1007: Tactical Frustration

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 55m
February 11th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Baron Roger Colburn Sir James Bond of episode 1007

Associate Executive Producers: Morgan Corkill, Jamie Christenson, Charles Schultz, Sir Ed LeBouthillier

Cover Artist: Comic Strip Blogger


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Netanyahu's real agenda for controlling Golan Heights is oil for lsrael -- Puppet Masters -- Sott.net
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 16:00
On November 26 Israel's Jerusalem Post reported a sensational offer from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to Israel's Netanyahu conveyed via Russian President Vladimir Putin. According to the Israeli paper, Assad is ready to agree to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights as part of a comprehensive agreement between the two countries in return for an Israeli guarantee it will not continue to try to remove Assad's regime from power. The discussion took place in the recent surprise meeting in Sochi between Assad and Putin, just prior to Putin's meeting with the leaders of Turkey and Iran to discuss Syria.[1]The report also claims that Putin then called Netanyahu to relay the message, and that the Israeli prime minister said he would be willing to accept the deal, but that Israel's goal of eradicating Iran and Hezbollah from the country would remain in place, suggesting a typical Netanyahu ploy to have his cake and eat it too.[2]The problem to date with the report of a possible Assad offer to demilitarize the zone around the Golan Heights is that it is not confirmed independently by any Syrian government sources nor Russian, only by an "unnamed Israeli source" quoted in the Kuwait newspaper Al Jarida and later carried in Israeli media.
A more reliable indicator of Netanyahu policy towards Syria in the Golan region is a statement he made on November 13 when he declared that Israel will continue to take whatever military action inside Syria it deems necessary: "I have also informed our friends, firstly in Washington and also our friends in Moscow, that Israel will act in Syria, including in southern Syria, according to our understanding and according to our security needs." [3]
In April 2016, at the first-ever Israeli Cabinet meeting held in the illegally-occupied Golan Heights, Netanyahu declared defiantly that the occupied Golan Heights, "will remain under Israel's sovereignty permanently."[4]
Unspoken Agenda
The real issue around the region of the Golan Heights however, is not so much any security threat to Israel, rather it comes from the unspoken Netanyahu agenda in the Golan Heights. The Golan Heights is a part of Syria Israel has illegally occupied since the 1967 war, and one which various Israeli governments earlier appeared ready to give up in return for legal recognition of the State of Israel by Syria. [5]
Ready that was, until the outbreak of the NATO and Saudi-led destabilization war against Bashar al Assad in 2011 when the prospect of permanent occupation seemed an option for Israel in the chaos and destruction going on in Syria. Now the strong presence of Russian military on the ground as guarantor for a Syrian government stabilized control of Syria after six years of war brings up for Netanyahu the horror scenario that, rather than being able to grab permanent Golan Heights occupation de jure as seemed within grasp just two years ago, Syria's Bashar al Assad, backed by Russia and Iran, might be planning to even retake the illegally occupied Golan Heights from Israel.
That would have huge implications for Israel and its energy geopolitics.
A major oil discovery
In February, 2017 only days after his inauguration President Donald Trump met with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. The media coverage of the talks focused on their views on the Palestine issue and ignored what was far and away for Netanyahu the crucial issue, the Trump recognition of the Israeli status of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. [6] Netanyahu made a similar request of US President Obama only to be turned down cold. The question is what is it aside from issues of military security that gives the Golan Heights status such urgency in Tel Aviv.? The short answer is discovery of oil, and lots of it.
On October 8, 2015, Yuval Bartov, chief geologist from Genie Energy's Israeli subsidiary, Afek Oil & Gas, told Israel's Channel 2 TV that his company had found a major oil reservoir on the Golan Heights: "We've found an oil stratum 350 meters thick in the southern Golan Heights. On average worldwide, strata are 20 to 30 meters thick, and this is 10 times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities." The report estimated that the Afek oil discovery in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights near the Sea of Galilee could contain billions of barrels of oil. Israel consumes a mere 275,000 barrels of oil daily. To call the Golan discovery a game changer for Israel is understatement.[7]
What is this Genie?
If we ask more about this company that sits on exploration rights illegally granted them by the Israeli government to drill for oil in the Golan Heights, the issue becomes extraordinarily interesting. Since the October, 2015 announcement by Afek Oil & Gas, further news of the discovery has gone silent and company officials only state that the commercial viability of the find has not yet been proved. [8]
Suspiciously, aside from the enthusiastic Afek geologist interview on Israeli TV, one which the US parent company perhaps regrets, no real information was disclosed, other than "signs of oil," and in its filings to the New York Stock Exchange by Genie Energy, Afek's parent company, stated that the quality of the findings was "unclear." [9]
However, when we go deeper behind the Afek subsidiary, it leads in a trail to a most unlikely city, Newark, New Jersey, hardly an oil boom town. Newark is the headquarters of Genie Energy and Genie Oil & Gas, the parent company of Afek. Now it begins to get really interesting.
Genie Energy and Genie Oil & Gas was founded by Howard Jonas, presently Chairman and CEO. Jonas, who is a major contributor to orthodox Israeli projects, was head of a telecom group called of IDT Telecom, original parent of Genie until Genie was spun off in 2011 as a separate company with Jonas still in charge.
What then ensued was the collection of some of the most influential power-brokers in the US, UK and Israel around the fledgling Genie Energy of Newark, New Jersey. Jacob Lord Rothschild of the London banking dynasty and his business associate and influential media magnate, Rupert Murdoch, owner of Fox News, the NY Post and Wall Street Journal among others, both hold major equity stakes in Genie Oil & Gas and became members of the Board of Directors, as well as of the Genie Strategic Advisory Board where they joined among other notables Dick Cheney, former CEO of Halliburton, the world's largest geophysical services company, and Michael Steinhardt, the billionaire hedge fund investor and board member of the pro-Netanyahu Washington think-tank, the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Genie Advisory board members also included some of the most seasoned executives in the global energy industry, among them Eugene A. Renna, former Board member of Exxon Mobil, and Harold Vinegar, Former Chief Scientist of Royal Dutch Shell. [10]
To add even more political clout in Washington, Genie admitted former US CIA director James Woolsey, former US Energy Secretary Bill Richardson, former Treasury Secretary and Obama cabinet member Larry Summers and, most interesting, Mary Landrieu, former United States Senator from Louisiana until her defeat in 2014.[11]
Landrieu sponsored the 2013 United States-Israel Energy Cooperation Enhancement Bill which gave a legal fig leaf for US energy companies like Genie to explore in the illegally occupied Israeli Golan Heights, a sly way to further a de facto Israeli annexation of Golan territory. In October 2011 as US Senator, Mary Landrieu led the first official US Energy Mission to Israel. Its stated goal was to "introduce US firms to Israel's rapidly expanding oil and gas market and to assist US companies pursuing export opportunities in this sector," according to the US Department of Commerce. In reality, Landrieu was lobbying on behalf of Noble which got exploration rights to Israeli offshore gas, developing the giant Leviathan field in the eastern Mediterranean, and for Genie which now has rights in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. [12]
Granted, even if Genie manages to develop oil recovery from the Golan field in the billions of barrels over time, or not, it is clear that a far deeper agenda lies behind Netanyahu's vigorous defense of the illegal Israeli annexation of the Golan Heights than merely keeping it free of Iranian and Hezbollah soldiers. Could it be that he is convinced that if a US-backed oil company with the board backers such as Genie Energy is working with him, Washington will be forced to back the Israeli ownership claim to the strategic Golan Heights? Time will tell.
# # # #
F. William Engdahl, Newsbud Senior Analyst & Producer, is an international best-selling author, political economist, lecturer and political risk consultant. He has specialized for more than thirty years in geopolitical analysis of global events, with special focus on the interrelations of economics with politics. Mr. Engdahl has a degree in politics from Princeton University (USA), graduate study in comparative economics at the University of Stockholm, and was appointed Visiting Professor of International Political Economy at China Northwest University, Xi'an in 2006. Among his best-known books are, A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics, Gods of Money: Wall Street and the Death of the American Century and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation. His most recently published book, The Lost Hegemon: Whom the gods would destroy is about the CIA and political Islam.
[1] Shoshana Kranish, Israel vows to destroy Iranian positions within 40 km of Syrian border,
Jerusalem Post, November 26, 2017, http://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Report-Israel-vows-to-destroy-Iranian-positions-within-40-km-of-Syrian-border-515209.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Jeffrey Heller, Netanyahu signals Israel will act with free hand in Syria,
November 13, 2017, https://in.reuters.com/article/mideast-crisis-syria-israel/netanyahu-signals-israel-will-act-with-free-hand-in-syria-idINKBN1DD1MM.
[4] Ruben Rosenberg Colorni, Golan Heights and the Greater Israel Project, May 7, 2016, http://newsjunkiepost.com/2016/05/07/golan-heights-and-the-greater-israel-project/.
[5] Economist, Black gold under the Golan, Novembe3r 7, 2015, https://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21677597-geologists-israel-think-they-have-found-oilin-very-tricky-territory-black-gold.
[6] Matthew R.J. Brodsky, Trump, the Golan Heights and regional progress, Jerusalem Post, February 28, 2017, https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/The-Golan-Heights-as-the-key-to-progress-482762.
[7] Globes, Huge oil discovery on Golan Heights, 7 October, 2015, http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-huge-oil-discovery-on-golan-heights-1001071698.
[8] Bloomberg, Afek Oil and Gas Ltd Receives Extension of License from Israeli Ministry of Energy and Water, April 12, 2016, https://www.bloomberg.com/research/stocks/private/snapshot.asp?privcapId=307867968.
[9] Daniel Reem, How seriously should we take the Golan oil find?, 7 October, 2015,
[10] Business Wire, Business and Financial Leaders Lord Rothschild and Rupert Murdoch Invest in Genie Oil and Gas, November 15, 2010, http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20101115007704/en/Business-Financial-Leaders-Lord-Rothschild-Rupert-Murdoch.
[11] Economist, Black Gold Under..., op. cit.
[12] Ruben Rosenberg Colorni, op. cit.
Huge oil discovery in Golan Heights - Israeli media '-- RT Business News
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:59
A big oil deposit has been found in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, with enough reserves to last Israel for decades, according to the country's media.
The Israeli presence in the Golan Heights is in dispute. The region is internationally recognized Syrian territory that has been occupied by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War between Israel and several Arab states. UN Resolution 242 (1967) demands the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from the territories occupied in the conflict. Israel disagrees with the wording of the resolution, saying the territories are disputable.
Reportedly, the potential production may reach billions of barrels, while Israel consumes 270,000 barrels per day. Israel currently imports up to three quarters of its oil from the semi-autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq, the Financial Times reported in August.
"We are talking about a strata which is 350 meters thick and what is important is the thickness and the porosity. On average in the world strata are 20-30 meters thick, so this is ten times as large as that, so we are talking about significant quantities. The important thing is to know the oil is in the rock and that's what we now know," Israel business website Globes quotes Yuval Bartov, chief geologist of Afek Oil and Gas as saying. Afek is a subsidiary of the America's Genie Energy.
The reported discovery coincides with the civil war raging in Syria. Israel has been accused of taking advantage of the conflict. The Israeli-occupied Golan Heights also border Syrian territory controlled by anti-government rebels. Israel has reportedly provided medical aid to the rebels and has responded to rocket fire from rebel-controlled territory by striking Syrian Army positions. Israel's explanation has been that it "holds the Syrian military responsible for all events stemming from its territory."
Tensions Mount In The Golan Heights Over Oil And Territory | OilPrice.com
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:58
Following the resolution of a permit issue, Afek Oil & Gas, a subsidiary of American company Genie Energy, has resumed efforts to verify whether or not commercially viable options for oil extraction exist within the Golan Heights region. These drillings are anything but routine, as years of conflict and contestation over the plateau '' which was seized by Israel in 1967 '' have led to profound disagreement over the territory's sovereignty.
As Afek works to uncover what could be a step towards energy independence for Israel, the Israeli leadership is lobbying the United States to change its historical position that the region belongs to Syria. They want the U.S. to support Israel's strategic interests in and claims to the Golan Heights, including the development of its natural resources. With the worsening situation in Syria and the need for Syrian rebel support, the United States and the rest of the international community have a delicate task ahead in dealing with the Golan Heights, however, it is likely that Israel will eventually have its way.
Background to the conflict
Strategically, the Golan Heights region is of vital importance to Israel as it sits directly between Syria and Israel, serving as a critical buffer zone between the rebel-run western border of Syria and Israel's crucial water resource, the Sea of Galilee.
Related: Canadian Oil Sees Silver Lining To Decline In U.S. Shale
Throughout much of the twentieth century, the area had been subjected to conflict as both Israel and Syria launched numerous offensives in the territory with Israel ultimately occupying it following the Six-Day War. Later, Israel effectively annexed the Golan Heights from the neighboring country of Syria in 1981 when it extended Israeli law to the area.
The international community did not recognize Israel's action and the United Nations Security Council put forth Resolution 242 which declared the Golan Heights as occupied territory, a designation that clearly condemned Israel's actions and left the region's sovereignty in Syrian hands, a position still held today by the international community, including the United States.
Given the divide that exists between Israeli leadership and the international community over control of the region, an ongoing Syrian civil war next door, and the aforementioned oil efforts, there is an unprecedented level of geopolitical complexity surrounding the Golan Heights and the issue of sovereignty. Russia's involvement in the war, the ever-present Palestinian tension, and the precarious situation with Hezbollah, only adds to this complexity and affirms that the implications from any action involving the territory will be felt across a broad spectrum of countries and groups with interests in the region.
Related: Texan Oil Production Rises In January
Recent developments
As the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has continued to call on both the United States and the international community to reassess their views on the region. In essence, Israel's leadership is looking for the global community to acknowledge Israel's annexation of the Golan Heights by leveraging the unstable conditions that have resulted from the civil war in Syria, citing the calming influence that Israel has brought to the region and the abolishment of anything remotely close to a working government in Syria as the justification for their claims. Israel has put forth the notion that this is an opportunity for the United States to halt the spread of violence in the region.
While the situation in Syria and with that United States' position on the Golan Heights is undoubtedly evolving, the Obama administration has maintained that their current position '' that it is 'occupied territory' by Israel '' best serves their foreign policy interests in the broader region. A position based on maintaining the support of the Syrian rebels, who may view a U.S. acknowledgment on the Golan Heights as contrary to their views. In focusing on ensuring the support of the Syrian rebels over the concerns of the Israeli leadership, the Obama administration's actions are a testament to the fragility of the situation in Syria and a sign that the United States is not yet comfortable with the progress made in the region.
Related: Oil Prices Beyond WTI And Brent
What to expect?
Afek Oil & Gas's list of advisors reads more like a shortlist of the next American President's cabinet and includes former vice-president, Dick Cheney, former treasury secretary Larry Summers, former energy secretary Bill Richardson, and James Woolsey, a former CIA director. They will continue their efforts and, if successful, they will help create the momentum needed to advance Israel's strategic agenda in the region by capitalizing on the close connections to Washington and the influence of its advisors.
For the short-term, as the outcome of the Syrian civil war remains unclear, the involvement of Russia and the need for the rebel support groups has pitted the interests of the United States against those of Israel, giving the U.S. little to no incentive to expeditiously acknowledge Israel's territorial claims in the Golan Heights region.
However, in the longer term, if the situation in Syria becomes calmer, instead of a bona fide acknowledgment by the international community we may simply see a continuation of the status quo: little is being done to oppose the actions or interests of Israel within the Golan Heights region, which in effect would lead to the eventual sourcing of oil by Afek.
By Eric Simmons via Globalriskinsights.com
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Now Mattis Admits There Was No Evidence Assad Used Poison Gas On His People
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:53
Lost in the hyper-politicized hullabaloo surrounding the Nunes Memorandum and the Steele Dossier was the striking statement by Secretary of Defense James Mattis that the U.S. has ''no evidence'' that the Syrian government used the banned nerve agent Sarin against its own people.
This assertion flies in the face of the White House (NSC) Memorandum which was rapidly produced and declassified to justify an American Tomahawk missile strike against the Shayrat airbase in Syria.
Mattis offered no temporal qualifications, which means that both the 2017 event in Khan Sheikhoun and the 2013 tragedy in Ghouta are unsolved cases in the eyes of the Defense Department and Defense Intelligence Agency.
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Mattis went on to acknowledge that ''aid groups and others'' had provided evidence and reports but stopped short of naming President Assad as the culprit.
There were casualties from organophosphate poisoning in both cases; that much is certain. But America has accused Assad of direct responsibility for Sarin attacks and even blamed Russia for culpability in the Khan Sheikhoun tragedy.
Now its own military boss has said on the record that we have no evidence to support this conclusion. In so doing, Mattis tacitly impugned the interventionists who were responsible for pushing the ''Assad is guilty'' narrative twice without sufficient supporting evidence, at least in the eyes of the Pentagon.
This dissonance between the White House and the Department of Defense is especially troubling when viewed against the chorus of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) experts who have been questioning the (Obama and Trump) White House narratives concerning chemical weapons in Syria since practically the moment these ''Assad-ordered events'' occurred.
Serious, experienced chemical weapons experts and investigators such as Hans Blix, Scott Ritter, Gareth Porter and Theodore Postol have all cast doubt on ''official'' American narratives regarding President Assad employing Sarin.
These analysts have all focused on the technical aspects of the two attacks and found them not to be consistent with the use of nation-state quality Sarin munitions.
The 2013 Ghouta event, for example, employed home-made rockets of the type favored by insurgents. The White House Memorandum on Khan Sheikhoun seemed to rely heavily on testimony from the Syrian White Helmets who were filmed at the scene having contact with supposed Sarin-tainted casualties and not suffering any ill effects.
Likewise, these same actors were filmed wearing chemical weapons training suits around the supposed ''point of impact'' in Khan Sheikhoun, something which makes their testimony (and samples) highly suspect. A training suit offers no protection at all, and these people would all be dead if they had come into contact with real military-grade Sarin.
Chemical weapons are abhorrent and illegal, and no one knows this more than Carla Del Ponte. She, however, was unable to fulfill her U.N. Joint Investigative Mechanism mandate in Syria and withdrew in protest over the United States refusing to fully investigate allegations of chemical weapons use by ''rebels'' (jihadis) allied with the American effort to oust President Assad (including the use of Sarin by anti-Assad rebels).
The fact that U.N. investigators were in Syria when the chemical weapon event in Khan Sheikhoun occurred in April 2017 makes it highly dubious that Assad would have given the order to use Sarin at that time. Common sense suggests that Assad would have chosen any other time than that to use a banned weapon that he had agreed to destroy and never employ.
Furthermore, he would be placing at risk his patronage from Russia if they turned on him as a war criminal and withdrew their support for him.
Tactically, as a former soldier, it makes no sense to me that anyone would intentionally target civilians and children as the White Helmet reports suggest he did.
There is compelling analysis from Gareth Porter suggesting that phosphine could have been released by an airborne munition striking a chemical depot, since the clouds and casualties (while organophosphate-appearing in some respects) do not appear to be similar to MilSpec Sarin, particularly the high-test Russian bomb-carried Sarin which independent groups like ''bellingcat'' insist was deployed.
America's credibility was damaged by Colin Powell at the United Nations in 2003 falsely accusing Saddam Hussein of having mobile anthrax laboratories. Fast forward to 2017 and we encounter Nikki Haley in an uncomfortably similar situation at the U.N. Security Council calling for action against yet another non-Western head-of-state based on weak, unsubstantiated evidence.
Now Secretary Mattis has added fuel to the WMD propaganda doubters' fire by retroactively calling into question the rationale for an American cruise missile strike.
While in no way detracting from the horror of what took place against innocent civilians in Syria, it is time for America to stop shooting first and asking questions later.
Ian Wilkie is an international lawyer, U.S. Army veteran and former intelligence community contractor.
UN Envoy Slams Attempts to Accuse Russia of Involvement in Chemical Attacks in Syria
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 14:39
UN Envoy Slams Attempts to Accuse Russia of Involvement in Chemical Attacks in Syria
TEHRAN (FNA)- The efforts to accuse Moscow of involvement in chemical attacks, allegedly carried out by the Syrian governmental forces, are shameful, Russia's permanent UN envoy Vasily Nebenzya said following the meeting on UN Security Council.
When asked to comment on respective media reports, he said "I don't want to use non-parliamentary expressions to answer your question. It is a shame. These reports are a shame," TASS reported.
"These chemical episodes intensify and start to happen out of the blue when something positive is going on in the political front. That is clear for us as well," the diplomat added.
On January 25, Russia called a United Nations Security Council meeting, putting forward an initiative to establish an independent mechanism to investigate chemical weapons attacks in Syria, which would also involve the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) and would replace the UN-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism (JIM) that ceased to exist in late 2017 as UN Security Council member states had failed to agree on extending its mandate. However, Washington spoke out against this initiative.
Nebenzya also denied the information that Russia had 'blocked' the statement on the humanitarian situation in Syria.
"Moscow was ready to adopt the statement, but there were two other delegations that said we cannot adopt it the way it was basically agreed upon," he stressed.
According to the diplomat, "it is not coincidental" that those articles appear in various media outlets. "After the success of the Congress of the Syrian national dialogue, we clearly see the intensification of efforts to defame Russia on Syria and to question its role in the political settlement," he said, adding that Thursday's meeting "is also in that frame, because today the humanitarian situation in Syria, although bad and deplorable, is in no way much more different than it used to be a month ago, but now we are being presented with it as if something dramatic has happened."
Security Council Fails to Renew Mandate of Joint Investigative Mechanism on Chemical Weapons Use in Syria, as Permanent Member Casts Veto | Meetings Coverage and Press Releases
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 14:36
11 Favour Action, 2 Oppose, 2 Abstain, as Bolivia Adds to Russian Federation's Negative Vote in Rejecting Draft ResolutionFollowing a negative vote cast by the Russian Federation today, the Security Council failed to renew the mandate of the Joint Investigative Mechanism of the United Nations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), formed to determine the perpetrators of chemical-weapons attacks in Syria.
The Council rejected the draft resolution following a vote of 11 in favour to 2 against (Bolivia, Russian Federation), with 2 abstaining (China, Kazakhstan). Had it been adopted, it would have extended the Mechanism's mandate '-- established by resolution 2235 (2015) and set to expire on 17 November '-- for a further one year.
In an earlier procedural action, the Council defeated the Russian Federation's proposal to adjourn the meeting by 4 votes in favour to 8 opposed, with 3 abstentions.
Speaking before those actions, the Russian Federation's representative proposed adjourning the meeting until 7 November, saying his delegation wanted to wait for the Mechanism's report on the chemical attacks carried out in Um Housh and Khan Shaykhun, Syria, before extending its mandate. Only two days remained until its release, he noted, emphasizing that the Council should discuss the Mechanism's work and then vote on renewing its mandate. Doing it the other way would be putting the cart before the horse, he said, insisting that tabling the draft today was intended to paint his country in a bad light. The Russian Federation expected an honest, impartial, complete investigation, and would accept clear, incontrovertible evidence of guilt. The United States had already determined who was guilty, and its actions were politicizing the issue, he added.
Bolivia's representative, while condemning any use of chemical weapons, said technical concerns raised about the Mechanism must be resolved and its report evaluated before its mandate could be renewed. Asking why draft resolutions were tabled in the knowledge that they would be vetoed, he insisted that he had not cast his negative vote against the Mechanism but as an appeal for greater efforts for unity in the Council.
Ethiopia's representative said he had voted in favour of the draft resolution, but those responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be punished on the basis of robust and conclusive evidence. However, it was impossible to overlook the concerns voiced by the Russian Federation and Bolivia, which was the reason why politicization must be avoided. Cautioning that today's outcome should not be interpreted as an a priori endorsement of the Mechanism's report, he emphasized that its final version was expected to establish clear responsibility for the two incidents mentioned.
Other supporters of the draft resolution claimed that an early vote was in the interest of continuity in the Mechanism's work and of ensuring impartiality in the critical task of preventing impunity for the use of a terrible weapon. The representative of the United States argued that the Mechanism was under attack by Syria's allies in an attempt to hide the truth and to shield the perpetrators of some of the worst war crimes of the century.
Most of those in favour of the draft called for salvaging Council unity and renewing the Mechanism's mandate at a later date, before it expired. Japan's representative said he had listened carefully to the statements of the draft's opponents, which gave a cause for hope that renewal was still possible. However, Uruguay's representative expressed fear that the pattern of the delayed 2016 extension was repeating itself, recalling that the Mechanism was been unable to operate during that period and many of its experienced staff had left.
Those abstaining from the vote prioritized Council unity, with China's representative arguing that the desire of some Council members to continue consultations on improving the Mechanism should have been accommodated in order to maintain unity.
Other speakers today were representatives of the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Italy, Kazakhstan, Sweden, Senegal, Uruguay, Egypt, and France.
The meeting began at 10:27 a.m. and ended at 11:50 a.m.
Action on Draft Resolution
VASSILY A. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) proposed, under Rule 33.3 of the Security Council's Provisional Rules of Procedure, to adjourn the meeting until 7 November, saying it was clear why the premature adoption of the draft resolution had been proposed '-- to once again dishonour the Russian Federation. Emphasizing that today's decision would in no way have an impact on the future of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, he said that entity would continue to operate independently of any decision. Before voting on the draft, the Mechanism's report should be submitted and discussed, he said, noting that the report would be published in two days. The Russian Federation suggested adjourning the meeting until 7 November and discussing an extension in a calm way, without undue pressure.
MICHELE J. SISON (United States) said her delegation did not agree to the procedural proposal and wanted the vote today since the Mechanism's mandate must be renewed as soon as possible to keep its work on track, without interruption.
MATTHEW RYCROFT (United Kingdom) described the proposal as a cynical attempt to link the mandate to the Mechanism's report, saying that attempting such a link was politicization. To vote today was to avoid politicization, he added, reminding the Council that a year ago, the Mechanism's staff had left and it had been unable to operate for some months.
SACHA SERGIO LLORENTTY SOLZ (Bolivia) said that, on United Nations Day, the Council should not send a negative signal to the world through its disunity. Putting a draft resolution to the vote while knowing it would be vetoed would not serve any good purpose at all, he emphasized.
The Council then held a procedural vote on the Russian Federation's proposal, rejecting it by 4 in favour to 8 against, with 3 abstentions.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) said what was happening today was not pleasant. ''It stinks, in fact,'' he added, noting that the actions of the United States were politicizing the issue. The Mechanism had been created, with the Russian Federation's participation, to conduct thorough investigations, and its eagerly awaited report should be seen and discussed calmly before the mandate expired, he said, asking: ''Why put the cart before the horse?'' Recalling the attack by the United States against a Syrian air base, he said it had been carried out after a hasty determination that Syria was guilty. That rush to judgement had, therefore, been predetermined, as had strategies to impugn the Russian Federation. An early vote was the reason behind politicization. Stressing that his delegation expected an honest, impartial, complete investigation by the Mechanism, he said that if there was clear, incontrovertible evidence of guilt, the Russian Federation would accept it on the basis of its professional and impartial nature, not on the basis of who was to blame for Khan Shaykhun. The United States had already determined who was guilty, he said. Introducing the draft resolution today was breaking the Council's unity, which would have negative effects, he added, underlining that the proper order was first the report, then the discussion and then the extension.
The Council then took action on the draft resolution, seeing 11 votes in favour to 2 against (Bolivia, Russian Federation), with 2 abstentions (China, Kazakhstan). The text was not adopted due to the permanent member's negative vote.
Ms. SISON (United States) said it was not every day that the Council considered an issue so shocking to the conscience of everybody as the use of chemical weapons against civilians. Recalling that the Council had condemned the chemical weapons attacks in Syria and created an impartial and independent investigative body using professional means to investigate attacks and identify those who were guilty, she said that body was under attack by Syria's allies. Was it because its conclusions had been politically inconvenient? There was more work to be done and more chemical weapons attacks to investigate, she said, emphasizing that the Mechanism's vital work must continue without interruption. Expressing deep regret that one member had vetoed the text, she said claims of lack of impartiality would not survive scrutiny. She called upon the Council to reject attacks on the Mechanism, saying they were intended to hide the truth and shield the perpetrators of some of the worst war crimes of the century. The United States called upon the Council to preserve its unity and vote to extend the Mechanism's mandate.
Mr. RYCROFT (United Kingdom) recalled that some four years ago, a Council member had declared that the Council must carefully investigate the use of chemical weapons. Those words had been spoken by the Russian Federation's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, he said, adding that they had lost their meaning because of today's veto. Because of the Russian Federation, the investigation was destined to end prematurely, and the report on Khan Shaykhun would be its last, despite other chemical attacks. When faced with the prospect of the Mechanism revealing the truth, why had the Russian Federation sought to ''shoot the messenger''? That country alone had chosen to abuse its veto in support of a regime that had no regard for its own people, he said, underlining that it was not the 11 members who had voted in favour of the draft who had broken the Council's unity, but the Russian Federation, which protected the Syrian regime.
Mr. LLORENTY (Bolivia) condemned the use of chemical weapons as unjustifiable and criminal, underlining that his delegation did not oppose renewal of the mandate. However, the Mechanism should work with a mandate that would be considered after it published its report, he said, adding that technical concerns had been raised and should be resolved. The report should be evaluated before the mandate was renewed, he reiterated, noting that two days remained before the report's publication. Time was therefore not a factor, he said, asking why draft resolutions were put to the vote in the full knowledge that they would be vetoed. The negative vote had not been directed against the Mechanism but had been an appeal for greater effort in order to demonstrate unity, he said.
KORO BESSHO (Japan) said the Mechanism's work was clearly not finished and his delegation had voted to renew its mandate in order to ensure continuity. At the same time, the delegation had listened to the statements of those who had voted against the draft and hoped the mandate could still be renewed before it expired. It was the responsibility of the Council and all humanity to ensure that chemical weapons were never used, he emphasized.
VOLODYMYR YELCHENKO (Ukraine) said that he had voted in favour of the draft to ensure that the Mechanism could continue its important work. Rejecting the arguments advanced for opposing the renewal, he said what was really happening was that international norms were being ignored and impartial investigations disparaged by one particular Council member. There were now three weeks left to find a way to preserve the Mechanism's mission, he noted, emphasizing that it was the Council's duty to ensure that international law was respected.
SEBASTIANO CARDI (Italy) said he had voted in favour of the draft to ensure that accountability for violations of international law remained an important part of the Council's work. The Mechanism was an important instrument in that regard, he said, expressing hope that today's division could be overcome and that the Mechanism's mandate would still be extended. Ending impunity and holding perpetrators of horrendous crimes accountable should unite the Council, not divide it, he stressed.
TEKEDA ALEMU (Ethiopia) expressed regret that the Council had not been able to adopt the draft resolution since the Mechanism had been created on the basis of consensus. Ethiopia had voted in favour of the text because there remained credible allegations of chemical weapons use in Syria, he said, adding that renewing the mandate should ensure continuity of the Mechanism's work. Despite today's outcome, Ethiopia was hopeful that the Council' unity would be restored and compromise found, because failure to renew the mandate would be send the wrong message to the perpetrators. However, today's outcome should not be interpreted as an a priori endorsement of the Mechanism's report, he cautioned, emphasizing that its final version was expected to establish clear responsibility for the two incidents mentioned. Those responsible for the use of chemical weapons should be punished on the basis of robust and conclusive evidence, he said, underlining, however, that it was impossible to overlook the concerns of the Russian Federation and Bolivia, which was the reason why politicization must be avoided.
KAIRAT UMAROV (Kazakhstan) said his delegation fully endorsed the Mechanism's work, adding that its mandate should be extended in view of continued use of chemical weapons in Syria. The Mechanism's work had lost momentum in 2016 because of a delayed extension, he recalled, emphasizing that such a situation should not be repeated. It was regrettable that common approaches to improving the Mechanism's work had not been found, he said, adding that greater political will was necessary to find the necessary compromise. Since taking a position today would not have led to a solution, Kazakhstan had abstained from the vote, he said, while encouraging the Council to speak with one voice.
OLOF SKOOG (Sweden) voiced regret at the Council's inability to agree on a technical mandate extension. Sweden fully supported the Mechanism, which played a critical role in the non-proliferation architecture. A timely mandate renewal was essential because there were still 60 cases of alleged chemical weapons use in Syria, he said. Now was the time for the Council to speak with one voice in support of the Mechanism, an effort that demanded good-faith negotiations on the part of everyone.
FOD‰ SECK (Senegal), expressing disappointment that the Council had not been able to retain its unity, said he had voted in favour of the draft because the Mechanism played an essential role in the international non-proliferation architecture and in conducting impartial investigations of chemical substance use in Syria. Continued allegations of the use of such substances demonstrated the need for the Mechanism to continue its work, he said, expressing hope that after its report was released, the Council would still be able to extend its mandate.
ELBIO ROSSELLI (Uruguay) emphasized that continuity was necessary for the retention of the Mechanism's experienced staff, noting that the human beings who made up the Mechanism must know whether they would still have their jobs in a month's time. In 2016, six months had passed before the Mechanism had been reconfigured and it had not been possible for it to operate during that period, he recalled, stressing that that was not what was needed. Accountability for the use of chemical weapons was critical.
WU HAITAO (China) said his delegation was deeply concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Syria and opposed their use by anyone, anywhere. Whereas China supported the Mechanism's role as impartial investigator, unity in the Council was crucial to preventing further use of chemical weapons, he emphasized. Some members had wished to continue consultations with a view to improving the Mechanism's performance, and they should have been accommodated in order to maintain unity, he said. It was in that light that China had abstained, he added, calling on all Council members to keep the objective of a political settlement foremost in their minds and to maintain unity towards that goal.
AMR ABDELLATIF ABOULATTA (Egypt) said he had voted in favour of the draft because of his country's interest in ensuring that those involved in using chemical weapons in Syria were identified. The use and growing proliferation of chemical weapons in that country posed a threat to security in the region and around the world, he said, noting the non-existence of an international system to deter non-State groups from acquiring such weapons. The Mechanism's methodologies must be improved and sites in Syria visited, he said, adding that conducting such visits and collecting available evidence in a timely manner would help in creating a strong foundation for any findings to be issued. The Council could still renew the Mechanism's mandate and improve its methodology, he said, emphasizing that its work must be carried out in an impartial and independent manner, and must not be politicized.
Mr. NEBENZIA (Russian Federation) took the floor once more, saying he had voted against the draft and regretted that its authors had chosen confrontation. That choice constituted the politicization and cynicism to which the representative of the United States had referred. He said he was very concerned about the use of chemical weapons in Syria, and the Russian Federation's Foreign Minister had indeed said that those responsible must be found. However, that had nothing to do with today's meeting, he said, reiterating that the vote would not have had any impact on the Mechanism's work, which would continue.
Addressing a concern raised by the representative of Uruguay, he said sympathy for the Mechanism's staff and their families should not be an issue for the Council to consider. Noting that some delegations had read from already-prepared statements, he said that apparently they had known in advance that the veto would be used. The meeting had been a spectacle to embarrass one country, he said, voicing regret that it had taken place at all. Those who had requested it had known knew the scenario in advance. After calm discussion of the report, the extension could be submitted again for a vote, he said.
FRAN‡OIS DELATTRE (France), Council President for October, spoke in his national capacity, saying he deeply regretted the vote's outcome. Chemical weapons attacks in Syria had never stopped, which justified the investigation aimed at finding and punishing those responsible. Today was a missed opportunity to determine responsibility for the use of chemical weapons, whether by the Syrian army or by non-State actors, he said. Since 192 States had committed themselves to renounce the use of chemical weapons, they must all protect and strengthen that particular non-proliferation regime. Describing the non-proliferation commitment as one of the most important pillars of international relations and one of the great achievements of the last decades, he noted that today it was being tested by the nuclear programme of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Today's negative vote could not be the last word, he declared, urging the Council to re-establish the necessary consensus before the Mechanism's mandate ended in November.
Uber driver Kenya
Obama speaks fluent Swahili, politically couldn't do it, because then the gig would be up!
Black Widow
Hope Hicks - Wikipedia
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:39
Hope Charlotte Hicks (born October 21, 1988) is an American communications and public relations consultant and former model who is the White House Communications Director for PresidentDonald Trump.[1] From January to September 2017, she served as White House Director of Strategic Communications, a role created for her. She previously served as the press secretary and early communications director for Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, as well as the national press secretary for his presidential transition team,[2][3] and before that was an employee of The Trump Organization. She is Trump's longest-serving political aide.[4][5]
In January 2017, Hicks was included on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.[6]
Early life Hicks is the daughter of Caye Ann (Cavender) Hicks and Paul Burton Hicks III.[7] Her father was Regional CEO, Americas[8] of Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide, and executive vice president of communications for the National Football League from 2010 to 2015, before becoming managing director of the Glover Park Group.[9][10][11][2][12] She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut.[7][13][14]
Hicks was a teenage model, appearing in Greenwich magazine in 2002.[15] She then posed for a Ralph Lauren campaign with her older sister Mary Grace, and was the face of the Hourglass Adventures novels about a time-traveling 10-year-old.[4] She was the cover model for The It Girl (2005), the first novel in the series by Cecily von Ziegesar.[16]
Hicks attended Greenwich High School, where she was co-captain of the lacrosse team, and graduated in 2006.[13][17][18] She then attended Southern Methodist University, where she majored in English and played on a club lacrosse program she helped start. She graduated in 2010.[4][13][19]
Career Hicks started in public relations with the New York City firm Zeno Group.[20]
Hicks began working for public relations firm Hiltzik Strategies in 2012, after meeting the firm's founder at an NFL Super Bowl event, working for among others its client Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump's daughter, on her fashion line, and then on other Trump ventures.[13][21]
In August 2014 she joined The Trump Organization full-time.[9] Hicks worked for Ivanka Trump inside Trump Tower, helping expand her fashion label (the Ivanka Trump Collection) and modeling for her online store.[22] In October 2014 she began working directly for Donald Trump in The Trump Organization.[23]
In January 2015, Donald Trump chose Hicks, who was 26 years old at the time, for the role of press secretary for his potential presidential campaign.[24][25] Trump summoned her to his office and, as she tells it, "Mr. Trump looked at me and said, 'I'm thinking about running for president, and you're going to be my press secretary.'"[22] Until that time, she had never worked in politics or volunteered on a campaign.[26] After Trump's first primary victories, Hicks was asked to choose between staying with the Trump Organization or working on the campaign full-time. She initially decided to leave the campaign, but Trump convinced her to remain and she stayed on as press secretary.[13]
During the campaign, she played the role of gatekeeper to press members who wanted to speak with Trump, handling over 250 requests a day, and deciding which reporters would be allowed to speak with him.[14][26] Hicks also took dictation from Trump for his tweets, and then sent the text to another person in the Trump organization who sent the tweets from Trump's official account.[22][27] When in New York City, she would spend most of her day in Trump's office, handling inquiries from the press and taking dictation from him to tweet.[28] The demands of the campaign caused a breakup between Hicks and her boyfriend of six years.[14]
On December 22, 2016, it was announced that Hicks would become part of the Trump Administration, in the newly created position of the White House Director of Strategic Communications. In January 2017, Hicks was included on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list, having "served as a one-woman press team for Trump's historic presidential campaign."[6]
In May 2017, in response to an article in The Washington Post that said that Trump had a habit of belittling those who work for him, Hicks issued the following statement:
President Trump has a magnetic personality and exudes positive energy, which is infectious to those around him. He has an unparalleled ability to communicate with people, whether he is speaking to a room of three or an arena of 30,000. He has built great relationships throughout his life and treats everyone with respect. He is brilliant with a great sense of humor ... and an amazing ability to make people feel special and aspire to be more than even they thought possible.[29]
On August 16, 2017, she was made the interim White House Communications Director (the last Director having been Anthony Scaramucci). Politico labelled her the "Untouchable Hope Hicks," as she was considered one of the few White House officials whose job was safe, and one of only two White House communications officials Scaramucci had announced were definitely staying when he was first hired.[30] She was appointed permanent White House Communications Director on September 12, 2017.[31]
Personal life Hicks and her sister lived in Greenwich, Connecticut, but she splits her time between an apartment there and in an apartment in Manhattan. When Trump was elected, she moved to Washington, D.C.[18][26][28]
Hicks dated Trump's campaign manager Corey Lewandowski, who was married to another woman. [32][33][34] More recently, she has been dating former White House Staff SecretaryRob Porter.[35]
References ^ Haberman, Maggie (September 12, 2017). "Hope Hicks Is Formally Named White House Communications Director". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Archived from the original on September 14, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017 . ^ ab Nelson, Rebecca. "Meet Donald Trump's 27-Year-Old Communications Director, Hope Hicks". Marie Clare. Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved January 22, 2017 . ^ Nussbaum, Matthew. "Trump transition seeks distance from conservation fundraiser". Politico. Archived from the original on December 21, 2016. Retrieved December 21, 2016 . ^ abc Grynbaum, Michael (June 26, 2016). "The Woman Who 'Totally Understands' Donald Trump". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 6, 2017. Retrieved January 21, 2017 . ^ Dangremond, Sam. "15 Things You Should Know About Hope Hicks, Donald Trump's Director of Strategic Communications". Town&Country. Archived from the original on December 30, 2016. ^ ab "Forbes 30 Under 30". Forbes. Archived from the original on January 6, 2017. ^ ab "Paul Hicks Weds Caye A. Cavender". The New York Times. May 16, 1982. Archived from the original on January 28, 2017. Retrieved February 10, 2017 . ^ Paul Hicks's Linkedin, "Linkedin", Retrieved August 3, 2017. ^ ab Viebeck, Elise (July 27, 2015). "Hope Hicks flies quietly in the eye of the Trump storm". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on August 2, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2016 . ^ Sebastian, Michael (June 20, 2016). 14 Things To Know About Hope Hicks, Donald Trump's 27-Year-Old Former Model Press SecretaryArchived June 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., Cosmopolitan ^ (June 2016). On The Campaign Trail With SMU Alum Hope Hicks '10, Donald Trump's Communications DirectorArchived June 23, 2016, at the Wayback Machine., Southern Methodist University Magazine ^ Vigdor, Neil (August 4, 2015). "Greenwich natives help Trump, Bush and Obama hone their message", Connecticut Post ^ abcde Nuzzi, Olivia (June 20, 2016). "The Mystifying Triumph of Hope Hicks, Donald Trump's Right-Hand Woman". GQ. Archived from the original on June 20, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2016 . ^ abc Hope Hicks Facts '' Who Is Trump's Strategic Communications Director Hope Hicks?Archived June 21, 2016, at the Wayback Machine. ^ Grynbaum, Michael M. (June 24, 2016). "The Woman Who 'Totally Understands' Donald Trump". The New York Times. Archived from the original on January 6, 2017. Retrieved February 9, 2018 . ^ Koman, Tess (June 21, 2016). "Here's Why Donald Trump's 27-Year-Old Press Secretary Looks So Familiar". Cosmopolitan. Archived from the original on June 22, 2016. ^ Viser, Matt (November 10, 2016). "Hope Hicks Is Everything Her Boss Donald Trump Is Not". Town & Country. New York City. Retrieved November 23, 2016 . At age 11 she and her older sister were hired to model for Ralph Lauren. Soon she was in the pages of national magazines and had a cameo on the soap opera Guiding Light. She became the face of the Hourglass Adventures, a series of novels for preteen girls featuring a 10-year-old who travels back in time. ^ ab "Hope & change: The breakout star of Trump's campaign"Archived June 29, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.. Connecticut Post ^ "From the Mag: A Public Relation,"Lacrosse Magazine ^ "Greenwich natives help Trump, Bush and Obama hone their message,"Archived June 15, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. NewsTimes. ^ Diamond, Jeremy (November 27, 2017). "Hope Hicks: A witness to Trump's rise". CNN. Archived from the original on November 27, 2017. ^ abc "Hope Hicks and Kellyanne Conway '' the women of Donald Trump's inner circle"Archived February 27, 2017, at the Wayback Machine., The Sydney Morning Herald ^ Samuelshohn, Darren (November 16, 2017). "Hope Hicks may hold the keys to Mueller's Russia puzzle". POLITICO. Archived from the original on November 26, 2017. Retrieved November 26, 2017 . ^ Sherman, Gabriel (April 3, 2016). "Operation Trump". New York. Archived from the original on June 22, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2016 . ^ Tucker, Reed (September 25, 2015). "Meet Trump's 26-year-old mystery woman". New York Post. Archived from the original on June 25, 2016. Retrieved June 20, 2016 . ^ abc "Hope Hicks Was Responsible for an Important Line in the President's SpeechArchived July 28, 2017, at the Wayback Machine.". Yahoo. ^ "14 Things to Know About Hope Hicks, Donald Trump's 27-Year-Old Former Model Press Secretary,"Yahoo.comArchived June 4, 2017, at the Wayback Machine. ^ ab "Inside the Unorthodox Donald Trump CampaignArchived June 22, 2016, at the Wayback Machine.". New York ^ Borchers, Callum. "This White House statement on Trump's 'positive energy' reads like a parody". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on May 30, 2017. Retrieved May 30, 2017 . ^ McBride, Jessica (August 16, 2017). "Hope Hicks & Donald Trump: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know". Heavy. Archived from the original on August 16, 2017. ^ Ballhaus, Rebecca (September 12, 2017). "Hope Hicks Named Permanent White House Communications Director". The Wall Street Journal. Archived from the original on September 12, 2017. ^ SCHWAB, NIKKI (January 3, 2018). "Book: Hope Hicks dated married campaign manager Corey Lewandowski". Mail Online. Archived from the original on February 3, 2018. Retrieved February 9, 2018 . ^ Taylor, Kate (February 8, 2018). "The Trump White House has been plagued by rumors of illicit romances '-- and now Hope Hicks is at the center". Business Insider. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 9, 2018 . ^ MCAFEE, TIERNEY (February 9, 2018). "Inside Hope Hicks' Troubled Romances with Ousted Top Trump Aides Rob Porter and Corey Lewandowski". PEOPLE.com. Archived from the original on February 9, 2018. Retrieved February 9, 2018 . ^ "White House aide Rob Porter resigning amid abuse allegations". CBS News. February 8, 2018. Archived from the original on February 8, 2018. Retrieved February 8, 2018 . External links Wikimedia Commons has media related to Hope Hicks.
Hope Hicks-Ivanka's spy
Believing Rob Porter's denials of domestic abuse lets us ignore the dangers women face
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 02:53
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SUBSCRIBEI don't care if now-former White House staff secretary Rob Porter is innocent or guilty of the domestic violence alleged by his ex-wives. As I am neither Sherlock Holmes nor the Mentalist, I cannot prove it either way. Besides, if I'm going to engage in a thought experiment, I'd much rather imagine what Halloween costumes would look like if women had always been in charge than try to ponder the alleged brutality of Rob Porter's marriages.
I don't care if Rob Porter is innocent or guilty because his innocence or guilt probably does not matter to you, either.
What matters in the story of Rob Porter is what the story proves about us: We, as news consumers, process stories of abuse through a lens of narrative manipulation that is designed to exonerate men and decimate women. The narrative goes a little something like this: First, he didn't do it. Second, even if he did, he's a great guy who made a terrible mistake. Or, alternatively: First, the women are lying. Second, even if they're not lying, they're just plumb unreasonable.
You'll know you're in the midst of the ''Great Guy, Terrible Mistake'' narrative when you read articles about accused abusers that give significant space to his accomplishments, potential and community ties.
When you read about Rob Porter's alleged abuse of his wives, the first decision you have to make is whether you believe that he did it. I'm still not a detective and chances are neither are you, so you rely on your intuition to decide whether Rob Porter is capable of abusing two women. Is he cute? Does he have kind eyes? Do you like religious people? Are the ex-wives too eager to tell their stories? Are they hard up for cash?
You read news stories to glean telling details and you form a picture in your mind, not of the man Rob Porter actually is, but of the man that someone else has decided Rob Porter is. For example, I'm writing this piece to wrap up in about 1,000 words; I can't tell you who Rob Porter is in 1,000 words, but I can curate details from his known life in order to paint a picture of a wrongly-accused dreamboat:
Rob Porter, a Harvard student leader, devout member of his church and current beau of powerhouse communications director Hope Hicks, quietly resigned from public service after a London tabloid published claims that he had abused two ex-wives.
Or I can use other details to paint a picture of a cold-blooded sociopath:
Rob Porter, a well-connected political operative with close ties to the current administration, resigned from his role as White House staff secretary, even as he claimed to be innocent of recent allegations of years of domestic abuse of multiple women.
You decide the content of Rob Porter's character. If you come to the conclusion that he's innocent, then you believe that the women are lying and you're done making decisions. If, however, you decide that he did abuse these women, then you have a second decision to make: Do you care?
Women are the baddies, the stumbling blocks thrown down in the story of Porter's redemption.
Welcome to the Myth of the Great Guy who made One Terrible Mistake. Or in the case of Rob Porter, The Myth of the Great Guy Who Made Two Terrible Mistakes. You'll know you're in the midst of the ''Great Guy, Terrible Mistake'' narrative when you read articles about accused abusers that give significant space to his accomplishments, potential, community ties or (as in the case of Stanford rapist-who-can-swim Brock Turner) super-fast swim times.
One recent profile of Porter, written after the allegations surfaced, called him a rising star, then detailed the Harvard educated Rhodes Scholar's ''Years of experience,'' and ''Family ties,'' before finally dropping about 200 words on the abuse allegations at the bottom of the piece.
You'll read about unspecified treatment programs and plans to pray for this great man's recovery from his terrible mistake. Senator Orrin Hatch tweeted, ''I am praying for Rob and those involved,'' and Hatch spokesman Matt Whitlock released a statement that included the line, ''Senator Hatch spoke to Rob about his next steps and urged him to get help so that he could possibly serve the country in some capacity down the road.''
This myth of a nice guy who took a wrong turn somewhere lies at the heart of how the cultural narrative seduces us into believing that malicious women file false reports constantly.
Note the absence of the abused women in these statements. Note the way we simply do not exist. We are the baddies, the stumbling blocks thrown down in the story of Porter's redemption. This is the story of Porter, great man who made a terrible mistake. And the women he hurt? The women who spoke out about their abuse at his hands? Well, a man's private life is none of our business. Great guy. Terrible mistake. Prayers. Treatment. Great guy. The greatest. I hope he's doing okay. He's really taking a beating.
This myth of a nice guy who took a wrong turn somewhere lies at the heart of how the cultural narrative seduces us into believing that malicious women file false reports constantly. Apparently, women love character assassination more than they love Greek yogurt and letterpress stationery combined.
We are afraid of false accusations in the same way that we are afraid of shark attacks. The threat feels immediate because rare instances receive exhaustive attention, but these attacks are not common. Sharks only take out about five people a year. That's barely one annoying We didn't make a reservation but maybe you can push two tables together party.
Take a step back and realize that this narrative of a good guy who did a bad thing twice but isn't a bad person comforts you because on some level you know it's a fabrication.
We shouldn't be scared of sharks: It makes a lot more sense to be afraid of mosquitoes, ubiquitous critters that account for 725,000 deaths per year, across the globe. But if you start getting scared of mosquitoes, the world is a far more dangerous place. If you're scared of mosquitoes, you realize how many people around you are at risk.
The Department of Justice reports that an average of 967,000 Americans suffer nonfatal abuse by an intimate partner each year '-- more than mosquitoes kill worldwide, and nearly 200,000 times more people than the five we may lose to sharks this year in every ocean on earth. Sharks are not the problem.
Are you scared? Me too.
What matters in the story of Rob Porter is what the story proves about us: We, as news consumers, process stories of abuse through a lens of narrative manipulation that is designed to exonerate men and decimate women.
Take a step back and realize that this narrative of a good guy who did a bad thing twice but isn't a bad person comforts you because on some level you know it's a fabrication. You believe Rob Porter could hurt women and on some level you can't care. Whether that's because you value Porter more than you value these women, or because you're terrified by the idea that a man embraced by lawmakers and power players could also be a violent abuser, the result is the same: You know and don't care. You exonerate him and decimate them.
The statements of such figures as Senator Orrin Hatch, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Chief of Staff General John Kelly exist to sell the story that the most obvious reason for Rob Porter's current predicament is that two vengeful man-haters are engaged in a character assassination, after having plotted for more than ten years to create a fiction of Porter's abuse, and for some reason they decided that now was the moment to strike.
But the most obvious conclusion is that Rob Porter abused his ex-wives emotionally and physically. The most obvious conclusion is that he hopes that we will prioritize his career over women's lives. The most obvious conclusion is that he's been right.
Katie Anthony writes about feminism, family, and other f-words at KatyKatiKate.com, and co-hosts the podcast Mouthy/Messy/Mandatory with Ronit Feinglass Plank. She lives outside Seattle with her husband and two sons.
White House aide Rob Porter resigns amid allegations of domestic abuse - NBC News
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 02:53
White House Staff Secretary Rob Porter with President Donald Trump on Aug. 12, 2017. Jonathan Ernst / Reuters file
"I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign," Porter said.
Porter was an influential senior aide in President Donald Trump's administration
and played a key role in writing the president's State of the Union address last month. After the allegations surfaced Tuesday, the White House strongly defended him."Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him," John Kelly, President Donald Trump's chief of staff, said.
Sanders spoke highly of him in a statement Tuesday, as well.
"I have worked directly with Rob Porter nearly every day for the last year and the person I know is someone of the highest integrity and exemplary character," she said. "Those of us who have the privilege of knowing him are better people because of it."
Later Wednesday evening, Kelly put out a statement saying: "I was shocked by the new allegations released today against Rob Porter. There is no place for domestic violence in our society. I stand by my previous comments of the Rob Porter that I have come to know since becoming Chief of Staff, and believe every individual deserves the right to defend their reputation. I accepted his resignation earlier today, and will ensure a swift and orderly transition."
Kelly sent an internal email to White House staff Thursday night condemning domestic violence and making staff aware of resources available to those seeking counseling, a White House official confirmed.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Raj Shah called the allegations "serious and disturbing" at a White House Press Briefing Thursday. He confirmed that Porter never obtained a full security clearance and only had a temporary status.
He also said that Kelly became "fully aware" of the allegations on Wednesday and was "shocked," though he would not elaborate on what information had been unknown to the chief of staff beyond the images that became public that day.
Shah said the president became aware of the allegations Tuesday night and had not been aware that Porter was using a temporary security clearance during his time in the administration.
"I think it's fair to say that we all could have done better over the last few days in dealing with this situation," he said.
Before working at the White House, Porter
was the chief of staff of Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah.Hatch called the accusations of abuse against Porter a "vile attack" on Tuesday.
"Shame on any publication that would print this '-- and shame on the politically motivated, morally bankrupt character assassins that would attempt to sully a man's good name," he said in a statement.
On Wednesday,
he offered a more reserved response, saying he was "heartbroken" by the allegations and that he does "not know the details of Rob's personal life. Domestic violence in any form is abhorrent and unacceptable."
Rob Porter Is a National Security Scandal, Too - POLITICO Magazine
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:13
Former White House staff secretary Rob Porter is pictured (right). | Andrew Harnik/AP Photo
1600 Penn
A morally compromised White House staffer may have had access to America's top secrets. Chief of Staff John Kelly has some explaining to do.
February 10, 2018
The allegations against Rob Porter, the recently departed White House staff secretary, are morally disturbing. Multiple ex-wives have accused him of abusive behavior, and while he disputes those accusations, the FBI found them credible enough to deny him a security clearance '' and there are pictures of one of his exes with a black eye that she claims was delivered by him.
For White House and the National Security Council staff veterans, the revelation that Porter did not have a full security clearance raises a number of real questions that must be answered. Those questions speak directly to the safety of America's most sensitive intelligence officers and most dangerous operations.
Story Continued Below
Having worked at the White House -- including both at the National Security Council and alongside the staff secretary '' I believe Porter-gate has all the markings either of a very high security breach or a highly unusual staff structure. It also raises real questions about how Trump White House staff under both Reince Priebus and John Kelly managed sensitive information, and what both of them knew about the allegations against Porter and when they knew it.
As staff secretary, Porter held one of the most important, and under-appreciated, positions at the White House. The staff secretary normally is responsible for managing all information that flows to the president '' usually including the secrets known only to a small handful of people '' principally, President Trump and Chiefs of Staff Priebus and Kelly, and National Security Advisers Michael Flynn and Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.
News reports indicate that Porter was granted an ''interim security clearance.'' That certification is, indeed, quite common in the early days of an administration. Likewise, almost any new government employee who comes in contact with classified information '' Secret, Top-Secret, and Top-Secret/Code Word intelligence '' goes through this ''interim'' phase.
If an employee receives an interim security clearance, he or she is allowed by law to serve in positions designated ''National Security/ Non-Critical Sensitive'' or ''National Security/Critical Sensitive.'' They cannot, however, be given a ''Special Sensitive'' job, which requires a different level of clearance: Top Secret/Special Compartmentalized Information '' also known as TS/SCI or TS/CodeWord.
Only employees with TS/SCI or CodeWord clearance can see our government's most important secrets. Typically, the staff secretary is one of those very few people. One of the most important.
What does that mean?
It means that the most highly classified secrets in the U.S. government are limited to a very finite group of people. U.S. human intelligence sources may be embedded deep in the government offices in Beijing, or Tehran, or Moscow or Pyongyang '' capitals that the Trump administration has identified as America's prime competitors. If we have sources in those places, they are likely transmitting secrets back through secure channels to Washington. They would typically be given code words '-- say, Panda, Minaret, Ballerina and Kimchi.
Within each of those channels, only a handful of people has access to top secret information. Those pieces of information are the high holy data of intelligence. Like the Host in a Catholic mass, they are the flesh and word of our all-knowing government '-- literally, the lives and intelligence of our deepest and most sensitive sources. Each channel is ''compartmentalized.'' That is, there are very few people who have access to both the Panda channel and the Ballerina channel.
Only a very, very select group of people has access to all of those channels, and the information that flows through them. That intelligence gets pulled into a daily intelligence summary that goes to the Oval Office '' the President's Daily Briefing '' and to a select small group of people. Agents and sources in the field are willing to put their lives at risk only if they believe that the information will be limited to a very limited group of people '' among the most trustworthy in the world.
Who in the White House has access to this information?
In the White House, other than the president, it likely to only be the national security adviser, his or her deputy, their chief of staff and the NSC's staff secretary. It would also include the White House chief of staff, perhaps one deputy, and the staff secretary '-- the job Porter held. Press reports also indicate that Jared Kushner had access to that information.
The staff secretary is the person who manages the paper flow to the Oval Office. It is hard to imagine that person does not have TS/SCI level clearance, as that would require the NSC staff to navigate around the staff secretary, rather than through him/her.
In Porter's case, the interim security clearances had been temporary: 180 days with the option for extension (another 180 days). Porter appears to have started on January 20, 2017 '' Inauguration Day. Assuming he was given that ''interim'' clearance on Day 1, it would have expired on January 15, 2018.
The fact that Chief of Staff Kelly -- a former military officer and former secretary of homeland security -- would not have seen this as a problem is staggering. He would know better than anyone that managing highly restricted information is essential to American national security.
Every person who has access to the most sensitive pieces of intelligence must be supremely trustworthy -- capable of being kept in the highest cones of silence. If they leak information, they potentially jeopardize lives of intelligence agents or sources in the field.
So, in essence, Kelly either (a) allowed a key aide in the chain of information access to TS/SCI information without a clearance, (b) waived the process entirely or (c) created a system that worked around him.
If Kelly knowingly allowed Porter access to TS/SCI information without formally approving it, that's an extraordinary security breach.
If Kelly waived off the TS/SCI restrictions, he likely would have done that formally -- including either with the White House counsel, the FBI, or the president himself. That would require understanding fully the reason Porter was still ''interim'' '' a restraining order preventing him from contacting a former wife who alleged that he physically abused her.
Most defendable is that Kelly allowed a system for moving information -- from August 2017 through February 2018 -- that simply worked around the staff secretary. Porter needed to have been kept out of the loop for any truly sensitive material going into the Oval Office. That would have required a highly disciplined NSC staff which, in essence, would have had to have final control over all Oval Office paper flow.
So, in the coming days, it will be critical to know whether Priebus and Kelly, Flynn and McMaster, and/or the president himself knew about Porter's security clearance status. Based on that knowledge, did they allow him access to Top Secret/CodeWord intelligence, including the President's Daily Briefing? If they did know, and they allowed it, what made them feel so secure about Porter?
If they did not know, then who exactly at the White House is protecting our national secrets?
William J. Antholis is CEO & director at UVA's Miller Center. He served on the National Security Council staff in the Clinton administration, and served as deputy to Todd Stern, who headed up the White House climate change team while serving as staff secretary.
This article tagged under:
The Rob Porter Mess - WSJ
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:28
The story of Rob Porter has escalated from a personal and domestic trauma to one about failed White House vetting, and this time President Trump seems to be blameless. The damage would be compounded if it blows up the vast improvement that Chief of Staff John Kelly has brought to the West Wing.
Mr. Porter resigned this week after news broke that he was accused of abusing two former wives during their marriages. The truth of the accusations is impossible for an outsider to know at this point, and Mr. Porter has denied the allegations as ''vile'' and part of a ''coordinated smear campaign.''
But by all accounts the allegations were holding up Mr. Porter's security clearance, which he needed in the crucial job of staff secretary who controls the daily paper flow to the President's desk. Both ex-wives say they shared this information with the FBI a year ago, and the Daily Mail is reporting that Mr. Porter's former girl friend spoke to Mr. Kelly about the allegations in October.
The White House review process served the President poorly. The FBI typically takes such charges, and its impact on a security clearance, to the White House counsel's office, whose job is to determine if those charges are disqualifying. They are automatically so if a clearance is denied, unless the President himself overrules the FBI.
One issue is whether anyone told any of this to Mr. Trump, who brought reporters into the White House Friday to wish Mr. Porter well and say his former aide had denied the accusations. We also don't know what Mr. Porter told White House counsel Don McGahn or Mr. Kelly when confronted with the charges. But they ought to have recognized that sooner or later such allegations would become public'--and that when they did it would embarrass the President.
Already New York Democrat Nydia Velazquez tweeted that the Porter affair exposes ''a culture of misogyny'' at the White House. But even before the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment, such serious accusations from three women would have driven someone out of such a prominent White House job.
The White House also handled this badly, issuing shifting and even contradictory explanations about who knew what and when. It didn't help that an early statement of support from Mr. Kelly was drafted in part by Hope Hicks, the White House communications director who is dating Mr. Porter. Mr. Kelly initially said, ''Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor, and I can't say enough good things about him.''
Part of the tragedy is that this description seems to have been true about Mr. Porter in his White House role. A Rhodes Scholar and former senior aide to Senator Orrin Hatch, the 40-year-old has helped Mr. Kelly bring order to the White House after the first six chaotic months of what amounted to the Steve Bannon Presidency.
Mr. Trump has to decide if he's lost confidence in his senior staff, but we hope he knows that stability is crucial as he navigates a perilous second year. The Robert Mueller probe may soon reach a crescendo, and Democrats are in single-minded pursuit of House and Senate majorities that would cripple his Presidency. At least until this episode the McGahn-Kelly team has been part of this White House that has worked, and Mr. Trump won't find it easy to replace them.
Rob Porter '' Truth Troubles
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:28
Porter denied the allegations but resigned on Wednesday.
A scramble ensued inside the West Wing to defend him when the claims became public this week, the sources said. That effort continues even after his resignation.
Senior White House officials were aware for months of the allegations made against Trump's staff secretary, two sources familiar with the matter said on Wednesday after Porter resigned.
Trump himself first learned of the allegations this week, two sources familiar with the matter said. He was upset when shown reports of the abuse, which first emerged on Tuesday. His daughter Ivanka Trump, serving as a White House senior adviser, was also deeply disturbed by the allegations, particularly by photographs of the alleged abuse, the sources said.
Porter's ex-wives detailed the allegations to the FBI over the course of a routine background check, they told CNN's MJ Lee on Wednesday. A year into the administration, Porter does not hold a security clearance.By early fall, it was widely known among Trump's top aides '-- including chief of staff John Kelly '-- both that Porter was facing troubles in obtaining the clearance and that his ex-wives claimed he had abused them. No action was taken to remove him from the staff.
Instead, Kelly and others oversaw an elevation in Porter's standing. He was one of a handful of aides who helped draft last week's State of the Union address. He traveled instead of Kelly to the World Economic Forum in Davos last month. And he was one of a select group of aides who shook Chinese President Xi Jinping's hand during a state visit to Beijing in November.
The White House declined to comment on Wednesday when asked about Kelly's knowledge of the allegations against Porter.
CNN obtained this 2005 photo of Colbie Holderness, who is the first ex-wife of White House staff secretary Rob Porter. Porter resigned on Wednesday, February 7.
Colbie Holderness, Porter's first wife, and Jennifer Willoughby, Porter's second wife, both said their ex-husband's consistent abuse was the reason for their respective divorces.
Porter denied the allegations in a statement issued in the wake of his resignation.
''These outrageous allegations are simply false,'' Porter said in his statement. ''I have been transparent and truthful about these vile claims, but I will not further engage publicly with a coordinated smear campaign.''
Intensive defense
The appearance of a top aide accused of abusing two ex-wives led to an intensive defense campaign on Tuesday evening, when the reports first emerged in the Daily Mail. Before the allegations first surfaced on Tuesday, the White House prepared a response defending Porter. Hope Hicks, who serves as the White House communications director and has been romantically involved with Porter, helped draft a supportive statement from Kelly, who spent much of Tuesday on Capitol Hill in immigration talks.''Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor and I can't say enough good things about him. He is a friend, a confidante and a trusted professional. I am proud to serve alongside him,'' the statement from Kelly read. Hicks worked with White House press secretary Sarah Sanders and Josh Raffel, another White House spokesman who is close to Porter, to draft the statement, people familiar with it said.
Top officials remained staunch in their support of Porter on Wednesday. Kelly, who encouraged Porter to remain in his post despite the allegations, did not alter his effusive statement. Trump himself has ''full confidence in his abilities and his performance,'' according to Sanders.
When Hicks and Kelly discussed the matter on Tuesday, both agreed the White House should defend Porter, sources said. But by the next day, it was evident the show of support wouldn't quiet the controversy.
Neither Porter nor Hicks were present in a Wednesday morning senior staff meeting, a White House official said. The White House press office was sent scrambling after more allegations against Porter were made, and several staffers spent the morning preparing to deal with the fallout.
Kelly, who has relied on Porter to execute a strict system of information control to the President, insisted that he'd be able to weather the allegations and remain in his job, according to a White House official. But Porter resigned anyway, over Kelly's objections. Kelly has long insisted that Porter stay in his job, even as he considered approaches from the private sector, including from Uber, according to one administration source.
A person familiar with West Wing dynamics said Porter has expressed interest in an elevated policy role over the past weeks, beyond the position he currently holds. Last month he told colleagues that he wasn't planning on leaving the White House to take an outside role.
White House responsibilities
As staff secretary, Porter's responsibility was mainly in the flow of paper that crossed Trump's desk, including the wave of executive orders and actions that Trump inked during the first months of his tenure. A lawyer, Porter also participated in the process of legally vetting the myriad documents that require the President's signature.
Porter's role was under-the-radar, and Trump himself remained largely unfamiliar with him for weeks before his role was explained. The President was impressed by Porter's educational credentials '-- including degrees from Harvard and Oxford '-- a person familiar with the matter said.
When John Kelly replaced Reince Priebus as White House chief of staff, Porter's role expanded. Kelly '-- looking to correct an issue that plagued the White House under Priebus '-- imposed a strict system of information flow to the President, elevating the importance of Porter's task in managing the documents, news clippings and briefing books that entered the Oval Office.
Many aides in the West Wing described themselves as shocked at the allegations, which they said are not in character with the mild-mannered lawyer they have worked alongside over the past year.
And some expressed dismay that the allegations against Porter weren't acted upon when senior members of Trump's team became aware of them.
Another uncomfortable moment
It proved another uncomfortable situation for a White House that has been largely out of step with the #MeToo movement that has swept the country. Trump, given the range of sexual harassment and assault allegations against him, has long struggled to respond to the nationwide focus on the mistreatment against women.
During the election, at least 15 women accused Trump of ranging from sexual harassment and sexual assault to lewd behavior around women. They came forward in the wake of a 2005 ''Access Hollywood'' tape of Trump released in October 2016 caught him saying on a hot mic: ''And when you're a star, they let you do it. You can do anything '... Grab them by the p****. You can do anything.''
But the White House '-- through spokespeople Sarah Sanders and others '-- have dismissed all the allegations against him as old news that had been litigated during the 2016 campaign.
Trump told the British broadcaster Piers Morgan in January that he was not a feminist because he was ''for everyone.''
CNN's Gloria Borger, Dana Bash, Jeff Zeleny, Jeremy Diamond, Jim Acosta and Noah Gray contributed to this report.
Military Hollywood Complex
They Foiled a Terror Attack. Now They're Starring in the Movie. - The New York Times
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 02:27
Spencer Stone, left, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos in Beverly Hills in January. Credit Graham Walzer for The New York Times Clint Eastwood learned a valuable lesson when he saddled up for the role of Clint Eastwood in a 1962 episode of the equine sitcom ''Mister Ed.''
''That's when I first caught on that I didn't want to overthink things '-- I was asking myself a lot of questions you shouldn't pose, like, 'What would the real me do in this situation?''' Mr. Eastwood recalled. ''The hardest thing for a professional actor to do is to play themselves. Most actors are hiding behind roles and don't know who they really are.''
So when the filmmaker cast Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos and Anthony Sadler as themselves in his new film, ''The 15:17 to Paris,'' which dramatizes how the three friends foiled a terrorist attack on a France-bound train in 2015, he wouldn't allow the nonprofessionals to take acting lessons. ''He said, 'You don't want to do that, because then you'll look like you're acting,''' Mr. Stone said. ''He didn't want to Hollywood it up.''
Mr. Stone, an airman in the Air Force at the time, and Mr. Skarlatos, an Oregon National Guard specialist returning from deployment in Afghanistan, were vacationing in Europe with their childhood friend Mr. Sadler, who was studying for a kinesiology degree. When a heavily armed gunman opened fire on their high-speed train, Mr. Stone and his friends subdued the assailant. The friends along with other passengers who pitched in all received the Legion of Honor, France's highest award.
''The 15:17 to Paris'' is the third film in a row Mr. Eastwood has made based on recent real-life events. He depicted the stories of the ''Miracle on the Hudson'' pilot Chesley B. Sullenberger III in ''Sully'' and the Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in ''American Sniper.'' But he's not overthinking that trend, either. ''I never plan anything,'' he said in a recent phone interview. ''You think about enough things in this life. When you make a movie, you let things fall where they may.''
Those films featured seasoned actors. ''The 15:17 to Paris'' is part of a long tradition of heroes playing themselves in movies. The baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson starred in ''The Jackie Robinson Story'' (1950) and the World War II veteran Audie Murphy re-created his exploits for ''To Hell and Back'' (1955).
The new film's stars met the director when he presented them with Hero Awards at the Guys Choice ceremony on the cable channel Spike in 2016. ''The three of us huddled and said, 'We have to jokingly pitch him on making the movie,' because we were working on a book at the time, and we didn't want to waste the opportunity,'' Mr. Sadler recalled. ''He said, 'You never know '-- send me the book.'''
After the director warmed to the inspirational story and the screenwriter Dorothy Blyskal turned it into a script, Mr. Eastwood began auditioning actors for the leads. Mr. Stone, Mr. Skarlatos and Mr. Sadler suggested in jest that they should be played by Chris Hemsworth, Zac Efron and Michael B. Jordan. ''I got a crazy idea maybe these guys should play themselves,'' Mr. Eastwood said. ''They're genuinely charismatic. I figured I'd roll the dice, what the hell? What can they do to me at this stage?''
Mr. Skarlatos and Mr. Sadler in the film. Credit Keith Bernstein/Warner Bros. Three weeks before shooting started, Mr. Eastwood asked the three to come in for a meeting, ostensibly to assess the screenplay's accuracy, which they had discussed before. Only this time, he had a camera, and he asked them to re-enact the events. Then he offered them the chance to play themselves. ''We hadn't even joked about that '-- it wasn't on our radar as a possibility,'' said Mr. Skarlatos, who, like his two friends, hadn't ever acted in so much as a school play. ''When he asked us, we immediately said yes, because, I mean, you can't tell Clint Eastwood no.''
Mr. Stone doubted that decision on his first day of filming last summer. ''I looked over and there was Clint Eastwood, and I felt like I was in 'The Twilight Zone,''' he said. ''I bombed my first few takes, but then I got myself together and said, 'Come on, you said yes to this, just suck it up and do it,' and from there, it got easier and easier.''
The low-key atmosphere Mr. Eastwood's sets are known for helped soothe the fledgling stars' nerves. ''I've become an anti-anxiety specialist,'' the director said. ''In the old days, when I started doing small parts in the '50s, assistant directors would ring bells and yell, 'Quiet!' even if it was quiet already. But you don't want to jar anybody's nervous system. You just want them to have the most comfortable situation you can.''
The stars said Mr. Eastwood also kept it simple when guiding them. ''He talked to us the same way he talked to the other actors, which was not very much in terms of direction,'' said Mr. Skarlatos, whose experienced co-stars included Jenna Fischer (''The Office'') as his mother and Judy Greer (''Jurassic World'') as Mr. Stone's mother. ''All he said to us was, 'Do it how you did it.' He lets you do your job, which I thought was strange, since acting wasn't our job.''
At least it wasn't until now: All three men intend to pursue acting. (Mr. Stone and Mr. Skarlatos have since left the military.) ''For sure, if I can make it a career, then why the heck not?'' Mr. Stone said. ''I've gone full Hollywood. I got a big agency, U.T.A., and hopefully things will take off.''
The novices even got some career advice from their director. ''I told them after they were done shooting this movie, they could take acting lessons,'' Mr. Eastwood said. ''It'll probably screw them up for a while, but they'll be all right.''
As for his own future, Mr. Eastwood is keeping his options open. He first stepped behind the camera when he briefly filled in for the flu-stricken director Don Siegel on the set of ''Dirty Harry'' in 1971. ''I thought, well, I'll try this for a while, and at a certain time in life, I'll probably look up at the screen and say, 'Nuh-uh,''' Mr. Eastwood said. ''I don't know if that's happened yet. But I've never gotten bored.''
At 87, he's also not ruling out a return to acting, if the right part comes along. Although he chose not to appear in ''The 15:17 to Paris,'' a poster for another film Mr. Eastwood directed, ''Letters From Iwo Jima,'' can be seen in Mr. Stone's childhood bedroom. ''That's better than having me do a cameo, like Alfred Hitchcock did,'' Mr. Eastwood said. ''I didn't want to be distracting.''
In the end, as Dirty Harry said in ''Magnum Force,'' ''A man's got to know his limitations.'' If only Mr. Eastwood had figured that out before his ''Mister Ed'' turn. ''That wasn't an example of great acting, I don't think,'' he said with a laugh. ''But I haven't seen it in many years.''
Clint Eastwood Meets Mister Ed - 1 of 2 (Captioned) Credit Video by jshumko A version of this article appears in print on , on Page AR12 of the New York edition with the headline: Playing the Roles of Their Lives, Literally . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe Please verify you're not a robot by clicking the box.
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spencer stone
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 05:00
I stumbled upon an ad today for the upcoming Clint Eastwood propaganda piece called The 15:17 to Paris, the film version of the fictional terror attack passed off as genuine to the gullible home viewing audience. The Thalys Train Attack took place on 21 August 2015 when an Islamic man opened fire in a train carriage before being subdued by passengers, in particular, three American soldiers '' actors who are now playing the roles of themselves in the Eastwood movie. Absolutely ridiculous in so many ways.
This hoax was one of the first I ever decoded, about a month before I started Extra-Capsa and a month after I learned about the secret language of language. The conclusion back then was that the carriage was full of actors and blocked off from the rest of the train so they could stage this theatre production presented to emergency personnel as a drill and to the world as real, just as the three American frauds are presented as three American heroes.
And looking into it again here we find the icing on the cake, as Spencer Stone's father Brian was charged with insurance fraud in 2016 over a scheme to commit multiple arson for profit. As it turns out the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, since the son is an even bigger fraud than the father. Un-fuckin-real.The three heroes all have 11-coded initials, as I remember. Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos. AA=11, AS=11, AS=11. Thalys =111. Fake Terror =111. Brian Stone =111. Fifteen Seventeen =1101. It happened 11 months 11 days after the 13th anniversary of 9/11. Notice Spencer playing Spencer in the shot from the movie above is wearing a shirt that reads Yosemite =111/666. Illusion =666. Hoax =669.
False Flag =121. Thalys Train Attack =121 also happened a day after Stone was exactly 1201 weeks old and he was 2 years 11 months 11 days older than the shirtless terrorist on the 21st day in train car #12, exactly 12 weeks before the Paris Attacks. Spencer then wrote a book called The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes =1021. The Synagogue of Satan =1201. Militarized Police State =1210.
Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos =211. Filming of the movie began 1 year 10 months 21 days after it happened. Fake Terror =121. Train Attack =112. Aleksander Reed Skarlatos =112/1012. Fifteen Seventeen to Paris =120. Fifteen Seventeen =102. Eastwood =102/1200.Fraudulent =148. Fraud =48. Fake Terror =48. Illuminati =48. Propaganda =48. Drill =480. And 48 days after the Hoax =48, Stone was stabbed in a bar fight in Sacramento while trying to save someone. The Thalys Train Fraud also happened 84 days before the Paris Attacks =48 (or 2 months 23 days) which itself came with 48 days left in the year.
Another detail very much worth mentioning is the cast of The 15:17 to Paris. Aside from the three American heroes playing themselves, all the other actors are from fucking COMEDIES! Judy Greer & Tony Hale were both in Arrested Development, Jenna Fischer is from The Office, Thomas Lennon from Reno 911, and Jaleel White was Steve Urkel on Family Matters. Almost the entire cast is a bunch of known jokers and comedians, and this is supposed to be a biographical thriller-drama. And they nailed it, because it is indeed totally hilarious to those like us who get it.
As for the 15:17, we don't find any prime number synchs but it reduces to 6:8. Thalys Train Attack =68. Fake Terrorism =68. Stone Skarlatos Sadler =68. Spencer + Anthony + Alek =1680. Friday the Thirteenth =1068. Paris Attacks =186.
The movie by Eastwood =930/93 is set to open 903 days after the event itself. Propaganda =93. Psychological Weapon =93. MK Ultra =93. Fake Terrorism =193. American Israel Public Affairs Committee =1193. Spencer + Anthony + Alek =193. Spencer Stone + Anthony Sadler + Alek Skarlatos =193. Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler and Alek Skarlatos =1930. And a fun fact about Thalys is that the high-speed train operator opened their line to Amsterdam (the point of departure for this 15:17 to Paris) on 12/13/09, which makes operations beginning on the 60th anniversary of the formation of Mossad (12/13/49). Exactly 60 years is exactly 720 months, which is the exact same duration from the Pentagon's groundbreaking ceremony to the missile strike on 9/11. Illuminati =720. Fake Terror =702 and the bad guy was Ayoub El Khazzani =702. Spencer Stone =72. Paris =72. Mass Mind Control =72.
The 15:17 to Paris - Wikipedia
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:20
Additionally, Paul-Mikel Williams, Max Ivutin, Bryce Gheisar, Cole Eichenberger, and William Jennings will portray younger versions of Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos.[4]
On April 20, 2017, it was announced that Clint Eastwood would next direct The 15:17 to Paris from a screenplay by newcomer scribe Dorothy Blyskal based on the book The 15:17 to Paris: The True Story of a Terrorist, a Train, and Three American Heroes. It was announced that Eastwood would begin casting immediately for a principal production start date of later that year.[9] On June 21, 2017, it was announced that Eastwood had chosen Kyle Gallner, Jeremie Harris and Alexander Ludwig to star as Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler and Spencer Stone although offers had not yet been made.[10]
On July 11, 2017, it was announced that Eastwood had cast Sadler, Skarlatos and Stone as themselves in the film which will "begin during their childhood and show their friendship leading up to the moment that changed their lives".[4] It was also announced that the film had commenced principal production.[11] On July 13, 2017, Tony Hale and Thomas Lennon joined the cast as staff members of a school the lead three men attended as children.[7] On August 1, 2017, Sinqua Walls was cast in the film for an unspecified role.[8]
The film is scheduled to be released on February 9, 2018.[12]
Box office Edit In the United States and Canada, The 15:17 to Paris will be released alongside Peter Rabbit and Fifty Shades Freed, and is projected to gross $10''15 million from 3,042 theaters in its opening weekend.[13]
Critical response Edit On review aggregatorRotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 20% based on 54 reviews, and an average rating of 4.3/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The 15:17 to Paris pays clumsily well-intentioned tribute to an act of heroism, but by casting the real-life individuals involved, director Clint Eastwood fatally undermines his own efforts."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 47 out of 100, based on 23 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[15]
Writing for Showbiz411, Roger Friedman acknowledged the film's attempts to be different by casting the real-life men and said, "If there's a problem with 15:17 it's that it's almost filmed like cinema verite, certainly as the story unfolds. There's a lot of exposition and it seems slow. Again, a little patience wouldn't hurt anyone. Because when the kids' backstories switch to the main guys, Eastwood finds a groove. Forgive him if the entry seems clunky."[16] Similarly, A. O. Scott of The New York Times gave the film a positive review and wrote, "But [Eastwood's] workmanlike absorption in the task at hand is precisely what makes this movie fascinating as well as moving. Its radical plainness is tinged with mystery."[17]
Verified Journo's
Journalist Protection Act-Text - H.R.4935 - 115th Congress (2017-2018): Journalist Protection Act | Congress.gov | Library of Congress
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:25
Section of Congressional Record Daily Digest Senate House Extensions of Remarks
Members Remarks
[USC07] 47 USC 522: Definitions
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:27
§522. DefinitionsFor purposes of this subchapter-
(1) the term "activated channels" means those channels engineered at the headend of a cable system for the provision of services generally available to residential subscribers of the cable system, regardless of whether such services actually are provided, including any channel designated for public, educational, or governmental use;
(2) the term "affiliate", when used in relation to any person, means another person who owns or controls, is owned or controlled by, or is under common ownership or control with, such person;
(3) the term "basic cable service" means any service tier which includes the retransmission of local television broadcast signals;
(4) the term "cable channel" or "channel" means a portion of the electromagnetic frequency spectrum which is used in a cable system and which is capable of delivering a television channel (as television channel is defined by the Commission by regulation);
(5) the term "cable operator" means any person or group of persons (A) who provides cable service over a cable system and directly or through one or more affiliates owns a significant interest in such cable system, or (B) who otherwise controls or is responsible for, through any arrangement, the management and operation of such a cable system;
(6) the term "cable service" means-
(A) the one-way transmission to subscribers of (i) video programming, or (ii) other programming service, and
(B) subscriber interaction, if any, which is required for the selection or use of such video programming or other programming service;
(7) the term "cable system" means a facility, consisting of a set of closed transmission paths and associated signal generation, reception, and control equipment that is designed to provide cable service which includes video programming and which is provided to multiple subscribers within a community, but such term does not include (A) a facility that serves only to retransmit the television signals of 1 or more television broadcast stations; (B) a facility that serves subscribers without using any public right-of-way; (C) a facility of a common carrier which is subject, in whole or in part, to the provisions of subchapter II of this chapter, except that such facility shall be considered a cable system (other than for purposes of section 541(c) of this title ) to the extent such facility is used in the transmission of video programming directly to subscribers, unless the extent of such use is solely to provide interactive on-demand services; (D) an open video system that complies with section 573 of this title ; or (E) any facilities of any electric utility used solely for operating its electric utility system;
(8) the term "Federal agency" means any agency of the United States, including the Commission;
(9) the term "franchise" means an initial authorization, or renewal thereof (including a renewal of an authorization which has been granted subject to section 546 of this title ), issued by a franchising authority, whether such authorization is designated as a franchise, permit, license, resolution, contract, certificate, agreement, or otherwise, which authorizes the construction or operation of a cable system;
(10) the term "franchising authority" means any governmental entity empowered by Federal, State, or local law to grant a franchise;
(11) the term "grade B contour" means the field strength of a television broadcast station computed in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Commission;
(12) the term "interactive on-demand services" means a service providing video programming to subscribers over switched networks on an on-demand, point-to-point basis, but does not include services providing video programming prescheduled by the programming provider;
(13) the term "multichannel video programming distributor" means a person such as, but not limited to, a cable operator, a multichannel multipoint distribution service, a direct broadcast satellite service, or a television receive-only satellite program distributor, who makes available for purchase, by subscribers or customers, multiple channels of video programming;
(14) the term "other programming service" means information that a cable operator makes available to all subscribers generally;
(15) the term "person" means an individual, partnership, association, joint stock company, trust, corporation, or governmental entity;
(16) the term "public, educational, or governmental access facilities" means-
(A) channel capacity designated for public, educational, or governmental use; and
(B) facilities and equipment for the use of such channel capacity;
(17) the term "service tier" means a category of cable service or other services provided by a cable operator and for which a separate rate is charged by the cable operator;
(18) the term "State" means any State, or political subdivision, or agency thereof;
(19) the term "usable activated channels" means activated channels of a cable system, except those channels whose use for the distribution of broadcast signals would conflict with technical and safety regulations as determined by the Commission; and
(20) the term "video programming" means programming provided by, or generally considered comparable to programming provided by, a television broadcast station.
(June 19, 1934, ch. 652, title VI, §602, as added Pub. L. 98''549, §2, Oct. 30, 1984, 98 Stat. 2780 ; amended Pub. L. 102''385, §2(c), Oct. 5, 1992, 106 Stat. 1463 ; Pub. L. 104''104, title III, §§301(a), 302(b)(2), Feb. 8, 1996, 110 Stat. 114 , 124.)
Amendments1996-Par. (6)(B). Pub. L. 104''104, §301(a)(1), inserted "or use" after "the selection".
Par. (7)(B). Pub. L. 104''104, §301(a)(2), added subpar. (B) and struck out former subpar. (B) which read as follows: "a facility that serves only subscribers in 1 or more multiple unit dwellings under common ownership, control, or management, unless such facility or facilities uses any public right-of-way;".
Par. (7)(C) to (E). Pub. L. 104''104, §302(b)(2)(A), which directed substitution of ", unless the extent of such use is solely to provide interactive on-demand services; (D) an open video system that complies with section 573 of this title ; or (E)" for ", or (D)", was executed by making the substitution for "; or (D)" to reflect the probable intent of Congress.
Pars. (12) to (20). Pub. L. 104''104, §302(b)(2)(B), (C), added par. (12) and redesignated former pars. (12) to (19) as (13) to (20), respectively.
1992-Pub. L. 102''385 added pars. (1), (12), and (18) and redesignated former pars. (1) to (10) as (2) to (11), respectively, former pars. (11) to (15) as (13) to (17), respectively, and former par. (16) as (19).
Effective Date of 1992 AmendmentAmendment by Pub. L. 102''385 effective 60 days after Oct. 5, 1992, see section 28 of Pub. L. 102''385, set out as a note under section 325 of this title .
Effective DateSection effective 60 days after Oct. 30, 1984, except where otherwise expressly provided, see section 9(a) of Pub. L. 98''549, set out as a note under section 521 of this title .
Oxfam Staff Paid for 'Caligula Orgies' With Haiti Earthquake Survivors - The Daily Beast
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:50
Senior Oxfam staff reportedly paid for ''full-on Caligula orgies'' with survivors of the devastating 2010 Haitian earthquake. An investigation by The Times of London revealed multiple aid workers paid earthquake survivors for sex, including some that could have been underage. The charity has been accused of covering up the scandal by allowing three men to resign and firing four others for gross misconduct. One of the men who was allowed to resign, former Haiti Director Roland van Hauwermeiren, was given a ''phased and dignified exit'' for fear of damaging the charity's reputation. Prostitution is illegal in Haiti and the age of consent is 18, but Oxfam didn't report any of the incidents to the Haitian authorities because ''it was extremely unlikely that any action would be taken.''
After Weinstein: 68 Men Accused of Sexual Misconduct and Their Fall From Power - The New York Times
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 06:03
In what appears to be a seismic shift in what behavior is tolerated in the workplace, a cascade of high-profile men, many in the entertainment and news media industries, have since been fired or forced to resign after accusations of sexual misconduct that ranged from inappropriate comments to rape.
Some high-profile cases are not on the lists below because the accusations of misconduct were not clearly sexual in nature and the men who were accused did not admit to sexual misconduct. For example, some men have been fired for ''inappropriate behavior'' or ''misconduct,'' but the details of their actions remain unclear. This page will be updated periodically.
The men in the list below have been fired, resigned or experienced similar professional fallout.
The men below, who have all also been accused of sexual misconduct, have experienced fallout short of resignation, such as being suspended.
Dayan Candappa, chief content officer of Newsweek Media Group and global editor in chief of the International Business Times, took a leave of absence after it was revealed that he was fired from his previous position as a top editor at Reuters because of accusations of sexual harassment. He has not responded to the accusations.
Ross Levinsohn, publisher and chief executive of The Los Angeles Times, was placed on an unpaid leave of absence after it was reported that he was sued for sexual harassment at two other companies.
Mario Testino and Bruce Weber, both fashion photographers, were accused by male models of sexual misconduct, which they both denied. Cond(C) Nast said it would stop working with them ''for the forseeable future.''
Ben Vereen, an actor and singer, was accused of sexual misconduct with several actresses, including forced kissing. Broadway San Diego, a production group, cut ties with Mr. Vereen, who apologized.
Thomas Roma, a documentary photographer and professor at Columbia University, had his show at the National Gallery of Art canceled after five women who had been his students accused him of sexual misconduct. Mr. Roma's lawyer said that he disputes the accusations.
Charlie Hallowell, a chef and owner of three restaurants, stepped away from daily operations of his businesses after 17 women accused him of sexual harassment. Mr. Hallowell apologized.
Andrew Creighton, president of Vice Media, was placed on leave pending an internal review of a settlement he reached with a former employee who accused him of sexual harassment. Mr. Creighton apologized.
The artist Chuck Close had his show at the National Gallery of Art canceled and his self-portrait at Seattle University removed after accusations of sexual harassment by several women. He denied some of the accusations and also apologized.
Ken Friedman, a chef and restaurateur, took a leave of absence from the management of his restaurants after 10 women accused him of unwanted sexual advances. He has apologized.
Marshall Faulk, Heath Evans and Ike Taylor, analysts for NFL Network, were suspended pending investigations into accusations by a former coworker, who sued them for sexual harassment and assault. Eric Weinberger, a former NFL Network executive, was also named in the suit and suspended from his current position as president of the Bill Simmons Media Group. Mr. Weinberger, Mr. Taylor, and a representative for Mr. Faulk and Mr. Evans did not respond to requests for comment.
Jon Heely, the director of music publishing at Disney, has been suspended without pay during a criminal investigation into charges that he sexually abused two minors. Mr. Heely's attorney denied the charges.
James Levine, a longtime conductor at the Metropolitan Opera, was suspended after four men accused him of abusing them. Mr. Levine denied the accusations.
Steven T. McLaughlin, a New York state assemblyman, was disciplined by an ethics committee for sexual harassment. He denied that the harassment occurred.
Andy Rubin, the creator of Android and a former executive at Google, took a leave of absence from his start-up after a report that he was involved in an inappropriate relationship with a female subordinate when he was at Google. Mr. Rubin's spokesman disputed the report, and Mr. Rubin has since returned to work.
John Lasseterstepped away as head of Pixar and Walt Disney Animation for ''a six-month sabbatical'' after he was accused of sexual harassment. He apologized.
Glenn Thrush, a reporter at The New York Times, was suspended for two months and removed from the team covering the White House after being accused of sexual misconduct. He apologized.
Gary Goddard took a leave of absence from his production company, the Goddard Group, after two men accused him of sexually assaulting them when they were minors. An additional six men later accused him of the same. Mr. Goddard's publicist denied the accusations.
Roy Moore, the former Republican nominee for a United States Senate seat in Alabama, had financing for his campaign withdrawn by the Republican National Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee after he was accused of sexual misconduct against teenage girls. Mr. Moore has denied the accusations and the Republican National Committee restored its support after he was endorsed by President Trump.
Tony Mendoza, a California state senator, was removed from his leadership positions and placed on a paid leave of absence pending an internal investigation into accusations of sexual harassment by three women. Mr. Mendoza disputed the accusations.
Jeffrey Tambor, an actor currently starring in the Amazon series ''Transparent,'' was accused of sexually harassing two women. He has denied the accusations and initially said, ''I don't see how I can return.'' But a representative for Mr. Tambor has since said that he does not have plans to quit.
Jeff Hooverresigned from his position as speaker of Kentucky's House of Representatives after a report that he settled sexual harassment claims made by an employee. Mr. Hoover, who remained in the Legislature as of Feb. 7 and plans to run for re-election, denied claims of harassment.
Brett Ratner, a producer and director, stepped away from all activities related to a $450 million agreement to cofinance films with Warner Bros. after he was accused of sexual assault or harassment by six women. A lawyer for Mr. Ratner denied the accusations.
Ken Baker, a journalist for the E! network, was pulled from the network's shows while its parent company, NBCUniversal, investigated accusations that he had sexually harassed two women at the network. Mr. Baker said he was ''disturbed by these anonymous allegations.'' A third woman later accused him of inappropriate touching when they worked together at Us Weekly. In November, E! News and Mr. Baker decided to part ways, a decision they said was unrelated to the investigation.
James Toback, a screenwriter and director, was dropped by his agent after 38 women accused him of sexual misconduct. He denied the accusations in a profanity-laden interview with Rolling Stone. Since The Los Angeles Times published its investigation, hundreds of women have reached out to describe their encounters.
Man accuses California #MeToo leader of sexual misconduct
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:45
SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) '-- California Democratic Assemblywoman Cristina Garcia, the head of the Legislative Women's Caucus and a leading figure in the state's anti-sexual harassment movement, is accused of groping a male staffer from another lawmaker's office.
Daniel Fierro told The Associated Press on Thursday that Garcia stroked his back, squeezed his buttocks and attempted to touch his crotch in a dugout after a legislative softball game in 2014.
Fierro didn't report it at the time but in January told his former boss, Democratic Assemblyman Ian Calderon, who reported it to Assembly leaders. The Assembly is now investigating Garcia.
Politico first reported Fierro's accusation.
Garcia's spokeswoman Teala Schaff said the assemblywoman learned Jan. 23 a complaint was filed but was given no details and only learned the specifics of the allegations from Politico.
"Every complaint about sexual harassment should be taken seriously and I will participate fully in any investigation that takes place," the Los Angeles-area lawmaker said in a statement thursday. "I have zero recollection of engaging in inappropriate behavior and such behavior is inconsistent with my values."
The investigation into Garcia is one of many in statehouses nationwide following a wave of sexual misconduct allegations against men in power since an October expose of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein by the New York Times.
Fierro said he decided to tell Calderon about the incident because of Garcia's outspokenness in the #MeToo movement, which references the social media campaign used by millions to tell personal experiences with sexual harassment.
"If the person leading the charge on it isn't credible it just ends up hurting the credibility of these very real stories," Fierro told the AP.
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon, a Democrat, said in a statement he is directing human resources to reach out to Garcia's staff to make sure they feel safe.
"I trust that while the investigation proceeds, Assemblymember Garcia will respond appropriately and in a way that fortifies the Legislature's effort to create a new climate," he said.
Fierro, who was 25 at the time, said he was interviewed by an outside law firm hired by the Assembly Rules Committee last Friday. Politico also reported that a lobbyist who declined to be named claimed Garcia made crude sexual comments and tried to grab his crotch at a 2017 fundraiser.
Garcia was elected in 2012 and has carved out a name as a champion of women's issues and environmental health for poor communities and chairs the Women's Caucus.
Democratic Sen. Connie Leyva, co-chair of the women's caucus, said she was "shocked and disturbed" at the allegations and she will ask the group to meet soon to discuss Garcia's fate as leader.
Garcia's photo was featured in Time Magazine's Person of the Year issue on being one of the "Silence Breakers" on sexual harassment.
"I refuse to work with (Assemblyman Raul Bocanegra) and anyone who takes part in harassment or assault," she tweeted in October after it was reported Bocanegra had been disciplined in 2009 for groping a colleague. Bocanegra later resigned after more women made public accusations.
Garcia was a fierce advocate for legislation signed by Gov. Jerry Brown on Monday giving legislative staff members whistleblower protections for reporting sexual misconduct or other misbehavior, speaking at a rally on the Capitol steps after its passage. She's tweeted repeatedly about the importance of sexual consent in recent days.
Fierro and the lobbyist said it appeared Garcia was inebriated at the time of the encounters.
In a November interview with AP about alcohol-fueled fundraisers and other after-work events that are a part of regular business in Sacramento, Garcia said blaming alcohol isn't an acceptable excuse for sexually inappropriate behavior. It's men who chose to misbehave, not the social events themselves, that create the problems, she said.
"I would say that most of the public realizes that our job is based on relationships, and so we are expected to go out there and socialize," she said. "I think our public also expects us to hold ourselves to a higher standard."
The Assembly committee said last week that eight allegations of sexual harassment are pending in the Assembly but did not divulge any names. Debra Gravert, the chief administrative officer, didn't respond to an email from AP seeking clarifation whether Fierro's allegation is one of the eight pending. Fierro said he was contacted by Rules several days after telling Calderon about the incident for an initial interview before speaking with outside lawyers for more than an hour last week.
Fierro, of Cerritos, left the Assembly in 2016 and now runs a communications firm. Calderon, his former boss, is now the majority leader. Lerna Shirinian, Calderon's communications director, said Fierro told her about the incident right after it happened.
"He was in shock, I was in shock '-- but the culture was very different back then," Shirinian told Politico.
Jill Messick Dead: Producer and Former Rose McGowan Manager Was 50 | Hollywood Reporter
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:56
1:55 PM PST 2/8/2018 by Erik Hayden
Jill Messick, a veteran studio executive and producer, died by suicide in Los Angeles on Wednesday, her family told The Hollywood Reporter. The exec was diagnosed with bipolar disorder and had been battling depression for years. She was 50.
Messick, who worked as an exec at Miramax and at the Paramount-based Lorne Michaels Productions, was an executive producer on several comedy features including Relativity's Masterminds (2016), Universal's Baby Mama (2008) and Paramount's Hot Rod (2007). She also executive produced NBC's comedy series Bad Judge.
At Miramax, where she was a production executive from 1997-2003, Messick served as co-executive producer on 1999 comedy She's All That and was part of the team that worked on the 2002 Oscar-winning film Frida. She also served as an executive producer on Warner Bros.' upcoming Minecraft video game adaptation with Roy Lee.
"This is very sad news and my heart goes out to her family. Jill was instrumental in helping Mean Girls get to the screen. She was a fiercely dedicated producer and a kind person," stated Tina Fey, who worked with Messick in adapting Rosalind Wiseman's book Queen Bees & Wanna Bees for the screen as 2004's Mean Girls.
Added director Mark Waters: "Jill helped me get hired for Mean Girls, an opportunity I will always be thankful for. She was a terrific producer, there with me every day on set, and always a tireless, positive presence. She will be sadly missed by all of us who knew her."
Earlier in her career, Messick was Rose McGowan's manager. The actress was a client of Messick's when, in January 1997 during the Sundance Film Festival, McGowan accused Harvey Weinstein of rape.
Messick's name recently made headlines when, on Jan. 30 of this year, Weinstein's attorney, Ben Brafman, released an email to news outlets attributed to Messick in defense of his client, the disgraced mogul.
In a statement Thursday to THR, Messick's family was sharply critical of Weinstein and McGowan: "Jill was victimized by our new culture of unlimited information sharing and a willingness to accept statement as fact. The speed of disseminating information has carried mistruths about Jill as a person, which she was unable and unwilling to challenge. She became collateral damage in an already horrific story." The family's full statement is here.
"Over the past few months, many women have come out with allegations against Harvey Weinstein, including Rose McGowan, who has repeatedly spoken with the press, striking out against not only her alleged attacker, but a great many others," Messick's family stated. "One of them was Jill, who chose to remain silent in the face of Rose's slanderous statements against her for fear of undermining the many individuals who came forward in truth."
Messick was born on July 27, 1967. She attended Santa Barbara High School and later the University of Southern California, graduating with a degree in communications. She is survived by two children, Jackson and Ava; their father, Kevin Messick; her father, Michael; her brother, Jan; and her partner, Dan Schuck.
Rose McGowan's former manager Jill Messick, embroiled in Weinstein scandal, commits suicide | Fox News
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:15
Jill Messick, a longtime studio executive, producer and manager reportedly has committed suicide at age 50. She was a former manager of Rose McGowan who recently found herself in the middle of the star's very public battle with disgraced Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.
Messick's family confirmed the news to The Hollywood Reporter along with a lengthy statement. They noted that Messick took her own life on Feb. 8 amid a long time battle with depression and bipolar disorder.
She previously worked as McGowan's manager in 1997 during the time the actress claimed Weinstein raped her. Recently, Weinstein's lawyer, Ben Brafman, released an email Messick sent him to the public, allegedly without her permission. In the email she recalled her account of the events, which Weinstein's lawyer used as a defense to the public. Messick's family noted that she sent the email upon request prior to the New York Times expose that led to dozens of women coming forward with similar stories of sexual misconduct involving Weinstein.
''Jill was victimized by our new culture of unlimited information sharing and a willingness to accept statement as fact. The speed of disseminating information has carried mistruths about Jill as a person, which she was unable and unwilling to challenge. She became collateral damage in an already horrific story,'' the family wrote in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. ''Jill believed in the Movement. She supported every woman finally coming forward to share their dark truths and expose those who had committed previously unspeakable deeds. She was loyal. She was strong. Jill was many things, but she was not a liar.''
Jill Messick reportedly committed suicide on Feb. 8, 2018. (Facebook)
Messick is survived by her two children, their father, her father, her brother and her partner. Her work as a producer has included ''Masterminds,'' ''Baby Mama,'' ''Hot Rod,'' ''Mean Girls'' and much more.
McGowan recently made claims in her book, "Brave," that her manager at the time of her alleged rape did little to help her, a claim her family denied.
At the time, her family explained that Messick, then a junior at her company, was among the first to bring McGowan's story to her superiors. From there, Messick was not privy to McGowan and Weinstein's negotiations and further discussion of the matter, according to the family's statement.
''Seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person's attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey's desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her. It broke Jill, who was just starting to get her life back on track,'' Messick's family said. ''What makes Rose's inaccurate accusations and insinuations against Jill ironic was that she was the first person who stood up on Rose's behalf, and alerted her bosses to the horrific experience which Rose suffered. Twenty years ago, as a very junior person in a management company hierarchy, Jill exhibited her integrity in doing the right thing '' she raised the red flag with the heads of her firm. In the face of inappropriate behavior, Jill handled the situation appropriately.''
Jill Messick's Family Issues Blistering Statement on Harvey Weinstein and Rose McGowan | Hollywood Reporter
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 12:59
Veteran studio executive and producer Jill Messick died by suicide on Wednesday after battling depression for many years, her family tells The Hollywood Reporter.
Messick, who worked at Miramax as a production executive from 1997 to 2003, also served as Rose McGowan's manager in January 1997, which is when, McGowan has claimed, she was raped by Harvey Weinstein.
In a statement following her death, her family says Messick was "victimized" after becoming embroiled in the Weinstein-McGowan allegations. Her name made headlines when Weinstein's attorney, Ben Brafman, released an email on Jan. 30 attributed to Messick in defense of his client. Her family says now that Messick "became collateral damage in an already horrific story."
Messick's family's full Feb. 8 statement is below.
''The Movement'' just lost one of its own.
Jill Messick was a mother of two children, a loving wife and partner, a dear friend to many and a smart entertainment executive. She was also a survivor, privately battling depression, which had been her nemesis for years.
Today she did not survive. Jill took her own life.
Jill was victimized by our new culture of unlimited information sharing and a willingness to accept statement as fact. The speed of disseminating information has carried mistruths about Jill as a person, which she was unable and unwilling to challenge. She became collateral damage in an already horrific story.
Jill believed in the Movement. She supported every woman finally coming forward to share their dark truths and expose those who had committed previously unspeakable deeds. She was loyal. She was strong. Jill was many things, but she was not a liar.
Over the past few months, many women have come out with allegations against Harvey Weinstein, including Rose McGowan, who has repeatedly spoken with the press, striking out against not only her alleged attacker, but a great many others. One of them was Jill, who chose to remain silent in the face of Rose's slanderous statements against her for fear of undermining the many individuals who came forward in truth. She opted not to add to the feeding frenzy, allowing her name and her reputation to be sullied despite having done nothing wrong. She never chose to be a public figure; that choice was taken away from her.
Now that Jill can no longer speak for herself, it's time to set the record straight.
In January 1997, Jill was an entry-level manager at Addis Wechsler. One of her first clients was Rose McGowan, and one of Jill's first duties was to set up a breakfast meeting with Harvey Weinstein during the Sundance Film Festival. Following the meeting, Rose told Jill what had happened '-- that she made the decision to remove her clothes and get in the hot tub with him '-- a mistake which Rose immediately regretted. Rose never once used the word rape in that conversation. Despite this, Jill recognized that Harvey had done something untoward to Rose, if not illegal. She immediately went to her bosses, the partners of Addis Wechsler, to recount Rose's story and to insist that they immediately address the situation. They told Jill that they would handle the situation. The ensuing arrangements between Rose and Harvey were then negotiated, completely without Jill's knowledge. At that time, all Jill knew was that the matter was settled and that Rose continued making films with the Weinsteins. She never knew any details until recently, when Rose elected to make them public.
Ten months later, in November of 1997, Jill received a call from the Miramax exec VP of production, recruiting her for a job as an executive at Miramax Films working in production in Los Angeles. Jill was hired based on merit and her excellent work of over two years as a young development executive working with Woods Entertainment (prior to her time at Addis Wechsler).
Rose's most recent round of press to promote her book has included new stories involving Jill. The constant press attention Rose has garnered in print and on national TV led to Harvey Weinstein releasing two documents. One of these was an email that Jill wrote to him months prior to the first New York Times piece coming out, and at his request. In this email, Jill offered the truth based on what she remembers Rose telling her about the Sundance account. In the face of Rose's continued and embellished accusations last week, Harvey took it upon himself to release the email without her consent.
Five years ago, Jill suffered a manic episode. Anyone familiar with bipolar disorder knows that it is a cruel and vicious disease. With the help of doctors, her family and friends, Jill rebounded. Jill had fought to put her life back together. After a long job search, she was in negotiations to run the production division for a new entertainment company.
Seeing her name in headlines again and again, as part of one person's attempt to gain more attention for her personal cause, along with Harvey's desperate attempt to vindicate himself, was devastating for her. It broke Jill, who was just starting to get her life back on track. What makes Rose's inaccurate accusations and insinuations against Jill ironic was that she was the first person who stood up on Rose's behalf, and alerted her bosses to the horrific experience which Rose suffered. Twenty years ago, as a very junior person in a management company hierarchy, Jill exhibited her integrity in doing the right thing '-- she raised the red flag with the heads of her firm. In the face of inappropriate behavior, Jill handled the situation appropriately.
Hers is one of the only stories that has stayed consistent over time as we watch other media reported tales morph to beget further attention.
While journalists serve an important role in exposing predatory behavior, we are seeing irresponsible choices and an addiction to sensationalism which leads to inconsistent storytelling. The media is a powerful tool not to be taken lightly. Most individuals would be horrified to have their name spotlighted in a major international news story '-- let alone their photograph. We cannot forget that the media is a fearsome tool which cannot be used indiscriminately or even inadvertently to create further victims.
There is a responsibility when using a platform to accurately expose criminals, predators, mistruths and misdeeds while protecting the actual truth of third parties.
As we collectively seek to take action in an effort to right the wrongs so brazenly and inhumanely repeated for a generation, we must not forget one simple truth: Words have power. While we illuminate the dark corners for hidden truths, we must remember that what we say, particularly in the media, can have just as much impact if not more than our actions. We must ask more of ourselves, and of each other. We must take a moment to consider the ramifications and consequences of what we say and what we do.
Words matter.
Someone's life may depend on it.
Harvey Weinstein makes rare statement to denounce Rose McGowan's 'performance' | Fox News
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:23
Harvey Weinstein gave a rare public statement to denounce Rose McGowan. (Reuters)
In a rare break from his silence on the matter, Harvey Weinstein is commenting on recently detailed allegations from actress Rose McGowan, who claims the now-disgraced movie mogul raped her in 1997.
McGowan recently gave details about her encounter with Weinstein at a hotel at the Sundance Film Festival years ago. The details will be available in her book ''Brave,'' which she's recently been appearing on talk shows such as ABC's ''Good Morning America'' and ''The View" to promote.
She not only reiterates that Weinstein raped her, but she detailed telling her manager and A-list actor Ben Affleck about it in the following days, only to receive no help on the matter.
Weinstein, who has remained quiet throughout dozens of accusations of sexual misconduct from women who claim he abused his position of power to prey on them, has only previously said that he denies all allegations of nonconsensual sex. However, in a lengthier statement from his attorney, Ben Brafman, he retorts McGowan's claims directly.
(Rose McGowan details her alleged encounter with Harvey Weinstein in her new book 'Brave.')
''As a general matter, Harvey Weinstein and his attorneys have refrained from publicly criticizing any of the women who have made allegations of sexual assault against Mr. Weinstein despite a wealth of evidence that would demonstrate the patent falsity of these claims,'' the statement reads, via The Hollywood Reporter. ''Watching the 'performance' by Rose McGowan as she looks to promote her new book however, has made it impossible to remain quiet as she tries to smear Mr. Weinstein with a bold lie that is denied not only by Mr. Weinstein himself, but by at least two witnesses, including Ms. McGowan's own Manager at the time who Ms. McGowan claims to have confided in the day after the alleged assault and an A-list actor Ben Affleck who Ms. McGowan claims to have also told about her encounter with Mr. Weinstein shortly after the incident she now describes as 'rape,' but which in 1997 she described to her Manager as a 'consensual' act of sex.''
The statement went on to quote alleged e-mail exchanges between Weinstein and Jill Messick, McGowan's manager at the time, and Ben Affleck in which they deny her claims.
McGowan's book hit shelves on Tuesday and her E! series ''Citizen Rose'' premieres as well.
Gillibrand: If Trump wants due process, we'll have hearings on allegations against him | TheHill
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:15
Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandBritish health secretary fires back at Trump over universal health care claimsTrump on Dems' 'universal' health-care push: 'No thanks'Gillibrand calls for DOJ to investigate US Olympic Committee over abuse scandalMORE (D-N.Y.) went after President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midtermsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in MissouriSpeier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making'MORE on Saturday for his tweet questioning a lack of "due process" in abuse claims, saying that Congress could hold hearings about sexual misconduct allegations against him if he wanted due process.
''The President has shown through words and actions that he doesn't value women. It's not surprising that he doesn't believe survivors or understand the national conversation that is happening,'' Gillibrand tweeted.
''If he wants due process for the over dozen sexual assault allegations against him, let's have Congressional hearings tomorrow,'' she continued. ''I would support that and my colleagues should too.''
The President has shown through words and actions that he doesn't value women. It's not surprising that he doesn't believe survivors or understand the national conversation that is happening.
'-- Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 10, 2018The lives of survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse are being shattered every day. If he wants due process for the over dozen sexual assault allegations against him, let's have Congressional hearings tomorrow. I would support that and my colleagues should too.
'-- Kirsten Gillibrand (@SenGillibrand) February 10, 2018Trump had raised concerns about due process in a tweet earlier Saturday, which came after two White House aides resigned amid allegations of past domestic abuse.
White House staff secretary Rob Porter and speechwriter David Sorensen both resigned this week over the newly revealed allegations, claims that they have denied.
Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation. Some are true and some are false. Some are old and some are new. There is no recovery for someone falsely accused - life and career are gone. Is there no such thing any longer as Due Process?
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018Trump has been accused of sexual misconduct by more than a dozen women. Female Democratic lawmakers called for Congress to investigate the claims against Trump last year, as did several of his accusers.
The president attacked Gillibrand in a tweet late last year, saying she had begged him for donations and "would do anything for them."
He made the comments after the senator had called for Trump to resign over the sexual misconduct allegations.
Gillibrand hit back, saying Trump ''cannot silence'' her or other women who believe he has brought shame to the presidency.
Bipartisan Group Passes Historic Reform of Congressional Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Complaint Process | Congresswoman Jackie Speier
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:17
February 6, 2018
Press Release
Washington, DC - Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) issued the following statement after the passage of the Congressional Accountability Reform Act, a bipartisan bill that will overhaul the deeply flawed process for responding to harassment and discrimination in Congress.
''It's not often that we are able to pass legislation that directly affects this great institution, and makes Congress more functional and accountable, but that's exactly what we did today with the passage of the Congressional Accountability Act Reform Act. This is not only a triumph of bipartisanship, it's a victory for the American public '' which made it clear that they have had enough of Members using taxpayer funds to cover up their abuses and misdeeds. The CAA Reform Act is based on the ME TOO Congress Act I introduced last fall, and builds on that legislation by empowering survivors, holding Members of Congress accountable and providing better transparency.''
''This bill was passed in less than four months, through the hard work and dedication of Republicans and Democrats. It is proof that Congress can lead. It's been an honor and privilege working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, most especially House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper (R-MS) and Ranking Member Robert Brady (D-PA), Congressman Bradley Byrne (R-AL), Congresswoman Susan Brooks (R-IN), and Congressman Ted Deutch (D-FL), as well as the Members of the House Committee on Administration. ''
''Most of all, I want to thank the brave staffers and former staffers who came forward to share their experiences in the hope that their colleagues could avoid the same trauma and pain they have suffered. Please know that we will not stop here. There is more work to be done. And by working together, I am confident that we can make it so that no employee, in any workforce, has to endure harassment, abuse, or humiliation in silence and fear.''
Why 'Black Panther' Lost Its 100 Percent Rotten Tomatoes Score | Inverse
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 13:48
Y ou can't win them all, even if you're a king. Marvel's Black Panther has just lost its impeccable 100 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with its first negative review from the Irish Independent. But is it totally negative? The review, written by film critic Ed Power, doesn't come close to totally panning the movie, but the aggregate site's algorithms have placed it as a ''rotten'' review.
On Tuesday, the Irish Independent published its three-star review of Black Panther, the highly-anticipated Marvel movie directed by Ryan Coogler (Creed). Arguing that the film is burdened with expectations ''to stand for something bigger than itself,'' Power argues that Black Panther has a too-perfect protagonist in T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), a warrior-king who must be a politician, a ruler, a son, and a superhero, all at once.
''In the context of the place United States finds itself today, and where it has come from, Boseman knows he can't wise-crack his way through the film in the fashion of, for example, Robert Downey Jr's Tony Stark,'' Power writes, ''and the responsibility to be at all times sincere weighs on him.''
Ultimately, Power says that Black Panther ''spirals into a stodgy tale of internecine feuding,'' and that T'Challa doesn't really get to be a superhero besides the few action scenes. He conintues: ''That's a shame. Marvel has finally given us an African superhero. The hope surely was that he would be allowed do superhoeroic things.''
'Black Panther' may not have a perfect score, but this shot is 10/10.As far as reviews goes, it's not terrible. Power does show awareness that there are unusual expectations placed on a mega-budget superhero film that is doing the unusual thing of having a mostly black cast play African heroes in an African world, but he seems to diminish the significance of that imagery. It seems that having an all-perfect, all-powerful character like T'Challa be burdened by responsibility maybe didn't click with Power, which is kind of a Superman problem.
Comparisons to DC's Man of Steel aren't without merit. When poorly written, he's a pitch-perfect boy scout, which can feel less dramatic than, say, the Dark Knight's pathos and vigilante justice. While there are many specific interpretations of Superman that do not paint Clark Kent as a Gary Sue, mainstream audiences who don't know names like John Byrne, Mark Waid, or Grant Morrison tend to believe Superman is too ''overpowered'' and boring.
In a separate review for Nerdist, critic and podcast host Marc Bernadrin had one major point of criticism for Black Panther in this vein.
''He's a deadly martial artist, a stalwart friend, well-educated, even-tempered, quick to smile, and, despite all that, he's humble. Flaws are the grooves, the nocks that add depth. Perfection in fiction, unlike in life, can be boring. I mean, even Indiana Jones was afraid of snakes.''
T'Challa may be perfect, and that may be just fine for at least the other 8 billion people in the world who will see Black Panther. But what isn't perfect is Black Panther's score on the Tomatometer.
Marvel's Black Panther will be released in theaters on February 16.
Hello! You've made it to the end of the article. Nice. Here's a related video you might like: "Marvel Studios' 'Black Panther' Rise TV Spot"
Photos via Marvel Studios
DTRI special investigative report -- THE CORE REAL FACTS BEHIND THIS FBI SCANDAL... - DareToReadIt.com
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:17
By comments and news VIDEO from net, Posted in Conspiracies / Conspiracy Theories January 30, 2018, 4:06 pm EST
Regardless of one's politics or whether one likes or loathes Trump, this FBI scandal is a serious story, and yet most of the mainstream press dislikes Trump so much, they want to spin it and distort it. Or NON-report it or UNDER-report it, just make it seem like a non-story. But its not a they-said versus they-said thing at all. And the DEMS are doing their constituents and the nation a disservice by trying to frame it as as that.
The Fusion/GPS "dossier" is bull. Absolute BS. A mulligan stew of unverified hearsay and lies. Cooked up to please the dirty tricks operatives in the DNC & Clinton Camp (who paid for it). To use that for a FISA application was nothing short of insane. Truly as serious or worse than Watergate.
The facts of the story and the timeline are this...
1) Hillary's email scandal breaks.
2) She was guilty as charged.
3) She was using the private server because she was selling favors. "Give the Clinton Foundation 10 million bucks and State Department will approve thus and such request."
4) Obama was indeed emailing with her on her non-authorized account so he was in some hot water for that fact, immediately.
5) Thus if Hillary were indicted, he would become embroiled in her scandal and papers and communications of his subpoenaed. Plus he would look bad because she was HIS... Sec-State.
6) Sarah Carter at AXIOS News says she has it on solid sources OBAMA not COMEY was the "decider" (in Spring 2016) that Hillary must be let off the hook, not indicted. Comey, McCabe, Rosenstein, all fell in line with Obama's dictum.
7) It was also Prez OBAMA who ordered the spying on Trump Tower and Trump Team. VERY POSSIBLY this move was done for similar reasons to Nixon and Watergate. NIXON was concerned what the DEMS might have on him, and his dealings with Howard Hughes. OBAMA may have ordered the wiretapping LESS to get the scoop on GOP campaign strategy THAN TO check and see if Trump Team had any further info that could get HIM, Obama, and his legacy-- in hot water. People are tending to automatically assume that the spying on phone traffic from Trump Team & Tower was to steal campaign strategy info clandestinely, but it may INITIALLY or even primarily have been a defensive move, from Obama.
8) Repeat, solid sources are unequivocal in saying IT WAS OBAMA not Comey or Brennan or Clapper that ordered the phone spying. And TWO THINGS were done. FISA okays were secured based on the bogus "dossier". And, GCHQ was asked to send Obama THEIR copies of phone surveillance on Trump Team /Tower. (As you recall in late 2015 Obama authorized GCHQ to have access to any NSA "data" upon request. Certainly reckless and ill-advised, but it was done by Obama). Thus in 2016 Obama decided to ask GCHQ to pass him THEIR COPIES of NSA phone surveillance material on Trump Team so there was no direct trail to the WH from the USA intel agencies. (Remember what Snowden revealed: NSA is collecting phone taps on ALLLLLL phone traffic WITHIN the USA--- as well a international calls. They are collecting EVERYTHING on American phones every day. That is what Snowden revealed). So Obama was getting the phone spy material clandestinely. And as a cover, in case a scandal blew up, he also ordered DOJ to get FISA approval for spying on Trump Team.. ...NONE OF THIS THAT I'M STATING about the unethical spying on Trump Team IS THEORY, this is already proven fact. The UK government memo is out and viewable online, the memo within the UK government saying GCHQ WILL DO THIS FAVOR for Obama and feed him their copies of the phone spying data. As well, the 99 page FISA document is out and online too. BUT mainstream media are shunning these two key facts and not reporting them. THE ORIGINAL DOCUMENTS ARE OUT.... And-- btw-- so how did Trump know so quickly after taking office that during the campaign he + team had been unethically phone surveiled? Because Gen. Mike Rogers told him. That's how.
9) It was very likely that BEYOND Obama's interests, OTHERS in DC who knew about the phone spying, somehow got access to the surveillance materials and decided FOR THEIR OWN INTERESTS AND PURPOSES to try and use them to build this goofy RussiaRussia story. There's no THERE there in the Muller hunt or it would have come out already. They are going off mission at Mueller's office because there was no THERE there, so now they are trying to indict people for bad haircuts and not wanting the FBI to dissect and discuss with them everything they said in their business phone calls. NOTE -- the CONTENT of the phone calls is not being questioned by Mueller, only the fact the interviewees didn't know the FBI had call transcripts and in interviews were not 100% forthcoming about call details. This is not a matter of one political philosophy versus another, this is simply dirty corruption. The RussiaRussia thing is abject nonsense and has been relentlessly voiced as a talking point of insinuation by the political left and news media sympathetic to them, as a political subversion. One may dislike the idea of Trump as POTUS, but this stuff we are looking at, the phone tap scandal, is beyond political partisanship. Its simply wrong, bad, illegal, and off the rails. But I think the central understanding one must digest to grasp this whole complicated picture is... MOTIVE.... Obama's actions were done hoping to protect his political legacy. Whether he knew or not that Hillary was selling favors WHILE SHE WAS DOING IT, or only learned later, the fact is, if her misdeeds were paraded across the nation's TV screens in full, very detailed manner, it would tarnish Obama's legacy. ONCE YOU UNDERSTAND OBAMA's MOTIVE, you start to get the picture of things as they are. Obama was wrong, DOJ was wrong, FBI was wrong. ITS A SERIOUS SCANDAL.
Who Deleted the 50,000 FBI Text Messages?
Justice Dept. and FBI Personnel Changes Amid Probes | Sharyl Attkisson
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:28
T here's been a flurry of high level personnel changes within the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and FBI starting at the beginning of Campaign 2016 and amid multiple probes into Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump-Russia, and intelligence officials' alleged misbehavior in those investigations.
In the year leading up to the election year, then-FBI Director James Comey twice replaced the heads of Counterintelligence at both the Washington D.C. and New York Field Offices, and named a new head of FBI Counterintelligence.
Today, there are overlapping investigations underway including:
Congressional investigations into alleged Russian interference.Congressional investigations into allegedly improper FBI and DOJ surveillance activities.Congressional investigations into anti-Trump ''dossier.''Inspector General investigation into FBI and DOJ anti-Trump leaks.Special Counsel investigation into alleged Trump-Russia collusion.Here's a rundown of some key personnel shifts and changes.
Link to .pdf file DOJ FBI Personnel Changes
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Fast and Furious, News January 25, 2018 News December 30, 2017 by sattkisson 2008 December: President Obama nominates Hillary Clinton for secretary of state. 2009 Jan. 13: Reports say the clintonemail.com domain was established. Jan. 21: Senate confirms Clinton as secretary of state. March 18: Clinton will later name this as the date she began using a private server for government business. 2012 Sept. 11: Islamic extremists launch ['...]
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The Memo
Former Obama official confirms Steele dossier was given to State | TheHill
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:29
An official at former President Obama's State Department has confirmed a claim made by Republicans that former British spy Christopher Steele and allies of Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump touts report Warner attempted to talk to dossier authorPoll: Nearly half of Iowans wouldn't vote for Trump in 2020Rubio on Warner contact with Russian lobbyist: It's 'had zero impact on our work'MORE gave him intelligence reports claiming that President TrumpDonald John TrumpTillerson: Russia already looking to interfere in 2018 midtermsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in MissouriSpeier on Trump's desire for military parade: 'We have a Napoleon in the making'MORE was compromised by the Russians.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post titled ''Devin NunesDevin Gerald NunesTrump likely to approve release of Dem memo: reportTrump called for unity '-- he didn't even last a weekMark Levin: Clinton colluded with Russia, 'paid for a warrant' to surveil Carter PageMORE is investigating me: Here's the Truth,'' former U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State Jonathan Winer says Steele and Clinton confidant Sidney Blumenthal approached him with separate dossiers claiming malfeasance between Trump and Russia.
Winer's op-ed confirms the chain of events Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breachOvernight Finance: Senators near two-year budget deal | Trump would 'love to see a shutdown' over immigration | Dow closes nearly 600 points higher after volatile day | Trade deficit at highest level since 2008 | Pawlenty leaving Wall Street groupGrassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the lawMORE (R-Iowa) detailed in a criminal referral for Steele, in which he asks the Justice Department to investigate the former intelligence agent for allegedly lying to the FBI about his contacts with the media.
That criminal referral states that ''a friend of the Clintons'' approached an Obama State Department official with a document making claims about Trump, which the official then passed on to Steele, who was at the time a paid informant for The FBI.
In the op-ed, Winer states that Steele first approached him in September of 2016 with the dossier about Trump. Winer distilled the dossier into a two-page summary that he shared with former Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, who notified then-Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryOvernight Cybersecurity: Tillerson proposes new cyber bureau at State | Senate bill would clarify cross-border data rules | Uber exec says 'no justification' for covering up breachGOP probes put new focus on StateWill FISA secrecy doom democracy?MORE .
Later that month, Winer said he met with Blumenthal, who he described as ''an old friend.'' They discussed the Steele report and Blumenthal showed Winer ''notes'' put together by another longtime Clinton operative, Cody Shearer, that ''echoed'' the claims made in the Steele dossier.
''What struck me was how some of the material echoed Steele's but appeared to involve different sources,'' Winer writes.
Winer also says that he then shared the information from the Clinton operatives with Steele ''to ask for his professional reaction.''
''He said that it was similar but separate from the information he had gathered from his sources,'' Winer said. ''I agreed to let him keep a copy of the Shearer notes.''
Winer says he did not mention the information he got from Blumenthal to anyone at State and that he did not believe Steele would share it with anyone else in the government.
''But I learned later that Steele did share them '-- with the FBI, after the FBI asked him to provide everything he had on allegations relating to Trump, his campaign and Russian interference in U.S. elections,'' Winer writes.
Winer insists there was nothing improper about his meetings with Steele, who was separately providing State with reports on geopolitical developments about Russia and Ukraine while he was also working for the FBI and Fusion GPS, who contracted him to dig into Trump's background, partly on behalf of Clinton's campaign and the Democratic National Committee.
''I am in no position to judge the accuracy of the information generated by Steele or Shearer,'' Winer says. ''But I was alarmed at Russia's role in the 2016 election, and so were U.S. intelligence and law enforcement officials. I believe all Americans should be alarmed '-- and united in the search for the truth about Russian interference in our democracy, and whether Trump and his campaign had any part in it.''
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has said he's investigating the Obama State Department's role in handling the Steele dossier.
Fake Alerts
From Todd
I am way behind on the shows just finished listening to
1004. I have contended from the beginning that the alert was a gag gone bad
from a pissed of night shift supervisor likely targeting an employee that was
probably hung over.
Someone shows up to work bragging about their party night
and feeling like shit, then the supervisor says I will fuck with them. This is
my prediction on what really happened.
In The Morning
Oh Elon!
We've trashed the oceans; now we are turning space into a junkyard for billionaires | Kevin McKenna | Opinion | The Guardian
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:41
Experts say rocket emissions affect our climate and cause ozone loss, yet too few people seem to care
SpaceX's Falcon Heavy rocket on the launch pad carrying Elon's Musk's red Tesla Roadster. Photograph: SpaceX/ShutterstockD avid Attenborough's Blue Planet series raised our awareness of rubbish tips traversing our oceans and choking some of our most beloved marine species.
This has led to a global debate about how we manufacture and dispose of plastics. The Scottish government announced that it is to host an international conference in 2019 to discuss action on marine litter. It's ideal territory for any government seeking to be regarded as edgy and cool on this year's fashionable cause. No one could disagree with its aims and purpose and, more importantly, nothing that emerges from it will commit anyone to spending money or risking the growth of emerging industries.
Perhaps soon our marine technology will have advanced to the stage where we can actually interpret what whales and dolphins are saying and begin to solicit their views on the subject. These creatures are believed to possess remarkable intelligence. If we reached the stage where we could converse with them, perhaps we could appoint some of them as environment tsars in western governments: that would sort the wheat from the chaff in all the chattering about human impact on the health of marine life.
As the debate about our slatternly disposal of plastics was raging down on Earth we were all acclaiming a fresh addition to the garbage dump swirling above us in space. The billionaire car manufacturer Elon Musk launched one of his Tesla Roadsters to Mars in a rocket produced by his company, SpaceX. According to people who know about this stuff, it was the biggest and most powerful rocket launched since the Apollo series and Saturn V. We further learned that the rocket, the Falcon Heavy, uses 27 Merlin rocket engines to develop 22,819kN of thrust. I'm assured that this can carry a 64-tonne payload into low Earth orbit or geosynchronous orbit: more than sufficient for propelling a sports car to Mars. I won't pretend I understand the science but let's just say that Musk won't be getting invited to address an environmental summit in the near future.
You might be tempted to dismiss this as an expensive publicity stunt by a billionaire playboy with too much time on his hands. But in reality it's an important step towards a time when space travel for your average indolent millionaire will become commonplace. It will probably become another way of managing your finances when Mars inevitably becomes the ultimate off-shore tax haven.
You might be tempted to dismiss this as an expensive publicity stunt by a billionaire playboy with too much time on his hands
Quite what our fetish for space exploration and spending billions on the technology required to feed this does to the environment is a serious matter. There's a dissonance emerging here. On Earth, we're organising summits and setting up carbon footprint-reduction targets all over the shop. Yet, up in yonder outer space we've established a giant garbage dump replete with huge hulks of rusting metal and, as of last week, a $200k American sports car.
Indeed, the whole issue of rocket emissions needs to be considered if we're serious about the environment. These emissions deliver gases and particles into the Earth's upper atmosphere and this will be addressed later this year at the UN's quadrennial global ozone assessment conference. Martin Ross, a senior project engineer for civil and commercial launch projects at the Aerospace Corporation in California, told the online journal Space.com that rocket soot accumulates in the upper stratosphere, where the particles absorb sunlight. ''This accumulation heats the upper stratosphere, changing chemical reaction rates and likely leading to ozone loss.'' He added: ''The 2018 assessment is really the first one to have a substantial section on rocket emissions, not just a passing thought'... we now understand that the climate and ozone impacts of rocket exhaust are completely intertwined.''
And if we're discussing space, then we ought to be discussing the impact of all these rockets on our potential neighbours in the galaxy. I've always found it curious that despite spending even more billions over decades trying to locate other forms of intelligent life we've had nary a cheep back; not even a single intergalactic WhatsApp message. So either our neighbours are a rude shower or they simply don't exist. But what if there's another, more sinister explanation: that they do exist but are so far ahead of us in intelligence that they've created the means to put themselves out of our reach, perhaps with a giant jamming device.
This would explain all those sightings of extraterrestrial spacecraft and kidnappings. Every so often, they check us out to see if we've advanced to a stage where they feel they can have a reasonable chat with us. Such visits are bound to have left them disappointed. In recent months, I can imagine one of their scouts reporting back: ''Look, 2,000 years ago, the leader of the civilised world in Rome gave his horse a seat in his cabinet; now the most civilised country in the world has appointed some medieval bampot called Trump. They're still savages.''
I can only imagine, too, how resentful they're getting at us disfiguring their neighbourhood with obsolete metal junk. If I was them I'd be sorely tempted to invade us to sort this out or simply send a short, sharp reminder that our actions have consequences.
Mind how you go.
George Soros backs pro-EU campaign with £400,000 | Daily Mail Online
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 14:31
Billionaire George Soros was today told to 'butt out' of UK affairs after it was revealed he had pumped £400,000 into a campaign fighting to stop Brexit.
Tory backbench Brexiteer Henry Smith said 'serious questions' must be asked into why a US citizen was allowed to pump the cash into a UK political campaign.
And he said Mr Soros - who is known as the 'man who broke the Bank of England' after he bet against the pound on black Wednesday -is 'no friend of Britain's'.
The US investment mogul was revealed today to be one of the biggest donors behind the Best For Britain group, launched by ardent Remainer Gina Miller.
The scale of the financial backing has fuelled fears the process of leaving the EU could be watered down or even halted altogether.
Mr Smith, Tory MP for Crawley, told Mail Online: 'Soros has never been a friend of Britain's best interests. As a US citizen he should butt out of telling the UK they should remain under Brussels' yoke.
'Serious questions need to be asked as to how a foreign national can be funding a British political campaign.'
Billionaire investor George Soros, pictured in Brussels last year, is said to have handed £400,000 to a campaign arguing against Brexit
Gina Miller, the millionaire businesswoman who took the Government to court over Brexit, promised 'the biggest tactical voting effort in our history' when she launched the Best for Britain campaign in April last year
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said people were starting to 'wake up' to the danger of the referendum vote being reversed.
Ms Miller, who stopped working with Best for Britain after the election in June, also urged the organisation to be more 'transparent' about who was funding it.
The news emerged as Theresa May gathered her Brexit war Cabinet amid fears ministers are deadlocked over what 'end state' they want from negotiation with the EU.
WHO IS GEORGE SOROS AND HOW DID HIS NICKNAME COME ABOUT?George Soros had already made a fortune and a formidable reputation by 1992.
But that was when he secured his tag as the 'man who broke the Bank of England'.
Short selling US$10billion worth of Sterling during the Black Wednesday crisis made him a reported profit of £1.5billion.
The 87-year-old Hungarian-born financier is now one of the world's richest men.
His wealth was estimated by Forbes magazine last year at £25billion.
Mr Soros has previously warned that Brexit will be a disaster for the economy, and suggested the UK could immediately apply to rejoin the EU.
One of Mr Soros's foundations gave the money to Best for Britain, a Remain group that wants to force a second EU referendum.
Over the past 40 years he is said to have donated £11billion to philanthropic causes.
Downing Street insisted that the UK will be leaving the bloc in March next year regardless of the growing clamour from Remainers.
Mr Soros has previously warned that Brexit will be a disaster for the economy, and suggested the UK could immediately apply to rejoin the EU.
The 87-year-old Hungarian-born financier is one of the world's richest men who made a reported £1.5 billion betting against sterling on Black Wednesday in 1992.
One of Mr Soros's foundations gave the money to Best for Britain, a Remain group that wants to force a second EU referendum.
Ms Miller, the millionaire businesswoman who took the Government to court over Brexit, promised 'the biggest tactical voting effort in our history' when she launched the Best for Britain campaign in April last year.
The project was set up in office space provided by Sir Richard Branson, who gave it some £25,000 to help it launch.
According to the Telegraph, businessman Stephen Peel and Sir Martin Sorrell, the chief executive of advertising firm WPP, attended a dinner with Mr Soros last week.
Best for Britain chairman Lord Malloch-Brown, a former minister and diplomat, said the group had followed rules governing financial contributions 'to the letter'.
Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage said people were starting to 'wake up' to the danger of the referendum vote being reversed
He said: 'We have never hidden our agenda; we have been campaigning hard to win a meaningful vote on Brexit, which we did, and to keep all options on the table, including staying in the European Union.
How could a second Brexit referendum be called and what are the chances of there being one?Hard-core Remainers have called for a second referendum on Brexit - but the chances of one happening before we quit the EU are slim.
For a referendum to be held it has to be called by the Government, and the result of the vote is advisory and not legally binding.
Theresa May wants to get the details of the two-year transition deal signed off next month and the final deal thrashed out in October this year.
But even if this timeline is stuck to, it would only be the broad outline of a deal that was agreed - not the fine detail.
Some Remainers say that this deal should then be put to a second referendum - allowing the public to vote on what kind of Brexit they want.
But the Government has pointed out this risks seriously undermining their negotiating hand as Brussels would know any detail could be easily vetoed by voters.
Most MPs are against having a second referendum with Labour coming out against it.
Instead Jeremy Corbyn's team want MPs to have a 'meaningful vote' on the deal - with the option of send the PM and her minsters back to the negotiating table.
'We, like millions of people, believe that Britain should lead, not leave Europe. We work with campaigners, businesses, unions, politicians and community groups to make sure everyone has a strong campaigning voice.
'George Soros's foundations have, along with a number of other major donors, also made significant contributions to our work.
'Indeed through his foundations he has contributed £400,000.
'But our small donors have collectively contributed more and the commitments of the other major donors also exceed this amount.
'So he is an important and valued donor but his funding is one amongst many sources.'
In a statement, Ms Miller said she had not been involved in Best for Britain since June.
'One of the greatest failures, and sadnesses, of the whole Brexit era has been the lack of transparency about key players' motivations, agendas and activities and incompleteness of information that is placed in the public domain,' she said.
'I encourage Best for Britain, and all those keen to play their part in the Brexit debate to be open and honest about what they stand for, whom they represent and by whom they are funded.'
Speaking on ITV's GMB programme today, Mr Farage said there was a real threat to the Brexit process, and Remainers were exploiting fears about the economy.
'All that's happened today is that a few people have started to wake up to it,' he said.
'The referendum wasn't about an economic deal. It wasn't about projecting that in 15 years time will we be richer or poorer? The referendum was about leaving the political union and becoming an independent self-governing nation.'
Mr Farage also said he thought Theresa May was struggling to get traction in negotiations with the EU.
'I'm very pessimistic about the deal she is going to get. I want to be an independent country,' he said.
Best for Britain chairman Lord Malloch-Brown, a former minister and diplomat, said the group had followed rules governing financial contributions 'to the letter'. Nick Timothy (right) claims Best for Britain want to bring down the Government
Boris Johnson, pictured in Downing Street ahead of the war Cabinet today, is urging a clean break from the EU
Attorney General Jeremy Wright was in Downing Street today ahead of the Cabinet subcommittee meeting. Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson is also a member of the group
A leaked Best for Britain strategy document proposed a nationwide campaign in the coming weeks to 'wake the country up and assert that Brexit is not a done deal, that it's not too late to stop Brexit'.
It also called for a series of Momentum-style mass rallies and concerts with a 'heavy youth focus'.
The document suggests the campaign aims to 'trigger a new referendum, or election' which the group will use to block Brexit altogether.
'We must prevail decisively so reassuring Europe that our return will be permanent,' it states.
WHO ARE BEST FOR BRITAIN AND WHAT DO THEY WANT?Best for Britain was launched by Gina Miller as a campaign to encourage tactical voting against Brexit
Best for Britain is a campaign group dedicating to moderating and ultimately reversing Brexit.
It was launched by Gina Miller, the former model who successfully challenged the Government in court over to Article 50, to encourage anti-Brexit tactical voting at the election.
Ms Miller left the group soon after the election and former Labour minister Mark Malloch-Brown took over as chairman.
The group is actively fundraising for its efforts to frustrate Brexit. As well as big money donations from people like George Soros, it run crowdfunding - including a new campaign to 'stand up for free speech'.
It urged MPs to vote against the flagship Brexit Withdrawal Bill and campaigns to protect universities from what it describes as a right-wing witch hunt.
The group draws cross party support, frequently issuing statements from MPs including Daniel Zeichner from Labour, Tom Brake from the Lib Dems and Green Caroline Lucas..
The board includes former Olympian Stephen Peel economist Anatole Kaletsky, businessman Clive Cowdery, while the CEO is activist Eloise Todd.
The Prime Minister's latest meeting with her Brexit 'war Cabinet' comes as the government prepares for a crucial stage of talks with Brussels.
But there are signs that the sub-committee will again try to fudge choices over the thorniest issues like customs arrangements with the EU and the Irish border.
There is not thought to have been any breakthrough at yesterday's meeting.
It could be weeks until the full Cabinet thrashes out a stance that will be taken into the negotiation process with Brussels in March.
The Cabinet subcommittee - made up of Mrs May and her top ministers including Philip Hammond, Amber Rudd, Boris Johnson and Michael Gove - discussed the Ireland issue yesterday afternoon.
The talks also covered the potential immigration arrangements for after we leave - while today the group is considering future trade arrangements.
But there are deep tensions between the Brexiteer and Remain factions, with Mr Hammond accused of trying to keep the UK tied to the EU customs union for years after we formally leave the bloc.
The involvement of Mr Soros was revealed in a story written by Theresa May's former chief of staff Nick Timothy in the Telegraph.
Mr Timothy, who backed the Leave cause, used his column in the newspaper to claim that Best for Britain wanted to bring down Mrs May's government.
He wrote: 'The objective is to convince MPs to vote against the deal Theresa May negotiates with Brussels, regardless of its content and despite the risk that doing so could mean Britain leaves the EU with no alternative agreement in place.
'Malloch-Brown and his backers believe that, if Parliament rejects the Brexit deal, the Government will fall, and Brexit can then be stopped.'
He said it should be a 'wake-up call' to Conservatives in Parliament, adding: 'However Tory MPs feel about Brexit, voting against the Government when the deal is done risks something much, much worse.'
But Lord Malloch-Brown said: 'We think the British people deserve a final say on the Brexit deal and believe the country has been led down a dangerous false turn.
'This is a democratic and patriotic effort to recover our future and we welcome support for our efforts from many quarters.'
MailOnline has contacted Mr Soros's representatives for comment.
COULD REMAINERS DEPLOY MOMENTUM TACTICS TO FORCE BREXIT RETHINK? Best for Britain is planning to emulate Jeremy Corbyn support group Momentum to force a rethink on Brexit.
A leaked strategy document proposed a nationwide campaign to 'wake the country up and assert that Brexit is not a done deal, that it's not too late to stop Brexit'.
It also called for a series of Momentum-style mass rallies and concerts with a 'heavy youth focus'.
The group wants to 'pressure' MPs in 100 Leave-supporting constituencies, and sets out how organisers 'have a range of guerrilla marketing tactics' to ratchet up the profile of Remain messages.
The document suggests the campaign aims to 'trigger a new referendum, or election' which the group will use to block Brexit altogether.
'We must prevail decisively so reassuring Europe that our return will be permanent,' it stated.
Mr Soros (pictured with EU commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in 2017), previously said it was possible that the UK would apply to rejoin the European Union soon after Brexit
Mrs May at PMQs yesterday flanked by David Lidington (left) and Philip Hammond, who are taking part in the Cabinet sub-committee talks on Brexit
Is Bitcoin the Biggest Bubble in Human History? | John C. Dvorak | PCMag.com
Fri, 09 Feb 2018 23:32
Cryptocurrency's value is based entirely on one thing: its scarcity. But how can something that doesn't exist be scarce or plentiful?
PCMag reviews products independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page. Terms of use. The market is finally showing some weakness after a wild post-election stock market run-up, and it's taking Bitcoin with it. At least so far.
I wrote a little about this last month, but did not focus enough on Bitcoin, which everyone is talking about more than ever.
This week a lot of us were amused when Nouriel Roubini of Roubini Macro Associates appeared on Bloomberg Television and said Bitcoin is the "biggest bubble in human history"'--worse than Dutch Tulips, the dot-com crash, and on and on. (Personally, I prefer the Beanie Babies comparison.)
Three years ago, Bitcoin was under $400, a price I thought was too high even then. As far as I'm concerned, Bitcoin has no intrinsic value and should be worth nothing. So why does anyone think it's worth thousands (and in some cases, millions) of dollars?
It's the theory of false scarcity. There are a limited number of bitcoins in the world and the usage of blockchain technology has assigned the ownership of each coin to specific wallets owned by individuals. So to take "ownership," I have to use the universal blockchain mechanism, accepted by all as valid, to transfer a coin.
This is an adult form of play money, utilizing a convoluted technology that does not seem to be good for anything besides protecting the conjured coins and making them a scarce "object" with no substance. Hence the "false" part.
There are plenty of technologists and guys smarter than the average bear who are all-in on Bitcoin because they can see a different reality, like Peter Thiel and Max Keiser. A lot of readers tell me I don't "get" Bitcoin, and I'm blowing it by not getting in on the action. What do they see that I do not, and why do they value this scarcity so much that the sky is the limit insofar as the value is concerned?
Scarcity can often be equated to value. The stock market shows how that can work in a bull market. Also, the art market will reflect it with certain dead artists. But there are plenty of scarce artworks worth nothing. And stocks crash all the time no matter what the float.
In fact, the way stock certificates are registered and traded seems a lot like Bitcoin. Each share is registered to a person or thing. And they are scarce. Yet, it can easily be worth nothing.
Bitcoin fanatics are banking on the value of scarcity itself. But the point is that scarcity in and of itself has no value, no matter how much it is protected.
The other big theme of Bitcoin is that it can act as a shadow currency to thwart the prying eyes of governments. Things can be bought and sold "off the books." This worked well for drug purchases on Silk Road and for blackmailing schemes and ransomware. This might have continued to work well if the Bitcoin itself was stable. It's not.
Many of the cryptocurrency promoters are paranoid. It's no coincidence that once Ed Snowden revealed that our government is spending more time spying on the public than we ever could imagine, Bitcoin started to come up in the conversations more and more. People believe Bitcoin is the way out of some imagined, repressive capitalist system of horrors.
The whole phenomenon is a never-ending conversation on media outlets like CNBC. Bitcoin is now part of some funds, and is considered a good investment in a diversified portfolio as far as these folks are concerned.
You may as well recommend people invest in squid ink.
That said, I personally do not see how this is the mother of all bubbles. That's because the public-at-large is not yet "all-in" like they were with the housing bubble. The mechanism to own Bitcoins is too arcane for most. Previous crashes almost always are designed to fleece the public at large.
In other words, Bitcoin will remain in the conversation until the public buys in. THEN it will crash and finally nobody will talk about it anymore.
TopRead MoreAbout the AuthorJohn Dvorak is a columnist for PCMag.com and the host of the weekly TV video podcast CrankyGeeks. His work is licensed around the world. Previously a columnist for Forbes, Forbes Digital, PC World, Barrons, MacUser, PC/Computing, Smart Business and other magazines and newspapers. Former editor and consulting editor for Infoworld. Has appeared in th... See Full Bio
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Rabobank Fined $369M for Money Laundering After Calling Bitcoin 'Risky'
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:24
Wilma Woo · February 9, 2018 · 1:30 pm Rabobank, a major Dutch bank which last week refused to service Bitcoin businesses due to ''compliance risks,'' has been fined $369 million for money laundering.
Rabobank's $369M: 'Hurry Up Bitcoin'As various news resources report, Rabobank was one of the major Dutch institutions outright rejecting cryptocurrency entrepreneurs.
Now, in a case linked to Mexican drugs money trafficking, the bank's California unit pleaded guilty to conspiracy, being served a multimillion dollar fine but with officials conspicuously avoiding custodial sentences, cryptocurrency industry commentators note.
Last week Rabobank refused #cryptocurrency businesses to open a bank account due to money laundering risks. Today they get fined, still make a profit and nobody goes to jail. What a circus. Hurry up #Bitcoinhttps://t.co/UD9oOmO7IL
'-- Sam Wouters (@SDWouters) February 8, 2018
''The subsidiary, Rabobank National Association, said it doesn't dispute that it accepted at least $369 million in illegal proceeds from drug trafficking and other activity from 2009 to 2012,'' the Associated Press reported Thursday.
It pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the United States for participating in a cover-up when regulators began asking questions in 2013.
Banks' Twisted Tales On Bitcoin RelationshipIn contrast to the willingness of businesses and government structures alike to provide a nurturing environment for cryptocurrency, banks in the Netherlands continue to take an often unreliable position on the technology.
Rabobank's website contains a dedicated page on the ''opportunities and dangers'' of Bitcoin and altcoins, quoting spokesperson Roel Steenbergen's view that cryptocurrency ''will continue to exist alongside the other forms of money we are familiar with.''
''The old and the new world have to and will find each other '' this is what parties on all sides are looking for. For now, paper money and coinage will continue to exist as normal. I do not see this disappearing,'' Steenbergen concludes.
The phenomenon meanwhile continues in countries throughout the world, notably in the US and UK, with banks Barclays and global giant HSBC nonetheless going on record to state their position on serving businesses.
Barclays' record in particular had been sketchy, with frequent reports of account freezes and shutdowns surfacing over the past few years.
What do you think about Rabobank's handling of Bitcoin? Let us know in the comments below!
Images courtesy of Shutterstock, Twitter
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Russian engineers arrested for trying to mine Bitcoin at a secret nuclear weapons facility '' BGR
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 11:54
Up until today, I had no idea what the Federal Nuclear Centre in Sarov was, or that it happens to be the secret factory in Russia that made the first nuclear bomb of the USSR. But I know that now because some of the engineers working there were arrested after they tried to use the facility's supercomputer to mine Bitcoin.
These geniuses '-- and they must be brilliant people to work at this particular Russian nuclear facility, which employs some 20,000 people '-- thought they could connect a supercomputer capable of performing 1,000 trillion calculations per second to the internet to mine Bitcoin. That's what led to their capture. Apparently, the computer can't be connected to the internet, which is a measure intended to prevent attacks from the outside.
''There has been an unsanctioned attempt to use computer facilities for private purposes including so-called mining,'' the centre's press service said, according to BBC.
The researchers have been handed over to the FSB and a criminal case has been launched against them, according to officials.
Why did they try to use that particular supercomputer to mine Bitcoins? Well, mining Bitcoin involves solving complex equations using computers that consume plenty of energy in the process. Because so many people have been mining for Bitcoin for years, the cost of entry is pretty high right now. It probably made sense for the geniuses to attempt to mine Bitcoin using the most powerful computer they could find. And you can't mine cryptocoins without an internet connection.
The practice isn't unheard of in Russia, BBC says, as one businessman in the region apparently bought two power stations so that he could mine cryptocurrency.
33 pounds of fentanyl '' enough to wipe out Massachusetts '' seized in Boston | Fox News
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:30
A police investigation in Boston called "Operation High Hopes" led to the seizure of more than 33 pounds of fentanyl. (Suffolk County District Attorney's Office.)
Boston authorities said they seized more than 33 pounds of fentanyl'--enough to kill millions of people'--in connection with one of Massachusetts' biggest drug busts ever.
In announcing the results of a six-month wiretap probe called "Operation High Hopes," prosecutors said the synthetic opioid was being sold on the street by a drug gang with links to Mexico's notorious Sinaloa Cartel, the drug organization once led by Joaqu­n "El Chapo" Guzmn.
''I want to be clear about the size and scope here,'' District Attorney Daniel Conley said at a news conference Thursday. ''Massachusetts' fentanyl trafficking statute covers quantities greater than 10 grams. That threshold represents less than 1/1000 of the quantity we've taken off the street.''
He said the number of overdoses the seized fentanyl could have caused ''is truly staggering.''
''Individuals who buy and sell at this level aren't users,'' Conley said. ''They're not small-time dealers, either. They're certainly not selling to support a habit. They're trafficking in addictive substances that claim more lives in Massachusetts than all homicides, all suicides, and all car crashes, statewide, combined.''
The Boston Herald quoted a law enforcement source as saying that the 33-plus pounds of fentanyl is enough to kill more than 7 million people in its raw form. Massachusetts population is 6.8 million.
Authorities said the biggest fish netted in the probe, conducted by Boston police and agents from the federal Drug Enforcement Agency, was Robert Contreras, 42, of Boston. He was arrested at his home Thursday and is being held in lieu of $1 million bail.
Conley said the probe's initial focus was a Contreras customer, Edward Soto-Perez, 43, of Boston.
He said he took the ''rare step of approving a wiretap'' because Soto-Perez had been so adept at protecting the addresses of his stash houses and the identities of his suppliers.
Conley said the wiretap eventually led to Soto-Perez's biggest supplier, Contreras, and established Contreras' direct ties to the Sinaloa cartel.
The DA said 36 others were also arrested in the probe and that investigators also seized cocaine, heroin, two guns and $300,000 in cash.
War on Religiion
An insider explains how rural Christian white America has a dark and terrifying underbelly
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:55
As the election of Donald Trump is being sorted out, a common theme keeps cropping up from all sides: ''Democrats failed to understand white, working-class, fly-over America.''
Trump supporters are saying this. Progressive pundits are saying this. Talking heads across all forms of the media are saying this. Even some Democratic leaders are saying this. It doesn't matter how many people say it, it is complete BS. It is an intellectual/linguistic sleight of hand meant to draw attention away from the real problem. The real problem isn't East Coast elites who don't understand or care about rural America. The real problem is that rural Americans don't understand the causes of their own situations and fears and they have shown no interest in finding out. They don't want to know why they feel the way they do or why they are struggling because they don't want to admit it is in large part because of the choices they've made and the horrible things they've allowed themselves to believe.
I grew up in rural Christian white America. You'd be hard-pressed to find an area of the country with a higher percentage of Christians or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian services. I worked off and on on their rural farms. I dated their calico-skirted daughters. I camped, hunted and fished with their sons. I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more out of ignorance than animosity. I have watched the town I grew up in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure to a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes and a broken-down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem isn't that I don't understand these people. The problem is they don't understand themselves or the reasons for their anger and frustration.
In deep-red America, the white Christian god is king, figuratively and literally. Religious fundamentalism has shaped most of their belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, or change. When you have a belief system built on fundamentalism, it isn't open to outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and in a position of power. The problem isn't that coastal elites don't understand rural Americans. The problem is that rural America doesn't understand itself and will never listen to anyone outside its bubble. It doesn't matter how ''understanding'' you are, how well you listen, what language you use'...if you are viewed as an outsider, your views will be automatically discounted. I've had hundreds of discussions with rural white Americans and whenever I present them any information that contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how unquestionable, how obvious, they will not even entertain the possibility that it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of their fundamentalist belief system and the fact that I'm the enemy because I'm an educated liberal.
At some point during the discussion, they will say, ''That's your education talking,'' derogatorily, as a general dismissal of everything I said. They truly believe this is a legitimate response, because to them education is not to be trusted. Education is the enemy of fundamentalism because fundamentalism, by its very nature, is not built on facts. The fundamentalists I grew up around aren't anti-education. They want their kids to know how to read and write. They are against quality, in-depth, broad, specialized education. Learning is only valued up to a certain point. Once it reaches the level where what you learn contradicts doctrine and fundamentalist arguments, it becomes dangerous. I watched a lot of my fellow students who were smart, stop their education the day they graduated high school. For most of the young ladies, getting married and having kids was more important than continuing their learning. For many of the young men, getting a college education was seen as unnecessary and a waste of time. For the few who did go to college, what they learned was still filtered through their fundamentalist belief systems. If something they were taught didn't support a preconception, it would be ignored and forgotten the second it was no longer needed to pass an exam.
Knowing this about their belief system and their view of outside information that doesn't support it, telling me that the problem is coastal elites not understanding them completely misses the point.
Another problem with rural Christian white Americans is they are racists. I'm not talking about white hood-wearing, cross-burning, lynching racists (though some are). I'm talking about people who deep down in their heart of hearts truly believe they are superior because they are white. Their white god made them in his image and everyone else is a less-than-perfect version, flawed and cursed.
The religion in which I was raised taught this. Even though they've backtracked on some of their more racist declarations, many still believe the original claims. Non-whites are the color they are because of their sins, or at least the sins of their ancestors. Blacks don't have dark skin because of where they lived and evolution; they have dark skin because they are cursed. God cursed them for a reason. If god cursed them, treating them as equals would be going against god's will. It is really easy to justify treating people differently if they are cursed by god and will never be as good as you no matter what they do because of some predetermined status.
Once you have this view, it is easy to lower the outside group's standing and acceptable level of treatment. Again, there are varying levels of racism at play in rural Christian white America. I know people who are ardent racists. I know a lot more whose racism is much more subtle but nonetheless racist. It wouldn't take sodium pentothal to get most of these people to admit they believe they are fundamentally better and superior to minorities. They are white supremacists who dress up in white dress shirts, ties and gingham dresses. They carry a bible and tell you, ''everyone's a child of god'' but forget to mention that some of god's children are more favored than others and skin tone is the criterion by which we know who is and isn't at the top of god's list of most favored children.
For us ''coastal elites'' who understand evolution, genetics and science, nothing we say to those in flyover country is going to be listened to because not only are we fighting against an anti-education belief system, we are arguing against god. You aren't winning a battle of beliefs with these people if you are on one side of the argument and god is on the other. No degree of understanding this is going to suddenly make them less racist, more open to reason and facts. Telling ''urban elites'' they need to understand rural Americans isn't going to lead to a damn thing because it misses the causes of the problem.
Because rural Christian white Americans will not listen to educated arguments, supported by facts that go against their fundamentalist belief systems from ''outsiders,'' any change must come from within. Internal change in these systems does happen, but it happens infrequently and always lags far behind reality. This is why they fear change so much. They aren't used to it. Of course, it really doesn't matter whether they like it or not, it, like evolution and climate change even though they don't believe it, it is going to happen whether they believe in it or not.
Another major problem with closed-off fundamentalist belief systems is they are very susceptible to propaganda. All belief systems are to some extent, but fundamentalist systems even more so because there are no checks and balances. If bad information gets in, it doesn't get out and because there are no internal mechanisms to guard against it, it usually ends up very damaging to the whole. A closed-off belief system is like spinal fluid'--it is great as long as nothing infectious gets into it. If bacteria get into your spinal fluid, it causes unbelievable damage because there are no white blood cells to fend off invaders and protect the system. Without the protective services of white blood cells in the spinal column, infection spreads like wildfire and does significant damage in a short period of time. Once inside the closed-off spinal system, bacteria are free to destroy whatever they want.
The same is true with closed-off belief systems. Without built-in protective functions like critical analysis, self-reflection, openness to counter-evidence, and willingness to re-evaluate any and all beliefs, bad information in a closed-off system ends up doing massive damage in a short period of time. What has happened to too many fundamentalist belief systems is damaging information has been allowed in from people who have been granted ''expert status.'' If someone is allowed into a closed-off system and their information is deemed acceptable, anything they say will be readily accepted and become gospel.
Rural Christian white Americans have let anti-intellectual, anti-science, bigoted racists like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O'Reilly, the Stepford wives of Fox, and every evangelical preacher on television into their systems because these people tell them what they want to hear and because they sell themselves as being like them. The truth is none of these people give a rat's ass about rural Christian white Americans except how they can exploit them for attention and money. None of them have anything in common with the people who have let them into their belief systems with the exception that they are white and they speak the language of white superiority.
Gays being allowed to marry are a threat. Blacks protesting the killing of their unarmed friends and family are a threat. Hispanics doing the cheap labor on their farms are somehow viewed a threat. The black president is a threat. Muslims are a threat. The Chinese are a threat. Women wanting to be autonomous are a threat. The college educated are a threat. Godless scientists are a threat. Everyone who isn't just like them has been sold to them as a threat and they've bought it hook, line and grifting sinker. Since there are no self-regulating mechanisms in their belief systems, these threats only grow over time. Since facts and reality don't matter, nothing you say to them will alter their beliefs. ''President Obama was born in Kenya, is a secret member of the Muslim Brotherhood who hates white Americans and is going to take away their guns.'' I feel ridiculous even writing this, it is so absurd, but it is gospel across large swaths of rural America. Are rural Christian white Americans scared? Damn right they are. Are their fears rational and justified? Hell no. The problem isn't understanding their fears. The problem is how to assuage fears based on lies in closed-off fundamentalist belief systems that don't have the necessary tools for properly evaluating the fears.
I don't have a good answer to this question. When a child has an irrational fear, you can deal with it because they trust you and are open to possibilities. When someone doesn't trust you and isn't open to anything not already accepted as true in their belief system, there really isn't much, if anything, you can do. This is why I think the idea that ''Democrats have to understand and find common ground with rural America,'' is misguided and a complete waste of time. When a 2,700-year-old book that was written by uneducated, pre-scientific people, subject to translation innumerable times, and edited with political and economic pressures from popes and kings, is given higher intellectual authority than facts arrived at from a rigorous, self-critical, constantly re-evaluating system that can and does correct mistakes, no amount of understanding, respect or evidence is going to change their minds and assuage their fears.
Do you know what does change the beliefs of fundamentalists, sometimes? When something becomes personal. Many a fundamentalist has changed his mind about the LGBT community once his loved ones started coming out of the closet. Many have not. But those who did, did so because their personal experience came into direct conflict with what they believe.
My father is a good example of this. For years I had long, heated discussions with him about gay rights. Being the good religious fundamentalist he is, he could not even entertain the possibility he was wrong. The church said it was wrong, so therefore it was wrong. No questions asked. No analysis needed. This changed when one of his adored stepchildren came out of the closet. He didn't do a complete 180. He has a view that tries to accept gay rights while at the same time viewing being gay as a mortal sin because his need to have his belief system be right outweighs everything else.
This isn't uncommon. Deeply held beliefs are usually only altered, replaced under catastrophic circumstances that are personal. This belief system alteration works both ways. I know diehard, open-minded progressives who became ardent fundamentalists due to a traumatic event in their lives. A good example of this is the comedian Dennis Miller. I've seen Miller in concert four different times during the 1990s. His humor was complex, riddled with references and leaned pretty left on almost all issues. Then 9/11 happened. For whatever reasons, the trauma of 9/11 caused a seismic shift in Miller's belief system. Now he is a mainstay on conservative talk radio. His humor was replaced with anger and frustration. 9/11 changed his belief system because it was a catastrophic event that was personal to him.
The catastrophe of the Great Depression along with FDR's progressive remedies helped create a generation of Democrats out of previously diehard Republicans. People who had up until that point believed only the free market could help the economy, not the government, changed their minds when the brutal reality of the Great Depression affected them directly and personally.
I thought the financial crisis in 2008 would have a similar, though lesser impact on many Republicans. It didn't. The systems that were put in place after the Great Recession to deal with economic crises, the quick, smart response by Congress and the administration helped turn what could have been a catastrophic event into merely a really bad one. People suffered, but they didn't suffer enough to become open to questioning their deeply held beliefs. Because this questioning didn't take place, the Great Recession didn't lead to any meaningful political shifts away from poorly regulated markets, supply side economics or how to respond to a financial crisis. This is why, even though rural Christian white Americans were hit hard by the Great Recession, they not only didn't blame the political party they've aligned themselves with for years, they rewarded them two years later by voting them into a record number of state legislatures and taking over the U.S. House.
Of course, it didn't help matters that there were scapegoats available toward whom they could direct their fears, anger and white supremacy. A significant number of rural Americans believe President Obama was in charge when the financial crisis started. An even higher number believe the mortgage crisis was the result of the government forcing banks to give loans to unqualified minorities. It doesn't matter how untrue both of these things are, they are gospel in rural America. Why reevaluate your beliefs and voting patterns when scapegoats are available?
How do you make climate change personal to someone who believes only god can alter the weather? How do you make racial equality personal to someone who believes whites are naturally superior to non-whites? How do you make gender equality personal to someone who believes women are supposed to be subservient to men by god's command? How do you get someone to view minorities as not threatening to people who don't live around minorities and have never interacted with them? How do you make personal the fact massive tax cuts and cutting back government hurts their economic situation when they've voted for such policies for decades? I don't think you can without some catastrophic events. And maybe not even then. The Civil War was pretty damn catastrophic, yet a large swath of the South believed'--and still believes'--they were right and had the moral high ground. They were/are also mostly Christian fundamentalists who believe they are superior because of the color of their skin and the religion they profess to follow. There is a pattern here for anyone willing to connect the dots.
''Rural white America needs to be better understood,'' is not one of the dots. ''Rural white America needs to be better understood,'' is a dodge, meant to avoid the real problems because talking about the real problems is viewed as too upsetting, too mean, too arrogant, too elite, too snobbish. Pointing out that Aunt Bea's views of Mexicans, blacks and gays is bigoted isn't the thing one does in polite society. Too bad more people don't think the same about Aunt Bea's views. It's the classic, ''You're a racist for calling me a racist,'' ploy.
I do think rational arguments are needed, even if they go mostly ignored and ridiculed. I believe in treating people with the respect they've earned, but the key point here is ''earned.'' I'll gladly sit down with Aunt Bea and have a nice, polite conversation about her beliefs about ''the gays, the blacks and the illegals,'' and I'll do so without calling her a bigot and a racist. But this doesn't mean she isn't a bigot and a racist, and if I'm asked to describe her beliefs these are the only words that honestly fit. Just because the media, pundits on all sides and some Democratic leaders don't want to call the actions of many rural white Christian Americans racist and bigoted doesn't make them not so.
Avoiding the obvious only prolongs getting the necessary treatment. America has always had a race problem. The country was built on racism and bigotry. This didn't miraculously go away in 1964 with the passage of the Civil Rights Act. It didn't go away with the election of Barack Obama. If anything, these events pulled back the curtain exposing the dark, racist underbelly of America that white America likes to pretend doesn't exist because we are the reason it exists. From the white nationalists to the white suburban soccer moms who voted for Donald Trump, to the far-left progressives who didn't vote at all, racism exists and has once again been legitimized and normalized by white America.
Here are the honest truths that rural Christian white Americans don't want to accept; until they accept these truths, nothing is going to change:
Their economic situation is largely the result of voting for supply-side economic policies that have been the largest redistribution of wealth from the bottom/middle to the top in U.S. history.Immigrants haven't taken their jobs. If all immigrants, legal or otherwise, were removed from the U.S., our economy would come to a screeching halt and food prices would soar.Immigrants are not responsible for companies moving their plants overseas. The almost exclusively white business owners are responsible, because they care more about their shareholders (who are also mostly white) than about American workers.No one is coming for their guns. All that has been proposed during the entire Obama administration is having better background checks.Gay people getting married is not a threat to their freedom to believe in whatever white god they want to. No one is going to make their church marry gays, have a gay pastor or accept gays for membership.Women having access to birth control doesn't affect their lives either, especially women they complain about being teenage single mothers.Blacks are not ''lazy moochers living off their hard-earned tax dollars'' any more than many of their fellow rural neighbors. People in need are people in need. People who can't find jobs because of their circumstances, a changing economy or outsourcing overseas belong to all races.They get a tremendous amount of help from the government they complain does nothing for them. From the roads and utility grids they use to farm subsidies, crop insurance and commodities protections, they benefit greatly from government assistance. The Farm Bill is one of the largest financial expenditures by the U.S. government. Without government assistance, their lives would be considerably worse.They get the largest share of Food Stamps, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security.They complain about globalization, yet line up like everyone else to get the latest Apple products. They have no problem buying foreign-made guns, scopes and hunting equipment. They don't think twice about driving trucks whose engines were made in Canada, tires made in Japan, radios made in Korea, and computer parts made in Malaysia.They use illicit drugs as much as any other group. But when other people do it is a ''moral failing'' and they should be severely punished, legally. When they do it, it is a ''health crisis'' that needs sympathy and attention.When jobs dry up for whatever reason, they refuse to relocate but lecture the poor in places like Flint for staying in failing towns.They are quick to judge minorities for being ''welfare moochers,'' but don't think twice about cashing their welfare checks every month.They complain about coastal liberals, but taxes from California and New York cover their farm subsidies, help maintain their highways and keep the hospitals in their sparsely populated rural areas open for business.They complain about ''the little man being run out of business,'' and then turn around and shop at big-box stores.They make sure outsiders are not welcome, deny businesses permits to build, then complain about businesses, plants opening up in less rural areas.Government has not done enough to help them in many cases, but their local and state governments are almost completely Republican and so are their representatives and senators. Instead of holding them accountable, they vote them into office over and over and over again.All the economic policies and ideas that could help rural America belong to the Democratic Party: raising the minimum wage, strengthening unions, spending on infrastructure, renewable energy growth, slowing down the damage done by climate change, and healthcare reform. All of these and more would really help a lot of rural white Americans.What I understand is that rural Christian white Americans are entrenched in fundamentalist belief systems; don't trust people outside their tribe; have been force-fed a diet of misinformation and lies for decades; are unwilling to understand their own situations; and truly believe whites are superior to all races. No amount of understanding is going to change these things or what they believe. No amount of niceties will get them to be introspective. No economic policy put forth by someone outside their tribe is going to be listened to no matter how beneficial it would be for them. I understand rural Christian white America all too well. I understand their fears are based on myths and lies. I understand they feel left behind by a world they don't understand and don't really care to. They are willing to vote against their own interests if they can be convinced it will make sure minorities are harmed more. Their Christian beliefs and morals are only extended to fellow white Christians. They are the problem with progress and always will be, because their belief systems are constructed against it.
The problem isn't a lack of understanding by coastal elites. The problem is a lack of understanding of why rural Christian white America believes, votes, behaves the ways it does by rural Christian white America.
Professor Ted
Opinion | Let's Ban Porn - The New York Times
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 06:19
Ross Douthat
Credit Illustration by The New York Times; photograph by Jessica Lehrman for The New York Times Image Feb. 10, 2018In this weekend's New York Times Magazine there is a long profile of a new kind of pedagogy unique to our particular stage of civilization. It's called ''porn literacy,'' and it involves explaining to young people whose sexual coming-of-age is being mediated by watching online gangbangs that actually hard-core pornography is not an appropriate guide to how the sexes should relate.
For anyone who grew up with the ideals of post-sexual revolution liberalism, there is a striking pathos to these educators' efforts. The sex education programs in my mostly liberal schools featured a touching faith from the adults in charge that they were engaged in a great work of enlightenment, that with the right curricula they could roll back the forces of repression and make sexuality a place of egalitarian pleasure and safety for us all.
Compared to those idealists, the people teaching ''porn literacy'' have accepted a sweeping pedagogical defeat. They take for granted that the most important sex education may take place on Pornhub, that the purpose of their work is essentially remedial, and that there is no escape from the world that porn has made.
Which at the moment there is not. But we are supposed to be in the midst of a great sexual reassessment, a clearing-out of assumptions that serve misogyny and impose bad sex on semi-willing women. And such a reassessment will be incomplete if it never reconsiders our surrender to the idea that many teenagers, most young men especially, will get their sex education from online smut.
This surrender was not inevitable. It was only a generation ago that the unlikely (or was it?) alliance of feminists and religious conservatives made the regulation of pornography a live political debate. But between the individualistic drift of society, the invention of the internet, and the failure of the Dworkin-Falwell alliance's predictions that porn would lead to rising rates of rape, the anti-porn case was marginalized '-- with religious conservatism's surrender to Donald Trump's playboy candidacy a seeming coup de grace.
Except it doesn't have to be. Trump's grotesqueries have stirred up a feminist reaction that's more moralistic and less gamely sex-positive than the Clinton-justifying variety, and there's no necessary reason why its moralistic gaze can't extend to our porn addiction. And indeed, I think the part of the #MeToo movement that's interested in discussing sexual unhappiness and not just sexual harassment clearly wants to talk about pornography, even if it doesn't quite realize that yet.
Consider the narratives that are touchstones for this part of the discussion '-- the New Yorker bad-sex short story ''Cat Person'' and the controversial first-person account of being not-raped by Aziz Ansari (jointly described by one Twitter jester as an ''ethnography of the degree to which millennial sex is a joyless mimetic spamming of half-remembered porn tropes''), as well as more sociological accounts of the ubiquity of female sexual unhappiness and pain (especially from that porn standby, anal sex).
In many of them, you see a kind of female revulsion, not against Harvey Weinstein-style apex predators, but against the very different sort of male personality that a pornographic education seems to produce: a breed at once entitled and resentful, angry and undermotivated, ''woke'' and caddish, shaped by unprecedented possibilities for sexual gratification and frustrated that real women are less available and more complicated than the version on their screen.
Such men would exist without industrial-scale porn, but porn selects for them, as it selects for a romantic landscape like our own: ever-more-liberated and ever-less-erotic, trending Japan-ward in its gulf between the sexes, with marriage and children and sex itself in shared decline.
So if you want better men by any standard, there is every reason to regard ubiquitous pornography as an obstacle '-- and to suspect that between virtual reality and creepy forms of customization, its influence is only likely to get worse.
But unlike many structural forces with which moralists of the left and right contend, porn is also just a product '-- something made and distributed and sold, and therefore subject to regulation and restriction if we so desire.
The belief that it should not be restricted is a mistake; the belief that it cannot be censored is a superstition. Law and jurisprudence changed once and can change again, and while you can find anything somewhere on the internet, making hard-core porn something to be quested after in dark corners would dramatically reduce its pedagogical role, its cultural normalcy, its power over libidos everywhere.
That we cannot imagine such censorship is part of our larger inability to imagine any escape from the online world's immersive power, even as we harbor growing doubts about its influence upon our psyches.
But in this sense porn also presents an opportunity to reconsider the tendency to just drift along with technological immersion, a chance where the moral stakes are sharpened to prove we don't have to accept enslavement to our screens.
Feminists should take it. We should all take it. It is not only decency but eros itself that waits to be regained.
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What Teenagers Are Learning From Online Porn - The New York Times
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:00
It's not surprising, then, that some adolescents use porn as a how-to guide. In a study that Rothman carried out in 2016 of 72 high schoolers ages 16 and 17, teenagers reported that porn was their primary source for information about sex '-- more than friends, siblings, schools or parents.
''There's nowhere else to learn about sex,'' the suburban boy told me. ''And porn stars know what they are doing.'' His words reflect a paradox about sex and pornography in this country. Even as smartphones have made it easier for teenagers to watch porn, sex education in the United States '-- where abstinence-based sex education remains the norm '-- is meager. Massachusetts is among 26 states that do not mandate sex ed. And a mere 13 require that the material be medically and scientifically accurate. After some gains by the Obama administration to promote more comprehensive sex ed, which includes pregnancy prevention, discussions of anatomy, birth control, disease prevention, abstinence and healthy relationships, the Trump administration did not include the program in its proposed 2018 budget; it also has requested increased funding for abstinence education. Easy-to-access online porn fills the vacuum, making porn the de facto sex educator for American youth.
One Thursday afternoon, about a dozen teenagers sat in a semicircle of North Face zip-ups, Jordans, combat boots, big hoop earrings and the slumped shoulders of late afternoon. It was the third week of Porn Literacy, and everyone already knew the rules: You don't have to have watched porn to attend; no yucking someone else's yum '-- no disparaging a student's sexual tastes or sexuality. And avoid sharing personal stories about sex in class. Nicole Daley and Jess Alder, who wrote the curriculum with Emily Rothman and led most of the exercises and discussion, are in their 30s, warm and easygoing. Daley, who until last month was the director of Start Strong, played the slightly more serious favorite-aunt role, while Alder, who runs Start Strong's classes for teenagers, was the goofier, ask-me-anything big sister. Rothman also attended most of the classes, offering information about pornography studies and explaining to them, for example, that there is no scientific evidence that porn is addictive, but that people can become compulsive about it.
In the first class, Daley led an exercise in which the group defined porn terms (B.D.S.M., kink, soft-core, hard-core), so that, as she put it, ''everyone is on the same page'' and ''you can avoid clicking on things you don't want to see.'' The students also ''values voted'' '-- agreeing or disagreeing about whether the legal viewing age of 18 for porn is too high, if working in the porn industry is a good way to make money and if pornography should be illegal. Later, Daley held up images of a 1940s pinup girl, a Japanese geisha and Kim Kardashian, to talk about how cultural values about beauty and bodies change over time. In future classes, they would talk about types of intimacy not depicted in porn and nonsexist pickup lines. Finally, Daley would offer a lesson about sexting and sexting laws and the risks of so-called revenge porn (in which, say, a teenager circulates a naked selfie of an ex without consent). And to the teenagers' surprise, they learned that receiving or sending consensual naked photos, even to your boyfriend or girlfriend, can be against the law if the person in the photo is a minor.
Now, in the third week of class, Daley's goal was to undercut porn's allure for teenagers by exposing the underbelly of the business. ''When you understand it's not just two people on the screen but an industry,'' she told me, ''it's not as sexy.''
To that end, Daley started class by detailing a midlevel female performer's salary (taken from the 2008 documentary ''The Price of Pleasure''): ''Blow job: $300,'' Daley read from a list. ''Anal: $1,000. Double penetration: $1,200. Gang bang: $1,300 for three guys. $100 for each additional guy.''
''Wow,'' Drew muttered. ''That makes it nasty now.''
''That's nothing for being penetrated on camera,'' another boy said.
Then, as if they had been given a green light to ask about a world that grown-ups rarely acknowledge, they began peppering Daley, Rothman and Alder with questions.
Photo Credit Photo illustration by Sara Cwynar ''How much do men get paid?'' one girl asked. It is the one of the few professions in which men are paid less, Rothman explained, but they also typically have longer careers. How long do women stay in their jobs? On average, six to 18 months. How do guys get erections if they aren't turned on? Often Viagra, Rothman offered, and sometimes a ''fluffer,'' as an offscreen human stimulator is known.
Daley then asked the teenagers to pretend they were contestants on a reality-TV show, in which they had to decide if they were willing to participate in certain challenges (your parents might be watching) and for how much money. In one scenario, she said, you would kneel on the ground while someone poured a goopy substance over your face. In another, you'd lick a spoon that had touched fecal matter. The kids debated the fecal-matter challenge '-- most wouldn't to do it for less than $2 million. One wanted to know if the goop smelled. ''Can we find out what it is?'' asked another.
Then Daley explained that each was in fact a simulation of a porn act. The goopy substance was what's called a ''baker's dozen,'' in which 13 men ejaculate on a woman's face, breasts and mouth.
''What?'' a girl named Tiffany protested.
The second scenario '-- licking the spoon with fecal matter '-- was from a porn act known as A.T.M., in which a man puts his penis in a woman's anus and then immediately follows by sticking it in her mouth.
''No way,'' a 15-year-old boy said. ''Can't you wash in between?''
Nope, Daley said.
''We don't question it when we see it in porn, right?'' Daley went on. ''There's no judgment here, but some of you guys are squeamish about it.''
''I never knew any of this,'' Drew said, sounding a bit glum.
Daley went on to detail a 2010 study that coded incidents of aggression in best-selling 2004 and 2005 porn videos. She noted that 88 percent of scenes showed verbal or physical aggression, mostly spanking, slapping and gagging. (A more recent content analysis of more than 6,000 mainstream online heterosexual porn scenes by Bryant Paul and his colleagues defined aggression specifically as any purposeful action appearing to cause physical or psychological harm to another person and found that 33 percent of scenes met that criteria. In each study, women were on the receiving end of the aggression more than 90 percent of the time.)
''Do you think,'' Daley said, standing in front of the students, ''watching porn leads to violence against women? There's no right or wrong here. It's a debate.''
Kyrah, a 10th-grade feminist with an athlete's compact body and a tendency to speak her opinions, didn't hesitate. ''In porn they glamorize calling women a slut or a whore, and younger kids think this is how it is. Or when they have those weird porn scenes and the woman is saying, 'Stop touching me,' and then she ends up enjoying it!''
Tiffany, her best friend, snapped her fingers in approval.
''Yes and no,'' one guy interjected. ''When a man is choking a woman in porn, people know it is not real, and they aren't supposed to do it, because it's violence.'' He was the same teenager who told me he would just ''do'' anal sex without asking a girl, because the women in porn like it.
Pornography didn't create the narrative that male pleasure should be first and foremost. But that idea is certainly reinforced by ''a male-dominated porn industry shot through a male lens,'' as Cindy Gallop puts it. Gallop is the creator of an online platform called MakeLoveNotPorn, where users can submit videos of their sexual encounters '-- which she describes as ''real world,'' consensual sex with ''good values'' '-- and pay to watch videos of others.
For years, Gallop has been a one-woman laboratory witnessing how easy-to-access mainstream porn influences sex. Now in her 50s, she has spent more than a decade dating 20-something men. She finds them through ''cougar'' dating sites '-- where older women connect with younger men '-- and her main criterion is that they are ''nice.'' Even so, she told me, during sex with these significantly younger nice men, she repeatedly encounters porn memes: facials, ''jackhammering'' intercourse, more frequent requests for anal sex and men who seem less focused on female orgasms than men were when she was younger. Gallop takes it upon herself to ''re-educate,'' as she half-jokingly puts it, men raised on porn. Some people, of course, do enjoy these acts. But speaking of teenagers in particular, she told me she worries that hard-core porn leads many girls to think, for example, that ''all boys love coming on girls' faces, and all girls love having their faces come on. And therefore, girls feel they must let boys come on their face and pretend to like it.''
Though none of the boys I spoke to at Start Strong told me they had ejaculated on a girl's face, Gallop's words reminded me of conversations I had with some older high-schoolers in various cities. One senior said that ejaculating on a woman's face was in a majority of porn scenes he had watched, and that he had done it with a girlfriend. ''I brought it up, or she would say, 'Come on my face.' It was an aspect I liked '-- and she did, too.''
Another noted that the act is ''talked about a lot'' among guys, but said that ''a girl's got to be down with it'' before he'd ever consider doing it. ''There is something that's appealing for guys. The dominance and intimacy and that whole opportunity for eye contact. Guys are obsessed with their come displayed on a girl.''
Many girls at Start Strong were decidedly less enthusiastic. One senior told me a boyfriend asked to ejaculate on her face; she said no. And during a conversation I had with three girls, one senior wondered aloud: ''What if you don't want a facial? What are you supposed to do? Friends say a boy cleans it with a napkin. A lot of girls my age like facials.'' But a few moments later, she reversed course. ''I actually don't think they like it. They do it because their partner likes it.'' Next to her, a sophomore added that when older girls talk among themselves, many say it's gross. ''But they say you gotta do what you gotta do.'' And if you don't, the first girl added, ''then someone else will.''
These are not new power dynamics between girls and boys. In a 2014 British study about anal sex and teenagers, girls expressed a similar lack of sexual agency and experienced physical pain. In the survey, of 130 heterosexual teenagers age 16 to 18, teenagers often said they believed porn was a motivating factor for why males wanted anal sex. And among the guys who reported trying it, many said friends encouraged them, or they felt competitive with other guys to do it. At the same time, a majority of girls who had tried anal sex said they didn't actually want to; their partners persuaded or coerced them. Some males took a ''try it and see'' approach, as researchers called it, attempting to put their finger or penis in a girl's anus and hoping she didn't stop them. Sometimes, one teenager reported, you ''just keep going till they just get fed up and let you do it anyway.'' Both boys and girls blamed the girls for pain they felt during anal sex and some told researchers the girls needed to ''relax'' more or ''get used to it.'' Only one girl said she enjoyed it, and only a few boys did. Teenagers may not know that even while porn makes it seem commonplace, in the 2009 national survey of American sex habits, most men and women who tried anal sex didn't make it a regular part of their sex lives. And in another study, by Indiana University's Debby Herbenick and others in 2015, about 70 percent of women who had anal sex said they experienced pain.
Drew had firsthand experience with what he had seen in porn not translating into actual pleasure. The first time he had sex, he thought he was supposed to exert some physical control over his girlfriend. But the whole thing felt awkward, too rough and not all that fun. And things that looked easy in porn, like sex while taking a shower or mutual oral sex, didn't go so well.
Photo Credit Photo illustration by Sara Cwynar At one point during sex, Drew's girlfriend at the time, who was a year older and more experienced, asked him to put his hand around her neck during sex. He did it, without squeezing, and though it didn't exactly bother him, it felt uncomfortable. Drew never asked if she got the idea from porn, but it made him wonder. Had she also picked up other ways of acting? ''Like, how do you really know a girl has had a good time?'' he said one afternoon, musing aloud while sitting with some friends before Porn Literacy class. ''My girlfriend said she had a good time,'' he went on. ''She was moaning. But that's the thing: Is it fake moaning?''
Even if you know porn isn't realistic, it still sets up expectations, one senior told me. In porn, he said, ''the clothes are off, and the girl goes down on the guy, he gets hard and he starts having sex with her. It's all very simple and well lit.'' Before he had sex, porn had supplied his images of oral sex, including scenes in which a woman is on her knees as a man stands over her. At one point, he thought that's how it might go one day when he had sex. But when he talked with his girlfriend, they realized they didn't want to re-enact that power dynamic.
I spent acouple of hours on a Wednesday afternoon at Start Strong with a senior girl who took the first Porn Literacy class in the summer of 2016. Looking back over the last several years of middle and high school, A., who asked me to identify her by the first initial of her middle name, said she wished she had had someplace '-- home, school, a community sex-ed program '-- to learn about sex. Instead, she learned about it from porn. She saw it for the first time by accident, after a group of sixth-grade boys cajoled her to look at tube8.com, which she didn't know was a porn site. She was fascinated. She had never seen a penis before, ''not a drawing of one, nothing.'' A few years later, she searched online for porn again after listening to girls in the high school locker room talk about masturbation. A.'s parents, whom she describes as conservative about sex, hadn't talked to her about female anatomy or sex, and her school didn't offer any sex education before ninth grade; even then, it focused mostly on the dangers '-- sexually transmitted infections and diseases and pregnancy.
Aside from some private schools and innovative community programs, relatively few sex-ed classes in middle and high school delve in detail into anatomy (female, especially), intimacy, healthy relationships, sexual diversity. Even more rare are discussions of female desire and pleasure. Porn taught A. the basics of masturbation. And porn served as her study guide when she was 16 and was the first among her friends to have sex. She clicked through videos to watch women giving oral sex. She focused on how they moved during sex and listened to how they moaned. She began shaving her vulva (''I've never seen anyone in porn have sex with hair on it'').
Porn is ''not all bad,'' said A., who was frank and funny, with a slew of advanced-placement classes on her transcript and a self-assured manner that impresses adults. ''I got my sexual ways from porn, and I like the way I am.'' But what she learned from porn had downsides too. Because she assumed women's pleasure in porn was real, when she first had intercourse and didn't have an orgasm, she figured that was just how it went.
For A., it wasn't enough to know that porn was fake sex. She wanted to understand how real sex worked. Rothman and her team did consult a sex educator while they were writing the Porn Literacy curriculum but decided to include only some basic information about safe sex. It came in the form of a ''Porn Jeopardy'' game during one class. The teenagers, clustered in teams, chose from four categories: S.T.D./S.T.I.s, Birth Control, Teen Violence/Sexual Assault and Porn on the Brain.
''S.T.I.s/S.T.D.s for $300,'' one student called out.
''Why is lubrication important for sex?'' Alder asked.
''What's lubrication?'' Drew asked.
''It's lube,'' another teenager said, in an attempt to explain.
''Is lubrication only the little tube-y things?'' a girl with long black hair asked. ''Or can it be natural?''
''I never learned this before,'' Drew announced to the class after it was mentioned that lubrication decreased friction, increased pleasure and could reduce the risk of tearing and therefore of S.T.I.s and S.T.D.s. Drew's only sliver of sex ed was in sixth grade with the school gym teacher, who sweated as he talked about sex, ''and it was all about it being bad and we shouldn't do it.''
As if to rectify that, Alder offered a quick anatomy lesson, drawing a vulva on the whiteboard and pointing out the clitoris, the vagina, the urethra. ''This is called a vulva,'' she said. Alder repeated the word slowly and loudly, as if instructing the students in a foreign language. It was both for humor and to normalize a word that some of them may have been hearing for the first time. ''This is the clitoris,'' Alder went on. ''This is where women get most pleasure. Most women do not have a G spot. If you want to know how to give a woman pleasure, it's the clitoris.''
''Let's move on,'' Rothman said quietly. Alder had just inched across a line in which anatomy rested on one side and female desire and pleasure on the other. It was a reminder that as controversial as it is to teach kids about pornography, it can be more taboo to teach them how their bodies work sexually. ''The class is about critically analyzing sexually explicit media,'' Rothman told me later, ''not how to have sex. We want to stay in our narrow lane and not be seen as promoting anything parents are uncomfortable with.'' Daley added: ''I wish it were different, but we have to be aware of the limitations of where we are as a society.''
Porn education is such new territory that no one knows the best practices, what material should be included and where to teach it. (Few people are optimistic that it will be taught anytime soon in public schools.) Several years ago, L. Kris Gowen, a sexuality educator and author of the 2017 book ''Sexual Decisions: The Ultimate Teen Guide,'' wrote extensive guidelines for teaching teenagers to critique ''sexually explicit media'' (she avoided the more provocative term ''porn literacy''). Even though Oregon, where Gowen lives, has one of the most comprehensive sex-ed programs in the country, Gowen said that teachers felt unequipped to talk about porn. And though the guidelines have been circulated at education conferences and made publicly available, Gowen doesn't know of a single educator who has implemented them. In part, she says, people may be waiting for a better sense of what's effective. But also, many schools and teachers are nervous about anything that risks them being ''accused of promoting porn.''
The most recent sex-education guidelines from the World Health Organization's European office note that educators should include discussions about the influence of pornography on sexuality starting with late elementary school and through high school. The guidelines don't, however, provide specific ideas on how to have those conversations.
In Britain, nonprofit organizations and a teachers' union, along with members of Parliament, have recommended that schools include discussions about the influence of porn on how children view sex and relationships. Magdalena Mattebo, a researcher at Uppsala University in Sweden who studies pornography and adolescents, would like porn literacy mandated in her country. ''We are a little lost in how to handle this,'' Mattebo told me.
More than 300 schools, youth and community groups and government agencies in Australia and New Zealand use components of a porn-education resource called ''In the Picture'' that includes statistics, studies and exercises primarily for teenagers. It was created by Maree Crabbe, an expert on sexual violence and pornography education, who lives near Melbourne, Australia. As she put it during a United States training program for educators and social workers that I attended in 2016: ''We want to be positive about sex, positive about masturbation and critical of pornography.'' One key component of the program is often neglected in porn literacy: providing training to help parents understand and talk about these issues.
Last year, a feminist porn producer, Erika Lust, in consultation with sex educators, created a porn-education website for parents. The Porn Conversation links to research and articles and provides practical tips for parents, including talking to kids about the ways mainstream porn doesn't represent typical bodies or mutually satisfying sex and avoiding accusatory questions about why your kid is watching porn and who showed it to them. ''We can't just say, 'I don't like mainstream porn because it's chauvinistic,''‰'' says Lust, whose films feature female-centered pleasure. ''We have given our children technology, so we need to teach them how to handle it.'' But she takes it a step further by suggesting that parents of middle- and high-schoolers talk to their teenagers about ''healthy porn,'' which she says includes showing female desire and pleasure and being made under fair working conditions. I asked Lust if she would steer her daughters in that direction when they are older (they are 7 and 10). ''I would recommend good sites to my daughters at age 15, when I think they are mature enough. We are so curious to find out about sex. People have doubts and insecurities about themselves sexually. 'Is it O.K. that I like that, or this?' I think porn can be a good thing to have as an outlet. I'm not scared by explicit sex per se. I'm afraid of the bad values.''
Tristan Taormino, another feminist porn filmmaker and author, speaks frequently on college campuses and produces explicit sex-ed videos for adults. ''The party line is we don't want teenagers watching our videos,'' she says, noting they are rated XXX. ''But do I wish teenagers had access to some of the elements of it?'' In addition to seeing consent, she said, ''they would see people talking to each other, and they'd see a lot of warm-up. We show lube, we show sex toys.''
That may be more than most parents, even of older teenagers, can bear. But even if parents decided to help their teenagers find these sites, not only is it illegal to show any kind of porn '-- good or bad '-- to anyone under 18, but, really, do teenagers want their parents to do so? And which ones would parents recommend for teenagers? ''Unlike organic food, there's no coding system for ethical or feminist porn,'' Crabbe notes. ''They might use condoms and dental dams and still convey the same gender and aggression dynamics.'' Also, ''good porn'' isn't typically free or nearly as accessible as the millions of videos streaming on mainstream sites.
Al Vernacchio, a nationally known sexuality educator who teaches progressive sex ed at a private Quaker school outside Philadelphia, believes the better solution is to make porn literacy part of the larger umbrella of comprehensive sex education. Vernacchio, who is the author of the 2014 book ''For Goodness Sex: Changing the Way We Talk to Teens About Sexuality, Values, and Health,'' is one of those rare teenage-sex educators who talks directly to his high school students about sexual pleasure and mutuality, along with the ingredients for healthy relationships. The problem with porn ''is not just that it often shows misogynistic, unhealthy representations of relationships,'' Vernacchio says. ''You can't learn relationship skills from porn, and if you are looking for pleasure and connection, porn can't teach you how to have those.''
Crabbe notes one effective way to get young men to take fewer lessons from porn: ''Tell them if you want to be a lazy, selfish lover, look at porn. If you want to be a lover where your partner says, 'That was great,' you won't learn it from porn.'' And parents should want their teenagers to be generous lovers, Cindy Gallop argues. ''Our parents bring us up to have good manners, a work ethic. But nobody brings us up to behave well in bed.''
To prepare his students to be comfortable and respectful in sexual situations, Vernacchio shows photos, not just drawings, of genitalia to his high-schoolers. ''Most people are having sex with real people, not porn stars, and real bodies are highly variable. I would much rather my students have that moment of asking questions or confusion or even laughter in my classroom rather than when they see their partner's naked body for the first time.'' He, along with Debby Herbenick, who is also the author of the 2012 book ''Sex Made Easy: Your Awkward Questions Answered for Better, Smarter Amazing Sex,'' advocate that adolescents should understand that most females don't have orgasms by penetration alone, and that clitoral stimulation often requires oral sex, fingers and sex toys. As she notes: ''It's part of human life, and you teach it in smart, sensitive ways.''
As the students from the first Porn Literacy classes moved through their lives in the year after their courses ended, some things from the discussions stayed with them. In surveys from the first three sets of classes, one-third of the students still said they would agree to do things from porn if their partner asked them to. Several also wanted to try things they saw in porn. They were, after all, normal, sexually curious, experimenting teenagers. But only a tiny number of students agreed in the postclass survey that ''most people like to be slapped, spanked or have their hair pulled during sex,'' compared with 27 percent at the start of class. And while at the beginning, 45 percent said that porn was a good way for young people to learn about sex, now only 18 percent agreed. By the end of the class, no one said pornography was realistic; just over one-quarter had believed that at the outset. The survey didn't reveal the catalyst for the changes. Was it the curriculum itself? Was it something about Daley and Alder's teaching style? It's possible the students created the changes themselves, teaching one another through their in-class debates and discussions.
A., the young woman who said she had never seen an image of a penis until she watched porn, resisted the idea that porn was uniformly bad for teenagers. ''At least kids are watching porn and not going out and getting pregnant,'' she said. But recently, she told me that she'd given up watching it altogether. She disliked looking at women's expressions now, believing that they probably weren't experiencing pleasure and might be in pain. When Drew watched porn, he found himself wondering if women were having sex against their will. As another student said with a sigh: ''Nicole and Jess ruined porn for us.''
In the months after the class, A. had created a new mission for herself: She was going to always have orgasms during sex. ''And I did it!'' she told me. It helped that she had been in a relationship with a guy who was open and asked what she liked. But even if Porn Literacy didn't go into as many details about sex as she would have liked, ''in this indirect way, the class shows what you deserve and don't deserve,'' she said. ''In porn, the guy cares only about himself. I used to think more about 'Am I doing something right or wrong?''‰'' Porn may neglect women's orgasms, but A. wasn't going to anymore.
Drew, who had once used porn as his main sex educator, was now thinking about sex differently. ''Some things need to come to us naturally, not by watching it and seeing what turns you on,'' he told me. The discussions about anatomy and fake displays of pleasure made him realize that girls didn't always respond as they did in porn and that they didn't all want the same things. And guys didn't, either. Maybe that porn clip in which the nice, tender guy didn't excite the girl was wrong. What Drew needed was a girl who was open and honest, as he was, and with whom he could start to figure out how to have good sex. It would take some time and most likely involve some fumbling. But Drew was O.K. with that. He was just starting out.
Maggie Jones is a contributing writer for the magazine and teaches writing at the University of Pittsburgh's M.F.A. program. She has been a finalist for a National Magazine Award and a Nieman fellow at Harvard University
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A version of this article appears in print on February 11, 2018, on Page MM30 of the Sunday Magazine with the headline: When Porn Is Sex Ed.
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His 2020 Campaign Message: The Robots Are Coming - The New York Times
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:58
Alarmist? Sure. But Mr. Yang's doomsday prophecy echoes the concerns of a growing number of labor economists and tech experts who are worried about the coming economic consequences of automation. A 2017 report by McKinsey & Company, the consulting firm, concluded that by 2030 '-- three presidential terms from now '-- as many as one-third of American jobs may disappear because of automation. (Other studies have given cheerier forecasts, predicting that new jobs will replace most of the lost ones.)
Photo Mr. Yang has proposed monthly payments of $1,000 for every American from age 18 to 64. ''I'm a capitalist,'' he said, ''and I believe that universal basic income is necessary for capitalism to continue.'' Credit Guerin Blask for The New York Times Perhaps it was inevitable that a tech-skeptic candidate would try to seize the moment. Scrutiny of tech companies like Facebook and Google has increased in recent years, and worries about monopolistic behavior, malicious exploitation of social media and the addictive effects of smartphones have made a once-bulletproof industry politically vulnerable. Even industry insiders have begun to join the backlash.
To fend off the coming robots, Mr. Yang is pushing what he calls a ''Freedom Dividend,'' a monthly check for $1,000 that would be sent to every American from age 18 to 64, regardless of income or employment status. These payments, he says, would bring everyone in America up to approximately the poverty line, even if they were directly hit by automation. Medicare and Medicaid would be unaffected under Mr. Yang's plan, but people receiving government benefits such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program could choose to continue receiving those benefits, or take the $1,000 monthly payments instead.
The Freedom Dividend isn't a new idea. It's a rebranding of universal basic income, a policy that has been popular in academic and think-tank circles for decades, was favored by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and the economist Milton Friedman, and has more recently caught the eye of Silicon Valley technologists. Elon Musk, Mark Zuckerberg and the venture capitalist Marc Andreessen have all expressed support for the idea of a universal basic income. Y Combinator, the influential start-up incubator, is running a basic incomeexperiment with 3,000 participants in two states.
Despite its popularity among left-leaning academics and executives, universal basic income is still a leaderless movement that has yet to break into mainstream politics. Mr. Yang thinks he can sell the idea in Washington by framing it as a pro-business policy.
''I'm a capitalist,'' he said, ''and I believe that universal basic income is necessary for capitalism to continue.''
Mr. Yang, a married father of two boys, is a fast-talking extrovert who wears the nu-executive uniform of a blazer and jeans without a tie. He keeps a daily journal of things he's grateful for, and peppers conversations with business-world catchphrases like ''core competency.'' After graduating from Brown University and Columbia Law School, he quit his job at a big law firm and began working in tech. He ran an internet start-up that failed during the first dot-com bust, worked as an executive at a health care start-up and helped build a test-prep business that was acquired by Kaplan in 2009, netting him a modest fortune.
He caught the political bug after starting Venture for America, an organization modeled after Teach for America that connects recent college graduates with start-up businesses. During his travels to Midwestern cities, he began to connect the growth of anti-establishment populism with the rise of workplace automation.
''The reason Donald Trump was elected was that we automated away four million manufacturing jobs in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin,'' he said. ''If you look at the voter data, it shows that the higher the level of concentration of manufacturing robots in a district, the more that district voted for Trump.''
Mr. Yang's skepticism of technology extends beyond factory robots. In his campaign book, ''The War on Normal People,'' he writes that he wants to establish a Department of the Attention Economy in order to regulate social media companies like Facebook and Twitter. He also proposes appointing a cabinet-level secretary of technology, based in Silicon Valley, to study the effects of emerging technologies.
Critics may dismiss Mr. Yang's campaign (slogan: ''Humanity First'') as a futurist vanity stunt. The Democratic pipeline is already stuffed with would-be 2020 contenders, most of whom already have the public profile and political experience that Mr. Yang lacks '-- and at least one of whom, Senator Bernie Sanders, has already hinted at support for a universal basic income.
Opponents of universal basic income have also pointed to its steep price tag '-- an annual outlay of $12,000 per American adult would cost approximately $2 trillion, equivalent to roughly half of the current federal budget '-- and the possibility that giving out free money could encourage people not to work. These reasons, among others, are why Hillary Clinton, who considered adding universal basic income to her 2016 platform, concluded it was ''exciting but not realistic.''
''In our political culture, there are formidable political obstacles to providing cash to working-age people who aren't employed, and it's unlikely that U.B.I. could surmount them,'' Robert Greenstein, the president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington research group, wrote last year.
But Mr. Yang thinks he can make the case. He has proposed paying for a basic income with a value-added tax, a consumption-based levy that he says would raise money from companies that profit from automation. A recent study by the Roosevelt Institute, a left-leaning policy think-tank, suggested that such a plan, paid for by a progressive tax plan, could grow the economy by more than 2 percent and provide jobs for 1.1 million more people.
''Universal basic income is an old idea,'' Mr. Yang said, ''but it's an old idea that right now is uniquely relevant because of what we're experiencing in society.''
Mr. Yang's prominent supporters include Andy Stern, a former leader of Service Employees International Union, who credited him with ''opening up a discussion that the country's afraid to have.'' His campaign has also attracted some of Silicon Valley's elites. Tony Hsieh, the chief executive of Zappos, is an early donor to Mr. Yang's campaign, as are several venture capitalists and high-ranking alumni of Facebook and Google.
Mr. Yang, who has raised roughly $130,000 since filing his official paperwork with the Federal Election Commission in November, says he will ultimately raise millions from supporters in the tech industry and elsewhere to supplement his own money.
Mr. Yang has other radical ideas, too. He wants to appoint a White Housepsychologist, ''make taxes fun'' by turning April 15 into a national holiday and put into effect ''digital social credits,'' a kind of gamified reward system to encourage socially productive behavior. To stem corruption, he suggests increasing the president's salary to $4 million from its current $400,000, and sharply raising the pay of other federal regulators, while barring them from accepting paid speaking gigs or lucrative private-sector jobs after leaving office.
And although he said he was socially liberal, he admitted that he hadn't fully developed all his positions. (On most social issues, Mr. Yang said, ''I believe what you probably think I believe.'')
The likelihood, of course, is that Mr. Yang's candidacy won't end with a parade down Pennsylvania Avenue. Still, experts I spoke with were glad to have him talking about the long-term risks of automation, at a time when much of Washington is consumed with the immediate and visible.
Erik Brynjolfsson, the director of M.I.T.'s Initiative on the Digital Economy and a co-author of ''The Second Machine Age,'' praised Mr. Yang for bringing automation's economic effects into the conversation.
''This is a serious problem, and it's going to get a lot worse,'' Mr. Brynjolfsson said. ''In every election for the next 10 or 20 years, this will become a more salient issue, and the candidates who can speak to it effectively will do well.''
Mr. Yang knows he could sound the automation alarm without running for president. But he feels a sense of urgency. In his view, there's no time to mess around with think-tank papers and ''super PACs,'' because the clock is ticking.
''We have five to 10 years before truckers lose their jobs,'' he said, ''and all hell breaks loose.''
Email Kevin Roose at kevin.roose@nytimes.com, or follow him on Facebook at facebook.com/kevinroose and on Twitter: @kevinroose.
A version of this article appears in print on February 11, 2018, on Page BU1 of the New York edition with the headline: His 2020 Slogan: Beware of Robots.
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What is UBI? - Andrew Yang for President | Andrew Yang for President
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:58
The idea of guaranteeing every citizen an income from the government is an old one, first recorded during the Renaissance. In America, it was picked up by founding father Thomas Paine, who referred to the payments as a ''natural inheritance.''
UBI and similar cash programs began picking up steam in the mid 20th century during the industrial revolution as early as 1918. With developed countries producing more than ever, the idea resurfaced with intensity being backed by numerous Nobel-Prize winning economists such as Milton Friedman and F.A. Hayek.
In the 1960s, Martin Luther King Jr. gave his support, alongside over 1,000 economists from over 125 universities who signed a letter to President Nixon requesting income guarantees.
The idea of a guaranteed income floor was pushed into a bill under President Nixon in 1970 where it passed the United States House of Representatives. It died in the Senate because Democrats sought a higher guaranteed income.
Today the idea has gained support from Mark Zuckerberg, Robert Reich, Elon Musk, Bill Gross, Richard Branson, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Noam Chomsky, the conservative Cato Institute, and many others.
Universal Basic Income is not new '' it is an old idea whose time has come.
Here are some of the people who have supported Universal Basic Income over the years:
Martin Luther King Jr., 1967: ''I am now convinced that the simplest approach will prove to be the most effective '-- the solution to poverty is to abolish it directly by a now widely discussed measure: the guaranteed income.''
Richard Nixon, August 1969: ''What I am proposing is that the Federal Government build a foundation under the income of every American family . . . that cannot care for itself''and wherever in America that family may live.''
Milton Friedman (Nobel-winning economist), 1980: ''We should replace the ragbag of specific welfare programs with a single comprehensive program of income supplements in cash '-- a negative income tax . . . which would do more efficiently and humanely what our present welfare system does so inefficiently and inhumanely.''
Bernie Sanders, May 2014: ''In my view, every American is entitled to at least a minimum standard of living . . .There are different ways to get to that goal, but that's the goal that we should strive to reach.''
Barack Obama, October 2016: ''as AI gets further incorporated, and the society potentially gets wealthier, the link between production and distribution, how much you work and how much you make, gets further and further attenuated . . . we'll be debating unconditional free money over the next 10 or 20 years.''
Elon Musk, February 2017: ''I think we'll end up doing universal basic income . . . It's going to be necessary . . .There will be fewer and fewer jobs that a robot cannot do better. I want to be clear. These are not things I wish will happen; these are things I think probably will happen.''
Mark Zuckerberg, May 2017: ''We should explore . . . universal basic income so that everyone has a cushion to try new ideas.''
Vegas MAssacre
Las Vegas Gunman's Brain Exam Only Deepens Mystery of His Actions - The New York Times
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:11
There was no evidence of frontotemporal lobar degeneration, which affects ''executive functions,'' including decision-making and social interactions, and can cause personality changes and unrestrained behavior. That disease would likely have been inconsistent with someone able to engage in meticulous planning.
Mr. Paddock had complained to friends of feeling ill, in pain and fatigued, according to a preliminary report on the police investigation released last month. Mr. Paddock's girlfriend, Marilou Danley, told investigators that he had grown more distant over the year before the shooting. The law enforcement report described Mr. Paddock as ''germaphobic'' and strongly reactive to smells.
A primary care physician in Las Vegas '-- who said he had been Mr. Paddock's doctor since 2009 and had last seen him as a patient roughly a year before the shooting '-- told officials that he suspected Mr. Paddock had bipolar disorder. That psychological disorder, however, cannot be identified in a typical post-mortem examination of brain structures. And while some studies have shown that people with bipolar disorder are more likely to have a history of violent behavior than the general public, the majority of them do not, and the relationship between mental health and violence involves many other factors.
The doctor, who was not named in the report, also described Mr. Paddock as having behaved oddly, showing little emotion and expressing fear of medications. Mr. Paddock had refused prescriptions for antidepressants, but the physician had prescribed anti-anxiety medicine for him.
A toxicology report showed he did have anti-anxiety medication in his system, based on a test of his urine. It was no longer detectable in his blood, meaning it was not active. The autopsy, performed by the Clark County coroner, and its related reports were obtained by The New York Times on Friday, and were first reported on by The Las Vegas Review-Journal, which had gone to court with The Associated Press to secure their release.
The examination showed that certain sections of Mr. Paddock's brain contained small spheres that can be seen when the tissue is treated with a stain. The structures, made up mostly of carbohydrates but also containing proteins and other components, are known as corpora amylacea. They studded parts of his hippocampus '-- involved in learning and memory '-- and the frontal lobes, among other areas. ''Most people would have them at that age, but not in that profusion,'' Dr. Vogel said. ''It's a striking exaggeration of an age-related finding.''
The cause and meaning of the structures remain mysterious, the subject of ongoing research. They appear as people grow older and are found at greater density in the brains of patients with Alzheimer's disease, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy, among other disorders. Dr. Vogel searched for signs of those diseases, but he did not detect them in Mr. Paddock's brain.
Three scientists who study corpora amylacea said in interviews that the increased presence of the structures was significant. ''If you have high numbers of these, something's not normal,'' said Troy Rohn, a professor of biology at Boise State University.
Other scientists believe the structures are akin to wastebaskets that contain remnants of broken-down cells or even infectious or hazardous substances.
Dr. Hyman Schipper, a professor of neurology at McGill University in Montreal, said his laboratory's studies have found evidence that corpora amylacea can result from the damage caused by unstable molecules known as free radicals, which can be unleashed by various stressors. ''It's telling you something and it could be very important,'' Dr. Schipper said of the finding in Mr. Paddock's brain.
Even so, Dr. Vogel, the Stanford neuropathologist, said the results of his examination should reassure the public that Mr. Paddock's doctors had not missed diagnosing a tumor or other major brain disorder that could have been treated.
The Clark County coroner's office had sent 129 brains to Stanford for examination before Mr. Paddock's. Typically they arrive by FedEx, but with heavy public interest in Mr. Paddock's case, the coroner, John Fudenberg, hand-delivered the brain '-- and Dr. Vogel has been asked to return it in person.
Eric Paddock, the gunman's brother, who also received a copy of the reports, said they did not provide answers to the fundamental question of what drove his brother to his deadly actions. Still, he said, ''I'm glad to have this closed out.''
Follow Sheri Fink on Twitter @SheriFink.
A version of this article appears in print on February 11, 2018, on Page A20 of the New York edition with the headline: Exam of Gunman's Brain Keeps Motive in Las Vegas Shooting a Secret.
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Circular Reporting
'Follow the money': Senator probes Trump's $95 million Palm Beach mansion sale - ABC News
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:13
A leading Senate Democrat has called on the Treasury Department to turn over banking and real estate records related to Donald Trump's 2008 sale of a six-acre Palm Beach estate to a Russian billionaire '' a real estate flip that yielded Trump $95 million after paying $41 million for the property just four years earlier.
Interested in Donald Trump? Add Donald Trump as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Donald Trump news, video, and analysis from ABC News. ''It is imperative that Congress follow the money and conduct a thorough investigation into any potential money laundering or other illicit financial dealings between the president, his associates, and Russia,'' wrote Sen. Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee that is investigating 2016 election meddling.
The transaction between Trump and Russian oligarch Dmitry Rybolovlev is being reviewed by Special Counsel Robert Mueller's team, Wyden says in his letter, citing a report by Bloomberg News.
In a 2016 interview with ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Trump maintained that the real estate deal was one of the few deals he had ever done directly involving a Russian buyer.
''The primary thing I did with Russia, I bought a house in Palm Beach at a bankruptcy'... I bought it for about $40 million. I sold it for $100 million to a Russian,'' Trump said. ''And that was primarily it.''
At the time, he attributed the mark-up to renovations he made on the property.
Xavier Laine/Getty Images Dmitry Rybolovlev attends the French Ligue 1 match between Paris Saint-Germain and AS Monaco at Parc des Princes, March 20, 2016 in Paris. Representatives for the Trump Organization and the Treasury Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Wyden, who also sits on the Senate Finance Committee, said in his letter to Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin that he has questions about the deal, which at the time was considered one of the most expensive house sales on record. Wyden noted the deal emerged at a time when published reports indicated Trump was having difficulty finding banks to lend him money and the sale came just months before Trump Entertainment Resorts filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
''In the context of the President's then-precarious financial position, I believe that the Palm Beach property sale warrants further scrutiny,'' Wyden wrote.
The purpose of a request to Treasury is to gain access to Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) '' records the Treasury Department keeps of large transactions that raise red flags for possible money laundering. Wyden is also seeking copies of records collected by the Treasury Department that would identify the parties who later bought slices of the Palm Beach estate, which Rybolovlev subdivided after the 2008 purchase.
Those sales, to anonymous shell corporations, would have been difficult to scrutinize, but these occurred after the Treasury Department began requiring title insurance companies in specific areas, including Palm Beach County, to demand the identities of individual buyers and file reports with those names.
Bloomberg/Getty Images Senator Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon and ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, speaks during a House-Senate conference meeting on the Republican led tax reform bill at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. Dec. 13, 2017. Wyden has led an effort for months to obtain copies of financial records from the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, known as FinCen, including any suspicious activity reports related to dozens of people connected to Trump's past business dealings. After receiving an initial batch of records, Senate investigators have received nothing from Treasury, according to sources familiar with the requests.
When Bloomberg News first reported last summer that the Palm Beach mansion sale was being studied by the special counsel, one of Trump's attorneys raised objections. Attorney John Dowd told Bloomberg that transaction and others like it went ''well beyond the mandate of special counsel.''
During the campaign, Trump told ABC News the deal was evidence of nothing except his business acumen.
''I have no relationship to Russia whatsoever,'' he said.
General leaves National Security Council after leak of 5G telecom memo: report | Fox News
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:19
Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding. (U.S. Air Force)
A U.S. Air Force brigadier general has returned to the military branch after service with the National Security Council following the leak of a memo that advocated for a government takeover of development of the nation's 5G mobile telecom network, according to a report.
Air Force Brig. Gen. Robert Spalding was the author of the memo, which became the focus of a story by news organization Axios that irked the telecom industry and irritated the White House, the Washington Post reported Saturday.
Spalding's last day with the NSC was Jan. 31, the Post reported, citing information from a senior Trump administration official. The report said Spalding was not implicated in the leak, but officials decided his backing of the potential government takeover of the 5G network exceeded his NSC role.
The brigadier general was told he would be leaving the NSC before his memo and PowerPoint proposal were leaked, the report said.
In recent weeks, senior officials became concerned that Spalding had pushed too hard for the takeover the idea, the report added.
Last week the Wall Street Journal reported that some White House officials viewed next-generation 5G wireless service as a ''key area of competition,'' and saw a potential threat from China as justification for a ''moonshot'' government effort behind the network's development.
But after the Axios story appeared, Federal Communications Comission chairman Ajit Pai told the New York Times that he opposed the idea of a government-built 5G network, and industry group USTelecom said government involvement would likely slow the technology's development.
There were no plans to replace Spalding at NSC, the Post reported. Spalding declined the newspaper's request for comment.
Influenza potentially made stronger by vaccines | News | burnettcountysentinel.com
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:35
The flu season has been in full swing for a few months. The seasonal disease has mutated over the years, and professionals say it has been made stronger as medicine continues to process vaccines.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) this season's flu is widespread in 49 states, Wisconsin and Minnesota are covered in high levels of the flu.
''I believe that the low effective rate of the vaccine this year is due to the mutations that the virus made in the processing of the vaccine itself,'' said Anna Treague, nurse for Public Health. ''That is at least part of the reason that influenza cases are so widespread this year.''
The flu or influenza is a seasonal contagious respiratory disease that is caused by influenza viruses. The CDC says the dominant strain this year is H3N2, which tends to be more severe and causes more severe symptoms than most other strains.
Treague said that symptoms include fever, chills, headache, dry cough and aching of muscles and joints. They usually appear 1 to 3 days after being infected with most people recovering within a week.
''The H3N2 strain also has proven to not be as impacted by the vaccines as other strains,'' Treague said.
That being said, Treague still suggests everyone should get a flu shot.
''If you are able, get the flu shot,'' Treague said. ''Even if the flu vaccine isn't as effective as it has been in year's past it does help. Some protection is better than no protection.''
A number of different influenza vaccines are produced every year. The most common uses a chicken egg to grow the virus, which is why people with an egg allergy need a special type of vaccine. Some vaccines are trivalent (containing 3 virus strains) or quadrivalent (containing 4 virus strains.)
Treague said the flu shot is a inactive/killed virus and the nasal spray from in alive, but weakened strain.
Typically production for the next year's flu shots are developed before the current season of the flu ended.
Treague explained that there are two main viruses associated with the flu, type A and type B. It spread through droplets of moisture that go from person to person when they sneeze, cough, or talk. Those droplets are then inhaled by another person and that is how it spreads.
''I think it is important that people know how serious influenza can be for certain people, especially those who are very young and the older population,'' Treague said.
She said this is because at the beginning and end of one's life their immune system is not as strong and their bodies have to work harder to fight off viruses and compensate for the symptoms of influenza.
''Fortunately, in Wisconsin to date there has been no influenza-associated pediatric deaths reported, whereas nationwide there have been 37,'' Treague said.
Treague said anyone experiencing symptoms should see their doctor immediately so it can be caught in the early stages and treated with antiviral medication. She also stressed proper hand hygiene and covering one's mouth when coughing is instrumental in not spreading the flu.
''Another thing to help avoid spreading influenza, if you are sick, stay home,'' Treague said ''Please take a break from daily errands and rest, don't venture out unless needed, if you have to venture out wear a mask, to prevent the spreading of the virus through those moisture droplets.''
War on Babies
Couple Announces New Cat With Hilarious 'Birth' Photoshoot - The Dodo
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:48
Every time a shelter cat is adopted into a loving home, it's cause for celebration. But one couple who recently did just that decided to let the world know about their furry new family member in the most unforgettable way.
They made a "birth" photo shoot starring their new kitty. Unsurprisingly, people can't get enough of it.
Photographer Lucy Schultz and her partner, Steven, don't have any kids of their own, but they are now the proud parents of a kitten whom they adopted earlier this month. Though it wasn't a move they made lightly, they knew how they wanted to memorialize the occasion when the time was right.
"I'd been talking about doing a kitten announcement shoot when I was finally ready to adopt for over a year," Schultz told The Dodo. "I just wanted to celebrate my cat adoption milestone as it's something I've looked forward to for such a long time."
Schultz enlisted the help of her colleague, photographer Elizabeth Woods-Darby. The two have worked together documenting human births so, as Schultz said, "it was natural territory to recreate the classic poses of birth and newborn photography" for the new cat.
"It was hard to keep a straight face through all the hilarity of it," Schultz said. "We had a blast!"
Fortunately, the "birth" went smoothly.
Here are some tender photos taken of the new family.
The photo shoot is certainly comical, but there's nothing insincere about how much love they have for their new pet.
"Elizabeth perfectly captured the excitement of our new bundle," Schultz said. "He really does bring us so much joy!"
The complete album of photos from the shoot has since gone viral on social media, and it's easy to see why. Hilarity aside, Schultz hopes it might inspire others to grow their own families with a pet in need of love:
"My message to everyone who is digging these photos is to check out your local shelter, consider volunteering or become a foster home and consider adopting one of the amazing homeless pets out there!"
Thinking about adopting? Then meet Dodo Adoptbot, an interactive guide for new pet parents. Get started on Facebook Messenger or text HOME to 38349.
NBC Apologizes After Japan Comment Draws Anger in South Korea - The New York Times
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 14:03
Photo Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan at a women's hockey game between Japan and Sweden at the 2018 Olympics. Credit Jae C. Hong/Associated Press SEOUL, South Korea '-- The American network NBC has apologized after one of its analysts drew anger for a comment during coverage of the Pyeongchang Olympics that seemed to gloss over South Korea's painful history with Japan, its former colonial master.
The analyst, Joshua Cooper Ramo, made the comment while appearing with Katie Couric and Mike Tirico during the opening ceremony on Friday. Noting that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan was in attendance, Mr. Ramo described Japan as ''a country which occupied Korea from 1910 to 1945, but every Korean will tell you that Japan is a cultural, technological and economic example that has been so important to their own transformation.''
The remark immediately ignited outrage in South Korea, the Olympic host nation, where resentment of Japan's harsh early 20th-century annexation of the Korean Peninsula continues to simmer. Just last month, Mr. Abe's attendance at the Games was in question after tensions escalated over Japan's refusal to reissue an apology for the Japanese military's role in forcing Korean and other women to work in military brothels during World War II.
Soon after Mr. Ramo's remark, an online petition began to circulate demanding an apology from NBC. By Sunday, more than 8,000 people had signed it.
''Any reasonable person familiar with the history of Japanese imperialism, and the atrocities it committed before and during WWII, would find such statement deeply hurtful and outrageous,'' the petition read. ''And no, no South Korean would attribute the rapid growth and transformation of its economy, technology, and political/cultural development to the Japanese imperialism.''
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VIDEO - Behind the real life story of '15:17 to Paris' - YouTube
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 15:43
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VIDEO - Northeastern professor caught saying he wouldn't mind seeing Trump 'dead'; apologizes following backlash | Fox News
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 14:09
Barry Bluestone, an economics professor at Northeastern University, was caught on video saying he wouldn't mind seeing President Trump 'dead." (AP/Northeastern University)
A Northeastern University professor who was caught on video during a lecture saying that he wouldn't mind seeing President Trump ''dead'' is apologizing amid a social media backlash and a statement from the school distancing itself from the remarks.
Barry Bluestone, an economics professor and founding director of Northeastern's Dukakis Center for Urban and Regional Policy, made the controversial comments during a Jan. 31 lecture on the challenges posed by economic inequality and stagnation.
''Sometimes I want to just see him impeached other times, quite honestly '-- I hope there are no FBI agents here '-- I wouldn't mind seeing him dead,'' Bluestone was quoted by multiple news agencies as saying in a YouTube video of the event that has since been yanked offline by the Boston school.
The journalist sitting next to him during the lecture, Robert Kuttner, then quickly added ''of natural causes'', which Bluestone affirmed by repeating and nodding, according to Campus Reform.
But Bluestone told Fox News on Thursday afternoon that the comments were made in the ''heat of the moment at the end of a two-hour lecture'' and that they are being ''misconstrued'' as a violent threat.
''I meant to say I would have liked to see the president disappear from the White House,'' he said, noting that he has ''apologized to everyone for using that term.''
Bluestone added that ''everybody knows me as a proponent of non-violent action'' and that he just wants to see ''more people standing up and protesting'' Trump's policies and ''racism'' and getting to the voting booths during election time.
''This president has created such deep divisions in the country,'' Bluestone told Fox News. ''I've never seen in my life such anger and division.''
Northeastern University told Fox News on Thursday that it has taken down a video of the event posted online over the backlash that Bluestone's comments have been generating.
''Professor Bluestone's comments do not reflect the views of Northeastern University,'' spokeswoman Renata Nyul said. ''The university and its leaders steadfastly oppose violence in all its forms. While faculty members are free to express controversial opinions, the university cannot provide a public platform for comments that could be construed to condone violence.''
The school did not respond though when asked by Fox News if Bluestone faces any disciplinary action.
Bluestone said school officials also never reached out to him before making their stance public.
''The university unfortunately didn't call me and ask to clarify the statement and took the video down,'' he told Fox News, adding that he ''would have apologized to them.''
Bluestone has since been blasted on social media for the remarks, with some calling for his firing.
''You owe the public, your students, the university and Trump an apology,'' one Twitter user wrote.
''This "Professor" - Barry Bluestone - should be investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation!'' said another.
Bluestone said he has received a lot of hate mail, but also messages of support for his position.
''I want to thank you for standing up for all of us, we need more people like you'' he said one message read.
''I've [also] gotten epithets with lots of four letter words wishing death on me, but that goes with the territory, I guess,'' he added.
VIDEO - Florida Woman Says Airline At BWI Airport Told Her To Flush Pet Hamster - YouTube
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 14:06
VIDEO - The War Against Zika: Fighting Mosquitoes With Mosquitoes CBS Miami
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:54
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MIAMI (CBSMiami) '' Thousands of male mosquitoes were released in South Miami's Brewer Park Thursday.
They have been rendered sterile in a Kentucky lab by a company called MosquitoMate.
The mosquitoes were left incapable of impregnating females, after being infused with a Wolbachia bacteria.
The plan is over six months to release six million of the bugs that don't bite, but have a healthy sex drive, and will mate with females whose eggs won't hatch.
''We would expect to see the mosquito population decline,'' said Dr. William Petrie, Miami's director of mosquito control. ''If it works really successfully, the population will crash.''
The sterile mosquito release is aimed at preventing another Zika virus epidemic like one that two summers ago saw the air filled with planes spraying potentially toxic pesticide over wide areas. MosquitoMate, that developed the sterile mosquitoes, says previous trials have seen big results in knocking out those that carry Zika.
''Last year in the Florida Keys, we saw an 80 percent reduction in the female, adult aedes aegypti population,'' said MosquitoMate's Dr. Patrick Kelly.
In the limited Keys trial, the mosquitoes made sterile with bacteria were used after protests blocked the release of mosquitoes that had been genetically modified to be sterile.
The bacteria in the mosquitoes being released now can't be spread to humans or other animals.
South Miami's mayor, Phillip Stoddard, a biologist and zealous environmentalist, says the mosquitoes, that will be released in batches of 20,000 at a time through July 31st, pose no danger.
''This is the only technology that has zero downside to it,'' Stoddard said.
Zika can cause microcephaly '' abnormally small heads and brain damage '' in children whose mothers have or have had the virus.
Carlyle Concern held her three-month-old newborn as she watched the anti-Zika mosquitoes taking to the air Thursday, and said the program is a welcomed development.
She was pregnant with her eldest child during the height of the previous Zika epidemic.
''I had to stay mostly indoors and be covered, so it wasn't really an enjoyable pregnancy,'' Concern said.
If test runs in Miami-Dade and other cities produce good results, the release of sterile mosquitos on a broad scale could get government approval next year, according to MosquitoMate.
More positive buzz for the anti-Zika trial is that it's not costing Miami-Dade County anything.
The $4.1 million program is being funded by the Florida Department of Health with a grant from the Centers for Disease Control.
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VIDEO - VIDEO: Hillary suffers coughing fit while promising 'to never give up' - The American MirrorThe American Mirror
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:25
Failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton wants women to #raiseyourvoice, though she struggled to heed the slogan as she fought back a coughing fit during this week's ''The MAKERS Conference.''
The conference '' inspired by Gloria Steinem, Lena Waithe and the ''Time's Up'' movement '' ran from Monday through Wednesday to celebrate all kinds of liberal feminist ''MAKERS,'' from outspoken actress Lena Dunham to Clinton, Martha Stewart and Oprah Winfrey, through panel discussions and other programs.
On Wednesday, Clinton streamed into the conference on a live feed from New York to give closing remarks, though she struggled to contain a massive coughing fit '' a problem that plagued her throughout the 2016 presidential campaign.
''From Hollywood to politics to factory floors, everywhere women are telling the truth about their lives,'' Clinton said in a clip from the address, posted to Twitter by InStyle. ''And let's make sure the world in never the same.
''You know. We have to be brave. We have to be brave enough to engage with people who disagree with us, brave enough to question and examine our own beliefs, brave enough to acknowledge that even those of us who have spent much of our life thinking about and fighting about gender issues '' who even have first-hand experiences navigating male-dominated industries '' may not always get it right,'' she continued.
''I pledge to continue to speak out. I pledge to never give up '...,'' Clinton said as her voice trailed off and she began hacking into her hand.
''I will do everything I can '...,'' she tried again, taking a swig of water.
Clinton tried to play it off, but continued to choke back a cough, repeatedly stopping to clear her throat.
''To keep my voice, number one '' to advance the rights and opportunities of women,'' she said in a horse rasp as the audience laughed. ''In the midst of this snowstorm '... stay on the frontlines of democracy.''
The former first lady continued to sip water and even popped a lozenge in a failed attempt to quell the coughing fit. As she hacked away on a massive screen before the live audience at the Los Angeles event, conference organizers heaped praise on Clinton as ''the definition of what it means to be a maker.''
''What a way to give Hillary Clinton the final word after three days of raising our voices. A women who has raised her voice her entire life,'' the organizer said.
''Thank you,'' Clinton mouthed, taking another sip from her mug.
Clinton's repeated coughing fits and uncoordinated eye movements hampered her efforts to get out her message throughout the 2016 campaign, and drew questions from Donald Trump and others about her health.
Clinton repeatedly denied any serious health problems, despite the chronic coughing and an unexpected fainting spell during the 2016 service honoring those who died 2011 terrorist attacks.
VIDEO - Fondly remembering Chuck Schumer calling for a military parade in 2014 - YouTube
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:22
VIDEO - Mueller Expands Probe to Trump Business Transactions - Bloomberg
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:15
The U.S. special counsel investigating possible ties between the Donald Trump campaign and Russia in last year's election is examining a broad range of transactions involving Trump's businesses as well as those of his associates, according to a person familiar with the probe.
FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump's involvement in a controversial SoHo development in New York with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump's sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.
The investigation also has absorbed a money-laundering probe begun by federal prosecutors in New York into Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort.
Trump, Ross and Kushner attend a meeting at the White House on Feb. 2, 2017.
Photographer: Drew Angerer/Getty Images
John Dowd, one of Trump's lawyers, said on Thursday that he was unaware of the inquiry into Trump's businesses by the two-months-old investigation and considered it beyond the scope of what Special Counsel Robert Mueller should be examining.
''Those transactions are in my view well beyond the mandate of the Special counsel; are unrelated to the election of 2016 or any alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia and most importantly, are well beyond any Statute of Limitation imposed by the United States Code,'' he wrote in an email.
Markets FallMajor U.S. stock indices, which had been trading higher in the morning, fell as traders worried that the probe could derail Trump's growth agenda. The dollar fell against the euro and U.S. government bonds rose.
The president told the New York Times on Wednesday that any digging into matters beyond Russia would be out of bounds. Trump's businesses have involved Russians for years, however, making the boundaries fuzzy.
The Justice Department's May 17 order to Mueller instructs him to investigate ''any links and/or coordination between the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign'' as well as ''any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation,'' suggesting a relatively broad mandate.
Agents are interested in dealings with the Bank of Cyprus, where Wilbur Ross served as vice chairman before he became commerce secretary. In addition, they are examining the efforts of Jared Kushner, the President's son-in-law and senior aide, to secure financing for some of his family's real-estate properties. The information about the investigation was provided by someone familiar with the developing inquiry but not authorized to speak publicly.
The roots of Mueller's follow-the-money investigation lie partly in a wide-ranging money-laundering probe launched by then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara last year, according to the person.
For more on the Trump-Russia investigations, see this Q&A
Watch: Why Robert Mueller Is the Perfect Man for the JobFBI agents already had been gathering information about Manafort, according to two people with knowledge of that probe. Prosecutors hadn't yet begun presenting evidence to a grand jury. Trump fired Bharara in March.
The Manafort inquiry initially focused on actions involving a real-estate company he launched with money from Ukraine in 2008. By the time Bharara was fired, his office's investigation of possible money laundering extended well beyond that, according to the person briefed on the Mueller probe.
The Bharara investigation was consolidated into Mueller's inquiry, showing that the special counsel is taking an overarching approach. The various financial examinations constitute one thread of Mueller's inquiry, which encompasses computer hacking and the dissemination of stolen campaign and voter information as well as the actions of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.
Joshua Stueve, Mueller's spokesman, declined to comment, as did a Manafort spokesman and Abbe Lowell, a lawyer for Kushner.
Spokesmen for the White House, Trump Organization and Ross didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
Evade TaxesMueller's team is looking at the Trump SoHo hotel condominium development, which was a licensing deal with Bayrock Capital LLC. In 2010, the former finance director of Bayrock filed a lawsuit claiming the firm structured transactions in fraudulent ways to evade taxes. Bayrock was a key source of capital for Trump projects, including Trump SoHo.
The 2013 Miss Universe pageant is of interest because a prominent Moscow developer, Aras Agalarov, paid $20 million to bring the beauty spectacle there. About a third of that sum went to Trump in the form of a licensing fee, according to Forbes magazine. At the event, Trump met Herman Gref, chief executive of Russia's biggest bank, Sberbank PJSC. Agalarov's son, Emin, helped broker a meeting last year between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who was said to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton and her campaign.
Another significant financial transaction involved a Palm Beach, Florida, estate Trump purchased in 2004 for $41 million, after its previous owner lost it in bankruptcy. In March of 2008, after the real-estate bubble had begun losing air, Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev bought the property for $95 million.
As part of their investigation, Mueller's team has issued subpoenas to banks and filed requests for bank records to foreign lenders under mutual legal-assistance treaties, according to two of the people familiar with the matter.
VIDEO - How much info is Google getting from your phone? - YouTube
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 13:05
VIDEO - ''Why Do Women Wear Makeup at Work?'' Jordan Peterson STUMPS VICE Reporter - YouTube
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 12:48
VIDEO - Prime Minister Justin Trudeau holds town hall in Edmonton LIVE - YouTube
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 06:13
VIDEO - Belgische oud-premier schreeuwt en tiert in leeg parlement | Buitenland | Telegraaf.nl
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:22
08 feb. 2018 in BUITENLAND
Guy Verhofstadt, voorzitter van de liberale fractie in het Europees Parlement, houdt woensdag een wel heel vurig betoog. Hij wil dat Europeanen op kandidaten in heel Europa kunnen stemmen.
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VIDEO - Is Elon Musk's Tesla now just space junk? - YouTube
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:21
VIDEO - Barack Obama Trump Aint Shit by Deep Ascanbe
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 18:15
Snippet from John Gruber's The Talk Show, episode 214, published 2-9-2018 featuring guest Paul KafasisNot sure if this is real..
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VIDEO - Trump on Rob Porter: 'We wish him well ... He did a good job' - CNNPolitics
Sat, 10 Feb 2018 02:56
The President, in his first public comments since Porter's resignation on Wednesday, did not express any sympathy for the women Porter allegedly abused -- instead pointing to Porter's claim that "he's innocent."
"I found out about it recently and I was surprised by it," Trump said. "We certainly wish him well. It's obviously a very tough time for him. He did a very good job while he was in the White House."
"We hope that he will have a wonderful career," Trump added.
Trump focused on Porter's denial of the allegations that he struck his two-ex-wives while they were married.
"He says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that," Trump said. "He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, but you'll have to talk to him about that."
John Kelly facing questions
Trump's comments come as chief of staff John Kelly and other top White House officials are facing questions about why they did not act to remove Porter from his position after they found out about the allegations of domestic abuse.
Senior aides knew for months about the allegations levied against Porter by his ex-wives, even as Porter's stock in the West Wing continued to rise, multiple sources have told CNN. Porter denied the allegations but resigned on Wednesday.Even after the allegations surfaced publicly, sources told CNN that Kelly did not urge Porter to resign or seek to force him out. Instead, the White House released a statement from Kelly praising Porter's character.
It wasn't until the uproar over the allegations grew and more details surfaced that Porter resigned and Kelly put out a second statement expressing concern about the allegations.
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah acknowledged on Thursday the White House "could have done better" in its initial response to the allegations, a concession Trump was privately miffed about, CNN has learned.
The allegations against Porter and the problematic internal response to the allegations -- which former senior staffers had known about for months -- has led to tensions inside the West Wing, with Kelly's credibility in particular coming under fire.
Trump has also grown upset with his White House communications director Hope Hicks, who despite being in a romantic relationship with Porter helped craft the White House's initial pushback to the allegations, a source familiar said.
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