Cover for No Agenda Show 1018: Bunny Wars
March 22nd, 2018 • 2h 56m

1018: Bunny Wars


Every new episode of No Agenda is accompanied by a comprehensive list of shownotes curated by Adam while preparing for the show. Clips played by the hosts during the show can also be found here.

Phrase from the Chage
Heavens to Murgatroyd!
Goodness gracious sakes alive!
CNN Profiles - Laurie Segall - Senior Technology Correspondent - CNN
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 01:35
Laurie Segall is a senior technology correspondent for CNN and editor-at-large for CNN Tech, covering the intersection of technology and culture. Segall is also the host of CNN's first CNNgo original, Mostly Human with Laurie Segall, a six-part investigative docuseries, exploring sex, love, death - humanity - through the lens of tech. An award winning journalist, Segall specializes in investigative reports showing the impact of technology on our daily lives, building on her longstanding focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. Her work appears across all CNN platforms.
Segall has reported out award-winning investigative series ranging from emerging forms of online harassment to an intimate look at the hacker community and drug use in Silicon Valley. Her reports showcase a unique multiplatform delivery of stories with digital episodes available to binge-watch online, which are frequently adapted as CNN and HLN for television special reports.
From the founders of Instagram to Uber, Segall got her start identifying and interviewing disruptive tech companies and bringing their stories to light. She has interviewed entrepreneurs like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, and given her audience a behind the scenes look at tech companies like Twitter and Facebook.
Segall was named to Forbes' '30 Under 30', Mashable's 'Seven Top Journalists to Subscribe to on Facebook. She is a regular speaker at industry conferences, including Internet Week New York and SXSW, where she regularly leads CNN's technology coverage.
Segall earned a bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Michigan.
Facebook Executive Planning to Leave Company Amid Disinformation Backlash - The New York Times
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:09
Alex Stamos, the chief information security officer for Facebook. He has urged more disclosure over Russian activity on Facebook. Credit Steve Marcus/Reuters As Facebook grapples with a backlash over its role in spreading disinformation, an internal dispute over how to handle the threat and the public outcry is resulting in the departure of a senior executive.
The impending exit of that executive '-- Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief information security officer '-- reflects heightened leadership tension at the top of the social network. Much of the internal disagreement is rooted in how much Facebook should publicly share about how nation states misused the platform and debate over organizational changes in the run-up to the 2018 midterm elections, according to current and former employees briefed on the matter.
Mr. Stamos, who plans to leave Facebook by August, had advocated more disclosure around Russian interference of the platform and some restructuring to better address the issues, but was met with resistance by colleagues, said the current and former employees. In December, Mr. Stamos's day-to-day responsibilities were reassigned to others, they said.
Mr. Stamos said he would leave Facebook but was persuaded to stay through August to oversee the transition of his responsibilities and because executives thought his departure would look bad, the people said. He has been overseeing the transfer of his security team to Facebook's product and infrastructure divisions. His group, which once had 120 people, now has three, the current and former employees said.
Mr. Stamos would be the first high-ranking employee to leave Facebook since controversy over disinformation on its site. Company leaders '-- including Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook's chief executive, and Sheryl Sandberg, the chief operating officer '-- have struggled to address a growing set of problems, including Russian interference on the platform, the rise of false news and the disclosure over the weekend that 50 million of its user profiles had been harvested by Cambridge Analytica, a voter-profiling company.
The developments have taken a toll internally, said the seven people briefed on the matter, who asked not to be identified because the proceedings were confidential. Some of the company's executives are weighing their own legacies and reputations as Facebook's image has taken a beating. Several believe the company would have been better off saying little about Russian interference and note that other companies, such as Twitter, which have stayed relatively quiet on the issue, have not had to deal with as much criticism.
One central tension at Facebook has been that of the legal and policy teams versus the security team. The security team generally pushed for more disclosure about how nation states had misused the site, but the legal and policy teams have prioritized business imperatives, said the people briefed on the matter.
''The people whose job is to protect the user always are fighting an uphill battle against the people whose job is to make money for the company,'' said Sandy Parakilas, who worked at Facebook enforcing privacy and other rules until 2012 and now advises a nonprofit organization called the Center for Humane Technology, which is looking at the effect of technology on people.
Mr. Stamos said in statement on Monday, ''These are really challenging issues, and I've had some disagreements with all of my colleagues, including other executives.'' On Twitter, he said he was ''still fully engaged with my work at Facebook'' and acknowledged that his role has changed, without addressing his future plans.
Facebook did not have a comment on the broader issues around Mr. Stamos's departure.
Mr. Stamos joined Facebook from Yahoo in June 2015. He and other Facebook executives, such as Ms. Sandberg, disagreed early on over how proactive the social network should be in policing its own platform, said the people briefed on the matter. In his statement, Mr. Stamos said his relationship with Ms. Sandberg was ''productive.''
Mr. Stamos first put together a group of engineers to scour Facebook for Russian activity in June 2016, the month the Democratic National Committee announced it had been attacked by Russian hackers, the current and former employees said.
By November 2016, the team had uncovered evidence that Russian operatives had aggressively pushed DNC leaks and propaganda on Facebook. That same month, Mr. Zuckerberg publicly dismissed the notion that fake news influenced the 2016 election, calling it a ''pretty crazy idea.''
In the ensuing months, Facebook's security team found more Russian disinformation and propaganda on its site, according to the current and former employees. By the spring of 2017, deciding how much Russian interference to disclose publicly became a major source of contention within the company.
Mr. Stamos pushed to disclose as much as possible, while others including Elliot Schrage, Facebook's vice president of communications and policy, recommended not naming Russia without more ironclad evidence, said the current and former employees.
A detailed memorandum Mr. Stamos wrote in early 2017 describing Russian interference was scrubbed for mentions of Russia and winnowed into a blog post last April that outlined, in hypothetical terms, how Facebook could be manipulated by a foreign adversary, they said. Russia was only referenced in a vague footnote. That footnote acknowledged that Facebook's findings did not contradict a declassified January 2017 report in which the director of national intelligence concluded Russia had sought to undermine United States election, and Hillary Clinton in particular.
Mr. Stamos said in his statement that ''we decided that the responsible thing to do would be to make clear that our findings were consistent with those released by the U.S. intelligence community, which clearly connected the activity in their report to Russian state-sponsored actors.''
But Facebook's decision to omit Russia backfired. Weeks later, a Time magazine article revealed that Russia had created fake accounts and purchased fake ads to spread propaganda on the platform, allegations that Facebook initially denied.
By last September, after Mr. Stamos's investigation had revealed further Russian interference, Facebook was forced to reverse course. That month, the company disclosed that beginning in June 2015, Russians had paid Facebook $100,000 to run roughly 3,000 divisive ads to show the American electorate.
In response, lawmakers like Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, said that although Facebook's revelation was a good first step, ''I'm disappointed it's taken 10 months of raising this issue before they've become much more transparent.''
And the revelation also prompted more attention into how Russians had manipulated the social network. Last October and November, Facebook was grilled in front of lawmakers on Capitol Hill for Russian meddling on its platform, along with executives from Twitter and YouTube.
The public reaction caused some at Facebook to recoil at revealing more, said the current and former employees. Since the 2016 election, Facebook has paid unusual attention to the reputations of Mr. Zuckerberg and Ms. Sandberg, conducting polls to track how they are viewed by the public, said Tavis McGinn, who was recruited to the company last April and headed the executive reputation efforts through September 2017.
Mr. McGinn, who now heads Honest Data, which has done polling about Facebook's reputation in different countries, said Facebook is ''caught in a Catch-22.''
''Facebook cares so much about its image that the executives don't want to come out and tell the whole truth when things go wrong,'' he said. ''But if they don't, it damages their image.''
Mr. McGinn said he left Facebook after becoming disillusioned with the company's conduct.
By December 2017, Mr. Stamos, who reports to Facebook's general counsel, proposed that he report directly to higher-ups. Facebook executives rejected that proposal and instead reassigned Mr. Stamos's team, splitting the security team between its product team, overseen by Guy Rosen, and infrastructure team, overseen by Pedro Canahuati, according to current and former employees.
Apart from managing a small team of engineers in San Francisco, Mr. Stamos has largely been left as Facebook's security communicator. Last month, he appeared as Facebook's representative at the Munich Security Conference.
Over the weekend, after news broke that Cambridge Analytica had harvested data on as many as 50 million Facebook users, Facebook's communications team encouraged Mr. Stamos to tweet in defense of the company, but only after it asked to approve Mr. Stamos's tweets, according to two people briefed on the incident.
After the tweets set off a furious response, Mr. Stamos deleted them.
Roger B. McNamee, an early investor in Facebook who said he considered himself a mentor to Mr. Zuckerberg, said the company was failing to face the fundamental problems posed by the Russian meddling and other manipulation of content.
''I told them, 'Your business is based on trust, and you're losing trust,''' said Mr. McNamee, a founder of the Center for Humane Technology. ''They were treating it as a P.R. problem, when it's a business problem. I couldn't believe these guys I once knew so well had gotten so far off track.''
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Overview Cambridge Analytica from Michael Z
1. fresh news article / FTC
2. old news article + a Maxine video
3. paper (PDF)
4. Carol Davidsen's tweets + a video
5. how it worked
6. articles on Carol Davidsen
7. the Channel 4 / NBC undercover videos & CA's reply
8. the Russian connection
Now the FTC is going to investigate Facebag --
"according to a person familiar with the matter" ?
" The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is probing
whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree following the
revelations that user data had been transferred to Cambridge Analytica without
their knowledge, according to a person familiar with the matter. "
Obama's datamining on FB for the 2012 election -- and The
Guardian was proud of him:
" The database will allow staff and volunteers at
all levels of the campaign – from the top strategists answering directly to
Obama's campaign manager Jim Messina to the lowliest canvasser on the doorsteps
of Ohio – to unlock knowledge about individual voters and use it to target
personalised messages that they hope will mobilise voters where it counts most.
even Maxine knew:
"a kind of database that no one has ever seen before
in life that's going to be very very powerful ... and that database will have
information on everything about every individual in ways that it's never been
done before"
same video + article:
They even published a paper detailing their social media
operation: Inside the Cave (it's 90 pages long, I don't have time to read it)
page 11:
" The Lesson: Don't fight the last war. In 2016, the
game will be different (total digital integration throughout the campaign?).
GOP needs to catch up AND get ahead of where campaigns are going next like OFA
did with Analytics in 2012. "
excerpt of a talk by someone on the Obama team, Carol
+Carol Davidsen's tweets:
"Facebook was surprised we were able to suck out the
whole social graph, but they didn’t stop us once they realized that was what we
were doing."
this guy from the Obama campaign explains in simple terms
how they did it, they called it Targeted Sharing and it's about finding the
right influencers that will share the right content to their circle of
What can non-profits learn from social media targeting
done by the Obama 2012 Campaign?
" Intelligent Targeting using influence models gets
the right message to more of the right people. Compared to untargeted messages
aka wall posts, we were able to get our message out to 5 times as many people
in the target audience. "
it looks like a lot of people online are talking about
what Carol Davidsen wrote:
a comparison, Obama Vs Trump
same topic:
The Social-Media Panic
" How did Facebook react to the much larger data
harvesting of the Obama campaign? The New York Times reported it out, in a
feature hailing Obama’s digital masterminds: "
even the WaPo mentions the Obama campaign
'They were on our side': Obama campaign director reveals
Facebook ALLOWED them to mine American users' profiles in 2012 because they
were supportive of the Democrats
Investor's Business Daily
Funny, When Obama Harvested Facebook Data On Millions Of
Users To Win In 2012, Everyone Cheered
" When Obama was exploiting Facebook users to help
win re-election, it was an act of political genius. When Trump attempted
something similar, with unclear results, it's a travesty of democracy and
further evidence that somehow he stole the election. "
an article from 2012 praising the Obama campaign for
harvesting so much info from Facebag:
Obama’s Data Techniques Will Rule Future Elections
NY Post:
Obama’s former media director: Facebook was once ‘on our
“We ingested the entire U.S. social graph,” Davidsen told
the Washington Post. “We would ask permission to basically scrape your profile,
and also scrape your friends, basically anything that was available to scrape.
We scraped it all.”
Why Are We Only Now Talking About Facebook And Elections?
" At the time of his election and reelection,
Obama’s data analytics researchers were heralded as technology heroes for the
way they modernized how political campaigns wrangle data in the pursuit of
votes. Outlets sang their praises as “digital masterminds” and lauded their
“unorthodox” approaches. "
this lloongg article mentions Cambridge Analytica and
Carol Davidsen's company but it's 4 months old and it focuses on the efforts to
target voters through their TV services:
Trump’s Data Gurus Are Now Turning Their Attention To
Your TV
" In the 2016 election, however, the Clinton
campaign chose to build their own TV buying and targeting strategy, not to use
a more advanced version of the Obama approach. “It’s frustrating when you build
something that is available to both sides, and the side you personally support
doesn’t use it,” Carol Davidsen, Obama’s TV ad guru, and now a comScore
executive, told AdAge in February. (It’s not clear if Cambridge used the
comScore system during its work for the Trump campaign.) "
Channel 4, the sensationalist british TV channel, (and
apparently a partner of NBC) claims their undercover video proves Cambridge
Analytica was trying to entrap politicians with prostitutes and that's the kind
of services they offer to their clients.
" In a meeting with the head of Cambridge Analytica
— the political data firm used by the Trump campaign in 2016 — reporters from
NBC News’ U.K. partner ITN Channel 4 News posed as potential clients interested
in changing the outcome of the Sri Lankan elections. "
Will they release the full unedited tapes? Every time
James O'Keefe releases a video the first thing the MSM does is to warn people
they're heavily edited videos.
CA's response:
"... the undercover reporter later attempted to
entrap Cambridge Analytica executives by initiating a conversation about
unethical practices. After several meetings discussing ostensibly legitimate
projects, the reporter unexpectedly and suddenly turned the conversation
towards practices such as corruption and the entrapment of political figures.
Russia! Russia!
Translation: "We don't have evidence that it's true
but we know it's true because it appears to be true." (Oh and never mind
the fact that the story is that C.A. were looking for the 33,000 deleted
e-mails from Hillary's private server, not the DNC e-mails which they didn't
know anything about, we always confuse the two)
Cambridge Analytica Denies Working With Russia,
" We don’t have proof that all these figures were
acting together. But it certainly appears that Cambridge Analytica was heavily
involved with trying to get Clinton’s stolen emails, and was aware that Russia
had engineered their theft, and played an important role facilitating
cooperation between Russia and the Trump campaign. "
Julian Assange confirms Cambridge Analytica sought
WikiLeaks' help
" The statement followed a report in the Daily Beast
that Cambridge Analytica chief executive Alexander Nix made contact with
Assange about the possible release of 33,000 of former secretary of state
Hillary Clinton’s missing emails. "
Here's how Facebook allowed Cambridge Analytica to get data for 50 million users - Recode
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:07
Cambridge Analytica, the data analytics firm that helped Donald Trump get elected president, amassed a trove of Facebook user data for some 50 million people without ever getting their permission, according to a report from The New York Times.
Facebook is in another awkward situation. The company claims that it wasn't breached, and that while it has suspended Cambridge Analytica from its service, the social giant is not at fault. Facebook contends that its technology worked exactly how Facebook built it to work, but that bad actors, like Cambridge Analytica, violated the company's terms of service.
On the other hand, Facebook has since changed those terms of service to cut down on information third parties can collect, essentially admitting that its prior terms weren't very good.
So how did Cambridge Analytica get Facebook data on some 50 million people?
Facebook's Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos, tweeted a lengthy defense of the company, which also included a helpful explanation for how this came about. (He later deleted the tweets, saying he ''should have done a better job weighing in,'' though you can see screenshots of some of them below.)
Facebook offers a number of technology tools for software developers, and one of the most popular is Facebook Login, which lets people simply log in to a website or app using their Facebook account instead of creating new credentials. People use it because it's easy '-- usually one or two taps '-- and eliminates the need for people to remember a bunch of unique username and password combinations.
An example of what Facebook Login looks like. Facebook When people use Facebook Login, though, they grant the app's developer a range of information from their Facebook profile '-- things like their name, location, email or friends list. This is what happened in 2015, when a Cambridge University professor named Dr. Aleksandr Kogan created an app called ''thisisyourdigitallife'' that utilized Facebook's login feature. Some 270,000 people used Facebook Login to create accounts, and thus opted in to share personal profile data with Kogan.
Back in 2015, though, Facebook also allowed developers to collect some information on the friend networks of people who used Facebook Login. That means that while a single user may have agreed to hand over their data, developers could also access some data about their friends. This was not a secret '-- Facebook says it was documented in their terms of service '-- but it has since been updated so that this is no longer possible, at least not at the same level of detail.
Through those 270,000 people who opted in, Kogan was able to get access to data from some 50 million Facebook users, according to the Times. That data trove could have included information about people's locations and interests, and more granular stuff like photos, status updates and check-ins.
The Times found that Cambridge Analytica's data for ''roughly 30 million [people] contained enough information, including places of residence, that the company could match users to other records and build psychographic profiles.''
This all happened just as Facebook intended for it to happen. All of this data collection followed the company's rules and guidelines.
Things became problematic when Kogan shared this data with Cambridge Analytica. Facebook contends this is against the company's terms of service. According to those rules, developers are not allowed to ''transfer any data that you receive from us (including anonymous, aggregate, or derived data) to any ad network, data broker or other advertising or monetization-related service.''
As Stamos tweeted out Saturday (before later deleting the tweet): ''Kogan did not break into any systems, bypass any technical controls, our use a flaw in our software to gather more data than allowed. He did, however, misuse that data after he gathered it, but that does not retroactively make it a 'breach.'''
Tweets from Facebook's Chief Security Officer, Alex Stamos, which have since been deleted. The problem here is that Facebook gives a lot of trust to the developers who use its software features. The company's terms of service are an agreement in the same way any user agrees to use Facebook: The rules represent a contract that Facebook can use to punish someone, but not until after that someone has already broken the rules.
Facebook is not alone in this world of data sharing. The major mobile platforms like iOS and Android allow developers to collect people's contact lists with permission. Twitter has a login feature similar to Facebook Login, and so do Google and LinkedIn.
'I made Steve Bannon's psychological warfare tool': meet the data war whistleblower | News | The Guardian
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 01:19
The first time I met Christopher Wylie, he didn't yet have pink hair. That comes later. As does his mission to rewind time. To put the genie back in the bottle.
By the time I met him in person, I'd already been talking to him on a daily basis for hours at a time. On the phone, he was clever, funny, bitchy, profound, intellectually ravenous, compelling. A master storyteller. A politicker. A data science nerd.
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower: 'We spent $1m harvesting millions of Facebook profiles' '' videoTwo months later, when he arrived in London from Canada, he was all those things in the flesh. And yet the flesh was impossibly young. He was 27 then (he's 28 now), a fact that has always seemed glaringly at odds with what he has done. He may have played a pivotal role in the momentous political upheavals of 2016. At the very least, he played a consequential role. At 24, he came up with an idea that led to the foundation of a company called Cambridge Analytica, a data analytics firm that went on to claim a major role in the Leave campaign for Britain's EU membership referendum, and later became a key figure in digital operations during Donald Trump's election campaign.
Or, as Wylie describes it, he was the gay Canadian vegan who somehow ended up creating ''Steve Bannon's psychological warfare mindfuck tool''.
In 2014, Steve Bannon '' then executive chairman of the ''alt-right'' news network Breitbart '' was Wylie's boss. And Robert Mercer, the secretive US hedge-fund billionaire and Republican donor, was Cambridge Analytica's investor. And the idea they bought into was to bring big data and social media to an established military methodology '' ''information operations'' '' then turn it on the US electorate.
It was Wylie who came up with that idea and oversaw its realisation. And it was Wylie who, last spring, became my source. In May 2017, I wrote an article headlined ''The great British Brexit robbery'', which set out a skein of threads that linked Brexit to Trump to Russia. Wylie was one of a handful of individuals who provided the evidence behind it. I found him, via another Cambridge Analytica ex-employee, lying low in Canada: guilty, brooding, indignant, confused. ''I haven't talked about this to anyone,'' he said at the time. And then he couldn't stop talking.
Explainer embedBy that time, Steve Bannon had become Trump's chief strategist. Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL, had won contracts with the US State Department and was pitching to the Pentagon, and Wylie was genuinely freaked out. ''It's insane,'' he told me one night. ''The company has created psychological profiles of 230 million Americans. And now they want to work with the Pentagon? It's like Nixon on steroids.''
He ended up showing me a tranche of documents that laid out the secret workings behind Cambridge Analytica. And in the months following publication of my article in May, it was revealed that the company had ''reached out'' to WikiLeaks to help distribute Hillary Clinton's stolen emails in 2016. And then we watched as it became a subject of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into possible Russian collusion in the US election.
The Observer also received the first of three letters from Cambridge Analytica threatening to sue Guardian News and Media for defamation. We are still only just starting to understand the maelstrom of forces that came together to create the conditions for what Mueller confirmed last month was ''information warfare''. But Wylie offers a unique, worm's-eye view of the events of 2016. Of how Facebook was hijacked, repurposed to become a theatre of war: how it became a launchpad for what seems to be an extraordinary attack on the US's democratic process.
Wylie oversaw what may have been the first critical breach. Aged 24, while studying for a PhD in fashion trend forecasting, he came up with a plan to harvest the Facebook profiles of millions of people in the US, and to use their private and personal information to create sophisticated psychological and political profiles. And then target them with political ads designed to work on their particular psychological makeup.
''We 'broke' Facebook,'' he says.
And he did it on behalf of his new boss, Steve Bannon.
''Is it fair to say you 'hacked' Facebook?'' I ask him one night.
He hesitates. ''I'll point out that I assumed it was entirely legal and above board.''
Last month, Facebook's UK director of policy, Simon Milner, told British MPs on a select committee inquiry into fake news, chaired by Conservative MP Damian Collins, that Cambridge Analytica did not have Facebook data. The official Hansard extract reads:
Christian Matheson (MP for Chester): ''Have you ever passed any user information over to Cambridge Analytica or any of its associated companies?''
Simon Milner: ''No.''
Matheson: ''But they do hold a large chunk of Facebook's user data, don't they?''
Milner: ''No. They may have lots of data, but it will not be Facebook user data. It may be data about people who are on Facebook that they have gathered themselves, but it is not data that we have provided.''
Alexander Nix, Cambridge Analytica CEO. Photograph: The Washington Post/Getty ImagesTwo weeks later, on 27 February, as part of the same parliamentary inquiry, Rebecca Pow, MP for Taunton Deane, asked Cambridge Analytica's CEO, Alexander Nix: ''Does any of the data come from Facebook?'' Nix replied: ''We do not work with Facebook data and we do not have Facebook data.''
And through it all, Wylie and I, plus a handful of editors and a small, international group of academics and researchers, have known that '' at least in 2014 '' that certainly wasn't the case, because Wylie has the paper trail. In our first phone call, he told me he had the receipts, invoices, emails, legal letters '' records that showed how, between June and August 2014, the profiles of more than 50 million Facebook users had been harvested. Most damning of all, he had a letter from Facebook's own lawyers admitting that Cambridge Analytica had acquired the data illegitimately.
Going public involves an enormous amount of risk. Wylie is breaking a non-disclosure agreement and risks being sued. He is breaking the confidence of Steve Bannon and Robert Mercer.
It's taken a rollercoaster of a year to help get Wylie to a place where it's possible for him to finally come forward. A year in which Cambridge Analytica has been the subject of investigations on both sides of the Atlantic '' Robert Mueller's in the US, and separate inquiries by the Electoral Commission and the Information Commissioner's Office in the UK, both triggered in February 2017, after the Observer's first article in this investigation.
It has been a year, too, in which Wylie has been trying his best to rewind '' to undo events that he set in motion. Earlier this month, he submitted a dossier of evidence to the Information Commissioner's Office and the National Crime Agency's cybercrime unit. He is now in a position to go on the record: the data nerd who came in from the cold.
There are many points where this story could begin. One is in 2012, when Wylie was 21 and working for the Liberal Democrats in the UK, then in government as junior coalition partners. His career trajectory has been, like most aspects of his life so far, extraordinary, preposterous, implausible.
Profile Cambridge Analytica: the key players Show Hide Alexander Nix, CEO
An Old Etonian with a degree from Manchester University, Nix, 42, worked as a financial analyst in Mexico and the UK before joining SCL, a strategic communications firm, in 2003. From 2007 he took over the company's elections division, and claims to have worked on 260 campaigns globally. He set up Cambridge Analytica to work in America, with investment from Robert Mercer.
Aleksandr Kogan, data miner
Aleksandr Kogan was born in Moldova and lived in Moscow until the age of seven, then moved with his family to the US, where he became a naturalised citizen. He studied at the University of California, Berkeley, and got his PhD at the University of Hong Kong before joining Cambridge as a lecturer in psychology and expert in social media psychometrics. He set up Global Science Research (GSR) to carry out CA's data research. While at Cambridge he accepted a position at St Petersburg State University, and also took Russian government grants for research. He changed his name to Spectre when he married, but later reverted to Kogan.
Steve Bannon, former board member
A former investment banker turned ''alt-right'' media svengali, Steve Bannon was boss at website Breitbart when he met Christopher Wylie and Nix and advised Robert Mercer to invest in political data research by setting up CA. In August 2016 he became Donald Trump's campaign CEO. Bannon encouraged the reality TV star to embrace the ''populist, economic nationalist'' agenda that would carry him into the White House. That earned Bannon the post of chief strategist to the president and for a while he was arguably the second most powerful man in America. By August 2017 his relationship with Trump had soured and he was out.
Robert Mercer, investor
Robert Mercer, 71, is a computer scientist and hedge fund billionaire, who used his fortune to become one of the most influential men in US politics as a top Republican donor. An AI expert, he made a fortune with quantitative trading pioneers Renaissance Technologies, then built a $60m war chest to back conservative causes by using an offshore investment vehicle to avoid US tax.
Rebekah Mercer, investor
Rebekah Mercer has a maths degree from Stanford, and worked as a trader, but her influence comes primarily from her father's billions. The fortysomething, the second of Mercer's three daughters, heads up the family foundation which channels money to rightwing groups. The conservative mega'‘donors backed Breitbart, Bannon and, most influentially, poured millions into Trump's presidential campaign.
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Wylie grew up in British Columbia and as a teenager he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia. He left school at 16 without a single qualification. Yet at 17, he was working in the office of the leader of the Canadian opposition; at 18, he went to learn all things data from Obama's national director of targeting, which he then introduced to Canada for the Liberal party. At 19, he taught himself to code, and in 2010, age 20, he came to London to study law at the London School of Economics.
''Politics is like the mob, though,'' he says. ''You never really leave. I got a call from the Lib Dems. They wanted to upgrade their databases and voter targeting. So, I combined working for them with studying for my degree.''
Politics is also where he feels most comfortable. He hated school, but as an intern in the Canadian parliament he discovered a world where he could talk to adults and they would listen. He was the kid who did the internet stuff and within a year he was working for the leader of the opposition.
It showed these odd patterns. People who liked 'I hate Israel' on Facebook also tended to like KitKats
''He's one of the brightest people you will ever meet,'' a senior politician who's known Wylie since he was 20 told me. ''Sometimes that's a blessing and sometimes a curse.''
Meanwhile, at Cambridge University's Psychometrics Centre, two psychologists, Michal Kosinski and David Stillwell, were experimenting with a way of studying personality '' by quantifying it.
Starting in 2007, Stillwell, while a student, had devised various apps for Facebook, one of which, a personality quiz called myPersonality, had gone viral. Users were scored on ''big five'' personality traits '' Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism '' and in exchange, 40% of them consented to give him access to their Facebook profiles. Suddenly, there was a way of measuring personality traits across the population and correlating scores against Facebook ''likes'' across millions of people.
Examples, above and below, of the visual messages trialled by GSR's online profiling test. Respondents were asked: How important should this message be to all Americans?The research was original, groundbreaking and had obvious possibilities. ''They had a lot of approaches from the security services,'' a member of the centre told me. ''There was one called You Are What You Like and it was demonstrated to the intelligence services. And it showed these odd patterns; that, for example, people who liked 'I hate Israel' on Facebook also tended to like Nike shoes and KitKats.
''There are agencies that fund research on behalf of the intelligence services. And they were all over this research. That one was nicknamed Operation KitKat.''
The defence and military establishment were the first to see the potential of the research. Boeing, a major US defence contractor, funded Kosinski's PhD and Darpa, the US government's secretive Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, is cited in at least two academic papers supporting Kosinski's work.
But when, in 2013, the first major paper was published, others saw this potential too, including Wylie. He had finished his degree and had started his PhD in fashion forecasting, and was thinking about the Lib Dems. It is fair to say that he didn't have a clue what he was walking into.
''I wanted to know why the Lib Dems sucked at winning elections when they used to run the country up to the end of the 19th century,'' Wylie explains. ''And I began looking at consumer and demographic data to see what united Lib Dem voters, because apart from bits of Wales and the Shetlands it's weird, disparate regions. And what I found is there were no strong correlations. There was no signal in the data.
''And then I came across a paper about how personality traits could be a precursor to political behaviour, and it suddenly made sense. Liberalism is correlated with high openness and low conscientiousness, and when you think of Lib Dems they're absent-minded professors and hippies. They're the early adopters'... they're highly open to new ideas. And it just clicked all of a sudden.''
Here was a way for the party to identify potential new voters. The only problem was that the Lib Dems weren't interested.
''I did this presentation at which I told them they would lose half their 57 seats, and they were like: 'Why are you so pessimistic?' They actually lost all but eight of their seats, FYI.''
Another Lib Dem connection introduced Wylie to a company called SCL Group, one of whose subsidiaries, SCL Elections, would go on to create Cambridge Analytica (an incorporated venture between SCL Elections and Robert Mercer, funded by the latter). For all intents and purposes, SCL/Cambridge Analytica are one and the same.
Alexander Nix, then CEO of SCL Elections, made Wylie an offer he couldn't resist. ''He said: 'We'll give you total freedom. Experiment. Come and test out all your crazy ideas.'''
Another example of the visual messages trialled by GSR's online profiling test.In the history of bad ideas, this turned out to be one of the worst. The job was research director across the SCL group, a private contractor that has both defence and elections operations. Its defence arm was a contractor to the UK's Ministry of Defence and the US's Department of Defense, among others. Its expertise was in ''psychological operations'' '' or psyops '' changing people's minds not through persuasion but through ''informational dominance'', a set of techniques that includes rumour, disinformation and fake news.
SCL Elections had used a similar suite of tools in more than 200 elections around the world, mostly in undeveloped democracies that Wylie would come to realise were unequipped to defend themselves.
Wylie holds a British Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa '' a UK work visa given to just 200 people a year. He was working inside government (with the Lib Dems) as a political strategist with advanced data science skills. But no one, least of all him, could have predicted what came next. When he turned up at SCL's offices in Mayfair, he had no clue that he was walking into the middle of a nexus of defence and intelligence projects, private contractors and cutting-edge cyberweaponry.
''The thing I think about all the time is, what if I'd taken a job at Deloitte instead? They offered me one. I just think if I'd taken literally any other job, Cambridge Analytica wouldn't exist. You have no idea how much I brood on this.''
A few months later, in autumn 2013, Wylie met Steve Bannon. At the time, he was editor-in-chief of Breitbart, which he had brought to Britain to support his friend Nigel Farage in his mission to take Britain out of the European Union.
What was he like?
''Smart,'' says Wylie. ''Interesting. Really interested in ideas. He's the only straight man I've ever talked to about intersectional feminist theory. He saw its relevance straightaway to the oppressions that conservative, young white men feel.''
Wylie meeting Bannon was the moment petrol was poured on a flickering flame. Wylie lives for ideas. He speaks 19 to the dozen for hours at a time. He had a theory to prove. And at the time, this was a purely intellectual problem. Politics was like fashion, he told Bannon.
If you do not respect the agency of people, anything you do after that point is not conducive to democracy
Christopher Wylie''[Bannon] got it immediately. He believes in the whole Andrew Breitbart doctrine that politics is downstream from culture, so to change politics you need to change culture. And fashion trends are a useful proxy for that. Trump is like a pair of Uggs, or Crocs, basically. So how do you get from people thinking 'Ugh. Totally ugly' to the moment when everyone is wearing them? That was the inflection point he was looking for.''
But Wylie wasn't just talking about fashion. He had recently been exposed to a new discipline: ''information operations'', which ranks alongside land, sea, air and space in the US military's doctrine of the ''five-dimensional battle space''. His brief ranged across the SCL Group '' the British government has paid SCL to conduct counter-extremism operations in the Middle East, and the US Department of Defense has contracted it to work in Afghanistan.
I tell him that another former employee described the firm as ''MI6 for hire'', and I'd never quite understood it.
''It's like dirty MI6 because you're not constrained. There's no having to go to a judge to apply for permission. It's normal for a 'market research company' to amass data on domestic populations. And if you're working in some country and there's an auxiliary benefit to a current client with aligned interests, well that's just a bonus.''
When I ask how Bannon even found SCL, Wylie tells me what sounds like a tall tale, though it's one he can back up with an email about how Mark Block, a veteran Republican strategist, happened to sit next to a cyberwarfare expert for the US air force on a plane. ''And the cyberwarfare guy is like, 'Oh, you should meet SCL. They do cyberwarfare for elections.'''
Steve Bannon: 'He loved the gays,' says Wylie. 'He saw us as early adopters.' Photograph: Tony Gentile/ReutersIt was Bannon who took this idea to the Mercers: Robert Mercer '' the co-CEO of the hedge fund Renaissance Technologies, who used his billions to pursue a rightwing agenda, donating to Republican causes and supporting Republican candidates '' and his daughter Rebekah.
Nix and Wylie flew to New York to meet the Mercers in Rebekah's Manhattan apartment.
''She loved me. She was like, 'Oh we need more of your type on our side!'''
Your type?
''The gays. She loved the gays. So did Steve [Bannon]. He saw us as early adopters. He figured, if you can get the gays on board, everyone else will follow. It's why he was so into the whole Milo [Yiannopoulos] thing.''
Robert Mercer was a pioneer in AI and machine translation. He helped invent algorithmic trading '' which replaced hedge fund managers with computer programs '' and he listened to Wylie's pitch. It was for a new kind of political message-targeting based on an influential and groundbreaking 2014 paper researched at Cambridge's Psychometrics Centre, called: ''Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans''.
''In politics, the money man is usually the dumbest person in the room. Whereas it's the opposite way around with Mercer,'' says Wylie. ''He said very little, but he really listened. He wanted to understand the science. And he wanted proof that it worked.''
And to do that, Wylie needed data.
How Cambridge Analytica acquired the data has been the subject of internal reviews at Cambridge University, of many news articles and much speculation and rumour.
When Nix was interviewed by MPs last month, Damian Collins asked him:
''Does any of your data come from Global Science Research company?''
Nix: ''GSR?''
Collins: ''Yes.''
Nix: ''We had a relationship with GSR. They did some research for us back in 2014. That research proved to be fruitless and so the answer is no.''
Collins: ''They have not supplied you with data or information?''
Nix: ''No.''
Collins: ''Your datasets are not based on information you have received from them?''
Nix: ''No.''
Collins: ''At all?''
Nix: ''At all.''
The problem with Nix's response to Collins is that Wylie has a copy of an executed contract, dated 4 June 2014, which confirms that SCL, the parent company of Cambridge Analytica, entered into a commercial arrangement with a company called Global Science Research (GSR), owned by Cambridge-based academic Aleksandr Kogan, specifically premised on the harvesting and processing of Facebook data, so that it could be matched to personality traits and voter rolls.
He has receipts showing that Cambridge Analytica spent $7m to amass this data, about $1m of it with GSR. He has the bank records and wire transfers. Emails reveal Wylie first negotiated with Michal Kosinski, one of the co-authors of the original myPersonality research paper, to use the myPersonality database. But when negotiations broke down, another psychologist, Aleksandr Kogan, offered a solution that many of his colleagues considered unethical. He offered to replicate Kosinski and Stilwell's research and cut them out of the deal. For Wylie it seemed a perfect solution. ''Kosinski was asking for $500,000 for the IP but Kogan said he could replicate it and just harvest his own set of data.'' (Kosinski says the fee was to fund further research.)
An unethical solution? Dr Aleksandr Kogan Photograph: alex koganKogan then set up GSR to do the work, and proposed to Wylie they use the data to set up an interdisciplinary institute working across the social sciences. ''What happened to that idea,'' I ask Wylie. ''It never happened. I don't know why. That's one of the things that upsets me the most.''
It was Bannon's interest in culture as war that ignited Wylie's intellectual concept. But it was Robert Mercer's millions that created a firestorm. Kogan was able to throw money at the hard problem of acquiring personal data: he advertised for people who were willing to be paid to take a personality quiz on Amazon's Mechanical Turk and Qualtrics. At the end of which Kogan's app, called thisismydigitallife, gave him permission to access their Facebook profiles. And not just theirs, but their friends' too. On average, each ''seeder'' '' the people who had taken the personality test, around 320,000 in total '' unwittingly gave access to at least 160 other people's profiles, none of whom would have known or had reason to suspect.
What the email correspondence between Cambridge Analytica employees and Kogan shows is that Kogan had collected millions of profiles in a matter of weeks. But neither Wylie nor anyone else at Cambridge Analytica had checked that it was legal. It certainly wasn't authorised. Kogan did have permission to pull Facebook data, but for academic purposes only. What's more, under British data protection laws, it's illegal for personal data to be sold to a third party without consent.
''Facebook could see it was happening,'' says Wylie. ''Their security protocols were triggered because Kogan's apps were pulling this enormous amount of data, but apparently Kogan told them it was for academic use. So they were like, 'Fine'.''
Kogan maintains that everything he did was legal and he had a ''close working relationship'' with Facebook, which had granted him permission for his apps.
Cambridge Analytica had its data. This was the foundation of everything it did next '' how it extracted psychological insights from the ''seeders'' and then built an algorithm to profile millions more.
For more than a year, the reporting around what Cambridge Analytica did or didn't do for Trump has revolved around the question of ''psychographics'', but Wylie points out: ''Everything was built on the back of that data. The models, the algorithm. Everything. Why wouldn't you use it in your biggest campaign ever?''
In December 2015, the Guardian's Harry Davies published the first report about Cambridge Analytica acquiring Facebook data and using it to support Ted Cruz in his campaign to be the US Republican candidate. But it wasn't until many months later that Facebook took action. And then, all they did was write a letter. In August 2016, shortly before the US election, and two years after the breach took place, Facebook's lawyers wrote to Wylie, who left Cambridge Analytica in 2014, and told him the data had been illicitly obtained and that ''GSR was not authorised to share or sell it''. They said it must be deleted immediately.
Christopher Wylie: 'It's like Nixon on steroids'''I already had. But literally all I had to do was tick a box and sign it and send it back, and that was it,'' says Wylie. ''Facebook made zero effort to get the data back.''
There were multiple copies of it. It had been emailed in unencrypted files.
Cambridge Analytica rejected all allegations the Observer put to them.
Dr Kogan '' who later changed his name to Dr Spectre, but has subsequently changed it back to Dr Kogan '' is still a faculty member at Cambridge University, a senior research associate. But what his fellow academics didn't know until Kogan revealed it in emails to the Observer (although Cambridge University says that Kogan told the head of the psychology department), is that he is also an associate professor at St Petersburg University. Further research revealed that he's received grants from the Russian government to research ''Stress, health and psychological wellbeing in social networks''. The opportunity came about on a trip to the city to visit friends and family, he said.
There are other dramatic documents in Wylie's stash, including a pitch made by Cambridge Analytica to Lukoil, Russia's second biggest oil producer. In an email dated 17 July 2014, about the US presidential primaries, Nix wrote to Wylie: ''We have been asked to write a memo to Lukoil (the Russian oil and gas company) to explain to them how our services are going to apply to the petroleum business. Nix said that ''they understand behavioural microtargeting in the context of elections'' but that they were ''failing to make the connection between voters and their consumers''. The work, he said, would be ''shared with the CEO of the business'', a former Soviet oil minister and associate of Putin, Vagit Alekperov.
''It didn't make any sense to me,'' says Wylie. ''I didn't understand either the email or the pitch presentation we did. Why would a Russian oil company want to target information on American voters?''
Mueller's investigation traces the first stages of the Russian operation to disrupt the 2016 US election back to 2014, when the Russian state made what appears to be its first concerted efforts to harness the power of America's social media platforms, including Facebook. And it was in late summer of the same year that Cambridge Analytica presented the Russian oil company with an outline of its datasets, capabilities and methodology. The presentation had little to do with ''consumers''. Instead, documents show it focused on election disruption techniques. The first slide illustrates how a ''rumour campaign'' spread fear in the 2007 Nigerian election '' in which the company worked '' by spreading the idea that the ''election would be rigged''. The final slide, branded with Lukoil's logo and that of SCL Group and SCL Elections, headlines its ''deliverables'': ''psychographic messaging''.
Robert Mercer with his daughter Rebekah. Photograph: Sean Zanni/Getty ImagesLukoil is a private company, but its CEO, Alekperov, answers to Putin, and it's been used as a vehicle of Russian influence in Europe and elsewhere '' including in the Czech Republic, where in 2016 it was revealed that an adviser to the strongly pro-Russian Czech president was being paid by the company.
When I asked Bill Browder '' an Anglo-American businessman who is leading a global campaign for a Magnitsky Act to enforce sanctions against Russian individuals '' what he made of it, he said: ''Everyone in Russia is subordinate to Putin. One should be highly suspicious of any Russian company pitching anything outside its normal business activities.''
Last month, Nix told MPs on the parliamentary committee investigating fake news: ''We have never worked with a Russian organisation in Russia or any other company. We do not have any relationship with Russia or Russian individuals.''
There's no evidence that Cambridge Analytica ever did any work for Lukoil. What these documents show, though, is that in 2014 one of Russia's biggest companies was fully briefed on: Facebook, microtargeting, data, election disruption.
Cambridge Analytica is ''Chris's Frankenstein'', says a friend of his. ''He created it. It's his data Frankenmonster. And now he's trying to put it right.''
Only once has Wylie made the case of pointing out that he was 24 at the time. But he was. He thrilled to the intellectual possibilities of it. He didn't think of the consequences. And I wonder how much he's processed his own role or responsibility in it. Instead, he's determined to go on the record and undo this thing he has created.
Because the past few months have been like watching a tornado gathering force. And when Wylie turns the full force of his attention to something '' his strategic brain, his attention to detail, his ability to plan 12 moves ahead '' it is sometimes slightly terrifying to behold. Dealing with someone trained in information warfare has its own particular challenges, and his suite of extraordinary talents include the kind of high-level political skills that makes House of Cards look like The Great BritishBake Off. And not everyone's a fan. Any number of ex-colleagues '' even the ones who love him '' call him ''Machiavellian''. Another described the screaming matches he and Nix would have.
''What do your parents make of your decision to come forward?'' I ask him.
''They get it. My dad sent me a cartoon today, which had two characters hanging off a cliff, and the first one's saying 'Hang in there.' And the other is like: 'Fuck you.'''
Which are you?
''Probably both.''
What isn't in doubt is what a long, fraught journey it has been to get to this stage. And how fearless he is.
After many months, I learn the terrible, dark backstory that throws some light on his determination, and which he discusses candidly. At six, while at school, Wylie was abused by a mentally unstable person. The school tried to cover it up, blaming his parents, and a long court battle followed. Wylie's childhood and school career never recovered. His parents '' his father is a doctor and his mother is a psychiatrist '' were wonderful, he says. ''But they knew the trajectory of people who are put in that situation, so I think it was particularly difficult for them, because they had a deeper understanding of what that does to a person long term.''
Facebook has denied and denied this. It has failed in its duties to respect the law
Paul-Olivier DehayeHe says he grew up listening to psychologists discuss him in the third person, and, aged 14, he successfully sued the British Columbia Ministry of Education and forced it to change its inclusion policies around bullying. What I observe now is how much he loves the law, lawyers, precision, order. I come to think of his pink hair as a false-flag operation. What he cannot tolerate is bullying.
Is what Cambridge Analytica does akin to bullying?
''I think it's worse than bullying,'' Wylie says. ''Because people don't necessarily know it's being done to them. At least bullying respects the agency of people because they know. So it's worse, because if you do not respect the agency of people, anything that you're doing after that point is not conducive to a democracy. And fundamentally, information warfare is not conducive to democracy.''
Russia, Facebook, Trump, Mercer, Bannon, Brexit. Every one of these threads runs through Cambridge Analytica. Even in the past few weeks, it seems as if the understanding of Facebook's role has broadened and deepened. The Mueller indictments were part of that, but Paul-Olivier Dehaye '' a data expert and academic based in Switzerland, who published some of the first research into Cambridge Analytica's processes '' says it's become increasingly apparent that Facebook is ''abusive by design''. If there is evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, it will be in the platform's data flows, he says. And Wylie's revelations only move it on again.
''Facebook has denied and denied and denied this,'' Dehaye says when told of the Observer's new evidence. ''It has misled MPs and congressional investigators and it's failed in its duties to respect the law. It has a legal obligation to inform regulators and individuals about this data breach, and it hasn't. It's failed time and time again to be open and transparent.''
Facebook denies that the data transfer was a breach. In addition, a spokesperson said: ''Protecting people's information is at the heart of everything we do, and we require the same from people who operate apps on Facebook. If these reports are true, it's a serious abuse of our rules. Both Aleksandr Kogan as well as the SCL Group and Cambridge Analytica certified to us that they destroyed the data in question.''
Millions of people's personal information was stolen and used to target them in ways they wouldn't have seen, and couldn't have known about, by a mercenary outfit, Cambridge Analytica, who, Wylie says, ''would work for anyone''. Who would pitch to Russian oil companies. Would they subvert elections abroad on behalf of foreign governments?
It occurs to me to ask Wylie this one night.
Nato or non-Nato?
''Either. I mean they're mercenaries. They'll work for pretty much anyone who pays.''
It's an incredible revelation. It also encapsulates all of the problems of outsourcing '' at a global scale, with added cyberweapons. And in the middle of it all are the public '' our intimate family connections, our ''likes'', our crumbs of personal data, all sucked into a swirling black hole that's expanding and growing and is now owned by a politically motivated billionaire.
The Facebook data is out in the wild. And for all Wylie's efforts, there's no turning the clock back.
Tamsin Shaw, a philosophy professor at New York University, and the author of a recent New York Review of Books article on cyberwar and the Silicon Valley economy, told me that she'd pointed to the possibility of private contractors obtaining cyberweapons that had at least been in part funded by US defence.
She calls Wylie's disclosures ''wild'' and points out that ''the whole Facebook project'' has only been allowed to become as vast and powerful as it has because of the US national security establishment.
''It's a form of very deep but soft power that's been seen as an asset for the US. Russia has been so explicit about this, paying for the ads in roubles and so on. It's making this point, isn't it? That Silicon Valley is a US national security asset that they've turned on itself.''
Or, more simply: blowback.
' Revealed: 50m Facebook profiles harvested in major data breach
' How 'likes' became a political weapon
This article was amended on 18 March 2018 to clarify the full title of the British Columbia Ministry of Education
4 facts about Facebook data whistleblower Christopher Wylie
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 01:19
If you're one of the 2.13 billion people who use Facebook during any given month, you might want to use your account with a "healthy dose of skepticism."
That's according to millennial data scientist and self-proclaimed whistleblower Christopher Wylie, 28, who recently revealed the surprising way data analytics firm Cambridge Analytica gathered personal data of more than 50 million American Facebook users without their knowledge.
Cambridge Analytica has denied violating Facebook's terms of service.
As an employee at Cambridge Analytica, Wylie used his experience in coding and data science to take the personal information of U.S. voters and target them with personalized political ads, according to Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr's yearlong investigation published in The Observer, which is the Sunday edition of The Guardian.
While Cadwalladr questioned if Wylie could be "the millennials' first great whistleblower," National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden weighed in on the matter as well.
"It's something that I regret," Wylie told Cadwalladr, adding that "it was a grossly unethical experiment because you're playing with the psychology of an entire country without their consent or awareness."
Based on the report from The Observer, as well as other exclusive reports, here are four facts to know about Wylie.
He won a lawsuit at age 14Wylie grew up in British Columbia, Canada. When he was 6 years old, he was abused by a mentally unstable person, The Observer reported. Though the school tried to conceal the issue, a court battle followed.
Wylie said the legal battle was "particularly difficult" for his parents, a doctor and psychiatrist, respectively, "because they had a deeper understanding of what that does to a person long term."
While Wylie's childhood and school career never recovered, Cadwalladr reported, he successfully sued the British Columbia Ministry of Education at the age of 14.
As a result, he forced the agency to change its inclusion policies around bullying.
He went from school dropout to law student On top of dealing with years of growing up listening to psychologists, Wylie told The Observer, he was diagnosed with ADHD and dyslexia as a teenager. Wylie reportedly hated school and dropped out at 16, but he developed an appreciation for politics.
He interned at the Canadian Parliament and at 17, he worked for the office of the leader of the Canadian opposition. Former Barack Obama political strategist Ken Strasma then taught 18-year-old Wylie all about microtargeting and data politics, NPR reported.
The following year, Wylie taught himself to code and at 20, he began studying law at the London School of Economics. At 21, he continued his career in politics and worked for the Liberal Democrats in the U.K.
"Politics is like the mob, though," Wylie told The Observer. "You never really leave. I got a call from the Lib Dems. They wanted to upgrade their databases and voter targeting. So, I combined working for them with studying for my degree."
He was 24 when he picked Cambridge Analytica over working at DeloitteAccording to The Observer, Wylie's position as a political strategist with advanced data science skills allowed him to score a British Tier 1 Exceptional Talent visa, a U.K. work visa granted to only 200 people yearly.
Before becoming Cambridge Analytica's head of research, The Observer reported Wylie "had no clue that he was walking into the middle of a nexus of defense and intelligence projects, private contractors and cutting-edge cyberweaponry."
Wylie said he had even received a job offer from professional services firm Deloitte.
"The thing I think about all the time is, what if I'd taken a job at Deloitte instead? They offered me one. I just think if I'd taken literally any other job, Cambridge Analytica wouldn't exist. You have no idea how much I brood on this," Wylie said.
At age 24, Wylie gained an interest "in using inherent psychological traits to affect voters' behavior and had assembled a team of psychologists and data scientists, some of them affiliated with Cambridge University," The New York Times reported.
At the time, he was studying for a Ph.D. in fashion trend forecasting and Stephen Bannon was his boss. Wylie and more than half of the team he put together left the company by early 2015, the Times reported.
He's blocked from Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp but just joined TwitterFacebook suspended Wylie's Facebook account and, as a result, his accounts on subsidiary companies Instagram and Whatsapp.
Because Facebook determined Wylie had not properly deleted the tens of millions of Facebook users' data, the social media company suspended his account, as well as those of other involved parties.
Wylie instead went to Twitter to share proof of his suspended Facebook and Instagram accounts, tweeting the "Downside to @facebook also banning me on @instagram is missing out on my daily dose of well curated food pics and thirst traps #millennial #whistleblower."
In an interview with British program "Channel 4 News," Wylie explained the consequences of wanting to curate your personality on these platforms.
"On social media you curate yourself, you put so much info about who you are in one single place. So wherever you go and like something, you are giving me a clue as to who you are as a person and so all of this can be captured very easily and run through an algorithm that learns who you are," Wylie told "Channel 4 News."
After being in a position that allowed Wylie to tap into an unprecedented amount of data, he offered a word of advice to those who may feel uneasy posting on social media.
"I don't want to say I don't trust anyone," Wylie told The Observer. "I go through life with a healthy dose of skepticism and I think that healthy dose of skepticism as to what you're seeing and what you're hearing and who you're talking to is the best way to go through life."
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Tue, 20 Mar 2018 22:25
With news emerging that political manipulation firm Cambridge Analytica may have surreptitiously accessed the details of millions of Facebook users, it's time to know if YOUR details have been used inside their algorithms.
We have devised an accurate test that will predict with 99% accuracy whether or not Cambridge Analytica has your details on file, or used your information to help target people during recent political campaigns.
'Utterly horrifying': ex-Facebook insider says covert data harvesting was routine | News | The Guardian
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 15:55
Sandy Parakilas in San Francisco. 'It has been painful watching. Because I know that they could have prevented it.' Photograph: Robert Gumpert
H undreds of millions of Facebook users are likely to have had their private information harvested by companies that exploited the same terms as the firm that collected data and passed it on to Cambridge Analytica, according to a new whistleblower.
Sandy Parakilas, the platform operations manager at Facebook responsible for policing data breaches by third-party software developers between 2011 and 2012, told the Guardian he warned senior executives at the company that its lax approach to data protection risked a major breach.
''My concerns were that all of the data that left Facebook servers to developers could not be monitored by Facebook, so we had no idea what developers were doing with the data,'' he said.
Parakilas said Facebook had terms of service and settings that ''people didn't read or understand'' and the company did not use its enforcement mechanisms, including audits of external developers, to ensure data was not being misused.
Parakilas, whose job it was to investigate data breaches by developers similar to the one later suspected of Global Science Research, which harvested tens of millions of Facebook profiles and provided the data to Cambridge Analytica, said the slew of recent disclosures had left him disappointed with his superiors for not heeding his warnings.
''It has been painful watching,'' he said. ''Because I know that they could have prevented it.''
Everything you need to know about the Cambridge Analytica expos(C) '' video explainerAsked what kind of control Facebook had over the data given to outside developers, he replied: ''Zero. Absolutely none. Once the data left Facebook servers there was not any control, and there was no insight into what was going on.''
Parakilas said he ''always assumed there was something of a black market'' for Facebook data that had been passed to external developers. However, he said that when he told other executives the company should proactively ''audit developers directly and see what's going on with the data'' he was discouraged from the approach.
He said one Facebook executive advised him against looking too deeply at how the data was being used, warning him: ''Do you really want to see what you'll find?'' Parakilas said he interpreted the comment to mean that ''Facebook was in a stronger legal position if it didn't know about the abuse that was happening''.
He added: ''They felt that it was better not to know. I found that utterly shocking and horrifying.''
Parakilas first went public with his concerns about privacy at Facebook four months ago, but his direct experience policing Facebook data given to third parties throws new light on revelations over how such data was obtained by Cambridge Analytica.
Facebook did not respond to a request for comment on the information supplied by Parakilas, but directed the Guardian to a November 2017 blogpost in which the company defended its data sharing practices, which it said had ''significantly improved'' over the last five years.
''While it's fair to criticise how we enforced our developer policies more than five years ago, it's untrue to suggest we didn't or don't care about privacy,'' that statement said. ''The facts tell a different story.''
'A majority of Facebook users'Parakilas, 38, who now works as a product manager for Uber, is particularly critical of Facebook's previous policy of allowing developers to access the personal data of friends of people who used apps on the platform, without the knowledge or express consent of those friends.
That feature, called Friends Permission, was a boon to outside software developers who, from 2007 onwards, were given permission by Facebook to build quizzes and games '' like the widely popular FarmVille '' that were hosted on the platform.
The apps proliferated on Facebook in the years leading up to the company's 2012 initial public offering, an era when most users were still accessing the platform via laptops and computers rather than smartphones.
Facebook took a 30% cut of payments made through apps, but in return enabled their creators to have access to Facebook user data.
Parakilas does not know how many companies sought Friends Permission data before such access was terminated around mid-2014. However, he said he believes tens or maybe even hundreds of thousands of developers may have done so.
It has been painful watching, because I know they could have prevented it
Parakilas estimates that ''a majority of Facebook users'' could have had their data harvested by app developers without their knowledge. The company now has stricter protocols around the degree of access third parties have to data.
Parakilas said that when he worked at Facebook it failed to take full advantage of its enforcement mechanisms, such as a clause that enables the social media giant to audit external developers who misuse its data.
Legal action against rogue developers or moves to ban them from Facebook were ''extremely rare'', he said, adding: ''In the time I was there, I didn't see them conduct a single audit of a developer's systems.''
Facebook announced on Monday that it had hired a digital forensics firm to conduct an audit of Cambridge Analytica. The decision comes more than two years after Facebook was made aware of the reported data breach.
During the time he was at Facebook, Parakilas said the company was keen to encourage more developers to build apps for its platform and ''one of the main ways to get developers interested in building apps was through offering them access to this data''. Shortly after arriving at the company's Silicon Valley headquarters he was told that any decision to ban an app required the personal approval of the chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, although the policy was later relaxed to make it easier to deal with rogue developers.
aboutWhile the previous policy of giving developers access to Facebook users' friends' data was sanctioned in the small print in Facebook's terms and conditions, and users could block such data sharing by changing their settings, Parakilas said he believed the policy was problematic.
''It was well understood in the company that that presented a risk,'' he said. ''Facebook was giving data of people who had not authorised the app themselves, and was relying on terms of service and settings that people didn't read or understand.''
It was this feature that was exploited by Global Science Research, and the data provided to Cambridge Analytica in 2014. GSR was run by the Cambridge University psychologist Aleksandr Kogan, who built an app that was a personality test for Facebook users.
The test automatically downloaded the data of friends of people who took the quiz, ostensibly for academic purposes. Cambridge Analytica has denied knowing the data was obtained improperly and Kogan maintains he did nothing illegal and had a ''close working relationship'' with Facebook.
While Kogan's app only attracted around 270,000 users (most of whom were paid to take the quiz), the company was then able to exploit the Friends Permission feature to quickly amass data pertaining to more than 50 million Facebook users.
''Kogan's app was one of the very last to have access to friend permissions,'' Parakilas said, adding that many other similar apps had been harvesting similar quantities of data for years for commercial purposes. Academic research from 2010, based on an analysis of 1,800 Facebooks apps, concluded that around 11% of third-party developers requested data belonging to friends of users.
If those figures were extrapolated, tens of thousands of apps, if not more, were likely to have systematically culled ''private and personally identifiable'' data belonging to hundreds of millions of users, Parakilas said.
The ease with which it was possible for anyone with relatively basic coding skills to create apps and start trawling for data was a particular concern, he added.
Parakilas said he was unsure why Facebook stopped allowing developers to access friends data around mid-2014, roughly two years after he left the company. However, he said he believed one reason may have been that Facebook executives were becoming aware that some of the largest apps were acquiring enormous troves of valuable data.
He recalled conversations with executives who were nervous about the commercial value of data being passed to other companies.
''They were worried that the large app developers were building their own social graphs, meaning they could see all the connections between these people,'' he said. ''They were worried that they were going to build their own social networks.''
'They treated it like a PR exercise'Parakilas said he lobbied internally at Facebook for ''a more rigorous approach'' to enforcing data protection, but was offered little support. His warnings included a PowerPoint presentation he said he delivered to senior executives in mid-2012 ''that included a map of the vulnerabilities for user data on Facebook's platform''.
''I included the protective measures that we had tried to put in place, where we were exposed, and the kinds of bad actors who might do malicious things with the data,'' he said. ''On the list of bad actors I included foreign state actors and data brokers.''
Frustrated at the lack of action, Parakilas left Facebook in late 2012. ''I didn't feel that the company treated my concerns seriously. I didn't speak out publicly for years out of self-interest, to be frank.''
That changed, Parakilas said, when he heard the congressional testimony given by Facebook lawyers to Senate and House investigators in late 2017 about Russia's attempt to sway the presidential election. ''They treated it like a PR exercise,'' he said. ''They seemed to be entirely focused on limiting their liability and exposure rather than helping the country address a national security issue.''
It was at that point that Parakilas decided to go public with his concerns, writing an opinion article in the New York Times that said Facebook could not be trusted to regulate itself. Since then, Parakilas has become an adviser to the Center for Humane Technology, which is run by Tristan Harris, a former Google employee turned whistleblower on the industry.
Facebook will hold an emergency meeting to let employees ask questions about Cambridge Analytica | The Verge
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 13:16
Facebook has scheduled an open meeting to all employees Tuesday to let them ask questions about the unfolding Cambridge Analytica data privacy scandal, according to an internal calendar invitation reviewed by The Verge. The meeting, which is scheduled for 10AM PT, will be led by Paul Grewal, the company's deputy general counsel. Grewal is expected to explain the background of the case, which involves the user profiles of as many as 50 million people being used by Cambridge Analytica as part of its ad targeting efforts during the 2016 election. Grewal is also expected to take questions via a polling feature found on the meeting's internal event page.
Facebook did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Facebook executives have been active in discussing the Cambridge Analytica story on internal forums, Tuesday's meeting will represent the first time a large group of employees will have the opportunity to question company leadership live and in person. (The event is also being streamed for remote employees around the world as part of ''FYI Live,'' a series of live chats featuring company executives organized by Facebook's internal communications team.)
The move reflects growing unease internally about Facebook's response to reports published this week in the New York Times and the Guardian. The articles laid out how a researcher at the University of Cambridge created a Facebook app to harvest information about millions of Facebook profiles and improperly gave the data to Cambridge Analytica, in violation of Facebook's terms of service. Together, they raised fresh concerns about the steps that Facebook takes to protect the privacy of users' data, drawing bipartisan calls for Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Congress and sending Facebook stock tumbling more than 10 percent below the all-time high it reached on February 1st.
Tuesday's meeting is scheduled to last for just 30 minutes. One employee I spoke with said the move felt like a stopgap measure designed to buy the company time until the weekly all-hands meeting on Friday, which CEO Mark Zuckerberg is expected to speak at.
Zuckerberg has faced criticism both internally and externally for remaining silent about the Cambridge Analytica revelations. ''The prevailing sentiment is, why haven't we heard from Mark?'' the employee said.
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Exposed: Undercover secrets of Trump's data firm '' Channel 4 News
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 11:44
An undercover investigation by Channel 4 News has revealed how Cambridge Analytica claims it ran key parts of the presidential campaign for Donald Trump.
The British data company was secretly filmed discussing coordination between Trump's campaign and outside groups '' an activity which is potentially illegal.
Executives claimed they ''ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy'' for President Trump.
In the third part of a Channel 4 News investigation into Cambridge Analytica, bosses also talked about:
The full scale of their pivotal work in Trump's election winHow they avoid Congressional investigations into their foreign clientsSetting up proxy organisations to feed untraceable messages onto social mediaUsing a secret email system where messages self-destruct and leave no traceCambridge Analytica's involvement in the ''Defeat Crooked Hilary'' brand of attack adsIn a series of meetings filmed at London hotels over four months, between November 2017 and January 2018 an undercover reporter for Channel 4 News posed as a fixer for a wealthy client hoping to get candidates elected in Sri Lanka.
UPDATE: Cambridge Analytica have announced they have suspended chief executive Alexander Nix pending a full investigation. They said: ''In the view of the board Mr Nix's recent comments secretly recorded by Channel 4 News do not represent the values or operations of the firm.''
'We ran all the digital campaign'The company says their work with data and research allowed Mr Trump to win with a narrow margin of ''40,000 votes'' in three states providing victory in the electoral college system, despite losing the popular vote by more than 3 million votes.
The election was plagued by allegations of fake news and smears on social media, along with the alleged attempt by Russia to influence the outcome.
Mr Nix boasted about Cambridge Analytica's work for Trump, saying: ''We did all the research, all the data, all the analytics, all the targeting, we ran all the digital campaign, the television campaign and our data informed all the strategy.''
Separately, Mr Turnbull described how the company could create proxy organisations to discreetly feed negative material about opposition candidates on to the Internet and social media.
He said: ''Sometimes you can use proxy organisations who are already there. You feed them. They are civil society organisations.. Charities or activist groups, and we use them '' feed them the material and they do the work'...
''We just put information into the bloodstream to the internet and then watch it grow, give it a little push every now and again over time to watch it take shape. And so this stuff infiltrates the online community and expands but with no branding '' so it's unattributable, untrackable.''
Cambridge Analytica's senior executives were also filmed discussing a twin-track strategy to campaigning, putting out positive messages through the official Donald J Trump for President campaign, while negative material was pushed out through outside organisations.
Cambridge Analytica's chief data scientist Dr Tayler said: ''As part of it, sometimes you have to separate it from the political campaign itself. So in America you know there are independent expenditure groups running behind the campaign'... Super pacs. Political action committees.
''So, campaigns are normally subject to limits about how much money they can raise. Whereas outside groups can raise an unlimited amount. So the campaign will use their finite resources for things like persuasion and mobilisation and then they leave the 'air war' they call it, like the negative attack ads to other affiliated groups.''
In a different meeting, Mr Turnbull described how the company created the ''Defeat Crooked Hilary'' brand of attack ads, that were funded by the Make America Number 1 super-PAC and watched more than 30 million times during the campaign.
Coordination between an official election campaign and any outside groups is illegal under US election law. Cambridge Analytica deny wrongdoing, insisting a strict firewall separated out their activity and that they were transparent about their work on political campaigns and PACs.
'No paper trail'In one exchange Alexander Nix revealed the company used a secret self-destructing email system that leaves no trace. He said: ''No-one knows we have it, and secondly we set our'... emails with a self-destruct timer'... So you send them and after they've been read, two hours later, they disappear. There's no evidence, there's no paper trail, there's nothing.''
Mr Nix also belittled representatives on the House Intelligence Committee to whom he gave evidence in 2017. He claims Republican members asked just three questions. ''After five minutes '' done.''
''They're politicians, they're not technical. They don't understand how it works,'' he said.
Mr Nix further claimed that Democrats on the Committee are motivated by ''sour grapes''.
He said: ''They don't understand because the candidate never, is never involved. He's told what to do by the campaign team.''
''So the candidate is the puppet?,'' the undercover reporter asked.
''Always,'' replied Mr Nix.
He added that his firm could avoid any US investigation into its foreign clients. ''I'm absolutely convinced that they have no jurisdiction'...,'' he said. ''We'll say none of your business.''
The meetings involved Mr Nix, along with Mark Turnbull, Managing Director Political Global, and Dr Alex Tayler, the company's chief data scientist.
'Very disturbing'Defeated presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has told Channel 4 News how she faced a ''massive propaganda effort'' during the election '' and questioned if Cambridge Analytica helped the Russians in their alleged attempt to influence the election outcome.
In an exclusive interview filmed in October 2017 to promote her book, she said: ''There was a new kind of campaign that was being run on the other side '' that nobody had ever faced before. Because it wasn't just all about me. It was about how to suppress voters who were inclined to vote for me.
''When you have a massive propaganda effort to prevent people from thinking straight, because they're being flooded with false information and you have people who are searching.. trying to make sense of it. But every search engine, every site they go into is repeating these fabrications. Then yes It affected the thought processes of voters.''
The former candidate also questioned whether Cambridge Analytica were involved in the Russia's alleged attempt to influence the election, calling the possibility ''very disturbing''.
Cambridge Analytica strongly deny any involvement and say any such allegation is false.
Clinton said: ''So you've got CA, you've got the Republican National Committee which of course has always done data collection and analysis and you've got the Russians. And the real question is how did the Russians know how to target their messages so precisely to undecided voters in Wisconsin or Michigan or Pennsylvania '' that is really the nub of the question.
''So if they were getting advice from say Cambridge Analytica or someone else about OK here are the 12 voters in this town in Wisconsin '' that's whose Facebook pages you need to be on to send these messages that indeed would be very disturbing.''
'Absurd' allegationsTonight, a Cambridge Analytica spokesman said: ''CA has never claimed it won the election for President Trump. This is patently absurd. We are proud of the work we did on that campaign, and have spoken in many public forums about what we consider to be our contribution to the campaign.''
On campaign finance violations, the firm said: ''Cambridge Analytica has been completely transparent about our simultaneous work on both political campaigns and political action committees (including publicly declaring our work on both with FEC filings). We have strict firewall practises to ensure no coordination between regulated groups, including the teams working on non-coordinated campaigns being physically separated, using different servers and being banned from communicating with each other.''
On Russia investigation: ''As one of the companies that played a prominent role in the 2016 election campaign, Cambridge Analytica is committed to supporting and assisting the House Intelligence Committee investigation into Russian interference in the election in any way that we can. CA is not under investigation, and there is no suggestion of any wrongdoing by the company. They deny any involvement in the alleged Russian attempts and say such an allegation is entirely false.''
And on ProtonMail, Cambridge Analytica said: ''It's common practice to use encrypted communications. We take information security with the utmost seriousness, and for high profile clients using maintain stream email providers simply doesn't provide a suitable level of security.''
Mark Zuckerberg will appear on CNN tonight amid Facebook's data privacy scandal | The Verge
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 23:51
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The case against Facebook - Vox
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:17
Facebook is enmeshed in another controversy, this time over accusations that the firm Cambridge Analytica abused Facebook data to help Donald Trump win the 2016 US presidential election. But this is a big deal fundamentally because of a larger and more fundamental problem: Facebook is bad.
Lots of companies, to be clear, are built around products that are bad. Indeed, being bad is by no means an impediment to success in a capitalist economy. Cigarette companies, for years, made enormous profits off selling a highly addictive highly carcinogenic substance to millions of Americans. Even in their current somewhat fallen state, tobacco companies continue to be viable ongoing enterprises.
Alcoholic beverages are enjoyed in moderation by many, but the real profit in the industry lies with the minority of serious alcohol abusers who account for the lion's share of consumption '-- often with deadly consequences. Casino gambling features a similar, albeit less directly deadly, addiction-based business model.
None of which necessarily implies any specific public policy approach '-- legal prohibition of alcohol rather famously caused a lot of problems. But I do think it's true that executives of companies that make money by hurting their customers should feel kind of bad about themselves. Or at least not good.
And therein lies the problem for Facebook. Not only is the product bad, but the company is in a deep state of denial about it. Mark Zuckerberg and other top leaders believe they are making the world a better place. The labor market for the kind of talented engineers that Facebook needs to hire is robust enough that you can't compete on the basis of money alone '-- they need to believe that Facebook is a decent, honorable place to work. But in fact, Facebook is bad. And it probably can't be fixed.
The good news is that the executives have already made a lot of money and the workers have valuable, in-demand job skills. You could shut the whole thing down tomorrow and everyone would be fine.
Move fast and break human societyThe association between Facebook and fake news is by now well-known, but the stark facts are worth repeating '-- according to Craig Silverman's path-breaking analysis for BuzzFeed, the 20 highest-performing fake news stories of the closing days of the 2016 campaign did better on Facebook than the 20 highest-performing real ones.
Rumors, misinformation, and bad reporting can and do exist in any medium. But Facebook created a medium that is optimized for fakeness, not as an algorithmic quirk but due to the core conception of the platform. By turning news consumption and news discovery into a performative social process, Facebook turns itself into a confirmation bias machine '-- a machine that can best be fed through deliberate engineering.
In reputable newsrooms, that's engineering that focuses on graphic selection, headlines, and story angles while maintaining a commitment to accuracy and basic integrity. But relaxing the constraint that the story has to be accurate is a big leg up '-- it lets you generate stories that are well-designed to be psychologically pleasing, like telling Trump-friendly white Catholics that the pope endorsed their man, while also guaranteeing that your outlet gets a scoop.
The sophisticates' defense of Facebook is to question whether having half the country marinate in a cesspool of misinformation for an hour or two a day really swung any votes. And I suppose the answer may well be no.
But it certainly doesn't help. And if you look at a society where Facebook plays a larger role in the information ecology, like Myanmar, you see a clear disaster emerging where United Nations human rights investigators say Facebook has been a clear dissemination channel for hate speech and propaganda that are driving an ethnic cleansing campaign that's displaced more than 600,000 Rohingya people to Bangladesh and killed thousands.
''Connecting the world isn't always going to be a good thing,'' Facebook's newsfeed chief Adam Mosseri told Slate's April Glaser and Will Oremus on their podcast, acknowledging the disastrous reality. ''We lose some sleep over this.''
I also lose sleep over a work screw-up sometimes, but I'm confident that I've never accidentally contributed to unleashing a genocide. But more to the point, while Facebook is now, thankfully, taking some steps to address the worst outlier behavior taking place on its platform in Myanmar, the core problem is that even non-extreme cases of heavy Facebook use seem harmful.
Destroying journalism's business model is badMeanwhile, Facebook is destroying the business model for outlets that make real news.
Facebook critics in the press are often accused of special pleading, of hatred of a company whose growing share of the digital advertising pie is a threat to our business model. This is, on some level, correct.
The answer to the objection, however, is that special pleaders on behalf of journalism are correct on the merits. Not all businesses are created equal. Cigarette companies poison their customers; journalism companies inform them.
And traditionally, American society has recognized that reality and tried to create a viable media ecosystem. The US Postal Service has long maintained a special discount rate for periodicals to facilitate the dissemination of journalism and the viability of journalism business models. Until last fall, the Federal Communications Commission maintained rules requiring licensed local broadcast stations to maintain local news studios.
That Facebook's relentless growth threatens the existence of news organizations is something that should make the architects of that relentless growth feel bad about themselves. They are helping to erode public officials' accountability, foster public ignorance, and degrade the quality of American democracy.
Google, of course, poses similar threats to the journalism ecosystem through its own digital advertising industry. But Googlers can also make a strong case that Google makes valuable contributions to the information climate. I learn useful, real information via Google every day. And while web search is far from a perfect technology, Google really does usually surface accurate, reliable information on the topics you search for. Facebook's imperative to maximize engagement, by contrast, lands it in an endless cycle of sensationalism and nonsense.
Facebook makes people depressed and lonelyA large and growing body of research confirms what probably ought to be obvious: Spending a lot of time alone, disengaged from other human beings, staring at your phone, and clicking on little buttons on a platform obsessively engineered by some of the smartest people on the planet to keep you staring and clicking is not good for you.
Holly Shakya and Nicholas Christakis conducted one of the best studies on this, partnering with Gallup to use a sample of thousands of people across three waves and looking at self-reported physical health, self-reported mental health, self-reported life satisfaction, and body mass index.
They find that ''overall, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with well-being,'' whereas networking socially in the real world was positively associated with well-being and ''the negative associations of Facebook use were comparable to or greater in magnitude than the positive impact of offline interactions.''
A smaller study showed that when people spend time comparing their real lives to the idealized versions of themselves that others present on Facebook, it leads to depression.A separate study showed that Facebook use '-- but not general internet browsing '-- leads to negative mood driven by ''a feeling of having wasted time.'' The study also finds that users make a systematic ''forecasting error'' and predict that logging on will improve their mood when, more often than not, it does the reverse.By December of 2017, even Facebook's in-house research team was admitting that using Facebook the way Facebook is generally used in reality is harmful to users' mental health and well-being.The Facebook internal team's fig leaf rationalization was to point out that using Facebook to have meaningful interactions with close friends and family makes people happier. It's of course true that such meaningful interactions are valuable, and also true that Facebook contains some functionality that facilitates them.
But lots of technology companies offer messaging services '-- Facebook's unique value proposition is its ability to ''connect the world'' and push you into endless cycles of interacting with strangers, quasi-strangers, and brands.
They should turn off FacebookThe latest Facebook scandal is creating a new wave of people performatively deleting their Facebook accounts, and that's fine. But fundamentally, thanks to network effects, it is hard to quit Facebook.
I need to use Facebook to promote my work on Facebook. In an ideal world, I would have no activity on Facebook other than self-promotion via my Facebook brand page, but in order to do that, I have to have a Facebook account.
Since the account is there and since many other people use Facebook, that means I sometimes get messages on Facebook. And since I don't want to systematically ignore people who are trying to get in touch with me, that makes me get sucked into use. And because almost everyone is on Facebook (even me!), people often send invitations to social engagements via Facebook, and to try to opt out is to make yourself a difficult person.
Besides which, when you do dip into Facebook, it's a genuinely engaging compelling product '-- some of the brightest, hardest-working people in the world have toiled for years to keep you ensnared.
For a better path forward, it's worth looking at the actual life of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg.
He likes to do annual personal challenges, and they are normally sensible. One year, he set about to learn Mandarin. Another year, he challenged himself to run 365 miles. He visited all 50 states and met and spoke face to face with people in each state he visited. He committed to reading a book cover to cover every two weeks.
This year, his challenge is to try to fix Facebook. But he ought, instead, to think harder about those other challenges and what they say about what he finds valuable in life '-- sustained engagement with difficult topics and ideas, physical exercise, face-to-face interaction with human beings, travel. This suggests a healthy, commonsense value system that happens to be profoundly and fundamentally at odds with the Facebook business model.
To simply walk away from it, shut it down, salt the earth, and move on to doing something entirely new would be an impossibly difficult decision for almost anyone. Nobody walks away from the kind of wealth and power that Facebook has let Zuckerberg accumulate. But he's spoken frequently about his desire to wield that wealth and power for good. And while there are a lot of philanthropists out there who could donate to charities, there's only one person who can truly ''fix'' Facebook by doing away with it.
Tories spent £18.5m on election that cost them majority | Politics | The Guardian
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:59
Electoral Commission data shows party allocated £2.1m to Facebook advertising alone
Theresa May lost her majority in the 2017 election despite outspending Labour by more than £7m. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images
The Conservatives spent more than £18.5m while losing their majority at last year's general election, against £11m of spending by Labour and £6.8m by the Liberal Democrats, newly released figures have shown.
The Electoral Commission data, which covers the 12 months prior to the election on 8 June, showed the increasing role of social media in campaigning, with the Conservatives spending about £2.1m on Facebook advertising alone.
In contrast, Labour '' whose message is seen as being shared more widely and favourably on social media '' spent slightly over £500,000 on Facebook advertising.
The biggest single element of the Conservative spend was £4m, which went to Crosby Textor, the market research firm run by the Tories' regular election guru Sir Lynton Crosby, whose reputation took something of a battering after Theresa May lost her majority.
The Conservatives spent more than £500,000 with the political consulting group set up by Jim Messina, Barack Obama's 2012 campaign manager, who also worked for the party under David Cameron at the 2015 election.
In addition to consultants, the Tories spent £262,799 of party funds on helicopters and private jets during campaigning, including £31,688 for a flight from Southampton to Norwich for Theresa May, her husband, Conservative party staff and journalists. The party spent almost £13,000 at one sandwich shop in Westminster.
The biggest single Labour spend was £624,000 on direct mail leaflets, dwarfing the £2,290 the party spent on balloons.
For the Lib Dems, the biggest one-off expense was £244,000 on Facebook advertising. Due to a Lib Dem policy of refunding staff who had to postpone holidays, the party paid out £2,795 to Disney to cancel a Caribbean cruise.
Among other parties, the SNP spent £1.6m on the election, the Green party £299,000 and the Women's Equality party (WEP) £285,000.
The Conservatives paid £4m to a market research firm run by their election guru Sir Lynton Crosby. Photograph: Oli Scarff/AFP/Getty ImagesThe financial decline of Ukip was shown by the fact that it was outspent by the WEP, with a total 2017 election outlay of £273,000 '' down from £2.8m in 2015.
The Electoral Commission figures include total spending by political parties and non-party campaigners who spent more than £250,000 at the election, with data for those spending less than this released late last year.
Taken together, there was a total spend at the 2017 election of £41.6m by a combination of 75 parties and 18 non-party campaigners. For the 2015 election, the spend was £39m by 57 parties and 23 non-party campaigners.
The Electoral Commission said it had opened a series of investigations into some of the spending records provided by parties. The Conservatives, Labour and the Greens are being investigated for submitting spending returns that were missing invoices and over potentially inaccurate statements of payments.
The Conservatives and Lib Dems face investigation for claims for payments or payments made after post-election deadlines, while the WEP is being investigated for submitting a spending return inconsistent with its reported donations.
Bob Posner, the head of political finance at the Electoral Commission, said: ''It is vital that voters are given an opportunity to see accurate and full reportable data on what parties and campaigners spent money on in order to influence them at last year's general election.
''We are investigating possible breaches of the rules. However, our ongoing discussions with the major parties indicate to us that they may wish to consider the robustness of their internal governance and level of resourcing to ensure they can deliver what the law requires.''
GDPR '' Advice for the Hospitality sector | By Kris Troukens '' Hospitality Net
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:44
GDPR, what is it, and is it important to the Hospitality Sector?
The General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) is a major overhaul of the EU data protection law. It comes into force on May 25th, 2018. It requires any business (including hospitality industry businesses) that handles personal data of a EU citizen to have adequate measures in place.
What is meant by "adequate measures"?By "adequate measures" they mean data should be properly protected, and any theft or misuse of this data cannot occur. The EU citizen (the guest) also has specific rights on the data that you are holding about him. (see below)
Does GDPR only apply within the European Union?No, it applies to data stored on EU citizens, wherever they are staying around the world. This impacts the entire hospitality sector, worldwide.
What if I am not compliant?If a EU citizen files a complaint, the hotel may face some hefty fines. The maximum fine is set to 20 million Euros, or 4% of the annual global turnover (whichever is the greater).
HOW TO PREPARE in 13 STEPSThere are several steps that the hotel can take to properly prepare for GDPR. Some of them may already be in place. They are listed below.
1) Create awareness in the hotel.Buy-in of the hotel management team is also essential. There may be changes in procedures or systems, so all managers should be aware of GDPR, fully understand it, and be able to understand the impact on their department.
2) Create a "data-register"You should be documenting which information you are holding, where it is stored, where it comes from, whom you are sharing it with, and if the guest has given his consent to you collecting all this data. This "data-register" will map all your data streams.
All processing steps should be recorded, and this may require the compilation or review of existing policies and procedures.
3) Communicate to your guests about your new privacy rulesMake sure you ask the guest for his agreement on giving you all required data, and document that agreement. This could be easily done on the registration card, or when checking-in on line. Adapt your legal statements and customer agreements to the new legislation. You will need to disclose for which purpose(s) you intend to collect data, and how long you will be keeping it.
4) Guests rightsThe European guest has several rights, and you need to ensure he can exercise his rights, which include:
The right of access to his dataThe right to rectificationThe right to eraseThe right to restrict processingThe right to transfer his data to another partyThe right to objectThe right not to be included in automated marketing initiatives or profilingMany of those rights may already be in existence today.
5) Guest access requestsYou will need to be ready to handle a guest request coming in about his rights. You are not allowed to charge for this service, and you have a maximum of 1 month to provide an answer. If you refuse a request, you must inform the guests about your reasons, and provide any details about the Privacy Commission and the name and contact details of your DPO (Data Protection Officer, more on this below), so that the guest understands how to file a complaint.
6) Lawful basis for processing guest dataWhile the hotel is collecting data, it can only do so if there is a lawful reason. You need to review and ensure all questions you are asking (on registration cards, online forms etc'...) are absolutely required for you to process the guest. As an example, the departure date of a guest is a required piece of data. However, asking for the guest's birthday may be more difficult to justify.
7) Guest consentIt is important to review how you are obtaining, and recording the guest consent. He may be arriving via a travel agent, via a telephone reservation, or it may be a walk-in. All these cases need to be considered.
At all times, there must be a clear "opt-in" given by the guests. There cannot be any pre-ticked boxes where the guest agrees to give his data; opting in is never by default. Also consider how you will handle the case of a guest who withdraws his consent.
8) ChildrenThere's an additional consideration for children under 16. Authorisaton to process a minor's data should be obtained from their parents or responsible adult. The hotel needs to prepare for this scenario.
9) Data breaches or theftThe hotel should be ready to detect, and remedy any data theft concerning personal data. The data register should be able to provide insight into which pieces of data are concerned.
Any incident should be reported within 72hrs to the Privacy Commission, for all cases where there is a risk that guest data may have been compromised.
By extension, this implies your network and storage systems should be up-to-date with the latest intrusion detection programs and should have successfully passed penetration testing.
10) Data protection by design, and Data Protection Impact assessments
For any new systems or major changes, it would be wise to keep the "Data protection by Design" in mind. Indeed, when discussing requirements for a new tool or procedure, you can already include the data protection principles, right from the design stage.
An Impact Assessment is required when major new technology is introduced, or significant upgrades are taking place on systems which contain personal data.
11) The Data Protection OfficerWithin your hotel or company someone should be tasked to become the Data Protection Officer (DPO). Make sure this is someone who knows and understands the importance of personal data processing. This can very well be an additional task for an existing employee or manager.
It is mandatory to appoint a DPO when you are handling large volumes of personal data records, such as medical or criminal records. In a hotel, large amounts of credit card details are processed, so it is eminently sensible to have a DPO in place.
The DPO should always understand and be aware of all data flows in the hotel, and he should ensure that he has an updated data register at all times, in case any queries arise.
The name of the DPO should be mentioned on all privacy statements on any media. When filing a complaint, the guest will reference the DPO by name.
12) International and Group HotelsIf you are an independent hotel, this point does not apply.
For hotels with multiple properties, or in multiple EU countries, it is important to align the procedures, and to identify who is taking the lead (presumably the country or regional office) for the coordinated GDPR efforts. If you are present in multiple EU countries, it is required to identify a "main establishment", and also the country lead supervisory authority.
13) Existing ContractsIt is likely that for the processing of your data you are assisted by third parties or subcontractors. Make sure you are aware of who they are, and what your current contractual obligations are. It would also be an excellent opportunity to review these contracts to include any GDPR related aspects and ensuring the contractor is aware of his obligations under GDPR and that services or systems help you meet your GDR requirements.
MORE FAQ'SWho is overseeing the introduction of these new regulations?Every country has one central organisation to oversee the introduction of the new regulation. For Belgium this is the "Privacy Commission" ( Any queries or complaints from guests will be addressed to them.
Who is responsible?Ultimately it is you, the hotelier who is responsible. So, if any of the above points fail, and a guest files a complaint with the country authority, it will be addressed to you, and you will have to justify your actions to the Privacy Commission.
What if I need assistance?Quality Hotel services can help you in several ways:
Compile a comprehensive awareness campaign, tailored to your propertySet up a "data-register" for you, or provide you with a workable templateMaking sure the necessary "consent" statements are included on all printed and electronic media where you collect guest dataRecommend processes on how to obtain consent from guests, and childrenEnsuring your network and data storage devices are 100% safe and protectedDesign an "Impact Assessment Analysis" template documentCompiling the job description and procedure manual for a DPOCompiling your "Data" supplier list, and reviewing/suggesting contractual amendmentsContact
Kris Troukens
Quality Hotel Services
Phone: +32 473 95 00 24
Send Email
Political Child Abuse
Freddie Mae
Good Morning,
I'm a recent listener and my friend from work, Mark,
suggested I listen to your podcast this past summer.
I'm a mother of twin daughters who are about to choose a
college and while attending several parent financial aid meetings, one
suggested I have my girls sign up for text updates to receive scholarship
updates from Freddie Mac.
My husband and I believe our daughters should have limited
cell phone capabilities and we don't permit them on Facebook, Snapchat,
Instagram or any other social media. I work in the IT industry and he is a
Critical Care Nurse, between the two of us, we have combined experiences with
young people being taken advantage of and duped into situations that an adult
could barely extricate themselves out of.
But I digress, I wanted to send you this bit of information
that you may not be aware of about Freddie Mac, I joined the text updates on
scholarships from their company and found out that they encourage
students to reply to their text with a 'yes' or 'no' for various political
issues, and then they can enter for a chance to win a scholarship.
For example, during the budget showdown with the Trump
Administration over DACA, they texted to students to call or email their
representatives to support DACA. To walk out and protest in support of DACA
That is interesting since we are told that DACA students do
not get financial aid and are not competing with United States students for
placement, scholarships or grants to colleges and universities.
To add to this, the most recent text from their marketing
group was yesterday. It was the following:
"Freddie here! On Saturday thousands will march to
demand action on gun violence. Do you A) Plan to attend a march B) Plan to
support online C) need more info. D) No
I responded 'yes' to find out what they were directing
students to do and the response I received was:
"Amazing! I'll send you a new action every day this
week to get you prepared for the March for Our Lives on Saturday.
Want to take action right now? Before the March for Our
Lives, let's Vote for Our Lives, YOU have the power to elect officials who will
keep your school and community safe. Take 2 mins. and register to vote:"
As a parent I am so angry that they are spending money
sending these misleading recommendations to parents who are seeking financial
aid and scholarship information, only to get students to sign up for a
manipulative marketing tool that directs my daughters to use social media to
post photos and videos to their friends that encourage their participation in
these issues, in order to obtain the possibility to receive a
As a side note, I am so happy to tell you that I listen to
the podcast while I do my cooking and baking for the week on Sunday afternoons.
My family walks in and out of the kitchen and catch snippets.
Recently when you were discussing SSRI's my daughter, Grace,
memorized an oratory for her Speech and Debate club for school about SSRI's and
the dangers of those drugs being prescribed to young people. She didn't get to
go to state and said it was hard to give that presentation because the audience
was filled with students and parents on SSRI's, in her opinion. However, she
did win some folks over to her argument. When she heard your discussions on the
podcast, she was so excited to hear other poeple teach of the dangers of
SSRI's. You made her day!
I always appreciate your hard work, diligence and friendly
banter on the show. You and John are amazing!
All the best,
Lorraine Converse
Proud mom of twins, Grace and Aileen
Proud wife of Tyler
Proud nerdly nerd
SouthBy Bomber
Austin Bomber Was Homeschooled Conservative Who Was "Rough Around The Edges" | Zero Hedge
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:28
When Fox News's Geraldo Rivera speculated Tuesday that the Austin bomber may have chosen the Texas capitol because of its status as a deep-blue enclave in the middle of red-state Texas, he might've been on to something.
In a profile of suspected Austin Bomber Mark Anthony Conditt, the Austin American-Statesman spoke with several of the suspected bombers friends, who revealed that Conditt was deeply religious and had railed against homosexuality and abortion in a series of blog posts published when he was 17.
Conditt was homeschooled, which may have made it harder for him to fit in in the "real world," a friend said. External indicators suggest Conditt didn't have many friends. On a Facebook profile that was removed early Wednesday, Conditt only had 12 friends.
The same friend added that, when he first met Conditt, the boy seemed "rough around the edges" and could be assertive in an off-putting way.
"It's really sad to think that one of my friends succumbed to hatred of some sort," Jeremiah Jensen, 24, who was homeschooled in the same Pflugerville community as Conditt, told the American-Statesman. "I have no idea what caused him to make those bombs. Whatever it was I wish he would have reached out to me and asked for help or something."
Jensen was one of only about a dozen friends listed on Conditt's Facebook page before it was removed on Wednesday morning.
The two were close in 2012 and 2013, said Jensen, who would often go to the Conditts' home for lunch after Sunday church service and attending Bible study and other activities together. Jensen said Conditt came from a good family, was athletic, enjoyed rock climbing and parkour and was a "deep thinker."
"When I met Mark, he was really rough around the edges," Jensen said. "He was a very assertive person and would '... end up being kind of dominant and intimidating in conversation. A lot of people didn't understand him and where he was coming from. He really just wanted to tell the truth. What I remember about him he would push back on you if you said something without thinking about it. He loved to think and argue and turn things over and figure out what was really going on."
Conditt's friend added that he knew faith was "a serious thing for him."
Jensen said Conditt attended regular church services at the Austin Stone Community Church on St. John's Avenue.
"I know faith was a serious thing for him," he said. "I don't know if he held onto his faith or not. '... The kind of anger that he expressed and the kind of hate that he succumbed to '-- that's not what he believed in in high school. I don't know what happened along the way. This wasn't him."
As a fellow homeschool student, Jensen described the inner experience of a lot of his friends as one of "loneliness."
"It's just very difficult for a lot of kids to find a way to fit in once they are out in the real world," he said. "I have a feeling that is what happened with Mark. I don't remember him ever being sure of what he wanted to do."
Back in 2012, when Corbitt was 17 years old, he outlined his political views in a series of blog posts that he wrote for an Austin Community College course on government.
Corbitt explained that he believed homosexuality was "unnatural" and that abortions were tantamount to murder. He added that he supported getting rid of the sex offender registry because too many people can't get jobs "because of a crime they committed 15 years ago as an adolescent."
On the blog, Conditt described himself as a conservative. It's not clear whether politics played any role in the bombings, but the blog posts provide insight into Conditt's thinking as he was growing up.
He wrote that he was against gay marriage and abortion and in favor of the death penalty.
He also wrote that he supported doing away with the sex offender registration system.
"So you have a guy who committed a crime. Will putting him on a (sex offender) list make it better? wouldn't this only make people shun him, keep him from getting a job, and making friends? Just for a crime that he may have committed over 15 years ago as a adolescent? On a side note, one fifth of all rapes are committed by a juvenile," Conditt wrote.
On abortion, he wrote: ''First, if a women does not want a baby, or is incapable of taking care of one, she should not participate in activities that were made for that reason. Second, if we are going to give women free abortions, why not give men free condoms, or the like? Is it not up to the couple to take these preventive measures?''
Arguing against gay marriage, he wrote that homosexuality is ''not natural.''
"Just look at the male and female bodies. They are obviously designed to couple. The natural design is apparent. It is not natural to couple male with male and female with female. It would be like trying to fit two screws together and to nuts together and then say, 'See, it's natural for them to go together.'"
Police are still investigating the bombings and have said Corbitt may have had accomplices. No motive has been determined. Police have said that neither Corbitt's roommates nor his family are suspected of being involved with the bombings.
AUSTIN BOMBINGS: Bomber uses readily available materials
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 10:51
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The person who is making explosive devices and has left them at three Austin doorsteps is constructing them using common household items that can be easily purchased at hardware stores, potentially making efforts to identify the perpetrator more difficult, law enforcement officials said Thursday.
Authorities are trying to identify all the materials used to make the bombs, which have killed two people and left an elderly woman seriously wounded. However, they do not think the bombs were built from specialized equipment that would enable them to more easily identify who would have access to such items.
Federal agents this week have been visiting local stores trying to determine if a customer purchased items that appear suspicious, but so far have not gained information to lead them to a possible suspect, the sources said.
How the bombs were manufactured remains a focus of the investigation as officials also pursue other avenues, including going through hours of video surveillance gathered by neighbors who have security cameras. Testing on remnants of the explosive devices is being performed by the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
AUSTIN BOMBINGS: Click here for complete coverage
Tina Sherrow, who retired last year from the ATF as a senior special agent and explosives specialist, said it is more difficult for investigators to track down bomb makers who use common items.
''The resources to make such devices with components can be as simple as going to the stores, it's as simple as going under your kitchen sink, or going to your garage or getting them online,'' Sherrow said. ''It does make it a little more difficult if it's just your random bolt box from China on the shelf of Home Depot.''
Stores that sell such items include Lowe's, Best Buy and Radio Shack. People can use household chemicals, fireworks or shotgun shell powder for explosives. Sherrow has even seen juveniles load a pipe bomb with the heads of match sticks.
To track devices made with common parts, investigators make a list of the items found at the scene, such as cleaning chemicals, specific types of nails used to create shrapnel and branded electronic components. Then they go to stores in the area that sell those items and go through their purchase records. Ideally, they will find a receipt with multiple items from the scene and check the store's video records to get a glimpse of the purchaser. But they often come up empty.
''If you go buy a box of three-penny cut nails at a store, there's no tracking that,'' she said. ''Sometimes you get lucky. Sometimes you don't.''
READ: Austin bomb victims' families united by one church
For example, Sherrow, who worked for two months on the 1996 Centennial Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta that killed one and injured 11 others, said the bomber, Eric Rudolph, was able to avoid detection for a long time because he used common items in the devices.
Meanwhile, federal agents continue to pursue the connections between victims.
The American-Statesman reported Wednesday that Anthony House, the first person killed when a bomb exploded on his porch, is the son of the Rev. Freddie Dixon. Dixon is a close friend of Norman Mason, the grandfather of 17-year-old Draylen Mason, who was killed Monday morning in the second package bomb attack.
Both Dixon and Mason are prominent members of Austin's African-American community.
Agents also talked to a woman named Erica Mason, whose neighbor was injured in one of the package explosions. Mason, who is from Iowa, isn't related to the Mason family prominent in the local African-American community. But police have developed a theory that the bomber might have mistaken her for another member of that family.
READ: Police question Austin woman they think might have been bombing target
If the theory proves true, the bomber made two mistakes: targeting the wrong Mason and accidentally placing the package a few doors down '-- at the house of Maria Moreno, whose 75-year-old daughter Esperanza Herrera was critically injured after picking it up.
Since the two blasts Monday morning, Austin police have received more than 500 reports of suspicious packages, none of which have proven to be dangerous.
Police, however, are still urging anyone who encounters a suspicious package to call 911 immediately, and not to touch or handle the package.
Authorities say people should look out for packages with misspelled words, no return address, strange odors, restrictive markings or exposed wires.
Officials are offering up to $65,000 to anyone who comes forward with information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for the attacks.
Anonymous tips can be submitted to the local Crime Stoppers tip line at 512-472-8477 or the state tip line at 1-800-252-8477.
Staff writer Mark D. Wilson contributed to this report.
Austin bomb suspect Mark Anthony Conditt used 'exotic' batteries in explosives, sources say - NBC News
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:12
The Texas bombing suspect's cellphone had a 25-minute video recording in which the young man described how he built each explosive device "with a level of specificity" that the Austin Chief of Police classified it as "a confession" at a press conference late Wednesday.
The phone was found on the suspect after he died in an explosion early Wednesday as police closed in, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. In the recording, Mark Anthony Conditt, described the bombs that he allegedly constructed to such a degree that he also explained how they differed, which is information that had not been released, Manley explained.
Related: Trail to Austin bombing suspect combined high-tech and old-fashioned techniques
"He does not at all mention anything about terrorism or anything about hate," Manley said, who added that the video did not necessarily clarify a motive.
"Instead, it is the outcry of a very challenged young man talking about challenges in his personal life that led him to this point," he said.
Meanwhile, earlier on Wednesday, multiple senior law enforcement sources said that 'exotic" batteries ordered online helped lead authorities to Conditt, as Austin police and federal agents worked around the clock with approximately 500 agents to track down the bombing suspect.
A criminal complaint filed before the suspect died identified him as Conditt, 23. (Police had said earlier that Conditt was 24.) Newly unsealed court records said Conditt would have been charged with receiving, possessing and transferring a destructive device.
Law enforcement remained at the scene around his home on Wednesday afternoon.
The unusual batteries were the signature trait that allowed investigators to so quickly link the various explosives to Conditt, sources said. One senior law enforcement official said the batteries came from Asia.
"These weren't your store-bought Duracells," another law enforcement official said.
Conditt, suspected in a spate of bombings that terrorized Austin in the last three weeks, died early Wednesday after detonating an explosive inside his vehicle as a SWAT team tried to apprehend him on the side of a highway, officials said.
Authorities had tracked him to a hotel in Round Rock, a city in the Austin metropolitan area, Manley said at a news conference.
When investigators examined Conditt's home in Pflugerville, Texas '-- just outside Austin '-- they found a "treasure trove" of evidence, multiple senior law enforcement officials said. That forced authorities to clear the six surrounding blocks due to a significant amount of bomb-making material.
Pflugerville Police Chief Jessica Robledo said at a press conference on Wednesday that it would likely take several hours to process the scene and safely removed the explosive material, but added that authorities would allow residents to return home as soon as possible.
ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Houston Field Division Fred Milanowski said that investigators believe there are no other devices in the public, but shared with reporters that they had found a "considerable amount" of bomb-making material in one of Conditt's rooms, which had "a lock on it."
"There is componentry in there that makes us believe to a high degree of certainty that it's the same componentry that they've found in other devices," he said.
Police were able to find Conditt using a variety of tactics, including coming up with a list of phone numbers and individuals that were in the area of the bombings when they occurred, using cell-site analysis and high-tech computing systems that can find patterns of callers in certain areas.
Hours before police tried to pull Conditt, he turned on his cellphone, which allowed authorities to track his location. Surveillance footage taken at an Austin FedEx was also used.
Authorities shared the surveillance footage showing a man believed to be Conditt entering a FedEx facility wearing what appeared to be a blonde wig and dropping off a package.
Early Wednesday, police were following Conditt's car on Interstate 35 when he pulled over and "detonated a bomb inside the vehicle, knocking one of our SWAT officers back," Manley said.
Another member of the SWAT team fired at the vehicle, Manley said.
"The suspect is deceased and has significant injuries from a blast that occurred from detonating a bomb inside his vehicle," he said, adding that the officer who was knocked back sustained minor injuries.
The incident happened at around 2 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET), according to NBC affiliate KXAN.
Earlier on Wednesday, Congressman Mike McCaul, R-Texas, told KXAN that Conditt purchased some of the materials at a local Home Depot.
The components included galvanized steel pipe, an explosive and several different types of shrapnel, law enforcement officials briefed on the investigation said.
Some items were allegedly purchased online, and Conditt allegedly used the name "Kelly Killmore" on shipping, according to NBC News affiliate WOAI.
The completed devices were triggered via a rudimentary switch or pin system when the packages were opened or jostled, officials said. By opening or jostling the package, paper or some sort of wadding that was between the switch was removed, closing the circuit, and detonating the device.
Members of law enforcement stage near the area where a suspect in a series of bombing attacks in Austin blew himself up as authorities closed in, on March 21, 2018, in Round Rock, Texas. Eric Gay / AP
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said on Wednesday that he had little information about Conditt, but he could confirm that he was unemployed.
"He did not have a criminal record as best we can tell, so there seems to be very little information about him," Abbot told KXAN, adding that investigators would look through any social media accounts.
He said Conditt had two roommates who were cooperating with law enforcement.
One of Conditt's roommates was taken into custody on Wednesday morning, but he was later released, Austin police said. The other was being questioned but had not been arrested, according to authorities.
A 2012 blog, which appears to be part of a government class project at Austin Community College, lists the writer as Mark Conditt of Pflugerville, Texas. Conditt is believed to have been a resident of Pflugerville, north of Austin.Related:
Who was Austin bomb suspect Mark Anthony Conditt?NBC News could not immediately confirm if the blog was written by the suspect, but public records show only one Mark Conditt in Pflugerville. Austin Community College confirmed that a "Mark Anthony Conditt," born in June 1994, was a student from 2010-12, but did not graduate. The college added that it is "working with Austin Police Department to provide any information they need."
blog espouses some political beliefs, including entries describing why the author believes gay marriage should not be legalized and why the United States should do away with sex offender registration.Jeff Reeb, a neighbor of the Conditt family, said that Mark was "a very normal kid" and that the family is "extremely nice."
The suspect's grandmother, Mary Conditt, shared a statement on behalf of the family on Wednesday afternoon in which they requested privacy "as we deal with this terrible, terrible knowledge and try to support each other at this time."
"We are devastated and broken at the news that our family member could be involved in such an awful way," the family said. "We had no idea of the darkness that Mark must have been in. Our family is a normal family in every way. We love, we pray, and we try to inspire and serve others. Right now our prayers are for the families who lost loved ones, for those impacted in any way, and for the soul of our Mark."
Shortly after the announcement that the suspect had been killed, President Donald Trump congratulated law enforcement personnel.
Even though the suspect was dead, however, officials warned locals to keep on the lookout for other possible explosives.
"This is the culmination of three very long weeks for our community," Manley said. "We still need to remain vigilant to ensure no other packages or devices have been left in the community."
ATF Special Agent in Charge Fred Milanowski told reporters that officials were "concerned that there may still be other devices out there."
Austin had been on edge after at least five attacks using package or other bombs across the city this month left two dead and several injured.
The first attack
on March 2 killed Stephan House, 39. Ten days later, Draylen Mason, 17, was killed in an explosion that also critically injured his mother. And a separate attack that day critically injured a 75-year-old Hispanic woman. On Sunday, two people were injured by a device believed to have used a tripwire. On Tuesday, one package exploded and another containing an explosive device was intercepted by law enforcement at FedEx facilities near that city and near San Antonio, authorities said.
Map locates four explosions in the Austin area between March 2nd and March 18th Roque Ruiz
Andrew Blankstein and Phil McCausland reported from New York, and Alexander Smith from London.
Why Demonstrating Is Good for Kids - The New York Times
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:10
Maya Morales, 15, holds a sign during a walkout and demonstration for gun control last month at Anderson High School in Austin, Tex. Credit Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman, via Associated Press Participating in political activism may be good for our teenagers, according to a new research report.
The study, published in January in the journal Child Development, found that late adolescents and young adults who voted, volunteered or engaged in activism ultimately went further in school and had higher incomes than those who did not mobilize for political or social change.
By tracking nearly 10,000 young people from a wide variety of ethnic, racial and economic backgrounds, researchers from Wake Forest School of Medicine, Fordham University and the University of Massachusetts measured the long-term implications of youth political and social engagement. Remarkably, they found that civic activity linked to better academic and financial outcomes regardless of early school performance and parental education levels, two factors that usually drive later success.
Of course, correlation does not prove causation, but the study makes a case for the benefits of civic engagement.
In light of the findings, Parissa Ballard, the study's lead author and an assistant professor in the department of family and community medicine at Wake Forest School of Medicine, said that ''having meaningful opportunities to volunteer or be involved in activism may change how young people think about themselves or their possibilities for the future.''
The research is especially timely as American students consider whether to participate in the National School Walkout planned for Wednesday.
In the aftermath of the killing of 17 students and teachers in Parkland, Fla., teenagers around the country are planning to leave their school buildings on Wednesday at 10 a.m. for 17 minutes, a demonstration meant to honor the victims and advocate for gun control. Taking part in a single event '-- whether this one or another that matches the child's political leanings '-- may not, by itself, alter the trajectory of an adolescent's development. But the study's authors suggest that positive, lasting outcomes may result if organized civic engagement helps young people galvanize their belief in their personal efficacy, connect to empowering social networks or cultivate professional skills.
Indeed, the teenage survivors of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting are already making a difference: Gov. Rick Scott of Florida credited them with inspiring new gun control legislation he signed last week.
For teenagers who intend to participate in the National School Walkout, this same study comes with an interesting caveat: Not all forms of political and social action confer equal benefits on young people. Though voting and volunteering both forecast lower levels of depression and smarter health choices down the line, activism does not.
''Activism,'' Dr. Ballard said, ''is usually a different social experience than other forms of civic engagement.'' While casting ballots and serving others both enjoy broad cultural support and are reliably gratifying, ''activism tends to be more controversial. Activism can be empowering. But it can also be experienced as difficult and stressful.''
Indeed, the youth who engaged in activism '-- defined by the researchers as participating in a march or rally '-- enjoyed the positive benefits of greater educational attainment and larger incomes as they aged. But unlike those who only voted or volunteered, they also went on to engage in higher levels of risky health behaviors such as eating fast food, smoking cigarettes, using marijuana or binge drinking when they were between the ages of 24 and 32.
The study's authors propose two possible explanations for this.
First, activists have, historically, often been members of counterculture groups where risk-taking may already have been the norm. Second, activists might become discouraged by the glacial pace of social change and turn to poor health habits to manage their frustration.
''We can help young people reframe their expectations from big ideas to small wins,'' Dr. Ballard said. ''The expectation shouldn't be changing federal policy right away, but getting news coverage and raising awareness.''
According to Dr. Ballard, adults can also help teenagers feel that their activism is effective by making it about connection: ''connecting with others, connecting with a cause and connecting with what's already going on.'' While most teenagers are too young to express their opinions by voting, participating in rallies is a way to make their voices heard. Those who want to join the effort to end school shootings can look to the student-led March for Our Lives movement to learn about the global rallies scheduled for March 24 '-- a Saturday, so there is no conflict with classroom time.
Of course the decision about whether to support or disapprove of a teenager's activism is as personal as any in family life. Some adults will cheer on students who wish to participate in the walkout while others may oppose them or worry about the potential safety hazards, educational costs or disciplinary consequences of joining in. While some schools have threatened to suspend students who participate, legal scholars say students have the right to demonstrate unless they are disruptive. And dozens of colleges and universities said that any disciplinary actions against those participating in the protests would not affect their admissions decisions.
Looking at the issue from a social science perspective, adults should nurture adolescents' efforts to catalyze political and social change because civic engagement can help teenagers grow. America has a long history of benefiting from the activism of young people; it's good to know that the young people usually benefit, too.
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Hundreds of Start-Ups Tell Investors: Diversify, or Keep Your Money - The New York Times
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:56
The Founders for Change coalition includes, from left, Howie Liu of Airtable, Andre Haddad of Turo, Todd Berman of Loom, Sarah Leary of Nextdoor, Jason Brown of Tally, Sarah Nahm of Lever, Eddie Medina of BetterUp, Amit Sharma of Narvar and Rosanna Myers of Carbon Robotics. Credit Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times SAN FRANCISCO '-- When Trevor McFedries set out last year to raise money for Brud, his robotics and artificial intelligence start-up, he found himself in many meetings with ''a ton of white guy'' venture capitalists.
So Mr. McFedries, who is black, and his co-founder, Sara DeCou, a Latino woman, added a condition for investors: The pair would accept money only from venture firms that had a woman or a person of color in a position to write them a check.
''It was counterintuitive for us to raise money from a bunch of white guys who want to extract all the value from the world,'' said Mr. McFedries, who eventually collected several million dollars from firms that met the condition. ''We're interested in reshaping the way that tech looks.''
Mr. McFedries is one of more than 400 tech entrepreneurs and chief executives who have now banded together, in a loose coalition known as Founders for Change, to pressure the venture capital industry to diversify its ranks. The group includes Dropbox's chief executive, Drew Houston; Logan Green and John Zimmer of Lyft; Airbnb's chief executive, Brian Chesky; and founders of public companies such as Katrina Lake of Stitch Fix.
On Tuesday, in a statement underlining the importance of diversity in the tech industry, the tech executives said the racial and gender makeup of a venture capital firm would be ''an important consideration'' when they were raising money:
I believe in a more diverse and inclusive tech industry. I am dedicated to having a diverse team and board, and when I have a choice of investment partners, the diversity of their firms will be an important consideration.
The entrepreneurs' public statement is unusual. In Silicon Valley's start-up ecosystem, founders and investors have generally maintained a delicate power equilibrium. Venture capitalists strive to get into the hottest start-ups, aiming for a big payoff when those companies go public or are sold. Entrepreneurs, in turn, take money and guidance from the investors to help their start-ups grow and flourish.
But a new generation of entrepreneurs is ready to upset that balance. Spurred on by the #MeToo movement and fed up after several Silicon Valley scandals last year revealed how investors had abused their power with female start-up founders, these entrepreneurs have become impatient for change in the industry.
Ms. Nahm, left, Ms. Leary and Mr. Medina. ''So much of Silicon Valley is diversifying,'' Ms. Nahm said, ''but venture capital is the slowest part of the tech industry to bring change.'' Credit Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times ''It's pretty obvious the venture industry is not where it needs to be'' in diversity, said Jack Conte, chief executive of Patreon, a San Francisco start-up that runs a subscription platform for artists, musicians and others. The founders' statement, which he signed on to, ''is a market signal to venture capitalists that their customers care about solving a problem,'' he said.
The American venture capital industry, which invested $84 billion in more than 8,000 companies last year, has long faced little to no impetus to alter its demographics. Venture firms are usually small private companies made up of former tech executives or financial types, who are mostly male and white. And because venture firms operate with long-term horizons '-- their funds generally invest over a 10-year period '-- the industry's pace of change is often glacial.
In 2016, 11 percent of venture capital firms' investment partners were women, according to a survey by the National Venture Capital Association and Deloitte. The survey found no black investment partners at venture firms, while 2 percent of investment partners were Latino.
Venture capital firms have made some attempts to diversify their own ranks, as well as in the companies they invest in. Several high-profile Silicon Valley partnerships have recently hired female investment partners. Others have pledged to take more meetings with female entrepreneurs. To cut down on harassment, more than 40 venture firms also made their codes of conduct public this month.
''Change has picked up and it's coming, but I do think it's measured in years, not months,'' Greg Sands, a venture capitalist at Costanoa Ventures, said. Costanoa has made its code of conduct public and recently held ''Seat at the Table'' events to meet more female entrepreneurs.
Part of the pressure to diversify the venture capital industry is coming from within '-- in particular, from a small group of female venture capitalists. The Founders for Change movement, for example, originated with Aileen Lee of Cowboy Ventures and Jenny Lefcourt of Freestyle Capital.
Over dinner in September, the two women shared stories of different entrepreneurs who were agitating for more diversity in tech. They decided to corral those founders together to publicly seek change.
''Founders tell us: 'I cannot believe your industry. It's like 'Mad Men,''' Ms. Lee said.
She added that it might seem self-serving for female investors to push founders to seek more diversity. But, she said, it is not a case of ''us versus them.''
Instead, Ms. Lefcourt said, it is about everyone realizing that diversity can be a competitive advantage.
How much impact these founders might have is unclear. Some said they themselves needed to do better diversifying their own start-ups. And while many have individual diversity initiatives that they plan to share with one another, there has been little discussion of how to follow up on their public statement.
These entrepreneurs also acknowledged that they were in an advantageous position because venture capitalists were competing for their companies and they could choose which investors to work with. Other entrepreneurs may not have that luxury.
Still, Sarah Nahm, chief executive of Lever, a recruiting software start-up, said joining Founders for Change and standing with other entrepreneurs to promote diversity was important.
Since she helped found Lever in 2012, Ms. Nahm has raised $73 million from venture capitalists for her San Francisco company. For much of that time, she said, investors cared little about diversity and inclusion '-- including sometimes mistaking her for an executive assistant during pitch meetings.
In 2015, Ms. Nahm said, she deliberately chose to take funding from a woman at Scale Venture Partners. ''So much of Silicon Valley is diversifying, but venture capital is the slowest part of the tech industry to bring change,'' she said.
Now making a statement might enable other founders to have earlier conversations about diversity with investors, Ms. Nahm said.
''Unless investors are hearing it from companies, they are not going to think that changing is critical,'' she said. ''We want people to realize they can get started today.''
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Children's Book About Mike Pence's Gay Bunny Jumps to No. 1 - The New York Times
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:26
''Please buy it for your children, buy it for any child you know or buy it because you know it would annoy Mike Pence,'' Mr. Oliver told his viewers. Parody aside, he assured them, ''This is a real book for children.''
And buy it they have. By Tuesday the book, which beat Ms. Pence's to Amazon by two days, had risen to the No. 1 spot on the website's best-seller list, knocking pre-ordered copies of the upcoming memoir by James Comey down to No. 2.
Ms. Pence's book on Marlon Bundo had reached No. 4 on the list by late afternoon.
Mr. Comey's book, ''A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,'' has been highly anticipated for potential insights it could provide into the tumultuous Trump White House and Mr. Comey's abrupt dismissal as director of the F.B.I. last year.
Dueling tweets over the weekend between President Trump and Mr. Comey appeared to have propelled enough advance orders to lift Mr. Comey's memoir to the top spot. The memoir, scheduled to be released on April 17, has been advertised as a frank account of Mr. Comey's ''never-before-told experiences from some of the highest-stakes situations of his career.''
Mr. Oliver's book is very different than that.
In it, Marlon Bundo, a snappily dressed bunny with a penchant for bright bow ties, falls in love with a bespectacled boy bunny named Wesley. Things seem to be going pretty well for the two lovebirds (love bunnies?) until a powerful stinkbug who bears a striking resemblance to Mr. Pence decrees that male bunnies cannot marry each other.
Photo Two books about Mike Pence's pet bunny, Marlon Bundo, were published this week. One is a picture book and the other is a gay romance. In the grand tradition of children's literature, the story ends on a happy note. An image released by the book's publisher, Chronicle Books, shows Marlon Bundo and Wesley standing in a field, wearing tuxedos, as a cat in clerical garb marries them.
The tale also comes in the form of an audiobook voiced by a string of celebrities including Jim Parsons as Marlon Bundo and John Lithgow as the stinkbug, as well as Ellie Kemper, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and RuPaul. On Tuesday, it also beat Mr. Comey's audiobook to be the No. 1 best-seller on Audible.
Mr. Oliver played clips from a cartoon version of the audiobook on his show on Sunday. In it, Marlon Bundo introduces himself to Wesley as ''BOTUS.''
''It's short for Bunny of the United States,'' he says, with typical first-date awkwardness. ''It's a long story.''
Ms. Pence's book is more sober children's fare. It is not known if it identifies Marlon Bundo's sexual orientation at all.
Charlotte Pence seemed to take the John Oliver parody in stride. ''His book is contributing to charities that I think we can all get behind,'' she said in an interview with Fox Business Network on Tuesday. ''We have two books giving to charities that are about bunnies, so I'm all for it really.''
Some of the proceeds from her book will be donated to A21, an organization that fights human trafficking. Mr. Oliver said all of his book's profits would be donated to The Trevor Project, a charity for L.G.B.T. youth, and AIDS United.
That was a pointed jab at Mr. Pence, who is a longtime opponent of L.G.B.T. rights, which he opposed as both governor of Indiana and a member of Congress.
Last year, Mr. Pence described James Dobson, the founder of Focus on the Family, which teaches that people can vanquish same-sex attraction if they ''cooperate with God in the process of becoming more like Jesus,'' as ''a friend and a mentor.''
Mr. Pence has also long been dogged by claims that he supports anti-gay conversion therapy due in part to language contained on the website of his 2000 campaign for Congress. A spokesman for Mr. Pence said in 2016 that he does not support the practice, which has been denounced by the medical community.
The success of Mr. Oliver's book marks the second time in recent months that criticism of Mr. Pence's record on L.G.B.T. rights has turned into a pop culture moment.
In January, the figure skater Adam Rippon, the first openly gay American man to qualify to compete in the Winter Games, attracted wide media attention and became an overnight gay icon when he denounced Mr. Pence's gay rights record and refused to meet with him during the Games. The vice president's staff said Mr. Rippon had misrepresented Mr. Pence's views.
A version of this article appears in print on March 21, 2018, on Page A12 of the New York edition with the headline: When 2 Bunnies Love Each Other Very Much, and Troll the Pences.
Continue reading the main story
Shut Up Slave!
De 'sleepnetwet' uitgelegd in 12 heldere vragen en antwoorden - de Volkskrant
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:25
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'Nee'-kamp referendum op nipte voorsprong, 80 procent van de stemmen geteld - Binnenland - Voor nieuws, achtergronden en columns
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:02
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Man guilty of hate crime for filming pug's 'Nazi salutes' - BBC News
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:58
Image copyright Press Team Image caption Mark Meechan's clip was viewed more than three million times on YouTube A man who filmed a pet dog giving Nazi salutes before putting the footage on YouTube has been convicted of committing a hate crime.
Mark Meechan, 30, recorded his girlfriend's pug, Buddha, responding to statements such as "gas the Jews" and "Sieg Heil" by raising its paw.
But police were alerted and he was arrested for allegedly committing a hate crime.
The original clip had been viewed more than three million times on YouTube.
Grossly offensiveMeechan, of Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, went on trial at Airdrie Sheriff Court where he denied any wrong doing.
He insisted he made the video, which was posted in April 2016, to annoy his girlfriend Suzanne Kelly, 29.
But Sheriff Derek O'Carroll found him guilty of a charge under the Communications Act that he posted a video on social media and YouTube which was grossly offensive because it was "anti-semitic and racist in nature" and was aggravated by religious prejudice.
Sheriff O'Carroll told the court he did not believe Meechan had made the video only to annoy his girlfriend and ruled it was anti-Semitic.
Image copyright Press Team He also said he believed Meechan - who was supported at court by Tommy Robinson, former leader of far-right group the English Defence League (EDL) - left the video on YouTube to drive traffic to other material he had on there.
He added: "In my view it is a reasonable conclusion that the video is grossly offensive
"The description of the video as humorous is no magic wand.
"This court has taken the freedom of expression into consideration.
"But the right to freedom of expression also comes with responsibility."
'Intelligent and articulate'Sheriff O'Carroll said Meehan was "quite obviously an intelligent and articulate man".
But he added: "The accused knew that the material was offensive and knew why it was offensive.
"Despite that the accused made a video containing anti-Semitic content and he would have known it was grossly offensive to many Jewish people."
Ross Brown, defending, said Meechan had only intended the video to be seen by a small group of friends and to annoy his girlfriend.
He said the material had been leaked and gone viral but Police Scotland then wrongly pursued Meechan despite his later videos attempting to "set the record straight".
Mr Brown said: "His girlfriend testified that Mr Meechan had never made known to her any anti-Semitic views whatsoever.
"The accused possesses both tolerant and liberal views.
"His girlfriend is in no doubt it was an example of his sense of humour."
Famous supportMr Brown told the court it was wrong to focus on the phrase "gas the Jews" when it had been taken out of context of the whole video.
He claimed Jewish comedian David Baddiel had voiced his support for Meechan and had asked for him to walk free.
He added: "I can see that the video may not be to everyone's taste.
"Others may be able to see the comedic or satirical element to it.
"The court should seek to acquit Mr Meechan for no other reason but to show it is 2018 and not 1984."
Prosecutors had earlier asked for Meechan to be convicted and branded the video "an odious criminal act that was dressed up to look like a joke."
Comedian Ricky Gervais took to Twitter to comment on the case after the verdict.
He tweeted: "A man has been convicted in a UK court of making a joke that was deemed 'grossly offensive'.
"If you don't believe in a person's right to say things that you might find 'grossly offensive', then you don't believe in Freedom of Speech."
Fake News
Google Pledges $300 Million to Clean Up False News - The New York Times
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:47
In a move to combat the epidemic of false and unreliable information on the internet, Google is pledging to spend $300 million over the next three years to support authoritative journalism.
Google's campaign, which was announced at an event in New York on Tuesday, will be known as the Google News Initiative. Among the initiative's goals are making it easier for Google users to subscribe to news publications, and giving publishers new tools to create fast-loading mobile pages. The project is Google's most ambitious attempt yet to improve the quality of information it shows to users at a time when tech companies have come under criticism for letting hoaxes and misinformation bloom on their services.
Philipp Schindler, Google's chief business officer, said in a blog post that the initiative was intended to signal the company's ''commitment to a news industry facing dramatic shifts in how journalism is created, consumed and paid for.''
As part of its efforts, Google is helping to create a Disinfo Lab in partnership with the Harvard Kennedy School's First Draft, which will attempt to identify false news during critical breaking news situations. Google and YouTube, the video site owned by Google's parent company, have been criticized for allowing conspiracy theories and unreliable partisan sources to filter to the top of search results for breaking news and for having failed to stop the spread of false news during the 2016 presidential race.
Richard Gingras, Google's vice president of news products, said the company had built new tools, including some already in operation, to prevent malicious actors from gaming its search algorithms to spread disinformation. He pointed to the search results for the shooting at a Maryland high school earlier Tuesday. Unlike the search results for similar previous shootings, which surfaced stories from hoax websites and toxic message boards, the results on both Google and YouTube for topics related to the Maryland shooting were dominated by stories from legitimate mainstream publications.
''We want to make it easier for users to see the authoritative coverage up front,'' Mr. Gingras said., Google's nonprofit arm, also announced a $10 million media literacy project to help American teenagers learn skills to identify false news. The company said this program would involve using GIFs, memes, videos and YouTube celebrities ''to respond to the spread of misinformation.''
Google also pledged to take on an emerging trend: ''synthetic media,'' a genre of photos and videos that are manipulated using artificial intelligence software. The most troublesome form has been ''deepfakes,'' ultrarealistic fake videos that swap one face onto another. Experts are concerned that these creations could poison the information landscape.
Google didn't unveil any specific plans to address synthetic media but said it would release data sets to journalism organizations and researchers to help them develop tools to spot the fakes.
''This won't solve the problem, but the more brains we put behind it, the more progress we can all make,'' Mr. Gingras said.
A version of this article appears in print on , on Page B3 of the New York edition with the headline: Google Offers Online Tools And Funding for Journalists . Order Reprints | Today's Paper | Subscribe
Introducing Subscribe with Google
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:51
If you've ever subscribed to a news site, you know that it can sometimes be an onerous task. This isn't the publisher's fault, it's just the way websites work. You'll have to type in your name, your email, maybe a username (no, not that username; it's taken) and then make up a new password (no, not that password; you'll need one with the special character and the two non-repeating numbers), and it doesn't end there. You'll have to fill in a bunch of credit card fields, which you probably don't have committed to memory.
Just like your password.
Like you, we love journalism, but we're less excited about filling in web forms and clicking on ''forgot password'' links. So today we're announcing Subscribe with Google'--the simple way to subscribe to news publications and maintain access everywhere: websites, apps, even search results.
Making it easier to subscribe to premium contentSubscribe with Google lets you buy a subscription, using your Google account, on participating news sites. Select the publisher offer you'd like to buy, click ''Subscribe,'' and you're done. You'll automatically be signed in to the site, and you can pay''securely and privately'--with any credit card you've used with Google in the past. From then on, you can then use ''Sign In with Google'' to access the publisher's products, but Google does the billing, keeps your payment method secure, and makes it easy for you to manage your subscriptions all in one place.
Here's a look at just how easy it will be on the Miami Herald:
You'll soon be able to subscribe with Google on any one of our launch partners, including Les ‰chos, Fairfax Media, Le Figaro, the Financial Times, Gatehouse Media, Grupo Globo, The Mainichi, McClatchy, La Naci"n, The New York Times, NRC Media, Le Parisien, Reforma, la Republica, The Telegraph, USA TODAY NETWORK andThe Washington Post'--with more publishers coming soon.
Making it easier to enjoy your subscriptionsAfter subscribing, you'll be able to access your subscription content whenever you're signed in to your Google account. No more irritating paywalls popping up when you've already paid, and no more struggling to stay logged in when you switch from laptop to mobile device.Paying for a subscription is a clear indication that you value and trust your subscribed publication as a source. So we'll also highlight those sources across Google surfaces, beginning with a dedicated module on Search. When you search for a news topic for which your subscribed publication has relevant results, we'll showcase these so they're easy for you to see and access'--without disrupting search ranking for the rest of the page.
But how can we help you get access to the subscriptions you already bought? Our goal is to make news subscriptions work better regardless of who you bought your subscription from. So Subscribe with Google will also allow you to link subscriptions purchased directly from publishers to your Google account'--with the same benefits of easier and more persistent access.
Calling all news publishers: let's make subscriptions simple, togetherBack in October, we previewed our initial thoughts around Subscribe with Google. For the last six months, we've been holding working groups with participants from nearly 60 news organizations across 18 countries to review our ideas and collect feedback. We've experimented directly with a smaller number of partners to understand some of the implementation challenges they face, and we're committed to building a product that works for publishers of various shapes and sizes.
Our hope, shared by our early development partners'--McClatchy, the Financial Times, and The Washington Post'--is that the user benefits of Subscribe with Google will also manifest as publisher benefits. Craig Forman, President and CEO of McClatchy, notes that Subscribe with Google will help them in ''creating a simple and frictionless way to welcome new subscribers.'' And Dave Merrell, Lead Product Manager for The Washington Post, told us how valuable it will be to the Post's business to enable a ''seamless [way] for users to sign in and stay logged into their accounts.''
We're grateful for the insights and for the adventurous spirit of these early partners, who have helped us start to address what Jon Slade, Chief Commercial Officer of the Financial Times, called the ''core issues that are essential to a successful subscription business: easy sign-up, frictionless payment, and improved discovery for subscribers.''
As part of the Google News Initiative, our company-wide effort to help journalism thrive in a digital age, today's launch is an important step toward helping news publishers develop revenue streams beyond advertising. We plan to grow and evolve Subscribe with Google to help publishers identify likely subscribers, grow their subscriber base, and achieve financial sustainability.
If you're a news publisher or developer, visit our site to learn more.
Learn more about Subscribe with Google
BBC Accused of Photoshopping Jeremy Corbyn's Hat to Look More 'Russian'
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:25
The BBC is at the center of a controversy in the UK after its news program Newsnight was accused of Photoshopping politician Jeremy Corbyn's hat in a photo to make the opposition leader look more ''Russian.''
During a discussion about escalating tensions with Russian that aired last Thursday, the BBC Two program displayed a background image showing the Kremlin and a stylized photo of Corbyn.
Critics were quick to point out that Corbyn looked like he was wearing a Soviet-style hat in graphic, and a comparison with the original photo showed that the hat seems to be noticeably different (including in its shape). Here's a comparison that has been circulating:
Redditor LeftWingScot made a GIF that compares the two images above:
When left-wing writer Owen Jones appeared on Newsnight the following day, he criticized the BBC for the edited photo, saying: ''What sort of country do we live in where the media constantly tries to portray the leader of the opposition, who was the only one who stood up in solidarity with Russia's opposition'... as an agent of foreign powers?''
"What sort of country do we live in where the media constantly tries to portray the leader of the opposition, who was the only one who stood up in solidarity with Russia's opposition'... as an agent of foreign powers?" @OwenJones84 asks
'-- BBC Newsnight (@BBCNewsnight) March 16, 2018
''The media framing has been a disgrace and I have to say that includes your own program,'' Jones said during his appearance. Yesterday the background of your program you had Jeremy Corbyn dressed up against the Kremlin skyline, dressed up as a Soviet stooge.
''You even photoshopped his hat to look more Russian. People should complain to the BBC about that kind of thing.''
May not be getting a @BBCNewsnight invite ever again, but the way they stitched up the Opposition leader to portray him as the stooge of a foreign power is, ironically, the sort of thing you expect on Russian state TV, and they must apologise in full and unreservedly.
'-- Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) March 17, 2018
BBC journalist John Sweeney was also questioned about the photo by Alex Salmond on Salmond's show yesterday.
''Let's try to work out if the BBC did or did not photoshop the Jeremy Corbyn image,'' Salmond says.
''No it didn't, no it didn't,'' replies Sweeney.
''I'm looking at this image, there's no doubt that in the picture of Jeremy Corbyn of a perfectly respectable hat with a peak, seems to have been transformed into red picture of Jeremy Corbyn against the Kremlin and the peak of the hat seems to have disappeared,'' Salmond says.
Sweeney continues to defend the photo, saying: ''It wasn't Photoshopped.''
BBC acting editor Jess Brammar also denied that the photo had been materially altered this weekend through a series of Tweets.
Ok, it's Saturday & I'm in the hairdresser but my phone is having a meltdown so I'm going to address this '' I've been staying out of it because I haven't been in the office since thurs afternoon, but here we go'...Newsnight didn't photoshop a hat.
'-- Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018
Our (excellent,hardworking) graphics team explained the image has had the contrast increased & been colour treated, usual treatment for screen graphics as they need more contrast to work through the screens. If you look you can see it's same hat in silhouette
'-- Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018
apparently (forgive me for passing on tech details I don't understand firsthand) some detail might also have been lost with it going through the screen and then being filmed back through a camera, again the standard effect on images on that big back panel
'-- Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018
And finally, the Russia background was a rehash of one Newsnight used a few weeks ago, for a story about Gavin Williamson, the Defence Secretary
'-- Jess Brammar (@jessbrammar) March 17, 2018
Brammar touches on one fact that doesn't seem to be receiving too much attention: the fact that the controversial photo is being displayed on a large, curved screen, which introduces distortions.
The BBC actually shared the same edited photo of Corbyn in a Tweet published hours before the program aired:
And when you compare the source photo to this static image, the hat no longer looks like it was stretched vertically (though the change in contrast, which makes the shadow look like part of the hat, is still there):
So if the teaser graphic posted by the BBC is indeed the exact same graphic that ran in the background of the program, then it seems that the curved screen may actually be responsible for stretching the hat out.
But Jones isn't satisfied with Brammar's explanation.
Hi Jess, firstly lots of respect for you. The photo of Williamson is in a suit and his photo remains clear. There is no shortage of photos of Corbyn in a suit. A photo was selected which was as Leninesque as possible in combination with a red Kremlin background.
'-- Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) March 17, 2018
''The photo of Williamson is in a suit and his photo remains clear,'' Jones writes. ''There is no shortage of photos of Corbyn in a suit. A photo was selected which was as Leninesque as possible in combination with a red Kremlin background.''
Net Neutrality
YouTube Officially To Start Banning Firearms Related Content
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 23:48
first published on March 20, 2018 by Josh
In a sweeping decision, YouTube has released their latest dictatorial policy on firearms content, and the outlook is not good for the firearms community. These new loosely stated rules and guidelines give YouTube the power to not only remove firearms content from their platform at will, but also give them the ability to conduct outright bans, and censor prominent voices in the pro second amendment community without any chance of an appeal. Here's what it looks like.
It is no secret or surprise that YouTube, a property of Alphabet Inc., has long been an anti-gun entity on the internet. In the past, the platform has had many problems where firearms videos and creators alike were wantonly removed without rhyme or reason. Inquiries into these removals almost always resulted in the platform being forced to allow the creators back onto YouTube as the content was not directly in violation of any rules or guidelines set into motion by the company. As of yesterday, March 19, 2018, all of that has changed because they have released their official stance on firearms with new rules and guidelines for firearms related content.
YouTube no longer allows videos that: Intend to sell firearms or certain firearms accessories through direct sales (e.g., private sales by individuals) or links to sites that sell these items. These accessories include but may not be limited to accessories that enable a firearm to simulate automatic fire or convert a firearm to automatic fire (e.g., bump stocks, gatling triggers, drop-in auto sears, conversion kits), and high capacity magazines (i.e., magazines or belts carrying more than 30 rounds). Provides instructions on manufacturing a firearm, ammunition, high capacity magazine, homemade silencers/suppressors, or certain firearms accessories such as those listed above. This also includes instructions on how to convert a firearm to automatic or simulated automatic firing capabilities or shows users how to install the above-mentioned accessories or modifications. You can read the official release from YouTube at this link.
At first, these rules and guidelines may seem reasonable to the average person who views them. When you dig a little deeper into the firearms YouTube community however, you see an entirely different picture. No longer are firearms content creators allowed to post videos where they are sponsored by members of the gun industry. Also, there is no retroactive protection for channels that have violated these rules before they existed. That means, any video that was ever sponsored by any ammunition company, or webpage that sells firearms or firearm accessories is now an offense the creator can be banned for. This means many creators like Hickok45, who have audibly mentioned their sponsors in every video, will have to remove substantial portions of their video library, just because they have directly mentioned these sponsors. Mention of those sponsors could be considered a violation of the guidelines, and result in a channel strike, even if the video was created in 2011. Three strikes and the creator loses access to the channel they have been working to create.
Many creators in the firearms space also have several other videos that could result in retroactive bans from videos that were created long before these guidelines were in place. For example, popular YouTubers such as Demolition Ranch and IraqVeteran8888 feature a few videos where they are operating legally owned and purchased automatic weapons, weapons that are suppressed, or show users how to bump fire. These videos could result in channel strikes against the creators, which would then result in their ban from the platform with little to no warning for the creator. These rules were definitely made with malicious intent against the firearms community of YouTube, as the first guideline alone is grounds enough for the removal of a majority of the well made firearms content on the platform.
The video you are about to watch is in violation of the new YouTube guidelines for firearms related content. We highly suggest that you seek out your favorite content creators in the firearms space on every available social media platform, that way you can continue to follow them if they are silenced by YouTube.
Child Pornography That Researchers Found in the Blockchain Could Threaten Bitcoin's Very Existence
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:45
Photo: GettyWhile the practical and financial viability of the Bitcoin blockchain is still an open question, new research shows that the whole thing could already be illegal in most countries. Researchers in Germany discovered that the ledger system that provides the backbone for Bitcoin contains hundreds of links to child pornography and at least one image thought to be child pornography.
The team from Germany's RWTH Aachen University presented their new paper at a conference in Cura§ao recently, and their findings have the potential to derail the entire multi-billion dollar blockchain industry.
Individual blocks in the overall ''chain'' store records of transactions and can potentially store small notes or files'--often the notes are just used to acknowledge what the transaction was for. The researchers set out to study the approximately 1,600 files that were stored on the blockchain at the time. (We say, ''at the time,'' because more files may have been added recently, not because those 1,600 files might be gone. The idea of the blockchain is that the ledger is permanent.)
The team found that 99 percent of the files consisted of either text or an image and a relatively small number of files contained sexual content'--only eight. But one of those files was identified as a pornographic image of a subject who was likely underage. Two other files contained a total of 274 links to child abuse, 142 of those links directed to the dark web.
The researchers write, ''our analysis shows that certain content, e.g., illegal pornography, can render the mere possession of a blockchain illegal.'' According to the paper, 112 countries prohibit the possession of child pornography and of those countries, many have other restrictions that prohibit the distribution of that kind of material.
Most blockchain models work like the original Bitcoin system. A distributed ledger is maintained by various systems acting as a node. Bitcoin miners, businesses, or just enthusiasts run a node that updates the full ledger routinely throughout the day using Bitcoin software. The miners receive newly created bitcoins by using their computers to essentially guess the solution to a complex equation, the first miner to guess right wins and a new block in the chain is created. The larger system is protected from fraud and remains consistent as the nodes verify the different versions of the ledger being sent out and agree on the overall record of transactions. That's where the problem with child pornography comes in.
The blockchain system needs all of these nodes to consistently download and upload the latest versions of the ledger; this is the fundamental idea of the decentralized network. The fact that small files can be stored in a block is one of the primary reasons that blockchain supporters believe it will have a transformative effect on various industries. Contract agreements, for example, could be signed and uploaded to the blockchain for verification. All of the various strangers in the network rely on the decentralization and math to keep everyone honest, and the ledger theoretically needs to contain the entire history of transactions forever.
As the researchers note, ''Since all blockchain data is downloaded and persistently stored by users, they are liable for any objectionable content added to the blockchain by others,'' which is likely true under many countries' laws. The researchers continue, ''Consequently, it would be illegal to participate in a blockchain-based system as soon as it contains illegal content.''
This is all new information about a problem that hasn't really been debated very much. As the Guardian points out, Interpol warned in 2015 that the blockchain has the potential to spread malware files, but the issue of child pornography is more explosive by orders of magnitude.
It's possible that core developers behind Bitcoin and other blockchain models will devise a workaround for this sort of rare incident. But for now, cryptocurrency opponents have a new weapon in their arguments.
[RWTH Aachen University via The Guardian]
Did Putin threaten to have traitors assassinated? - Skeptics Stack Exchange
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 12:53
No, on the occasion in question Putin did not say that traitors would be killed. The quote in your question comes from a March 5, 2018 broadcast of BBC Newsnight. It is a concatenation of three soundbites from a three-minute statement in which Putin says that Russia no longer kills traitors. The soundbites come from the last paragraph of his statement in which Putin paints a picture of traitors as broken men living out their remaining days in abject misery leading to an early death.
The translation in the BBC broadcast alters the tone of Putin's statement and broadens the meaning of his words to the point that, when they are read in the style used by Western comedians portraying Putin, they seem to convey veiled threats of violence.
The Story Spreads
The next day (March 6th) the composite soundbite from the BBC broadcast appeared at the head of article on the website of The Sun, now shorn of all even the context provided in the BBC broadcast. The article describes the statement as a "threat to 'choke traitors'", thereby changing the BBC's poor translation into an unambiguously false one.
The day after that (March 7th) the Independent put up an article with its own version of the BBC video. The article incorrectly identifies it as a video which "re-emerged online" and describes Putin's words as "apparent death threats".
Also on March 7th the Telegraph described Putin's words unambiguously as a "death threat". This despite the fact that in 2010 they had reported on the very same statement and found exactly the opposite meaning in it. What is more, now Putin's words were not simply spoken close to the time of Sergei Skripal's release, they are now actually about him.
On March 7th on Good Morning Britain Piers Morgan asked Alexander Nekrassov (former Kremlin adviser) what Putin had meant by "kick the bucket". They each considered the other's interpretation of the phrase ridiculous. (Not surprising since Mr. Morgan was interpreting the Putin's words in the BBC's poor translation while Mr. Nekrassov was presumably interpreting Mr. Putin's actual words which, at least for this phrase, can be heard in the BBC broadcast.) Neither one of them seemed to know the context of the quote.
On March 12th the video was mentioned in an editorial in the New York Times. The editorial links to the March 7th article in the Independent and quotes the translation from the video. The editors seem to have obtained some information about the TV show during which the statement was made, but this is a bit garbled too. In particular their description of the question is incorrect and they make no mention of the overall import of Putin's answer.
Earlier Western Press Coverage of Putin's Statement
Putin's statement attracted some press coverage in the West at the time he made it. At the time the press had the full text of the statement and did not interpret it as a threat against traitors:
Background of the Statement
Putin refers to the exposure and arrest of agents of the Illegals Program on June 27, 2010. The Illegals Program (which is the name given it by the US Department of Justice) planted Russian sleeper agents in the United States under cover as private citizens.
In July of 2010 the ten spies arrested in the United States were exchanged for three Russian nationals who had been convicted of high treason for espionage one of whom was Sergei Skripal. (This appears to be his only connection to the affair.) In August the deported Russian spies were ''warmly greeted'' by Vladimir Putin who "led them in singing patriotic songs".
After the program was exposed, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service began an investigation in an attempt to determine whether the agents had been betrayed. Suspicion fell on one Colonel Aleksander Poteyev who was in charge of undercover spying in the US. He is thought to have fled Russia a few days before the arrest of the undercover agents. Where he is now is unclear, but the opinion in the Russian press is that he went to the US, that his children are also in the US, and that he may or may not have died in 2016.
The Statement
In the quote in question Putin is commenting on this affair. He is speaking during the program Direct Line: A Conversation with Vladimir Putin in December 2010. Direct Line is a marathon ask-me-anything-style show which he does once a year. The broadcast is on Youtube (the question is asked at about 3:12:15 and Putin concludes his answer at about 3:15:15) and there is a written transcript. Here is an English translation. The parts included in some form in the quote from your question are in bold:
M. Sittel: Vladimir Vladimirovich, I'm taking a question from the website, this time it is a personal one. It is clearly written by someone who loves memoirs. ''When you spoke of the recent spy scandal, you noted: traitors do not live long. The leaders of many countries, as know from recollections, have signed orders for the the liquidation of the enemies of the homeland oversees. The French have done so, the Israelis. Have you, as the head of state, had occasion to make such a decision in the past?''
V.Putin: I do not think that the leaders of state signed such orders personally even in the past. That is the work of the special services. And during Soviet times, in Stalin's time, it is no secret, there were special subunits which carried out, including (these were military subunits, it was not all they did), which when necessary carried out such assignments: the liquidation of traitors. Such subunits were themselves liquidated long ago.
It is known that actual many, say the Israeli special services used such methods, yes, all things considered, as for today, far from all have given this up even now. The Russian special services do not use such means.
With regard to traitors, they will curl up on their own, I assure you. That's because...Here we have this latest instance of betrayal in which they exposed a group of our illegals. And these are officers! Do you get it? Officers. A man betrayed his friends, his comrades in arms. These are people who laid their entire lives on the altar of patriotism. What is it like to learn a language at native level, leave behind one's relatives, not to be able to bury one's loved ones? Think about that for a minute! Someone has given his entire life to serve his homeland and now this brute comes along who betrays people like that. How is he going to live with that for the rest of his life? How will he look his children in the eye, the swine?! Whatever went on there, whatever 30 pieces of silver those people may have gotten, they will stick in their throat, I assure you. To spend your whole life trying to keep out of view, to be unable to talk with your loved ones, it means that someone who chooses such a fate will be regretting it a thousand times over.
So the quotation in the form you cite is garbled and has been interpreted in a manner which is at odds with the original context which is a specific denial that Russia assassinates traitors.
Notes on Translation
The word ''заÐ"нуться'' famously translated ''kick the bucket'' literally means ''to curl up'' or "to curl down". What it means here is open to interpretation. The translation ''kick the bucket'' can be found in Wiktionary as a possible translation of a very informal use of the word. @bashbino's assertion that such use refers to decline and death rather than sudden death is probably correct. I suspect it is an allusion to the way plants whither and die. In 2010 the phrase was translated "they will croak all by themselves" (The Telegraph, NBC News)
In translating ''ÐÑятаться'' as ''trying to keep out of view'' I am trying to leave the question of whether the traitor is hiding from assassins or simply from people he cannot look in the eye up to the reader's interpretation. This word can refer to social avoidance such as the behavior of a child who hides behind his mother's skirt.
The phrase ''коÐ>>ом станут у них в Ð"оÑÐ>>е'' refers to difficulty swallowing due to revulsion, not difficulty breathing. To make this clear I have translated it ''will stick in their throat''.
Russian Press References
Articles on the Illegals affair:
What made Sergei Skripal an assassination target?
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:00
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Agenda 2030
What's the Difference between Global Warming and Climate Change? | Climate Reality
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:19
October 26, 2016 | 10:06 AM You can call it global warming or climate change, but it's the biggest crisis humanity has ever faced. The Internet is full of references to global warming. But we don't use the term ''global warming'' much here at Climate Reality. Instead, we prefer to use "climate change."
Global warming and climate change '' while closely related and sometimes used interchangeably '' technically refer to two different things:
''Global warming'' applies to the long-term trend of rising average global temperatures.''Climate change'' is a broader term that reflects the fact that carbon pollution does more than just warm our planet. Carbon pollution is also changing rain and snow patterns and increasing the risk of intense storms and droughts. '¨'¨So what's the difference?To a scientist, global warming describes the rise in average surface temperatures we see resulting from human emissions of greenhouse gases.
Although ''global warming'' seems to have first appeared in a 1957 newspaper editorial, the term is widely attributed to Wallace Broecker's 1975 paper ''Climatic Change: Are We on the Brink of a Pronounced Global Warming?''
Broecker's term was a break with tradition. Earlier studies of human impact on climate had called it "inadvertent climate modification." This was because while many scientists accepted that human activities could cause climate change, they did not know what the direction of change might be. Industrial emissions of tiny airborne particles called aerosols might cause cooling, while greenhouse gas emissions would cause warming. And in the middle of the twentieth century, scientists wondered which effect would dominate.
Through most of the 1970s, few were certain. So "inadvertent climate modification," while clunky and dull, was an accurate reflection of what we knew.
The first decisive National Academy of Science study of carbon dioxide's impact on climate, published in 1979, abandoned "inadvertent climate modification." Often called the Charney Report for its chairman, Jule Charney of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, it declared: "If carbon dioxide continues to increase, [we find] no reason to doubt that climate changes will result and no reason to believe that these changes will be negligible."
In place of ''inadvertent climate modification,'' Charney adopted Broecker's language. When referring to surface temperature change, Charney spoke of "global warming." When discussing the many other changes that would be induced by increasing carbon dioxide, Charney called them what they were: "climate change."
''Global Warming'' Enters the Popular Lexicon During the late 1980s, one more term entered the lexicon: ''global change.'' This term encompassed many other kinds of change in addition to climate change. Reflecting the understanding that climate change could be part of an even larger picture, when the US Global Change Research Program was approved in 1989, climate research was a key theme area.
''Global warming'' became the dominant popular term in June 1988, when NASA scientist James E. Hansen testified to Congress about climate, specifically referring to global warming. He said: "Global warming has reached a level such that we can ascribe with a high degree of confidence a cause and effect relationship between the greenhouse effect and the observed warming." Hansen's testimony was very widely reported in popular and business media, and after that, popular use of the term ''global warming'' exploded. ''Global change'' never gained traction in either the scientific literature or the popular media.
But What About the Other Effects We're Observing in a Warmer World? Temperature change itself isn't the only severe effect of changing climate. Changes to precipitation patterns and sea levels are likely to have much greater human impact than the higher temperatures alone. For this reason, scientific research on climate change encompasses far more than surface temperature change. So "global climate change" is the more all-inclusive and scientifically accurate term. Like the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change '' the UN's body for assessing climate science '' we've chosen to emphasize global climate change, and not global warming.
Here's What You Need To RememberDon't fall prey to the idea that the increased popular usage of ''climate change'' means global warming is no longer happening. Both climate change and global warming are still a reality.
Whether referred to as "global warming" or "climate change," the consequences of the enormous changes currently being observed in Earth's climate system are undeniable. That's why we need our leaders to listen to the science and accept reality '' instead of splitting hairs over terminology.
Per the Use
I’ve only been a small donor, but still wanted to email
Dear god. I work
in that special form of hell known as the open office. The person behind me - a director no less -
just said the phrase “per the yuge”. No
clue how to spell THAT one. Sounds like
luge without the L? Supposed to be
I swear to god my eye visibly twitched.
Sarkozy arrested over claims Gaddafi bankrolled his 2007 presidential bid '' VICE News
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 11:54
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was arrested Tuesday over claims his 2007 presidential campaign received $61 million in funding from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Sarkozy was detained after he presented himself at a police station in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris, according to sources speaking to Le Monde and AP.
The arrest follows a five-year probe into claims Sarkozy illegally financed his run with funds from the late despot.
Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine told the investigative website Mediapart in 2016 that Sarkozy and Claude Gueant, his former chief of staff, took delivery of suitcases stuffed with more than $6 million in cash.
Both Sarkozy and Gueant deny any wrongdoing.
Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was arrested Tuesday over claims his 2007 presidential campaign received $61 million in funding from Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.
Sarkozy was detained after he presented himself at a police station in Nanterre, a western suburb of Paris, according to sources speaking to Le Monde and AP.
The arrest follows a five-year probe into claims Sarkozy illegally financed his run with funds from the late despot.
Lebanese businessman Ziad Takieddine told the investigative website Mediapart in 2016 that Sarkozy and Claude Gueant, his former chief of staff, took delivery of suitcases stuffed with more than $6 million in cash.
Both Sarkozy and Gueant deny any wrongdoing.
One of Sarkozy's former ministers and a close ally, Brice Hortefeux, was also questioned by police Tuesday, according to Le Monde. French businessman Alexandre Djouhri, who was closely connected to Sarkozy's 2007 campaign, was also recently arrested in London on a warrant issued by France ''for offenses of fraud and money laundering.''
France has a campaign finance limit of $26 million, and no foreign contributions are allowed.
Sarkozy's relationship with Gaddafi was complex. Months after becoming president, Sarkozy honored the Libyan leader with a state visit. However, by 2010 France was leading a NATO offensive against Gaddafi's troops, helping rebel fighters topple the regime in 2011.
Cover image: French President Nicolas Sarkozy is welcomed by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafiupon his arrival in Tripoli 25 July 2007. (PATRICK KOVARIK/AFP/Getty Images)
Meuller Extraction
Robert Mueller's Beltway Cover-Up '' Tablet Magazine
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 04:34
News that special counselor Robert Mueller has turned his attention to Erik Prince's January 11, 2017 meeting in the Seychelles with a Russian banker, a Lebanese-American political fixer, and officials from the United Arab Emirates, helps clarify the nature of Mueller's work. It's not an investigation that the former director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is leading'--rather, it's a cover-up.
After all, Mueller took his job not at the behest of the man who by all accounts he is likely to professionally and personally disdain, Donald Trump, but of the blue-chip Beltway elite of which he is a charter member. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed him nearly a year ago to lead an investigation without parameters. That's because Mueller's job is to obscure the abuses of the US surveillance apparatus that occurred under the Obama administration.
The fact that someone at the level of former FBI director was called in to sweep up the mess left by bad actors in the bureau and Central Intelligence Agency and other parts of the intelligence bureaucracy suggests that the problems are even worse than previously thought. And that means the constituency for Mueller's political intervention is enormous.
Mueller is said to believe that the Prince meeting was to set up a back channel with the Kremlin. But that makes no sense. According to the foundational text of the collusion narrative, the dossier allegedly written by former British spy Christopher Steele, the Kremlin had cultivated Trump himself for years. So what's the purpose of a back channel, when Vladimir Putin already had a key to the front door of Mar-a-Lago?
Further, the collusion thesis holds that the Trump circle teamed with high-level Russian officials for the purpose of winning the 2016 election. How does a meeting that Erik Prince had a week before Trump's inauguration advance the crooked election victory plot? It doesn't'--it contradicts it.
Erik Prince may well be involved in questionable practices that would make people's blood run cold. For one thing, he owns and operates a private army, which he rents to unsavory characters'--as well as the US government. Maybe Prince was trying to drum up some sort of business with Russia, energy-related, or mercenary-related. Who knows?
The idea that whenever anyone who supported Trump, or even voted for him, met with a Russian national the dish on the menu was treason is the stuff of Cold War B-movies. But it is also evidence of something more than prosecutorial overreach. The fact that Mueller has zeroed in on Prince points to a key motive behind his ongoing investigation.
Prince was thrown into the middle of Russiagate after an April 3, 2017 Washington Post story reported his meeting with the Russian banker. But how did anyone know about the meeting? After the story came out, Prince said he was shown ''specific evidence'' by sources from the intelligence community that the information was swept up in the collection of electronic communications and his identity was unmasked. The US official or officials who gave his name to the Post broke the law when they leaked classified intelligence. ''Unless The Washington Post has somehow miraculously recruited the bartender of a hotel in the Seychelles,'' Prince told the House Intelligence Committee in December, ''the only way that's happening is through SIGINT [signals intelligence].''
Mueller presumably knows whether Prince's name was indeed unmasked and then leaked to the press'--and that the leak was a crime. Mueller certainly knows that most of the case he has regarding Russian interference in the 2016 election was built by abuses of the foreign intelligence surveillance apparatus and other related crimes that are punishable with jail time. The identity of Trump's short-tenured National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was swept up and leaked to the press in the same way as Prince's. It was leaked to the same newspaper, the Washington Post.
As I explained last week, the identity of Attorney General Jeff Sessions was also unmasked from intelligence intercepts and leaked to the Washington Post. The fact that the FBI had secured a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant on Carter Page was also leaked to the Post. The warrant on Page was secured on the basis of the findings in the Steele dossier, an unverified piece of opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign and Democratic National Committee.
As director of the FBI during the post-9/11 period, when foreign intelligence surveillance and its abuses made regular front-page headlines, Muller knows exactly how the system can be abused'--and what the penalties are. He also recognizes that Russiagate is evidence of how it was abused, and who abused it'--including some of the same people he worked with during his 12-year tenure as FBI director.
The purpose of the Mueller inquiry is therefore not to investigate the mostly ludicrous-seeming charges in the Steele dossier, but to protect the institution of the FBI, former colleagues, as well as the national security surveillance system. Therefore the inquiry has to cover up the sinful origins of the collusion narrative itself'--which was born in repeated abuses of power and subsequent crimes committed by US officials in the intelligence bureaucracy and the Obama administration.
* * *
Robert Mueller is a man of integrity, an honorable public servant'--both Republicans and Democrats say so. Yes, Mueller served the American public and helped protect it at a time when American nerves were frayed. And his tenure as FBI director shows signs of how that strain took a toll on him both personally and professionally.
Mueller oversaw one of the bureau's biggest cases ever, the investigation of the 2001 anthrax attacks that killed five people and infected another 17. ''The director was always the leader of the anthrax investigation, period,'' the former head of the FBI's Washington field office Michael Mason told the Los Angeles Times. Focusing on a virologist named Steven Hatfill, Mueller was certain he had the right man. As he told congressional leaders in January 2003, a bloodhound had identified Hatfill as the terrorist. Hatfill was cleared in 2008, and won a $5.8 million settlement from the U.S. government. Having wasted millions of dollars without ever arresting the actual criminal, Mueller refused to ever admit that he or the bureau had erred.
Mueller critics cite the Hatfill case as evidence of his sometimes unhealthy zeal and refusal to change course in spite of the facts. Another episode from the post-9/11 period goes directly to the heart of the investigation he is currently conducting.
In March 2004, Mueller's longtime colleague and friend James Comey raced to the hospital bed of John Ashcroft to prevent the then Attorney General from reauthorizing a surveillance program. According to a 2007 Washington Postaccount, Mueller was one among several US officials, along with then deputy attorney general Comey, who threatened to resign if the George W. Bush White House reauthorized a ''warrantless eavesdropping program.'' The program allowed, explains the Post, ''the NSA to monitor e-mails and telephone calls between the United States and overseas if one party was believed linked to terrorist groups.''
Or, that's the standard account. A 2013 article by Julian Sanchez argues that Mueller and Comey's concerns were related to a different program authorizing the indiscriminate collection of Internet metadata, even where there were no overseas connections. They believed the program could not be defended by the legal rationale employed by the Bush White House. The Bush administration solved the problem by putting that program under a different authority.
In other words, Mueller did not object to the ethical and political concerns the program should rightly raise in a democracy, only its legal basis for existing. That program existed until 2011. The program that the Post and other media believe Mueller was willing to resign over, the warrantless monitoring of e-mails and telephone calls between the United States and overseas, continued in some forms until 2015.
Some Mueller critics suggest that in threatening to resign he was simply showboating. Under his tenure, they note, the FBI was responsible for countless surveillance abuses.
Past and present FBI officials who broke the law may be seen to have the largest stake in Mueller's investigation continuing as long as possible. The inquiry has plenty of other constituencies as well. National security hawks are rightly worried that the abuses of foreign intelligence surveillance may jeopardize programs that are designed to keep Americans safe from terrorism. For the time being, Mueller's probe has managed to help obscure the fact those programs have sometimes been used to spy on Americans.
The press also has an interest in prolonging the Mueller probe. Russiagate is good for business, mesmerizing viewers with a grand political spectacle featuring one of the media's biggest draws for the last several decades'--Donald Trump, the boss villain who is now in the White House. Maybe most prominent among the interested media organizations is the paper that has colluded with lawbreakers in publishing the names of US persons whose identities have been illegally leaked by intelligence officials and political operatives'--the WashingtonPost.
Coincidentally, the owner of the Post also has a major stake in letting Mueller do his work to preserve America's surveillance and spying complex. In 2013, the same year that Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos bought the paper that broke Watergate for $250 million, Amazon Web Services landed a $600 million deal with the US intelligence community. According to a 2017 Washington Poststory, AWS created a ''cloud storage service designed to handle classified information for U.S. spy agencies,'' including the CIA. The cloud technology was to ''usher in a new era of cooperation and coordination, allowing agencies to share information and services much more easily.''
And now some intelligence and data experts believe that the CIA cloud is how the Obama administration could have minimized its trail after unmasking US persons. ''The NSA database, with its large and ongoing collection of electronic communications, can be accessed through the NSA's cloud,'' says one former senior intelligence official. The NSA can audit it and find out if analysts are violating rules. The NSA does not audit the CIA's cloud, which is audited by the CIA's IT people and Amazon Web Services employees who are given security clearances. Says the former official: ''There are people in the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Council staff who can move information from the NSA cloud into the CIA cloud. That seems the likeliest scenario to explain how Obama officials first unmasked US persons and then shared information without leaving a trail that could be audited independently, or immediately, at every step. Since unmasking, by itself, is authorized for lawful purposes, it's the processing and sharing, as with Susan Rice's spreadsheets, that tell us if the information was being misused.''
Presumably, the owner of Amazon is not eager to have Amazon customers see that the company with their credit card data and buying and viewing habits on file may have facilitated the US government's spying on American citizens to advance a campaign of political warfare.
Mueller's assembled constituents'--from spies to political operatives, and from the press to big data/big business'--must look something like what some on the left as well as the right have called the ''Deep State,'' a sinister-sounding phrase conjuring up dark images of cutthroat Turkish paramilitary operatives. But that's not really what happened here'--even the top spooks involved in Russiagate, like former CIA director John Brennan, have spent most of their careers inside Washington mastering nothing darker than the bureaucratic arts of ass-covering and blame-mongering.
These are the Beltway insiders whose privileges Trump threatened on the campaign trail. Sure, they told each other, what Trump said about immigrants was rotten. But the real issue was that Trump'--a vulgar businessman, a bestselling author with a short attention-span who never read a book in his life'--had denigrated them, honorable civil servants and reputable journalists who answer to a higher calling than a reality TV star. He called us losers. And then he declared that the Obama administration and the intelligence community were spying on him.
As an intelligence bureaucrat who was never held accountable for the enormous public failure that the Hatfill case represented, Robert Mueller was the natural choice to be the public face of a campaign designed to protect the interests of an unaccountable ruling class. The range of his inquiry is dictated not by the ostensible purpose of his appointment, but by the nature and scope of the abuses and crimes he's covering up. Should the wheels of the Mueller probe ever stop grinding, his entire constituency immediately becomes vulnerable. The public will understand what happened, who's responsible, and who covered it up.
That's why the investigation can't stop; it can only keep expanding. Let Mueller do his work, Democratic and Republican elites chant together, like a mystery cult. We don't know what Mueller knows. Somewhere, someone must have committed a crime, or told a lie, and then something that Trump did or someone who worked for him did will prove that someone did something, or that someone lied to the people in charge of the cover-up.
The problem is that by using the justice system as a political weapon to attack the enemies of the country's elite, Robert Mueller and his supporters in both parties are confirming what many Americans already believe. That in spite of all the fine rhetoric, we are not all equal under one law. There is in fact a privileged class, a ruling class that sees its own interests as identical with the public good, and never pays a price for its failures, its abuses, and its crimes.
Lee Smith is the author ofThe Consequences of Syria.
Commentary: What if Trump is right and there is no collusion? - CBS News
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:12
On Sunday morning, President Trump wondered in a tweet, "Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!"
What if Donald Trump is right? What if there really is no collusion?
In one sense, the question is irrelevant: Paul Manafort is facing serious money-laundering charges that could land him in jail for 305 years; Gen. Mike Flynn's been found out for his shady dealings with Russia and Turkey; and various other Papadopouli have pleaded guilty to actual'--if relatively minor'--crimes. So Robert Mueller could eventually issue stacks of indictments whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russia or not.
For more than a year now, Democrats in Congress like Adam Schiff and liberal media outlets have promised Americans proof that "Trump colluded with Russia to steal the 2016 election using hackers and propaganda," as one far-Left activist put it. Back in October, Ezra Klein at said it's "almost impossible to believe that there wasn't collusion between Trump's operation and Russia."
Even now, two out of three Democrats still believe Russia actually tampered with the polls to steal the election from Hillary Clinton.
With Trump declared guilty by Democrats and all but convicted in the press, what happens if Mueller confirms the findings of the Republican-controlled House Intelligence Committee -- that there's plenty of Trump campaign incompetence, but no collusion?
For people who hate or love Trump, it won't matter. They've already made up their minds. But for the majority of casually-political Americans--who already think Washington politicians are worse than lawyers and used car salesmen when it comes to "very low" ethical standards--what will they conclude if they're told that the whole point of the investigation from the beginning was based on a baseless charge?
Many are likely to think that if there was no collusion, then the entire story really was the "witch hunt" President Trump keeps telling them it is. He will have turned out to be right, no matter how many other things he did wrong.
I believe this is the reason Trump stepped on his own good news regarding the McCabe firing. Why he didn't do what many (myself included) considered the smart move: Let McCabe's firing speak for itself. Why he sent out his first-ever tweet attacking special counsel Robert Mueller using the key word: "collusion:"
"The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime," he wrote Sunday. "It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!"
Trump sent this out just as the Russia story hit a profound'--and pro-Trump'--moment. Andrew McCabe, who is a Democrat, and whose wife really did get $675,000 in combined donations from a PAC controlled by Clinton ally Terry McAuliffe and from the Virginia Democratic Party, which is also associated with McAuliffe, probably should have recused himself from any Clinton-related investigations. But he was fired, not by Donald Trump, but at the recommendation of FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility. The head of that office is Candace Will, who was given the job in 2004 by then-FBI Director'...Robert Mueller.
The OPR reported acted on allegations that McCabe "showed a lack of candor" (is there a nicer way to say "liar" than that?) uncovered by the Inspector General, Michael Horowitz. He was appointed by'...Barack Obama.
For everyone other than fringe conspiracy theorists, the evidence of McCabe's bad behavior is indisputable. Even Rep. Schiff'--the tip of the Democrats' partisan spear on Russia'--conceded Sunday that McCabe's firing "may have been justified."
That should have been the headline. Instead, Trump tweeted and took it away. As national-security reporter Eli Lake put it at Bloomberg: "McCabe's Firing Wasn't Political. Until Trump Made It Political."
Once again, I tend to agree with Lake and others who think Trump's missing the mark by making the story anything other than "Democrat Inside FBI Fired For Fouling Up Trump-Related Investigation, Focus Now Turns To Other Partisan Actors In FBI." There is a direct line from McCabe to Peter Strzok and Lisa Page and Bruce Ohr'--all of whom were anti-Trump partisans and engaged in behavior that raises legitimate questions about their trustworthiness. And that extends to the trustworthiness of the Obama FBI that sought a questionable warrant to spy on Trump based largely on information from Hillary Clinton's campaign.
Trump appears to be acting on assumption that collusion is his silver bullet. Keep everyone focused on that question, so that when the verdict comes back "innocent of collusion," Trump can declare himself "not guilty" of any other charge by default. After all, if the collusion allegation was bogus, isn't the entire investigation?
That's Trump's case, and it's likely to make sense to the vast majority of Americans who've been promised a collusion story Trump's enemies can't deliver.
(C) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Judge grants initial motions in Weinstein Co. bankruptcy
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 01:25
DOVER, Del. (AP) '-- A Delaware bankruptcy judge on Tuesday issued initial orders allowing the Weinstein Co. to continue paying its bills and working toward a sale of substantially all of its assets.
Judge Mary Walrath's rulings include interim approval for the company to borrow up to $25 million to see it through bankruptcy, but only after she expressed concern about the loan terms in the face of a competing financing proposal.
After lengthy arguments by attorneys, Union Bank, the Weinstein Co.'s major existing lender and primary secured creditor, agreed to reduce the amount of upfront fees it was seeking to provide bankruptcy financing.
Robert Del Genio, a consultant serving as chief restructuring officer for the Weinstein Co., testified that the time constraints the company is facing and the loan certainty offered by Union Bank were key factors in accepting its financing offer, which includes an initial draw of $7.5 million.
"This company has been liquidity-constrained for quite some time," said Del Genio. ".... As of last night, we had $218,000 of cash."
Lantern Capital Partners, a Dallas-based private equity firm, has offered $310 million in cash for the Weinstein Co.'s assets. It also has agreed to assume about $125 million in project-related debt and to cover obligations related to the assumption of certain contracts and leases.
The company's primary assets are a lucrative 277-film library, a television production business, and an unreleased film portfolio that includes four distribution-ready films and other projects in various stages of development.
As the lead, or "stalking horse" bidder, Lantern is entitled to a breakup fee of $9.3 million and expense reimbursement of up to $6.2 million if the Weinstein Co. accepts another bid, which would have to be at least $1 million more than the combined amount of Lantern's offer and bid protections.
Walrath scheduled an April 6 hearing on the proposed bid procedures, which propose a May 2 auction if there is more than one qualified bidder. Meanwhile, a March 28 meeting is scheduled regarding the appointment of an official committee of unsecured creditors.
Weinstein Company Holdings and 54 related entities sought bankruptcy protection Monday amid a sexual misconduct scandal that brought down co-founder Harvey Weinstein and triggered a nationwide movement to address predatory sexual behavior and harassment in the workplace.
Paul Zumbro, an attorney for the company, said the bankruptcy case is not about trying to protect Harvey Weinstein, but trying to do what is best for creditors and employees and to keep the company operating. It has 85 full-time staffers and 12 independent contractors.
"We are not here to talk today about Harvey Weinstein," said Zumbro, who gave Walrath a brief chronology of the events leading up to the bankruptcy filing. Media reports in October of "pervasive sexual misconduct" by Harvey Weinstein over more than 20 years had an "immediate and profound" effect on the company, he noted.
"The backlash against the company from all sides was immediate, it was intense and it was extraordinarily public, triggering a rapid downward spiral," Zumbro said.
The bankruptcy case does not affect anyone's ability to pursue civil or criminal claims against Harvey Weinstein in his individual capacity, Zumbro assured the judge. The company announced Monday that it was releasing any victims of or witnesses to Weinstein's alleged misconduct from nondisclosure agreements preventing them from speaking out. That move had long been sought by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who has filed a lawsuit against Weinstein and the company on behalf of its employees.
"We are trying to make the best out of a terrible situation," Zumbro said.
The movie and TV studio is the first high-profile company to be forced into bankruptcy amid the nationwide outcry over workplace sexual misconduct. Dozens of prominent men in entertainment, media, finance, politics and other fields have seen their careers derailed, and scores of women, including prominent actresses, have accused Harvey Weinstein of misconduct ranging from rape to harassment.
Weinstein, who was fired as his company's CEO in October, has denied any allegations of nonconsensual sex.
Head of Latham & Watkins Steps Down After 'Communications of a Sexual Nature' - WSJ
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:42
Latham & Watkins LLP, the country's highest-grossing law firm, said Tuesday that its chairman, William Voge, is relinquishing his position and retiring from the firm after engaging in sexual communications with a woman unaffiliated with Latham.
Latham's executive committee said the resignation follows a series of voluntary disclosures by Mr. Voge related to ''the exchange of communications of a sexual nature with a woman whom he has never met in person and who had no connection to the firm.''
The committee said that Mr. Voge, who is based in London, ''engaged in subsequent conduct relating to this matter that, while not unlawful, the executive committee concluded was not befitting the leader of the firm.'' The contents of the communications, including the identity of the woman, weren't revealed.
The announcement follows a nationwide reckoning over sexual harassment and alleged misconduct by powerful men, and is one of the first instances to implicate the staid world of corporate law firms.
In his own statement, Mr. Voge said Tuesday that ''I made a personal mistake for which I bear considerable fault and humiliation. I deeply regret my lapse of judgment and I am sorry for the distress and embarrassment I have caused my family, friends, and colleagues.''
The 61-year-old Mr. Voge, known as Bill, took over as head of Latham in 2015 after a 20-year tenure by Robert Dell. The firm, founded in Los Angeles in 1934, grew under Mr. Dell's leadership into a global powerhouse in litigation and deal work with more than 2,600 lawyers in 14 countries.
It became the highest-grossing U.S. law firm in 2014 and last year exceeded $3 billion in global revenue, the first firm to do so, according to legal trade publication the American Lawyer.
Mr. Voge, a project finance lawyer, served in several leadership roles before being elected managing partner and global chair of the firm in 2014. He beat out several other candidates in the election to replace Mr. Dell, including finance partner Jeffrey Greenberg in a final runoff.
Mr. Voge told the American Lawyer in 2014 that he planned to be candid and a quick decision-maker as firm leader. ''I like to keep things moving,'' he told the publication. ''As I look at some of the great global service firms and some that are doing less well, the difference often comes down to a loss of ambition, and an increase in complacency. We can't afford to be complacent.''
Former Latham employees and others in the legal industry expressed shock Tuesday, describing Mr. Voge as a well-respected lawyer who has made diversity and the advancement of women a hallmark of his leadership tenure.
After serving in the Army, he attended college at California State University, Fresno and received law and business degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. He joined Latham after graduating from Berkeley in 1983.
Law360 was first to report on Mr. Voge's resignation Tuesday.
'Silenced'? Ukrainian Military Pilot Accused of Attack on Boeing MH17 Found Dead - Sputnik International
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 23:10
Europe16:36 19.03.2018(updated 16:58 19.03.2018) Get short URL
The pilot's death, preliminarily ruled a suicide, has reopened claims about his possible role in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine in the summer of 2014.
Vladislav Voloshin, the Ukrainian combat pilot which some Russian investigative journalists have accused of responsibility for the MH17 disaster, allegedly shot himself Sunday at his home.
According to a press release by police in the southern Ukrainian city of Mykolaiv, the 29-year-old pilot's wife heard the gunshot and called the emergency services. Voloshin succumbed to his wounds on route to hospital. According to the police, the pilot was shot by a Makarov pistol, a standard issue military and police side arm in Ukraine. The weapon has been sent for examination. Police have opened a criminal investigation.
(C) REUTERS/ Antonio Bronic
Relatives told police that Voloshin had been in a depressed state, and had voiced suicidal thoughts. Friends and family told local media that he was suffering from problems associated with the reconstruction of Mykolaiv's airport, where he was acting director.Voloshin's name came to be associated with independent investigations into the destruction of Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine. In late 2014, a Ukrainian army aircraft mechanic told Russian media that the passenger airliner may have been downed by a Su-25 close air support aircraft flown by Voloshin. The Ukrainian side confirmed that the pilot was in the military at the time, but denied that he flew on the day the Malaysian airliner was brought down.
Speaking to Sputnik about Voloshin's suspected suicide, Ukrainian politics expert Bogdan Bezpalko said that Kiev's version aside, "one cannot help but think that the other side may have eliminated him as a dangerous witness who could have lifted the veil of secrecy over the downing of MH17, which would subsequently strengthen Russia's position." According to the political scientist, "it's quite obvious that it was not in Russia's interest to shoot down this plane, and that all this was a provocation directed against our country."
In Bezpalko's view, Kiev and its Western power will continue to do everything they can to see that the truth about the tragedy of flight MH17 does not surface anytime soon. "It's possible that others who could shed light on this matter will be 'silenced' in one way or another. So I don't think we will learn the truth any time soon. I would like to recall, for example, that all matters related to the flight of Rudolf Hess to Britain [in 1941] remain classified to the British people for 100 years. And I think that the circumstances of the airliner will be made known only when the urgency of the matter disappears," the observer said.
On July 17, 2014, a Malasyia Airlines Boeing 777 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed outside the city of Donetsk, eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people onboard. Kiev blamed the crash on the Donbass independence fighters, who countered by saying they did not have the means to bring down an aircraft flying at such a high altitude. An inquiry by Dutch investigators concluded that the Boeing was shot down by a Buk missile system, which it alleged was delivered to the militia from Russia and then sent back. Moscow slammed the inquiry's bias, saying that the investigators' conclusions were based exclusively on information received from the Ukrainian side. A separate investigation by Almaz-Antei, maker of the Buk system, concluded that the Boeing was shot down from territory controlled by the Ukrainian military.
(C) Sputnik/
Malaysia Airlines MH17 Crash
Professor Ted
Ex-con was behind wheel of self-driving Uber that killed woman | New York Post
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 02:26
The operator of a self-driving Uber vehicle that fatally struck a woman in Arizona was a convicted felon who served almost four years in the slammer for attempted armed robbery, according to a report.
Rafaela Vasquez, 44, was behind the wheel of a Volvo when it hit Elaine Herzberg, 49, as she was walking a bike outside a crosswalk in Tempe on Sunday night, officials said. The SUV was in autonomous mode at the time of the accident.
Boots on the ground from Brian Kaufman
I live right by where the Uber self-driving accident
occurred, and the Uber released video showing that apparently no driver could
have avoided hitting that woman in a million years is totally misleading.
See my YouTube video below where I drive the
same path as the Uber autonomous car was on. The attached photos were
taken from the point of the accident.
Homelessness | Infectious-disease outbreaks now a serious problem for Seattle homeless
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:42
SEATTLE '-- The King County board of Health approved a resolution calling for hygiene services to combat outbreaks of serious infectious diseases among people who are homeless in Seattle and throughout King County.
Seattle-King County Public Health is investigating outbreaks of Group A Streptococcus, shigella, and a rare group of infections transmitted by body lice among people who are homeless.
Health officials also are monitoring a potential outbreak of hepatitis A, a potentially fatal disease that spread in San Diego.
At a meeting on Thursday night, Seattle officials described efforts to increase toilets, hot water and hand-washing stations at the city's six sanctioned encampments, and to bring hand-washing kits to the city's many unsanctioned camps.
Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Porn vs Prez
RIGGED: Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Was on Payroll of Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel; Previously Sued Trump & 'The Apprentice' Reality Show '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 12:39
PoliticsSecurityRIGGED: Stormy Daniels' Lawyer Was on Payroll of Joe Biden, Rahm Emanuel; Previously Sued Trump & 'The Apprentice' Reality ShowPorn star Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenetti it turns out, worked for Joe Biden and Rahm Emanuel, two Obama pals.
Small world.
Especially when you're trying to railroad and smear the President of the United States in return for cash and fame.
In fact Avenetti worked on the political campaigns of over 150 Democrats, including national campaigns; When he wasn't busy suing Donald Trump and The Apprentice producer Mark Barnett for alleged intellectual property infractions.
Could Avenetti have an anti-Trump grudge? Do the math.
Per the lawyer's biography:
''While in college and later in law school, Michael worked at a political opposition research and media firm run by Rahm Emanuel (who later became White House Chief of Staff and is presently the Mayor of Chicago). During his time there, Michael worked on over 150 campaigns in 42 states, including multiple gubernatorial and congressional campaigns (i.e. Joe Biden's U.S. Senate Campaign).''
There's certainly a thin line between porn star and an ambulance-chasing lawyer.
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Former assistant FBI director: High-ranking people throughout the government had a plot to protect Hillary Clinton from being indicted
Sun, 18 Mar 2018 20:29
| March 18, 2018 11:17 AM
Former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom also said officials had a scheme to blame Trump for the Russian interference during the 2016 election.(Image courtesy screenshot)
Former assistant FBI director James Kallstrom suggested Sunday morning that the constant shifting of high-ranking government officials over the last year is related to an internal plot to help Hillary Clinton during the 2016 presidential election.
"I think we have ample facts revealed to us during this last year and a half that high-ranking people throughout government, not just the FBI, high-ranking people had a plot to not have Hillary Clinton, you know, indicted," Kallstrom said on Fox News' "Sunday Morning Futures With Maria Bartiromo."
Kallstrom, who worked at the FBI for 27 years, was responding to Bartiromo's question about whether he thought that someone in the FBI was directing officials to protect Clinton.
"Do you think somebody was directing them or do you think they just came to the conclusion on their own, this leadership at the FBI and the Department of Justice, that they wanted to change the outcome of the election?" Bartiromo asked.
Kallstrom also said officials had a scheme to blame Trump for the Russian interference during the 2016 election.
"They had a backup plan to basically frame Donald Trump and that's what's been going," Kallstrom said.
Lobbyist says he was nearly killed by man he hired to investigate Seth Rich's death - The Washington Post
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:29
Jack Burkman, the lobbyist who has put a sizable donation to solve the murder of Seth Rich, canvasses the neighborhood of the murder on January, 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. (Bill O'Leary/Washington Post)
As conspiracy theories swirled around the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich, lobbyist Jack Burkman took the unusual step of launching his own private investigation. A man with military and security experience stepped up to help.
Now Burkman alleges that man, Kevin Doherty, nearly killed him.
Burkman, a conservative lobbyist who has also raised money for Rick Gates, a former Trump campaign official who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI, and protested gay athletes in the NFL, is used to controversy. But Doherty's arrest Saturday by Arlington County police on charges of malicious wounding and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony caps a saga stranger than Burkman's own conspiracy theories.
''It's a horror story,'' Burkman, of Arlington, said in an interview Monday afternoon. He is still recovering after being shot several times and run over by an SUV last Tuesday.
Doherty briefly worked for Burkman's Profiling Project, which was formed to build a psychological portrait of Rich's likely killer. While police have concluded Rich was likely shot during a random robbery, many conservatives have claimed he was killed as part of a political conspiracy. Burkman offered a six-figure reward for information on the shooting.
Kevin Doherty, 46, of No Fixed Address, was arrested and charged with Use of a Firearm in the Commission of a Felony and two counts of Malicious Wounding. (Arlington County Police Department) Burkman said Doherty presented an impressive resume '-- ex-Marine, ex-special agent '-- and did good work. But tension quickly developed. In Burkman's view, Doherty began speaking to reporters out of turn and tried to take over the investigation.
Doherty served in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1990 to 1994, rising to the rank of sergeant, according to a spokeswoman for Manpower & Reserve Affairs.
''He became somewhat angry because he thought the Profiling Project belonged to him,'' Burkman said. In July, he cut Doherty loose and sent him a cease and desist letter.
''I just figured the matter was closed,'' Burkman said. ''But what happened is, I guess, he was simmering and simmering and simmering.''
In February, Burkman had moved on to a new investigation. He had put out a call for whistleblowers in the FBI, offering $25,000 for any information exposing wrongdoing in the presidential election.
Soon, he thought he had hit the jackpot. A man reached out, describing himself as a senior FBI official with information about then-agency deputy director Andrew McCabe, who at the time was under an internal investigation for his handling of probes into Hillary Clinton. (On Friday, McCabe was fired, after an internal investigation found he had dealt improperly with the media and then lied about it. He has denied wrongdoing.)
His source dropped off two packets of emails under a cone in a garage at the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn, Burkman said.
The Post's Keith L. Alexander shares what the D.C. police investigation has found into the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich. (Claritza Jimenez/The Washington Post)
''I thought I had the story of the decade,'' Burkman recalled. His wife, Susan, was more skeptical. She warned him that she didn't think he was dealing with the FBI. But, he said, the emails ''looked super real,'' containing details about the secretive Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
The last drop was supposed to be ''the big one'' '-- the full inspector general report on McCabe, which still has not been released. Instead, when Burkman bent over to pull the papers out from under the cone, he was shot in the buttocks and thigh. As he ran out of the garage with his dachshund in his arms, he was hit by an SUV.
He said the car backed up to hit him again.
''It looked like he was coming to kill me,'' Burkman said. But he said a woman watching from a window of the hotel screamed. A guard came running and the SUV sped off, Burkman said.
Burkman spent three days in the hospital. His dog, Jack Jr., was uninjured.
Police would not comment on Burkman's account of the incident.
But Burkman said authorities told him they tracked down Doherty through the SUV. Burkman said police came to him in the hospital with a photo of his former employee. He didn't even recognize Doherty at first. When he heard his name, he was shocked.
Burkman had already met with police in January, when a masked man approached his house in an SUV and hit him in the face with pepper spray. No charges have been filed in that incident.
''We went through a thousand possibilities,'' Burkman said. ''Kevin was not on the list.''
Doherty does not yet have a lawyer in the assault case and is being held without bond, prosecutors said.
Girum Tesfaye, who represented Doherty on a drunken driving charge last year, also expressed surprise.
''From what I know of him it would definitely be out of character,'' Tesfaye said.
Burkman said he is now traveling with security. But the experience has not soured him on conspiracy theories. His profiling project concluded that Rich was shot by a hired killer, and he wonders if Doherty was working for someone else.
He has not given up on investigating the death of Rich, whose family just sued Fox News for publishing a false story linking their son to WikiLeaks. Fox News retracted the story six days after it was published.
''This in my mind makes the whole Seth story stranger and stranger,'' Burkman said.
Ellie Silverman contributed to this report.
Lobbyist Investigating Seth Rich Murder Is Shot Twice and Run Over by Car - Suspect in Custody
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:28
Jack Burkman, the Washington DC lobbyist offering a $130,000 reward for information on the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer, Seth Rich, was shot twice and ran over by an SUV last week.
As reported by The Gateway Pundit's Jim Hoft, 27 year-old Democratic staffer Seth Conrad Rich was murdered in Washington DC on July 10, 2016, roughly one block from his apartment. The suspects took nothing from Rich, leaving behind his wallet, watch and phone. The murder has gone unsolved to this day.
According to PR News '-- Burkman also created, paid for and erected billboards in the neighborhood where Rich lived and died; built the website ( and canvassed the neighborhood with Seth Rich's parents.
Burkman sued the Democratic National Committee for the release of the hacked DNC server he claimed will reveal key information in solving the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
Lobbyist Jack Burkman, who began a private investigation into the murder of Democratic National Committee staffer Seth Rich last year, says he was nearly killed after a man who joined the investigation attempted to murder him last week, according to a report.
''It's a horror story,'' Burkman told the Washington Post Monday.
Kevin Doherty, 46, shot Burkman multiple times and ran him over with an SUV, according to the Post'...
'...Tension reportedly developed between the two as Doherty began to think the profiling project was his and began speaking to reporters without Burkman's consent, Burkman told the Post.
Burkman fired Doherty and sent him a cease-and-desist letter in July, according to the news outlet.
''I just figured the matter was closed,'' Burkman told the Post. ''But what happened is, I guess, he was simmering and simmering and simmering.''
A source who identified as a senior FBI official contacted Burkman and claimed to have internal documents relative to another case he was working on.
The anonymous source planted envelopes of information under a traffic cone in the parking garage at the Key Bridge Marriott in Rosslyn, according to Burkman.
As the lobbyist arrived to retrieve the documents, with his pet Dachshund in hand, he reached under the cone and was shot in the buttocks and thigh and run over by an SUV.
Burkman spent three days in the hospital, and his dog was not harmed.
Doherty was charged with use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and two counts of malicious wounding. He is currently jailed in the Arlington County Detention Facility.
Out There
NASA receives response from Voyager 1 spacecraft 13 billion miles away after 37 years of inactivity | Tech Startups
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 11:52
The thrusters aboard the Voyager 1 spacecraft just did what we thought was impossible. After 37 years of inactivity, NASA just received response from spacecraft 13 billion miles away, NASA said in a statement on its website. Voyager 1 is NASA's farthest and fastest spacecraft. It was launched on September 5, 1977. Having operated for 40 years, 6 months and 14 days as of March 19, 2018, the spacecraft relies on small devices called thrusters to orient itself so it can communicate with Earth. These thrusters fire in tiny pulses, or ''puffs,'' lasting mere milliseconds, to subtly rotate the spacecraft so that its antenna points at our planet. Now, the Voyager team is able to use a set of four backup thrusters, dormant since 1980.
In a statement on its website, NASA said: ''The Voyager team assembled a group of propulsion experts at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California, to study the problem. Chris Jones, Robert Shotwell, Carl Guernsey and Todd Barber analyzed options and predicted how the spacecraft would respond in different scenarios. They agreed on an unusual solution: Try giving the job of orientation to a set of thrusters that had been asleep for 37 years.''
''With these thrusters that are still functional after 37 years without use, we will be able to extend the life of the Voyager 1 spacecraft by two to three years,'' said Suzanne Dodd, project manager for Voyager at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California.
''The Voyager flight team dug up decades-old data and examined the software that was coded in an outdated assembler language, to make sure we could safely test the thrusters,'' said Jones, chief engineer at JPL.
In a further testament to the robustness of Voyager 1, the Voyager team completed a successful test of the spacecraft's ''trajectory correction maneuver'' (TCM) thrusters on November 28, 2017. The last time these backup thrusters were fired up was in November 1980. Voyager project manager Suzanne Dodd anticipates that successful utilization of the TCM thrusters will extend the Voyager mission by an additional ''two to three years''.
Voyager 1's extended mission is expected to continue until around 2025 when its radioisotope thermoelectric generators will no longer supply enough electric power to operate its scientific instruments.
Post Views: 188
Big Pharma
House approves 'right-to-try' bill giving seriously ill patients access to experimental drugs
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 11:25
By Elise Viebeck
March 21, 2018 at 10:29 PM
The House voted Wednesday on a bill to bypass the Food and Drug Administration, pictured here, and allow critically ill patients access to experimental treatments. (Andrew Harnik/AP)The House approved ''right-to-try'' legislation on Wednesday that would bypass drug regulators and give critically ill patients access to experimental treatments, a victory for Republicans after the same bill got sidetracked last week.
Debate over the bill, which passed the House 267 to 149, pitted Republican lawmakers, President Trump and Vice President Pence against Democrats, patient groups and four former commissioners of the Food and Drug Administration.
Supporters described the measure as a compassionate effort to provide access to treatments that could extend the lives of the terminally ill. Opponents argued the bill would allow bad actors to exploit vulnerable patients using treatments with largely unknown effectiveness and side effects.
''It sounds condescending to me, saying, 'I won't support this because it gives false hope that people might be taken advantage of' .'‰.'‰. It's not false hope. It is hope,'' a key proponent of the bill, Rep. Andy Biggs (R-Ariz.), said during the floor debate.
Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), speaking for the bill's critics, said it would skirt the FDA to create a ''dangerous back door for modern-day snake oil salesmen.''
Related: [Are right-to-try laws a last hope for dying patients '-- or a false hope?]
''This bill strips away important safeguards in the name of helping patients,'' she said.
The legislation failed March 13 after Republicans brought it to the floor under suspension of the rules, an approach typically reserved for noncontroversial bills that requires two-thirds support for passage. The vote was 259 to 140, prompting the Wall Street Journal's GOP-friendly editorial board to blame Republicans for ''political malpractice.''
Wednesday's vote required only a simple majority for passage. The bill now needs approval from the Senate, which passed its own ''right-to-try'' legislation over the summer by unanimous consent. Thirty-eight states have approved similar measures, according to a national ''right-to-try'' advocacy group.
A national bill seemed destined to pass under the Trump administration. Pence enacted one such measure in 2015 as governor of Indiana and held a White House meeting with patients and families during his first month as vice president, vowing he would help ''get this done'' on the federal level.
Trump also voiced his support '-- during his State of the Union address and earlier this week, as he remarked on the opioid crisis during a visit to New Hampshire.
''A patient is terminal. There's good progress made with a certain drug. We're going to make it possible for that patient to get that drug, and maybe it's going to work,'' he said.
Still, the effort has run into criticism from FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, a Trump nominee, who told House lawmakers in the fall that while he would implement the legislation if it becomes law, he opposes a federal version of ''right-to-try.''
The FDA authorizes ''99 percent'' of the treatment applications it receives each year under the so-called ''expanded access'' program for seriously ill patients, Gottlieb told a House subcommittee on Oct. 3. He said most of these treatments permitted under ''compassionate use'' are ineffective.
Related: [Former FDA commissioners say right-to-try bills could endanger 'vulnerable patients']
''The vast majority of people who will use a drug through expanded access are using a drug that doesn't work,'' he said.
The debate on Capitol Hill has provoked strong emotions on both sides.
During Wednesday's floor debate, one congressman said he would do anything, ''including injecting monkey urine,'' to spend more time with his family if he developed a terminal disease.
''I think many people are in that same boat, and the American people deserve a right to try,'' said Rep. Morgan H. Griffith (R-Va.). ''.'‰.'‰. I don't understand why people are afraid of letting people try who have no other hope, whose life is going to be cut short without taking that Hail Mary pass.''
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Energy and Commerce Committee, voiced a concern Democrats share with some public health advocates in calling the measure part of a wider effort to weaken the FDA's regulatory powers.
''Let's be clear as to what this legislation is: It's an attempt to undermine the authority of the expert public health agencies charged with reviewing drugs,'' he said. ''I would urge my colleagues to oppose this grab at FDA's authority.''
Laurie McGinley contributed to this report.
Related: Read more at PowerPost
Elise Viebeck is an enterprise reporter covering Congress and national politics. She joined The Washington Post in 2015.
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Hate Trumps Love
Ivanka Trump's visit to Iowa salon sparks social media backlash | Fox News
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 11:52
Salon Spa W received major social media backlash after the salon posted a photo of Ivanka Trump's visit to the business. (Reuters)
An Iowa salon received major social media backlash this week after posting a photo of Ivanka Trump when she visited the store to get her hair styled before an event.
Salon Spa W, in Des Moines' East Village, posted a picture Monday on its Facebook page of the first daughter, who was in town to tour Waukee school district's Aspiring Professional Experience program (APEX), with Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, the Des Moines Register reported. Reynolds was standing next to Trump in the photograph.
''Our Monday kicked off with styling Ivanka Trump for her visit to Iowa! We [love] supporting women in politics,'' the salon wrote in a caption on Facebook, which has since been edited.
Despite the salon's excitement, hundreds of followers lambasted the business for styling the White House adviser and threatened to never return. Some people said the photo was ''f---ing gross'' and vowed to unfollow the page.
''I agree with previous posters...this is NOTHING to be proud of,'' one woman wrote.
Another Facebook user commented, ''Will never book an appointment at this salon again. Total bum out. This salon employs hetero/non-hetero individuals and this just truly sucks. The fact that Salon Spa W was inclusive was always a big A + to me. You put your money where your mouth is as your vote. I loved this salon. I'm so, so disappointed and I can't imagine how your non-cisgender employees/clients feel. Fail. Won't ever be back.''
''You will never get my business based on this one post,'' a woman wrote, garnering dozens of ''thumbs up'' and ''heart'' reactions from users.
Some clients said the salon ''should know better'' than to serve Trump, while others said they lost all respect for the employees. Several people did come to the salon's defense, however, and said they were ''proud'' of the business' achievement.
China Wong, the president of Salon Spa W, released a separate statement on Tuesday defending her choice to style Trump. Wong said salon employees were ''taken aback'' by the negative response.
''We believe everyone matters and deserves our indiscriminate care and kindness,'' Wong wrote in the statement. ''We were taken aback by the response to the image below of our Governor with Ivanka Trump who received services from our salon. We also recognize impact matters more than intent. While we are not a partisan organization we do see it as part of our mission to welcome people to Des Moines and serve everyone. We share images of our clients, some that are recognizable public figures, to showcase our work.''
Wong said her business has served prominent musicians, actors, Broadway stars and politicians, including former President Barack Obama, over the years. The salon is near the State Capitol and Civic Center.
''We also serve you '''' our beautiful, diverse and passionate community. We proudly share our work and celebrate all of you because our purpose is making people look and feel beautiful,'' Wong concluded. ''Again, we believe everyone matters and deserves our indiscriminate care and kindness.''
Katherine Lam is a breaking and trending news digital producer for Fox News. Follow her on Twitter at @bykatherinelam
VIDEO - Nurses and midwives code of conduct to acknowledge 'white privilege'
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:56
AUSTRALIAN nurses are pushing back against a change that requires them to ''acknowledge white privilege'' before treating patients.
Nurses and midwives around the country must now adhere to a new code of conduct with a section specifically dedicated to ''culture'' and which details white Australians' inherent privilege ''in relation to Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islanders''.
The new code, which came into effect in March, has been labelled ''eye-watering'', ''cultural madness'' and ''unacceptable''. A peak body representing nurses in Queensland is even calling for the chairman of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia to be sacked over it.
''This is eye-watering stuff,'' Graeme Haycroft from the Nurses Professional Association of Queensland told Sky News host Peta Credlin.
''We're calling for the resignation of the chairman of the board (Associate Professor Lynette Cusack) because she's put her name to it and it's unacceptable.''
Credlin called it ''almost too hard to believe''. ''Before (a midwife) delivers a baby to an indigenous woman she's supposed to put her hands up and say: 'I need to talk to you about my white privilege', not about my infection control, my qualifications or my training as a midwife?'' she asked Mr Haycroft.
He said that was correct, but there's no requirement to ''announce'' anything. The nurses must simply abide by the new code which state clearly that ''cultural safety is as important to quality care as clinical safety''.
''Cultural safety ... requires nurses and midwives to undertake an ongoing process of self-reflection and cultural self-awareness, and an acknowledgment of how a nurse's/midwife's personal culture impacts on care,'' the code reads.
''In relation to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health, cultural safety provides a decolonising model of practice based on dialogue, communication, power sharing and negotiation, and the acknowledgment of white privilege.
''These actions are a means to challenge racism at personal and institutional levels, and to establish trust in healthcare encounters.''
Mr Haycroft said the code was hastily approved with little consultation.
''It's all of Australia. There's 350,000 nurses and midwives Australia-wide and they're all now subject to this new code,'' he said.
''We put a little survey on our website and we asked nurses whether they agreed with the code of conduct. Just over 50 per cent of our members have said 'this is wrong, do something about it, fight it for us'.''
The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia released a statement on March 1 asking nurses and midwives to ''reflect on how the news of conduct relate to their practice''.
''These codes provide a foundation for safe practice and give guidance on crucial issues such as bullying and harassment, professional boundaries and cultural safety. Nurses and midwives need to meet the standards set in these codes, even if their employer also has a code of conduct,'' Professor Cusack said.
Nurses and midwives fought the board in November last year when it was revealed a draft of the new code of conduct replaced references to ''woman-centred care'' with ''person-centred care''.
''Midwife means with woman,'' UniSA midwifery professor Mary Steen told the Adelaide Advertiser. ''The woman is at the centre of a midwife's scope of practice, which is based on the best available evidence to provide the best care and support to meet individual women's health and wellbeing needs.''
Professor Alison Kitson, vice president and executive dean of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences at Flinders University, agreed.
''Retaining the 'woman-centred' term is important to remind us all that our care is focused on the women and the significant life-changing experience they are about to have,'' she said.
On social media, users called the new code ''stupid''.
''To think that it will help a person with indigenous blood if nurses would acknowledge their 'white privilege','' one woman wrote. ''This is basically labelling of victims and oppressors by race. How embarrassing for Australia.''
VIDEO - 03 20 2018 06 10 44 - YouTube
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:27
VIDEO - Maxine Waters On The President's Database - YouTube
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:16
VIDEO - Facebook Draws Scrutiny From FTC, Congressional Committees - Bloomberg
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:08
Facebook Inc. is drawing scrutiny from the main U.S. privacy watchdog and half a dozen congressional committees over how the personal data of 50 million users was obtained by a data analytics firm that helped elect President Donald Trump.
Facebook said it would conduct staff-level briefings of six committees Tuesday and Wednesday. That includes meetings with the House and Senate Judiciary Committees, as well as the commerce and intelligence committees of both chambers.
The U.S. Federal Trade Commission is also probing whether Facebook violated terms of a 2011 consent decree over its handling of personal user data that was transferred to Cambridge Analytica without users' knowledge, according to a person familiar with the matter. The FTC will be sending a letter to the company, another person said. Facebook slumped on the news, extending Monday's decline.
The FTC is the lead U.S. agency for enforcing companies' adherence to their own privacy policies and could fine the company into the millions of dollars if it finds Facebook violated a 2011 consent decree. New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced on Tuesday that he and Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey had sent a demand letter to Facebook as part of a joint probe stemming from the fallout. Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced his own probe Monday.
Amid the scrutiny, Facebook will be confronting immediate demands by Congress. In addition to the briefings, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he wants to hear testimony from Facebook Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg, as well as Twitter Inc. CEO Jack Dorsey. Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, chairman of the Intelligence Committee, said any decision about calling Zuckerberg to appear before the panel is farther off.
Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine, who also serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Tuesday that she has "grown increasingly concerned as we're learning more and more about the manipulation of data, the harvesting of data from Facebook, the ads that were placed to sow the seeds of discord in this country." The panel has previously heard testimony into Russia's use of Facebook to attempt to meddle in the 2016 election.
"I believe that Facebook, Twitter, the other social media platforms have a lot of questions to answer," she said.
Cambridge DenialCambridge Analytica's board announced Tuesday it was suspending CEO Alexander Nix pending an independent investigation into his comments in an undercover video by London's Channel 4 News. Nix told the reporters, who posed as potential clients, that the firm's services included the potential to try to induce targets with bribes, entrapment by prostitutes and spreading disinformation.
In an earlier statement, Cambridge Analytica said it ''strongly'' denied ''false allegations'' in the media and said that the Facebook data at the center of the scandal wasn't used as part of services provided to the Trump campaign.
Under the terms of the 2011 settlement with the FTC, Facebook agreed to get user consent for certain changes to privacy settings as part of its resolution of federal charges that it deceived consumers and forced them to share more personal information than they intended. That complaint arose after the company changed some user settings without notifying its customers, according to an FTC statement at the time.
'Stronger Protections'"The FTC takes the allegations that the data of millions of people were used without proper authorization very seriously," FTC Commissioner Terrell McSweeny, a Democrat, said in a statement Tuesday. "The allegations also highlight the limited rights Americans have to their data. Consumers need stronger protections for the digital age such as comprehensive data security and privacy laws, transparency and accountability for data brokers, and rights to and control over their data."
For more on Facebook, check out the Decrypted podcast:
Earlier, an FTC spokeswoman said that the agency can't comment on whether it's investigating but said that it takes "any allegations of violations of our consent decrees very seriously." The people who described the FTC's moves asked not to be identified because the details aren't public.
If the FTC finds Facebook violated terms of the consent decree, it has the power to fine the company more than $40,000 a day per violation.
Facebook previously said in a statement it rejects "any suggestion of violation of the consent decree."
Facebook fell 2.6 percent to $168.15 in New York, the lowest level since September. That follows a drop of 6.8 percent Monday that was the company's largest since March 2014.
Despite the outcry by lawmakers, GOP-controlled congressional committees haven't demanded formal hearings with Facebook executives. Senator John Thune of South Dakota, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, said a decision on public hearings would be made after the Facebook briefings this week.
A key question will be appetite by the committees, several of which have already interviewed top Facebook executives, for a public appearance by the company's leadership, including Zuckerberg. The founder has remained essentially invisible in recent days, even within Facebook.
Senators Amy Klobuchar, a Minnesota Democrat, and John Kennedy, a Louisiana Republican, repeated their bipartisan call Monday for testimony by the CEOs of Facebook, Twitter and Alphabet Inc.'s Google before the Judiciary Committee.
The Facebook officials currently set to brief members of Congress include the company's deputy general counsel and deputy chief privacy officer, said a congressional official.
'Bad Actors'Senator Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said in a statement that that it would "be helpful for Facebook to testify about how the company protects user privacy and what steps it's taking to combat bad actors."
"We have a lot of questions about how this information was used, whether it was given to Russia and whether Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign communicated with WikiLeaks," Feinstein added.
Cambridge Analytica's chief executive officer faced questions during a meeting with the House Intelligence Committee in December about whether he sought material from WikiLeaks publisher Julian Assange that was stolen from computers of the Democratic National Committee and from John Podesta, who chaired Democrat Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign.
In a letter Tuesday to House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia, top House Judiciary Committee Democrat Jerrold Nadler of New York said that neither Nix nor Brad Parscale, who ran the 2016 Trump campaign's digital operations and hired Cambridge Analytica as a consultant, have responded to Democratic requests for information. Parscale has since been named the manager of Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.
Whistleblower InterviewDemocrats on the House intelligence panel led by Adam Schiff of California say they will continue their work. Schiff on Tuesday said a Cambridge Analytica whistleblower, Christopher Wiley, has agreed to be interviewed by them.
The Facebook revelations have also prompted transatlantic reaction. The chairman of a UK parliamentary committee announced Tuesday he was requesting that Facebook's Zuckerberg, who has remained silent for days, appear before the panel to supplement prior testimony by the company's executives.
White House spokesman Raj Shah said Tuesday that Trump ''believes that Americans' privacy should be protected'' and supports federal investigations into the incident. ''If Congress wants to look into the matter or other agencies want to look into the matter, we welcome that," Shah said on Fox News.
Asked if Zuckerberg should testify, Shah demurred. "Without knowing the specifics, it's difficult to talk about whether an individual should testify,'' he said.
On Tuesday, a Facebook executive answered questions from employees on the issues during internal town hall meeting at the company's Menlo Park, California, headquarters.
'-- With assistance by Terrence Dopp, Jennifer Epstein, Steven T. Dennis, and Elena Popina
VIDEO - M8 Yer Dugs A Nazi - YouTube
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:06
VIDEO - Did Cambridge Analytica play a role in the EU referendum? - BBC Newsnight - YouTube
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 14:00
VIDEO - John Oliver trolls Pence with a gay bunny book - YouTube
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 13:28
VIDEO - Employee fired after local NBC newscast gets interrupted by vulgar audio clip | Fox News
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:54
A KRIS Communications broadcast was interrupted by a vulgar audio clip on Monday. (KRIS Communications)
An employee at a Corpus Christi, Texas news station has been fired, and others suspended or reprimanded, after a live broadcast was interrupted with a vulgar and disturbing audio clip.
"We sincerely regret the error and apologize to our viewers that were watching on Monday evening," KRIS Communications, an NBC affiliate, wrote in a statement. ''We immediately began an investigation of the mistake and how it occurred. We learned that a series of technical and human errors lead to the mistake."
During a report about the area's new Harbor Bridge, the screen abruptly cut to black in the middle of Monday night's broadcast, and a male voice could be heard whispering obscenities.
''Smell it, finger it, f--- it, lick it, smell it,'' the voice says in the video below.
[WARNING: The below video contains graphic language.]
The statement noted that it was a male station reporter's voice in the audio, but did not give further details as to his identity. It did, however, mention that actions were taken, including a termination of one employee as well as a suspension and reprimands to an undisclosed number of employees. Additionally, the station is reviewing its editing workflow to prevent similar future incidents.
News Director Paul Alexander told The Caller Times, ''Mistakes like this cannot happen again.''
The moment in question was recorded and posted to Facebook by a user named Korbin Boomer Matthews.
VIDEO - Former CIA director says Russia could have something on Trump
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:10
Former CIA director says Russia could have something on TrumpHTTP/1.1 200 OK Content-Encoding: gzip Content-Type: text/html; charset=utf-8 ETag: W/"7e2fc-JBEj9qm3EWj45W77mhARSNQ1UeY" Server: nginx X-Backend-Server: X-Powered-By: Express Content-Length: 71071 Date: Thu, 22 Mar 2018 12:10:57 GMT Connection: keep-alive Vary: Accept-Encoding
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Former CIA Director John Brennan says it is possible the Russians 'have something' on the president, and he also believes the country's future is in jeopardy as Trump 'continues his antics.'Mar.21.2018
Read More'I would subpoena' Zuckerberg today: Blumenthal11:27
As issues mount, Trump will be in campaign mode: Costa03:32
Senators critical of leaks, but did Trump want them out?09:12
Trump invokes 'Deep State' in Putin leak: AP08:52
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VIDEO - Police Release Uber Self-Driving SUV Crash Video - YouTube
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 11:19
VIDEO - HIDDEN AUDIO: Broward County Teachers Busted Planning Illegal March - YouTube
Thu, 22 Mar 2018 00:29
VIDEO - Jeh Johnson: Media focused on 'Access Hollywood' tape instead of Russian meddling ahead of election | TheHill
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:27
JEH JOHNSON says Access Hollywood video helped bury his warning about Russian interference before the 2016 election, points out October 2016 intelligence community statement about it was "below the fold news" because of "the release of the Access Hollywood video the next day."
'-- Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 21, 2018Former Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary Jeh Johnson said Wednesday that warnings about Russian interference in the 2016 election went unnoticed because of the ''Access Hollywood'' tape.
Sen. Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinWhat's genius for Obama is scandal when it comes to TrumpCoalition presses Transportation Dept. for stricter oversight of driverless carsSaudi energy deal push sparks nuclear weapon concernsMORE (D-Calif.) asked Johnson during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on election security why his department did not alert the American people leading up to the 2016 election that Russians were attempting to meddle in the process.
''Well, senator, the American people were told,'' said Johnson, who led DHS from 2013 until the end of the Obama administration.
He noted that he and then-Director of National Intelligence James ClapperJames Robert ClapperRevisiting America's torture legacyPompeo taking lead role in planning Trump's North Korea meeting: reportRepublicans on defensive over Russia report findingMORE issued a statement on Oct. 7, 2016, that stated the intelligence community was confident the Russian government was behind efforts to interfere in the upcoming election.''Frankly, it did not get the attention that I thought it should've received. It was below-the-fold news the next day, because of the release of the 'Access Hollywood' video the same day, and a number of other events,'' Johnson said Wednesday.
''I was expecting follow-up from a lot of journalists, and we never got that because everyone was focused on the campaign and that video, and that debate that Sunday,'' he added.
The Washington Post published its story on the tape on Oct. 8, 2016. The tape, which was recorded in 2005, featured President TrumpDonald John TrumpKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against HeitkampAnti-abortion Dem wins primary fightLipinski holds slim lead in tough Illinois primary fightMORE bragging about groping and kissing women without their consent.
Following its release, multiple women came forward to accuse Trump of sexual misconduct.
Trump apologized for the comments and described them as ''locker room talk.''
Johnson and current DHS head Kirstjen NielsenKirstjen Michele NielsenBetsy Devos: School safety commission to consist of four Cabinet secretaries, no DemocratsSenate Intel releases summary of election security reportOvernight Cybersecurity: Trump-linked data firm Cambridge Analytica attracts scrutiny | House passes cyber response team bill | What to know about Russian cyberattacks on energy gridMORE testified to the Senate Intelligence Committee amid concerns that Russia will attempt to meddle in this year's midterm elections.
VIDEO - BBC Business on Twitter: ""This is their information. They own it" "And you won't sell it?" "No! Of course not." Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, talking to the BBC in 2009.'..."
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:25
TwitterHTTP/1.1 200 OK cache-control: no-cache, no-store, must-revalidate, pre-check=0, post-check=0 content-encoding: gzip content-language: en content-length: 6894 content-security-policy: default-src 'self'; connect-src 'self'; font-src 'self' data:; frame-src https://* https://* twitter:; frame-ancestors https://*; img-src https://* https://* data:; media-src https://* https://* https://*; object-src 'self'; script-src 'unsafe-inline' 'unsafe-eval' https://* https://*; style-src 'unsafe-inline' https://* https://*; report-uri; content-type: text/html;charset=utf-8 date: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:25:29 GMT expires: Tue, 31 Mar 1981 05:00:00 GMT last-modified: Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:25:29 GMT pragma: no-cache server: tsa_b set-cookie: fm=0; Expires=Wed, 21 Mar 2018 21:25:19 GMT; Path=/;; Secure; HTTPOnly set-cookie: _mobile_sess=BAh7ByIKZmxhc2hJQzonQWN0aW9uQ29udHJvbGxlcjo6Rmxhc2g6OkZsYXNoSGFzaHsABjoKQHVzZWR7ADoQX2NzcmZfdG9rZW4iJTI5MjJkYmE4YzFlZjYwZjY2ODU0YTc2MGRlNmYxNGQ3--d88853979c1ec8859349e08b9073c7dbf5442a69; Expires=Sun, 20 May 2018 21:25:29 GMT; Path=/;; Secure; HTTPOnly set-cookie: _twitter_sess=BAh7CCIKZmxhc2hJQzonQWN0aW9uQ29udHJvbGxlcjo6Rmxhc2g6OkZsYXNo%250ASGFzaHsABjoKQHVzZWR7ADoPY3JlYXRlZF9hdGwrCELac0piAToHaWQiJWIz%250ANGM0N2MwYmJlMmYzNGY5ZjNjYzNhMWJmNjhiYWFh--d581ddbdd145a638a6ab347f21b3c92c1f5b5415; Path=/;; Secure; HTTPOnly strict-transport-security: max-age=631138519 vary: Accept-Encoding x-connection-hash: ac388dfd276d0cf58fe7c90ba5cadaf4 x-content-type-options: nosniff x-frame-options: SAMEORIGIN x-response-time: 362 x-transaction: 00add93400929495 x-twitter-response-tags: BouncerCompliant x-xss-protection: 1; mode=block; report=
VIDEO - Introducing the Google News Initiative - YouTube
Wed, 21 Mar 2018 12:48
VIDEO - WATCH: Anti-Gun Parkland Students Give Most Insane, Embarrassing Interview Ever | Daily Wire
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:39
On Monday, Twitter hosted left-wing activists from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School for a talk about their "Never Again" movement where they answered questions that were submitted to them using the hashtag #AskMSDStudents.
During the embarrassing interview, some of the students made wildly inaccurate statements that the moderator did not stop to challenge in what amounted to a circus show.
Here are some of the highlights:
David Hogg says white privilege is one of the biggest obstacles he's faced in his anti-gun agenda, and says media wouldn't cover the incident the same way in a black community "no matter how well those people spoke."
Cameron Kasky says mass shootings like Parkland "happen every day."
Hogg insinuates that he understands politics because of Netflix's "House of Cards," suggests it's just like "real life."
Hogg says it's "disgusting" that more minorities and women are not in government because "It creates this system where we have one line of thinking where it's a lot of rich white men like myself that are in politics."
Hogg says the NRA is making America a dictatorship: "These lobbyist groups like the NRA, they can buy our politicians but they can't buy our voices as American citizens and we need to realize that because when we don't, we don't have a democracy, we have a dictatorship."
Hogg says it's not a "Democrat" or "Republican" issue as he downplays the importance of how the local police, FBI, and school officials failed, and claims Marco Rubio is responsible for all of them.
Hogg launches into a bizarre attack against Dana Loesch. He also claims that he is not trying to take anyone's guns as he asserts that people only have the right to own handguns and pistols.
Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students criticize Kyle Kashuv because he has different views than they do.
Hogg attacks Kashuv for calling him out over his ridiculous and factually inaccurate comments, saying it's not productive.
Kasky says that "these corrupt politicians" do not want young people, minorities, and women to vote and only want "retirement homes" to be able to vote.
Kasky suggests he is facing tyranny from politicians.
During the talk about gun violence, Hogg talks about college debt, healthcare, and net neutrality.
Hogg says that politicians have blood on their hands because they accepted money.
Hogg attacks Bernie Sanders because he wants the ability to sue gun manufacturers.
VIDEO - Austin bombs were 'meant to send a message,' authorities believe - CNN
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:17
The reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible was increased to a total of $115,000, authorities announced Sunday. The FBI, the ATF and the Austin Police Department are now offering $100,000 for information in addition to $15,000 previously offered by Gov. Greg Abbott's office.
Another explosion struck the city Sunday night, that left two men with serious but not life-threatening injuries. Authorities are working under the belief that the latest incident is connected to the previous three explosions in the city, Austin Police Chief Brian Manley said. At this point, information is preliminary, he said, and police have yet to fully process the scene.Hours before the most recent explosion, Manley said in a news conference on Sunday: "We believe that the recent explosive incidents that have occurred in the city of Austin were meant to send a message."
"The person or persons understands what that message is and are responsible for constructing or delivering the devices and we hope this person or persons is watching and will reach out to us before anyone else is injured or anyone else is killed out of this event."
Manley then spoke directly to the person behind the explosions.
"These events in Austin have garnered worldwide attention and we assure you that we are listening," he said. "We want to understand what brought you to this point and we want to listen to you."
Authorities continue to ask for the community's assistance in the investigation, urging Austin residents to call tips in to the police department, even if the information is seemingly "inconsequential."
More than 500 federal agents from the FBI, the ATF and other agencies are assisting Austin Police, Manley said. To date, 435 leads have been called in and are being followed-up on and 236 people have been interviewed. Authorities have also responded to 735 calls of suspicious packages since the explosions.
Based on an analysis of evidence by the ATF, Manley said, authorities know the materials that were used to construct the bombs.
"So there's a lot more we know today that we didn't know early on," he said.
Three bombs in 10 days
The first bomb exploded on March 2, killing 39-year-old Anthony Stephan House, an African-American man who picked up a package outside his home in north Austin. At the time, investigators believed it was an isolated incident.
But on Sunday, Manley said officials handling the investigation of the initial explosion didn't realize it "was part of a larger plan."
"We simply did not have anything available to use that day to make us believe that this would happen again in our community and would be linked to the two additional bombs that took place on March 12," he said.
That was the day two more bombs went off in the eastern part of the city.
The first blast occurred at 6:44 a.m., killing 17-year-old Draylen Mason, an aspiring doctor and orchestra bassist, a neighbor told CNN.
Draylen Mason, 17, was killed after a package found on his doorstep exploded on March 12.
Someone found the package on the doorstep and brought it into the kitchen, where it exploded. Mason's mother suffered non-life threatening injuries.
Then around noon, another explosion injured a 75-year-old Hispanic woman after she discovered a package on her porch and picked it up, though police have said it wasn't clear if she was the intended target.
None of the packages was delivered by the US Postal Service or delivery services like UPS or FedEx, police have said. All were placed in front of the residents' houses in the overnight hours.
CNN's Artemis Moshtaghian, Janet DiGiacomo, Emanuella Grinberg, Jason Morris and Jason Hanna contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says company worked with Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 18:27
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In a live interview with TODAY's Savannah Guthrie, Christopher Wylie, a former employee of British company Cambridge Analytica, says the company misused personal Facebook data of some 50 million people to help influence the 2016 presidential election. Wylie says the company met with former Trump campaign manager (and current outside adviser) Corey Lewandowski, former chief strategist Steve Bannon as well as Russian oil companies.Mar.19.2018
Read MoreFacebook facing growing outrage over misuse of data of some 50 million users03:10
Cambridge Analytica whistleblower says company worked with Corey Lewandowski, Steve Bannon05:52
Vladimir Putin wins fourth presidency in a landslide00:35
President Trump to unveil his plan to combat the opioid addiction crisis00:22
President Trump calls out Robert Mueller on Twitter02:28
Putin set to be re-elected amid ex-spy poisoning scandal02:31
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VIDEO - Students calling for change after the Parkland shooting - 60 Minutes Interview - CBS News
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 15:24
A group of survivors of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School who refer to themselves as the "mass-shooting generation" have made it their mission to bring about gun reform
By now the story is familiar but no less heartbreaking. On Valentine's Day, a former student walked into Marjory Stoneman Douglas High in Parkland, Florida, pulled an AR-15 out of his duffle bag and began shooting. Students hid in closets and played dead. When it was over 17 people were killed. 14 of them students. In the hours that followed, there were vigils and a string of lawmakers offered their "thoughts and prayers." Then, something different happened. The students of Stoneman Douglas gathered in living rooms and in front of cameras, declaring never again. In less than a month, the teens did what few thought possible, they changed gun laws in Florida and ignited a national movement. We wondered how a generation with a notoriously short attention span plans to hold the nation's attention. You'll hear from them later. But we begin with another classmate who hasn't been seen or heard from since the shooting.
"He told me, 'Dad I got shot.' I just said, 'keep talking to me, ok, don't go. Don't leave me, keep talking to me.'"This is Anthony Borges. He is 15 years old and should be at soccer practice. But when we met him on Tuesday, he was struggling to breathe. He'd just come off a ventilator the day before. Anthony's father Roger told us his son has had eight surgeries already. Another is being scheduled. He was shot five times just outside his classroom at Stoneman Douglas High.
Sharyn Alfonsi: He was face to face with the shooter?
Roger Borges: Yeah. He got shot in the leg, and he tried to shut the door.
Sharyn Alfonsi: He tried to shut the door?
Roger Borges: In that moment he received another in the back.
The Borges family is from Venezuela. Roger wanted the world to see what happened to his son.
Sharyn Alfonsi: He called you, right?
Roger Borges: Yeah he called me right at the moment he laid down on the floor and he told me 'Dad I got shot'. I just said keep talking to me -- ok -- don't go-- don't leave me-- keep talking to me.
Sharyn Alfonsi: And where was he shot?
Roger Borges: Right here. Right here.
One shattered his thigh bone. Another damaged a lung and liver.
Roger Borges: That's a miracle for me.
Sharyn Alfonsi: This is a miracle that he's still alive?
Roger Borges: Yeah.
Sharyn Alfonsi: That he is not number 18
Roger Borges: No. No.
Roger, a handyman, is now praying for another miracle: help paying his son's medical bills. Stories like Anthony's unfold quietly in hospitals after every mass shooting. But what happened in Parkland is different. Instead of retreating into their gated neighborhoods, and asking for privacy or saying it was "too soon" to talk about guns, Parkland decided it was exactly the right moment to talk about guns. It was the students who stepped forward first and said never again. You've probably heard a lot from them over the last month, but we were surprised about what they had to say about the fate of the gunman.
Alex Wind, Jaclyn Corin, David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez speak with correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi
CBS News
Sharyn Alfonsi: The Florida prosecutor announced today that he's gonna seek the death penalty against Nikolas Cruz. And I just wanna get your thoughts on that. Emma?
Emma Gonzalez: Good.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Good why?
Emma Gonzalez: Good that he's seeking the death penalty for Nick Cruz.
Cameron Kasky: I don't wanna think about Nick Cruz. I think the more we think about him, the more he wins. That being said, in a way I disagree with Emma. Let him rot forever.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Let him rot in jail.
David Hogg: I wanna see him rot forever as Cameron just said, but when we pursue the death penalty, this will be kept in the media for much longer.
Jaclyn Corin: I just don't want him to get what he wants. I want him to suffer no matter what.
Alex Wind: The death of one person, as terrible of a person as he is, cannot outweigh the death of the 17.
"I was born months after Columbine. I'm 17 years old, and we've had 17 years of mass shootings."Alex Wind, a self-described theater geek, Jaclyn Corin, the junior class president, student reporter David Hogg, and senior Emma Gonzalez started what they call the never-again movement in Cameron Kasky's living room. In the hours after the attack, filled with grief but fueled with anger and armed with their phones, the teenagers got to work. First, they set off a firestorm of tweets, many aimed at lawmakers. They said yes to almost every interview request and used social media to organize a student-led protest at the state capitol. In three weeks, they'd convinced Florida's Republican Governor Rick Scott to defy the National Rifle Association, something that hasn't happened in Florida in 20 years.
Sharyn Alfonsi: The new Florida law raises the age to buy a rifle to 21. It introduces a three-day waiting period on gun sales, and it makes more money available for mental health services. Give us a grade on what's been accomplished.
Cameron Kasky: C.
David Hogg: I was gonna say C-minus.
Jaclyn Corin: We can't praise them for doing what they've done because that wouldn't have stopped what happened at our school.
Cameron Kasky: That being said the Florida bill is much more impressive than that embarrassing Stop School Violence Act that they're pushing in D.C. which is just a bunch of hot air, fluff. Doesn't use the word gun once when all these tragedies, again, the one thing that has linked them together is the gun.
On Saturday, they're hoping a half million people will join them to march in Washington. They want Congress to ban military-style rifles along with the kind of high-capacity magazines that were used in Las Vegas , and at Sandy Hook .
Sharyn Alfonsi: I know I can't help but think. "Sandy Hook happened. Those parents made it their life's mission to try to get some real change. What makes you think that you guys could do more? That this could be different?
Alex Wind: The thing about it is we are the generation that's had to be trapped in closets, waiting for police to come or waiting for a shooter to walk into our door. We are the people who know what it's like first-hand.
Cameron Kasky: We're the mass shooting generation.
Sharyn Alfonsi: "We're the mass shooting generation."
Cameron Kasky: I was born months after Columbine. I'm 17 years old, and we've had 17 years of mass shootings.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Raise your hands if there are guns in your house.
Cameron Kasky: I feel safe because my father has a gun in the house that he can use to protect our family. My family lives on the principle that there are some guns that are made to protect your family from anyone who might come in and try to hurt them, and there are some guns that are made for war.
CBS News
Emma Gonzalez at rally: We need to pay attention to the fact that this was not just a mental health issue. He wouldn't have hurt that many people with a knife!
Three days after the shooting, Emma Gonzalez accepted an invitation to speak at a rally. The five-foot-two 18-year-old had to stand on boxes to be heard. Her speech was seen millions of times and ignited the passion of students around the country. She now has more than a million Twitter followers, ten times more than Florida's governor.
Sharyn Alfonsi: So why was it you? Why do you think you broke through?
Emma Gonzalez: It might've been my hair.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Oh, come on.
Emma Gonzalez: Very honestly, it just might have been my hair.
Sharyn Alfonsi: I don't think it was the hair.
Emma Gonzalez: I think it was a little bit the hair. Like, you know, just iconically you think of the picture and you think of a bald girl.
Sharyn Alfonsi: What do you think about this issue of arming teachers?
Emma Gonzalez: It's stupid.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Why?
Emma Gonzalez: First of all, they have-- Douglas ran out of paper for, like, two weeks in the school year, and now all the sudden they have $400 million to pay for teachers to get trained to arm themselves? Really? Really? If you have-- if you're a teacher and you have a gun, do you keep it in a lockbox or do you carry it on your person? If the teacher dies and a student who's a good student is able to get the gun are they now held responsible to shoot the student who's come into the door? I'm not happy with that.
Emma's mother Beth watched as her daughter became one of the most recognizable faces in one of the most polarizing debates in the country.
Beth Gonzalez: I'm terrified. It's like she built herself a pair of wings out of balsa wood and duct tape and jumped off a building. And we're just, like, running along beneath her with a net, which she doesn't want or think that she needs, you know?
Sharyn Alfonsi: What is happening to her life?
Beth Gonzalez: It's insane. Somebody said, "Please tell Emma we're behind her," which I appreciate. But we shoulda been in front of her, I should've been in front of her. We're all adults, we shoulda dealt with this 20 years ago.
Sharyn Alfonsi: It's a lot to ask of these kids.
Beth Gonzalez: They're asking it of themselves. Some are like, you go girl. But I'm like, what are we doing?
The Douglas students inspired a walkout at nearly 3,000 schools for 17 minutes this past Wednesday. One minute for every life lost in Parkland. They allowed us into their newly donated headquarters. We agreed not to reveal the location.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Why are we being secretive?
CBS News
Emma Gonzalez: People have sent us a lot of death threats. And I, for one, am paranoid about a bomb being thrown in the window.
David Hogg: The fact that I'm getting death threats, Emma's getting death threats, Cameron's getting death threats, it shows the polarized state that America's in.
Manuel Oliver: The victims are being represented by people that could've been the victim, all right?
Manuel and Patricia Oliver's son was murdered in the shooting. Joaquin was 17 years old and considered one of the most well-liked kids in school. Oliver still coaches Joaquin's basketball team. He knows these kids.
Sharyn Alfonsi: What is it that these kids can do that adults haven't been able to do in the past?
Manuel Oliver: These kids have their cell phones on their hands all day. And and we as parents we criticize that a lot 'cause we ignore the power of that. The difference between this tragedy and others, if you ask me, is that this generation is used to get answers right away. You think they're gonna wait for six months or a year for anybody in Congress or anybody that needs to make the right call?
Sharyn Alfonsi: They're hardwired to do things quickly.
Manuel Oliver: Absolutely. Right away.
The students have already received more than $3 million in donations, most of it from Hollywood.
Sharyn Alfonsi: You guys have gotten checks from big names. George Clooney. Oprah Winfrey. Michael Bloomberg's gun control group is helping you. The Women's March people are helping you. How do you make sure those people aren't using you for their specific agendas?
Cameron Kasky: Well, we don't let them. You see, that's the thing. We all remember everybody has an agenda.
Sharyn Alfonsi: These are people with decades of experience. Are they giving you guidance?
Cameron Kasky: I can't get a hotel room on my own. I'm 17 years old. Of course, we have people helping us with that. I can't get the city permits for ten blocks down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington DC. We allow them to help where they can, but we make sure that we are calling the shots. And everybody who tries to call the shot for us, we respectfully say, "That's not what this is about."
Sharyn Alfonsi: Have you had to do that? Have you seen people trying to push back on you guys?
Cameron Kasky: Politicians have asked us to endorse them. Nope. You can support us all you want, but if you think you can get your hands on our movement? It's just not gonna happen.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Have you turned people away who have offered money?
Cameron Kasky: Yes.
Sharyn Alfonsi: And why have you turned them away?
Cameron Kasky: Because they said, "Here's some money if you do this." The second we get an "if," sorry. It's gone.
During our interview, Alex had to leave early for a theatre performance. Cameron, for a family dinner. They are trying to live their teenage lives, and protect them.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Did you ever think, "I don't wanna get into this. This is a nasty fight that I don't wanna be in the middle of"?
Emma Gonzalez: I mean, I have no choice.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Well, you do. You don't have to.
Emma Gonzalez: No I don't.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Why?
Emma Gonzalez: I have no choice because there were-- there were CNN cameras there. My speech was broadcast all over the country in, like, four seconds, and I had no idea they were going to be there. I'm not upset at that. I'm just never going to be the same person again.
Sharyn Alfonsi: Do you think you'll be able to go back to your life?
Emma Gonzalez: I hope so. I don't know. It feels like it's been a year.
Sharyn Alfonsi: It does.
Emma Gonzalez: It really has.
Sharyn Alfonsi: It's been a month.
Emma Gonzalez: It's been less than a month.
Produced by Guy Campanile, Andrew Bast and Lucy Boyd. Associate producers, Gilad Thaler, Alicia Alford, Hannah Fraser-Chanpong and Gisela Perez.
(C) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO - Hospitalized Russian Spy Linked to Russia-UK Spy Wars
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 13:02
Russia considers Skripal a traitor. On August 9, 2006, Skripal was sentenced to 13 years in prison for spying for Britain, according to Russian state media accounts of the closed hearing. Russian court officials said Skripal had received at least $100,000 for his work for MI6, Britain's foreign intelligence service, Russian state news agencies said.
Skripal's conviction was not the only setback for British intelligence that year. In January 2006, Russian state television aired a report that featured footage of British spies planting a fake rock on a Moscow street to hide electronic equipment that their sources used to exchange information.
"The spy rock was embarrassing," said Jonathan Powell, the chief of staff to former Prime Minister Tony Blair, admitting the fiasco in a 2012 BBC documentary. "Clearly they (the Russians) had known about it for some time and had been saving it up for a political purpose."
New revelations from the Russian investigation into British espionage continued. In 2007, Russian security service officer Vyacheslav Zharko confessed to working for British intelligence, the FSB said and state media reported. In a statement, the FSB identified Zharko's recruiter as Pablo Miller, described by the Russian intelligence agency as an MI6 agent working under cover as a first secretary at the British embassy in Tallinn, Estonia. The agency also identified Miller as Skripal's handler.
"During the investigation, witness Vyacheslav Zharko identified MI6 operative Pablo Miller, who was previously involved as a suspect in a criminal case against Sergei Skripal, a former Russian colonel sentenced last year to 13 years in prison for spying for Britain," the FSB said in a 2007 statement.
Fast forward more than a decade. Skripal -- who was granted refuge in the UK after a high-profile spy exchange between the United States and Russia in 2010 -- was found unconscious Sunday along with his daughter, Yulia, on a shopping-center bench in the southern English city of Salisbury. Police confirmed Wednesday that a nerve agent was used in the attack. A police officer who helped them was also exposed to the nerve agent.
Police say a total of 21 people have been treated for exposure to the agent, including the police officer and the two Russians.Amid heightened tension between Russia and the West, the Salisbury case has drawn intense media scrutiny. That's little surprise: The Steele dossier, the 35-page document that is at the heart of the Trump-Russia investigation, was created by a former MI6 agent.The Miller connection
What connects Salisbury to the spy wars of the mid-2000s? A man named Pablo Miller also has an address in Salisbury, according to his LinkedIn account.
A LinkedIn profile for Miller is no longer available. A summary of his profile viewed by CNN said that prior to his retirement in February 2015, he specialized in the former Soviet Union, Russia and Eastern Europe.
His diplomatic postings included Tallinn -- where, the Russians allege, he carried out espionage work. According to LinkedIn, Miller graduated from Oxford University in 1982 with a degree in Modern Languages and History, and subsequently attended the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the British Army's officer training academy. He was commissioned into the Royal Tank Regiment and served in Germany, Cyprus, Northern Ireland and Brunei.
CNN was not able to reach Pablo Miller of Salisbury for comment, or confirm that he is the same man the Russians have alleged to have been a former MI6 agent.
Little else is publicly available about Miller's diplomatic career. In June 2015, he received the Order of the British Empire, an honor awarded "for service to British foreign policy." While it is common for intelligence agents to work under diplomatic cover, foreign ministries rarely confirm such arrangements. A British Foreign and Commonwealth Office spokesperson said the ministry does not comment on intelligence matters."He enjoys a wealth of experience and expertise in the management of high-end Insider threat risks," the LinkedIn biography states. "Pablo continues to work part-time for the Foreign Office on a contract basis."
A cautionary tale to potential traitors
Russian officials say they have no information about the cause of the Skripal poisoning. But Russian media -- and the Russian embassy in London -- have indirectly expressed some glee over the incident.
The anchor of a news program on Russia's First Channel commented in a Wednesday broadcast that the Skripal case was a cautionary tale to potential traitors."The traitor's profession is one of the most dangerous in the world," said the anchor, Kirill Kleymenov. "According to statistics, it is much more dangerous than a drug courier. Those who chose it rarely live in peace and tranquility to a venerable old age. Alcoholism and drug addiction, stress, severe nervous breakdown and depression are the inevitable occupational illnesses of the traitor. And as a result -- heart attacks, strokes, traffic accidents, and finally suicide."
The Russian embassy in London -- known for its provocative Twitter account -- was more blunt. Posting a screengrab of a newspaper headline describing the hospitalization of the "Russian spy and his daughter," the embassy wrote: "He was actually a British spy, working for MI6."
VIDEO - novichok - YouTube
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:57
VIDEO - novichok fomulas are not terrorist weapons - YouTube
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:56
VIDEO - Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner's helicopter suffers engine failure - CNNPolitics
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:41
President Trump's daughter and son-in-law were flying from Washington to New York on Thursday afternoon in a two-engine helicopter when one engine failed, causing the chopper to return to Washington.
The helicopter safely made it back to Ronald Reagan National Airport and the couple scrambled to get on a commercial flight instead.
The sources could not say why the couple were flying to New York via a helicopter instead of a plane.
The aircraft was a Sikorsky helicopter owned by the Trump Organization, according to information recorded by the aviation website
Before the engine failure, the plan was for the chopper to take the couple and a member of their security detail to a Manhattan helipad, one of the sources said.
A spokesman for the couple had no comment on the incident.
CNN's Aaron Cooper and Susannah Cullinane contributed to this report.
VIDEO - Eva Jinek, Hillary Clinton en de rol van geslacht in het Amerika en Nederland van 2018
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:37
Op internationale vrouwendag bevroeg Eva de 70-jarige Hillary, die er zelf niet in slaagde de eerste 'female president' van de Verenigde Staten te worden, maar vertrouwen houdt in de toekomst. ''I plan to live long enough to see a woman win.''
Ik zette me schrap. Op onze site, op televisie, op de radio en op sociale media stond ons nieuwtje: ''Eva Jinek interviewt Hillary Clinton in een speciale uitzending van Brandpunt+.'' De minuten die Facebook nodig had om het teaser-filmpje te verwerken, voor het online stond: ze waren de stilte voor de storm.
10'... 9'... 8'...
Wat werd de eerste reactie? Domme doos? Killary Clinton?
5'... 4'...
Dikke reet? Ouwe muts? Droge kut? Crooked Hill?
Moord? Pizzagate? Lewinsky?
1'... 0...
Ah. Daar is-ie. ''Fuck you. You fucking fuck. Ga de afwas doen.''
Je kunt er niet omheen, ook Eva niet: ''Why do people dislike you?'' Hillary laat haar schouders zakken. Haar carri¨re lang werd ze al dan niet terecht aangevallen, door Jan, alleman, en haar politieke opponenten. Nee, geeft ze toe, het is haar niet gelukt Trump-stemmers het gevoel te geven dat ze het goed met hen voor heeft. Ja, ze had meer van zichzelf moeten laten zien. En ja, ze houdt afstand en ontbeert de warme uitstraling van haar voorganger. Er ging een hoop mis, en Hillary zelf deed een hoop verkeerd. Toch: ''A lot of it is because I am a woman. And yes, it drives me crazy.''
''I wasn't just me.'' Nu ze (noodgedwongen) een stap terug heeft gedaan, ziet Hillary dat een nieuwe groep ambitieuze vrouwen met hetzelfde fenomeen te maken krijgt. Vanuit een bepaalde hoek, krijg je als succesvolle vrouw al-tijd hetzelfde te horen: je bent lelijk, je bent te mooi, je bent onaardig, je bent te aardig. Lang verhaal kort: ''You need to shut up.''
Jaren terug al, ontdekten Amerikaanse wetenschappers deze hardnekkige, bloedirritante Catch 22. Het waren in de geschiedenis van onze maatschappij zo vaak mannen die het voortouw namen (met het patriarchaat als welkom steuntje in de rug), dat we succes zijn gaan verklaren op basis van mannelijke eigenschappen. We gaan er vanuit dat een succesvol persoon sterk is, streng, rechtlijnig en rationeel. Of die eigenschappen iemand echt succesvoller maken, weten we niet zeker, maar de bias is ingebakken als spek in een pannenkoek. Wat we van een vrouw verwachten, staat lijnrecht tegenover onze starre, onbewuste definitie van succes. Zij worden geacht vriendelijk, bescheiden, en meelevend te zijn (en mooi, als het even kan).
Hillary Clinton is sterk, streng, rechtlijnig, rationeel - en vrouw. Daar begint de penarie: omdat de twee verwachtingspatronen elkaar uitsluiten, heb je als succesvolle vrouw (een leider) twee opties: voldoe je aan het ene verwachtingspatroon '' vriendelijk, bescheiden, meelevend, mooi '' dan ben je waarschijnlijk niet goed in je werk. Voldoe je aan het andere '' sterk, rechtlijnig, rationeel '' dan ben je vermoedelijk niet aardig.
Het interview terugkijken? Dat kan onder dit artikelAls je als vrouw president van Amerika wilt worden '' een van de meest machtige vacatures op aarde '' ben je extra de lul. Je begint de race met een flinke achterstand: er mankeert sowieso iets. Je bent incapabel, of een heks. Dat verklaart wel wat. Ja, het is lang zo geweest dat vrouwen niet eens mee konden doen aan de presidentsverkiezingen, maar even voor het idee: als je ervanuit gaat dat vrouwen en mannen al die tijd precies evenveel kans maakten op het presidentschap, dan was de kans op 45 mannen en 0 vrouwen na 229 jaar 1:36000. (zesendertig triljard).
De enige manier waarop we de succes-paradox de prullenbak in krijgen, is door te wennen aan een maatschappij waarin net zo veel succesvolle mannen als succesvolle vrouwen de leiding nemen. Gelukkig heeft een recordaantal Amerikaanse vrouwen zich verkiesbaar gesteld, dit jaar. Te weten: meer dan vierhonderd vrouwen die het House of Representatives in willen.
Eva: ''Thanks to your losing?"
''Well, maybe my campaign has made it easier for women to run,'' antwoordt Hillary. Dan, vastberaden: ''I plan to live long enough to see a woman win.''
Ivanka Trump is een vrouw, zegt Eva.
Even klemt Hillary haar kaken op elkaar, even bevriest haar blik. ''That's not gonna happen. We don't want any more inexperienced Trumps in the White House.'' Wat we wel nodig hebben: een vrouw die met twee benen in de Amerikaanse politiek staat (sorry, Oprah) en heeft kunnen leren van Clintons fouten (sorry, Chelsea). ''I'm gonna be there cheering her on,'' zegt Hillary.
''Assuming I agree with her.''
Eva meets Hillary terugkijken? Geen zorgen, dat kan hierrrr:
VIDEO - John Cleese Did Not Enjoy Filming Monty Python and the Holy Grail - YouTube
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 11:13
VIDEO - Shy Boys: IRL on Vimeo
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 03:43
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twitter - @shyboysirl
A short documentary on "love-shy" men. Love-Shy men believe they are afflicted with a condition that prevents them from interacting with women. They ultimately fail to have relationships with women, and often die virgins. "Involuntary Celibates" are men who approach women all the time, but are always rejected. These men congregate on an online forum called In the film, they meet up "IRL" - in real life along with the female filmmaker and "pretty boy" sound guy.
VIDEO - Skip new insomnia drug Belsomra - Consumer Reports
Mon, 19 Mar 2018 02:01
A sleepless night or two can leave you so tired and miserable that it can be tempting to take a medication that promises to help you slip into slumber. But the truth is that sleeping pills like Ambien and Lunesta don't actually improve your sleep much, according to a Consumer Reports Best Buy Drugs analysis, and the newest insomnia medication, Belsomra (suvorexant), is no exception.
It might help you nod off a few minutes faster or stay asleep slightly longer. But that small benefit comes with some big safety concerns, such as being too drowsy to drive the next day or feeling like you can't move or talk.
We were prompted to take a close look at Belsomra, which is made by Merck, because it's a new type of sleeping pill called an orexin-receptor antagonist. It acts on the brain in a different way compared to older insomnia meds. The Food and Drug Administration initially rejected high doses of Belsomra'--30 mg and 40 mg'--because it said they posed a dangerous risk of next-day drowsiness that could lead to deadly auto crashes. The FDA eventually approved lower doses of the drug'--5 mg, 10 mg, and 20 mg.
We commissioned two drug safety experts'--Steven Woloshin, M.D., and Lisa M. Schwartz, M.D., both at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth'--to review the research and prepare a Drug Facts Box for Belsomra. Schwartz served on an FDA advisory committee of experts that looked at Belsomra in 2013.
Their analysis shows that people who took a 15 mg or 20 mg dose of Belsomra every night for 3 months fell asleep just 6 minutes faster on average than those who got a placebo pill. And the Belsomra group slept only 16 minutes longer'--6 hours and 12 minutes total vs. 5 hours and 56 minutes for the placebo group.
Those small improvements in sleep didn't translate to people feeling more refreshed. Instead, more people who took Belsomra felt drowsy the next day compared with those who took a placebo.
In fact, two people who took the 20 mg dose the night before were so drowsy the next day they had to stop a driving test. Slightly more people in the Belsomra group were involved in driving accidents or got traffic tickets and reported hallucinations or sleep paralysis'--a feeling that you can't move or talk while falling asleep or awakening.
The 10 mg dose was only studied in 62 people, and it's unclear whether it improves sleep. Even Merck, the manufacturer of Belsomra, doubts whether it's better than a placebo. ''The overall picture is that 10 milligrams is not an effective dose,'' said W. Joseph Herring, M.D., Merck's executive director of clinical research, neuroscience, and ophthalmology, at the 2013 FDA advisory committee meeting. Yet, the FDA's internal reviewers said the 10 mg dose improved sleep more than placebo. The bottom line is that the 10 mg dose is probably less effective than the 15 or 20 mg dose and it might not be much better than a placebo pill.
And it's unknown if the 5 mg dose will help you sleep: It's not been studied at all.
''The FDA has set a disturbing precedent by approving an untested dose of a drug,'' Schwartz says. ''For a deadly cancer with limited treatment this gamble might make sense, but not for a condition like insomnia and where Belsomra doesn't appear to work any better, or more safely, than available treatments."
Also, Schwartz and Woloshin worry that if people don't sleep better with the 5 mg or 10 mg dose, they may take additional doses, increasing the risk of side effects.
If Belsomra's slight benefit and potential side effects aren't enough to make you think twice before trying it, consider it's high price tag: about $70 for 7 pills. That's more than four times the cost of the same amount of our Best Buy pick, zolpidem, the generic version of Ambien. Our Best Buy Drugs report found that people who took zolpidem fell asleep 20 minutes faster and slept 34 minutes longer on average than those who took a placebo.
Even those numbers aren't that impressive. And zolpidem, like other insomnia medications, poses a long list of possible side effects, such as daytime sleepiness, dizziness, sleep-walking, sleep-driving, sleep-eating, memory lapses, and hallucinations.
Bottom Line: Our medical advisers say that a sleeping pill is usually not the best treatment for insomnia. Instead, cognitive behavioral therapy, which involves talking to a therapist to learn a new set of behaviors regarding sleep, is as effective as sleeping pills, and has been shown to help up to 80 percent of chronic insomnia sufferers get some shuteye.
Studies have also found that improving your sleep habits, such as relaxation training, setting and sticking to consistent bedtimes and wake-up times, regular exercise, quitting smoking, cutting back on caffeine and alcohol in the afternoon and evening, keeping your bedroom quiet and dark, and not watching TV or using computers in bed can help relieve insomnia.
VIDEO - 'Method to his madness:' Who the Austin bomber could be | Texas
Tue, 20 Mar 2018 08:31
AUSTIN (KXAN) - While hundreds of Austin police officers and officials from various federal agencies try to piece together the latest bombing in Austin and how it's connected to the other three that occurred in the past 16 days, the chief security officer with a geopolitical intelligence platform provided his analysis of the situation.
Fred Burton with Stratfor spoke on KXAN News Today, saying he believes, as police do, that the same bomber is responsible for the four explosions that killed two people and injured four others. However, the suspect changed his modus operandi by using a tripwire in the latest incident.
Based on past bomber profiles, this suspect is likely a man, Burton said. The person also likely lives and works in Austin; has practiced making bombs or already had that skill; and spent time on reconnaissance before he set up the bombs. He also says it is possible the suspect has a military background.
"His targeting and his rationale is making perfect sense to him," Burton said. "It's absolutely crazy for you and I and for your viewers, but there is a method to his madness as well as exactly why he's chosen these specific venues."
Scott Stewart, Vice President of tactical analysis at Stratfor, said it's interesting to see the shift in the suspect's tactics, which were initially perceived to be racially motivated toward targeted individuals.
Stewart, who was a special agent with the U.S. State Department for 10 years, said the level of sophistication in the devices is striking. He said that also indicates the suspect has some sort of training or expertise since he was able to change his methods in response to publicity over the bombs.
''He was able to very rapidly switch from basically booby trap package bombs, motion-activated bombs, to using a tripwire-type device in this latest bomb and that's showing that he has some skill and he was able to transition quickly,'' Stewart said. ''It didn't take a lot of time and research to make the change.''
With this latest bomb tactic, Stewart said he believes investigators will find some bomb components that will have significant forensic value. He said the suspect clearly has different methods in his repertoire and is likely switches tactics again.
"If I had to guess or forecast, in all probability he's going to strike may be just north of where he hit last night."
"The more bombings you conduct, the more little pieces and traces of evidence you're leaving behind," Stewart said. "... Certainly the bomber is feeling very confident, not only in this bomb-making tradecraft, but also his operational tradecraft on the street. He's feeling that he's not being observed and is able to operate that freely despite the massive manhunt underway for him."
The locations of the bombings -- one in northeast Austin, one in east Austin, one in southeast Austin and the latest in southwest Austin -- also appear to circle the city, Burton added.
"If I had to guess or forecast, in all probability he's going to strike may be just north of where he hit last night," Burton said, referring to the latest bombing in the Travis Country neighborhood.
At some point, Burton expects the bomber will reach out, possibly through the media. For now, he's likely enjoying the attention, but "he knows law enforcement will eventually close in." Usually, Burton says people may be shocked by the suspect's identity because he won't be who they expect.
KXAN's Robert Hadlock speaks to Richard Burton about the bombing suspect's background and where he can strike next.

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