1008: Ghost Guns

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 55m
February 15th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Baron Sir Onymous of Dogpatch & Lower Slobbovia, Dame Nurse Kaytlyn

Associate Executive Producers: Andre Haas, Laurent BUREAU, Craig Porter, Jonne Kramer, Brad Horwitz, Gary Marquardt

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neil


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Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:29
Good dogs Reuters.com Privacy Policy Terms of Use
German court rules Facebook use of personal data illegal
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:18
BERLIN (Reuters) - A German consumer rights group said on Monday that a court had found Facebook's use of personal data to be illegal because the U.S. social media platform did not adequately secure the informed consent of its users.
The verdict, from a Berlin regional court, comes as Big Tech faces increasing scrutiny in Germany over its handling of sensitive personal data that enables it to micro-target online advertising.
The Federation of German Consumer Organisations (vzvb) said that Facebook's default settings and some of its terms of service were in breach of consumer law, and that the court had found parts of the consent to data usage to be invalid.
''Facebook hides default settings that are not privacy-friendly in its privacy center and does not provide sufficient information about it when users register,'' said Heiko Duenkel, litigation policy officer at the vzvb.
''This does not meet the requirement for informed consent.'' The vzvb posted a copy of the ruling on its website. A court spokesperson confirmed that a judgment had been handed down but declined further comment.
FACEBOOK TO APPEALFacebook said it would appeal, even though several aspects of the court judgment had been in its favor. In a statement, it said it had already made significant changes to its terms of service and data protection guidelines since the case was first brought in 2015.
''We are working hard to ensure that our guidelines are clear and easy to understand, and that the services offered by Facebook are in full accordance with the law,'' Facebook said.
Further, Facebook would in the meantime update its data protection guidelines and its terms of service so that they comply with new European Union-wide rules that are due to enter force in June.
Facebook, which counts more than 2 billion users worldwide, already faces scrutiny from Germany's competition authorities over its handling of its users' personal data.
The Federal Cartel Office, in an interim update on an investigation into Facebook, said in December that it objected to the way the company gains access to third-party data when an account is opened.
This includes tapping information from its own WhatsApp and Instagram products - as well as how it tracks which sites its users access.
One concern highlighted by the consumer rights group was that, in Facebook's app for smartphones, a service was pre-activated that revealed the user's location to the person they were chatting to.
Also, in the privacy settings, ticks were already placed in boxes that allowed search engines to link to the user's timeline, meaning that anyone would be able quickly and easily to find a user's profile.
''The judges ruled that all five of the default settings on Facebook that vzvb complained about are invalid,'' the group said in a statement, adding that several other of Facebook's terms of use were found to be illegal.
Writing by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Susan Fenton
I'm Not Playing Levine or Dutoit '' And Neither Should You '' Scanning The Dial
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:12
Almost two months ago, James Levine, after years of whispering and speculation, was finally accused publicly of sexual misconduct. I already covered it. In more recent weeks, Charles Dutoit has also been accused by several women of offense ranging from groping to flat-out rape. And there's understandably been a tremendous buzz in the classical radio world on just how to handle the accusations and recordings made by the accused.
Last week I was interviewed by David C. Barnett of WCPN in Cleveland about this very thing. You can read or listen to that interview here. As you could probably guess, I'm very much in the zero-tolerance camp for both Levine and Dutoit. Especially Dutoit, as one of his accusers is soprano Sylvia McNair '' recently-retired IU professor, still active in the music community in my market, and also a WFIU alum from back in the early 1980s. It hits home.
While recording my part of Barnett's story (and we talked for a good twenty minutes '' there was a lot that didn't make the cut in his feature), I suggested that he reach out to someone with a completely opposing viewpoint. That someone was James Reel, a classical music presenter at Arizona Public Media in Tucson. James and I don't agree on much at all, and it was that fact that led me to believe he would be a valuable addition to a story about a very complicated subject.
James Reel brought up a number of points that suggested that continuing to play recordings by accused sexual predators was not a big deal. He's not the only one to have made those points in online forums, although others were more subtle. I'd like to offer my rebuttals to various points in that line of thought, both from James Reel's portion of the WCPN interview, and paraphrases of comments I've seen in other places.
''We're still playing recordings by James Levine and Charles Dutoit, but we don't mention that they are the conductors.'' '' paraphrase of various comments
In most cases, this is a cop-out, plain and simple. I know that some classical announcers experiment with not mentioning a work's conductor (I omit that information sometimes, too, as it can be superfluous to the casual listener, who most often is interested in ''what was that piece, and who wrote it?''). But if announcers at a given station generally announce conductors, but choose to leave out only these two conductors, that's just silly. The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, which understandably had a lot of Montreal Symphony/Dutoit recordings in rotation, is still playing them but simply omitting his name. That's not taking a stand, that's just hiding something. I think the CBC is showing a lack of spine with this decision. I would actually have more respect for them if they just kept up with business as usual.
''Wagner was an anti-Semite. Gesualdo killed his wife. Herbert von Karajan was a member of the Nazi Party. But we play their music! Maybe we should remove Picasso from all art museums, too!'' '' lots of people
Yes, we do play their music. And we look at Picasso. They're also dead, as were the people they harmed or were party to harming. Gesualdo came up a lot in online forums, which I thought was particularly funny, given how little airtime he actually gets on classical radio. Point being: currency matters. We have had plenty of time to contextualize Wagner in music history. We've had less time for Karajan, but there are so many other recordings of music he recorded that are a lot more current, and in my opinion, just better on all fronts. And Gesualdo, well '' whatever. But the victims of Levine and Dutoit are very much alive, and the effects of the trauma inflicted upon them are very real. I do think that someday, long in the future, classical music presenters will be able to play Levine and Dutoit again without reservation, once society has had time to look back at this incredible moment in history. But by then, there will be so many other great artists to sample that are actually contemporary, so why bother?
''By not playing recordings by James Levine or Charles Dutoit, you're punishing blameless musicians who had nothing to do with their allegedactions.'' '' another paraphrase of comments I've read
I can see how this might be a ''thing,'' but at the end of the day I don't think it is a ''thing.'' A quick scan of recordings by Charles Dutoit shows that most of them are from the 1970s through early 1990s. There are some releases from more recent years, but a close look at most of those shows that they are predominantly re-issues of old LPs that had not yet been converted to digital. With James Levine, my thoughts are similar, as is the timeline of his discography. How many musicians from those recordings are still actively performing with the Montreal Symphony, French National Orchestra, London Symphony, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, Chicago Symphony, etc? And even if they are, how much of their livelihood relies on radio broadcasts of decades-old recordings? Admittedly, this argument becomes slightly more easy for me to understand when it comes to concertos and vocal music, where big-name soloists are the selling point of the recording, more so than the orchestra or the conductor. In the James Levine's world of opera, this is even more the case. But many of these musicians, of course, can be heard in other settings with different conductors. We might miss out on Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo, Kathleen Battle, or Luciano Pavarotti singing on the Met stage with Levine in the pit, but they can all be heard in other places. Itzhak Perlman recorded the Mozart violin concerto cycle with Levine, but there's a heck of a lot more Perlman available to listen to (and a heck of a lot more Mozart violin concerto cycles). Most importantly, though, we have to remember what these men have been accused of, and often the young men and women who were victimized by their actions have had grave career repercussions. A common theme among the young women allegedly assaulted by Charles Dutoit was that when they rebuffed his advances, they were blacklisted from any further collaboration. I think we need to be more concerned about those people, not those whose careers and legacies have already been established and don't need the help of classical radio to maintain their status.
''I'm not James Levine's employer, I'm not Charles Dutoit's boss, I'm not their jury. And nothing I can do could have a direct, meaningful effect on them.'' '' James Reel
Everything James says here is true. And everything he says here is completely irrelevant to the actual topic at hand. The question is not whether or not we, as classical radio presenters, are having an effect on James Levine or Charles Dutoit. Nothing we do is going to turn them into better people. Similarly, nothing we do can ever heal the wounds they inflicted on so many. And no, we are not their bosses, judges, or juries. We are, though, curators and stewards of music. For those of us who work in non-profit settings (and if you work at a classical music station in America, it's almost a certainty these days that you work in public, non-profit radio), our mission to inform, entertain, inspire, and foster arts appreciation in our communities is (or should be) the number one priority. When we program a piece of music, what we are implicitly saying to our listeners is ''this music has value.'' We are endorsing everything about it. If we play music conducted by people like James Levine and Charles Dutoit, all the while knowing full well what they've been accused of doing, what we are telling people is that we just don't care. I'm not saying that they aren't talented musical visionaries and that they haven't treated concert-goers and radio listeners to many sublime moments over the decades. They certainly have '' and so have many others. But if we allow ourselves to believe that a measure, a movement, a symphony, or an opera's worth of musical bliss is worth ignoring the pain and anguish these men inflicted on so many, then we have truly lost our way.
About Joe GoetzJoe Goetz is Music Director for WFIU 103.7 FM in Bloomington, Indiana, and has eleven years of experience hosting and producing classical music programming for public radio. While completing his B.A. in Music at Colorado College in Colorado Springs, CO, Joe worked part time as a classical music host at KCME 88.7 FM. Following graduation, he worked as a classical music host and producer at Vermont Public Radio, developing new and engaging programming in addition to programming and hosting a daily afternoon air shift. He is an accomplished pianist with several chamber music performances to his credit, an occasional choir singer, and an avid golfer. He lives with his wife, Meghann, their son William, daughter Allison, and cats Ollie and Blanche.
View all posts by Joe Goetz
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Exclusive: CIA Ex-Director Brennan's Perjury Peril | RealClearInvestigations
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:07
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes next plans to investigate the role former CIA Director John Brennan and other Obama intelligence officials played in promoting the salacious and unverified Steele dossier on Donald Trump -- including whether Brennan perjured himself in public testimony about it.
In his May 2017 testimony before the intelligence panel, Brennan emphatically denied the dossier factored into the intelligence community's publicly released conclusion last year that Russia meddled in the 2016 election "to help Trump's chances of victory.''
Brennan also swore that he did not know who commissioned the anti-Trump research document (excerpt here), even though senior national security and counterintelligence officials at the Justice Department and FBI knew the previous year that the dossier was funded by the Hillary Clinton campaign.
Last week, Nunes (R-Calif.) released a declassified memo exposing surveillance ''abuses'' by the Obama DOJ and FBI in their investigation of Trump's ties to Russia. It said the agencies relied heavily on the uncorroborated dossier to take out a warrant to secretly surveil a Trump adviser in the heat of the 2016 presidential election, even though they were aware the underlying ''intelligence" supporting the wiretap order was political opposition research funded by Clinton allies '-- a material fact they concealed from FISA court judges in four separate applications.
Rep. Devin Nunes.
AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File
Nunes plans to soon release a separate report detailing the Obama State Department's role in creating and disseminating the dossier -- which has emerged as the foundation of the Obama administration's Russia ''collusion'' investigation. Among other things, the report will identify Obama-appointed diplomats who worked with partisan operatives close to Hillary Clinton to help ex-British spy Christopher Steele compile the dossier, sources say.
''Those are the first two phases'' of Nunes' multipart inquiry, a senior investigator said. ''In phase three, the involvement of the intelligence community will come into sharper focus.''
The aide, who spoke only on condition of anonymity, said Nunes will focus on Brennan as well as President Obama's first CIA director, Leon Panetta, along with the former president's intelligence czar, James Clapper, and national security adviser, Susan Rice, and security adviser-turned U.N. ambassador Samantha Power, among other intelligence officials.
''John Brennan did more than anyone to promulgate the dirty dossier,'' the investigator said. ''He politicized and effectively weaponized what was false intelligence against Trump.''
Attempts to reach Brennan for comment were unsuccessful.
Several Capitol Hill sources say Brennan, a fiercely loyal Obama appointee, talked up the dossier to Democratic leaders, as well as the press, during the campaign. They say he also fed allegations about Trump-Russia contacts directly to the FBI, while pressuring the bureau to conduct an investigation of several Trump campaign figures starting in the summer of 2016.
Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort was wiretapped in addition to Trump adviser Carter Page during the campaign. (Page has not been charged with a crime. Manafort was recently indicted for financial crimes unrelated to the Moscow ''collusion'' activities alleged in the dossier.)
On Aug. 25, 2016, for example, the CIA chief gave an unusual private briefing to then-Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) in which he told Reid the Russians were backing Trump and that the FBI would have to take the lead in an investigation because the FBI is the federal agency in charge of domestic intelligence and, unlike the CIA, can spy on U.S. citizens.
Two days after Brennan's special briefing, Reid fired off a letter to then-FBI Director James Comey demanding he open an investigation targeting ''individuals tied to Trump'' to determine if they coordinated with the Russian government ''to influence our election.''
''The Trump campaign has employed a number of individuals with significant and disturbing ties to Russia and the Kremlin,'' the then-top Democrat in the Senate added in his two-page letter .
Reid then alluded to Page as one of those compromised individuals and repeated an unproven charge from the dossier that Page had met with two Kremlin officials in Moscow in July 2016 to discuss removing U.S. sanctions on Russia. Page has repeatedly denied the allegation under oath, swearing he never even met the Russian officials named in the dossier.
''Any such meetings should be investigated,'' Reid asserted.
Less than two months later, Comey signed an application for a surveillance warrant to monitor Page's emails, text messages, phone conversations and residence.
Christopher Steele, former British spy.
Victoria Jones/PA via AP
Unsatisfied with the progress of Comey's investigation, Reid released an open letter to the FBI chief in late October 2016 accusing him of sitting on evidence. Reid told Comey that from his communications with ''other top officials in the national security community, it has become clear that you possess explosive information about close ties and coordination between Donald Trump, his top advisers and the Russian government '-- a foreign interest openly hostile to the United States, which Trump praises at every opportunity.''
Congressional investigators say that the "explosive information'' Reid referred to was the false or unverified claims in the Clinton-funded dossier -- which the sources say were passed along by Brennan. They add that Brennan gave more than one briefing.
After Trump won the election, sources say, the CIA director sought to "weaponize" the dossier's wild accusations against the president-elect.
In early January, just weeks before Trump was inaugurated, investigators say Brennan saw to it that the contents from the dossier were attached to an official daily intelligence briefing for Obama. The special classified briefing was then leaked to the major Washington media, allowing them to use the presidential briefing to justify the publication of claims they had up to that point not been able to substantiate and had been reluctant to run.
CNN broke the news that the dossier '-- described as ''classified documents'' '-- had been attached to the briefing report by the CIA, and had been given to the president. The top-level credence that the government was placing in the dossier gave prominent newspapers, including the Washington Post and New York Times, justification to follow suit.
In addition, BuzzFeed published 35 pages of the dossier in full. (The Internet news outlet was recently sued by Trump campaign lawyer Michael Cohen, whom the dossier accused of conspiring with the Kremlin to pay Russian hackers to steal Clinton campaign emails. It's one of several libel and defamation lawsuits tied to the dossier.)
At the time, the Washington Post was assured by Obama intelligence officials that "the sources involved in the [dossier's] reporting were credible enough to warrant inclusion of their claims in the highly classified [presidential] report.'' Months later in public testimony, however, Brennan said the dossier and its sources were not credible enough to incorporate the information in a separate January 2017 intelligence report on Russian election interference publicly released by the administration. The published unclassified version of the report nonetheless echoes the dossier's central assertion that Moscow meddled in the election to help Trump.
Brennan later swore the dossier did not ''in any way'' factor into the CIA's assessment that Russia interfered in the election to help Trump. However, congressional investigators suggest a still-classified version of the January 2017 intelligence report contradicts his claim. Also in his May 2017 testimony, Brennan swore he had no idea who commissioned the dossier.
CIA veterans say Brennan was the most politicized director in the agency's history and was responsible for much of the anti-Trump bias from the intelligence community during the campaign and transition period.
Former CIA field operations officer Gene Coyle, a 30-year agency veteran who served under Brennan, said he was "known as the greatest sycophant in the history of the CIA, and a supporter of Hillary Clinton before the election.''
"I find it hard to put any real credence in anything that the man says,'' he added.
Coyle noted that Brennan broke with his predecessors who stayed out of elections. Several weeks before the vote, he said, ''Brennan made it very clear that he was a supporter of candidate Clinton, hoping he would be rewarded with being kept on in her administration.'' (Brennan is a liberal Democrat. In fact, at the height of the Cold War in 1976, he voted for a Communist Party candidate for president.)
What's more, his former deputy at the CIA, Mike Morell, who formed a consulting firm with longtime Clinton aide and campaign adviser Philippe Reines, even came out in early August 2016 and publicly endorsed her in the New York Times, while claiming Trump was an ''unwitting agent'' of Moscow.
Former FBI Director James Comey.
AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File
''In the intelligence business, we would say that Mr. Putin had recruited Mr. Trump as an unwitting agent of the Russian Federation,'' he claimed . ''My training as an intelligence officer taught me to call it as I see it. This is what I did for the CIA. This is what I am doing now. Our nation will be much safer with Hillary Clinton as president.''
Reid repeated Morell's allegation against Trump in his August 2016 letter to Comey.
Career U.S. intelligence officials say Morell, like Brennan, was personally invested in a Clinton victory.
Morell ''had aspirations of being CIA director if she had won,'' said former FBI counterintelligence official I.C. Smith, whose service overlapped with Brennan's.
Investigators are trying to learn if the Clinton campaign shared, through Reines, the early memos on the dossier it was paying for with Morrell before he wrote his Times op-ed.
Morell could not be reached for comment. But he pushed back hard last week against Nunes releasing his memo exposing the FBI's reliance on the dossier for Trump wiretaps, which he argued "did not have to happen. It undermines the credibility of the FBI in the public's eyes, and with no justification in my view."
''What happened here underscores the partisanship and the dysfunction of a very important committee in Congress, and that does not serve Congress well. It doesn't serve the intelligence community, and it doesn't serve the country well,'' Morell continued earlier this week in an interview with CBS News, where he now works as a ''senior national security contributor."
Sources say Brennan is aware that the House Intelligence Committee is targeting him in its wide-ranging investigation of the dossier and investigative and intelligence abuses related to it, and that Nunes plans to call him and other former Obama administration officials before the panel to question them based on newly obtained documents and information.
Last week, perhaps not coincidentally, Brennan signed a contract with NBC News and MSNBC to be their ''senior national security and intelligence analyst.''
On Sunday's ''Meet the Press,'' Brennan laced into Nunes for releasing the memo revealing FBI surveillance abuses related to the dossier, claiming the head of the intelligence panel has ''abused the office of the chairmanship.''
''It really underscores just how partisan Mr. Nunes has been,'' Brennan charged .
In the interview , Brennan claimed he first learned of the existence of the dossier ''in late summer of 2016, when there were some individuals from the various U.S. news outlets who asked me about my familiarity with it. And I had heard just snippets about it.''
He further contended that he had neither seen nor read the dossier until a month after the election.
''I did not know what was in there,'' Brennan said. "I did not see it until later in that year, I think it was in December.''
Brennan also insisted he did not know who was pulling the strings on the research that went into the dossier.
"I was unaware of the provenance of it as well as what was in it,'' he said, and he reasserted that "it did not play any role whatsoever in the intelligence community assessment that was done.''
Obama's director of national intelligence, James Clapper, is also coming under scrutiny for his role in the dossier.
He joined Brennan in giving Obama a two-page summary of the dossier memos during the presidential briefing in January 2017. Days later, Clapper expressed "profound dismay at the leaks that have been appearing in the press,'' and misleadingly referred to the dossier as a ''private security company document.''
James Clapper, former director of national intelligence.
AP Photo/Cliff Owen, File
The intelligence committee plans to press Clapper to find out if he knew at the time that, in fact, the document was political opposition research underwritten by the Clinton campaign, and whether any of the leaks to the media came from his office.
''I do not believe the leaks came from within the IC [intelligence community],'' he maintained at the time, adding that ''we did not rely upon [the dossier] in any way for our conclusion'' on Russian interference.
In October 2016, during the heat of the campaign, Clapper issued a public report declaring that Russian President Vladimir Putin's regime directed the cyberattacks on Clinton campaign emails, echoing memos Steele was delivering at the time to the Clinton campaign.
A year later, after it was finally revealed in the national media that the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee funded the research that went into the notorious dossier, Clapper insisted it "doesn't matter who paid for it.''
"It's what the dossier said and the extent to which it was -- it's corroborated or not. We had some concerns about it from the standpoint of its sourcing, which we couldn't corroborate,'' Clapper added last October in an interview with CNN.
He went on to strongly suggest that the intelligence assessment report he issued with Brennan, which concluded the Kremlin not only hacked the Democratic campaign but did so specifically to put Trump in the White House, was based on ''some of the substantive content of the dossier.''
"But at the same time, some of the substantive content, not all of it, but some of the substantive content of the dossier, we were able to corroborate in our Intelligence Community Assessment from other sources, which we had very high confidence of,'' Clapper said.
Investigators say Nunes intends to drill down on exactly who those ''other sources'' are now that his committee has learned that top officials at both the FBI and Justice Department relied on a Yahoo! News article as their additional sourcing to corroborate the dossier allegations they cited to obtain Trump campaign wiretap warrants -- even though it turns out the main source for the Yahoo! story was merely the dossier's author, Steele, who was disguised as ''a Western intelligence source."
Clapper, who recently signed his own media deal, joining CNN as a paid ''contributor,'' bashed Nunes on the network and suggested the release of future reports could endanger the intelligence community's mission. He said his release of the FBI memo was ''political'' and an ''egregious'' betrayal of "others in the intelligence community who have a lot at stake here with the whole FISA [surveillance] process.''
Facebook promoting Onavo Protect without disclosing ownership
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:58
Facebook is now offering some mobile app users a wireless-networking app without first disclosing that it's owned by Facebook, or that it collects information for the social networking company.
The app, Onavo Protect, provides users with a virtual private network, or VPN. Typically, a VPN cloaks the user's identity and adds other security features, making it a more secure way to get online, particularly when using public Wi-Fi networks.
Yet the Onavo app also tracks data that it shares with Facebook and others, "including the applications installed on your device, your use of those applications, the websites you visit and the amount of data you use," according to its own privacy policies.
Facebook can use that data to track what users do online even when they're not on one of its websites. The company could also find out how apps made by its rivals, such as Snap and Twitter, are being used.
Facebook, which bought the Israeli security company in 2013, now points to its software in a tab in its mobile app marked "Protect."
Yet a user would have to go to the Onavo website, or expand the "description" link on the Apple App Store and read all the way to the bottom, in order to learn that it's owned by Facebook and shares data with its parent company.
The update was previously reported by TechCrunch.
Here's the promotion for the app.
Flahaut wants to "promote the teaching of Arabic in the schools of the FWB" ... and gets shot by two MRs
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:47
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Where's the water GON-DOLA? Venice's iconic canals run DRY after weeks without rain | World | News | Express.co.uk
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:42
Venice's iconic waterways have run dry after no rain has fallen in weeks A combination of high atmospheric pressure in the upper Adriatic, cold weather and low tides left the famous canals dry.
Water levels have been reported to be up to 60cm lower than normal levels.
The retreating waters mean gondolas and water taxis have been unable to navigate the city's elegant canals.
It is the second year in a row that Venice's canals have been left without water despite being prone to heavy flooding several times a year.
Venice canals run dry Wed, January 31, 2018 Getty Images
1 of 15
A fmous scene in Venice looks unrecognisable as the canals run dry
The problem is so bad that in many old houses, the former staircases used to unload goods are now flooded and former ground floor is deluged and useless.
Studies have indicated the city is sinking at a rate of 1-2mm a year.
In 2003 an engineering project to prevent flooding was started to raise mobile gates to separate the lagoon from the Adriatic sea when the water is too high.
In 2015 water levels were as much as 28 inches below normal levels.
Tourists were shocked by the lack of water in the famous city.
Venice canals have run dry with even the biggest waterways drying at banks Despite the tourism boom, Venice's population has shrunk from 175,000 in 151 to around 55,000.
High prices, driven by tourism, erosion of canal side buildings and the logistics of a carless city have been blamed for the fall in residents.
Many Venetians now live on the mainland and commute to the historic city - usually to work in the tourism sector.
Venice's record low was set in 1934, when the tide was four feet below average.
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Venice canals dry up after super blue blood moon and low rainfall cause water levels to drop | The Independent
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:41
Low tides caused by the super blue blood moon, combined with a lack of rain, have caused water levels in Venice to drop by more than 60cm, beaching boats and gondolas.
The city's canals have been turned into muddy channels by the rare weather phenomenon, which saw some waterways closed entirely.
The Grand Canal, one of Venice's major traffic corridors, remained open for the city's water buses, which had been diverted from smaller channels.
(AFP /Getty)
Venice is more often afflicted by flooding caused by high tides '' or acqua alta '' in the northern Adriatic, which leaves landmarks including St Mark's Square submerged.
However, this is not the first time the city has experienced a significant drop in water levels. Nor is a 60cm drop a record.
In 2016, water levels fell by 66cm, while in 2008 and 1989 levels dropped by 90cm.
(AFP /Getty)
The record was set in 1934, when an extremely low tide saw water levels drop by 121cm.
Italian forecasters were quick to correct people on social media who suggested the latest drop was down to a drought.
Water levels were due to return to normal on Friday as the rain returns.
Wednesday's rare super blue blood moon was visible across much of the world, with skywatchers treated to a partial lunar eclipse.
The phenomenon triggered a king tide that inundated islands in the Torres Strait between Australia and Papua New Guinea, while Sydney saw tide swells of 2 metres.
A report published last year warned that Venice was at risk of chronic flooding which could leave it permanently underwater by the end of the century.
Researchers said the Mediterranean Sea is forecast to rise by up to 140cm before 2100, flooding 5,500sq kilometres of coastal plains.
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Clinton Body Count: "Trump Dossier" sources aboard the crashed Russian flight >> The Event Chronicle
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:38
By Inessa Sinchougova
Vyacheslav Ivanov is a CFO of Rosatom, Russia's nuclear energy company. He is alleged to have been involved in Hillary Clinton's Uranium One deal with Russia back in 2009 under Barack Obama.
This name appears on the list of the deceased in today's An- 148 air crash in Moscow. Reports are yet to be confirmed whether or not it is the same person.
Similarly, Business Insider reports that Sergei Millian is a Belarus-born businessman who has worked with the Trump Organization and was reportedly a key source in the explosive Dossier alleging ties between President Donald Trump and Russia.
Glenn Simpson, who co-founded the opposition research firm ''Fusion GPS'', told lawmakers that a trip which the Trump Organization representatives took to Moscow several years ago had come onto the firm's radar as part of their research into Trump's business history.
This trip was organized by Sergei Millian, Simpson said. ''Millian came up in connection with ''Chris' '' work as one of the people around Trump who had a Russian background.'' Chris is a reference to Christopher Steele, the former British intelligence officer hired by Fusion to research Trump's Russia ties.
He goes by another name '' that name is Sergey Panchenko. It is also listed in the list of deceased passengers in today's Russian plane crash that has killed 71 people.
The allegations are being updated.
This article (Reports: ''Trump Dossier'' sources aboard the crashed Russian flight) was originally published on Fort Russ and syndicated by The Event Chronicle.
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FBI Officials: McCabe & Comey Knew of Porter's Domestic Violence Before Inauguration; FBI Withheld Intel for a Year '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:36
FeaturedPoliticsAny way to slice it, it certainly appears the White House was kept in the dark about problematic portions of Rob Porter's FBI background sweep, according to numerous FBI sources.
The FBI either slow walked the Intel of Porter's links to domestic abuse by seven months or possibly an entire year. We do know that the FBI knew of Porter's abuse in January 2017 and did not divulge it to his employer: the White House.
Or to then-chief of staff Reince Priebus.
This was even before President Donald Trump's inauguration.
Here is what we are getting from FBI sources as well as FBI Director Christopher Wray's testimony today on the Hill.
If neither Wray nor the White House are lying, based on Intel we are receiving, then there is little doubt the FBI slow walked the Rob Porter background check to likely embarrass President Donald Trump and his White House.
While few would have thought the FBI would engage is such political skulduggery a year ago, we all know better now than to discount that very likely possibility.
It is no coincidence the Porter 'scandal' was leaked to the mainstream media literally hours after embattled and defrocked FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe lost his gun and FBI shield. This is just simple deep-state math.
But FBI sources confirm two Bureau agents working the Porter background sweep were notified in January 2017 that Porter allegedly punched at least one ex-wife in the face and often roughed her up, according to sources.
Colbie Holderness told FBI agents of Porter's abuse, again, in January 2017. FBI sources confirm during that interview Holderness produced digital photos with time stamps confirming injuries to her orbital area from the 2005 alleged beating. FBI sources said an internal 302 report from January 2017 naming two FBI agents who spoke with Holderness detail these facts.
So why did the FBI wait at least seven months to notify the White House?
In July, the FBI concluded the majority of Porter's background sweep. Wray confirmed that fact Tuesday during testimony.
Who was FBI Director at that time? Andrew McCabe was serving as Acting FBI Director at the time, since James Comey had been fired. Wray was not sworn into that role until a month later, in August 2017.
Comey was fired in May 2017 and according to FBI sources, no domestic dispute Intel was divulged to the White House about Porter before Comey was sacked. That puts the FBI on the clock for five months after first being notified of Porter's alleged abuse.
That leaves McCabe holding the bag here and wrapping up the initial phases of Porter's background sweep just days before Wray came into office.
Wray would not say specifically when the domestic abuse allegations were reported to the White House. During testimony Tuesday he mentioned reports were filed in July and November 2017 as well as an ''updated'' background report in January 2018.
How many current FBI-linked investigations is McCabe currently the target of?
Do the math.
Add his name to another emerging scandal.
US Homeland Security refutes NBC report that claims Russia hacked elections '-- RT US News
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:24
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) said a recent report by NBC News was misleading. The channel claimed Russia ''successfully penetrated'' the voting systems of several states.
''Recent NBC reporting has misrepresented facts and confused the public with regard to Department of Homeland Security and state and local government efforts to combat election hacking,'' DHS cybersecurity chief Jeanette Manfra said on Monday.
In the NBC report, which aired last week, Manfra claimed that while the exact details are classified, voting systems in 21 states were targeted, and is quoted as saying ''2016 was a wake-up call.'' However, Manfra also adds that only an ''exceptionally small number'' of states were targeted successfully. Despite this, NBC's headline on its website reads ''Russians penetrated US voter systems, top US official says,'' which Manfra has accused of being misleading.
Read more
''Let me be clear,'' she said. ''We have no evidence '' old or new '' that any votes in the 2016 elections were manipulated by Russian hackers.''
The National Association of Secretaries of State, which represents a group of chief election officials, have similarly criticized NBC for misleading reporting. They have previously gone on record saying just one state was successfully penetrated by hackers.
In a statement, NBC defended its reporting of Manfra's quotes.
''It's hard to believe DHS actually watched or read NBC's report. Our story is accurate, and makes all of the very same points this statement accuses us of not making,'' said a spokesperson quoted by the Hill.
US intel sees signs of Russian meddling in midterms - ABC News
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:23
Interested in Russia Investigation? Add Russia Investigation as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Russia Investigation news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Three of the nation's top intelligence officials confirmed Tuesday that they have seen evidence of Russian meddling in the upcoming midterm elections '-- part of what they say is Moscow's escalating cyber assault on American and European democracies.
"We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle," CIA Director Mike Pompeo told the Senate intelligence committee.
National Intelligence Director Dan Coats and Adm. Mike Rogers, the head of the National Security Agency, agreed that Russia's interference is ongoing. "This is not going to change or stop," Rogers said.
They didn't describe the activity, other than to say it was related to information warfare.
"This is pervasive," Coats said. "The Russians have a strategy that goes well beyond what is happening in the United States. While they have historically tried to do these types of things, clearly in 2016 they upped their game. They took advantage, a sophisticated advantage of social media. They are doing that not only in the United States but doing it throughout Europe and perhaps elsewhere."
U.S. intelligence concluded Moscow interfered in the 2016 presidential election, which has led to the current FBI investigation into possible Trump campaign connections. Russia denies the allegations and President Donald Trump has called the FBI probe a witch hunt.
The three testified in Congress on the same day that the intelligence community released its annual report on global threats. The report predicted Russian intelligence agencies will disseminate more false information over Russian state-controlled media and through fake online personas to spread anti-American views and exacerbate social and political divides in the United States.
Pompeo had said earlier that he expected that Russia would insert itself in the midterms in which Republicans and Democrats will vie for control of the House and Senate. And last week, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Fox News that the U.S. is seeing "certain behaviors" of Russian meddling in elections in the Northern Hemisphere, including "in the U.S." this year. But the latest testimony actually confirmed that it is occurring.
Coats said the details of any meddling needs to be shared with the American people. He said there should be a national outcry '-- that people need to stand up and say, "We're not going to allow some Russian to tell us how to vote, how to run our country."
Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said it's been more than a year since the 2016 election, but the U.S. still has no plan to battle foreign interference in elections. He criticized Trump for not issuing more sanctions against Russia in response to the meddling.
"He hasn't even tweeted a single concern," Warner said.
It's unclear what the U.S. is doing covertly to battle back.
But Coats acknowledged that the U.S. is "behind the curve" in coming up with policies to penalize those who hack America's critical infrastructure, interfere with elections, undermine the government or hit financial institutions.
Sen. James Risch, R-Idaho, said he thinks the American people are better prepared to deal with Russian influence campaigns in the upcoming midterms and beyond. They have started to look askance at social media and attempts to influence their opinion, he said.
"The American people are smart people," Risch said. "They realize that there's people attempting to manipulate them, both domestically and foreign."
US jet destroys Russian T-72 battle tank in 'self-defense' in Syria - Business Insider
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:19
An Iraqi T-72 main battle tank destroyed in a Coalition attack during Operation Desert Storm. TSGT Joe Coleman A US jet operating in Syria destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank near Al Tabiyeh, Syria, on Saturday, the Pentagon said.The tank was destroyed nearly week after a Bloomberg report said Russian mercenary forces fired on a position held by US troops and their Syrian rebel allies.No US or SDF forces were killed in either attack, the Pentagon told Business Insider.A US jet operating in Syria destroyed a Russian-made T-72 battle tank near Al Tabiyeh, Syria, on Saturday, a Pentagon representative confirmed to Business Insider on Tuesday.
"The tank had been maneuvering with coordinated indirect fire on a defensive position occupied by Syrian Democratic Forces and Coalition advisers," US Marine Corps Maj. Adrian J.T. Rankine-Galloway said, adding that the SDF's "position was within effective range of the hostile weapons systems."
Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson first reported the news of the tank's destruction and said three crew members were killed, though their identities and affiliations were unclear. Tomlinson said the tank was destroyed after "pro-regime forces" fired on US special operations troops near the location where 500 pro-government forces attacked a headquarters used by SDF and US troops last week.Reuters Rankine-Galloway said no US or Syrian rebel forces were killed or hurt in the tank attack, and the Pentagon reported only one SDF member wounded after the attack on Wednesday.
The US maintains regular contact with the Russian military and has established hotlines to ensure the forces don't come in contact, but reports suggest an increasing presence of Russian contractors in Syria.
The T-72 battle tank was a 1970s Soviet-era design that has seen heavy upgrades and use in the Syrian theater. The Pentagon reported that T-72s took part in the attack on SDF headquarters on Wednesday.
Heroes Discuss Real-Life, Acting Roles In Eastwood's 'The 15:17 To Paris'
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:13
The story came and went in 2015 with the freight-train speed of our 24/7 news cycle. Three 20-something friends, two serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, were traveling on summer vacation. A Moroccan man boarded the train they were on, concealing an AK-47, a pistol, a box cutter, and 270 rounds of ammunition.
An extraordinary series of events led Spencer Stone, Anthony Sadler, and Alek Skarlatos to neutralize the would-be terrorist, despite being unarmed. On Friday, director Clint Eastwood brings their story to the big screen in ''The 15:17 to Paris.''
Dirty Harry'--er, Eastwood'--is known for the grit he lends biopic films. In ''Sully,'' Tom Hanks played the titular commercial airline pilot America knows from the ''miracle on the Hudson.'' Bradley Cooper donned fatigues to portray Navy SEAL Chris Kyle in ''American Sniper.''
This time around, the director takes a new approach. ''It made us nervous when Clint asked us to play ourselves!'' says Sadler. The 20-something African-American man recently graduated from college, two years after the harrowing incident. ''He told us he did not want us to take any formal acting training, because he wanted the vibe and energy of the movie to be as true as it was when we lived it.''
Stone notes how quickly the film follows on the heels of their best-selling book. ''Usually it takes five to seven years for any incident to get made into a movie,'' he says. ''The fact that it's only been a little over two years is another crazy part.'' Sadler and Stone spoke via phone in an interview; their friend Skarlatos, a former National Guardsman who also played a key role, was unavailable.
The film delves into the three men's years-long friendship before their 2015 heroics. They note those bonds of loyalty to each other reflect how they were raised. ''It's actually the last thing my dad told me before we left,'' recalls Sadler. ''He said, 'No matter what happens, just have Spencer's back.' He didn't know that it would come to us being on a train with a terrorist.''
Terror on a High-Speed TrainOn August 21, 2015, the three friends boarded a train in Amsterdam. They had traveled to Europe to enjoy excursions over the last week of summer. As the train sped across France at 186 mph, two of them dozed off in the afternoon sun.
A shot rang out and a train employee sprinted past them, heading to the front. The commotion woke Stone and Sadler. They peered into the train car behind them, which carried about 30 passengers. ''The first thing we see is the gunman picking up the AK-47 off the ground. Within seconds, Spencer [Stone] is already getting up and running at him,'' Sadler said.
Stone, who had enlisted in the U.S. Air Force three years prior, says his proactive stance reflected what he learned in training. Seeing the shirtless man brandish an AK-47 gave him a clear sense of the situation. But it didn't go down how he feared it would. ''As I ran up to the terrorist, he was able to point and fire the gun at me,'' says Stone. ''But it didn't fire. It was a bad primer in the bullet. That rarely happens.''
Even when the terrorist was neutralized, the airman took further action. A former medic, Stone gave life-saving critical care to another passenger who had been shot. Clearly that faulty AK-47 saved many lives. ''If that gun had went off, I would've dropped as soon as I got up,'' continues Stone. ''Probably the situation would not have ended the way it did. We feel like God protected us in that moment.''
The three friends often bring up what they view as the providential nature of the events. As dramatized in the film, Stone, Sadler, and Skarlatos first became inseparable when they met during their elementary years at Freedom Christian School in Fair Oaks, California. Sadler's father continues to serve as a local Baptist pastor, and all three profess a strong Christian faith.
''All these factors went our way,'' says Sadler of their train heroics. Among several inexplicable coincidences, he cites how the three almost stayed longer in Amsterdam and changed seats midway through their train ride. ''We feel we were being used by God,'' he notes.
Their defense of other passengers contrasted the assailant, Ayoub El-Khazzani. The captured terrorist initially claimed he found the weapons in a park and planned to rob the train only to get his next meal. ''You don't need an AK-47 and nearly 300 rounds of ammunition to do that,'' says Stone.
He elaborates: ''A few months later, he was linked to the terrorist cell that planned the Bataclan theatre attack. He grew up with those guys in Morocco. He was confirmed ISIS and part of a pretty radicalized extreme group.'' Currently, El-Khazzani remains in custody in France, awaiting trial.
On a train carrying more than 500 people, not a single life was lost that fateful August day. A publisher soon came calling for a book deal'--and it was just the beginning.
Hollywood Fast-Tracks Story of BraveryThe three friends were everywhere over the next year. French president Fran§ois Hollande awarded them his nation's highest honor, naming them Knights of the Legion of Honour. President Obama hosted them at the White House.
In June 2016, they were honored as heroes at the Guys Choice Awards. They first saw Clint Eastwood in the green room backstage before he presented their award. ''We knew that real-life movies are his specialty, obviously,'' says Stone. ''So we all came up with a quick plan. One of us said nonchalantly, 'We'd love for you to direct our movie.' Of course, at this point we had no movie!''
'It was like we were just hanging out with each other and a film crew just happened to be there.'
The small-town friends felt way out of their league. ''He said, 'Here's my address. Send me your book and I'll see what I think about it.' It went from there,'' recounts Stone. Warner Bros., which has a long-term deal with Eastwood, soon announced ''The 15:17 to Paris'' as a major motion picture.
Despite the recent rise of biopics, some critics still consider the film risky. After all, Eastwood cast the heroes as themselves'--without any acting tutelage. ''It ended up being a genius move on his part, because it made us really comfortable as we were shooting the film,'' says Sadler. ''It put us there again. It was like we were just hanging out with each other and a film crew just happened to be there.''
''Believe it or not, almost everyone is playing themselves in this movie,'' says Stone. ''You'll see the same train employees, the same guy driving the train, a lot of the same police and medical team who brought me off the train two years ago. We just couldn't get the terrorist.'' The two guys crack up at the remark. ''He's busy doing something, he's got a tough schedule,'' offers Stone.
Filmed on-location in the United States, Italy, the Netherlands, and France, the three friends were thrust into the center of a big-budget production. They've sought to remain grounded despite the accolades.
''We hope the film depicts us in a way that shows just how ordinary we are,'' says Sadler. ''Alek and Spencer have military experience, but we're pretty regular. Ordinary people can find themselves in a situation and they can have what it takes to do something extraordinary like this.''
With all the speaking, travel, and media appearances, Stone admits he had let himself go a bit. His trainer on the film got him back into military shape, losing 38 pounds and putting on 15 pounds of muscle.
''The boy got a little hefty in the last two years!'' he confesses with humor in his voice.
Old-School Values Inspire GreatnessFollowing their heroics, commentators like Mona Charen of the Ethics and Public Policy Center praised their values of honor and self-sacrifice as a much-needed throwback in a culture that often marginalizes masculinity. ''Their military training prepared them for violence,'' wrote Charen. ''There is all the difference in the world between using violence aggressively and using it defensively.''
'These are values we credit to our families. If those values are not a part of the new wave, we're still part of the old wave, I guess.'
The men are quick to praise others involved in the incident, notably Frenchman Mark Moogalian, who was shot, and British businessman Chris Norman. ''Chris came right on time with four neckties in his hand,'' recalls Sadler. ''He pinned down the terrorist and hog-tied him, as we've seen in all the media coverage.''
Yet in a roundabout way, the three accept her assessment. ''We have always been raised to be aware of our surroundings and to value each other's friendship,'' says Sadler. ''These are values we credit to our families. If those values are not a part of the new wave, we're still part of the old wave, I guess.''
As to what's next, the two military men were honorably discharged before filming started. ''It's been a crazy ride,'' says Stone. ''When you get out of the military, it's still a shock'--no matter who you are or what position. I'm glad I've been able to progress.''
He notes all three of them gained so much from the filmmaking experience, they're now pursuing other roles in film and TV. ''We've all fallen in love with acting now, and we want to make a run at it,'' he concludes.
They hope audiences worldwide find deeper meaning in their fast-paced story, Sadler says. ''The message of the film is really right there in the trailer: that ordinary people can do extraordinary things.''
''The 15:17 to Paris'' opens in theaters nationwide on February 9.
Josh Shepherd covers culture, faith, and public policy for several media outlets including The Stream. His articles have appeared in The Daily Signal, The Christian Post, Boundless, Providence Magazine, and Christian Headlines. A graduate of the University of Colorado, he previously worked on staff at The Heritage Foundation and Focus on the Family. Josh and his wife live in the Washington, D.C. area.
Photo Photo courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures
Stephen Miller (political advisor) - Wikipedia-Jewish
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:06
Stephen Miller (born August 23, 1985) is an American far-right[1][2][3][4][5] political activist who serves as a senior advisor for policy for President Donald Trump.[6] He was previously the communications director for then-AlabamaSenatorJeff Sessions. He was also a press secretary to Republican RepresentativesMichele Bachmann and John Shadegg.
As a speechwriter for Trump, Miller helped write Trump's inaugural address.[7][8][9] He has been a key adviser since the early days of Trump's presidency and was a chief architect[10][11][12] of Trump's executive order restricting immigration from seven countries. On February 12, 2017, he appeared to question the power of the judiciary to limit the executive's role in setting immigration policy.[13]
Miller has on multiple occasions made false or unsubstantiated claims regarding public policy.[8][14][15]
Early life Miller grew up in a liberal-leaning Jewish family in Santa Monica, California.[16][17] He is the second of three children born to Michael D. Miller, a real estate investor, and Miriam (Glosser) Miller. His mother's family immigrated to the United States in the early 1900s from Belarus escaping the Anti-Jewish pogroms in the Russian Empire (1903-1906).[18][19] When his family arrived in the United States, his great-grandmother only spoke Yiddish, the historical language of the Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe. However, in spite of their poverty, most of the family learned English, worked hard and opened successful businesses in Pennsylvania '--"the classic immigration success story".[20]
Miller became a committed conservative after reading Guns, Crime, and Freedom, a book by National Rifle Association Chief Executive Officer Wayne LaPierre.[21][22] While attending Santa Monica High School, Miller began appearing on conservative talk radio.[21][19] In 2002, at the age of 16, Miller wrote a letter to the editor of the Santa Monica Outlook, criticizing his school's response to 9/11 in which he stated that "Osama Bin Laden would feel very welcome at Santa Monica High School."[21][23] Miller invited conservative activist David Horowitz to speak, first at the high school and later at Duke University, and afterwards denounced the fact that neither of the centers would authorize the event.[21] Miller was in the habit of "riling up his fellow [high school] classmates with controversial statements"[24] and telling Latino students to speak only English.[22][24][25][26]
In 2007,[27] Miller received his bachelor's degree from Duke University where he studied political science.[21] Miller served as president of the Duke chapter of Horowitz's Students for Academic Freedom and wrote conservative columns for the school newspaper. Miller gained national attention for his defense of the students who were wrongly accused of rape in the Duke lacrosse case.[21][28] While attending Duke University, Miller accused poet Maya Angelou of "racial paranoia" and described student organization Chicano Student Movement of Aztln (MEChA) as a "radical national Hispanic group that believes in racial superiority."[29]
While at Duke, Miller and the Duke Conservative Union helped co-member Richard Spencer, a Duke graduate student at the time, with fundraising and promotion for an immigration policy debate in March 2007 between the open-borders activist and University of Oregon professor Peter Laufer and journalist Peter Brimelow, the founder of the anti-immigration website VDARE. Spencer would later become an important figure in the white supremacist movement and president of the National Policy Institute, and famous for coining the term "alt-right". Spencer stated in a media interview that he had spent a lot of time with Miller at Duke, and that he had mentored him; describing their close relationship, he said that he was "kind of glad no one's talked about this", for fear of harming Trump.[6] In a later blog post he said the relationship had been exaggerated. Miller has said he has "absolutely no relationship with Mr. Spencer" and that he "completely repudiate[s] his views, and his claims are 100 percent false."[30][31][32]
Duke University's former senior vice president, John Burness, told The News & Observer in February 2017 that, while at Duke, Miller "seemed to assume that if you were in disagreement with him, there was something malevolent or stupid about your thinking'--incredibly intolerant." History professor KC Johnson, however, criticized Duke for "not [having] an atmosphere conducive to speaking up", and praised Miller's role at Duke: "I think it did take a lot of courage, and he has to get credit for that."[33]
Career After graduating from college, Miller worked as a press secretary for Congresswoman Michele Bachmann and Congressman John Shadegg, both members of the Republican Party.[34] Miller started working for Alabama Senator and future Attorney GeneralJeff Sessions in 2009,[34] rising to the position of communications director.[21] In the 113th Congress, Miller played a major role in defeating the bi-partisanGang of Eight's proposed immigration reform bill.[21][34] As part of his role as communications director, Miller was responsible for writing many of the speeches Sessions gave about the bill.[35] Miller and Sessions developed what Miller describes as "nation-state populism," a response to globalization and immigration that would strongly influence Donald Trump's 2016 campaign. Miller also worked on Dave Brat's successful 2014 House campaign, which unseated Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor.[21]
In January 2016, Miller joined Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign as a senior policy adviser.[34] Starting in March 2016, Miller frequently spoke on behalf of the Trump campaign, serving as a "warm-up act" for Trump.[21] Miller wrote the speech Trump gave at the 2016 Republican National Convention.[27] In August 2016, Miller was named as the head of Trump's economic policy team.[36]
Miller was seen as sharing an "ideological kinship" with, and has had a "long collaboration" with, former White House Chief StrategistSteve Bannon.[8][37] Despite Miller's ideological agreement with Bannon, he eventually distanced himself from Bannon as the latter fell out of favor with others in the White House.[8][38]
Trump administration In November 2016, Miller was named national policy director of Trump's transition team.[39] On December 13, 2016, the transition team announced that Miller would serve as Senior Advisor to the President for Policy during the Trump administration.[40] In the early days of the new presidency, Miller worked with Senator Jeff Sessions, President Trump's nominee for Attorney General, and Steve Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, to enact policies restricting immigration and cracking down on sanctuary cities.[41] Miller and Bannon were involved in the formation of the Executive Order 13769, which sought to restrict U.S. travel and immigration by citizens of seven Muslim countries, and suspend the United States Refugee Admissions Program (USRAP) for 120 days, while indefinitely suspending entry of Syrians to the United States.[10][11][12] Miller has been credited as the engineer behind the Trump administration's decision to reduce the number of refugees accepted into the United States.[42]
In a February 2017 appearance on CBS' Face the Nation, Miller criticized the federal courts for blocking Trump's travel ban, accusing the judiciary of having "taken far too much power and become, in many cases, a supreme branch of government ... Our opponents, the media and the whole world will soon see as we begin to take further actions, that the powers of the president to protect our country are very substantial and will not be questioned."[43][44] Miller's assertion was met with criticism from legal experts, such as Ilya Shapiro of the Cato Institute (who said that the administration's comments could undercut public confidence in the judiciary) and Cornell Law School professor Jens David Ohlin (who said that the statement showed "an absurd lack of appreciation for the separation of powers" set forth in the Constitution).[45] In the same appearance, Miller said there was significant voter fraud in the 2016 presidential election and that "thousands of illegal voters were bused in" to New Hampshire. Miller did not provide any evidence in support of the statements.[14][15]
On August 2, 2017, Miller had a heated exchange with CNN's Jim Acosta at the White House daily briefing regarding the Trump administration's support for the RAISE Act to sharply limit legal immigration and favor immigrants with high English proficiency.[46][47] Acosta said that the proposal was at odds with American traditions concerning immigration and noted that the Statue of Liberty welcomes immigrants to the U.S., invoking verses from Emma Lazarus's The New Colossus. Miller disputed the connection between the Statue of Liberty and immigration, pointing out that "the poem that you're referring to, that was added later, is not actually a part of the original Statue of Liberty."[47] Miller added that immigration has "ebbed and flowed" throughout American history and asked how many immigrants the U.S. had to accept annually to "meet Jim Acosta's definition of the Statue of Liberty law of the land."[48] In covering these comments, multiple publications noted that the distinction Miller made between the Statue of Liberty and Lazarus's poem has been a popular talking point among the white supremacist segments of the alt-right.[47][49][50]The Washington Post' s Michelle Ye Hee Lee stated that "Neither got it quite right about the Statue of Liberty ... While the poem itself was not a part of the original statue, it actually was commissioned in 1883 to help raise funds for the pedestal" and "gave another layer of meaning to the statue beyond its abolitionist message."[48] Acosta questioned: "Are we just going to bring in people from Great Britain and Australia?" Miller replied: "I am shocked at your statement that you think that only people from Great Britain and Australia would know English. It reveals your cosmopolitan bias to a shocking degree."[48] According to Lee: "Miller has the edge here. English is an official language in dozens of countries other than Great Britain and Australia, and is spoken in roughly 100 countries." In addition, "Miller is correct that English proficiency currently is a requirement for naturalization."[48] Jeff Greenfield, writing in Politico, observed that "cosmopolitan" has historically been used as a code word for Jews.[51] Acosta told Miller that "it sounds like you are trying to engineer the racial and ethnic flow of people into this country."[52] Miller called Acosta's statement "outrageous, insulting, ignorant and foolish", but later apologized for the tone of the exchange.[52]
In September 2017, the New York Times reported that Miller stopped the Trump administration from showing to the public an internal study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees had a net positive effect on government revenues.[53][54] Miller insisted that only the costs of refugees be publicized, not the revenues that refugees brought in.[53]
Miller has on multiple occasions made false or unsubstantiated claims regarding public policy[8][14][15] and Donald Trump.[55]
On January 7, 2018, Miller appeared on Jake Tapper's State of the Union on CNN. Miller called Steve Bannon's comments in the new book Fire and Fury "grotesque". Miller went on to state, "The president is a political genius... who took down the Bush dynasty, who took down the Clinton dynasty, who took down the entire media complex". Tapper accused Miller of dodging questions, while Miller questioned the legitimacy of CNN as a news broadcaster, and as the interview became more contentious, with both participants talking over each other, Tapper ended the interview and continued to the next news story.[56][57][58] According to sources after the interview was over Miller refused to leave the CNN studio and had to be escorted out by security.[59]
In Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, Miller was described as a "a fifty-five-year-old trapped in a thirty-two-year-old's body"; Wolff noted that "other than being a far-right conservative, it was unclear what particular abilities accompanied Miller's views. He was supposed to be a speechwriter, but if so, he seemed restricted to bullet points and unable to construct sentences. He was supposed to be a policy adviser but knew little about policy. He was supposed to be the house intellectual but was militantly unread. He was supposed to be a communications specialist but he antagonized almost everyone."[5]
References ^ How a 32-year-old far right darling became the man who writes Trump's biggest speeches '-- and the one person people keep blaming for the shutdown. Business Insider, January 22, 2018 ^ Far Right-Wing Immigration Hawk Stephen Miller Blamed For Government Shutdown. MSNBC, January 22, 2018 ^ Stephen Miller Is a 'True Believer' Behind Core Trump Policies. Glenn Thrush annd Jennifer Steinhauer. The New York Times, February 11, 2017 ^ "Lindsey Graham slams Stephen Miller, says "White House staff has been pretty unreliable" ". January 21, 2018. ^ ab Michael Wolff, Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House, pp. 64''65, Henry Holt and Co., 2018, ISBN 978-1250158062 ^ ab Harkinson, Josh (December 14, 2016). "Trump's Newest Senior Adviser Seen as a White Nationalist Ally". Retrieved February 16, 2017 . ^ "Stephen Miller: How much influence does he have on Trump?". BBC. January 23, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2018 . ^ abcde Dawsey, Josh; Johnson, Eliana. Trump's got a new favorite Steve. Politico, April 13, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017. ^ "Who is Stephen Miller, the Jewish adviser behind Trump's 'American Carnage". Haaretz, January 31, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017. ^ ab Bennett, Brian (January 29, 2017). "Travel ban is the clearest sign yet of Trump advisors' intent to reshape the country". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved January 30, 2017 . ^ ab Savransky, Rebecca (January 30, 2017). "Scarborough singles out Trump aide Stephen Miller for 'power trip' ". The Hill. Retrieved January 30, 2017 . ^ ab Evan Perez, Pamela Brown & Kevin Liptak (January 30, 2017). "Inside the confusion of the Trump executive order and travel ban". CNN. ^ Redden, Molly. "Trump powers 'will not be questioned' on immigration, senior official says". The Guardian, February 12, 2017. Retrieved April 16, 2017. ^ abc Katie Sanders, White House senior adviser repeats baseless claim about busing illegal voters in New Hampshire, PolitiFact (February 12, 2017). ^ abc Glenn Kessler, Stephen Miller's bushels of Pinocchios for false voter-fraud claims, Washington Post (February 12, 2017) ^ Hackman, Michelle (July 21, 2016). "The Speechwriter Behind Donald Trump's Republican Convention Address". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 6, 2016 . ^ Arom, Eitan (March 15, 2017). "Jewish Journal: "From Hebrew school to halls of power: Stephen Miller's unlikely journey" ". Retrieved January 20, 2018 . Those who knew him as the scion of a Jewish household in Santa Monica were intrigued. ^ Eshman, Rob (August 10, 2016). "Stephen Miller, meet your immigrant great-grandfather". The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles. Retrieved August 3, 2017 . ^ ab Scott Johnson (March 29, 2017). "How Trump Adviser Stephen Miller Divided a Santa Monica Synagogue". The Hollywood Reporter. ^ Mendelsohn, Jennifer (January 18, 2018). "How Would Trump's Immigration Crackdown Have Affected His Own Team?". Politico. Retrieved January 20, 2018 . "I traced their family histories. Their ancestors wouldn't have been welcome." According to the 1910 census, his great-grandmother arrived in 1906 and "identified as speaking only Yiddish" in 1910. ^ abcdefghij Ioffe, Julia (June 27, 2016). "The Believer". Politico. Retrieved August 6, 2016 . ^ ab Fernando Peinado (February 8, 2017). "How White House advisor Stephen Miller went from pestering Hispanic students to designing Trump's immigration policy". Univision. ^ Miller, Stephen (March 27, 2002). "Political Correctness out of Control". Santa Monica Lookout. Retrieved October 4, 2016 . ^ ab Brennan, Christopher (February 15, 2017). "Trump adviser Stephen Miller booed off stage by classmates after high school speech". Daily News. New York. Retrieved February 15, 2017 . ^ Goodman, Amy (February 15, 2017). "The Stephen Miller Story: From Pestering Latino Students in High School to Drafting Muslim Ban". Democracy Now!. Retrieved February 20, 2017 . ^ O'Neil, Luke (February 17, 2017). "A Conversation with Cobrasnake About Bad Boy Stephen Miller: A generation's defining hipster once knew Trump's controversial advisor". Esquire. Retrieved February 27, 2017 . ^ ab Hathi, Gautam; Chason, Rachel (July 31, 2016). "Stephen Miller: The Duke grad behind Donald Trump". The Chronicle. Retrieved August 6, 2016 . ^ Bixby, Scott (April 16, 2016). "Top Trump policy adviser was a 'controversial figure' for college writings". The Guardian. Retrieved August 6, 2016 . ^ Osnos, Evan (September 26, 2016). "President Trump's First Term". The New Yorker. Retrieved October 4, 2016 . ^ Mak, Tim (January 19, 2017). "The Troublemaker Behind Donald Trump's Words". Retrieved February 16, 2017 . ^ Stancill, Jane. "Stephen Miller's brash path from Duke campus to Trump White House". News & Observer. ^ Hathi, Gautam; Chason, Rachel. "' A very young person in the White House on a power trip' ". The Chronicle. ^ "Stephen Miller's brash path from Duke campus to Trump White House,"The News & Observer, February 3, 2017, retrieved February 3, 2017. ^ abcd Costa, Robert (January 25, 2016). "Top Sessions aide joins Trump campaign". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017 . ^ Thrush, Glenn; Steinhauer, Jennifer (February 11, 2017). "Stephen Miller Is a 'True Believer' Behind Core Trump Policies". The New York Times. Retrieved February 12, 2017 . ^ Tankersley, Jim (August 5, 2016). "Donald Trump's new team of billionaire advisers could threaten his populist message". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 6, 2016 . ^ The Economist 13 July 2017 ^ Suebsaeng, Asawin (August 16, 2018). "Steve Bannon's Ideological Allies Inside the White House Are Souring on Him". The Daily Beast. Retrieved January 13, 2018 . ^ Costa, Robert; Rucker, Philip; Viebeck, Elise (November 11, 2016). "Pence replaces Christie as leader of Trump transition effort". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 12, 2016 . ^ Nussbaum, Matthew (December 13, 2016). "Trump taps campaign aide Stephen Miller as senior adviser". Politico. Retrieved February 1, 2017 . ^ Markon, Jerry; Costa, Robert; Hauslohner, Abigail (January 25, 2017). "Trump to sign executive orders enabling construction of proposed border wall and targeting sanctuary cities". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 30, 2017 . ^ Blitzer, Jonathan (2017-10-13). "How Stephen Miller Single-Handedly Got the U.S. to Accept Fewer Refugees". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved 2017-10-14 . ^ Blake, Aaron (February 13, 2017). "Stephen Miller's authoritarian declaration: Trump's national security actions 'will not be questioned' ". The Fix. The Washington Post (Blog). Retrieved February 14, 2017 . ^ Redden, Molly (February 12, 2017). "Trump powers 'will not be questioned' on immigration, senior official says". The Guardian. Retrieved February 14, 2017 . ^ Doina Chiacu & Julia Harte, White House official attacks court after legal setbacks on immigration, Reuters (February 12, 2017). ^ Segarra, Lisa (August 7, 2017). "Find Out If President Trump Would Let You Immigrate to America". Time. ^ abc Swenson, Kyle (August 3, 2017). "Acosta vs. Miller: A lurking ideological conflict about the Statue of Liberty". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 12, 2017 . And Miller is right about the poem. New Colossus was not part of the original statue built by the French and given to the American people as a gift to celebrate the country's centennial. Poet Emma Lazarus was asked to compose the poem in 1883 as part of a fundraising effort to build the statue's base. ... Lazarus's words infused the gracious monument with an immigration message'--regardless of what the original statue was meant to represent. That additional meaning riles up a particular slice of the right. ^ abcd Lee, Michelle Ye Hee (August 8, 2017). "Fact-checking the Stephen Miller-Jim Acosta exchange on immigration". The Washington Post. Retrieved August 12, 2017 . ^ Italie, Hillel (August 3, 2017). "Miller Comments on Lazarus Poem Echo Far-Right Opinions". Retrieved January 26, 2018 . ^ LeTourneau, Nancy (August 4, 2017). "Stephen Miller's Dog Whistles to White Nationalists". Retrieved January 26, 2018 . ^ Jeff Greenfield, "The Ugly History of Stephen Miller's 'Cosmopolitan' Epithet: Surprise, surprise'--the insult has its roots in Soviet anti-Semitism." Politico 3 August, 2017 ^ ab Ryan, Josiah (August 2, 2017). "CNN's Acosta, White House aide clash over immigration at briefing". CNN. ^ ab Davis, Julie Hirschfeld; Sengupta, Somini (2017-09-18). "Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-09-20 . ^ Shear, Michael D.; Davis, Julie Hirschfeld (2017-12-23). "Stoking Fears, Trump Defied Bureaucracy to Advance Immigration Agenda". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-12-23 . ^ Bradley, Laura (February 14, 2017). "Colbert Dares Trump Adviser Stephen Miller to Tell Lies on Late Show". Vanity Fair. Retrieved December 31, 2017 . ^ Manchester, Julia. "Dramatic exchange between White House's Miller, CNN's Tapper debated online". The Hill. Retrieved 7 January 2018 . ^ Kullgren, Ian (January 7, 2018). "White House adviser Stephen Miller unloads on CNN". Politico. Retrieved January 7, 2018 . White House senior policy adviser Stephen Miller unloaded on CNN host Jake Tapper on Sunday '-- trashing Michael Wolff as a "garbage author of a garbage book," calling Steve Bannon an "angry and vindictive person" and accusing CNN of "sticking knives" into President Donald Trump's allies. ^ Hart, Benjamin (January 7, 2018). "Jake Tapper Cuts Off Stephen Miller After Deeply Strange Interview". New York magazine. Retrieved January 8, 2018 . ^ Lopez, Linette (January 7, 2018). "Stephen Miller had to be escorted off CNN's set after his interview with Jake Tapper went off the rails". Business Insider. Retrieved January 8, 2018 . External links
White House official: "Kelly cover-up is unraveling" - Axios
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:04
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly listens to local and state officials during a meeting Feb. 12. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Chief of Staff John Kelly's White House enemies are ready to use FBI Director Chris Wray's testimony as a weapon: "Wray's FBI timeline makes one thing clear: the Kelly coverup is unraveling right before our eyes," a White House official says.
Kelly's allies insist he knew nothing about the domestic violence until the Daily Mail story and that former White House aide Rob Porter misled Kelly to get the positive statement. (Porter denies this and tells associates he gave Kelly a full picture of what would be in the story, and denied the more serious accusations of physical abuse.)
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Kelly's story '-- that he acted immediately and decisively ''within 40 minutes'' to terminate Porter last Tuesday night '-- is also undermined by what multiple White House officials told reporters in real time. They said on Wednesday that nobody asked Porter to resign and in fact several senior officials asked him to ''stay and fight.''
Why this matters: Kelly had overseen relative calm among White House staff since his appointment. The bungled response to allegations of abuse by Porter has thrown that into disarray.
Go deeper:How the FBI director contradicted the White House on the Porter timeline
Get more stories like this by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek.
Quinn Norton Named to Editorial Board | The New York Times Company
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:04
Update: The following is attributable to James Bennet, editorial page editor of The New York Times: ''Despite our review of Quinn Norton's work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us. Based on it, we've decided to go our separate ways.''
We're delighted to announce that Quinn Norton has joined The New York Times editorial board as our lead opinion writer on the power, culture and consequences of technology.
Quinn is probably best known for her work at Wired, where she reported on Anonymous, the Occupy movement, and hacker culture and wrote regularly for the digital security blog Threat Level. She was also a columnist at Maximum PC magazine for five years, and she's written regularly for Medium and contributed to The Atlantic, ProPublica and Gizmodo.
We find ourselves at a moment of profound uncertainty about the role of technology in our lives, the influence of the tech companies and the correct direction of public policy to address all this change. We're effectively asking technologists and policymakers to do so much '-- to secure our elections, to reinvent our business models, to educate and entertain and safeguard ourselves and our children, to protect us from extremists around the world. We expect all of this, across 200-plus nations and uncountable cultures, while also aspiring to privacy, transparency and prosperity. We're excited to have Quinn to help our readers understand what's possible and what's sensible, and where we're all headed.
She plans to split her time between Luxembourg and San Francisco, with periodic visits to New York.
'' James Bennet, Katie Kingsbury and Jim Dao
The New York Times Just Dropped This Opinion Writer After Outrage Over Her Tweets
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:04
The Times editorial board announced on Tuesday morning that Norton had been hired as a columnist on power, culture, and the consequences of technology.
"We're excited to have Quinn to help our readers understand what's possible and what's sensible, and where we're all headed," the board said.
Norton, who previously covered the Occupy and Anonymous groups for Wired magazine, has also had her work published in the Atlantic and other publications, according to her personal website.
On her Patreon page, Norton said that she had "gently shot down" the idea of writing for the Times when members of the editorial board first approached her in January.
"I tried to imply, strongly, I'm kind of weird," she wrote, before eventually accepting the offer. Her goal in taking the position, she said, was "to help the world understand itself well enough to stop the abuse before it started."
The controversy comes after a dustup earlier this week over New York Times opinion writer Bari Weiss, who called US athlete Mirai Nagasu an "immigrant" in a now-deleted tweet. Nagasu was born in California.
Norton's rapport with Auernheimer, who used the Twitter handle @Rabite before he was suspended, is extensive.
IRC stands for "Internet Relay Chat," an old method for people to instant message online.
"Weev doesn't talk to me much anymore, but we talk about the racism whenever he does," she continued. "My door is open when he, or anyone, wants to talk, but we're talking about the stupidity of racism and the people in my life know that to be true."
In response to criticism of a retweet that used the n-word, Norton wrote that it was sarcasm.
"Despite our review of Quinn Norton's work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us," he said. "Based on it, we've decided to go our separate ways."
Whistleblower alleges manipulation of Cboe volatility index
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:00
NEW YORK (Reuters) - Wall Street's most widely followed gauge of future stock market volatility is being manipulated, a law firm representing an ''anonymous whistleblower'' alleged in a letter to U.S. regulators seen by Reuters on Tuesday.
The accusations prompted Cboe Global Markets, the financial exchange operator that is home to the Cboe Volatility Index .VIX, to ask Wall Street's self-funded regulator, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), to look into the matter, two sources familiar with the situation said.
''Cboe has a dedicated regulatory department that works with FINRA to monitor certain trading activity for our securities markets, including trading activity that could impact the VIX settlement,'' Greg Hoogasian, Cboe's chief regulatory officer, told Reuters in a statement.
The letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission from Zuckerman Law, a Washington-based firm, said it had been written on behalf of a person, not identified, who had held senior roles in the investment sector.
In addition to the letter, the law firm said it had filed a formal complaint with regulators on behalf of the unidentified client. It was not clear from the letter and a redacted copy of the complaint seen by Reuters what evidence the person might have provided to support claims of manipulation.
The complaint says regulators should look at trading data for proof of alleged manipulation.
The letter, dated Monday, alleged that trading firms had taken advantage of the way the VIX is calculated in order to manipulate the index, costing investors nearly $2 billion a year.
Financial products that seek to track the VIX are at the center of recent stock market turbulence.
The VIX estimates the expected near-term volatility conveyed by S&P 500 .SPX index option prices. The CBOE calculates an official settlement monthly that determines whether large blocks of VIX futures expire worthless or turn a profit.
The whistleblower's letter alleges a flaw in the calculation of the VIX that allows trading firms to manipulate the VIX index by posting quotes for S&P 500 options, without actually trading.
Cboe spokeswoman Suzanne Cosgrove said in a statement, ''This letter is replete with inaccurate statements, misconceptions and factual errors, including a fundamental misunderstanding of the relationship between the VIX Index, VIX futures and volatility exchange traded products, among other things.''
The SEC and CFTC declined to comment.
William Speth, vice president and head of research at Cboe, said, ''There are structural safeguards built into the process of the calculation of the VIX settlement value that would hinder the type of manipulation the letter alleges.''
''Our regulatory group actively surveils for potential VIX settlement manipulation,'' he said.
CLAIMS NOT NEWLast year John Griffin and Amin Shams of the McCombs School of Business at the University of Texas, Austin wrote a paper noting significant spikes in trading volume in S&P 500 index options at the exact time of the monthly VIX settlement.
The complaint alleging manipulation referenced the paper. (bit.ly/2HbqSYR)
''It's exactly what we talked about in our paper,'' Griffin told Reuters. ''I would think the Cboe would want to redesign the settlement process to make it fairer and more transparent.''
Cboe disagreed with the paper's conclusions when it was posted on a website for research and said the jump in activity around settlement was due to investors adjusting their positions around contract expirations.
Cboe's Speth said that traders posting quotes on SPX options have to keep them open for 10 minutes and could be forced to complete the trade.
''And in a world were microseconds count, that's an eternity,'' he said.
Stuart John Barton, portfolio manager at Invest In Vol, a volatility-focused registered investment advisor in Stamford, Connecticut, said, ''There has been a longstanding understanding that there is a potential for the manipulation of the index level.''
Barton said that losses to investors from such manipulations are probably much smaller than the nearly $2 billion annually alleged in the letter.
The letter alleged that manipulation of the volatility index also played a role in last week's market turmoil where VIX-related exchange traded products (ETP) experienced big price swings.
Both Barton and Griffon cautioned that it was unlikely the type of manipulation alleged in the letter could have caused such a large spike in VIX futures.
''It would be scaremongering to say that it had a big impact on the reason why these products blew up,'' Barton said.
Reporting Saqib Iqbal Ahmed and John McCrank; Additional reporting by Tevor Hunnicutt in New York, Rama Venkat Raman in Bengaluru and Pete Schroeder in Washington; Editing by Daniel Bases and Lisa Shumaker
Police: Suspects who tried to ram gate at NSA base were men dressed as women | FOX31 Denver
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:39
FT. MEADE, Maryland '-- One person is dead, and two more were hospitalized after an unauthorized vehicle tried to gain access to the National Security Agency campus in Fort Meade, Maryland, according to the NSA, which is investigating the incident.
''Shortly before 9:00 AM today, a vehicle containing two individuals attempted an unauthorized entry at a National Security Agency gate,'' Jonathan Freed, NSA director of strategic communications, said in a statement. ''The driver failed to obey an NSA Police officer's routine instructions for safely exiting the secure campus. The vehicle failed to stop and barriers were deployed.''
NSA police on the scene fired on the vehicle when it accelerated toward a police car, blocking its way, according to the NSA. One of the unauthorized vehicle's two occupants died on the scene. The other was hospitalized, as was an NSA police officer.
The two men who officials say tried to ram the main gate at NSA headquarters were dressed as women, according to a federal law enforcement official.
Investigators are looking into whether the men were under the influence of drugs following a night of partying, a federal law enforcement official said.
A man reported his car stolen from a hotel not far away from NSA Headquarters and said he had been with two men who had taken his car. Cocaine was found in the vehicle. The Howard County Police Department confirms that a Ford Escape reported stolen in Howard County, Maryland, is the vehicle involved in the incident.
The FBI said Monday morning that it was conducting an investigation with NSA police and other law enforcement agencies, and interviewing witnesses on the scene. The incident took place near one of the gates to the complex, far from the main buildings. The FBI said they did not think terrorism was related to the incident.
''We are working with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland to determine if federal charges are warranted,'' the FBI said in a statement.
White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz said President Barack Obama had been briefed on the incident this morning.
This is the second security incident this month involving the NSA. At the beginning of March, a former state correctional officer was arrested, accused in a string of Maryland shootings, including one at Fort Meade. Gunshots struck a building near the NSA office, according to a police report.
Officers stopped Hong Young, 35, of Beltsville, Maryland, and recognized his vehicle as matching authorities' description of a car seen in surveillance footage near some of the other shootings. A gun in the car matched evidence found at the shootings, and Young was arrested, authorities said.
Police said earlier this month that there were no links to terrorism in the case, and no motive has been determined. No one was killed in the five shooting incidents.
In addition to the headquarters of the NSA, Fort Meade is home to 95 units from all branches of the armed forces and offices that report to several Defense Department agencies, according to the U.S. Army, which operates the base.
About 11,000 military employees and 29,000 civilians work there, according to the Army.
Some 6,000 people also live on the base, which began operations in 1917 as a garrison for World War I draftees, the Army said.
Trademark and Copyright 2018 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.
Did The Bigot Who ''Painted'' Obama's Portrait Stick A Giant Sperm On His Forehead? '' ZeroPointNow
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:27
President Obama's official portrait is, ah, quite something'...
Upon closer inspection, the portrait which was ''Painted'' by bigoted homosexual black power advocate, Kehinde Wiley '' who has a history of featuring sperm in his various works, it appears that President Obama's forehead was the latest recipient of Wiley's handiwork '' as the former President bears what appears to be a giant sperm on his head.
For those who can't quite make it out:
Indeed, proof of Wiley's penchant for inserting sperm can be seen by nearly a decade of tweets referencing the lil' swimmers:
In addition to all the sperm, Wiley apparently loves depicting violence against whites '' and is on record saying the below ''art'' is ''sort of a play on the ''kill whitey'' thing'':
Can you imagine if President Trump did the inverse?
To top it off, as the Gateway Pundit's Lucian Wintrich notes '' in addition to being bigoted, Wiley uses Chinese labor to Photoshop his paintings:
As Wintrich of TGP reports:
The fawning New York Magazine piece makes this clear after the writer attempts to snap a few pictures of the studio space. Wiley immediately grows uncomfortable and begins skirting around the truth:
There's nothing new about artists using assistants'--everyone from Michelangelo to Jeff Koons has employed teams of helpers, with varying degrees of irony and pride'--but Wiley gets uncomfortable discussing the subject. ''I'm sensitive to it,'' he says. When I first arrived at his Beijing studio, the assistants had left, and he made me delete the iPhone snapshots I'd taken of the empty space. ['...] ''I don't want you to know every aspect of where my hand starts and ends'' ['...]
Producing work in China cuts costs, but not as much as it used to, Wiley says. These days in Beijing he employs anywhere from four to ten workers, depending on the urgency, plus a studio manager, the American artist Ain Cocke.
Perhaps Obama would like to simply fade away after this latest debacle'...
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Macron brings back French national service after 20 years | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:23
French President Emmanuel Macron is re-introducing compulsory national military service for young people in France, the government said today.
By bringing back national service two decades after it was scrapped, Macron is fulfilling one of his campaign pledges.
During his presidential campaign, Macron promised to make all young people spend a month getting 'a direct experience of military life with its know-how and demands'.
Keeping promises: The re-imagined national service, one of President Macron's campaign pledges, will last a month and be an experience of 'military life' for young French people
He billed it as a way to build social cohesion and patriotism in a country battling deep divisions, by bringing young people from different backgrounds together in a barracks.
But the proposal raised hackles in the army, which is already stretched thin by anti-terrorism operations in the Middle East and West Africa as well as patrols against jihadists at home.
Opposition parties and experts also warned of the costs involved in training up 600,000 and 800,000 youngsters a year.
Last week, Defence Minister Florence Parly appeared to cast doubt on the scope of the plan, saying it would 'probably not be obligatory'.
But government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux on Tuesday insisted that Macron would not beat a retreat on the proposal.
Military fan: Macron watch the annual Bastille Day military parade along Avenue des Champs-Elysees in Paris last July in the company of U.S. President Donald Trump
'It will be universal... and it will be obligatory,' he told Radio Classique, adding that a taskforce would come up with suggestions on how to implement it by the end of April.
But in a sign not all young people may be forced to don uniform he said that the service 'could also be a civic engagement', being about 'how you give your time usefully to the nation'.
France's last conscripts were demobilised in 2001, ending nearly a century of military service which saw millions of men put through their paces.
While some French men look back fondly on their stint in the army, many middle-class youths called in well-placed contacts - or feigned mental health problems - to duck out of it.
In January, Macron - the first French president not to have been called up to serve, having come of age after it ended - insisted he was not trying to resurrect the tradition which was ended by ex-president Jacques Chirac.
He said his aim was to give young men and women alike 'causes to defend and battles to fight in the social, environmental and cultural domains.'
The government plans to trial the programme in 2019.
BuzzFeed Is Suing the D.N.C. Over Issues Involving the Russia Dossier | Vanity Fair
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:22
Video editing inside the newsroom of BuzzFeed's Los Angeles headquarters.
By Jay L. Clendenin/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images.
Robert Mueller's investigation into ties between Russia and the Donald Trump campaign maneuvers mostly in secret. But the infamous dossier at the heart of the scandal, which was compiled by ex-British spook Christopher Steele on behalf of an intelligence firm alternately retained by the conservative Web site Washington Free Beacon and members of the Clinton campaign, constantly finds its way to the center of the news.
First there was Monday's juicy Foreign Policy story revealing that BuzzFeed, which published the dossier in early 2017 and was subsequently sued over it, recently commissioned ''a team led by a former top F.B.I. and White House cybersecurity official'' to trek all over the world ''on a secret mission to verify parts'' of the explosive document. Now, BuzzFeed is taking the Democratic National Committee to court in an attempt to compel it to turn over information it believes will bolster its defense against Aleksej Gubarev, a Russian business magnate who says he was libeled in the dossier when it tied him to the Russians' alleged hacking of the D.N.C.'s e-mail servers. In a nutshell: BuzzFeed believes the D.N.C. has information that could show a link between Gubarev and the e-mail hacking, which would undercut his libel claim. ''We're asking a federal court to force the D.N.C. to follow the law and allow BuzzFeed to fully defend its First Amendment rights,'' a BuzzFeed spokesperson wrote in an e-mail.
BuzzFeed's motion asserts that the D.N.C., citing privacy concerns, has been unwilling to comply with a subpoena for that information. As BuzzFeed's lawyers argue: ''The material requested from the D.N.C.'--which amounts only to the digital remnants left by the Russian state operatives who hacked their systems'--is highly relevant to Defendants' ability to establish the truth of the allegedly defamatory claims about them in the Dossier. And the D.N.C. has identified neither privilege nor burden that would prevent them from complying with the Subpoena.'' In legal papers, the D.N.C. has argued that disclosing the digital signatures, supposedly left by the Russia-directed hacking organizations known as Cozy Bear and Fancy Bear, would inevitably expose details of the D.N.C.'s information systems, possibly making them more vulnerable to another hack. (A D.N.C. spokeswoman did not immediately have a comment late Tuesday afternoon.)
BuzzFeed maintains that its decision to publish the dossier was justified because a number of the document's claims have subsequently been corroborated. And since that's the bedrock of its defense, the publication is committed to trying to collect as much evidence as possible in support of that argument. Back in September, as I reported at the time, BuzzFeed filed a motion against the F.B.I. to depose former F.B.I. Director James Comey and former director of national intelligence James Clapper'--the idea being that if Comey or Clapper were to testify, it would confirm under oath that the dossier was being discussed at the highest levels of government, and was therefore of interest to the public. BuzzFeed will be in court in Washington on Thursday for a hearing related to that matter.
Your Facebook data is creepy as hell '' Hacker Noon
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:20
S ince 2010, Facebook allows you to download an archive file of all your interactions with the network. It's a 5-click easy process that your grandmother can do (more details below).
Inside the .zip, lies an 'index.html' page that acts as a portal to your personal data. Visually, it looks like an ad-free stripped down version of Facebook that's actually quite relaxing.
As I'm trying to reduce my exposure to social networks, I decided to take a look at this info. By extrapolating the data of a single individual (me), I might be able to better apprehend the capabilities of the beast. In the end, it all comes down to what is tracked and what can be deduced from that.
We all gave up on privacy'...'... we just don't fully realise it.
Everything you expect is there: your profile, statuses, messages, friends, pokes (Tinder's ancestor), photos, videos, comments, events. All of it in a 500mb zip file.
There's a lot of material and you could sift it for hours. Most of the content is unsurprising but there are a few notable facts that are worth exploring.
Limitless data storage periodQuite simply, Facebook never deletes anything. Unfriended friends, past relationships, former employers, previous names, address book: you name it.
I created my account Friday, September 14, 2007 at 10:59am and all my actions have been recorded ever since. I feel that for the first time in history, 10 years of consistent human behavior have been meticulously gathered, stored & analysed.
Exhaustive photo metadataWhenever you post a photo to Facebook, it keeps a record of all the data that's attached to it. That seems quite obvious but I didn't suspect it was so detailed. Have a look: Camera Maker, Model, Orientation, Exposure, F-Stop, ISO Speed, Focal Length, Latitude, Longitude & Upload IP Address
Abundant log-in & session data pointsEvery time you open Facebook, the time, location, IP address, browser & device have been recorded. If you're part of the 1.4B people that use Facebook on a daily basis, they have enough data points to determine your everyday life patterns with great accuracy: home and work address, daily commute, wake up & bed time, travel duration & destination, etc.
Flawless facial recognitionApparently, Facebook has 232 examples of what I look like.
How does it know? Well, every time you tag a photo, you're adding to an enormous, user-driven wealth of knowledge and data. Everyday, billions of people are telling an algorithm what a human face looks like, from different angles, at different ages and in different light conditions.
The result? Facebook allegedly said that its image recognition models could recognise human faces with 98% accuracy & that it could identify a person in one picture out of 800 million in less than five seconds.
When you install Facebook's app on your phone, you give it the right to see your contact list. Once that's done, Facebook keeps ALL your contacts information forever.
There's no sneaky move here: the opt-in process on your phone is actually pretty clear about that. But seeing the phone numbers, emails & addresses of everyone you know (or knew) listed on Facebook is a bit disturbing.
Get to know your advertiser'... because he surely knows you.
Facebook main revenue source are ads served by their powerful targeting engine using custom audiences built for advertisers.
Apparently 21 advertisers got access to my Facebook information:
Playstation seems to like me a lot.The thing is, Facebook's been purposely mysterious about what type of information they share with third parties. Despite numerous requests by users throughout the world, their response is systematically:
Advertisers do not give Facebook any users' contact details. We only get such details in hashed form and they are, in any event, deleted within 48 hours. We are therefore not able to confirm what contact information an advertiser has for a particular user.
But looking at Facebook Business platform provides some details about what info is used in custom audiences targeting: email, phone number, first name, last name, city, state, country, date of birth, age & gender.
So Facebook has a lot of data about you & it shares it with a lot of advertisers: but why should you care?
''Bring the world closer'...'''... to ads.
I used to think there was no real drawback in ceding a lot of personal data to a 3rd party. After all, I get a free service that's pleasant to use & really helpful.
Eventually, I realised that the harm potential really depends on 2 factors: the intentions & means of action of the organisation that harvests your data.
Harm potential = money * financial KPI's'Š'--'Šregulatory pressure.
That's where Facebook gets really frightening: it's hugely powerful & its only objective is to maximise the time spent & interactions made with its platform (just look at its financial KPI's).
Don't be fooled by the ''bring the world closer together'' motto: if Facebook's here, it's only to make money by selling ads. And to do that, they must target'Š'--'Šin the most precise manner'Š'--'Šthe highest possible amount of eyeballs.
The thing is, do we really care?
How to get your data?Starting with Facebook in 2010 and followed by Google and Twitter in 2011 and 2012, big social networks began allowing their users to download a backup file of everything they've ever posted.
To download your Facebook backup, just follow the 3 steps described here. Facebook will send you an email once your backup's ready (it usually takes less than 10 minutes).
For a more holistic approach, check out PersonalData.io. It's a web service that's helping individuals get a hold on their personal data. They're doing an awesome job referencing data controllers & providing request templates filled with the correct wording & legal jargon. They then publish the requests & answers online so that everyone can appreciate corporate lawyers' talent for complexifying exchanges & dodging questions.
Thanks for making it till the end!My mom won't be the only one reading this.
I've learned most of what I know through the writings of others. Having people use some of their time to read my work means a lot to me.
If you found this story interesting, feel free to clap or follow me onTwitter,Instagramor here onMedium.
Big thanks toHugo M.for his help: get well soon!
Hungary submits anti-immigration 'Stop Soros' bill to parliament
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:18
By Krisztina Than
BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Hungary's nationalist government introduced legislation that would empower the interior minister to ban non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that support migration and pose a "national security risk".
The bill, submitted to parliament late on Tuesday, is a key part of Prime Minister Viktor Orban's anti-immigration campaign targeting U.S. financier George Soros whose philanthropy aims to bolster liberal and open-border values in eastern Europe.
The government says the bill, which would also impose a 25 percent tax on foreign donations to NGOs that back migration in Hungary, is meant to deter illegal immigration Orban says is eroding European stability and has been stoked in part by Soros.
Hungary and Poland are both under nationalist governments that have clashed with the European Union leadership in Brussels over their perceived authoritarian drift deviating from EU standards on democracy and rule of law.
But Orban's message, championing conservative Christian beliefs and rejecting multiculturalism, has gone down well with Hungarian voters and his Fidesz party is expected to secure a third straight term in a general election due on April 8.
The bill says that NGOs that "sponsor, organize or support the entry or stay of third-country citizens on Hungarian territory via a safe third country to extend international protection ... qualify as organizations supporting migration".
Such activity - including campaigning, advocacy, recruiting volunteers, producing information booklets - would have to be approved by the interior minister, who could deny permission if he saw a "national security risk".
If an NGO continued with such activity, Hungarian prosecutors could act to withdraw the NGO's tax number, essentially paralyzing them, slap them with heavy fines and ultimately dissolve them.
Organizations that support migration will have to pay tax on the foreign funding or assets they receive, the bill says, with a possible exemption on funding that serves humanitarian goals.
Activists who organize or support migration could also face restraining orders preventing them from approaching the EU's external borders in Hungary.
Orban has been embroiled in an escalating "Stop Soros" feud with the 87-year-old Hungarian-born Jew, waging a billboard and media campaign asserting that he would "settle millions from Africa and the Middle East".
Soros has rejected the campaign against him as "distortions and lies" meant to create a false external enemy.
Pro-government media reported earlier that the new legislation could lead to a ban on Soros, who has U.S. and Hungarian citizenship, entering the country.
The Hungarian Helsinki Committee, an NGO that has been providing support for the legal and human rights of various groups including asylum seekers and prisoners since 1994, said the bill was unacceptable and served political goals.
"(Its goal) is to stigmatize certain civil organizations that the government does not like... and to distance them from society, and in the end make their operation impossible," the committee, which receives a major chunk of its funding from Soros, said in a statement.
Poland, Hungary and other ex-communist eastern member states of the EU have all pushed a strong anti-immigrant stance, even though the number of asylum seekers who want to stay in these countries are very few compared to western European countries.
Last year, the Orban government introduced a measure requiring NGOs that get money from abroad to register with the state, raising alarm in the EU and United States.
The European Commission said last year it was taking Budapest to the EU's top court over its NGO laws as well as a higher education law that targets the Central European University in Budapest founded by Soros.
(Reporting by Krisztina Than; editing by Mark Heinrich)
'France will strike' if proven chemical bombs used in Syria: Macron
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:18
PARIS (Reuters) - President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday that ''France will strike'' if chemical weapons are used against civilians in the Syrian conflict in violation of international treaties, but that he had not yet seen proof this was the case.
Macron said last May that the use of chemical weapons would represent a ''red line''. In a telephone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Friday expressed concern over signs that chlorine bombs had been used against civilians in Syria.
''On chemical weapons, I set a red line and I reaffirm that red line,'' Macron told reporters. ''If we have proven evidence that chemical weapons proscribed in treaties are used, we will strike the place where they are made.''
''Today, our agencies, our armed forces have not established that chemical weapons, as set out in treaties, have been used against the civilian population.''
The Syrian government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons and said it targets only armed rebels and militants.
Last week was one of the bloodiest in the Syrian conflict as Syrian government forces, who are backed by Russia and Iran, bombarded two of the last major rebel areas of Syria - Eastern Ghouta near Damascus and the northwestern province of Idlib.
Diplomatic efforts have made scant progress toward ending a war now approaching its eighth year, which has killed hundreds of thousands of people and forced half the pre-war Syrian population of 23 million from their homes.
Syria signed the international treaty banning chemical weapons and allowed monitors to destroy its poison gas arsenal after an agreement reached in 2013 to avert U.S. retaliation for what Washington said was a nerve gas attack near Damascus that killed more than 1000 people. Washington again accused Syria of using nerve gas last year and struck Syrian targets.
In recent weeks, rescue workers, aid groups and the United States have accused Syria of repeatedly using chlorine gas, which it possesses legally for uses such as water purification, as a chemical weapon against civilians in Ghouta and Idlib.
France, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, has struggled to wield influence on Syria. Critics who accuse Macron of inaction say he has not given a clear definition of whether use of chlorine would for him constitute a chemical attack.
On Tuesday, the vice-president of the Syria Civil Defence, or ''White Helmets'', volunteer force said France should stop talking and take real action.
France and the United Nations have repeatedly called in past months for a ceasefire and the opening of aid corridors to alleviate Syria's humanitarian crisis. Russia, Assad's most powerful ally, said last week a ceasefire was not realistic.
Reporting by Marine Pennetier and Michel Rose; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Peter Graff
Kim Jong-un impersonator reveals he was dragged out of Winter Olympics by 'heavies' after dancing in front of 'shocked' North Korea cheerleaders
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:40
A KIM JONG-UN impersonator says he was dragged out of the Winter Olympics by "North Korean heavies" after turning up in character and dancing in front of regime cheerleaders.
Photos taken today show the lookalike - who is notorious for appearing at public events dressed as the despot - waving to the country's cheerleader team at a united Korea hockey game against Japan.
Kim Jong-un impersonator Howard waves to a photographer during a shock appearance beside the hermit state's cheerleader teamImpersonator Howard today exclusively told The Sun: "I was actually late to the game. When I arrived, I went straight over to the North Korean cheerleaders and waving the flag and supporting them on and clapping.
"They looked really surprised and shocked. Some of them laughed, and got it, but most of them were totally shocked and I was told to sit down by a few heavies.
"After that a few heavies rushed over really p***ed off and I suspect they were North Korean delegates, just by the way they were dressed. I can't confirm, but (they were) most likely North Korean.
"They dragged me out and they kicked me in the shins and were shouting something really angrily in Korean."
Kim Jong-un impersonator is kicked out of Korean Winter Olympics hockey game AFP
He briefly danced and cheered in front of the troupe as they tried to cheer on the country's hockey teamReuters
Moments after this he was angrily confronted by men he believes were North Korean officialsAFP or licensors
Here he's seen sitting in the crowd moments before being dragged awayChinese-Australian Howard, who is in his late 30s and based in Hong Kong, previously appeared last month in Hong Kong alongside a Donald Trump lookalike.
In previous years, he also popped up at the Rio Olympics and the Hong Kong Sevens - where he claims his costume was so popular he kissed more than 40 women.
Having developed a huge and dedicated following, he also has Facebook and Instagram pages dedicated to his public appearances.
Today said he was detained by cops beneath the stands for around half an hour.
A man confronts Howard following his shock appearance at the matchPolice told him this was for his "own safety".
He added: "They said we've got to wait for the North Korean team to leave before we let you go out.
"I said who decides what goes on in South Korea? North Korea? Or South Korea?
He told them: "If you don't like my face there's nothing you can do about it - I was born this way."
North Korean cheerleaders celebrate as the unified Korea ice hockey team score their first goal at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang AFP
He was detained inside the building for about half an hourAFP
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"I eventually got released after half an hour and that was it and as soon as I got out there was a bunch of reporters asking me questions.
"I thought I'd turn up in character and give the games a little bit more spice, after all, South Korea is a democracy, with freedom of speech and I think we need to satirise the whole situation."
In North Korea, anyone impersonating of a member of the ruling Kim family would be considered blasphemous.
Images of the North Korean leadership are tightly choreographed and controlled by the reclusive nation's state propagandists.
His surprise appearance at the match caused an uproar in the standsImportant political live TV moment almost missed as man blocks view of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's sister Kim Yo Jong shaking hands with South Korea's President Moon Jae-in at Winter Olympics opening ceremony in Pyeongchang We pay for your stories! Do you have a story for The Sun Online news team? Email us at tips @the-sun.co.uk or call 0207 782 4368 . We pay for videos too. Click here to upload yours.'
This Student Failed Her Assignment Because Her Professor Said "Australia Isn't A Country"
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:34
So, Arnold wrote a lengthy email to the professor, trying to convince her Australia, the country, does indeed exist. She even provided references: I believe I got zero or partial credit because the instructor said, 'Australia is a continent; not a country. However, I believe that Australia is a country. The research starter on the SNHU's Shapiro library written by John Pearson (2013) states, that Australia is the 'sixth-largest country in the world' (n.p.). The full name of the country is the Commonwealth of Australia, meaning Australia is both a continent and a country. Therefore, these sections of the rubric should be amended.
But the professor still wasn't convinced. In her lecturing reply, which Arnold provided to BuzzFeed News, the professor doubled down on her Australia-denialism: I will gladly re-examine your week 2 milestone project report.
But before I do I want you to understand that any error in a project can invalidate the entire research project.
Research is like dominoes, if you accidentally knock over one piece the entire set will also fall.
Australia is a continent; it is not a country. That error made it nearly impossible for you to accurately complete your week 2 research outline correctly.
As I mentioned above I will look over your week two paper once again and see if you earned more credits than I gave you.
So, Arnold responded again, even including a link to the "About Australia" section of the Australian government's website: Australia is both a country and a continent. It's the only country that is both. I provided a resource in the first email that clarifies that for you. If you need further clarification google or the SNHU Shapiro Library has that information you.
Again I mean no disrespect but my grade is affected by your assumption that Australia is not a country when it in fact is.
Thank you and let me know if I need to provide further resources proving Australia is a country.
Finally, the professor responded: Thank you for this web-address
After I do some independent research on the continent/country issue I will review your paper.
Finally, after the professor had finished conducting her "independent research," Arnold received a new grade this week: a B+. The professor never apologized for the error, but did acknowledge she had a "misunderstanding about the difference between Australia as a country and a continent."
Still, the professor had another warning for Arnold as she prepares to write her final assignment: "Please make sure the date, the facts, and the information you provide in your report is about Australia the country and not Australia the continent."
When asked why she thought her professor might have been confused, Arnold said her older age might have been a factor. "When did Australia become a country? Maybe she thinks it's still part of England," she said.
After being told by BuzzFeed News that happened some 117 years ago, Arnold said, ''Oh, she's not that old, so there's no excuse.''
Disclaimer: The author of this post is from the very real country that is Australia.
UPDATE Feb. 09, 2018, at 16:56 PM
On Friday, SNHU announced via Twitter that they had apologized to Arnold and had replaced her professor. Arnold was also set to receive a refund for the course.
"We deeply regret the interaction between our professor & our student," SNHU said. "We have apologized to Ashley, replaced the instructor, & are reimbursing her tuition for the course. To our friends in Australia, we know that you are a country & a continent, best of luck in the Olympic games!"
Arnold told BuzzFeed News the SNHU staff were "very nice and apologized for the Australia issue."
"So I am happy with the results," she said.
Meth, the Forgotten Killer, Is Back. And It's Everywhere. - The New York Times
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:02
Drugs go through cycles '-- in the 1980s and early '90s, the use of crack cocaine surged. In the early 2000s, meth made from pseudoephedrine, the decongestant in drugstore products like Sudafed, poured out of domestic labs like those in the early seasons of the hit television show ''Breaking Bad.''
Narcotics squads became glorified hazmat teams, spending entire shifts on cleanup. In 2004, the Portland police responded to 114 meth houses. ''We rolled from meth lab to meth lab,'' said Sgt. Jan M. Kubic of the county sheriff's office. ''Patrol would roll up on a domestic violence call, and there'd be a lab in the kitchen. Everything would come to a screeching halt.''
In 2005 Congress passed the Combat Methamphetamine Act, which put pseudoephedrine behind the counter, limited sales to 7.5 grams per customer in a 30-day period and required pharmacies to track sales. Although some meth makers tried ''smurfing,'' sending emissaries to several stores to make purchases, meth cases plummeted.
States like Oregon and Mississippi required a prescription, making smurfing almost impossible. And a new epidemic took hold: prescription painkillers and opiates like heroin. With no more meth lab explosions on the nightly news, the public forgot about the drug.
The amount of methamphetamine seized by U.S. authorities has been increasing, especially in Southwest field offices.
pounds of meth seized
Laredo, Tex.
Other U.S. areas
San Diego
pounds of meth seized
Laredo, Tex.
Other U.S. areas
San Diego
pounds of meth seized
Laredo, Tex.
Other U.S. areas
San Diego
But meth, it turns out, was only on hiatus. When the ingredients became difficult to come by in the United States, Mexican drug cartels stepped in. Now fighting meth often means seizing large quantities of ready-made product in highway stops.
The cartels have inundated the market with so much pure, low-cost meth that dealers have more of it than they know what to do with. Under pressure from traffickers to unload large quantities, law enforcement officials say, dealers are even offering meth to customers on credit. In Portland, the drug has made inroads in black neighborhoods, something experienced narcotics investigators say was unheard-of five years ago.
''I have been involved with meth for the last 25 years. A wholesale plummet of price per pound, combined with a huge increase of purity, tells me they have perfected the production or manufacturing of methamphetamine,'' said Steven Bell, a spokesman for the Drug Enforcement Administration. ''They have figured out the chemical reactions to get the best bang for their bucks.''
Nearly 100 percent pure and about $5 a hit, the new meth is all the more difficult for users to resist. ''We're seeing a lot of longtime addicts who used crack cocaine switch to meth,'' said Branden Combs, a Portland officer assigned to the street crimes unit. ''You ask them about it, and they'll say: 'Hey, it's half the price, and it's good quality.'''
Nationally, nearly 6,000 people died from stimulant use '-- mostly meth '-- in 2015, a 255 percent increase from 2005, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The percentage of the nation's drug overdose toll that was attributed to stimulants inched up to 11 percent of the deaths.
United StatesCustoms and Border Protection statistics show that in the past five years, the amount of meth seized has tripled, while the seizures for other drugs have declined or had only modest increases.
In Oregon, 232 people died from meth use in 2016, nearly twice as many as died from heroin '-- and three times as many as died from meth 10 years before, according to the state Department of Health.
Between 2011 and 2015, meth arrests were the only type of drug arrests in Portland to increase, and meth has the highest correlation with serious crimes. More than one in five burglars and nearly 40 percent of car thieves were also charged with meth crimes, according to the Portland Police Bureau.
''Heroin is a depressant. It shuts you down and you're not capable of doing a whole lot,'' Sergeant Kubic said. Meth is a stimulant: ''Tweakers are jacked up. They have lowered inhibitions and are awake 24/7, running around at night, so burglaries become easier.''
Eric, a former dancer in Portland, who asked that his last name not be published, said he now worked as a ''professional booster.'' Pawnshop owners give him ''laundry lists'' of coveted items, and he goes out and steals them, getting 50 cents on the dollar.
Continue reading the main story
Preserve This Podcast! '' The Bytegeist Blog '' Medium
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:00
Podcasts are all the rage these days, but there's an unspoken problem brewing. A lot of people are making podcasts. But they're not doing much to preserve them for the future.
Illustration by Mary KiddWe are at a turning point in the podcast media landscape. Forty-two million Americans, or 15% of the population, listen to podcasts weekly. The Apple podcasts platform alone provides access to over 400,000 shows in over 100 languages. Podcasts' ease and accessibility has given voice to diverse groups who've historically lacked a place in mass media or history books.
As both a popular mass medium and a platform for underrepresented voices, podcasts have cultural significance and scholarly value. But will they endure? Most cultural heritage institutions don't collect podcasts. Most podcast producers, especially independent producers, aren't familiar with preservation strategies.
Ten or twenty years from now, will podcasts that we listen to today be lost to the world?
The Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) has received $142,000 in grant funding from the The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to help independent podcasters protect their work against the threats of digital decay. The grant, titled ''Preserve this Podcast: A Podcast Tutorial and Outreach Project,'' will fund an education and awareness campaign to promote affordable, easy-to-implement archival techniques for digital audio preservation.
The campaign will take the format our target audience knows best: a podcast.
The grant will fund the production of a podcast series about how to preserve podcasts. (Yes, it's meta. We know.) It will document the podcast preservation process in real-time. We will hear from leaders in the digital audio field, many of whom were instrumental in the development of the podcasting medium. An accompanying illustrated zine/workbook will guide listeners in building a preservation plan they can start immediately. Finally, a series of traveling workshops at conferences across the country will engage both the podcast and archival communities, and build important bridges between the two.
Our ultimate goal? Help podcasters bake preservation habits into production. We want them submitting files to the Internet Archive like they'd buckle a seatbelt when they get in a car.
Right now the preservation process isn't so familiar to most podcasters. Allison Behringer is an independent producer who has a successful podcast under her belt (The Intern) and is currently working on a new podcast called Bodies.
''I'll admit that I had never thought about podcast preservation,'' she says. ''There's plenty of discussion in the podcasting community on how to start one and how to make a good one, but little talk of how to make a podcast that will survive the inevitable end of the RSS. As an independent producer, there are so many aspects of production to manage. We're thinking about how we're going to get listeners next month, not in the next century.''
We've seen how preservation issues have plagued other mass-produced digital consumer formats (CD-Rs, anyone?). These same issues will affect podcasts. If they don't already, they will soon.
What makes podcasts a unique format to preserve?Podcasts are compressed digital audio files that are released on the internet and podcast applications via RSS feeds. The first podcast was posted in 2003 as part of a still-running blog called Radio Open Source. Since then, the open podcast ecosystem, the proliferation of handheld listening devices, and the maturation of the creative medium has led to a marked increase in podcast production and listening.
The explosive growth of the podcast industry has led some to hail these years'Š'--'Šfrom the launch of the popular podcast Serial to the present'Š'--'Šas the ''golden age'' of podcasting. But the rapid growth of this medium also presents challenges to its preservation. As a nascent, distributed, born-digital mass medium, podcasts face specific risks: format obsolescence, link rot, the complexity of managing digital assets, the expense of storing multiple copies of lossless audio files, and the dangers of relying on costly third-party hosting platforms.
This project will dive into the weeds of how podcasts are created and distributed, from both a technical and historical viewpoint. In doing so, we hope to capture a historical moment in our shifting media landscape. And reshape media practices going forward, so that they incorporate preservation as a fundamental production step. By diving into the history of podcasts, we'll be highlighting the problem hiding in plain view'Š'--'Šthat not enough is being done to preserve them for the future.
That Meta PodcastIn the fast-paced world of digital production, producers, who are understandably time-strapped, often have little time to stop and learn Preservation 101. The podcast series produced as a result of this grant will use the creative medium of the podcast to equip producers with the knowledge and tools that they need to save their born-digital audio files. The series will tap into those elements that make memorable podcasts so good in the first place'Š'--'Šdocumentary-style storytelling, behind-the-scenes interviews, maybe even a cliffhanger or two'Š'--'Šthat can be listened to anytime, anywhere. In fact, we are confident that this will prove podcasts are not only helpful for teaching preservation to podcasters, but that the podcast in general is a good medium for teaching preservation to anyone.
The TeamThis project was conceived of by three professional archivists/audiophiles who listen to a lot of podcasts. Mary Kidd and Molly Schwartz are based in NYC at the New York Public Library (NYPL) and the Metropolitan New York Library Council (METRO) respectively, while Dana Gerber-Margie is at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. They started connecting in 2016 at conferences and workshops, where they bonded over their love for audio, particularly the niche topics and diverse viewpoints that can be found in independently-produced podcasts. But, as archivists, they also saw that these types of podcasts, with no institution behind them to help archive their files, are in imminent danger of disappearing.
Mary Kidd works as the Systems and Operations Coordinator at New York Public Library (NYPL) and previously has worked in digital audio preservation at New York Public Radio (NYPR). She also volunteers in her free time for the XFR Collective, an all-volunteer group non-profit organization that transfers at-risk audio/visualAV media off of magnetic tapes for individuals and groups with limited means. She has worked in the weeds of audio preservation and knows that a lot could be gained from spreading knowledge about the nature of born-digital audio files and how they get shared via RSS feed. In general, she enjoys working on projects that make archives, and the technology that supports it, accessible, approachable and fun:
''As a professional archivist, I have become increasingly interested in the role of the so-called 'accidental archivist', a concept that describes those who care for a collection outside of their day jobs, often without compensation for their time and effort. The biggest issue an accidental archivist faces is whether or not their efforts can stand the test of time. This is especially worrisome in light of the fact that podcast production is entirely digital. Digital files surf the unruly tides of technological shifts, and often succumb to obsolescence. Today's podcast platforms may become tomorrow's Kazaa (extra points to anyone who remembers that application). This is why this grant project is so important: it raises awareness over digital preservation issues affecting creative people, and provides a roadmap with adaptable solutions.''
Molly woke up to the difficulties of being an independent producer when she started making a podcast about libraries. She benefited from New York City's dense network of producers when she was trying to learn the basics, and she saw how quickly information can spread through communities of podcast freelancers. But it's these same communities whose work is most at risk:
''Up until now podcasting has been a pretty open, accessible format that gave people a platform to share their stories, even if they weren't affiliated with a larger network or organization,'' says Molly. ''It's stressful to think that, even though the first podcast was posted in 2003, which isn't long ago, some podcasts are already getting lost. Podcasters aren't saving backups of their digital files, and archivists haven't really started paying attention to this medium yet. So we decided it was time to do something about it and go about archival outreach in a slightly different way.''
Dana is a podcast ''super listener.'' She subscribes to over 1100 podcasts, from the network hits to indies. She listens to a lot of them, too. Her favorite episodes make it into the influential ''Outstanding Audio'' lists that she compiles as a Co-founder and Editor of the Bello Collective, a podcast newsletter and review publication. Now an information professional at the IT Help Desk, in the past Dana worked as an A/V Archivist in Wisconsin. She first presented on podcasts at the Midwest Archives Conference in 2013 and even tried her hand at making podcasts for a bit (it didn't last). She is excited that this project gives her a chance to combine audio and archiving again:
''I am thrilled that we are able to create this bridge between archivists and producers in the shared goal of better file management and ultimately preservation. We both have a lot to learn from each other, and we're stronger together.''
All of the content created as part of the grant will be posted online under a CC-BY Creative Commons license. Grant work runs from February 1, 2018 through January 2020. You can follow the work on Twitter @preservethispodcast.
Using AMP for your AdWords Landing Pages | AdWords AMP Landing Pages | Google Developers
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:58
Faster landing pages typically lead to more conversions, and AMP is a great way to create attractive AdWords landing pages that load more quickly. The AMP Project provides web developers with resources they need to know to create attractive, highly functional pages. This guide describes how to use AdWords and other advertising technology in your AMP pages.
Creating and validating AMP pagesFor an overview of creating AMP pages, start with the official AMP project tutorial.
For more hands-on, step-by-step guidance, follow the AMP foundations and AMP advanced concepts code labs.
You can find sample code and demos of AMP components at AMP by example or at AMP Start.
During development you'll want to make sure your AMP pages are valid. AMP offers many different ways to validate your documents. The most common way to validate an AMP page is by using the web validator or the Google Webmaster Tools Validator. You can also use the Chrome browser plugin and developer console, or integrate the amphtml-validator npm module in your build.
And if you need support, there are a number of options available.
Commonly used landing page features in AMPAMP was originally developed for static content, but it's evolved over time to accommodate more dynamic use cases. The list below describes components that allow you to add dynamic functionality to your AMP pages:
amp-bind: Add custom stateful interactivity based on JavaScript-like events.amp-form: Create landing pages that require input from the user.amp-carousel: Create an image carousel with standard controls for scrolling an image gallery.amp-lightbox: Display a full-screen view of a component like an image when it's interacted with.live-list: Render a live stream of content into the landing page.amp-call-tracking Dynamically replaces a phone number in a hyperlink to enable call tracking.amp-mustache allows rendering Mustache.js.When AMP might not be a good fitAlthough you can think of an AMP page as just a web page, AMP doesn't support some common web development use cases. Here is some functionality that is not well-suited for AMP:
Localization at runtime, based on the customer settings or location.Experiments or A/B testing from third parties using JavaScript. There is a native amp-experiment component, but it doesn't yet integrate with other companies.The AMP project is adding new functionality and components every day. If you find functionality that's missing, you can contribute or request it to be added by opening a GitHub issue.
Configuring AMP landing pages with AdWordsRecommended landing page navigationAlthough AMP works well for subsequent pages in the user journey, we recommend using a non-AMP landing page if you have complex checkout flows or similar. If you have a case where you'd like to measure a conversion or place a remarketing pixel on the AMP landing page itself, you can use the AMP + AdWords conversion tracking component built into amp-analytics described below.
Conversion tracking and remarketingTags for conversion tracking and remarketing are usually given as snippets of HTML and JavaScript. But AMP doesn't allow for the inclusion of "raw" JS. Therefore, you can implement these tags by simply using the amp-analytics component with type=googleadwords. The amp-analytics component for Google AdWords has built-in support for both "googleadwords"."conversion" and "googleadwords"."remarketing" attribute sets.
To use the amp-analytics component start by including the required script in the header of your page then configure the amp-analytics AdWords conversion in the page.
AdWords Conversion Tracking ExampleTo implement AdWords conversion tracking start by creating a website conversion in the AdWords user interface or via the AdWords API. A number of fields from the generated tag must be used in the variables of the amp-analytics configuration. The mapping of variable names is below:
AMP Analytics variableAdWords Conversion variablegoogleConversionIdgoogle_conversion_idgoogleConversionLanguagegoogle_conversion_languagegoogleConversionFormatgoogle_conversion_formatgoogleConversionLabelgoogle_conversion_labelgoogleRemarketingOnlygoogle_remarketing_onlyThese fields should then be configured via your amp-analytics component script vars section.
{ "triggers": { "onVisible": { "on": "visible", "request": "conversion" } }, "vars": { "googleConversionId": "000000000", "googleConversionLanguage": "en", "googleConversionFormat": "3", "googleConversionLabel": "sampleLabel", "googleRemarketingOnly": "false" } } In this example the amp-analytics component is triggered by the 'page visible' event. The conversion could alternatively be configured to be fired by a different event like a button click. Note that in the case of the conversion tracking example above the remarketing only flag is set to false.
AdWords also uses a type of conversion tag for remarketing, for more details refer to the AdWords remarketing documentation. As with the conversion tracking example above a number of variables must be mapped from the AdWords remarketing tag to the amp-analytics tag.
{ "triggers": { "onVisible": { "on": "visible", "request": "remarketing" } }, "vars": { "googleConversionId": "000000000", "googleRemarketingOnly": "true" } } In the above example only the google conversion ID and remarketing only flag must be set, with the remarketing only flag set to true in this instance.
AMP pages from organic vs paid Google Search resultsAMP pages in Google Search are auto-discovered via the link from your pages but advertisers must explicitly input the AMP page URL in AdWords. In both cases, Google tries to serve the page from the Google AMP cache, as often as possible but in rare occasions may fallback to serving from the origin server.
If you'd like to test how an AMP page appears when delivered from the Google cache inside the Google Search Viewer, input your AMP article in the Structured Data Testing Tool and click the Preview link.
Also, If you'd like to drive AdWords traffic to your AMP landing page but don't want it to appear in organic search results, simply place robot.txt exceptions like you would for any regular web page.
Tracking user actions and events with amp-analyticsYou can use AMP analytics to track user actions and events. AMP analytics comes with native support from over 20 analytics vendors. The framework is flexible and allows you to measure and trigger URLs using custom configurations to send analytics information to your own servers or to vendors where native AMP support isn't available. If you're using a technology that isn't currently supported, ask your vendor to add support.
AMP analytics also allows for flexible variable substitution; see the variable substitution documentation for details.
Google AnalyticsGoogle Analytics is supported by amp-analytics. For more information about tracking AdWords traffic, see the best practices for setting up Google Analytics.
If you are using Google Analytics already,you might need to update the tag on your pages. To ensure that Google Analytics reporting works correctly with AMP please refer to Google Analytics documentation.
Google Tag ManagerThe amp-analytics component also has built in support for Google Tag Manager.
Tip: You can use Google Tag Manager to include AdWords conversion tracking, remarketing, DoubleClick Floodlight, Google Universal Analytics, and other tracking technology; see the full list of compatible tags.Adobe Analytics (Formerly known as Omniture)Adobe Analytics offers two methods for implementing their website performance tracking solution with AMP: iframe (''adobeanalytics_nativeConfig'') and non-iframe (''adobeanalytics'') implementation.It's important to make sure that your implementation leverages the iframe (aka adobeanalytics_nativeConfig) method on your new AMP pages, since thenon-iframe method will not properly capture session data that spans your domain and the AMP cache's domain. Additionally, the non-iframe method can result in inflated visit/visitor counts, and is incompatible with the latest Adobe Marketing Cloud integrations.
If you opt to use the iframe method, here are instructions on how to implement Adobe Analytics within an AMP page: AMP article.If you need to modify your implementation to transition from the non-iframe to the iframe method, see the AMP article.Switching implementation methods will not affect your ability to access your historical data, but there may be some variance in the data collection, as visitor inflation will be reduced when moving from the non-iframe method to the iframe method of implementation.In addition, please be aware that Safari browser limitations may result in some anomalies even when using the iframe method of implementation. These anomalies are surfaced when a visitor using Safari and who has never been to the original domain visits an AMP page for the first time, then later visits the normal (non-AMP) site. In this scenario, the visitor would be counted as two visitors in Analytics, assuming the AMP and the main site are in the same report suite. However, if the visitor had been to publisher.com's main site before visiting the AMP, it will still count as only one visitor in reporting.Support for Cache ServingCache serving is currently available for text ads on Google search results page (excluding Dynamic Search Ads) served on Android Chrome. We are rolling out more coverage throughout the coming months. In addition, cache serving is currently only available for ads that do not redirect clicks through click-tracking technologies. Again, we are working to make this compatible with all click tracking technology providers in the coming months.
Website Call Conversion Tracking Not SupportedCurrently, if you use phone call conversion tracking from your website, those conversions will not be reported.
Invalid AMP Page HandlingIf the AMP page on your web server becomes invalid, the Google AMP cache will continue to host a stale version of the page which is the same as the last valid version of the AMP page on your web server. This stale cached version of the page would be delivered to the user for 1 to 2 days after which clicks will be directed to the invalid AMP page on your web server.
Updating AMP Content on your Landing PagesIf your AMP page has content that updates frequently (e.g. item prices) and you'd like the Google AMP cache to reflect the latest changes to your AMP pages, please see options to use the update-cache or update-ping request.
Bringing the power of AMP to Gmail
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:55
For the past few years, we've worked to make mobile pages load faster through an open-source framework called Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP). AMP started as an effort to help publishers, but as its capabilities have expanded over time, it's now one of the best ways to build rich webpages. With this came the opportunity to modernize one of the most popular places where people spend their time: email.
Today, we're bringing the power of AMP to email through the Gmail Developer Preview of "AMP for Email." This new spec will be a powerful way for developers to create more engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.
For example, imagine you could complete tasks directly in email. With AMP for Email, you'll be able to quickly take actions like submit an RSVP to an event, schedule an appointment, or fill out a questionnaire right from the email message. Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond'--more than 270 billion emails are sent each day! AMP for Email will also make it possible for information to easily kept up-to-date, so emails never get stale and the content is accurate when a user looks at it.
Companies like Pinterest, Booking.com and Doodle are developing new experiences for consumers using AMP for Email, and we're excited to see what others will do soon.
The AMP for Email spec is available today and we're planning for support in Gmail later this year. To get developer preview access to AMP for email in Gmail, sign up on our site. By bringing AMP to email, we're opening up new possibilities for companies to engage with their audiences, and we can't wait to see what developers will build. Because AMP for Email is an open spec, we look forward to seeing how other email clients will adopt it, too. If you're a developer and curious about implementation details, check out this post to get an idea.
AMP for email is a terrible idea | TechCrunch
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:55
Magic Leap is partnering with Turner Sports and the NBA to stream games on an app
Google just announced a plan to ''modernize'' email with its Accelerated Mobile Pages platform, allowing ''engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences.'' Does that sound like a terrible idea to anyone else? It sure sounds like a terrible idea to me, and not only that, but an idea borne out of competitive pressure and existing leverage rather than user needs. Not good, Google. Send to trash.
See, email belongs to a special class. Nobody really likes it, but it's the way nobody really likes sidewalks, or electrical outlets, or forks. It not that there's something wrong with them. It's that they're mature, useful items that do exactly what they need to do. They've transcended the world of likes and dislikes.
As evidence consider the extreme rarity of anything other than normal versions of those things. Moving sidewalks, weirdo outlets, sporks '-- they only exist in extreme niches like airports and lunchables. The originals have remained unchanged for as long as millennia for a good reason.
Email too is simple. It's a known quantity in practically every company, household, and device. The implementation has changed over the decades, but the basic idea has remained the same since the very first email systems in the '60s and '70s, certainly since its widespread standardization in the '90s and shift to web platforms in the '00s. The parallels to snail mail are deliberate (it's a payload with an address on it) and simplicity has always been part of its design (interoperability and privacy came later).No company owns it. It works reliably and as intended on every platform, every operating system, every device. That's a rarity today and a hell of a valuable one.
But the tech industry has never been one to let elegance, history, or interoperability stand in the way of profit (RIP Google Reader), so that's not much of an argument. Still, I thought it worth saying.
More important are two things: the moat and the motive.
The moat is the one between communications and applications. Communications say things, and applications interact with things. There are crossover areas, but something like email is designed and overwhelmingly used to say things, while websites and apps are overwhelmingly designed and used to interact with things.
It's fundamentally useful to have a divide here the way it's useful to have a divide between a book about fire and a book of matches.
Emails are static because messages are meant to be static. The entire concept of communication via the internet is based around the telegraphic model of exchanging one-way packets with static payloads, the way the entire concept of a fork is based around piercing a piece of food and allowing friction to hold it in place during transit.
The moat between communication and action is important because it makes it very clear what certain tools are capable of, which in turn lets them be trusted and used properly.
We know that all an email can ever do is say something to you (tracking pixels and read receipts notwithstanding). It doesn't download anything on its own, it doesn't run any apps or scripts, attachments are discrete items, unless they're images in the HTML, which is itself optional. Ultimately the whole package is always just going to be a big , static chunk of text sent to you, with the occasional file riding shotgun. Open it a year or ten from now and it's the same email.
And that proscription goes both ways. No matter what you try to do with email, you can only ever say something with it '-- with another email.
If you want to do something, you leave the email behind and do it on the other side of the moat.
This is the great genius and curse of email, that all you can do is send messages back and forth. It's not always the best option, but it's rarely the worst. If it's more complicated than that, you use something other than email: a chat app, a video call, a file host. These useful items are often located adjacent to email, sometimes closely integrated, but they're never actually part of it. This is a good thing. The closest you get is little things like adding something automatically to your calendar or scraping flight info from an itinerary. Ultimately it's still just reading something.
What Google wants to do is bridge that moat, essentially to allow applications to run inside emails, limited ones to be sure, but by definition the kind of thing that belongs on the other side of the moat.
Why do this? Are we running out of tabs? Were people complaining that clicking ''yes'' on an RSVP email took them to the invitation site? Were they asking to have a video chat window open inside the email with the link? No. No one cares. No one is being inconvenienced by this aspect of email (inbox overload is a different problem), and no one will gain anything by changing it.
Well, almost no one. Which brings us to the motive.
AMP is, to begin with, Google exerting its market power to extend its control over others' content. Facebook is doing it, so Google has to. Using its privileged position as the means through which people find a great deal of content, Google is attempting to make it so that the content itself must also be part of a system it has defined.
''AMP started as an effort to help publishers, but as its capabilities have expanded over time, it's now one of the best ways to build rich webpages,'' it writes in the blog post announcing the AMP for Gmail test. No, it isn't. AMP is a way to adapt and deliver, on Google's terms, real webpages built with real tools.
The excuse that the mobile web isn't fast enough is threadbare, and the solution of a special Google-designed sub-web transparently self-serving. It's like someone who sells bottled water telling you your tap runs too slow.
AMP for email is just an extension of that principle. People leave Gmail all the time to go to airline webpages, online shops, social media, and other places. Places that have created their own user environments, with their own analytics, their own processes that may or may not be beneficial or even visible to Google. Can't have that!
But if these everyday tasks take place inside Gmail, Google exerts control over the intimate details, defining what other companies can and can't do inside the email system '-- rather than using the natural limitations of email, which I hasten to reiterate are a feature, not a bug.
And as if that play wasn't enough, the other one is as baldly avaricious as anything the company has ever done. Dynamic content in emails. Where have I heard that one before? That's right: it's Google's entire business model for offering a free email service. Ads.
What is the vast majority of ''live'' content on the web, stuff that needs to call home and update itself? Not articles like this one, or videos or songs '-- those are just resources you request. Not chats or emails. Cloud-based productivity tools like shared documents, sure, granted. But the rest '-- and we're talking like 99.9 percent here '-- is ads.
Ads and trackers that adapt themselves to the content around them, the data they know about the viewer, and the latest pricing or promotions. That's how Google wants to ''modernize'' your inbox.
Does ''engaging, interactive, and actionable email experiences'' ring a little different now?
Don't use this. Don't encourage it. AMP and other initiatives like it are already a blight on the web, and they will be equally bad for email.
Featured Image: HeiroGraphic/Shutterstock
Google wants to use AMP to make email more interactive | TechCrunch
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:55
Google's AMP format has always been about making mobile pages render faster. But Google is now taking it beyond posts, recipes and how-to articles. First, the company launched the new AMP story format earlier today and now it's also announcing a preview of AMP for Email.
At first, that may seem like an odd combination, especially given that few people complain about how slowly their emails render (they are mostly text, after all). Google argues that AMP is the right format to modernize email, though. ''Many people rely on email for information about flights, events, news, purchases and beyond'--more than 270 billion emails are sent each day,'' Gmail product manager Aakash Sahney writes today. ''With AMP for Email, it's easy for information in email messages to be dynamic, up-to-date and actionable.''
Using AMP for Email, developers will be able to add an interactive calendar to your email, for example, so you don't have to go through five rounds of back-and-forth messages to find a meeting time. Similarly, a message from your airline could show you up-to-date flight information or a marketer could send you a survey that you can fill out right in your inbox without having to go to another site.
Over the years, Google has launched numerous projects to modernize email. Back in 2013, for example, it launched customizable action buttons in Gmail. For the most part, though, emails haven't really changed and every new format can only succeed if enough of Google's competitors support it.
For now, AMP for Email is only available to developers who request preview access. The plan is to roll support out to Gmail later this year.
''Who Needs a Controversy Over the Inauguration?'': Reince Priebus Opens Up About His Six Months of Magical Thinking | Vanity Fair
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:53
Reince Priebus (right) with President Donald Trump in the Oval Office, January 2017.
Photograph by Andrew Harnik/A.P. Images.
Just after six a.m. on January 21, 2017, at his home in Alexandria, Virginia, Reince Priebus was watching the cable morning news shows, getting ready to leave for the White House. Suddenly his cell phone went off. It was Donald Trump. The new president, sworn in less than 24 hours earlier, had just seen The Washington Post, with photos showing Trump's inaugural crowd dwarfed by that of his predecessor, Barack Obama.
The president was livid, screaming at his chief of staff. ''He said, 'This story is bullshit,''‰'' recalled Priebus. ''He said, 'There's more people there. There are people who couldn't get in the gates. . . . There's all kind of things that were going on that made it impossible for these people to get there.' . . . The president said, 'Call [Interior Secretary] Ryan Zinke. Find out from the Park Service. Tell him to get a picture and do some research right away.''‰'' The president wanted his chief of staff to fix this story. Immediately.
Priebus tried to talk Trump off the ledge. ''It doesn't matter,'' Priebus argued. ''It's Washington, D.C. We're in an 85 percent Democrat area. Northern Virginia's 60 percent. Maryland's 65 percent. . . . This is a Democrat haven, and nobody cares.'' But Trump was having none of it. Priebus thought, ''Is this something that I really want to go to battle over on day one? Who needs a controversy over the inauguration?'' Priebus realized he faced a decision: ''Am I going to go to war over this with the president of the United States?''
Hours later, Press Secretary Sean Spicer stepped into the White House briefing room. ''What happened,'' Priebus remembered, ''was Spicer decided to say that actually, if you combine online and television, radio, and in-person, it was the most watched inauguration.'' The trouble with that reasoning was that Spicer's response'--a belligerent, Orwellian performance beamed around the world'--was a lie. From the very start, the credibility of the Trump presidency became a laughingstock, immortalized by actress Melissa McCarthy in her devastating parody of Spicer on Saturday Night Live.
On day one, instead of going to war with Donald Trump, Priebus had gone along.
Priebus cannot say he wasn't warned. Just a month before the inauguration, he had been invited to lunch by Barack Obama's outgoing chief of staff, Denis McDonough. Following the example of a memorable breakfast hosted eight years earlier by George W. Bush's chief Josh Bolten'--when 12 former White House chiefs had come to give advice to Obama's incoming chief, Rahm Emanuel'--McDonough was joined by 10 chiefs, Republicans and Democrats, in his West Wing office. And as they gathered around a long table, none doubted the enormity of the challenge facing Priebus. ''We wanted to help Reince in any way we could,'' said Jack Watson, who served President Jimmy Carter. ''But I don't think there was a chief in the room that thought he was going to be able to do the job, given Trump as his president.'' Most of the former chiefs believed Trump was intellectually and temperamentally unfit for office'--and few thought Priebus could rein him in or tell him hard truths. ''We were thinking, God bless him. Godspeed. Good luck,'' said Watson. ''But he doesn't have a prayer.''
Priebus was hobbled by two other factors. A former Republican National Committee chairman from Kenosha, Wisconsin, he barely knew his new boss, and he was part of the establishment that Trump had vilified. Moreover, during the campaign, the two men had been known to feud. Trump had been especially resentful of Priebus's reaction to the campaign's existential crisis just a month before Election Day: the release of the tawdry Access Hollywood tape, in which Trump had made graphic misogynist comments that were caught by an open microphone.
The morning after the video surfaced, Trump's candidacy had been pronounced all but dead in the media. In response, the beleaguered nominee's top aides'--campaign C.E.O. Stephen Bannon, former New York mayor Rudy Giu­liani, New Jersey governor Chris Christie, Jared Kushner, and Ivanka Trump'--gathered at Trump Tower for a war council to advise the candidate on whether he should stay in the race or quit.
The nominee, sleep-deprived, surly, his jaw clenched, posed the crucial question: in light of the videotape, what were his chances of winning? Priebus went first: ''If you decide to stay in, you will lose in the biggest landslide in American political history.'' One by one, Trump's other advisers danced around the question'--until finally it was Bannon's turn. ''One hundred percent,'' he declared. ''One hundred percent you're going to win this thing. Metaphysical.'' (Priebus recalled things differently, saying no one was that emphatic.)
Trump, of course, pulled off an astonishing upset. And a month later, McDonough met his successor as chief of staff in the West Wing lobby and escorted him to his office. As the former chiefs went around the table, giving Priebus advice, they were unanimous about one thing: Trump would be unable to govern unless Priebus was empowered as first among equals in the West Wing. Trump's incoming chief dutifully took notes on a yellow pad.
Suddenly there was a commotion; Barack Obama was entering the room. Everyone stood and shook hands, then Obama motioned for them to sit. The 44th president's own chiefs'--Rahm Emanuel, Bill Daley, Jack Lew, McDonough, and Pete Rouse (who served unofficially)'--were all pres­ent, and Obama nodded toward them. ''Every one of these guys at different times told me something that pissed me off,'' Obama said, flashing his familiar grin. ''They weren't always right; sometimes I was. But they were right to do that because they knew they had to tell me what I needed to hear rather than what I wanted to hear.'' Obama looked at Priebus. ''That's the most important function of a chief of staff. Presidents need that. And I hope you will do that for President Trump.'' With that, Obama said his good-byes and departed.
The chiefs were not sure Priebus got the message. ''I caught the eye of several of the others and we exchanged worried expressions,'' one Republican in attendance remembered. ''He seemed much too relaxed about being able to navigate a difficult job. I think he struck a lot of us as clueless.'' Another was even more blunt about Priebus's nonchalance: ''He was approaching the job like it was some combination of personal aide and cruise director.''
Former chief strategist Steve Bannon and Priebus; Priebus and Spicer.
Left, by Martin H. Shannon/Redux; right, by Susan Walsh/A.P. Images.
Dining alone with Priebus a few weeks earlier, Bush's chief Josh Bolten had been alarmed: Priebus seemed to regard himself as Trump's babysitter and had given little thought to governing. ''I could tell that he was nervous about leaving Trump alone and was kind of candid about 'If I'm not there, Lord knows what happens,''' Bolten recalled. In his view, Priebus seemed ''neither focused on organizing his White House staff nor in control of his own life. He was just responding to the fire of the day.''
And there was another ominous sign. Obama's staff had spent months preparing voluminous transition briefs, thick binders designed to help the next administration get up to speed on subjects ranging from Iran to Cuba to climate change. Every previous incoming team had studied such volumes with care. But as the inauguration drew near, McDonough realized that the binders had not even been opened: ''All the paperwork, all the briefings that had been prepared for their transition team, went unused,'' he said. ''Unread. Unreviewed.''
The inept start of the Trump presidency'--with the flagrant lying about crowd sizes'--confirmed the ex-chiefs' worst fears. ''It told me that Reince wasn't in control,'' observed Jack Watson. ''It told me Reince had no power to say to the president, 'Mr. President, we can't do that! We are going to get killed if we do that.''‰'' George W. Bush's first chief, Andrew Card, watched with a sinking feeling: ''I said to myself, 'They don't know what they're doing. They have no process. And they don't have discipline. You must taste your words before you spit them out!'''
In late October 2017, almost three months after he resigned as chief of staff, Priebus met me for dinner at a posh but empty restaurant near the White House. Wearing a blazer, tieless, and without his usual American-flag pin, he had been off the radar and had given no extensive interviews since his abrupt departure six months into his job as Trump's chief. Unlike his friend Sean Spicer, who had struggled to find employment after his turn as Trump's disgraced White House spokesman, Priebus had landed back at his old Washington law firm, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP'--as president. He was drumming up paid engagements on the lecture circuit. And he was conferring frequently by phone with Donald J. Trump.
The president, Priebus said, speaks with him often on a phone that is unmonitored by John Kelly, who replaced him as Trump's chief of staff'--sometimes just to chat, sometimes for counsel. Trump often called Bannon too'--at least before his excommunication following his comments in Michael Wolff's book Fire and Fury. Priebus insisted, contrary to Wolff's description, that he never called Trump an ''idiot.'' In fact, for all the humiliation he endured, he said, ''I still love the guy. I want him to be successful.'' While visiting South Korea last November to give a speech, Priebus made a side trip to the demilitarized zone between South and North, and recommended to Trump that he go there during his Asia trip. (The president and his party tried but were forced to turn back due to bad weather.)
Even so, Priebus's account of his tenure as Trump's chief confirms the portrayal of a White House in disarray, riven by conflict. ''Take everything you've heard and multiply it by 50,'' Priebus said as we sat down. Being White House chief had been even more arduous than it looked from the outside. ''No president has ever had to deal with so much so fast: a special counsel and an investigation into Russia and then subpoenas immediately, the media insanity'--not to mention we were pushing out executive orders at rec­ord pace and trying to repeal and replace Obama­care right out of the gate.'' Priebus was nervous, repeatedly asking, ''This is all off the record, right?'' (He later agreed to be quoted.)
''People mistake me for a laid-back guy from the Midwest,'' he continued. ''I'm much more aggressive, and much more of a knife fighter. Playing the inside game is what I do.'' Before Priebus, 45, accepted the job, he had had an impressive, if modest, track rec­ord. ''I took the R.N.C. from oblivion,'' he explained. ''Our team raised a ton of money, built the biggest full-time political-party operation ever, ran two conventions, won more races than anyone else, and hit all the marks'--without drama, mistakes, or infighting.''
At first, Priebus had been stung by the relentless criticism of his White House run and was especially sensitive to the brickbats hurled by the pundits. But with time he had understood where they came from'--including a jab or two thrown by me during interviews on television news shows. ''You got me real good one time on Fox,'' he said. ''My point is, I know what you were saying. You were saying that Trump needed someone in control, and that we had set up a weak structure. But you have to remember: the president was the Trump campaign. The R.N.C. was the organization'--but he accomplished almost everything in his life by himself. The idea that he was suddenly going to accept an immediate and elaborate staff structure regulating every minute of his life was never in the cards.
''One of the things all [the chiefs] told me,'' Priebus said, ''was: don't take the job unless you're designated A number 1, in charge of everything, beginning to end.'' All of that was right for a typical president, Priebus thought, but Trump wasn't typical; he was one of a kind.
As it turned out, there was a moment on Election Night when it looked as though the chief's job might go to Bannon, who eventually became Priebus's ally in the West Wing. (Others would be considered as well.) But he didn't look the part. ''Trump looked around and I remember I had a combat jacket on and I hadn't shaved in a week,'' said Bannon, who spoke with me at length just before the release of Fire and Fury. ''I had the greasy hair [hanging] down. . . . I'm the senior guy'--but look, it was obvious Reince had to be chief of staff.'' Priebus, however, would be chief in name only: Trump, instead, anointed Bannon as Priebus's co-equal, with Bannon, Trump's chief strategist, getting top billing.
Priebus with ousted communications director Anthony Scaramucci.
By T. J. Kirkpatrick/Redux.
From the beginning, Priebus would face a challenge unique to this presidency: how to curb the commander in chief's tweets. ''We can get thrown off our message by tweeting things that aren't the issues of the day,'' he told Trump. At first Priebus thought he had succeeded in wresting Trump's phone from him. ''I talked about the security threat of having your own cell in the West Wing and got the Secret Service to go along with me to mothball his phone.'' Priebus had managed to silence one device. But it turned out Trump had another.
Early on, the staff wrote daily tweets for him: ''The team would give the president five or six tweets every day to choose from,'' said Priebus, ''and some of them would real­ly push the envelope. The idea would be at least they would be tweets that we could see and understand and control. But that didn't allow the president to be fully in control of his own voice. Everybody tried at different times to cool down the Twitter habit'--but no one could do it. . . . After [last year's] joint session [of Congress] we all talked to him, and Melania said, 'No tweeting.' And he said, 'O.K.'--for the next few days.' We had many discussions involving this issue. We had meetings in the residence. I couldn't stop it. [But] it's now part of the American culture and the American presidency. And you know what? In many ways, the president was right. And all of us so-called experts might be totally wrong.
''[Trump] is a man who fears no one and nothing,'' continued Priebus, ''and there is absolutely nothing he's intimidated by. . . . And that's very rare in politics. Most people in politics are people who have sort of an approval addiction. Now, granted, President Trump does too, but he's willing to weather one storm after the next to get to an end result that most people are not willing to weather. . . . He doesn't mind the craziness, the drama, or the difficulty, as long as an end goal is in sight. He will endure it.''
Soon after the inauguration, the president began to lash out wildly at members of the Justice Department who were poised to open probes into possible misconduct or overreach by members of his administration. On his 11th day in office, he fired Acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to enforce his controversial travel ban. Then Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for New York's Southern District. Next up: F.B.I. director James Comey.
Priebus and White House counsel Donald McGahn tried to stall the freight train coming toward them, sensing that sacking Comey would be a fateful political mistake. But Jared Kushner supported Trump's decision, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's memo'--criticizing the F.B.I. director's handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation'--gave Trump the pretext. On May 9, Trump fired Comey. It would trigger the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel and would prove to be among the most politically disastrous decisions since Richard Nixon fired Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox.
''[White House counsel] Don McGahn said, 'We've got a problem. . . . [Jeff] Sessions just resigned.'''
While Priebus and Bannon watched the fiasco explode as the pundits excoriated the Trump White House on every cable news show, Kushner did a slow burn. He was livid, furious that the communications team could not defend Comey's firing. Bannon blew his stack. ''There's not a fucking thing you can do to sell this!,'' he shouted at Kushner. ''Nobody can sell this! P. T. Barnum couldn't sell this! People aren't stupid! This is a terrible, stupid decision that's going to have massive implications. It may have shortened Trump's presidency'--and it's because of you, Jared Kushner!''
The screaming matches and white-knuckle showdowns continued. Eight days later, Priebus got an unexpected visit from the White House counsel'--a story he has not told publicly before. ''Don McGahn came in my office pretty hot, red, out of breath, and said, 'We've got a problem.' I responded, 'What?' And he said, 'Well, we just got a special counsel, and [Attorney General Jeff] Sessions just resigned.' I said, 'What!? What the hell are you talking about?''‰''
It was bad enough that Trump, having fired Comey, would now be the target of a special prosecutor. Even worse, unbeknownst to Priebus, the president, only moments before, had subjected Sessions to a withering tirade in the Oval Office, calling him an ''idiot'' and blaming Sessions's recusal from the Russia investigation for the whole mess. Humiliated, Sessions said he would resign.
Priebus was incredulous: ''I said, 'That can't happen.''' He bolted down the stairway to the West Wing parking lot. He found Sessions in the backseat of a black sedan, with the engine running. ''I knocked on the door of the car, and Jeff was sitting there,'' Priebus said, ''and I just jumped in and shut the door, and I said, 'Jeff, what's going on?' And then he told me that he was going to resign. I said, 'You cannot resign. It's not possible. We are going to talk about this right now.' So I dragged him back up to my office from the car. [Vice President Mike] Pence and Bannon came in, and we started talking to him to the point where he decided that he would not resign right then and he would instead think about it.'' Later that night, Sessions delivered a resignation letter to the Oval Office, but, Priebus claimed, he ultimately persuaded the president to give it back.
In June, Trump was still on a tear. He considered dumping special counsel Mueller, according to The New York Times, but was dissuaded from doing so. And by July, Trump was back on Sessions's case, tweeting insults and calling him ''weak.'' ''Priebus was told to get Sessions's resignation flat out,'' said a White House insider. ''The president told him, 'Don't give me any bullshit. Don't try to slow me down like you always do. Get the resignation of Jeff Sessions.''‰''
Once more, Priebus stalled Trump, recalled a White House insider. ''He told the president, 'If I get this resignation, you are in for a spiral of calamity that makes Comey look like a picnic.' Rosenstein's going to resign. [Associate Attorney General] Rachel Brand, the number three, will say, 'Forget it. I'm not going to be involved with this.' And it is going to be a total mess.'' The president agreed to hold off. (Sessions didn't comment on the resignation letter and last July publicly stated that he planned to stay on the job ''as long as that is appropriate.'' Brand, in fact, resigned this month.)
The Trump presidency's first six months were the most incompetent and least accomplished in modern history. And its very survival was clouded by the gathering storm of the special prosecutor's probe.
When it came to Mueller's investigation, Priebus insisted he personally had nothing to worry about. But Bannon warned that the hounds had been loosed. ''You've got Mueller's team, which has got 19 killers who are all experts in wire fraud, money-laundering, and tax evasion,'' Bannon said. ''Doesn't sound like collusion to me. But they've got unlimited budgets and subpoena power. And here's what we've got on our side: two guys who've got legal pads and Post-Its.
Trump, Priebus, Vice President Mike Pence, Bannon, onetime communications director Sean Spicer, and embattled national-security adviser Michael Flynn.
By Jonathan Ernst/Reuters.
''It's like [certain members of the administration think that] no one took down the Gambino family,'' Bannon continued. ''Mueller's doing a roll-up just like he did with the Gambinos. [Former campaign manager Paul] Manafort's the caporegime, right? And [Rick] Gates [Manafort's deputy] is a made man! [George] Papadopoulos is equivalent to a wiseguy out in a social club in Brooklyn. This is like a Wagner opera. In the overture you get all the strands of the music you're going to hear for three hours. Well, Mueller opened with a bang. He totally caught these guys by surprise. So if you're not going to fight, you're going to get rolled over.''
Meanwhile, Trump's campaign to eradicate Obamacare went nowhere. ''Repeal and replace'' crashed and burned'--not once but twice, the second time when John McCain delivered a dramatic 1:30 a.m. thumbs-down on the Senate floor. The debacle proved that Priebus could not count'--or deliver'--votes. ''When McCain voted against it,'' Bannon recalled, ''I said to myself, Reince is gone. This is going to be so bad. The president is going to get so lit up.''
Priebus soon became a target of Trump's ritual belittling as the president took to referring to him as ''Reincey.'' At one point, he summoned Priebus'--to swat a fly. Priebus seemed to have been willing to endure almost any indignity to stay in Trump's favor. There was that scene right out of The Manchurian Candidate when, at a Cabinet meeting, the president's most powerful advisers virtually competed to see who could be more obsequious; Priebus won hands down, declaring what a ''blessing'' it was to serve the president.
By the summer, however, Priebus knew that his job hung by a thread. According to insiders, he was already in the crosshairs of ''Javanka/Jarvanka'''--as Bannon would take to calling the president's daughter and son-in-law'--for refusing to help Kushner in his efforts to oust Bannon. And then came the last straw: the sudden arrival of a new, flamboyant communications director, Anthony Scaramucci. Priebus had opposed his hiring. Scaramucci immediately turned the West Wing into a circular firing squad, calling Trump's chief of staff a ''fucking paranoid schizophrenic'' in an interview with The New Yorker. He went on, in a tweet, to all but accuse Priebus of leaking classified information about Scaramucci's finances (which were publicly available). ''When he accused me of a felony,'' recalled Priebus, ''I thought, What am I doing here? . . . I went in to the president and said, 'I gotta go.''‰'' Trump would say nothing publicly in Priebus's defense. The president accepted his resignation.
Priebus had hoped to exit gracefully within a week or two, but the next day, as Air Force One sat on the tarmac at Andrews Air Force Base, Trump tweeted, ''I am pleased to inform you that I have just named General/Secretary John F Kelly as White House Chief of Staff. He is a Great American. . . . '' The sudden shake-up was vintage Trump; the timing blindsided Priebus, who stepped off the plane into a drenching rain and was whisked away by car.
John Kelly, a four-star Marine general who had run the Southern Command, was 22 years Priebus's senior. At the start, he had the president's full confidence and wasted no time transforming the West Wing into a tighter ship. All visitors to the Oval Office'--including Bannon, Kushner, and even the president's adviser-daughter, Ivanka'--were now vetted by the chief. Kelly also started heaving loose cannons over the side: Scaramucci was fired within 72 hours of Kelly's appointment; Sebastian Gorka, another overzealous White House staffer, would soon follow; even Bannon himself would be gone within a month. Kelly declared that he was not put on earth to manage the president; instead, he would impose discipline on the staff and streamline the flow of information to the Oval Office.
Still, expectations were high that Kelly would be the ''grown-up in the room,'' who would smooth over Trump's authoritarian edges. And yet, week after week'--during the president's fulminations against ''fake news,'' his sympathetic comments toward white supremacists who marched through Charlottesville, his taunting of ''Rocket Man'' before the U.N. General Assembly, and his racist slurs against ''shithole countries'''--Kelly stood at Trump's side. He not only reinforced the president's worst instincts; he doubled down on them. He maligned Congresswoman Frederica Wilson from the White House Press Briefing Room with a false story after she criticized Trump's handling of a Gold Star widow. In early February, the news broke that Kelly's deputy Rob Porter'--accused of beating both of his ex-wives (Porter denied the allegations)'--had served in the sensitive post of staff secretary for more than a year without a permanent security clearance. The debacle surrounding his abrupt resignation showed that Kelly could not manage the West Wing, let alone Trump.
Suddenly Kelly's future looked uncertain. And Priebus looked more effective in hindsight. ''Reince was better than his press,'' said Bannon. ''If Reince had the exact track record that Kelly has, he would be deemed the worst chief of staff in the history of politics'--and that's not a slam on Kelly. . . . Folks felt [Priebus] didn't have the gravitas. He's always the little guy from Kenosha, right?''
Adapted from The Gatekeepers: How the White House Chiefs of Staff Define Every Presidency, by Chris Whipple, to be published in paperback on March 6, 2018, by Crown, an imprint of The Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC; (C) 2017, 2018 by the author.
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Sean Spicer's Style Evolution January 21, 2017This suit'--the one that Spicer chose for his first press conference'--is not dark, inspiring the president's alleged comment, ''Doesn't the guy own a dark suit?''Photo: By Alex Wong/Getty Images.January 23, 2017This one is dark. It also fits! Well!
Photo: By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.January 24, 2017The day after Spicer addressed the newly invented notion of ''alternative facts'', he wore this fun tie. It lightened the mood!
Photo: By Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.January 31, 2017Here he wears a nice salmon tie for insisting that the travel ban is not a ''travel ban,'' much like a fish bent on swimming upstream might.Photo: By Alex Wong/Getty Images.June 22, 2017Here's Sean Spicer, hero dad, at the Congressional Picnic with a bouquet of Miller Lites.
Photo: By Alex Wong/Getty Images.May 17, 2017Who's this cool guy in the cool guy classes? Cool guy, Sean Spicer.
Photo: By Win McNamee/Getty Images.June 10, 2017Farewell, Spicer. And farewell, Spicer's glasses.
Photo: NurPhotoPreviousNext
January 21, 2017This suit'--the one that Spicer chose for his first press conference'--is not dark, inspiring the president's alleged comment, ''Doesn't the guy own a dark suit?''By Alex Wong/Getty Images.
January 23, 2017This one is dark. It also fits! Well!
By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
January 24, 2017The day after Spicer addressed the newly invented notion of ''alternative facts'', he wore this fun tie. It lightened the mood!
By Nicholas Kamm/AFP/Getty Images.
January 31, 2017Here he wears a nice salmon tie for insisting that the travel ban is not a ''travel ban,'' much like a fish bent on swimming upstream might.By Alex Wong/Getty Images.
February 2, 2017This is when the really fun ties really start.
By Win McNamee/Getty Images.
February 10, 2017Wait.
By Greg E. Mathieson Sr./Rex/Shutterstock.
February 16, 2017This is when the really fun ties start.
From Rex/Shutterstock.
February 17, 2017Very fun!
From A.P./Rex/Shutterstock.
March 2, 2017A muted, thinner tie. Sun-glasses. Brown leather belt. Quick question: Who's this guy?
By Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images.
March 8, 2017His colorful bracelet spells out ''dad.'' His colorful tie spells out ''help.''By Mark Wilson/Getty Images.
March 13, 2017Thanks to a medical foot boot, we know the press secretary isn't just a fun tie guy. He's a fun sock guy, too.
By Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images.
March 16, 2017By Michael Reynolds/EPA/Rex/Shutterstock.
June 22, 2017Here's Sean Spicer, hero dad, at the Congressional Picnic with a bouquet of Miller Lites.
By Alex Wong/Getty Images.
May 17, 2017Who's this cool guy in the cool guy classes? Cool guy, Sean Spicer.
By Win McNamee/Getty Images.
June 10, 2017Farewell, Spicer. And farewell, Spicer's glasses.
Tech Luminary Peter Thiel Parts Ways With Silicon Valley - WSJ
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:48
Billionaire investor Peter Thiel is relocating his home and personal investment firms to Los Angeles from San Francisco and scaling back his involvement in the tech industry, people familiar with his thinking said, marking a rupture between Silicon Valley and its most prominent conservative.
Mr. Thiel has also discussed with people close to him the possibility of resigning from the board of Facebook Inc., the people familiar with his thinking said. His relationship with the social-networking company'--where he has been a director...
Rude passenger booted from Delta flight for 'screaming' about being seated near a baby | Fox News
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:35
An annoyed passenger was kicked off a Delta Air Lines flight earlier this month after ''screaming'' about being seated next to an 8-month-old, according to the baby's mother.
Marissa Rundell, a mom from Hammondsport, N.Y., was seated with her son Mason on a flight scheduled to depart from JFK International Airport for Syracuse on Feb. 6, when a woman preparing to take her seat across the aisle began complaining, Rundell told the Daily Mail.
"She came to the back and slammed her bags down. She said 'this is f---ing ridiculous. It's bulls--- having to sit in the back of the plane,''' said Rundell.
Rundell claims she then asked the woman to watch her language '-- twice '-- and was told to "shut the f--- up and shove it."
Next, the woman began complaining about being seated close to a "crying baby" on the plane, although Mason was not crying at the time, says Rundell.
''Can I sit somewhere else?'' the woman can be heard saying in footage Rundell shared to Facebook. ''I'm not sitting near a crying baby.''
Soon afterward, an attendant on the flight '-- which was operated by Endeavor Air, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Delta '-- tells the woman she can take the next flight if she'd prefer.
''No, I can't,'' the woman shoots back.
Rundell filmed the woman telling the flight attendant that she "may not have a job tomorrow." (Marissa Rundell)
She then asks for the flight attendant's name, which the attendant '-- Tabitha '-- offers along with her employee ID number.
''Thank you, Tabitha,'' the woman says. ''You may not have a job tomorrow.''
At this, Tabitha immediately tells another crew member that she ''want[s] this lady off the flight,'' which prompts the woman to begin apologizing.
''No. You just screamed at a woman and her baby,'' Tabitha responds. She then turns toward a responding crew member and motions toward the woman. ''She was screaming at the baby,'' Tabitha says.
''I'm not screaming. I'll be quiet now. Please. OK? I'm sorry. I was really stressed out,'' the woman can be seen pleading near the end of Rundell's video.
The woman was ultimately removed from the plane at the flight attendant's request. "You just screamed at a woman and her baby," the flight attendant told her. (Marissa Rundell)
Rundell confirmed to the Daily Mail that the woman continued to argue with a gate agent who came to remove her from the flight, but ultimately left the plane after coming back to her seat and fetching her belongings.
"I thought it was funny how she was acting like a child throwing a tantrum,'' said the 19-year-old mom.
In response to the incident, a spokesperson with Delta Air Lines has stated that the woman's behavior was not in keeping with the standards that the airline requests of its passengers or crew.
"We ask that customers embrace civility and respect one another when flying Delta," a Delta spokesperson told Fox News via email. "This customer's behavior toward a fellow customer on a flight from New York to Syracuse was not in keeping with those standards. We appreciate our Endeavor Air flight attendant's commitment to Delta's core values and apologize to the other customers on board Flight 4017 who experienced the disturbance."
Rundell, meawhile, says she's extremely pleased with how Delta handled the unruly passenger.
''This lady thought she was going to be rude to me and Mason, now she has no way home today,'' Rundell wrote on Facebook. ''Thank you to the lovely Delta flight attendant for not letting this women [sic] bully us."
"Karma is a b----."
WATCH: Australian Minister explains where the HIGHEST gun deaths occurred'...and it's not in America '' twitchy.com
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:32
Posted at 7:21 pm on February 14, 2018 by Beth B.
Australian Minister Bob Katter appeared on Sky New Australia to talk about gun deaths after the school shooting today in Florida.
Here's what Katter had to say:
Three years before the Port Arthur ban, there were less gun deaths then the three years after the ban. And that's a sign in East Germany that the highest death rate with guns was in East Germany, a Communist country. The lowest death threat with guns in Europe was Switzerland, where every single household had a gun. There's no relationship between gun ownership and death. But there is definitely some sort of serious problem occurring and it seems to be confined to the United States.
Even in Australia, they know that having guns in homes doesn't correlate to gun-related deaths. It means America has a problem with something else'...maybe mental illness?
Elon Musk's Broadband-From-Space Plan Clears Crucial U.S. Hurdle - Bloomberg
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:31
Elon Musk's SpaceX moved closer to another orbital frontier as regulators advanced its application to launch a low-orbit constellation of satellites and join a jostling field of operators trying to cash in on broadband service from space.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai on Wednesday recommended the agency approve Space Exploration Technologies Corp.'s application to provide broadband services using satellite technologies in the U.S. and on a global basis. The proposal now goes to Pai's four fellow commissioners for consideration at the agency which earlier approved three international operators for satellite-broadband operations: OneWeb, Space Norway AS and Telesat Canada.
''To bridge America's digital divide, we'll have to use innovative technologies,'' Pai said in an emailed statement. ''Satellite technology can help reach Americans who live in rural or hard-to-serve places where fiber optic cables and cell towers do not reach.''
The FCC's move comes as U.S. politicians call for improved internet service in rural areas. President Donald Trump's infrastructure proposal lists broadband, or high-speed internet service, as eligible for funding alongside traditional projects such as roads and bridges. Some Democratic lawmakers have criticized the lack of dedicated broadband funding.
John Taylor, a SpaceX spokesman, didn't immediately comment or give further details on the company's plans, but the FCC last year said SpaceX had requested authority to deploy and operate a constellation of 4,425 satellites operating roughly 700 to 800 miles above the Earth (or 1,110-to-1325 kilometers).
Musk founded SpaceX in 2002 to revolutionize space technology, with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets. The Hawthorne, California-based company currently flies the Falcon 9 rocket and last week launched the Falcon Heavy, the world's most powerful rocket in 45 years. SpaceX flew two of its spent boosters back to the Florida coast for a simultaneous recovery on land.
SpaceX's customers include commercial satellite operators, the U.S. space agency NASA and the U.S. military.
Entering the satellite broadband market would add to Musk's already wide array of business pursuits. The billionaire sells electric cars, solar products and batteries through Tesla Inc. and has been hawking hats and flamethrowers to fund Boring Co., which plans to build underground tunnels for cities including Los Angeles. He also co-founded Neuralink, which is developing technology to connect human brains with computers, and OpenAI, a nonprofit advocating for the responsible development of artificial intelligence.
The broadband project is to get an early test component on Saturday, when SpaceX is slated to launch a pair of demonstration satellites, known as Microsat-2a and -2b, to test a broadband antenna to be included in the proposed constellation, according to a SpaceX document filed with the FCC. The rocket to be launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California also will carry Spain's PAZ satellite.
Pai, the Republican FCC chief, said SpaceX's program could help ''unleash the power of satellite constellations to provide high-speed internet to rural Americans.''
The approval would be the first given to an American-based company to provide broadband services using a new generation of low-Earth orbit satellite technologies, Pai said.
Satellites will play a critical role in Musk's efforts to reach his ultimate role of establishing a human settlement on Mars. Building a commercial satellite business will provide SpaceX with revenue and communications know-how that will eventually serve his Martian aspirations.
''We're going to try to do for satellites what we've done for rockets,'' said Musk during an interview with Bloomberg Television in January 2015.
In order for large broadband constellations to deliver services in the U.S., the FCC must approve their operations to ensure the satellites don't interfere with other uses, and will operate in a way that lowers the risk of collisions.
The FCC last year gave OneWeb access to the U.S. market using a proposed fleet of 720 satellites, and granted Telesat access to the market via 117 satellites already authorized by Canada. Space Norway won approval for two satellites.
Telesat last year said its service would suffer interference from SpaceX's operations as proposed, and asked the FCC to deny permission.
Florida School Shooting : student video records the fire | Daily Mail Online
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:27
The bloodshed in Florida was the latest outbreak of gun violence that has become a regular occurrence at U.S. schools and colleges. Below are some of the worst U.S. school shootings in the last 20 years.
BENTON, Kentucky, Jan. 23, 2018 - Gabe Parker, 15, kills two fellow students, both also 15, at Marshall County High School in western Kentucky with a pistol and wounds 14 others. Four other high schoolers suffered non-gunshot wounds in the ensuing panic.
AZTEC, New Mexico, Dec. 7, 2017 - William Atchison, a 21-year-old man, disguised as a student enters the local high school, kills two students and then shoots himself to death.
SAN BERNARDINO, California, April 10, 2017 - Cedric Anderson dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound after killing his estranged wife at North Park Elementary School where she worked. An 8-year-old student is also shot to death.
ROSEBURG, Oregon, Oct. 1, 2015 - Chris Harper-Mercer, 26, opens fire on the campus of Umpqua Community College, killing nine people before he is shot dead by police.
MARYSVILLE, Washington, Oct. 24, 2014 - Freshman student Jaylen Fryberg, 15, at Marysville-Pilchuck High School fatally wounds four students in the cafeteria before killing himself.
SANTA MONICA, California, June 7, 2013 - A onetime digital media student, John Zawahri, 23, fatally shoots his father and brother, sets their house on fire, and then kills three people at Santa Monica College. The gunman kills himself.
NEWTOWN, Connecticut, Dec. 14, 2012 - Adam Lanza, 20, fatally shoots his mother, then kills 20 children and six adults before killing himself at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was the deadliest mass shooting at either a high school or grade school in US history and prompted renewed debate about gun control in the United States.
OAKLAND, California, April 2, 2012 - One L Goh, a former nursing student, kills seven people and wounds three at Oikos University, a Korean Christian college.
CHARDON, Ohio, Feb. 27, 2012 - Seventeen-year-old student Thomas 'T.J' Lane at Chardon High School kills three students and wounds three in school cafeteria. He received three life sentences on March 19, 2013. In 2014, Lane, along with two other inmates, escaped from Allen Correctional Institution in Lima, Ohio, but he was recaptured the following day.
HUNTSVILLE, Alabama, Feb. 12, 2010 - Amy Bishop, a biology professor at the University of Alabama at Huntsville opens fire during a staff meeting, killing three faculty members and wounding three.
DEKALB, Illinois, Feb. 14, 2008 - Steve Kazmierczak, a former graduate student, kills five students and wounds 16 at Northern Illinois University before taking his own life.
BATON ROUGE, Louisiana, Feb. 8, 2008 - Nursing student Latina Williams at Louisiana Technical College kills two classmates and herself in a classroom.
BLACKSBURG, Virginia, April 16, 2007 - Gunman Seung-Hui Cho slaughters 32 people and kills himself at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, popularly known as Virginia Tech. At the time it was the deadliest shooting carried out by a single gunman in US history.
N ICKEL MINES, Pennsylvania, Oct. 2, 2006 - Gunman Charles Carl Roberts IV took hostages and shot eight out of 10 girls, killing five in a one-room Amish schoolhouse, before killing himself.
SHEPHERDSTOWN, West Virginia, Sept. 2, 2006 - 49-year-old Douglas Pennington shoots himself and his two sons Logan, 26, and Benjamin, 24, to death during a visit to the campus of Shepherd University.
RED LAKE INDIAN RESERVATION, Minnesota, March 21, 2005 - A 16-year-old high school student Jeffrey Weise, kills seven people including his grandfather, a tribal police officer, and wounds several others in a shooting rampage after killing two people off-campus. He then kills himself.
COLD SPRING, Minnesota, Sept. 24, 2003 - Fifteen-year-old student John Jason McLaughlin, fatally shoots a freshman and a senior at Rocori High School.
TUCSON, Arizona, Oct. 29, 2002 - Failing student Robert S Flores Jr, 41, shoots and kills three professors and then himself at the University of Arizona School of Nursing.
GRUNDY, Virginia, Jan. 16, 2002 - Nigerian immigrant Peter Odighizuwa, a recently dismissed graduate student aged 41, kills a dean, a professor and a student at the Appalachian School of Law and wounds three others.
SANTEE, California, March 5, 2001 - Charles Andrew Williams, a student at Santana High School kills two students, wounds 13. He is currently serving life in prison.
LITTLETON, Colorado, April 20, 1999 - Two teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold rampage through Columbine High School, fatally shooting 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others before killing themselves. The personal journals of the duo document that they wanted their actions to rival that of the Oklahoma City bombing.
JONESBORO, Arkansas, March 24, 1998 - Two boys Mitchell Johnson, 13, and Andrew Golden, 11, fire on their middle school from woods, killing four girls and a teacher and wounding 11 others.
Romney postpones announcement on Senate race after shooting
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:24
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) '-- Mitt Romney is preparing to announce a bid for Utah's Senate seat held by retiring Orrin Hatch, a position some hope the 2012 GOP presidential nominee will use to continue his biting criticism of President Donald Trump.
Romney, who once called Trump "a phony" who was unfit for office, is not expected to address the president in an announcement video he has prepared for release online, according to people with direct knowledge of his plans.
Romney had planned to release the video on Thursday, they said, but he tweeted Wednesday night that he would not make an announcement about Utah's Senate race because of the deadly school shooting in Florida. It wasn't clear when he would reschedule his announcement.
Expected to be a heavy favorite to win Hatch's seat, Romney is planning a campaign with a laser-focus on Utah and will suggest that Washington has much to learn from the state the former Massachusetts governor now calls home, said those with knowledge of his plans.
"I think Mitt's going to make it very clear that he's not running for the Senate because of or in spite of anything to do with Donald Trump," said Spencer Zwick, Romney's former fundraising chief who now leads fundraising efforts for House Speaker Paul Ryan. "I think Mitt Romney would be running for the Senate whether Donald Trump was the president or Hillary Clinton was the president."
Romney's small team of longtime advisers plans to maintain a low profile. Having turned down repeated requests for national media appearances in recent days, Romney is carefully designing his campaign launch to avoid media questions about Trump.
Those with knowledge of his plans spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.
Romney, one of the most famous Mormons, is widely liked and respected in Utah, which is heavily Mormon. He attended Brigham Young University in Provo, helped turn around the scandal-plagued 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and made Utah his primary home after losing the 2012 presidential election.
In addition to his name recognition, Romney has a deep network of fundraisers and his own personal wealth to help carry him. Those close to him suggest he will not seek financial aid from any super PACs or Washington-based campaign committees.
If he becomes Utah's next senator, some supporters hope that the one-time Trump critic could serve as a political and moral counterweight to a president they see as divisive, erratic and undignified.
Kirk Jowers, the former chairman and general counsel of Romney's leadership PACs, said Romney "will always be a straight shooter" and will speak up and the support the president when he takes actions that are good for America.
"If President Trump says or does something that he finds offensive or divisive, unnecessarily divisive, then I think you will continue to hear Romney as the voice of reason and conscience in the Republican Party," Jowers said.
Though he delivered a scathing speech denouncing Trump during the 2016 presidential election, Romney softened his stance after Trump won the presidency and put himself forward as a candidate for secretary of state. But he resumed his criticism last year, calling out the president for blaming "both sides" following a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump, in turn, has criticized Romney for his failed presidential bids in 2008 and 2012, saying he "choked like a dog."
Any efforts by Trump to block Romney are unlikely to resonate in Utah, where the president received a lukewarm reception from Mormons who were repelled by his brash demeanor and degrading comments about women and minorities.
Former Rep. Jason Chaffetz, a Utah Republican who resigned last summer and became a Fox News commentator, said Romney's clashes with Trump won't hurt him with Utah voters but that he does need to explain why he wants to be their senator.
"I do think people want to know he's running not just to be an agitator to the president. I don't think that's going to win the hearts and minds, but I also don't think he's going to do that," Chaffetz said. "Mitt Romney's always been diplomatic. It's why Donald Trump almost named him the secretary of state. He's very deliberate and smart in what he does."
Romney isn't expected to face any serious challenges for the seat. Even Utah's conservatives, who see him as too moderate and establishment for their liking, admit they respect him and are unlikely to block him.
However, some in the state see Romney as an outsider who is simply banking on his fame.
Utah Republican Party Chairman Rob Anderson told The Salt Lake Tribune that Romney is "keeping out candidates that I think would be a better fit for Utah because, let's face it, Mitt Romney doesn't live here, his kids weren't born here, he doesn't shop here."
Anderson told The Associated Press that he was just repeating concerns and complaints he'd heard from others, but said he's excited to see the interest that Romney is generating. He said he spoke with Romney after the Tribune article was published, and Romney told him he would travel all corners of Utah to hear people's concerns.
Hatch, one of the longest-serving senators in U.S. history after more than four decades in office, began floating Romney's name last year as his potential successor.
When Hatch won re-election in 2012, he pledged that his seventh term would be his last. He flirted with breaking that promise and suggested he might run again in 2018 with the encouragement of Trump, who sought to block Romney.
In the end, Hatch decided to stick with his promise, saying, "Every good fighter knows when to hang up the gloves."
Peoples reported from New York City.
NSA: Several hospitalized after vehicle tried to enter
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:19
FORT MEADE, Md. (AP) '-- An unauthorized vehicle tried to enter the secure campus of the National Security Agency at Fort Meade on Wednesday morning, sparking a confrontation that left three people injured, authorities said.
Gunshots were fired during the incident, but officials said they did not believe any of the injuries resulted from gunfire. Gordon Johnson, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore field office, would not give details about who opened fire but did say that, preliminarily, it looks like all gunfire was directed toward the vehicle.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Johnson said the FBI was still collecting evidence but believes it was an isolated incident.
"I cannot emphasize enough that we believe there is no indication that this has a nexus to terrorism," Johnson told reporters gathered at a parking lot next to the National Cryptologic Museum.
Johnson said the three injured were the driver of the vehicle, an NSA police officer and a civilian onlooker. He would not give any details about how they were injured.
Two other people who were in the vehicle have been taken into custody and were being questioned, Johnson said. The injuries suffered by the police officer and the onlooker did not appear to be life threatening, he said. He did not have any information about the driver's injuries.
Suspect in custody and black SUV stopped at barrier after shooting outside National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Maryland. (Feb. 14)
The incident began when the vehicle tried to enter the spy agency's campus without authorization around 7 a.m., the NSA said in a statement. The statement said weapons were fired but "preliminary reports do not presently indicate that there are injuries attributable to gunfire."
The FBI is leading the investigation.
Images from local news outlets showed authorities surrounding two handcuffed people after a black SUV ran into a barrier outside the Maryland base.
Johnson said the vehicle had New York license plates and he believed it was a rental car. He said he did not know why the people in the vehicle were at the facility.
"I don't have the answer to that that," he said. "We are trying to put that as our question one as to what put these individuals on this compound earlier this morning."
President Donald Trump has been "briefed on the shooting at Ft. Meade," and the White House offered thoughts and prayers with those who have been affected, spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said.
An image taken from a WRC-TV helicopter showed the police and fire department response outside the facility. WRC said bullet holes could be seen in the vehicle's front window, and air bags were deployed. Blood-stained material could be seen on the ground.
After the shooting, authorities closed a major highway in both directions, causing major backups throughout the area during rush hour.
Despite prominent highway signs, drivers occasionally take the wrong exit and end up at the tightly secured gates. Most motorists then carefully follow the orders of heavily armed federal officers and turn around without getting into more trouble.
But in early 2015, two people were shot at by NSA police when they disobeyed orders outside the heavily secured campus. One driver died at the scene after NSA police opened fire on a stolen sports utility vehicle. Authorities later said they had stolen a car from a man who picked them up for a party at a motel.
Porn star who alleged Trump affair: I can now tell my story
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:17
NEW YORK (AP) '-- Stormy Daniels, the porn star whom Donald Trump's attorney acknowledges paying $130,000 just before Election Day, believes she is now free to discuss an alleged sexual encounter with the man who is now president, her manager told The Associated Press Wednesday.
At the same time, developments in the bizarre case are fueling questions about whether such a payment could violate federal campaign finance laws.
Daniels, whose real name is Stephanie Clifford, believes that Trump's personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, invalidated a non-disclosure agreement after two news stories were published Tuesday: one in which Cohen told The New York Times he made the six-figure payment with his personal funds, and another in the Daily Beast, which reported that Cohen was shopping a book proposal that would touch on Daniels' story, said the manager, Gina Rodriguez.
"Everything is off now, and Stormy is going to tell her story," Rodriguez said.
At issue is what, exactly, happened inside a Lake Tahoe, Nevada, hotel room in 2006 between Trump, then a reality TV star, and Clifford, who was promoting a porn production company during a celebrity golf tournament.
The porn star whom President Donald Trump's longtime personal attorney acknowledged paying $130,000 just before Election Day believes she is now free to discuss her alleged sexual encounter with the president. (Feb. 14)
In the years since, Clifford has claimed that she and Trump had sex once and then carried on a subsequent yearslong platonic relationship. But she has also, through a lawyer, denied the two had an affair. Trump's lawyer, Cohen, has denied there was ever an affair.
The actress first detailed her account of an alleged extramarital affair with Trump in 2011, when the celebrity website The Dirty published it but then removed the material under the threat of a lawsuit, according to the site's founder, Nik Richie.
Her story then remained largely out of public view until a month before the 2016 presidential election, when the website The Smoking Gun published an account that went mostly unnoted by major news organizations.
In January, The Wall Street Journal reported that a limited liability company in Delaware formed by Cohen made the six-figure payment to the actress to keep her from discussing the affair during the presidential campaign.
Cohen said the payment was made with his own money, and that "neither the Trump Organization nor the Trump campaign was a party to the transaction with Ms. Clifford, and neither reimbursed me for the payment, either directly or indirectly."
He was responding to inquiries from the Federal Election Commission, which is investigating an advocacy group's complaint that the October 2016 transaction violated campaign finance laws.
The case was reminiscent of the 2012 prosecution of former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards, who faced six criminal charges after a pair of his wealthy friends spent nearly $1 million to support his pregnant mistress, Rielle Hunter, during his 2008 presidential run.
Jurors eventually acquitted Edwards on one charge of accepting illegal campaign contributions, but were unable to reach a verdict on the five remaining counts including conspiracy and making false statements. The case ended when prosecutors elected not to retry Edwards.
As in that case, the payment by Trump's lawyer was not reported as a campaign expenditure nor an in-kind contribution, and the origin of the money is still unclear, said Paul Ryan, a vice president at Common Cause, the group that filed the complaint.
But Bradley Smith, the Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission from 2000 to 2005, was skeptical that the payment by Cohen could pose a campaign finance issue.
"You'd have to prove that it was a coordinated expenditure, and that the reason it was done was for the benefit of the campaign," he said. If the payment was made to protect Trump's brand or avoid personal embarrassment, he said, that would likely not be a campaign problem.
At the time of the payment, which followed the release of footage from "Access Hollywood," in which Trump was recorded bragging about grabbing women's privates, Clifford was negotiating with multiple national news networks about telling her story.
A White House spokeswoman referred all questions about the payment to Cohen.
The alleged affair between the actress and Trump occurred in 2006, a year after his marriage to his third wife, Melania.
A lawyer for Clifford, Keith Davidson, has previously distributed statements on her behalf denying there was any affair.
But in a 2011 interview with the gossip magazine In Touch Weekly, the actress '-- who the magazine said passed a polygraph exam '-- said the two had sex on one occasion and she described subsequent in-person meetings, phone calls and discussions about a potential TV appearance. The AP has previously reported that In Touch held off on publishing her account after Cohen threatened to sue the publication. It published the interview last month.
In recent weeks the actress has played coy, declining to elaborate when pressed on ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live!"
Rodriguez said her client will soon announce how and when she will tell her story publicly. The celebrity website The Blast first reported the contention that Cohen's comments freed Clifford from her non-disclosure agreement.
Horwitz reported from Washington. AP reporter Michael Biesecker contributed from Washington.
Scoop: Trump endorses 25-cent gas tax hike - Axios
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:16
President Trump endorsed a 25-cent gas tax hike to pay for infrastructure at a White House meeting this morning with senior administration officials and members of Congress from both parties, according to two sources with direct knowledge. Trump also said he was open to other ways to pay for infrastructure, according to a source with direct knowledge.
Reality check: Trump's gas tax idea appears dead on arrival. Republicans aren't about to hike taxes for the Trump voters driving their pickup trucks to work every day. It's a regressive tax and in Republicans' minds would undo some of working and middle class tax cuts they just passed.
Show less
W.H. comment194 Words
Paul Ryanin 2015:
"Ever since 2008, the trust fund has spent more than it took in. And the reason is simple: People have been using less gas. They're driving more fuel-efficient cars. You get a lot more miles to the gallon than you used to. And so gas just doesn't track use as well as it used to. And we can't just chase fuel efficiency with higher taxes."
The gas tax is currently 18.4 cents a gallon for gas and 24.4 cents for diesel. It was last raised in 1993.
Per a White House official:
"As Sec. Chao mentioned yesterday, the President is focused on his 4 priorities: spurring $1.5 trillion of infrastructure investment, cutting down the burdensome permitting process from 10 years to 2, providing funding for rural infrastructure, and investing in workforce development. He has said everything is on the table in order to achieve those goals.""The gas tax has its pros and cons, and that's why the President is leading a thoughtful discussion on the right way to solve our nation's infrastructure problems."Get more stories like this by signing up for our weekly political lookahead newsletter, Axios Sneak Peek.
Is the Florida High School Shooter a 'Dreamer'?
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 05:20
CLAIM The accused school shooter in Florida is a Dreamer, a DACA recipient, or undocumented.
UNPROVEN RATING UNPROVEN ORIGIN On 14 February 2018, 17 people were killed in a mass shooting at a high school in Parkland, Florida, an affluent community north of Miami.
Authorities named Nikolas Cruz '-- a 19-year-old former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School '-- as the suspect in custody for the crime. Almost immediately after his name was made public, social media users, apparently inspired by nothing more than a Spanish-sounding surname, began spreading an unfounded claim that he is an undocumented DACA recipient.
The Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program gives people who were brought into the United States as young children temporary authorization to remain legally. Here are examples of such unverified claims:
Of course no post-tragedy conspiracy theory would be complete without a healthy dose of xenophobia and paranoia:
As has become the morbid pattern after mass shootings in the United States, people looked for clues that the shooter was motivated by an ideology counter to their own or expedient to their own political agendas. At the time of the shooting, lawmakers had been debating about immigration as a whole and the DACA program in particular, going so far as to shut down the government over the issue.
However no information has been provided by investigators or witnesses to support the claim that Cruz is an undocumented immigrant or a DACA recipient. During a press conference on the day of the shooting, Broward County Sheriff's officials specified only that Cruz was born in September 1998 and had been expelled from the school due to disciplinary issues.
A student told a local news station that Cruz's behavior was so troubling they believed he was ''going to be the one to shoot up the school.'' Police arrested him without incident off school grounds. Although the majority of victims were found inside the building, one was killed on the street near the school. and two just outside.
The unfounded claim that Cruz is a DACA recipient was hardly the only piece of false information circulating on social media in the immediate aftermath of the incident. A now-restricted Twitter account falsely purporting to belong to former Fox News host Bill O'Reilly spread a false image of a person who is not the suspect (the image's presence on message boards like 4chan predates the shooting):
The same account (along with others) perpetuated a long-standing hoax, once again blaming ''Sam Hyde'' for the shooting:
Got a tip or a rumor? Contact us here.
Snopes Delivered to Your Inbox:Sources: Quinn, Melissa. ''17 People Killed in Shooting at South Florida High School.''
Washington Examiner. 14 February 2018.
Ogle, Connie, et al. ''Florida School Shooting Suspect Was Ex-Student Who May Have Been Flagged as Threat.''
Miami Herald. 14 February 2018.
WMBB. ''What We Know About Florida School Shooting Suspect Nikolaus Cruz.''
14 February 2018.
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Florida school shooting suspect is former student with 'anger' issues
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 05:17
CLOSEStudents attending the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are describing hearing multiple shots during a shooting at their South Florida high school Wednesday. (Feb. 14) AP
Anxious family members watch a rescue vehicle pass by in Parkland, Fla. (Photo: WILFREDO LEE, AP)
PARKLAND, Fla. '-- The suspected gunman in Wednesday's fatal attack at a Florida high school is a former student who teachers and former classmates say had an angry disposition that led to him being expelled and flagged as a danger on school grounds.
At one point, the former student had been listed by school administrators as a potential threat '-- particularly if he was carrying a backpack on campus.
The 19-year-old suspect was identified as Nikolas Cruz by the Broward County Sheriff's office. Cruz, whose first name also appears as Nicolas in some official records, was arrested Wednesday a short distance away from the school near a home, after leaving 17 dead in the afternoon attack.
The official said the killer used a military-style rifle, and that students apparently recognized the suspect during the assault. He was also equipped with a gas mask and smoke grenades, police said.
Cruz had been expelled and did not graduate from the school, according to police. He had previously attracted so much concern that school administrators banned him from campus, said Jim Gard, a math teacher at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland.
Broward County Sheriff Scott Israel confirmed that Cruz was a student at the school at one time, but was not at the time of the shooting.
Israel said the shooter was outside and inside the school at points during the attack.
Cruz' former classmates say he had a hot temper and a history of making dark, gun-related jokes.
As friends hiding from the shooter sent photos and videos over Snapchat to 19-year-old Jillian Davis, she started to recognize the man her friends described.
The shooter she saw in photos was Cruz, she said, a classmate who participated in Davis's ninth grade JROTC group.
She recalled him as withdrawn and having "a lot of anger management issues."
"Finding out it was him makes a lot of sense now,'' Davis said.
Cruz would joke about shooting people or shooting up establishments, she added. At the time, she thought it was normal, violent teenage jokes. Cruz would also talk a lot about having guns and using them in different situations, she said.
Joe Melita, former head of the Professional Standards & Special Investigative Unit at Broward County Public Schools, said students at Douglas High appeared to be evacuating classes after someone pulled the fire alarm when shots rang out and students were told to shelter in place.
There may also have been smoke bombs involved, school district security officials told him. He said several district security officials knew of the shooter. ''They were familiar with who the young man was,'' said Melita, now a visiting professor at Lynn University in Boca Raton.
Gard said the former student had been aggressive toward other students.
''We were told last year that he wasn't allowed on campus with a backpack on him,'' Gard told the Miami Herald. ''There were problems with him last year threatening students, and I guess he was asked to leave campus.''
More:'Multiple fatalities': At least 14 victims in Florida school shooting
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Gard, who taught the student, said he believes the school administration sent out an email warning teachers that the student had made threats against others in the past, the Herald reported.
Another student interviewed on the scene by local television station Channel 7 said the student had guns at home.
Gard described chaos at the scene of the shooting Wednesday. ''Six kids ran back into my room, and I locked the door, turned out the lights and had the kids go to the back of the room,'' Gard said.
''Within a minute a code red was announced,'' Gard added, referring to the school code for a lockdown.
''I told the kids to hang in there, it may still be a drill.''
Caesar Figueroa said he was one of the first parents to arrive at the school, seeking his 16-year-old daughter after hearing reports of gunfire.
Students were running out into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in. ''It was crazy and my daughter wasn't answering her phone,'' he said.
According to Figueroa, she texted him that she was hidden in a school closet with friends after she heard gunshots.
Schools in the Broward district typically have one or two school resource officers, typically Broward County Sheriff deputies who are armed and always on campus. Schools also employ campus monitors, who patrol the halls with walkie talkies but are not armed, and a security specialist, usually a retired sheriff's department employee who helps the school plan and maintain its security protocols but is not armed. Melita said he wasn't specifically familiar with Douglas High's security setup.
Since heading up security at Broward schools in 2000, Melita said he directed schools to implement shelter-in-place plans and practice several drills a years, in collaboration with local police and fire departments. Melita underwent training by the U.S. Secret Service and implemented many of the lessons into district-wide plans, including implementing a single-point-of-entry in schools and driver license scans for visitors. The plan is not always full-proof, he said.
''If someone wants to get in, they're going to get in,'' Melita said. ''You just have to make it as hard as possible for them.''
Student Daniel Huerfano said he recognized Cruz from an Instagram photo in which Cruz had posed with a gun in front of his face. He recalled that Cruz was shy when he attended the school and remembered seeing him walk around with his lunch bag.
Cruz ''was that weird kid that you see '... like a loner,'' he said.
Contributing: Rick Jervis; the Associated Press
FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Student's Describe Scene at School Shooting | 1:44 Parents are being reunited with their kids at a South Florida hotel near the scene where 17 died in a school shooting. (Feb. 14) AP
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Florida school shooting witnesses detail horrific events | 0:53 A former student went on a shooting rampage at a Florida high school, leaving 17 dead while panicked students barricaded themselves inside classrooms and frantic parents raced to the scene. USA TODAY
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Broward hospital prepared for Florida school shooting victims | 1:19 Broward hospital officials say they 'run drills at their institutions to be ready for instances' like the Florida school shooting that left 17 dead and many more injured. (Feb. 14) AP
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Sheriff: 17 dead in school shooting | 2:16 Sheriff Scott Israel of Broward County says the 19-year-old suspect is in custody and that investigators are beginning to "dissect" what happened in the attack Wednesday at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. (Feb. 14) AP
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Florida shooting: News conference from Broward hospital | 7:44 Doctors treated 8 patients and the shooter, Nikolas Cruz, at Broward Health North after the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting on Feb. 14, 2018. MELISSA E. HOLSMAN/TCPALM
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Man near Florida school saw shooting suspect arrest | 0:51 Michael Nembhard was sitting in his garage watching live coverage of the school shooting that happened at a Florida high school Wednesday when he heard a police officer yelling "Get on the ground!" (Feb. 14) AP
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Several dead, many injured in mass shooting at Florida high school | 0:32 Several people are injured after a shooting at a south Florida high school, and the suspect is still at large, police said. USA TODAY
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Florida students describe hearing gunshots | 2:23 Students attending the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are describing hearing multiple shots during a shooting at their South Florida high school Wednesday. (Feb. 14) AP
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Nelson: Fla. shooting 'worst' possible outcome | 0:53 Florida Senator Bill Nelson says the latest school shooting in his state is 'the worst of all possible outcomes.' (Feb. 14) AP
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Authorities: Florida high school shooting suspect in custody | 1:47 Authorities say the shooter at a South Florida high school is now in custody. The Broward County Sheriff's Office gave no details in tweeting that development. It did not identify the shooting suspect. (Feb. 14) AP
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL What to know about the active shooter situation at Florida high school | 0:58 Police are responding to reports of an active shooter at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. As of 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, the shooter was still on the loose, authorities said. Time
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FATAL MASS SHOOTING AT PARKLAND, FLORIDA HIGH SCHOOL Students flee Florida high school after shooting | 2:59 A shooting at a Florida high school sent students rushing out into the streets as SWAT team members swarmed in. (Feb. 14) AP
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Hope Hicks Has Been Able To Spin Every White House Scandal Except Her Own
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 01:27
Hope Hicks is not a spokesperson, or a strategist, or a speechwriter. She is not Anthony Scaramucci '-- whose briefly-held position as White House communications director she permanently took over in September. She is a trained PR professional, whose primary task is to orchestrate or soften the blow of press coverage, not appear in it. Hope Hicks does not tweet. Not even a little bit. She does not appear on television. She does not agree to interviews. Her Instagram is private. When Olivia Nuzzi tried to profile her for GQ, Hicks invited Nuzzi to talk to Trump about her '-- while she sat in the back of the room.
To be truly skilled at this sort of PR doesn't just mean constantly deferring to your client. It means disappearing. We don't know what Hope Hicks's voice sounds like. We don't know her opinions, because she doesn't have any that are public. Until very recently, most people outside of media and politics did not know she existed.
Last week, Hicks found herself at the center of a major White House scandal: Her then-boyfriend, White House staff secretary Rob Porter, was accused of domestic abuse by two ex-wives. More than a week later, it's still unclear who knew what about the accusations and when '-- and to what extent Hicks herself participated in attempting to blunt them. But simply by being involved, Hicks has committed the cardinal publicist sin: She became the story.
Hope Hicks's sister, Mary Grace, looks like the blonde, better-rested version of Hope. They both have the high cheekbones and perfectly applied bronzer, the fashion-forward but never-too-risky outfit choices of Ralph Lauren models '-- which they were, as teens. They grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, a tony bedroom suburb of New York distinguished by its abundance of traders and bankers and consultants and wives who read Greenwich Magazine, where Mary Grace's wedding to her high school sweetheart, fellow Greenwich resident Wyot Woods, was featured this August. (''The newlyweds honeymooned in Dubai, South Africa, and the Seychelles before returning home to Greenwich.'')
The Hicks sisters both modeled as teens (Hope, most memorably, on the cover of Gossip Girl spin-off book series The It Girl); they both went to Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas (although Mary Grace finished her degree at Hobart and William Smith Colleges); they both worked in the fashion industry. But then their paths diverged: Hope took a job with a high-powered PR agency, which led in 2014 to a gig with Ivanka Trump's fashion company, which eventually led to full-time employment with the Trump Organization. But she would still take the Metro-North train back to Greenwich, where she continued to live with her sister.
Hope became more central to the Trump campaign's communications team, eventually moving into the position of White House communications director. Meanwhile, her sister Mary Grace enrolled in nursing school and started a blog '-- the MG Factor '-- on which Hope has appeared exactly once: in a post entitled ''Babes in Menswear,'' dated Nov. 15, 2017.
''Holiday dressing can be a fine line and honestly a little exhausting,'' Mary Grace writes. Then there's a photo, taken at a state dinner in Japan, of Hope dressed in a tuxedo. ''Wow! I mean, can we all just take a minute to soak it in? I had to when I first saw the photo,'' Mary Grace exclaims. ''It's such an unexpected look for the girl who has never seen a dress she didn't like.''
The real insight is hidden in the next sentence: ''This look instantly makes her something of a mini style icon among all the suits in Washington,'' Mary Grace writes. ''Now, the Daily Mail has been following her every outfit change, something I am sure she is not crazy about.''
Hope's success is built on a very different calculus than that of her fashion-blogging sister. Like the storied publicists of the past, Hope Hicks has excelled by protecting the image and ego of the organization '-- in this case, President Trump '-- that she serves. And unlike her fellow staffers, Hicks made herself invisible to everyone save the person who mattered most.
That's not the hallmark of most of the aides and staffers who've become associated with the Trump White House. Kellyanne Conway, Steve Bannon, Sean Spicer, Roger Stone, Corey Lewandowski, Reince Priebus, and Omarosa Manigault-Newman made their names by embracing, or at least accepting, the same sort of celebrity status as their boss. They were supposed to be the stage crew, but ended up being the actors.
Which isn't to suggest that Hicks was wholly unknown: Over the last two years, she has become a known figure to those who study the inner machinations of power. Nuzzi's ''insider'' portrait '-- essentially a write-around '-- created an aura of mystique. New York Times politics reporter Maggie Haberman respected her. Politico profiled her, again without actually speaking to her. An image of true and total loyalty, so different from the cloak-and-dagger palace intrigue that emerged daily from the White House, began to emerge: ''She turns down most media requests that come her way,'' the profile explained, ''because she prefers to serve the president without a spotlight shining on her.''
And the spotlight was indeed elsewhere. Any interest in Hicks was quickly eclipsed by her peers in the campaign and White House staff: Kellyanne spinning out on cable news, Sean Spicer flubbing during White House briefings, Steve Bannon schlubbing around in the shadows, Omarosa attempting to stage her wedding photos on White House grounds, Melania's hand swats becoming the germ of liberal fantasy, Ivanka deflecting the ugliness of her father's actions with Instagrams of her kids, Don Jr. retweeting conspiracy theories. The only person as silent as Hicks was also the only person afforded as much power: Jared Kushner.
Hicks also demonstrated an ability to physically fade into the background, even with her model looks. She dressed in the Club Monaco''meets''Ann Taylor look that distinguishes the women of this White House, alternating simple sheaths with fit-and-flare dresses, paired with pumps and flat-ironed waves. In a White House where women can seemingly occupy one of two roles '-- bulldoggish or demure and daughterly '-- she occupied the latter. Trump called her ''Hopester.'' Hicks called him ''Sir'' or ''Mr. Trump.''
The photos of the Japanese state dinner tuxedo '-- which began circulating online on Nov. 6, 2017 '-- might have marked the beginning of the end of Invisible Hicks. As Mary Grace notes, it's when the Daily Mail started taking interest in Hicks's fashion choices. On Nov. 12, the site published a sprawling feature on her various looks during the president's tour through Asia, declaring her a ''vision in florals.'' AOL claimed that Hicks had ''upstaged'' Melania in a ''fashion showdown''; Hollywood Life reported that as Melania headed home, ''Hope busted out another eye-catching look in Vietnam!''
In hindsight, it's remarkable '-- given how central Hicks was to every Trump event and scandal over the last two years '-- that she evaded coverage so thoroughly. There was no apparent drama between Hicks and her boss; none between her and any of the other women in the Trump administration. All it took was one flashy outfit for Hicks to become fodder for the celebrity machine. As her clothing was scrutinized by both the press and public, demand for photos of those outfits increased, which, in a kind of media feedback loop, increased the level of scrutiny and commentary.
In late January, the tenor of the coverage began to shift, as the New York Times reported that Mark Corallo, who'd served as the spokesperson for President Trump's legal team, was poised to tell Robert Mueller's investigation that Hicks had stated during a previously undisclosed conference call that emails, written by Donald Trump Jr. to Russian operatives who were offering information on Hillary Clinton, ''will never get out.'' Hicks, according to this report, had allegedly obstructed justice.
The reporting appeared on the front page of the New York Times, and was aggregated widely across the internet. But Hicks was still so unknown that the Times included a video halfway through the online version of the piece, titled ''Who is Hope Hicks?''
Hicks's lawyer strongly denied the claims. ''She never said that,'' he said. ''And the idea that Hope Hicks ever suggested that emails or other documents would be concealed or destroyed is completely false.'' Whether or not she had obstructed justice, Hicks had, despite her best efforts, become part of the larger story of the Trump presidency, instead of just orchestrating it. But the tabloids were still missing what every good celebrity story needs, and what would eventually turn her into the center of last week's primary Trump drama: a romance.
The day after the Times story, the Daily Mail dropped an exclusive: Hicks was dating White House staff secretary Rob Porter. ''White House romance!'' the headline screamed. ''Trump's comms director Hope Hicks is seen canoodling with president's high level staff secretary Rob Porter.'' The pair had gone to dinner with Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner's spokesperson Josh Raffel, careful to avoid any sort of physical contact. But paparazzi '-- hired by the Daily Mail, which, at that point, may have already begun reporting the story of Porter's ex-wives' domestic abuse allegations against him '-- followed them and took pictures of them ''cuddling and kissing'' in a cab on the way back to Hicks's apartment. The article also claimed that the beginning of the romance dated to the previous fall, when Porter's then-girlfriend discovered suggestive text messages from Hicks on Porter's phone.
The piece received relatively little attention. But like a series of small pieces leading up to a cover story, it set the stage, and the stakes, for the revelations to come.
At the same time, the non-tabloid press, reacting to the Times allegations, began upping their own coverage of Hicks. On Feb. 2, cultural critic Virginia Heffernan wrote a searing op-ed for the Los Angeles Times, underlining the ways in which Hicks's PR training prepared her for obfuscation. The same day, Town & Country released an extensive profile of Hicks, promising to reveal ''How Hope Hicks Became the Ultimate Trump Insider.'' It was also published in the print magazine, which suggests it was commissioned months before '-- back when it was a nicer, puffier piece about her Greenwich family.
Without Hicks's participation, the piece reads like a classic celebrity write-around that would be at home in Us Weekly, with heavy reliance on ''family friends'' and ''close friends'' and ''friends,'' all of them unnamed. But it's no takedown: After quoting a former White House correspondent declaring that Hicks has ''real power,'' the piece concludes with the argument that ''perhaps more than power, however, Hicks has discretion, loyalty, and candor '-- traits Trump identified in her early on.''
A low-key romance, a Town & Country profile she didn't participate in, an op-ed denouncing her protection of the president '-- all of that would likely have been fine, from Trump's perspective. A modicum of attention is expected, given her proximity to power. Even getting spoofed on Saturday Night Live (imagined talking to Fox & Friends, something the real Hicks would never do) could be ignored. But what happened next would finally create a storm big enough to distract from the president '-- and put her at the very center of it.
On Feb. 6, the Daily Mail dropped another exclusive, this time detailing Rob Porter's abuse of his two ex-wives. The headline made the connection to Hicks immediately: ''Ex-wife of Trump aide Rob Porter, who's dating Hope Hicks, tells how he called her a 'f***ing b***h' on their honeymoon and she filed a protective order against him.'' The piece hinged on an interview with Porter's second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, along with confirmation from his first wife, Colbie Holderness, and the disclosure that both came forward this fall when Porter's then-girlfriend (pre-Hicks) contacted them both to ask if they had experienced abuse.
The detailed allegations, including copies of a restraining order, were interspersed with the paparazzi photos of Porter and Hicks, taken just days before. The allegations were against Porter, but it seemed clear that, to the Daily Mail, the story's news value had much more to do with Porter's relationship with Hicks. (The next day, the Intercept, which had been working on the story for weeks, published an interview with Porter's first wife, including a photo taken immediately after Porter allegedly punched her in the face in a Florida hotel room.)
Porter's actions were shocking enough. But then Hicks '-- working with Porter's superior, White House chief of staff John Kelly '-- created a secondary scandal, as they labored to protect Porter. Ahead of publication, the Daily Mail contacted the White House with what's known as a ''no surprises'' letter, listing the allegations they intended to publish and asking for comment. John Kelly ''let it be known,'' according to Vanity Fair, that ''he wanted to defend Porter publicly.'' The resulting statement, in which Kelly called Porter a ''man of integrity,'' was written by Hicks, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, and Kushner's spokesperson Josh Raffel.
Since then, questions have swirled around who knew what and when '-- and why Kelly allowed Porter to continue to work when he was denied a security clearance after the allegations of abuse surfaced. Porter resigned, and Kelly, whose job security was already in question, now also seems primed for an exit. The story has eclipsed all other messaging attempts by the White House, and Sanders has struggled to combat allegations that Trump condones violence against women, especially in the wake of a tweet by the president, issued Saturday morning, arguing that ''Peoples [sic] lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation.'' (Sanders later claimed that Trump was referring to allegations, going back decades, against Nevada casino magnate Steve Wynn.)
Much of the political scrutiny has been on Kelly, while media coverage of Hicks has framed her more in the manner of a Hollywood celebrity, emerging from scandalous drama. Since the Porter story broke, the Daily Mail has tracked her mood and fashion closely (''The 29-year-old Director of Communications for the White House conveyed her sense of gloom and doom in a black belted jacket and some $800 black-suede, thigh-high Stuart Weitzman boots''). Hollywood Life declared that Hicks ''looks distraught after rumored BF Rob Porter's WH exit over abuse allegations,'' peppering the piece with assurances of Hope's fashion acumen: ''While the expression on Hicks' face was one of sadness, her outfit absolutely crushed it as always''; ''Despite turmoil in the White House, she always looks good no matter what new crisis comes up.''
It's the sort of coverage that highlights just how ill-equipped the gossip press is to deal with domestic abuse. The abuse itself is too dark, so they focus on fashion and romance: People promised readers a look ''Inside Hope Hicks' Troubled Romances''; Business Insider suggested that ''The Trump White House has been plagued by rumors of illicit romances '-- and now Hope Hicks is at the center,'' highlighting Hicks's previous relationship with ex''campaign chair Corey Lewandowski. Just days later, another piece argued that ''Trump's 'real daughter' Hope Hicks has started copying Melania instead of Ivanka '-- and now she's in the center of the latest White House scandal.''
Hicks was, as Business Insider insisted, at the center '-- not just of a scandal, but a tawdry, tabloid-worthy one: a place a publicist should never find themselves. It was all, as Hick's sister would've put it, ''something I am sure she is not crazy about.''
Still, rumors of Trump's displeasure with Hicks were addressed quickly. The day after Porter resigned, with rumors of Kelly's resignation reaching a fever pitch, Trump released an official statement: ''Hope is absolutely fantastic. She was with the campaign from the beginning and I could not ask for anything more. Hope is smart, very talented and respected by all.''
Of course, Trump has issued similarly glowing descriptions of other staffers immediately before they exited the administration. But his relationship with Hicks, and the potential for anger at her newfound exposure, seems to be of a different genre.
Think back to that profile in Town & Country '-- a magazine that, in February 2016, released a fawning profile of Ivanka. If Hicks had to be profiled, it might as well be in a magazine about the cultured and the classy, on the record declining their offer for her to participate: ''The tendency to work with the press professionally but to avoid the spotlight personally is something she was born with,'' the Hicks profile declares.
''Born with'' really means ''born into'': Her grandfather was head of public relations at Texaco; her father ran publicity for the NFL, and now heads a communications firm that specializes in crisis management and ''complex situations.'' Hicks wasn't born with the inclination to stay out of the spotlight '-- she spent her teen years modeling. Her sister, also born into that family, became a small-time fashion blogger and EMT. Hope learned discretion '-- maybe from her father, but certainly from her first PR job, at the firm of famed PR ''shark'' Matt Hiltzik.
Hiltzik worked as a campaign aide for Hillary Clinton during her first Senate race. Then he went to work for Bob and Harvey Weinstein in the early 2000s. His client list expanded to include Glenn Beck, Justin Bieber, Alec Baldwin, the Kushner family. "As a general rule," Hiltzik told the Washington Post in 2009, "I stand by people and don't make decisions based on what other people think." When asked, in 2014, to name his ''niftiest'' PR move, he said that ''some of our best successes have been striking a balance between stories we help our clients share and those we make sure are never told.''
That's all standard PR philosophy '-- it only sounds bad when you state it flatly. PR is ''shaping the message,'' which entails a certain level of amorality, selective omission, and, as Heffernan points out, lying, particularly to the media. But the stakes '-- and consequences '-- of that lying increase when you perform it in service to the president, particularly one as contradictory, as revisionist and flexible with the truth, as Trump.
Hicks isn't just good at PR. She fulfills Trump's particular PR needs, which require an incredibly delicate balance: She must please a man who loves bombast, but waries of it quickly in others; a man who requires constant spin-doctoring, but hates it when those who work for him get caught in a lie. Only a select few, including Ivanka, Sanders, and Hicks, have been able to toe that line.
All of these women have been ostensibly demure yet outwardly feminine. They're permissive to their boss but exacting with others in private. They are not unlike the stereotype of the fierce mother '-- tolerant of her son's faults, self-effacing and willing to do anything to protect him. They seem to believe the men they serve over all other women, or at very least protect them; they are perfect PR for Trump-era patriarchy. And Hicks, Trump's cherished ''other daughter,'' is foremost amongst them.
At this point, Hicks knows what's required of her: She has remained quiet and beautiful and tight-lipped. She will slough what is necessary and spin what she can't. She will do it to protect herself, but most of all, to protect her president. And she will continue to model deference and devotion in a way that allows Trump to believe he is worthy of it, no matter his actions, no matter the cost.
Trump looks at Hicks, much as he looks at Ivanka, and sees the kind of woman who would serve the classy, respected man he believes himself to be. In this way, Hicks provides the greatest PR service of all: She doesn't just refashion Trump's image for the public, she does so for the president himself. ''To the public, she remains in the background,'' Conway explained. ''To the president, she is front and center.'' '—
Criticus van Oekra¯ense president Petro Porosjenko gaat in Nederland wonen | ThePostOnline
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 16:57
De voormalige Georgische president Michail Saakasjvili vestigt zich in Nederland na zijn uitzetting uit Oekra¯ne. Dat bevestigt zijn advocaat Oscar Hammerstein na diens aankomst op Schiphol. Hammerstein en Saakasjvili bevinden zich volgens de advocaat bij een kantoor van de Immigratie- en Naturalisatie Dienst in Rotterdam om de verblijfspapieren in orde te maken. De ex-president werd maandag Oekra¯ne uitgezet en verbleef tot woensdag in Polen.
Volgens Hammerstein is de oud-president van plan zich te vestigen in Amsterdam. De veeltalige Saakasjvili is getrouwd met de Nederlandse Sandra Roelofs, uit Zeeuws-Vlaanderen. Saakasjvili en Roelofs (1968) ontmoetten elkaar in 1993 en hebben twee zoons. Ook Sandra was als First Lady destijds erg gezien in Georgi.
Eerder diende hij volgens het ministerie van Veiligheid en Justitie een verzoek in om op basis van gezinshereniging naar Nederland te komen. De Immigratie- en Naturalisatiedienst (IND) meldde in december dat Saakasjvili daarvoor in aanmerking komt.
De stateloze Saakasjvili (geboren op 21 december 1967) is al een tijd weg uit Georgi en ontpopte zich in Oekra¯ne als luis in de pels van zijn voormalige bondgenoot, president Petro Porosjenko. De autoriteiten lieten Saakasjvili eerder oppakken vanwege beschuldigingen dat hij betrokken is bij een criminele organisatie. Enkele duizenden mensen gingen de straat op om tegen zijn detentie te protesteren. De rechter stelde hem niet veel later weer op vrije voeten.
Saakasjvili, voormalig gouverneur van de Oekra¯ense regio Odessa, verweet de overheid grootschalige corruptie. Saakasjvili kreeg eerder de Oekra¯ense nationaliteit cadeau, maar die is hem weer afgenomen.
In 2004 koos het volk van Georgi hem als president, met overgrote meerderheid van de stemmen. Maar al drie jaar later '' en in de jaren erna opnieuw '' waren er massale protesten tegen de pro-westerse president. De populariteit van de president was sterk afgenomen sinds de oorlog tussen Georgi en Rusland in 2008. Velen, onder wie ook vroegere bondgenoten van Saakasjvili, verweten hem dat hij het conflict verkeerd had aangepakt.
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Mom outraged after daughter told she can't say no to boys at school dance - National | Globalnews.ca
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 16:36
A Utah mom was outraged when she found out her daughter was told she wasn't allowed to say "no" to boys at the school dance.
Getty ImagesAt first, Natalie Richard didn't believe her daughter when she said she wasn't allowed to say ''no'' to boys at the school dance.
The Utah mom told Fox13 her daughter in Grade 6 was informed by teachers she had to say ''yes'' to boys who wanted to dance with her at the school's Valentine's Day dance.
After Richard went to the school to investigate, she found out this rule has been around for a long time.
''[The school] basically just said they've had this dance set up this way for a long time and they've never had any concern before,'' she told the broadcaster.
READ MORE: Girl Scouts tell parents '-- Stop forcing kids to hug relatives during the holidays
Speaking with Fox13, a Utah school district spokesperson said the rule is meant to teach children how to be inclusive.
''We want to promote kindness, and so we want you to say yes when someone asks you to dance,'' spokesperson Lane Findlay told the station.
But Richard said there are other ways to teach young boys and girls how to be inclusive, kind and polite, without telling students they can't say ''no.''
''[It] sends a bad message to girls that girls have to say 'yes'; sends a bad message to boys that girls can't say 'no,''' she continued.
The school dance, which is voluntary, also asks students to pick five people they want to dance with. If a student feels uncomfortable with someone on that list, they are told to speak up. Fox13 notes the rule is still in place.
WATCH: 5 ways to teach your child about consent
Parenting expert and child psychologist Jillian Roberts of Family Sparks, says the school in this situation is not teaching consent in the most appropriate way.
''Even if a girl said she was comfortable dancing with a person whose name was on the pre-organized dance card days before the event, she should still have the right to say 'no thank you' at the dance itself,'' she tells Global News. ''We need to talk to our kids about boundaries as early as we can and reinforce these ideas over time.''
Setting boundariesRoberts adds she teaches children ''smart boundaries,'' where they understand the importance of their surroundings.
Credit: FamilySparks.
''You do need to be kind and, if possible, reasonably put the other person's needs before your own in all of the outer rings, but not in the centre ring. By this I mean, it is proper to give an older person your seat on the bus or allow the person sitting beside you at dinner the larger piece of pie at dessert,'' she continues.
READ MORE: Ontario's new sex ed curriculum will teach consent in Grade 2
''However, when it comes to your romantic self, you do not constantly put the other person's needs before your own. You do not say 'yes' to a sexual advance you do not want '-- regardless of timing '-- to appease the other person. You do not stay in a relationship that is not right for you, out of kindness.''
Teaching consentRoberts says it is valuable to teach children the difference between ''yes'' and ''no'' early on, as well as consent.
In Ontario, for example, children learn about consent in Grade 2, and with the current climate of #MeToo as well as the importance of consent, Roberts says we shouldn't be encouraging children to hug or kiss distant relatives either.
READ MORE: How '20 minutes of action' inspired Toronto fathers to teach their sons about misogyny
''Teaching our kids anything else sets them up for a confused understanding of boundaries,'' she continues.
In 2017, Girl Scouts in the U.S. told parents to not to pressure their children to hug relatives, while a school in Brampton, Ont. even banned hugs.
According to SBS in Australia, teaching consent isn't just about saying ''no'' or sex, it's about empowering them to understand how to use consent on a daily basis.
''Children, regardless of gender, express fear of getting into trouble if they say no to an adult, and concern that they will be physically hurt if they say no to an older child or student with a history of bullying,'' author Deanne Carson notes.
''We need to help kids on both sides of the equation understand these principles,'' Roberts adds. ''So kids know how to set boundaries and also respect the boundaries set by others. Teaching kids to simply say, ''no thank you'' is all that is required.''
(C) 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.
Three People Shot After Intruders Try To Ram NSA Compound Gate | Zero Hedge
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:33
Two men who tried to ram the gate at the NSA's main campus in Fort Meade, Maryland in a stolen Ford Escape were shot this morning by a security guard, according to the Baltimore Sun.
One of the attempted intruders was killed, while the other was wounded. A security guard was also injured.
DEVELOPING - Two men dressed as women who attempted to enter a gate at the NSA's campus at Fort Meade, MD in a stolen Ford Escape this morning were shot by a security guard, Bloomberg reports. One intruder was killed, the other wounded. A security guard was also injured.
'-- BreakingNewzman (@BreakingNewzman) February 14, 2018
Maryland State Highway Administration has shut down MD 32 in both directions at Canine Road in response.
REPORTED; Shooting near NSA, 3 ppl shot, inicdent reported near gate #1 As a result 32 is blocked east of 295 #MDtraffic#GMWpic.twitter.com/UvxqgaVfEm
'-- Julie Wright (@thejuliewright) February 14, 2018
Fort Meade officials warned drivers to follow alternate routes and "expect long delays."
This isn't the first time intruders have tried to infiltrate the NSA compound. A similar incident unfolded in March 2015, with two intruders trying to ram the gate of the compound. One was killed during that attempt, also.
The FBI tweeted that it is "aware of the incident at Fort Meade" and is sending agents to investigate.
The #FBI is aware of the incident at Fort Meade and we are sending personnel to respond at this time. Continue monitoring @FBIBaltimore for updates.
'-- FBI Baltimore (@FBIBaltimore) February 14, 2018
Who's Allowed to Wear a Black Panther Mask? - The New York Times
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 15:16
''I'm actually wondering now what it might be like for that parent who's not of color if his kid comes home and says, 'I want to dress up like Black Panther,''' said Katrina Jones, 39, the director of human resources at Vimeo. ''When I look at it, I see no reason why a kid who's not black can't dress like Black Panther. Just like our kid who's not white dresses up like Captain America. I think the beautiful thing about comics is they do transcend race in a lot of ways.''
Mary Dimacali, 29, a social media and marketing manager in Rockland County, New York, echoed that idea. She does not believe that her fianc(C)'s 7-year-old son, Sawyer, who is white, sees the film or its characters through the lens of race. Sawyer himself, during the interview with Ms. Dimacali, said, ''sure,'' when she asked if he'd like to dress up as Black Panther.
''For a white kid to be so open and judge based on the character's story and the personality and history, I think that's what's important,'' she said. ''But on the flip side, I think it's also great to have a black superhero you can identify and connect to.''
The character's history is unique. Created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966, Black Panther rules as the king of an African technological utopia known as Wakanda. Untouched by European invaders, Wakanda exists apart from the legacies of colonization and racism. Black history and black fantasy are central to the character, and the series has brought on prominent black writers including Ta-Nehisi Coates to deepen its significance over the last 50 years.Of the MomentThe lifestyle newsletter from the Styles, Travel and Food sections, offering the latest trends to news you can use.
Thank you for subscribing.Consequently, some parents have felt pressure to hammer home Black Panther's heroism through the lens of race.
''I'm conflicted,'' said Evan Narcisse, a senior writer for the website io9. He is completing ''Rise of the Black Panther,'' a six-part comic series for Marvel that traces the character's early history. He has tried to explain some of that history to his 7-year-old daughter, but without delving too deeply into complex concepts like Western imperialism, which she may struggle to grasp.
''You want that white kid to be able to think that he can dress up in a Black Panther costume, because, to that kid, there's no difference between Captain America and Black Panther,'' Mr. Narcisse, 45, said. But, he added, it also involves ''trying to explain what is special about T'Challa and Wakanda without racism. And it's like, 'Can't do it.' I couldn't do it.''
'-- Vanessa K. De Luca (@Vanessa_KDeLuca) Jan. 30, 2018''White people have the privilege of not constantly being reminded of their race in the United States, where white is the majority, whereas as a black person you don't,'' Ms. Vittrup said. She believes that parents in general, and white parents in particular, are reluctant to talk about race with young children. When they do, they often miss the chance to talk about inequality, even though research supports the idea that children develop an awareness of race and difference at a very young age.Ms. Vittrup was careful to add that dressing as Black Panther isn't inherently appropriative or offensive. The character comes from an invented African country, and to wear his mask isn't quite the same as wearing blackface. However, in a moment where even more black heroes, like Luke Cage and Black Lightning, are finding their way into the limelight, Black Panther's relationship with the black community and its history creates an opportunity to teach nonblack children about the black experience.''Kids are not colorblind,'' she said. ''There's a lot of structural inequality in our society, and kids are noticing that. By not mentioning it, by not talking about it, we're essentially preserving the status quo.''
Continue reading the main story
GOP rep unveils 'Crumbs Act' to make bonuses tax-free, in swipe at Pelosi | Fox News
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:50
Indiana Rep. Todd Rokita and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (AP)
A Republican lawmaker is set to unveil legislation that would make most bonuses given out as a result of President Trump's tax reform plan tax-free -- and took a jab at House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi with the bill's name.
Rep. Todd Rokita, R-Ind., has dubbed his bill the "Creating Relief and Useful Middle-Class Benefits and Savings" -- or "CRUMBS" Act. Pelosi, D-Calif., famously referred to the bonuses as "crumbs" in criticizing the tax plan last month.
"Americans are receiving thousands of dollars in bonuses and more money in their paychecks thanks to President Trump's tax reform, but out-of-touch Democratic leaders believe they only amount to crumbs," Rokita said in a statement. "The CRUMBS Act will let Americans keep more of the money they receive as a result of President Trump's tax reform, and allow them, not the government, to choose how best to spend their bonuses
Rokita's bill would make bonuses received by workers in 2018 tax-free up to $2,500. Since tax reform was signed into law this past December, multiple companies have given out bonuses and pay raises in anticipation of increased tax savings.
According to a tally by Americans for Tax Reform, 346 companies have given workers bonuses or raises or increased contributions to employees' 401(k). Those companies include AT&T, which gave $1,000 bonuses to 200,000 employees; automaker Fiat Chrysler, which gave at least 60,000 workers bonuses worth up to $2,000; and moving company U-Haul, where more than 28,000 full and part-time employees received bonuses ranging from $500 to $1,200.
After a Twitter Storm, The Times and a New Hire Part Ways - The New York Times
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:44
Photo After The New York Times announced on Tuesday that Quinn Norton would be its lead opinion writer on technology, her Twitter history doomed the hiring. On Tuesday afternoon, The New York Times announced that it had hired Quinn Norton, a journalist and an essayist known for her work at Wired magazine, as the editorial board's lead opinion writer on technology.
On Tuesday evening, Ms. Norton said in a Twitter post that she would no longer be joining The Times.
Between the two statements, a social media storm had erupted, with Ms. Norton at the center of it, because of her use of slurs on Twitter and her friendship with Andrew Auernheimer, who gained infamy as an internet troll going by the name ''weev.'' Mr. Auernheimer now works for The Daily Stormer, a neo-Nazi website.
The Twitter campaign against Ms. Norton focused on a tweetfrom October in which she said that ''weev is a terrible person, & an old friend of mine.'' It also turned up years-old tweets by Ms. Norton in which she used slurs against gay people and another in which she retweeted a racial slur.
James Bennet, the editorial page editor of The Times, said in a statement on Tuesday night: ''Despite our review of Quinn Norton's work and our conversations with her previous employers, this was new information to us. Based on it, we've decided to go our separate ways.''
Ms. Norton, who did not immediately reply to a request for comment, said in her Twitter post: ''I'm sorry I can't do the work I wanted to do with them. I wish there had been a way, but ultimately, they need to feel safe with how the net will react to their opinion writers.''
In a blog post on Tuesday published soon after the announcement that she would join The Times, Ms. Norton said those who had interviewed her for the position ''made it clear that they weren't going to get put off by a little weird.''
Continue reading the main story
Crypto-currency craze 'hinders search for alien life' - BBC News
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:31
Image copyright Getty Images Image caption If there is intelligent life out there, it might be broadcasting signals across the universe Scientists listening out for broadcasts by extra-terrestrials are struggling to get the computer hardware they need, thanks to the crypto-currency mining craze, a radio-astronomer has said.
Seti (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) wants to expand operations at two observatories.
However, it has found that key computer chips are in short supply.
"We'd like to use the latest GPUs [graphics processing units]... and we can't get 'em," said Dan Werthimer.
Demand for GPUs has soared recently thanks to crypto-currency mining.
"That's limiting our search for extra-terrestrials, to try to answer the question, 'Are we alone? Is there anybody out there?'," Dr Werthimer told the BBC.
"This is a new problem, it's only happened on orders we've been trying to make in the last couple of months."
Mining a currency such as Bitcoin or Ethereum involves connecting computers to a global network and using them to solve complex mathematical puzzles.
This forms part of the process of validating transactions made by people who use the currency.
As a reward for this work, the miners receive a small crypto-currency payment, making it potentially profitable.
GPUs are high-performance chips and aren't just used for powering video games - they may be stacked together by Bitcoin miners, radio-astronomers or others interested in processing large amounts of data for certain applications.
"At Seti we want to look at as many frequency channels as we possibly can because we don't know what frequency ET will be broadcasting on and we want to look for lots of different signal types - is it AM or FM, what communication are they using?" explained Dr Werthimer, who is chief scientist at the Berkeley Seti Research Center.
"That takes a lot of computing power."
Image copyright Aaron Parsons Image caption GPUs are an important part of the Hera radio-telescope in South Africa He added that at some telescopes, Seti has around 100 GPUs crunching data from large listening arrays.
These arrays can pick up the faintest of radio frequencies that have been flung across our solar system from elsewhere in the universe - often from natural phenomena such as collapsing stars.
Seti is currently trying to improve its capacity for analysing such data at two observatories - Green Bank in West Virginia and Parkes in Australia.
But the institute has been hit by the GPU shortage.
"We've got the money, we've contacted the vendors, and they say, 'we just don't have them'," said Dr Werthimer.
Earlier this year, there were reports that video gamers had been hit by a sudden rise in the cost of GPUs, thanks in particular to a rise in Ethereum mining, which can be done with chips aimed at consumers.
At the time, major chip-maker Nvidia said that retailers should make arrangements to make sure gamers' demands were met.
Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media caption WATCH: The BBC's Dave Lee visits the Green Bank TelescopeStar searchOther radio-astronomers have been affected.
A group looking for evidence of the earliest stars in the universe was recently shocked to see that the cost of the GPUs it wanted had doubled.
"We're in the process of expanding our telescope - we got a grant from the National Science Foundation here in the United States to do so," said Aaron Parsons at the University of California at Berkeley.
Prof Parsons' radio telescope array, the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (Hera) project, is an American, British and South African venture located in South Africa's western plains.
Image copyright Aaron Parsons Image caption Prof Parsons at the Hera radio telescope array in South Africa It has been designed to listen to low frequency radio waves emitted by the reionising hydrogen gas that permeated the universe before the first stars and galaxies formed.
GPUs are needed in order to bring together data from Hera's many small radio telescopes - this synthesises a much larger array, offering an especially wide field of view peering out into the universe.
Three months ago, the Hera team had budgeted for a set of GPUs that cost around $500 ($360) - the price has since doubled to $1,000.
"We'll be able to weather it but it is coming out of our contingency budget." added Prof Parsons.
"We're buying a lot of these things, it's going to end up costing about $32,000 extra."
He also said he was concerned that future work could even be stopped in its tracks, should the GPU shortage worsen.
Mining's meteoric riseThanks in part to a recent boom in the price of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, mining crypto-currencies has never been more popular.
While Bitcoin miners have largely moved on to specialised "Asic" chips that have been designed from scratch to support mining, it's still possible to use GPUs on the Ethereum mining network to lucrative ends, according to cyber-security expert Matthew Hickey at Hacker House.
Image caption GPUs are often connected together to carry out the laborious task of crytpo-currency mining "[You can] use GPUs effectively to turn a small profit, you're not going to make millions but if you put 12 or 24 GPUs together, you'll make back the cost in six months," he told the BBC.
GPUs are versatile, he added, pointing out that cyber-security experts sometimes use them for password-cracking experiments, in which computers make many millions of attempts at breaking into a system.
But Mr Hickey has also noticed that GPUs are now being sold on sites such as Ebay at inflated prices.
"It's becoming increasingly difficult to find suppliers and cards," he said.
Are you involved in scientific research that has been affected by the GPU (graphics processing unit) shortage? Please share your stories with us by emailing haveyoursay@bbc.co.uk .
Please include a contact number if you are willing to speak to a BBC journalist. You can also contact us in the following ways:
WhatsApp: +447555 173285Tweet: @BBC_HaveYourSayUpload your pictures / video hereSend an SMS or MMS to 61124 or +44 7624 800 100
Cable: 09STATE85588_a-Meuller Delivered Uranium to Russia
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:21
Show Headers
2009 AMBASSADOR BEYRLE E-MAIL D. 08 MOSCOW 521 Classified By: EUR/PRA: KATHLEEN MORENSKI PER E.O. 12958: REASONS 1.4 (A) AND (G). 1. (SBU) This is an action request: Embassy Moscow please see para 6 and 7; and Embassy Tbilisi please see para 8. 2. (S/NF) Background: Over two years ago Russia requested a ten-gram sample of highly enriched uranium (HEU) seized in early 2006 in Georgia during a nuclear smuggling sting operation involving one Russian national and several Georgian accomplices. The seized HEU was transferred to U.S. custody and is being held at a secure DOE facility. In response to the Russian request, the Georgian Government authorized the United States to share a sample of the material with the Russians for forensic analysis. Director Mueller previously planned to deliver the sample in April (Ref A), but due to a scheduling conflict the trip was canceled. Embassy Moscow LegAtt informed the FSB prior to Mueller's intended April delivery and received confirmation that the FSB would take custody of the sample after the Director's plane landed. EST Moscow also informed Rosatom of the planned transfer and that the U.S. placed a high priority on completing this transfer (Ref B). Once the LegAtt told FSB counterparts the April trip had been canceled, Ambassador Beyrle informed Igor Neverov (Ref C), who said that he understood but was disappointed the trip was postponed. The September 21 visit provides again an opportunity to deliver the requested ten-gram sample from the seized HEU in order to obtain cooperation from the GOR on this nuclear smuggling case and to eventually establish a more productive mechanism of U.S.-Russian cooperation on nuclear forensics. 3. (S/NF) While there was a reasonable exchange of information with Russian security services at the time of the 2006 seizure, we have had poor cooperation investigating the diversion of HEU, which the United States believes was stolen from a Russian facility. Russia did not respond to papers that then Acting U/S Rood provided Deputy Foreign Minister Ryabkov in December 2008 reiterating the USG position that Russia should pick up this sample in the United States. Further, when asked for an update on their response to our proposal, Ryabkov told us in early 2009 in Washington that there was an interagency dispute over who would come and pick up the material. 4. (S/NF) Given Russia's reluctance to act so far, FBI Mueller's delivery of this sample will underscore to Russia our commitment to follow through on this case. While some details related to the sharing of information on smuggling networks may be too sensitive to discuss, delivery of the sample could enable us to discuss whether Russian authorities investigated the diversion and prosecuted anyone. Moreover, we hope it will spark discussions on mechanisms to exchange information and material on future incidents of this nature, particularly in light of the commitments made in the July summit U.S.-Russia Joint Statement on Nuclear Cooperation regarding strengthening our cooperation to stop acts of nuclear terrorism. Posts should note that DOE/NNSA's April 2009 determination authorizing distribution of the sample to the Russian Federation only for attribution of the sample in support of a criminal investigation is applicable to the proposed September 21 delivery of the sample to Russia. 5. (S/Rel Russia) Background con't: On April 16, the FSB verbally confirmed to Legatt that we will have no problem with the Russian Ministry of Aviation concerning Mueller's flight (although we probably won't see paperwork until shortly before the trip). The FBI is requiring that the sample be turned over to a Russian law enforcement authority (i.e., FSB) as opposed to an intelligence service (i.e., SVR) or technical authority (i.e., Rosatom). A representative from the responsible Russian Law Enforcement authority, who will accept custody of the sample, must be identified and verified ahead of time. That individual will be required to have signatory authority to accept the sample. Appropriate arrangements need to be made to ensure the transfer of material is conducted at the airport, plane-side, upon arrival of the Director's aircraft. Post should also remind the GOR that this is the material about which the GOR gave the USG nonproliferation assurances in 2008 in a diplomatic note from February 2008 (Ref D). 6. (S/Rel Russia) Action request: Embassy Moscow is requested to alert at the highest appropriate level the Russian Federation that FBI Director Mueller plans to deliver the HEU sample once he arrives to Moscow on September 21. Post is requested to convey information in paragraph 5 with regard to chain of custody, and to request details on Russian Federation's plan for picking up the material. Embassy is also requested to reconfirm the April 16 understanding from the FSB verbally that we will have no problem with the Russian Ministry of Aviation concerning Mueller's September 21 flight clearance. 7. (S/Rel Russia) Post is requested to deliver the following talking points: --We wish to inform you that FBI Director Mueller plans to arrive in Moscow on the evening of September 21 with a ten-gram sample of seized HEU, which you requested for nuclear forensics analysis. --We regret that the April visit by Director Mueller could not take place due to a scheduling conflict. We would be grateful once again for the Russian Federation's willingness to receive the sample and facilitate the logistics for its pick up. --As before, we require confirmation that a representative from a responsible Russian law enforcement authority will be available to accept custody of the sample and have signatory authority to accept the sample. --We require that the transfer of this material be conducted at the airport, on the tarmac near by the plane, upon arrival of the Director's aircraft. --We place a high priority on completion of this sample transfer to facilitate your forensic analysis of the material. --Further, with the delivery of this sample, we hope to collaborate more closely on promoting a more effective relationship between our law enforcement organizations to counter illicit trafficking of nuclear materials. --In particular, such efforts were underscored in the July Summit joint presidential statement on nuclear cooperation regarding our commitments to strengthen cooperation to stop acts of nuclear terrorism. Securing vulnerable nuclear materials and improving nuclear security within our two countries is our highest priority. -- It is our hope to eventually establish a more systematic mechanism to facilitate U.S.-Russian cooperation on investigations into nuclear smuggling cases. We continue to believe that Russia should be concerned by the prospect that HEU was diverted from one of its facilities, and should actively investigate the incident. 8. (S/Rel Georgia) For Embassy Tbilisi: No action is required at this point. As before, State will send instructions at the appropriate time on alerting the Georgian Government when the transfer of the seized HEU is immanent and in Russian custody. 9. (U) Department thanks Post for its assistance. Washington point of contacts are Mike Curry, ISN/WMDT, 202-736-7692 (CurryMR@state.sgov.gov) and Nate Young, EUR/PRA, 202-647-7278 (YoungNH@state.sgov.gov). Please slug all responses for EUR, ISN/WMDT, and T. CLINTON
AIM Report: Intel Failure: Worse Than We Thought
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:14
Since 1946, the prime directive of the intelligence community has been to prevent another Pearl Harbor, to never again fail to collect, collate, and analyze information in a coordinated, centralized manner that would warn the President of an impending attack on America. Since 1947, that responsibility has rested with the Director of Central Intelligence, currently George J. Tenet, a Clinton appointee held over by the Bush administration. Tenet is nominally responsible for overseeing the entire intelligence community, which includes the FBI, and he is the President's chief intelligence advisor.
The attacks on September 11, 2001 killed more Americans than the attack on Pearl Harbor, but the Bush administration has consistently rejected the analogy to December 7, 1941. During Congressional testimony, for example, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III explained that the intelligence community couldn't possibly have detected preparations for the attacks because the hijackers were just too clever. He said, ''In short, the terrorists managed to exploit loopholes and vulnerabilities in our systems, to stay out of sight, and to not let anyone know what they were up to beyond a very closed circle.'' National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice took the same tack, say-ing, ''I don't think anybody could have predicted that these people would take an airplane and slam it into the World Trade Center, take another one and slam it into the Pentagon.''
Up until May 15, when CBS News reported that President Bush had been briefed on August 6, 2001 on warnings of terrorist attacks, the media have tended to accept the administration's line that there were no warnings and that the hijackers were just too slick to be caught. The Washington Post's Walter Pincus, in particular, has consistently relayed the ''spin'' coming out of CIA depicting George Tenet in the most favorable terms. When the Congress passed the FY2003 intelligence authorization bill Pincus concluded that the increase in the budget ''suggests the growing confidence Congress and Bush have placed in CIA Director George J. Tenet.''
Newsweek, which is owned by the Post, has also portrayed Tenet and the CIA in glowing terms. It recently reported that Tenet had the CIA ''focused'' and was doing a bang-up job fighting the terrorist war in Afghanistan. After the 9/11 tragedy, when many thought Tenet might resign or be fired, the Post and the New York Times published front-page photos of Tenet meeting with President Bush and Condoleezza Rice.
Evidence Filed and Forgotten
The ''spin'' worked and the establishment media paid little or no attention to information that indicated that there had been a colossal intelligence failure because those responsible for uncovering and foiling terrorist plots, primarily the FBI and the CIA, had fallen down on the job. On Sept. 13, Accuracy in Media sent out a column about an Agence France-Presse (AFP) story on the Internet that ran in the Sydney Morning Herald. AFP had immediately connected the dots between the attacks on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon and Project Bojinka, an ambitious plan to plant bombs in 11 U.S. airliners, use a suicide bomber to kill the pope, and to crash planes into high profile American buildings, specifically naming CIA headquarters. Of the three, the crashing of planes into buildings was the only one that al Qaeda succeeded in executing.
Bojinka had been discovered by the Philippine National Police in January 1995, when Ramzi Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad, who had links to al Qaeda, started a fire in their Manila apartment while making a bomb. Yousef escaped and was later cap-tured in Pakistan. Murad was caught and interrogated by the Philippine police. They claim the information about Bojinka, which means ''big bang'' in Serbo-Croatian, came from Ramzi Yousef's laptop. The Washington Post, which sent several reporters to Manila to look into the story, published a long report on September 23, which accepted Murad's claim that it was extracted from him by torture.
Murad, who learned to fly at U.S. flight schools, said one of the Bojinka scenarios had him flying a small plane loaded with explosives into CIA headquarters. That may have been inspired by an attempt to crash a small plane into the White House in 1994. The Philippine police claim that he had mentioned a number of high profile buildings as possible targets and that they shared all the information they got from him with the FBI and the CIA. Both Yousef and Murad are serving life sentences in a federal prison in Colorado, Yousef for his role in the bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993 and for having conspired with Murad to destroy American airliners.
''It's Bojinka!''
That was the reaction of a Filipino investigator when he saw airliners crash into the Twin Towers on TV . He told reporters, ''We told the Americans everything about Bojinka. Why didn't they pay attention?'' If our counterterrorism experts at the FBI and CIA had paid attention, they would have been watching for any indications that bin Laden was still thinking of using planes as missiles to destroy big buildings. We said in our 9/13 column, ''Reports that bin Laden was training pilots should have set alarm bells ringing. Only a few months ago an American Airlines crew had their uniforms and ID badges stolen from their hotel room in Rome. At the end of August, the airline alerted its employees to be on the lookout for impostors, but apparently no one saw this as a possible link to Project Bojinka. Airport security remained as lax as ever. Next came bin Laden's warning in mid-August that there would be 'an unprecedented attack on U.S. interests.' With Bojinka in mind, the government should have taken the strongest possible measures to prevent hijackings.
''Bin Laden showed his contempt for our intelligence agencies by training some of his hijackers at flight schools in this country, right under their noses. Had they forgotten about Project Bojinka in only six years? It should have been engraved in the collective memory of the CIA, the one target that Abdul Hakim Murad had mentioned by name. The FBI should have been asked to check out the flight schools, seeking information about any Middle Eastern students they had enrolled. The NSA should have been monitoring phone calls from the cities in which flight schools with Middle Eastern students were located. The CIA should have checked them for ties to bin Laden.''
Chief Police Superintendent Avelino Razon told the Philippine Daily Inquirer that the Philippine intelligence report was passed on to the U.S. Embassy and the U.S. Joint Task Force on Terrorism. He said, ''It was not given credibility, otherwise, it could have prevented the destruction of the World Trade Center.'' He said, ''Bojinka called for the hijacking of U.S. commercial airliners, bombing them or crashing them into several targets, including the CIA.''
How The FBI Dropped The Ball
In February 1998, Bojinka was described by Dale L. Watson, then the Chief of the International Terrorism Operations Section of the FBI, in testimony before a subcommittee of the Senate Judiciary Committee, only as a plot to blow up ''numerous U.S. air carriers.'' He said that the FBI had identified ''a significant and growing organizational presence'' of foreign terrorists in the U.S. He claimed the bureau had them under control. He said that as a result of the World Trade Center and Oklahoma City bombings, the FBI had developed an ''enhanced capability'' to track their activities.
After Bojinka was uncovered, federal authorities received further indications that the plan was being implemented. In early 1998, the Federal Aviation Administration was told of ''concerns'' of instructors at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Phoenix, Arizona about a Saudi student named Hani Hanjour. They said he lacked the English skills necessary to fly multi-engine jet aircraft, a requirement for the civil aviation industry. The FAA responded by offering to provide an interpreter for Hanjour. He was the pilot of American Airlines Flight 77 which crashed into the Pentagon on September 11th. The FBI was also informed that al Qaeda agents had attended flight schools in the U.S. and Kenya in 1999 and 2000.
A Neglected Clue
A very important clue that they failed to exploit was a tip from the Pan Am Flight Academy near Minneapolis concerning Zacarias Moussaoui, a Moroccan-French citizen who on Aug. 13 had paid $8,300, of which $6,800 was in cash, for training on a Boeing or Airbus 300 simulator. He had spent three months at the Airman Flight School in Norman, Oklahoma, where he had paid $5,000, half in cash, for pilot training. He completed 57 hours of flight time without soloing. Trainees there usually solo after 12 to 20 hours. The University of Oklahoma Daily quoted Airman's admissions director as saying, ''He paid a large amount of cash to do this, but did not want to know how to take off or land. He wanted to know all about the navigation system.'' This was widely reported as an odd request Moussaoui made. Airman Flight School won't comment, but it was apparently a conclusion reached by his instructors at Airman.
He was at the Pan Am Flight Academy only two days. The instructor in his first ground school class saw that he wasn't pilot material. A New York Times story of Feb. 8, 2002 quoted him as saying, ''He seemed particularly interested in flying once the plane was in the air,'' confirming the impression he gave the Airman instructors. It took only 24 hours for the Pan Am staff to conclude that his motives were not pure. Some thought he might be a hijacker, and, according to the Times, they discussed how much damage a 747 loaded with fuel would cause if it hit something. One of the managers offered to call a friend of his in the FBI office in Minneapolis. He was given permission to do so after class on Aug. 14. An FBI agent and an immigration agent came the next day and arrested Moussaoui on an immigration charge. On Aug. 17, they told the academy that he would not be returning.
A week later, FBI agents made inquiries about him at the Airman Flight School where they were no doubt told about his lack of interest in learning how to take off and land. They then asked headquarters to get a warrant to authorize a search of Moussaoui's computer and possessions. The FBI lawyers denied this request, saying there were not sufficient grounds to submit it to a judge. If the lawyers had been told about Bojinka they might have approved it. They might have been even more likely to approve it if they had known about the recommendations made in a July 10, 2001 memo to headquarters by Kenneth Williams, a counterterrorism specialist in Phoenix, AZ. He was concerned about the number of Middle Easterners being trained in our flight schools. His memo recommended that headquarters launch a nation-wide review of aviation schools, do visa checks, and take other steps to investigate the presence of potential terrorists in these schools. It also recommended sharing the information with the CIA. FBI headquarters did nothing but send the memo to the New York field office, which had responsibility for counterterrorist operations.
What Might Have Been
The memo was not shared with the CIA or agents investigating Moussaoui, who is believed to be the missing twentieth hijacker and is facing trial in Virginia. If the requested search had been authorized last August, the FBI would have learned that one of his tasks was to gather information about crop dusting. That was viewed as evidence that he was involved with a terrorist group planning to attack us with chemicals or pathogens.
That information might have spurred the FBI to give priority to Kenneth Williams' recommendation that the Middle Easterners who were taking flight training be investigated. They might have identified enough of the hijackers to disrupt their 9/11 plans. They have been busy checking the flight schools since then and have learned a lot. If they had done it earlier, three thousand deaths and billions of dollars in property damages might have been avoided. A thorough Congressional investigation of this incredibly costly failure is imperative.
When FBI Director Robert Mueller testified before the joint Senate and House investigative committee, Senator John Edwards (D-NC) asked Mueller if the Williams memo had made any reference to Osama bin Laden. Mueller said he was not certain. He couldn't recall. The senators begged him to release the memo or at least a redacted version of it, but Mueller refused, claiming it was necessary that he protect sources and methods.
The next day, the media reported that there had been a very prominent reference to bin Laden in the memo. Its very first sentence read, ''The purpose of this communication is to advise the bureau and New York of the possibility of a coordinated effort by Osama Bin Laden to send students to the United States to attend civilian aviation universities and colleges.'' Mueller must not have read it.
Accuracy in Media Vindicated
Another document that has attracted a lot of media attention is the ''analytic report'' included in President Bush's morning intelligence briefing on August 6. Interest in it intensified when it was revealed that it also mentioned Osama bin Laden and hijacking. In a press briefing given by Condoleezza Rice, the President's National Security Advisor, she stressed that this was not a warning, simply an ''analytic report.'' She said it provided no specific warnings and cited only information back to 1997 .
If so, it did not discuss Project Bojinka, which was discovered in January 1995. This is another example of Bojinka not getting the attention it deserved. The Washington Post's long story on Sept. 23 did not get picked up by other papers. Other news organizations, including the New York Times and the Washington Times, ignored it. Last September, AIM sent Howell Raines, executive editor of the New York Times, what we had written on Bojinka on Sept. 13 and a copy of the Washington Post story that filled over two pages. We asked why the Times had not even mentioned Bojinka. Raines responded that they didn't report it because it was old news that they had reported in 1995. We told him that was all the more reason to remind readers of its importance now. A few days later, the Times ran a brief account of Bojinka buried deep in another story.
In the wake of the controversy stirred up by the President's August 6 intelligence briefing, Bojinka suddenly became important news. On May 18, it was on the front page of the New York Times under a photo of the President and a three-column headline reading, ''FBI Knew for Years About Pilot Training,'' followed by this sub-head: ''Bureau Failed to Share Its Findings and to Connect the Dots.'' That is a fair criticism of the FBI and CIA, but it also applies to the New York Times and other news media that for over eight months failed to recognize Bojinka as an important dot. By finally putting it on page one, the New York Times tacitly acknow-ledged that AIM was right in treating it as important news on Sept. 13, and Howell Raines was wrong in ignoring it.
FBI Was Asleep At The Switch
The only way 9/11could have been prevented was to find and arrest the bin Laden agents on the same charge that was brought against Ramzi Yousef and Abdul Hakim Murad-conspiracy to destroy American airliners. It took the staff at the Pan Am Flight Academy only one day to see that Zacarias Moussaoui had an ulterior motive in taking flying lessons. His training was obviously being paid for by someone else. Finding the source of the money could have led to others in the conspiracy. A week passed before the FBI checked on Moussaoui with the Airman Flight School where he paid half his tuition with a personal check. It was also where his lack of interest in learning to take off and land had been observed. The refusal of the FBI's lawyers in Washington to seek a warrant authorizing the Minneapolis field office to search Moussaoui's computer was another costly mistake.
The frustration felt in the FBI's Minneapolis office was expressed in a 13-page letter from its general counsel, Coleen Rowley, to the Congressional investigating committee. She disputed Mueller's claim that there was no information that would have helped prevent 9/11. She believed there was sufficient evidence to get a warrant to search Moussaoui's computer and charged that headquarters had ignored it, including Ken Williams' July 10 memo. She said they were also rebuffed when they sought permission to use grand jury subpoenas and open a criminal investigation. The FBI has classified her letter, and she has sought whistleblower status.
Pearl Harbor Parallels
Condoleezza Rice offered the fullest accounting to date of what was known and how it was assessed prior to 9/11. She said that an attack was anticipated, most likely overseas. In December 1941, Japan was expected to attack south, not east. Rice says that the ''threat information'' was non-specific, vague, and generalized, that the intelligence came in ''little snippets.'' She seemed to be saying that it was just too hard to put it all together, and she admitted that a ''reorganization'' was necessary to ensure that there would be a greater fusion of intelligence from all sources. We are relearning Pearl Harbor's lessons at the cost of nearly 3,000 American lives.
The agencies that were set up specifically for that objective failed. No matter how the White House, Congressional Republicans, or George Tenet's friends in the media try to spin this, the nation's intelligence agencies failed miserably in their most important mission, the prevention of another Pearl Harbor.
A front-page story in the Wall Street Journal on May 20 reported that a week before the 9/11 attacks ''investigators told the Federal Aviation Administration that student-pilot Zacarias Moussaoui had been arrested and was under investigation as a potential terrorist with a particular interest in flying Boeing 747s.'' It said the FAA ''decided against warning U.S. airlines to increase security. The story by three reporters, Stephen Power, David S. Cloud and Gary Fields, asserted FAA officials had said that at the time they did not have enough information to act. It went on to quote ''a senior law enforcement official'' as saying of Moussaoui, ''Whatever he was going to do he was going to do it with a 747, and [the FBI] communicated that with the FAA. The logic at the time was that he intended to hijack a plane.''
The Journal said the FAA's response to this was being scrutinized by Congressional investigators. It said FAA officials would not say what the FBI had told them about Moussaoui, but they said they didn't have enough information to warrant issuing an advisory to airlines. It quoted Scott Brenner, the FAA's public information officer, who asserted that they had not been told anything by the FBI ''that would prompt us to take action.'' The Journal noted that Moussaoui was in custody and that the FBI didn't have enough evidence to connect him to ''a larger plot.''
It compared the FAA's response in this case to its action last June, when it cited ''unconfirmed reports that American interests may be the target of terrorist threats from extremist groups'' and advised the airlines that there was a ''potential for a terrorist operation, such as an airliner hijacking to free terrorists incarcerated in the United States.'' However, that warning was in response to information from the CIA that there had been talk of hijacking a Pakistani airliner and holding the passengers and crew hostage to secure the release of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman, who is serving time for plotting to bomb the World Trade Center in 1993. The FAA had been advised by the National Security Council's counterterrorism coordinator, Richard Clarke, to issue a warning about this hijacking threat.
Prior to 9/11, the FBI did not even inform Mr. Clarke about the arrest of Moussaoui. The FAA was justifiably upset by the implication that the information it got from the FBI about Moussaoui's arrest was enough to justify issuing a warning to the airlines. They say that all they were told was that this one individual, with no known ties to terrorists was under arrest. The quote from the senior law enforcement official implying that Moussaoui was intending to hijack a 747 should have been included in the information they were given, but it was not. The Journal's criticism of the FAA was unwarranted. The story went on to report information that reflected badly on the FBI, but that was in the last five paragraphs.
First, there was the report of the FBI's failure to notify the National Security Council's counterterrorism coordinator or other White House officials about Moussaoui. Next came the information that the reports on the Moussaoui investigation were routed to the office whose task was to monitor ''radical fundamentalists,'' the same office that essentially bottled up Kenneth Williams' July 10 memo recommending an investigation of Middle Easterners studying at our flight schools. The Journal pointed out that this memo would have bolstered the argument for obtaining a search warrant in the Moussaoui case, a request that FBI lawyers rejected.
In the last paragraph, the Journal reported what might have been a more appropriate lead. It said that ''agents working on the Moussaoui case in Minneapolis had a 'brainstorming session' about his possible intentions.'' At the flight school, Moussaoui had filed a mock flight plan that involved JFK airport. The Journal said that one of the agents wrote in the margins of his notes that one possibility was that he was planning to hijack a plane and fly it into the World Trade Center. The Journal said, ''Those notes were part of an internal report that never left Minnesota, although they are now in the hands of Congressional investigators.''
The FBI not only failed to provide the FAA with that information, but it also gave Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta information that contradicted a widely publicized report that supported the suspicion that Moussaoui was planning to hijack an airliner and crash it. On May 21, Mineta testified to the Senate Commerce Committee that the FBI had informed him that it was not true that Moussaoui had told his flight instructors that he was not interested in learning how to take off and land a plane, only in how to steer it. This is somewhat misleading. As we show in the story above, the assertion that he had little interest in learning to take off and land was a conclusion reached by his instructors at the Airman Flying School in Oklahoma, not what he told them. An instructor in Minnesota got the same impression, according to the New York Times.
What You Can Do
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Katie Couric tweets apology to Dutch for Olympic comment
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:12
AP NEW YORK (AP) '-- Katie Couric has apologized for saying that the Dutch are so successful in speed skating because skates have been used as a form of transportation when canals freeze in the Netherlands.
Her remark during the Olympics' opening ceremony invited some Dutch mockery on social media from people who said the information was outdated. The Netherlands embassy to the United States invited Couric to visit the country to see all of the innovative ways the Dutch get around.
Couric late Monday tweeted her apologies for being on thin ice with her comments.
The veteran anchor said she was trying to salute the country's historic passion for the sport, but it didn't come out that way.
Microsoft gives $1 million to solve problem most people don't know exists - BI
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:11
Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft. Mike Blake/Reuters
This post is part of Business Insider's ongoing series on Better Capitalism.Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development at Microsoft, explains why Microsoft recently made a big donation.The money is intended to help people trapped in the "identity gap."My three children are all grown now - the youngest is away at college - but I still remember each of their first days.
They were filled with moments of ritual: the little footprint, the first photo, introducing them to their names, and having them meet their family members.
On each of those first days, another, less memorable ritual happened. Both mundane and miraculous, it was vital to their futures. It was the moment they were issued birth certificates that legally established their identities.
Throughout their lives, one document provides our children with the foundation for every right and opportunity we could hope to offer them: to be inoculated against disease, pursue an education, obtain a passport, open a bank account, seek employment, rent or buy a home, get married, and vote.
In countries like the United States, where my children were born, this process is so universal that it seems automatic, like certified mail delivered by the Stork. But even in today's age of ubiquitous data, almost one in three babies are born without any official documentation.
On paper, they don't exist. They join more than 1.1 billion people around the world - disproportionately women, children and refugees - who lack any legal form of identity.
People trapped in the "identity gap" face uncertain futures. They may be denied a spot in school, turned away from the polls, or unable to travel freely, even within their home countries. They are more likely to be trafficked as children. People displaced by conflict and instability are often unable to seek aid and rebuild their lives.
The identity gap problem is enormous, and its human impacts are unconscionable. But for the first time in our history, it may also be solvable.
Driven by the convergence of rising global connectivity, breakthrough technologies, and growing political willpower, the United Nations has set a simple but audacious target to achieve universal legal identity by 2030.
I was proud to announce on Monday at the World Economic Forum that Microsoft is donating $1 million to support the ID2020 Alliance, a global public-private partnership dedicated to tackling this challenge.
The Alliance aims to develop a secure, portable form of digital identity and implement it across governments and agencies by 2020.
As a founding member, Microsoft joins Accenture, the Rockefeller Foundation, and a growing list of organizations committed to this worthy mission. And progress is already happening. Last year, Microsoft engineers in Europe collaborated with Accenture and Avanade as they led the development of a digital identity prototype created using blockchain, the technology best known as the backbone of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin.
This prototype harnesses the secure, immutable and distributed nature of blockchain to empower individuals with direct ownership of their personal information. It allows people to consent to when their information is released and shared.
Blockchain has generated a frenzy in tech circles this past year. In fact, the story of blockchain and Bitcoin is a myth almost tailor-made for Silicon Valley worship - fantastic wealth seemingly conjured from nothing but a bit of code and enthusiasm. But we believe that blockchain's potential goes far beyond just bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. It represents a transformative opportunity to help solve our most vexing challenges - whether they're business challenges or humanitarian ones.
At its core, blockchain is like every technology. It's a tool. Its impact isn't just derived from its capabilities but from how we choose to apply them.
The truth is that technology is usually the easy part. When lives and futures are at stake, you can't simply hack your way to a better world. So in addition to our financial and technical assistance, my colleague Mary Snapp and her team in Microsoft Philanthropies will support ID2020 in the challenging work of partnering across sectors and establishing standards, which is so often the difference between building something, and building it right.
Last year, when this work was first presented to our senior leadership team, we were overwhelmed by the possibilities and also keenly aware of the challenges ahead. But when it came to the decision to participate, the answer was obvious. We had to do it'-- not because of the bottom line numbers or the market opportunity, but because it aligned with our sense of purpose as a company to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. We see that mission boldly brought to life in the aspirations of the ID2020 Alliance.
Peggy Johnson is executive vice president of business development at Microsoft.
White House Thinks Hope Hicks Is 'Immune' to Domestic Violence from Rob Porter, MSNBC Host Says
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 04:44
The Trump White House has taken an unusual position on Hope Hicks's romantic relationship with alleged domestic abuser Rob Porter, MSNBC host Lawrence O'Donnell has claimed.
On Monday, O'Donnell slammed counselor Kellyanne Conway for her assertion that the White House Communications Director Hicks is a ''strong woman.''
On his show, The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell, the host singled out White House counselor Kellyanne Conway for claiming she is not worried about communications director Hicks's relationship with Porter because Hicks is a "strong woman."
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''I am very close to Hope Hicks and I don't worry about her in that respect,'' Conway said in a CNN interview over the weekend.
''I'm sorry for any suffering [Porter's ex] has endured, but in the case of Hope, I rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts, and loyalty, and smarts," Conway said.
"I didn't have the presence of mind and professional capabilities at her age that I see in her every single day," she added, in comments that were slammed by O'Donnell.
O'Donnell took issue with how Conway positioned Hicks as strong because it insinuated that Porter's alleged victims were weak. He added that Conway's remarks seemed to suggest Hicks was the "immune to the possibility of physical abuse by a man she is dating."
''Rob Porter's former girlfriend just wasn't 'strong' enough. That's why he physically abused her,'' O'Donnell said.
''His two former wives just weren't 'strong' enough. That's why he physically abused them. That's why he punched Colbie Holderness and gave her that black eye. Because she wasn't 'strong' enough. That's the Trump White House position on why no one has to worry about Hope Hicks'--because she's 'stronger' than the women Rob Porter victimized," he continued.
Conway's apparent assertion that someone ''so strong'' would not be the victim of abuse was also slammed by Porter's first wife Colbie Holderness, who stated in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Tuesday that ''recognizing and surviving in an abusive relationship takes strength."
The White House has also faced criticism over President Donald Trump's reaction to the allegations made against Porter, after the outgoing staff secretary received well wishes from POTUS.
''He worked very hard and we found out about it recently and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well. It's obviously a tough time for him,'' Trump told reporters. The president's comments were criticized as insensitive and resulted in White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders stating, in a bold spin, that the president wished all Americans well, not Porter in particular.
Lame Cherry: The Obamanazi of Susan Rice's Unusual Memo
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 03:12
As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.
Leaving the UNUSUAL Susan Rice memo for a day to see what the whiz kids of the paid for trolls would come up with, reveals none of them understood what this memo was and why Senators Grassley and Graham were pointing to it and focusing upon it.
Even Graham though does not understand what he has, as he thinks the Rice memo is a cover up. It was not a cover up at all.
Sen. Lindsey Graham Strongly Suggests Susan Rice's 'Odd and Disturbing Email' Looks Like a Cover-Up for Obama
IT WAS SUSAN RICE WHO WAS COVERING HER ASS. That memo was CYA and now the Lame Cherry in that matter anti matter exclusive is about to lay this out so all of you children and brats understand what Susan Rice was recording.
I will quote Rush Limbaugh in this for the past 8 years of Obama from the IRS going after the Tea Party to whatever else the Obama drones were engaged in as abuses of power:
There is never an order or a smoking gun with Obama. He doesn't have to tell his people what to do, in they just know what to do.
What Susan Rice did though was record a January 5th meeting in which the image of Birther Hussein Obama gave instructions to his 5th column. Read the following very carefully as it is not about as Lindsey Graham says a cover up, but is about something much more intense.
President Obama began the conversation by stressing his continued commitment to ensuring that every aspect of this issue is handled by the Intelligence and law enforcement communities "by the book." The President stressed that he is not asking about, initiating or instructing anything from a law enforcement perspective. He reiterated that our law enforcement team needs to proceed as it normally would by the book.
The Lame Cherry highlighted what is vital in this and it is image Obama issuing orders to JUSTICE to do this by the book. We know now that from crooked John Brennan to crooked Andrew McCabe, that none of these frauds had been conducting any executive actions by the book. They instead were engaged in something on Obama's orders as Obama was fixated on something else in "what intelligence to withhold and share with the Trump people".
The toxic environment of Russian collusion had permeated the entire Obama regime. It also proves one damning issue and this is beyond Peter Strzok and Lisa Page, where bushman Andrew McCarthy was saying Obama did it all by the book on non criminal investigations, where the netherly duo stated that OBAMA WANTED TO KNOW ALL WHAT WE ARE DOING.
All what they were doing, means image Obama READ THE DOSSIER. Obama knew this was coming from British intelligence and like Dan Rather after W. Bush, Obama was treating Donald Trump and his staff as traitors to America which were under surveillance, not just in wire taps, but every conversation was being noted and led in a direction to glean intelligence information.
Once one understands this we return to BY THE BOOK. Each of you have heard that in Hollywood detective dramas, and you always know the leader only utters that when HE INTENDS TO ARREST AND PROSECUTE THE PERSON OF INTEREST. That is the first damning thing from Rice's memo which everyone has missed. image Obama was instructing his 5th column to make no mistakes, to do it legal at Justice, because they would be prosecuting a sitting President in 2017 AD in the year of our Lord.
What everyone has missed in the BY THE BOOK, is that the Rice memo was not sent by Susan Rice to herself. Yes Grassley and Grahman figured out is was unusual in emailing herself, but she was instructed to do this as NSA chief.
Susan Rice was leaving a COVER YOUR ASS memo that this investigation was BY THE BOOK and that image Obama had ordered such, in order to COVER HIS ASS, as Obama was meddling in this investigation in making it a political weapon. image Obama had unleashed by Michelle Obama and Val-erie Jarrett an entire dissemination of information to Congress via John Kerry who was involved in this, from Samantha Power who was unmasking numbers of Americans illegally and the entire leaking campaign which centered at Newsweek with Kurt Eichenwald to plant these fake reports into the fake news to build a platform to trigger the investigation by Robert Mueller.
There was so much leaking taking place that the deluded Evelyn Farkas thought she had to save America as no one else would as she started leaking this nutty dossier to the press, because she was getting it from the very top people in the Obama cabinet.
All of this is what has been missed apparently as no one is explaining this, in the Rice memo was instructed to be sent to herself as a paper trail, to prove that image Obama was going by the book, and for Susan Rice who was the one holding the bag on this, as she was centered on unmasking and doing Benghazi cover ups, in Susan Rice wanted a memo stating "I HAD ORDERS TO DO THIS", like the Nazi's at Nuremberg.
Susan Rice by that memo understood completely that image Obama and her comrades were engaged in a criminal coup against an elected President, who they intended to take down by criminal arrest in 2017 AD in the year of our Lord. Rice knew as NSA chief the absolute breaches of security in leaking and the cutting of corners in laws which had been engaged in by this group for years led by Eric Holder in Fast and Furious. She knew crimes were being committed in her name, by other people, and while he was under orders to protect Obama, she wanted it recorded that Obama was the white hat group going by the book and all Susan Rice was engaged in was FOLLOWING ORDERS.
As you have read the explanation of motives in this memo it is simple to comprehend, but the paid trolls of your press have not revealed that to you, which means they are asstards or they are covering this up, because Rush Limbaugh was right about no orders ever were recorded from Obama, but this memo by Rice is the smoking gun, as it reveals that Obama was investigating Donald Trump with full intentions of prosecuting a sitting President on treason charges later in 2017 AD in the year of our Lord.
It makes more sense the hardheadedness of trolls like Clapper and Brennan. It was because they knew they had deep state cover, and that this order came directly from Obama himself. They had marching orders and where law enforcement had to keep it legal and by the book, they were involved in character frame ups with media and leaking select information which was fake.
Once again, a series of Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter. On the above Susan Rice memo, we know Justice was corrupt in their by the book, but this is the collusion memo of the Obamanazi, who had marching orders from image Obama to bring down Donald Trump illegally, as that is the only reason and NSA director sends a memo to herself, highlighting "by the book" and ordered directly from the image of Birther Hussein Obama.
Just remember what Big Brother Obama had Lil Sis Susan Rice engaged in.
Crack Susan Rice in interrogation, to have herself, as she knows all the operational secrets, and image Obama and the wife go to prison, along with Muslim conspirator Val-erie Jarret, as it will be Black on Black testimony, and in that Obama goes down.
Nuff Said
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Russian MoD: Al-Nusra, White Helmets Preparing Provocation With Chemical Weapons - Sputnik International
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 17:29
Middle East14:17 13.02.2018(updated 15:13 13.02.2018) Get short URL
According to the Russian military, al-Nusra Front terrorist group brought more than 20 containers with chlorine to a village in Idlib.
The Russian center for Syrian reconciliation stated that it had received information from a local resident that al-Nusra Front terrorists and White Helmets were preparing to stage a provocation, involving chemical weapons' use, in Syria's Idlib province in order to blame Damascus for the attack on civilians.
"On the evening of February 12, the Russian center for reconciliation received a telephone call from the resident a settlement in the Idlib province, informing about a forthcoming provocation, using poisonous chemicals, to air it on a foreign television channel. According to the person, on the afternoon of February 12, the al-Nusra Front militants delivered brought more than 20 bottles of chlorine and personal protective equipment on three cars," the Russian military stated.
According to the center, representatives of the local branch of the White Helms conducted rehearsals of providing "first aid" in individual means of protection to allegedly "affected local residents" from poisoning.
READ MORE: White Helmets 'Used as Propaganda by NATO for Further Intervention Into Syria'
The person, who called, drew attention to the fact that these actions were filmed by professional TV correspondents who, commenting on the actions of representatives of the White Helmets, put on a microphone with a cover, having a logo of a Western television company.
"At the same time, correspondents consulted with someone via a satellite phone in English. Information received from a resident of the province of Idlib, causes serious concern of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria."
Previously, the Russian Defense Ministry had several times questioned actions by the so-called Syrian Civil Defence, known as the White Helmets, which have been largely lauded by Western states and received an Oscar award for their documentary in 2017. Following the release of a controversial report by the UN-OPCW on the chemical attacks in Syria, the Russian military alongside the Foreign Ministry and the Ministry of Industry and Trade presented their own document, which states that photos made by the White Helmets organization's volunteers who are believed to be connected with al-Nusra Front-linked were fake and staged.
The organization earlier came under fire, when the Swedish NGO Doctors for Human Rights (SWEDHR) has accused it of falsifying information about its alleged work in Syria. According to the Swedish human rights activists, so-called "rescue" procedures captured in White Helmets videos had been staged; they were carried out on a dead child.
READ MORE: Journalist Dismantles White Helmets' 'Al-Qaeda Promotional Film' Shown at Davos
Damascus has repeatedly refuted allegations of chemical weapons' use, emphasizing that all such arms had no such weapons since 2014, when they had been removed from the state with the assistance of the US. The destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons arsenal was confirmed by the OPCW. However, the National Coalition for Syrian Revolutionary and Opposition Forces, supported by the United States, immediately blamed the Syrian government for using the chemical weapons against civilian population in the Khan Sheikhoun settlement in Idlib on April 4, 2017, that had left 80 people dead and injured 200 more.
(C) REUTERS/ Mahmoud Rslan
Even prior to the launch of an investigation into the chemical weapons incident, the US launched a massive strike with Tohamawk missiles on a Syrian government airfield, an attack, which was slammed as "aggression" by Damascus.Since the alleged chemical attack in the province, Russia has been calling for a thorough probe into the incident and emphasized that there had been multiple accounts that terrorists in Syria possessed chemical weapons.
Most recently, Russian Ambassador to the UN Vasily Nebenzia stated that the Syrian government had consistently informed the international community on the issue, including the UNSC about the detection in areas liberated from terrorists, of dangerous chemical substances.
Scientists say sun may become 7% cooler by 2050, warn of mini ice age
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:38
Moneycontrol News
On the basis of 20 years of observations and collected data, scientists have calculated that the sun will be nearly seven percent cooler and dimmer by 2050, which could result in a mini ice age.
A research team based at the University of California in San Diego believes that they have figured out a way to track the sun's 11-year-cycle.
The sun moves through an 11-year-cycle where it experiences active and quiet periods, known as the solar maximum and solar minimum. The researchers believe they have worked out when the next solar minimum could occur.
During a solar minimum, the sun's magnetism decreases, fewer sunspots form and less ultraviolet radiation makes it to the surface of the planet. The conditions mean the sun's surface appears clearer and becomes dimmer.
According to the study, conditions in the next cold period, labelled as a ''grand minimum'', could be similar to those experienced in Europe in the middle of the 17th century. Back then, the River Thames froze as a result of the extremely low temperatures.
Low temperatures also caused the Baltic Sea to freeze in 1968. Scientists claim that the period, known as the 'Maunder Minimum' was similar to a mini ice age. The head of the research team, Dan Lubin, believes we may experience even worse conditions in 2050.
According to media reports, the research team believes there is a ''significant probability'' of a near-future grand minimum considering the downward sunspot pattern in recent solar cycles, which is similar to the period prior to previous grand minimum events.
By their estimates, the grand minimum would most likely cool the earth by about 0.25 percent between 2020 and 2070. As a result, the surface of the earth would cool by up to several tenths of a degree Celsius, which is not enough to reverse the impact of global warming but could dilute its effects for a while.
The study said that when the sun's energy is reduced, the first thing that occurs is the thinning of the stratospheric ozone layer.
"That thinning in turn changes the temperature structure of the stratosphere, which then changes the dynamics of the lower atmosphere, especially wind and weather patterns," it noted.
According to the study, despite the cooler temperatures, this will not put a stop to climate change, however, it could slow down the effects.
''The cooling effect of a grand minimum is only a fraction of the warming effect caused by the increasing concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere,'' the study said.Related News
Copyright (C) 2017 Moneycontrol.com - All rights reserved.
Dutch FM admits lying about Putin describing land-grab ambitions in 2006
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:31
Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra has admitted that he lied when he claimed to have heard President Vladimir Putin describing an ambition to unify Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, the Baltic states and Kazakhstan as a single country.
Zijlstra claimed at a party conference in 2016 that he had overheard Putin outlining the grand plan for a ''Greater Russia'' in 2006 during a gathering of businessmen. He was working for the oil company, Shell, at the time.
In the original retelling of the story, Zijlstra said he had been in a back room of a dacha (country house) when he heard Putin define ''Great Russia'' as ''Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states,'' adding that ''Kazakhstan was nice to have.''
The story was questioned by the newspaper Volkskrant, however, which discovered from Zijlstra's colleagues that he had not been at the 2006 business meeting in Russia, despite being part of the Shell delegation. When confronted about this, the minister acknowledged lying and claimed he was simply trying to protect a source.
''I made the decision that this is an important geopolitical story with serious implications,'' he said. ''I put myself in the story to make sure that the revelations weren't about the person who was actually there. Because that could have had implications for him or his company.''
Zijlstra insisted the hearsay of which he spoke was true, but would not name the person from whom he heard it. The newspaper itself says the source was Jeroen van der Veer, who was Shell CEO at the time, citing two informed sources.
The revelation comes at an awkward moment for the foreign minister. Zijlstra, who assumed his current office in October 2017, is due to visit Moscow this week to meet with his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov. Geert Wilders' opposition right-wing Party for Freedom has called for a parliamentary debate about Zijlstra's integrity before he leaves. Zijlstra told Volkskrant that he informed Prime Minister Mark Rutte about his conduct several weeks ago.
READ MORE: Sikorski U-turn: Polish ex-FM backtracks on scandalous 'divide Ukraine' claim
''Greater Russia'' is an amorphous term usually used to describe the historic core of the Russian state, roughly corresponding to the territory of medieval Russia in the 16th century '' the beginning of the reign of Ivan the Terrible, who was the first of Russia's great expansionist rulers. The word ''greater'' is meant as a description of spiritual significance rather than physical size. The same term was applied to the core territories of some other countries, like Greater Armenia, Greater Walachia or Greater Poland.
Venice without water: Gondolas helplessly abandoned on dried-up canals after water levels are the lowest since records began - and it has not stopped sinking -pictures and video - Strange Sounds
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:22
Look at that'... It's eerie! Exceptionally low tides have drained the lagoon of Venice, leaving Venetian gondolas stranded on dried-up canal banks. Yes, look at these famed Venetian gondolas helplessly abandoned on the docks, as the low tides caused by Wednesday's 'super blue blood moon' dried up the canals, robbing gondoliers of their money and residents of their transportation.
via (C) VINCENZO PINTO / AFP/GETTY IMAGESThis is the third year that Venice has experienced record low water levels, with data showing a decrease of up to 60 cm lower than average. Two years ago, the city reported water levels up to 70 cm below normal levels, the lowest ever recorded in city data.
Now, with little to no water to supplement the famous Venetian aesthetic, tourists instead get a glimpse of the filth buried at the bottom of the canals, gondolas perched on muddy banks, and canal-side building walls eroded away by the water.
via Facebookvia Facebookvia Facebookvia (C) VINCENZO PINTO / AFP/GETTY IMAGESThis is especially surprising given that studies say the city has been sinking over the past few years, making it prone to various instances of heavy flooding during the year.
via (C) VINCENZO PINTO / AFP/GETTY IMAGESHowever, alongside low tides, the city has been experiencing cold winter weather, lack of rain and low tides due to the ''super blue blood moon'' all of which contribute to its dried-up canals.
via (C) VINCENZO PINTO / AFP/GETTY IMAGES via (C) VINCENZO PINTO / AFP/GETTY IMAGESVenice relies on its growing tourism to counter the effects of its shrinking population. Official census figures show that the city, which once housed a population of over 175,000 has steadily been decreasing, since 1951, to 155,000 residents.
Follow us: Facebook and TwitterVia Nuova Venezia, National Post
Hmmm: Susan Rice sent an email to herself on Inauguration Day memorializing a chat between Obama and Comey on Russiagate
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:17
Note the date and time: January 20, 2017, 12:15 p.m. Trump had just been sworn in as president minutes before. Was Susan Rice commiserating with friends while he took the oath of office? Ruminating on the legacy of the Obama years? Planning her next career move? Texting angrily to someone about how much she hates Trump? Getting plastered?
Nope, she was thinking about Russiagate, intently enough that she wanted to get something down on the record where she knew the National Archives would record it about a meeting that had been held more than two weeks before. In her final moments as a White House employee, this is what Susan Rice was focused on.
How come?
That was attached to a letter to Rice sent by Chuck Grassley and Lindsey Graham, co-authors of the Judiciary Committee memo that corroborated key details in the Devin Nunes memo about the FBI relying on the Steele dossier to get a FISA warrant on Carter Page. According to Grassley's and Graham's letter to Rice, the meeting on January 5 that the email describes ''reportedly included a discussion of the Steele dossier and the FBI's investigation of its claims.'' That may be less suspicious than it sounds, as January 5 was one day before Comey and other intelligence honchos went up to Trump Tower and briefed Trump on Russiagate. It was after that meeting that Comey individually briefed Trump about the dossier, which had been circulating on Capitol Hill and which Comey feared would leak to the media. (Which it eventually did.) Comey briefed Trump on it supposedly so that he'd have a heads-up about the contents in case the media got hold of it, not because the FBI was necessarily accusing him of having done anything claimed in the dossier.
It may be, in other words, that Obama's meeting with Comey et al. the day before was devoted in whole or in part to deciding whether Trump should be briefed on the dossier and in what degree of detail. Remember, the dossier had already been used at that point in the FISA Court to authorize surveillance of Page; the FBI might have been reluctant to share details from the document with Trump since he, conceivably, might end up a target of the investigation himself. Evidently someone made the decision that, as president-elect, he had to be briefed on it regardless '-- but maybe not on the entire document, like the stuff relating to Page? As the email notes, Obama was concerned that there might be reasons why certain classified information would need to be withheld from Team Trump. As such, Rice's email reeks of a CYA in how it emphasizes that Obama wanted everything done ''by the book,'' as though she feared '-- or had reason to know '-- that either it hadn't been done that way to that point or wasn't done that way in the final few weeks of the presidential transition, after the January 5 meeting. She and Obama may have feared that he'd be blamed later if/when it was later discovered that some information had been withheld from the incoming president. If that happened, the ''by the book'' instruction would presumably mean that Comey or other underlings were at fault, not Obama. They went rogue!
On the other hand, Fox News says the January 5 meeting wasn't about the Steele dossier:
But one source familiar with the meeting said it had nothing to do with Steele or the dossier. That person said it was solely focused on whether the intelligence community and the FBI needed to be careful about what Russia conversations they had with the Trump transition team.
The point of the email seems to be to make sure, fairly or not, that Obama wasn't linked to any subsequent decisions by the DOJ to prosecute Trump or his deputies for crimes. The ''law enforcement'' apparatus has to work according to normal protocols, he allegedly said, but the counterintelligence apparatus is a separate matter. If the FBI came to suspect that sharing info with Trump about Russia might be a problem for national security purposes, Obama wanted to know that. Pause now and consider the implications of an outgoing president feeling less than completely confident that his successor could be trusted with sensitive information.
Read the (very short) Grassley/Graham letter to Rice for a series of questions that they want her to answer. One obvious one: Did she know when she wrote this email that the dossier had been used to obtain a warrant on Carter Page? Is that why Obama was leery of Trump being briefed on the contents of the dossier? Another interesting one: Did anyone instruct, request, suggest, or imply that you should send yourself the aforementioned Inauguration Day email memorializing President Obama' s meeting with Mr. Corney about the Trump/Russia investigation? If so, who and why?'' The great mystery in the email (apart from the missing classified section, of course) is why Rice felt the urge to write it 15 days after the meeting occurred. Why not do it the day of, or the day after? All I can figure is that she wanted to use her last moments as a federal employee on Inauguration Day to make sure that some account of the meeting was vacuumed up in the National Archives for investigators to find later. Which way does that cut on the email's credibility?
Important differences uncovered between US and Dutch psychopaths '' Research Digest
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:13
The researchers performed a ''network analysis'' on offenders' scores on a psychopathy questionnaire. From Verschuere et al 2018ByEmma Young
What lies at the dark heart of psychopathy? Is it a lack or emotion and empathy, a willingness to manipulate others '' or, perhaps, a failure to take responsibility for misdeeds? All of these traits, and many more, are viewed as aspects of a psychopathic personality. But there's still a debate among experts about which of these are core, and which less important.
Now a new study of 7,450 criminal offenders in the US and the Netherlands, published in the Journal of Abnormal Psychology, has identified what the researchers believe are the psychopath's most ''central'' traits . But while there were striking similarities in the data from the two countries, there were also intriguing differences. This raises the question: does the meaning of the term ''psychopath'' vary between cultures?
Researchers from the Netherlands and the US, led by Bruno Verschuere at the University of Amsterdam, analysed the offenders' scores on the widely-used Psychopathy Checklist '' Revised (PC-R). The PC-R comprises 20 questions about a range of traits related to four aspects of psychopathy: affective problems (a lack of empathy, fearlessness, and shallow emotional experience); interpersonal (being detached or a pathological liar, for example); lifestyle (being irresponsible and having poor behavioural control, for example); and being antisocial (showing early behavioural problems, and later criminal behaviour).
Between 20 to 22 per cent of the US offenders, and 28 per cent of the offenders in the Netherlands, were clinical psychopaths, based on their PC-R scores (as judged by trained research assistants in each country who drew on ''extensive interview and collateral file information'' for each offender). This difference between the countries was not a surprise, as the group from the Netherlands were all violent, mentally unwell offenders, whereas one US group consisted of general offenders from state prisons in Wisconsin, and the other comprised offenders in jail or on substance treatment programmes in five other US states.
The researchers performed a ''network analysis'' on the offenders' PC-R scores, mainly focused on centrality '' so, among clinical psychopaths, identifying which item or items were most often present. But they also looked at relationships between items '' so if pathological lying was present, for example, then identifying which other items were often, or rarely, present.
The results showed that ''callousness/lack of empathy'' was the most central item in both of the US samples. As the researchers note, ''this aligns with classic clinical descriptions and prototypicality studies of psychopathy.'' But for the offenders from the Netherlands, while ''callousness/lack of empathy'' was fairly central, a ''parasitic lifestyle'' and ''irresponsibility'' were most central.
For the US samples, the items that appeared most peripheral to psychopathy were ''many short-term marital relations'', ''lack of realistic long-term goals'' (in the Wisconsin offenders only) and ''revocation of conditional release'' (this refers to failing to fulfil the terms of probation, for example).
For the offenders from the Netherlands, ''Promiscuous sexual behaviour'' and ''many short-term marital relations'' were also among the most peripheral items, but, surprisingly, so too was ''shallow affect'', an item that was actually the second most-central for the Wisconsin group.
In a bid to address the non-geographical differences between the US and Dutch groups, the researchers extracted a subsample from the Dutch group, excluding those with indications of current or past severe psychopathology, but the results still showed that a parasitic lifestyle and irresponsibility (not callousness, as in the US groups), were the most central items for psychopaths in the Netherlands.
The results raise the possibility, the researchers suggest, that there might be cross-cultural differences in how psychopathy manifests '' or at least in how the PC-R is scored by trained raters in different counties. Further work should help to clarify this.
''Extending network analyses to different measures, samples and cultures should shed further light on the core characteristics of psychopathy,'' they write, ''and perhaps ultimately on the unresolved question of what psychopathy is.''
'--What features of psychopathy might be central? A network analysis of the Psychopathy Checklist-Revised (PCL-R) in three large samples
Emma Young (@EmmaELYoung) is Staff Writer at BPS Research Digest
She is Hope Hicks' pinch hitter - CNNPolitics
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 11:04
And she's been stepping up a lot, lately.
Just as the first six weeks of the year have brought a breakneck pace of controversy -- from the allegations leveled in the salacious "Fire and Fury" book to President Donald Trump's comments about "shithole" countries, two government shutdowns and reports that Trump once sought to fire the special counsel -- Schlapp has found herself pinch hitting more often for the White House communications director.
The senior adviser for strategic communications has maintained a low profile since joining the White House in September but is quietly gaining influence by providing a steadying and experienced hand inside a frenetic White House. Schlapp has increasingly stepped in to lead the communications staff when crisis engulfs the West Wing and Trump demands Hicks be by his side, or at least within earshot, often acting as a de facto communications director in Hicks' absence, three White House officials said.
"Mercedes has been a godsend ... Every time there is a void because there is some craziness going on, Mercy's always there to be the leader of the team," one White House official said. "Otherwise, we'd all be chickens with our heads cut off, just running around rudderless."
Beyond long-term planning, three White House officials said Schlapp has increasingly helmed day-to-day tasks in the communications department and become a go-to for officials outside the communications department looking for messaging guidance. She has also become a more visible presence outside the White House, appearing on television more frequently -- including on Spanish-language networks because she is of Cuban decent -- than in her first months at the White House.
Communications staffers have complained that in moments of crisis, they have gone days on end without receiving any guidance on their tasks from Hicks, two White House officials said. Hicks has also been increasingly absent from the daily morning communications meeting, leaving Schlapp to lead the sessions.
"The issue here is that (Hope) will assert herself as the communications director but then when the White House goes into crisis mode ... she retreats -- she just pulls back from the team," a second White House official said.
Hicks has also had to spend time communicating with her lawyer as the special counsel's investigation has homed in on her role beside the President in crafting the misleading response to news of the Trump Tower meeting between the President's eldest son and a Russian lawyer. It's left her distracted from her White House tasks for hours on end, two White House officials said.
Hicks and Schlapp declined to be interviewed for this story, but a White House spokesman insisted their roles "haven't changed" and said Schlapp's ability to step in when Hicks is otherwise preoccupied "is further evidence of how we collaborate and work well with each other."
Stephen Miller, the senior policy adviser and chief speechwriter, emphasized that point in a statement provided by the White House.
"Mercedes has the exact same role she had when she first joined -- she oversees long term strategic communications and planning. The structure has not changed," Miller said. "She, Hope and Sarah work closely together as an incredibly effective and coordinated team. They are immensely talented, universally respected and work tirelessly to advance and promote the President's agenda."
But a source familiar with Hicks' thinking did not push back on the notion that Schlapp has stepped in to lead the team when Hicks finds herself dealing with rapid response.
"When Hope's attention is with the President, Mercy is helpful (in) managing the team," the source said.
Porter episode
Schlapp most recently stepped in on Friday, as the West Wing entered its third day of tumult stemming from the allegations of domestic abuse against a senior aide, Rob Porter, his resignation and the chief of staff's handling of the matter.
Huddling with members of the communications team on Friday, Schlapp advised the staffers to come to her with their questions and their needs of the day while Hicks -- who was romantically linked to Porter -- was embroiled in the controversy, three White House officials said. This time, Schlapp found herself managing the communications team and lending a hand to the crisis communications effort.
A White House spokesman insisted Hicks continues to lead the communications team and noted that Hicks led the morning communications meeting on Friday to discuss the rollout of the White House's infrastructure and budget proposals, even as the Porter controversy stewed.
Several White House officials chalked up the conflicting perceptions of Schlapp's role to the unorthodox setup of the communications department and ambiguity over both Schlapp's and Hicks' role. Some said Schlapp has simply grown into a role that was always prescribed for her.
Hicks, at just 28, found herself thrust into the communications director role by virtue of her relationship with the President and only after the stunning flame-out of Anthony Scaramucci, who served in the post for 11 days. She has not sought to fit the mold of a traditional White House communications director, channeling Trump's views into White House messaging rather than seeking to craft a communications strategy of her own.
Schlapp, meanwhile, is a seasoned Republican communications strategist and one of the few West Wing officials to have previously worked in the White House, having served in the communications department of President George W. Bush. She is often viewed as the "adult in the room," one White House official said, and her experience has been welcomed in a White House where strategic communications planning has often taken a backseat to the whims of a President who relishes controversy and often stokes it.
Her experience is rooted not just in her time on the Bush campaign and in the White House, but in her time at the helm of a Republican government and public affairs firm, Cove Strategies, which she co-founded with her husband, former Bush White House political director Matt Schlapp. She also worked as a commentator at Fox News.
Ultimately, it's Trump's view of himself as the White House's chief communications strategist that has forced the White House press and communications departments into an unconventional structure.
"Typically, the press secretary is most on the front lines of crises. Not just answering them in the briefings, but also leading the charge with the team on how to respond," said Jen Psaki, the last White House communications director under President Barack Obama.
While the communications director should be a "partner" in crisis communication, Psaki noted that the White House communications director is traditionally to "see around the corner."
But when crisis strikes in the Trump White House -- as it often does -- Trump demands that Hicks, his communications director and longest-serving aide, be in the room.
Schlapp, meanwhile, churns away.
CNN's Kaitlan Collins contributed to this report.
'I'm here as a global citizen, not as an American'- Ashley Judd | The Sunday Times Sri Lanka
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 10:46
By Tarini Pilapitiya
View(s): A saree- clad star: Ashley Judd in Colombo. Pic by Indika Handuwala
Dressed in a striking batik saree, Hollywood actress, author, and The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Goodwill Ambassador Ashley Judd addressed the media at Jetwing Colombo on February 7, speaking passionately about her mission's goals. Joining her at the head table was UNFPA Representative in Sri Lanka Ritsu Nacken.
During her short stay in the country, Ashley Judd visited MAS Holdings where she observed women's economic independence, spoke to students from the University of Peradeniya on gender based violence, visited the De Soysa Hospital for Women and even contemplated a visit to the north.
Appointed Goodwill Ambassador in 2016, she has travelled to Jordan, Turkey, Ukraine and India. ''I believe that her visit to Sri Lanka added another aspect to her perspective,'' Ms. Nacken said, adding that although Sri Lanka is well on its way to becoming a middle income earning country, there are still crevices to the sustainable development goals that the country must adhere to.
Ashley's work has also taken her to countries like Jordan '' which is struggling with an enormous influx of Syrian refugees. She says that in Jordan one of UNFPA's goals in relation to sexual and reproductive health was to ''make sure every pregnancy is intended and wanted, every childbirth safe and that every youth has the ability to live up to their potential.''
In contrast she adds ''What's so interesting and different about Sri Lanka is that you represent what can happen when a country is able to empower its people through universal access to education, health care to reduce maternal mortality and to have capacity building and partnership with the government in such a way to strengthen your local institutions.''
She looked every journalist in the eye as she said: ''I want to mention that although I am American I don't swoop in here as if my country is good, right and perfect. I come to you as a global citizen and not a high and mighty American! I can hopefully help do some good.''
The New York Times report of her own personal experiences with entertainment moghul Harvey Weinstein hit the headlines last October and resonated with women around the world. ''Breaking the silence is the first step to the enormous change and societal shift that can and must happen,'' she said.
''Do the right thing,'' she said, adding ''I can't guarantee the response will be the watershed reckoning that's happened in the United States around sexual harassment but I know that it's the right thing to speak up.''
Asked how movements like #Metoo helped as a non- policy based solution to tackling gender based violence, she recalled with a smile the innovative solutions through her craft of theatre that allowed students from the University of Peradeniya to share their stories.
Asked to represent what violence looks and feels like in 5 sectors; on social media, at home, at university, in the work place and public transport, for social media the local students used the #metoo campaign and the participation of both girls and children on the internet. Due to the inclusiveness of the net this gave prominence to the need for ''the internet to be a free and safe place where everyone can participate free from bullying and misogyny,'' Ashley said.
For family violence, students drew a man with his mouth open and a fist emerging from within '' a depiction of ''violence of words''. ''His hand had a wedding ring on and the other clutched flowers and a card for his wife, highlighting a love-hate 'I'm sorry '' I wouldn't do it again' kind of relationship'', she said. The students also presented a 40 minute play on abuse and harassment in public transport creating 12 minute scenes giving different scenarios on how they would have reacted if empowered Ashley shared.
On groups like the vulnerable LGBTQI societies Ashley affirmed that her goals ''are to protect and empower the sexual and reproductive health of all folks everywhere''.
She also spoke of UNFPA's vision of ''advocating voluntary human rights based on individual empowerment regarding one's reproductive health, the opportunity and dignity of deciding if and when and how many children to have and that requires making all kinds of levels of modern family planning available in the country.''
Having been molested at the age of 7, a victim of three rapes and sexual harassment she affirmed, ''We need safe spaces where we can talk to one another, where we can have the courage and resilience to speak our truth with dignity and respect. It's so important that we women talk to each other because that's where we get so much of our information from.''
''Everyone is different'' and no experience is ''a contest on who is more hard done by.'' She painted her own utopia to the press as she said, ''We're looking for a world where gentleness, tenderness and kindness are as valued as the norms of toxic masculinity that are so celebrated.''
#MeToo fashion show opens with angel wing models, pig-faced men
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 17:28
NEW YORK (Reuters) - A fashion show inspired by the #MeToo social media campaign aimed at exposing sexual misconduct across the United States opened on Friday in New York with models sporting angel wings handcuffed to men in pig masks.
Dressed in a floor-length black and white gown with leather trim and wings at her shoulders, Cheyenne Jacobs, 22, stopped at the end of the runway to declare herself a survivor of sexual abuse, giving the audience a brief account of being sexually assaulted in high school and raped in college.
''I would like to take this moment as a stand of my healing, how far I've grown and also to say that this is not only a movement, not just stories, but we're real people who have gone through real things,'' she said.
The #MeToo Fashion Show during New York Fashion Week was the brainchild of Myriam Chalek, creative director of fashion website American Wardrobe.
''I don't think this fashion show is going to change things overnight, but if it can be a step further then I guess I've done my part. A woman who has been empowered is a woman who is unstoppable,'' Chalek told Reuters in an interview.
To the pace of trendy music, women from several walks of life, some smiling and others more serious, first strutted down a runway to display their designer clothes, then reappeared handcuffed to male models wearing pink pig masks.
Among them was Alicia Kozakiewicz, 29, who was abducted in 2002 near her home in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, by a man who contacted her online, a case that made international headlines as one of the first such kidnappings of the internet age.
A model presents creations during the #MeToo Fashion show during New York Fashion Week in New York, U.S., February 9, 2018. REUTERS/Elizabeth Shafiroff Walking confidently down the runway in a black leather hood and dress cinched at the waist with a corset, Kozakiewicz paused to explain how she overcame victim-blaming, even by her family, and became a motivational speaker and aspiring actor.
''The me-too movement is not about man-hating; it is not about fighting violence with violence,'' said Kozakiewicz. ''It is, however, empowering women and girls to live in a world free of fear so that they can be safe from sexual assault and sexual harassment.''
While the show featured American Wardrobe fashions, Chalek said the event was nonprofit.
Since October, hundreds of women have accused powerful men in business, politics, media and entertainment of sex abuse, joining the #MeToo social media movement that has shone a light on sexual assault and harassment in U.S. life.
In the fashion world, sexual abuse allegations have also come from men.
The New York Times reported last month that more than two dozen male models and assistants who worked with high-powered fashion photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino say they were subjected by them to molestation, sexual advances and unnecessary nudity.
Lawyers for both photographers told The Times they denied the allegations, which nevertheless prompted the magazine company Conde Nast to suspend its work with them. Reuters could not independently confirm any of the accusations.
Additional reporting by Gina Cherelus; writing by by Dan Whitcomb; editing by Daniel Wallis, Tom Brown and Cynthia Osterman
Facebook has a Big Tobacco Problem '' Monday Note
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 13:07
Facebook's problems are more than a temporary bad PR issue. Its behavior contributes to a growing negative view of the entire tech industry.
In 1996, it required the tremendous courage of one whistleblower to expose the wrongdoings of the Big Tobacco company, Brown & Williamson, which artificially maintained the public's addiction to cigarettes. It also helped to have robust media support, despite Big T's intimidation. (Read this journalistic masterpiece by Marie Brenner, The Man Who Knew Too Much).
Today, things unfold much more quickly, with a cohort of people publicly denouncing the effects of tech to our children (their kids are safely shielded from addictive devices, which is not the case of the ones living in trailer parks).
Nearly every week, we see Silicon Valley execs or funders voicing their concerns about the toxicity of our tech-dominated society'Š'--'Šespecially our addiction to social media, and Facebook in particular.
A few months ago, Chamath Palihapitiya, former VP for user growth at Facebook, said he felt ''tremendous guilt'' about his past work (watch on You Tube here):
''I think we have created tools that are ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,'' he said, even suggesting we take a ''hard break'' from social media. ''The short-term, dopamine-driven feedback loops we've created are destroying how society works. ('...) No civil discourse, no cooperation; misinformation, mistruth. And it's not an American problem'Š'--'Šthis is not about Russians ads. This is a global problem.''
Even Sean Parker, who played a major role in the creation of Facebook, had his epiphany.
''[Facebook] literally changes your relationship with society, with each other '... It probably interferes with productivity in weird ways. God only knows what it's doing to our children's brains.('...) The thought process that went into building these applications, Facebook being the first of them, '... was all about: 'How do we consume as much of your time and conscious attention as possible?' And that means that we need to sort of give you a little dopamine hit every once in a while, because someone liked or commented on a photo or a post or whatever. And that's going to get you to contribute more content, and that's going to get you '... more likes and comments.'' ''It's a social-validation feedback loop '... exactly the kind of thing that a hacker like myself would come up with, because you're exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology.'' ''The inventors, creators'Š'--'Šit's me, it's Mark [Zuckerberg], it's Kevin Systrom on Instagram, it's all of these people'Š'--'Šunderstood this consciously. And we did it anyway.''
Later, Roger McNamee, who presents himself as one of Zuck's mentors and is a significant shareholder in the company, said adamantly, ''Your users are in peril'' (read his open letter here).
The threat, according to McNamee, actually involves the entire tech world, and he referred to an open letter to Apple from the investment firm Jana Partners and the California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) saying Apple must do more to help children fight addiction to its devices.
One of the latest initiatives involves a bunch of Facebook and Google alums who joined the Center for Human Technology.
Facebook is justifiably concerned by this wave. True to the company's hyper-centralized culture, its top management hired a full-time pollster to assess damages inflicted on the image of Mark Zuckerberg himself, and the other, more human face of the company, COO Sheryl Sandberg.
P&G's Marc Pritchard Doubles Down on Demands of Digital Ad Giants - WSJ
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:15
March 2, 2017 1:20 p.m. ET Procter & Gamble, PG -0.37% the biggest advertising spender in the world, is ramping up the pressure on the internet's most dominant marketing platforms to urgently implement safeguards and independent verification to assure advertisers that their money is well spent.
Digital ad giants Google and Facebook FB 2.64% recently said they are prepared to let the Media Rating Council audit some of their data and ad metrics, following criticisms that such platforms have been grading their own homework, particularly after a series of measurement mistakes at Facebook. But, ''it's not enough,'' said Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer and marketing lead for P&G, at the Association for National Advertisers media conference in Orlando, Florida.
''It's worth mentioning that we are encouraged by the recent progress announced by the big players, Facebook and Google, and what we've heard from several others,'' he said at the conference on Thursday, according to prepared remarks provided by the company. ''But let's also be clear that the announcements indicate intention and work in progress. It's not enough until the verification and audits are actually implemented.''
''We've been more than patient because we made these requests nearly a year ago. So we need urgent completion, because then we can get to the more important work of understanding the value we're getting,'' Mr. Pritchard said.
Mr. Pritchard drew significant attention in the industry after he complained in January at the Interactive Advertising Bureau's Annual Leadership Meeting about the complexities in the digital ad business, confusing agency contracts and the need for more widespread adoption of an MRC ad viewability standard.
On Thursday, he said he's standing by those comments and his tough stance on problems that he described as ''more acute'' in digital advertising, where advertisers are now spending $72 billion, ''surpassing TV.''
''Sometimes we deliver a high quality media experience, but all too often the experience is, well, crappy. We bombard consumers with thousands of ads a day, subject them to endless ad load times, interrupt them with pop-ups and overpopulate their screens and feeds. And with ad blockers growing 40% and fraud as high as 20%, who knows if they're even seeing our ads,'' he said.
Mr. Pritchard encouraged the industry's marketers, agencies, publishers, ad tech platforms and suppliers to take action and reiterated the steps that P&G already said it planned on taking, including adopting one global viewability standard from the MRC.
''We know it's the minimum standard,'' he said. ''We know it's probably not perfect, but we're adopting this standard in order to move forward to conduct business on a level playing field across platforms and publishers.''
He also said that companies have been slow to respond to issues plaguing the ''media supply chain,'' in part because they have fallen victim to industrywide ''head fakes,'' such as ''The MRC standard is the lowest common denominator.'' ''Yep, it is, and that's exactly what we need and want,'' he said.
Other excuses that he referred to as ''head fakes'' included, ''We don't have sourced traffic because of privacy controls'' and ''We get cheaper rates from low-cost publishers.''
''At P&G, we are choosing to vote with our dollars,'' he said. ''We've already achieved media supply chain efficiencies, and believe there is a long runway ahead. We don't want to waste time and money on a crappy media supply chain.''
Write to Alexandra Bruell at alexandra.bruell@wsj.com
Unilever Threatens to Reduce Ad Spending on Tech Platforms That Don't Combat Divisive Content - WSJ
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:14
Unilever PLC is threatening to pull back its advertising from popular tech platforms, including YouTube and FacebookInc., if they don't do more to combat the spread of fake news, hate speech and divisive content.
''Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate,'' Unilever Chief Marketing Officer Keith Weed is expected to say Monday during the Interactive Advertising Bureau's annual leadership meeting in Palm Desert, Calif.
''We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society,'' he will say, according to prepared remarks.
Unilever, one of the world's largest advertisers, is leveraging its spending power to push the digital media industry to weed out content that funds terrorism, exploits children, spreads false news or supports racist and sexist views. The consumer-products giant spent more than $9 billion marketing its brands such as Lipton, Dove and Knorr last year, according to the company's annual report.
In the wake of the 2016 election, YouTube, Facebook and other tech companies have come under scrutiny for allowing the spread of misinformation'--criticism partly fueled by evidence that Russian actors used their platforms to disseminate information designed to manipulate U.S. voters.
Meanwhile, YouTube, which is owned by AlphabetInc.'s Google, has taken plenty of heat for running ads alongside extremist, racist and hateful videos, forcing brands to suspend advertising on the site. Most recently, brands were discovered to be appearing next to videos that seemed to attract pedophile viewers.
A spokeswoman for Google declined to comment, while the other firms didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.
This is about ''having a positive impact on society and whether we as a company want to engage with companies that are not committed to making a positive impact,'' Mr. Weed said in an interview.
Unilever has been among the more outspoken advertisers pushing for the online ad industry to clean up the ad fraud that exists on the web and offer up stronger measurement standards to ensure that advertisers are buying ads that can be seen by real people.
While the company continues to push for those initiatives, Mr. Weed said that consumers don't care about online advertising measurement issues. They do care about ''fake news'' and ''Russians influencing the U.S. election,'' he added.
Rather than issue a public list of demands, Mr. Weed said he wants to work privately with the tech companies to come up with solutions. Unilever said it has already held discussions with companies such as Facebook, Google, Twitter Inc., SnapInc. and Amazon.comInc. to share ideas about what each can do to improve.
The tech companies had already been trying to rectify some of their problems. Facebook recently announced major changes to its algorithm intended to address concerns over the quality of the content on its site and its effect on the world.
Meanwhile, YouTube has made improvements to the technology it uses to screen videos, added more human reviewers and given marketers more control over where their ads appear.
Mr. Weed said he is encouraged by the recent moves, which he described as ''meaningful,'' but said more work is needed. For example, he said YouTube hasn't done enough to protect children.
Last month, YouTube said that it would have humans review every second of video that is included in its Google Preferred program, which is a subset of YouTube videos that is among the most popular and for which marketers pay a premium to advertise alongside.
''I believe they should still go further and human screen all videos with children that are monetized,'' he said during the interview.
In regards to Facebook, Mr. Weed said the company has taken some positive steps at trying to alleviate the fake news issue, but there is ''more to do.''
Mr. Weed said that advertisers need to be outspoken about issues on tech platforms, since they are almost entirely supported by billions of ad dollars.
''One can start by not putting ads on content we do not want to encourage,'' he said.
The annual conference for the IAB, an online advertising trade body, has become a platform for big-name advertisers to publicly push for change.
During last year's conference, Procter & Gamble, the world's largest advertiser, issued an ultimatum to digital giants to clean up online advertising.
P&G's chief brand officer, Marc Pritchard, laid out a list of demands that included the sector adopt one viewability standard and allow an independent measurement watchdog to audit some platforms' ad metrics. He later also demanded that tech companies such as YouTube come up with greater controls around their content to avoid having ads appear near controversial content such as ISIS videos.
A year after ''the gauntlet was thrown, the progress has been impressive,'' said Mr. Pritchard in a recent interview. He said 90% of his demands have been met and the company is just waiting for the Media Rating Council to finish auditing some of the ad metrics of Google and Facebook.
Write to Suzanne Vranica at suzanne.vranica@wsj.com
Major advertiser threatens to pull ads from Google, Facebook over trash content | Fox News
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:08
Unilever, one of the world's largest advertisers, is threatening to cut back on its marketing using tech giants such as Google and Facebook if the platforms ''create division,'' fuel hateful views or fail to protect children, The Financial Times reported.
The company is set to put the Silicon Valley companies in a limelight during a speech Monday by Unilever's chief marketing officer Keith Weed during the annual Interactive Advertising Bureau conference.
''As one of the largest advertisers in the world, we cannot have an environment where our consumers don't trust what they see online,'' Weed is expected to tell the audience, the paper reported. ''We cannot continue to prop up a digital supply chain '-- one that delivers over a quarter of our advertising to our consumers '-- which at times is little better than a swamp in terms of its transparency.''
The advertiser's criticism follows lawmakers, activists and former tech executives who criticize the Silicon Valley tech companies for their lack of transparency, inability to scrub their platforms of extremist or illegal content and curb the spread of the so-called ''fake news.''
Ian Whittaker and Annick Maas, analysts at Liberum, told The Guardian that YouTube '' which is owned by Google '' and Facebook are facing ''difficulties in persuading advertisers that their product offers a brand safe environment.''
They added: ''Moreover, given the number of videos uploaded, there will always be an element of videos slipping through the net, which is likely to fuel further negative publicity. We therefore do not see this problem going away for the online platforms.''
''It is clear advertisers are becoming increasingly wary of online's quality and so are unlikely to shift money aggressively from TV to online as these concerns mount.''
Weed is expected to promise to ''prioritize investing'' only in digital platforms that act responsibly and create ''a positive impact in society.''
''Unilever will not invest in platforms or environments that do not protect our children or which create division in society, and promote anger or hate,'' the chief marketing officer plans to say on Monday. ''We will prioritize investing only in responsible platforms that are committed to creating a positive impact in society.''
Unilever is expected to warn other advertisers to take the Google-Facebook duopoly to the task and prevent the erosion of trust online.
''Consumers don't care about third-party verification. They do care about fraudulent practice, fake news, and Russians influencing the US election. They don't care about good value for advertisers. But they do care when they see their brands being placed next to ads funding terror or exploiting children,'' Weed is set to say.
Africa:'We Fight With Each Other Over Water': Rivers Run Dry in Mozambique
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:42
In the absence of basic sanitation, life in rural Mozambique during the dry season involves a relentless cycle of arduous journeys to collect water unfit for drinking. The struggle for survival, which affects young and old alike, puts those affected at risk of disease and leaves little time for anything else
Water is evaporating from the beautiful landscapes of Mozambique. There is too little to keep people alive, and the lack of it is forcing them from their homes, splitting up families and killing children. Photographer Mrio Macilau travelled around his country, talking to people whose only supply of water is from filthy rivers that dry up quickly in the hotter months.
In northern Mozambique's Niassa province, only 21% of people have access to safe sanitation and just 42% have a clean water supply. Only half the area's boreholes and wells are operational, forcing women and children to spend a great deal of time walking to fetch water.
Eudicia lives in Muassi village. She and her friend Josefina miss school up to four times a week as they have to fetch water from the riverbed.
''Going to collect water is not fun. I'm not happy because it's too far. I'm not laughing because if I'm just laughing I won't reach home until night. There are snakes and dogs there,'' Eudicia says.
''We go in groups, because we're afraid to go alone. Carrying the water is too heavy; it is dirty and has a bad smell, like grass or old leaves '... Even when we do have water to wash, the water is dirty, so if you wash you are not really clean. I feel shy when I am dirty or my clothes are not clean.
''I miss school every other day or so, to collect water. I don't feel good because I am absent from school.''
In Mozambique, the statistics are stark: 14.8 million people have no clean water, and more than 21 million are without a safe place to go to the toilet. Women and children make long, exhausting journeys to collect dirty water for their families. A lack of private toilets in schools causes many girls to leave when they start menstruating. Health centres are overcrowded and have inadequate sanitation. All of this leads to disease outbreaks: seven of every 100 children die before turning five.
''My favourite subject is Portuguese, and then social sciences. I want to be a teacher, because teachers can receive a good salary.
''I go to the river three times in a day,'' she says. She fetches water for her family every other day. And because the river is far away, it means she has to miss school. ''I'm not feeling happy, I don't feel good about missing school.
''I have seven siblings, four girls and three boys. My best friend is Eudicia '... We go to the river together. We have a game called namud"ze. We make a circle on the ground and then throw a stone in the air. While the stone is in the air you have to move a small stone on the ground into the circle, then catch the stone that you threw on the way down. You keep going until you reach 12 stones in the circle.
"Sometimes Eudicia wins, sometimes I win."
Josefina says she does not want to get married yet. ''I want to wait. Next year I will go to grade six in Etatara. I'll still live at home, but I'll have to walk to school there. It's far! My father supports me to go to school. He says, 'Don't be absent from school. You go to school to get a job.'''
Wissiquisse is a nahaco, a healer who cures using a combination of spiritual methods and herbal medicines, and is thought to possess magical powers.
Her husband died six years ago. ''Ever since the day he passed away we have been suffering a lot '... I have a lot of children.
''My job as a nahaco I only do when people come to my house and ask me. No one taught me. My late grandfather told me in a dream to come to the bush, so when I went there they were telling me to do this and that, and that's how I learned.
''There is a spiritual connection to the river. When I go down to the river and ask the spirits for things, they give it to me. The same way that Christians go to church and pray to God to ask for things. We believe there are spirits in the river who will give us these things.
She says the most common thing women come to her about is when they are having trouble conceiving. ''I give them some medicines, which they take home to help them.
The Nanjana river at this time of year is a stagnant, milky stream running off of the Muassi river
''Another problem is HIV. But I only give medicines for diseases like gonorrhoea or syphilis. To treat HIV properly, I can't do it, so I tell them to go to the hospital.
''This kind of diarrhoea here '' because of the water, I can't treat it '... When someone has a problem with their stomach from the water, they go to the hospital.
School children, aged 8 and 9, wash in a river in Nampula province
''The water situation here is bad. Even at the river we are fighting with each other to get water. Someone can go and take water and another one can come back without any. They are fighting because everyone wants to be the first to take water, so they come and say I should take it first, and then someone else comes and says they should take it first, and they start fighting.
''Because of this water problem I am suffering a lot. See all these children here '' there is only that one small hole for water, for everyone to drink and to bathe. So it's a big problem for us, and that's why people fight.
''When you bring water here, things will change. It will be good, many people will not suffer because of sickness any more.''
''I live here in M'mele, in my grandfather's house. My grandmother and my younger brother also live there, but he's sick. I used to go to school but now I don't go, I just decided myself not to go any more, mainly because of walking. I couldn't always manage to walk there with the stick, because my leg was always hurting.
''When I was a small baby, we were running away from the war and someone shot at my leg, that's why that leg is gone now. I was with my mother when we were running, I was in her arms. My mother died. Then later, in a following year, my father also died from diarrhoea.
''I am not thinking about them that much, only my mother because I miss her. For now I mostly don't think anything.
''The problems here are getting water and food. It's difficult to get water from the river, even for my grandmother it's very difficult. She has a problem with her fingers. I can't manage to go to the river to get water myself because of my leg. In this village there's a big problem with water. We only get water from the river, and it's far. It's not clean water, it's not good.
''I'm afraid '... that water killed my father, so I'm scared to drink it, but I have to.
''I go to the toilet in the bush. It's not that far. Its not a big problem. Sometimes I get shit on myself because of the way I have to squat on my foot. And sometimes I am not happy about it because other people have two legs and I only have one, so it's easier for them. Sometimes I am sad. I would be happy if you built a nice toilet here.
''I get sick maybe once or twice a month. I don't always go to the hospital, because there is no one to carry me there. If someone had a bicycle they could carry me, but no one around here has a bicycle.''
''Rog(C)rio has lived here for nine years. My daughter Delphinia was coming here in a car with him when they were attacked by bandits. They just started shooting, and the bullets went through my daughter and into his leg. My daughter died there, and they took Rog(C)rio to the hospital. Those bandits stole everybody's things from the car, and then they burned it. The burnt-out car is still there, outside of Cuamba in a place called Patricio.
''To get water you have to go down to the river, where you just wait and wait, and then you have to carry it back. I am the one who has to get water. I go when the sun goes down only, because of the heat. Because of my legs I cannot go there very fast.''
Her surviving daughter, Arminda, comes by to help when she can. ''Arminda is the one who carries Rog(C)rio to the hospital and back, brings food and does some cooking. She comes once a week.
''My husband can only sit and is thinking and thinking '' his mind is not right because of thinking too much, trying to remember how to get back to the farm, how to do the work again. But he can't remember how to do it. He fell down here in the house and hit his head, and that is when his problems started. That was about two years ago.''
Maria Nimolia is in her 80s. ''Water has affected me too much,'' she says. ''Even when I ask children to collect water for me they just refuse, so that's why I'm here today by myself. This water doesn't really make me sick. I know that other people have problems with sickness from this water, but I seem to be OK.
''I can't do any farming work any more, but I still go to the fields to keep some people company. Usually I just sit, nothing else. I clean and tidy my house.
''I don't know how old I am, but I've lived here all my life. No one told me when I was born '' I was a baby so I can't remember. I live with my husband, Simon Jorge. I don't know how old he is either. My son also lives with us, I think he's about 30. I have seven children all together, but they live with their own families now.''
Her son-in-law Jos(C) Witiness explains why she doesn't know how old she is: ''When the Portuguese colonised us here, they only accepted people who were rich to go to school. That is why older people here can't read or write '' they don't know their ages or what year it is, and they can't speak Portuguese. Their births were not necessarily registered, so sometimes they don't even have an identity card. They were just living here in the bush and no one cared about them.''
''She has lost family, but she just can't explain it.
''I was sick with cholera, and I had to go to the hospital to be treated. It happened because we didn't have a clean place. The water here was so bad because the environment was dirty. We didn't have any sanitation and the rain washed the faeces into the river.''
Cyprus says Turkish warships continue to block drilling rig
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:40
Feb. 12, 2018 | 12:20 PM
In this photo taken on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017 children play on a beach with a drilling platform seen in the background, on the outskirts of Larnaca port, in the eastern Mediterranean island of Cyprus. Cyprus' energy minister said that exploratory drilling off the island's southern shore has shown indications of a potentially sizeable gas deposit. Yiorgos Lakkotrypis said Thursday Feb. 8, 2018 that drilling by a consortium made up of Italy's ENI and France's TOTAL has found an "extended column of
All HTTP websites to soon be marked as ''not secure'' by Google Chrome
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:37
If you're still running a website that is still using insecure HTTP then it's time to wake up and drink the coffee.
Because unless you take action soon, you're going to find many of your visitors are going to distrust your website.
The reason? Google is pushing ahead with its plan for the Chrome browser to start labelling all sites that continue to use unencrypted HTTP as ''not secure'' from July 2018.
HTTPS is a marked improvement over HTTP as it provides end-to-end encryption between the website's server and your computer, preventing snoopers from seeing what messages you might be sending to a site, or the information you may be downloading.
In the last year more and more sites have made the switch to HTTPS, which is terrific news for everyone who cares about security and privacy.
According to a Google blog post, more than 68% of Chrome traffic on Android and Windows is now protected with HTTPS. The figure is even higher on Chrome OS and Mac, where Chrome traffic is protected over 78% of the time. And, importantly 81% of the top 100 websites are using HTTPS by default.
That's excellent progress, but Google wants to push HTTPS adoption even harder.
Google's Chrome browser has already been marking HTTP pages that collect passwords or credit card information as not secure since early 2017. It then began displaying the ''not secure'' warning in two additional situations: when an HTTP webpage is visited in Incognito (private browsing) mode, and when users enter data on an HTTP webpage.
But this latest step will brand all HTTP sites with a non-secure stamp, and owners of non-HTTPS websites need to consider how their site visitors will react to that warning. My guess is that it will unsettle many users.
Many internet users may not understand the difference between a secure encrypted HTTPS connection and whether a website itself can be considered to be properly secured or not.
Remember, just because a website is using HTTPS does not mean that it can necessarily be 100% trusted '' and similarly, a website that is still using HTTP just might be doing a decent job in how it handles the rest of its security or your personal information (although its lack of HTTPS in such a situation would be a surprising omission).
However, Google is between a rock and a hard place. It seems impossible to find a mark of whether a website is properly encrypting information sent between its server and visiting computers that gets the balance right between being easy-to-understand, clearly visible, and not inferring that everything is safe (or unsafe) about the site you are visiting.
Google Chrome's warning may not be perfect, but it's the best we've got. And things are going to become even more obvious at some later date when Google changes its upcoming grey-coloured ''not secure'' warning in the browser's URL bar to a vivid red colour alongside a warning triangle.
It goes without saying then, that if you haven't already switched your website to HTTPS you really should.
Author Graham Cluley, We Live Security
Yale Climate : Coldest Olympics On Record Threatened By Global Warming
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:32
On the eve of the coldest Olympics on record, Yale climate says the Olympics are threatened by global warming.
Yale Climate not only says the weather is getting too hot for the Olympics, but rain is washing the snow away in the Alps '' where they have record snow.
women's World Cup speed races in the Austrian Alps were struggling to get underway. Heavy rain and mild temperatures had degraded snow on the Karnten-Franz Klammer course, making conditions unsafe.
Climate change threatens Winter Olympics >> Yale Climate Connections
What Yale means by degraded snow, is people stuck in their resorts for days in the Alps because of too much snow.
Unlike the record cold, snowy 2018 Winter Olympics, the 1932 Lake Placid Olympics actually was threatened by warm, rainy weather '' which washed all the snow away.
16 Jan 1932, Page 1 '' The Los Angeles Times
Whatever climate experts, progressives and Democrats say, it is normally safe to assume the exact opposite is true.
Rob Porter's Ex-Wife Pens Op-Ed Against President Trump - Breitbart
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:55
On Friday, journalists asked Trump about Porter. In response, Trump said that it was ''sad'' that Porter had left. He also said Porter had done a good job in the White House, and noted that Porter had proclaimed his innocence:
We found out about it recently, and I was surprised by it, but we certainly wish him well, and it's a tough time for him. He did a very good job when he was in the White House. And we hope he has a wonderful career and he will have a great career ahead of him. But it was very sad when we heard about it, and certainly, he's also very sad now. He also, as you probably know, says he's innocent, and I think you have to remember that. He said very strongly yesterday that he's innocent, so you have to talk to him about that, but we absolutely wish him well. He did a very good job when he was at the White House.
Willoughby writes in response:
[W]hen Donald Trump repeated twice that Rob declared his innocence, I was floored. What was his intent in emphasizing that point? My friend turned to me and said, ''The President of the United States just called you a liar.''
Yes. And so he did.
Ultimately, this is not a political issue. This is a societal issue, and the tone has just been reset by the White House. If the most powerful people in the nation do not believe my story of abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence, then what hope do others have of being heard?
While I may have compassion for my ex-husband and recognize his need for help, I do not tolerate abuse. While I may understand President Trump and [Chief of Staff] Gen. [John] Kelly's incredulity at such a counter-image of their golden boy, I do not condone their choice to support him.
Despite Willoughby's declaration that the issue is non-political, her op-ed has a distinct political edge to it (''Everyone wants to talk about how Trump implied I am a not to be believed. As if Trump is the model of kindness and forgiveness. As if he readily acknowledges his own shortcomings and shows empathy and concern for others.'').
Critics have noted, however, that Trump did not acknowledge the suffering of abuse victims in his comments, thus creating an opening for political opponents.
Willoughby had written about her abuse before, though she had not identified her former spouse by name.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named to Forward's 50 ''most influential'' Jews in 2017. He is the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.
Ophef over Oxfam: 'Als hulpverlener kan je van alles flikken' | NOS
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 23:53
Na onthullingen over seksfeesten en prostituees in Ha¯ti door Oxfam-medewerkers, dient een nieuw schandaal zich aan. Medewerkers van de hulporganisatie hebben volgens de Britse krant The Guardian ook tijdens een missie in Tsjaad in 2006 prostituees uitgenodigd. Een anonieme ex-medewerker van Oxfam spreekt in de krant zelfs van een "sectorbreed probleem".
In het geval van Ha¯ti boden Oxfam-medewerkers hulp nadat het eiland was getroffen door een zware aardbeving in 2010. Hulpverleners spraken daar van 'totale chaos' en welke organisaties precies in het gebied actief waren was lang onduidelijk. Mede door die onduidelijkheid werden NGO's in Ha¯ti nauwelijks gecontroleerd.
Zichzelf controlerenEen overkoepelende organisatie die toeziet op het gedrag van hulpverleners is er niet, vertelt onderzoeksjournalist Linda Polman. "Het algemene idee is dat hulporganisaties zichzelf controleren en reinigen." Voor haar boek De Crisiskaravaan (2008) deed Polman onderzoek naar humanitaire hulp in crisisgebieden ."Hulporganisaties werken vaak in onoverzichtelijke gebieden waar het lokaal bestuur zwak is. Als hulpverlener kan je dan van alles flikken", stelt ze.
Ze is kritisch op het 'zelfreinigende effect' van NGO's. "Als organisatie ben je afhankelijk van giften van de overheid, bedrijven en mensen. Dan geef je liever niet openlijk toe dat er iets mis is."
Als voorbeeld geeft ze de behandeling van de Oxfam-medewerkers die betrokken waren bij seksfeesten. Vier mensen werden ontslagen, vanwege 'wangedrag', zonder dat Oxfam destijds verder in detail trad. Drie anderen, onder wie de chef van de Ha¯ti-missie, mochten ontslag nemen zonder disciplinaire sancties.
Gedragscodes aangescherptEr waren al eerder seksschandalen in de wereld van humanitaire hulpverlening. Zo brachten in 2003 UNHCR en Save the Children aan het licht dat hulpverleners kinderen in vluchtelingenkampen in Guinee, Liberia en Sierra Leone om seks vroegen in ruil voor voedsel. "Dat onderzoek leidde er toe dat hulporganisaties met allerlei gedragscodes kwamen", zegt Thea Hilhorst, hoogleraar humanitaire hulp aan de Erasmus Universiteit.
Hilhorst denkt dat de humanitaire hulpsector juist wel in staat is zichzelf te verbeteren. "Je ziet dat na wangedrag van hulpverleners regels en gedragscodes bijna altijd worden aangescherpt."
OmbudsmanOxfam heeft na het schandaal in Ha¯ti ook zijn gedragscodes gewijzigd. In plaats van alleen seks met minderjarigen te verbieden, schrijft de code nu ook voor dat medewerkers geen geld, baantjes, goederen of diensten aan mogen bieden in ruil voor seks.
Om nieuwe misstanden te voorkomen, pleit Hilhorst voor een ombudsman. "Elk gebied waar humanitaire hulp op gang komt heeft dan een aanspreekpunt waar slachtoffers of hulpverleners grensoverschrijdend gedrag kunnen aankaarten."
Seksuele gunsten in ruil voor materile gunstenTransactionele seks - seksuele gunsten in ruil voor materile gunsten - tussen hulpverleners en de lokale bevolking komt regelmatig voor in Afrikaanse landen als de Democratische Republiek Congo, blijkt uit onderzoek van Hilhorst. Toch betekent dit volgens haar niet altijd dat er sprake is van seksueel (machts)misbruik. "Wanneer het om ongelijke machtsrelaties gaat of iemand die seksuele gunsten verleent geen keuze heeft, is er wel degelijk sprake van grensoverschrijdend gedrag."
Ze voegt toe: "Transactionele seks kan voor vrouwen of mannen ook een strategie zijn om tijdelijk in hun levensonderhoud te voorzien. Dan is het veel meer een grijs gebied."
Ze heeft wel felle kritiek op het gedrag van Oxfam-medewerkers in Ha¯ti. "Natuurrampen en andere humanitaire crises gaan altijd gepaard met verstoorde machtsrelaties. Bovendien waren bij de seksfeesten hooggeplaatste medewerkers betrokken. Dan is er per definitie sprake van grensoverschrijdend gedrag."
Run, Hope Hicks, run (Opinion) - CNN
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 22:31
Porter, Mr. Trump's staff secretary, may have done a bang-up job delivering classified documents to the President -- without the benefit of an FBI security clearance -- but his past, unbeknownst to the President, has thrown the White House into chaos.
But, the President seems more upset at Hicks, his communications director, for her role in the affair than at Porter. Hicks has been dating Porter and helped prepare a rather fawning statement in defense of him on behalf of the President.
Sources tell CNN Mr. Trump is "frustrated" that Hicks let her romantic relationship with Porter cloud her judgment, even though her prepared statement was awfully similar to the glowing assessment Trump trumpeted to the nation.Thank goodness for Porter's ex-wives. One of them, Colbie Holderness, provided pictures of the abuse she allegedly suffered at the hands of Porter immediately after they got married. The pictures show a grim Holderness with one very black eye. "The thing he would do most frequently," she said, "is throw me down on a bed and he would just put his body weight on me and he'd be yelling at me, but as he was yelling he'd be grinding an elbow or knee into my body to emphasize his anger."Porter's second wife, Jennifer Willoughby, also feared Porter. She was forced to take out a temporary protective order in 2010 to keep Porter away from her. She also thinks Hicks should run from Porter as fast as she can. "If he hasn't already been abusive with Hope [Hicks], he will."
Porter has denied the abuse allegations.
Perhaps President Trump is privately advising Hicks to cut ties with Porter, but if he thinks Porter is innocent, I have my doubts. Sadly, Trump's support for Porter's and Hicks' silence on the matter is damaging Hick's reputation. A headline inside People magazine reads, "Inside Hope Hicks' Troubled Romances with Ousted Top Trump Aides Rob Porter and Corey Lewandowski." The article details these affairs without any comment from Hicks, Lewandowski or Porter.Cue the slut shamers. On my Twitter feed, comments with the hashtag #HopeHicks about her and her love life are so disturbing, that I loathe to give them any more oxygen.
It is journalistically sound to cite Hicks' relationship with Porter because she reportedly crafted that glowing press statement for the President. If true, that was unethical and she should have recused herself. Does she deserve to be slut-shamed and only be identified by her "troubled romances"? No. Will it continue? Yes, yes and yes. And I don't think the President will rush to her defense.
So, run Hope Hicks, run. Save yourself. Not only from Rob Porter, but from President Trump's obvious disdain for women.
NYT:Trump defends Hicks as Porter fallout continues - CNNPolitics
Sun, 11 Feb 2018 22:29
"Hope is absolutely fantastic," Trump said in a statement to The New York Times released through a spokesperson Friday. "She was with the campaign from the beginning, and I could not ask for anything more. Hope is smart, very talented and respected by all."People familiar with the matter told CNN Friday that the President was dismayed by the handling of the abuse allegations against Porter, with whom Hicks is romantically involved. Trump was not consulted when Hicks and several other aides drafted a White House statement defending Porter, and he was under the impression that Hicks had let her relationship with Porter cloud her judgment, a source familiar with the matter said. In the aftermath, Trump told associates he felt that Hicks put her own priorities ahead of his.Hicks is one of the President's longest-serving White House confidantes, lasting through numerous campaign and White House shakeups. Stephen Miller, Trump's senior adviser and chief speechwriter, described her as having "a loyalty equaled only by her skill."Hicks joined the Trump campaign as the press secretary in 2015. Prior to that, she worked for the Trump Organization and for Ivanka Trump's fashion and lifestyle brand.
The eldest Trump daughter, who serves as an adviser to the President, also issued a defense of her former employee. Ivanka Trump told the Times that Hicks was a "team player" and "the president has deep respect for her, cares about her greatly, and listens to her. That's not true of everyone. She's earned that."
CNN's Kaitlan Collins, Kevin Liptak and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Facial recognition technology can identify your sexuality
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:25
Can facial recognition technology identify your sexuality? Controversial new research coming out Stanford University suggests that Artificial Intelligence can tell the difference between gay and straight - just from looking at a picture. That is raising serious concerns about sexuality and privacy
VIDEO - Classical Radio Grapples with Recordings of Accused Conductors | The Sound of Applause | ideastream
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:15
To play or not to play? That's the question for classical music radio. Recent sexual assault allegations against famous orchestra conductors James Levine and Charles Dutoit have left station managers wondering what to do with their recordings. Programmers across the country, including ideastream's WCLV, are divided over how to react.
When WCLV program director Bill O'Connell recently played an excerpt from a Metropolitan Opera recording for his afternoon program, he told listeners about the composer and the vocalist, but he made no mention that the performance was conducted by famed maestro James Levine.
References to Levine and his music are nearly gone from the Cleveland station following allegations of sexual abuse with music students dating back to the 1960s. Station manager Jenny Northern said WCLV also avoids conductor Charles Dutoit after a number of sexual assault allegations against him.
WCLV's Jenny Northern: "I do think that people turn to classical music in times of distress. It's a place that doesn't often show an ugly side." (image / ideastream)
"We're suspending the broadcasting of their works for the most part, and we're trying to see what happens," she said. "Is there due process? Will there be charges actually brought? What's the situation?"
Joe Goetz is also grappling with this as music director of WFIU in Bloomington, Indiana.
"There has been a very big buzz to say the least, mainly in internet chat circles when the Levine news came out," he said.
Goetz recalled that the controversy erupted less than two hours after Levine wrapped up a prominent live performance on the Metropolitan Opera's radio season opener, last month. Radio station peers around the country immediately weighed in.
"Responses varied quite widely from people who were shunning Levine completely to people who said, 'well, maybe we'll still play his recordings, but not mention that he's the conductor,' to people who said, 'well, how can you possibly erase an incredible career's-worth of music?"'
The accusations against Charles Dutoit hit close to home for this Indiana station. One of his accusers, award-winning soprano Sylvia McNair, was a long-time teacher on the Bloomington campus.
"She's recently retired," said Goetz. "But, she's still a really active member of the music community here and it would have been a real slap, in her face, I think, to continue to feature his recordings given what he allegedly did to her."
But, not all broadcasters agree. James Reel is classical music director of Arizona Public Media in Tucson.
"I have not made any changes to my schedules as a result of the scandals," he said. "And I am continuing to play the recordings of guys like James Levine on a regular basis. And I've received not one comment from a listener, pro or con."
And he adds there's nothing that compels him morally or legally to do otherwise.
"I'm not James Levine's employer, I'm not Charles Dutoit's boss, I'm not their jury," he said. "And nothing I can do could have a direct, meaningful effect on them. All that's left is blacklisting, really."
However things shake out, WCLV manager Jenny Northern in Cleveland worries that something's been lost.
"I do think that people turn to classical music in times of distress," she said. "It's a place that doesn't often show an ugly side. It's disappointing. And it's sad."
For Joe Goetz in Indiana, the recently exposed ugly side, has led to something more positive.
"It's really given me the chance to explore other, lesser-known recordings that I might have overlooked before," he said. "I think that's actually a good thing, to not always lean on the crutches of these monumental, well-recorded conductors."
And that ushers in an opportunity for different conductors to be heard.
VIDEO - Media Parrots Dem Talking Points About Nunes | The Daily Caller
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:05
This week in the media, pundits and anchors repeated a claim by Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff that the Nunes memo ''cherry-picked'' information.
During a CNN interview on Feb. 2, Schiff, who is the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, asserted that the Nunes memo ''cherry-picked'' information about the FISA warrant the FBI obtained to spy on Carter Page.
''What it ends up delivering is criticism of a single FISA application involving Carter Page and its renewals that cherry-picks information,'' Schiff said to anchor Wolf Blitzer.
The media quickly took note, repeating the claim on CNN and MSNBC without attribution to Schiff or Democrats in general. They even used the exact same wording, insisting that the memo was ''cherry-picked,'' despite having little means to prove that Schiff's assertion was even true.
Without access to all of the information that House Intel has access to, the media relied on a simple talking point from a Democrat to drive the narrative surrounding the memo.
Just one day after Schiff's interview with Blitzer, the phrase ''cherry-picked'' popped up on CNN's ''New Day.''
''The idea that the judge didn't know that this was from opposition research memo'...again, this is cherry-picked information that we're looking at,'' said Walter Schaub, the former director of the U.S. Office of Government Ethics.
Later in the afternoon, on ''CNN's Newsroom with Fredericka Whitfield,'' the phrase appeared again, this time spoken by the show's anchor.
''That's the inference, but likely the four judges needed a whole lot of detail, and this memo kind of pairs it all down, and that's why critics say it's partisan because Nunes just kind of '-- the Chairman of the House Intelligence, Devin Nunes, just cherry-picked certain details and presented this memo and everyone is just to see it and extrapolate,'' Whitfield said.
CNN political commentator David Swerdlick agreed, arguing, ''even though from a law enforcement perspective you're looking and saying okay, look, there is certain classified information that can't come out, there is a problem with having memos that boil things down to a few cherry-picked facts.''
''There shouldn't be a memo that is cherry-picked just from the Republicans,'' he added.
Ruth Marcus with The Washington Post claimed during an MSNBC appearance on Feb. 3 that it is ''really important for people to know'' that FISA applications ''are thick documents'' and that the Republicans ''cherry-pick[ed]'' in the Nunes memo.
''As we already know, the memo is said to be the product of a cherry-picked intelligence drafted by staffers to Congressman Devin Nunes of the House Intelligence Committee,'' MSNBC's Chris Matthews said during the same program.
MSNBC's ''Morning Joe'' flagrantly used the phrase ''cherry-pick'' several times during a conversation about the memo on Feb. 5.
''The problem is, that everybody has said, that the underlying documentation is critically important and when you put together a very short memo that very selectively cherry-picks information to make one's case, it's hard for the American people to understand what the FBI presented,'' cohost Joe Scarborough said.
CIA analyst John Brennan agreed, stating, ''Somebody cherry-picks one part of what was presented to the judge.''
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VIDEO - MSNBC Commentator Says Donald Trump Is the 'Commander in Chief' of 'Rape Culture'
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 16:01
On Sunday, MSNBC commentator Anand Giridharadas appeared on ''AM Joy'' with Joy Reid to discuss the recent allegations of domestic abuse by officials in the Trump administration.
Last week, White House staff secretary Rob Porter stepped down from his position but denied allegations of abusing his ex-wives. Later in the same week, White House speechwriter David Sorensen resigned after a former wife alleged he was abusive during their marriage, which he denied.
Giridharadas began the segment by reacting to comments from White House counselor Kellyanne Conway in which she said Democrats such as Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) should do some examination of their own party.
''I don't need a lecture from Kirsten Gillibrand or anybody else who protected and defended and harbored a sitting president who had sexual relations in the Oval Office and was impeached for lying,'' Conway said.
She also said that she has ''no reason not to believe'' the women who made the allegations against Porter, as one of the women has a graphic picture of a black eye.
Giridharadas shot down the legitimacy of Conway's comments by saying she ''will say whatever for money'' and that she is a ''monster.'' He then went on to say that President Donald Trump has a history of being a ''vagina grabber'' and that sexual abuse is ''a very apt metaphor for everything Trumpism is.''
Then Giridharadas took it one step further, saying:
''This is a rape-culture presidency, and Donald Trump has become the commander in chief of American rape culture.''
Watch the segment above.
VIDEO - OxyContin Manufacturer Says It Will Stop Promoting Opioid Painkiller To Doctors : NPR
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:54
OxyContin Manufacturer Says It Will Stop Promoting Opioid Painkiller To Doctors : NPROxyContin Manufacturer Says It Will Stop Promoting Opioid Painkiller To DoctorsNPR's Ari Shapiro talks with journalist Sam Quinones about Purdue Pharma's announcement that it would stop promoting its blockbuster opioid painkiller OxyContin to doctors. Purdue's move comes as it faces dozens of lawsuits.
VIDEO - Victoria Nuland says Obama State Dept. informed FBI of reporting from Steele dossier - CBS News
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:27
Former State Department official Victoria Nuland told CBS News' "Face the Nation" that the dossier compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele was brought to the State Department's attention in July of 2016, which then shared the information with the FBI. Nuland's new details concerning the dossier comes on the heels of the release of a newly declassified memo crafted by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., Rep Trey Gowdy, R-South Carolina, and two staff investigators.
"He [Steele] passed two to four pages of short points of what he was finding, and our immediate reaction to that was, 'This is not in our purview,'" said Nuland, who served as assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs during the Obama administration. "'This needs to go to the FBI, if there is any concern here that one candidate or the election as a whole might be influenced by the Russian federation. That's something for the FBI to investigate.'"
She added, "our reaction when we saw this [was,] it's not our -- we can't evaluate this. And frankly, if every member of the campaign who the Russians tried to approach and tried to influence had gone to the FBI as well in real time, we might not be in the mess we're in today."
The memo released Friday detailed the application and use of surveillance warrants under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) on former Trump campaign aide Carter Page. The memo claims federal investigators failed to disclose Steele's connections to the Democratic National Committee and the Hillary Clinton campaign when applying for the FISA warrant.
National security experts Michael Morell and Fran Townsend agreed that the release of the memo creates a "lack of trust" of members of the FBI, while also undermining the credibility of the bureau in the public's eye.
"Government agencies are not going to want to share sensitive information with Congress if they believe that Congress can release it on their own without going through the redaction process," said Morell.
Morell, a former acting CIA director and CBS News senior national security contributor, added, "What happened here underscores the partisanship and the dysfunction of a very important committee in Congress, and that does not serve Congress well, it doesn't serve the intelligence community, and it doesn't serve the country well."
Townsend, former homeland security adviser to President George W. Bush, agreed, saying, "You may disagree, as Trey Gowdy says, with a particular decision Rod Rosenstein or Andrew McCabe made. But these are thousands of people who have devoted decades to public service, to protecting us from this sort of influence to investigating it, and there are multiple legal checks."
Meanwhile, Nuland also responded to claims made by Gowdy on "Face the Nation" that there would be a second phase of House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes' investigation into Russian interference. Nunes told Fox News on Friday that the committee has "concerns with a certain aspect of State Department involvement and have serious concerns about it."
"What Chairman Nunes meant is there's another aspect to the investigation. But if there's a second memo, I don't know about it," Gowdy said.
Nuland responded to Gowdy's claims, saying she didn't know what the congressman was referring to but looked "forward to hearing what he's talking about."
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VIDEO - Bill Murray on Hollywood: 'If people are monstrous, it ... comes back'
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:19
Since late last year, numerous women have come forward to share their stories of alleged sexual harassment and assault from powerful men in Hollywood and politics.
"It's interesting when this kind of movement happens," Murray said. "It creates a kind of compost or fertilizer to make the next stage happen. ... Obviously, things swing back and forth."
Murray, who was interviewed at the AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament, earned his first Emmy for his work in "Saturday Night Live" and starred in such movies as the '80s "Ghostbusters" films and the 1993 "Groundhog Day."
During his interview, Murray also spoke on his decision to play former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon on "Saturday Night Live."
'--The Associated Press contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Dutch FM resigns after admitting lie about meeting Putin '-- RT World News
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 15:15
Dutch Foreign Minister Halbe Zijlstra has resigned, a day after he admitted lying about overhearing Russia's President Vladimir Putin. In 2016 Zijlstra alleged Putin had in 2006 expressed ambitions to create a ''Greater Russia.''
The official admitted that his credibility had been damaged by the ongoing scandal to such an extent that his position had become untenable.
Halbe Zijlstra announced his resignation in an emotional speech to the House of Representatives. Zijlstra described the ''Greater Russia'' affair as the ''biggest mistake'' in his political career, adding that the country deserves a Foreign Minister who is beyond reproach.
READ MORE: Dutch FM admits lying about Putin describing land-grab ambitions in 2006
Zijlstra's resignation comes the day before the official's scheduled visit to Russia, where he was expected to meet his counterpart Sergey Lavrov. It was to be the Dutch official's very first visit to Russia. Following Zijlstra's resignation the visit was officially cancelled, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.
The ''Greater Russia'' scandal has prematurely finished Zijlstra's term as the Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, as he assumed the post only back in October 2017.
The scandal has its roots in 2016, when Zijlstra claimed at a party conference that he had overheard the Russian leader Vladimir Putin talking about his plans to create a ''Greater Russia'' at a gathering of businessmen in 2006, at which time Zijlstra was working for the Shell oil company. The official claimed that he heard Putin talk about a ''Great Russia'' which included ''Russia, Belarus, Ukraine and the Baltic states,'' while ''Kazakhstan was nice to have'' as well.
The official's story was challenged by the Volkskrant newspaper, which discovered that despite Zijlstra having been part of Shell's delegation he was in fact not present at the business meeting in question. Following the revelation the official acknowledged having lied, claiming that he did so in order to protect the actual source, whom he declined to name. He insisted, however, that the whole story about Putin's alleged plans for ''Greater Russia'' was true.
The scandal has triggered a storm of Twitter mockery under the hashtags #LyingDutchman and #HalbeWasErbij (Halbe Was There), featuring doctored photos of some historic events and places the official might have also ''attended'' personally.
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VIDEO - NSA shooting: 3 arrested, 3 injured after SUV crashes main gate
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:56
CLOSEThere is an ongoing investigation involving three people who have reportedly been shot outside NSA headquarters. Buzz60
In this image made from video and provided by WUSA TV-9, authorities investigate the scene of a shooting at Fort Meade, Md., on Feb. 14, 2018. (Photo: WUSA-TV via AP)
Three people, including a police officer, were hospitalized Wednesday in a bizarre incident at the super-secret National Security Agency after officers apparently opened fire on a black SUV carrying three men as it breached the main gate, the FBI said.
While authorities have not determined why the car crashed through the entrance before ramming a concrete barricade, FBI Special Agent in Charge Gordon Johnson told reporters the bureau does not believe the incident was terrorism-related.
''There is no indication to think this is anything more than an isolated incident,'' he said.
The FBI said authorities arrested the two passengers and the car's driver, who also was injured and hospitalized. Two others '-- a civilian and a police officer '-- sustained non-life threatening injuries in the ordeal that unfolded at 6:55 a.m.
The FBI said they believe none of the injuries was from gunfire.
It was unclear why the car, believed to be a rental with New York tags, was traveling on the road that leads exclusively to the NSA facilities, located on the grounds of Fort Meade between Washington and Baltimore.
''We are trying to talk to them to understand why they were here,'' Johnson said. It does not appear that any law enforcement agencies were chasing the vehicle before it reached the security gate, he added.
''This vehicle did come onto the NSA's compound unauthorized,'' Johnson said. ''NSA police responded accordingly.''
Although an NSA spokesman said earlier Wednesday that weapons were discharged in the incident, Johnson declined to speculate, pending a conclusion of the investigation. Photos of the car show bullet holes in the windshield that appeared to be from shots fired from outside the vehicle, rather than from inside.
Video footage by a chopper from WRC-TV shows police surrounding a handcuffed man sitting on the ground near the SUV.
The incident shut down traffic along a stretch of Route 32 by the campus, preventing NSA workers who use that route from entering the facility.
The NSA collects, processes and disseminates intelligence information from foreign electronic signals for national foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes. It also oversees code-breaking and monitors federal government computer networks to counter cyberterrorism.
Despite prominent highway signs, drivers occasionally take the wrong exit and end up at the tightly secured gates. Most motorists then carefully follow the orders of heavily armed federal officers and turn around without getting into more trouble.
In 2015, two people were shot by NSA police when they disobeyed orders outside the heavily secured campus. One driver died at the scene after NSA police opened fire on a stolen sports utility vehicle. Authorities later said the two people had stolen the car from a man who picked them up for a party at a motel.
In 1993, a gunman opened fire outside the entrance to the Central Intelligence Agency in Virginia, killing two CIA employees in their cars and wounding three others. After a four-year manhunt, the gunman, Pakistani national Aimal Kasi, was tracked down in Pakistan by a joint CIA-FBI team and returned to the U.S. He was founded guilty of first-degree murder and executed in 2002.
Contributing: Associated Press
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VIDEO - 'Partying' cross-dressers tried to crash gates at NSA
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 14:49
Garrett Haake, WUSA-TV, Washington Published 3:30 p.m. ET March 31, 2015 | Updated 4:26 p.m. ET March 31, 2015
CLOSENew details shed light on the two men who rammed a stolen SUV into the gate at NSA headquarters at Ft. Meade. One suspect was later killed and another was critically hurt in a shooting with NSA police. VPC
A Maryland State Police cruiser sits March 30, 2015, at a blocked southbound entrance on Interstate 295 that accesses the National Security Agency. (Photo: Patrick Semansky, AP)
FORT MEADE, Md. '-- Two cross-dressing men who were shot the day before as they attempted to ram a police vehicle near NSA headquarters had left a nearby motel about a half hour before where they were "partying" with a Baltimore man, authorities said Tuesday.
Ricky Shawatza Hall, 27, of Baltimore was driving an SUV that the pair had stolen from that man at an Elkridge, Md., motel; Hall died at the scene. Kevin Fleming was his passenger, and he remained hospitalized Tuesday with undisclosed injuries.
The firefight erupted after Hall apparently disobeyed instructions for leaving the NSA campus attached to Fort Meade, about 25 miles northeast of Washington, the post's garrison commander said. The men got off Interstate 295 at the exit, which leads only to NSA headquarters, and may have merely made a wrong turn as they fled in the stolen vehicle.
"There's plenty of signage there," said Rep. C.A. "Dutch" Ruppersberger, a Democrat whose congressional district includes the NSA campus. "If you follow the signs that say 'prohibited,' you can very easily get off."
NSA: SUV rammed cop car as it tried to enter Army base
Cocaine and a weapon later were found near or inside the men's vehicle, said an official, who asked not to be identified because of not being authorized to speak about this incident.
Fleming and an unidentified NSA officer were taken to a nearby hospital. The officer, who has not been identified, was treated for minor injuries and released.
The men, dressed as women, were not attempting to disguise themselves, FBI spokeswoman Amy Thoreson said. And their actions do not appear to be related to terrorism.
The 60-year-old man whose Ford SUV they took told Howard County police that he had checked into a motel around 7:30 a.m. Monday with Hall and Fleming to "party." He said he did not know the men well and that the stolen SUV belonged to his wife.
Howard County Police "can't confirm there was any sexual activity involved," spokeswoman Mary Phelan said. She also declined to elaborate on whether drugs or alcohol were part of their plan.
Fort Meade is headquarters for the NSA and several other intelligence, information and cyber-security agencies under the Department of Defense. About 11,000 military personnel and 29,000 civilian employees, including thousands for the National Security Agency, work on the Army base.
Monday was not the first time someone has disobeyed orders at an NSA gate.
Ex-prison guard held in NSA, other D.C.-area shootings
In July, a man failed to obey an NSA officer's command to stop as he approached a checkpoint. That man drove away, injuring an NSA officer and nearly striking a barricade. He later was arrested and is awaiting trial on federal charges.
Federal charges in Monday's incident still have not been decided, Thoreson said. The FBI is working with the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland to determine whether federal charges are warranted.
Contributing: The Associated Press
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VIDEO - Inside China's "social credit" system, which blacklists citizens
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:57
By Jennifer Pak February 13, 2018 | 11:42 AM
Embed CodePassengers await a bullet train on the platform at Changzhou North railway station. - JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images Embed Code In the summer of 2016, Xie Wen applied for a loan at the bank and was rejected. Later, he tried to purchase a plane ticket online but was blocked by the system.
''That is when I knew I was blacklisted,'' Xie said.
He had been added to the Chinese Supreme Court's list of ''discredited'' persons or entities, which usually targets people who refuse to repay debts. In Xie's case, his advertising company was sued by another firm over a contract dispute and lost. The judge ordered Xie to pay $127,000, which he didn't. Seven months later, without notice, Xie's name was added to the blacklist '' one that companies are encouraged to check before entering deals.
''It hurt my business,'' Xie said. ''My clients didn't trust me. I didn't get much work.''
Since the blacklist was created in October 2013, 9.59 million people have been to the list.
Like others on the blacklist, Xie was banned from boarding a plane or high-speed train. Xie was restricted from big purchases such as buying property, vacation packages, or private school tuition for his child. Officials could impose a wide range of penalties by blocking Xie's personal ID card number, which is required in China for everything from boarding a flight to getting a social media account.
Anyone who had Xie's name and ID number could check the blacklist through the Supreme Court's website.
The blacklist is part of China's efforts to build a ''social credit'' system and offers a glimpse into the kinds of penalties people deemed untrustworthy might get once it is set up by 2020. Critics have likened the plan to an Orwellian creation or an episode of the TV series "Black Mirror."
Credit expert Hu Naihong, who is advising the government on this project, disagrees.
China does not have a similar FICO scoring system in the U.S. because most Chinese do not have a credit card, a mortgage or other loans. So, on top of financial credit information, Chinese authorities are also looking at any other behaviors that might speak to someone's creditworthiness.
Expert Hu Naihong. - Jennifer Pak/Marketplace For example, there is a public database on the CreditChina website for enterprises that catalogues things such as administrative penalties or violating procedures when bidding for a government project. It also includes a ''red list'' noting good behavior, such as filing taxes correctly and on time.
This is all information that government agencies already collect but it was not always shared with all levels of government. This massive amount of data will now be centralized for individuals and enterprises, said credit expert Hu Naihong.
''Those with good credibility will be rewarded, and those without credibility will be punished,'' Hu said.
At the same time, dozens of cities are also testing their own social credit systems.
The Shanghai government will record on social credit files behaviors such as jaywalking or not sorting out garbage into the appropriate trash cans.
It may seem odd to Americans, but Hu said it's necessary to include morality and ethics when it comes to assessing creditworthiness.
''You can't say people damaged their credit only after they default on their debts. There may have been many clues in their daily lives that show they don't like to follow rules,'' she said.
Hu said the central government has not assigned any social credit scores to its citizens yet, but eventually there will be a financial credit score.
It is not clear who will calculate it and how social behaviors will be factored in. Hu said there will be a mechanism for people to dispute information on their social credit files.
In Xie's case, he didn't have time.
''No one notified me that I was on the blacklist. Then court officials detained me, so I had to pay the fine,'' he said. Xie is now off the blacklist.
Lawyer Li Xiaolin was also not given advanced notice that he was blacklisted.
In 2014, Li was sued for defamation and lost. A judge ordered Li to make an apology, which he submitted in writing in April 2015. Ten months later, when he was away on a work trip, he was blocked from buying a return flight home to Beijing. That's when he found out he was blacklisted.
It took him another three weeks before an official told him why.
''The court said my apology was not sincere. I asked officials how they determined what is sincere.'' Li said.
Eventually Li wrote a second apology and the court removed him from the blacklist in 2016. Then last year, he tried to get a credit card.
''The bank denied my application. I figured out that the bank might still have my name blacklisted and I was right,'' Li said.
The bank updated its records the next day, but by that point, he had spent almost a year to fully clear his name.
A screen show showing that Liu's ticket order has filed. This person has been banned from getting first-class seats on high-speed trains. - Courtesy Liu Hu Journalist Liu Hu was sued in 2015 for reposting a message on social media. The court determined that the material was defamatory and ordered Liu to pay $1,400 compensation plus other fees. Still, Li is considered one of the luckier ones.
''I wired the money to the wrong account, so the court didn't get the money. No one there told me. Then the court put me on the blacklist,'' Liu said.
He corrected the mistake but then the judge said the amount needed to be increased by at least a thousand dollars.
While authorities have every right to enforce legitimate court orders, Maya Wang, a senior China researcher for Human Rights Watch, said the penalties in both Li and Liu's cases were exacted in a manner that was ''wildly arbitrary'' and ''unaccountable.'' Already, in a simple blacklist system people are having difficulties seeking redress.
''The social credit system gives a very powerful weapon to officials, in a country with very unbalanced relations between citizens and the government,'' she said.
For now, Liu is still on the blacklist, which the Chinese state media refers to as the list of ''laolai'' or deadbeats.
He is still trying to get off it.
''Basically, it is very hard to find information on how to resolve my case. I've only gotten this far because I have some contacts,'' Liu said.
Follow Jennifer Pak at @jpak25.
VIDEO - Arrest George Soros! Nigel Farage ORDERS the EU Parliament - YouTube
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 13:03
VIDEO - Trump at last denounces abuse; Kelly's future in doubt
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 12:15
WASHINGTON (AP) '-- President Donald Trump at last broke his silence Wednesday to explicitly denounce domestic violence in the wake of allegations that a top White House aide had abused two former wives. Chief of staff John Kelly, under fire for mishandling the matter, stayed largely out of sight, his future in doubt and the White House in tumult.
The chaos surrounding the departure of aide Rob Porter put a harsh spotlight on Kelly, the retired general who was brought on last summer to instill military-like discipline in the free-wheeling West Wing. Questions persisted about what and when Kelly knew about the abuse allegations against Porter, who resigned as staff secretary last week after the accusations became public.
West Wing aides have had their faith in the chief of staff shaken, and morale has plunged to levels not seen since last spring's firing of FBI Director James Comey and the August uproar over Trump's refusal to denounce white supremacists after the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
This White House scandal erupted initially without the president's involvement. But Trump fed the fury last week when he defended Porter and questioned the #MeToo movement that sprang up in recent months to protest the mistreatment of many women.
President Donald Trump breaks his silence Wednesday after earlier defending former aide. "I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind," he said in remarks to reporters in the Oval Office. (Feb. 14)
In Trump's first comments after Porter resigned, he praised his former aide. Next, he appeared to cast doubt on the ex-wives' allegations by tweeting: "Peoples lives are being shattered and destroyed by a mere allegation." Finally, on Wednesday, Trump said the words that Democrats and Republicans alike had been listening for:
"I am totally opposed to domestic violence and everybody here knows that," Trump told reporters in the Oval Office. "I am totally opposed to domestic violence of any kind. Everyone knows that, and it almost wouldn't even have to be said. So now you hear it, but you all know it."
The denunciation of domestic violence was greeted with relief by some West Wing aides. But a sense of unease about Kelly's fate persisted.
For months, Kelly '-- with help from Porter '-- had established a semblance of stability in a White House often rattled by an unpredictable president. That has eroded in a week's time, as accounts about the handling of the Porter matter continue to shift and some aides come to believe Kelly lied to save face and save his job.
Trump has complained to confidants that Kelly let the scandal spin out of control and that the constantly shifting narratives make the White House '-- and, by extension, Trump himself '-- look amateurish and incompetent, according to one person familiar with the discussions but not authorized to discuss them publicly.
The president has floated names of possible replacements for Kelly, including National Economic Council head Gary Cohn, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Budget Director Mick Mulvaney and businessman and GOP heavyweight Wayne Berman.
There was no sign that a move was imminent, according to four people with knowledge of Trump's recent conversations. The president is known to frequently poll his advisers about the performance of senior staff but is often reluctant to actually fire aides.
McCarthy tried to douse speculation about a possible change, saying: "I have not spoken to the president about anything about a job, and I never have. And there is no job opening."
Berman has not been approached about the job, according to a person familiar with his thinking but not authorized to discuss it publicly. Mulvaney has previously denied angling for the post.
Kelly has indicated he would step aside if he lost the faith of the president. But he has not offered to resign, according to a White House official and an outside adviser. Neither was authorized to discuss personnel matters publicly and spoke only on condition of anonymity.
Kelly, a dark cross on his forehead to mark Ash Wednesday, kept his distance from reporters as he helped manage the White House response to the mass shooting at a Florida school. And many questions about the matter went unanswered, as the daily press briefing was postponed repeatedly until, in the wake of the shooting, it was cancelled completely.
And while Trump himself tweeted condolences about the shooting, he did not go on-camera or address the nation, a marked contrast from the emotional appearance by President Barack Obama following the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, in 2012.
A retired four-star Marine general, Kelly took the post last July and immediately tried to rein in a West Wing that was riven by rivalries and plagued by inexperience He fired attention-seeking aides such as Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka, curtailed access to Trump for outside advisers and insisted that even powerful West Wing staffers, like Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump, receive his blessing to reach the president.
But as Kelly shook up the West Wing and had some success at clamping down on public backstabbing, he also made some enemies inside and outside the building. They were quick to pounce on a vulnerable chief of staff, leaking negative stories about him this week.
A number of aides who earlier had rallied around Kelly were dismayed and disillusioned by his handling of the domestic abuse allegations. Officials, up to press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, took to couching their comments with the caveat they did not have firsthand knowledge of some of the details.
At a senior staff meeting last Friday, Kelly tried to press his own timeline concerning Porter in a way that played up his decisiveness once he learned the details of allegations, according to some aides. But Kelly, aides said, had encouraged Porter to try to weather the initial allegations.
But White House officials had known for months of at least the broad charges of abuse against Porter by his ex-wives, as revealed Tuesday by FBI Director Christopher Wray. Wray's testimony to lawmakers contradicted the accounts of West Wing officials.
The Porter drama has placed a renewed focus on the role of White House Counsel Don McGahn, who first informed Kelly about Porter's situation last fall.
Lemire reported from New York. Associated Press writers Catherine Lucey, Jill Colvin and Ken Thomas contributed reporting.
Follow Lemire on Twitter at http://twitter.com/@JonLemire and Miller at http://twitter.com/@ZekeJMiller
VIDEO - LiveLeak.com - Florida High School MASS SHOOTING HOAX!! TOTAL BS!! FAKE for Gun Control BILLS!!
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 05:22
so I'm not allowed to show anything that I showed here on youtube...if I show the facts, the gun bills in the Senate right now for Florida and from a man who's now running for Governor, I'd be immediately silenced and terminated! wake up people, no links, it's literally right in your faces and to top it off, they throw THE DRILL SHIT RIGHT IN OUR FACES YET AGAIN!! A DRILL JUST DONE EARLIER TODAY FOR THE LOVE OF ALL TRUTH!!!
VIDEO - Nikolas Cruz: Who is the Florida school shooting suspect? - CNN
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 05:07
Cruz was expelled from the high school for unspecified disciplinary reasons, said officials, who provided different spellings of Cruz's first name throughout the day.
Officials are examining Cruz's digital profile, which contained what Israel described as "very, very disturbing" content.
Arrested without incident
Cruz was taken into custody without incident in nearby Coral Springs after the shootings, according to Israel.
The suspect has been talking to investigators, according to a law enforcement source.
Heavily armed
Police said Cruz was armed with multiple magazines and at least one AR-15 style rifle.
Law enforcement sources told CNN the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives is tracing the.223 caliber, AR-15 style firearm used in the shootings.
Suspect sought higher death toll
Investigators believe the suspect pulled the school's fire alarm to draw people out and get a higher death toll, according to a law enforcement source.
There had been a fire drill at the school earlier in the day, leading some to believe at first that the afternoon incident was another drill, a student told CNN affiliate WSVN. "Everyone just started freaking out.""But then word started going around that it was shots and not just, like, something else, everyone just started running towards the canal," the student said.
VIDEO - Ex-FBI agent breaks down over school shooting - CNN Video
Thu, 15 Feb 2018 05:07
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VIDEO - Gavin Newsom: Jeff Sessions 'Outright Racist' for Praising 'Anglo-American' Legal Traditions - Breitbart
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:41
''Reminder that our Attorney General is an outright racist who wants us all to acknowledge 'Anglo-American heritage,''' tweeted Newsom, who is running to lead the ''Resistance State.''
Sessions made his factually accurate remarks while addressing the National Sheriffs Association, pointing out from where the unique concept of a sheriff originated, as Breitbart News noted:
The concept of a ''sheriff'' dates back more than 1000 years to pre-Norman Conquest Anglo-Saxon England where the ''shire reeve'' (the origin of the term sheriff) was a representative the King who operated with great independence to do justice at the local level. The sheriff as the enforcement wing of a local court is a unique feature of the English common law tradition from which our own legal system almost entirely derives.
Only countries like the United States, who inherit their ''common law'' legal systems from that of England, keep the tradition of the sheriff alive. Consequentially, outside of the United Kingdom and America, there are sheriffs in the former British Colonies of Australia, Nigeria, Canada, South Africa, and even India, where the office survives as a ceremonial position of honor.
In America, sheriffs are uniquely prominent elected officials responsible for virtually all state and local courts' enforcement and, outside of major cities, much of the policing.
Liberals and legacy media reporters, who were never offended when then-Senator Barack Obama and members of Obama's administration spoke about America's Anglo-American legal heritage, immediately lost their minds after Sessions' remarks, claiming Sessions revealed his racial insensitivity and animus.
A Department of Justice spokesman, Ian Prior, had to explain to legacy media outlets like CNN that ''Anglo-American'' is another way of saying common law and is regularly used among those in the legal community.
''As most law students learn in the first week of their first year, Anglo-American law '-- also known as the common law '-- is a shared legal heritage between England and America. The sheriff is unique to that shared legal heritage. Before reporters sloppily imply nefarious meaning behind the term, we would suggest that they read any number of the Supreme Court opinions that use the term. Or they could simply put 'Anglo-American law' into Google,'' Prior explained to outlets like CNN.
VIDEO - YouTube
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:30
VIDEO - Trudeau compares returning ISIS fighters to Greek & Italian immigrants - YouTube
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:24
VIDEO - 23 Rutherford County businesses closed for selling CBD candy, sheriff says
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 13:07
Scott Broden, USA TODAY NETWORK - Tennessee Published 12:26 p.m. CT Feb. 12, 2018 | Updated 3:13 p.m. CT Feb. 13, 2018
CLOSERutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh talks about how culprits are taking real candy such as gummy bears, spraying the illegal substance cannabidiol on them and repacking them for sale. Scott Broden/DNJ
Buy Photo This photo shows evidence collected by law enforcement agents of a candy containing CBD. (Photo: HELEN COMER/DNJ) Buy Photo
Officers padlocked 23 Rutherford County businesses Monday accused of selling candy containing a derivative of marijuana.
Authorities indicted 21 people in the investigation law enforcement officials named "Operation Candy Crush," according to a news release from the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.
Buy Photo Law enforcement agents collect evidence from Vapesboro, one of 23 stores closed for selling products believed to contain a marijuana derivative. (Photo: HELEN COMER/DNJ)
Investigators were acting on a tip that gummy candies and vape juice containing cannabidiol, commonly known as CBD, were sold in stores throughout Murfreesboro, Smyrna and La Vergne, the release said.
Rutherford County Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said after a news conference that the culprits are converting real candy such as gummy bears into a synthetic drug that can be dangerous for children.
"They spray them with this illegal substance, and then they repackage them," said Fitzhugh, who noted how there's been two deaths in the United States linked to synthetic drugs. "That would be a tragic thing to happen to any family. We do want to caution parents. We certainly don't want our kids getting into this."
More:MTSU, lawmakers ponder making medical cannabis legal in Tennessee
More: Reaction, support to medical marijuana mixed
Officials talk about investigation in front of padlocked storeBuy Photo Vapes Boro on Middle Tennessee Boulevard was one of 23 businesses closed by a court order for allegedly selling candy and other items containing a marijuana derivative. (Photo: HELEN COMER/DNJ)
The sheriff, District Attorney Jennings Jones and Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold spoke during a news conference about the investigation in front of the padlocked VAPE'sBORO store on Middle Tennessee Boulevard south of Mercury Boulevard in Murfreesboro.
"We feel these stores are marketing these items toward minors," Fitzhugh said in the release. "These items can commonly be confused by a child as candy and are illegal."
Cannabidiol is considered a Schedule VI narcotic. It is illegal to possess or sell in Tennessee unless prescribed by a doctor and dispensed from a licensed distributor, investigators said.
"There are many things that are illegal to possess without a prescription," including the drug Oxycontin, District Attorney General Jennings Jones said.
"If you possess this without a prescription, you have broken the law," Jones said. "If you are selling this without a prescription or if you're not a pharmacy selling it to someone with a prescription for it, you have broken the law."
The illegal candy products sells from $7 to $70The items were described as mood enhancers or mood relaxers.
The packaging of many of the items sold contained an image of a marijuana leaf, police said. Items were sold at a cost between $7 and $70, Detective Sgt. Will Holton said in the release.
"There's no regulation on these products," Holton said. "We feel like these products are very unregulated, and you don't know what you're getting."
The Rutherford County Sherriff's office investigated the stores with police departments in Murfreesboro, Smyrna and LaVergne, and agents from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, DEA and FBI.
Stores will remain closed until a judge deems they are fit to reopen, Jones said.
The VAPE'sBORO store had a notice on the door: "This business closed by order of Judge Royce Taylor."
Smyrna Police Chief Kevin Arnold said he learned of CBD gummies about four months ago at a Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police meeting. Arnold said he then sent a text message to a member of his narcotics team and had detectives scout local stores.
"One clerk when straight to it," when the detective asked, the chief said.
Arnold urged parents to keep a watchful eye on what their children are bringing home.
Reach Scott Broden at sbroden@dnj.com or on Twitter @ScottBroden.
List of padlocked stores Rutherford County: Last Stop Market, Lascassas Pike
Murfreesboro: Vapesboro, Middle Tennesee Boulevard; Stop-N-Go, New Salem Highway; Stop-N-Shop, Andrews Drive; Enchanted Planet, East Lytle Street; T&B Tobacco & Beer, Northwest Broad Street; Quick Stop Discount Tobacco and Beer, South Rutherford Boulevard; 99 Cents Discount Tobacco, Memorial Boulevard; Kaleidoscope, South Church Street and Memorial Boulevard; Y&H Discount Tobacco and Beer, Lascassas Pike; Magical Vapors, West Main Street.
Smyrna: Kwik Sak, Hazelwood Drive; TN Vape & Smoke, Rock Springs Road; Stop & Shop Tobacco and Beer; One Stop Shop Tobacco and Beer, Almaville Road; Magical Vapors, East Enon Springs Road; Cloud 9, Jefferson Street
LaVergne: Waldron Market, Waldron Road; Family Market Discount Tobacco & Beer, Waldron Road; Tobacco Brew & Chew, Waldron Road; LaVergne Vapor, Murfreesboro Road
Read or Share this story: http://www.dnj.com/story/news/2018/02/12/operation-candy-crush-highly-therapeutic-and-non-psychoactive-compound-found-cannabis-know-cannabiod/329153002/
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VIDEO - Ahed Tamimi, Palestinian teen protester, appears in court
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 12:11
Israel has brought 12 charges against 17-year-old Ahed Tamimi, including aggravated assault against a soldier, incitement, obstructing a soldier in the performance of his duty, threatening a soldier and throwing stones at troops. Her mother, Nariman Tamimi, also faces charges including incitement.
Ahed Tamimi has become a symbol of Palestinian unity.
She entered the courtroom in Israel's Ofer Military Prison in the West Bank wearing an olive-green prison uniform and flanked by prison guards. The fiery-haired teenager scanned the courtroom for a familiar face. Her father, Bassem Tamimi, waved his hands and shouted out, "Ahed, be strong, my darling." He had missed her 17th birthday, which she spent in prison.
Both mother and daughter are represented by the same attorney. They have not entered pleas.
Despite the unusually high attendance, the judge ordered everyone out of the courtroom except for family members because the defendant is a minor. Her lawyer, Gabi Lasky, objected to the order, telling the judge "if the minor and the family agree to have an open session, it should be open." The judge denied her objection and kicked everyone out but Tamimi's family.
"The court decided to close the doors because they think it's not good for Ahed (as a minor)," Lasky told journalists in the prison's courtyard before the session. "The court decided what is good for the court and not what is good for Ahed."
Tamimi was arrested on December 19 after a video emerged of her punching a heavily armed Israeli soldier on her family's property in the West Bank town of Nabi Saleh. The soldier can be seen pushing her away. The incident occurred shortly after a soldier gravely wounded her 15-year-old cousin nearby by shooting him in the head with a rubber bullet.
Gabi Lasky, Tamimi's attorney, also explained she will argue the legality of the court proceeding itself because she says Israel's occupation of the West Bank is illegal, the injustice of having two sets of laws in the West Bank for the Palestinians and Israelis, and the validity of some of the charges.
Lasky also accused the court of trying to "deter Ahed and other young people from resisting the occupation with non-violence," she said.
Israel captured the West Bank and other territories during the 1967 war. Much of the international community, the United Nations, and Palestinians view these lands as occupied.
Ahed Tamimi (C) challenges Israeli soldiers during a protest in Ramallah in November 2012.
Tamimi's supporters said the video presented her as an inspirational symbol of Palestinian resistance to Israeli security forces. Her critics praised the soldier's restraint and dismissed the video of the incident, shot by Tamimi's mother, as a publicity stunt. Tamimi's family is known for its activism, regularly leading Friday demonstrations against Israeli soldiers in their village. Rights groups have called for her release.
After the incident, Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett said authorities should lock Tamimi up and throw away the key. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman also praised the soldier's restraint but added a warning that anyone who would attack the army would be arrested.
Ahed Tamimi first came to international prominence in 2012 -- as a child -- when a photograph of her with a clenched fist, staring down an Israeli soldier, received widespread attention.
Her protests have made her a folk hero among many Palestinians. Her image also adorns a wall on a street in Gaza.
The session adjourned after two hours and will resume on March 11.
VIDEO - Omarosa: Americans 'would be begging for days of Trump back' if Pence replaced him | TheHill
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 02:56
Former White House aide Omarosa Manigault-Newman ripped Vice President Pence on "Celebrity Big Brother" on Monday, saying people would beg for 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 to come back if Pence replaced him.
"As bad as y'all think Trump is, you would be worried about Pence," Manigault-Newman said, as reported by Entertainment Weekly. "We would be begging for days of Trump back if Pence became president."
"He's extreme. I'm Christian. I love Jesus. But he thinks Jesus tells him to say things," she continued. Manigault-Newman also warned her fellow contestants about the administration's crackdown on illegal immigration, saying, "I've seen the plan" and it gets "more aggressive."
The former "Apprentice" contestant turned White House aide broke down in tears to fellow "Big Brother" cast member Ross Matthews in an earlier episode while discussing about her White House experiences, saying Americans should be worried about the administration.
"It's going to not be OK, it's not,'' she said, adding, ''It's so bad.''
White House deputy press secretary Raj Shah slammed Manigault-Newman's comments during a briefing last week.
"Omarosa was fired three times on 'The Apprentice,' and this was the fourth time we let her go,'' Shah said. ''She had limited contact with the president while here. She has no contact now.''
Manigault-Newman left her White House post in December.
VIDEO - dick durbin | Search | C-SPAN.org
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 01:43
About C-SPAN Resources Follow C-SPAN Channel Finder Find C-SPAN On Your TV ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Channel Finder ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Found C-SPAN On Your TV ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("");if (provider['STATUS'][0] == 1){var cspan1 = provider['CHANNEL'][0].split(',');$.each(cspan1, function(index, value) {cspan1[index] = parseInt(value);});cspan1 = cspan1.sort(compareNumbers).join(', ');$('nav.channel-finder div table').append("C-SPANChannel " + cspan1 + ((typeof provider['HDCHANNEL'][0] == 'string') ? " & HD " + provider['HDCHANNEL'][0] + "*" : "") + "");}if (provider['STATUS'][1] == 1){var cspan2 = provider['CHANNEL'][1].split(',');$.each(cspan2, function(index, value) {cspan2[index] = parseInt(value);});cspan2 = cspan2.sort(compareNumbers).join(', ');$('nav.channel-finder div table').append("C-SPAN2Channel " + cspan2 + ((typeof provider['HDCHANNEL'][1] == 'string') ? " & HD " + provider['HDCHANNEL'][1] + "*" : "") + "");}if (provider['STATUS'][2] == 1){var cspan3 = provider['CHANNEL'][2].split(',');$.each(cspan3, function(index, value) {cspan3[index] = parseInt(value);});cspan3 = cspan3.sort(compareNumbers).join(', ');$('nav.channel-finder div table').append("C-SPAN3Channel " + cspan3 + ((typeof provider['HDCHANNEL'][2] == 'string') ? " & HD " + provider['HDCHANNEL'][2] + "*" : "") + "");}if (hd)$('nav.channel-finder div').append("* Not available in all packages and areas. Please contact your provider if you don't see C-SPAN on your channel lineup.
");}else{$('nav.channel-finder').html("");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Channel Finder ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Your Provider Does Not Carry C-SPAN ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Request C-SPAN");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("C-SPAN is carried by these providers:
");$.each(window.providers['PROVIDER'], function(index, value) {if (value['STATUS'][0] == 1 || value['STATUS'][1] == 1 || value['STATUS'][2] == 1) {$('nav.channel-finder div table').append("" + decodeURIComponent(value['NAME']) + "");$('nav.channel-finder div table tr#' + index).append("");if (value['STATUS'][0] == 1) {$('nav.channel-finder div table tr#' + index + ' .channels').html("C'‘SPAN, "+((typeof provider['HDCHANNEL'][0] == 'string') ? "C'‘SPAN HD, " : ""));}if (value['STATUS'][1] == 1) {$('nav.channel-finder div table tr#' + index + ' .channels').append("C'‘SPAN2, "+((typeof provider['HDCHANNEL'][1] == 'string') ? "C'‘SPAN2 HD, " : ""));}if (value['STATUS'][2] == 1) {$('nav.channel-finder div table tr#' + index + ' .channels').append("C'‘SPAN3, "+((typeof provider['HDCHANNEL'][2] == 'string') ? "C'‘SPAN3 HD, " : ""));}}});$('#request-cspan').click(function(e) {$('nav.channel-finder').html("");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Channel Finder ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Request C-SPAN From Your Provider ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("");$('nav.channel-finder div form').append("* First Name:
");$('nav.channel-finder div form').append("* Last Name:
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");$('nav.channel-finder div form').append("Message:
");$('nav.channel-finder div form').append("* Denotes a required field
")});}}});});function submitRequest(){var formData = $('#request-cspan').serializeArray();var userid = window.providers['K2USERID'];var firstname = formData[0]['value'];var lastname = formData[1]['value'];var email = formData[2]['value'];var message = formData[3]['value'];if (validateEmail(email)) {$.ajax({type: "POST",url: "//www.c-span.org/common/services/getChannel.php",data: {userid: userid, firstname: firstname, lastname: lastname, email: email, provider: window.selectedprovider, zip: window.zip, message: message}}).done(function(data){if (data == '{"STATUS":"SUCCESS"}'){$('nav.channel-finder').html("");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Channel Finder ");$('nav.channel-finder div').append("Thank You For Your Request ");}});}}function validateEmail($email){var emailReg = /^([\w-\.]+@([\w-]+\.)+[\w-]{2,4})?$/;var ret = true;if(!emailReg.test($email))ret = false;return ret;}function compareNumbers(a, b){return a - b;}(C) 2018 National Cable Satellite Corporation
VIDEO - Dick Durbin: We Need Low Skilled Immigrants :: Grabien - The Multimedia Marketplace
Wed, 14 Feb 2018 01:41
DURBIN: "Joe, don't forget that we know that we need some higher skills which are not in this country to grow our economy, but we also need and we have immigrants taking low skill jobs. There are not long lines of people waiting to pick fruit in the United Stets, lining up to work in slaughter houses, or a poultry processing plants, or working behind in the kitchen in the restaurants of Chicago and other great cities. Immigrants take these jobs, they're tough, they're dirty, they -- they work long and hard and don't get paid a lot of money."
VIDEO - UFO Documentary & Paul Hellyer talks 9 11, the banking cartel, global warming, and Roswell - YouTube
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 17:27
VIDEO - Sony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit' : NPR
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 12:25
Sony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit' : NPRSony Apologizes For Making Fun Of Food Allergy In 'Peter Rabbit'Sony's new film, Peter Rabbit, is being criticized for a scene in which a character is pelted with blackberries, to which he's allergic. Allergy advocacy groups criticized the scene and Sony has responded with an apology.
VIDEO - Hope Hicks becomes the story
Tue, 13 Feb 2018 11:05
Hope Hicks becomes the story
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VIDEO - DACA Recipient: Dems Using Us As 'Pawns& | The Daily Caller
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 12:21
''Dreamer'' Hilario Yanez praised President Donald Trump's leadership on immigration and slammed Democrats for using DACA recipients as ''pawns'' during a Saturday interview on Fox News.
''At the end of the day, here's a guy who wants to provide a pathway to citizenship for myself and, you know, really make a difference in my life,'' Yanez said of President Trump. ''I'm for that. Also, I believe we need to have border security so this doesn't happen again.''
''And if a wall is necessary to provide another layer for border security to do their job in a safe and responsible manner, then, you know, I think it's necessary to fund it,'' he continued. ''The diversity lottery '-- I think it's outdated, I think it's time for people who want to come to the United States to focus on skills so they can contribute to the American economy.''
Yanez said he is ''frustrated'' with Democrats because they have shown an unwillingness to work with Trump on his immigration plan and have used people like him as ''pawns'' to score political points.
''The Democratic leadership, Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer, really have no clear message,'' he argued. ''We have been confused, I think at the end of the day they have been using us as pawns.''
''We should have never shut down the government over DACA. We should have never held our American people and our military hostage,'' he said, noting that Democrats opted not to solve the DACA problem when they had control of Congress.
Ultimately, Yanez said he is proud to be in the United States and would ''do anything to serve this country, to die for this country.''
''All I need is a chance,'' he concluded.
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VIDEO - Ham radios are last line of communication in a disaster
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 11:31
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Hawaii's recent false nuclear missile alert showed us how reliant we are on cell phones and modern technology'--and how unprepared we are if they become inaccessible. But in case the unexpected happens, an unlikely group of hobbyists'--ham radio operators'--are standing at the ready and may save us all.Feb.08.2018
Read MoreHawaii's communication breakdown and how going ham could save us07:23
Sexual harassment training'--a brief history02:54
Rio is awash in gunfire. New apps aim to quarantine the violence05:36
California Trump voters reflect on the state of the nation10:57
Escaping conflict through music in Ukraine05:48
The new witches of Salem: feminist, empowered and anti-Trump05:08
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VIDEO - San Francisco Bay Area Experiences Mass Exodus Of Residents CBS San Francisco
Mon, 12 Feb 2018 10:19
SAN JOSE (KPIX 5) '' The number of people packing up and moving out of the Bay Area just hit its highest level in more than a decade.
Carole Dabak spent 40 years living in San Jose and now she's part of the mass exodus that is showing no signs of slowing down.
The retired engineer's packing up and calling it quits about to move to the state of Tennessee.
''I loved it here when I first got here. I really loved it here. But it's just not the same,'' Dabak said.
Of course people come and go from the Bay Area all the time, but for the first time in a long time, more people are leaving the Bay Area than are coming in. And the number one place in the country for out-migration is now, right here.
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Russell Hancock with Joint Venture Silicon Valley said, ''Silicon Valley has been this place that is growing. And it was mostly growing because'...people relocating here and relocating from other parts of the world. That's changing.''
Joint Venture Silicon Valley's own study of the out-migration says workers are moving to Sacramento, Austin, and Portland due to a number of factors. But topping the list is the high cost of housing.
' ALSO READ:California Officials, Protesters Fight Offshore Drill Plans By Trump Administration
''You can't even contemplate getting into the housing market here,'' Hancock said. ''And I don't mean just service workers, I mean highly skilled professionals. The tech elite are having a hard time affording reasonable housing in Silicon Valley. So this is difficult, this makes it very difficult for employers trying to recruit.''
Operators of a San Jose U-Haul business say one of their biggest problems is getting its rental moving vans back because so many are on a one-way ticket out of town.
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Dabak cites crowding, crime and politics as the reasons for her own exodus.
''We don't like it here anymore. You know, we don't like this sanctuary state status and just the politics here,'' she said.
She plans to sell her home for about $1 million, buy a much larger place near Nashville for less than half that and retire closer to family and friends.
Nationwide, the cities with the highest inflows, according to Redfin are Phoenix, Las Vegas, Atlanta, and Nashville.
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