid unspecified allegations about the former spy's conduct.
Democrats have said the campaign against Steele is part of an effort to seek to discredit him in order to shift attention away from allegations about Trump and Russia.
Spokespeople for the FBI and the US special counsel leading the criminal investigation into the Trump campaign declined to comment. Shearer did not return emails and calls for comment.
A federal criminal investigation into the Trump campaign has so far resulted in four indictments. Two former Trump campaign officials, including Michael Flynn, Trump's former national security adviser, have pleaded guilty to perjury and are cooperating with Robert Mueller, the special counsel who is leading the ongoing investigation.
Eric Holder PANICS Over FISA Abuse Memo - Trashes Chairman Nunes in Unhinged Tweetstorm
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 01:09
February 1, 2018 by Cristina Laila THE DEEP STATE IS IN DEEP PANIC''Trump supporters want the FISA memo released to the public immediately, however; the FBI and DOJ are fiercely fighting to delegitimize the document and delay the release.
Former Attorney General Eric 'Fast and Furious' Holder came unhinged over the FISA memo Wednesday and trashed Chairman Nunes.
God Bless Chairman Nunes for taking all of the arrows from the Deep State. He has been fighting to expose the unmasking scandal for nearly a year.
Eric Holder, like many other Obama-era criminals knows this FISA memo will expose the corruption at top levels of DOJ and FBI.
Holder first tweeted, ''People must understand what is at stake by release of the bogus, contrived Nunes memo. It uses normally protected material and puts at risk our intell capabilities in order to derail a legitimate criminal investigation. This is unheard of- it is dangerous and it is irresponsible''
Eric Holder appeared to accept that the memo will be released whether he likes it or not. Perhaps Holder realized that he is no longer the AG and will only be remembered as the first AG to be held in contempt of Congress.
Holder tweeted, ''If the Nunes nonsense gets released '' unbelievable '' then, in some proper way, the Schiff analysis must also be shared with the public. Republicans on the Committee have a duty to the American people that outweighs their desire to protect a corrupt process and individuals.''
The FISA memo will be sent to the House Intel Committee Friday with redactions from the White House. The Committee will then release the memo on its timetable, reports CBS's Major Garrett.
Watching lunatic Democrats like Eric Holder screeching on Twitter about the FISA memo is a friendly reminder that the demons scream the loudest when they are being exorcised.
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Judicial Watch: Justice Department Refuses to Release Mueller's Budget Proposal for Special Counsel Office - Judicial Watch
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:20
January 23, 2018 (Washington, DC) '' Judicial Watch today announced that Justice Department refuses to release the proposed budget of Robert Mueller's Special Counsel Office. Judicial Watch is seeking the information through a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
Judicial Watch sought ''the copy of the budget prepared or submitted'' by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. But, on Friday, January 19, the Justice Department notified Judicial Watch that it refuses to turn over documents, stating: ''seven pages were located that contain records responsive to your '... request. We have determined that this material should be withheld in full because it is protected from disclosure under the FOIA.'' The Justice Department asserts the Mueller budget information cannot be released because its release could interfere with ''law enforcement proceedings'' and the material is protected from disclosure by the ''deliberative process privilege.''
Judicial Watch filed a FOIA lawsuit against the DOJ on October 5, 2017, after it failed to respond to a July 10, 2017, request (Judicial Watch v. U.S. Department of Justice (No. 1:17-cv-02079)). Judicial Watch is seeking:
A copy of the budget prepared and submitted by Robert S. Mueller III or his staff'....A copy of all guidance memoranda and communications by which the Justice Management Division will review the Special Counsel's Office's ''Statement of Expenditures'''...A copy of each document scoping, regulating, or governing the Special Counsel's Office appointed under the leadership of Mueller III'...The Justice Department has thus far ignored Judicial Watch's requests for documents about its management of the Mueller operation.
The Justice Department also sent Judicial Watch a copy of a previously published document showing expenditures by the Special Counsel's Office from May 17, 2017, to September 30, 2017. The total was $3,213,695, nearly a million dollars per month.
On July 7, 2017, The Washington Post reported that Special counsel Mueller submitted a proposed budget to the Justice Department, ''but officials declined to make the document public and committed only to releasing reports of the team's expenditures every six months.''
Judicial Watch is pursuing numerous additional FOIA lawsuits related to the surveillance, unmasking, and illegal leaking targeting President Trump and his associates during the FBI's investigation of potential Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election.
''Special Counsel Mueller's operation is not above the law. The American people have a right to know how much taxpayer money is planned for his massive investigation,'' said Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton. ''No one else in DC seems to be providing oversight of the Mueller operation, so once again it is up to the citizen's group Judicial Watch to fight for accountability.''
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Trump to approve release of GOP memo Friday over objections from law enforcement, intelligence community
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 02:25
By Carol D. Leonnig, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima, Karoun Demirjian
February 1, 2018 at 8:14 PM
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The Washington Post's Devlin Barrett analyzes the disagreements between the FBI and the White House over a memo alleging surveillance abuse by the FBI. (Bastien Inzaurralde/The Washington Post)President Trump is expected to approve the release of a controversial congressional memo alleging surveillance abuses by the FBI, and House Republicans are likely to make it public on Friday, according to senior administration officials.
The memo, which has created a political firestorm, suggests that the origins of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election were tainted by political bias. It alleges that the FBI, when obtaining a surveillance warrant, relied in some part on a dossier of allegations against then-candidate Donald Trump that was underwritten by the Hillary Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
Trump has read the GOP memo, the administration officials said, and once he formally approves its release, the White House will transmit it back to the House Intelligence Committee, which has the authority to make it public.
Law enforcement and intelligence officials have expressed "grave concerns" about the memo's release, saying it contains classified information and inaccuracies. Early Thursday, a senior White House official said the administration was likely to make redactions in response to those concerns.
Hours later, however, the White House appeared to change course, saying the memo was likely to be released without redactions.
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Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has been a controversial figure in the Russia investigation. But how did he get to where he is today? (Patrick Martin/The Washington Post)On Wednesday, the FBI issued a rare, unsigned statement citing its concerns. The bureau said Thursday its position had not changed. But officials there do not think the memo's disclosure will lead to a direct confrontation between Trump and FBI Director Christopher A. Wray, according to current and former law enforcement officials. The current and former officials noted that the bureau's statement specifically excluded the director's name as a way of signaling that he does not intend to stake his job on the issue.
Thomas O'Connor, president of the FBI Agents Association, issued a statement Thursday supporting Wray. It says the group appreciates his "standing shoulder to shoulder with the men and women of the FBI as we work together to protect our country from criminal and national security threats.''
Among current and former law enforcement officials, however, there is concern about the future of Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general overseeing the Russia investigation led by Mueller. Rosenstein is named in the Republican memo, according to people familiar with it, because he approved a request early last year to reauthorize surveillance of a former Trump campaign adviser.
The president has expressed a desire to get rid of Rosenstein, which would allow him to appoint a new official to oversee Mueller, according to people familiar with the matter who, like others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations. The president has also told advisers that he thinks the memo is "gaining traction" and could help him convince the public that the Mueller probe is a witch hunt, the people familiar with the matter said.
Related: [What is the memo?]
The four-page memo was written by Republican staffers of the House Intelligence Committee, which is chaired by Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.). It alleges that the British former spy who wrote the dossier, which claims that Trump has ties to the Kremlin, passed bad information to the FBI and suggests that that information was used in the application to conduct surveillance on the former campaign adviser, Carter Page, according to people familiar with the document.
As lawmakers await the memo's release, congressional leaders are intensifying their partisan fight over its publication. The top two Democrats in Congress called on House Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) on Thursday to remove Nunes as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. Nunes had turned the panel's proceedings into a "charade" and a "coverup campaign .'‰.'‰. to hide the truth about the Trump-Russia scandal," House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) wrote in a letter to Ryan.
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Lawmakers weigh in as President Trump is poised to release a classified surveillance memo written by the GOP majority on the House Intelligence Committee. (Jenny Starrs/The Washington Post)Ryan defended Nunes, accusing Democrats of trying to "sidetrack us with some political game" and stressing that the memo's scrutiny of the FBI "does not implicate" Mueller or Rosenstein.
If federal agents "brought bias or cut corners or did something wrong," the public needs to know, Ryan said, citing concerns about the Justice Department's "violating American civil liberties."
"I say let all of it out, so long as we're not involving sources and methods," he added.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), appearing with Ryan, also told reporters he thinks Nunes is "handling this just right."
But not all Republicans agree.
John Thune (S.D.), the Senate's No. 3 Republican, said Thursday that the memo should not be made public until the Senate Intelligence Committee is able to review it.
"I think they have to take into consideration what the FBI is saying," Thune said. "They need to pay careful attention to what our folks who protect us have to say about how this bears on our national security."
Director of National Intelligence Daniel Coats also met with White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly this week and expressed frustration with the process undertaken by House Intelligence Committee Republicans, one U.S. official said.
Former FBI director James B. Comey, who was fired by Trump, tweeted Thursday evening about the FBI statement: "All should appreciate the FBI speaking up. I wish more of our leaders would. But take heart: American history shows that, in the long run, weasels and liars never hold the field, so long as good people stand up. Not a lot of schools or streets named for Joe McCarthy."
Related: [Trump-FBI feud over classified memo erupts into open conflict]
Shortly before the House Intelligence Committee voted Monday night to make the memo public, Nunes rejected Democrats' pleas to have FBI and Justice Department officials brief House members about their concerns with the memo, arguing that both entities had "been under investigation by this committee for many, many months, for FISA abuse and other matters."
The comments by Nunes, according to a newly released transcript of the meeting, surprised Democrats, who accused him of coordinating the memo's release with the White House. The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) governs the secret court that reviews and sanctions surveillance requests from the Justice Department.
Related: [How a classified four-page Russia memo triggered a political firestorm]
The ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), has also accused Nunes of making "material changes" to the document that Republican members voted to make public before passing it on to the White House for Trump's review.
Schiff thinks those changes are significant enough to render the process by which Trump could allow the release of the memo null and void. Nunes disagreed, and his staff described any changes as minor edits or alternations requested by the FBI and Democrats.
John Wagner, Jenna Johnson, Devlin Barrett and Erica Werner contributed to this report.
Read more:
Related: How unusual is it for Republicans in Congress to release this FBI memo?
Related: With FBI statement on memo, Christopher Wray could now be in the president's crosshairs
Related: Opinion: Rep. Nunes's memo crosses a dangerous line
Carol Leonnig is an investigative reporter at The Washington Post.
Josh Dawsey is a White House reporter for the Washington Post. He joined the paper in 2017. He previously covered the White House for POLITICO and New York City Hall and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie for The Wall Street Journal.
Ellen Nakashima is a national security reporter for The Washington Post. She covers cybersecurity, surveillance, counterterrorism and intelligence issues.
Karoun Demirjian is a congressional reporter covering national security, including defense, foreign policy, intelligence and matters concerning the judiciary. She was previously a correspondent based in the Post's bureau in Moscow, Russia.
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New FBI messages reveal agents sought way to evade federal record requirements | TheHill
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 05:56
There's an important but little-noticed subtext in the revelations about alleged FBI misconduct in the investigations into Hillary Clinton's email practices and Donald Trump's Russia associations.
It's the light they shine on what has come to be routine obstruction of public records laws by federal officials.
The records that federal agencies generate while in our employ aren't owned by faceless bureaucrats or political officials who can choose to withhold or disclose at their discretion and convenience. The records are owned by us: the public.
That includes text messages.
In the past two decades as communications via email, smart phones and social media have grown routine, there's evidence that federal officials have consciously devised ways to thwart public records laws and keep their communications - our records - secret. Federal officials have used private email accounts, private servers and aliases (not their own name) for public business. They have deleted or lost messages that are supposed to be saved.
And they have learned to use text messaging.
In a new exchange released by the Senate Homeland Security committee today, FBI officials Lisa Page and Peter Strzok seem to discuss this very issue in private texts.
Page: Have a meeting with turgal about getting iphone in a day or so
Strzok: Oh hot damn. . . We get around our security/monitoring issues?
Page: No, he's proposing that we just stop following them. Apparently the requirement to capture texts came from [Office of Management and Budget], but we're the only org (I'm told) who is following that rule. His point is, if no one else is doing it why should we. . . I'm told - thought I have seen - that there is an IG report that says everyone is failing. But one has changed anything, so why not just join in the failure.
It's a shockingly cavalier attitude from an attorney and high level FBI official.
There are more text messages between Strzok and Page from a critical time period, as we now know, that the FBI claimed had been lost in a technical glitch. After that became public, the Inspector General said he was able to recover them. (Interesting that the FBI couldn't.)
Where are all those text messages now? Instead of providing them directly to Congress, the Inspector General is giving the recovered text messages to the Department of Justice which then can give them to Congress (after any bad actors theoretically implicated in the texts have time to mount a fulsome defense).
This is just one artery of a huge problem that also includes federal agencies routinely violating Freedom of Information Act law. They've twisted the law on its head, using it to obstruct and delay the release of obviously public information. They filter legitimate public records through political reviews before releasing them in a process that isn't, in my view, allowed under Freedom of Information law.
Documents released years after they should have been, when the news related to them had died down, reveal that during the Department of Justice's Fast and Furious scandal-where federal agents were instructed to allow thousands of weapons to be trafficked to Mexican drug cartels-public records officials were told to forward any Freedom of Information Act requests that I made to a special tasker under the guise of "coordination."
"Recently requests have been made to multiple components for certain records pertaining to Project Gunrunner, an ATF initiative," a Department of Justice information official wrote to various agencies and officials on May 20, 2011, including DEA, the Attorney General's office, the Marshal's Service, the FBI and the Inspector General. "You should contact me directly before proceeding, and as soon as possible...Similarly, you should contact me if you receive a request from Sharyl Attkisson."
Indeed, this process ensured that I did not receive lawful responses to Freedom of Information requests on Fast and Furious.
This sort of toying with public records is, in my view, one of the worst modern violations of the public trust by our government. The newly-released text messages further that view, but there appears to be no serious effort to remedy it.
Sharyl Attkisson (@SharylAttkisson) is an Emmy-award winning investigative journalist, author of The New York Times bestsellers "The Smear" and "Stonewalled," and host of Sinclair's Sunday TV program "Full Measure."
House Intelligence Committee Report On FISA Abuses
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 17:44
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U.S. intel officials probe ties between Trump adviser and Kremlin
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 20:59
U.S. intelligence officials are seeking to determine whether an American businessman identified by Donald Trump as one of his foreign policy advisers has opened up private communications with senior Russian officials '-- including talks about the possible lifting of economic sanctions if the Republican nominee becomes president, according to multiple sources who have been briefed on the issue.
The activities of Trump adviser Carter Page, who has extensive business interests in Russia, have been discussed with senior members of Congress during recent briefings about suspected efforts by Moscow to influence the presidential election, the sources said. After one of those briefings, Senate minority leader Harry Reid wrote FBI Director James Comey, citing reports of meetings between a Trump adviser (a reference to Page) and ''high ranking sanctioned individuals'' in Moscow over the summer as evidence of ''significant and disturbing ties'' between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin that needed to be investigated by the bureau.
Some of those briefed were ''taken aback'' when they learned about Page's contacts in Moscow, viewing them as a possible back channel to the Russians that could undercut U.S. foreign policy, said a congressional source familiar with the briefings but who asked for anonymity due to the sensitivity of the subject. The source added that U.S. officials in the briefings indicated that intelligence reports about the adviser's talks with senior Russian officials close to President Vladimir Putin were being ''actively monitored and investigated.''
A senior U.S. law enforcement official did not dispute that characterization when asked for comment by Yahoo News. ''It's on our radar screen,'' said the official about Page's contacts with Russian officials. ''It's being looked at.''
Page is a former Merrill Lynch investment banker in Moscow who now runs a New York consulting firm, Global Energy Capital, located around the corner from Trump Tower, that specializes in oil and gas deals in Russia and other Central Asian countries. He declined repeated requests to comment for this story.
Trump first mentioned Page's name when asked to identify his ''foreign policy team'' during an interview with the Washington Post editorial team last March. Describing him then only as a ''PhD,'' Trump named Page as among five advisers ''that we are dealing with.'' But his precise role in the campaign remains unclear; Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks last month called him an ''informal foreign adviser'' who ''does not speak for Mr. Trump or the campaign.'' Asked this week by Yahoo News, Trump campaign spokesman Jason Miller said Page ''has no role'' and added: ''We are not aware of any of his activities, past or present.'' Miller did not respond when asked why Trump had previously described Page as one of his advisers.
Donald Trump (Photo: Jonathan Ernst/Reuters)
More The questions about Page come amid mounting concerns within the U.S. intelligence community about Russian cyberattacks on the Democratic National Committee and state election databases in Arizona and Illinois. In a rare public talk this week, former undersecretary of defense for intelligence Mike Vickers said that the Russian cyberattacks constituted meddling in the U.S. election and were ''beyond the pale.'' Also, this week, two senior Democrats '-- Sen. Dianne Feinstein, ranking minority member on the Senate Intelligence Committee, and Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking minority member on the House Intelligence Committee '-- released a joint statement that went further then what U.S. officials had publicly said about the matter.
''Based on briefings we have received, we have concluded that the Russian intelligence agencies are making a serious and concerted effort to influence the U.S. election,'' they said. ''At the least, this effort is intended to sow doubt about the security of our election and may well be intended to influence the outcomes of the election.'' They added that ''orders for the Russian intelligence agencies to conduct such actions could come only from very senior levels of the Russian government.''
Page came to the attention of officials at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow several years ago when he showed up in the Russian capital during several business trips and made provocative public comments critical of U.S. policy and sympathetic to Putin. ''He was pretty much a brazen apologist for anything Moscow did,'' said one U.S. official who served in Russia at the time.
He hasn't been shy about expressing those views in the U.S. as well. Last March, shorty after he was named by Trump as one of his advisers, Page told Bloomberg News he had been an adviser to, and investor in, Gazprom, the Russian state-owned gas company. He then blamed Obama administration sanctions '-- imposed as a response to the Russian annexation of Crimea '-- for driving down the company's stock. ''So many people who I know and have worked with have been so adversely affected by the sanctions policy,'' Page said in the interview. ''There's a lot of excitement in terms of the possibilities for creating a better situation.''
Page showed up again in Moscow in early July, just two weeks before the Republican National Convention formally nominated Trump for president, and once again criticized U.S. policy. Speaking at a commencement address for the New Economic School, an institution funded in part by major Russian oligarchs close to Putin, Page asserted that ''Washington and other West capitals'' had impeded progress in Russia ''through their often hypocritical focus on ideas such as democratization, inequality, corruption and regime change.''
At the time, Page declined to say whether he was meeting with Russian officials during his trip, according to a Reuters report.
Rosneft CEO Igor Sechin with Vladimir Putin at a signing ceremony at the St. Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014. (Photo: Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)
More But U.S. officials have since received intelligence reports that during that same three-day trip, Page met with Igor Sechin, a longtime Putin associate and former Russian deputy prime minister who is now the executive chairman of Rosneft, Russian's leading oil company, a well-placed Western intelligence source tells Yahoo News. That meeting, if confirmed, is viewed as especially problematic by U.S. officials because the Treasury Department in August 2014 named Sechin to a list of Russian officials and businessmen sanctioned over Russia's ''illegitimate and unlawful actions in the Ukraine.'' (The Treasury announcement described Sechin as ''utterly loyal to Vladimir Putin '-- a key component to his current standing.'' At their alleged meeting, Sechin raised the issue of the lifting of sanctions with Page, the Western intelligence source said.
U.S. intelligence agencies have also received reports that Page met with another top Putin aide while in Moscow '-- Igor Diveykin. A former Russian security official, Diveykin now serves as deputy chief for internal policy and is believed by U.S. officials to have responsibility for intelligence collected by Russian agencies about the U.S. election, the Western intelligence source said.
How the Trump administration's secret efforts to ease Russia sanctions fell short
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 20:56
In the early weeks of the Trump administration, former Obama administration officials and State Department staffers fought an intense, behind-the-scenes battle to head off efforts by incoming officials to normalize relations with Russia, according to multiple sources familiar with the events.
Unknown to the public at the time, top Trump administration officials, almost as soon as they took office, tasked State Department staffers with developing proposals for the lifting of economic sanctions, the return of diplomatic compounds and other steps to relieve tensions with Moscow.
These efforts to relax or remove punitive measures imposed by President Obama in retaliation for Russia's intervention in Ukraine and meddling in the 2016 election alarmed some State Department officials, who immediately began lobbying congressional leaders to quickly pass legislation to block the move, the sources said.
''There was serious consideration by the White House to unilaterally rescind the sanctions,'' said Dan Fried, a veteran State Department official who served as chief U.S. coordinator for sanctions policy until he retired in late February. He said in the first few weeks of the administration, he received several ''panicky'' calls from U.S. government officials who told him they had been directed to develop a sanctions-lifting package and imploring him, ''Please, my God, can't you stop this?''
Fried said he grew so concerned that he contacted Capitol Hill allies '-- including Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., the ranking minority member on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee '-- to urge them to move quickly to pass legislation that would ''codify'' the sanctions in place, making it difficult for President Trump to remove them.
Tom Malinowski, who had just stepped down as President Obama's assistant secretary of state for human rights, told Yahoo News he too joined the effort to lobby Congress after learning from former colleagues that the administration was developing a plan to lift sanctions '-- and possibly arrange a summit between Trump and Russian president Vladimir Putin '-- as part of an effort to achieve a ''grand bargain'' with Moscow. ''It would have been a win-win for Moscow,'' said Malinowski, who only days before he left office announced his own round of sanctions against senior Russian officials for human rights abuses under a law known as the Magnitsky Act.
The previously unreported efforts by Fried and others to check the Trump administration's policy moves cast new light on the unseen tensions over Russia policy during the early days of the new administration.
It also potentially takes on new significance for congressional and Justice Department investigators in light of reports that before the administration took office Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his chief foreign policy adviser, Michael Flynn, discussed setting up a private channel of communications with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak '-- talks that appear to have laid the groundwork for the proposals that began circulating right after the inauguration.
Jared Kushner, Russian Amb. Sergey Kislyak and former national security adviser Michael Flynn. (Photos: Evan Vucci/AP, Alexander Shcherbak/TASS via Getty Images, Carolyn Kaster/AP)
More A senior White House official confirmed that the administration began exploring changes in Russia sanctions as part of a broader policy review that is still ongoing. ''We've been reviewing all the sanctions '-- and this is not exclusive to Russia,'' the official said. ''All the sanctions regimes have mechanisms built in to alleviate them. It's been our hope that the Russians would take advantage of that'' by living up to Moscow's agreement to end the Ukraine conflict, but they did not do so.
To be sure, President Trump's interest in improving relations with Moscow was hardly a secret during last year's presidential campaign. ''If we can make a great deal for our country and get along with Russia, that would be a tremendous thing,'' Trump said in a April 28, 2016, Fox News interview. ''I would love to try it.''
But there was nothing said in public about specific steps the new administration took toward reaching the kind of deal the president had talked about during the campaign '-- without requiring the Russians to acknowledge responsibility for the annexation of Crimea or Moscow's ''influence campaign'' during the 2016 election.
Just days after President Trump took office, officials who had moved into the secretary of state's seventh-floor office sent a ''tasking'' order to the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs to develop a menu of options to improve relations with Russia as part of a deal in exchange for Russian cooperation in the war against the Islamic State in Syria, according to two former officials. Those options were to include sanctions relief as well as other steps that were a high priority for Moscow, including the return of two diplomatic compounds '-- one on Long Island and the other on Maryland's Eastern Shore '-- that were shut by President Obama on Dec. 29 on the grounds that they were being used for espionage purposes. (The return of the compounds is again being actively considered by the administration, according to a Washington Post report Thursday.) ''Obviously, the Russians have been agitating about this,'' the senior White House official said when asked about the compounds, or ''dachas,'' as the Russians call them. But it would be inaccurate to report there has been an agreement to return them without some reciprocal move on Moscow's part.
A vehicle with diplomatic license plates passes journalists after departing from a Russian compound in Upper Brookville, N.Y., Dec. 30, 2016. (Photo: Rashid Umar Abbasi/Reuters)
More Since this was the same State Department bureau that had helped develop the punitive measures in the first place, and actively pushed for them under the leadership of Assistant Secretary Victoria Nuland, who had just resigned, the tasking order left staffers feeling ''deeply uncomfortable,'' said one source, who asked not to be identified.
These concerns led some department officials to also reach out to Malinowski, an Obama political appointee who had just stepped down. Malinowski said he, like Fried, called Cardin and other congressional allies, including aides to Sen. John McCain, and urged them to codify the sanctions '-- effectively locking them in place '-- before Trump could lift them
The lobbying effort produced some immediate results: On Feb. 7, Cardin and Sen. Lindsay Graham introduced bipartisan legislation to bar the administration from granting sanctions relief without first submitting a proposal to do so for congressional review. ''Russia has done nothing to be rewarded with sanctions relief,'' Graham said in a statement at the time. If the U.S. were to lift sanctions without ''verifiable progress'' by Russia in living up to agreements in Ukraine, ''we would lose all credibility in the eyes of our allies in Europe and around he world,'' added Cardin in his own statement. (A spokesman for Cardin told Yahoo News in an emailed statement: ''I can also confirm that the senator did hear from senior Obama officials encouraging him to take sanctions steps, but that he had already been considering it as well.'')
The proposed bill lost some of its urgency six days later when Flynn resigned as White House national security adviser following disclosures he had discussed political sanctions relief with Kislyak during the transition and misrepresented those talks to Vice President Mike Pence. After that, ''it didn't take too long for it to become clear that if they lifted sanctions, there would be a political firestorm,'' Malinowski said.
But the political battles over the issue are far from over. Cardin, McCain and Graham are separately pushing another sanctions bill '-- imposing tough new measures in response to Russia's election interference. The measures have so far been blocked for consideration within the Senate Foreign Relations Committee by its chairman, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who says he wants to first hear the administration's position on the issue.
Assistant Secretary of State Tom Malinowski at a press conference in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in 2016. (Photo: Heng Sinith/AP)
More In the meantime, Malinowksi said he is concerned that there may be other, less public ways the administration can undermine the Russian sanctions. He noted that much of their force results from parallel sanctions imposed by the European Union, whose members must unanimously renew them each year.
''I had this nightmare vision of [White House senior adviser ] Steve Bannon or [National Security Council staffer] Sebastian Gorka calling in the Hungarian ambassador and telling them President Trump would not be displeased'' if his country opposed the renewal of sanctions, he said.
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New Britain Police: Former West Hartford Student Teacher Had Sexual Relationship With Student - Hartford Courant
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 11:57
A former student teacher and track coach at Conard High School in West Hartford is accused of having a sexual relationship with an 18-year-old student, police said.
Tayler Ivy Boncal, 22, of Beacon Falls, was charged Thursday with three counts of second-degree sexual assault, police said.
She is accused of engaging in intercourse and oral sex with the student under a statute that prohibits sexual contact between teachers and students in their schools.
A concerned parent notified school officials about an inappropriate relationship between a former student teacher and a Conard student, West Hartford schools Superintendent Tom Moore said Friday. Boncal completed her student teaching in the fall but was still working for the district as an assistant track coach at the high school. Moore said her employment with the district has been terminated.
When West Hartford officials were notified about the alleged relationship, they alerted West Hartford police who contacted New Britain police to handle the investigation, Moore said.
Boncal was living in New Britain at the time of the relationship, and all of the encounters took place there, police said.
The 18-year-old male student and Boncal both told police that the relationship began when he asked for her phone number in December, according to a five-page arrest warrant affidavit for Boncal. She told police that she taught social sciences and that the 18-year-old was in some of the classes.
On Dec. 4, Boncal was hired as a track and field coach. School officials said the 18-year-old is not a member of the track team.
The two began exchanging texts Dec. 13 and had sex at Boncal's residence on different occasions, starting on Christmas and with the last encounter on Jan. 11, they both acknowledged, according to the affidavit.
''She stated that the victim was kind to her,'' police said in the affidavit. ''Boncal stated that she loved the victim and was emotional regarding her feelings for him.''
The student initially denied the relationship to investigators, but eventually told them of the encounters, the affidavit says. told police that he and Boncal exchanged sexually explicit photos and messages, but that he had recently lost his cellphone. Boncal told police that most of the communication was done on Facebook Messenger.
''The victim refused to provide a written statement,'' police wrote. ''The victim expressed concern for Boncal with regard to the outcome of this investigation.''
On Friday, Conard High School Principal Julio Duarte sent a letter to parents alerting them to the arrest.
''As educators, we are entrusted to protect and educate all of our students and know there are certain boundaries that can never be crossed,'' Duarte wrote. ''Also, we will not tolerate any behavior that compromises the safety or well-being of our students. I hope you will not let the misconduct of this one individual cast a shadow over all of our staff members who demonstrate their commitment to our students every day.''
Moore said on Friday that he was ''furious'' about the violation of faith entrusted to school employees.
''Whether someone is 21, 41, or 61, the moment they are a part of a school as a student teacher, mentor, or coach, they enter into a sacred trust with our students and community,'' Moore said.
Boncal was arraigned Thursday in New Britain Superior Court. Court records said she was released from custody. Her next court date is March 1.
Boncal graduated from Central Connecticut State University in New Britain in December 2017, university spokesman Mark McLaughlin said Friday afternoon.
On the CCSU athletics website, Boncal was listed as a sprinter on the women's track and field team.
Devin Nunes Is No Alex Jones
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 12:39
For the last two weeks a secret '-- now released '-- memo from California Rep. Devin Nunes's office has torn apart lawmakers and dominated the political news cycle. Those on the right advocating for its release have touted the four-page document as an unprecedented example of government corruption and malfeasance exceeding that of even the Watergate revelations.
But for those who've paid close attention to the pro-Trump media industrial complex over the last 18 months, the memo, and its attendant media circus, felt familiar. The breathless coverage, relentless tweets, and continual teases building up to what is hopefully a grand reveal was reminiscent of a tactic honed and perfected not by whistleblowers, but by partisan shock jocks. Indeed, the saga of #ReleaseTheMemo felt a lot less like the Pentagon Papers than it did a classic Alex Jones or Sean Hannity conspiracy gambit to hijack a news cycle.
Much like Jones or Hannity, Nunes successfully weaponized the pro-Trump media and its online viral outrage machine, ultimately forcing the country to obsess and speculate over a largely political document. But while the congressman's tactics to release classified information feel cribbed from the pro-Trump media playbook, Nunes appears to have made a crucial mistake: actually releasing the memo.
There are easy parallels between the Nunes memo and last year's Alex Jones/Megyn Kelly interview debacle, in which the Infowars host commandeered an effort to sandbag him on network TV and transformed it into a news-dominating Alex Jones spectacle. In the weeks leading up to the interview's air date, Jones repeatedly hinted that he had some contentious bit of information about it. Then, roughly 72 hours before air, he revealed it: surreptitiously recorded audio of Kelly offering to humanize and soften him in a preinterview.
Eventually, Infowars published roughly 10 minutes of Kelly's preinterview. The footage was far from the bombshell Jones had touted; it was little more than an embarrassing interview negotiation. But Jones continued to tease it. He said he had eight more hours of shocking audio that he planned to release in the days ahead. But he never did. The Kelly interview aired the following Sunday; the controversy subsided. And Jones moved on to the next outrage.
The endless tease is a tactic Jones has perfected in recent years. But he's not the only member of the pro-Trump media to use it. Sean Hannity is another master of the form.
Online, Hannity has become infamous for his innumerable ''tick tock'' teases. He claims he knows something ''major'' and will soon reveal it to the world. But promised revelations rarely live up to the hype.
But the ploy does draw eyeballs and ratings. Last May, Hannity '-- after weeks of propagating a conspiracy theory surrounding the unsolved murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich '-- took to Twitter to announce what sounded like a break in the case. He promised a ''huge announcement'' on his program. That evening, millions tuned in to hear it. The broadcast had a 50% increase in viewership, according to Nielsen. But there was no explosive announcement. Instead, Hannity delivered the polar opposite: a meandering monologue saying he would no longer talk about the story on the air.
Little wonder then that Hannity and Jones have been among the most vocal proponents of releasing Nunes's memo; the memo-release strategy seems ripped right from their pro-Trump media playbook (it's worth noting that Hannity reportedly advised the president on his decision to release the document, though he denies doing so).
First, it tosses bold allegations into the realm of public opinion without full evidence or context. In the memo's case, the document's classified nature prevented its particulars from being discussed. But lawmakers were free to tease the vague contours and that was more than enough to convince Trump loyalists of wholesale corruption. Second, the memo saga built suspense with each day as reluctant government officials were forced to comment on or refute its importance. By the end of the multiweek campaign, the memo had become the biggest story in Washington.
But Nunes' payoff was meager. Coverage of the memo '-- which hit a fever pitch this week when the FBI cautioned against releasing it '-- began to deflate as soon as it became clear that it would indeed be published. On Thursday evening, there was a ''rising White House fear'' that the ''Nunes memo is a dud.'' Indeed, its declassification Friday afternoon was arguably the least exciting day of the entire saga. And while its contents were relentlessly examined, their revelations hardly matched the breathless hype of the past few weeks. Once public, the more explosive claims in the document appeared hard to corroborate without access to the underlying evidence supporting them, none of which was released or declassified. On top of that, there's also a looming counter memo, written by Democrats, which has also not been released.
Perhaps that's because the Nunes memo departed from the pro-Trump media playbook in an crucial way '-- the reveal. After weeks of coverage, protest, and hand wringing, the #ReleaseTheMemo campaign had accomplished what it set out to do: push forward a narrative of corruption and anti-Trump bias. Without divulging classified information, Trump loyalists portrayed themselves and the administration as victims: They easily muddied the waters between fact, fiction, and partially true (and partially not!).
Had the memo never been released, it may well have driven the news cycle for weeks more '-- hanging like a cloud over the Trump-Russia investigation '-- indisputable proof of something, just out of reach. Now that it's out, it's been defanged and its news value sapped. It will soon be subsumed by the next controversy.
Nunes used the pro-Trump media playbook well until he didn't, veering away from a key tenet: The tease and build-up aren't just the appetizer, they're the entire meal. As with the Seth Rich revelations or the Kelly tapes, a conspiracy just out of reach '-- one that's metastasizing in the imagination of its target audience '-- is often more powerful than one revealed.
Charlie Warzel is a senior writer for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Warzel reports on and writes about the intersection of tech and culture.
Contact Charlie Warzel at charlie.warzel@buzzfeed.com.
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Read the Nunes Memo, Annotated - The New York Times
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 12:30
Dear Mr. Chairman:
On January 29, 2018, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (hereinafter ''the Committee'') voted to disclose publicly a memorandum containing classified information provided to the Committee in connection with its oversight activities (the ''Memorandum,'' which is attached to this letter). As provided by clause 11(g) of Rule X of the House of Representatives, the Committee has forwarded this Memorandum to the President based on its determination that the release of the Memorandum would serve the public interest.
The Constitution vests the President with the authority to protect national security secrets from disclosure. As the Supreme Court has recognized, it is the President's responsibility to classify, declassify, and control access to information bearing on our intelligence sources and methods and national defense. See, e.g., Dep't of Navy v. Egan, 484 U.S. 518, 527 (1988). In order to facilitate appropriate congressional oversight, the Executive Branch may entrust classified information to the appropriate committees of Congress, as it has done in connection with the Committee's oversight activities here. The Executive Branch does so on the assumption that the Committee will responsibly protect such classified information, consistent with the laws of the United States.
The Committee has now determined that the release of the Memorandum would be appropriate. The Executive Branch, across Administrations of both parties, has worked to accommodate congressional requests to declassify specific materials in the public interest.1 However, public release of classified information by unilateral action of the Legislative Branch is extremely rare and raises significant separation of powers concerns. Accordingly, the Committee's request to release the Memorandum is interpreted as a request for declassification pursuant to the President's authority.
While House rules allow a rarely used procedure to make classified information public without executive branch approval, the White House does not acknowledge that Congress has legitimate authority to do so.It remains unclear whether House Republicans or the White House will eventually let the Democratic rebuttal memo be released.
The President understands that the protection of our national security represents his highest obligation. Accordingly, he has directed lawyers and national security staff to assess the declassification request, consistent with established standards governing the handling of classified information, including those under Section 3.1(d) of Executive Order 13526. Those standards permit declassification when the public interest in disclosure outweighs any need to protect the information. The White House review process also included input from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice. Consistent with this review and these standards, the President has determined that declassification of the Memorandum is Appropriate.
This letter from Donald F. McGahn II, the White House counsel, says that the administration consulted with the office of Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence, and the Justice Department.Notably, Mr. McGahn does not say either institution concurred that it was a good idea to make the memo public. In recent days, the F.B.I. has publicly expressed ''grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo's accuracy,'' while Mr. Coats's office has declined to comment.
Based on this assessment and in light of the significant public interest in the memorandum, the President has authorized the declassification of the Memorandum. To be clear, the Memorandum reflects the judgments of its congressional authors. The President understands that oversight concerning matters related to the Memorandum may be continuing. Though the circumstances leading to the declassification through this process are extraordinary, the Executive Branch stands ready to work with Congress to accommodate oversight requests consistent with applicable standards and processes, including the need to protect intelligence sources and methods.
This memorandum provides Members an update on significant facts relating to the Committee's ongoing investigation into the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their use of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the 2016 presidential election cycle. Our findings, which are detailed below, 1) raise concerns with the legitimacy and legality of certain DOJ and FBI interactions with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), and 2) represent a troubling breakdown of legal processes established to protect the American people from abuses related to the FISA process.
Investigation Update
On October 21, 2016, DOJ and FBI sought and received a FISA probable cause order (not under Title VII) authorizing electronic surveillance on Carter Page from the FISC. Page is a U.S. citizen who served as a volunteer advisor to the Trump presidential campaign. Consistent with requirements under FISA, the application had to be first certified by the Director or Deputy Director of the FBI. It then required the approval of the Attorney General, Deputy Attorney General (DAG), or the Senate-confirmed Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division.
The FBI and DOJ obtained one initial FISA warrant targeting Carter Page and three FISA renewals from the FISC. As required by statute (50 U.S.C. §1805(d)(1)), a FISA order on an American citizen must be renewed by the FISC every 90 days and each renewal requires a separate finding of probable cause. Then-Director James Comey signed three FISA applications in question on behalf of the FBI, and Deputy Director Andrew McCabe signed one. Then-DAG Sally Yates, then-Acting DAG Dana Boente, and DAG Rod Rosenstein each signed one or more FISA applications on behalf of DOJ.
Mr. Boente and Mr. Rosenstein are both Trump administration officials '-- the general counsel of the F.B.I. and the deputy attorney general, respectively. Under Justice Department regulations, it is Mr. Rosenstein who appointed and oversees Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel leading the Russia investigation. Mr. Rosenstein controls the scope of Mr. Mueller's jurisdiction, can block him from taking steps like issuing indictments and is the only official who can fire him.If Mr. Trump used the wiretapping of Mr. Page to justify removing Mr. Rosenstein, the president could install someone who might be more willing to constrain or end the investigation.
Due to the sensitive nature of foreign intelligence activity, FISA submissions (including renewals) before the FISC are classified. As such, the public's confidence in the integrity of the FISA process depends on the court's ability to hold the government to the highest standard particularly as it relates to surveillance of American citizens. However, the FISC's rigor in protecting the rights of Americans, which is reinforced by 90-day renewals of surveillance orders, is necessarily dependent on the government's production to the court of all material and relevant facts. This should include information potentially favorable to the target of the FISA application that is known by the government. In the case of Carter Page, the government had at least four independent opportunities before the FISC to accurately provide an accounting of the relevant facts. However, our findings indicate that, as described below, material and relevant information was omitted.
In accusing the F.B.I. of omitting important information, this memo's critics say the memo itself omits crucial context: other evidence that did not come from Mr. Steele, much of which remains classified. For example, it makes no note of the fact that Mr. Page attracted the F.B.I.'s interest in 2013, when agents came to believe that Russian spies were trying to recruit him. The F.B.I. obtained a FISA wiretap order then, as well, according to a person familiar with the matter.The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, issued a statement, saying that ''it is necessary to understand how the investigation began, what other information the F.B.I. had about Russia's efforts to interfere with our election, and what the F.B.I. knew about Carter Page prior to making application to the court.''
1) The ''dossier'' compiled by Christopher Steele (Steele dossier) on behalf of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and the Hillary Clinton campaign formed an essential part of the Carter Page FISA application. Steele was a longtime FBI source who was paid over $160,000 by the DNC and Clinton campaign, via the law firm Perkins Coie and research firm Fusion GPS, to obtain derogatory information on Donald Trump's ties to Russia.
a) Neither the initial application in October 2016, nor any of the renewals, disclose or reference the role of the DNC, Clinton campaign, or any party/campaign in funding Steele's efforts, even though the political origins of the Steele dossier were then known to senior DOJ and FBI officials.
David Kris, a FISA expert and the former head of the Justice Department's National Security Division during the Obama administration, called this the ''money quote'' in the memo. The impression created by that line, he said, is ''potentially problematic, and worthy of further review.'' However, he said, if the applications did disclose that Mr. Steele's research was funded by people who were motivated to undermine Mr. Trump's campaign '-- even if they did not specifically name the Democratic National Committee or the Clinton campaign '-- ''then the FISA applications would be fine.''This one of several ''serious mischaracterizations,'' Mr. Schiff's statement said. ''The majority suggests that the F.B.I. failed to alert the court as to Mr. Steele's potential political motivations or the political motivations of those who hired him, but this is not accurate.''
b) The initial FISA application notes Steele was working for a named U.S. person, but does not name Fusion GPS and principal Glenn Simpson, who was paid by a U.S. law firm (Perkins Coie) representing the DNC (even though it was known by DOJ at the time that political actors were involved with the Steele dossier). The application does not mention Steele was ultimately working on behalf of'--and paid by'--the DNC and Clinton campaign, or that the FBI had separately authorized payment to Steele for the same information.
2) The Carter Page FISA application also cited extensively a September 23, 2016, Yahoo News article by Michael Isikoff, which focuses on Page's July 2016 trip to Moscow. This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo News. The Page FISA application incorrectly assesses that Steele did not directly provide information to Yahoo News.
Mr. Schiff deemed this to be another of those ''serious mischaracterizations,'' saying that the article was not used to corroborate Mr. Steele. Mr. Kris, the FISA expert, said that it was ''much more likely that they would include an article to show that the investigation had become public, and that the target therefore might take steps to destroy evidence or cover his tracks.''
Steele has admitted in British court filings that he met with Yahoo News'--and several other outlets'--in September 2016 at the direction of Fusion GPS. Perkins Coie was aware of Steele's initial media contacts because they hosted at least one meeting in Washington D.C. in 2016 with Steele and Fusion GPS where this matter was discussed.
The court filing referenced here took place on May 18, 2017, long after the initial application and at least the first renewal application.a) Steele was suspended and then terminated as an FBI source for what the FBI defines as the most serious of violations'--an unauthorized disclosure to the media of his relationship with the FBI in an October 30, 2016, Mother Jones article by David Corn.
The language used here on Mr. Steele's relationship with the F.B.I. suggests that it was formal. But he never entered into any formal relationship from which he could be suspended or terminated, according to people familiar with their interactions.'-- Matthew Rosenberg
Steele should have been terminated for his previous undisclosed contacts with Yahoo and other outlets in September'--before the Page application was submitted to the FISC in October'--but Steele improperly concealed from and lied to the FBI about those contacts.
Mr. Steele took detailed notes of his conversation with the F.B.I. on Oct. 1, 2016. A person familiar with the notes says that they contain no evidence that the discussion addressed whether he was also talking to the news media.'-- Matthew Rosenberg
b) Steele's numerous encounters with the media violated the cardinal rule of source handling'--maintaining confidentiality'--and demonstrated that Steele had become a less than reliable source for the FBI.
3) Before and after Steele was terminated as a source, he maintained contact with DOJ via then-Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce Ohr, a senior DOJ official who worked closely with Deputy Attorneys General Yates and later Rosenstein. Shortly after the election, the FBI began interviewing Ohr, documenting his communications with Steele. For example, in September 2016, Steele admitted to Ohr his feelings against then-candidate Trump when Steele said he ''was desperate that Donald Trump not get elected and was passionate about him not being president.'' This clear evidence of Steele's bias was recorded by Ohr at the time and subsequently in official FBI files'--but not reflected in any of the Page FISA applications.
a) During this same time period, Ohr's wife was employed by Fusion GPS to assist in the cultivation of opposition research on Trump. Ohr later provided the FBI with all of his wife's opposition research, paid for by the DNC and Clinton campaign via Fusion GPS. The Ohrs' relationship with Steele and Fusion GPS was inexplicably concealed from the FISC.
Mr. Ohr worked on counternarcotics investigations; there is no public evidence he played a role in the FISA application.
4) According to the head of the FBI's counterintelligence division, Assistant Director Bill Priestap, corroboration of the Steele dossier was in its ''infancy'' at the time of the initial Page FISA application. After Steele was terminated, a source validation report conducted by an independent unit within FBI assessed Steele's reporting as only minimally corroborated. Yet, in early January 2017, Director Comey briefed President-elect Trump on a summary of the Steele dossier, even though it was'--according to his June 2017 testimony'--''salacious and unverified.'' While the FISA application relied on Steele's past record of credible reporting on other unrelated matters, it ignored or concealed his anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations. Furthermore, Deputy Director McCabe testified before the Committee in December 2017 that no surveillance warrant would have been sought from the FISC without the Steele dossier information.
5) The Page FISA application also mentions information regarding fellow Trump campaign advisor George Papadopoulos, but there is no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos.
Mr. Schiff's statement portrays this line as mischaracterizing the context in which the application discussed Mr. Papadopoulos:''The D.O.J. appropriately provided the court with a comprehensive explanation of Russia's election interference, including evidence that Russian agents courted another Trump campaign foreign adviser, George Papadopoulos. As we know from Papadopoulos' guilty plea, Russian agents disclosed to Papadopoulos their possession of stolen Clinton emails and interest in a relationship with the campaign. In claiming that there is 'no evidence of any cooperation or conspiracy between Page and Papadopoulos,' the majority deliberately misstates the reason why D.O.J. specifically explained Russia's role in courting Papadopoulos and the context in which to evaluate Russian approaches to Page.''
The Papadopoulos information triggered the opening of an FBI counterintelligence investigation in late July 2016 by FBI agent Pete Strzok. Strzok was reassigned by the Special Counsel's Office to FBI Human Resources for improper text messages with his mistress, FBI Attorney Lisa Page (no known relation to Carter Page), where they both demonstrated a clear bias against Trump and in favor of Clinton, whom Strzok had also investigated. The Strzok/Lisa Page texts also reflect extensive discussions about the investigation, orchestrating leaks to the media, and include a meeting with Deputy Director McCabe to discuss an ''insurance'' policy against President Trump's election.
The memo here states as fact a theory pushed by conservative commentators that this text message is evidence of a conspiracy to prevent Mr. Trump from being elected.According to a person familiar with the conversation, the text message referenced a debate inside the F.B.I. over how aggressively and publicly they should move on the Russia case. Some argued it was unlikely to be solved by Election Day and the chance of a Trump victory was low. Mr. Strzok argued the F.B.I. had an obligation to move quickly, making an analogy that even though the chance of dying young is low, buying insurance is still prudent. Mr. Strzok lost the argument and the F.B.I. kept the investigation a secret.
'-- Adam Goldman
EXCLUSIVE: White House Fingers John McCain As Media Leak; Believes U.S. Senator Eavesdropped on Trump's Classified Phone '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:26
FeaturedPoliticsEXCLUSIVE: White House Fingers John McCain As Media Leak; Believes U.S. Senator Eavesdropped on Trump's Classified PhoneThis could be the beginning of the end for embattled Sen. John McCain's life in politics. According to White House officials, McCain is believed to have somehow gained access to the content of President Donald Trump's private, classified telephone calls with world leaders. And he isn't keeping quiet about what was talked about either.
An analysis of McCain's recent public statements by White House officials, coupled with information from intelligence personnel working with the Trump administration, paints a disturbing picture for McCain '-- or any elected U.S. politician. Officials believe the senator has inside knowledge of a number of President Trump's telephone conversations, including at least one conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Even more alarming, officials believe McCain is secretly sharing this sensitive information with colleagues and his cabal of friendly mainstream media journalists in a dangerous clandestine campaign to damage Trump's presidency even before it has a chance to succeed. Trump has been searching for media rats in the Beltway in recent weeks. White House aides are confident they have now outed one of the major leaks plaguing the early days of the Trump presidency. To everyone's surprise, it is a senior senator supposedly belonging to the same side of the political aisle as the president.
McCain has been lambasting Trump to anyone and everyone who will listen since the newly minted president's inauguration. This includes a Russian comedian who pranked McCain posing as Ukraine Prime Minister Volodymyr Groysman. Even during that troubling conversation, where McCain shared sensitive U.S. intelligence with an imposter, White House aides said McCain unknowingly exposed himself as having inside knowledge of Trump's telephone conversations.
Like Our News? Then Help Support Our Independent Journalism!''He has been given transcripts or actually listened to the calls and is sharing what he has heard,'' an administration insider said. ''There is no doubt. He is one of the major leaks.''
Just last week, True Pundit published a troubling account of how a Russian comedian duped McCain, the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. McCain incredibly even coached the phone-prankster-posing Prime Minister on joining NATO.
This audio recording of the phone call is absolutely incredible.
It's time for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to determine the level McCain's involvement and just how many laws he has broken.
RELATED STORY: BUSTED: Open Borders Hero John McCain Lives in Exclusive $15 Million Remote Mountain Compound Surrounded by Water, Fences, Ridges
RELATED STORY: Wikileaks Exposes John McCain's Illegal Request for Campaign Cash From Russian Ambassador Who Suddenly Died Monday in NYC
THE BIG UGLY '' Why U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras Recusal From Mike Flynn Case is a Big Deal'... | The Last Refuge
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:45
Last night news broke that U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras ''has been recused'' from the case overseeing the prosecution of General Mike Flynn. Details are vague. According to Reuters, both the judge and the Flynn legal team have yet to comment.
Additionally, there is no concrete answer as to whether the recusal was done by the judge himself or was forced upon him. While the reasoning is the key, the difference between the two options adds another layer of consequence within the rest of this outline. Reuters News Service puts it this way:
(Reuters) '' The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge presiding over the criminal case for President Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been recused from handling the case, a court spokeswoman said on Thursday.
According to a court filing, U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras, who presided over a Dec. 1 hearing where Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his contacts with Russia, will no longer handle the case.
Court spokeswoman Lisa Klem did not say why Contreras was recused, and added that the case was randomly reassigned. Reuters could not immediately learn the reason for the recusal, or reach Contreras. An attorney for Flynn declined to comment. (Link)
Obviously, the customary reason for recusal is when there is a conflict of interest between the case as assigned and the judge overseeing it. However, as you can clearly see, in this case it's rather odd that if a conflict existed the judge would have even begun to oversee the case at the prior hearing. Why wait until six days after the first hearing?
As to the reasoning for the recusal, and stressed against the backdrop of the new information surrounding the investigative practices of the DOJ and FBI, this recusal is potentially both a game-changer and a massive dose of sunlight.
U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras is one of a very few FISA Court Judges.
Judge Contreras was in the position of approving FISA warrants at the time when FBI Deputy Head of Counterintelligence, FBI Agent Peter Strzok was assembling the underlying information for the FISA warrant used against candidate Trump.
There is a very real possibility that Judge Contreras signed off on the FISA warrant in October 2016 that initiated the counterintelligence wiretapping and surveillance of the Trump campaign. That wiretapping and surveillance ultimately led to the questioning of Michael Flynn; the consequence of which brings Flynn to Contreras courtroom.
However, before getting to those ramifications it is important to step back for a moment and review the former March 20th, 2017, congressional testimony of FBI Director James Comey.
We have drawn attention to this testimony frequently, because it is one of the few times when congress has pinned Comey down and made him commit to specifics. In fact, for an otherwise innocuous congressional hearing, this specific segment has been viewed over 400,000 times. When we understand the importance of the content '' we accept that perhaps even James Comey's own lawyers have watched it repeatedly.
The first three minutes of this video are what is important . As you watch this testimony remember to overlay what you know now against the James Comey statements from nine months ago.
I would particularly draw your attention to the timeline as Comey describes (counterintelligence investigation beginning in July 2016); and also to pay attention to the person Comey assigns responsibility for keeping congress out of the loop on oversight. Comey points to the DOJ's National Security Division Head who is in charge of the counterintelligence operations, Bill Priestap. However, Comey doesn't use Priestap's name:
'...''it's usually the decision of the head of our counterintelligence division''.Everything happens in the first THREE MINUTES :
It's obvious James Comey was not anticipating that line of questioning. His discomfort and obfuscation pours out within his words and body language. However, from that testimony we gain insight which we can add to the latest information.
We know the DNC and Clinton Campaign commissioned opposition research in April of 2016 through Fusion GPS, who sub-contracted Christopher Steele. Between April and July of 2016 the retired MI6 agent put together opposition research on Donald Trump centered around a claimed network of dubious and sketchy Russian contacts.
The first draft of that dossier was reported to be passed out in June/July 2016.
Notice the FBI counterintelligence operation began in July 2016. That directly and specifically lines up with the recent discoveries surrounding Deputy Head of Counterintelligence, FBI Agent Peter Strzok and the new information about Agent Strzok having direct contact with Christopher Steele, the author for the ''Russian Dossier''.
Additionally, the July 2016 time-frame lines up with candidate Donald Trump winning the GOP nomination, and also the first application for a wiretapping and surveillance warrant to the FISA court which was unusually denied by a FISA judge.
Very few FISA requests are ever denied. Actually, only like 1 out of 100 are denied. So for a FISA request to be denied, there had to be a really compelling reason to require more than the traditional amount of FBI/DOJ due diligence within the request.
If you consider that monitoring associates within a presidential campaign would certainly be one of those types of requests which would lend a judge GREAT pause, well, perhaps the denial gains perspective. Certainly any FISA judge would easily understand the potential ramifications of the U.S. government conducting surveillance on a presidential campaign.
However, in October 2016 the second FISA request was granted.
What else happened in October of 2016?
According to media reports in October of 2016 the full and completed Russian Dossier was being heavily shopped by Fusion GPS with payments toward journalists. Additionally, in October 2016, according to yesterday's headlines: DOJ Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohr was outed and demoted because he too had conversations with Christopher Steele and Fusion GPS etc.
So in the month where a FISA Judge granted the warrant for wiretapping and surveillance, the FBI (via Agent Strzok), and DOJ (via Deputy AG Bruce Ohr), were both in contact with Russian Dossier author Christopher Steele.
October 2016 is EXACTLY when The Obama administration submits a new, narrow request to the FISA court, now focused on a computer server in Trump Tower suspected of links to Russian banks. As Andrew McCarthy pointed out months ago: ''No evidence is found '-- but the wiretaps continue, ostensibly for national security reasons. The Obama administration is now monitoring an opposing presidential campaign using the high-tech surveillance powers of the federal intelligence services.'' (link)
Are you seeing how the dots connect?
June/July 2016 a FISA request is denied. This is simultaneous to FBI agent Strzok initial contact with Christopher Steele and the preliminary draft of the dossier.
October 2016 a FISA request approved. This is simultaneous to agent Strzok and Assoc. Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr in contact with Christopher Steele and the full dossier.
It would be EXPLOSIVE if it turned out the FISA warrant was gained by deception, misleading/manipulated information, or fraud; and that warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of General Flynn was authorized by FISA Court Judge Contreras '' who would now be judge in Flynn's case.
Is this the recusal reason?
Additionally, was that ''Dossier'' part of the collective intelligence gathering that led to the ridiculous (January 2017) ''Russian Malicious Cyber Activity '' Joint Analysis Report''? The report that attempted to give justification for the December 29th Russian sanctions, and made famous by the media falsely claiming 17 agencies agreed on the content.
Back to the timeline we go, and remember NSA head Admiral Mike Rogers was the one Intelligence Community official without *confidence* in the ''Joint Analysis Report''.
On Tuesday November 8th, 2016 the election was held. Results announced Wednesday November 9th, 2016.
On Thursday November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Mike Rogers traveled to New York and met with President-Elect Donald Trump.
The next day, Friday November 18th, President Trump moved the transition team from Trump Tower to his golf course in New Jersey.
AND'... On Friday November 18th The Washington Post reported on a recommendation from ''October'' that Mike Rogers be removed from his NSA position:
['...] In a move apparently unprecedented for a military officer, Rogers, without notifying superiors, traveled to New York to meet with Trump on Thursday at Trump Tower. (link)
Apparently, Mike Rogers never told his boss, James Clapper (or anyone else) he was going to see the president-elect. The recommendation to fire Mike Rogers (in October) was made by Defense Secretary Ash Carter and ODNI James Clapper ''according to several U.S. officials familiar with the matter.'' October?
Is it entirely possible that NSA Director Mike Rogers, having seen the full scope of the intelligence, might have expressed reservations about the October FISA application content, and as a consequence positioned himself as a threat to the group plans?
So here we are in December of 2017. The Office of the Inspector General is currently working from the inside to investigate the politicization of the FBI and DOJ; and the IG is beginning to identify specific people: FBI Agent Strzok and DOJ Deputy AG Bruce G Ohr.
Meanwhile the oversight committees (Judiciary, Intelligence) are working from the outside of the corrupt organizations to spotlight the consequences from those identified people and highlight specific actionable behavior.
It's all right there in front of everyone:
FBI Agent Peter Strzok's former boss was Bill Priestap, FBI Asst. Director in charge of Counterintelligence. [The same Bill Priestap James Comey stated was the person who decided not to tell congressional oversight of the investigation] Bill Priestap's boss was FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Directly above McCabe in the chain-of-command was FBI Director James Comey.
Inside the DOJ: Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohr's former boss was Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Sally Yates boss was Attorney General Loretta Lynch.
There's the identified usurpers, and the political plan they utilized, with a common sense outline clear as day. Along with obvious official assistance from all of the personal staff under each official.
'Friday January 20th '' Inauguration
'TuesdayJanuary 24th '' Lt. Gen. Mike Flynn was interviewed at the WH by the FBI (one of the interviewers was FBI Agent Peter Strzok).
'WednesdayJanuary 25th '' The Department of Justice received a detailed readout from the FBI agents who had interviewed Flynn. Sally Yates said she felt ''it was important to get this information to the White House as quickly as possible.''
'ThursdayJanuary 26th '' (morning) Yates called White House Counsel Don McGahn first thing that morning to tell him she had ''a very sensitive matter'' that had to be discussed face to face. McGahn agreed to meet with Yates later that afternoon.
'Thursday January 26th '' (afternoon) Sally Yates traveled to the White House along with a senior member of the DOJ's National Security Division, Bill Priestap, who was overseeing the matter. This was Yates' first meeting with McGahn in his office, which also acts as a sensitive compartmented information facility (SCIF).
Yates said she began their meeting by laying out the media accounts and media statements made by Vice President Mike Pence and other high-ranking White House officials about General Flynn's activity ''that we knew not to be the truth.''
According to Sally Yatestestimony, she and Bill Priestap reportedly presented all the information to McGahn so the White House could take action that they deemed appropriate. When asked by McGahn if Flynn should be fired, Yates answered, ''that really wasn't our call.''
Yates also said her decision to notify the White House counsel had been discussed ''at great length.'' According to her testimony: ''Certainly leading up to our notification on the 26th, it was a topic of a whole lot of discussion in DOJ and with other members of the intel community.''
'Friday January 27th '' (morning) White House Counsel Don McGahn called Yates in the morning and asked if she could come back to his office.
'Friday January 27th '' (late afternoon) According to her testimony, Sally Yates returned to the White House late that afternoon. One of McGahn's topics discussed was whether Flynn could be prosecuted for his conduct.
Specifically, according to Yates, one of the questions McGahn asked Yates was, ''Why does it matter to DOJ if one White House official lies to another?'' She explained that it ''was a whole lot more than that,'' and reviewed the same issues outlined the prior day.
McGahn expressed his concern that taking action might interfere with the FBI investigation of Flynn, and Yates said it wouldn't. ''It wouldn't really be fair of us to tell you this and then expect you to sit on your hands,'' Yates had told McGahn.
McGahn asked if he could look at the underlying evidence of Flynn's conduct, and she said they would work with the FBI over the weekend and ''get back with him on Monday morning.
Special Counsel Robert Mueller has charged Flynn (full pdf below) with falsely telling FBI agents that he did not ask the ambassador ''to refrain from escalating the situation'' in response to the sanctions.
According to the plea, while being questioned by FBI agents on January 24, 2017, Flynn also lied when he claimed he could not recall a subsequent conversation with Kislyak, in which the ambassador told Flynn that the Putin regime had ''chosen to moderate its response to those sanctions as a result of [Flynn's] request.''
Furthermore, a week before the sanctions were imposed, Flynn had also spoken to Kislyak, asking the ambassador to delay or defeat a vote on a pending United Nations resolution. The criminal information charges that Flynn lied to the FBI by denying both that he'd made this request and that he'd spoken afterward with Kislyak about Russia's response to it.
There was nothing wrong with the incoming national-security adviser's having meetings with foreign counterparts or discussing such matters as the sanctions in those meetings. However, lying to the FBI is the process crime that has led to Flynn's admissions herein:
The Clinton Campaign was the predicate for the Steele Dossier.The Steele Dossier was the predicate for the FISA Warrants (Agent Strzok).The FISA Warrants were the predicate for wiretapping and surveillance.The wiretapping/surveillance was the predicate for the Trump team unmasking.The unmasking/surveillance was the predicate for Robert Mueller's SC charges against National security Adviser Michael Flynn.Advertisements
WOW '' Interesting Interview With Joe DiGenova Links DOJ-NSD John Carlin With FISA Court Judge Rudolph Contreras'... | The Last Refuge
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:44
The word is getting out. People are slowing beginning to piece together the BIGGER STORY of what fundamentally lies behind the Obama administration's 2016 use of FISA 702(16)(17) surveillance, and how the intentional non-oversight of the Department of Justice National Security Division was used in the construct of the unlawful FBI surveillance and spying operation against presidential candidate Donald Trump.
During a radio interview on WMAL legal analyst and former U.S. Attorney General for Washington DC, Joe DiGenova, specifically highlights the DOJ National Security Division head John P Carlin and his role in the 2016 FISA warrant. Other than within our own research few people are paying attention to the DOJ-NSD side.
Additionally, and in complete concurrence with our prior research, DiGenova states first-hand knowledge that FISA Court Judge Rudolph Contreras did not recuse himself '' but was rather forcibly recused from the Michael Flynn case by either U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts or the aggregate FISA court.
IMPORTANT: Listen to the first 7:30 of the interview below. This is secondary confirmation of what we have independently been outlining for months:
On December 7th, 2017, it was announced that U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras was mysteriously recused from the Special Counsel case against General Mike Flynn, five days after Judge Contreras accepting the initial pleading. No explanation as to 'why'?
(Reuters) The U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia judge presiding over the criminal case for President Donald Trump's former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn has been recused from handling the case, a court spokeswoman said on Thursday. (read more)
One might think the media apparatus, or pundit proletariat writ large, might be curious about why a U.S. District Court Judge would be recused. Alas One would be wrong. The recusal angle is transparently missing from any follow-up by media; and apparently the judicial cat also has stolen the tongue of congressional curiosity. Nothing. Nada. Zilch.
The story has been memory holed into the concentric whirlpool of nothingness.
We have speculated that U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras was recused, either by himself or by challenge, because he is also a FISA Court Judge and could have signed off on the October FISA warrant that led to the wiretapping and surveillance of General Flynn. Joe DiGenova states he has first-hand knowledge Contreras was forcibly recused.
The question then becomes why did the judge even allow himself to preside over the first hearing of General Mike Flynn's rather odd guilty plea?
Was the October 2016 FISA warrant part of the evidence in the overall process charge against Mike Flynn? What are the rules of FISA warrant content in cases where the warrant leads to a prosecution? Did Judge Contreras sit on the initial plea hearing so another judge would not see the FISA information, recognize any problems, and maybe not approve the plea?
The only two significant things that happened between the initial Mike Flynn plea hearing and the recusal of Judge Contreras was:
#1) The stories about anti-Trump FBI Agent Peter Strzok and his involvement with Fusion-GPS and Christopher Steele; and
#2) FBI Director Chris Wray appearing before the House Judicial Committee and hearing Representative Jim Jordan demand to see the 2016 FISA application.
In fact, Judge Contreras was recused only a few hours after that House Judicial Committee hearing.
These are all just general questions that stem from Judge Contreras appearing to concede to a conflict, but doing so only AFTER the first administrative hearing on the case. If the conflict existed on December 7th 2017, such that a recusal was needed, would not that conflict exist prior to December 7th, 2017?
Apparently no-one else is in the least bit curious; and absent of anyone seeking such clarity; it leads CTH to wonder if U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras wasn't possibly the same judge that denied the initial FISA application in June of 2016.
It's very rare that a FISA application is denied. Considering he possibility the denial was based, in part, on the target (candidate Donald Trump) of the FISA warrant; and considering the massive ramifications within the U.S. government applying to monitor, wiretap and use surveillance upon a presidential candidate; it would not be a stretch to think Judge Contreras would establish a 'higher threshold' for granting such authority.
Given what we know now, that we did not know before, namely that FBI Agent Peter Strzok and DOJ Deputy Bruce Ohr were part of the counterintelligence operation that began in July 2016'.... and understanding that Nellie Ohr, Bruce's wife, was working for Fusion GPS the contractor for Christopher Steele and the Russian Dossier'.... ultimately hired by Hillary Clinton;'.... and accepting that the information within the dossier was part of the underlying FISA application'... the entire construct of the FISA application is suspect.
Adding yet another layer to that sketchy outline, it was previously revealed that Peter Strzok's mistress within the DOJ, Lisa Page, might have been the actual DOJ official to apply for the FISA warrant. (SEE HERE) Lisa Page is the legal bridge between the FBI Counterintelligence operation (Peter Strzok) and the DOJ National Security Division (John P Carlin).
REMINDER '' FBI Agent Strzok to FBI Attorney Page:
''I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office that there's no way he gets elected '' but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40.''In 2015 Asst. Attorney General Sally Yates blocked any inspector general oversight of the DOJ National Security Division (SEE Pdf HERE). The Office of Inspector General. Michael Horowitz, requested oversight over the DOJ National Security Division and it was Sally Yates who responded with a lengthy 58-page legal explanation saying, essentially, 'nope '' not allowed.' (PDF HERE) All of the DOJ is subject to oversight, except the NSD.
During the 2016 FBI Counterintelligence operation (began in July 2016 per Comey) the DOJ National Security Division appears to be the originating entity for the FISA 702(17) ''About Queries''. Again, 702 is basically spying on Americans; the actual ''spying'' part is 702. Item 17 is ''About Queries'', which allows queries or searches of NSA collected data within the search fields of intelligence inquiry. Those ''About Queries'' retrieve the content of email and phone conversations for the targeted response.
As a result of NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers suspecting [FISA 702 (#17 '' email and phone calls)] surveillance activity was being used for reasons he deemed unlawful, in mid 2016 Rogers ordered the NSA compliance officer to run a full audit on 702 NSA compliance.
The NSA compliance officer identified several strange 702 ''About Queries'' that were being conducted. These were violations of the fourth amendment (illegal search and seizure without a warrant), ie. unlawful surveillance and gathering. Admiral Rogers was briefed by the compliance officer on October 20th, 2016.
The DOJ National Security Division then set Admiral Mike Rogers up to take the fall for their unlawful conduct. John P Carlin preempted Rogers by filing a notification with the FISA Court on 26th September 2016 (look at the pdf).
DOJ-NSD head John P Carlin was setting up Rogers as the scapegoat while knowing the NSA FISA compliance officer was still reviewing their conduct. Carlin wouldn't notify the court unless he was trying to cover something. Carlin then announced his resignation.
The NSA compliance officer did not brief Admiral Rogers until 20th Oct 2016. Admiral Rogers notified the FISC on 26th Oct 2016.
Summary of the Appearance of Activity '' 'Obama's political operatives within the DOJ-NSD, that had no oversight, appear to have been using FISA 702(17) surveillance ''about inquiries'' that would deliver email and phone communication for U.S. people (Trump campaign). 'The NSD unit was working in coordination with the FBI Counterintelligence Unit (Peter Strzok etc.). 'In an effort to stop the activity NSA Director Mike Rogers initiated a full 702 compliance review. 'However, before the review was complete the DOJ-NSD had enough information for their unlawful FISA warrant which worked retroactively to make the prior FBI surveillance (began in July '16 per James Comey) lawful. Mike Rogers stopped the process on October 26th 2016. 'As a result of his not going along, Rogers became a risk; DNI James Clapper demanded he be fired.
Which takes us back to U.S. District Court Judge Rudolph Contreras.
Was the recusal an outcome of Contreras recognizing the concerns he expressed in the June 2016 FISA denial; that were later presumably belayed with a more narrow FISA application (albeit enhanced and weighted by the additional unlawful evidence collected, ie. the ''insurance policy'') evidenced in his seeing how the FISA warrant he granted was used against the defendant, Flynn, that appeared in his courtroom?
Did Contreras see in Flynn's outcome '' evidence of what he feared would happen? Did that lead to Judge Contreras forced recusal?'... or was Contreras a participant in the 'matter'?
So many questions, and yet a transparent lack of overall curiosity around the recusal.
Ten days after the 2016 election, November 17th 2016, Admiral Rogers travels to Trump Tower without telling ODNI James Clapper. Rogers likely informs President-elect Trump of the prior activity by the FBI and DOJ, including the probability that all of Trump Tower's email and phone communication was being collected.
'... On November 17th, 2016, NSA Director Admiral Mike Rogers went to see President-Elect Donald Trump in Trump Tower, New York. ''SEE HERE'' Director Rogers never told his boss DNI, James Clapper.
'... On November 18th, 2016, the Trump Transition Team announced they were moving all transition activity to Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. ''SEE HERE'' Where they interviewed and discussed the most sensitive positions to fill. Defense, State, CIA, ODNI.
FBI Agent Peter Strzok's former boss was Bill Priestap, FBI Asst. Director in charge of Counterintelligence. [The same Bill Priestap James Comey stated was the person who decided not to tell congressional oversight of the investigation] Bill Priestap's boss was FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. Directly above McCabe in the chain-of-command was FBI Director James Comey.
Inside Main Justice: Associate Deputy Attorney General Bruce G Ohr's former boss was Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Sally Yates boss was Attorney General Loretta Lynch. John P. Carlin was head of the National Security Division inside the DOJ, and Lisa Page was the DOJ lawyer who represents the bridge between the legal side (DOJ) and the investigative side (FBI).
Judge recuses in Michael Flynn case - POLITICO
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:42
No sentencing date has been set for Michael Flynn, who has agreed to cooperate with Robert Mueller's team. | Susan Walsh/AP Photo
The former Trump national security adviser will be sentenced by Clinton appointee Emmet Sullivan.
12/07/2017 05:37 PM EST
President Donald Trump's former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, will face a different judge to be sentenced than the one who took Flynn's guilty plea to a felony false statement charge last week, court records show.
Judge Emmet Sullivan was randomly assigned to take over the case after Judge Rudolph Contreras recused himself.
Story Continued Below
A court spokeswoman confirmed to POLITICO that the reassignment was due to Contreras' recusal, but said the court generally does not disclose the reason that a judge begged off the case.
Sullivan is an appointee of President Bill Clinton, and Contreras was appointed by President Barack Obama.
Flynn pleaded guilty last Friday to a false statement charge brought by prosecutors from the office of special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating whether there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The retired Army lieutenant general and Defense Intelligence Agency director, who was fired after 24 days as national security adviser in the Trump White House, admitted he lied to FBI agents about his interactions with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition and lied to the Justice Department about his lobbying dealings related to Turkey.
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No sentencing date has been set for Flynn, who has agreed to cooperate with Mueller's team.
Contreras had told both sides to report on the status of the case by Feb. 1. It will now be up to Sullivan to decide whether to stick with that schedule or set a new one.
Sullivan is best known for overseeing the corruption trial of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Alaska) and then assigning an outside lawyer to investigate the conduct of prosecutors in the case who were accused of withholding evidence helpful to the defense. Sullivan previously served as a judge on the D.C. Superior Court and the D.C. Court of Appeals.
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Trump Campaign Adviser Steps Down While Disputing Claims Of Russia Ties '' Talking Points Memo
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:58
One of Donald Trump's foreign policy advisers said Monday he was stepping down from the campaign, while pushing back on allegations that he had engaged in private communications with top Russian officials.
Carter Page said in an interview with Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin that the claims were ''just complete garbage,'' but nonetheless he had chosen to take a leave of absence from campaign become the accusations were causing a ''distraction.''
Page decision came on the heels of a report by Yahoo News Friday that U.S. intelligence officials were looking into whether he met privately with Kremlin-aligned Russian figures while on a trip to Moscow in July.
''There's so little time between now and the election, this is in the best interests of the candidate. It's so ridiculous I want to have it behind us,'' Page told the Washington Post.
Page was first publicly attached to the Trump campaign by Trump himself, in a March interview with the Washington Post, when the candidate listed Page among his foreign policy advisers. The campaign has since wavered on exactly how involved Page actually was in advising Trump. Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said last month that Page was an ''informal advisor'' who did not speak for the campaign, while spokesman Jason Miller said he had ''no role'' in the campaign when asked about him by Yahoo News last week.
According to Rogin's reporting, Page had never met with Trump one-on-one nor was he deeply involved in drafting speeches. However, Rogin described him as ''an early member of the team who was working with Sam Clovis,'' a policy adviser who joined the Trump campaign in 2015.
Page told the Washington Post that he didn't meet with any of the Russian figures '-- including officials in the Kremlin and allies of Putin '-- mentioned in reports about the U.S. probe into his Russian activities.
''It's completely false and inconceivable that someone would even accuse me of that,'' Page said. He said that while in Russia, he did meet briefly Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, but that the introduction was merely an exchange of pleasantries. Page also said that he made clear while he was in Russia that he was not there on behalf of the Trump campaign, and that when he sought approval for the trip from the campaign's senior staff, it was made clear that no campaign issues would be discussed.
Additionally, Page sent a letter Monday to FBI Director James Comey, requesting the agency to terminate any investigation into his Russian travels.
''As you may be aware, the source of these accusations is nothing more than completely false media reports,'' Page said in the letter. ''Yet for the record, I have not met this year with any sanctioned official in Russia despite the fact that there are no restrictions on U.S. persons speaking with such individuals.''
FBI founded - Jul 26, 1908 - HISTORY.com
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 13:02
On July 26, 1908, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is born when U.S. Attorney General Charles Bonaparte orders a group of newly hired federal investigators to report to Chief Examiner Stanley W. Finch of the Department of Justice. One year later, the Office of the Chief Examiner was renamed the Bureau of Investigation, and in 1935 it became the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
When the Department of Justice was created in 1870 to enforce federal law and coordinate judicial policy, it had no permanent investigators on its staff. At first, it hired private detectives when it needed federal crimes investigated and later rented out investigators from other federal agencies, such as the Secret Service, which was created by the Department of the Treasury in 1865 to investigate counterfeiting. In the early part of the 20th century, the attorney general was authorized to hire a few permanent investigators, and the Office of the Chief Examiner, which consisted mostly of accountants, was created to review financial transactions of the federal courts.
Seeking to form an independent and more efficient investigative arm, in 1908 the Department of Justice hired 10 former Secret Service employees to join an expanded Office of the Chief Examiner. The date when these agents reported to duty''July 26, 1908''is celebrated as the genesis of the FBI. By March 1909, the force included 34 agents, and Attorney General George Wickersham, Bonaparte's successor, renamed it the Bureau of Investigation.
The federal government used the bureau as a tool to investigate criminals who evaded prosecution by passing over state lines, and within a few years the number of agents had grown to more than 300. The agency was opposed by some in Congress, who feared that its growing authority could lead to abuse of power. With the entry of the United States into World War I in 1917, the bureau was given responsibility in investigating draft resisters, violators of the Espionage Act of 1917, and immigrants suspected of radicalism.
Meanwhile, J. Edgar Hoover, a lawyer and former librarian, joined the Department of Justice in 1917 and within two years had become special assistant to Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer. Deeply anti-radical in his ideology, Hoover came to the forefront of federal law enforcement during the so-called ''Red Scare'' of 1919 to 1920. He set up a card index system listing every radical leader, organization, and publication in the United States and by 1921 had amassed some 450,000 files. More than 10,000 suspected communists were also arrested during this period, but the vast majority of these people were briefly questioned and then released. Although the attorney general was criticized for abusing his power during the so-called ''Palmer Raids,'' Hoover emerged unscathed, and on May 10, 1924, he was appointed acting director of the Bureau of Investigation.
During the 1920s, with Congress' approval, Director Hoover drastically restructured and expanded the Bureau of Investigation. He built the agency into an efficient crime-fighting machine, establishing a centralized fingerprint file, a crime laboratory, and a training school for agents. In the 1930s, the Bureau of Investigation launched a dramatic battle against the epidemic of organized crime brought on by Prohibition. Notorious gangsters such as George ''Machine Gun'' Kelly and John Dillinger met their ends looking down the barrels of bureau-issued guns, while others, like Louis ''Lepke'' Buchalter, the elusive head of Murder, Inc., were successfully investigated and prosecuted by Hoover's ''G-men.'' Hoover, who had a keen eye for public relations, participated in a number of these widely publicized arrests, and the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as it was known after 1935, became highly regarded by Congress and the American public.
With the outbreak of World War II, Hoover revived the anti-espionage techniques he had developed during the first Red Scare, and domestic wiretaps and other electronic surveillance expanded dramatically. After World War II, Hoover focused on the threat of radical, especially communist, subversion. The FBI compiled files on millions of Americans suspected of dissident activity, and Hoover worked closely with the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) and Senator Joseph McCarthy, the architect of America's second Red Scare.
In 1956, Hoover initiated COINTELPRO, a secret counterintelligence program that initially targeted the U.S. Communist Party but later was expanded to infiltrate and disrupt any radical organization in America. During the 1960s, the immense resources of COINTELPRO were used against dangerous groups such as the Ku Klux Klan but also against African American civil rights organizations and liberal anti-war organizations. One figure especially targeted was civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr., who endured systematic harassment from the FBI.
By the time Hoover entered service under his eighth president in 1969, the media, the public, and Congress had grown suspicious that the FBI might be abusing its authority. For the first time in his bureaucratic career, Hoover endured widespread criticism, and Congress responded by passing laws requiring Senate confirmation of future FBI directors and limiting their tenure to 10 years. On May 2, 1972, with the Watergate scandal about to explode onto the national stage, J. Edgar Hoover died of heart disease at the age of 77.
The Watergate affair subsequently revealed that the FBI had illegally protected President Richard Nixon from investigation, and the agency was thoroughly investigated by Congress. Revelations of the FBI's abuses of power and unconstitutional surveillance motivated Congress and the media to become more vigilant in the future monitoring of the FBI.
Isikoff Stunned Dossier Article Used To Spy O | The Daily Caller
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 13:08
Investigative journalist Michael Isikoff said Friday that he was surprised to find out that an article he wrote about Carter Page prior to the election was used to obtain a spy warrant against the former Trump campaign adviser.
The revelation, which was made in a memo released by the House Intelligence Committee on Friday, ''stuns me,'' Isikoff said in an episode of his podcast, ''Skullduggery.''
The four-page memo alleges that the DOJ and FBI submitted inaccurate and incomplete information in a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrant against Page. The spy warrant was granted on Oct. 21, 2016.
One ''essential'' part of the application was the uncorroborated Steele dossier, according to the memo. And an article that Isikoff wrote for Yahoo! News on Sept. 23, 2016 that was based directly on the dossier was ''cited extensively'' in the application.
Isikoff was shocked, he said, because his very article was based on information that came from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier. He said it was ''a bit beyond me'' that the FBI would use his article in the FISA application. (RELATED: Spy Warrant Relied On Dossier And News Stories Planted By Fusion GPS)
''Obviously the information that I got from Christopher Steele was information the FBI already had,'' he said, noting that Steele began sharing information from his dossier in July 2016.
Isikoff acknowledged the potential problem with the DOJ and FBI citing his article to support the FISA against Page.
''It's self-referential,'' he said of the article and its reliance on the dossier.
''My story is about the FBI's own investigation,'' he continued.
''So it seems a little odd that they would be citing the Yahoo! News story about the matter that they are investigating themselves based on the same material that had been separately presented to the FBI before I was ever briefed by Christopher Steele.'' (RELATED: Inside Fusion GPS's Media Outreach Campaign)
The Republican spy memo makes a similar argument.
''This article does not corroborate the Steele dossier because it is derived from the information leaked by Steele himself to Yahoo! News,'' it reads.
It also asserts that the Page FISA application ''incorrectly assesses'' that Steele was not a source for Isikoff.
The memo also says that corroboration of the dossier was in its ''infancy'' at the time the FISA application was submitted. An FBI unit that tried to verify Steele's research had determined that it was only ''minimally corroborated'' at the time the FISA warrant was granted.
Isikoff said on his podcast that he met Steele at a Washington, D.C. hotel in Sept. 2016. They were joined by his ''old friend'' Glenn Simpson, the founder of opposition research firm Fusion GPS.
Fusion hired Steele to investigate Donald Trump's ties to Russia. The firm was working for the Clinton campaign and DNC, a fact which Isikoff was not aware of at the time of the meeting with Simpson and Steele.
He said on ''Skullduggery'' that he was aware that Simpson and Steele were working for Democrats, though he did not know it was the campaign and DNC.
Isikoff said that he wonders whether the Republican memo accurately characterized the FISA application or whether the FBI/DOJ were trying to ''dress up'' the document. The latter scenario would be ''embarrassing'' for U.S. officials, he said.
Isikoff's article was not considered a bombshell when it was published, though the Clinton campaign did tout it in a press release. The report did not initially gain much traction on cable news or with other major outlets, but it has picked up attention over the past year amid the ongoing investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion.
The article did reveal for the first time that investigators were looking into Page's contacts in Russia. It also provided the most extensive reporting on Page's alleged activities in Russia up to that point in the campaign.
Isikoff reported that Page may have met secretly with the Kremlin insiders during a much-publicized trip to Moscow in July 2016.
The dossier '-- and the Isikoff report '-- identified the two individuals as Igor Sechin and Igor Diveykin. Page has denied ever meeting the men. He is also suing Yahoo! News for publishing the article suggesting he had.
Page denies other allegations made by Steele in the dossier. Steele claims in the document that Page worked with former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort to collude directly with Russian operatives. Page says he has never met or talked to Manafort. The dossier also asserts that it was Page's idea to provide hacked DNC emails to Wikileaks in order to push Bernie Sanders supporters away from the Democrats' camp.
Isikoff's article also uses a quote from a senior U.S. law enforcement official. The unidentified official told Isikoff that Page's contacts in Russia were on investigators' ''radar screen.''
The identity of that source remains a mystery, and Isikoff did not disclose who it was. But he did rule out that the source was Bruce Ohr, a Justice Department official who met with Steele and Simpson before and after the election.
The memo says that Ohr passed information from Steele to the Justice Department. He also provided the FBI with information from his wife, who worked as a contractor for Fusion GPS. Ohr also met with Simpson after the election.
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Alan Dershowitz: The Nunes FISA memo deserves more investigation. Time for a nonpartisan commission | Fox News
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 15:12
The memo made public by House Republicans on Friday accusing the FBI and Justice Department of abusing their surveillance powers in investigating a former Trump campaign adviser constitutes probable cause for further investigation.
The memo purports to describe what is in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) application that resulted in wiretap warrants being issued against Republican operatives. It is, of course, a secondhand, hearsay, account of what is actually in the application.
Democratic members of Congress have been quick to point out that they see matters differently and that the Republican memo leaves out salient information.
So let the Democrats present their version, which will also be secondhand and hearsay. It will help to level the playing field, but it will not provide the American public with a firsthand look at what was presented to the FISA court.
Subject to real needs of national security, the American public should see a redacted version of the actual FISA application so that we can judge for ourselves whether it unfairly omitted important facts, including the source of the so-called Steele Dossier, which made allegations of misconduct against the Trump campaign, and the credibility of its author, a former British spy.
The Republican memo standing alone raises some serious questions about the process by which the warrants were obtained from the FISA court. The Democratic memo, if it is forthcoming, may purport to answer some of those questions. But it will never be able to answer them definitely without an objective assessment of the actual FISA application itself.
This episode strengthens the view '' expressed by me from day one of the investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election '' that the entire enterprise of appointing a special counsel was misguided. Instead, Congress should have created a nonpartisan commission of objective experts to investigate the entire issue of Russian involvement in the election and other claims made by either party about any unfairness surrounding it.
Nor are congressional committees an adequate substitute for a nonpartisan commission. Congressional committees by their very nature are highly partisan, as evidenced by the dueling accounts of the FISA application.
It's not too late for Congress to create such a commission, because the American public has lost faith in the objectivity of congressional committees. Many Americans, though certainly not all, have also lost faith in the investigation currently being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Mueller himself continues to be held in high regard by most Americans, but many of his underlings are widely regarded as partisan.
Mueller did the right thing by reassigning FBI agent Peter Strozk after his anti-Trump communications with his girlfriend were revealed. But Strozk should have recused himself from the Clinton investigation based on his own knowledge of his bias against Trump.
When a president or a presidential candidate is being investigated, everyone involved in the investigation must be ''Caesar's wife'' '' above reproach. Several of Mueller's appointees do not pass that test.
The Republican memo just released should not be considered the last word on the issue. It is the opening salvo by Republicans. The Democrats are responding in kind. Both sides have partisan agendas. Now it is time for the American people to have their interests considered.
As Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once put it: ''Sunlight is the best disinfectant.'' The corollary is that over-classification keeps the infection spreading. Let the FISA application be de-classified, with appropriate redactions, and let the public interest in the integrity of our law enforcement agencies be served.
Grammy Chief Announces Task Force to Improve 'Female Advancement' '' Variety
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:18
Mike Nelson/ Epa/REX/Shutterstock
In the wake of Recording Academy chief Neil Portnow's ill-worded comments after the Grammy Awards Sunday night '-- in which he said female artists and executives need to ''step up'' '-- and a low number of female nominees and winners, the Academy has announced a new initiative that aims to ''overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community.'' While details were scarce at press time, the organization promised more information in the coming weeks.
Portnow's letter follows in full:
''To The Music Community'...
''After hearing from many friends and colleagues, I understand the hurt that my poor choice of words following last Sunday's Grammy telecast has caused. I also now realize that it's about more than just my words. Because those words, while not reflective of my beliefs, echo the real experience of too many women. I'd like to help make that right.
''The Recording Academy is establishing an independent task force to review every aspect of what we do as an organization and identify where we can do more to overcome the explicit barriers and unconscious biases that impede female advancement in the music community. We will also place ourselves under a microscope and tackle whatever truths are revealed.
''I appreciate that the issue of gender bias needs to be addressed in our industry, and share in the urgency to attack it head on. We as an organization, and I as its leader, pledge our commitment to doing that. We will share more information about the steps we are taking in the coming weeks.
''Sincerely, Neil Portnow, President/CEO of the Recording Academy.''
Shortly after the show ended on Sunday night, Portnow replied to a Variety reporter's question about how female artists, who garnered a very low number of nominations and wins, can move forward in years ahead.
''[Women] who want to be musicians, engineers, producers, and want to be part of the industry on the executive level [need] to step up,'' he said.
The outcry on social media was swift and unforgiving, and Portnow issued a statement early Tuesday morning walking back his comments. Yet those two words became a misleading focus of the real problem, which is the low number of female nominees on the ballot '-- despite an unprecedentedly diverse slate of nominees in terms of race and musical genre, and despite a powerful #MeToo-themed performance from Kesha and speech from Janelle Monae during the show.
As Variety noted shortly after the nominees were announced, female artists were significantly under-represented in the biggest categories.
While three of the five new artist nominees were women '-- Alessia Cara, Julia Michaels and SZA '-- solo female artists received exactly two of the 15 total nominations in the other three categories, and even that came with a caveat: Michaels' ''Issues'' was nominated for song, a songwriters' award she would have shared with four other (male) writers. That's unlike Lorde's ''Melodrama,'' up for album, which is awarded to the artist. And though SZA, Cara and Ledisi had strong showings (with five, four and three nods, respectively), three men had five nominations, six men had four and 20 men had three.
Several quick answers emerged when examining the situation. The biggest female artists and/or winners in recent years '-- Beyonc(C), Adele, Rihanna, Taylor Swift, Pink, Kelly Clarkson '-- did not release albums in the eligibility period, although the latter three are nominated for individual songs. Hip-hop, which dominates the top categories, is indisputably ruled by male artists. Recent albums from Katy Perry and Lady Gaga underwhelmed critically and commercially. Miranda Lambert's ''The Weight of These Wings'' was expected by some to receive an album nomination, but in another surprise, country music was absent from the top categories for only the second time in 24 years.
Yet other categories show how many women qualified for this year's awards. Clarkson, Pink, Gaga and Kesha comprised four of the five nominees for Best Pop Solo Performance; Lana Del Rey was up for Best Pop Vocal Album. Cardi B, Kehlani and Ledisi scored rap or R&B noms; Alison Krauss and Maren Morris were nominated along with Lambert for country awards. Kesha, who has become a rallying figure against sexual assault for her ongoing lawsuit against former mentor/collaborator Dr. Luke, was nominated twice. And despite their high profiles, with the exception of Best New Artist, females have won relatively few big categories in the 2000s: Album of the Year winners were Adele, the Dixie Chicks, Norah Jones and Swift (and Krauss with Robert Plant); along with the above artists, Song and/or Record has gone to Beyonce , Alicia Keys, Lorde and Amy Winehouse.
Guess Co-Founder Paul Marciano Denies Kate Upton's Sexual Harassment Claims, Implies She's Salty Over Getting Fired! | CocoPerez.com Mobile
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:22
No surprise here '-- Guess cofounder and CCO Paul Marciano has denied Kate Upton's accusations of sexual and emotional harassment.
According to TMZ, the fashion mogul is shocked by the claims, as he says he's never touched Upton or has even been left alone with the 25-year-old supermodel.
Video: Rose McGowan Says Alyssa Milano Is Connected To Hollywood's 'Pimp Problem'!
Standing firm that he has done nothing wrong, Marciano told the outlet:
"If she has a claim, there's one place to tell the truth and that's in court or to the police."
Interestingly enough, Upton used to model for Guess and, according to Marciano, would arrive on set after late nights "looking terrible." Marciano claimed the brand decided to cut ties with Upton and suggested that she's using the #MeToo movement as retribution.
We should note that Upton never specifically said SHE was harassed or assaulted, so perhaps she's just being a voice for the less influential models who have been accusing Marciano of harassment and assault for years.
We can only guess what the fashion exec will have to say about those claims.
[Image via WENN .]
Tags: controversy, fashion smashion, kate upton, paul marciano
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'I Think She's A Lie': Rose McGowan CLOCKS Alyssa Milano Over Time's Up Involvement, Claims She's Connected To Hollywood's 'Pimp Problem'!
Opinion | This Is Why Uma Thurman Is Angry - The New York Times
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 05:41
Yes, Uma Thurman is mad.
She has been raped. She has been sexually assaulted. She has been mangled in hot steel. She has been betrayed and gaslighted by those she trusted.
And we're not talking about her role as the blood-spattered bride in ''Kill Bill.'' We're talking about a world that is just as cutthroat, amoral, vindictive and misogynistic as any Quentin Tarantino hellscape.
We're talking about Hollywood, where even an avenging angel has a hard time getting respect, much less bloody satisfaction.
Playing foxy Mia Wallace in 1994's ''Pulp Fiction'' and ferocious Beatrix Kiddo in ''Kill Bill,'' Volumes 1 (2003) and 2 (2004), Thurman was the lissome goddess in the creation myth of Harvey Weinstein and Quentin Tarantino. The Miramax troika was the ultimate in indie cool. A spellbound Tarantino often described his auteur-muse relationship with Thurman '-- who helped him conceive the idea of the bloody bride '-- as an Alfred Hitchcock-Ingrid Bergman legend. (With a foot fetish thrown in.) But beneath the glistening Oscar gold, there was a dark undercurrent that twisted the triangle.
''Pulp Fiction'' made Weinstein rich and respected, and Thurman says he introduced her to President Barack Obama at a fund-raiser as the reason he had his house.
''The complicated feeling I have about Harvey is how bad I feel about all the women that were attacked after I was,'' she told me one recent night, looking anguished in her elegant apartment in River House on Manhattan's East Side, as she vaped tobacco, sipped white wine and fed empty pizza boxes into the fireplace.
''I am one of the reasons that a young girl would walk into his room alone, the way I did. Quentin used Harvey as the executive producer of 'Kill Bill,' a movie that symbolizes female empowerment. And all these lambs walked into slaughter because they were convinced nobody rises to such a position who would do something illegal to you, but they do.''
Thurman stresses that Creative Artists Agency, her former agency, was connected to Weinstein's predatory behavior. It has since issued a public apology. ''I stand as both a person who was subjected to it and a person who was then also part of the cloud cover, so that's a super weird split to have,'' she says.
She talks mordantly about ''the power from 'Pulp,''' and reminds me that it's in the Library of Congress, part of the American narrative.
Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace in Quentin Tarantino's 1994 film, ''Pulp Fiction.'' Harvey Weinstein was an executive producer. Credit Miramax Films When asked about the scandal on the red carpet at the October premiere for her Broadway play, ''The Parisian Woman,'' an intrigue about a glamorous woman in President Trump's Washington written by ''House of Cards'' creator Beau Willimon, she looked steely and said she was waiting to feel less angry before she talked about it.
''I used the word 'anger' but I was more worried about crying, to tell you the truth,'' she says now. ''I was not a groundbreaker on a story I knew to be true. So what you really saw was a person buying time.''
By Thanksgiving, Thurman had begun to unsheathe her Hattori Hanzo, Instagramming a screen shot of her ''roaring rampage of revenge'' monologue and wishing everyone a happy holiday, ''(Except you Harvey, and all your wicked conspirators '-- I'm glad it's going slowly '-- you don't deserve a bullet) '-- stay tuned.''
Stretching out her lanky frame on a brown velvet couch in front of the fire, Thurman tells her story, with occasional interruptions from her 5-year-old daughter with her ex, financier Arpad Busson. Luna is in her pj's, munching on a raw cucumber. Her two older kids with Ethan Hawke, Maya, an actress, and Levon, a high school student, also drop by.
In interviews over the years, Thurman has offered a Zen outlook '-- even when talking about her painful breakup from Hawke. (She had a brief first marriage to Gary Oldman.) Her hall features a large golden Buddha from her parents in Woodstock; her father, Robert Thurman, is a Buddhist professor of Indo-Tibetan studies at Columbia who thinks Uma is a reincarnated goddess.
But beneath that reserve and golden aura, she has learned to be a street fighter.
She says when she was 16, living in a studio apartment in Manhattan and starting her movie career, she went to a club one winter night and met an actor, nearly 20 years older, who coerced her afterward when they went to his Greenwich Village brownstone for a nightcap.
''I was ultimately compliant,'' she remembers. ''I tried to say no, I cried, I did everything I could do. He told me the door was locked but I never ran over and tried the knob. When I got home, I remember I stood in front of the mirror and I looked at my hands and I was so mad at them for not being bloody or bruised. Something like that tunes the dial one way or another, right? You become more compliant or less compliant, and I think I became less compliant.''
Thurman got to know Weinstein and his first wife, Eve, in the afterglow of ''Pulp Fiction.'' ''I knew him pretty well before he attacked me,'' she said. ''He used to spend hours talking to me about material and complimenting my mind and validating me. It possibly made me overlook warning signs. This was my champion. I was never any kind of studio darling. He had a chokehold on the type of films and directors that were right for me.''
Things soon went off-kilter in a meeting in his Paris hotel room. ''It went right over my head,'' she says. They were arguing about a script when the bathrobe came out.
''I didn't feel threatened,'' she recalls. ''I thought he was being super idiosyncratic, like this was your kooky, eccentric uncle.''
He told her to follow him down a hall '-- there were always, she says, ''vestibules within corridors within chambers'' '-- so they could keep talking. ''Then I followed him through a door and it was a steam room. And I was standing there in my full black leather outfit '-- boots, pants, jacket. And it was so hot and I said, 'This is ridiculous, what are you doing?' And he was getting very flustered and mad and he jumped up and ran out.''
The first ''attack,'' she says, came not long after in Weinstein's suite at the Savoy Hotel in London. ''It was such a bat to the head. He pushed me down. He tried to shove himself on me. He tried to expose himself. He did all kinds of unpleasant things. But he didn't actually put his back into it and force me. You're like an animal wriggling away, like a lizard. I was doing anything I could to get the train back on the track. My track. Not his track.''
She was staying in Fulham with her friend, Ilona Herman, Robert De Niro's longtime makeup artist, who later worked with Thurman on ''Kill Bill.''
''The next day to her house arrived a 26-inch-wide vulgar bunch of roses,'' Thurman says. ''They were yellow. And I opened the note like it was a soiled diaper and it just said, 'You have great instincts.''' Then, she says, Weinstein's assistants started calling again to talk about projects.
She thought she could confront him and clear it up, but she took Herman with her and asked Weinstein to meet her in the Savoy bar. The assistants had their own special choreography to lure actresses into the spider's web and they pressured Thurman, putting Weinstein on the phone to again say it was a misunderstanding and ''we have so many projects together.'' Finally she agreed to go upstairs, while Herman waited on a settee outside the elevators.
Once the assistants vanished, Thurman says, she warned Weinstein, ''If you do what you did to me to other people you will lose your career, your reputation and your family, I promise you.'' Her memory of the incident abruptly stops there.
Through a representative, Weinstein, who is in therapy in Arizona, agreed that ''she very well could have said this.''
Downstairs, Herman was getting nervous. ''It seemed to take forever,'' the friend told me. Finally, the elevator doors opened and Thurman walked out. ''She was very disheveled and so upset and had this blank look,'' Herman recalled. ''Her eyes were crazy and she was totally out of control. I shoveled her into the taxi and we went home to my house. She was really shaking.'' Herman said that when the actress was able to talk again, she revealed that Weinstein had threatened to derail her career.
Through a spokesperson, Weinstein denied ever threatening her prospects and said that he thought she was ''a brilliant actress.'' He acknowledged her account of the episodes but said that up until the Paris steam room, they had had ''a flirtatious and fun working relationship.''
''Mr. Weinstein acknowledges making a pass at Ms. Thurman in England after misreading her signals in Paris,'' the statement said. ''He immediately apologized.''
Thurman says that, even though she was in the middle of a run of Miramax projects, she privately regarded Weinstein as an enemy after that. One top Hollywood executive who knew them both said the work relationship continued but that basically, ''She didn't give him the time of day.''
Thurman says that she could tolerate the mogul in supervised environments and that she assumed she had ''aged out of the window of his assault range.''
She attended the party he had in SoHo in September for Tarantino's engagement to Daniella Pick, an Israeli singer. In response to queries about Thurman's revelations, Weinstein sent along six pictures of chummy photos of the two of them at premieres and parties over the years.
And that brings us to ''the Quentin of it all,'' as Thurman calls it. The animosity between Weinstein and Thurman infected her creative partnership with Tarantino.
Married to Hawke and with a baby daughter and a son on the way, Thurman went to the Cannes Film Festival in 2001. She says Tarantino noticed after a dinner that she was skittish around Weinstein, which was a problem, since they were all about to make ''Kill Bill.'' She says she reminded Tarantino that she had already told him about the Savoy incident, but ''he probably dismissed it like 'Oh, poor Harvey, trying to get girls he can't have,' whatever he told himself, who knows?'' But she reminded him again and ''the penny dropped for him. He confronted Harvey.''
Later, by the pool under the Cypress trees at the luxurious Hotel du Cap, Thurman recalls, Weinstein said he was hurt and surprised by her accusations. She then firmly reiterated what happened in London. ''At some point, his eyes changed and he went from aggressive to ashamed,'' she says, and he offered her an apology with many of the sentiments he would trot out about 16 years later when the walls caved in.
''I just walked away stunned, like 'O.K., well there's my half-assed apology,''' Thurman says.
Weinstein confirmed Friday that he apologized, an unusual admission from him, which spurred Thurman to wryly note, ''His therapy must be working.''
Since the revelations about Weinstein became public last fall, Thurman has been reliving her encounters with him '-- and a gruesome episode on location for ''Kill Bill'' in Mexico made her feel as blindsided as the bride and as determined to get her due, no matter how long it took.
With four days left, after nine months of shooting the sadistic saga, Thurman was asked to do something that made her draw the line.
In the famous scene where she's driving the blue convertible to kill Bill '-- the same one she put on Instagram on Thanksgiving '-- she was asked to do the driving herself.
But she had been led to believe by a teamster, she says, that the car, which had been reconfigured from a stick shift to an automatic, might not be working that well.
She says she insisted that she didn't feel comfortable operating the car and would prefer a stunt person to do it. Producers say they do not recall her objecting.
''Quentin came in my trailer and didn't like to hear no, like any director,'' she says. ''He was furious because I'd cost them a lot of time. But I was scared. He said: 'I promise you the car is fine. It's a straight piece of road.''' He persuaded her to do it, and instructed: '' 'Hit 40 miles per hour or your hair won't blow the right way and I'll make you do it again.' But that was a deathbox that I was in. The seat wasn't screwed down properly. It was a sand road and it was not a straight road.'' (Tarantino did not respond to requests for comment.)
Thurman then shows me the footage that she says has taken her 15 years to get. ''Solving my own Nancy Drew mystery,'' she says.
It's from the point of view of a camera mounted to the back of the Karmann Ghia. It's frightening to watch Thurman wrestle with the car, as it drifts off the road and smashes into a palm tree, her contorted torso heaving helplessly until crew members appear in the frame to pull her out of the wreckage. Tarantino leans in and Thurman flashes a relieved smile when she realizes that she can briefly stand.
Uma Thurman said she didn't want to drive this car. She said she had been warned that there were issues with it. She felt she had to do it anyway. It took her some 15 years to get footage of the crash. (Note: There is no audio.) Published On Feb. 2, 2018 ''The steering wheel was at my belly and my legs were jammed under me,'' she says. ''I felt this searing pain and thought, 'Oh my God, I'm never going to walk again,''' she says. ''When I came back from the hospital in a neck brace with my knees damaged and a large massive egg on my head and a concussion, I wanted to see the car and I was very upset. Quentin and I had an enormous fight, and I accused him of trying to kill me. And he was very angry at that, I guess understandably, because he didn't feel he had tried to kill me.''
Even though their marriage was spiraling apart, Hawke immediately left the Abbey of Gethsemani in Kentucky to fly to his wife's side.
''I approached Quentin in very serious terms and told him that he had let Uma down as a director and as a friend,'' he told me. He said he told Tarantino, ''Hey, man, she is a great actress, not a stunt driver, and you know that.'' Hawke added that the director ''was very upset with himself and asked for my forgiveness.''
Two weeks after the crash, after trying to see the car and footage of the incident, she had her lawyer send a letter to Miramax, summarizing the event and reserving the right to sue.
Miramax offered to show her the footage if she signed a document ''releasing them of any consequences of my future pain and suffering,'' she says. She didn't.
Thurman says her mind meld with Tarantino was rattled. ''We were in a terrible fight for years,'' she explains. ''We had to then go through promoting the movies. It was all very thin ice. We had a fateful fight at Soho House in New York in 2004 and we were shouting at each other because he wouldn't let me see the footage and he told me that was what they had all decided.''
Now, so many years after the accident, inspired by the reckoning on violence against women, reliving her own ''dehumanization to the point of death'' in Mexico, and furious that there have not been more legal repercussions against Weinstein, Thurman says she handed over the result of her own excavations to the police and ramped up the pressure to cajole the crash footage out of Tarantino.
''Quentin finally atoned by giving it to me after 15 years, right?'' she says. ''Not that it matters now, with my permanently damaged neck and my screwed-up knees.''
(Tarantino aficionados spy an echo of Thurman's crash in his 2007 movie, ''Death Proof,'' produced by Weinstein and starring Thurman's stunt double, Zo Bell. Young women, including a blond Rose McGowan, die in myriad ways, including by slamming into a windshield.)
As she sits by the fire on a second night when we talk until 3 a.m., tears begin to fall down her cheeks. She brushes them away.
''When they turned on me after the accident,'' she says, ''I went from being a creative contributor and performer to being like a broken tool.''
Thurman says that in ''Kill Bill,'' Tarantino had done the honors with some of the sadistic flourishes himself, spitting in her face in the scene where Michael Madsen is seen on screen doing it and choking her with a chain in the scene where a teenager named Gogo is on screen doing it.
''Harvey assaulted me but that didn't kill me,'' she says. ''What really got me about the crash was that it was a cheap shot. I had been through so many rings of fire by that point. I had really always felt a connection to the greater good in my work with Quentin and most of what I allowed to happen to me and what I participated in was kind of like a horrible mud wrestle with a very angry brother. But at least I had some say, you know?'' She says she didn't feel disempowered by any of it. Until the crash.
''Personally, it has taken me 47 years to stop calling people who are mean to you 'in love' with you. It took a long time because I think that as little girls we are conditioned to believe that cruelty and love somehow have a connection and that is like the sort of era that we need to evolve out of.''
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Rose McGowan hits out at 'company of pimps' CAA | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:44
Rose McGowan has branded Times Up 'fakes' after they partnered with 'company of pimps' CAA talent agency to host events for the women's movement.
McGowan, a Harvey Weinstein accuser, has been very critical of entertainment agencies who she claimed were 'guilty of human trafficking' for sending actresses, including Gwyneth Paltrow, to meet the disgraced producer, sometimes in private hotel rooms.
On Tuesday, McGowan called out the Times Up movement for partnering with CAA, one of Hollywood's biggest talent agencies.
'Guess where they meet?' she tweeted. 'Who do you think is behind this "great" pr?
'Why, it's the company of pimps that sent so many into a the Monster's Lair themselves. CAA. #TIMESUP fakes.'
Rose McGowan has branded Times Up 'fakes' after they partnered with 'company of pimps' CAA talent agency to host events for the women's movement
'Guess where they meet?' she tweeted. 'Who do you think is behind this 'great' pr? 'Why, it's the company of pimps that sent so many into a the Monster's Lair themselves. CAA. #TIMESUP fakes,' she tweeted
Time's Up is holding three events at their offices in Los Angeles, New York and London
Paltrow said previously she'd only agreed to meet Weinstein at his Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel room, because her agency CAA had sent her, so she believed it was a safe, legitimate meeting.
'It's on the fax, it's from CAA,' she told the New York Times of when she received the invitation to discuss her lead role in his Jane Austen adaptation Emma.
But when she arrived, she claims that Weinstein had placed his hands on her and suggested they head to the bedroom for massages.
'I was a kid, I was signed up, I was petrified,' she said.
Other alleged victims have also claimed agencies had a hand in the systemic abuse in the entertainment business, by hushing up the claims.
Tamara Holder, a Fox News contributor, said she was urged to keep quiet by her agent after she told him a senior executive had tried to force her to perform oral sex.
Holder also tweeted her outage that CAA was working with TimesUp, tweeting: 'Not only are agencies unscathed, they are 'donating' to #TimesUp in an attempt to mislead and rewrite history.
Rose McGowan also accused A-listers who wore black to the Golden Globes to protest the Harvey Weinstein sex scandal of 'Hollywood fakery'
Dozens of actors and actresses wore black in protest against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace at the Golden Globes. Pictured: Tarana Burke, top row from left, Michelle Williams, America Ferrera, Jessica Chastain, Amy Poehler, Meryl Streep, Kerry Washington, and bottom row from left, Natalie Portman, Ai-jen Poo, and Saru Jayaraman
Angelina Jolie (left) and Heidi Klum (right) were among the high profile stars to wear black at the Golden Globes in Los Angeles on Sunday
'ICM was complicit in the destruction of women's careers. I've heard of other agencies too. Don't fall for this BS. Talk to the women these agencies destroyed.'
Shortly after the New York Times bombshell expose uncovered sexual abuse claims from five women last year, McGowan named the agents she believed were partly responsible for the assault and harassment of actresses.
'UTA/CAA/ICM/etc- To the agents who sent us to meet a Monster: I hope you enjoyed that 10%, you are guilty of human trafficking #ROSEARMY,' she tweeted in October.
Today's tweet comes after McGowan, who has been one of Weinstein's most vocal accusers, criticized the Hollywood elite who wore black to the Golden Globes ceremony Sunday night.
The former Charmed star, who skipped the awards ceremony to release a trailer for her upcoming documentary, accused the A-listers of 'Hollywood fakery.'
'Not one of those fancy people wearing black to honor our rapes would have lifted a finger' if it hadn't been for her, she tweeted.
Gwyneth Paltrow (pictured in October) said she believed she'd be safe meeting Weinstein in his Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel room because her agency CAA had sent her. 'It's on the fax, it's from CAA'
The 44-year-old was responding to a tweet from Asia Argento, who also accuses disgraced former Miramax producer Weinstein of sexual assault. Argento tweeted that McGowan was 'the first one who broke the silence.'
'Anyone who tries to diminish your work is a troll and an enemy of the movement,' she added.
McGowan replied. 'I have no time for Hollywood fakery, but you I love, .@AsiaArgento #RoseArmy.'
Many at the awards touched upon the scandal that has rocked Hollywood and exposed abuse and harassment claims against some of its biggest executives and stars, during their speeches.
But McGowan's name was conspicuously absent from proceedings.
Today, she also responded to some of the backlash she has faced over her criticism of the movement, claiming it had been invented by 'media men'.
'Hey Media men, stop planting "Backlash" stories. You are planting evil seeds. Thou doth protest... you know the rest and you know what you are doing. STOP BEING THE PROBLEM. STOP BRAINWASHING HUMANITY,' she tweeted.
Argento, 42, revealed she had not been invited to the Golden Globes despite the #MeToo theme
Fellow sexual abuse and harassment accuser Corey Feldman said he hadn't been either
Rosanna Arquette, who accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, also tweeted 'We weren't invited'
Arquette's sister, Oscar winner Patricia, added: 'That's not cool-All of you should have been included'
'It would have been too much of a downer'... an embarrassment,' Argento wrote
Argento, 42, revealed that she, and many other sexual abuse accusers had not been invited to the Golden Globes despite the high profile Why We Wear Black movement which saw dozens of actors and actresses wear black in protest against sexual harassment and assault in the workplace.
Corey Feldman, who claims he was sexually abused as a child in Hollywood, tweeted on Sunday demanding to know: 'Y was I ignored 2Nite? Do U C the hypocrisy here? Hollywood taking a stand in unity, when I wasn't invited?'
Argento replied on Twitter: 'Don't worry, I wasn't invited either.'
She later added: 'Not only I wasn't invited to the #GoldenGlobes: nobody asked my opinion about #TIMESUP or to sign the letter. I support @TIMESUPNOW even though I was excluded from it. Guess I am not POWERFUL or HOLLYWOOD enough. Proud to work behind the scenes.'
'It would have been too much of a downer'... an embarrassment,' she wrote. 'Victims aren't glamorous enough.'
Rosanna Arquette, who accused Weinstein of sexual misconduct, also tweeted: 'We weren't invited. Annabella [Sciorra], Daryl [Hannah], Mira [Sorvino] '... none of us were.'
Shortly after the New York Times bombshell expose uncovered sexual abuse claims from five women last year, McGowan named the agents she believed were partly responsible for the assault and harassment of actresses
Arquette's sister, Oscar winner Patricia, added: 'That's not cool-All of you should have been included. I wasn't asked either but who cares! It's great they are doing it & we will too!'
McGowan has not commented on whether she was invited to the Globes or not. Invitations are usually restricted to nominees and their guests, though she could have been asked to present an award.
But she has been vocal about hypocrisy in Hollywood and very critical of women she believes were aware but kept quiet about the abuse.
She publicly attacked Meryl Streep on Twitter in a now deleted tweet, which said: 'Actresses, like Meryl Streep, who happily worked for The Pig Monster, are wearing black @goldenglobes in a silent protest.
'YOUR SILENCE is THE problem. You'll accept a fake award breathlessly & affect no real chance. I despise your hypocrisy. Maybe you should all wear Marchesa.'
McGowan, who reached a settlement with Weinstein over her harassment claims, will have her life in the past three months chronicled in an upcoming E! documentary series called Citizen Rose
Streep later revealed she felt 'hurt' by the comments and had not been aware of the allegations against Weinstein until now.
McGowan reached a settlement with Weinstein over her harassment claims.
Her life in the past three months will be chronicled in an upcoming E! documentary series called Citizen Rose.
It is based on her book Brave, which she described as part manifesto, part memoir, about her life growing up in Hollywood and the institutionalized sexism and misogyny she suffered.
The documentary kicks off later this month with a two-hour feature-length episode following her involvement with the #MeToo campaign, from her accusations against Weinstein to her recent clash with Meryl Streep who she claims was aware of his attitude.
Weinstein has repeatedly denied 'allegations of non-consensual sex.'
Rose McGowan Slams Alyssa Milano Over #MeToo Support: 'I Think She's A Lie'
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:42
Rose McGowan has been incredibly vocal about the #MeToo movement and her own horrific experience with Harvey Weinstein. She's also taken aim at those who are stepping up in support of the movement but have a history of also working with those who have been accused of sexual misconduct while knowing about the accusations waged against them. Rose has also been loudly calling out her old Charmed co-star Alyssa Milano, not for being an abuser herself but because of her associations.
In an interview with Nightline's Juju Chang, Rose McGowan discussed Alyssa Milano and why she has taken such a hard stance against her former friend, Us Weekly reports.
''I don't like her,'' McGowan said. ''Cause I think she's a lie.''
''Do you think I don't know these people? Do the math,'' Rose continued. ''Who's behind Time's Up? CAA. Where do they meet? CAA? Who needs good PR? CAA. Who are part of the pimp problem? CAA.''
Rose was talking about Alyssa Milano's husband, Dave Bugliari, who is an agent with CAA. For those who aren't following the movement closely, that is the talent agency which was hit hard when #MeToo really started catching on. They ended up firing Cameron Mitchell over sexual misconduct allegations. There were also reports that many CAA agents knew about Harvey Weinstein's issues and still sent women to him
Rose McGowan also takes issue with the fact that Alyssa Milano is still friends with Harvey Weinstein's estranged wife, Georgina Chapman. Back in December, Alyssa stood up for Georgina during an appearance on Megyn Kelly Today.
When asked how Harvey Weinstein's estranged wife was doing, Alyssa responded, ''Georgina is doing very well '... she's an amazing woman, and I think her priority right now is focusing on how to raise those two children to the best of her capacity given the situation. She goes through very dark times. She's very sad. This is not easy for her, but I have no doubt that not only will she come out on the other side of this, but she deserves to. She's a good woman.''
McGowan has taken issue with not only the accused but also those who knew what was going on in Hollywood and didn't do anything about it. Especially when they have taken part in the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements without owning their complicity in the entire problem, to begin with.
After Rose McGowan's latest interview where she tore into Alyssa Milano, her former co-star responded and only had words of support for Rose. That probably won't change the Grindhouse star's mind about Alyssa or anyone else who she feels is hypocritically supporting the movement.
She certainly has plenty more to say about it too. Fans can tune in to the E! channel to see Rose McGowan's new docuseries called Citizen Rose. The full episode is available to watch online.
Inside Edina's attempt to turn their school into a social justice factory | The Weekly Standard
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 12:03
For decades, the public schools of Edina, Minnesota, were the gold standard among the state's school districts. Edina is an upscale suburb of Minneapolis, but virtually overnight, its reputation has changed. Academic rigor is unraveling, high school reading and math test scores are sliding, and students increasingly fear bullying and persecution.
The shift began in 2013, when Edina school leaders adopted the ''All for All'' strategic plan'--a sweeping initiative that reordered the district's mission from academic excellence for all students to ''racial equity.''
''Equity'' in this context does not mean ''equality'' or ''fairness.'' It means racial identity politics'--an ideology that blames minority students' academic challenges on institutional racial bias, repudiates Martin Luther King, Jr.'s color-blind ideal, and focuses on uprooting ''white privilege.''
The Edina school district's All for All plan mandated that henceforth ''all teaching and learning experiences'' would be viewed through the ''lens of racial equity,'' and that only ''racially conscious'' teachers and administrators should be hired. District leaders assured parents this would reduce Edina's racial achievement gap, which they attributed to ''barriers rooted in racial constructs and cultural misunderstandings.''
As a result, the school system's obsession with ''white privilege'' now begins in kindergarten. At Edina's Highlands Elementary School, for example, K-2 students participate in the Melanin Project. The children trace their hands, color them to reflect their skin tone, and place the cut-outs on a poster reading, ''Stop thinking your skin color is better than anyone elses!-[sic] Everyone is special!''
Highlands Elementary's new ''racially conscious'' elementary school principal runs a blog for the school's community. On it, she approvingly posted pictures of Black Lives Matter propaganda and rainbow gay-pride flags'--along with a picture of protesters holding a banner proclaiming ''Gay Marriage Is Our Right.'' On a more age-appropriate post, she recommended an A-B-C book for small children entitled A is for Activist. (Peruse the book and you find all sorts of solid-gold: ''F is for Feminist,'' ''C is for'...Creative Counter to Corporate Vultures,'' and ''T is for Trans.'')
At Edina High School, the equity agenda is the leading edge of a full-scale ideological reeducation campaign. A course description of an 11th-grade U.S. Literature and Composition course puts it this way: ''By the end of the year, you will have . . . learned how to apply marxist [sic], feminist, post-colonial [and] psychoanalytical . . .lenses to literature.''
The primary vehicle in the indoctrination effort is a year-long English course'--required of all 10th-graders'--that centers, not on reading literature and enhancing writing skills, but on the politicized themes of ''Colonization,'' ''Immigration'' and ''Social Constructions of Race, Class and Gender.''
One student characterized the course this way on the ''Rate My Teachers'' website: ''This class should be renamed . . . 'Why white males are bad, and how oppressive they are.''' (The negative review has since been deleted from Edina High's ''Rate My Teachers'' page; but this is a screenshot from before it was memory-holed.)
Increasingly, families who are serious about education are leaving the Edina schools. For example, Orlando Flores and his wife pulled their son'--an academic superstar'--out of Edina High School in his senior year to escape its hyper-political environment.
Flores, who fled a Marxist regime in Nicaragua as a child, had this to say: ''Years ago, we fled Communism to escape indoctrination, absolutist thinking and restrictions on our freedom of speech. If we see these traits in our schools in America, we must speak out and oppose it.''
Flores says that when his son was at Edina High, teachers routinely pushed politicians and political positions they favored, shamed and browbeat students with dissenting views, and forced them to defend themselves against baseless allegations of racism. According to his son, he says, classroom discussions were often ''one-sided indoctrination sessions,'' and students feared their grades would be penalized if they spoke out.
The final straw for the Flores family occurred when an English teacher subjected their son and a classmate to a lengthy, humiliating and ideologically charged grilling'--unlike that faced by other students'--after the boys made a presentation with which she disagreed following racially-charged incidents in Ferguson, Missouri.
When Flores' son requested an apology, school authorities indignantly took the teacher's side, says Flores. Fearing retaliation, the boy asked to transfer to another English class. There, a student teacher informed the class they would not be reading classic books because ''dead white men are boring,'' according to Flores.
Flores believes that ''Race and racism should be discussed'' at school. But ''relentlessly obsessing about race'--pretending it's the only thing that matters'--is counterproductive and harmful to everyone,'' he says.
Like Edina students, the district's faculty and staff must submit to racial equity re-education.
One such mandatory session for school bus drivers is illustrative. The widow of a bus driver who had been required to attend the training sent the entire 25-page instructional curriculum to Center of the American Experiment, where I am a senior policy fellow.
The training session was entitled ''Edina School DIstrict Equity and Racial Justice Training: Moving from a Diversity to a Social Justice Lens.'' In it, trainers instructed bus drivers that ''dismantling white privilege'' is ''the core of our work as white folks,'' and that working for the Edina schools requires ''a major paradigm shift in the thinking of white people.'' Drivers were exhorted to confess their racial guilt, and embrace the district's ''equity'' ideology.
The result of all of this? Four years into the Edina schools' equity crusade, black students' test scores continue to disappoint. There's been a single positive point of data: Black students' reading scores'--all ages, all grades'--have slightly increased, from 45.5 percent proficiency in 2014 to 46.4 percent proficiency in 2017.
But other than that, the news is all bad. Black students ''on track for success'' in reading decreased from 48.1 percent in 2014 to 44.9 percent in 2017. Math scores decreased from 49.6 percent proficiency in 2014 to 47.4 percent in 2017. Black students ''on track for success'' in math decreased from 51.4 percent in 2014 to 44.7 percent in 2017.
The drop was most notable at the high school level. Math scores for black students in 11th grade at Edina Senior High dropped from 31 percent proficiency in 2014 to 14.6 percent in 2017. In reading, scores for black students in 10th grade at Edina Senior High dropped from 51.7 percent proficiency in 2014 to 40 percent in 2017.
* * *
Recently, conservative students at Edina High School filed a federal lawsuit, claiming the district has violated its members' rights of free speech and association.
The suit grew out of events following a Veteran's Day assembly in the high school gym on November 9, 2017. There, a group of veterans spoke about their military service, and the school band played the National Anthem and Taps. During the music, some black students ''protested'' by refusing to stand, slouching by the bleachers, talking loudly, and blaring music on their cell phones.
Members of the school's unofficial Young Conservatives Club (YCC) responded by criticizing the protesters' behavior, at school and on social media. In response, the protesters and their allies harassed the conservative students, with groups ''as large as 30 students . . . daily surrounding club members and threatening to injure them if they did not change their political views,'' according to the lawsuit complaint. In addition, a group styling itself the ''Edina High School Anti-Fascists'' posted a threatening YouTube video aimed at the YCC, which declared, ''[W]e will not stop until every tentacle of your evil monstrosity is sliced off at the nerve.''
When the conservative students complained, the school's principal ''responded to their security concerns by saying that [they had] brought it upon themselves by criticizing the protests'' at the Veterans Day program, according to the complaint.
The principal disbanded the YCC after pressuring its president to show him texts its members had sent one another about these incidents on the club's private GroupMe. Yet school authorities apparently took no disciplinary action against the protesters and other students who had threatened and harassed YCC members.
The Edina Public Schools' ''policies suggest that 'all are welcome here,''' the complaint asserts, ''but what EPS really means is that all are welcome except conservatives.''
* * *
The Edina school district is just one example of the ideological hijacking of legitimate academic instruction in the name of racial equity. There's more to come. Last October, the Star Tribuneran an op-ed that praised the Edina schools' racial equity crusade, and condemned what the author described as America's vicious history of violence and oppression'--evidenced today by ''Eurocentric curricula,'' ''hypersegregated schools,'' and ''biased standardized tests.'' Our nation's ''racist practices,'' she wrote, are what ''allowed this country to expand geographically and to amass its great fortune.'' White students, she asserted, must become ''racially conscious'' to learn ''how their own worldviews are limited by whiteness.''
The writer was Dr. Annie Mogush Mason, program director of elementary teacher education at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, where the next generation of Minnesota's teachers are being formed.
Update, 2/2/2018: The piece originally linked to a Twitter feed claiming to belong to the group ''Edina High School Anti-Fascists.'' We were unable to confirm that the Twitter account was related to the video threat submitted by a group using the same name. The link to the Twitter feed has been removed.
Katherine Kersten is a Senior Policy Fellow at Center of the American Experiment in Minneapolis.
How "Creepy" is Video Targeting Edina High School Conservative Students? - American Experiment
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 12:14
Members of the Youth Conservatives Club at Edina High School were targeted yesterday by a threatening YouTube video. The video was apparently posted by an anonymous student wearing a Guy Fawkes mask under the YouTube account of Antifa EHS.
The controversy erupted after a group of students refused to stand for the national anthem and playing of Taps last Friday at a Veterans Day school assembly.
Edina Superintendent John Schultz characterized the video as ''inflammatory and creepy'' yet not an apparent threat to students' safety. But the Star Tribune reports the leader of the Edina YCC left school yesterday out of concern for his personal well-being.
While the video was pulled down from YouTube after the Edina Police Department opened an investigation, American Experiment received the following transcript of the video that will assist readers in deciding whether school officials made the right call.
Gay activists ask Amazon to avoid these cities for its second headquarters
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 18:03
Amazon has trimmed its list of potential cities for its second headquarters down to twenty. But one group of gay activists is pressuring the company to avoid some of the locations that made the cut.
The tech behemoth, currently headquartered in Seattle, launched a public search for the site of its second headquarters, or HQ2, last year. It said it would spend $5 billion on constructing the new headquarters and is expecting to hire a workforce of 50,000 people. When the company requested proposals, more than 238 cities from across North America responded.
Last month when Amazon announced the finalists, Conor Gaughan, the manager of the "No Gay? No Way!" campaign, said he was shocked to find eleven of the twenty cities were located in nine states that did not have protections for LGBTQ people. Gaughan, a full-time digital communications consultant, reached out to a group of friends and activists to launch this new campaign.
Related''The goal of this campaign is for Amazon to abide by its own values of diversity and equality, and not reward cities that are anti-LGBT,'' Gaughan told NBC News. ''Amazon has always been a great ally for LGBTQ issues, and we hope this gives them a chance to be a leader. With their huge platform, they can send the signal that if you want business in your state, you can't discriminate.''
The campaign reported nine states on Amazon's list that currently have no legal protections against firing someone, denying them housing or refusing them service because they are LGBTQ: Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Texas, North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio.
No Gay? No Way! David Mixner, author and gay rights activist, told NBC News that these states have a history of anti-LGBTQ legislation that the community has had to organize against.
''We have future LGBTQ employees who will be working at the new headquarters,'' Mixner said. "We don't want them to be at a place where they have no rights and no laws to guarantee their safety. LGBTQ employees should not have to work or live in that atmosphere, especially since taxpayers will be subsidizing a great deal of this move."
"They have a right to be protected by their employers," he added.
Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, is also part of the group launching the campaign.
''Employees can only bring their best to work if they live lives free from stigma and discrimination,'' she said. ''Amazon should reject for consideration any site that has failed to respect the dignity of its LGBT residents.''
RelatedGaughan informed NBC News that Amazon has not yet responded to their campaign launch on Thursday, but that those interested in sending CEO Jeff Bezos a message can do so through the campaign's website, which will aggregate submitted letters and send them to Bezos.
Deena Fidas, director of the Workplace Equality Program at the Human Rights Campaign, told NBC News that Amazon has a "tremendous opportunity" to incentivize progress by choosing locations that have state and local protections for LGBTQ people.
"As municipal leaders around the country continue to step up to offer the protections these businesses are looking for, state lawmakers shouldn't impede that progress by passing needless, anti-LGBTQ bills that can hamstring this progress," she said, adding that HRC is continuing to work with Amazon and hopes the company will send a message "that inclusivity can lead to increased opportunities for all."
In the past, Amazon has been very supportive of gay rights and is proud of earning a perfect score in the Corporate Equality Index from the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The company formed the first GLAMazon chapter, an internal employee group, back in 1999 to support marriage equality and trans rights.
Bezos has also been a longtime advocate for the LGBTQ community. He and his wife donated $2.5 million to Washington United for Marriage in 2012, one of the largest donations to the same-sex marriage cause.
Amazon has not yet responded to NBC News' request for comment.
Stephen King apologizes for mocking Republicans in train wreck | EW.com
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 18:11
Those who follow him on Twitter know that horror author Stephen King has been a rather tough and consistent critic of Donald Trump and the GOP.
But on Thursday that iconic IT author posted a tweet that he ended up walking back.
First, King fired off a snark tweet about the West Virginia accident where a train carrying dozens of members of Congress, including House Speaker Paul Ryan, hit a truck on the way to a Republican retreat:
But then readers told him the accident was fatal to the truck driver. So then he came back with this:
And then, upon further reflection, just went ahead and apologized:
Adding to the confusion: The driver was actually misreported as having died. According to CNN, the driver was seriously injured but is still alive. The wreck did cause one fatality, however, a passenger who was not a member of Congress. Otherwise, the accident caused minor injuries. ''Today's incident was a terrible tragedy,'' Ryan tweeted. ''We are grateful for the first responders who rushed to the scene and we pray for the victims and their families. May they all be in our thoughts right now.''
King later retweeted a call for a GoFundMe for the victim:
King himself was involved in a rather devastating accident in 1999 when a driver of a van struck the author as he was walking down a road. The author required extensive physical therapy to recover from the event.
PC culture killed our school's father-daughter dance: parents | New York Post
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 11:50
A Staten Island elementary school scrapped its traditional father-daughter dance this coming Friday because of the Department of Education's new gender guidelines.
The DOE ordered schools to ''eliminate'' any ''gender-based'' practices like the dance in a March 2017 policy update unless they serve a ''clear'' educational purpose.
The PS 65 shindig, set for Feb. 9, was abruptly postponed until next month after the school's PTA realized the dance would run afoul of the rules.
''Until we understand what we are legally permitted to do, we need to table this event,'' PTA president Toni Bennett wrote to a private school-parents group on Facebook.
Some parents were hopping mad at what they saw as political correctness intruding on a quaint tradition, now in its third year.
''They're trying to take away everything that everybody grew up on and has come to know and I don't think it's fair or right,'' said Matthew West, a 32-year-old father of two daughters at the school, Lily and Willow. ''They should leave it the way it was '-- father-daughter, mother-son.''
Of PC culture, he said, ''I hate it . . . People are just becoming too scared to talk.''
''It's not fair at all,'' said Jose Garcia, 37, who's gone to the past two dances with his 9-year-old daughter, Jolene. ''I have nothing against no one but I don't think that it should affect the school, or the kids for that matter.''
A disappointed Jolene said, ''They had a dance party. We got to wear dresses and hang out with our friends.''
''All this gender crap needs to just stop,'' said mom Akaia Cameron, who added that her third-grader had a ''great time'' with dad last year.
Parents pointed out PS 65 has no gender-inequality issues, because the Stapleton school had a mother-son bowling event last year.
The school's PTA will stage a rescheduled dance for kids and caregivers of any gender on March 2, according to the DOE.
Bennett told The Post the PTA will change the annual ''Father/Best Guy & Daughter Dance'' to a more inclusive theme.
Matthew West with his daughters, Willow, 8, left, and Lily, 4. Angel Chevrestt Principal Sophie Scamardella instructed the PTA to change the event ''to ensure all students and families were welcome to attend,'' DOE spokeswoman Miranda Barbot said.
''We have clear guidelines in place that require school-related events to be inclusive of all students,'' Barbot said.
Still, while the PTA president was pointing to gender policies, the principal announced in a confusing letter to befuddled parents on Wednesday that the dance was postponed because Bennett ''wanted to host it at a bigger venue.''
''The DOE . . . has strict guidelines about how we present information,'' Scamardella wrote. ''They have a 'gender neutral' policy that must be adhered to at all times.''
Some parents ''have taken to Facebook to challenge this ruling,'' she added, but ''there is no challenge.''
The DOE's new Transgender and Gender Nonconforming Student Guidelines, issued last March, were behind the change, and not any parental complaint, according to Bennett.
''Father-daughter dances inherently leave people out. Not just because of transgender status, just life in general,'' said Jared Fox, the DOE's LGBT community liaison. ''These can be really uncomfortable and triggering events.''
But Fox said there's no DOE policy explicitly banning father-daughter dances. Events are reviewed on a case-by-case basis.
''I'm really hard-pressed to put a moratorium on anything,'' he said.
Ironically, he added, ''For a young trans girl, to be able to go to a father-daughter dance can feel very affirming because in this instance she's recognized as a daughter.''
Schools are allowed to hold father-daughter dances, Fox said, ''as long as there's messaging that they're inclusive to everybody.''
While PS 65 adheres to new gender-neutral guidelines, other schools don't.
PS 30, also on Staten Island, has already planned a pricey dance ''to celebrate your little girl and the father figure in her life,'' according to a flyer for the April 14 event. Tickets for couples cost $100.
PS 232 Lindenwood, in Queens, had a ''Daddy Daughter Dance'' on Thursday night, according to a school calendar. PS 83 in The Bronx plans a ''Father/Daughter Dance'' on June 6, as well as a May 19 ''Mother and Son Field Day'' and a ''Mother/Daughter Spa Night'' on April 27.
''People are uncomfortable with change,'' Bennett said. ''It's a new policy and, let's face facts, there are many schools that ignore it.''
Snowflake bingo exposes with the most fragile feelings | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:12
Grab a pen and read the bingo squares below '-- each contains a real-life example of something that has offended snowflakes.
If you are insulted by the example too, make a note of the box title.
If you make no notes, you're a normal, functioning member of society.
If you note down all the squares in a line (vertical or horizontal), BINGO! You're a snowflake.
Note down every single square and FULL HOUSE! You're more of an avalanche and probably shouldn't leave the house.
But wait '-- the game's not over yet, there's still a chance to prove your snowflake credentials with our powerballs below.
Each colour is linked to a phrase used by snowflakes to avoid causing offence to other snowflakes.
If you have used any of these in a non-ironic manner, note down every bingo square that matches the colour of the ball.
Senate passes bill to make O Canada lyrics gender neutral | CBC News
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 15:01
The Senate passed a bill that renders the national anthem gender neutral Wednesday despite the entrenched opposition of some Conservative senators.
The House of Commons overwhelmingly passed a private member's bill in 2016 that would alter the national anthem by replacing "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command" as part of a push to strike gendered language from O Canada.
The bill was first introduced by Liberal MP Mauril B(C)langer , who died in 2016. It now must receive royal assent by the Governor General before it officially becomes law.
Since 1980, when O Canada officially became the country's anthem, 12 bills have been introduced in the House to strip the gendered reference to "sons," which some have argued is discriminatory. All attempts have failed until now.
The song was written by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908 and has been changed before '-- including an update that dates back to before the First World War when the author added the line that later sparked so much debate. Weir, a poet and judge, changed "thou dost in us command" to "in all thy sons command."
'Very, very happy'Independent Ontario Sen. Frances Lankin, the sponsor of B(C)langer's bill the upper house, said she was elated after the bill's passage.
"I'm very, very happy. There's been 30 years plus of activity trying to make our national anthem, this important thing about our country, inclusive of all of us," she said. "This may be small, it's about two words, but it's huge ... we can now sing it with pride knowing the law will support us in terms of the language. I'm proud to be part of the group that made this happen."
Independent Quebec Sen. Chantal Petitclerc, a former Paralympian who has been awarded 14 gold medals for wheelchair racing, said she was "jealous" of those athletes headed to Pyeongchang for the winter games, as they will finally be able to sing a gender neutral anthem '-- an option that wasn't open to her when she competed internationally in the 1990s and early 2000s.
Senators on changing O Canada1:12
"I had the privilege to be on the podium many times and I never had the chance to sing 'In all of us command,'" she said. "I can only imagine what they'll feel when they're on the step of that podium ... it's an amazing moment."
Lankin's efforts to get the bill passed were stymied by some Conservative senators who thought Parliament had no business tinkering with the words of a song written by a man long dead.
After 18 months of debate in the Red Chamber, Lankin introduced a controversial motion in the Senate Tuesday evening that would effectively shut down debate and immediately move to a vote on the bill.
Conservative senators were furious that Manitoba Sen. Don Plett, who has long opposed the bill, was not able to speak in opposition to such a motion. They said it was an affront to democracy to use these time-limiting motions to silence the opposition.
"When a majority of individuals decide to shut down discourse in this place, democracy dies. We need to be very wary of tools that muzzle debate ... that is the fundamental right you have, to get up and speak on any piece of legislation, none of us have the right to take that away," Conservative Sen. Leo Housakos, himself a former Speaker, said ahead of the vote.
Larry Smith, the Conservative leader in the Senate, call Lankin's motion that finally ended debate '-- officially called a "dilatory motion" '-- a "Draconian tool" that has never before been used by an Independent senator that was like a "guillotine" coming down on voices in the minority.
"It's very unfortunate. It just shows you that things aren't functioning in the way they should," he said.
'I'm disappointed'Plett said Wednesday that a change such as altering the national anthem should be put to a referendum.
"Clearly, I'm disappointed ... it's been a long fight, I believe the Canadian public wanted a say in our national anthem, just like they had in the great Canadian flag debate. This is an issue for the Canadian public to decide not just a couple of Independent senators."
Conservatives boycotted a vote on Lankin's motion and thus missed the final vote on the bill, which passed on a voice vote as only Independent and Liberal senators '-- who were largely in favour of the change '-- were present in the chamber. Although, some "nays" could be heard coming from a handful of those senators.
"There's a lot of political theatre taking place right now and it's unfortunate members of the Conservative caucus weren't there to vote," Lankin said.
At least one Conservative senator accused Senate Speaker George Furey '-- who was appointed as a Liberal by Jean Chr(C)tien but now identifies as non-affiliated in his non-partisan role as Speaker '-- of conspiring with Independent and Liberal senators to ignore Conservative senators who wanted to speak against the bill.
Retired Conservative senator Nancy Ruth, who introduced a similar bill some 10 years ago, was in the chamber Wednesday to see B(C)langer's bill pass.
"I'm feeling excited, and thrilled, and the Independents are fabulous," she said.
When asked what she thought of her former Conservative caucus colleagues boycotting the vote, Ruth declined to comment. "I couldn't say."
You Can't Monetize The Network
Tackling the Internet's Central Villain: The Advertising Business - The New York Times
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 01:28
State of the Art
Credit Doug Chayka Image Jan. 31, 2018Pretend you are the lead detective on a hit new show, ''CSI: Terrible Stuff on the Internet.'' In the first episode, you set up one of those crazy walls plastered with headlines and headshots, looking for hidden connections between everything awful that's been happening online recently.
There's a lot of dark stuff. In one corner, you have the Russian campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election with digital propaganda. In another, a rash of repugnant videos on YouTube, with children being mock-abused, cartoon characters bizarrely committing suicide on the kids' channel and a popular vlogger recording a body hanging from a tree.
Then there's tech ''addiction,'' the rising worry that adults and kids are getting hooked on smartphones and social networks despite our best efforts to resist the constant desire for a fix. And all over the internet, general fakery abounds '-- there are millions of fake followers on Twitter and Facebook, fake rehab centers being touted on Google and even fake review sites to sell you a mattress.
So who is the central villain in this story, the driving force behind much of the chaos and disrepute online?
This isn't that hard. You don't need a crazy wall to figure it out, because the force to blame has been quietly shaping the contours of life online since just about the beginning of life online: It's the advertising business, stupid.
And if you want to fix much of what ails the internet right now, the ad business would be the perfect perp to handcuff and restrain '-- and perhaps even reform.
Ads are the lifeblood of the internet, the source of funding for just about everything you read, watch and hear online. The digital ad business is in many ways a miracle machine '-- it corrals and transforms latent attention into real money that pays for many truly useful inventions, from search to instant translation to video hosting to global mapping.
But the online ad machine is also a vast, opaque and dizzyingly complex contraption with underappreciated capacity for misuse '-- one that collects and constantly profiles data about our behavior, creates incentives to monetize our most private desires and frequently unleashes loopholes that the shadiest of people are only too happy to exploit.
And for all its power, the digital ad business has long been under-regulated and under-policed, both by the companies that run it and by the world's governments. In the United States, the industry has been almost untouched by oversight, even though it forms the primary revenue stream of two of the planet's most valuable companies, Google and Facebook.
''In the early days of online media, the choice was essentially made '-- give it away for free, and advertising would produce the revenue,'' said Randall Rothenberg, the chief executive of the Interactive Advertising Bureau, a trade association that represents companies in the digital ad business. ''A lot of the things we see now flow out from that decision.''
Mr. Rothenberg's organization has long pushed for stronger standards for online advertising. In a speech last year, he implored the industry to ''take civic responsibility for our effect on the world.'' But he conceded the business was growing and changing too quickly for many to comprehend its excesses and externalities '-- let alone to fix them.
''Technology has largely been outpacing the ability of individual companies to understand what is actually going on,'' he said. ''There's really an unregulated stock market effect to the whole thing.''
Facebook, which reported its earnings on Wednesday, said its advertising principles hold that ads should ''be safe and civil.'' It defended the targeted ad business's overall value, arguing that digital advertising connects people to products and services from small businesses and ''creates jobs and helps the economy.''
The company also pointed to several steps it had taken recently. ''We've tightened our ad policies, hired more ad reviewers, and created a new team to help detect and prevent abuses,'' said Rob Goldman, Facebook's vice president of advertising. ''We're also testing a tool that will bring more transparency to ads running on our platform. We know there is more work to do, but our goal is to keep people safe.''
A spokesman for Google, whose parent company, Alphabet, reports earnings on Thursday, said it was constantly policing its ad system, pointing out recent steps it has taken to address problems arising from the ad business, including several changes to YouTube.
The role of the ad business in much of what's terrible online was highlighted in a recent report by two think tanks, New America and Harvard's Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy.
''The central problem of disinformation corrupting American political culture is not Russian spies or a particular social media platform,'' two researchers, Dipayan Ghosh and Ben Scott, wrote in the report, titled ''Digital Deceit.'' ''The central problem is that the entire industry is built to leverage sophisticated technology to aggregate user attention and sell advertising.''
The report chronicles just how efficient the online ad business has become at profiling, targeting, and persuading people. That's good news for the companies that want to market to you '-- as the online ad machine gets better, marketing gets more efficient and effective, letting companies understand and influence consumer sentiment at a huge scale for little money.
But the same cheap and effective persuasion machine is also available to anyone with nefarious ends. The Internet Research Agency, the troll group at the center of Russian efforts to influence American politics, spent $46,000 on Facebook ads before the 2016 election. That's not very much '-- Hillary Clinton's and Donald J. Trump's campaigns spent tens of millions online. And yet the Russian campaign seems to have had enormous reach; Facebook has said the I.R.A.'s messages '-- both its ads and its unpaid posts '-- were seen by nearly 150 million Americans.
How the I.R.A. achieved this mass reach likely has something to do with the dynamics of the ad business, which lets advertisers run many experimental posts to hone their messages, and tends to reward posts that spark outrage and engagement '-- exactly the sort that the Russians were pushing.
A sample of a Facebook ad that ran around the time of the 2016 presidential election that was eventually linked back to Russian agents. ''You can't have it both ways,'' Mr. Scott said. ''Either you have a brilliant technology that permits microtargeting to exactly the people you want to influence at exactly the right time with exactly the right message '-- or you're only reaching a small number of people and therefore it couldn't be influential.''
The consequences of the ad business don't end at foreign propaganda. Consider all the nutty content recently found on YouTube Kids '-- not just the child-exploitation clips but also videos that seem to be created in whole or in part by algorithms that are mining the system for what's popular, then creating endless variations.
Why would anyone do such a thing? For the ad money. One producer of videos that show antics including his children being scared by clowns told BuzzFeed that he had made more than $100,000 in two months from ads on his videos.
YouTube, which is owned by Google, has since pulled down thousands of such disturbing videos; the company said late last year that it was hiring numerous moderators to police the platform. It also tightened the rules for which producers can make money from its ad system.
Facebook, too, has made several recent fixes. The company has built a new tool '-- being tested in Canada and slated to be rolled out more widely this year '-- that lets people see the different ads being placed by political pages, a move meant to address I.R.A.-like influence campaigns. It has also fixed holes that allowed advertisers to target campaigns by race and religion. And it recently unveiled a new version of its News Feed that is meant to cut down on passively scrolling through posts '-- part of Mark Zuckerberg's professed effort to improve the network even, he has said, at the cost of advertising revenue.
The tinkering continued on Tuesday, when Facebook also said it would ban ads promoting crypto currency schemes, some of which have fallen into scammy territory.
Yet these are all piecemeal efforts. They don't address the underlying logic of the ad business, which produces endless incentives for gaming the system in ways that Google and Facebook discover often only after the fact. Mr. Rothenberg said this was how regulating advertising was likely to go '-- a lot of fixes resembling ''Whac-a-Mole.''
Of course, there is the government. You could imagine some regulator imposing stricter standards for who has access to the online ad system, who makes money from it, how it uses private information and how transparent tech companies must be about it all. But that also seems unlikely; the Honest Ads Act, a proposal to regulate online political ads, has gone nowhere in Congress.
One final note: In 2015, Timothy D. Cook, Apple's chief executive, warned about the dangers of the online ad business, especially its inherent threat to privacy. I wrote a column in which I took Mr. Cook to task '-- I argued that he had not acknowledged how ad-supported services improved his own company's devices.
I stand by that view, but now I also regret dismissing his warning so cavalierly. Socially, politically and culturally, the online ad business is far more dangerous than I appreciated. Mr. Cook was right, and we should have listened to him.
Email: farhad.manjoo@nytimes.com; Twitter: @fmanjoo.
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Numbers Matter
Dow plummets 666 points, capping worst week in 2 years
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 18:05
"The reaction in the bond market is due to the rise in average hourly earnings," said James Ragan, director of individual investor group research at D.A. Davidson. "I think the market is now thinking of the possibility that the Fed could raise rates four times this year rather than three."
The Federal Reserve has forecast three rate hikes for 2018.
Bank stocks fell as the yield curve widened. The SPDR S&P Bank exchange-traded fund, which tracks bank stocks, dropped 1.2 percent. Banks typically benefit from higher interest rates.
This has been a volatile week for U.S. stocks. The Cboe Volatility index, widely considered the best fear gauge in the market, rose from 11.08 this week to 17.31.
The Dow, S&P 500 and Nasdaq snapped four-week winning streaks. The indexes also posted their worst weekly performance in two years.
"We've been expecting a pullback for a while, said Gene Goldman, head of research at Cetera Financial. "Yes, earnings are strong and the economy is doing well, but markets just don't go straight up."
Wall Street also looked to the release of key corporate earnings. Exxon Mobil reported weaker-than-expected earnings on Friday, sending its stock lower.
Tech giant Apple reported better-than-expected quarterly results. But the stock fell 4.4 percent after the company said it expects profit margins of 38 percent to 38.5 percent, tighter than the expected 38.9 percent. Apple also reported lighter-than-expected iPhone sales for its previous quarter.
Google-parent Alphabet also reported quarterly results, with earnings per share missing expectations. The company's stock dropped 5.3 percent on the back of the report.
Amazon, meanwhile, surged to an all-time high on the back of its earnings report. The e-commerce giant said its Amazon Web Services sales '-- a key component for the company '-- hit $5.11 billion. Analysts polled by FactSet expected AWS revenue of $4.97 billion.
About halfway through the earnings season, most companies have posted upside surprises. Of the S&P 500 companies that have reported as of Friday morning, 78 percent have beaten bottom-line expectations, while 80 percent have surpassed sales estimates, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.
Art Cashin, director of floor operations at UBS, said the release of the much-anticipated memo from House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes on the Russia probe remained in the background as stocks sold off Friday.
"You're going into the weekend. That's inhibiting buyers more than creating sellers," Cashin said.
'--CNBC's Patti Domm contributed to this report.
Millennial Loyalty
From Millennial Producer
On the previous show you were talking about millennial
loyalty in the workplace is gone. I cannot agree with you more. Since I was
young I have always admired Apple as a company and their products and wished I
could work for the company. I got a job at Apple (corporate) at age 18 and have
been working there since, I'm almost 22.
I find it sad how many millennials I work with simply do
the job for a check and for some experience. With the full intention of leaving
the second a company with a larger check comes by. Im the complete opposite. I
have a very strong loyalty to the company and my dream would actually be to
work at the same company until I retire.
My grandfather worked at the PG&E for 50 years and I
hope I can do the same. He did tell me something that might explain another
side of company loyalty. He told me that throughout his career at the company;
the company loyalty to employees has just gone down hill. I don’t think
companies are as loyal and invested in their employees either.
P.S. I am a Knight! Also Adam, whenever you decide to
come back to the Mac we will accept you with open arms :)
Hate Trumps Love
Jared Kushner's property empire had to thrive under Trump, right? Wrong | US news | The Guardian
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:28
A year into the Trump presidency that was supposed to bring prosperity to the nation, Jared Kushner, a key member of the president's inner circle, has yet to see dividends. The Trump presidency has so far proved more bane than boon to Kushner Companies, the family firm of the White House senior adviser.
The former New York Times building on West 44th Street in Manhattan is a case in point. Amid an economy that Trump constantly touts as ''tremendous'' the part-owned Kushner property near Times Square is facing a number of tenant defaults and presents a forlorn face to the world.
One restaurant, Guy's American, owned by spike-haired celebrity chef Guy Fieri, has closed down and construction of a planned Todd English's food hall has stalled, its windows plastered over with brown paper.
According to a Bloomberg report, investors were told the building would generate $24m in rent annually. But tenant problems suggest a potential shortfall of at least $9m.
''We're holding our own,'' offered a concierge at Gulliver's Gate, a miniature-scale Manhattan that was reported to be two months in rent arrears as of December. ''It can only get better.''
The old New York Times building on Times Square, Manhattan, NYC. Located at 229 W 43rd Street, it is 51% owned by Jared Kushner. Photograph: Simon Leigh for the GuardianIt wasn't supposed to be this way. Despite stepping down as chief executive of the family real estate business and resigning from an additional 266 corporate positions in order to serve his father-in-law's administration, Kushner has found his business dealings have cast a long shadow over his White House advisory position, a role that does not enjoy the same conflict-of-interest protections afforded the president.
Kushner Companies has dropped efforts to raise $150m from Chinese investors for a New Jersey building project, One Journal Square, which attracted accusations of attempts to leverage ties to the Trump administration.
Through the controversial EB-5 visa programme, Chinese investors committing more than $500,000 can gain admittance to the US. A presentation on the Kushner project in Beijing, given by Jared Kushner's sister Nicole Kushner Meyer, included an image of Donald Trump and advertisements that mentioned ''government support'' and ''celebrity developers''.
One Journal Square, which recently lost WeWork, the work-share giant, as an anchor tenant, has been beset by problems. Last May, the developer acknowledged receiving a demand from the Brooklyn US attorney's office for documents regarding its use of the controversial investment-for-visas programme.
David North, a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies who is an outspoken critic of visas for investment, said: ''The Kushners' problems are symbolic of the multiple troubles of the EB-5 programme. They've been among the largest and most prominent users of the program, so it's significant they are withdrawing from the field.''
The Kushner Companies general counsel, Emily Wolf, said in a statement: ''Kushner Companies utilised the programme, fully complied with its rules and regulations and did nothing improper. We are cooperating with legal requests for information.''
One Herald Square is not the only project proving problematic for Kushner Companies. In December, it was reported that investigators working for special counsel Robert Mueller looking into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election, asked Deutsche Bank for data on accounts held by Trump and his family.
Mueller's Russia-focused team is also said to be looking into a $285m loan on the West 44th Street building that Deutsche Bank struck a month before election day 2016.
That deal is the focus of New York prosecutors who have requested documents from the German bank relating to the property, debt on which was used by the Kushners to take out $59m in cash. However, there is no indication that the subpoena is related to the company's use of EB-5 or Mueller's inquiry.
Jay Sekulow, a member of the president's legal team, denied that Deutsche had received any subpoena for financial records from US investigators.
Jared's father, Charles Kushner, centre, arrives at Newark federal court in New Jersey, where he was sentenced to prison time for tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign donations. Photograph: New York Daily News Archive/NY Daily News via Getty ImagesIt may be a measure of the duress the family is under that Jared's typically press-averse father, Charles Kushner, volunteered to the Washington Post that he was confident no charges would result from either investigation. Charles Kushner spent 14 months in federal prison in Alabama, after being convicted in 2005 on charges of tax evasion, witness tampering and illegal campaign donations.
''All I know is that we are not at all concerned and we are cooperating,'' the elder Kushner told the Post. ''And they can knock themselves out for the next 10 years reading those papers as far as I'm concerned.''
Kushner Sr also said he had no indication that the company was a subject of Mueller's investigation into Russian election meddling. Mueller reportedly interviewed the younger Kushner for 45 minutes in November.
The financing of another troubled Kushner building, the ominously numbered 666 Fifth Avenue, a 41-storey tower purchased for a record $1.8bn in 2005, is also under scrutiny.
Congressional committees are eager to learn more about a meeting the younger Kushner had last year with the then Russian ambassador, Sergey Kislyak, when he allegedly discussed whether the Trump transition team could use a back channel to communicate with Russian officials about Syria.
Before appearing before a Senate intelligence committee in July, Kushner released a statement denying that he had proposed ''an on-going secret form of communication for then or for when the administration took office''.
Congressional officials are believed to have questioned Kushner about a subsequent December 2016 meeting with a Russian banking executive, Sergey Gorkov, the head of the US-sanctioned Vnesheconombank, held at Kislyak's behest.
The bank has said Gorkov met Kushner to discuss ''promising business lines and sectors''. In his statement, Kushner said that meeting did not involve ''any discussion'' about the family company, ''real estate projects'' or ''loans''.
A man walks out of the 666 Fifth Avenue office tower in Manhattan owned by the Kushner Companies in March 2017. Photograph: Richard Drew/APThe 666 Fifth Avenue skyscraper is routinely described as a monster headache. Almost a year ago, the Kushners ended talks with Anbang, the Chinese insurance giant with ties to the Chinese government, regarding the building's redevelopment. The Kushners favour knocking down the 41-storey tower and building one twice the size in its place.
The property's underlying $1.2bn loan comes due later this year. Efforts to secure funding have reportedly included approaches to South Korea's sovereign wealth fund, France's richest man, Israeli banks and a Saudi developer, China and Qatar.
The 666 Fifth Avenue deal, which was supposed to establish the younger Kushner's career, came after the company sold off thousands of financially reliable rental apartment buildings.
According to a lengthy investigation published by Bloomberg last summer, debt payments have almost always eclipsed net income on the building and the deed to the property could be seized by lenders in the event of a default.
According to Michael Wolff's bestselling White House expos(C), Fire and Fury, former Trump strategist Steve Bannon was especially damning in his assessment of the building's potential to undo the fortunes of his White House rival.
''When it goes under next year, the whole thing's cross-collateralized '... he's wiped, he's gone, he's done, it's over '... Toast,'' Wolff quoted Bannon as saying.
A Kushner spokeswoman rejected Bannon's assertion, telling the New York Daily News: ''666 Fifth Ave is but a small part of the company's overall portfolio and the family's net worth.'' According to the company website, Kushner Companies did $2.5bn worth of transactions last year '' a record.
And yet a year after Jared Kushner vowed to cut ties with his family firm as he positioned himself for a new life in politics, those ties have both his careers in knots.
Twitter Followers Vanish Amid Inquiries Into Fake Accounts - The New York Times
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:51
More than a million followers have disappeared from the accounts of dozens of prominent Twitter users in recent days as the company faces growing criticism over the proliferation of fake accounts and scrutiny from federal and state inquiries into the shadowy firms that sell fake followers.
The people losing followers include an array of entertainers, entrepreneurs, athletes and media figures, many of whom bought Twitter followers or artificial engagement from a company called Devumi. Its business practices were detailed in a New York Times article on Saturday describing a vast trade in fake followers and fraudulent engagement on Twitter and other social media sites, often using personal information taken from real users. Twitter said on Saturday that it would take action against Devumi's practices. A Twitter spokeswoman on Tuesday declined to comment about whether the company was purging fake accounts.
The singer Clay Aiken, the actor John Leguizamo and the reality TV star Lisa Rinna have each lost a substantial number of followers, according to a review of their accounts. So has Martha Lane Fox, a British businesswoman and Twitter board member. Other well-known users have taken to Twitter in recent days to complain of lost followers, suggesting that a broad swath of people may be affected, not just Devumi customers.
A Close Look at Martha Lane Fox's FollowersThe company's heightened campaign against bots comes as federal lawmakers and law enforcement officials in two states are scrutinizing Devumi and its competitors online, where numerous websites sell fake followers or engagement on Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Instagram and other social media platforms.
On Tuesday, Senators Jerry Moran of Kansas and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut '-- the chairman and the ranking member, respectively, of the Senate subcommittee on consumer protection and data security '-- asked the Federal Trade Commission to begin an investigation into the ''deceptive and unfair marketing practices'' of Devumi and similar companies. While Devumi promises customers ''100 Percent Active, English Followers,'' virtually all of the followers and retweets the company provides are fake, The Times found. Twitter prohibits buying followers of any kind.
The Florida attorney general, Pam Bondi, a Republican, has also begun an investigation into Devumi, joining Eric T. Schneiderman, the New York attorney general and a Democrat, who announced on Saturday that he would begin reviewing whether the company had violated state laws against impersonation and commercial deception.
The Times found evidence that the information of Twitter users in every state '-- including thousands of people in Florida and New York '-- had been copied onto bots sold by Devumi or rival companies.
The Distribution of DeceptionAt least 55,000 fake accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysis. The original accounts list locations in all 50 U.S. states.
By The New York Times
Devumi was based in Florida until recently but lists a New York City address on its website. The company's owner, German Calas, also lives in Florida.
''Based on the New York Times article, we have opened an investigation into these very serious allegations,'' Ms. Bondi said in an interview Tuesday. ''We would encourage any citizens who believe they have been a victim of this scam to please contact the Florida attorney general's office immediately.''
Mr. Calas did not respond to an email seeking comment. But on Monday, Devumi's parent company, Bytion, filed paperwork in Florida indicating that it had moved its principal place of business to Colorado. Jared Stark, a lawyer for Mr. Calas's business, said in an email that both companies had relocated to Denver earlier in January, a move he described as ''in the works for some time.'' He declined to comment on the investigations into Devumi.
A reporter visiting Bytion's Denver office on Tuesday found it largely empty, save for a few boxes against one wall and patio furniture on a balcony. Gerald Sexton, Bytion's director of people and culture, declined to comment and said that Mr. Calas was not available.
A few minutes later, a process server arrived at the office to deliver a subpoena from Mr. Schneiderman's office. A spokeswoman for Mr. Schneiderman declined to comment.
The disclosure of dozens of Devumi's customers in entertainment, politics and business has sparked a renewed debate '-- often carried out on Twitter itself '-- about the prevalence of fraud and fakery on social media, where tens of millions of fake users still roam.
The Chicago Sun-Times announced on Monday that it would suspend publishing reviews by the newspaper's film critic, Richard Roeper, while conducting a review of his social media following. Mr. Roeper bought at least 25,000 followers from Devumi, according to records reviewed by The Times, and an analysis of his account indicates that many of his nearly quarter-million Twitter followers are fake accounts.
Both Twitter and Facebook verify the identity of some celebrities, politicians and other high-profile users and include blue check marks on their account pages, in part to prevent scam artists from impersonating them. But a vast majority of accounts are not vetted in the same way.
Moreover, Twitter does not require that accounts be associated with a real person. Mark Cuban, a prominent technology investor, tweeted on Monday that it was time for Twitter to change that policy, and for Facebook to tighten its requirements. Mr. Cuban elaborated over email, saying that automated accounts, or bots, and impersonation on Twitter had made him less enthusiastic about using the platform.
''I don't think your user handle or profile has to reflect your actual name or picture,'' Mr. Cuban said. ''I do think Twitter would benefit from requiring every account(s) being tied back to an individual. If someone wants to run a bot account, great, but identify a person behind it.''
Some federal and state lawmakers have called for more stringent laws regulating social media companies, in part to combat the epidemic of fake accounts. Many fake accounts are deployed by Russia and other countries seeking to influence American politics, but others are used by marketing companies to influence consumers and even policymakers.
Marc Levine, a California state assemblyman from outside San Francisco, introduced legislation on Monday that would require social media companies doing business in California to link every account to a human being. The legislation would also require that social media companies allow only human account holders to place advertisements on their platforms.
''There are any number of interest groups looking to shape public opinion,'' Mr. Levine said in an interview. ''We've seen all of this exploited and millions of people manipulated.''
Hijab Heroes
Opinion | Why Iranian Women Are Taking Off Their Head Scarves - The New York Times
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 05:29
A young Iranian woman waves a white headscarf in protest of her country's compulsory hijab rule. On Dec. 27, Vida Movahed stood bareheaded on a utility box on one of Tehran's busiest thoroughfares, waving her white head scarf on a stick. Within days, images of the 31-year-old, who was detained and then released a few weeks later, had become an iconic symbol.
In the weeks since Ms. Movahed's peaceful protest of the compulsory hijab, long one of the most visible symbols of the Islamic Republic, dozens of women, and even some men, throughout Iran have followed her lead. So far, at least 29 women in cities throughout the country have been arrested.
These bold acts of defiance against the hijab are unprecedented in the nearly 40-year history of the Islamic Republic, but a movement that may have helped inspire them has been going on for years. It began on the social media account of a Brooklyn-based Iranian journalist named Masih Alinejad. In 2014, Ms. Alinejad started a Facebook page called ''My Stealthy Freedom,'' urging women to post images of themselves without the hijab in public places. Last year, she launched ''White Wednesdays,'' inviting women to wear white scarves on Wednesdays in protest of the compulsory hijab law. (Ms. Movahed carried out her protest on a Wednesday and held a white scarf, though her actual allegiance to Ms. Alinejad's campaign is unknown).
Ms. Alinejad, who worked as a journalist in Iran before emigrating to England in 2009, says her campaign came about by chance. She posted a photo of herself driving her car in Iran without hijab and invited others to share ''hidden photos'' of themselves on her Facebook page. The overwhelming response '-- the page now has more than a million followers '-- prompted her to focus more on the issue. ''I was a political reporter, but the women in Iran forced me to care about the issue of personal freedoms,'' she told me.
For Ms. Alinejad and the protesters, the struggle against the compulsory hijab is about regaining a woman's control over her own body, not a matter of questioning the validity of the hijab itself. Now that bareheaded women are joined in these acts by women who proudly wear the full-body chador, it is clear that the movement on the ground is also about a woman's right to choose how to dress '-- something that, over the past century, various Iranian leaders have tried to deny.
The founder of the Pahlavi dynasty, Reza Shah, banned the hijab, in a gesture of modernization, in 1936, which effectively put some women under house arrest for years since they could not bear to be uncovered in public. The leader of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, made the hijab compulsory in 1979.
Mass protests by women were unsuccessful in overturning the edict. Pro-hijab campaigners invented the slogan ''Ya rusari ya tusari,'' which means ''Either a cover on the head or a beating,'' and supervisory ''committees'' '-- often composed of women in full chadors '-- roamed the streets and punished women they deemed poorly covered. Those who opposed the strict measure called these enforcer women ''Fati commando,'' a derogatory term that combines Islam '-- in the nickname Fati for Fatemeh, the prophet's daughter '-- and vigilantism.
While the requirements have remained firmly in place, Iranian women have been pushing the boundaries of acceptable hijab for years. Coats have gotten shorter and more fitted and some head scarves are as small as bandannas. This has not gone without notice or punishment: Hijab-related arrests are common and numerous. In 2014, Iranian police announced that ''bad hijab'' had led to 3.6 million cases of police intervention.
But for years, many women's rights activists have written off the hijab as secondary to other matters such as political or gender equality rights. In 2006, the One Million Signatures for the Repeal of Discriminatory Laws campaign, one of the most concerted efforts undertaken by Iranian feminists to gain greater rights for women, barely mentions the hijab. Iranian feminists have also been determined to distance themselves from the Western obsession with the hijab, almost overcompensating by minimizing its significance. Western feminists who have visited Iran and willingly worn the hijab have also played a hand in normalizing it.
But fighting discriminatory policies has not resulted in any real change, as the crushed One Million Signatures campaign proved. So now Ms. Alinejad and a younger generation of Iranian women are turning back the focus on the most visible symbol of discrimination, which, they argue, is also the most fundamental. ''We are not fighting against a piece of cloth,'' Ms. Alinejad told me. ''We are fighting for our dignity. If you can't choose what to put on your head, they won't let you be in charge of what is in your head, either.'' In contrast, Islamic Republic officials argue that the hijab bestows dignity on women.
The government has had a mixed response to the protests. On the day that Vida Movahed climbed on the utility box to protest the hijab, Tehran's police chief announced that going forward, women would no longer be detained for bad hijab, but would be ''educated.'' In early January, in response to recent weeks of unrest throughout the country, President Hassan Rouhani went so far as to say, ''One cannot force one's lifestyle on the future generations.'' In the past week, faced with a growing wave of civil disobedience, Iran's general prosecutor called the actions of the women ''childish'' and the Tehran police said that those who were arrested were ''deceived by the 'no-hijab' campaign.''
But these young women appear undeterred. Their generation is empowered by a new media ecosystem, one that not only unites protesters but also helps to spread potent images of defiance. Ms. Alinejad believes that the movement has already, in a sense, succeeded. ''Women are showing that they are no longer afraid,'' she said. ''We used to fear the government, now it's the government that fears women.''
Nahid Siamdoust is a postdoctoral associate of Iranian studies at Yale University and the author of ''Soundtrack of the Revolution: The Politics of Music in Iran.''
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Brussels in new bid to move Britain to 'Berlin time' | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 11:49
EU politicians will this week vote on whether to scrap British Summer Time '' in a move which could remain in effect even after Brexit.
The proposed rule change would end the ritual of moving clocks forward by an hour in March and back again in October '' which happens all over Europe on the same day.
It is being debated by MEPs after an 'impact assessment' indicated 'the existence of negative effects on human health, agriculture and road traffic safety'.
EU politicians will this week vote on whether to scrap British Summer Time '' in a move which could remain in effect even after Brexit
Although the Government would be able to block the move through the European Council up until the moment of Brexit in March 2019, 'Berlin Time' could theoretically be imposed on the UK during the following transition period if the negotiated terms for that period oblige us to accept Brussels rules with no power to veto.
And even post-transition, it would leave the UK having to decide whether to scrap the biannual clock change anyway '' in order to keep the same hour's time difference with the rest of Europe '' in effect, Greenwich Mean Time all year round.
Otherwise, for six months each year, London would find itself on the same time zone as Berlin.
The EU move comes seven years after The Mail on Sunday mounted a successful campaign against an attempt by British MPs to move our clocks forward by an hour. The doomed plan triggered a furious debate about the pros and cons of the change in terms of stress, mental illness, pollution, road accidents and energy consumption.
The new European Parliament resolution says that 'numerous scientific studies'... have failed to provide proof of any positive effects of the biannual clock change'.
Research cited in the resolution, tabled by French MEP Karima Delli, claims that in the days after the clocks are changed, elderly people face an increased danger of heart problems, while road accidents increase by up to a third. The academic performance of children, it says, is also affected because 'the human body is made for a steady biorhythm'.
The practice of changing the clocks has already been ditched in some countries, including Iceland, Belarus and Turkey.
The proposed rule change would end the ritual of moving clocks forward by an hour in March and back again in October '' which happens all over Europe on the same day
Another option being discussed to retain long summer evenings is to move to EU Summertime '' GMT plus two hours '' all year round.
Last night, Ukip MEP Nathan Gill warned: 'If the EU decides to scrap daylight-saving time, it would leave Britain with a major question post-Brexit.
'If legislation happens during transition, we could be lumbered with whatever the EU decides to pass, despite what our farmers or accident prevention organisations think.
'There is also the risk that the EU could force Britain to change its time to an hour ahead of GMT to align with the Continent before we Brexit, when this should be a national debate.'
France sends police as migrant gangs clash in Calais
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 18:09
PARIS (Reuters) - The French government will send more police to Calais to crack down on migrant gangs, the interior minister said on Friday, after gang rivalries erupted into a brawl that left five migrants suffering serious gunshot injuries
Interior Minister Gerard Collomb said he was sending more riot police to the northern port, where asylum seekers and economic migrants hoping to reach Britain continue to fall prey to smugglers undaunted by a long-running security operation.
Thursday's explosion of violence was a stark reminder that the dismantling of a sprawling camp in late 2016 had failed to halt the arrival of migrants in Calais. It came weeks after Britain promised millions of pounds in extra border control support.
Eritreans and Afghans fought running battles in broad daylight, some armed with rods and metal poles, television pictures showed. It was not clear who was armed with firearms.
Calais Mayor Natacha Bouchart said her town was confronted by all-out gang warfare.
''There will be people here at their wits' ends faced with this increasingly violent presence among a certain number of migrants, who it is plain to see are organized in gangs,'' Collomb told reporters after spending the night in Calais.
''We know there are gang leaders ... and it is these networks we must dismantle,'' the minister added.
Migrants gather near an bridge as French gendarmes patrol the day after a brawl between Erithean and Afghan migrants that left four in critical condition in Calais, France, February 2, 2018. REUTERS/Pascal Rossignol FOOD HANDOUTSPromising to ease the pressure on Calais, where Britain's southern shores can be seen on a clear day, Collomb said that within two weeks the government would take over control of food distribution from local aid groups and conduct the handouts outside the town.
That, he said, would remove an incentive for the migrants to gather in Calais.
Francois Guennoc of the Auberge des Migrants charity told BFM TV that the government still lacked a coherent strategy. ''Every time you arrest 10 people, another 10 fill the void.''
Collomb indicated the French government was concerned that hundreds of thousands of migrants would head to France after their asylum requests were rejected in other European countries, above all Germany.
He said half a million migrants, many of them people who had initially been allowed into Germany, had had their requests for asylum rejected.
''The situation's untenable,'' he told reporters, noting that France registered a record 100,000 asylum requests in 2017. Tens of thousands more had been turned around at the border, he said.
More asylum seekers in France came from Albania than any other country, according to official data. Collomb said that while Germany dealt with Albanian cases in several days, France took two to three years.
Reporting By Brian Love and Emmanuel Jarry, editing by Richard Lough, Larry King
Immigration: California Crops Rot During Farmworker Shortage | Fortune
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 04:12
Vegetable prices may be going up soon, as a shortage of migrant workers is resulting in lost crops in California.
Farmers say they're having trouble hiring enough people to work during harvest season, causing some crops to rot before they can be picked. Already, the situation has triggered losses of more than $13 million in two California counties alone, according to NBC News.
The ongoing battle about U.S. immigration policies is blamed for the shortage. The vast majority of California's farm workers are foreign born, with many coming from Mexico. However, the PEW Research Center reports more Mexicans are leaving the U.S. than coming here.
To make the jobs more attractive, farmers are offering salaries above minimum wage, along with paid time off and 401(k) plans, but even that's not proving enough.
It's unclear exactly how widespread the labor shortage is for farmers throughout the country, which would have a bigger impact on prices consumers pay. Ultimately, drought and flooding have a more significant impact on farms. Low oil prices could also offset any impact of the worker shortage.
But for farmers, who have seen net farm income fall 50% since 2013, any lost income could be potentially devastating.
Bank Of America, JP Morgan Bar Crypto Purchases On Credit Card | Zero Hedge
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 21:03
The latest crackdown against cryptos was unveiled on Thursday when the largest US bitcoin exchange, Coinbase, sent out notices to clients, informing them that purchasing cryptocurrencies on credit would now be prohibitively expensive, if not impossible, as banks have started to process payments for bitcoin et al as "cash advances", which tend to come with extremely high interest rates:
Dear Coinbase Customer
We're writing because you have a credit card on file and want to inform you of a recent change that may increase the cost of purchasing digital currency with a credit card.
Recently, the MCC code for digital currency purchases was changed by a number of the major credit card networks. The new code will allow banks and card issuers to charge additional "cash advance" fees. These fees are not charged or collected by Coinbase. These additional fees will show up as a separate line item on your card statement.
The move came as a number of bank and card issuers announced that they would be reviewing changes to their policies around the purchases of crypto assets using credit cards.
Then, last Thursday the Wall Street Journal reported that Capital One banned customers from using credit cards to purchase bitcoin or coins on the Ethereum blockchain, citing ''limiting mainstream acceptance and the elevated risks of fraud, loss and volatility.'' Discover Financial announced it would likewise block bitcoin transactions.
Then yesterday, MarketWatch reported that Bank of America and other major lenders are assessing the use of credit cards to purchase bitcoin and other virtual currencies, which could result in restrictions or limits.
Today that was confirmed when Bank of America became the largest U.S. lender yet to bar customers from using their credit cards to buy cryptocurrencies.
According to an internal memo to employees obtained by Bloomberg, the second largest US bank said it ''will begin declining credit card transactions with known cryptocurrency exchanges'' starting today. It said the policy will apply to all personal and business credit cards issued by the bank.
Betty Riess, a spokeswoman for the Charlotte, North Carolina-based bank, confirmed the bank will no longer allow the transactions.
And then, moments later, JPM joined the fray too:
JPMORGAN TO HALT CRYPTO PURCHASES ON SATURDAY, SPOKESWOMAN SAYSAs a reminder, a recent LendEdu survey revealed that just over 18% of bitcoin purchases were made using a credit card.
The good news: 82% of all crypto purhcases were not made using a credit card.
Bitcoin biggest bubble in history, says economist who predicted 2008 crash | Technology | The Guardian
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 05:43
Nouriel Roubini calls cryptocurrency the 'mother of all bubbles' as it falls below $8,000
Bitcoin has dropped 30% since the start of the week. Photograph: Jack Guez/AFP/Getty ImagesThe economist credited with predicting the 2008 global financial crisis said a 12% fall in the value of bitcoin on Friday was the latest proof that the cryptocurrency was the biggest bubble in history and destined for a crash.
Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University, said bitcoin was ''the mother of all bubbles'' favoured by ''charlatans and swindlers'' as it fell below $8,000 (£5,600) early on Friday, marking a 30% drop since the beginning of the week as investors became increasingly twitchy about a clampdown on cryptocurrencies by regulators. Later it rallied, climbing back over $8,600 by 3pm (GMT).
Bitcoin has lost more than half its value since hitting a peak of near $20,000 in the week before Christmas. Dubbed ''Dr Doom'', Roubini said the sharp fall was the beginning of a crash that would see the value of the digital currency plummet ''all the way down to zero''.
Q&A What is bitcoin and is it a bad investment? Show Hide Bitcoin is the first, and the biggest, "cryptocurrency" '' a decentralised tradable digital asset. Whether it is a bad investment is the big question. Bitcoin can only be used as a medium of exchange and in practice has been far more important for the dark economy than it has for most legitimate uses. The lack of any central authority makes bitcoin remarkably resilient to censorship, corruption '' or regulation. That means it has attracted a range of backers, from libertarian monetarists who enjoy the idea of a currency with no inflation and no central bank, to drug dealers who like the fact that it is hard (but not impossible) to trace a bitcoin transaction back to a physical person.
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The latest sell-off follows reports that US regulators are investigating whether the spike in the price of bitcoin in 2017 was the result of market manipulation. India's finance minister said the country did not recognise the cryptocurrency as legal tender, pledging to fight their use for ''illegitimate activities''.
Digital currencies have also been hit by the news that Facebook is banning all adverts for cryptocurrencies. Ethereum, ripple, litecoin and other digital currencies all suffered double-digit percentage falls on Friday as investors took fright.
''Policymakers and regulators are getting worried. Pretty much every G20 policymaker is talking about a crackdown,'' Roubini told Bloomberg Television. ''We can't allow it to become the next Swiss bank account for use by criminals and people evading tax.''
He added that the 1,300 cryptocurrencies or initial coin offerings currently in existence were ''a scam''. ''Most of them are even worse [than bitcoin] and don't have any intrinsic value like bitcoin. So if bitcoin is a bubble, it's a bubble to the power of two or three.''
Critics have warned that bitcoin has all the hallmarks of a classic speculative bubble that could burst, like the dotcom boom and the US sub-prime housing crash that triggered the global financial crisis. Last year it rose in value by more than 900%, making it the best performing asset of 2017.
Robert Shiller, the Nobel prize-winning economist, said last week that while bitcoin was a ''really clever idea'', it would not become a permanent part of the financial world.
''I tend to think of bitcoin as an experiment. It is an interesting experiment, but it's not a permanent feature of our lives,'' he said, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.
GraphBitcoin is not recognised by any central bank and currently allows people to bypass banks and traditional payment methods to pay for goods and services. Banks and other financial institutions have been concerned about bitcoin's early associations with money laundering and online crime, and it has not been adopted by any government.
However, the spike in the price is forcing regulators and institutions to consider how to respond.
Jon Cunliffe, deputy governor for financial stability at the Bank of England, has said that bitcoin is too small to pose a risk to the global economy. However, he warned that investors should ''do their homework'' before backing the digital currency.
''The wheels are coming off the bitcoin bandwagon,'' said Neil Wilson, analyst at ETX Capital. ''The regulatory crunch appears closer than ever and sooner or later this market could be headed back down to earth. Selling pressure at the moment is intense as there has been nothing but bad news for bitcoin bulls of late. Trying to catch the falling knife is a risky game.''
India's finance minister said this week that the country does not recognise cryptocurrencies as legal tender and would take action against their use in funding ''illegitimate activities''.Facebook has banned bitcoin and other cryptocurrency adverts on its site.South Korea announced at the end of December that it was planning a crackdown on trading in the digital currency, preparing a ban on opening anonymous cryptocurrency accounts and new legislation to enable regulators to close coin exchanges if they felt there was a need to do so.UK prime minister Theresa May said last week she was concerned that criminals were taking advantage of digital currencies. ''In areas like cryptocurrencies, like bitcoin, we should be looking at these very seriously,'' she said.Steven Mnuchin, US treasury secretary, signalled that bitcoin and cryptocurrencies would be subject to greater regulatory scrutiny in the world's largest economy. Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk
Polish Nazi's
Poland's Senate passes controversial Holocaust bill - BBC News
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 21:31
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Poland has long objected to phrases which suggest shared responsibility for Nazi Germany's actions Poland's Senate has approved a controversial bill making it illegal to accuse the Polish nation or state of complicity in the Nazi Holocaust.
The bill, which sets fines or a maximum three-year jail term as punishment, must be signed off by the president before becoming law.
President Andrzej Duda says Poland has the right "to defend historical truth".
But it has outraged Israeli MPs, who are now seeking to strengthen their own Holocaust denial laws.
What does the bill state?It says that "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".
But it adds the caveat that a person "is not committing a crime if he or she commits such an act as part of artistic or scientific activities".
It passed in a late-night sitting of the upper house of the Polish parliament with 57 votes to 23, with two abstaining.
The country has long objected to the use of phrases like "Polish death camps", which suggest the Polish state in some way shared responsibility for camps such as Auschwitz. The camps were built and operated by Nazi Germany after it invaded Poland in 1939.
But the more contentious point raised by the bill is whether it will outlaw references to acts of individual complicity by Poles with the Nazis - something historians say there is clear evidence for.
What has been the Israeli reaction?The Israelis are furious about the bill, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has described as an attempt to rewrite history and deny the Holocaust.
There was particular anger as it came just a few days after the Polish president promised to engage in dialogue with Israel about the bill amid the outcry.
Deputies from across Israel's often fractious political spectrum have united to denounce it.
Opposition MP Tzipi Livni of the Zionist Union party - normally a staunch critic of Mr Netanyahu - said: "They have spat in Israel's face twice, firstly as the state of the Jewish people that is trying to prevent a second Holocaust, and secondly in the face of an Israeli prime minister who had reached an agreement with his Polish counterpart, and had it ignored."
Centrist MP Yair Lapin was also defiant, tweeting that the law could not change history.
Now, Israeli MPs are backing a bill that would expand Israel's existing Holocaust denial laws to include a five-year jail sentence for anyone denying or minimising the role of Nazi collaborators, including Poles, in crimes committed in the Holocaust.
The amended law would also give legal aid to any Holocaust survivor telling their story who is prosecuted in a foreign country.
The US state department had also urged the Polish government to rethink the bill.
What about in Poland?Polish politicians have expressed bafflement at the Israeli response.
"We are very sad and surprised our fight for the truth, for the dignity of Poles, is perceived and interpreted in this way," said Senate speaker Stanislaw Karczewski.
Deputy Justice Minister Marcin Warchol said it was wrong to suggest the bill would stop people researching Polish history.
"Poland is a democratic state of law which respects the freedom of public debate, scientific research, and the right to criticism," he said.
Poland is governed by a nationalist party, Law and Justice (PiS), which is keen to show the world how Poland was ruthlessly victimised by its German and Soviet neighbours in the war.
Media reaction to the law has been much more ambivalent. "Instead of settling the crisis, we have made it even worse," said a columnist in the conservative daily Rzeczpospolita.
About 100 Polish artists, politicians and journalists have signed an open letter calling for the repeal of the bill, saying it goes too far in trying to make Poland "the only blameless nation in Europe".
Analysis: It's not a black and white issueby Adam Easton, Warsaw correspondent
"Polish death camps" is a depressingly frequent term in the international media, often as a kind of journalistic shorthand. Even President Obama used it in 2012 during a speech honouring a Polish war hero, Jan Karski. Many Poles believe that the user thinks that Poles created and ran the camps. Of course that's not true.
Poland's right-wing government, while acknowledging that some Poles blackmailed Jews in hiding to enrich themselves, is keen to promote the history of Poland as a victim, of not just the Nazis, but also the Soviets.
The government is rightly proud that more Poles are honoured in Israel for saving Jews during the war than citizens of any other nation in occupied Europe. But Polish-Jewish relations during the war were complex - they were neither black nor white.
Historians say individual Poles denounced their Jewish neighbours to the Germans and also took part in their murder. Critics say this bill may act as a muzzle on people trying to uncover the full complexity of the Holocaust.
What happened in World War Two?Poland was attacked and occupied by Nazi Germany. Millions of its citizens were killed, including three million Polish Jews in the Holocaust.
Six million Jews were killed in the Holocaust overall.
Image copyright AFP Image caption Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he strongly opposed the bill More Poles have been honoured by Israel for saving the lives of Jews during the war than any other nation.
However, historians say others were complicit by acts such as informing on Jews in hiding for rewards, and participating in Nazi-instigated massacres including in Jedwabne where hundreds of Jews were murdered by their neighbours.
A historian and well-known "Nazi-hunter" at the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Efraim Zuroff, says the number of collaborators runs into "many thousands".
"The Polish state was not complicit in the Holocaust, but many Poles were," Mr Zuroff told the Times of Israel.
Why Eagles will win
I wrote you last year about why the Patriots would win the
Super Bowl. Last year, the Patriots were going to win because of Trump’s
friendship with Tom Brady, Bill Belichick (the coach) and Robert Kraft (the
owner). The NFL was being nice to Trump and couldn’t allow the Falcons to win
because of their owner, Arthur Blank. Blank created Home Depot, Trump is racist
and hates illegals, and guess where a lot of illegals hang out?
This year is different because Trump has repeatedly bashed
the NFL for allowing the players to take a knee for the National Anthem. This
has also led to ratings being down. So, no more doing a favor for Trump to try
to get into his good graces. Therefore, Eagles on top. Don’t let John override
you like last year. It’s not about a backup quarterback.
We Know Jack Shit
Exclusive: Laser Scans Reveal Maya "Megalopolis" Below Guatemalan Jungle
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 00:24
Laser technology known as LiDAR digitally removes the forest canopy to reveal ancient ruins below, showing that Maya cities such as Tikal were much larger than ground-based research had suggested.
bottom: Laser technology known as LiDAR digitally removes the forest canopy to reveal ancient ruins below, showing that Maya cities such as Tikal were much larger than ground-based research had suggested.
Courtesy Wild Blue Media/National Geographic By Tom Clynes
PUBLISHED February 1, 2018
Learn how your family history is connected to the human journey with National Geographic's Geno 2.0 DNA ancestry kit.
In what's being hailed as a ''major breakthrough'' in Maya archaeology, researchers have identified the ruins of more than 60,000 houses, palaces, elevated highways, and other human-made features that have been hidden for centuries under the jungles of northern Guatemala.
Laser scans revealed more than 60,000 previously unknown Maya structures that were part of a vast network of cities, fortifications, farms, and highways.
Courtesy Wild Blue Media/National GeographicUsing a revolutionary technology known as LiDAR (short for ''Light Detection And Ranging''), scholars digitally removed the tree canopy from aerial images of the now-unpopulated landscape, revealing the ruins of a sprawling pre-Columbian civilization that was far more complex and interconnected than most Maya specialists had supposed.
''The LiDAR images make it clear that this entire region was a settlement system whose scale and population density had been grossly underestimated,'' said Thomas Garrison, an Ithaca College archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer who specializes in using digital technology for archaeological research.
Garrison is part of a consortium of researchers who are participating in the project, which was spearheaded by the PACUNAM Foundation, a Guatemalan nonprofit that fosters scientific research, sustainable development, and cultural heritage preservation.
The project mapped more than 800 square miles (2,100 square kilometers) of the Maya Biosphere Reserve in the Pet(C)n region of Guatemala, producing the largest LiDAR data set ever obtained for archaeological research.
The results suggest that Central America supported an advanced civilization that was, at its peak some 1,200 years ago, more comparable to sophisticated cultures such as ancient Greece or China than to the scattered and sparsely populated city states that ground-based research had long suggested.
In addition to hundreds of previously unknown structures, the LiDAR images show raised highways connecting urban centers and quarries. Complex irrigation and terracing systems supported intensive agriculture capable of feeding masses of workers who dramatically reshaped the landscape.
The ancient Maya never used the wheel or beasts of burden, yet ''this was a civilization that was literally moving mountains,'' said Marcello Canuto, a Tulane University archaeologist who participated in the project.
''We've had this western conceit that complex civilizations can't flourish in the tropics, that the tropics are where civilizations go to die,'' said Canuto, who conducts archaeological research at a Guatemalan site known as La Corona. ''But with the new LiDAR-based evidence from Central America and [Cambodia's] Angkor Wat, we now have to consider that complex societies may have formed in the tropics and made their way outward from there.''
''LiDAR is revolutionizing archaeology the way the Hubble Space Telescope revolutionized astronomy,'' said Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist and National Geographic Explorer. ''We'll need 100 years to go through all [the data] and really understand what we're seeing.''
The unaided eye sees only jungle and an overgrown mound, but LiDAR and augmented reality software reveal an ancient Maya pyramid.
bottom: The unaided eye sees only jungle and an overgrown mound, but LiDAR and augmented reality software reveal an ancient Maya pyramid.
Courtesy Wild Blue Media/National GeographicAlready, though, the survey has yielded surprising insights into settlement patterns, inter-urban connectivity, and militarization in the Maya Lowlands. At its peak in the Maya classic period (approximately A.D. 250''900), the civilization covered an area about twice the size of medieval England, but it was far more densely populated.
''Most people had been comfortable with population estimates of around 5 million,'' said Estrada-Belli, who directs a multi-disciplinary archaeological project at Holmul, Guatemala. ''With this new data it's no longer unreasonable to think that there were 10 to 15 million people there'--including many living in low-lying, swampy areas that many of us had thought uninhabitable.''
Hidden deep in the jungle, the newly-discovered pyramid rises some seven stories high but is nearly invisible to the naked eye.
Photograph by Wild Blue Media/National GeographicVirtually all the Mayan cities were connected by causeways wide enough to suggest that they were heavily trafficked and used for trade and other forms of regional interaction. These highways were elevated to allow easy passage even during rainy seasons. In a part of the world where there is usually too much or too little precipitation, the flow of water was meticulously planned and controlled via canals, dikes, and reservoirs.
Among the most surprising findings was the ubiquity of defensive walls, ramparts, terraces, and fortresses. ''Warfare wasn't only happening toward the end of the civilization,'' said Garrison. ''It was large-scale and systematic, and it endured over many years.''
The survey also revealed thousands of pits dug by modern-day looters. ''Many of these new sites are only new to us; they are not new to looters,'' said Marianne Hernandez, president of the PACUNAM Foundation. (Read "Losing Maya Heritage to Looters.")
Environmental degradation is another concern. Guatemala is losing more than 10 percent of its forests annually, and habitat loss has accelerated along its border with Mexico as trespassers burn and clear land for agriculture and human settlement.
''By identifying these sites and helping to understand who these ancient people were, we hope to raise awareness of the value of protecting these places,'' Hernandez said.
The survey is the first phase of the PACUNAM LiDAR Initiative, a three-year project that will eventually map more than 5,000 square miles (14,000 square kilometers) of Guatemala's lowlands, part of a pre-Columbian settlement system that extended north to the Gulf of Mexico.
''The ambition and the impact of this project is just incredible,'' said Kathryn Reese-Taylor, a University of Calgary archaeologist and Maya specialist who was not associated with the PACUNAM survey. ''After decades of combing through the forests, no archaeologists had stumbled across these sites. More importantly, we never had the big picture that this data set gives us. It really pulls back the veil and helps us see the civilization as the ancient Maya saw it.''
The search for Jackie Wallace | NOLA.com
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:25
I've worked as a photojournalist for more than 35 years. During that time, serendipity has been my muse. In my experience, great journalism follows trails and doors left ajar, and the next big thing is usually just around the corner. My job is to be patient and pay attention.
Case in point: a hot New Orleans afternoon in June 1990. My photo editor at the time, Kurt Mutchler, had recently noticed a homeless camp beneath the Interstate 10 overpass near South Carrollton Avenue. From the interstate ramp heading west, he had caught a glimpse of a living room of sorts, with men resting on ragged couches and old easy chairs circled around a camp stove and rickety tables.
My mind's eye shifted into overdrive. I needed little more to coax me out the door to see this makeshift community of tattered comfort and surrogate family for myself.
I parked along the back streets, then hiked the remaining hundred yards or so. While commerce and civilization raced noisily overhead, another world emerged beneath the bridge. I picked my way through dense weeds and steel supports along a worn path, pointing my way past rusted shells of forgotten cars and smashed debris, much like the broken lives I expected to find beyond.
I practiced how I would approach the men '-- what I would say and how I would say it. I prepared my mind for honest compassion and understanding. This world is so different from mine, I reminded myself. My cameras were prepared for whatever might happen. I'd experienced this rush of uneasiness many times before. Some of my most meaningful photographs have been made while treading similarly unpredictable terrain.
As I turned the corner, my previsualized episode evaporated. The sofa was overturned. The tables were smashed. It was as if marauders had ravaged it.
No worries. There's always the next story, I told myself.
I meandered a bit as I returned to my car, wondering what possibly could have wrecked the scene. I was not prepared for what I saw next: a half-naked man sleeping on a rusty box spring.
I couldn't have been more startled if he had been an alligator. His bed was overlaid with cardboard and tucked into a cleft of piers and brush. He was covered in a sheet of thick, clear plastic. His head rested on a wadded yellow jacket, also wrapped in plastic. Alongside the bed lay two discarded automotive floor mats, a five-gallon bucket for bathing, a pair of neatly-arranged sneakers, a clean set of clothes, a jug of water and a carefully folded copy of The Times-Picayune. He slept in the fetal position in only his briefs and undershirt.
I climbed the pier with my camera and made a few frames of the scene, then climbed down and woke him. He wasn't startled in the least. I guess when you sleep under bridges, you learn to expect the unexpected.
He sat up slowly and cleared his head. I asked him if he knew anything about the homeless camp '-- if he knew what happened to the men.
''Yeah,'' he said. ''Teens driving by started shooting their guns at them, so they decided there had to be a safer place to live. Why do you ask?''
We talked for a minute or two, about my editor's idea and journalism in general. After a brief pause, he said, ''You ought to do a story about me.''
I've heard this line many times before, and many more since.
''And why would I want to do that?'' I said.
''Because,'' he said, ''I've played in three Super Bowls.''
Sacramento mayor wants 1,000 tiny homes for homeless people | The Sacramento Bee
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:57
Less than a week after calling for a multibillion-dollar fund for infrastructure, arts and affordable housing, Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg proposed Tuesday spending $21 million over the next three years to subsidize construction of hundreds of small homes to help shelter the city's growing homeless population.
During the annual State of Downtown address at Memorial Auditorium, Steinberg said the city would ask for concepts from the development community to build up to 1,000 ''efficient housing opportunities.'' He proposed using hundreds of Section 8 public housing vouchers at the city's disposal to ''finance new construction (of the small homes) by providing a source of ongoing rental subsidy.'' He said the law allows the city to use vouchers to help people cover rent at existing units or help finance new housing options.
Steinberg also called on the private sector to raise $20 million for housing and homeless shelters. He said that Sutter Health has agreed to donate $5 million to the cause if a matching $5 million is found.
The city will request information and concepts from developers next month for the small housing units, and Steinberg is asking that the City Council and Board of Supervisors provide funds in early summer. He said he will ask developers to partner with homeless service providers on their concepts.
''Our minimum requirements for the homes: a secure roof, door, plumbing, electricity and dignity,'' the mayor said. He added the homes could take on many forms, from 300-square-foot modular homes to ''container units inside warehouses.''
He said the location of the new homes will have to be determined, but the more than 100 vacant parcels controlled by the city should be a starting point.
''It's all in our grasp,'' the mayor said. ''Public funding, private funding, tangible goals, public accountability and a community commitment to whatever it takes to make this homeless problem better in Sacramento.''
Bob Erlenbusch, executive director of the Sacramento Regional Coalition to End Homelessness, said small homes ''are a good solution as transitional housing,'' but should not be counted on to provide long-term shelter. He said studies have shown that tiny homes can have damaging psychological impacts on residents, especially if the shelters are clustered in large groups away from natural spaces.
''To me, the most basic question is: would you want your mom living in a 300-square-foot house?'' Erlenbusch said. ''If the answer is no, then don't do it, at least not on a permanent basis. It's a great solution to get 1,000 people inside, to keep them safe and warm while they are transitioning to permanent housing. But as permanent housing? I don't think so.''
At his State of the City address last week, Steinberg proposed a public equity fund that could be backed by a new sales tax or by the sale of city-owned property. With multiple studies showing that rents are climbing in Sacramento at a rate higher than any city its size in the nation, Steinberg has now indicated that affordable housing will be among his priorities for 2018.
Housing was a major theme of the State of Downtown event. Michael Ault, head of the Downtown Sacramento Partnership, which runs the annual event, said just 235 housing units were built in the central city in 2017. Ault highlighted several key downtown development projects that should begin construction this year, including a complex at the corner of Eighth and K streets that includes both market rate and affordable housing.
''We must continue to focus on housing options for everyone,'' Ault said. He said instead of building 235 new housing units in a year in the central city, ''we should be building thousands'' to keep up with an increasing demand.
VIDEO - The Nunes Memo: A nothing burger that will still destroy our national security | SUPERcuts! #568 - YouTube
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 15:31
VIDEO - Dem congressman: Memo slams FBI to protect Trump - YouTube
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 15:09
VIDEO - Maxine Waters Drags Trump In The Classiest Way: "...He's Not Presidential" | Angela Rye's SOTU - YouTube
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:53
VIDEO - Rose McGowan has meltdown on stage at Barnes & Nobles book signing after trans heckler yells at her - YouTube
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:29
VIDEO - Buried In Trump's Nuclear Report: A Russian Doomsday Weapon : Parallels : NPR
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 14:14
Buried In Trump's Nuclear Report: A Russian Doomsday Weapon : Parallels : NPRBuried In Trump's Nuclear Report: A Russian Doomsday Weapon : ParallelsThe administration's Nuclear Posture Review mentions a massive, nuclear-armed torpedo capable of incinerating cities. But is it real?
VIDEO - HAWAII TOURISTS SAW THIS BLOW UP OVER HAWAII? Hawaii false alarm was no false alarm - YouTube
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 13:38
VIDEO - Worker who sent Hawaii missile false alarm believed threat was real - NBC News
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 13:25
Cars drive past a highway sign that reads "MISSILE ALERT ERROR THERE IS NO THREAT" on the H-1 Freeway in Honolulu on Jan. 13, 2018 Cory Lum / Civil Beat via AP file
The day shift worker who sent the alert wrote in a statement that he heard the ''this is not a drill'' portion and not the parts indicating it was an exercise, according to the report. The worker wrote that he therefore ''believed that the missile threat was real,'' according to the report. Two minutes later, that officer transmitted the live incoming missile alert to the state of Hawaii.
While the officer provided a written statement to officials, the FCC has thus far not been able to interview him and was ''not in a position to fully evaluate the credibility of their assertion that they believed there was an actual missile threat and intentionally sent the live alert,'' the report said.
An FCC official said Thursday that the worker, who has not been publicly identified, was not cooperating with the investigation.During the news conference Tuesday, officials reiterated that the male worker said he did not know it was a drill even though five others had heard the portion of the message indicating it was an exercise.
That worker had "a history of confusing drill and real world events" on at least two prior occasions, said Retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira, who led the internal investigation.
Throughout the employee's tenure "there have been reports" of performance issues and he had confused practice drills once during a fire incident drill and another time during a tsunami incident drill, Oliveira said. The employee was terminated on Friday, officials said.
The FCC said in its findings that the missile threat drill was ''run without sufficient supervision'' and that ''there were no procedures in place to prevent a single person from mistakenly sending a missile alert to the State of Hawaii.''
''While such an alert addressed a matter of the utmost gravity, there was no requirement in place for a warning officer to double check with a colleague or get signoff from a supervisor before sending such an alert,'' the report said.
Once the false alert was sent, the error was ''worsened by the delay in authoritatively correcting the misinformation,'' according to the report.
In a statement on the preliminary report, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said the ''two most troubling things" found by the investigation were that the emergency management agency did not "have reasonable safeguards in place to prevent human error from resulting in the transmission of a false alert'' and that they ''didn't have a plan for what to do if a false alert was transmitted.''
''The public needs to be able to trust that when the government issues an emergency alert, it is indeed a credible alert,'' he said. ''Otherwise, people won't take alerts seriously and respond appropriately when a real emergency strikes and lives are on the line.''
The comments on the report noted that Hawaii's emergency management agency had already taken steps to "ensure that an incident like this never happens again."
Those included a new policy that supervisors must receive advance notice of all future drills, requiring two credentialed warning officers to sign in and validate the transmission of every alert and test, a false alert correction template, software improvements and stopping all future ballistic missile defense drills pending conclusion of its own investigation, according to the report.
VIDEO - MSNBC Calls for Revolution Against Donald Trump after FISA Memo Release - MELTDOWN - YouTube
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:46
VIDEO - BREAKING: Nunes Hints SECOND Memo Will Expose John Kerry '' Patriot Beat
Sun, 04 Feb 2018 12:18
With the Democrats in absolute panic and spin mode over the bombshell FISA memo exposing Obama era FBI and DOJ corruption, Devin Nunes has even more bad news for the left.
A second memo is coming soon that deals with State Department's role in biased deep state corruption.
Who was the head of the State Department during this time? None other than obsessed anti-Trumper John Kerry.
To no one's surprise, Kerry spoke harshly against the release of the first memo.
''The Nunes memo is dangerous, ugly, and an assault on the integrity of the institutions of our country,'' he tweeted. ''I lived through Watergate/Nixon: America pays a very steep price when a political party tries to undermine the institutions that hold us together '...''
Now he'll likely be one of the subjects of the second one.
Devin Nunes:
'We are in the middle of what I call phase two of our investigation, which involves other departments, specifically the State Department and some of the involvement that they had in this.
'That investigation is ongoing and we continue work towards finding answers and asking the right questions to try to get to the bottom of what exactly the State Department was up to in terms of this Russia investigation.'
Watch the video:
#BREAKING: Devin Nunes says this is just the first memo to be released. He says there will be another one dealing specifically with the State Department's role in everything that happened. pic.twitter.com/kpHVDQ44WX
'-- Ryan Saavedra 🇺🇸 (@RealSaavedra) February 3, 2018
VIDEO - Hawaii emergency management worker who sent false missile alert: I was '100 percent sure' it was real - NBC News
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 17:54
HONOLULU '-- The Hawaii emergency management worker who sent a false alert last month warning of an imminent missile attack says he was convinced the threat was real and ''100 percent sure'' he was doing the right thing.
''I did what I was trained to do,'' said the worker, who spoke to NBC News on Friday on the condition of anonymity because of threats against his life.
The mistake sparked panic on Jan. 13, sending Hawaii residents scrambling to seek shelter amid heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea over the regime's nuclear ambitions.
A preliminary federal investigation released last month said the recorded drill message began and ended with the phrase ''exercise, exercise, excise.'' It also included language scripted for use during an actual missile alert: ''This is not a drill.''
But the emergency worker, who has been fired, claims he ''didn't hear 'exercise' at all in that whole transmission.'' As soon as he realized his error, he ''just wanted to crawl under a rock.''
''It was incredibly difficult for me, very emotional,'' he said, adding that his team was immediately flooded with phone calls from frantic citizens.
Officials who led an internal investigation said last month that five other employees had heard the part of the drill message indicating it was an exercise.
The worker who sent the erroneous alert had a ''history of confusing drill and real world events,'' retired Brig. Gen. Bruce Oliveira, who led the internal probe, said at a news conference earlier this week. The worker had mistakenly believed drills for tsunami and fire warnings were real emergencies, the state found.
Related: Hawaii false alarm: Ensuing chaos is teachable moment, experts say
But the worker disputed those findings in his interview with NBC News, insisting they were not accurate.
An electronic sign reads "There is no threat" in Oahu, Hawaii, after a false emergency alert that said a ballistic missile was headed for Hawaii Jan. 13, 2018. @sighpoutshrug / Reuters
The preliminary report from the Federal Communications Commission found the drill was ''run without sufficient supervision'' and that ''there were no procedures in place to prevent a single person from mistakenly sending a missile alert from the State of Hawaii.''
''There was no requirement in place for a warning officer to double check with a colleague or get sign off from a supervisor before sending such an alert,'' the report said.
The worker said Friday that he believes the state emergency management agency deserves the blame for the mistake '-- and shouldn't be shouldering the responsibility in the first place.
''We weren't prepared to send out missile notifications," he said. "I think the military should do that.''
But he said he still feels remorseful.
''I regret this ever happened," he said. "I feel terrible about it. I did what I thought was right at the time.''
Jacob Soboroff and Aarne Heikkila reported from Honolulu. Daniel Arkin reported from New York
VIDEO - Employee Being Blamed For Hawaii's False Emergency Alert About Incoming Missiles Sues State! - YouTube
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 11:52
VIDEO - Florida ER nurse goes on epic rant about flu season - YouTube
Sat, 03 Feb 2018 07:40
VIDEO - Disputed GOP-Nunes memo released - CNNPolitics
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 18:04
The highly controversial memo from the GOP and Rep. Devin Nunes alleges that then-Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the House Intelligence Committee that no surveillance warrant would have been sought for a Trump campaign aide without the Steele dossier.The memo's release threatens to further fracture the frayed relationship between the President and his Justice Department and intelligence community, both of which opposed the release of the document, which is based on classified intelligence. The FBI issued a rare public warning on Wednesday that the memo omits key information that could impact its veracity.
The FISA court granted a warrant to monitor former Trump foreign policy adviser Carter Page and approved three subsequent renewals, according to the memo.
Even if the dossier was used as part of the application, a FISA renewal indicates that a judge was convinced that the surveillance was yielding information about the target acting as an agent of a foreign power that merited continued monitoring.
The memo alleges that Steele had an anti-Trump financial and ideological motivations that were not included in the FISA application. Senior DOJ officials knew about ex-British intelligence agent Christopher Steele's anti-Trump bias, according to the memo.
The memo names former officials in the Obama administration who signed off on the warrants, saying former FBI Director James Comey signed three applications, and McCabe and former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates signed at least one.
But the memo also states that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein -- who was elevated under Trump -- signed off on at least one FISA application for Page. Rosenstein's role in renewing the FISA warrants has sparked Trump's ire. Dana Boente -- who is currently the FBI general counsel and was appointed by Trump's FBI director -- signed off as well on one or more of the applications.
Trump says memo a 'disgrace'
White House spokesman Raj Shah said the document had previously been transmitted to the minority and majority members in the House Intelligence Committee. The document was also sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan's office, Shah said.
The White House requested no redactions, Shah said.
Speaking in the Oval Office, Trump implied the memo revealed political bias at the FBI. He said he believed the purported bias was a "disgrace" and said certain people should be "ashamed of themselves."
Asked in the Oval Office on Friday whether he retained confidence in Rosenstein or if he planned to fire him, Trump demurred.
"You figure that one out," Trump said.
The extraordinary decision to release the classified four-page memo with a never-before-used House Intelligence Committee rule escalates the partisan fight over the investigations into Russian election meddling and possible collusion. This will likely have major repercussions for the relationship between the Justice Department and Capitol Hill.
The memo, spearheaded by Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, alleges that the FBI used the opposition research dossier on Trump and Russia written by Steele to secure a FISA surveillance warrant on Page without disclosing that the dossier was funded in part by Democratic sources.
In a statement earlier this week, Nunes said, "It's clear that top officials used unverified information in a court document to fuel a counter-intelligence investigation during an American political campaign."
The dossier alleges that Page met senior Russian officials as an emissary of the Trump campaign and discussed quid-pro-quo deals relating to sanctions, business opportunities and Russia's interference in the election. After Page took a trip to Russia in July 2016, the FBI grew concerned that he had been compromised by Russian operatives, US officials briefed on the matter told CNN.Page says he never cut any political deals with the Kremlin and says there was nothing illegal in his interactions with Russian officials.
Democrats have dismissed the memo as a "profoundly misleading" Republican document that's intended to undermine special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation by targeting Rosenstein and McCabe, who stepped down earlier this week.
The release comes despite a lobbying effort from senior officials at the FBI and Justice Department , who argued that the memo contained inaccuracies.
CNN's Elizabeth Landers and Dan Merica contributed to this report.
VIDEO - California burger chain gives customers points for paying with their faces
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 05:52
Lori Corbin
Thursday, February 01, 2018 06:17PM
Caliburger uses facial recognition to allow customers to pay for food and accrue rewards with a loyalty points system.
PASADENA, California - AJ Rochow is ordering lunch without reaching for his wallet thanks to some new facial recognition technology.
"We're launching face pay in our self-ordering kiosk. You're actually paying with your face when you check out with your order," said Rochow, who works for Caliburger.
CaliBurger teamed up with NEC facial recognition company to pilot the program.Yes, you can still order at the counter and pay with cash or credit card, but the face pay system is designed to attract loyal customers who want a safe, secure, speedy checkout process.
"It actually cuts off about 30 seconds to a minute of your traditional ordering time," said Rochow. That's because it already knows what you might be ordering.
Rochow said the technology might even help with health issues.
"I have really a bunch of allergy needs. I have a bunch of different health problems. The machine will read your face and recognize, 'Hey, these were your past three orders,'" said Rochow.
Also tied into the system is a reward program. Each order shows a running tally of points that help you get a discount on foods you want.
"Each dollar you spend is 'x' amount of Calipoints. Three thousand Calipoints is the equivalent of $3, so the customer has the option to use that for whatever he or she wants," said Rochow.
The Pasadena CaliBurger is the first of the chain's 40 stores to use face pay.
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VIDEO - Confused Nancy Pelosi Stutters - Forgets Who's President - Calls Trump "Bush" Again (VIDEO)
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 05:48
She did it again today.
Minority Leader Pelosi got confused and mixed up on Thursday when speaking to reporters on the pending release of the House Intelligence FISA memo.
Pelosi stuttered and once again called President Trump ''Bush'' to a gaggle of reporters.
She'll get it one of these days.
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VIDEO - This is Why You Don't SUCCEED - One of the Best Motivational Speeches Ever - YouTube
Fri, 02 Feb 2018 05:42
VIDEO - Auntie Maxine's Isn't Holding Back With Her Thoughts on President Trump! | Angela Rye's State of the Union | SOTU | Angela Rye | Maxine Waters | BET News | President Trump | Donald Trump
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 23:01
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VIDEO - Rep. Maxine Waters calls for a parental advisory when Trump appears on TV | Fox News
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 23:00
Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., who appeared on BET Wednesday to lambast President Trump's State of the Union Address, called for a parental advisory each time the president appears on television.
''Whenever he appears on TV there should be a disclaimer that says 'This may be may not be acceptable for children,''' she said.
Waters recorded a pre-taped response to Trump's address, which was broadcast on attorney and political commentator Angela Rye's BET special.
''One speech cannot and does not make Donald Trump presidential. He's not presidential and he never will be presidential. He claims that's bringing people together but make no mistake, he is a dangerous, unprincipled, divisive, and shameful racist,'' Waters said.
Waters further accused Trump of using divisive rhetoric during his first year in office. She said, ''After Trump defended white supremacists, targeted Muslims with his travel ban, described Mexicans as rapists, and mocked people with disabilities, it's impossible to believe him when he tries to declare he wants to bring the country together.''
At the end of her speech, Waters described Trump as a ''terrible role model for our children,'' because of ''his hatred for women and people of color'...''
Waters has been a vocal critic of Trump since he took office, having repeatedly called for his impeachment. She was one of several lawmakers who didn't attend the State of the Union address.
VIDEO - Mycroft Mark II: The Open Voice Assistant by Joshua Montgomery '-- Kickstarter
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 21:37
The Mark II will be able to hear you even when you're across the room, or your music is turned all the way up. When you need perfection, you partner with the best; based in Silicon Valley, Aaware, is a leader in designing microphone arrays that eliminate interfering noise and preserve speech with little to no distortion.
The microphone system consists of an array of 6 individual microphones that when combined with Acoustic Echo Cancellation, Noise Reduction and Beamforming are able to isolate the speaker even in a noisy environment.
Beamforming takes the input from the 6 microphones and locates the direction from which the user is speaking, giving it superior listening ability.
The upgraded speaker makes your music, podcasts, and everything in between sound great. Mark II users can expect crisp, encompassing sound. To achieve this, we are using a 10-watt speaker design with dual two-inch full-range drivers. To improve the performance of the drivers, we are using a ported and dampened sound chamber.
The Mycroft community has built more than 140 skills with no end in sight. Skills include everything from creating shopping lists, to playing music, to telling jokes. Mark II users can discover skills by asking ''what's new today'', or through our weekly updates to the community, or website.
A key differentiator for Mycroft is that the skill list is infinitely growing, thanks to our robust developer community. They're building skills that serve everyone's needs; not just for the corporation behind them. In addition to standard skills like weather updates, timers, and music, you'll find ones like:
Community-contributed skills are a key part of the Mycroft stack and we're proud to have hundreds of developers working to submit new skills and updates virtually every day.
We didn't leave our developers and makers behind. The Mark II has special features that make hacking and customizing easy, not to mention thorough documentation and a community to lean on when building. Support for our community is central to the Mycroft mission.
The Mark II will have:
Full sized USB port allows transfer of files and I/O Accessible SD Card slot allows for easy update of softwareXilinx quad-core processorFar-field 6-microphone array Hardware AEC, beamforming and noise reduction Stereo sound with dual 2" drivers (10W) 4" IPS LCD touchscreen USB Type A MicroSD card slot Bluetooth in Wifi 3.5mm audio out 18W power supply with international adapters Mark II, Power Supply, Quick Start GuideFCC and CE certification: The Mark II will be FCC and CE certified; meaning it's safe for consumers and won't run into issues in customs.
Power adapter country compatibility: Using Mark II outside the US? The power adapter is international, working for the US, EU, UK, as well as AU.
Languages: What language does Mycroft speak? Right now it's English. But our community has been steadily working on Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, French, and German.
Shipping Details: Shipping price is calculated when you select the reward. We've contracted with EasyPost to ensure that shipping is streamlined. From accurate calculations, door to door tracking across the globe, and their customs pre-approval process, your Mark II will arrive without a hitch. Just a reminder, some foreign countries require duties and taxes that can't be pre-paid.
Design is a product of research and non-stop iteration. We've gathered feedback from our current users, interviewed voice assistant owners, and created hundreds of concepts. With the assistance of the community, we're building an open device for everyone. Thank you to all our members contributing their time, recommendations, and their testing to make this happen!
We realized one of the most critical pieces of a hardware project is to partner with the right teams and the right expertise. We are excited to have great partners to help us bring Mark II to life. We're working with a premier engineering group, Aaware, to bring their specialized knowledge in microphone and audio technology expertise to the engineering of Mark II.
During the development of Mark I, we built relationships with manufacturers across the globe. This experience taught us the difference between good and great manufacturers, and how to spot the difference early on. For the Mark II, we are utilizing the top tier component supplier Avnet, to ensure our components are the best fit for our design, and leveraging their partnerships to qualify the EMS before production begins.
One of the biggest challenges in any product launch is the shipping and logistics, and trust us, we learned a tremendous amount through our first campaign. We are excited to announce EasyPost as the official partner of Mycroft AI on our Kickstarter campaign. Not only do they provide door-to-door tracking on all shipments, including international, they are actually saving the backers almost 20% on typical shipping costs. We are passing that directly to you!
The Mycroft community is using machine and deep learning to build an assistant that improves over time and learns how to better serve you. We're incorporating ML into every step of the user interaction from wake word processing to speech synthesis. And it's all being open sourced.
The data being used is generated by Mycroft users who have explicitly opted in to share their data to our open data set. Unless users explicitly opt-in, we delete data as soon as the interaction is completed. We are using machine learning in many different ways:
Wake Word Spotting: The Precise library listens to the environment and ignores everything but the wake word. Our default wake word is ''Hey Mycroft'', but users can customize it to fit their needs. ''Hey Pedro'', ''Victoria'', and ''Jarvis'' are all popular community wake words.
Speech-to-Text: For users who opt-in, we capture commands and make them available to improve the DeepSpeech STT software. We will move to DeepSpeech as our primary STT engine on March 31, 2018.
Intents and Skills: Our Adapt and Padatious libraries use both known entity rules and machine learning to determine what the user wants to do.
Text-to-Speech: Our TTS synthesizer, Mimic, uses parametrics to synthesize voice. We are replacing it in the next couple of months with Mimic II, which uses machine learning and sounds significantly more human-like than other open source libraries.
Voice assistants from Big Tech know a lot about you. They know when you get home, how many people are in the house, what type of pets you have, and what your calendar looks like. Here at Mycroft, we've got the only voice assistant that respects your privacy. We don't capture information about you, your family or your pets.
We don't store voice data: Other voice assistants on the market store every voice snippet they hear. At Mycroft, we delete the recordings as they come in, unless you actively choose to share your data by opting into our open data set.
We don't create targeted ads based on your interactions: The difference between us and the Big Tech Giants is our business model. We want to provide voice services to our members, the others have business plans around targeting you with advertisements or selling you goods and services. We don't create ads or sell your data to anyone who does. Our software is open so anyone can inspect the code and see exactly what we are doing with user data. This transparency ensures good behavior and creates trust between Mycroft the company and Mycroft the community.
Create a voice assistant that suits you. From its name to its voice, to its personality, we are creating tools that allow you to create an agent that represents you.
Personality: An anonymous black cylinder no more; Mycroft has a relatable, easy to interact with personality. To customize your Mark II, you can choose different home screen options such as weather and time widgets, or several friendly robot faces.
Custom voices: You can choose the voice of your Mycroft, currently we support American Female and British Male voices with more coming soon.
Custom wake words: You can further customize your Mark II by choosing between the wake words, Hey Mycroft, Hey Trinity, Hey Victoria, Hey Indigo with more coming soon.
The Switzerland of voice assistants; a neutral player in the tech ecosystem wars. We're not connected to any services. The recent media streaming/e-commerce feud between Amazon and Google left consumers out in the cold. With Mycroft, you never have to worry about the giants fighting over rights, we are a neutral player in the game allowing you to use what you want. We're the Switzerland of voice assistants, allowing users to choose the best application for their need; we have no strategic reason to funnel users into any brand's service.
Open code for anyone to contribute. You already know that being open source makes Mycroft customizable and transparent, but did you know open software breeds diversity? Building an AI that anyone can contribute to means making technology that is more representative of the world we live in today, a technology that is equitable, neutral, forward thinking.
When we launched our Kickstarter in 2015, smart speakers were so new that most people had never heard of one. Fast forward two years and nearly 20 million households have a voice-activated speaker.
During that time, we've made huge progress in partnership with a passionate community of open source enthusiasts. Mycroft is running on laptops, speakers, and even automobiles. Our community has built more than 130 custom skills that do everything from locating the International Space Station to singing "Raindrops and Kittens."
Summer InternsWe went from a team of six to a team of seventeen and have now shipped the Mark I to 56 countries and 38 US states. We are well on our way to achieving our goal: an artificial intelligence that runs anywhere and interacts exactly like a person.
Along the way, we learned a lot of lessons about manufacturing time frames, vendor relationships, fundraising, customer service and design (read more on what we learned, and how we're navigating those challenges this go round in the FAQ section). The feedback from those lessons is central to the Mark II.
We are so excited to be covered by a diverse array of publications and support from our corporate partners. Here are just a few.
Some of our partners and supporters. We're humbled by their support.
Mycroft has been featured in the press!
VIDEO - Tamiflu played a part in teen's suicide, family says | NBC4i.com
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 21:31
INDIANAPOLIS, IN (WTHR) The family of an Indiana teen says the drug Tamiflu may have played a role in his suicide.
Charlie Harp, 16, was diagnosed with the flu on Thursday night. The doctor prescribed him Tamiflu and cold medicine.
On Friday, Charlie's aunt, who was his legal guardian, checked on him but he did not respond. She called her husband to go home and check on Charlie, and he discovered that Charlie had committed suicide.
''Being the child Charlie was, he was very happy. No red flags at all that would have led us to believe he would have harmed himself otherwise,'' said Charlie's aunt, Jackie Ray.
Jackie began researching Tamiflu and discovered people have become delusional and have hallucinations from the drug.
''I see articles about all these children who have been harmed and that is when I get mad, because if it's that big of an issue, why are we not doing something about it? Why are we still prescribing it and giving it to our children? That is what makes me crazy,'' Ray concluded.
On Friday, his classmates at Franklin Central High School are planning a balloon launch in his honor.
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VIDEO - MAXINE WATERS: Russia is out to get me! - The American MirrorThe American Mirror
Thu, 01 Feb 2018 21:27
Maxine Waters now sees a Russian behind every mailbox and lamp post.
During an anti-Trump tirade at an urban housing event, the California congresswoman went on a stem winder about Russia and the Kremlin's alleged love for the American president.
At one point, the paranoid Waters declared Trump has committed ''obstruction of justice,'' and made the case for impeachment, also citing ''possible collusion'' with Russia.
She theorized Russia wanted to elect Trump so he would lift sanctions to allow Russia to drill for oil in the Arctic.
President Obama created the sanctions. She claimed Trump ''hates'' Obama.
''I want to tell you they absolutely hacked our Democratic National Committee'--absolutely did that,'' she told the audience to cheers.
''RT, which is Russian television, absolutely interfered with a speech of mine on the floor of Congress and blocked me out for 10 minutes,'' she bellowed, as a woman in the audience gasped, ''What?!?''
''They don't play. They mean business,'' Waters declared.
She was referring to an incident last January when C-SPAN briefly showed RT on its Internet feed. The TV broadcast wasn't affected.
C-SPAN blamed the moment on an ''internal routing error.''
''We don't believe that we were hacked,'' the network said in a statement.
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