1026: DE-ISIS

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

3h 2m
April 19th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Dame Judy Schwarz Baroness of Kendall County, Sir Onymous of Dogpatch and lower Slobovia, Sir Java James, Sir Cal and the Lavender Blossoms team, Sir Anonymous Baron of the ADF-C and all Environs, Sir JB, Knight of the DMV & Baronet of the Poconos, Teresa Morgan

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Syria
Some in Congress Fear White House Will Claim Expanded War Powers After Syria Attack - WSJ
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:40
WASHINGTON'--Many lawmakers have expressed support for the recent missile strikes against Syria, launched without congressional approval, but a number harbor concerns that the White House believes it now has broad authority to undertake further, riskier attacks that could lead to full-blown war.
They say the Trump administration has expressed an expansive view of presidential authority to wage war without Congress, and fear Congress's constitutional role in authorizing and overseeing military action has been sidelined.
''I'm not as much concerned about this particular strike as about the implications of him doing it without Congress in the context of Iran or North Korea,'' said Rep. Thomas Massie, a Kentucky Republican.
New national security adviser John Bolton has in the past advocated pre-emptive military action against those countries to prevent them from developing nuclear weapons, though the White House is now laying the groundwork for talks, not war, with North Korea.
In closed-door briefings on Capitol Hill on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers that the administration has authority under Article II of the U.S. Constitution'--which names the president ''commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States'''--to carry out strikes against Syria, according to lawmakers who attended the meeting. But they declined to tell skeptical members in both parties under what circumstances a lack of congressional authority would constrain military action.
Republican leaders have brushed off concerns about congressional authorization and are reluctant to open a fresh debate on Capitol Hill about the president's war powers.
American, British and French forces last week launched airstrikes against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in reprisal for a purported chemical weapons attack that killed at least 43 civilians and injured hundreds more. Beyond that, the U.S. is engaged in counterterrorism operations against Islamic State, based on a congressional authorization passed after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack'--long before the group existed.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters last week that President Donald Trump has the authority for the strikes under existing law. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he supported ''both the action and objective'' of attacking the Assad government.
Other lawmakers said that while the limited airstrikes were authorized, the administration would need Congress's express permission for more sustained action or the use of ground troops.
''This was a one-time shot against Assad for doing something that I think civilized nations don't do,'' said Don Bacon, a retired Air Force general and Republican congressman from Nebraska, adding that it didn't require the approval of Congress ahead of time.
Pentagon officials denied Tuesday a New York Times report contending that Mr. Mattis pushed internally for congressional approval of the strikes in Syria. That would have effectively halted plans to conduct the airstrikes because the operation would likely have become entangled in legislative debate.
''I have no idea where that story came from,'' Mr. Mattis said as a meeting with Qatar's defense minister began at the Pentagon Wednesday. ''I found nothing in it that I could recall from my own last week's activities.''
But according to multiple U.S. officials, Mr. Mattis voiced the most concern about the operation, both publicly and privately, saying it risked escalation with Russia and Iran, two players on the Syria battlefield.
Mr. Massie, the Kentucky lawmaker, said Congress should pass a measure stating that Mr. Trump cannot go to war in Iran or North Korea without first seeking authorization.
The constitution gives Congress the sole power to declare war, an action it hasn't taken since World War II. But Congress has passed legislation authorizing military action short of a formal declaration of war'--in Iraq, Vietnam, Lebanon and Somalia, as well as against pirates and slave traders.
Congress passed the War Powers Act during the Vietnam War in part to constrain a president's ability to commit the country to a long-term conflict without congressional approval. The law requires congressional notification of any military action and requires withdrawal of troops after 60 days unless Congress authorizes them to remain.
Since then, presidents of both parties have launched military action without first getting authority from Congress, arguing they have constitutional authority as commander-in-chief to commit forces.
George H.W. Bush sought congressional approval only after invading Iraq in the Gulf War. Bill Clinton launched an air campaign against Kosovo in 1999 and continued it even after Congress decided not to authorize it. A lawsuit by more than two dozen members of Congress challenging the strikes was dismissed by a federal court. Barack Obama conducted an extended air campaign in Libya without seeking congressional authorization, arguing that limited strikes didn't rise to the level of hostilities.
''Congress has itself to blame,'' said Rep. Adam Schiff, a California Democrat, who supported the goals of the Syria strikes but said the president should have sought congressional permission before launching them. ''We have been completely missing in action when it comes to asserting our congressional role in the war-making authority, and that has encouraged president after president to feel he can take action without congressional approval.''
Even as rank-and-file lawmakers are eager to reassert congressional authority over military action, the appetite among top leaders in Congress is limited. A bipartisan group of senators this week reached an agreement on a modest update to the 2001 authorization for the use of military force against terrorism, to include groups the U.S. is already fighting, like Islamic State. But Republican congressional leaders are reluctant to bring it up for a vote, arguing that the president has all the authority he needs.
''My own view is, the administration clearly has the authority to do what they have been doing,'' Mr. McConnell said on Fox News this week. ''My own view is that the existing authorizations for the use of military force are adequate. I believe that's the view of the administration as well.''
'--Gordon Lubold contributed to this article.
How The Company Of British PM's Husband Benefits From Syria Strikes - Your News Wire
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 08:30
The husband of British prime minister Theresa May just happens to work for a company that is the largest shareholder in arms manufacturer, BAE Systems, whose share price just happened to soar since the recent airstrikes in Syria.
Philip May works as an investment relationship manager for the company Capital Group.
Capital Group is also the second-largest shareholder in Lockheed Martin '' a US military arms firm that supplies weapons systems, aircraft and logistical support. Its shares also just happened to rocket since the missile strikes against Syria last week.
RT reports: The fact has not gone unnoticed by some on Twitter, who agree that BAE Systems has done very well out of the UK-US-France allied airstrikes on Syria, which were sanctioned by Theresa May. It has been reported that the UK's contribution to military strikes was to fire eight 'Storm-Shadow' missiles at an alleged chemical weapons facility, each of which cost £790,000 ($1.13 million) '' totaling £6.32 million ($9 million). The missiles were manufactured by BAE Systems.
£6.3m worth of BAE missiles were fired in Syria. May's husband's company, Capital Group is the largest shareholder in BAE pic.twitter.com/k3XT8hZ6SZ
'-- Mr Ethical (@nw_nicholas) April 17, 2018
May and husband in the swamp together. ''How Philip May's Company Benefits From the Syria Strikes: Lockheed Martin, the JASSM, and the Capital Group'' by @vocal_creators https://t.co/qMmfGDqeWO
'-- (((Neil Turner))) (@chezzy51) April 16, 2018
Theresa May's husband has worked as a relationship manager for the research investment company Capital Group since 2005. The Tory-BAE links go even deeper, however. The former chancellor of the exchequer and present editor-in-chief at the Evening Standard, George Osborne's other employer Black Rock is the fifth-largest shareholder in BAE Systems.
Figures revealed as of March 31, 2018 reveal that the Capital Group has amassed over 360,000 shares in the company, up over 11 percent on the previous quarter, which may have contributed to a hefty rise in BAE's share price, which currently stands at around 600p.
Philip May's Capital Group was linked to the Paradise Papers scandal in 2017. News and current affairs magazine, Private Eye, suggested at the time that Philip May's company used offshore law firm Appleby to devise investments in tax havens.
When asked at the time of the scandal about her husband's role, a spokesperson for the UK PM told reporters: ''Mr May is involved in the development of Capital Group's retirement solutions. He is not an investor but consults with other Capital associates on retirement products and solutions for clients.''
The latest news comes on the back of a recent deal agreed by BAE Systems and the Saudi government for the provisional sale of 48 Typhoon jets to the kingdom. The deal was welcomed by the relevant government officials from the UK and Saudi Arabia, who say it would help safeguard jobs. However, it was criticized by arms campaigners worried about the ongoing war in Yemen.
Companies profiting from war '' not a new concept, but many may question how this all sits with Philip May, the PM's supposedly 'closest political ally.'
Syria airstrikes were masterful. Here's how to finish the job: Gen. Wesley Clark
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:35
Hassan Ammar | AP
Fireman extinguish smoke that rises from the damage of the Syrian Scientific Research Center which was attacked by U.S., British and French military strikes to punish President Bashar Assad for suspected chemical attack against civilians, in Barzeh, near Damascus, Syria, Saturday, April 14, 2018.
The U.S., British and French strikes on Syria's chemical warfare facilities are over, for now. Militarily, they were masterfully done-on target, little collateral damage, and minimal risks of escalation.
Perhaps they will deter, for a while, another Syrian chemical attack on civilians. But the most significant aspect of the strikes was that the British and French participated, for this has great implications for the future.
More than twenty-five years ago the British and French, and slowly the Germans and others, recognized that civil war in a then-distant and obscure Yugoslavia posed a threat that could not be ignored. More than 100,000 killed, 2 million people displaced, horrendous war crimes committed.
Western Europe finally awakened to the threat to its interests and security, and responded, first through the UN with peacekeeping, and, ultimately, when that failed, with NATO and the U.S.
Seven years of civil warIn Syria, after seven years of civil war, the rise of ISIS and its not-quite defeat, minimalistic U.S. actions, multiple efforts by neighboring powers and Russia to finish the fight militarily, the war there is finally winding down. The costs have been horrendous - perhaps three-quarters of a million killed, more than five million refugees, and a country of more than 23 million people devastated.
Syria is more distant than Yugoslavia, and Europe has been slower to react. But the challenge to its interests is even greater. The humanitarian tragedy and the political impact of millions trying to reach the security of Europe have been deeply unsettling.
The efficacy of the EU has been roundly challenged, destructive nativist and nationalist sentiments have taken root, Turkey has become not a buffer for Europe but a problematic partner, and Russia has been given new opportunities to make mischief.
But British and French military action indicates political movement toward a solution is possible. It is probably too late for the West to pull off another Bosnia-like rescue with peacekeepers and NATO. And after failures in Iraq and prolonged efforts on Afghanistan, there is little will to do so.
But Syria must, ultimately be reconstructed, and there is the opportunity for Europe and perhaps the U.S. to redress the tragedy: reconstruction requires money, and this is Europe's great asset and leverage.
Syria must be rebuiltSyria must be rebuilt and it's refugees and displaced millions given the opportunity to return home. Its oil industry alone may take perhaps $40 billion to be reconstructed, its cities and infrastructure many billions more.
The European banks and financial institutions which will underwrite this reconstruction must bend the financial engineering to strategic imperatives. Refugees must be provided the security, financial support and economic opportunities which can enable their return home.
Excessive violence and crimes of war must be investigated and punished, terrorists driven away and Syria's traditional tolerance for religious and ethnic diversity restored.
Above all, Russia must not be advanced the funds directly or indirectly to assume control of Syria's oil resources, lest it further tighten its grip on Europe's energy supplies.
Transition poses difficult issues Transitioning from war to reconstruction poses difficult issues. Must all fighting stop for reconstruction to begin? Will Assad remain as president or be replaced? Can Syria remain whole or must it be subdivided into religious and ethnic cantons? What security can be provided returning refugees? Who will investigate and mete out justice? How will foreign forces-Iranian, Russian, and others be persuaded to leave? How will Syria's eventual oil revenues be shared?
Admittedly, if the U.S. and European countries had come together through NATO several years ago to deal with refugees and manage the conflict, they would have had greater say on the issues at hand. But artfully applied, financial resources can drive almost the same solution.
Most of Syria's neighbors have had a hand in the conflict. They need to step back militarily and step up financially and work together with Europe. Saudi and Qatari financial resources funneled through international organizations will be essential to supplement European banks.
Turkey must be assisted financially in hosting and transiting returnees, but is must also step back from its irredentist claims on northern Syria. Iran may find a constructive role for its oil revenues working through these same institutions for reconstruction.
The key is to begin now to work through the vexing issues associated with the reconstruction and use the imperatives of reconstruction to drive peace and promote cooperation in the region. And financial commitments can be leveraged to incentivize this. The European Union, not an ad hoc grouping of Russia, Turkey and others, should meet urgently to begin work on these issues.
US military must remain in placeFor now, U.S. elements should remain in place. They can finish the work against ISIS, and assure that there will be no end-of-conflict land grabs by Russian or Iranian mercenaries. The Russians, too, can have their say.
But the Russians have already realized, no doubt, that they lack the financial means to fix even Syria's oil, much less it's infrastructure. The Iranians, struggling at home with a faltering economy, and earnestly seeking foreign investment, can silently disengage, as the imperatives for reconstruction take priority over sectarian conflict and hegemonic aspirations.
Will the would-be autocrats and new imperialists who saw such opportunities in Syria's tragedy let go now? Yes, if wise, mature and wealthy Europe will assert itself. Call together a Syria Reconstruction Council, hear the issues, sum the needs, and allocate the resources, conditionally. Measure progress on the ground, and hold the various parties accountable.
Something like this was tried early on in Afghanistan, not too successfully. But Syria is nearby and urgent.
It's time for Europe, backed by the U.S., to assert itself. For now, as all warring parties are exhausted, the euro can prove mightier than the sword. And a world scale tragedy could become the focus for regional cooperation and progress. It will take leadership, of course, but maybe we are now seeing the first stirrings of such leadership from Europe.
Commentary by Retired General Wesley Clark, a former NATO Supreme Allied Commander and a Senior Fellow at the UCLA Burkle Center. Follow him on Twitter @GeneralClark.
For more insight from CNBC contributors, follow @CNBCopinion on Twitter.
Russian investigative journalist dead after fall from apartment - NY Daily News
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:27
A Russian investigative reporter who had written about mercenaries in Syria has died after a mysterious fall from his balcony.
Maxim Borodin died on Sunday after falling from his fifth floor apartment in Yekaterinburg three days earlier, according to New Day, where he worked.
The outlet reported that the 32-year-old reporter never regained consciousness after the fall, which it noted had occurred under ''as of yet unexplained circumstances.''
Borodin's editor, Pavelina Rumyantseva, told MBK Media that there was no reason to suspect suicide and that she will give information if there are any signs of criminal wrongdoing found in his apartment.
Assassins killed Panama Papers journalist with text message bomb
The reporter had recently published information about mercenaries from the Yekaterinburg region being among those killed in Syria during a U.S. airstrike. CIA Director Mike Pompeo has said that the strike left ''a couple hundred'' dead.
Russia has not given a death toll but confirmed that some of its citizens had been killed. They were believed to be working for the Wagner Group company linked to Yevgeny Prigozhin, the Kremlin-connected businessman accused by American prosecutors of running a troll farm to influence the U.S. election.
The information department of the Sverdlovsk region praised Borodin as ''experienced and dedicated to his work'' after his death, which is the latest in a string of investigative reporters.
Daphne Galizia, a Maltese blogger who reported on her government's alleged ties to foreign money with the help of the Panama Papers, was killed in a car bomb explosion in October.
Jan Kuciak, a Slovak journalist investigating alleged Italian mafia theft of EU funds and tax fraud by businessmen linked to the ruling political party in the Eastern European country, was shot dead along with his girlfriend in February.
A group of international journalists calling itself Forbidden Stories announced Sunday that media outlets from around the world had continued the work of Galizia's investigations.
The first results of that work are expected to be published on Tuesday.
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Glitch!
The IRS Computer System Is the Oldest in the Government - Bloomberg
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:36
Taxes
The tax agency's embrace of IBM in the 1950s helped drive down audit rates. It's still depending on the same code.
by 1040 eaters.
Photo by U.S. News & World Report Collection/Marion S Trikosko/PhotoQuest/Getty ImagesTaxpayers who rushed to complete Form 1040 by Tuesday's deadline can take some comfort from the fact that they're exceedingly unlikely to get a follow-up visit from the Internal Revenue Service. Over the past 50 years, audit rates have fallen pretty steadily. Today, the average taxpayer has one chance in 200 of getting audited.
The downward trend has led to concerns that the IRS needs more funding to do its job correctly and competently. That's true, but before Congress throws money at hiring more auditors, it should take aim at the agency's antiquated computer system. It has helped drive audit rates to all-time lows, but it desperately needs an upgrade.
After the creation of the first permanent income tax in 1913, IRS agents would scrutinize returns by hand, laboriously poring over the numbers, checking the math, and flagging returns that looked suspect. This was insanely time-consuming. It also led to a very high audit rate. One taxpayer in 10 was subjected to a ''field examination'' from IRS personnel, according to one estimate from 1926.
This was possible because so few taxpayers actually filed Form 1040; most didn't because their income fell well below the threshold. As government spending increased from the late 1930s onward, more and more Americans found themselves paying income tax. That trend only intensified in the postwar years.
And therein lay a problem: How could IRS agents possibly check so many tax returns, much less run audits on this scale? As audit rates plummeted in the late 1940s, concerns over lost revenue fueled a search for solutions. Conveniently, a means of fixing the problem appeared at that precise moment in history: the computer.
The first mainframe computers may look like dinosaurs now, but they offered a way of reviewing tax returns on a mass scale. In the late 1950s, the IRS began using computers to correlate and compare the information submitted by taxpayers on their 1040 forms with the income figures supplied by employers. In 1959, the Washington Post, capturing the mood of the moment, warned of ''brain machines'' that would soon audit taxpayer returns; the Wall Street Journal called them ''robot revenuers.''
By the early 1960s, the IRS had amassed a staggering amount of computing power in the service of compiling, collating, and auditing returns. The stars of this brave new world consisted of a number of IBM mainframe machines, many of which resided in a nondescript brick building in Martinsburg, West Virginia. This was the heart -- or brain -- of the new order. And it triggered serious warnings that the jig was up.
''The Martinsburg Monster is going to get us all,'' Charles Seib wrote in Harper's Weekly. ''The imaginative taxpayer, who in the past has had at least as good a chance as a devotee of Russian roulette, now must fact the certainty that all the chambers are loaded and the trigger set.''
Under the new system, the data contained in paper tax returns -- along with all the other forms issued by employers, brokerages, and banks -- would be coded onto paper punch cards by an army of clerical workers. The data would then be ''read'' by the computer and stored on thousands of magnetic tapes.
The Martinsburg facility's L-shaped array of mainframe computers and tape-reel machines became something of a destination for those looking for a glimpse of the future. ''So many visitors come to gawk,'' explained the New York Times in 1964, ''that a glass inclosure was built for them to sit in.''
Throughout the 1960s, the IRS labored to build what it called the ''Individual Master File'' of all taxpayers, each identified by his or her Social Security number. This database would contain all the information relevant to each taxpayer. ''By 1966,'' predicted Seib in Harper's, ''every tax return in the nation will be under the Monster's cold, electronic eye.''
This proved both a blessing and a curse for the IRS. Between 1963 and 1967, the Times reported, the number of taxpayers who reported any interest income rose 45 percent; the total amount of interest and dividend income reported to the IRS rose by $2.8 billion in the same period. ''The hot eyeball of the computer was the goad to virtue,'' reported the paper.
At the same time, the sheer number of possible leads on underpayment of taxes threatened to overwhelm the very human staff responsible for overseeing audits. The IRS solved the problem in two ways.
First, it began using the computers to issue automated letters demanding that taxpayers correct errors. In effect, it relied on form letters to achieve what field audits had formerly accomplished. At the same time, it began using historical data to build algorithms designed to sniff out suspect returns. Such returns might not contain any errors, but because of certain red flags -- an unusual deduction, a deviation from some norm -- the computer could flag the return. The higher the ''Dif,'' or ''discriminate function,'' score, the more likely something fishy was taking place. Audit rates drifted downward, a trend that continues to this day.
Though the IRS has periodically upgraded its computing system, today's system is still running the same code, which was written nearly 60 years ago. Most of it is in the Assembly programming language, which the IRS itself has described as ''antiquated'' and ''inflexible.'' Worse, the number of programmers who can understand and maintain the code behind the Individual Master File (IMF) dwindles with every passing year. According to the Government Accountability Office, the IMF and its business counterpart (the BMF) are the oldest computing systems used by the federal government. (The runner-up in this dubious contest is the software used to coordinate the nation's nuclear weapons.)
Plans to replace the IMF with a twenty-first-century equivalent known as CADE (Customer Account Data Engine) have faltered. The transition is now well behind schedule. As a consequence, the likelihood of a catastrophic computer failure during tax season increases with every passing year. That may not pose quite the same danger as an errant missile, but the prospect of lost refund checks, unnecessary audits, and other errors suggests that the time has come to bring the IRS into the 21st century.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story: Stephen Mihm at smihm1@bloomberg.net
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Mike Nizza at mnizza3@bloomberg.net
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IRS Grapples With Decades-Old Computer Systems - CIO Journal. - WSJ
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:43
A hardware failure at the Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday that prevented taxpayers from filing online returns highlights the risks for chief information officers struggling with aging backend IT systems, tight budgets and growing pressure to provide innovative front-end services, federal watchdogs and industry analysts say.
''For the IRS this was a mission-critical system that processes most of our $3.3 trillion in taxes every year,'' David A. Powner, director of information technology management issues at the United States Government Accountability office, told CIO Journal.
''But we still don't see a definite plan to get it into shape,'' he said.
According to Mr. Powner, the agency's legacy hardware systems are programed with assembly language, a computer language initially used in the 1950s.
This includes the agency's Individual Master File, or IMF, its main computer system for data on individual taxpayer accounts, he added. It is the computer system underpinning the agency's modernized e-file system, which taxpayers use to file returns online, he said.
Despite a slew of federal IT modernization efforts in recent years, agency officials across the federal government tend to shy away from overhauling backend systems that remain operational, Mr. Powner said.
That means systems often don't get the attention they need until they fail, he said.
Mr. Powner said he expects to meet with IRS officials to review the exact cause of this week's outage in the days ahead.
The IRS has blamed the one-day outage on a ''hardware issue,'' which caused difficulties in receiving online returns from individual filers and large tax preparers, including TurboTax maker Intuit and H&R Block
Taxpayers were given an extra penalty-free day to file returns.
''IRS teams worked hard throughout the night'' to get the system back online, Acting Commission David Kautter said in a statement Wednesday.
For many public-sector IT officials, adequate funding is ''clearly an issue,'' as budget pressures drive the need for operational cost savings, said Doug Robinson, executive director of the National Association of State CIOs.
''It's balancing legacy and innovation, however many of the legacy systems are mission critical and must be replaced,'' Mr. Robinson said.
Federal watchdog groups have been warning about aging IT systems at the IRS for many years.
Danny Verneuille, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's assistant inspector general for audit, told House lawmakers in October that the IRS's main computer system has been using ''outdated'' code for more than 50 years.
''The IRS's reliance on legacy systems, aged hardware and its use of outdated programming languages pose significant risks to the IRS's ability to deliver its mission,'' Mr. Verneuille told members of the House Ways and Means Committee.
''Modernizing the IRS's computer systems has been a persistent challenge for many years and will likely remain a challenge for the foreseeable future,'' he said.
As one example, he added, the agency has ''no current timetable for adoption and implementation of an enterprise-wide cloud strategy.''
Beyond tech debt, federal agency CIOs tend not to be around long enough to make sweeping changes to IT systems, Mr. Powner said, adding that on average CIOs government-wide serve for just two years.
By contrast, he said, It takes roughly a year for an incoming CIO to figure out a large IT system and much of the following year creating an IT modernization plan: ''By that point, they're already gone,'' Mr. Powner said.
House lawmakers are hoping to pass a series of bipartisan bills later this week, including one aimed at creating a strategic plan to update IRS technology, according to Rep. Kevin Brady (R., Texas), chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Stormy
Comey
More like watergate than we know
An interesting column on Mark Felt and what motivated him
to undermine the Acting Director of the FBI, L. Patrick Gray. It wasn't a
matter of principles, it was revenge for not being appointed Director of the
FBI after Hoover died. (The author, David Warsh, was an economics reporter for
The Boston Globe for 20 years)
Comey’s Choices, One More Time
http://www.economicprincipals.com/issues/2017.05.07/1993.html
" It turns out that the real Deep Throat was not
like the tormented, principled whistle-blower that Holbrook portrayal. Instead,
it was FBI deputy director Mark Felt, who provided guidance to reporter Bob
Woodward in exchange for a promise of lifelong confidentiality. J. Edgar Hoover had died in May 1972, and
Felt considered that he deserved to replace him. Instead, Nixon appointed an
outsider, L. Patrick Gray III. Felt was out to get Gray, and any other visible
rival for the job, including former FBI executive William Sullivan. "
And this one is worth reading too, how Andrew McCabe
acted a bit like L. Patrick Gray and tried his best to protect the Clinton
family because he thought she would be the next President:
http://www.economicprincipals.com/issues/2018.04.15/2108.html
" There is abundant evidence in news accounts that a
low-key but aggressive mutiny was underway in the summer and autumn of 2016
among FBI field agents. It aimed at
damaging Clinton’s candidacy and furthering that of Donald Trump. Comey and McCabe sought to control it,
together and in separate ways. Implicit
threats of further leaks probably played a role in forcing Comey to reveal the
existence of the trove of recently discovered Clinton emails.
McCabe told the Inspector General that he had disclosed
to his boss his decision to authorize the background session. Comey denied that
he had. Inspector General Horowitz sided
with Comey. His report took a narrow
view of McCabe’s motivation, ascribing it to self- interest. The decision to
respond to the leakers’ charges “served only to advance McCabe’s personal
interest, and not the public interest, as required by FBI policy.” "
Approval of a FISA application requires the court find probable cause that the target of the surveillance be a "foreign power" or an "agent of a foreign power"
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:51
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance ActAcronyms (colloquial) FISAEnacted bythe 95th United States CongressEffectiveOctober 25, 1978CitationsPublic law95-511 Statutes at Large 92 Stat. 1783CodificationTitles amended50 U.S.C.: War and National DefenseU.S.C. sections created50 U.S.C. ch. 36 § 1801 et seq. Legislative history Major amendmentsThe Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 ("FISA" Pub.L. 95''511, 92 Stat. 1783, 50 U.S.C. ch. 36) is a United States federal law which establishes procedures for the physical and electronic surveillance and collection of "foreign intelligence information" between "foreign powers" and "agents of foreign powers" suspected of espionage or terrorism.[1] The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies. It has been repeatedly amended since the September 11 attacks.
History [ edit ]
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) was introduced on May 18, 1977, by Senator Ted Kennedy and was signed into law by President Carter on 25 October 1978. The bill was cosponsored by nine Senators: Birch Bayh, James O. Eastland, Jake Garn, Walter Huddleston, Daniel Inouye, Charles Mathias, John L. McClellan, Gaylord Nelson, and Strom Thurmond.
The FISA resulted from extensive investigations by Senate Committees into the legality of domestic intelligence activities. These investigations were led separately by Sam Ervin and Frank Church in 1978 as a response to President Richard Nixon's usage of federal resources, including law enforcement agencies, to spy on political and activist groups.[2][3] The law itself was crafted in large part in closed door meetings between legislators and members of the Justice Department.[4] The act was created to provide judicial and congressional oversight of the government's covert surveillance activities of foreign entities and individuals in the United States, while maintaining the secrecy needed to protect national security.
Warrantless domestic wiretapping program [ edit ]
The Act came into public prominence in December 2005 following publication by The New York Times of an article[5] that described a program of warrantless domestic wiretapping ordered by the Bush administration and carried out by the National Security Agency since 2002; a subsequent Bloomberg article[6] suggested that this may have already begun by June 2000.
Provisions [ edit ]
The subchapters of FISA provide for:
Electronic surveillance (50 U.S.C. ch. 36, subch. I)
Physical searches (50 U.S.C. ch. 36, subch. II)
Pen registers and trap & trace devices for foreign intelligence purposes (50 U.S.C. ch. 36, subch. III)
Access to certain business records for foreign intelligence purposes (50 U.S.C. ch. 36, subch. IV)
Reporting requirement (50 U.S.C. ch. 36, subch. V)
Electronic surveillance [ edit ]
Generally, the statute permits electronic surveillance in two different scenarios.
Without a court order [ edit ]
The President may authorize, through the Attorney General, electronic surveillance without a court order for the period of one year, provided that it is only to acquire foreign intelligence information,[7] that it is solely directed at communications or property controlled exclusively by foreign powers,[8] that there is no substantial likelihood that it will acquire the contents of any communication to which a United States person is a party, and that it be conducted only in accordance with defined minimization procedures.[9]
The code defines "foreign intelligence information" to mean information necessary to protect the United States against actual or potential grave attack, sabotage or international terrorism.[7]
"Foreign powers" means a foreign government, any faction of a foreign nation not substantially composed of U.S. persons, and any entity directed or controlled by a foreign government.[10] The definition also includes groups engaged in international terrorism and foreign political organizations.[11] The sections of FISA authorizing electronic surveillance and physical searches without a court order specifically exclude their application to groups engaged in international terrorism.[12]
A "U.S. person" includes citizens, lawfully admitted permanent resident aliens, and corporations incorporated in the United States.
"Minimization procedures" limit the collection of information concerning United States persons by protecting their identities and requiring a court order to retain the communications for longer than 72 hours. The communications can be retained without court order if there is evidence of a crime. Identification of a US person, known as "unmasking", may also be authorized if an agency believes it is necessary in order to understand the intelligence or believes that the person was committing a crime.[13]
The Attorney General is required to make a certification of these conditions under seal to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court,[14] and report on their compliance to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence and the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.[15]
Since 50 U.S.C. § 1802(a)(1)(A) of this Act specifically limits warrantless surveillance to foreign powers as defined by 50 U.S.C. §1801(a) (1),(2), (3) and omits the definitions contained in 50 U.S.C. §1801(a) (4),(5),(6) the act does not authorize the use of warrantless surveillance on: groups engaged in international terrorism or activities in preparation thereof; foreign-based political organizations, not substantially composed of United States persons; or entities that are directed and controlled by a foreign government or governments.[16] Under FISA, anyone who engages in electronic surveillance except as authorized by statute is subject to both criminal penalties[17] and civil liabilities.[18]
Under 50 U.S.C. § 1811, the President may also authorize warrantless surveillance at the beginning of a war. Specifically, he may authorize such surveillance "for a period not to exceed fifteen calendar days following a declaration of war by the Congress".[19]
With a court order [ edit ]
Alternatively, the government may seek a court order permitting the surveillance using the FISA court.[20] Approval of a FISA application requires the court find probable cause that the target of the surveillance be a "foreign power" or an "agent of a foreign power", and that the places at which surveillance is requested is used or will be used by that foreign power or its agent.[2][21] In addition, the court must find that the proposed surveillance meet certain "minimization requirements" for information pertaining to U.S. persons.[22] Depending on the type of surveillance, approved orders or extensions of orders may be active for 90 days, 120 days, or a year.[23]
FISA court [ edit ]
The Act created the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC) and enabled it to oversee requests for surveillance warrants by federal law enforcement and intelligence agencies (primarily the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Security Agency) against suspected foreign intelligence agents inside the U.S. The court is located within the E. Barrett Prettyman United States Courthouse in Washington, D.C. The court is staffed by eleven judges appointed by the Chief Justice of the United States to serve seven-year terms.
Proceedings before the FISA court are ex parte and non-adversarial. The court hears evidence presented solely by the Department of Justice. There is no provision for a release of information regarding such hearings, or for the record of information actually collected.
Denials of FISA applications by the FISC may be appealed to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review. The Court of Review is a three judge panel. Since its creation, the court has come into session twice: in 2002 and 2008.
FISC meets in secret, and approves or denies requests for search warrants. Only the number of warrants applied for, issued and denied, is reported. In 1980 (the first full year after its inception), it approved 322 warrants.[24] This number has steadily grown to 2,224 warrants in 2006.[25] In the period 1979''2006, a total of 22,990 applications for warrants were made to the Court of which 22,985 were approved (sometimes with modifications; or with the splitting up, or combining together, of warrants for legal purposes), and only 5 were definitively rejected.[26]
Physical searches [ edit ]
In addition to electronic surveillance, FISA permits the "physical search" of the "premises, information, material, or property used exclusively by" a foreign power. The requirements and procedures are nearly identical to those for electronic surveillance.
Remedies for violations [ edit ]
Both the subchapters covering physical searches and electronic surveillance provide for criminal and civil liability for violations of FISA.
Criminal sanctions follows violations of electronic surveillance by intentionally engaging in electronic surveillance under the color of law or through disclosing information known to have been obtained through unauthorized surveillance. The penalties for either act are fines up to US$10,000, up to five years in jail, or both.[17]
In addition, the statute creates a cause of action for private individuals whose communications were unlawfully monitored. The statute permits actual damages of not less than $1,000 or $100 per day. In addition, that statute authorizes punitive damages and an award of attorney's fees.[18] Similar liability is found under the subchapter pertaining to physical searches. In both cases, the statute creates an affirmative defense for law enforcement personnel acting within their official duties and pursuant to a valid court order. Presumably, such a defense is not available to those operating exclusively under presidential authorization.
Lone wolf amendment [ edit ]
In 2004, FISA was amended to include a "lone wolf" provision. 50 U.S.C. § 1801(b)(1)(C). A "lone wolf" is a non-U.S. person who engages in or prepares for international terrorism. The provision amended the definition of "foreign power" to permit the FISA courts to issue surveillance and physical search orders without having to find a connection between the "lone wolf" and a foreign government or terrorist group. However, "if the court authorizes such a surveillance or physical search using this new definition of 'agent of a foreign power', the FISC judge has to find, in pertinent part, that, based upon the information provided by the applicant for the order, the target had engaged in or was engaging in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefor".[27]
Constitutionality [ edit ]
Before FISA [ edit ]
In 1967, the Supreme Court of the United States held that the requirements of the Fourth Amendment applied equally to electronic surveillance and to physical searches. Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967). The Court did not address whether such requirements apply to issues of national security. Shortly after, in 1972, the Court took up the issue again in United States v. United States District Court, Plamondon, where the court held that court approval was required in order for the domestic surveillance to satisfy the Fourth Amendment. 407 U.S. 297 (1972). Justice Powell wrote that the decision did not address this issue that "may be involved with respect to activities of foreign powers or their agents".
In the time immediately preceding FISA, a number of courts squarely addressed the issue of "warrantless wiretaps". In both United States v. Brown, 484 F.2d 418 (5th Cir. 1973), and United States v. Butenko, 494 F.2d 593 (3rd Cir. 1974), the courts upheld warrantless wiretaps. In Brown, a U.S. citizen's conversation was captured by a wiretap authorized by the Attorney General for foreign intelligence purposes. In Butenko, the court held a wiretap valid if the primary purpose was for gathering foreign intelligence information.
A plurality opinion in Zweibon v. Mitchell, 516 F.2d 594 (D.C. Cir. 1975), held that a warrant was required for the domestic surveillance of a domestic organization. In this case, the court found that the domestic organization was not a "foreign power or their agent", and "absent exigent circumstances, all warrantless electronic surveillance is unreasonable and therefore unconstitutional."
Post-FISA [ edit ]
There have been very few cases involving the constitutionality of FISA. Two lower court decisions found FISA constitutional. In United States v. Duggan, the defendants were members of the Irish Republican Army. 743 F.2d 59 (2nd Cir., 1984). They were convicted for various violations regarding the shipment of explosives and firearms. The court held that there were compelling considerations of national security in the distinction between the treatment of U.S. citizens and non-resident aliens.
In the United States v. Nicholson, the defendant moved to suppress all evidence gathered under a FISA order. 955 F.Supp. 588 (Va. 1997). The court affirmed the denial of the motion. There the court flatly rejected claims that FISA violated Due process clause of the Fifth Amendment, Equal protection, Separation of powers, nor the Right to counsel provided by the Sixth Amendment.
However, in a third case, the special review court for FISA, the equivalent of a Circuit Court of Appeals, opined differently should FISA limit the President's inherent authority for warrantless searches in the foreign intelligence area. In In re Sealed Case, 310 F.3d 717, 742 (Foreign Intel. Surv. Ct. of Rev. 2002) the special court stated "[A]ll the other courts to have decided the issue [have] held that the President did have inherent authority to conduct warrantless searches to obtain foreign intelligence information . ... We take for granted that the President does have that authority and, assuming that is so, FISA could not encroach on the President's constitutional power."
Criticism [ edit ]
K. A. Taipale of the World Policy Institute, James Jay Carafano of the Heritage Foundation,[28] and Philip Bobbitt of Columbia Law School,[29] among others,[30] have argued that FISA may need to be amended to include, among other things, procedures for programmatic approvals, as it may no longer be adequate to address certain foreign intelligence needs and technology developments, including: the transition from circuit-based communications to packet-based communications; the globalization of telecommunication infrastructure; and the development of automated monitoring techniques, including data mining and traffic analysis.[31]
John R. Schmidt, associate attorney general (1994''1997) in the Justice Department under President Bill Clinton, expressed a need for programmatic approval of technology-enabled surveillance programs.[32] He recalled early arguments made by then-Attorney General Edward Levi to the Church Committee that foreign intelligence surveillance legislation should include provisions for programmatically authorizing surveillance programs because of the particular needs of foreign intelligence where "virtually continuous surveillance, which by its nature does not have specifically predetermined targets" may be required. In these situations, "the efficiency of a warrant requirement would be minimal."
In a 2006 opinion, Judge Richard Posner wrote that FISA "retains value as a framework for monitoring the communications of known terrorists, but it is hopeless as a framework for detecting terrorists. [FISA] requires that surveillance be conducted pursuant to warrants based on probable cause to believe that the target of surveillance is a terrorist, when the desperate need is to find out who is a terrorist."[33]
Subsequent amendments [ edit ]
The Act was amended in 2001 by the USA PATRIOT Act, primarily to include terrorism on behalf of groups that are not specifically backed by a foreign government.
An overhaul of the bill, the Protect America Act of 2007 was signed into law on August 5, 2007.[34] It expired on February 17, 2008.
The FISA Amendments Act of 2008 passed by the United States Congress on July 9, 2008.[35]
In January 2018, the mass surveillance provisions were extended for 6 additional years.[36][37][38]
Amendments [ edit ]
Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 [ edit ]
On March 16, 2006, Senators Mike DeWine (R-OH), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), and Olympia Snowe (R-ME) introduced the Terrorist Surveillance Act of 2006 (S.2455),[39][40] under which the President would be given certain additional limited statutory authority to conduct electronic surveillance of suspected terrorists in the United States subject to enhanced Congressional oversight. Also on March 16, 2006, Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) introduced the National Security Surveillance Act of 2006 (S. 2453),[41][42] which would amend FISA to grant retroactive amnesty[43] for warrantless surveillance conducted under presidential authority and provide FISA court (FISC) jurisdiction to review, authorize, and oversight "electronic surveillance programs". On May 24, 2006, Senator Specter and Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) introduced the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Improvement and Enhancement Act of 2006 (S. 3001) asserting FISA as the exclusive means to conduct foreign intelligence surveillance.
All three competing bills were the subject of Judiciary Committee hearings throughout the summer.[44] On September 13, 2006, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted to approve all three mutually exclusive bills, thus, leaving it to the full Senate to resolve.[45]
On July 18, 2006, U.S. Representative Heather Wilson (R-NM) introduced the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act (H.R. 5825). Wilson's bill would give the President the authority to authorize electronic surveillance of international phone calls and e-mail linked specifically to identified terrorist groups immediately following or in anticipation of an armed or terrorist attack on the United States. Surveillance beyond the initial authorized period would require a FISA warrant or a presidential certification to Congress. On September 28, 2006, the House of Representatives passed Wilson's bill and it was referred to the Senate.[46]
Protect America Act of 2007 [ edit ]
On July 28, 2007, President Bush called on Congress to pass legislation to reform the FISA in order to ease restrictions on surveillance of terrorist suspects where one party (or both parties) to the communication are located overseas. He asked that Congress pass the legislation before its August 2007 recess. On August 3, 2007, the Senate passed a Republican-sponsored version of FISA (S. 1927) in a vote of 60 to 28. The House followed by passing the bill, 227''183. The Protect America Act of 2007 (Pub.L. 110''55, S. 1927) was then signed into law by George W. Bush on 2007-08-05.[47]
Under the Protect America Act of 2007, communications that begin or end in a foreign country may be wiretapped by the U.S. government without supervision by the FISA Court. The Act removes from the definition of "electronic surveillance" in FISA any surveillance directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside the United States. As such, surveillance of these communications no longer requires a government application to, and order issuing from, the FISA Court.
The Act provides procedures for the government to "certify" the legality of an acquisition program, for the government to issue directives to providers to provide data or assistance under a particular program, and for the government and recipient of a directive to seek from the FISA Court, respectively, an order to compel provider compliance or relief from an unlawful directive. Providers receive costs and full immunity from civil suits for compliance with any directives issued pursuant to the Act.
A summary of key provisions follows. The Act empowers the Attorney General or Director of National Intelligence ("DNI") to authorize, for up to one year, the acquisition of communications concerning "persons reasonably believed to be outside the United States" if the Attorney General and DNI determine that each of five criteria has been met:
There are reasonable procedures in place for determining that the acquisition concerns persons reasonably believed to be located outside the United States;
The acquisition does not constitute electronic surveillance (meaning it does not involve solely domestic communications);
The acquisition involves obtaining the communications data from or with the assistance of a communications service provider who has access to communications;
A significant purpose of the acquisition is to obtain foreign intelligence information; and
Minimization procedures outlined in the FISA will be used.
This determination by the Attorney General and DNI must be certified in writing, under oath, and supported by appropriate affidavit(s). If immediate action by the government is required and time does not permit the preparation of a certification, the Attorney General or DNI can direct the acquisition orally, with a certification to follow within 72 hours. The certification is then filed with the FISA Court.
Once the certification is filed with the FISA Court, the Attorney General or DNI can direct a provider to undertake or assist in the undertaking of the acquisition.
If a provider fails to comply with a directive issued by the Attorney General or DNI, the Attorney General may seek an order from the FISA Court compelling compliance with the directive. Failure to obey an order of the FISA Court may be punished as a contempt of court.
Likewise, a person receiving a directive may challenge the legality of that directive by filing a petition with the FISA Court. An initial review must be conducted within 48 hours of the filing to determine whether the petition is frivolous, and a final determination concerning any non-frivolous petitions must be made '' in writing '' within 72 hours of receipt of the petition.
Determinations of the FISA Court may be appealed to the Foreign Intelligence Court of Appeals, and a petition for a writ of certiorari of a decision from the FICA can be made to the U.S. Supreme Court.
All petitions must be filed under seal.
The Act allows providers to be compensated, at the prevailing rate, for providing assistance as directed by the Attorney General or DNI.
The Act provides explicit immunity from civil suit in any federal or state court for providing any information, facilities, or assistance in accordance with a directive under the Act.
Within 120 days, the Attorney General must submit to the FISA Court for its approval the procedures by which the government will determine that acquisitions authorized by the Act conform with the Act and do not involve purely domestic communications. The FISA Court then will determine whether the procedures comply with the Act. The FISA Court thereafter will enter an order either approving the procedures or directing the government to submit new procedures within 30 days or cease any acquisitions under the government procedures. The government may appeal a ruling of the FISA Court to the FICA and ultimately the Supreme Court.
On a semiannual basis, the Attorney General shall inform the Intelligence and Judiciary Committees of the House and Senate of incidents of noncompliance with a directive issued by the Attorney General or the DNI, incidents of noncompliance with FISA Court-approved procedures by the Intelligence Community, and the number of certifications and directives issued during the reporting period.
The amendments to FISA made by the Act expire 180 days after enactment, except that any order in effect on the date of enactment remains in effect until the date of expiration of such order and such orders can be reauthorized by the FISA Court.[48] The Act expired on February 17, 2008.
Subsequent developments [ edit ]
Legal experts experienced in national security issues are divided on how broadly the new law could be interpreted or applied. Some believe that due to subtle changes in the definitions of terms such as "electronic surveillance", it could empower the government to conduct warrantless physical searches and even seizures of communications and computer devices and their data which belong to U.S. citizens while they are in the United States, if the government contended that those searches and potential seizures were related to its surveillance of parties outside the United States. Intelligence officials, while declining to comment directly on such possibilities, respond that such interpretations are overly broad readings of the act, and unlikely to actually occur.
In a September 10, 2007 address at a symposium on modernizing FISA held at Georgetown University Law Center's National Security Center, Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security, argued against the current six-month sunset provision in the Protect America Act of 2007, saying that the broadened surveillance powers the act provides for should be made permanent. Wainstein proposed that internal audits by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and the National Security Division of the Justice Department, with reporting to select groups of Congressmen, would ensure that the expanded capability would not be abused.[49]
Also on September 10, DNI Mike McConnell testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs that the Protect America Act had helped foil a major terror plot in Germany. U.S. intelligence-community officials questioned the accuracy of McConnell's testimony and urged his office to correct it, which he did in a statement issued September 12, 2007. Critics cited the incident as an example of the Bush administration's exaggerated claims and contradictory statements about surveillance activities. Counterterrorism officials familiar with the background of McConnell's testimony said they did not believe he made inaccurate statements intentionally as part of any strategy by the administration to persuade Congress to make the new eavesdropping law permanent. Those officials said they believed McConnell gave the wrong answer because he was overwhelmed with information and merely mixed up his facts.[50]
Speaking at National Security Agency headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland on September 19, 2007, President George W. Bush urged Congress to make the provisions of the Protect America Act permanent. Bush also called for retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies who had cooperated with government surveillance efforts, saying, "It's particularly important for Congress to provide meaningful liability protection to those companies now facing multibillion-dollar lawsuits only because they are believed to have assisted in efforts to defend our nation, following the 9/11 attacks".[51]
On October 4, 2007, the bipartisan Liberty and Security Committee of the Constitution Project, co-chaired by David Keene and David D. Cole, issued its "Statement on the Protect America Act".[52] The Statement urged Congress not to reauthorize the PAA, saying the language of the bill "runs contrary to the tripartite balance of power the Framers envisioned for our constitutional democracy, and poses a serious threat to the very notion of government of the people, by the people and for the people". Some in the legal community have questioned the constitutionality of any legislation that would retroactively immunize telecommunications firms alleged to have cooperated with the government from civil liability for having potentially violated their customers' privacy rights.[53]
In an article appearing in the January/February 2008 issue of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers journal of Security and Privacy, noted technology experts from academia and the computing industry found significant flaws in the technical implementation of the Protect America Act which they said created serious security risks, including the danger that such a surveillance system could be exploited by unauthorized users, criminally misused by trusted insiders, or abused by the government.[54]
On October 7, 2007, The Washington Post reported that House Democrats planned to introduce alternative legislation which would provide for one-year "umbrella" warrants, and would require the Justice Department inspector general to audit the use of those warrants and issue quarterly reports to a special FISA court and to Congress. The proposed bill would not include immunity for telecommunications firms facing lawsuits in connection with the administration's NSA warrantless surveillance program. House Democrats said that as long as the administration withholds requested documents explaining the basis for the program that they cannot consider immunity for firms alleged to have facilitated it.[55] On October 10, 2007 comments on the White House South Lawn, President Bush said he would not sign any bill that did not provide retroactive immunity for telecommunications corporations.[56]
On October 18, 2007, the House Democratic leadership put off a vote on the proposed legislation by the full chamber to avoid consideration of a Republican measure that made specific references to Osama bin Laden. At the same time, the Senate Intelligence Committee reportedly reached a compromise with the White House on a different proposal that would give telephone carriers legal immunity for any role they played in the National Security Agency's domestic eavesdropping program approved by President Bush after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.[57]
On November 15, 2007, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 10''9 along party lines to send an alternative measure to the full Senate other than the one the intelligence committee had crafted with the White House. The proposal would leave to the full Senate whether or not to provide retroactive immunity to telecommunications firms that cooperated with the NSA. Judiciary Committee chairman Patrick Leahy said that granting such immunity would give the Bush administration a "blank check" to do what it wants without regard to the law. Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, the top Republican on the committee, said that court cases may be the only way Congress can learn exactly how far outside the law the administration has gone in eavesdropping in the United States. When the full Senate takes up the bill, Specter is expected to offer a compromise that would shield the companies from financial ruin but allow lawsuits to go forward by having the federal government stand in for the companies at trial.[58][needs update ]
On the same day, the House of Representatives voted 227''189 to approve a Democratic bill that would expand court oversight of government surveillance inside the United States while denying immunity to telecom companies. House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers left the door open to an immunity deal in the future, but said that the White House must first give Congress access to classified documents specifying what the companies did that requires legal immunity.[59]
In February 2008, the Senate passed the version of the new FISA that would allow telecom companies immunity. On March 13, 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives held a secret session to discuss related information. On March 14, the House voted 213''197 to approve a bill that would not grant telecom immunity '' far short of the 2/3 majority required to override a Presidential veto.[60] The Senate and House bills are compared and contrasted in a June 12, 2008 report from the Congressional Research Service.[61]
On March 13, 2008, the House of Representatives held a secret, closed door meeting to debate changes to the FISA bill.[62]
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2008 [ edit ]
The 2008 amendment of FISA gave telecoms immunity, increased the time allotted for warrantless surveillance, and adds provisions for emergency eavesdropping. On June 20, 2008, the House of Representatives passed the amendment with a vote of 293 to 129.[63][64] It passed in the Senate 69 to 28 on July 9, 2008[65] after a failed attempt to strike Title II from the bill by Senator Dodd.[66] On July 10, 2008, President Bush signed it into law.
2015 USA Freedom Act [ edit ]
On June 2, 2015, many provisions of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act were changed with the passage of the USA Freedom Act.[67] The 2015 law overhauled the powerful United States National Security Agency and required the US government to undergo standard court procedures in order to gather data regarding suspicious activities.[67] However, the law did not completely repeal the controversial Patriot Act and allowed some provisions to expire in later time.[67]
See also [ edit ]
Church Committee
NSA warrantless surveillance controversy
Operation Minaret
Project Shamrock
Watergate
United States v. United States District Court, Plamondon
United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance CourtUnited States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review
References [ edit ]
^ 50 USC §1801(b) "'Agent of a foreign power' means'--
(1) any person other than a United States person, who'-- (A) acts in the United States as an officer or employee of a foreign power, or as a member of a foreign power as defined in subsection (a)(4), irrespective of whether the person is inside the United States; (B) acts for or on behalf of a foreign power which engages in clandestine intelligence activities in the United States contrary to the interests of the United States, when the circumstances indicate that such person may engage in such activities, or when such person knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of such activities or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in such activities; (C) engages in international terrorism or activities in preparation therefore; (D) engages in the international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or activities in preparation therefor; or (E) engages in the international proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, or activities in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power, or knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of such proliferation or activities in preparation therefor, or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in such proliferation or activities in preparation therefor; or (2) any person who'-- (A) knowingly engages in clandestine intelligence gathering activities for or on behalf of a foreign power, which activities involve or may involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States; (B) pursuant to the direction of an intelligence service or network of a foreign power, knowingly engages in any other clandestine intelligence activities for or on behalf of such foreign power, which activities involve or are about to involve a violation of the criminal statutes of the United States; (C) knowingly engages in sabotage or international terrorism, or activities that are in preparation therefor, for or on behalf of a foreign power; (D) knowingly enters the United States under a false or fraudulent identity for or on behalf of a foreign power or, while in the United States, knowingly assumes a false or fraudulent identity for or on behalf of a foreign power; or (E) knowingly aids or abets any person in the conduct of activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C) or knowingly conspires with any person to engage in activities described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).
^ "FISA Debate Involves More Than Terrorism '' Daily Nexus". Archived from the original on January 23, 2009 . Retrieved 2009-01-23 .
^ Bruce A. Arrigo (17 July 2014). Encyclopedia of Criminal Justice Ethics. SAGE Publications. pp. 1282''. ISBN 978-1-4833-8979-0.
^ Ted Gottfried (2003). Homeland Security Versus Constitutional Rights. Twenty-First Century Books. pp. 22''. ISBN 978-0-7613-2862-9.
^ "Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts" (Dec. 16, 2005) Archived February 6, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
^ Spy Agency Sought U.S. Call Records Before 9/11, Lawyers Say Archived July 19, 2006, at the Wayback Machine.
^ a b 50 U.S.C. § 1801(e) Definition of Foreign intelligence information
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1801(a) Definition of Foreign power
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1802(a)(1), Conditions under which the President, through the Attorney General, may authorize electronic surveillance without a court order
^ §§1801(a)(1)''(3)
^ §§1801(a)(4) and (5)
^ See §1802(a)(1) (referring specifically to §1801(a)(1), (2), and (3)).
^ Watkins, Eli. " ' Unmasking,' FISA and other terms to help you understand the wiretapping story". CNN.com (March 23, 2017). Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. Cable News Network . Retrieved April 4, 2017 .
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1802(a)(3), Requirement of the Attorney General's to file reports under seal on warrantless surveillance to the FISC
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1802(a)(2), Requirement of the Attorney General's to report on compliance with warrantless surveillance requirements to Congress
^ 50 U.S.C. §1802 (a)(1)(A) The limitation of warrantless surveillance to foreign powers as defined in 50 U.S.C § 1801 (a) (1),(2), and (3)
^ a b 50 U.S.C. §1809 '' Criminal sanctions
^ a b 50 U.S.C. §1810 '' Civil liability
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1811 '' Authorization during time of war
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1805(a) Electronic surveillance with a court order
^ Rosenbach, Eric, and Aki J. Peritz. Confrontation or Collaboration? Congress and the Intelligence Community. Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs. June 12, 2009. Harvard Kennedy School. July 21, 2009 [1].
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1801(h) Minimization procedures definition
^ 50 U.S.C. § 1805(d) Duration of order; extensions; review of circumstances under which information was acquired, retained or disseminated
^ Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act 1980 Annual Report
^ https://fas.org/irp/agency/doj/fisa/2006rept.pdf
^ EPIC: FISA Orders 1979''2006
^ "Lone Wolf" Amendment to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, via fas.org
^ Commentary, Wash. Times, January 24, 2006
^ Why We Listen, The New York Times, January 30, 2006
^ The Eavesdropping Debate We Should be Having
^ Whispering Wires and Warrantless Wiretaps, N.Y.U. Rev. L. & Sec., No. VII Supl. (Spring 2006)
^ "A historical solution to the Bush spying issue," Chicago Tribune (February 12, 2006) [dead link ]
^ Richard A. Posner (15 February 2006). "A New Surveillance Act". wsj.com. Archived from the original on 2007-04-22 . Retrieved 10 July 2013 .
^ Weiner, Eric (October 18, 2007). "The Foreign Service Intelligence Act: A Primer". National Public Radio.
^ "U.S. Senate Roll Call Vote Summary, Vote 00168, 100th Congress, 2nd Session". July 9, 2008.
^ Cohn, Cindy (2018-01-18). "An Open Letter to Our Community On Congress's Vote to Extend NSA Spying From EFF Executive Director Cindy Cohn". Electronic Frontier Foundation . Retrieved 2018-01-31 .
^ "Statement by the President on FISA Amendments Reauthorization Act of 2017". The White House . Retrieved 2018-01-31 .
^ Parker, Ashley; Rucker, Philip; Dawsey, Josh (2018-01-11). "Trump's 'ping-pong' on surveillance law sets off a 101-minute scramble". Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286 . Retrieved 2018-02-02 '' via www.washingtonpost.com.
^ Press Release of Senator DeWine
^ Dewine Bill as introduced
^ Specter Floor Statement
^ Specter Bill as introduced
^ Specter Offers Compromise on NSA Surveillance, The Washington Post, June 9, 2006
^ FIS linking to 2006 FISA Congressional Hearings material
^ Conflicting Bills on Warrantless Surveillance Advance in Senate, Secrecy News, September 14, 2006
^ "House Passes Wilson FISA Bill" . Retrieved June 1, 2016 . [dead link ] , Press Release, September 29, 2006.
^ Bazan, Elizabeth (February 14, 2008). "P.L. 110-55, the Protect America Act of 2007:Modifications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act" (PDF) . Congressional Research Service . Retrieved April 29, 2008 .
^ Sussmann, Michael (August 6, 2007). "FISA Amended to Allow Acquisition of Cross-Border Communications Without a Court Order". DigestibleLaw.com. Archived from the original on September 29, 2007 . Retrieved August 11, 2007 .
^ Ryan Singel (September 11, 2007). "Government Promises to Self-Audit Spying to Make Powers Permanent". Wired . Retrieved September 11, 2007 .
^ Michael Isikoff; Mark Hosenball (September 12, 2007). "Spy Master Admits Error". Newsweek. Archived from the original on November 5, 2007 . Retrieved September 13, 2007 .
^ Anne Broache (September 12, 2007). "President Bush rallies for immortal spy law changes, telco protection". CNET News.com . Retrieved September 20, 2007 .
^ May 21, 2007
^ Anthony J. Seebok (January 29, 2008). "Is It Constitutional for the Senate to Retroactively Immunize From Civil Liability the Telecoms That Provided the Government with Information About Customers' Communications?". FindLaw Writ Legal News and Commentary. Archived from the original on March 2, 2008 . Retrieved February 7, 2008 .
^ Steven M. Bellovin; Matt Blaze; Whitfield Diffie; Susan Landau; Peter G. Neumann; Jennifer Rexford (February 5, 2008). "Risking Communications Security: Potential Hazards of the Protect America Act" (PDF) . Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Security and Privacy. doi:10.1109/MSP.2008.17 . Retrieved February 5, 2008 .
^ Ellen Nakashima (October 7, 2007). "Democrats to Offer New Surveillance Rules". The Washington Post . Retrieved October 7, 2007 .
^ David Stout (October 10, 2007). "Bush Presses Congress on New Eavesdropping Law". The New York Times . Retrieved October 10, 2007 .
^ Eric Lichtblau (October 18, 2007). "Senate Deal on Immunity for Phone Companies". The New York Times . Retrieved October 18, 2007 .
^ Pamela Hess (November 15, 2007). "Congress Takes Up Terrorist Surveillance". Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 16, 2007 . Retrieved November 15, 2007 .
^ Pamela Hess (November 15, 2007). "House OKs Surveillance Oversight Bill". Associated Press. Archived from the original on November 18, 2007 . Retrieved November 15, 2007 .
^ Jonathan Weisman (March 15, 2008). "House Passes a Surveillance Bill Not to Bush's Liking". The Washington Post . Retrieved March 28, 2008 .
^ Bazan, Elizabeth (February 8, 2008). "The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: Comparison of House-Passed H.R. 3773, S. 2248 as Reported by the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, and S. 2248 as Reported Out of the Senate Judiciary Committee" (PDF) . Congressional Research Service . Retrieved April 29, 2008 .
^ Rep. Dennis Kucinich of Ohio debates secret house meeting Somethings fishy! on YouTube. (2008-11-11). Retrieved on 2013-08-15.
^ Kane, Paul (2008-06-21). "House Passes Spy Bill; Senate Expected to Follow". The Washington Post.
^ "Final Vote Results For Roll Call 437, June 20, 2008".
^ "Vote Summary On A bill to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish a procedure for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, and for other purposes". senate.gov. 2008-07-09.
^ "Vote Summary On Dodd Amendment (No. 5064) to Strike Title II". senate.gov. 2008-07-09.
^ a b c https://www.congress.gov/bill/114th-congress/house-bill/2048/text
Further reading [ edit ]
Greenwald, Glenn. "Fisa court oversight: a look inside a secret and empty process." The Guardian. Tuesday June 18, 2013.
Roberts, Dan. "US must fix secret Fisa courts, says top judge who granted surveillance orders." The Guardian. Tuesday July 9, 2013.
External links [ edit ]
"The Electronic Frontier Foundation's Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act FAQ". Archived from the original on March 3, 2006 . Retrieved 2005-12-21 .
EPIC FISA page
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act resources from the Federation of American Scientists
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: A Brief Overview of Selected Issues, Congressional Research Service, February 8, 2008
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act: An Overview of the Statutory Framework and Recent Judicial Decisions, Congressional Research Service, September 22, 2004
NOW on PBS Uncovers Surveillance Details Through AT&T Whistleblower
2004 FISA Annual Report to Congress, via FAS
FBI memo, "What do I have to do to get a FISA?
"So Judge, How Do I Get That FISA Warrant?" The Policy and Procedure for Conducting Electronic Surveillance. The Army Lawyer, October 1997
Executive Order 12139 '' Jimmy Carter's Executive order to provide as set forth in FISA for the authorization of electronic surveillance for foreign intelligence purposes
Executive Order 12949 '' Bill Clinton's Executive order to provide for the authorization of physical searches for foreign intelligence purposes
David Alan Jordan, Decrypting the Fourth Amendment: Warrantless NSA Surveillance and the Enhanced Expectation of Privacy Provided by Encrypted Voice over Internet Protocol '' Boston College Law Review, Vol. 47, 2006
K. A. Taipale, The Ear of Dionysus: Rethinking Foreign Intelligence Surveillance, 9 Yale J. L. & Tech. 128 (Spring 2007).
Plural Politics Protect American Act Plainspeak Legal Primer
Guide to lawful intercept legislation around the world at the Wayback Machine (archived October 30, 2007)
Prepared Remarks of Kenneth L. Wainstein, Assistant Attorney General for National Security at the Georgetown University Law Center's National Security Center Symposium on Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Modernization, September 10, 2007
Department of Justice on FISA and the Protect America Act
OpenCongress on S.2248 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 Amendments Act of 2007 at the Wayback Machine (archived February 27, 2008)
Secret House meeting on FISA
"The Need to Roll Back Presidential Power Grabs", by Arlen Specter, The New York Review of Books, Volume 56, Number 8. May 14, 2009
This audio file was created from a revision of the article "
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act
" dated 2017-11-27, and does not reflect subsequent edits to the article. (
Audio help)
James Comey Says FBI 'Would Be Worse Today' If Not For His Actions : NPR
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 07:45
Former FBI Director James Comey's new book is called A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership. Elias Williams for NPR hide caption
toggle caption Elias Williams for NPR Former FBI Director James Comey's new book is called A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, And Leadership.
Elias Williams for NPR In an interview with NPR's Morning Edition, fired FBI Director James Comey defended his controversial decisions during the 2016 campaign and asserted that the reputation of his agency '-- which operates under near daily siege from the president and his allies '-- "would be worse today had we not picked the least bad alternatives."
"I saw this as a 500-year flood, and so where is the manual? What do I do?" he said.
Comey responded to a new round of personal attacks from the White House by underscoring how President Trump has made once out-of-bounds behavior seem unremarkable. Trump suggested over the weekend on Twitter that the former FBI director should face jail time.
"The president of the United States just said that a private citizen should be jailed," Comey said. "And I think the reaction of most of us was, 'Meh, it's another one of those things.' This is not normal. This is not OK. There is a danger that we will become numb to it and we will stop noticing the threats to our norms, the threats to the rule of law and the threats, most of all, to the truth."
In his new book, A Higher Loyalty, Comey describes Trump as unfit for the nation's highest office, but stops short of concluding there's a strong case against the president for obstructing justice. There's some evidence of it, though, he said, citing his surprise dismissal in May 2017 after the president asked him to go easy on an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Current and former law enforcement experts have suggested writing a book and doing a blitz of media appearances could complicate any possible prosecution or impeachment proceeding in the future. But Comey deflected that idea in the NPR interview.
He said, "Normally, you don't want your witnesses out talking if they're going to have to testify later. ... The advantage in my circumstance is that my testimony is locked down. I testified in front of Congress extensively; I wrote memos, I wrote written testimony. And so long as I continue to tell the truth, and don't start making stuff up that's inconsistent with that testimony, I don't see an issue. Again, I don't know whether there's going to be a future proceeding where I'll be needed, but if there is, I think the prosecutors'll be OK with me."
Comey's book delivers tough words for the current Justice Department leaders, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Sessions is described as "overwhelmed and overmatched by the job." And Comey has said that Rosenstein acted "dishonorably" by allegedly helping advance a pretext for Comey's dismissal last year. Recently, the White House declined to say whether either man had job security.
Comey said, "With respect to the deputy attorney general, I think it is very important that he stay because I do think he has conducted himself honorably with respect to his appointment of a special counsel and his assertion of that special counsel's work to the rule of law. And so I really do think it would be an attack on the rule of law for him to be fired or for the special counsel to be fired."
Comey addressed another recent personnel move '-- the dismissal of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe only hours before his full law enforcement pension vested. McCabe was let go after an inspector general found he had demonstrated a "lack of candor" to investigators probing FBI contacts with The Wall Street Journal during an investigation into the Clinton Foundation in 2016. Comey expressed confidence in the inspector general, but said the president had "stained" the process.
"The problem with this whole situation is the president stained those institutions '-- the entire Department of Justice and the inspector general '-- by doing something wildly inappropriate, which is calling for Andy McCabe's head. ... That called into question the entire process, so even if the process was sound, and I've no doubt it was sound ... there's corrosive doubt about whether it's a political fix to get Andy McCabe somehow. And that's a wound that was inflicted by the president's actions on the Department of Justice."
Comey also responded to critics who questioned why he included negative personal descriptions about the size of the president's hands, his elaborate hairstyle and the length of his tie.
"I'm not making fun of the president," Comey said, "I'm trying to be an author, which I've never been before in my life. While I'm typing, I can hear my editor's voice ringing in my head: 'Bring the reader with you, show them inside your head.' ... And by the way, not that this matters, but I found his hands to be above average in size. I'm not making fun of the man, I'm trying to tell the reader what's in my head."
While his decisions about the Hillary Clinton email investigation and the probe of Russian interference in the election may have marked an end to his long run in law enforcement, Comey maintained he would not do things much differently if he had a chance. Asked about mistakes, he cited careless language in a speech that infuriated the Polish government and the "thoughtless way" he entered the debate about encryption and the technology industry.
As for his future, Comey ruled out a run for political office '-- an idea his friends have floated, and which he may have teased by posting a photo on social media last year, standing on a road in Iowa.
"Never, I will never run for office, not even a close call," Comey said.
Instead, he'll be teaching at his alma mater, the College of William and Mary, about leadership and ethics.
BREAKING: Lawmakers Make Criminal Referral on Clinton, Comey, Lynch to DOJ on Steele Dossier | Sara A. Carter
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:00
Highlights
Criminal referrals were made to the Department of Justice for Former FBI Director James Comey, Former AG Loretta Lynch, and Former Secretary of State Hillary ClintonDisgraced FBI Agents Lisa Page and Peter Strzok are also named in the Criminal ReferralFBI Director Christopher Wray and Utah US Attorney John Huber were also notified of these criminal actions C ongressional lawmakers made a criminal referral Wednesday to the Department of Justice Attorney General Jeff Sessions against former senior-level Obama administration officials, including employees of the FBI connected with the unverified dossier alleging collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, as well as those involved in the warrants used to spy on a former Trump campaign volunteer, this reporter has learned. The lawmakers also made a criminal referral on former Attorney General Loretta Lynch and threats made by her DOJ against the FBI informant, who provided the bureau with information on the Russian nuclear industry and the approval in 2010 to sell roughly 20 percent of American uranium mining assets to Russia.
''The lawmakers noted that Comey ''engaged in questionable conduct vis- -vis President Donald Trump'...'' House Oversight and Government Reform Committee member Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Florida, along with ten other colleagues sent the letter Wednesday to Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray criminally referring former FBI Director James Comey, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe for their involvement in the investigations into President Trump and alleged violations of federal law. FBI Special Agent Peter Strzok and his paramour FBI lawyer Lisa Page, whose anti-Trump text messages obtained by the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, were also included in the referral.
''We write to refer the following individuals for investigation of potential violation(s) of federal statutes,'' states the letter obtained by this reporter. ''In doing so, we are especially mindful of the dissimilar degrees of zealousness that has marked the investigations into Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the presidential campaign of Donald Trump, respectively. Because we believe that those in positions of high authority should be treated the same as every other American, we want to be sure that the potential violations of law outlined below are vetted appropriately.''
The criminal referral also raises significant concerns regarding the Steele dossier, and the ''presentation of false and/or unverified information to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court in connection with the former Trump aide Carter Page warrant application to conduct surveillance through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).'' Page worked as a volunteer advisor for the Trump campaign and the information in the dossier was used in bulk by the FBI to obtain the warrants to spy on him.
''Accordingly, we refer to DOJ all DOJ and FBI personnel responsible for signing the Carter Page warrant application that contained unverified and/or false information for possible violation(s) of 18 USC 242 and 18 USC 1505 and 1515b,'' the criminal referral states. It refers to a letter drafted by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes to Sessions this March.
The lawmakers noted that Comey ''engaged in questionable conduct vis- -vis President Donald Trump,'' and referred to an article reported by The New York Times, in May 2017, which highlighted memos leaked by Comey to a friend that was given to the paper. In the criminal referral letter, the lawmakers state that ''Comey wrote memoranda detailing alleged conversations between himself and President Trump, creating 'a paper trail' for 'documenting what he perceived as the president's improper efforts to influence a continuing investigation.'
The New York Times article reports that Comey ''created similar memos '' including some that are classified '' about every phone call and meeting he had with the president,'' the letter states.
The criminal referral also notes a Jan. 3, 2018, letter to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein from Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee Charles Grassley, where committee staff reviewed the memoranda created by Comey in a Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility due to the classified nature of the majority of the memos; of the seven memos, four were marked classified at the ''SECRET'' or ''CONFIDENTIAL'' levels.
Comey, whose book A Higher Loyalty, released this week, argued that his memos were personal reflections about his meetings and conversations with Trump, but admitted that some contained classified material. According to FBI policy, however, the bureau forbids any agent from releasing classified information regarding ongoing investigations or sensitive operations without prior written permission. The bureau also mandates that all records created during official duties are considered to be government property.
''In light of the fact that four of the seven memos were classified, it would appear that former Director Comey leaked classified information when sharing these memos with Professor Richman. Accordingly, we refer James Comey to DOJ for potential violation(s) of 18 USC 641, 18 USC 793, and 18 USC 1924(a),'' the letter states.
The congressional members also are referring former presidential candidate Clinton for her role in the dossier, assembled by former British spy Christopher Steele, who was hired by a cutout, now embattled research firm Fusion GPS. After months of investigations by Congress, it was eventually discovered that the dossier was paid for by the Hillary Clinton Campaign and the Democratic National Committee. However, the campaign did not reveal that they had allocated money to pay for the research on their disclosure forms, according to congressional members and news reports.
''A lawyer representing the Clinton campaign and the Democratic National Committee paid Washington firm Fusion GPS to conduct research that led to the Steele dossier, according to an October 24, 2017, report in The Washington Post,'' the letter states. '' Accordingly, for disguising payments to Fusion GPS on mandatory disclosures to the Federal Election Commission, we refer Hillary Clinton to DOJ for potential violation(s) of 52 USC 30121 and 52 USC 30101.''
Lynch was referred after concerns were made regarding her decision to threaten with reprisal the former FBI informant, William Douglas Campbell, who first came forward in 2016 with insight into the sale of the Canadian firm Uranium One, which controlled nearly 20 percent of uranium mining interests in the United States, as previously reported.
Campbell had filed a lawsuit in Maryland federal court in 2016 against the Russian companies he was employed with and which he had kept tabs on for the FBI. He was asking for the return of the money he had to launder out of his own paychecks and had sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the DOJ for information on his case. After the DOJ received the FOIA request and the lawsuit was filed, his lawyers were advised by personnel from the Justice Department that prosecutors in the Fraud Section of the Justice Department under Lynch, demanded the withdrawal the lawsuit. According to a letter written by Campbell's previous attorney, the DOJ threatened to destroy Campbell's reputation and prosecute him for violating a non-disclosure agreement he had signed with the FBI.
The criminal referral on Lynch is regarding ''potential violation(s) of 18 USC 1505 and 1515b,'' according to the letter.
Strzok/PageAs for Strzok and Page, the two FBI employees at the center of the Congressional investigations, the lawmakers seek the criminal referral based on the pairs ''interference in the Hillary Clinton investigation regarding her use of a personal email server,'' as reported.
The lawmakers point to a Jan. 22, The Wall Street Journal article regarding the Justice Department's second release of text exchanges between Strzok and Page, and revealed that the texts ''show the FBI also eliminated evidence that Mrs. Clinton compromised high-level communications.''
''The report provides the following alarming specifics, among others: 'Mr. Strzok texts Ms. Page to tell her that, in fact, senior officials had decided to water down the reference to President Obama to 'another senior government official,'' the criminal referral states referring to the article.
Other recent documents obtained by congressional investigators also suggest possible coordination by Obama White House officials, the CIA and the FBI into the investigation into President Donald Trump's campaign. According to those documents, the senior Obama officials used unsubstantiated evidence to launch allegations in the media that the Trump campaign was colluding with Russia during the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.
The documents also reveal that former Senate majority leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, sent a letter on Aug. 29, 2016, asking former FBI Director James Comey to investigate the allegations, which were presented to him by then CIA Director John Brennan. Brennan had briefed Reid privately days earlier on the counterintelligence investigation and documents suggest Reid was also staying in close touch with Comey over the issues, as reported.
UPDATED: Read DeSantis letter in its entirety
Pittsburgh Police Reportedly Preparing For Riots If Mueller Is Fired '' Talking Points Memo
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:53
Police in Pittsburgh are preparing for large-scale riots in the event of President Donald Trump's firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, according to local reports Wednesday.
In a memo, the police department said there ''is a belief that President Trump will soon move to fire Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller.'' While Trump has publicly complained about Mueller and his investigation, there is no indication that Mueller's ouster is imminent.
In a statement obtained by TPM, Pittsburgh Public Safety Director Wendell Hissrich stated that potential riot preparation is routine department procedure, adding that they do not have any special insight into Mueller's future.
''The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police receives information daily that we evaluate and prepare for if the event should occur,'' he said. ''Often the events we prepare for do not occur.
''However, through an abundance of caution, we attempt to adequately prepare for an appropriate response,'' he continued. ''In this case, we have not assessed the credibility of the potential for disturbances, and we do not have any knowledge of the President's decision-making process.''
FOSTA SESTA
Amid FOSTA crackdown, sex workers find refuge on Mastodon - The Verge
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:46
Sex workers are running out of safe online spaces. Craigslist is no longer displaying personal ads. The controversial classifieds site Backpage, which many escorts used to screen clients, has been seized by the FBI. Adult content is disappearing off Google Drive, and many sex workers say they're being forced off social media. With the news that President Trump has signed the Allow States and Victims to Fight Online Sex Trafficking Act (FOSTA), their options will continue to dwindle '-- and with it, the ability for many sex workers to pay their bills, let alone do so safely.
Over the past few weeks, sex workers have been turning to an unexpected platform to remain online: the social network Mastodon, under a new instance called ''Switter.'' Melbourne-based company Assembly Four created Switter after its founders learned that social media platforms were either removing sex workers' content or banning their accounts. Without the time or resources to build a whole new network from scratch, the group turned to Mastodon.
Although ostensibly aimed at sex trafficking prevention, FOSTA's reduction of legal protections for websites is having disastrous consequences for sex workers. Faced with the new potential for litigation, many websites are removing any content or avenues that could possibly violate FOSTA. It's disconnecting many of the most vulnerable sex workers from crucial resources.
''They're now cut off from a means of elevating themselves into a safer workspace''
''Those that are impoverished, those that are running away from abusive partners, those that are actively trying to get out of really bad situations, especially black, trans street workers,'' N'jaila Rhee, an educator and sex worker who hosts The Cuntcast Podcast, tells The Verge. ''They're now cut off from a means of elevating themselves into a safer workspace.''
Switter, which uses a domain hosted in Austria, offers a workaround to this US legislation. As an open-source platform, Mastodon mimics the look and function of Twitter. Rather than rely on a single flagship site, however, it functions through a series of networks called instances. These instances can be connected to others, or they can exist as standalone networks. Since its launch last month, Switter has grown to become the sixth largest instance, according to Mastodon Network Monitoring. ''The ability to communicate and share information with your peers is absolutely critical in the modern age,'' says J, an Assembly Four employee who goes by a single-letter handle. ''With FOSTA already having wide-reaching effects, we realised that we needed to come up with a safe place for sex workers to communicate, and fast.''
Switter isn't the only off-shore server resource for sex workers, but unlike many others, it is free. Rhee, who has yet to join Switter, points out that many alternative sites for sex workers charge expensive fees to place ads. ''Somebody who is doing sex work to get by and is in dire straits does not have $300 to place an ad,'' Rhee says. Instead, sex workers will be driven to the streets, she says, and may even lose their ability to do their work independently. As online options are vanishing, Rhee says she's received solicitations from services offering to help her get clients. ''They see this as an opportunity to essentially be pimps,'' she says.
''FOSTA is, ironically, going to lead to more people being trafficked,'' Rhee adds. ''It's not going to help those that are being trafficked. Being arrested isn't rescue'... being criminalized, being put in the legal system, being labeled a criminal or felon, that's not what somebody who's being trafficked needs.''
FOSTA's impact has already included the closure of everything from Craigslist's personal ads to furry dating sites. Other platforms, like Reddit, have closed escort subreddits and amended rules against ''transaction'' services, which lumps ''paid services involving physical sexual contact'' with rules against firearms or drugs. Lola Hunt, an Australian escort working with Assembly Four, says these rules or outright bans are especially damaging for workers located in America. ''When we're censored on platforms, it sends the message to the general public that sex work is a mostly negative thing in society and NEEDED to be removed,'' she tells The Verge via email. Lumping ''paid sexual services'' into the same category as guns and drugs, she says, is only furthering the idea that paying for sex is an immoral act. ''The U.S. is now one of the only countries [where] you can legally buy multiple firearms, which can kill someone, without a license, but you could be charged for carrying condoms,'' she says.
''my career and my entire life are in jeopardy because of this bill''
Furthermore, driving sex workers off mainstream sites like Reddit, Craigslist, or Skype means pushing them away from resources that Hunt says are absolutely vital. ''This will only force many more workers into the hands of exploitation and street work, as they will no longer have access to these resources,'' she says. ''Losing these platforms means there is a much higher chance of ending up in a potentially life-threatening situation.''
One escort, Buffy, tells The Verge that it's hard to pinpoint one single thing that's currently at stake in the wake of FOSTA's passing. ''The reality of it is, my career and my entire life are in jeopardy because of this bill,'' she says. ''Sex work is how I pay my rent, how I pay my bills, how I feed myself and my pets.'' Although she says she's able to stay afloat for now, she has concerns about the long-term sustainability of her profession if she's kept offline.
Buffy learned about Switter through a group chat that acts as a safe space for providers in her area to talk. ''Word [has] spread pretty quickly to other providers,'' she recalls. ''Obviously we were excited to talk about it.'' Buffy says she joined because of the recent updates to many sites' terms of service that would make her profile as a sex worker bannable. ''It's very frustrating, to be targeted like that,'' Buffy says. ''Switter is a safe space, one where I don't have to dance around the word 'escort' or pretend I'm something I'm not. That is incredibly valuable right now.''
Although she doesn't consider it a permanent solution to her booking needs, it's a place to continue her work for now. ''I am simply keeping my eyes and ears open and paying attention to where others are going,'' she says. ''As the websites continue to be made and shut down, eventually, new central hubs will become apparent, and I intend to be a part of them.''
As sex workers fight for their livelihoods, there's also concern about the social implications of being driven off public web platforms. The stigma around sex work is far from gone, and the fallout from FOSTA for those in the industry is proof.
''When we are banned and silenced from social platforms like Twitter, this not only makes it harder for clients to interact with us, it also distances us from the general public,'' says Hunt. If sex workers are forced to work in backchannels of the web, it only furthers harmful stereotypes. Hunt likens it to the image of the ''broken-down street worker, reliant on drugs and being abused by a pimp. In reality, we come in every shape, form, and demographic, and often the people who are forced into the hands of exploitation are victims of the stigma.''
Switter may offer a temporary salve for the community, yet sex workers say it cannot stand as a last bastion, an end-all be-all answer for their profession. Assembly Four says it's prepared to continue working to make it a safe destination for sex workers, but that they need real change.
''The best-case scenario would be the opposite,'' says Hunt. ''The best-case scenario would be if we didn't need to have safe spaces, if public spaces were somewhere we were accepted.''
Sex Work and Sex Trafficking | SWOP Behind Bars (SBB)
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:45
In August of 2015, Amnesty International voted to recommend full decriminalization for consensual sex work '' sparking World Wide Controversy about whether or not Sex Workers should be granted Human Rights.
Did you know? SEX WORKERS AGREE THAT SEX TRAFFICKING IS WRONG.
The resolution recommends that Amnesty International develop a policy that supports the full decriminalization of all aspects of consensual sex work.The policy will also call on states to ensure that sex workers enjoy full and equal legal protection from exploitation, trafficking, and violence.The violations that sex workers can be exposed to include physical and sexual violence, arbitrary arrest and detention, extortion and harassment, human trafficking, forced HIV testing and medical interventions and losing custody of their children for no other reason than working as a sex worker.They can also be excluded from health care and housing services and other social and legal protection.What is the difference between Sex Work and Sex Trafficking?Human trafficking is an egregious human rights violation involving the threat or use of force, abduction, deception, or other forms of coercion for the purpose of exploitation.This may include forced labor, sexual exploitation, slavery, and more.Sex work, on the other hand, is a consensual transaction between adults, where the act of selling or buying sexual services is not a violation of human rights.Sex worker organizations oppose exploitation and recognize that sex worker organizations can be well positioned to refer victims of trafficking to appropriate services.Conflating trafficking with sex work can be harmful.Many anti-trafficking initiatives regard all sex workers as victims, relocating or detaining them in so-called safe houses against their will.Other efforts, like those that have shuttered brothels, have deprived sex workers of their autonomy, income, and secure working conditions.Such efforts have fostered distrust between authorities and sex workers, pushed sex work underground, and made public health outreach more difficult.ALL SEX WORKERS AGREE THAT SEX TRAFFICKING IS WRONG AND WOULD BE BEST ABLE TO SUPPORT THOSE WHO WISH TO LEAVE SEX WORK IF IT WERE DECRIMINALIZED.Amnesty International considers human trafficking abhorrent in all of its forms, including sexual exploitation and should be criminalized as a matter of international law. This is explicit in this new policy and all of Amnesty International's work.
There is a stark difference between Decriminalization and Legalization and it is important to understand how they are applied under the Amnesty International Policy recommendation.Decriminalization means removal of criminal and administrative penalties that apply to sex work, allowing it to be governed by labor law and protections similar to other jobs.
It is primarily concerned with regulations that advance the health and safety of workers.
In a fully decriminalized environment, a sex worker would be able to more easily access health care, housing, social services and defend themselves in child custody disputes.
Legalization creates narrow regulatory regimes based on other concerns and objectives, such as the health of clients, taxation, or public morality. Legalization may include regulations that limit sex workers' rights and protections, such as mandatory HIV testing. These may further stigmatize sex workers. Legalization could also create mechanisms for abuse by authorities. For example, in the Netherlands where sex work is legalized, law enforcement has raided sex workers' homes without a warrant and conducted mass arrests of sex workers veiled as anti-trafficking operations.
Full decriminalization of consensual sex work means that buyers and sellers of sexual services cannot be discriminated against for the purposes of arrest, housing, healthcare, transportation and/or public benefits. It also means that if they are the victims of a crime (such as rape, domestic violence, and even trafficking) they could report these crimes directly to the police without fear.Problems with LegalizationNevada has a highly regulated and legalized prostitution system as does Germany.Spain and India have unregulated legal sex work. Australia and New Zealand have decriminalized policies in some places. Sweden and Norway have 2 highly controversial sex work policies in place. The Nordic models decriminalizes the selling of sex, but makes it illegal to buy sexual services.
Nordic Models of Decriminalization have Pros and Cons'...Proponents of these Models of Decriminalization argue the Nordic model shows actual harm-reduction, which cannot be offhandedly discounted. They claim the rate of trafficked workers dramatically declines because the overall amount of sex trade declines. At the same time, selling of sex is decriminalized, so that laws do not further victimize persons who choose to sell themselves. Ideally, without fear, they may seek assistance from the police if they feel coerced, or abused in any way. They insist sellers hold all the rights to determine the conditions upon which they engage in sex trade with their bodies.
The Swedish model attempts to wipe out prostitution by reducing demand, but this has not proved to be an effective strategy.Those who support the Swedish (Nordic) point to the fact that pushing prostitution underground can have ugly consequences.
Violence against prostitutes can go unpunished, as women may be less likely to go to the police if they are considered to be at the margin of the law.Street work, which had declined in Sweden, increased again after the law was passed, putting many women in more danger than before.Prostitutes may also be less likely to seek medical advice.Sex Workers argue that Sweden's criminal justice system is designed to protect sex workers but it really doesn't.Because clients are still criminalized, it drives sex work more underground.Relationships with police and landlords are often divisive and there is still widespread abuse. Issues like child custody have become a point of tension.Women are stripped of their agency and their rights to do with their body as they wish to.Legalization '' as in Nevada and Germany '' is highly regulated and the very poor or undocumented workers are still criminally penalized for not being able to fulfill licensing and certification requirements.Widely presented as a more tolerant and pragmatic approach, the legalized model still criminalizes those sex workers who cannot or will not fulfill various bureaucratic responsibilities and therefore retains some of the worst harms of criminalization.It disproportionately excludes sex workers who are already marginalized, like people who live in poverty, use drugs or who are undocumented. This makes their situation more precarious, and so reinforces the power of unscrupulous managers.
Fears over human trafficking and child abuse should not be dismissed lightly. But laws against both already exist and should be strictly enforced.
Prostitution, even if made illegal, will not be eliminated: old estimates put the value of the trade in America at $14 billion annually (it is now likely to be far higher). Rather than chase the elusive goal of stamping out a trade, the health and safety of sex workers who do their work willingly should be made paramount.
Sex Workers around the world support decriminalization of sex work as the Amnesty International policy recommends'...and we should LISTEN TO SEX WORKERS when creating laws that affect their lives.
For inspiration from actual experience is the personalized blog sharing her story of incarceration and reentry: This Is How We Rise by Amber Batts of Alaska.Also in Alaska is Community United For Safety and Protection, national leaders in efforts to change legislation that conflates sex work with sex trafficking.Speaking on survival sex, sex work and sex trafficking for over twenty years M Dante offers a really helpful personalized blog resource on the sex work / sex trafficking with The Pennsylvania Workers Survivors Clearinghouse.Bella Robinson of COYOTE RI offers a wealth of quantitative and qualitative information on sex work and sex trafficking.
OTG
Browser wars
Hey Adam (and John),
greetings from a big fan in Aachen, Germany, and thanks
so much for the show!
Listening to #1026 when you were talking about browsers
and using Google, there’s another aspect to this. Almost every tech giant is
now also a giant in open source contribution. They’ve given _a lot_ to the open
source community (Facebook’s “React”, Google’s “Closure”, Mozilla with their
MDN/Development efforts, Microsoft’s and Apple's developer support branch, and
so on). Their contributions are massive, frequent and high-quality, and most
importantly, they give a kind of assurance that’s not easily found in open
source software: a guarantee (or, at least a strong probability) for active
maintenance of the code. If Facebook uses React for their GUIs (as does Apple,
Netflix, and Google, among millions of others, by the way), that means they’ve
got to support it and develop it further. Bottom line, the big corp open source
efforts establish and self-perpetuate industry trends, as most modern software
development relies massively on open source work. This influence on the
industry is easily exploited or even abused, as I’m sure you can see trivially.
Where do browsers come in here? Users want nice web apps.
Nice web apps need nice technology. Developers need to develop apps for that
technology, and whichever browser they’re developed in usually runs the apps best
(or sometimes even exclusively). Debatably, one or the other browser is more
amenable to development in general than the rest. Currently, that is (perceived
or real) Google’s Chrome. Firefox is hot on the heels in this (and it’s been a
constant back and forth between the two in regard to developer tools). I know
that all browsers have something that they really excel at, so that it’s
personal preference, until it isn’t: For a long time, developing for/with
Facebook’s React library was much more feasible in Chrome, since there was a
browser extension for React (by now, it’s available for other browsers as
well). That meant if you wanted to develop for this library, you pretty much
were using Google Chrome. Take this as an example for how corporations shape
technology/industry trend, which in turn shapes developer trends, which shape
app trends, and finally consumer trends. In a way, it’s a lever for corporations like Google and
Facebook on all those trend levels, with deep implications for the (web) software
industry in regard to education/competence/training, “free” open source work
offloading/hiring, advertising/market presence, platform binning, and so on
(I’m sure I don’t need to spin out additional scenarios here, there’s an
overwhelming spectrum of impact that these corporations like Facebook can
achieve today).
Ultimately, web developers make up a big share of browser
usage, and for this and the reasons above, tech giants want to keep it that
way. Unfortunately, it’s a very broad group with relatively little or no common
representation (in the form of e.g. a union or something), so as with
programming languages and operating systems, our choice in jobs or specific
companies, and general niches, is severely impacted by everything that goes on
in the tech world: Choosing to learn ObjectiveC/Swift for iOS development has a
massive impact on your career. You’ll need to invest significant time to become
a web developer, and even more to become an expert for specific aspects of web
development, and tech giants currently do a lot of fuckery in this area in my
opinion.
(I know this is a bit of a jumble, sorry, I didn’t want
to write three pages of technical descriptions and musing. If you have any
questions, I’m happy to answer for any tangent I might’ve opened!)
Cheers, and have a nice day!
Nico
About store visit conversions - Previous - AdWords Help
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 07:59
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If visits to your physical locations'--like hotels, auto dealerships, restaurants, and retail stores'--are important to your business, you can use conversion tracking to help you see how your ad clicks and viewable impressions influence store visits.
Note: For the Display Network, an ad impression is considered viewable when at least 50% of the ad is onscreen for at least 1 second, based on Google's Active View technology.
Store visit conversions are only available to certain advertisers. Review the requirements below and talk to your account representative if you think you're eligible.
Benefits See which campaigns, keywords, and devices drive the most store visits to your business Understand your return on investment (ROI) and make more informed decisions about your ad creatives, spend, bid strategies, and other elements of your campaigns Requirements Store visit conversions are available to a limited number of AdWords advertisers. In order to be eligible to measure store visit conversions you need to:
Have multiple physical store locations in eligible countries. Ask your account representative if store visit conversions are available in your location. Receive thousands of ad clicks and viewable impressions and many store visits. Have a Google My Business account linked to your AdWords account. Create each of your store locations in your Google My Business account. Have at least 90% of your linked locations verified in Google My Business. Ensure location extensions are active in your account. Have sufficient store visits data on the backend to attribute to ad click or viewable impressions traffic and pass our user privacy thresholds. Store visits attributed to viewable impressions are only available for Display Network campaigns or ads which serve on the Google Display Network. How it works Store visit data is based on anonymous, aggregated statistics. AdWords creates modeled numbers by using current and past data on the number of people who click or view your ads and later visit your store.
Store visit data can't be tied to individual ad clicks, viewable impressions, or people. We use industry best practices to ensure the privacy of individual users.
Note: Small numbers in store visit reports Occasionally, store visit reports may show low numbers, even ''1.'' This can happen if you're looking at data on more detailed level, such as segmenting by device. Because numbers are modeled and anonymized, ''1'' does not actually mean that that one person clicked or viewed an ad and then visited your store. Instead, it's better to read this as a value close to one, or an average of one.
While this data can give you a sense of the breakdown of your campaign performance, store visit reports are more precise when the numbers are larger. So, to evaluate your campaign performance, we recommend using reporting levels with at least 100 store visits.
It's also important to note that even when the reports present small numbers, our privacy techniques ensure that store visit data can't be tied to individual people.
How to set up store visit conversion tracking If you meet the above requirements and are interested in seeing store visit conversions, contact your AdWords dedicated account manager. If you're able to start using this feature, conversions from store visits will be added to the "All conversions" and "View-through conversions" columns in your campaign reports (learn more about how to view store visit conversions). You'll also see a new conversion action called "Store visits" added to your conversion reports. If you don't see store visit data in your account and believe you qualify, reach out to your Google AdWords representative.
Starting in October 2017, you can only edit the settings for your store visit conversion action in the new AdWords experience. For instructions on switching between the previous and new AdWords experiences, please see
this article.
How to edit your conversion action settings for store visits Choose the AdWords experience you're using. Learn more
You can only edit your conversion action settings for store visits in the new AdWords experience.
Switch to the new Adwords experience, then follow the instructions for
editing settings in the new AdWords experience.
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Skyhook announces 'next-gen geofencing' based on global WiFi database - MarTech Today
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 07:57
Location targeting and intelligence company Skyhook has developed what it says is a more accurate methodology for geotargeting and in-store validation. The company is rolling this out under the banner of its ''Skyhook Context'' offering.
Skyhook was the original location provider for Android and iOS devices before Google and Apple brought those capabilities in-house.
The company says it has built associations between millions of places of interest and its global WiFi database, which has MAC addresses for more than 2 billion WiFi routers worldwide. Skyhook VP David Bairstow described it to me as ''next-gen geofencing.''
In addition to more accurate location, Bairstow said that the company is building a better venue database as a byproduct of its approach. He asserted that 40 to 50 percent of venue locations in third-party databases today currently don't have good enough data to do store visitation metrics and competitive analytics. This is especially true for smaller footprint stores (e.g., Starbucks locations).
Bairstow added that store visitation efforts typically capture nearby individuals, rather than just people in-store. However, Skyhook now can tell with ''high confidence,'' he explained, when a mobile user has crossed a venue or store threshold. ''We're not catching people nearby.''
Skyhook can also tell where the individual is in the store, based on proximity to WiFi routers. Bairstow explained that Skyhook's algorithm looks at router signal strength as one of the factors in determining in-store location. There are no beacons involved. ''It's all software,'' said Bairstow.
One of the many use cases is competitive geofencing. For example, hypothetically, Lowe's might geofence HomeDepot to see what percentage of its customers shop there, too. It can also identify non-Lowe's HomeDepot shoppers for targeting or regargeting later online. And this can take place on any channel.
Bairstow said that analytics has emerged as a primary use case for location technology. However, only about 10 to 20 percent of retailers are currently using it to understand their customers and their share of foot traffic. Those numbers should increase dramatically over the next 12 months.
Despite the early emphasis on coupons and real-time targeting, there is a growing range of use cases for location intelligence:
Audience identification/segmentation Online-to-offline analytics and store-visits attribution Competitive intelligence/foot traffic analysis Personalization and loyalty rewards Offline-to-online retargeting Cross-channel analytics In addition to utilizing its WiFi database, Skyhook gets first-party smartphone location from apps that integrate its SDK.
Bairstow concluded by saying that Skyhook Context now works in malls and can provide ''store-specific readings.'' What he means is that Skyhook can identify when someone goes into a specific store on a specific level '-- something that's been historically challenging to do.
About The Author Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes a personal blog,
Screenwerk, about connecting the dots between digital media and real-world consumer behavior. He is also VP of Strategy and Insights for the Local Search Association. Follow him on
Twitter or find him at
Google+.
Hard Questions: What Data Does Facebook Collect When I'm Not Using Facebook, and Why? | Facebook Newsroom
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 21:18
April 16, 2018
Hard Questions is a series from Facebook that addresses the impact of our products on society.
By David Baser, Product Management Director
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress. He answered more than 500 questions and promised that we would get back on the 40 or so questions he couldn't answer at the time. We're following up with Congress on these directly but we also wanted to take the opportunity to explain more about the information we get from other websites and apps, how we use the data they send to us, and the controls you have. I lead a team focused on privacy and data use, including GDPR compliance and the tools people can use to control and download their information.
When does Facebook get data about people from other websites and apps?Many websites and apps use Facebook services to make their content and ads more engaging and relevant. These services include:
Social plugins, such as our Like and Share buttons, which make other sites more social and help you share content on Facebook;Facebook Login, which lets you use your Facebook account to log into another website or app;Facebook Analytics, which helps websites and apps better understand how people use their services; andFacebook ads and measurement tools, which enable websites and apps to show ads from Facebook advertisers, to run their own ads on Facebook or elsewhere, and to understand the effectiveness of their ads.When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you're logged out or don't have a Facebook account. This is because other apps and sites don't know who is using Facebook.
Many companies offer these types of services and, like Facebook, they also get information from the apps and sites that use them. Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have similar Like and Share buttons to help people share things on their services. Google has a popular analytics service. And Amazon, Google and Twitter all offer login features. These companies '-- and many others '-- also offer advertising services. In fact, most websites and apps send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them.
What kind of data does Facebook get from these websites and apps ? Apps and websites that use our services, such as the Like button or Facebook Analytics, send us information to make their content and ads better. To understand more about how this happens, it helps to know how most websites and apps work. I'll use websites as an example, but this generally applies to apps, too.
When you visit a website, your browser (for example Chrome, Safari or Firefox) sends a request to the site's server. The browser shares your IP address so the website knows where on the internet to send the site content. The website also gets information about the browser and operating system (for example Android or Windows) you're using because not all browsers and devices support the same features. It also gets cookies, which are identifiers that websites use to know if you've visited before. This can help with things like saving items in your shopping cart.
A website typically sends two things back to your browser: first, content from that site; and second, instructions for the browser to send your request to the other companies providing content or services on the site. So when a website uses one of our services, your browser sends the same kinds of information to Facebook as the website receives. We also get information about which website or app you're using, which is necessary to know when to provide our tools.
This happens for any other service the site is using. For example, when you see a YouTube video on a site that's not YouTube, it tells your browser to request the video from YouTube. YouTube then sends it to you.
How does Facebook use the data it receives from other websites and apps? Our privacy policy explains in detail what we do with the information we receive '-- and we just updated the policy to make it easier to read. There are three main ways in which Facebook uses the information we get from other websites and apps: providing our services to these sites or apps; improving safety and security on Facebook; and enhancing our own products and services. I'll share a little more about each of these, but first I want to be clear: We don't sell people's data. Period.
Providing Our Services
Social plugins and Facebook Login. We use your IP address, browser/operating system information, and the address of the website or app you're using to make these features work. For example, knowing your IP address allows us to send the Like button to your browser and helps us show it in your language. Cookies and device identifiers help us determine whether you're logged in, which makes it easier to share content or use Facebook to log into another app.Facebook Analytics. Facebook Analytics gives websites and apps data about how they are used. IP addresses help us list the countries where people are using an app. Browser and operating system information enable us to give developers information about the platforms people use to access their app. Cookies and other identifiers help us count the number of unique visitors. Cookies also help us recognize which visitors are Facebook users so we can provide aggregated demographic information, like age and gender, about the people using the app.Ads. Facebook Audience Network enables other websites and apps to show ads from Facebook advertisers. When we get a request to show an Audience Network ad, we need to know where to send it and the browser and operating system a person is using. Cookies and device identifiers help us determine whether the person uses Facebook. If they do, we can use the fact that they visited a business's site or app to show them an ad from that business '' or a similar one '-- back on Facebook. If they don't, we can show an ad encouraging them to sign up for Facebook.Ad Measurement. An advertiser can choose to add the Facebook Pixel, some computer code, to their site. This allows us to give advertisers stats about how many people are responding to their ads '-- even if they saw the ad on a different device '-- without us sharing anyone's personal information.Keeping Your Information Secure
We also use the information we receive from websites and apps to help protect the security of Facebook. For example, receiving data about the sites a particular browser has visited can help us identify bad actors. If someone tries to log into your account using an IP address from a different country, we might ask some questions to verify it's you. Or if a browser has visited hundreds of sites in the last five minutes, that's a sign the device might be a bot. We'll ask them to prove they're a real person by completing additional security checks.
Improving Our Products and Services
The information we receive also helps us improve the content and ads we show on Facebook. So if you visit a lot of sports sites that use our services, you might see sports-related stories higher up in your News Feed. If you've looked at travel sites, we can show you ads for hotels and rental cars.
What controls do I have? As Mark said last week, we believe everyone deserves good privacy controls. We require websites and apps who use our tools to tell you they're collecting and sharing your information with us, and to get your permission to do so.
We give you a number of controls over the way this data is used to provide more relevant content and ads:
News Feed preferences lets you choose which content you see first and hide content you don't want to see in your feed. You can also view your News Feed chronologically instead of ranked by what Facebook predicts you might be most interested in.Ad preferences shows you the advertisers whose ads you might be seeing because you visited their sites or apps. You can remove any of these advertisers to stop seeing their ads.In addition, you can opt out of these types of ads entirely '-- so you never see ads on Facebook based on information we have received from other websites and apps.Finally, if you don't want us to use your Facebook interests to show you ads on other websites and apps, there's a control for that too.Whether it's information from apps and websites, or information you share with other people on Facebook, we want to put you in control '-- and be transparent about what information Facebook has and how it is used. We'll keep working to make that easier.
Mycroft '' Open Source Voice Assistant - Mycroft
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:28
Mycroft is the world's first open source assistant.
Mycroft runs anywhere '' on a desktop computer, inside an automobile, or on a Raspberry Pi. This is open source software which can be freely remixed, extended, and improved. Mycroft may be used in anything from a science project to an enterprise software application.
Samsung's Galaxy J2 Pro Phone Can't Access the Internet | News & Opinion | PCMag.com
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:03
It's an Android smartphone, but it can't do anything requiring a data plan.
April 16, 2018 8:13AM ESTApril 16, 2018PCMag reviews products
independently, but we may earn affiliate commissions from buying links on this page.
Terms of use.
The smartphones of 2018 ship with a range of features to try and entice a purchase, but one thing they all have in common is the ability to access the Internet and use mobile apps. However, Samsung's new Galaxy J2 Pro handset may look just like any other smartphone, but it's far from it.
The Galaxy J2 Pro was announced by Samsung in South Korea late last week. As Ayrne reports, the handset sports a 5-inch QHD AMOLED screen, 1.5GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, an 8MP front-facing and 5MP back-facing camera, and runs Android 7.1 Nougat using a 1.4GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 425 processor. The battery is 2,600mAh and you can insert up to a 256GB micro-SD card into the included slot.
So far, so very smartphone. But that seems to be where the similarities end. The J2 Pro will not be able to load up web pages, run mobile apps, or do anything that requires access to 3G, LTE, or even Wi-Fi networks. This is as basic as phones get when it comes to data access. You can make calls, send text messages, snap photos, and watch content (off a micro SD card), and that's about it.
Samsung made the J2 Pro available to cater to very specific markets, notably the elderly, parents who want their children to have a phone just for easy contact, and students who need a phone but don't want distractions from their studies. Students have an extra incentive as Samsung is promising to accept the phone back from any student sitting the 2019/20 College Scholastic Ability Test and replace it with a Galaxy S handset instead.
The J2 Pro will be available in black or gold colors and carries a price of 199,100 won, which is roughly $185. So it's certainly not a cheap phone to purchase. However, the inability to even consider a data plan means ongoing costs should be very low and it is going to remove the worry that you may be running up a huge bill from accessing content through your phone.
For now, Samsung has no plans to launch the J2 Pro outside of South Korea. Would there be a market for it if they did? If the price was right then I bet there is. The number of seniors is increasing, and concerns are only growing about what kids have access to on the Internet. A dumb smartphone could prove very popular.
TopRead MoreAbout the AuthorMatthew is PCMag's UK-based editor and news reporter. Prior to joining the team, he spent 14 years writing and editing content on our sister site Geek.com and has covered most areas of technology, but is especially passionate about games tech. Alongside PCMag, he's a freelance video game designer. Matthew holds a BSc degree in Computer Science from... See Full Bio
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What the Facebook hearings reveal about corporate power in Washington - Vox
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 21:37
For those interested in the power corporations have in Washington these days, last week's Facebook hearing offered a particularly revealing moment.
After a little light grilling of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked about regulation: ''What do we tell our constituents, given what's happened here, why we should let you self-regulate?''
Zuckerberg said he actually embraced regulation. (''If it's the right regulation''. Of course.)
A little more back and forth.
And then:
GRAHAM: So would you work with us in terms of what regulations you think are necessary in your industry?
ZUCKERBERG: Absolutely.
GRAHAM: Okay. Would you submit to us some proposed regulations?
ZUCKERBERG: Yes. And I'll have my team follow up with you, so that way, we can have this discussion across the different categories where I think that this discussion needs to happen.
Let's play back the tape. When it comes to developing regulation, the senator's first instinct is to ask the CEO to send him ideas. He doesn't think, ''I'll work with the relevant committee staff to hold hearings and develop ideas.'' He doesn't think, ''I'll have my staff work with technology experts to develop appropriate legislation.'' He thinks: Here's the CEO who heads the company that's been causing all these problems. Let's ask him and his lobbyists to come up with ideas.
This is how corporate power works in Washington these days. Time and again, it's the industry lobbyists who write the bills. That's just what Graham is used to seeing. Why should this time be different?
The asymmetry of expertiseMuch of the commentary after last week's hearings focused on just how technologically illiterate members of Congress, particularly the senators, showed themselves to be. Understandably, they are not experts. They are generalists, and many are so old and laden with assistants that they don't use a lot of the technology themselves.
But given the wide range of subjects on which they are expected to make decisions as senators and representatives, I can forgive them some doddering confusion about the technology at hand. It is complicated.
What I can't forgive them is the knee-jerk attitude that Facebook '-- or any large, powerful company '-- should come up with its own ideas for self-regulation and submit them for approval.
Certainly, it's fair that Facebook and its $12 million team of 41 well-connected lobbyists should play some role. But that role should be part of a series of investigatory and information-gathering hearings that take in a broad range of perspectives.
I'll admit, I don't know the ins and outs of Graham's office. Maybe he has great technology staffers, even if their efforts weren't reflected in his questioning. But it's safe to say that if you visited most Senate and House offices these days, you'd find a remarkable dearth of relevant policy expertise on the topic. Like most issues Congress has to deal with these days, data privacy and cybersecurity are tricky issues, ones that require considerable expertise to meaningfully understand.
The problem is that Congress just doesn't invest in policy expertise like it did once upon a time. For decades, both the House and the Senate have been cutting their own investments in policy staff, leaving a Congress that gets dumber and dumber each year, and more dependent on whatever expertise they can get from elsewhere. And mostly, as I showed in my 2015 book The Business of America Is Lobbying, that expertise comes from business lobbyists. Congress now spends less money on its staffing resources than businesses spend on registered lobbyists in Washington.
The challenge of regulationThe Zuckerberg hearings followed a typical pattern of recent corporate-CEO-in-the-hot-seat hearings. A scandal puts a company in the news. Congress calls the CEO to testify, and Congress members can get on the record asking tough questions. But behind the scenes, the CEO is meeting with members to show that he or she is responding to the concerns. And because all the expertise lies in industry, nobody in Congress really knows what to do beyond asking those few tough questions.
Given the current state of Congress, the chance of effective data privacy or online advertising regulation emerging soon is pretty much nil.
For one, Republicans and Democrats would have to agree and then decide that coming together on it was more important than scoring partisan points. That's unlikely.
But even more challenging is that congressional committees and offices drawing up the legislation would need the independent expertise to understand the complex technological issues well enough to fend off the lobbying onslaught of not just Facebook but also the dozens of other tech companies that have a big stake in whatever comes out '-- and that have hundreds of lobbyists ready to convince any would-be entrepreneurial staffers that whatever they come up with will be full of ''unintended consequences'' that will ''just make the problem worse.''
Congress should make a serious investment in its capacity to understand and regulate technology (as it should for many other areas of the economy). But until it does, its collective response to the tricky problems of industry regulation will continue to be the Graham treatment: You tell us what to do. You're the expert.
Facebook's Data Crackdown Has Two Winners: Facebook and Google
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 07:53
Advertising industry worries Facebook response to user-privacy crisis will prop up a digital marketing duopoly
By and April 6, 2018, 5:00 AM EDT
Facebook Inc. and Google Inc. logos are displayed on computer screens in this arranged photo in New York, U.S. Photographer: Peter Foley/Bloomberg Facebook Inc. is putting tighter controls on data flowing through its giant social network in response to the worst privacy crisis in its history. Rather than hurt the company, this will ultimately give Facebook and rival Google more power over a digital advertising market they already dominate, industry executives and analysts say.
The crackdown started last week after revelations a consulting firm that worked on Donald Trump's presidential campaign improperly accessed information on millions of Facebook users. The first victims were data brokers like Acxiom Corp. and Oracle Corp.'s Data Cloud that sell information marketers use to target ads on the world's largest social network. Facebook is scrapping the targeting tool and will stop sharing anonymous information the brokers use to measure ad performance.
The company said this ''will help improve people's privacy on Facebook.'' The shares have slumped on concern tighter data policies like this will make Facebook ads less valuable, denting revenue growth. But some in the advertising industry think the changes will push marketers further into Facebook's arms, sending more spending directly to the company.
''The elimination of third parties is smart strategically,'' Morgan Stanley analysts said this week. They expect no ''material reduction'' in spending on Facebook and, over time, the company will net more ad dollars by avoiding industry middlemen. Facebook shares edged higher on Friday, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite index dropped 1 percent.
For years, advertisers grumbled about the ''walled gardens'' of internet giants '' digital barriers Google and Facebook maintain to prevent outsiders from accessing user data while limiting their ability to independently measure and track ad effectiveness. Recently, the companies, which control 87 percent of digital advertising, have listened, granting more access. But this opening up could stop now.
''Facebook is raising the walls around its garden,'' Morgan Stanley's Brian Nowak wrote. ''The two largest online ad platforms will now be more aligned, focusing on their first-party data offerings and tool sets which we expect to enable Facebook and Google to continue to drive 90%+ of the online ad market.''
Others were less enthused. Acxiom shares slumped as much as 34 percent after Facebook's abrupt decision last Wednesday. ''Facebook's announcement amounts to an insidious head fake,'' Axciom director John Battelle wrote in a blog post. ''Facebook is planning to profit from a scandal of their own making.''
Some in the industry feel Acxiom and its peers are scapegoats in Facebook's effort to win back goodwill after its privacy flub. ''It's called throwing them under the bus,'' said Brian Wieser, an analyst at Pivotal Research Group.
Firms like Acxiom gather public information, like census and mortgage data, and collect other information through consumer surveys and other methods. Starting in 2013, a Facebook program called Partner Categories let advertisers package that data with their own information to target specific consumer groups on Facebook. A carmaker, for example, knows information about current customers but not future ones. Using Acxiom data, it could show ads on Facebook to people in a particular state, with a certain income, who are likely in the market for a new vehicle. Advertisers argue these partnerships, which tap outside data to reach Facebook users, are different than the Cambridge Analytica episode, where internal Facebook data leaked out.
Facebook had another program that let advertisers overlay their own data with third-party firms, called Managed Custom Audiences. That tool will be shut in coming months, a Facebook spokeswoman said. Meanwhile, Facebook has invested more in its own targeting tools that use just the social network's data, so an eventual move away from third-party brokers was expected. Still, the decision to cancel Partner Categories was a surprise.
Facebook is also shutting a popular Instagram application processing interface as part of its new privacy push. Without this, marketers have fewer ways to know who's popular and what's trending on Instagram.
By making it more cumbersome to use outside data sources, Facebook can exert more control in the ad-buying process and keep some insights about consumers hidden from marketers, said Michael Horn, a managing director at ad agency Huge. ''They can claim privacy while moving advertisers more deeply into their own systems,'' Horn said.
Facebook could still take a financial hit from the loss of ad targeting capabilities. Morgan Stanley lowered its revenue forecast for the company by two percent, citing steps to improve data safety. But if Facebook doesn't benefit from its stumble, the other digital titan will.
With less data to target ads on Facebook, marketers will likely work more with Google. Take the Acxiom example. Google announced a partnership with that firm in 2016 to improve Google's search, display and video ads. Marketers upload their own data using Acxiom to reach users signed into Gmail and YouTube, but the tool doesn't use Acxiom's proprietary data to target Google ads. The deal remains in place.
''This whole Facebook debacle is very good for Google,'' said Ari Paparo, a former Googler who runs ad tech firm Beeswax.
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Hard Questions: What Data Does Facebook Collect When I'm Not Using Facebook, and Why? | Facebook Newsroom
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 21:18
April 16, 2018
Hard Questions is a series from Facebook that addresses the impact of our products on society.
By David Baser, Product Management Director
Last week, Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress. He answered more than 500 questions and promised that we would get back on the 40 or so questions he couldn't answer at the time. We're following up with Congress on these directly but we also wanted to take the opportunity to explain more about the information we get from other websites and apps, how we use the data they send to us, and the controls you have. I lead a team focused on privacy and data use, including GDPR compliance and the tools people can use to control and download their information.
When does Facebook get data about people from other websites and apps?Many websites and apps use Facebook services to make their content and ads more engaging and relevant. These services include:
Social plugins, such as our Like and Share buttons, which make other sites more social and help you share content on Facebook;Facebook Login, which lets you use your Facebook account to log into another website or app;Facebook Analytics, which helps websites and apps better understand how people use their services; andFacebook ads and measurement tools, which enable websites and apps to show ads from Facebook advertisers, to run their own ads on Facebook or elsewhere, and to understand the effectiveness of their ads.When you visit a site or app that uses our services, we receive information even if you're logged out or don't have a Facebook account. This is because other apps and sites don't know who is using Facebook.
Many companies offer these types of services and, like Facebook, they also get information from the apps and sites that use them. Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn all have similar Like and Share buttons to help people share things on their services. Google has a popular analytics service. And Amazon, Google and Twitter all offer login features. These companies '-- and many others '-- also offer advertising services. In fact, most websites and apps send the same information to multiple companies each time you visit them.
What kind of data does Facebook get from these websites and apps ? Apps and websites that use our services, such as the Like button or Facebook Analytics, send us information to make their content and ads better. To understand more about how this happens, it helps to know how most websites and apps work. I'll use websites as an example, but this generally applies to apps, too.
When you visit a website, your browser (for example Chrome, Safari or Firefox) sends a request to the site's server. The browser shares your IP address so the website knows where on the internet to send the site content. The website also gets information about the browser and operating system (for example Android or Windows) you're using because not all browsers and devices support the same features. It also gets cookies, which are identifiers that websites use to know if you've visited before. This can help with things like saving items in your shopping cart.
A website typically sends two things back to your browser: first, content from that site; and second, instructions for the browser to send your request to the other companies providing content or services on the site. So when a website uses one of our services, your browser sends the same kinds of information to Facebook as the website receives. We also get information about which website or app you're using, which is necessary to know when to provide our tools.
This happens for any other service the site is using. For example, when you see a YouTube video on a site that's not YouTube, it tells your browser to request the video from YouTube. YouTube then sends it to you.
How does Facebook use the data it receives from other websites and apps? Our privacy policy explains in detail what we do with the information we receive '-- and we just updated the policy to make it easier to read. There are three main ways in which Facebook uses the information we get from other websites and apps: providing our services to these sites or apps; improving safety and security on Facebook; and enhancing our own products and services. I'll share a little more about each of these, but first I want to be clear: We don't sell people's data. Period.
Providing Our Services
Social plugins and Facebook Login. We use your IP address, browser/operating system information, and the address of the website or app you're using to make these features work. For example, knowing your IP address allows us to send the Like button to your browser and helps us show it in your language. Cookies and device identifiers help us determine whether you're logged in, which makes it easier to share content or use Facebook to log into another app.Facebook Analytics. Facebook Analytics gives websites and apps data about how they are used. IP addresses help us list the countries where people are using an app. Browser and operating system information enable us to give developers information about the platforms people use to access their app. Cookies and other identifiers help us count the number of unique visitors. Cookies also help us recognize which visitors are Facebook users so we can provide aggregated demographic information, like age and gender, about the people using the app.Ads. Facebook Audience Network enables other websites and apps to show ads from Facebook advertisers. When we get a request to show an Audience Network ad, we need to know where to send it and the browser and operating system a person is using. Cookies and device identifiers help us determine whether the person uses Facebook. If they do, we can use the fact that they visited a business's site or app to show them an ad from that business '' or a similar one '-- back on Facebook. If they don't, we can show an ad encouraging them to sign up for Facebook.Ad Measurement. An advertiser can choose to add the Facebook Pixel, some computer code, to their site. This allows us to give advertisers stats about how many people are responding to their ads '-- even if they saw the ad on a different device '-- without us sharing anyone's personal information.Keeping Your Information Secure
We also use the information we receive from websites and apps to help protect the security of Facebook. For example, receiving data about the sites a particular browser has visited can help us identify bad actors. If someone tries to log into your account using an IP address from a different country, we might ask some questions to verify it's you. Or if a browser has visited hundreds of sites in the last five minutes, that's a sign the device might be a bot. We'll ask them to prove they're a real person by completing additional security checks.
Improving Our Products and Services
The information we receive also helps us improve the content and ads we show on Facebook. So if you visit a lot of sports sites that use our services, you might see sports-related stories higher up in your News Feed. If you've looked at travel sites, we can show you ads for hotels and rental cars.
What controls do I have? As Mark said last week, we believe everyone deserves good privacy controls. We require websites and apps who use our tools to tell you they're collecting and sharing your information with us, and to get your permission to do so.
We give you a number of controls over the way this data is used to provide more relevant content and ads:
News Feed preferences lets you choose which content you see first and hide content you don't want to see in your feed. You can also view your News Feed chronologically instead of ranked by what Facebook predicts you might be most interested in.Ad preferences shows you the advertisers whose ads you might be seeing because you visited their sites or apps. You can remove any of these advertisers to stop seeing their ads.In addition, you can opt out of these types of ads entirely '-- so you never see ads on Facebook based on information we have received from other websites and apps.Finally, if you don't want us to use your Facebook interests to show you ads on other websites and apps, there's a control for that too.Whether it's information from apps and websites, or information you share with other people on Facebook, we want to put you in control '-- and be transparent about what information Facebook has and how it is used. We'll keep working to make that easier.
Facebook To Offer Users Opt-Outs That Comply With New European Privacy Rules : The Two-Way : NPR
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:35
Tabs on a Facebook app for, "Privacy Basics, More Settings, and Data Policy," are displayed on an iPhone. Mark Lennihan/AP hide caption
toggle caption Mark Lennihan/AP Tabs on a Facebook app for, "Privacy Basics, More Settings, and Data Policy," are displayed on an iPhone.
Mark Lennihan/AP Facebook on Wednesday announced it is introducing "new privacy experiences" aimed at complying with European Union regulations that will give users worldwide a chance to opt out of some features that could expose their personal data.
"Everyone '' no matter where they live '' will be asked to review important information about how Facebook uses data and make choices about their privacy on Facebook," said Erin Egan, Facebook's chief privacy officer and Ashlie Beringer, deputy general counsel.
Egan and Beringer, both vice presidents, said the change was "part of the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), including updates to our terms and data policy."
As NPR's Yuki Noguchi reported, Facebook hinted at the new privacy controls last month.
Wired says that the GDPR goes into effect on May 25 "and will apply to any companies that collect or process data on individuals in the EU. They require that consumers give informed consent to how their data is being collected and used. Critics, however, say the consent process Facebook outlined relies on design tricks that encourage users to share their personal information widely."
The move comes as the ubiquitous social media platform has come under fire from lawmakers in the U.S. and Europe over the spread of political disinformation and the use of user data to micro-target potential voters.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who offered congressional testimony last week, has also been asked to appear before the European Parliament.
"This case is too important to treat as business as usual," EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova told an assembly of lawmakers, according to Reuters. "I advised [Facebook COO] Sheryl Sandberg that Zuckerberg should accept the invitation from the European Parliament ... as a measure of rebuilding trust," she said.
As part of the new privacy guidelines, Facebook said it will offer individual users:
A choice of whether or not they want to use data from partners to show them ads. Whether to continue sharing political, religious, and relationship information on profiles. In the EU and Canada a choice of whether to enable face-recognition technology (it is already optional in the rest of the world, Facebook says). In a statement to Wired, Facebook said, "We're ensuring that all our products and services comply with the GDPR."
However, Sandy Parakilas, a former Facebook operations manager, tells the magazine "Everything about the page is designed to manipulate you into doing the thing they want."
"The goal of the design exercise is to get you to accept, and not go into your settings and turn things off," she says, according to Wired.
As we reported earlier this week, a federal judge in California ruled that Facebook could be sued in a class-action lawsuit brought by users in Illinois who say the social media company improperly used facial recognition to upload photographs.
NPR's Richard Gonzales writes:
"The suit seeks penalties of up to $5,000 for every time a user's facial image is used without his or her permission. The judge said the potential damages could amount to billions of dollars.
"Facebook issued a statement saying it continued to believe that the lawsuit has no merit. It argued in court that individual plaintiffs should have to pursue their legal claims proving that they were 'aggrieved' and suffered an actual injury beyond an invasion of privacy."
Also on Wednesday, TechCrunch reports that Facebook is investigating a security research report showing that its user data is vulnerable to third-party JavaScript trackers embedded on websites offering the "Login With Facebook" feature.
TechCrunch says Facebook has confirmed that it is looking into the matter.
"The exploit lets these trackers gather a user's data including name, email address, age range, gender, locale, and profile photo depending on what users originally provided to the website. It's unclear what these trackers do with the data, but many of their parent companies including Tealium, AudienceStream, Lytics, and ProPS sell publisher monetization services based on collected user data," the tech site reports.
Facebook verhuist 1,5 miljard gebruikers uit angst voor privacy-boetes | Buitenland | AD.nl
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:27
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What you need to know about Facebook's new privacy settings - Vox. Starting this week, Facebook is introducing what it called new ''privacy experiences,''
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 16:07
If your Facebook page starts to look different or the platform starts asking you whether you're okay with having your data shared in the coming weeks or months, you'll have Europe to thank for it: The company has begun to roll out Facebook privacy changes to comply with a new data protection measure in the European Union.
Late on Tuesday, Facebook announced the first steps it is taking to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation, or GDPR, a new privacy law out of Europe designed to make sure users know and understand the data companies collect about them and consent to sharing it. Set to be enacted on May 25, the GDPR is the most sweeping overhaul of online privacy in more than two decades.
Starting this week, Facebook is introducing what it called new ''privacy experiences,'' said Facebook chief privacy officer Erin Egan and deputy general counsel Ashlie Beringer in a post laying out the changes.
The announcement seeks to cast the changes as something Facebook wanted to do '-- which, given the company's past bad behavior in protecting user data and Mark Zuckerberg's history of privacy violations and apologies '-- it probably did not.
European users will start to see changes this week; they'll be prompted to agree to certain elements of Facebook and asked to give the terms of service a second look. Facebook users in the US and the rest of the world are expected to get the same treatment ''on a slightly later schedule.''
Here's what Facebook says is changing, starting with Europe:
Facebook will prompt users to say whether they want to see targeted ads based on the political, religious, and relationship information they've shared on their profiles or data collected by Facebook's partners. They'll also make it easier for people to delete information they don't want shared. An example of Facebook's new privacy settings prompting users on data sharing for targeted ads. Facebook Users in the European Union and Canada will be asked whether they want to turn off Facebook's face recognition feature it uses to, for example, suggest tagging you in pictures posted by others. (Face recognition technology is already optional for anyone on Facebook.) Facebook will prompt users to agree to its terms of service and data policy, which was updated earlier this month. People under the age of 18 will have some special features, including requiring parent or guardian permission for those between the ages of 13 and 15 to see targeted ads in some European countries, and restricted sharing and less personalized ads. Later this year, Facebook will introduce a new ''global online resource center'' for teens.Facebook said new settings and privacy shortcut features it unveiled last week were built with GDPR in mind and will start appearing this week. They essentially make Facebook's privacy tools easier to find, including those that let you locate, download, and delete your Facebook data. (Vox's Jen Kirby has an explanation of how to do that, and what you'll discover Facebook has been tracking about you is pretty wild.)
An example of Facebook's new privacy settings on face recognition technology.Facebook Facebook's GDPR adjustments are a first step in a long road ahead toward fixing its data privacy problemsThe Cambridge Analytica scandal, which left the data of an estimated 87 million people exposed, has kicked off a global debate about Facebook's privacy practices and just how much it knows '-- and shares '-- about its users.
Before news of the scandal broke, Europe, which has traditionally been tougher on big tech, had the GDPR ready to go. But in the United States, lawmakers and regulators have been caught flat-footed. There are a handful of ideas out there for cracking down on Facebook in the US, including the proposed Honest Ads Act on political ad disclosures online and potential action from the Federal Trade Commission, but most of them are in nascent stages at best.
Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO and chair, testified for several hours before Senate and House committees last week, and the results were less than satisfying. Many lawmakers, specifically in the Senate, seemed confused about what Facebook does and what its problems even are. Much of the time, Zuckerberg pivoted to easier answers or said his team would follow up.
''Right now Congress can't even decide on lunch, so I don't expect them to do anything meaningful,'' Kara Swisher, a veteran tech journalist and executive editor of Recode, recently told Vox's Sean Illing.
Zuckerberg has said many of the GDPR-required changes will be applied globally, though he has largely stopped short of specifics. As European users start to see changes this week, the rest of us will have to wait and see.
Street art against Google '' Fuck off Google
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:41
Our neighbors around Kreuzberg are creatively expressing their opposition to a projected ''Google Campus'' afflicting their community and the extension of Google's reach into Berlin '' here is some of the street art produced by the community that we will surely see more of in the coming months before the project is actually cancelled'...
art Berlin gallery Kreuzberg street art
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No boundaries for Facebook data: third-party trackers abuse Facebook Login
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:57
by Steven Englehardt [0], Gunes Acar, and Arvind Narayanan
So far in the No boundaries series, we've uncovered how web trackers exfiltrate identifying information from web pages, browser password managers, and form inputs.
Today we report yet another type of surreptitious data collection by third-party scripts that we discovered: the exfiltration of personal identifiers from websites through ''login with Facebook'' and other such social login APIs. Specifically, we found two types of vulnerabilities [1]:
seven third parties abuse websites' access to Facebook user dataone third party uses its own Facebook ''application'' to track users around the web.Vulnerability 1: Third parties piggyback on Facebook access granted to websitesWhen a user clicks ''Login with Facebook'', they will be prompted to allow the website they're visiting to access some of their Facebook profile information [2]. Even after Facebook's recent moves to lock down the feature, websites can request the user's email address and ''public profile'' (name, age range, gender, locale, and profile photo) without triggering a manual review by Facebook. Once the user allows access, any third-party Javascript embedded in the page, such as tracker.com in the figure above, can also retrieve the user's Facebook information as if they were the first party [3].
Facebook Login and other social login systems simplify the account creation process for users by decreasing the number of passwords to remember. But social login brings risks: Cambridge Analytica was found misusing user data collected by a Facebook quiz app which used the Login with Facebook feature. We've uncovered an additional risk: when a user grants a website access to their social media profile, they are not only trusting that website, but also third parties embedded on that site.
We found seven scripts collecting Facebook user data using the first party's Facebook access [4]. These scripts are embedded on a total of 434 of the top 1 million sites (UPDATE: see clarification below). We detail how we discovered these scripts in Appendix 1 below. Most of them grab the user ID, and two grab additional profile information such as email and username. We believe the websites embedding these scripts are likely unaware of this particular data access [5].
The user ID collected through the Facebook API is specific to the website (or the ''application'' in Facebook's terminology), which would limit the potential for cross-site tracking. But these app-scoped user IDs can be used to retrieve the global Facebook ID, user's profile photo, and other public profile information, which can be used to identify and track users across websites and devices [6].
* OnAudience stopped collecting this information after we released the results of a previous study in the No Boundaries series, which showed them abusing browser autofill to collect user email addresses.^ Although we observe these scripts query the Facebook API and save the user's Facebook ID, we could not verify that it is sent to their server due to obfuscation of their code and some limitations of our measurement methods.
It is straightforward for a third party script to grab data from the Facebook API. The code snippet above is from the OpenTag script that exfiltrates the user's Facebook ID to Lytics, a personalized Marketing and Customer Data Platform. We've added comments and made minor simplifications for clarity; the original script is available here. The script continually checks for the existence of the Facebook API (available via window.FB). Once the user logs in to Facebook, the tracking script can silently query the user's login status. The response to the login status query contains the user's Facebook ID. The script then parses the ID out of the response and sends it back to their server.
While we can't say how these trackers use the information they collect, we can examine their marketing material to understand how it may be used. OnAudience, Tealium AudienceStream, Lytics, and ProPS all offer some form of ''customer data platform'', which collect data to help publishers to better monetize their users. Forter offers ''identity-based fraud prevention'' for e-commerce sites. Augur offers cross-device tracking and consumer recognition services. We were unable to determine the company which owns the ntvk1.ru domain.
Vulnerability 2: Tracking users around the web with the Facebook Login serviceSome third parties use the Facebook Login feature to authenticate users across many websites: Disqus, a commenting widget, is a popular example. However, hidden third-party trackers can also use Facebook Login to deanonymize users for targeted advertising. This is a privacy violation, as it is unexpected and users are unaware of it. But how can a hidden tracker get the user to Login with Facebook? When the same tracker is also a first party that users visit directly. This is exactly what we found Bandsintown doing. Worse, they did so in a way that allowed any malicious site to embed Bandsintown's iframe to identify its users.
Top panel: Bandsintown's website (represented as tracker.com) allows visitors to learn about local concerts and follow artists they might be interested in. To follow an artist, users are required to Login with Facebook and give the Bandsintown Facebook app access to their profile, city, likes, email address, and music activity. At this point Bandsintown has access to the necessary authentication tokens to access Facebook account information.Bottom panel: Bandsintown offers an advertising service called ''Amplified'', which is present on many of the top music-related sites including lyrics.com, songlyrics.com and lyricsmania.com. When a Bandsintown user browses to a website that embeds Bandsintown's Amplified advertising product, the advertising script embeds an invisible iframe which connects to Bandsintown's Facebook application using the authentication tokens established earlier, and grabs the user's Facebook ID. The iframe then passes the user ID back to the embedding script.
We discovered that the iframe injected by Bandsintown would pass the user's information to the embedding script indiscriminately. Thus, any malicious site could have used their iframe to identify visitors. We informed Bandsintown of this vulnerability and they confirmed that it is now fixed.
ConclusionThis unintended exposure of Facebook data to third parties is not due to a bug in Facebook's Login feature. Rather, it is due to the lack of security boundaries between the first-party and third-party scripts in today's web. Still, there are steps Facebook and other social login providers can take to prevent abuse: API use can be audited to review how, where, and which parties are accessing social login data. Facebook could also disallow the lookup of profile picture and global Facebook IDs by app-scoped user IDs. It might also be the right time to make Anonymous Login with Facebook available following its announcement four years ago.
Clarification (2018-04-19 2:25am): In a previous version of the post we listed three sites (fiverr.com, bhphotovideo.com, and mongodb.com) which embed scripts that match the URL patterns given above. Third-party scripts may contain different contents when loaded by different sites, even though the scripts are served from same or similar URLs. We confirmed that the Forter scripts embedded on fiverr.com and bhphotovideo.com do NOT include functionality to access Facebook data. On mongodb.com we only observed the presence of an Augur script. We have published an updated list of sites, marking the ones where we have confirmed the presence of functionality to access Facebook data.
[0] Steven Englehardt is currently working at Mozilla as a Privacy Engineer. He coauthored this post in his Princeton capacity, and this post doesn't necessarily represent Mozilla's views.
[1] We use the term ''vulnerability'' to refer to weaknesses arising from insecure design practices on today's web, rather than its commonly understood sense in computer security of weaknesses arising due to software bugs.
[2] In this post we focus on websites which use Facebook Login, but the vulnerabilities we describe are likely to exist for most social login providers and on mobile devices. Indeed, we found scripts that appear to grab user identifiers from the Google Plus API and from the Russian social media site VK , but we limited our investigation to Facebook Login as it's the most widely used social SDK on the web.
[3] When the user completes the Facebook login procedure on a website that uses Facebook's Javascript SDK, the SDK stores an authentication token in the page. When the user navigates to a new page, the SDK automatically reestablishes the authentication token using the browser's Facebook cookies. All third-party queries to the SDK automatically use this token.
[4] In order to better understand the level of integration a third party has with the first party, we categorize scripts based on their use of the first party's Application ID (or AppId), which is provided to Facebook during the login initialization phase to identify the site. Inclusion of a site's application ID and initialization code in the third-party library suggests a tighter integration'--the first party was likely required to configure the third-party script to access the Facebook SDK on their behalf. While application IDs aren't meant to be secrets, we take the lack of an App ID to imply loose integration'--the first party may not be aware of the access. In fact, all of the scripts in this category take the same actions when embedded on a simple test page with no prior business relationship.
[5]. The following could indicate the first party's awareness of the Facebook data access:
1) third-party initiates the Facebook login process instead of passively waiting for the login to happen; 2) third-party includes the unique App ID of the website it is embedded on. The seven scripts listed above neither initiate the login process, nor contain the app ID of the websites.
Still, it is very hard to be certain about the exact relationship between the first parties and third parties.
[6] The application-scoped IDs can be resolved to real user profile information by querying Facebook's Graph API or retrieve the user's profile photo (which does not even require authentication!). When security researchers showed that it is possible to map app-scoped IDs to Facebook IDs and download profile pictures Facebook responded as follows: ''This is intentional behavior in our product. We do not consider it a security vulnerability, but we do have controls in place to monitor and mitigate abuse.'' A Facebook interface with similar controls was reportedly used to harvest of 2 Billion Facebook users' public profile data. Note that although the endpoint found by the researchers does not work anymore, the following endpoint still redirects to users' profile page: https://www.facebook.com/[app_scoped_ID].
APPENDIX:Appendix 1 '-- Measurement Methods
To study the abuse of social login APIs we extended OpenWPM to simulate that the user has authenticated and given full permissions to the Facebook Login SDK on all sites. We added instrumentation to monitor the use of the Facebook SDK interface (`window.FB`). We did not otherwise inject the user's identity into the page, so any exfiltrated personal data must have been queried from our spoofed API.
As in our previous measurements, we crawled 50,000 sites from the Alexa top 1 million in June 2017. We used the following sampling strategy: visit all of the top 15,000 sites, randomly sample 15,000 sites from the Alexa rank range [15,000 100,000), and randomly sample 20,000 sites from the range [100,000, 1,000,000). This combination allowed us to observe the attacks on both high and low traffic sites. On each of these 50,000 sites we visited 6 pages: the front page and a set of 5 other pages randomly sampled from the internal links on the front page.
To spoof that a user is logged in, we create our own `window.FB` object and replicate the interface of version 2.8 of the Facebook SDK. The spoofed API has the following properties:
For method calls that normally return personal information we spoof the return values as if the user is logged in and call and necessary callback function arguments.These include `FB.api()`, `FB.init(), `FB.getLoginStatus()`, `FB.Event.subscribe()` for the events `auth.login`, `auth.authResponseChange`, and `auth.statusChange`, and `FB.getAuthResponse()`.For the Graph API (`FB.api`), we support most of the profile data fields supported by the real Facebook SDK. We parse the requested fields and return a data object in the same format the real graph API would return.For method calls that don't return personal information we simply call a no-op function and ignore any callback arguments. This helps minimize breakage if a site calls a method we don't fully replicate.We fire `window.fbAsyncInit` once the document has finished loading. This function is normally called by the Facebook SDK.The spoofed `window.FB` object is injected into every frame on every page load, regardless of the presence of a real Facebook SDK. We then monitor access to the API using OpenWPM's Javascript call monitoring. All HTTP request and response data, include HTTP POST payloads are examined to detect the exfiltration of any of the spoofed profile data (including that which has been hashed or encoded).
For both calls to `window.FB` and HTTP data, we store the Javascript stack trace at the time of execution. We use this stack trace to understand which APIs scripts accessed and when they were sending data back. For some scripts our instrumentation only captured the API access, but not the exfiltration. In these cases, we manually debugged the scripts to determine whether the data was only used locally or if it was obfuscated before being transmitted. We explicitly note the cases where we could not make this determination.
Appendix 2 '-- Third parties which access the Facebook API on behalf of first parties
We also found a number of third-party scripts interacting with the Facebook API, which appear to be operating on behalf of the first party [2]. These companies offer a range of services, such as integrating multiple social login options, monitoring social media engagement, and aggregating customer data. As a specific example, BlueConic offers a Facebook Profile transfer service, that copies information from the user's Facebook profile information to BlueConic's data platform. Additional third-party services which access Facebook profile information on the first party's behalf include: Zummy, Social Miner, Limespot (personalizer.io), Kissmetrics, Gigya, and Webtrends.
Image assets used in figures are from the Noun Project:
computer tower by Melvin, Female by SBTS, javascript file by Adnen Kadri, click by Aybige
CBC joins forces with far left, Soros backed group
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:35
Would the supporters of CBC like the idea of our left wing state broadcaster joining forces with an outfit like National Review to work on election coverage here in Canada?
Not bloody likely, despite National Review being a widely respected organization, it is simply too conservative for our state broadcaster. So why then is it seen as acceptable for CBC to partner with the far left group ProPublica to track and analyze Facebook ads in Canadian elections?
ProPublica was founded when a pair of wealthy billionaire donors to the Democratic Party decided they needed to fund journalism. In addition to millions from Herb and Marion Sandler, who also fund the left wing Center for American Progress, ProPublica is backed by a long list of left leaning foundations.
Among the list of donors, the Foundation to Promote Open Society, set up by none other than George Soros.
Now this doesn't mean Soros is going to be dictating news stories at CBC HQ but why on earth would CBC want to give it's critics George Soros to wave around as further proof of their left wing bias? Soros has a history of funding projects in an attempt to change the political landscape in his direction.
He has funded projects to try and flip local political races to the Democrats, he has funded state races and he funds a lot of journalism, all of it in a left wing direction.
So what exactly is CBC doing with ProPublica?
They want you to help them track political ads on Facebook by installing an extension on your web browser and then reporting to them, through the extension, when you see a political ad on Facebook as opposed to a non-political ad.
That information will be fed into a database of political ads that can be analyzed by CBC and other news organizations and help us dig up and research news stories.
The information in the database is crowdsourced, so the more people who use the extension, the more entries will appear in the database and the more news stories CBC will be able to tell.
So in order to track the creepy tracking of Facebook, CBC and ProPublica want me to install an extension that will track my browsing and report it back to them. Not something that I'd like to be involved in.
I'm sure whatever stories come out of this won't be biased at all.
A few major problems with this, beyond the creepiness.
The people taking part will be self-selecting CBC listeners and viewers which means a strong likelihood that they will be Liberal or NDP voters and far less likely that they will be Conservatives. I suspect this project will also attract people that are determined to showcase wrongdoing, real or perceived, in political parties or movements that they do not support.
Finally, this extension only works on Chrome and Firefox browsers on a desktop or laptop, it doesn't work if you are browsing Facebook on your phone or tablet or are using a different browser. In Canada, mobile browsing far outstrips desktop, so this will be at best a self-selecting and limited take on what Canadians are actually seeing.
That data will then be crunched by left-leaning CBC and the crusading and far left ProPublica as they search for stories that will likely confirm their own biases.
What could go wrong?
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Have you heard that I have a new show coming?
This has been in the works for a while, I'm adding a new project to my already busy schedule. So not leaving radio or giving up writing, but taking on something new.
It's a fun concept that hasn't been done before and I hope you like it. Give the video below a look see and sign up for the mailing list below so I can let you know when we are fully able to launch.
Net Neutrality
UK pr0n ban
Hi guys,
If you mention this on the show please allow me to remain
anonymous. Been meaning to write to you about this for a while but ive been
really busy. however listening to the facebook thing on the 1026 show about age
verification.
Basically the uk are going to implement a blanket ban on
p0rn, as bad as that sounds its a bit more convoluted and its implications are
massive. its called the Digital
Economy Act 2017 So in order to watch or view anything online
you wil have to create a profile throught some governmentally endorssed
companies where you have to use your passport and driving license asnd utility
bills etc. i know of this as i had to do it recently for a redundancy
situation.
So you create a profile which is unique to you and then you
can veiw stuff online thats classed as over 18... this could be anything and
depending on how the algos work it could evben be a blog with the word fuck in
it. now for me this is a concern, if ive used a pc and logged in for none
dubious reasons and then someone comes along and uses the same pc and my
profile for something properly dubious the government think ive done it.
These verification companies have already come under fire
because no one trusts their ability to make it work efficiently. but if someone
sends me a link to9 something that requires verification, they have to log on
to send it and i have to to receive it, not a private message but a link to a
website. Instant tracking...and in the light of all these data breaches, if
someone was to get hold of your profile, thats someone off to prison for
looking at something dodgy.
As far as i can find it was meant to go through in april,
but its been pushed back to december. They probablyhoped to whack it through
with all this russia stuff...
Fake News
Google Launches Report for America | News Media Alliance
Sun, 15 Apr 2018 22:13
In an effort to support more real news and increase public trust in the news media, Google News Lab, in partnership with The GroundTruth Project, is launching Report for America (RFA), a nationwide initiative that will send young journalists into the country's local newsrooms for a year of training and support.
The program, which will operate with support from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism, Knight Foundation, Galloway Family Foundation, Center for Investigative Reporting, Solutions Journalism Network and other leading organizations focused on the future of journalism, will match aspiring young journalists with local newsrooms in need of reporters, similar to the Teach for America project.
''Right now there are twin crises in American journalism: a crisis of the pocketbook and a crisis of the soul,'' says Steven Waldman, co-founder of RFA. ''We have to urgently address both and try dramatic new approaches. The pocketbook problem is the collapse of the local news business model, which has led to decimation of local newsroom. So communities are starved of the information they need, and accountability reporting to make powerful institutions work for them. The spiritual crisis relates to both the public's declining trust in the media and the soul-crushing aspects of many reporting jobs. We felt that reawakening the spirit of public service '-- and giving journalists the opportunity to be their best selves '-- would help communities and help restore some trust in the news profession.''
''At a time of deep divisions in America, this is really a patriotic call to service, an invitation to a new generation to go and live and report in local communities in rural Appalachia, or the border towns of Texas or in faded industrial towns of the Midwest, or to any community where stories that enlighten and inform need to be told,'' says Charles Sennott, co-founder of RFA and founder and CEO of The GroundTruth Project.
Report for America will be open to anyone who has the passion and drive to be a local news reporter, and selection will not be done based on age or previous journalism experience. The program seeks to encourage anyone with the skills and desire to have an impact on local journalism to apply, and the selection committee will choose those it believes can have a positive impact on local communities and on local news.
''It's going to be rigorous and properly pretty tough to get in. There are two selection processes '-- one for would-be Report for America Corps Members and one for the news organizations that want to host them,'' Waldman says. ''The reporters will need to persuade us that they have both the skills and character '-- a commitment to public service '-- to have an impact quickly. If they're not doing good work, nothing else will matter. The news organizations will have to prove that they're going to use this person well, to really provide civically important reporting.''
The first reporters are expected to begin working in early 2018, and the project aims to add more than 1,000 local journalists to the media environment over the next five years. To do this, the program will provide 50 percent of the funding to cover each journalist, while the news organizations will provide 25 percent and local donors will provide the final 25 percent of the cost.
To add to the value the RFA Corps members provide, each reporter will not only be reporting on the local community, but will be providing other community services, such as working with local high schools on the student newspaper or website.
''We're hoping in the first year that we'll have pilot programs that show how these RFA folks can have a tremendous impact '-- and also that there's support for this idea in the communities,'' Waldman says. ''For this to work, communities are going to have to want good local journalism.
''People for a long time figured that the commercial model would figure out a way of repairing the problems of local news. So the nonprofit sector and local donors didn't see a particular need to step in,'' Waldman continues. ''Now it's clear that the local news market is broken and the commercial model by itself is not going to fix it. So we need to think in a dramatically different way.''
Those interested in participating in Report for America, either as reporters or as host newsrooms, can contact the organization here.
Brexit
Brussels seeks emergency powers to prepare for hard Brexit
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 07:55
BrexitCommission to issue up to 40 legal measures to reduce uncertainty for businessApril 18, 2018 4:01 am byAlex Barker in Brussels Brussels is issuing dozens of legal proposals on Brexit over the next 10 weeks, in a flurry of lawmaking to prepare the EU for an sharp break from the UK '-- partly by giving emergency powers to the bloc's institutions.
The European Commission has drafted 30-40 proposals to amend laws and give special powers to regulators so that the union can deal with a no-deal scenario, either on Brexit day in March 2019 or after a transition period.
EU diplomats have been told the measures would cover a wide range of areas, with particular significance for trade quotas, the car industry, transport companies, the bloc's space programme, financial services and professional qualifications.
The push is intended to reduce uncertainty for business by granting more powers to Brussels and other EU authorities so they are better able to cope with sudden complications.
The initiative also shows the commission's determination to press on with preparing for a worst-case scenario '-- even if it involves using the EU legislative process while the UK remains a full member with voting rights.
''This is all inevitable and necessary,'' said one EU diplomat working on Brexit. ''Most of the work of preparing for Brexit is for governments and the private sector. But there are issues with EU law that we have to sort out.''
EU officials say most of the amendments are legal housekeeping, which would address anomalies that arise from the exclusion of the UK.
However, the proposals would also give the commission and other EU regulators specific ''emergency powers'', for a limited period, to handle the fallout from an abrupt UK exit.
The details remain unclear but one EU diplomat suggested that it could include waivers for companies in areas such as the financial services sector. The diplomat said it could also give a grace period for lawyers or professionals based in Europe who rely on UK qualifications.
Such provisions could offer reassurance to some banks and financial services companies, as they would provide more flexibility for regulators in dealing with post-Brexit adjustments.
One measure is likely to set restrictions on Britain's continued involvement in the EU's Galileo satellite programme.
A separate decision will also be required over the operational headquarters of Operation Atlanta, an EU counter-piracy effort that is run from Northwood in the London suburbs. The Commission told EU diplomats that it would take 40 weeks to move the headquarters to an EU location.
RecommendedEuropean Parliament seeks clarity on future relations with UKThe first burst of legislation will cover two specific topics: the tariff-rate quotas that govern the import of farm products into the EU, and approvals for car parts. Legislation on both areas is expected as early as next month.
Britain and the EU have reached an agreement on how to split the EU's existing tariff rate quotas under World Trade Organization rules, but that preliminary deal has faced resistance, including from the US.
The Commission proposal would make clear that the quotas for food imports would be adjusted to take account of the UK's exit '-- regardless of the outcome of talks at the WTO or with Britain over the terms of Brexit.
Planned revisions to the laws controlling the authorisation of cars for sale in Europe would seek to deal with the stock of vehicles '-- such as the Czech Republic brand Skoda '-- that were approved in the UK by the Vehicle Certification Agency. Such authorisations allow cars to be sold elsewhere in the bloc but have been complicated by Brexit.
Dozens more proposals will be issued separately throughout June and July. The Commission see the measures as the next phase of its ''preparedness'' effort, which has included releasing 62 ''notifications'' warning companies of the legal consequences of a no-deal Brexit.
The Commission notes that, although EU leaders have agreed an outline transition deal with Britain, they have still asked for ''preparedness at all levels for the consequences of the UK's withdrawal, taking into account all possible outcomes''.
The EU has already adopted legislation in some specific areas to cope with a hard Brexit, including amendments to the EU's carbon emissions market so that a possible glut of UK permits would not lead to a price crash.
CopyrightThe Financial Times Limited . All rights reserved. Please don't copy articles from FT.com and redistribute by email or post to the web.
SJWBLMLGBBTQQIAAPK
Black Groups Want Schools To ''Proactively'' Address Racism By Declaring It A ''Mental Disorder''
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 16:50
And only white people can have this disorder.
Via The College Fix:
A coalition of African-American groups want a Maryland school district to ''proactively'' combat racism by declaring it a ''mental health disorder that results in trauma on the intended victims.''
The Caucus of African American Leaders approved a measure Tuesday night which noted several racist incidents that had occurred in Anne Arundel County Public schools. According to the Capital Gazette, in addition to the ''mental disorder'' provision, the Caucus wants ''a zero-tolerance policy for racism'' and a set of ''protocols [for] when racist incidents occur.''
Anne Arundel superintendent George Arlotto also felt the Caucus's wrath; he's accused of ''fail[ing] to understand or appreciate how the trauma of racism has directly and indirectly'' students and school staff.
The county NAACP signed on to Caucus measure.
The Caucus resolution mentions a racist petition created by a so-called ''Kool Kids Klan,'' and a noose that was found at middle school a year ago.
What it doesn't note is that, regarding the petition, police tried to find anything by which to charge the teens responsible, but nothing rose to the level of an actual crime. It also doesn't mention that back in 2017 a black student was responsible for sending a threat to her school using the (virtually identical) Twitter handle ''@KoolkidsKlanKkk.''
Mention of a similar instance which occurred this past February also is absent.
The (racial) achievement gap also is included in the resolution which, if racism is to be designated a ''mental health disorder,'' should alarm clear-thinking people.
Keep reading'...
Black Lives Matter's anti-Israel platform blindsides Jewish supporters - Washington Times
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 08:07
The Black Lives Matter movement blindsided its Jewish supporters with the recent unveiling of its social and political policy agenda, a far-left manifesto that strays well beyond police brutality and accuses Israel of ''genocide'' and ''apartheid.''
''The U.S. justifies and advances the global war on terror via its alliance with Israel and is complicit in the genocide taking place against the Palestinian people,'' said the platform's ''Invest-Divest'' policy brief.
Through foreign aid to Israel, which the platform describes as an ''apartheid state,'' Americans are made ''complicit in the abuses committed by the Israeli government,'' the brief says.
The strong anti-Israel language stunned liberal Jews, many of whom have expressed support for the Black Lives Matter movement's protests against shootings by police of unarmed black men.
''It is a real tragedy that Black Lives Matter '-- which has done so much good in raising awareness of police abuses '-- has now moved away from its central mission and has declared war against the nation state of the Jewish people,'' said Harvard Law School professor emeritus Alan M. Dershowitz in a Friday column in The Boston Globe.
He called on the Movement for Black Lives coalition to rescind the anti-Israel component of the platform, issued Aug. 1 and backed by 67 groups, including Color of Change, which is funded by top Democratic Party donors George Soros and the Center for American Progress.
The liberal Ford Foundation announced last month that it would partner with Borealis Philanthropy, Movement Strategy Center and Benedict Consulting on a six-year commitment to fund ''the organizations and networks that compose the Movement for Black Lives.''
Although Mr. Dershowitz said that many Black Lives Matter supporters ''may have no idea what the platform says,'' he described the platform as ''the closest thing to a formal declaration of principles by Black Lives Matter.''
''The genocide paragraph may well have been injected by radicals who are not representative of the mainstream. But now that it has officially been published, all decent supporters of Black Lives Matter '-- and there are many '-- must demand its removal,'' Mr. Dershowitz said.
An editorial Monday on MassLive in Massachusetts blasted the anti-Israel plank under the headline, ''Attacking Israel dilutes Black Lives Matters' cause.''
Progressives, meanwhile, have cheered the inclusion of the anti-Israel language, praising the document for linking the Palestinian and Black Lives movements.
''The affirmed solidarity of the Black Lives movement with the Palestinian experience imbues the Palestinian struggle for human and national rights with renewed energy,'' Zeina Azzam, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund and Palestine Center in Washington, D.C., said in a column. ''As Martin Luther King, Jr. famously said, 'Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.'''
One of the platform's authors, Ben Ndugga-Kabuye of the Black Alliance for Just Immigration, said that black activists feel connected to the Palestinian conflict.
''The way we look at it is, we take strong stances,'' Mr. Ndugga-Kabuye told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. ''The demand we're making is we're against the U.S. continuing funding and military aid to the government of Israel. These are all things that are going to be in debate.''
Pro-Palestinian messages are commonplace at Black Lives Matter protests, which routinely attract a hodgepodge of activists ranging from the Communist Party USA to fracking foes to opponents of food made with genetically modified organisms.
What the ambitious policy agenda shows is that Black Lives Matter itself is a creation of the progressive movement, not an organic response to outrage sparked by recent police shootings of unarmed black men, said Republican strategist Michael McKenna.
In addition to condemning Israel, the platform includes demands for race-based reparations, breaking up large banks, voting rights for illegal immigrants, fossil fuel divestment, an end to private education and charter schools, a ''universal basic income'' and free college for blacks.
Said Mr. McKenna sarcastically: ''I'm shocked that Black Lives Matters turns out to be a political movement holding down the left flank of the Democratic Party. I mean, what are the chances that an organization bankrolled by the usual suspects would turn out to be shills for the policy prescriptions of '... the usual suspects?''
The billionaire Mr. Soros donated in one year more than $33 million through his Open Society Foundations to groups affiliated with Black Lives Matter.
''[Black Lives Matter] is what it is '-- a political movement designed (immediately) to improve turnout for [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, argue mostly unarguable points, create fear and uncertainty in society, and just generally advocate for ridiculous and noxious policy positions,'' Mr. Kenna said in an email.
The Movement for Black Lives platform also creates more tension within the Democratic Party coalition with Jewish voters, many of whom have been frustrated by President Obama's hard line on Israel and outreach to hostile nations such as Iran.
Roz Rothstein, CEO of the pro-Israel organization StandWithUs, warned that the ''hyperbolic, inaccurate and dishonest language'' threatened to drive a wedge between the black and Jewish communities, which have traditionally worked together to advance civil rights.
''The Black Lives Matter movement has done much to highlight these issues in recent years and to reinvigorate a much needed discussion on race relations,'' StandWithUs said in a statement. ''That is why we are so deeply disappointed that the recently released Movement for Black Lives platform demonizes and dehumanizes Israelis with false accusations of 'genocide' and 'apartheid.'''
The Movement for Black Lives policy is ''slanderous, deeply offensive to the vast majority of the Jewish community, and damaging to longstanding relationships between Jewish and Black communities,'' said the statement.
In its introduction, the platform says that ''we recognize we have a shared struggle with all oppressed people; collective liberation will be a product of all of our work.''
''We are intentional about amplifying the particular experience of state and gendered violence that Black queer, trans, gender nonconforming, women and intersex people face,'' the platform says. ''There can be no liberation for all Black people if we do not center and fight for those who have been marginalized.''
Copyright (C) 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.
Starbucks vows 'unconscious bias' training after having 2 black men arrested
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:28
Zlati Meyer |
USA TODAY
28 minutes ago
The CEO of Starbucks is pledging to start "unconscious bias" training for employees after a video of two African-American men being arrested Thursday while waiting for a friend at one of its Philadelphia locations sparked demonstrations and calls for a company boycott.
CEO Kevin Johnson said in a interview of ABC's Good Morning America Monday that the training would address "unconscious bias." He also discussed instituting training for store managers on guidelines for handling situations in the coffee shops that warrant calling the police.
"Clearly, there's an opportunity for us to provide clarity," he said.
He explained that the company was reviewing the actions of the Philadelphia store manager and the guidelines followed. Later, Starbucks confirmed Monday that the Starbucks employee who made the call to police is no longer with the company, but it didn't indicate whether the worker was fired.
The reaction came in reaction to a videotaped incident in which Starbucks employees called police after the two men after two well-dressed African American men waited at the store without buying anything. They were denied access to the store bathroom, saying it was only for paying customers. The workers told police the pair was trespassing. A video of the incident posted on social media has been viewed an estimated 10 million times.
In the videotape, the friend, who is white, appears as the two men are being handcuffed by police and led away. Starbucks declined to press charges.
"Starbucks was built as a company that creates a warm, welcoming environment for all customers. That didn't happen in this case," Johnson said. "I've been very focused on understanding what guidelines and what training ever let this happen. What happened was wrong and we will fix it."
The same morning he was being interviewed on live TV about racial profiling, protesters were chanting slogans like, "A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black," at the Starbucks in the Center City section of downtown Philadelphia where the incident occurred. Demonstrators also were outside the coffee shop on Sunday.
Starbucks did not return phone calls seeking comment to delineate what policies are currently in place or outline what exactly the promised training would entail.
More: Calls grow to boycott Starbucks after two black men were arrested
More: Philadelphia mayor 'heartbroken' after black men arrested at Starbucks
More: Starbucks opens a Yosemite store without a sign outside
Johnson has repeatedly apologized for the incident.
The names of the two men have not been released.
This is Johnson's first real test on the job. April marks the one-year anniversary of his becoming CEO. He replaced Howard Schultz, who is credited with transforming the Seattle-based business into a worldwide brand and now serves as executive chairman. Johnson, who first joined Starbucks in 2009, was previously its chief operating officer.
Starbucks stock appears to be unaffected by the PR nightmare. It was $59.40, up 16 cents or 28% in late-morning trading.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer
Originally Published 2 hours ago
Updated 28 minutes ago
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#MeToo
Bill Cosby's Rape Defense: He Doesn't Like Intercourse | Trending
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:46
Almost 20 years ago now -- holy crap, am I that old? -- I witnessed a hit-and-run accident. I followed the car to where it was abandoned and tried to get a description of the driver for the police. This landed me in court one day to testify. During the trial, the accused claimed he was sitting on his front porch with a friend drinking beer. The judge asked him how many beers he had during the course of the day.
"Two," he answered. That's what eventually got him convicted. Between several witnesses who saw someone who looked an awful lot like him, his truck being the vehicle that hit the other, and his flimsy alibi, the judge figured there was ample evidence to convict.
Yet that flimsy story is much more believable to me than Bill Cosby's defense in his rape retrial. ''Why didn't you have sexual intercourse?'' a police officer asked him in 2004. ''I don't like it,'' Cosby responded.
This is a man who fathered five children. Five. And he tell us that he doesn't enjoy sexual intercourse?
Look, I'm not saying Cosby's guilty. I'm not going to say he's not guilty, either. I simply don't know. There are a lot of factors at work here and it's impossible to make a judgment on something like this based purely on what's been portrayed in the media. After all, according to the news, his conviction should have been a slam dunk, but instead, his first trial resulted in a hung jury.
BTC
IMF's Lagarde Counters Crypto Warnings With New Praise Of 'Potential Benefits'
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 12:02
The head of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde was buoyant about cryptocurrency in a blog post in support of the technology, published Monday, April 16.
The post, which comes roughly one month after Lagarde cautioned against the ''dark side'' of cryptocurrency, sees the IMF leader focus on what she describes as the ''potential benefits'' of ''crypto-assets such as Bitcoin.''
''A judicious look at crypto-assets should lead us to neither crypto-condemnation nor crypto-euphoria,'' she writes.
While continuing her narrative about the need to reign in illicit activity involving crypto, which she had voiced during January's World Economic Forum 2018 and since, Lagarde nonetheless reiterates the need for an ''even-handed approach'' going forward:
''Understanding the risks that crypto-assets may pose to financial stability is vital if we are to distinguish between real threats and needless fears. That is why we need an even-handed regulatory agenda, one that protects against risks without discouraging innovation.''
She continued, ''A clear-eyed approach can help us harness the gains and avoid the pitfalls of the new crypto-assets landscape.''
Lagarde's call for a balanced outlook on cryptocurrency comes at a time of increasing regulatory involvement in the industry, while traditional financiers continue to call Bitcoin a 'bubble' and pundits spy the start of a market surge.
Amazon filed a patent to de-anonymize Bitcoin transactions and sell the data to law enforcement '' Dark City Crypto
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:37
In 2014, Amazon applied for a patent that would help de-anonymize crypto currency transactions and then sell that information to law enforcement and government agencies. Although Bitcoin was never meant to be totally private, the patent looks to remove almost all levels of anonymity from crypto currency transactions if possible.
The patent explains a ''streaming digital marketplace'' where data points form different sources are used to pinpoint users identities. Below is a quote from the patent application.
One example is a data stream that publishes or includes global bitcoin transactions (or any crypto currency transaction). These transactions are completely visible to each participant in the network. The raw transaction data may have little meaning to a customer unless the customer has a way to correlate various elements of the stream with other useful data. For example, a group of electronic or internet retailers who accept bitcoin transactions may have a shipping address that may correlate with the bitcoin address. The electronic retailers may combine the shipping address with the bitcoin transaction data to create correlated data and republish the combined data as a combined data stream. A group of telecommunications providers may subscribe downstream to the combined data stream and be able to correlate the IP (Internet Protocol) addresses of the transactions to countries of origin. Government agencies may be able to subscribe downstream and correlate tax transaction data to help identify transaction participants.
The purpose here would be to combine data from different retailers and look for common points, such as a shipping address or IP logs and then start to put together a picture of the real identity of the person using Bitcoin or any other crypto currency.
Whatever their intention was with this patent, it seems like an odd patent for a retailer who doesn't even accept crypto currency. Last year, Amazon made headlines when they purchased several crypto related domain names. Nothing seems to have come of those purchases, but this patent going back to 2014 shows the company has had an interest in crypto currency technology for some time now.
DPRK
CIA Director Pompeo Reportedly Made Secret Trip To North Korea : The Two-Way : NPR
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 06:33
Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo pauses while speaking during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on confirmation last week on Capitol Hill in Washington. Alex Brandon/AP hide caption
toggle caption Alex Brandon/AP Secretary of State-designate Mike Pompeo pauses while speaking during the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on confirmation last week on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Alex Brandon/AP CIA Director Mike Pompeo made a secret visit to North Korea earlier this month to meet with leader Kim Jong Un '-- a trip meant to pave the way for possible direct talks between Kim and President Trump, according to multiple reports quoting unnamed White House officials.
The officials spoke about the clandestine meeting, which reportedly took place over Easter weekend, on condition of anonymity. However, the president, speaking at a joint news conference Tuesday with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe from the Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, said the U.S. and North Korea have had direct talks "at very high levels."
Trump said that he expected to sit down with the North Korean leader in early June, if not earlier, and that the White House was considering five possible sites for such a meeting.
The Washington Post, which first reported the Pompeo visit, notes, "Pompeo has taken the lead on the administration's negotiations with Pyongyang. His meeting with Kim marks the highest-level contact between the two countries since 2000, when then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met with Kim Jong Il, the current leader's late father, to discuss strategic issues. Then-Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper Jr. visited the country in 2014 to secure the release of two American captives and met with a lower-level intelligence official."
Pompeo, who is awaiting confirmation to succeed Rex Tillerson as secretary of state, "has been dealing with North Korean representatives through a channel that runs between the C.I.A. and its North Korean counterpart, the Reconnaissance General Bureau, according to other officials. And he has been in close touch with the director of South Korea's National Intelligence Service, Suh Hoon, who American officials said brokered Mr. Kim's invitation to Mr. Trump," The New York Times reports.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said Tuesday that the two leaders have not yet spoken directly.
If Trump and Kim do meet, it would be the first direct talks between a U.S. and North Korean leader. The U.S. played a key role in the bitterly fought Korea War that ended in an armistice '' not a peace treaty '' in 1953. North and South Korea have technically been in a state of war ever since.
Given his harsh words for Pyongyang and its leader, Kim, since taking office '-- including his threat to respond to Pyongyang's missile tests with "fire and fury" '-- Trump signaled a more conciliatory note in the news conference with Abe.
"I really believe there's a lot of good will. They do respect us. We are respectful of them," the president said.
"They do have my blessing to discuss the end of the war," he said. "Subject to a deal, they have my blessing."
For his part, Abe, whose country has been a frequent target of North Korea's ire and a would-be target of its ballistic missiles, praised Trump for his "unwavering determination in addressing the challenge of North Korea."
Agenda 2030
Climate Credits in Cali
A Message from the California Public Utilities Commission
This month* your utility bill will include a credit identified
as the “California Climate Credit.” Your household and millions of others
throughout the state will receive this credit on your utility bills.
The California Climate Credit is part of California’s efforts
to fight climate change. This credit is from a state program that requires
power plants and other large industries that emit greenhouse gases to buy
carbon pollution permits. The credit on your bill is your share of the
payments from the State’s program.
The Climate Credit is one of many programs resulting from
landmark legislation called the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.
Together, these programs are cutting pollution, creating jobs, and investing
in cleaner energy and transportation. Your Climate Credit is designed to help
you join in these efforts.
For more information about the Climate Credit, visit www.cpuc.ca.gov/climatecredit.
For more information about climate change science and programs to reduce
carbon pollution, visit www.climatechange.ca.gov.
Antifa!
Newnan Georgia Rally this weekend
In the Morning Gentlemen,
I just finished up episode 1026, and I heard you read a letter
from a producer concerning the "Neo-Nazi" rally in Newnan, Ga. I just
wanted to give a little follow up on that, and give you an insider scoop.
I grew up in Newnan, but moved to Dallas, TX about two years
ago. I am still in touch with many of my Newnan friends, and get to see a lot
of their facebag posts about this upcoming rally. (They are mostly all firmly
planted in Dimensh B.)
The organization in question is the "National Socialist
Movement," who were able to secure a permit to organize in Newnan for just
$50. I'm guessing this is one of the reasons they chose the small town. Also,
only 50-100 are even expected to show up. But somehow, the WHITE SUPREMACISTS
ARE TAKING OVER THIS COUNTRY!!!
I bring this up, because I wanted to point out a very
interesting strategy that the NSM seems to be putting in place. By only
rallying approximately 100 of their members, they are bringing in 1000s of
anti-protestors, news media, Antifa, Virtue-Signalers, SJWs, etc...
The likely outcome here is that the anti-NSM folks will be the
ones to cause any actual altercations (Antifa shutting down roads,
"punching nazis" as they so famously like to do, and so on.) And all
the NSM has to do is sit back and be peaceful, and show the world how
"civilized" they are and maybe that their beliefs aren't so bad after
all. It's actually pretty genius!
So far, I've seen nothing but Virtue Signaling from my Newnan
friends. I even had to "Unfollow" one of them because he has been
posting rougly 5 facebag posts a day about this event for the past 2-3 weeks.
The response they have is gut-wrenching, not because I feel the NSM has any
validity, but how much effort these Dimesh B-ers put in to something that
pretty much has no bearing on anything! (I've included some screengrabs of a
lengthy rant, if for nothing more than to get a kick out it all.)
I don't anticipate this rally becoming much of anything.
However, I will have many boots-on-the-ground out their to keep me updated, and
will share anything of value with you if something comes of the whole ordeal.
Thanks for being the Best Podcast in the Universe,
~Anonymous
Directed Energy Weapons
Canada pulls families of diplomatic staff from Cuba
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:05
By ROB GILLIES
Apr. 16, 2018
TORONTO (AP) '-- Canada's foreign ministry said Monday that it is ordering families of diplomatic staff in Cuba to return home amid questions about mysterious health symptoms detected in 10 people who were stationed on the island.
Canadian diplomats will no longer be accompanied by family members in Cuba because of what it called "ongoing uncertainty" over the cause of the ailments, the ministry said in a statement. Spouses, children or even parents of diplomats already with them in Havana will begin leaving immediately.
The move comes after 10 Canadians continue to show unexplained brain symptoms and after "medical information raised concerns for a new type of a possible acquired brain injury." Symptoms have included dizziness, headaches and lack of ability to concentrate.
The U.S. State Department cut staff at its embassy in October because of similar symptoms affecting 24 American diplomats and dependents.
Former U.S. State Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the symptoms resulted from "targeted attacks" but not who may have been behind them.
Cuba has repeatedly denied either involvement in or knowledge of any attacks and has said its own investigation into the illnesses has turned up no evidence of deliberate action. The United States has not accused Cuba of such action but has said Havana holds responsibility nonetheless, arguing that such incidents could not have occurred on the small, communist-run island without the knowledge of Cuban officials.
The Canadian government said results of an environmental assessment of diplomatic staff quarters in Havana, including tests of air and water quality, did not indicate anything that could point to a cause.
Questions emerged "more recently" with information from Canadian medical specialists involved in the evaluation of affected diplomats and dependents as well as from U.S. specialists that "raised concerns for a new type of a possible acquired brain injury," the ministry said.
"Additional research is needed to better understand this. The cause remains unknown but could be human-made."
Cuba is a favorite tourist destination for Canadians, but the foreign ministry said there is no evidence of any related ailments among Canadian travelers
The foreign ministry said Canada has a "positive and constructive relationship" with Cuba and has received close cooperation from the Cuban authorities since the health concerns surfaced in Canadians last spring.
The mysterious case has sent U.S.-Cuba relations plummeting from what had been a high point when the two countries, estranged for a half century, restored full diplomatic ties under President Barack Obama in 2015.
Out There
'Horrific' Hillary Clinton Snuff Film Circulating On Dark Web
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 08:12
An ''extreme snuff film'' featuring Hillary Clinton and Huma Abedin raping and mutilating a prepubescent girl is circulating on the dark web, according to sources familiar with the material.
The video, code named Frazzledrip, has been circulating on the dark web since Monday, according to reliable sources who have viewed the material and confirm the content is ''worse than any nightmare.''
''The people who are coming back from viewing this tape are just not the same.''.
Many people are unable to watch the video due to the horrific nature of the content, according to sources familiar with the tape.
In the video, they take a little girl and they fillet her face, according to reports, and then they take turns wearing the little girl's face like a mask. It is believed they were terrorizing the young girl, deliberately causing the child's body to release Adenochrome into her bloodstream before bleeding her out and drinking the blood during a Satanic ritual sacrifice.
Adrenochrome is an oxidation product of adrenaline (ephinephrine, norepinephrine) that is extracted from a living donor's adrenal gland. According to those familiar with the elites' drug of choice, the high is ''intense'' and ''exotic''.
#PEDOVORE #PedoGateNews #PedogateisReal pic.twitter.com/8v8dZFUv2U
'-- therealdeal (@podobensky) April 14, 2018
It is understood the file was recovered from Anthony Weiner's laptop, located in the ''Life Insurance'' folder.
Reliable sources familiar with the dark web claim the snuff tape was dropped by an unknown user and began circulating early last week. The dark web is a part of the World Wide Web that is only accessible by means of special software.
In theory the dark web allows users and website owners to remain anonymous and operate untraceably, however due to the highly sensitive and illegal nature of the video content, extreme caution is advised before dealing with the file.
''The #Hillgramage 2018''. I'm shaking tonight with this drop. This would be an appropriate outcome. From #Epstein to #CometPingPong and everything in between, We've been waiting for this. We're coming @HillaryClinton, I'm sharpening my pitchfork right now. #FRAZZLEDRIP #Pizzagate https://t.co/NFbCc4AZTt
'-- ImMikeRobertson 🇺🇸 (@ImMikeRobertson) April 15, 2018
Ownership and distribution of a video of this nature is illegal and could result in jail time for those attempting to spread the word about the sickening discovery.
''This is a nightmarish snuff film featuring the mutilation and rape of a young girl. If you come across this video, do not download it and do not forward it to anybody. You could be punished severely by the law. Is this a trap for those among us who are desperate to bring HRC to justice? Anything is possible at this point. But from what we can see, the video is real. But you must be very, very careful.''
Just be careful. If you are downloading any videos, remember you don't know who is watching please take my advice! #opPedoHunt #frazzledrip ðŸ‘
'-- ANONYMOUS AMERICA (@K0RANlSBURNING) April 15, 2018
CLIPS
VIDEO - Alpha males hurt alpha: Hedge fund managers with high testosterone lag
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:55
After years of underperformance, researchers may have discovered what's plaguing the hedge-fund industry: too much testosterone.
Hedge-fund managers with high testosterone underperform those with low testosterone by 5.8 percent each year, according to a study conducted by University of Central Florida and Singapore Management University.
The researchers used software to measure the facial width-to-height ratio '-- proven to be a proxy for testosterone levels '-- of more than 3,000 hedge-fund managers. After controlling for variables such as risk and market environment, the researchers found that not only do funds of higher-testosterone managers produce lower returns, but those managers also have a greater propensity to be terminated.
Gradyreese | Getty Images
High-testosterone managers "trade more frequently, have a stronger preference for lottery-like stocks and are more likely to succumb to the disposition effect," the report said, referring to the tendency of investors to sell assets at higher prices and holding onto those that have dropped in value.
The researchers also found that hedge-fund investors '-- specifically, hedge fund-of-funds '-- select managers based on their own testosterone levels. In other words, higher testosterone fund-of-hedge funds are more likely to invest in higher-testosterone managers, while the reverse is true for lower testosterone.
The results of the study may have implications for hedge-fund performance as well as hedge-fund culture, which tends to prize aggression, competitiveness and drive.
If this study is true, perhaps the prevalence of alpha males is what's eroding alpha.
Hedge funds have largely underperformed the S&P 500 during the current bull market. And they've continued to underperform even as the market has gotten more volatile. In aggregate, hedge funds have returned 0.14 percent this year, according to Hedge Fund Research. That compares with a 1.3 percent gain for the S&P 500.
VIDEO - James Comey On Speaking Out About Clinton Investigation | The View - YouTube
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:44
VIDEO - Wetherspoon pub chain shuts its social media accounts - BBC News
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:22
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Media caption JD Wetherspoon chairman Tim Martin says his chain of pubs will no longer be on social mediaPub chain JD Wetherspoon has used Twitter to tell its 44,000 followers that it is quitting social media.
The firm's head office and 900 pubs will quit the micro-blogging site, and also Instagram and Facebook, with immediate effect, it said.
The pub chain linked the move to bad publicity surrounding social media including the "trolling" of MPs.
Chairman Tim Martin told the BBC that society would be better off if people cut the amount of social media use.
The firm said its decision had also been influenced by concerns regarding the "misuse of personal data" and "the addictive nature of social media".
"We are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business," said Mr Martin.
He told the BBC he had always thought the idea that social media was essential for advertising was untrue.
"We were also concerned that pub managers were being side-tracked from the real job of serving customers," he said. "I don't believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever."
The chairman said that it had consulted its pub managers before making the move, and "90-to-95% felt using social media was not helping the business".
Mr Martin told BBC Radio 5 Live that he thinks coming off social media would be good for society in general.
He said that if people "limited their social media to half an hour a day, they'd be mentally and physically better off".
He added: "I find most people I know waste their time on it. A lot of them say they know they waste their time on it, but they struggle to get off it."
Analysis: Rory Cellan-Jones, BBC technology correspondent: It has become received wisdom that a social media presence, used for everything from customer support to promoting the brand, is now a vital tool in the marketing strategy of any business big or small. So why does JD Wetherspoon feel it can do without one?
The pub chain has certainly put plenty of effort into it until now, with hundreds of different Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts. But the truth is that none had won much of a mass following - and those who ran the accounts were not doing a very good job. A tweet pushing fish and chips on Good Friday got just three re-tweets.
Managing an effective social media strategy and making sure staff running so many accounts stick to company policy is a very time consuming and expensive business. Perhaps for Wetherspoons all of this effort has become more trouble than it is worth.
The chairman reassured its followers that it would "still be as vocal as ever", but would instead use its magazine and website as well as the press for news updates.
He said customers could also get in touch with them by speaking with their local pub manager.
"It's becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion," Mr Martin added.
You may also like:BacklashThe pub chain has more than 100,000 Facebook followers and more than 6,000 on Instagram - both relatively small totals.
Asked whether Wetherspoon's move could start a business trend, Mr Martin said he hoped not.
"Currently we've got a massive commercial advantage because everyone else is wasting hours of their time," he said.
The move comes amid a wider corporate backlash against social media.
In February, consumer goods giant Unilever threatened to pull all ads from online platforms like Facebook and Google if they did not do enough to police extremist and illegal content.
And following the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, Tesla boss Elon Musk had the official Facebook pages for his Tesla and SpaceX companies deleted.
VIDEO - Sean Spicer: Our goal is to 'destabilize Syria' - YouTube
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:13
VIDEO - British govt caught up in Facebook data mining scandal - YouTube
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:58
VIDEO - VIDEO: Jovial Comey Drinks Wine from Paper Cup, Laughs Up a Storm on Colbert; Calls Trump's Behavior "Crazy" '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:24
Politics SecurityVIDEO: Jovial Comey Drinks Wine from Paper Cup, Laughs Up a Storm on Colbert; Calls Trump's Behavior ''Crazy''James Comey is laughing it up on the book tour circuit.
While sipping cocktails with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday, Comey was all smiles, reflecting on his relationship with Donald Trump.
Nothing brings a smile to your face, after all, like a corrupt and politicized FBI.
Ain't retirement grand?
COLBERT: Are there things that you know about the Russia investigation that were happening before you were fired that we haven't learned yet as a public?
COMEY: Yes. pic.twitter.com/7r9Jg2jqgV
'-- Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 18, 2018
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VIDEO - It was Largest Volcanic Eruption in Human History | The Weather Channel
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:18
Weather April 10, 2018
weather.comOn April 10, 1816, the world experienced the largest volcanic eruption in human history. Mount Tambora's eruption in Indonesia was so powerful, it turned summer into winter in parts of North America and Europe.
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Erie, Pennsylvania May Top 200 Inches of Seasonal Snow 00:44
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VIDEO - Erie, Pennsylvania May Top 200 Inches of Seasonal Snow | The Weather Channel
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:18
Weather less than an hour ago
weather.comErie, Pennsylvania, is nearing 200 inches of snow this season, shattering not only its own seasonal snow record, but also threatening an all-time seasonal snow record for any large U.S. city.
facebookCreated with Sketch.twitterCreated with Sketch.emailCreated with Sketch.More VideosUp Next
Midwest Spring Temperatures in Sight for Late April 00:56
Colorado Winds Whip Up Dust and Feed Fires 00:32
Winds Blow Hundreds of Tumbleweeds into Victorville, California 00:28
Spring Warm Up, Better Late than Never 01:18
VIDEO - EXCLUSIVE, FULL & UNEDITED Interview Of Lavrov To BBC - YouTube
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:48
VIDEO - HILARIOUS: CNN Journo Sniffs ''Sarin Sprayed'' Backpack, Concludes It's Assad's Chemical Weapon - YouTube
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:41
VIDEO - Amazon: CEO Jeff Bezos' 2018 shareholder letter
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:37
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has released his latest annual shareholder letter.
In the letter, Bezos stressed the importance of having high standards in running a business. By setting high standards, companies are able to live up to "ever-rising customer expectations," he said.
"How do you stay ahead of ever-rising customer expectations? There's no single way to do it '' it's a combination of many things. But high standards (widely deployed and at all levels of detail) are certainly a big part of it," Bezos wrote in the letter.
Bezos also disclosed for the first time that Prime now exceeds 100 million members worldwide. In 2017 alone, Amazon added more Prime members than any prior year, and shipped over five billion items through the paid membership service worldwide, he said.
Amazon also sold the most number of devices last year, with customers buying "tens of millions" of Echo devices, Bezos wrote in the letter.
With regards to Whole Foods, Bezos said the "technical work" is currently under way to bring Prime member benefits to the grocery chain.
High standardsThe annual letter, which Bezos has published every year since 1997, is widely considered a must-read by business professionals for its rich detail around the Amazon CEO's management principle and long-term thinking.
This year's letter focuses on the idea of setting high standards. Bezos writes high standards are "teachable" and that they are "contagious" within an organization. But they have to be "domain specific" because they don't automatically spread from one area to another.
In order to achieve high standards, Bezos says you need to "recognize" its exact meaning in a particular area, and then set the "scope" for realistic expectations to reach those goals.
"So, the four elements of high standards as we see it: they are teachable, they are domain specific, you must recognize them, and you must explicitly coach realistic scope," Bezos writes. "Building a culture of high standards is well worth the effort, and there are many benefits."
In one of the more amusing parts of the letter, Bezos gave an anecdote about a friend who visited a handstand coach '-- who told her it would take six months to master the skill '-- in order to illustrate his point:
A close friend recently decided to learn to do a perfect free-standing handstand. No leaning against a wall. Not for just a few seconds. Instagram good. She decided to start her journey by taking a handstand workshop at her yoga studio. She then practiced for a while but wasn't getting the results she wanted. So, she hired a handstand coach. Yes, I know what you're thinking, but evidently this is an actual thing that exists. In the very first lesson, the coach gave her some wonderful advice. "Most people," he said, "think that if they work hard, they should be able to master a handstand in about two weeks. The reality is that it takes about six months of daily practice. If you think you should be able to do it in two weeks, you're just going to end up quitting." Unrealistic beliefs on scope '' often hidden and undiscussed '' kill high standards. To achieve high standards yourself or as part of a team, you need to form and proactively communicate realistic beliefs about how hard something is going to be '' something this coach understood well.
You can read the full letter here.
VIDEO - BBC Reporter Discourages Syria Questions Due To ''Information War'' With Russia '' Caitlin Johnstone
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:20
A BBC interview is making the rounds today among opponents of western interventionism in Syria. The subject of the interview, Admiral Alan West, voiced some much needed skepticism about the establishment narrative around the alleged gas attack in Douma. Everybody's talking about it because West is an empire loyalist that nobody in their right mind would accuse of being an ''Assad apologist'' or ''useful idiot of the Kremlin'', as anyone else who doesn't swallow the official story hook, line and sinker is uniformly labeled.
West made some sensible comments about the White Helmets and the fact that Jaysh al-Islam had far more incentive to stage such an attack than Assad had to perpetrate it. Even more helpful was his personal account of having been aggressively pressured to make false reports about the success of the British bombing campaign in Bosnia, suggesting that those pressures can lead to bad intelligence and erroneous military responses.
''I just wonder, you know we've had some bad experiences on intelligence,'' West said. ''When I was chief of defense intelligence, I had huge pressure put on me politically to try and say that our bombing campaign in Bosnia was achieving all sorts of things which it wasn't. I was put under huge pressure, so I know the things that can happen with intelligence.''
So that's a very significant addition to the dialogue. For me, though, the most interesting comments made in that interview came not from West, but from the BBC reporter who was interviewing him.
In the latter half of the interview, BBC's Annita McVeigh asked the following questions after West's comment about Bosnia:
''We know that the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday, or accused a western state on Friday, of perhaps fabricating evidence in Douma or somehow being involved in what happened in Douma. Given that we're in an information war with Russia on so many fronts, do you think perhaps it's inadvisable to be stating this so publicly given your position and your profile? Isn't there a danger that you're muddying the waters?''
Whoa.
Wait a minute, did that just happen? Did a BBC reporter just suggest that it could possibly be ''inadvisable'' for a retired naval officer to make public statements questioning what we're being told to believe about Syria? That the conversation shouldn't even be had? That the questions shouldn't even be asked? Because we're trying to win an ''information war''? Did McVeigh really suggest that the intelligence of the same war machine which led us into Iraq on false pretenses should not be questioned at the risk of ''muddying the waters''?
West was introduced as someone who was skeptical of the official Douma narrative, so he didn't spring this stuff on McVeigh out of the blue and her questions could easily have been prepared in advance. I am genuinely curious if she came up with this bizarre line of inquiry on her own or was given it by a superior. Attempts to contact McVeigh via email and Twitter have thus far gone unanswered; I'll update this if she responds.
You know you're in trouble when the military man tries to do the journalist's job by asking questions and holding power to account'... and the journalist tries to stop him.
I have said that truth is the first casualty in war and that this is doubly true of cold war, but it isn't supposed to be that way. We all know that the BBC has an extensive history of functioning as a propaganda firm for the western war machine, but it isn't supposed to be that way. It isn't supposed to be a BBC reporter's job to concern herself with beating Russia in an ''information war'', it's supposed to be her job to tell the truth and hold power to account.
By suggesting that winning an ''information war'' with Russia should take priority over critical thinking and truth telling, McVeigh essentially admitted that she is a propagandist for the western war engine. Her comments say a lot about how she sees her role at the BBC, and it's likely that this is a culture that is being fostered within the entire outlet as well.
This is very concerning. Anyone who's studied the situation in Syria understands that western military involvement always comes with a risk of confrontation with not just the armed forces of the Syrian government, but with those of Russia and Iran as well. All that it would take right now is a miscommunication or a weapon discharging in an unintended way to set off a swift chain of events that could lead to all out hot war, which when Russia is involved always comes with the possibility of a nuclear warhead being deployed by either side in the chaos and setting Mutually Assured Destruction into effect.
These are not at all outlandish possibilities to consider; they are breathing down our necks as you read this. And yet in this hotly volatile climate, people are being dissuaded from asking questions.
We as individuals are all vastly smarter and wiser than the oligarchs who rule us, and we can handle picking our way through a wide array of information, even information which runs counter to western interests in an ''information war''. Ideas are not inherently dangerous. What is dangerous is truth being hidden from the public, making us incapable of making accurate determinations about what's true and what's false and using that knowledge to make our wishes known to power. What is dangerous is escalations with a nuclear superpower and its allies and a steadily increasing hostility toward skepticism and detente advocacy.
It isn't their place to protect us from ideas and information. It isn't their place to use us as pawns in their idiotic ''information war''. They need to stop concerning themselves with controlling the way we think. We are not children that they get to lie to because they believe it is in our best interest. The state of the world today shows that the people running our media and our governments are the very last people on earth who should be making such calls on our behalf.
UPDATE: I had a brief and unsatisfactory interaction with McVeigh on Twitter shortly after this article was published. I don't feel like any relevant questions were answered; what a BBC reporter is doing arguing for an ''information war'' against Russia, to what extent this concept of information war impacts her work, if other BBC staff saw themselves as fighting an information war against Russia, if she was asked to conduct that line of inquiry with West by a superior at the BBC, etc.
Lord West told me he had no specific evidence about the Douma attack but from strategic point of view, it didn't 'fit well' that Assad would have ordered it. We were very interested in his opinion, otherwise we wouldn't have asked him to do the interview. '..... https://t.co/MctkGGQoD2
'-- Annita McVeigh (@annita_mcveigh) April 17, 2018
2/2'.... It was right that he got to give his opinion, and right in the context of the information war to question him about any evidence. https://t.co/MctkGGQoD2
'-- Annita McVeigh (@annita_mcveigh) April 17, 2018
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VIDEO - Episode 55: Ed Schultz | National Review
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:10
Sweden: Trouble in Paradise?Writing in Politico, Paulina Neuding returns to the topic of Sweden's crime problem and the unwillingness of the Swedish elite to admit what has been going on:Indeed it is, although, to be fair, those taboos are fraying fairly rapidly. Nevertheless, Sweden remains a country where, whether by law or, even more ...
Read MoreThe Judge Shouldn't Have Disclosed '-- but Hannity Should HaveI think Andy makes a very strong case below on the law, and I'm willing to defer to him on this barring some really compelling counterargument (my standard practice on most legal issues, by the way).But, while the law provides one set of standards, there are other standards at play as well. Even if it was ...
Read MoreWomen's March Leader Calls for Starbucks Boycott Due to Partnership with Jewish GroupWomen's March co-chair Tamika Mallory called on her followers to boycott Starbucks Tuesday night after the coffee chain announced it would partner with the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) to develop anti-bias training for employees.Mallory, who has been roundly criticized for her ties to notorious anti-Semite ...
Read MoreThe Comey''Trump DanceI never thought the Comey book would make much news for the simple reason that it would be outrageous if it did. If Comey knew something relevant and important about the Russia investigation that we didn't already know, he couldn't possibly put it in his book. Let's say he did have something big on the ...
Read MoreIs James Comey Michael Wolff-ing Himself?Michael Wolff published a runaway bestseller that left his reputation in tatters. James Comey may be doing a version of the same thing. The rap on Wolff was that he made stuff up. That's not the issue with Comey. It's that his shots at Trump -- although mild by Trump standards -- don't accord with his high-minded ...
Read MoreWednesday LinksT'was the 18th of April in seventy-five: The midnight ride of William Dawes and Samuel Prescott (and Paul Revere).The Forgotten Nazi History of ''One-Pot Meals.''Dorothy's Wizard of Oz Ruby Slippers on Sale for a Whopping $6 Million.On April 18, 1906, an earthquake and fire destroyed 80 percent of ...
Read MoreThe Underappreciated Barbara BushMaking the click-through worthwhile: realizing how little we appreciated Barbara Bush when she was in the public's eye; Mike Pompeo meets with Kim Jong Un and the long road to presidential attendance at high-stakes summit meetings; and Democrats propose a vast, expensive new plan to tackle unemployment . . . at ...
Read MoreMcConnell and Russian Election InterferenceSenate majority leader Mitch McConnell says he won't bring legislation to the floor to protect special prosecutor Robert Mueller's investigation. The incident has inspired liberals to revive their complaints that McConnell put party before country in the last weeks of the 2016 election. The charge, which I have ...
Read MoreCalifornia's Simmering Political RevoltOn the surface, California seems politically monolithic. But as its younger citizens come of age, and as they find themselves locked out of homeownership and economic opportunity, a revolt is brewing.In January, Kerry Jackson, a fellow at the Pacific Research Institute, publised a searing Los Angeles Times ...
Read MoreMacron's Post-Democratic 'Europe'Whatever else you may think about France's President Macron, he is, so far as his own country is concerned, an interesting and innovative politician. But when it comes to the EU, he remains committed to the old Procrustean vision that has caused the union so much trouble, is about to cost it one of its largest ...
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VIDEO - In-Depth Interview: Investigative Reporter Greg Palast Unpacks 2016 Stolen Election '' Peter B. Collins
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:55
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https://www.peterbcollins.com/wp/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/Palast-2.mp3Greg Palast, whose incredible work is largely blacked out by US corporate media, joins us in studio to talk about how Republicans meddled in the 2016 election. Palast is in the Bay Area to premier the latest edition of his rollicking documentary, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy: The Case of the Stolen Election. You can order a signed DVD and get more info here.
Palast has just returned from Kansas, where he joins the ACLU in challenging the Interstate Crosscheck List, the handywork of Kansas Secretary of State turned candidate for governor, Kris Kobach. Palast explains how Crosscheck was used to purge millions of voters in 2016, along with an array of other tactics.
Palast updates us on Michigan, where Trump was named winner by less than 11,000 votes, despite 75,000 ballots in Detroit and Flint that were tabulated with no vote for president. He also slams the Clinton campaign for failing to join the Green Party's challenge to the Michigan vote count, and for failing to reach out to Sanders voters who rejected Clinton in the Michigan primary and in Wisconsin in November.
He comments on the exaggerated claims of Russian election meddling, noting that we have plenty of suspects right here in America.
And as we wrap up the conversation, Palast talks about his high school classmate Stephen Paddock, accused of the 2017 mass murder in Las Vegas. Paddock and Palast went in different directions after graduating from LA's Polytechnic High School, and Palast acknowledges the alienation that Paddock experienced.
VIDEO - HILARIOUS: CNN Journo Sniffs ''Sarin Sprayed'' Backpack, Concludes It's Assad's Chemical Weapon - YouTube
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 10:27
VIDEO - Southwest 1380 (engine failure 4/17/2018) ENTIRE EVENT: actual multi-sector ATC audio - YouTube
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 17:52
VIDEO - Comey mocks Trump: I'm like 'the breakup he can't get over' | TheHill
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:39
Former FBI director James Comey James Brien ComeyEvery NY Times nonfiction No. 1 this year has been about Trump or Clinton Image projected on Trump's DC hotel: 'There's a rapist in the White House' The Hill's 12:30 Report MORE on Tuesday night mocked President Trump Donald John TrumpTrump: US, North Korea holding talks at 'very high levels' Hoyer: Dems eying ways to roll back GOP tax law New Jersey governor signs automatic voter registration bill MORE for the president's tweets attacking him.
"He's tweeted at me probably 50 times," Comey told Stephen Colbert during the late-night show.
"I've been gone for a year, I'm like the breakup he can't get over. He wakes up in the morning ... I'm out there living my best life, he wakes up in the morning and tweets at me."
Trump and his administration in recent days have gone on the attack against Comey as the former FBI director continues a media tour promoting his book "A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership."
The president has targeted Comey several times in tweets and White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week that Trump's firing of Comey will be "one of the president's greatest achievements."
Over the weekend, Trump referred to Comey, who he fired last year, as a "slimeball" and said he would go down as the worst FBI director in history.
Trump also denied ever asking for Comey's loyalty and questioned why "the big questions in Comey's badly reviewed book aren't answered."
Comey has done a number of interviews, his first since being fired by Trump, in recent days to promote the book.
During an interview on ABC that aired Sunday night, Comey said there's "certainly some evidence" Trump obstructed justice when he asked about the investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
Comey also said during the interview that aired Sunday he thinks it's possible Trump is compromised by Russia.
VIDEO - James Comey To 'Fresh Air': The FBI Isn't 'On Anybody's Side' : NPR
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 22:05
James Comey served director of the FBI from Sept. 4, 2013, until his dismissal on May 9, 2017. Elias Williams for NPR hide caption
toggle caption Elias Williams for NPR James Comey served director of the FBI from Sept. 4, 2013, until his dismissal on May 9, 2017.
Elias Williams for NPR It's been almost a year since since James Comey first learned that President Trump had fired him. The former FBI director was in Los Angeles visiting the field office for a diversity event when a ticker announcing his ouster scrolled across the bottom of a TV screen.
"I thought it was a scam," Comey says. "I went back to talking to the people who were gathered in front of me."
But it was true. Comey later told the Senate intelligence committee that he believed he had been fired for leading the FBI's investigation into Russian interference in the election and potential ties between the Trump campaign and Russia. But Trump gave conflicting reasons for the dismissal '-- including the claim that Comey had mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's private email server that she used as secretary of state.
Now Comey shares his story in his new memoir, A Higher Loyalty. In it, he explains his handling of the Clinton investigation and sounds the alarm about the Trump presidency. He also defends the FBI against charges of partisanship.
"People love the FBI when they think it's on their side," Comey says. But, he adds, "We were not '-- and are not '-- on anybody's side. ... That is not how we looked at the world and not how the FBI looks at the world today."
Hear the full Fresh Air interview with James Comey at the audio link above, and read on for highlights.
Interview HighlightsOn his first awkward public encounter with Trump on Jan. 22, 2017
I was really keen not to be in a picture with the president or have him attempt to hug. ... He called me across the room. ... The walk across the room probably took me five strides. It seemed like a half hour and my wife ... seeing that ... she said, "That's Jim's 'Oh s***' face."
I'm walking forward and I'm just thinking, "There's no way I'm hugging this guy. That is not going to happen." So I reach out my hand to keep it in front of me to make it a handshake, and he grabs my hand and he pulls in and down. He's going for the hug. So I thought I'm going to resist this; unless he's a lot stronger than he appears, he's not going to be able to get me to hug him. And so I tighten my whole core, and I stiffened up and he didn't get the hug.
He couldn't pull me in close enough, but I actually got something worse. He pulled me down as far as he could and then he put his lips by my right ear, which obscured them from the camera. What he said was, "I really look forward to working with you." But of course the whole world, including my wife and children, saw Donald Trump kiss me. There was no kiss, but that's what it looked like. Far worse than a hug.
On his claim that President Trump asked him for a pledge of loyalty during a private dinner on Jan. 27, 2017
He looked at me and said just that, "I need loyalty. I expect loyalty." And I just looked at him and I didn't blink and I didn't move. ... I was stunned by what he was asking and didn't want to give him any indication of ascent.
Again, I'm the director of the FBI. That's an organization that is in the executive branch but must always be, in a way, apart from the executive branch, because we have to investigate executive branch officials. We often have to investigate a White House, and so the distance is at the core of the FBI's credibility, and here's the president asking me for personal loyalty. And so I just stared at him and he stared at me. It seemed like forever. It was probably two seconds, and then he looked back down at his food and the conversation moved on.
But he surely noticed that I hadn't answered or even moved, because he came back to it near the end of the conversation. ... He came back to loyalty again and said, "I need loyalty." And I paused and I said, "I will always be honest with you," and he said after a pause, "That's what I want. Honest loyalty."
And I paused, desperately looking for a way to get out of this incredibly awkward conversation. I said, "You'll get that from me," knowing what I meant and believing that, given the conversation that had happened since we started the meal, he understood what I meant by that. And then we were out of that particular part of the conversation.
On his decision to hold a press conference to announce the end of the FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails on July 5, 2016
It is absolutely the normal practice that when we complete a criminal investigation the Justice Department finishes and there is no statement at all. Sometimes there's a statement that we're finished. Sometimes just the person being investigated is notified privately, sometimes nothing is said at all.
But there are occasions, and this has been a long tradition of the department, where the Department of Justice's policies acknowledge that the public interest demands more than that. I was making this statement in an effort to demonstrate to the American people that we had done a competent, honest and independent investigation and there was no "there" there. ... I believe that without transparency and some level of detail that the credibility of the conclusion would be undermined and accomplishing the goal of showing the American people, "Look, we did this in a fair and independent way," would be we'd fall short of that goal if we weren't honest about what we found in characterizing it. Again, that happens very, very rarely, but it happens when it has to.
On his decision to notify Congress that the FBI was reopening its investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails 11 days before the 2016 presidential election
The Clinton email investigation was a series of no-win decisions where people were going to be mad at you no matter what you did. That was true in July when I thought that the matter was over, and boy, it was sure true in late October.
James Comey
The Clinton email investigation was a series of no-win decisions where people were going to be mad at you no matter what you did. That was true in July when I thought that the matter was over, and boy, it was sure true in late October.
Here's how I thought about it: The FBI and the Department of Justice had told Congress and the American people repeatedly since early July that this investigation was done well and it's over: "You can rely on that. Move on. There's nothing to see here."
Now we were restarting it in not some frivolous way, but in a hugely significant way. We're talking hundreds of thousands of emails and maybe the emails from the first three months [of Clinton's term as secretary of state], the result could change here. And so what do you do?
Despite what folks may have heard, there actually aren't any rules about how you conduct yourself in the runup to an election. I keep hearing stuff about a 30-day rule or a 60-day rule; that's nonsense. But even though there aren't any rules, there's a really important norm that I've lived my entire career in the Department of Justice under and still believe in: that if you can avoid action, you avoid action that might have an impact on the election.
But as I sat there on the 27th and 28th of October, I couldn't find a door that said "no action," I could only see two actions:
I could speak. I could tell Congress what we had discovered '-- that would be terrible. It might have an impact on the election. Speaking would be really bad.
How would concealing be? And all of us kept coming to the same conclusion: Concealing would be catastrophic for the institutions of justice. It would undermine confidence and faith in these institutions, maybe forever, certainly for a generation.
So as between "really bad" (speaking) and "catastrophic" (concealing), we've got to go with the really bad option.
On why the FBI didn't make public before the 2016 election that it was investigating Russia's interference in the election and possible ties with the Trump campaign
We don't confirm the existence of an investigation until there are important public interest reasons to do so and the investigation itself will not be jeopardized. Russia was engaged in an extensive effort to interfere in our election, that the intelligence committee got onto beginning in June of 2016. Separately, in late July, the FBI got information that there may be Americans associated on the periphery and associated with the Trump campaign who may be '-- although we don't know this '-- helping the Russians or in some way conspiring with the Russians. And so we, the FBI, in late July, opened counterintelligence investigations to try to figure out whether that might be true, as to four different Americans '-- not President Trump, not his entire campaign.
So there was a discussion throughout the summer and into the fall in the Obama administration as to what to tell the American people about the broader Russia effort. There was actually never serious consideration given by anybody inside the Justice Department about disclosing that we had brand new criminal counterintelligence investigations on American citizens for a couple of reasons. First, we didn't know what we had. It was just beginning. The last thing we want to do is tip off people that we're looking at them. And what exactly would we say in the months after that investigation? We've opened counterintelligence investigations of people who are not the candidate but they somehow may be connected, we just don't know?
It didn't meet the bar for disclosing [an] active investigation until the following spring. The Justice Department confirmed the investigation, then, only in a general way. So our treatment of the two actually illustrates our consistent policy.
Separately, it's a really good question as to whether the Obama administration should've said more about the broader Russian effort. I offered to be the voice of inoculation to the American people in August. I drafted an op-ed to say, "Hey, the Russians are coming for our election. Here's what we think they're doing. It's part of a broad pattern. ... American people be warned." The administration never took me up on that and didn't get around to making a decision about disclosing the broader Russian effort until October.
On President Trump's recent tweet suggesting that Comey should be in jail
Think about how far the erosion of our norms has come in just a year that that's not shocking to people. Because he's threatened to jail '-- and order the Department of Justice to jail '-- lots of others before me. And the good news is, it's noise. And those institutions follow the facts and the law and the facts here are clear: He's just making stuff up.
It is not OK for the president of the United States to say that a private citizen should be in jail.
James Comey
But it's a sign of the danger from this forest fire. We can't become numb to that, and we have to point it out when it happens and not say, "Oh, that's just another one of those," because it is not normal. It is not OK for the president of the United States to say that a private citizen should be in jail. I happen to be that private citizen, so it actually does not bug me much, it doesn't freak me out, but the fact that it doesn't is a sign of the way our norms have changed.
On why he's speaking out now
I think [my role is] to remind people that there's something in this country that we actually all have in common. As ferocious as our disputes can be about guns or about taxes or about immigration, we share a set of values. Really that's all America is, is a collection of ideas, and that people ought to look above their fights about policy and realize this presidency threatens something very fundamental that is above partisanship.
Amy Salit and Seth Kelley produced and edited the audio of this interview. Bridget Bentz, Molly Seavy-Nesper and Dana Farrington adapted it for the Web.
VIDEO - Cambridge Analytica: The Mexico allegations - YouTube
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:57
VIDEO - British govt caught up in Facebook data mining scandal - YouTube
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 21:52
VIDEO - As
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 16:00
MOSCOW '-- As the wave of #MeToo allegations of sexual harassment and assault swept the West, Dana Bilder wondered what the big deal was. After all, such issues should be addressed when they happen '-- not decades later, the 19-year-old journalism student from Moscow says.
"I think if there's a real problem, and, as a woman, you're insulted by harassment, then you shouldn't be quiet about it," Bilder said as she sat at Usachevsky market, a trendy spot with food stalls in the Russian capital. "You have to speak up right away."
Her attitude is common in Russia, where there is no law against sexual harassment specifically. And while Russian women are more likely to complete higher education than men '-- and occupy more senior management roles than their counterparts in the West, according to a recent report '-- deeply entrenched traditional attitudes about gender and sex remain the norm.
But change could be on the horizon.
Even before #MeToo, Russian women took part in amovement sharing stories of sexual harassment, rape and violence. In July 2016, social activist Anastasia Melnychenko shared a post on Facebook detailing abuse she experienced starting from age 6.
"We don't have to make excuses. We are not to blame. The rapist is ALWAYS to blame," she wrote.
Melnychenko's post, hashtagged #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt, was shared hundreds of times in her native Ukraine as well as in Russia, and racked up hundreds of comments.
"These girl-journalists should have dressed more appropriately '-- after all, this is a public institution '-- and not walked around with bare bellybuttons."
Alena Popova, a women's rights activist who was recently detained and fined for organizing a protest outside of the State Duma, or Parliament's lower house, said Melnychenko's post had a big impact.
"After people read that there's a huge number of victims of violence among their acquaintances, they started to think about the topic of violence differently," Popova said.
"The question of sexual harassment is a little bit more challenging because of victim blaming and the shame that victims feel," she added. "But I think that the more women begin to talk about this, the situation will change."
But in a sign of the issues still facing many, several months after #IAmNotAfraidToSayIt swept social media, Parliament decriminalized some forms of domestic violence.
The amendment signed into law in February 2017 decriminalized first offenses of domestic violence that do not cause "serious harm requiring hospital treatment," according to Human Rights Watch. Abusers face a fine or up to 15 days' arrest if they are found guilty.
More recently, though, a case involving three female journalists who went public with accusations of sexual harassment and assault against a senior lawmaker from the ultra-nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia has shook up long-held assumptions about the treatment of women.
The women accused Leonid Slutsky, 50, the chairman of the State Duma's foreign affairs committee, of sexually harassing them in separate incidents. The journalists recounted how he tried to kiss or touch them inappropriately and made insulting and sexualized comments.
Slutsky denied the accusations. Later, to mark International Women's Day on March 8, he put out a statement apologizing for "wittingly or unwittingly" causing distress.
The response was initially muted, even at times critical of the women involved.
"These girl-journalists should have dressed more appropriately '-- after all, this is a public institution '-- and not walked around with bare bellybuttons," Tamara Pletnyova, the head of the Duma's committee on family affairs, told Ekho Mosvky radio. "If it's frightening for them, if they are offended here, then they don't have to come here."
Two small demonstrations against Slutsky have been held outside of the Duma since last month, one on International Women's Day and the other a few weeks later while the Duma's ethics committee considered Slutsky's case.
Amnesty International, which organized the protests, said its activists had been refused permission to hold a larger demonstration the first time around. Only one person was permitted to be a part of the picket at a time, so a series of women and men held posters one by one.
After a parliamentary panel exonerated Slutsky of any wrongdoing on March 21, some media outlets took a rare stand against the decision. Some journalists said they will stop professional interactions with him, as well as with the ethics committee, and others said they were pulling reporters from the Duma.
"If parliament members are allowed to neglect the dignity and security of people counting on the collective solidarity of the State Duma, then the rights of all '-- not just of journalists '-- are at risk," an editorial in the business daily Vedomosti said.
So things may be changing, however slowly.
Ksenia Osenkova, 28, from Moscow who says she is skeptical of some of the allegations that flowed out of #MeToo, said the claims against Slutsky and the discussion around women's place in society in general could drive change.
"It could make men think about what they do, if they really do these things," she said, as well as giving women "the ability and strength to say something."
VIDEO - French president outlines EU vision in Strasbourg
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 16:00
Emmanuel Macron has outlined his vision for the future of the European Union in Strasbourg.
The 40-year-old, who secured the French Presidency in May on a pro-EU platform amid a populist surge in the bloc, delivered his highly anticipated speech to over 700 MEPs in the European Parliament on Tuesday.
Macron challenged ''inward-looking nationalist selfishness" amid populist sentiment in the bloc and pushed for a more united and reinvigorated Europe.
"Nationalism will lead Europe into the abyss. We see authoritarianism rising all around us," he said.
"The response should not be authoritarian democracy but the authority of democracy."
Macron also sought to tackle the "poisoned debate" on migration, proposing the creation of a European programme that could subsidise local authorities which host and integrate refugees.
In a speech which touched on a range of issues, Macron recommended that copyright law be tightened to protect artists' "genius" and reiterated his support for tougher environmental legislation.
He proposed an EU-wide carbon price floor to limit emissions and a carbon border tax targetting non-EU companies which are not bound by the same climate restrictions.
The President made his case for economic reform, suggesting the bloc introduce a "short-term" digital levy which would target giant tech companies that pay little to no corporate tax. The money could then be used to top-up the EU budget.
Later on Tuesday, Macron will head to Epinal in eastern France to debate the Union with members of the public, in an effort to drive EU-wide dialogue and encourage public involvement in the future development of the bloc. The event will be the first of many town hall style ''citizens' consultations'' to take place across member states until September.
Macron's address in Strasbourg comes days after the US, France and the UK conducted airstrikes on chemical weapons facilities in Syria over the weekend. The action was a retaliatory response to news that Bashir Al Assad's regime forces had killed over 40 people in a chlorine gas attack in Douma, Western Syria, on April 7. A relief organisation said at the time that more than 500 people had been treated for exposure.
Yet European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has voiced concern about escalating the conflict in Syria. On the eve of a debate on the situation, which will be held after Macron's speech, he said: ''The use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and represents a red line that cannot be crossed with impunity. However, a further military escalation should be avoided, as it would bring new suffering to the Syrian people and aggravate the humanitarian crisis.''
VIDEO - Living in Goebbels Land
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 15:59
So a tiny independent radio station in Ireland managed to interview Robert Fisk on the ground in Douma, but none of the British mainstream broadcast media today has him on, despite the political fallout from our Syria bombing attacks being the main news story everywhere? Meantime MSM propagandists including Richard Hall (BBC), Dan Hodges (Mail) and Brian Whitaker (Guardian) and many more queue up to denounce Fisk on twitter from their cosy armchairs.
It bears repeating that the information on the alleged gas attacks '' which raises great doubt but which Fisk himself does not claim as definitive '' is not the most important part of Fisk's article. The Hell of rule under the jihadists that we in the West are arming, funding, training, ''military advising'' and giving air support, alongside Saudi Arabia and Israel, is the indisputable and much more important element of Fisk's report, as is the clear evidence he provides that the White Helmets are part of the jihadist factions.
To return to Scotland, I am sorry I shocked many of those who wish me well with the vehemence of my attack on Ian Blackford and the SNP for accepting MI6'² version of events, together with a renewed expression of my outrage at Nicola Sturgeon for having instantly supported Boris Johnson's anti-Russian rhetoric over Salisbury without waiting for evidence.
My anger is not synthetic and there is a fundamental point here.
The question is this: whether Scotland wishes to become truly a different kind of state to the UK, or whether it is simply a case of a management buyout of the local NATO franchise. As the UK enters enthusiastically into a new cold war, that question is now a much sharper one.
The UK security services are Scotland's enemy. The next effort at Independence is not going to look like 2014 '' the British Establishment only allowed that because at the outset they did not believe there was a hope in Hell we could win. Now they are rattled. Our next effort at Independence will look much more like Catalonia. All the signs are that the current leadership of the SNP, who are so comfy having little chats with MI6 in their career break from investment banking, or who want to be an inclusive, unionist-friendly ''Queen Mum'' figure rather than campaign for Independence, do not have the stomach for the fight. What they do have is comfy, very highly paid, billets as a pocket of token opposition and diversity within the United Kingdom.
Nicola buying into the Johnson story of the new cold war is not a small thing. It is huge, momentous, epoch-defining in Scotland. And a fundamental betrayal of her voters.
A Fully Paid Up Member of the British Establishment
In the next street to where I am writing was born the great James Connolly. He wrote:
When it is said that we ought to unite to protect our shores against the 'foreign enemy', I confess to be unable to follow that line of reasoning, as I know of no foreign enemy of this country except the British Government
Note the British government are the enemy '' not in any way the people of England. Anybody who cannot repeat Connolly's statement with conviction is only pretending to be part of the Scottish Independence movement, and will falter as soon as Westminster says no.
VIDEO - Will You Soon Have To Pay Sales Tax On Every Online Purchase? : NPR
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 10:20
A person in Miami searches the Internet for sales. A case relating to whether all Internet purchases will be subject to sales taxes is heard Tuesday at the U.S. Supreme Court. Wilfredo Lee/AP hide caption
toggle caption Wilfredo Lee/AP A person in Miami searches the Internet for sales. A case relating to whether all Internet purchases will be subject to sales taxes is heard Tuesday at the U.S. Supreme Court.
Wilfredo Lee/AP A multi-billion-dollar argument that will directly affect consumers, cash-strapped states and companies large and small goes before the U.S. Supreme Court Tuesday.
More than 50 years ago, the justices ruled that companies do not have to collect sales taxes for out-of-state purchases. The court reaffirmed that ruling in 1992, but that was before the Internet revolutionized the economy, and now the court has decided to take another look at the issue.
When Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, at age 30, started selling books online out of his garage in Seattle, he had no idea that Amazon would become the online behemoth it is today.
"What's actually happened over the last four years, you know, I'm the most surprised person on the planet," Bezos told NPR in 1999.
So perhaps the Supreme Court can be forgiven for being less prescient in 1967 when it ruled that states didn't have to collect sales taxes on out-of-state purchases, unless the seller had a bricks-and-mortar presence within the state's borders.
By 1992, the justices were getting a little uneasy, in light of the growth of catalog sales. But they reaffirmed the sales tax decision nonetheless.
Then came the online commerce explosion. And states began to feel the pinch in terms of lost revenue from sales taxes and mom-and-pop stores being forced out of business.
"Somebody get me a bill"
Forty-five states rely on sales taxes for revenue, and for those states that have no income tax, sales taxes are very important. Estimates of how much money the states are losing vary dramatically, ranging from more than $200 billion over five years to a recent estimate from the Government Accountability Office of between $8 billion and $13 billion per year.
For much of the last decade, states have been pressing Congress to fix the problem, to pass a bill that levels the playing field. But Congress, buffeted by anti-tax groups, has walked away from the issue.
"I was in D.C. about once a month lobbying this issue, and I became increasingly frustrated," said South Dakota state Sen. Deb Peters, who is also president of the National Conference of State Legislatures.
She finally lost her temper: "I basically blew up and said, 'I need a bill. Somebody get me a bill.'"
The idea was to pass a bill that required out-of-state sellers to collect sales taxes as a way to challenge the U.S. Supreme Court's prior decisions. The bill passed the South Dakota legislature, and was invalidated, as predicted by the state courts. That, in turn, enabled the state to appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. where all indications are that at least some of the justices are ready to re-examine the old precedent.
Indeed, Justice Neil Gorsuch once called the current system "a judicially created tax shelter." And, in 2015, Justice Anthony Kennedy suggested he was prepared to overrule the Supreme Court's 1967 and 1992 decisions in light of modern realities.
Small businesses "getting crushed"
On one side of the case argued Tuesday are the states, almost all of them with sales taxes. And on the other side are online companies. in this case, retailers Wayfair, Overstock and Newegg. They point out that they, like many other successful online companies, are already paying state sales taxes in an increasing number of states, often because they now have warehouses or stores in many places.
"This issue of collection of sales taxes is really a self-correcting problem," their lawyer George Isaacson said.
Amazon, the biggest of the online giants, is not part of the case. It now collects sales taxes everywhere, but only on direct purchases from Amazon, and not on purchases from third-party sellers, which account for roughly half of the company's sales.
The two sides in Tuesday's case agree on almost nothing '-- not the economic facts, not the amount lost in sales taxes, not even on who is hurt by the court's prior decisions. Each side contends that the other's solution will annihilate small businesses.
Main Street retailers "are getting crushed because their costs are higher than internet retailers," said lawyer Eric Citron, who represents South Dakota.
Small retailers even have a name for what happens. It's called "show-rooming." People come into a Main Street store, ask to look at particular products, and then buy the one they like online because the price is 5 to 10 percent cheaper without the sales tax.
What's taxable? Every state is different
Countering that argument is Andrew Pincus, who represents eBay and small business sellers that operate on eBay platforms. He calls the idea of leveling the sales tax playing field a "business killer."
"The reality is that these small businesses are just going to go out of business, because they can't absorb the costs," he maintained.
In short, his argument goes, given the fact that there are roughly 12,000 tax-collecting state and local jurisdictions in the country, small and medium-sized businesses will simply not be able to afford to set up the systems needed to calculate sales taxes.
Peters, however, counters that "the idea that this is too complicated is absolutely laughable to me because businesses are doing it today."
As an accountant, Peters' clients are often mom-and-pop stores. "I set up businesses on software every day where they can collect and remit on their sales," she said, adding, "whether it's in South Dakota or Florida."
Citron added that "it's all managed by algorithm."
Indeed, 24 states, representing 30 percent of the population have already agreed to a system that that provides the software for free.
However, on the other side, eBay's Pincus said the more populous states like New York and California have complicated rules for which objects are taxable, and at what rate.
"Just to give a few examples," he said, "in Minnesota blankets are taxable, but baby receiving blankets are not taxable. In Texas, deodorant is taxable, but deodorant that has an antiperspirant is not."
The cost for a system that deals with these variations, he said, can cost $200,000 up front.
While both sides in this debate agree that it would be best for Congress to deal with all these issues, the fact is that Congress has turned a blind eye. And that, for now, leaves it up to the Supreme Court to decide whether it wants to stick with the rule it established a half century ago when the marketplace was a very different place, or not.
VIDEO - Singing road drives Dutch villagers mad - Reuters TV
Tue, 17 Apr 2018 08:37
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—Transcript00:00:02
Drive down this highway in the Netherlands, and it'll sing you a song.
00:00:07
The local government wants to have liven up journeys through the Friesland Province where the city of Leeuwarden was found 2018's European Capital of Culture. But the novelty has worn thin for locals, who say the musical road has created a neverending cacophony that's keeping them awake at night. The strips responsible for the sound are usually used at the site of major roads, to warn drivers they're straying off course.
00:00:30
A local newspaper said officials had hoped it would promote road safety as drivers need to go over them at the correct speed for it to sing out the Friesland national anthem. That might have backfired. Last Saturday night, taxis were driving from Leeuwarden to Stein, and on the way back they tried to go across the lines as quickly as possible.
00:00:47
And we had the anthem playing all night at high speed. After striking the wrong chord with locals, the Friesland authority has agreed to remove the $99,000 strips less than a week after they were installed.
VIDEO - White House Clarifies Policy On Syria : NPR
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 21:13
Audio will be available later today.
VIDEO - Two black men arrested in Philadelphia Starbucks to meet with CEO
Mon, 16 Apr 2018 21:12
On Monday morning, Johnson reiterated that the arrests were "reprehensible" and said he hoped to meet with the men to discuss "a constructive solution,'' speaking to ABC's "Good Morning America."
He also said he will order store managers to undergo training for how to spot "unconscious bias." Previously, Johnson appeared in a video apologizing to the two men and promising changes at the company.
The two black men, whose identities have not been released, were arrested Thursday after a Starbucks employee called 911 because they were sitting inside the caf(C) and allegedly refused to leave.
The store manager who called police "is no longer at that store," a Starbucks spokesperson told NBC News Monday afternoon, but did not add further detail.
Meanwhile, about two dozen protesters gathered outside the coffee shop in the pouring rain, starting before 7 a.m. on Monday morning, while inside it looked like business as usual, according to the Associated Press. Most people drinking coffee at the tables, however, were regional leaders from the company's corporate side, the AP reported.
Just before 7:30 a.m., the protesters moved inside and stood in front of the counter, some holding banners reading "End Stop and Frisk," chanting slogans like, "A whole lot of racism, a whole lot of crap, Starbucks coffee is anti-black," according to the AP.
Protester Shani Robin told NBC News that the demonstrators want the manager who called police and the arresting officers fired.
''If you can't even go into a Starbucks to wait for a friend to come, you're not safe anywhere,'' she said.
STORIES
Man declares he is now attracted to men after taking painkillers - Leicester Mercury
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 14:10
A man prescribed painkillers to treat an injury says his sexuality has changed since taking them.
Scott Purdy, 23, dumped his girlfriend of six months after taking Pregabalin and realising he was attracted to men.
He says the drug, which is also known as Lyrica, was given to him after he broke his foot in a go-karting accident earlier this year, reports the Nottingham Post.
Scott said being on the drug had made him more "open and not bothered what people think or say".
The company which manufactures the medicine has said it is "an important and effective treatment option for many people living with chronic neuropathic pain, generalised anxiety disorder and epilepsy", and that the clinical effectiveness of this medicine had been demonstrated.
Read MoreHot weather to bring highest pollen levels of year so far to LeicesterScott, who is unemployed and currently lives with his housemate in Louth, Lincolnshire, said: ''I noticed my libido for women had gone and I was wanting male attention.
''I was with a girlfriend I had been with for around six months. I had never been interested in men. When I was younger I was a little bit curious but'..."
Scott added: ''I'm very happy. I want to keep on taking it because it makes me feel happy about my sexuality. It's made me feel very open. It's liberating.
''Pregabalin is also used to control paranoia and anxiety. It's made me so open and not bothered what people think or say.
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''I had been taking it for a few weeks and I came to the realisation that when I took it, I wanted males.
''It did come as a shock to people. I posted it on Facebook. I didn't tell them the reason why but I just said to them, 'I'm open; I'm gay.' "
Scott had been taking Codeine until January this year, but had been experiencing negative side-effects, so his GP prescribed him Pregabalin.
He added: ''I'm not angry, because it's made me who I am."
Lyrica is manufactured by Pfizer, the pharmaceutical giant which also makes Viagra used to treat sexual dysfunction in both men and women.
A spokesman for Pfizer said: "When prescribed and administered appropriately as per the approved label, Lyrica (pregabalin) is an important and effective treatment option for many people living with chronic neuropathic pain, generalised anxiety disorder and epilepsy.
Read MoreHow to make sure your bargain break doesn't cost you the earth"The clinical effectiveness of this medicine has been demonstrated in a large number of robust clinical trials among thousands of patients living with these conditions. To date, the worldwide exposure to pregabalin is an estimated 34 million patient years.
"If you are taking a medicine and experience any unexpected side effects, we recommend that you immediately report these to your doctor or to another healthcare professional, such as a nurse or carer. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) can also be contacted through its Yellow Card reporting system."
"Patient safety is, and will always be, Pfizer's utmost priority. We work with regulatory authorities around the world to continuously evaluate and monitor safety for each and every Pfizer medicine through ongoing clinical research, analysis and surveillance."
Australia cocaine mule: Canadian Instagrammer Melina Roberge sentenced for smuggling 95 kilos - The Washington Post
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 13:02
A Canadian Instagrammer who tried to smuggle millions of dollars worth of cocaine into Australia during an exotic, made-for-social-media ocean voyage has been convicted and sentenced to eight years behind bars.
Melina Roberge, 24, entered a guilty plea Wednesday to smuggling 95 kilos (209 pounds) of the drug into Australia in 2016, following a weeks-long cruise that she and an accomplice documented on social media.
In the summer of 2016, Roberge and Isabelle Lagace had turned their Instagram accounts into online travel journals, posting glamorous photos and boasting about their intercontinental adventures aboard the MS Sea Princess, a cruise ship that docked in 17 ports in 11 countries before it finally stopped in the Sydney Harbor.
The pair captured their first photo bomb, in New York's Times Square, and their first Irish coffee in Cobh, a seaport town in Ireland. They showed off their tans on a Bermuda beach, where one of them wrote in a caption: ''Gone to a place very peaceful ' leave a message after the tone.''
They rode recreational vehicles over the desert sand.
They got tribal tattoos.
They made friends.
Then, they got arrested.
Roberge '-- who became known as ''Cocaine Babe'' in headlines '-- will serve at least four years and nine months of her eight-year sentence, without eligibility for parole; she eventually will be deported to her home country, according to the Associated Press.
''She was seduced by lifestyle and the opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photos from around the world,'' Judge Kate Traill said in New South Wales state District Court, the AP reported.
''She wanted to be the envy of others. I doubt she is now.''
[Instagrammers bragged about cruise to 'peaceful' place. Then cops found 95 kilos of cocaine.]
Roberge's Instagram account disappeared after her arrest.
But before the drug bust, she had written: ''Traveling is one thing. But traveling with an open mind, ready to taste everything, see everything, learn everything and get yourself out of your comfort zone '... is probably the best therapy and lesson ever. I used to be afraid to get out of my little town and now I feel like I don't want to see that little town anymore cause it's beautiful out there and it's sooo worth it.''
Upon arrival in Australia, border agents searched the ship, discovering 35 kilograms in the women's cabin and 60 kilograms a cabin belonging to Andre Tamin, a wealthy Canadian man in his mid-60s whom Roberge described as her ''sugar daddy,'' according to the AP. (His name has also been spelled Tamine in local news reports.)
The women were packing so much cocaine in their suitcases that, the Australian Border Force said, they ''did not have much room for clean underwear or spare toothbrushes.''
Tamin and the two women were charged with importing a commercial quantity of cocaine, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, authorities said at the time.
The AP reported that Lagace was sentenced to 7½ years in prison late last year; her non-parole period is 4½ years. Tamin is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
Roberge told the court that she was an escort and met Tamin on the job in 2015. She said he recruited her to go on a drug-smuggling trip to Morocco the next year.
Then, she said, in June 2016, he invited her to go on the cruise.
She was told she could earn $100,000, according to News Corp Australia.
Traill, the district court judge, said Roberge's ''sugar daddy'' had ''charmed her and spoiled her and became intimately involved with her,'' according to news.com.au.
Roberge realized, she told the court, that she had put everything on the line for some selfies ''in exotic locations and post them on Instagram to receive 'likes' and attention.''
Traill was not impressed.
''It is a very sad indictment on her relative age group in society to seem to get self worth relative to posts on Instagram,'' the judge said in court, according to news.com.au. ''It is sad they seek to attain such a vacuous existence where how many likes they receive are their currency. She was seduced by lifestyle and the opportunity to post glamorous Instagram photos from around the world.
''This highlights the negative influence of social media on young women.''
Before her sentencing, Roberge apologized to ''the people of Australia.''
She told the court that in the time she already had spent behind bars, ''I have come across people struggling with addiction,'' according to the Australian news site. ''I don't want to be part of that.''
More reading:
Why you've never heard of the six Chinese men who survived the Titanic
After calling Barbara Bush an 'amazing racist,' a professor taunts critics: 'I will never be fired'
She wore a dinosaur hand puppet during a military oath. It got her and a colonel removed from the job.
Woman charged with bringing loaded gun to CIA headquarters | WTOP
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:47
WASHINGTON '-- A woman who drove into the CIA headquarters compound in McLean, Virginia, with a loaded gun, a passport and $100,000 in cash while wearing a wig is being held without bond.
Charging documents said Beth Huth drove her white Kia Soul onto CIA property in Langley last Friday afternoon past signs restricting access and warning against possessing weapons or ammunition.
According to an affidavit filed by CIA security protective service officer Michael Szczepanik, a CIA security protective service officer asked Huth for her badge '-- instead she produced a handwritten note.
The officer asked Huth if she was able to speak, and she nodded yes.
Asked if she was carrying anything illegal, Huth nodded yes, and reached for her black handbag resting on the passenger seat.
The officer ordered her to stop and write what she was searching for. She wrote ''Gun.''
''I looked inside the handbag and found a loaded 9 mm pistol with four rounds of ammunition in the magazine and one round of ammunition in the chamber,'' the officer wrote. ''The safety mechanism for the loaded weapon was not engaged.''
Also found in the car were directions printed from a website that instructed how to drive from Ohio to ''Langley, McLean, Virginia.''
Huth is charged with one count of possessing a weapon at a federal agency.
In U.S. District Court, in Alexandria, Tuesday, prosecutors said Huth suffers from mental health issues and is a flight risk, reported The Washington Post. Huth was wearing a wig when she drove to the CIA, and had a passport and $100,000 in cash.
Huth was ordered held without bond, and is due in court for a status hearing May 1.
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How Tony Podesta, a Washington Power Broker, Lost It All - WSJ
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 12:08
Tony Podesta was in line to be king of K Street.
His lobbying firm ended 2015 as the third largest in Washington, D.C., with nearly $30 million in revenue from more than 100 clients, spanning Alphabet Inc.'s Google to Wells Fargo & Co. With his longtime friend Hillary Clinton expected to win the White House, 2016 promised to be even better.
Mr. Podesta, a conspicuous presence in his red shoes and Italian suits, hosted lawmakers and power brokers at his flat in Venice during the Art Biennale. It was one of many homes around the globe, including the Washington mansion where he displayed a collection of museum-grade artwork. In early 2016, he was ready to buy a $7.4 million condo overlooking Madison Square Park in New York City.
Then he fell, a calamitous collapse propelled by unexpected blows, delivered by fate and made worse by hubris. Financial problems, legal threats and the election of President Donald Trump took it all away'--the clients, the firm and, finally, Mr. Podesta's position as one of Washington's most influential players.
His troubles, some long hidden, surfaced in the summer of 2016. The Podesta Group lost its banker over news the firm did work for the U.S. subsidiary of a Russian bank under sanctions. Then came headlines that the firm's work with Paul Manafort, Mr. Trump's former campaign chairman, and an associate may have violated government rules. And in October, WikiLeaks published 20,000 pages of emails stolen from his brother John Podesta, chairman of Mrs. Clinton's presidential campaign.
The string of embarrassing news accounts disturbed many of the Podesta Group's corporate clients, companies that preferred to stay clear of such publicity. Mr. Podesta operated as if the whole mess would soon blow over.
He spent most of the fall traveling the world. He returned to the U.S. on Election Day but skipped Mrs. Clinton's campaign party. Her victory would go a long way to fixing many of his problems. She lost that night, and Mr. Podesta, like many who had banked on her victory, did too.
Clients who had hired him for access to a new Clinton administration fell away. By the end of the year, the departures cost the firm more than $10 million in annual business, according to an internal Podesta Group accounting viewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Years of spending on art, vacations and real estate left Mr. Podesta overleveraged and deeply in debt when he finally closed the doors of his 62-person firm at the end of last year. He is selling his New York City condo, along with some of his prized sculptures.
Mr. Podesta responded to questions through a spokeswoman for the Podesta Group. Mr. Podesta's clients, colleagues, friends, and ''even many of his political adversaries through the years continue to rely on his wise counsel,'' the spokeswoman said. ''When he stepped down from the firm he expressed his ongoing gratitude to all of them and his commitment to continue his advocacy for the issues and ideals he's always fought for.''
This account of Mr. Podesta's rise and fall is based on interviews with dozens of former employees of his firm and his associates, as well as internal financial documents, calendars and communications viewed by the Journal.
Joining forcesAnthony Thomas Podesta, 74 years old, and his younger brother John grew up in Chicago, raised by first-generation parents from Italy and Greece. Their father, who didn't finish high school, operated a cardboard-cutting machine in a factory that made advertising displays for grocery stores.
The brothers gravitated to politics, working with Bill Clinton and Hillary Rodham on the 1970 Senate campaign of a Democratic Party candidate in Connecticut. They moved to Washington, D.C., where the brothers attended law school at Georgetown University and then worked in government'--John in the Justice Department, and Tony in the U.S. Attorney's Office in Washington, D.C.
They founded Podesta Associates, a lobbying firm, in 1987. John Podesta left in 1993 to work in the Clinton White House, later rising to chief of staff.
Tony Podesta built up his lobbying firm over the years'--renamed the Podesta Group in 2007'--with such blue-chip clients as General Electric Co. , Boeing Co. and the Washington trade group for the U.S. drug industry.
At age 59, he married Heather Miller, a congressional staffer 26 years younger. The April 2003 marriage was his second, her third. Mrs. Podesta started her own lobbying firm, Heather Podesta + Partners, and they emerged a Washington power couple. In 2006, they bought a $4 million home in the upscale Kalorama neighborhood and spent millions more renovating it to showcase their art collection.
The Kalorama house'--two doors from where the Obamas now live'--was the crown jewel of Mr. Podesta's real estate portfolio that over the years included apartments in New York City, the Venice flat, and houses in Sydney and Tasmania as well as on Lake Barcroft in Virginia. He owned a townhouse on Capitol Hill for entertaining and fundraising.
Mr. Podesta drew an annual salary of more than $2 million and made millions more in commissions and bonuses. He and Heather Podesta together donated more money to the Democratic Party and its candidates than any other Washington lobbyists in the past decade, fundraising records show.
The Podesta Group grew from the 20th largest lobbying firm to third in three years, in terms of domestic and foreign lobbying revenues, propelled by business during President Barack Obama's first term. The leap was impressive, given competition from global giants that employed hundreds. During the Obama administration, the Podesta Group took in more than $40 million a year at its peak. The firm leased $200,000-a-month offices on two floors, joined by a custom spiral staircase.
Mr. Podesta operated as a lifestyle concierge for clients. He had a regular table at Tosca, a popular Italian restaurant, and was part-owner of Centrolina, an Italian restaurant in a new billion-dollar development.
The Podestas' 1,300-piece art collection included photographs by Andreas Gursky, as well as eight sculptures by Louise Bourgeois valued at an estimated $25 million. The Podestas donated Shepard Fairey's original ''Hope'' portrait of Mr. Obama to the National Portrait Gallery.
''Tony's view of investment diversification is multiple artists,'' Mrs. Podesta said in a 2004 Washington Post profile with the headline ''Married with Art.''
The Internal Revenue Service determined that in 2007 and 2008, the Podesta Group paid more than $300,000 for the shipping and handling of art bought by Mr. Podesta'--money that was improperly reported as a business expense, according to documents viewed by the Journal. Later, Mr. Podesta began billing his firm $360,000 a year to rent pieces displayed at the office. The firm also paid part of the salary of Mr. Podesta's art curator.
Employees of the Podesta Group set up a system to prevent Mr. Podesta from being reimbursed by the company for personal expenditures. A 36-page instruction manual for Mr. Podesta's executive assistants included this directive: ''It is up to you and your best judgment as to what gets reimbursed.''
Mr. Podesta's passion for art drove a wedge in the marriage after Mrs. Podesta learned he was secretly making purchases, according to people familiar with the matter. In 2014, the couple filed for divorce, with the art collection caught in a legal tug of war.
In the settlement, Mr. Podesta kept most of the collection. He gave up homes in Washington and Manhattan, and nearly $5 million in retirement savings. He agreed to pay his former wife $200,000 every three months for five years.
The day the divorce was final in July 2014, Mr. Podesta took a loan from Citigroup Inc., using some of his art as collateral, public records show. That month, Mr. Podesta told senior employees the firm could make more money by agreeing to represent clients unpopular with Democrats, such as tobacco companies and the National Rifle Association.
The discussion prompted one lobbyist to quit, costing the firm more than $2 million in yearly revenue from his former clients, according to public records and former employees.
Firm employees approached Mr. Podesta in early 2014 about selling them a share of the business. The Podesta Group was worth at least $50 million at the time, former employees estimated. Over dinner, Mr. Podesta told them he was open to the idea and suggested they meet with lawyers.
On the day of the meeting, employees gathered in the firm's conference room. Mr. Podesta didn't show.
Mr. Podesta sought out higher-paying clients, including foreign governments, according to public disclosure reports. By 2015, the year after his divorce, Mr. Podesta had doubled his overseas business from four years earlier to $5 million. Firm clients included the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Republic of Iraq and the government of South Sudan, according to foreign-agent reports filed with the Justice Department.
Mr. Podesta worked for some clients without his firm's knowledge. In November 2015, he signed up the U.S. subsidiary of Pirelli, the Italian tire maker, for $113,500 a year, according to the contract. The Podesta Group had represented the U.S. operations of Michelin, the French tire manufacturer, since 2009. Neither Michelin nor its Podesta Group lobbyists knew about Mr. Podesta's side deal, according to the people involved.
''Mr. Podesta served on an international business council for Pirelli whose sole focus was advising on trends in regions and countries outside the United States,'' the spokeswoman for the Podesta Group said.
According to former employees, the Podesta Group did public relations work in 2015 for Raffaello Follieri, an Italian businessman who had pleaded guilty to swindling millions of dollars from an investment fund run partly by Mr. Clinton, one of Mr. Podesta's early patrons. Mr. Podesta later joined the board of Mr. Follieri's investment fund.
During the 2016 presidential election, Mr. Podesta helped raise money for Mrs. Clinton's campaign, including a fundraising event at his Kalorama house, featuring food by well-known chefs. However deep his financial hole, a Clinton victory would relieve much of the pressure.
Then came the summer of bad news. SunTrust Banks Inc. sought to sever ties with the firm over the sanctioned Russian bank. The Podesta Group's chief executive sent an exasperated email to a colleague. ''Tony thinks these types of clients have no repercussions on the firm,'' she said, but ''this should really provide evidence that we have to take the clients we bring on seriously.''
Following Mrs. Clinton's defeat that November, the Podesta Group cut bonuses and commissions.
When employees returned to the office after the holidays they were greeted by a new art display Mr. Podesta had installed: ''Shifting Degrees of Certainty.''
DeadlinesEarly in 2012, Mr. Manafort and his associate Richard Gates, longtime Republican lobbyists, hired the Podesta Group and another firm to lobby on behalf of the European Centre for a Modern Ukraine, a nonprofit. The Podesta Group registered as a domestic lobbyist for the Centre.
Over the next two years, the Podesta Group was paid more than $1 million for its work, which would later prove to be costly.
In April 2017, the Podesta Group filed a report with the Justice Department acknowledging its work ''could be interpreted as principally benefiting a foreign government.'' In his February guilty plea, Mr. Gates admitted he had arranged for the Centre to ''represent falsely'' that it wasn't supervised by the Ukrainian government.
Law-enforcement officials subpoenaed the Podesta Group and several of its lobbyists. Mr. Podesta offered to have the firm pay employees' legal fees.
As special counsel Robert Mueller dug into the Ukraine work, the string of headlines and ongoing federal probe chased off Podesta Group clients. Compounding the firm's troubles, it lost the governments of Iraq, Vietnam and Kosovo in May and June, which, since 2012, had paid $6 million. At the end of May, Mr. Podesta moved into his new condo in New York City.
Employees again approached Mr. Podesta about buying the firm. Over a three-hour dinner on Aug. 7, Mr. Podesta apologized for the pain he had caused them and said again that he would consider selling. By week's end he was at the French beach town of Saint-Pierre-Quiberon for a vacation.
Before dawn on Monday Oct. 23, 2017, NBC News reported that Mr. Mueller was preparing to indict Mr. Manafort and implicate Mr. Podesta regarding the Ukraine work. The phones started ringing: Clients wanted to know what was going on. The firm's bank wanted to discuss its account.
The following night, Mr. Podesta threw himself a birthday party, serving hundreds of guests pizza from a brick-oven stove in his backyard in Kalorama.
On Friday that week, news outlets reported that Mr. Mueller's first indictments would be unveiled Monday. Mr. Podesta talked with employees over the weekend. Some planned to quit and take their clients. On Saturday afternoon, he attended a surprise 70th birthday party for Mrs. Clinton.
On Monday, Oct. 30, U.S. prosecutors announced the indictment of Messrs. Manafort and Gates. The indictment alleged the Podesta Group, identified as ''Company B,'' had worked with them for Ukraine. Mr. Podesta in a staff meeting said he would step back from the firm.
The following day, an official with the firm's new bank, Chain Bridge Bank, demanded $655,000 in cash or collateral within 24 hours'--or it would cut the firm's credit line.
Mr. Trump, who occasionally pointed an unwelcome spotlight on the firm, tweeted that day: ''The biggest story yesterday, the one that has the Dems in a dither, is Podesta running from his firm.''
With clients leaving, the Podesta Group had no money. Rent was due the next day. One idea was to use Mr. Podesta's art collection as collateral for a loan, but he refused.
''At that time, it was inadvisable to provide additional guarantees as an individual for the obligations of the corporation,'' the Podesta Group's spokeswoman said.
That night, Mr. Podesta ducked out to a birthday party for former Republican Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, who gave him a hug. ''He did good quality work,'' Mr. Barbour said.
The Podesta Group's chief financial officer sent Mr. Podesta a 7:23 p.m. email: ''If we don't have collateral pledged prior to 5pm tomorrow, we will be in default.'' If the firm went into default, the CFO wrote, ''we will not be able to meet our rent, your art payments, ad campaigns, and most importantly payroll.''
Mr. Podesta responded: ''need list of next 5 layoffs,'' among other questions. The next day, he left for an art show in Turin, Italy. The bank's deadline passed.
By the end of the workweek, Wells Fargo, Walmart Inc., and Oracle Corp. had quit the Podesta Group. Some employees packed up personal items from their desks.
On Friday, the firm's CFO quit. That night, a senior manager sent an email to Mr. Podesta, still in Italy, saying the bank had frozen the firm's funds.
''This means that we have no way to pay employees,'' the email said. ''If we do not alert employees immediately that we have no way to pay them for their work, the firm is committing fraud.''
In response, Mr. Podesta said he would call the bank.
''At this point, there's no money to meet payroll on the 15th so you should plan to have staff meeting on Monday to alert the staff,'' the manager replied.
Mr. Podesta responded from Italy that he was ''not going into personal bankruptcy'' to keep the firm afloat.
On Wednesday the following week, movers began taking down Mr. Podesta's art from the office walls.
On Thursday evening, Kimberley Fritts, the firm's chief executive, told the staff the Podesta Group was closing. Employees would get their last paycheck in six days. Health-care coverage would cease by year's end.
As Ms. Fritts broke the news, Mr. Podesta was in New York for the rollout of a fashion calendar published by Pirelli, his personal client. The two-day bash was capped by a black-tie dinner with Naomi Campbell, Sean ''Diddy'' Combs and other celebrities.
Before closing the firm's doors, Mr. Podesta gave himself an advance on his lobbying commissions.
'--Kelly Crow, Christina Rexrode, Jim Oberman, Lisa Schwartz and Aruna Viswanatha contributed to this article.
Write to Brody Mullins at brody.mullins@wsj.com and Julie Bykowicz at julie.bykowicz@wsj.com
Telegram Founder Pledges Millions in Bitcoin For VPNs and "Digital Resistance" - TorrentFreak
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 11:53
A massive wave of action to block messaging service Telegram resulted in widespread collateral damage yesterday after Russian authorities ordered millions of IP addresses blocked across the country. But the efforts have only lit a fire under Telegram founder Pavel Durov, who has pledged to donate millions of dollars in bitcoin to VPN providers as part of his "Digital Resistance".
Starting yesterday, Russia went to war with free cross-platform messaging app Telegram. Authorities including the FSB wanted access to Telegram's encryption keys, but the service refused to hand them over.
As a result, the service '' which serviced 200,000,000 people in March alone '' came under massive attack. Supported by a court ruling obtained last Friday, authorities ordered ISPs to block huge numbers of IP addresses in an effort to shut Telegram down.
Amazon and Google, whose services Telegram uses, were both hit with censorship measures, with around 1.8 million IP addresses belonging to the Internet giants blocked in an initial wave of action. But the government was just getting warmed up.
In an updated posted by Pavel Durov to Twitter from Switzerland late last night, the Telegram founder confirmed that Russia had massively stepped up the fight against his encrypted messaging platform.
Within the last two days, Russia blocked over 15 million IP addresses in attempts to ban Telegram on its territory. Regardless, Telegram remained available for the majority of Russia's residents #digitalresistance https://t.co/2syVbVzXPg
'-- Pavel Durov (@durov) April 17, 2018
Of course, 15 million IP addresses is a huge volume, particularly since 'just' 14 million of Telegram's users are located in Russia '' that's more than one IP address for each of them. As a result, there are reports of completed unrelated services being affected by the ban, which is to be expected given its widespread nature. But Russia doesn't want to stop there.
According to Reuters, local telecoms watchdog Rozcomnadzor asked both Google and Apple [Update: and APKMirror] to remove Telegram from their app stores, to prevent local citizens from gaining access to the software itself. It is unclear whether either company intends to comply but as yet, neither has responded publicly nor taken any noticeable action.
An announcement from Durov last night thanked the companies for not complying with the Russian government's demands, noting that the efforts so far had proven mostly futile.
''Despite the ban, we haven't seen a significant drop in user engagement so far, since Russians tend to bypass the ban with VPNs and proxies. We also have been relying on third-party cloud services to remain partly available for our users there,'' Durov wrote on Telegram.
''Thank you for your support and loyalty, Russian users of Telegram. Thank you, Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft '' for not taking part in political censorship.''
Durov noted that Russia accounts for around 7% of Telegram's userbase, a figure that could be compensated for with organic growth in just a couple of months, even if Telegram lost access to the entire market. However, the action only appears to have lit a fire under the serial entrepreneur, who now has declared a war of his own against censorship.
''To support internet freedoms in Russia and elsewhere I started giving out bitcoin grants to individuals and companies who run socks5 proxies and VPN,'' Durov said.
''I am happy to donate millions of dollars this year to this cause, and hope that other people will follow. I called this Digital Resistance '' a decentralized movement standing for digital freedoms and progress globally.''
As founder of not only Telegram but also vKontakte, Russia's answer to Facebook, Durov is a force to be reckoned with. As such, his promises are unlikely to be hollow ones. While Russia has drawn a line in the sand on encryption, it appears to have energized Durov to take a stand, one that could have a positive effect on anti-censorship measures both in Russia and further afield.
Google Cloud Platform Blog: Toward better phone call and video transcription with new Cloud Speech-to-Text
Thu, 19 Apr 2018 09:45
For example, for processing phone calls, we've routed incoming English US phone call requests to a model that's optimized to handle phone calls and is considered by many customers to be best-in-class in the industry. Now we're giving customers the power to explicitly choose the model that they prefer rather than rely on automatic model selection.
Most major cloud providers use speech data from incoming requests to improve their products. Here at Google Cloud, we've avoided this practice, but customers routinely request that we use real data that's representative of theirs, to improve our models. We want to meet this need, while being thoughtful about privacy and adhering to our data protection policies. That's why today, we're putting forth one of the industry's first opt-in programs for data logging, and introducing a first model based on this data: enhanced phone_call.
We developed the enhanced phone_call model using data from customers who volunteered to share their data with Cloud Speech-to-Text for model enhancement purposes. Customers who choose to participate in the program going forward will gain access to this and other enhanced models that result from customer data. The enhanced phone_call model has 54% fewer errors than our basic phone_call model for our phone call test set.
In addition, we're also unveiling the
video model, which has been optimized to process audio from videos and/or audio with multiple speakers. The
video model uses machine learning technology similar to that used by YouTube captioning, and shows a 64% reduction in errors compared to our default model on a video test set.
Both the enhanced phone_call and premium-priced video model are now available for en-US transcription and will soon be available for additional languages. We also continue to offer our existing models for voice command_and_search, as well as our default model for longform transcription.
Check out the demo on our
product website to upload an audio file and see transcription results from each of these models.
Generate readable text with automatic punctuation
Most of us learn how to use basic punctuation (commas, periods, question marks) by the time we leave grade school. But properly punctuating transcribed speech is hard to do. Here at Google, we learned just how hard it can be from our early attempts at transcribing voicemail messages, which produced run-on sentences that were notoriously hard to read.
A few years ago, Google started providing automatic punctuation with our Google Voice voicemail transcription service. Recently, the team created a new
LSTM neural network to improve automating punctuation in long-form speech transcription. Architected with performance in mind, the model is now available to you in beta in Cloud Speech-to-Text, and can automatically suggests commas, question marks and periods for your text.
Describe your use cases with recognition metadata
The progress we've made with Cloud Speech-to-Text is due in large part to the feedback you've given us over the last two years, and we want to open up those lines of communication even further, with recognition metadata. Now, you can describe your transcribed audio or video with tags such as ''voice commands for a shopping app'' or ''basketball sports tv shows.'' We then aggregate this information across Cloud Speech-to-Text users to prioritize what we work on next. Providing recognition metadata increases the probability that your use case will improve with time, but the program is entirely optional.
Customer referencesWe're really excited about this new version of Cloud Speech-to-Text, but don't just take our word for it'--here's what our customers have to say.
''Unstructured data, like audio, is full of rich information but many businesses struggle to find applications that make it easy to extract value from it and manage it. Descript makes it easier to edit and view audio files, just like you would a document. We chose to power our application with Google Cloud Speech-to-Text. Based on our testing, it's the most advanced speech recognition technology and the new video model had half as many errors as anything else we looked at. And, with its simple pricing model, we're able to offer the best prices for our users.'' '-- Andrew Mason, CEO, Descript"LogMeIn's GoToMeeting provides market leading collaboration software to millions of users around the globe. We are always looking for the best customer experience and after evaluating multiple solutions to allow our users to transcribe meetings we found Google's Cloud Speech-to-Text's new video model to be far more accurate than anything else we've looked at. We are excited to work with Google to help drive value for our customers beyond the meeting with the addition of transcription for GoToMeeting recordings." '' Matt Kaplan, Chief Product Officer, Collaboration Products at LogMeIn"At InteractiveTel, we've been using Cloud Speech-to-Text since the beginning to power our real-time telephone call transcription and analytics products. We've constantly been amazed by Google's ability to rapidly improve features and performance, but we were stunned by the results obtained when using the new phone_call model. Just by switching to the new phone_call model we experienced accuracy improvements in excess of 64% when compared to other providers, and 48% when compared to Google's generic narrow-band model." '-- Jon Findley, Lead Product Engineer, InteractiveTelAccess to quality speech transcription technology opens up a world of possibilities for companies that want to connect with and learn from their users. With this update to Cloud Speech-to-Text, you get access to the latest research from our team of machine learning experts, all through a simple REST API. Pricing is $0.006 per 15 seconds of audio for all models except the video model, which is $0.012 per 15 seconds. We'll be providing the new video model for the same price ($0.006 per 15 seconds) for a limited trial period through May 31. To learn more, try out the demo on our
product page or visit our
documentation.
Trump calls Stormy Daniels' thug story a "total con job."
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 13:37
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r=utils.getTopWindowUrl(),t=(0,_url.parse)(r).search,i={url:r,debug:"1"===t.pbt_debug,noLog:"1"===t.pbt_nolog,integrationMode:void 0};return e.forEach((function(e){e.params.integrationMode&&(i.integrationMode=e.params.integrationMode)})),i}function buildCdbUrl(e){var r=CDB_ENDPOINT;return r+="?profileId="+PROFILE_ID,r+="&av="+String(ADAPTER_VERSION),r+="&cb="+String(Math.floor(99999999999*Math.random())),e.integrationMode in INTEGRATION_MODES&&(r+="&im="+INTEGRATION_MODES[e.integrationMode]),e.debug&&(r+="&debug=1"),e.noLog&&(r+="&nolog=1"),r}function buildCdbRequest(e,r){var t=void 0,i={publisher:{url:e.url},slots:r.map((function(e){t=e.params.networkId||t;var r={impid:e.adUnitCode,transactionid:e.transactionId,auctionId:e.auctionId,sizes:e.sizes.map((function(e){return e[0]+"x"+e[1]}))};return e.params.zoneId&&(r.zoneid=e.params.zoneId),e.params.publisherSubId&&(r.publishersubid=e.params.publisherSubId),e.params.nativeCallback&&(r.native=!0),r}))};return 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"}function d(e){var r=e.params;if("video"===e.mediaType){var t=[];return r.video.playerWidth&&r.video.playerHeight?t=[r.video.playerWidth,r.video.playerHeight]:Array.isArray(e.sizes)&&e.sizes.length>0&&Array.isArray(e.sizes[0])&&e.sizes[0].length>1&&(t=e.sizes[0]),t}return c(Array.isArray(r.sizes)?r.sizes:u(e.sizes))}function u(e){return f.parseSizesInput(e).reduce((function(e,r){var t=parseInt(m[r],10);return t&&e.push(t),e}),[])}function c(e){var r=[15,2,9];return e.sort((function(e,t){var i=r.indexOf(e),n=r.indexOf(t);return i>-1||n>-1?-1===i?1:-1===n?-1:i-n:e-t}))}Object.defineProperty(r,"__esModule",{value:!0}),r.spec=void 0;var p=(function(){function e(e,r){var t=[],i=!0,n=!1,o=void 0;try{for(var a,s=e[Symbol.iterator]();!(i=(a=s.next()).done)&&(t.push(a.value),!r||t.length!==r);i=!0);}catch(e){n=!0,o=e}finally{try{!i&&s.return&&s.return()}finally{if(n)throw o}}return t}return function(r,t){if(Array.isArray(r))return r;if(Symbol.iterator in Object(r))return e(r,t);throw new TypeError("Invalid attempt to destructure non-iterable instance")}})(),l="function"==typeof Symbol&&"symbol"==typeof Symbol.iterator?function(e){return typeof e}:function(e){return e&&"function"==typeof Symbol&&e.constructor===Symbol&&e!==Symbol.prototype?"symbol":typeof e};r.masSizeOrdering=c,r.resetUserSync=function(){h=!1};var f=(function(e){if(e&&e.__esModule)return e;var r={};if(null!=e)for(var t in e)Object.prototype.hasOwnProperty.call(e,t)&&(r[t]=e[t]);return r.default=e,r})(t(0)),v=t(1),y=t(2),m={1:"468x60",2:"728x90",5:"120x90",8:"120x600",9:"160x600",10:"300x600",13:"200x200",14:"250x250",15:"300x250",16:"336x280",19:"300x100",31:"980x120",32:"250x360",33:"180x500",35:"980x150",37:"468x400",38:"930x180",43:"320x50",44:"300x50",48:"300x300",54:"300x1050",55:"970x90",57:"970x250",58:"1000x90",59:"320x80",60:"320x150",61:"1000x1000",65:"640x480",67:"320x480",68:"1800x1000",72:"320x320",73:"320x160",78:"980x240",79:"980x300",80:"980x400",83:"480x300",94:"970x310",96:"970x210",101:"480x320",102:"768x1024",103:"480x280",108:"320x240",113:"1000x300",117:"320x100",125:"800x250",126:"200x600",144:"980x600",195:"600x300",199:"640x200",213:"1030x590",214:"980x360"};f._each(m,(function(e,r){return m[e]=r}));var x=r.spec={code:"rubicon",aliases:["rubiconLite"],supportedMediaTypes:["banner","video"],isBidRequestValid:function(e){if("object"!==l(e.params))return!1;var r=e.params;return!!/^\d+$/.test(r.accountId)&&(!(d(e).length.01?n.floor:.01,element_id:e.adUnitCode,name:e.adUnitCode,language:n.video.language,width:s[0],height:s[1],size_id:n.video.size_id};return n.inventory&&"object"===l(n.inventory)&&(c.inventory=n.inventory),n.keywords&&Array.isArray(n.keywords)&&(c.keywords=n.keywords),n.visitor&&"object"===l(n.visitor)&&(c.visitor=n.visitor),u.slots.push(c),{method:"POST",url:"//fastlane-adv.rubiconproject.com/v1/auction/video",data:u,bidRequest:e}}var p=e.params,v=p.accountId,m=p.siteId,x=p.zoneId,h=p.position,_=p.floor,b=p.keywords,g=p.visitor,w=p.inventory,j=p.userId;_=(_=parseFloat(_))>.01?_:.01,h=h||"btf";var I=d(e),z=["account_id",v,"site_id",m,"zone_id",x,"size_id",I[0],"alt_size_ids",I.slice(1).join(",")||void 0,"p_pos",h,"rp_floor",_,"rp_secure",i()?"1":"0","tk_flint","pbjs_lite_v1.5.0-pre","x_source.tid",e.transactionId,"p_screen_res",o(),"kw",b,"tk_user_key",j];return null!==g&&"object"===(void 0===g?"undefined":l(g))&&f._each(g,(function(e,r){return z.push("tg_v."+r,e)})),null!==w&&"object"===(void 0===w?"undefined":l(w))&&f._each(w,(function(e,r){return z.push("tg_i."+r,e)})),z.push("rand",Math.random(),"rf",t),z=z.concat(a()),z=z.reduce((function(e,r,t){return t%2==0&&void 0!==z[t+1]?e+r+"="+encodeURIComponent(z[t+1])+"&":e}),"").slice(0,-1),{method:"GET",url:"//fastlane.rubiconproject.com/a/api/fastlane.json",data:z,bidRequest:e}}))},interpretResponse:function(e,r){var t=r.bidRequest,i=(e=e.body).ads;return"object"!==(void 0===e?"undefined":l(e))||"ok"!==e.status?[]:("object"===(void 0===t?"undefined":l(t))&&"video"===t.mediaType&&"object"===(void 0===i?"undefined":l(i))&&(i=i[t.adUnitCode]),!Array.isArray(i)||i.length'}Object.defineProperty(r,"__esModule",{value:!0}),r.spec=void 0;var u=Object.assign||function(e){for(var r=1;r -1; } /** * Checks if ad slot is in view and window is focused */ function adIsInView(slotElement) { const windowHasFocus = $window.document.hasFocus(); if (!windowHasFocus) { return false; } else { return $visibility.isElementInViewport(slotElement); } } /* * Create ad object */ this.createAd = function(el) { var type = el.getAttribute("data-type"), pageType = el.getAttribute("data-page-type"), prebid = el.getAttribute("data-prebid"), dataDfpSizes = el.getAttribute("data-sizes"), dataPrebidSizes = el.getAttribute("data-prebid-sizes"), rubiconZoneId = el.getAttribute("data-zone-id"), appnexusPlacementId = el.getAttribute("data-placement-id"), trustxId = el.getAttribute("data-trustx-id"), criteoZoneId = el.getAttribute("data-criteo-id"), sizes; if (!adIndex[type]) { adIndex[type] = 1; } el.id = type + "-" + adIndex[type]; adIndex[type]++; var ad = { id: el.id, type: type, pageType: pageType, prebid: prebid, dfpSizes: getSizeArray(dataDfpSizes), prebidSizes: getSizeArray(dataPrebidSizes), rubiconZoneId: rubiconZoneId, appnexusPlacementId: appnexusPlacementId, trustxId: trustxId, criteoZoneId: criteoZoneId }; return ad; }; /** * Returns sizes as an array * @param {string} sizes * @returns {array} */ function getSizeArray(sizes) { var sizesArray = []; if (sizes && sizes.length) { sizes = sizes.split(","); _.map(sizes, function(size) { size = size.split("x"); w = parseInt(size[0]); h = parseInt(size[1]); sizesArray.push([w, h]); }); } return sizesArray; } /** * Returns ad node * @returns {string} */ function getAdNode() { let adNodeElement = document.querySelector("div[data-adnode]"), adNode = ""; if (adNodeElement) { adNode = adNodeElement.getAttribute("data-adnode"); } return adNode; } /** * Returns DFP ad unit * @returns {string} */ function getAdUnit() { const networkCode = "91898098", platform = "slate.com", adNode = getAdNode(); return networkCode + "/" + platform + "/" + adNode; } /** * Whether or not to run prebid for this slot * Returns true if prebid is enabled for this slot * and prebid isn't requesting bids for other slot at this time. * @returns {boolean} */ function runPrebid(ad_data) { return ad_data.prebid === "true" && !pbjs.adserverRequestSent; } }]);"use strict";/** * Generates a unique id on the _client_. * * @example $cid(); */DS.service("$cid", function() { var counter = Math.floor(Math.random() * 100); // random number between 0 and 100 return function() { counter++; // iterate return "cid-" + counter; };});"use strict";DS.service("dom", [ "$document", function($document) { /** * This function can be minimized smaller than document.querySelector * @param {Element} [el] * @param {string} selector * @returns {Element} * @example find('ul') //finds globally * @example find(el, '.list') //finds within */ this.find = function(el, selector) { if (!selector) { selector = el; el = $document; } return el.querySelector(selector); }; /** * This function can be minimized smaller than document.querySelector * @param {Element} [el] * @param {string} selector * @returns {NodeList} * @example findAll('ul') //finds globally * @example findAll(el, '.list') //finds within */ this.findAll = function(el, selector) { if (!selector) { selector = el; el = $document; } return el.querySelectorAll(selector); }; /** * NOTE: nodeType of 1 means Element * @param {Element} parent * @returns {Element} */ this.getFirstChildElement = function(parent) { var cursor = parent.firstChild; while (cursor && cursor.nodeType !== 1) { cursor = cursor.nextSibling; } return cursor; }; this.prependChild = function(parent, child) { if (parent.firstChild) { parent.insertBefore(child, parent.firstChild); } else { parent.appendChild(child); } }; /** * Inserts el into the dom after the referencedEl. * @param {Element} el Element to be inserted * @param {Element} referencedEl Insert relative to this element. */ this.insertAfter = function(el, referencedEl) { referencedEl.parentNode.insertBefore(el, referencedEl.nextSibling); }; /** * Fast way to clear all children * @see http://jsperf.com/innerhtml-vs-removechild/294 * @param {Element} el */ this.clearChildren = function(el) { while (el.firstChild) { el.removeChild(el.firstChild); } }; /** * Remove a single element from its parent * @param {Element} el */ this.removeElement = function(el) { el.parentNode.removeChild(el); }; this.preventDefault = function(e) { if (e && e.preventDefault) { e.preventDefault(); } }; this.replaceElement = function(el, replacementEl) { var parent = el.parentNode; if (parent) { parent.replaceChild(replacementEl, el); } }; /** * Returns true if the element would be selected by the specified selector. * Essentially a polyfill, but necessary for `closest`. * @param {Node} node preferably an Element for better performance, but it will accept any Node. * @param {string} selector * @returns {boolean} */ this.matches = function(node, selector) { var parent, matches, i; if (node.matches) { return node.matches(selector); } else { parent = node.parentElement || $document; matches = parent.querySelectorAll(selector); i = 0; while (matches[i] && matches[i] !== node) { i++; } return !!matches[i]; } }; /** * Get closest element that matches selector starting with the element itself and traversing up through parents. * @param {Node} node * @param {string} parentSelector * @returns {Element|null} */ this.closest = function(node, parentSelector) { var cursor = node; while (cursor && !this.matches(cursor, parentSelector)) { cursor = cursor.parentElement || cursor.parentNode; } return cursor ? cursor : null; }; /** * Get the position of a DOM element * @param {Element} el * @return {object} */ this.getPos = function(el) { var rect = el.getBoundingClientRect(), scrollY = window.pageYOffset || document.documentElement.scrollTop || document.body.scrollTop; return { top: rect.top + scrollY, bottom: rect.top + rect.height + scrollY, height: rect.height }; }; }]);"use strict";DS.service("headerBidding", function() { var adData, gptSlot; this.prebid = function(data, slot) { adData = data; gptSlot = slot; this.requestBidsFromExchanges(); }; // Request bids from the exchanges this.requestBidsFromExchanges = function() { this.getBidsFromPrebidExchanges(); this.getBidsFromAmazon(); }; // get bids from all prebid partners this.getBidsFromPrebidExchanges = function() { var prebidAdUnit = this.createPrebidAdUnit(), bidsBackCallBack = this.addBidsToDfpRequest; pbjs.que.push(function() { pbjs.addAdUnits([prebidAdUnit]); pbjs.adserverRequestSent = true; pbjs.requestBids({ adUnitCodes: [adData.id], bidsBackHandler: bidsBackCallBack }); }); }; // get bids from amazon this.getBidsFromAmazon = function() { var apsAdUnit = this.createApsAdUnit(), prebidTimeout = pbjs.getConfig("bidderTimeout"), timeout = prebidTimeout ? prebidTimeout : 800; if (apstag) { apstag.fetchBids( { slots: [apsAdUnit], timeout: timeout }, function(bids) { googletag.cmd.push(function() { apstag.setDisplayBids(); }); } ); } }; // Callback function called after all bid requests completed or timeouted this.addBidsToDfpRequest = function() { googletag.cmd.push(function() { pbjs.que.push(function() { pbjs.setTargetingForGPTAsync([adData.id]); // add winning bid to the ad slot googletag.pubads().refresh([gptSlot], { changeCorrelator: false }); // send request to the dfp pbjs.adserverRequestSent = false; }); }); }; // Returns prebid ad unit this.createPrebidAdUnit = function() { return { code: adData.id, sizes: adData.prebidSizes, bids: [ this.appnexus(adData), this.rubicon(adData), this.trustx(adData), this.sonobi(gptSlot), this.criteo() ] }; }; // Returns ad unit for amazon publisher service this.createApsAdUnit = function() { return { slotID: adData.id, slotName: gptSlot.getAdUnitPath(), sizes: adData.prebidSizes }; }; // Returns data for appnexus bid request this.appnexus = function() { return { bidder: "appnexusAst", params: { placementId: adData.appnexusPlacementId } }; }; // Returns data for rubicon bid request this.rubicon = function() { return { bidder: "rubicon", params: { accountId: "13590", siteId: "60302", zoneId: adData.rubiconZoneId } }; }; // Returns data for trustx bid request this.trustx = function() { return { bidder: "trustx", params: { uid: adData.trustxId } }; }; // Returns data for sonobi bid request this.sonobi = function() { return { bidder: "sonobi", params: { ad_unit: gptSlot.getAdUnitPath() } }; }; this.criteo = function() { return { bidder: "criteo", params: { zoneId: adData.criteoZoneId } }; };});/* jshint strict: true, browser: true *//* global window *//* global document */"use strict";const instance = window.Layzr({ threshold: 100});instance.on("src:before", function(element) { // add a load event listener element.addEventListener("load", function(event) { element.parentElement.classList.add("loaded"); });});document.addEventListener("DOMContentLoaded", function(event) { instance .update() .check() .handlers(true);});"use strict";DS.service("teadsBackfill", [ "$window", function($window) { // this function unhides outstream backfill slot // so it can request an ad from the DFP // it's called from teads tag when teads has no ad to show $window.teadsNoFill = function(slotId) { var isDesktop = window.innerWidth > 969, backfillId; if (slotId === "#outstream-video-1") { backfillId = isDesktop ? "outstream-backfill-1" : "outstream-backfill-tablet-1"; } if (slotId === "#outstream-video-2") { backfillId = isDesktop ? "outstream-backfill-2" : "outstream-backfill-tablet-2"; } if (slotId === "#mobile-outstream-video-1") { backfillId = "outstream-backfill-mobile-1"; } if (slotId === "#mobile-outstream-video-2") { backfillId = "outstream-backfill-mobile-2"; } if (backfillId) { var el = document.getElementById(backfillId); el.style.display = "block"; } }; }]);/* globals window: false, document: false, URL: false, location: false, history: false, DS: false *//* eslint no-console: ["error", { allow: ["warn", "error"] }] */DS.service("via", function() { "use strict"; // remove `via` from url, to be used after amplitude logs it to prevent users from sharing such urls function removeFromLocation() { const url = new URL(location.href); url.searchParams.delete("via"); history.replaceState(null, "", url.toString()); } // and add `via` param to any outbound links function addViaToUrl(href, via) { if (!href || href.substr(0, 1) === "#") { return href; // don't add to jumps on the current page, e.g. "Skip to main content" } const url = new URL(href); const apexDomain = new URL(location.href).hostname .split(".") .slice(-2) .join("."); if (url.hostname.indexOf(apexDomain) === -1) { return href; // don't add it to external links } url.searchParams.set("via", via); return url.toString(); } // keys correspond to "page_types" in editable_components.yml const PREFIXES = { article: "article", homepage: "homepage", "vertical front": "section", "rubric front": "rubric" }; let pageType; function setPageType(amplitudePageType) { pageType = PREFIXES[amplitudePageType]; } const DELIMITER = "_"; function concatVia(node, via) { const tag = node.dataset && node.dataset.via; if (tag) { via = (via.length ? tag + DELIMITER : tag) + via; } return via; } function addToClickedLinks() { document.documentElement.addEventListener("click", function(e) { let a; let via = ""; // detect link nodes and collect via directives to append to the href let node = e.target; while (node !== e.currentTarget) { if (node.tagName === "A") { a = node; } via = concatVia(node, via); node = node.parentNode; } if (a && via) { if (pageType) { via = pageType + DELIMITER + via; } a.href = addViaToUrl(a.href, via); } }); } function addToSubmittedForms() { document.documentElement.addEventListener("submit", function(e) { const form = e.target; // collect via directives let via = ""; let node = e.target; while (node !== e.currentTarget) { via = concatVia(node, via); node = node.parentNode; } if (via) { if (pageType) { via = pageType + DELIMITER + via; } // dynamically create a hidden input for the form url var input = document.createElement("input"); input.type = "hidden"; input.name = "via"; input.value = via; form.appendChild(input); } }); } // start listening only once, when first injected addToClickedLinks(); addToSubmittedForms(); return { setPageType: setPageType, removeFromLocation: removeFromLocation };});"use strict";DS.service("$visibility", [ "$document", "$window", "_", "Eventify", function($document, $window, _, Eventify) { var list = [], Visible, VisibleEvent; /** * @param {number} a * @param {number} b * @returns {*} * @see http://jsperf.com/math-min-vs-if-condition-vs/8 */ function min(a, b) { return a b ? a : b; } /** * Fast loop through watched elements */ function onScroll() { list.forEach(updateVisibility); } /** * updates seen property * @param {Visble} item * @param {{}} evt * @fires Visible#shown * @fires Visible#hidden */ function updateSeen(item, evt) { var px = evt.visiblePx, percent = evt.visiblePercent; // if some pixels are visible and we're greater/equal to threshold if (px && percent >= item.shownThreshold && !item.seen) { item.seen = true; setTimeout(function() { item.trigger("shown", new VisibleEvent("shown", evt)); }, 15); // if no pixels or percent is less than threshold } else if ((!px || percent = 0 && rect.left >= 0 && rect.bottom 1) { result += getLinearSpacialHash( remainder, Math.floor(stepSize / base), optimalK - 1, base ); } return result; } /** * @param {ClientRect} rect * @param {number} innerHeight * @returns {number} */ function getVerticallyVisiblePixels(rect, innerHeight) { return ( min(innerHeight, max(rect.bottom, 0)) - min(max(rect.top, 0), innerHeight) ); } /** * Get offset of element relative to entire page * * @param {Element} el * @returns {{left: number, top: number}} * @see http://jsperf.com/offset-vs-getboundingclientrect/7 */ function getPageOffset(el) { var offsetLeft = el.offsetLeft, offsetTop = el.offsetTop; while ((el = el.offsetParent)) { offsetLeft += el.offsetLeft; offsetTop += el.offsetTop; } return { left: offsetLeft, top: offsetTop }; } /** * Execute function when any of the selectors become visible * * Safely stops watching all selectors after first 'shown' event. * * @param {string} selector * @param {function} fn * @returns {[Visible]} Array of elements that we're watching for visibility */ function watchForAny(selector, fn) { var el, visibleList; selector = selector.split(","); visibleList = _.filter( _.map(selector, function(selector) { el = $document.querySelector(selector); return ( el && new Visible(el).on("shown", function() { // stop watching for visibility _.invokeMap(visibleList, "destroy"); // let them proceed fn(); }) ); }) ); return visibleList; } /** * Create a new Visible class to observe when elements enter and leave the viewport * * Call destroy function to stop listening (this is until we have better support for watching for Node Removal) * @param {Element} el * @param {{shownThreshold: number, hiddenThreshold: number}} [options] * @class * @example this.visible = new $visibility.Visible(el); */ Visible = function(el, options) { options = options || {}; this.el = el; this.seen = false; this.preload = false; this.preloadThreshhold = (options && options.preloadThreshhold) || 0; this.shownThreshold = (options && options.shownThreshold) || 0; this.hiddenThreshold = (options && min(options.shownThreshold, options.hiddenThreshold)) || 0; list.push(this); updateVisibility(this); // set immediately to visible or not }; Visible.prototype = { /** * Stop triggering. */ destroy: function() { // remove from list list.splice(list.indexOf(this), 1); } /** * @name Visible#on * @function * @param {'shown'|'hidden'} e EventName * @param {function} cb Callback */ /** * @name Visible#trigger * @function * @param {'shown'|'hidden'} e * @param {{}} */ }; Eventify.enable(Visible.prototype); VisibleEvent = function(type, options) { this.type = type; _.assign(this, options); }; // listen for scroll events (throttled) $document.addEventListener("scroll", _.throttle(onScroll, 200)); // public this.getPageOffset = getPageOffset; this.getLinearSpacialHash = getLinearSpacialHash; this.getVerticallyVisiblePixels = getVerticallyVisiblePixels; this.getViewportHeight = getViewportHeight; this.getViewportWidth = getViewportWidth; this.isElementNotHidden = isElementNotHidden; this.isElementInViewport = isElementInViewport; this.watchForAny = watchForAny; this.Visible = Visible; }]);!function e(t,n,o){function i(s,c){if(!n[s]){if(!t[s]){var a="function"==typeof require&&require;if(!c&&a)return a(s,!0);if(r)return r(s,!0);var u=new Error("Cannot find module '"+s+"'");throw u.code="MODULE_NOT_FOUND",u}var l=n[s]={exports:{}};t[s][0].call(l.exports,function(e){var n=t[s][1][e];return i(n?n:e)},l,l.exports,e,t,n,o)}return n[s].exports}for(var r="function"==typeof require&&require,s=0;s{let e=isAbEnabled(),t=n();!i&&e&&t&&this.showMessage()},1e3),document.body.addEventListener("click",e=>{this.messageIsVisible()&&(this.message.contains(e.target)||this.hideMessage())})},e.prototype={events:{".js-message-close click":"hideMessage",".js-message-button click":"buttonAnalytics"},messageIsVisible:function(){return document.body.classList.contains("adblock-enabled")},showMessage:function(){document.body.classList.add("adblock-enabled"),r.track("Adblocker - View Overlay")},hideMessage:function(e){document.body.classList.remove("adblock-enabled")},buttonAnalytics:function(e){const t=e.target,n=t.text;r.track(`Adblocker - Click ${n}`)}},e}])},{"../../services/client/adblock-detector":3,"../../services/client/analytics-js":4,"../../services/universal/membership":5}],2:[function(e,t,n){!function(e){var o=!1;if("function"==typeof define&&define.amd&&(define(e),o=!0),"object"==typeof n&&(t.exports=e(),o=!0),!o){var i=window.Cookies,r=window.Cookies=e();r.noConflict=function(){return window.Cookies=i,r}}}(function(){function e(){for(var e=0,t={};e1){if(r=e({path:"/"},o.defaults,r),"number"==typeof r.expires){var c=new Date;c.setMilliseconds(c.getMilliseconds()+864e5*r.expires),r.expires=c}r.expires=r.expires?r.expires.toUTCString():"";try{s=JSON.stringify(i),/^[\{\[]/.test(s)&&(i=s)}catch(e){}i=n.write?n.write(i,t):encodeURIComponent(String(i)).replace(/%(23|24|26|2B|3A|3C|3E|3D|2F|3F|40|5B|5D|5E|60|7B|7D|7C)/g,decodeURIComponent),t=encodeURIComponent(String(t)),t=t.replace(/%(23|24|26|2B|5E|60|7C)/g,decodeURIComponent),t=t.replace(/[\(\)]/g,escape);var a="";for(var u in r)r[u]&&(a+="; 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Billionaire Soros weds consultant in third marriage
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 10:44
NEW YORK (Reuters) - George Soros, the 83-year-old billionaire investor, philanthropist and supporter of liberal political causes, married for a third time on Saturday, tying the knot with education consultant Tamiko Bolton.
Billionaire George Soros (L) and his fiancee Tamiko Bolton (R) arrive at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, September 20, 2013. REUTERS/Carlo AllegriSoros and Bolton, 42, exchanged vows in a small ceremony at his Bedford, New York, estate, which Soros bought in 2003 from ''Jurassic Park'' author Michael Crichton. Federal judge Kimba Wood officiated at the non-denominational wedding, which was attended by members of the couple's families, including the groom's five children, a source familiar with the wedding told Reuters.
For Soros, whose net worth is $20 billion according to Forbes, it was his third marriage. It was Bolton's second.
Soros put a Graff wedding band on Bolton's finger during the half-hour ceremony, according to the source.
The exchange of vows was followed by a reception with more than 500 guests at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, a Westchester County complex known for its Italian Renaissance-inspired buildings and lush gardens.
Among the reception guests were World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and some foreign leaders, including Hendrik Toomas Ilves, president of Estonia; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia; and Edi Rama, prime minister of Albania.
George Soros and his new bride Tamiko Bolton pose in this handout photo provided courtesy of Myrna Suarez, after their wedding in Bedford, New York September 21, 2013. REUTERS/Myrna Suarez/Handout via ReutersChristine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, and Bono of the rock band U2 also attended the reception, according to the source familiar with the wedding.
Also expected to attend were fellow titans of the hedge fund world, Paul Tudor Jones and Julian Robertson. From the U.S. political realm those invited included Minority Leader of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and the lieutenant governor of California, Gavin Newsom, both Democrats.
On Friday night, the couple held a reception for 300 guests at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan for a preview of a new exhibition of works by Belgian surrealist painter Rene Magritte - ''Magritte: The Mystery of the Ordinary, 1926-1938.''
Their honeymoon plans were not immediately disclosed.
Slideshow (3 Images)Hungarian-born Soros, who established one of the first hedge funds in 1969 and is probably best known for famously betting against the British pound in 1992, met Bolton at a dinner party in 2008. Their engagement was announced in August 2012.
Bolton, who was raised in California, is the daughter of a nurse and a retired naval officer. She graduated from the University of Utah and holds an MBA from the University of Miami.
Bolton has been a consultant and entrepreneur working in health and education. She started an Internet-based dietary supplement and vitamin sales firm, and her most recent project was advising on development of a web-based yoga education platform.
The bride's dress was designed by U.S.-based, Lebanon-born Reem Acra, whose gowns have been worn on the red carpet by many stars, including Angelina Jolie and Jennifer Lopez.
The reception on Saturday night featured Hungarian composer and conductor Ivn Fischer, a family friend of Soros, who created a new arrangement for the occasion played by the Budapest Festival Orchestra. Cape Verdean Mayra Andrade also sang with the Harris Lane Orchestra. Andrade and Roma ensemble Via Romen will perform at a Sunday brunch.
Acclaimed event planner Marcy Blum was the wedding coordinator.
In lieu of gifts, the couple asked that donations be made to charities, including Global Witness, Harlem Children's Zone, National Dance Institute, Planned Parenthood and the Roma Education Fund.
Editing by Martin Howell and David Brunnstrom
BBC Sound Effects Player
Wed, 18 Apr 2018 08:34
This is the Linked Data service for BBC Sound Effects data.
Examples:
Data about sound effect "African Market" Data about sound effect ".303 Rifle firing." Data about sound effect "Air raids on London at night." The easiest way to explore the RDF data in this site is through the Acropolis API.
PropertyValue/index.ttl Universal identifier/index.ttldct:formathttp://purl.org/NET/mediatypes/text/turtledct:licensehttp://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/dct:title''BBC Sound Effects data for Research & Education Space (Turtle) '' [en ] rdf:typevoid:DatasetDescriptionfoaf:primaryTopic/#id/ Universal identifier/dct:licensehttp://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/rdf:typevoid:DatasetDescriptiondct:hasFormat/index.ttldct:hasFormat/index.htmlfoaf:primaryTopic/#id /#id (Dataset) Universal identifier/#idrdf:typevoid:Datasetvoid:featurehttp://www.w3.org/ns/formats/Turtledct:title''BBC Sound Effects data for Research & Education Space '' [en ] dct:licensehttp://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/dct:description''16,000 sound effects and field recordings '' [en ] /index.html Universal identifier/index.htmlrdf:typevoid:DatasetDescriptionfoaf:primaryTopic/#iddct:formathttp://purl.org/NET/mediatypes/text/htmldct:licensehttp://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/doc/open-government-licence/version/3/dct:title''BBC Sound Effects data for Research & Education Space (HTML) '' [en ]
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