1032: Going Vertical

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 56m
May 10th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Sir Kevin Dills, Viscount of Charlotte, Sir Jim Mann, Sir Ed LeBouthillier, Dame Gina Brown

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Cal, Phillip Veenstra, Sir Gregory Birch

Cover Artist: Darren O'Neill

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Iran
President Donald J. Trump is Ending United States Participation in an Unacceptable Iran Deal
Tue, 08 May 2018 18:34
Quote The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into.
President Donald J. Trump
PROTECTING AMERICA FROM A BAD DEAL: President Donald J. Trump is terminating the United States' participation in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran and re-imposing sanctions lifted under the deal.
President Trump is terminating United States participation in the JCPOA, as it failed to protect America's national security interests.The JCPOA enriched the Iranian regime and enabled its malign behavior, while at best delaying its ability to pursue nuclear weapons and allowing it to preserve nuclear research and development.The President has directed his Administration to immediately begin the process of re-imposing sanctions related to the JCPOA.The re-imposed sanctions will target critical sectors of Iran's economy, such as its energy, petrochemical, and financial sectors.Those doing business in Iran will be provided a period of time to allow them to wind down operations in or business involving Iran.Those who fail to wind down such activities with Iran by the end of the period will risk severe consequences.United States withdrawal from the JCPOA will pressure the Iranian regime to alter its course of malign activities and ensure that Iranian bad acts are no longer rewarded. As a result, both Iran and its regional proxies will be put on notice. As importantly, this step will help ensure global funds stop flowing towards illicit terrorist and nuclear activities.IRAN'S BAD FAITH AND BAD ACTIONS: Iran negotiated the JCPOA in bad faith, and the deal gave the Iranian regime too much in exchange for too little.
Intelligence recently released by Israel provides compelling details about Iran's past secret efforts to develop nuclear weapons, which it lied about for years.The intelligence further demonstrates that the Iranian regime did not come clean about its nuclear weapons activity, and that it entered the JCPOA in bad faith.The JCPOA failed to deal with the threat of Iran's missile program and did not include a strong enough mechanism for inspections and verification.The JCPOA foolishly gave the Iranian regime a windfall of cash and access to the international financial system for trade and investment.Instead of using the money from the JCPOA to support the Iranian people at home, the regime has instead funded a military buildup and continues to fund its terrorist proxies, such as Hizballah and Hamas.Iran violated the laws and regulations of European countries to counterfeit the currency of its neighbor, Yemen, to support the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Quds Force's destabilizing activities.ADDRESSING IRANIAN AGGRESSION: President Trump is committed to ensuring Iran has no possible path to a nuclear weapon and is addressing the threats posed by the regime's malign activities.
President Trump will work to assemble a broad coalition of nations to deny Iran all paths to a nuclear weapon and to counter the totality of the regime's malign activities.Nations must work together to halt the Iranian regime's destabilizing drive for regional hegemony.In Syria, the Iranian regime supports the Assad regime and is complicit in Assad's atrocities against the Syrian people.In Yemen, the regime has escalated the conflict and used the Houthis as a proxy to attack other nations.In Iraq, Iran's IRGC sponsors Shia militant groups and terrorists.In Lebanon, the Iranian regime enables Hizballah to play a highly destabilizing role and to build an arsenal of weapons that threatens the region.The Administration's actions are directed against the malign behavior of the Iranian regime, not against the Iranian people, who are the regime's longest-suffering victims.President Trump is making clear that, in addition to never developing a nuclear weapon, the Iranian regime must:Never have an ICBM, cease developing any nuclear-capable missiles, and stop proliferating ballistic missiles to others.Cease its support for terrorists, extremists, and regional proxies, such as Hizballah, Hamas, the Taliban, and al-Qa'ida.End its publicly declared quest to destroy Israel.Stop its threats to freedom of navigation, especially in the Persian Gulf and Red Sea.Cease escalating the Yemen conflict and destabilizing the region by proliferating weapons to the Houthis.End its cyber-attacks against the United States and our allies, including Israel.Stop its grievous human rights abuses, shown most recently in the regime's crackdown against widespread protests by Iranian citizens.Stop its unjust detention of foreigners, including United States citizens.
Iran will remain in nuclear deal, US withdrawal illegal - Rouhani '-- RT World News
Tue, 08 May 2018 19:15
Donald Trump's decision to pull the US out of the Iranian nuclear deal is illegal, illegitimate and violating international agreements, Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani, in a televised address.
Rouhani said that Iran has always complied with the nuclear deal and is going to stay in the accord despite the US pullout. The Iranian Foreign Ministry was instructed to hold talks on the nuclear deal with the EU, Russia and China within the next few weeks.
The President called Trump's decision to quit the agreement ''a historic experience for Iran,'' adding that Washington had never fulfilled its commitment as part of the 2015 international agreement.
Earlier on Tuesday, Trump announced that Washington will ''withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal" and that sanctions will be imposed against Tehran. The US President argued that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) didn't prevent Iran from enriching uranium and would've caused a nuclear arms race in the Middle East.''Today's action sends a critical message: the US no longer makes empty threats. When I make promises, I keep them,'' Trump said.
The JCPOA deal, signed by Iran and P5+1 powers (China, France, Russia, UK, US, plus Germany) and the EU in 2015, saw international sanctions on Tehran lifted in exchange for Iran curbing its controversial nuclear program. Trump pulled the US from the accord despite the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirming Tehran's compliance with the deal on numerous occasions and attempts by France, Germany and other EU nations to talk him out of the decision.
"FAMILY BUSINESS? Kerry's daughter Vanessa is married to an Iranian national & physician. His best man at the ceremony was the son of Mohammad Javad Zarif, Iran's Minister of Foreign A
Wed, 09 May 2018 10:59
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France wants to protect business interests in Iran: Elysee source
Wed, 09 May 2018 12:50
May. 09, 2018 | 12:14 PM
French President Emmanuel Macron, flanked by French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe (back), attends the ceremony marking the 73rd anniversary of the victory over Nazi Germany during WWII on May 8, 1945 under the Arc de Triomphe monument in Paris on May 8, 2018. / AFP / POOL / FRANCOIS GUILLOT
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Mike Dorning on Twitter: "BREAKING: Boeing license will be revoked as part of Iran sanctions, Mnuchin said just now, per @SalehaMohsin -- Boeing has signed a $3 billion deal for 30 737 Max jets with Iran Aseman airline and a $16.6 billion deal with nation
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:51
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Google IO 2018
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How the rise of voice search puts pressure on Google's business model
Wed, 09 May 2018 15:46
Google is an empire built on search.
Since it launched in 1997, the company has famously gone from "Garage to Googleplex" by relying on us using its service to search the internet for anything from "today's weather" to "how do I make slime?"
The results we get are accompanied by ads and it's in seeing and clicking on these ads that the company makes the vast majority of its revenue.
But what if we don't see these ads?
The world of search is changing fast and Google knows it. This week, the annual Google I/O event is taking place in California and what's clearer than ever is that Google is swiftly manoeuvring itself against the potential threat of voice search.
Whether it's Siri, Alexa or Google, the company recognises that voice-controlled devices are fast becoming accepted.
:: Google News to use AI in personalisation revamp
Image: Speech-based searching could damage the Google business modelAs Jamie Hirschhorn, from Google's global product partnerships team, said in a conference talk: "The growth of voice speakers and other assistants around your home has been huge this year and we're really expecting it to grow."
One slide she put up went as far as to suggest that voice search assistants will be the future of internet and as transformational as mobile has been.
Even on a small scale, I can see it happening in my life. Increasingly I find myself googling simple things while watching TV (with Amazon's Alexa) and asking quick questions in my car using my phone - "hey, Siri".
This is the internet's bread and butter but it's also Google's too. You could argue that they will still be able to harvest voice search data to tailor ads but if I'm looking at screens less, then I won't see them.
Image: Google will have to encourage the use of screen-based voice activated devicesIt's no surprise then, that Google spent a considerable amount of time and effort getting developers and customers excited about its own voice-controlled services during the I/O conference.
Their offerings though have a big difference - they're all about the visuals.
In the summer, the company's first Smart Display will hit the shelves. Described as a "visual-first" version of its Assistant, it's clear they want us to opt for this over the standard smart speaker.
In one speech, Google urged potential app developers to create products made to be seen: "It's not just about voice, adding rich visuals to supplement a conversational interface makes it far more engaging and delightful for your users."
It also makes it easier for them to display adverts.
Getting these products to outsell the speaker-only versions will be key for the company but there are other options.
Soon we'll be able to order and pay for our regular Starbucks coffee using the voice assistant, with other brands such as Domino's on board too.
No doubt new ways of monetising voice search are also being developed right now.
Image: Google chief executive Sundar Pichai delivers the keynote address at the I/O conferenceBut Google faces another challenge if it wants to thrive in the voice search world - it needs to catch up.
According to a YouGov survey published in April, it was revealed that Google Home holds 7% of the UK smart speaker market (plus 9% for the Google Home Mini) compared to Amazon Echo's (combined) 75%.
Amazon's voice assistant runs using Google's biggest search engine rival, Microsoft's Bing.
Put it this way - according to Net Market Share, 74.5% of all internet searches are made using Google on most platforms, but when it comes to home assistant searches, it's a small player.
Google will probably always be one of the biggest internet companies, but it's facing the first serious threat to its business model since those early days in the garage.
What Google doesn't want you to know: Voice search is taking over display search, while Assistant'...
Wed, 09 May 2018 16:06
The greatest jump in the history of search is happening under our eyes and Google is keeping pretty quiet about it.
Last year, Google announced and Hitwise estimated that around 58% of all Google searches were mobile, and more than 20% of mobile searches were via voice. Sources inside Google have hinted that voice search is approaching 25% of mobile now and some expect it to go above 50% in the next 3 to 5 years. For example, voice search was cited as the fastest growing type of search, according to the keynote speech given by Behshad Behzadi, Principal Engineer at Google Zurich, at SMX West in March 2017. Why is this happening?
2017 is the year of voice'Š'--'Šstarting at 8mm, ending with 950mm voice devices
We started 2017 with an estimated 8mm voice devices, mostly Amazon Echos with some Google Homes. An industry report from VoiceLabs estimates a total voice-first device footprint of 33 million devices in circulation by the end of 2017.
However, VoiceLabs missed something big. In May 2017, Google announced that its Actions on Google platform was activated for all Android devices natively, meaning that voice search via Google Assistant and Action was fully enabled. Why is this important? Because Google Assistant and Actions are what power Google Home'Š'--'Šit basically makes any Android phone the equivalent of a Google Home (and any iPhone that has the Google Assistant app downloaded on it). Assistant the the smart helper behind voice search, and Actions allows any developer to build on top of Assistant and have their action, skill, or app featured on Google.
So in May 2017, Google had ~100mm Android devices with Google Assistant and Actions a button away. Since Android cycles through new users every quarter, all 2bn monthly active users of Android globally will eventually come onto the Assistant and Actions platform as they upgrade, with ~350mm new activations each quarter. Using this data you can infer:
Google has the best platform for voice search and one of the two best, along with Facebook, for chatbotsGoogle will end 2017 with between 850''950mm users that have voice search and a fully voice-first device in their pocket and home.
This is a big deal because the quality of the voice-first devices depends on how good the intent matching is, which depends on the total number of users. It's the economics of big data'Š'--'Šthe quality of the service depends on the size of the chat data set. So as customers gravitate to the better devices, Google will continue to outpace Amazon Alexa. Most serious tests so far have shown that Google Assistant (available on Home, all Android devices, and iOS) is far superior to Alexa at answering questions and figuring out what users want. See this test with 54 questions and this study with thousands of questions, where they found that Google Assistant is 6 times more likely to answer your question than Amazon Alexa. Finally Google and Higher Visibility have reported that most people use voice search to call people, ask for directions, play songs, and search for information.
Why is Google quiet about voice search if it's winning?
Because they're still figuring out how to build their ad business model around voice. Google reported that mobile searches are less profitable with less revenue per click, and the company is still really early in figuring out how to do voice search ads. Google's CEO Sundar Pichai has also been quiet when Wall Street analysts ask him how they will monetize voice search. Google just doesn't know'Š'--'Šthey are running all sorts of internal experiments right now on voice ads. Their engineers are quiet because they have to figure out how to disrupt their own cash cow business of desktop and mobile search.
What does the rise of voice search mean?
Speech will take over typing and texting because it is 3x as fast with 20% fewer errors
Researchers at the Stanford Human Computer Interaction Lab found that with speech recognition, the English input rate was 3.0x faster, and the Mandarin Chinese input rate 2.8x faster, than a state-of-the-art miniature smartphone keyboard. Further, with speech, the English error rate was 20.4% lower, and Mandarin error rate 63.4% lower, than the keyboard.
Websites on the open web are over'Š'--'Šno one spends time in browsers
Content creators will have to partner with Google Assistant and Actions, as the new platform, or other interactive platforms like Amazon Alexa, Facebook Messenger, or Snapchat. Websites are losing out as US users spend more time using apps than watching TV, and roughly 33% of time is spent on Facebook / Snapchat / and text messaging versus 8% of time in browsers. It's also likely that the app world is over, as a majority of US smartphone owners download zero apps per month and spend most of their time on a few app platforms like Facebook, Messenger, Snapchat, and so on.
Mobile users spend 33% of time on messaging apps, 8% on the browser'Š'--'Šthe open web is dyingChatbots are the new delivery form that will win with voice search
Voice search is about interactivity: questions, answers, guided flows, and conversations. Websites are mostly static, like brochures from the print days. If you look closely at the Google Actions and API.AI platforms, they are essentially chatbot platforms. Facebook Messenger is a massive chatbot platform, as are Kik and Telegram. Still not convinced? Read what the chatbot entrepreneur of Octane AI, Matt Schlict writes: ''How Bots Will Completely Kill Websites and Mobile Apps.''
Adtech is going through a big disruption: SEO and SEM business models are getting blown apart
If you thought the move from desktop first to mobile first was a big deal, get ready for the move from mobile websites to ''ambient voice-first'', where your phone and other talking devices surround users and are ready to serve them. A static website isn't enough'Š'--'Šyou need an interactive AI agent to really engage with users. Here is a list of reasons why voice search will totally change SEO.
Most voice search queries are to get information, after you take out the ''play music'' and ''set alarm'' requests
Here's What Marketers Need to Know About Voice Search '' Adweek
Wed, 09 May 2018 16:01
It's one thing to build a useful voice skill or app, but quite another for consumers to actually find it. That's because people need to know a particular skill or app exists before they can use it, and today's voice discovery tools are about as basic as a Yahoo search circa 1995.
Amazon publishes a directory of its 25,000 voice skills, as well as a bare-bones Skill Finder app, but consumers using those databases still need to know what they're looking for. Brands looking to rise above the noise will need to figure out how to market and promote their voice skills if they hope to attract more than a handful of users.
''This is not an 'if you build it they will come' world,'' said Greg Hedges, vp of emerging experiences at Rain, a digital consultancy that created an Alexa skill for Campbell's, among others. ''You really do have to enact the same kind of owned-earned-paid approach as you would elsewhere to generate awareness. And you have to give people a reason to return.''
To invoke a skill, you need to first enable it and call it by name: ''Alexa, ask Campbell's Kitchen to tell me how to make chicken soup.'' If you were to simply ask, ''Alexa, tell me how to make chicken soup,'' however, the device would default to the Allrecipes skill. (An Amazon representative declined to explain why Alexa recommends that particular skill, saying only that ''in limited scenarios, Alexa will respond to certain questions by suggesting skills that may be helpful.'')
So far, brands have been unable to lay claim to generic phrases on Alexa. But that hasn't stopped Amazon from reserving some of them for its own products. For example, if you say, ''Alexa, help me with my chores,'' it will automatically enable and launch The Tick's Housework Hero skill, which offers no actual help but plenty of hearty encouragement from actor Peter Serafinowicz, star of The Tick on Amazon Prime.
A bigger issue is voice commerce. Some Alexa skills can add products to an Amazon shopping list. Ask the Good Housekeeping skill how to remove a grass stain, for instance, and it will ask if you want to add bleach, detergent and stain remover to your list, without specifying a particular brand. Will brands one day be able to buy that recommendation? Amazon isn't saying.
V-commerce is about to get a huge boost, thanks to Walmart and Google. Earlier this month, the retail colossus launched voice ordering on Google Home for more than 2 million products, as part of a bigger partnership with the Mountain View, Calif.-based tech giant. Meanwhile, Google also announced the $49 Google Home Mini, which will compete head-on with Amazon's Echo Dot.
To search with love
Brands will need to lean more heavily on search to surface both their voice skills and their products. But when it comes to voice search, the rules are a bit different, cautioned Alex Lirtsman, chief strategist for digital agency Ready Set Rocket.
Rather than optimizing for the top keywords, brands will need to focus on more complex natural language queries, Lirtsman explained. Just as people have learned to use multiple keywords to get more specific results from online searches, they tend to ask more detailed questions with voice.
''Instead of saying, 'Where's a storage facility near me?' they'll say, 'What's the cheapest storage facility within a 10-minute drive?''' Lirtsman said. ''There's an expectation they'll get pricing and other data. I don't think a lot of brands have thought through all of these scenarios.''
Voice search also tends to be much more location-centric, Lirtsman added. Brands that lack a physical presence will be at a disadvantage.
And unlike the early days of internet search in the '90s, the window of opportunity for voice is much narrower. On desktop and mobile, brands are usually happy to land on the first one or two pages of Google search results. But people are unlikely to listen to more than the first two or three search results on a device like an Amazon Echo or Google Home.
That puts even more pressure on brands to be at the top of the results list'--assuming there is one, noted Gartner research director Charles Golvin. ''For a lot of these searches, there's just an answer,'' he said. ''And if you're not the answer, you're screwed, right?''
Pay to play?
This puts companies like Amazon and Google'--and, eventually, Apple and Microsoft'--in position to demand top dollar for placing a brand's skill at the top of its directory or making it the first result in a voice search.
''It's analogous to buying spots in the app store for a particular category,'' said Golvin. ''If someone is searching for word games, you can pay Apple to be the first result.''
Amazon declined to comment on whether it planned to monetize voice searches in the future, while a spokesperson for Google provided the following statement: ''Similar to what we've done with other products, our initial goal is to provide users with a great Assistant experience. While we don't have any plans to share right now, we're looking at ways to create a business model that will also provide that great user experience.''
But some brands, fearing that they will be disintermediated in the same way that they were in the early days of Facebook, are concerned about big companies like Google and Amazon having such a powerful position in the voice assistance market, noted Susan Etlinger, industry analyst for Altimeter Group.
''In 2007, brands were asking, 'If we create a Facebook page, and Facebook gets all the data, what is that going to look like 10 years from now?''' she said. ''And now we know what that looks like. But at the same time, there's undeniable value in it. So it's a really tough decision.''
Beware of the hype that surrounds voice search advertising - Digiday
Wed, 09 May 2018 15:56
Brands are being told 2017 will be the year of voice search, but questions exist about whether it's overhyped.
Google itself says it is still years away from being able to monetize voice searches in the same way it does search, apps, ads and online transactions. Consequently, it's not spending much time at the moment thinking of a business model for it and advertisers to exploit the opportunity, said Jason Spero, Google's vp of performance media.
''I think we have enough history from the apps world, the auctions world and the transactions [we do] that the combination of those will be the foundation of a business model for assistance when we get there,'' he said.
Here's a look at the state of voice search advertising, in three charts.
The future of paid voice search advertising Part of the problem with Google selling voice search ads is that it saps user trust. If the only response to a Google Home query is a paid one, then why would a person trust the sponsored answer they receive? While it's unlikely Google would find itself in as extreme a position with one of its advertisers, the scenario highlights how people can't ignore voice ads in the same way they might overlook ads on a screen. And people don't want to listen through ads to get answers to their questions.
That's why most of Google's early steps in ubiquitous voice searches focus on shaping the customer experience, said Spero. Most people Google surveyed earlier this year highlighted inherent shortcomings in the customer experiences around voice searches. More than five in 10 (57 percent) of the 3,000 surveyed would use voice search more if it recognized more complex commands, while 58 percent of respondents said they would like more detailed results when using search.
A separate JWT study of 1,000 smartphone users in the U.K, U.S., Germany and Spain backed these findings. JWT found that many potential voice search users cannot see the advantage it has over touch or type, with 29 percent of all non-voice users saying they ''don't see the point.'' This rises considerably in some of the more skeptical markets such as the U.K. (48 percent) and Germany (39 percent).
Spero said there's still work to be done before the industry can start professing the advent of voice search. Much of the work he and his team are doing to advance voice search focuses on understanding the global trends shaping how people feel about personal assistants.
For now, that means offering tasks like playing Spotify playlists through Google Home or ordering tickets to a basketball game as opposed to more complicated tasks and transactions, said Spero.
Digiday Research: Amazon dominates digital retail mediaThis content is available exclusively to Digiday+ members. Join now for access.
''We're still literally in a greenfield trying to find the types of things people want from these devices,'' he said. ''The next 18 months is about figuring out how to tune the assistive experiences to understanding what not to do from a consumer experience.''
How will brands win in voice search advertising?How much of that knowledge transfers over to marketers remains to be seen, given many are still playing catch-up to mobile marketing. In fact, more than a quarter (27 percent) of the 252 digital marketers at Fortune 500 brands surveyed by SEO outfit BrightEdge still believe mobile is the ''next big thing.'' However, 31 percent believe that voice search is the ''next big thing.'' Despite this anticipation, two-thirds of those marketers have no plans to prepare for voice search.
But some marketers, like Matalan's head of e-commerce, Andrew Banks, are already thinking about what ad units might look like (and do) in a voice-driven world. Speaking at a conference in London on June 27, Banks said the future of search is ''anything that has an emotional attachment.'' He seemed to suggest that the interruptive model of paid advertising in its current guise would not translate easily to personal assistants, which means advertisers like Matalan will need to readjust their view of paid media.
''If you know that you want that dress and you've already tried it on or looked at it, then you can use voice search, but not for the majority of emotional purchases in the next few years,'' Banks said. ''This is different for a functional product, buying cat food or checking your bank balance. This is where voice search will really come into its own.''
It's a point a recent Forrester report noted and used to predict the end of digital advertising ''as we know it.'' In the not-too-distant future, people won't watch ads '-- they won't notice them because of the web of targeting and personalization to drive sales and awareness, the report concluded.
Is Google at risk of losing its dominant position?Some industry analysts have contemplated whether voice search is a risk to Google's dominant position in digital media. Amazon's Echo will be used by 70.6 percent of the 35.6 million Americans who use a voice-activated assistant device at least once a month this year, according to eMarketer, while Google Home trails with just 23.8 percent of the market. What's more, the Echo defaults to Bing for any general search outside of one of the apps, leaving Google at a disadvantage, should it try to scale its fledgling voice search business.
Spero said it's ''unfounded and dramatically premature'' to declare that voice assistants be the end of advertising as we know it. ''There will still be people who are looking for restaurants and thinking about what car to buy or what to trip to go on,'' he said. ''All those people need help from marketers to figure that out, and I think the customer journey will remain the same in many ways with these assistive experiences [on top].''
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Google to introduce new smartphone controls - Business Insider
Tue, 08 May 2018 12:06
It isn't clear just yet how serious Google is about combatting smartphone addiction. Theo Wargo/Getty Google is reportedly planning new smartphone controls for Android to help people manage how much time they spend on their devices.According to The Washington Post, Google will announce the changes at its annual developer conference on Tuesday.The company will be going further than Apple if it tries to help wean people off their phones.All the major tech firms rely on design tricks to keep users hooked. Google is reportedly planning new smartphone controls that will help people manage their smartphone addiction, according to The Washington Post.
The company will add new settings to its operating system, Android, that will help individuals and families manage how much time they spend on their phones, according to the report.
There's no detail beyond that, but it's likely Google will announce the feature at its annual I/O developer conference, which kicks off on Tuesday.
If Google lives up to expectations and really does introduce granular controls for everyone and Android, it will be going further than Apple.
Apple earlier this year promised to introduce new features to help parents control their kids' smartphone use, but hasn't rolled them out yet or given any further update. It's possible we could see an update for iOS 12 when it arrives this autumn. But the company has kept quiet about helping adults who can't wean themselves off their phones.
One particular issue for Google is that its business model is more reliant on people spending more time, not less, on their phones. And all the major consumer software firms rely on design "nudges" that keep us hooked to our phones '-- from the bright, attractive colours they use, to the number of notifications they send.
On the same day as The Washington Post's report, The Guardian carried quotes from a number of experts, who warned that social media companies are using the same techniques as gambling firms to keep users hooked.
Tony Fadell, one of the makers of the iPhone, came up with three ways Apple could make the iPhone less addictive, but his advice could easily apply to Android too.
He suggested a digital calendar that tracked your daily usage; an ability for people to set targets for phone use; and a "read-only" or "listen-only" mode that lets people listen to music or read an e-book without notifications interrupting.
More: Tech UK Google IO 2018 Android Smartphone addiction Powered By Sailthru
'Google go home': the Berlin neighbourhood fighting off a tech giant | Cities | The Guardian
Wed, 09 May 2018 10:27
I n the streets next to G¶rlitzer Park '' an oblong patch popular with skaters, dog walkers and the odd drug dealer in the east of Kreuzberg in Berlin '' you soon spot signs of contention about the newcomer to the neighbourhood. One is scrawled across a wall: ''Fuck off Google.''
Plans for the search engine giant's new campus have inspired the community to respond creatively to what they see as an existential threat. The local anarchist bookshop, Kalabal!k, holds ''Anti-Google Caf(C)'' sessions twice a month, and since last year one of the burgeoning activist groups has been distributing a newspaper entitled Shitstorm: Against Google, Displacement and Tech Dominance.
The Google campus's future location is a large former electrical substation or Umspannwerk, which is currently hired out as an event space. Although the opening date was initially announced as September 2017, it has since been pushed back to autumn this year. It will be the company's seventh campus worldwide.
Google's sites in London, Madrid, Tel Aviv, Seoul, S£o Paulo and Warsaw (in a converted former vodka distillery) are hubs for entrepreneurs, providing workspace for startup founders as well as networking and educational events.
The campus hints towards the urban change that has proven to be so problematic elsewhere, such as in San Francisco
A new Berlin campus could be seen as fairly innocuous '' there are plenty of media and tech companies using the Umpsannwerk, and Google already has an office in the neighbouring district of Mitte. But Google's plans have been met with lively activism. The company has stumbled upon existing tensions over the displacement of local businesses, artists and long-term residents by rising rents and gentrification, while its high-profile brand is seen as a symbol of the economic and possibly cultural change still to come.
''I think Google were surprised that they came up against opposition,'' says Stefan Klein, a local activist with the GloReiche neighbourhood group at one of their twice-weekly open sessions. After work in the evening, he and his colleagues offer advice to residents with concerns about housing in their area. As he speaks, a man walks in with a letter from his landlord that he would like them to help explain '' concerns about being evicted, or squeezed out, are common.
The Cityscape: get the best of Guardian Cities delivered to you every week, with just-released data, features and on-the-ground reports from all over the world They are a stone's throw from the campus site on nearby Ohlauer StraŸe. ''Everywhere else they've opened a campus they've been met with applause,'' says Klein. ''Perhaps gentrification has already happened, like in London, or the city is crying out for it, like in Warsaw, Poland, but here in Kreuzberg people are not so immediately convinced.''
A Google spokesman in Berlin says that the company has spoken to residents about their concerns and is incorporating their feedback into its plans. ''We live in Berlin ourselves, we understand the concerns of neighbours about gentrification and know how Kreuzberg has been developing in recent years.''
Berlin's maturing tech scene makes the city an obvious choice for Google. It already has a partnership with the co-working space Factory, which is opening a new site nearby, Factory G¶rlitzer Park, at which it expects to host 10,000 members. Startup founders are attracted to the city's vibrancy, creativity and international mix.
But the boom in new companies and immigration has correlated with rent increases of almost 70% between 2004 and 2016, according to a report last year, with the trendy Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg borough among those seeing the steepest rises. In a city where 85% of residents are renters, the issue is at the forefront of local '' and national '' politics. A demonstration this April against ''rent madness'' in the capital attracted thousands of protestors (13,000 according to police, but 25,000 according to Klein).
''Activists and organised tenants' groups had been working on the issues of gentrification, displacement and privatisation of public space for a while, so when Google decided to move into the area, we were already organised,'' says Konstantin Sergiou, a member of Bizim Kiez, another neighbourhood campaign group. ''The Google campus was one of those things that came to the forefront '' it hinted towards the development of urban change that has proven to be so problematic elsewhere, such as in San Francisco.''
He says that local politicians have been keen to promote the ''digitalisation'' of Berlin, but that his and other groups worry about the possibly speculative nature of the startup business model. The short lifespan of some startups benefits landlords because they know in three years or so they can put the rent up, Sergiou says. His and Klein's campaign groups, Bizim Kiez and GloReiche, have joined with another, Lause Bleibt, to present a brochure on the issues at an event on 9 May.
They probably thought they could set up here and that people would be liberated, because everybody loves Google, right?
Along with rising rents, activists are concerned about the exploitation of local creative scenes. ''They have strategically chosen Kreuzberg to benefit from its loose network of creative people, and the spirit here of being a bit outside the rules, a little crazy, open-minded,'' Sergiou says. He cites the recent offer from Sidewalk Labs '' a company owned by Alphabet, Google's parent company '' to redevelop Toronto's waterfront as a reason to be concerned about the company's interests in potentially extracting data from cities.
These converging critiques of the behaviour of big tech companies along with gentrification has attracted international attention. A digital rights campaigner from France who now lives in Berlin has joined the campaign and set up the English-language website Fuck Off Google, aiming to communicate these wider criticisms. He speaks to the press using the tongue-in-cheek pseudonym of Larry Pageblank '' a nod to Google's CEO '' and points out Google's history of tax evasion and mass surveillance as examples of actions that make it incompatible with the progressive values of the local area.
''They probably thought they could set up here and that people would be liberated, because everybody loves Google, right? But it is turning into a moment when things won't be easy for them as they usually are,'' says Pageblank. He adds he would prefer to see the city become a ''capital for pioneering a different way of using technology, a way that is freer and not so centralised through one company''.
Ramona Pop, a local politician for Germany's green party B¼ndnis 90/Die Gr¼nen, and Berlin's senator for economy, energy and enterprises, perhaps did not have this in mind when she expressed support for Google's campus. In an email statement to Guardian Cities, she said the campus was ''a welcome initiative that suits the city's thriving startup scene''. In response to the opposition, she said the campus andits events ''should also be adapted to the needs of the neighbourhood'', adding that ''Google will have to be measured by the promise that its own corporate interests will not be in the foreground''.
Acting somewhat as a mediator and a problem solver in these debates is another local B¼ndnis 90/Die Gr¼nen politician, Florian Schmidt. He is well trained for the role, with a background in housing and city activism and a master's in sociology. ''I don't want the response to this to be 'fighting the startup community','' he says. ''However, I don't want the market to rule and for the growth to mean the neighbourhood changes drastically.''
Schmidt points out that the Google campus will only have 6-10 employees: ''It's not actually that big, but as a global brand it might bring higher commercial actors.'' He is keen to find a solution, and alludes to his main project in his day job at the department for urban development, parks and facilities. It is currently using Berlin's ''right of first purchase'' laws to buy up properties coming to the end of their social lease to keep them affordable.
''I'm not saying [Google] don't have to come here, but they have to realise they are part of something that is really frightening people '... If such a big enterprise wants to join the most cool, the most rebellious, the most creative neighbourhood in Berlin '' perhaps in Europe '' then there must be a way they can contribute to saving the neighbourhood,'' Schmidt says.
Meanwhile, his Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg constituents are planning their next steps '' first the presentation of their booklet to small businesses, then a campaign website, with further actions lined up. ''Google will have a hot summer,'' Klein says.
Follow Guardian Cities on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram to join the discussion, and explore our archive here
-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
OTG
Samuel & Wife ready to go OTG
Dear Adam,
In the morning! My spouse and I (old millennials) are going
otg/digital detox and are wanting to know which of the phones you have been
testing is your favorite.
Caroline, my wife deleted Facebook from her iPhone and
reports a marked decrease in her anxiety and less depression. All I have is an
iPod and a crappy flip phone, but I’d like the receive sms and have a basic
browser.
As soon as we settle on phones we plan to sell her iPhone to
pay for them. This is such a great idea!
Any advice would be welcome.
Looking forward to tomorrow’s show!
Thank you for your courage
Nokia C3 Spanish keyborad
Nokia sash 210 - Hard coded opera mini browser
Nokia E71
SMS gateway to provide important pings
Schools in Britain replacing analog clocks because kids can't read them
Sun, 06 May 2018 23:05
Schools in Britain are throwing their hands up over kids who can't tell time on traditional clocks.
Some U.K. schools are ditching analog clocks from test rooms because a generation of kids raised on digital clocks can't read them and are getting stressed about time running out during tests, London's Telegraph reports.
"The current generation aren't as good at reading the traditional clock face as older generations," Malcolm Trobe, deputy general secretary of the U.K.'s Association of School and College Leaders, told The Telegraph.
"They are used to seeing a digital representation of time on their phone, on their computer. Nearly everything they've got is digital so youngsters are just exposed to time being given digitally everywhere."
Officials believed the clocks are causing undue stress because kids can't figure out how much time they have remaining to complete a test.
"You don't want them to put their hand up to ask how much time is left,'' Trobe said.
"Schools will inevitably be doing their best to make young children feel as relaxed as the can be. There is actually a big advantage in using digital clocks in exam rooms because it is much less easy to mistake a time on a digital clock when you are working against time."
It's not just British kids, either. American kids also have their struggles figuring out what those ticking hands on a clock mean.
An Arizona elementary school teacher wrote a blog post in 2014 about whether students should still be taught how to read analog clocks, arguing that they help visual learners but also noting that they are rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
Jimmy Kimmel had some fun with the issue on his late-night show Tuesday.
Smartphones Are Killing The Planet Faster Than Anyone Expected
Wed, 09 May 2018 10:10
Before you upgrade your next iPhone, you may want to consider a $29 battery instead. Not only will the choice save you money, it could help save the planet.
A new study from researchers at McMaster University published in the Journal of Cleaner Production analyzed the carbon impact of the whole Information and Communication Industry (ICT) from around 2010-2020, including PCs, laptops, monitors, smartphones, and servers. They found remarkably bad news. Even as the world shifts away from giant tower PCs toward tiny, energy-sipping phones, the overall environmental impact of technology is only getting worse. Whereas ICT represented 1% of the carbon footprint in 2007, it's already about tripled, and is on its way to exceed 14% by 2040. That's half as large as the carbon impact of the entire transportation industry.
Smartphones are particularly insidious for a few reasons. With a two-year average life cycle, they're more or less disposable. The problem is that building a new smartphone''and specifically, mining the rare materials inside them''represents 85% to 95% of the device's total CO2 emissions for two years. That means buying one new phone takes as much energy as recharging and operating a smartphone for an entire decade.
[Source Photo: Annie Spratt/Unsplash (smoke)]Yet even as people are now buying phones less often, consumer electronics companies are attempting to make up for lost profits by selling bigger, fancier phones. The researchers found that smartphones with larger screens have a measurably worse carbon footprint than their smaller ancestors. Apple has publicly disclosed that building an iPhone 7 Plus creates roughly 10% more CO2 than the iPhone 6s, but an iPhone 7 standard creates roughly 10% less than a 6s. So according to Apple, the trend is getting better, but the bigger phones companies like Apple sell seem to offset some gains. Another independent study concluded that the iPhone 6s created 57% more CO2 than the iPhone 4s. And despite the recycling programs run by Apple and others, ''based on our research and other sources, currently less than 1% of smartphones are being recycled,'' Lotfi Belkhir, the study's lead author, tells me.
In any case, keeping a smartphone for even three years instead of two can make a considerable impact to your own carbon footprint, simply because no one has to mine the rare materials for a phone you already own. It's a humbling environmental takeaway, especially if you own Samsung or Apple stock. Much like buying a used gasoline-fueled car is actually better for the environment than purchasing a new Prius or Tesla, keeping your old phone is greener than upgrading to any new one.
Smartphones represent a fast-growing segment of ICT, but the overall largest culprit with regards to CO2 emissions belongs to servers and data centers themselves, which will represent 45% of ICT emissions by 2020. That's because every Google search, every Facebook refresh, and every dumb Tweet we post requires a computer somewhere to calculate it all in the cloud. (The numbers could soon be even worse, depending on how popular cryptocurrencies get.) Here, the smartphone strikes again. The researchers point out that mobile apps actually reinforce our need for these 24/7 servers in a self-perpetuating energy-hogging cycle. More phones require more servers. And with all this wireless information in the cloud, of course we're going to buy more phones capable of running even better apps.
As for what can be done on the server end, Belkhir suggests that government policies and taxes might make a difference''whatever needs to be done to get these servers migrated over to renewable energy sources. Google, Facebook, and Apple have all pledged to move to 100% renewable energy in their own operations. In fact, all of Apple's servers are currently run on renewable power. ''It's encouraging,'' says Belkhir of these early corporate efforts. ''But I don't think it'd move the needle at all.''
If this all sounds like bad news, it's because it absolutely is bad news. To make matters worse, the researchers calculated some of their conclusions conservatively. The future will only get more dire if the internet of things takes off and many more devices are hitting up the cloud for data.
''We are already witnessing internet-enabled devices, ranging from the smallest form factor such as wearable devices, to home appliances, and even cars, trucks and airplanes. If this trend continues . . . one can only wonder on the additional load these devices will have on the networking and data center infrastructures, in addition to the incremental energy consumption incurred by their production,'' the team writes in the study. ''Unless the supporting infrastructure moves quickly to 100% renewable power, the emergence of IoT could potentially dwarf the contribution of all the other traditional computing devices, and dramatically increase the overall global emissions well beyond the projections of this study.''
Indeed, tech's carbon footprint is beyond what any one designer, one company, or even one government regulator can contain. As consumers, we have more reason than ever to hesitate when it comes to our next shiny tech splurge. The bottom line is that we need to buy less, and engage less, for the health of this entire planet.
The original version of this article stated that, according to Apple environmental reports, the iPhone 7 Plus production created 25% more CO2 emissions than an iPhone 6s. The figure is 10%, and the text has been updated to reflect that.
New Cigna Study Reveals Loneliness at Epidemic Levels in America
Thu, 10 May 2018 15:05
BLOOMFIELD, Conn. , May 1, 2018 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, global health service company Cigna (NYSE: CI) released results from a national survey exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States . The survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm, Ipsos, revealed that most American adults are considered lonely.
Experience the interactive Multichannel News Release here: https://www.multivu.com/players/English/8294451-cigna-us-loneliness-survey/
U.S. Loneliness Index InfographicThe evaluation of loneliness was measured by a score of 43 or higher on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness, as well as social isolation. The UCLA Loneliness Scale is a frequently referenced and acknowledged academic measure used to gauge loneliness.
The survey of more than 20,000 U.S. adults ages 18 years and older revealed some alarming findings:
Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent). One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them. Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent). One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent). Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) '' even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely. Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis. Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations. Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7). "We view a person's physical, mental and social health as being entirely connected," said David M. Cordani , president and chief executive officer of Cigna. "It's for this reason that we regularly examine the physical, mental and social needs of our people and the communities they live in. In analyzing this closely, we're seeing a lack of human connection, which ultimately leads to a lack of vitality '' or a disconnect between mind and body. We must change this trend by reframing the conversation to be about 'mental wellness' and 'vitality' to speak to our mental-physical connection. When the mind and body are treated as one, we see powerful results."
The survey also revealed several important bright spots. The findings reinforce the social nature of humans and the importance of having communities. People who are less lonely are more likely to have regular, meaningful, in-person interactions; are in good overall physical and mental health; have achieved balance in daily activities; and are employed and have good relationships with their coworkers. More specifically, the survey showed:
People who engage in frequent meaningful in-person interactions have much lower loneliness scores and report better health than those who rarely interact with others face-to-face. Getting the right balance of sleep, work, socializing with friends, family and "me time" is connected to lower loneliness scores. However, balance is critical, as those who get too little or too much of these activities have higher loneliness scores. Sleep: Those who say they sleep just the right amount have lower loneliness scores, falling four points behind those who sleep less than desired and 7.3 points behind those who sleep more than desired. They are significantly less likely to feel as though they lack companionship (37 percent vs. 62 percent of those who oversleep) and are significantly more likely to feel like they have someone they can turn to (85 percent vs. 71 percent). Spending time with family: Those who spend more time than desired with their family and those who spend less time than desired are on par with one another when it comes to experiencing feelings of loneliness. Those who report spending too much time with family stand out as being more likely than those who don't to say that they feel as though they are part of a group of friends (73 percent vs. 64 percent) and they can find companionship when they need it (74 percent vs. 67 percent). Physical activity: People who say they get just the right amount of exercise are considerably less likely to be lonely. The loneliness score of those who exercise more than desired increases by 3.5 points, while a similar uptick is seen for those who exercise less than desired (3.7 points). Those who exercise more than desired and those exercising for just the right amount are on par when it comes to feeling as though they are part of a group of friends (79 percent, each), have a lot in common with others (75 percent of those who exercise more vs. 79 percent who exercise just right), and can find companionship when they want it (76 percent vs. 80 percent). The workplace: Those who say they work just the right amount are least likely to be lonely '' the loneliness score of those who work more than desired increases by just over three points, while those who work less than desired showed a 6-point increase in loneliness. Not surprisingly, those who report working less than desired are less likely to report having feelings associated with being less lonely (e.g., feeling outgoing and friendly, there are people you can talk to, etc.), compared to those who work more than desired. "There is an inherent link between loneliness and the workplace, with employers in a unique position to be a critical part of the solution," said Douglas Nemecek , M.D., chief medical officer for Behavioral Health at Cigna. "Fortunately, these results clearly point to the benefits meaningful in-person connections can have on loneliness, including those in the workplace and the one that takes place in your doctor's office as a part of the annual checkup. While one solution won't stop this growing public health issue, we've started to make changes to our business to help our clients and others to tackle loneliness and realize their vitality."
Cigna is launching an effort to help address the loneliness epidemic and improve Americans' overall mental wellness and vitality. As a first step, the company is calling on other like-minded organizations to join in the fight against the epidemic. By working together, the hope is that a group of companies and organizations can develop solutions that help improve vitality and reduce feelings of loneliness for Americans.
Cigna has several programs already in place to help address loneliness:
Cigna's Health Advisor program connects customers with health coaches who provide real connections and live advice to help customers understand what is going on in their lives and encourage them to make healthier decisions when it comes to exercise, healthy eating, stress management and tobacco use. The company's Health Information LineSM is always available, so customers can speak with a clinician directly to get advice on confidential health issues or listen to pre-recorded audio on a wide range of health topics. Last year, Cigna opened its counseling helpline to all veterans and their caregivers as well. Cigna's Employee Assistance Program (EAP) provides live telephone advice and practical solutions on a wide range of issues that can cause stress and isolation, including parenting and childcare, senior care, pet care, identity theft, legal and financial advice, and much more. Cigna's EAP also provides referrals to licensed behavioral health professionals to improve customers' mental wellness. Cigna's CLIMB (Changing Lives by Integrating Mind and Body) is a program taught in groups or one-on-one that is designed to help people manage chronic health issues that affect their day-to-day functioning and improve quality of life. The program also helps reduce the isolation that often comes with chronic health conditions. In Korea, Cigna's business has a program where employees call senior customers and their caregivers to provide a human check-in and alleviate potential feelings of loneliness or isolation. To highlight the importance of mental wellness as a part of regular medical care, Cigna is piloting a new initiative to better integrate behavioral health services into its collaborative care arrangements. The program will ensure that patients get the integrated care they need for their physical and mental wellness '' as opposed to keeping physical and mental care separate. Additionally, loneliness has a profound impact on the workplace in terms of productivity. To help employers address this pressing issue, Cigna will convene a group of its clients to discuss steps that can be taken and potential solutions to improve vitality and address loneliness in the workplace.
For more information on the comprehensive survey results and how Cigna is working to address loneliness and mental wellness across the country, please visit www.cigna.com.
About CignaCigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York . Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in over 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has more than 95 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit https://www.cigna.com. For more information about Cigna's proposed acquisition of Express Scripts, please visit http://www.makinghealthcaresimple.com.
About the StudyThese are the findings from an Ipsos poll conducted February 21 '' March 6, 2018 on behalf of Cigna. For the survey, a sample of 20,096 adults ages 18 and over from the continental U.S., Alaska and Hawaii was interviewed online, in English. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of ±0.8 percentage points for all respondents surveyed.
The study's questionnaire is based on the UCLA Loneliness Scale, a 20-item questionnaire developed to assess subjective feelings of loneliness or social isolation. An index was created based on these 20 statements, which include a balanced mix of positive (e.g., How often do you feel outgoing and friendly?) and negative (e.g., How often do you feel alone?) statements, and respondents were assigned a loneliness score based on their responses to these questions. Higher scores indicate increased loneliness. Individual respondent scores were combined to obtain a total average loneliness score both nationally and across different cities throughout the U.S.
About IpsosIpsos is an independent market research company controlled and managed by research professionals. Founded in France in 1975, Ipsos has grown into a worldwide research group with a strong presence in all key markets. Ipsos ranks fourth in the global research industry. With offices in 88 countries, Ipsos delivers insightful expertise across five research specializations: brand, advertising and media; customer loyalty; marketing; public affairs research; and survey management. Ipsos researchers assess market potential and interpret market trends. They develop and build brands. They help clients build long-term relationships with their customers. They test advertising and study audience responses to various media and they measure public opinion around the globe. Ipsos has been listed on the Paris Stock Exchange since 1999 and generated global revenues of '‚¬1,780.5 million in 2017.
View original content:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/new-cigna-study-reveals-loneliness-at-epidemic-levels-in-america-300639747.html
SOURCE Cigna
The Trump administration just forced smartphone maker ZTE to shut down | Ars Technica
Thu, 10 May 2018 12:32
ZTE, RIP '-- ZTE apparently couldn't continue without Qualcomm chips and Android software. Timothy B. Lee - May 9, 2018 9:28 pm UTC
Enlarge / New ZTE Blade V9 at a ZTE stand during the Mobile World Congress Day 2 on February 27, 2018 in Barcelona, Spain.
One of the leading Chinese smartphone makers, ZTE, is shutting down global operations in the face of crippling sanctions levied by the US government. ZTE is China's number-two smartphone maker, and as recently as last year it was the number-four smartphone vendor in the US.
"The major operating activities of the Company have ceased," ZTE wrote (PDF) in a Wednesday announcement to stock market traders in Hong Kong.
ZTE's business became untenable after a US government order banned American companies from exporting technology to the Chinese smartphone maker. ZTE is heavily dependent on US-made components, especially Qualcomm chips and Google's Android software stack.
Last year, ZTE admitted to an elaborate multi-year scheme to sell US-made technology to Iran and North Korea in violation of US sanctions laws. ZTE paid $890 million in penalties and said it was in the process of disciplining dozens of senior company officials who had orchestrated a scheme to violate US sanctions laws.
But last month the Trump administration accused ZTE of continuing to lie to the US government even after last year's guilty plea. The company told the US government that the guilty executives had received letters of reprimand and had had their 2016 bonuses reduced. But the US now says that was a lie'--many of the employees received full bonuses, and they didn't receive letters of reprimand until early 2018'--after the US government challenged ZTE on the issue.
In the April 15 order activating the export ban against ZTE, US Commerce Department official Richard Majauskas wrote that ZTE had demonstrated a "pattern of deception, false statements, and repeated violations." A July 2017 letter to US officials was "brimming with false statements," he said.
Since 2011, Majauskas argued, ZTE had "employed multiple strategies in an attempt to conceal and obscure the true nature and extent of the company's role" in transactions that moved US-made technology to Iran and North Korea. "As a result of the conspiracy, ZTE was able to obtain hundreds of millions of dollars in contracts with and sales from Iranian entities to ship routers, microprocessors, and servers" that were subject to US export restrictions.
So on April 15, the US Commerce Department invoked the nuclear option, banning US companies from doing business with ZTE.
Unfortunately for ZTE, US-made hardware and software are a huge part of ZTE's products. According to Reuters, at least 25 percent of the components in ZTE's phones came from US companies. ZTE makes heavy use of Qualcomm chips for its smartphones and other products.
Even worse, the export ban included Google's suite of standard Android apps. While the Android operating system itself is open source, Google has maintained control over apps like Google Maps and, most importantly, the Play Store. Outside of China, it's difficult to sell an Android phone without access to Google's app store.
Now it appears that ZTE is on the verge of going out of business altogether. ZTE says it is "actively communicating with the relevant US government departments" to negotiate a reversal of the export ban. But it's hard to imagine the Trump administration reversing course at this point. And ZTE would need to redesign many of its products from scratch to manufacture them without US-made chips or software.
ZTE's demise is the latest sign of a deepening trade rift between the United States and China, with information technology being a particular flashpoint. China's other leading smartphone maker, Huawei, has struggled to make deals with US wireless carriers due to pressure from US regulators worried about national security. And in the last year, the Trump administration has blocked at least two deals that would have put US semiconductor firms under the control of Chinese companies.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has responded by calling on China to become more self-sufficient in information technology.
Professor Ted
Welsh police wrongly identify thousands as potential criminals | UK news | The Guardian
Mon, 07 May 2018 11:50
A police force has defended its use of facial recognition technology after it was revealed that more than 2,000 people in Cardiff during the 2017 Champions League final were wrongly identified as potential criminals.
South Wales police began trialling the technology in June last year in an attempt to catch more criminals. The cameras scan faces in a crowd and compare them against a database of custody images.
As 170,000 people arrived in the Welsh capital for the football match between Real Madrid and Juventus, 2,470 potential matches were identified.
However, according to data on the force's website, 92% (2,297) of those were found to be ''false positives''.
South Wales police admitted that ''no facial recognition system is 100% accurate'', but said the technology had led to more than 450 arrests since its introduction. It also said no one had been arrested after an incorrect match.
A spokesman for the force said: ''Over 2,000 positive matches have been made using our 'identify' facial recognition technology, with over 450 arrests.
''Successful convictions so far include six years in prison for robbery and four-and-a-half years imprisonment for burglary. The technology has also helped identify vulnerable people in times of crisis.
''Technical issues are common to all face recognition systems, which means false positives will be an issue as the technology develops. Since initial deployments during the European Champions League final in June 2017, the accuracy of the system used by South Wales police has continued to improve.''
The force blamed the high number of false positives at the football final on ''poor quality images'' supplied by agencies, including Uefa and Interpol, as well as the fact it was its first major deployment of the technology.
Figures also revealed that 46 people were wrongly identified at an Anthony Joshua fight, while there were 42 false positives from a rugby match between Wales and Australia in November.
All six matches at a Liam Gallagher concert in Cardiff in December were valid.
The chief constable, Matt Jukes, said the technology was used where there were likely to be large gatherings, because they were ''potential terrorist targets''.
''We need to use technology when we've got tens of thousands of people in those crowds to protect everybody, and we are getting some great results from that,'' he told the BBC. ''But we don't take the use of it lightly and we are being really serious about making sure it is accurate.''
The force said it had considered privacy issues ''from the outset'', and had built in checks to ensure its approach was justified and proportionate.
However, the civil liberties campaign group Big Brother Watch criticised the technology.
In a post on Twitter, the group said: ''Not only is real-time facial recognition a threat to civil liberties, it is a dangerously inaccurate policing tool.''
Amazon, Facebook, and Google execs are going to the White House to talk about AI - The Verge
Tue, 08 May 2018 13:03
The White House will reportedly host executives from tech companies including Amazon, Google, and Facebook on Thursday to discuss the future of artificial intelligence. According to The Washington Post, representatives from 38 major US firms will attend the meeting to talk about how the Trump administration can do more through funding and regulation to bolster the country's AI efforts.
The news is the latest sign that after receiving sustained criticism for it lack of action on the subject, the White House is finally starting to deal with the challenges and promises of AI head-on. Just a year ago, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said that he was ''not at all'' worried about robots replacing American workers '-- a remark which was met with scorn from the tech industry, and which was seen as representative of the administration's ignorance.
Although the US is generally thought to be the world's leader in AI, experts have warned that the country is not doing enough to sustain its dominant position, or manage future dangers. Other nations have been much more proactive. France announced this year it would invest $1.8 billion ('‚¬1.5 billion) in AI research by 2022; the UK is putting hundreds of millions of dollars into the field in a bid to take the lead in AI ethics; and last year, China unveiled ambitious plans to become the world's dominant force in AI by 2030. A goal that many experts thinks is plausible.
America, by comparison, has announced no such co-ordinated effort or major boost to funding. Since Donald Trump took office in January 2017, there have been some minor advances though. In September, for example, the White House said it would commit at least $200 million for grants for education in STEM subjects, and last month, the FDA gave its first approval to an AI system that would make diagnoses (of eye disease) without the intervention of a doctor. The White House has also highlighted its approach to regulations of drones and self-driving cars, indicating that it will do more to give companies and cities free rein to experiment with the technology.
One major topic it hasn't yet broached, though, is the effects of automation on the labor market. Although estimates of how many US jobs could be lost to automation have varied in recent years, economists say the focus needs to be on re-training employees for new careers.
Speaking to The Washington Post, Dean Garfield, president of the Information Technology Industry Council, said it had been ''slow ramp [up]'' for the Trump administration, but that the government was now focusing ''on the right things.'' Garfield added that Thursday's private meeting would be ''an opportunity to accelerate toward success and leave that slow start in the rearview mirror.''
Hacker Shuts Down Copenhagen's Public City Bikes System
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:42
An unidentified hacker has breached Bycyklen '--Copenhagen's city bikes network'-- and deleted the organization's entire database, disabling the public's access to bicycles over the weekend.
The hack took place on the night between Friday, May 4, and Saturday, May 5, the organization said on its website.
Bycyklen described the hack as "rather primitive," alluding it may have been carried out "by a person with a great deal of knowledge of its IT infrastructure."
All bikes were down on SaturdayAll of the organization's 1,860 bikes were down on Saturday morning as a result of the hack.
The affected bikes work together with an Android tablet that connects to the Bycyklen's database to record the details renting the bikes splayed across the city. Without the database, users weren't able to unlock bikes from their racks. Local users can also create accounts using their emails to unlock bikes faster.
Bycyklen said on Facebook that fixing the problem required a manual update of all bikes. Employees restored 200 bikes on Saturday after tracking down bicycles and rebooting the attached Android tablet.
The company said restoring all bikes to working order would "take some time."
Bycyklen says hacker didn't take user dataIn an update on its website published on Monday, Bycyklen said that after finishing an analysis of the attack, it did not find any signs of the hacker taking any data.
"The attack has been aimed directly at our business, not our users," the company said. "We do not store payment card information. The only information we keep is our users [sic] email addresses, phone numbers and their PIN codes for the Bycyklen bikes."
"For security purposes, we encourage all our users to change their PIN as soon as possible," the company said. Bycyklen is now holding a "treasure hunt" on its Facebook page, asking users to report non-working, so employees can update and restore them.
The hack came at a very inconvenient time, as Copenhagen is also hosting the Ice Hockey World Championship.
Alexa and Siri Can Hear This Hidden Command. You Can't. - The New York Times
Thu, 10 May 2018 15:29
BERKELEY, Calif. '-- Many people have grown accustomed to talking to their smart devices, asking them to read a text, play a song or set an alarm. But someone else might be secretly talking to them, too.
Over the past two years, researchers in China and the United States have begun demonstrating that they can send hidden commands that are undetectable to the human ear to Apple's Siri, Amazon's Alexa and Google's Assistant. Inside university labs, the researchers have been able to secretly activate the artificial intelligence systems on smartphones and smart speakers, making them dial phone numbers or open websites. In the wrong hands, the technology could be used to unlock doors, wire money or buy stuff online '-- simply with music playing over the radio.
A group of students from University of California, Berkeley and Georgetown University showed in 2016 that they could hide commands in white noise played over loudspeakers and through YouTube videos to get smart devices to turn on airplane mode or open a website.
This month, some of those Berkeley researchers published a research paper that went further, saying they could embed commands directly into recordings of music or spoken text. So while a human listener hears someone talking or an orchestra playing, Amazon's Echo speaker might hear an instruction to add something to your shopping list.
''We wanted to see if we could make it even more stealthy,'' said Nicholas Carlini, a fifth-year Ph.D. student in computer security at U.C. Berkeley and one of the paper's authors.
Mr. Carlini added that while there was no evidence that these techniques have left the lab, it may only be a matter of time before someone starts exploiting them. ''My assumption is that the malicious people already employ people to do what I do,'' he said.
These deceptions illustrate how artificial intelligence '-- even as it is making great strides '-- can still be tricked and manipulated. Computers can be fooled into identifying an airplane as a cat just by changing a few pixels of a digital image, while researchers can make a self-driving car swerve or speed up simply by pasting small stickers on road signs and confusing the vehicle's computer vision system.
With audio attacks, the researchers are exploiting the gap between human and machine speech recognition. Speech recognition systems typically translate each sound to a letter, eventually compiling those into words and phrases. By making slight changes to audio files, researchers were able to cancel out the sound that the speech recognition system was supposed to hear and replace it with a sound that would be transcribed differently by machines while being nearly undetectable to the human ear.
Image Smartphones and smart speakers that use digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri are set to outnumber people by 2021, according to the research firm Ovum. Credit Christie Hemm Klok for The New York Times The proliferation of voice-activated gadgets amplifies the implications of such tricks. Smartphones and smart speakers that use digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa or Apple's Siri are set to outnumber people by 2021, according to the research firm Ovum. And more than half of all American households will have at least one smart speaker by then, according to Juniper Research.
Amazon said that it doesn't disclose specific security measures, but it has taken steps to ensure its Echo smart speaker is secure. Google said security is an ongoing focus and that its Assistant has features to mitigate undetectable audio commands. Both companies' assistants employ voice recognition technology to prevent devices from acting on certain commands unless they recognize the user's voice.
Apple said its smart speaker, HomePod, is designed to prevent commands from doing things like unlocking doors, and it noted that iPhones and iPads must be unlocked before Siri will act on commands that access sensitive data or open apps and websites, among other measures.
Yet many people leave their smartphones unlocked, and, at least for now, voice recognition systems are notoriously easy to fool.
There is already a history of smart devices being exploited for commercial gains through spoken commands.
Last year, Burger King caused a stir with an online ad that purposely asked 'O.K., Google, what is the Whopper burger?'' Android devices with voice-enabled search would respond by reading from the Whopper's Wikipedia page. The ad was canceled after viewers started editing the Wikipedia page to comic effect.
A few months later, the animated series South Park followed up with an entire episode built around voice commands that caused viewers' voice-recognition assistants to parrot adolescent obscenities.
There is no American law against broadcasting subliminal messages to humans, let alone machines. The Federal Communications Commission discourages the practice as ''counter to the public interest,'' and the Television Code of the National Association of Broadcasters bans ''transmitting messages below the threshold of normal awareness.'' Neither say anything about subliminal stimuli for smart devices.
Courts have ruled that subliminal messages may constitute an invasion of privacy, but the law has not extended the concept of privacy to machines.
Now the technology is racing even further ahead of the law. Last year, researchers at Princeton University and China's Zhejiang University demonstrated that voice-recognition systems could be activated by using frequencies inaudible to the human ear. The attack first muted the phone so the owner wouldn't hear the system's responses, either.
The technique, which the Chinese researchers called DolphinAttack, can instruct smart devices to visit malicious websites, initiate phone calls, take a picture or send text messages. While DolphinAttack has its limitations '-- the transmitter must be close to the receiving device '-- experts warned that more powerful ultrasonic systems were possible.
That warning was borne out in April, when researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign demonstrated ultrasound attacks from 25 feet away. While the commands couldn't penetrate walls, they could control smart devices through open windows from outside a building.
This year, another group of Chinese and American researchers from China's Academy of Sciences and other institutions, demonstrated they could control voice-activated devices with commands embedded in songs that can be broadcast over the radio or played on services like YouTube.
More recently, Mr. Carlini and his colleagues at Berkeley have incorporated commands into audio recognized by Mozilla's DeepSpeech voice-to-text translation software, an open-source platform. They were able to hide the command, ''O.K. Google, browse to evil.com'' in a recording of the spoken phrase, ''Without the data set, the article is useless.'' Humans cannot discern the command.
The Berkeley group also embedded the command in music files, including a four-second clip from Verdi's ''Requiem.''
How device makers respond will differ, especially as they balance security with ease of use.
''Companies have to ensure user-friendliness of their devices, because that's their major selling point,'' said Tavish Vaidya, a researcher at Georgetown. He wrote one of the first papers on audio attacks, which he titled ''Cocaine Noodles'' because devices interpreted the phrase ''cocaine noodles'' as ''O.K., Google.''
Mr. Carlini said he was confident that in time he and his colleagues could mount successful adversarial attacks against any smart device system on the market.
''We want to demonstrate that it's possible,'' he said, ''and then hope that other people will say, 'O.K. this is possible, now let's try and fix it.'''
Follow Craig S. Smith on Twitter: @craigss
Shut Up Slave!
Spy agency NSA triples collection of U.S. phone records: official report | Reuters
Mon, 07 May 2018 16:54
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. National Security Agency collected 534 million records of phone calls and text messages of Americans last year, more than triple gathered in 2016, a U.S. intelligence agency report released on Friday said.
The sharp increase from 151 million occurred during the second full year of a new surveillance system established at the spy agency after U.S. lawmakers passed a law in 2015 that sought to limit its ability to collect such records in bulk.
The spike in collection of call records coincided with an increase reported on Friday across other surveillance methods, raising questions from some privacy advocates who are concerned about potential government overreach and intrusion into the lives of U.S. citizens.
The 2017 call records tally remained far less than an estimated billions of records collected per day under the NSA's old bulk surveillance system, which was exposed by former U.S. intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in 2013.
The records collected by the NSA include the numbers and time of a call or text message, but not their content.
Overall increases in surveillance hauls were both mystifying and alarming coming years after Snowden's leaks, privacy advocates said.
''The intelligence community's transparency has yet to extend to explaining dramatic increases in their collection,'' said Robyn Greene, policy counsel at the Washington-based Open Technology Institute that focuses on digital issues.
The government ''has not altered the manner in which it uses its authority to obtain call detail records,'' Timothy Barrett, a spokesman at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, which released the annual report, said in a statement.
The NSA has found that a number of factors may influence the amount of records collected, Barrett said. These included the number of court-approved selection terms, which could be a phone number of someone who is potentially the subject of an investigation, or the amount of historical information retained by phone service providers, Barrett said.
''We expect this number to fluctuate from year to year,'' he said.
U.S. intelligence officials have said the number of records collected would include multiple calls made to or from the same phone numbers and involved a level of duplication when obtaining the same record of a call from two different companies.
Friday's report also showed a rise in the number of foreigners living outside the United States who were targeted under a warrantless internet surveillance program, known as Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, that Congress renewed earlier this year.
That figure increased to 129,080 in 2017 from 106,469 in 2016, the report said, and is up from 89,138 targets in 2013, or a cumulative rise over five years of about 45 percent.
U.S. intelligence agencies consider Section 702 a vital tool to protect national security but privacy advocates say the program incidentally collects an unknown number of communications belonging to Americans.
FILE PHOTO: The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters is seen in Fort Meade, Maryland, U.S. February 14, 2018. REUTERS/Sait Serkan GurbuzReporting by Dustin Volz; editing by Grant McCool
Google Bans Bail Bond Ads, Invites Regulation - Marginal REVOLUTION
Tue, 08 May 2018 16:20
Google: Today, we're announcing a new policy to prohibit ads that promote bail bond services from our platforms. Studies show that for-profit bail bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years.
Google's decision to ban ads from bail bond providers is deeply disturbing and wrongheaded. Bail bonds are a legal service. Indeed, they are a necessary service for the legal system to function. It's not surprising that bail bonds are used in communities of color and low income neighborhoods because it is in those neighborhoods that people most need to raise bail. We need not debate whether that is due to greater rates of crime or greater discrimination or both. Whatever the cause, preventing advertising doesn't reduce the need to pay bail it simply makes it harder to find a lender. Restrictions on advertising in the bail industry, as elsewhere, are also likely to reduce competition and raise prices. Both of these effects mean that more people will find themselves in jail for longer.
As with any industry, there are bad players in the bail bond industry but in my experience the large majority of providers go well beyond lending money to providing much needed services to help people navigate the complex, confusing and intimidating legal system. Sociologist Joshua Page worked as a bail agent:
In the course of my research, I learned that agents routinely offer various forms of assistance for low-income customers, primarily poor people of color. It's very difficult for those with limited resources to get information, much less support, from overburdened jails, courts, or related institutions. Lacking attentive private attorneys, therefore, desperate defendants and their friends and families turn to bail companies to help them understand and navigate the opaque, confusing legal processes.
'...In fact, even when people have gone through it before, the pretrial process can be murky and intimidating'....[A]long with walking clients through the legal process, agents explain the differences between public and private attorneys and the relative merits of each. Discussions regularly turn to the defendant's case: Is the alleged victim pressing charges? Will the case move forward if he or she does not? When is the next court date? If convicted, what's the likely punishment? Any chance the charges will get dropped?
'...In a classic 1975 study, sociologist Forrest Dill argued:
One of the key functions performed by attorneys in the criminal process is to direct the passage of cases through the procedural and bureaucratic mazes of the court system. For unrepresented defendants, however, the bondsman may perform the crucial institutional task of helping to negotiate court routines.
Dill's observation still rings true: bail agents and administrative staff (at least in Rocksville) act as legal guides for defendants who do not have private attorneys'--and at times they provide this help to defendants with inattentive hired counsel. They provide information about court dates and locations, check the status of warrants, contact court staff on defendants' behalf (especially when the accused have missed court or are at risk of doing so), and, at times, drive defendants to their court dates. These activities help clients show up for court, thereby protecting the company's investments.
The bail agents are not purely altruistic, they are in a competitive, service business and it pays to help their clients with kindness and care. When I asked one bail agent why he was so polite to his clients and their relations''even when they had jumped bail''he told me, ''we rely a lot on repeat business.''
Ian Ayres and Joel Waldfogel also found that the bail bond system can (modestly) ameliorate judicial racial bias. Ayres and Waldfogel found that in New Haven in the 1990s black and Hispanic males were assigned bail amounts that were systematically higher than equally-risky whites. The bail bondpersons, however, offered lower prices to minorities''meaning equal net prices for people of equal risk''exactly what one would expect from a competitive industry.
My own research found that defendants released on commercial bail were much more likely to show up for trial than statistical doppelgangers released by other methods. Bounty hunters were also much more likely than the police to capture and bring to justice people who did jump bail. The bail bond system thus provides an important public service at no cost to the public.
In addition to being wrongheaded, Google's decision is disturbing because it is so obviously a political decision. Google has banned legal services like bail bonding and payday lending from advertising on Google in order to curry favor with groups who have an ideological aversion to payday lending and the bail system. Google is a private company so this is their right. But every time Google acts as a lawgiver instead of an open platform it invites regulation and political control. Politicians on both sides will see that Google's code is either a quick-step to political power without the necessity of a vote or a threat to such power. Personally, I don't want to see greater regulation but if, for example, conservatives decide that Google doesn't represent their values and threatens their interests, they will regulate.
Google's decision to use its code as law is an invitation to politicization. Moreover, Google is throwing away its best defense against politicization''the promise of neutrality and openness.
What Will Tighter Airport Security Mean for You? - WSJ
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:24
The Transportation Security Administration escaped Thanksgiving without major airport bottlenecks. But the agency still faces big challenges.
Screening changes are coming that may upset travelers already struggling with limited mobility, plus those with overstuffed carry-on bags. TSA plans to enhance screening of travelers in orthopedic casts or wheelchairs. In addition, more checkpoints will require travelers to dump all electronics, food and other items from bags so they can be X-rayed separately.
The big problem hanging over the airport security force is whether it can ever do well in Department of Homeland Security tests of its ability to find hidden weapons carried by travelers. In covert tests this summer, 80% of weapons went undetected. For several years, the tests conducted by the department's inspector general have shown even worse results'--90% or higher, bolstering the view of many travelers that TSA is ineffective.
''I'm afraid TSA is falling into a rut of trying to defend what they do rather than fix it,'' says Rep. Bennie G. Thompson, (D., Miss.), ranking member of the House Committee on Homeland Security.
Specific results of the tests are classified, but the inspector general issues a public summary and more specific information usually leaks out. The inspector general did say eight classified recommendations were made to improve screening and TSA agreed with the suggestions.
TSA argues its ability to find bombs and other weapons isn't as bad as the tests indicate and is improving. Up to Thanksgiving, TSA has already found more firearms in 2017 than all of 2016'--an average of more than nine a day, the agency says.
TSA administrator David Pekoske notes that none of the DHS employees going through checkpoints for the tests are on any watch lists that would trigger secondary screening. ''When we do preselect somebody for additional screening'...our detectability rates are very high,'' he says.
But the tests got the attention of the new administrator, on the job not yet four months. He's looking at deploying more canine teams, which are very effective at finding bomb materials. He's also trying to enhance training for screeners and is looking at speeding up the rollout of new, stricter procedures involving electronics and food.
''We are more secure now than we were before the test results came out,'' Mr. Pekoske says.
In the past, embarrassing undercover testing has prompted TSA to tighten up screening at checkpoints, slowing the flow of passengers. In 2016, this led to very long lines and missed flights, culminating with a meltdown in Chicago with passengers stranded overnight before changes were made to speed up passenger flow.
Mr. Pekoske says there will be some tightening, but that shouldn't slow checkpoints too much. One thing that's helped: TSA's trusted-traveler program, PreCheck, has added 2.2 million people in the past two years, bringing total enrollment to 5.7 million, TSA says. A total of 12 million people are eligible for PreCheck, including people enrolled in Customs and Border Protection programs like Global Entry. Moving more travelers to PreCheck lines speeds up regular lines and enhances security, TSA says.
Officials say the security testing revealed a vulnerability of weapons smuggled by those in orthopedic casts or wheelchairs. That means those people will get more enhanced screening, officials say, such as pat-downs and bomb-residue swipes. The added attention will likely infuriate some who already have plenty of difficulty navigating airports.
The longer-term solution, Mr. Pekoske says, is a wider body-scanning machine that could accommodate someone in a chair with a leg straight out. Such a machine is in development, he says.
As a result of the failing tests, TSA is also looking at speeding up the rollout of the enhanced carry-on bag screening, which began testing a year ago and started expanding to airports after the summer rush. The rollout likely will continue through March and April. That means there will be different rules in different cities at least through the winter.
Mr. Pekoske says the program, known at TSA as Enhanced Accessible Property Screening, or EAPS, has slowed down checkpoints as both screeners and travelers get used to new procedures. But he doesn't expect significant increases in wait times.
Tests so far show that making people declutter bags does make screening more effective. Items inside bags are easier to see clearly on X-ray screens. Mr. Pekoske calls it ''a significant enhancement to security.''
But TSA says it needs better technology at checkpoints, too. TSA is testing CT scanners at checkpoints in Phoenix and Boston. These scanners, similar to ones used to screen checked luggage, look inside bags from all angles, much like a hospital CT scan, and produce a clean 3-D image. Since they can measure the density of materials, they'd even allow TSA to drop restrictions on liquids.
Mr. Pekoske says the tests are going well and will likely be completed by next summer. A year from now the agency will start asking Congress for money to buy machines to replace the 2,200 X-ray machines at checkpoints. The technology is so promising, airlines have already ordered the first machines for their hubs and agreed to donate them to TSA to speed up deployment.
Mr. Thompson, the Mississippi congressman, says the CT scanners highlight a fundamental problem at TSA: It's too slow with new technology. Other government agencies have funding to develop and deploy it. TSA has labs to evaluate what contractors develop and then goes to Congress to get funding for purchases, a multiyear process.
''I'm firmly convinced that technology is the way to go,'' Mr. Thompson says. ''In some instances, we're too slow, and the bad guys are not waiting for us to get it right.''
TSA did get through the Thanksgiving rush smoothly. A check of 25 major airports on Monday found a few reports of long waits hitting 30 minutes to 45 minutes at some periods. But past holidays have seen way worse.
TSA says from Nov. 17 through Nov. 26, 98.1% of passengers waited under 20 minutes in queue for screening. On Sunday, the busiest day, about 5% of non-PreCheck passengers waited 20 minutes or more for screening, TSA says. Only 0.5% of PreCheck passengers waited that long.
Mr. Pekoske says TSA prepared for Thanksgiving and was well-staffed for the rush. The agency offered lots of overtime to officers, he says.
Write to Scott McCartney at MiddleSeat@wsj.com
North Korea
North Korea wants international flights in its airspace - UPI.com
Tue, 08 May 2018 16:11
May 8 (UPI) -- South Korea confirmed North Korea is looking to open an international flight route so planes bound for Incheon, the South Korean city home to the country's flagship airport, can fly over North Korean territory.
Seoul's foreign ministry spokesman Noh Kyu-duk told reporters at a regular press briefing the North is looking into opening its airspace to international flights leaving and arriving from the South.
South Korea's land and transport ministry are preparing for talks, according to Yonhap.
The North Korean proposal to the International Civil Aviation Organization to connect flight information regions could shorten flight time and cut down on fuel costs.
One official at Seoul's transport ministry told Yonhap that the inter-Korea issue is being submitted to ICAO because "there is no South-North channel" for talks.
The savings for commercial flights could be significant.
North Korea charges about $740 for each flight that enters its airspace, but the use of North Korea airspace also reduces flight distance by 100 to 300 miles, which could create about $15 million in annual savings for South Korean airlines, according to Yonhap.
Seoul Pyongyang News reported Tuesday during the briefing Noh confirmed the discussions were centered on airspace use, and not the creation of a direct route between Seoul and Pyongyang.
International and unilateral South Korean sanctions against North Korea are still being enforced.
South Korea banned the use of North Korea airspace for aircraft coming in and out of the country's airports in 2010, following the torpedoing of the South Korean warship Cheonan.
Dog are People too
Dog Dazer II & Harmonics
From Dog trainer Jen
ITM!
I used to work as a dog trainer in the capital of Dimension
B- Washington, DC. I can confirm that people are substituting dogs for kids
(can't blame them, with what daycare prices are in DC) and people get
absolutely NUTS when it comes to their dogs. I had two women get into a verbal
altercation in one of my classes because one used to foot to nudge the other
women's dog off of her. A client and I were once stalked several blocks and
yelled at by a woman who was irate that we wouldn't let my client's dog play
with her dog. I've seen people spend thousands on their dogs- buying the dog
higher-quality food than the owners themselves eat, sending their dog to
resorts, even building entire additions to their house for their dogs. People
paid me $100-200 an hour for training services (not that I'm complaining). Oh,
and I taught classes on integrating dogs and kids, and people would get furious
with me if I suggested any safety precautions, such as not letting a dog with
questionable behavior be in the room alone with an infant. How dare I suggest
their precious pup would do such a thing! Boggles my mind that people would
actually risk their child's life over not hurting their dog's
feelings.
Regarding psychotropic drugs for dogs, it is becoming more
and more widespread as people are pushed to adopt rather than purchase from a
reputable breeder. Often, dogs who are adopted have spent their lives either in
horrible conditions or as feral street dogs. They either come with severe
mental problems or develop them as they go from the complete freedom of living
on the streets or in the country to being confined to a 1 bedroom apartment and
forced to integrate into society. There is also a strong genetic component to
these mental health problems, which is getting worse as most breeders have
turned to breeding for physical appearance rather than behavior and emotional
health (which isn't entirely their fault since the market has demanded
unusual-looking dogs; dog breeds today look completely different than they did
100 years ago, when they were bred to actually work). Back in the day, if a dog
displayed aggression or anxiety, it was taken out back and shot, not bred or
put into the home of a novice dog owner who can't handle it and then doped up.
I'm not sure a life of severe mental problems is more humane than simply
putting the dog down.
On the plus side of dogs-as-kids, I've noticed than dog
owners are MUCH more attentive to their dogs than parents are to their kids.
Anytime I take my kid to the park, every single parent is hunched over, playing
on their phone. At least the dog owners are throwing tennis balls around.
Side note, since you often talk about SSRIs- interestingly,
when dogs are given a single dose of an SSRI and then samples of spinal fluid
are taken the next day, the level of serotonin is several times higher than
what it theoretically should be after just one dose. Nobody is sure why this
occurs. Also, it is well-known among canine behaviorists that SSRIs lead to
lowered inhibition, which can then lead to escalated aggressive incidents. It's
not necessarily that the SSRI causes a docile dog to become aggressive, it just
has the capability to make a dog who would normally growl decide to bite
instead.
Hope you find some of this useful. Feel free to use anything
on the show!
Jen Jackson
Pet Population and Ownership Trends in the U.S.: Dogs, Cats, and Other Pets, 2nd Edition
The idea of pet ownership remains firmly imbedded in the American psyche. No matter where American pet owners live and whatever their age or ethnicity, they stand united in believing that their pets make a positive contribution to their lives. For example, more than 90% of dog owners across a wide range of demographic segments agree that their dog has a positive impact on their mental or physical health. The profound connection between pet owners and their pets leads three in four pet dog or cat owners to admit that they enjoy buying pet products that pamper their pets.
Yet, besides shedding light on the common ground inhabited by pet owners, this new Packaged Facts report uncovers stark differences among pet owners that can pose significant challenges for retailers and marketers. The way pet owners view their pets and the criteria they use when deciding which pet products to buy are closely tied to whether they live in urban areas, suburban or outer suburban locales, or rural parts of the country.
For example, compared to rural pet owners, the report finds that urban pet owners are much more likely to agree that they have pets with special nutrition needs or to be concerned about their pets having food allergies or intolerances. Urban pet owners also are much more likely than their rural counterparts to agree that natural/organic brand pet products are often better than standard national brand products or to concur with the statement that fear of pet food contamination/product safety is a key consideration in the dog foods they buy.
The report also identifies a number of demographic trends that likely will hearten marketers and retailers in the pet industry. For one thing, Millennials clearly have bought into the idea of pet ownership. Those in the 18- to 34-year-old age group already have the highest likelihood of owning a pet, while 43% of those in this key demographic cohort who do not have a pet now say they want one in the future.
Aging Boomers offer another, perhaps unexpected, bright spot for the American pet industry. A decade ago, just 34% of adults in the 70-and-over age group owned pets. In 2015 and 2016, when the leading edge of the Boomer generation began to turn 70, this percentage jumped to around 40%. If this incipient trend continues, the overall rate of pet ownership likely will increase in coming years.
Furthermore, pet ownership has become a marker of acculturation within the rapidly expanding Latino population. As second- and third-generation Hispanics continue to make up an ever growing share of the Hispanic population in the United States, the number of Hispanic pet owners likely will continue to grow exponentially.
Gender Reveal
Good Morning Podfather,
I wanted to comment on dogs and millenials (being one
myself) and I agree that more and more couples are putting off children for
dogs. Now I don’t see it as much because I live on a military base and everyone
seems to just procreate here in their free time but I wanted to add something to
the observations you make: not only are couples putting off having kids they
are also doing “gender reveal” photo shoots that are meant to be “funny and
cute” and make people think they’re having a kid and then a puppy is the pay
off. It sickens me but at least they’re taking themselves out of the gene pool.
See attached for example.
Thank you for your courage and passion,
Jonathan
It's a Fractal! & Climate Change + Carbon
Adam,
The dog phenomenon is hardly suprising. For at least three
generations now we've been indoctrinating people that having children is evil
and you are killing the planet. Couple that with the perpetual adolescence we
are intent on nurturing and you have a real recipe for problems.
Here's something fun though - dogs are destroying the
planet. One article counts dogs as producing a quarter of the carbon emissions
of animal agriculture, or 64 million tonnes of CO2. (https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2017/08/02/whats-your-dogs-carbon-pawprint/#6bd5a3c713a6).
That's a lot of cow farts.
Another claims that a medium size dog has a larger footprint
than a large SUV (https://phys.org/news/2009-11-dogs-larger-carbon-footprint-suv.html).
Looks like you're really saving the planet with your awful
fur-person.
But this is not a new phenomena. If we go back to the
introduction of the Life of Pericles by Plutartch he relates this anecdote:
On seeing certain wealthy foreigners in Rome carrying puppies
and young monkeys about in their bosoms and fondling them, Caesar1 asked,
we are told, if the women in their country did not bear children, thus in right
princely fashion rebuking those who squander on animals that proneness to love
and loving affection which is ours by nature, and which is due only to our
fellow-men.
Sound familiar?
Art
GRC's | The Quiet Canine - Mission Statement
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:53
Dog Barking remains (even now) an unsolved problem.
The disturbing noise pollution created by the persistent, unprovoked barking of either one's own, or a nearby neighbor's, pet canine has provoked endless neighborhood angst, dispute & conflict. In some areas, untamed, roaming & proactively aggressive dogs terrorize the surrounding human population. These problems have invoked and involved local authorities to little avail. And they have created an industry of largely ineffective would-be remedies.
The problems are real, recognized, well known and well understood. They cry out for a solution. But still the problems continue unabated.
This ''Quite Canine'' project organized our exploration into the design and development of a modern, state of the art, entirely benign, yet hopefully effective, ''acoustic deterrent'' technology. This technology is designed to startle a dog into silence by responding to unprovoked and persistent barking with a brief, harmless, and completely unfamiliar burst of loud high-pitched audio sound.
The good news:
The good news is that we arrived at an extremely simple, inexpensive, and easy-to-build design for a small, lightweight and painfully loud handheld sound emitter:
Detailed design PDF with full bill of materialsincluding component value and part numbers.
The bad news:
Many of these final ''TQC v2.2.2'' devices were assembled and tested by those following and participating in the Portable Sound Blaster group at Google. The devices were invariably incredibly loud and high pitched. While their dads were assembling and testing the devices downstairs in the garage, their upstairs teenagers were complaining about the piercing sound penetrating their heads.
And, of course, dogs were at least as well able to hear it, and at much greater distance.
But in no event was this able to function as any sort of barking deterrent. Dogs heard it, and at any distance, they didn't care. We soon came to appreciate that my own original ''point blank'' blasting of the original ''Portable Dog Killer'' (as I named my first device when I was in high school) was required for the device's effectiveness. No dog next door, let alone down the block, will care about a high pitched sound. It needs to be blasted directly into the dog's face at a very short distance.
This means that while this device would not be useful for silencing dogs at a distance, it would likely be extremely useful and effective as a personal defense device for walkers, postal workers on foot and joggers who are harassed and threatened by overly aggressive canines on the loose. Although we cannot and do not offer any specific guarantees, it is difficult to see how any attacking dog would not be stopped in its tracks by a close blast of incredibly loud and high pitched sound.
The original ''Portable Dog Killer'' story and podcast:
During this 45 minute MP3 audio file, Steve shares the story of the ''Portable Dog Killer'' with Leo and his Security Now! podcast audience:
https://media.grc.com/TPDK.mp3
NOTE: Please peruse the Portable Sound Blaster group at Google for the entire detailed history of this project, photos of the devices many people built, and their reports and stories.
Last Edit: Feb 27, 2017 at 19:23 (436.48 days ago) Viewed 134 times per day
Stormy
Avenatti will get the full Media Boomerang
Russian Leverage Over Trump Isn't a Theory. It's Now a Fact.
Wed, 09 May 2018 09:50
/ the national interest May 8, 2018 05/08/2018 11:03 pm By Jonathan Chait @jonathanchait In the waning weeks of 2016, when the intelligence community and many politicians were passing around terrifying reports about Donald Trump's links to Russia like samizdat, the frightening possibility arose that the sanctity of the United States government might be compromised in a way no living American had experienced. This was just one of the unnerving things about the rise of Trump, and it was one that many well-informed observers doubted. Russia, after all, was poor and weak. To imagine that a country with an economy smaller than Canada's or Italy's could leverage a superpower ten times wealthier beggared the imagination. And yet that paranoid, absurd belief seems to be creeping closer to reality than seemed possible even in those dark post-election days.
The New York Times has confirmed the explosive claims made by Michael Avenatti, the lawyer for Stormy Daniels, that Columbus Nova '' a New York investment firm whose biggest client is a company controlled by Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg '' deposited half a million dollars into a secret account set up by attorney Michael Cohen to pay off Trump's sexual partners. The possible reasons for this arrangement run from brazenly corrupt to far worse. Columbus Nova said the hefty sum was a ''consulting fee'' paid to Cohen, hardly a benign explanation.
Columbus Nova reportedly retained Cohen's services after Andrew Intrater, the company's American chief executive, met him while attending Trump's inauguration with Vekselberg, who is his cousin. Like all Russian oligarchs, Vekselberg operates in cooperation with the Putin government. The payments gave Russia several sources of possible leverage over Cohen and Trump. First the money itself could amount to some kind of bribe, in return for which a favor would be expected. Second, Russia had knowledge of the secret payoff, which it could always expose. Third, the possibility (at minimum) exists that Russia knew the account was being used to silence Trump's mistresses, yet another source of kompromat.
For all the speculation about the existence of the pee tape, the latest revelations prove what is tantamount to the same thing. Russia could leverage the president and his fixer '' who, recall, hand-delivered a pro-Russian ''peace plan'' with Ukraine to Trump's national security adviser in January 2017 '' by threatening to expose secrets they were desperate to keep hidden. Whether those secrets were limited to legally questionable payments, or included knowledge of sexual affairs, is a question of degree but not of kind.
Perhaps even more alarming has been the response of the political system to this crisis. The House of Representatives has assigned Devin Nunes, the chairman of the Intelligence Committee, as its point man to defend Trump against the Mueller investigation. The Department of Justice has a longstanding policy of keeping Congress out of acting investigations, for the obvious reason that elected officials have a powerful incentive to interfere. Nunes has demanded the virtually unlimited right to get inside the Mueller probe. Officials in the Department of Justice have come to suspect his goal is to compromise the investigation by handing information from the prosecutors over to Trump.
The Washington Post tonight reports another, and even more fanatical, step in Nunes's crusade. Last week, Nunes demanded a piece of information that the FBI and other intelligence officials believed would ''endanger a top-secret intelligence source.'' They prevailed on Trump to support their request to withhold the information which, they argued, would ''risk severe consequences including potential loss of human lives.''
Nunes is not only demanding the secret be revealed to him, but threatening to vote to hold Attorney General Jeff Sessions in contempt. And officials who secured Trump's support may have left out the fact that the source provided information to the Mueller investigation. As a result, ''several administration officials said they fear Trump may reverse course and support Nunes's argument.''
Think for a moment what this report tells us. The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, who enjoys the full backing of his party's leadership, is willing to risk what his own government describes as the betrayal and potential loss of life of an intelligence source. And officials within this government believe the president would do the same, all in order to obstruct an investigation into the president's secretive ties to a foreign power. They are acting as though Trump is compromised by Russia, or at the very least, that he cannot be trusted to defend his own country's security against it. The sordid Russia scandal has already brought some version of a very dark nightmare scenario to life.
This post has been updated with additional information about Columbus Nova's relationship with Michael Cohen.
Russian Leverage Over Trump Isn't a Theory. It's Now a Fact.
Daniels' lawyer: Cohen got $500K from Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg
Wed, 09 May 2018 11:29
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Stormy Daniels' attorney claimed Tuesday that President Donald Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen received $500,000 from a company controlled by a Russian oligarch, deposited into an account for a company also used to pay off the adult film actress.
Daniels' attorney, Michael Avenatti, also detailed other transactions he said were suspicious, including deposits from drug giant Novartis, the state-run Korea Aerospace Industries, and AT&T '-- which confirmed it paid Cohen's company for "insights" into the Trump administration.
If true, Avenatti's claims, made in a dossier posted to Twitter, could add a new dimension to the federal investigation into Cohen. NBC News has reviewed financial documents that appear to support Avenatti's account of the transactions.
"This thing is a pig and they can try to put lipstick on a pig '-- tonight, next week, next month '-- but it's still gonna be a pig," Avenatti said on MSNBC's "The Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell." "This thing's ugly and it's gonna get worse."
After significant investigation, we have discovered that Mr. Trump's atty Mr. Cohen received approximately $500,000 in the mos. after the election from a company controlled by a Russian Oligarc with close ties to Mr. Putin. These monies may have reimbursed the $130k payment.
'-- Michael Avenatti (@MichaelAvenatti) May 8, 2018Avenatti said his investigation uncovered that $4.4 million flowed through a First Republic account linked to Essential Consultants between October 2016 and January 2018. Essential Consultants is the company Cohen created before the 2016 election and then used to wire $130,000 to Daniels to stop her from going public with her account of an alleged sexual affair with Trump a decade ago.
In particular, Avenatti identified eight transactions between January and August 2017, totaling half a million dollars, from U.S.-based Columbus Nova, which he said is controlled by Russian billionaire Viktor Vekselberg and Vekselberg's cousin Andrew Intrater.
In a statement, an attorney for Columbus Nova said the management firm is owned and controlled by Americans and not Vekselberg, who is the president of the Russian conglomerate Renovo Group.
"After the inauguration, the firm hired Michael Cohen as a business consultant regarding potential sources of capital and potential investments in real estate and other ventures," the Columbus Nova statement said.
"Reports today that Viktor Vekselberg used Columbus Nova as a conduit for payments to Michael Cohen are false. The claim that Viktor Vekselberg was involved or provided any funding for Columbus Nova's engagement of Michael Cohen is patently untrue.
"Neither Viktor Vekselberg nor anyone else other than Columbus Nova's owners, were involved in the decision to hire Cohen or provided funding for his engagement."
This thing is a pig and they can try to put lipstick on a pig '-- tonight, next week, next month '-- but it's still gonna be a pig.
This thing is a pig and they can try to put lipstick on a pig '-- tonight, next week, next month '-- but it's still gonna be a pig.
Columbus Nova was listed on the website of the Renova Group, as one of its "companies" until November 2017. Renova's website is now listed as "under construction," but older versions remain on The Wayback Machine, which creates archives of sites across the web.
In a statement, Columbus Nova's attorney said the firm "has managed assets on behalf of Renova Group companies and other clients. Columbus Nova itself is not now, and has never been, owned by any foreign entity or person including Viktor Vekselberg or the Renova Group."
A review of public election filings shows that the CEO of Columbus Nova, Andrew Intrater, made several political donations over the past two years.
According to public record filings he donated $29,600 to the Republican National Committee in June 2017, $35,000 to the Trump Victory PAC the same month, and then $250,000 to the Trump Inauguration Fund. Columbus Nova has also registered many alt-right internet domains, though the domains return an error message.
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Renova Group Board Chairman and Skolkovo Foundation President Viktor Vekselberg at the Kremlin in Moscow on March 14, 2017. Alexei Nikolsky / TASS via Getty Images file Vekselberg questioned by Mueller probe investigatorsAs the New York Times first reported last week, citing people familiar with the matter, agents working for Special Counsel Robert Mueller searched and questioned Vekselberg as he got off a private plane in the New York area earlier this year.
Vekselberg '-- one of the richest men in Russia, with a fortune from aluminum and oil '-- also attended a much-discussed 2015 dinner in Moscow where Michael Flynn, soon to become Trump's national security adviser, was seated next to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Vekselberg, who was among the Russian oligarchs sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department last month, has not been accused of wrongdoing in connection with either Mueller's investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election or a separate probe of Cohen by the U.S. Attorney's office in Manhattan.
He could not be reached for immediate comment, and Cohen declined to comment after reviewing Avenatti's dossier.
Avenatti also said he had uncovered:
Four payments of just under $100,000 made by Novartis to Essential in late 2017 and early 2018. He noted reports that said Trump met with Novartis' CEO in January 2018. A Novartis spokesperson told NBC News that "any agreements with Essential Consultants were entered before our current CEO taking office in February of this year and have expired."AT&T made four payments of $50,000 each to Essential in late 2017 and early 2018. In a statement, AT&T said it engaged the firm in early 2017 to "provide insights into understanding the new administration. They did no legal or lobbying work for us, and the contract ended in December 2017.''Korea Aerospace Industries made a $150,000 payment to Essential in November 2017. KAI did not respond to requests for comment.
The Memo: Cohen storm grows graver for Trump | TheHill
Thu, 10 May 2018 10:30
The growing storm over Michael Cohen, President Trump Donald John TrumpTrump greets 3 American detainees freed by North Korea Trump called Blankenship after Senate primary loss: report Education Dept to relax rules restricting faith-based institutions from getting federal aid MORE 's personal attorney, is casting a dark cloud over the White House.
The controversy around Cohen deepened Wednesday when the attorney was reported to have promised access to the Trump administration to one of the corporations that was paying him, drug company Novartis.
That allegation, contained in separate reports from NBC News and Stat News and sourced to unnamed people inside Novartis, capped a fraught 24 hours for the White House.
The previous evening, lawyer Michael Avenatti, who represents adult-film actress Stormy Daniels, had delivered a bombshell.
He asserted that Essential Consultants LLC, a shell company operated by Cohen, had received $500,000 from an investment firm whose biggest client was a company controlled by a Russian oligarch and ally of President Vladimir Putin. About $4.4 million was said to have passed through the previously obscure company, including payments from Novartis, AT&T and Korea Aerospace Industries.
Those allegations were broadly backed up by reporting from The New York Times and NBC News, as well as acknowledgments from some of the companies that they made payments. The investment firm, Columbus Nova, however, insisted that it was false that it had been used as a conduit by the oligarch, Viktor Vekselberg.
Avenatti told The Hill in a phone interview Wednesday that the allegations ''appear to reflect a pattern and practice by Michael Cohen of accepting money in return for access to the president.''
There is no suggestion that Trump himself was party to any such agreement, nor has there been any acknowledgment from Cohen's side that he was engaged in anything unethical.
But, according to Avenatti, the controversy holds serious dangers for both men.
''It's beyond that it doesn't look good,'' he said. ''This is the right-hand attorney of the president. If that attorney is selling access to the president without the requisite disclosures, that is a serious problem.''
The White House, as well as the president's private legal team, has shown little willingness to engage with the subject.
Press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders was put on the defensive during Wednesday's media briefing as she was peppered with questions about Cohen. She refused to be drawn in and suggested reporters direct their inquiries to Trump's outside counsel.
The two most prominent members of the president's legal team, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and attorney Jay Sekulow, however, did not respond to calls or texts from The Hill on the matter.
Sanders did say that she was not aware of any actions Trump had taken in office to benefit the corporations that had paid Cohen.
So far, the ethical and political problems for the president seem to exceed any direct legal exposure in the Cohen matter.
''We need to be a little conservative in crying from the rooftops that there is criminal activity here,'' said Caroline Polisi, an attorney and legal commentator. ''It seems swampy, but I don't know if I would use the word 'criminal.' ''
Polisi, who specializes in white-collar and criminal defense with Pierce Bainbridge, added, however: ''The optics are horrible. It is certainly unseemly and certainly unethical.''
Trump critics have also seized on the recent reports to make their argument that the administration has broader problems.
In addition to the issues surrounding Cohen, they highlight the troubled tenure of Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt Edward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: Perry eyes decades-old law to boost coal industry | California to mandate solar panels on new homes | Dem states push for court decision on Obama climate rule Green activists up the pressure on automobile efficiency standards Dems target Trump administration's use of military planes in defense bill debate MORE and controversial recent comments by budget director Mick Mulvaney John (Mick) Michael MulvaneyOvernight Finance: Treasury probing how Stormy Daniels lawyer got Cohen's bank records | Mulvaney under fire over changes to student loan office | Rescissions package could tie lawmakers' hands on funding bills Mulvaney faces backlash over moving student loan investigation division Overnight Finance: Deal on Dodd-Frank rollback | Trump pulls US out of Iran nuke deal | House votes to repeal auto-loan guidance, setting new precedent MORE regarding access granted to lobbyists during his time in Congress.
''Washington is still Washington, and it was Washington before Trump got here,'' said Adam Smith David (Adam) Adam SmithOvernight Defense: Latest on marathon markup of 7B defense bill | CIA pick bolsters chances for confirmation | North Korea frees three American prisoners House panel approves commission to study military aircraft accidents Air Force orders one day aviation pause for safety review following series of crashes MORE , communications director of Every Voice, a liberal advocacy group. ''But they have been willing to say the quiet part out loud. Nobody talked about that. One of the differences is that they are just more blatant and open about the corruption.''
Allies of the president have been concerned for some time about the damage that a probe into Cohen's affairs could inflict.
Cohen has worked with Trump and the Trump Organization for more than a decade.
When investigators raided Cohen's home, office and hotel room a month ago, Trump reacted with fury. It has been widely reported that the president's willingness to submit to a voluntary interview with the team led by special counsel Robert Mueller Robert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE receded in the aftermath of those raids.
Trump has not yet weighed in on the most recent Cohen allegations.
But the controversy is set to detract attention from events that the president would much prefer to be talking about.
Three Americans who had been held in North Korea were released on Wednesday. The three men were set to return to the United States in the company of Secretary of State Mike Pompeo Michael (Mike) Richard PompeoTrump greets 3 American detainees freed by North Korea Freed North Korean hostages thank Trump, Pompeo 'for bringing us home' Overnight Defense: Latest on marathon markup of 7B defense bill | CIA pick bolsters chances for confirmation | North Korea frees three American prisoners MORE in the early hours of Thursday.
The president said on Twitter that he would be there to great the men at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland.
Right now, however, that seems likely to offer only a brief respite from the rising tide of legal and political troubles.
The Memo is a reported column by Niall Stanage, primarily focused on Donald Trump's presidency.
Avenatti Accuses The Wrong Michael Cohens Of Making 'Fraudulent' Payments - The Daily Caller
Thu, 10 May 2018 10:10
Attorney Michael Avenatti on "Morning Joe," May 9, 2018. (YouTube screen capture/MSNBC)
Michael Avenatti, porn star Stormy Daniels' lawyer, released a seven-page dossier on Tuesday containing a list of payments purportedly made to Michael Cohen, the lawyer for President Donald Trump.
But there is one problem with the document: two of the allegedly ''fraudulent'' payments were made to men named Michael Cohen who have no affiliation with Trump.
Avenatti's report includes a section listing ''possible fraudulent and illegal financial transactions'' involving Trump's lawyer. One of the payments is a $4,250 wire transfer from a Malaysian company, Actuarial Partners, to a bank in Toronto.
The other is a $980 transfer from a Kenyan bank to Bank Hapoalim '-- the largest bank in Israel.
Zainal Kassim, a representative for Actuarial Partners, told The Daily Caller News Foundation Avenatti's report is a case of mistaken identity. He forwarded an email the falsely accused Michael Cohen sent to Avenatti requesting the lawyer ''correct this error forthwith and make it known publicly'' there is no connection to Trump's Michael Cohen.
''You are surely aware of the fact that this is an extremely common name and would request that you take care before involving innocent parries in this sordid affair,'' wrote Cohen, who told Avenatti he is an international consultant who was paid by Actuarial Partners for work on a project in Tanzania.
''Actuarial Partners have already received inquiries from the press in this regard, and we would like to see this scurrilous rumour spiked as soon as possible.''
Haaretz, the Israeli news outlet, found another case of mistaken identity in Avenatti's report.
''Mr. Cohen received one wire transfer in the amount of $980.00 from a Kenyan bank from account holders Netanel Cohen and Stav Hayun to an account in Israel at Bank Hapoalim,'' Avenatti wrote.
Haaretz caught up with Netanel Cohen, who acknowledged having a bank account in Kenya and transferring money to a Michael Cohen. But the Michael Cohen in questions is his brother, Netanel told the news outlet. And his brother is not Trump's lawyer.
''I've never heard of Michael Cohen, and I have no connection to this affair,'' Netanel told Haaretz.
It is unclear how Avenatti obtained the financial records cited in his report. But various news outlets, including The New York Times, also appear to have viewed the documents. The Treasury Department's office of the inspector general opened an investigation into whether someone leaked Cohen's financial documents to Avenatti and the press, it was reported on Wednesday.
It remains a mystery how the financial records of a completely separate Michael Cohen would have ended up in the tranche of documents provided to Avenatti.
Other transfers tied to Michael Cohen, the Trump lawyer, actually did occur. Several companies, including AT&T, Novartis and Columbus Nova, a firm linked to Russian oligarch Viktor Vekselberg, acknowledged paying Cohen's company, Essential Consultants.
Cohen used that firm to route a $130,000 payment to Daniels in October 2016. Daniels, who claims she had an affair with Trump in 2006, is suing Cohen and the president to get out of a non-disclosure agreement she signed in exchange for the money.
This article has been updated with additional information.
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Is This How Avenatti Found Out? '' Talking Points Memo
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:47
TPM Reader TH thinks he knows where Michael Avenatti got his amazingly specific details. And it sounds right to me '...
I want to shed some light on tonight's post re: Cohen/Avenatti, specifically this line:
''They've also confirmed the dollar amounts. So while we still don't know where or how Avenatti got this information he must have had access to one of Cohen's ledgers, a bank statement or perhaps an investigative document. The details are simply too specific.''
I work as an Anti-Money Laundering and Bank Secrecy Act Specialist at a financial institution. Every bank/credit union/etc will have someone who's responsibility it is to examine transactions and file Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) with FinCEN, a department of the Treasury. This is what I do.
Upon reading Avenatti's document, it's obvious that he has his hands on (multiple, I think) SARs that have been filed on Cohen. They are structured almost exactly as we write them. The KYC information at the beginning is a huge tipoff. This is something every bank is required to compile when a business account is opened, and it's what AML staff would refer back to it when examining transactions to see if the account is ''behaving'' differently than expected. This KYC information would never be included in a bank statement or a ledger. It would only come from a financial institution, and is what is included in SARs narratives to justify their filing. Furthermore, there's info in the document from multiple banks. Unless Avenatti has people at multiple different banks leaking him info on Cohen (he doesn't) it comes from a SARs.
We know from the WSJ that at least one bank has filed a SARs on Cohen:
https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-lawyers-payment-to-porn-star-was-reported-as-suspicious-by-bank-1520273701
I'm pretty gobsmacked that someone would leak SARs to Michael Avenatti, but we live in crazy times. I've been trying to think who all would have access, and it's basically: FinCEN staff, law enforcement who request them, regulators, the bank staff who filed them originally, and possibly independent auditors who come in to make sure banks are filing BSA paperwork properly. My guess would be it's someone at FinCEN doing it, but I wouldn't bet a massive amount of money on it.
I would, however, bet massive amounts of money that Avenatti somehow has his hands on SARs filed on Cohen.
I have no idea who leaked this or whether it was a leak per se. But this is extraordinarily detailed information. It all seems accurate. I think TH is likely on the right track here.
Michael Avenatti's Net Worth: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know | Heavy.com
Thu, 10 May 2018 15:19
Michael Avenatti Net Worth: $20 millionBirthday: February 16, 1971Education: University of Pennsylvania, George Washington University Twitter Stormy Daniels' lawyer Michael Avenatti is a high-profile attorney with huge wins and some interesting losses.
Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti is a bit of an enigma. A lawyer who has won more than $1 billion in judgments for his clients, Avenatti is a class action contingency fee plaintiffs' lawyer, so massive wins for a client mean a big payday for him. Typically, contingency fees are one-third of a judgment not including associated court fees but can range as high as 50 percent, plus costs.
A race car driver with expensive taste and a high-end lifestyle, Avenatti has been estimated to be worth about $20 million, according The Squander. But with an unusual bankruptcy case with just one elusive creditor, a huge tax lien and a curious business deal with former partner Patrick Dempsey, yes that Patrick Dempsey aka McDreamy, it's as clear as a San Francisco fog what Avenatti is actually worth.
Heavy has obtained Avenatti's divorce court documents that show just how lavish his lifestyle is, though a list of assets has yet to be filed, or at least publicly obtainable as of the publication of this post.
According to Orange County, California court documents, Avenatti filed for divorce from his wife, Lisa-Storie Avenatti, in December 2017, after she kicked him out of their house, and changed the locks, he said in the court documents.
The superior court documents show that the couple, married since 2011, have a 3-year-old son Avenatti wants joint custody of. In the divorce papers, it's noted that Avenatti's monthly expenses run about $40,000 and his wife's about $25,000. His include payments on a Ferrari Spyder and a Mercedes G Wagon, a private plane and pilot, and car racing, the latter two costs are not listed. For his wife, monthly expenses include tens of thousands of dollars for restaurants, shopping, entertainment, gifts, housekeepers, laundry and $12,000 for nannies for the couple's young son. And they both spend several thousand dollars a month at MedSpa. The monthly payment for their Via Lido Nord, Newport Beach, home is $100,000 and a Los Angeles apartment is $14,000.
Screenshot of Michael Avenatti divorce documents filed in December of 2017.
Lisa Storie-Avenatti said she has a luxury clothing business, Ikaria Resort Wear, that's losing money. The Twitter account for the business, with just 18 followers, describes the line as ''Elegant Sexy Resort Wear. Ikaria cover-ups are created with 100 percent imported silk, made with crystals from Swarovski and finished by hand.'' Court documents state the business is losing money but it did show at New York Fashion Week or at least this tweet indicated it did.
So, Avenatti could be worth at least $20 million, but with $5 million-plus in tax liens and a ubiquitous and unusual bankruptcy, he may owe money. But it's not clear. Even copious court records don't tell the whole story.
Here's what you need to know about Michael Avenatti and his money:
1. Avenatti Has Won $1 Billion in Judgments for Clients in High Profile Cases
Perhaps the biggest win for Avenatti was the $454 million 2017 fraud verdict against against Kimberly-Clark's company Halyard Health. The very high-profile case was brought against the manufacturer of shoddy and faulty protective garments and gear worn by healthcare workers during the Ebola crisis. The case got national attention following an Anderson Cooper story for CBS' ''60 Minutes.''
Cooper is also the interviewer for the Sunday, March 25, ''60 Minutes'' Stormy Daniels interview.
In the Kimberly Clark case, Avenatti's law office is a contingency firm, and doing the math, assuming the low end of the contingency fee spectrum, 33 percent, the payday on that case for Avenatti's firm may have been $151 million.
Avenatti's website says that during his career he's been responsible as lead counsel for over $1 billion in verdicts and settlements, including a number in excess of $10,000,000.
And Avenatti has a number of high profile cases fought and won, including celebrity clients.
Avenatti worked with Daniel Petrocelli, who previously represented the Goldman family in its case against O.J. Simpson, on multiple legal matters, including the representation of singer Christina Aguilera and litigation surrounding the movie ''K-19: The Widowmaker.'' He worked defending the Eagles' Don Henley and Glen Frey in a well-publicized suit brought by former bandmate Don Felder. Avenatti won a $10 million defamation case against Paris Hilton and a large corporate multi-national embezzlement case involving in excess of $42,000,000, according to his website.
And then there's the 2004 case ultimately settled in 2006, where Avenatti sued 'The Apprentice' producer Mark Burnett and its star, Donald Trump.
Getty U.S. President Donald Trump talks with television producer Mark Burnett at the National Prayer Breakfast February 2, 2017 in Washington, DC.
The settlement amount was undisclosed. Court documents are limited in that most are sealed save one or two that shed some light on the case, but not the dollar amounts involved. Avenatti said his client, Velocity Entertainment Group, had its ideas for the reality show stolen.
And in 2015, he won a jury trial against the National Football League where he compelled Dallas Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones to testify.
But, Avenatti's representation of Jim Carrey's former girlfriend's family in a wrongful death case against the actor and comedian, following Cathriona White's death from a drug overdose, was dismissed , according to Page Six of the New York Post, because of concerns about efforts by White to mislead Carrey about an STD she had. The NY Post said an email from Avenatti confirmed the case was ''voluntarily dismissed by the plaintiffs,'' adding he had no other comment ''concerning the reasons for or circumstances of the dismissal.''
3. Avenatti & Patrick 'McDreamy' Dempsey Co-Owned a Coffee Shop Chain & Dempsey Sued Avenatti to Get Out of the Deal Getty Patrick Dempsey of the Dempsey Del Piero-Proton team at LeMans in 2013. Michael Avenatti is alos a race car driver.
In 2013, ''Grey's Anatomy'' star Patrick Dempsey sued Avenatti to get out of his role as ''part owner and public face'' of Tully's Coffee Shops, the bankrupt Seattle-based chain that first opened in 1992, that the actor and lawyer acquired for $9 million in a bidding war that included Starbucks. Avenatti was to put up the all the capital to purchase and operate the company, Global Baristas, according to the deal.
Actor Patrick Dempsey participates in SiriusXM's 'Town Hall' with the cast of 'Bridget Jones's Baby' in 2016.
Instead, Avenatti borrowed $2 million, which he didn't tell Dempsey, against the company's assets, the actor claims. Avenatti had the money and Dempsey had the name, although Bloomberg said Dempsey identified himself as ''member and manager.'' Regardless, things did not work out. The Seattle Times reported at the time, Dempsey had '''...several personal claims '...against Avenatti'' he wanted to deal with in arbitration. In the end, both agreed to end the litigation and a joint statment was issued saying that they were ''happy that we have resolved our differences and have put this behind us.'' Tully's currently has less than 20 shops in the Seattle area. Keurig owns the coffee brand, Keurig Tully's Coffee Inc. And the situation for Tully's and Global Baristas, Avenatti's company is not a good one. Dozens of the original stores have been shuttered with shops being evicted and Keurig itself is suing Avenatti and Global Baristas.
Getty The partly owned Porsche sports racing car by Avenatti is shown in action at night during the 12 Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway on March 15, 2014.
But in Avenatti fashion, according to the Seattle Times, a company rep emailed the paper saying Avenatti was counter-suing Keurig and the case, as of January 2018, was ''nothing more than Keurig trying to beat Global to the courthouse '...(and) Keurig better buckle up because they will be held accountable for their fraudulent conduct.''
4. Global Baristas & Avenatti Himself May Be Facing a $5 Million Tax Lien, IRS Documents Show Twitter Storny Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti
IRS documents provided to Heavy show Avenatti and his coffee company are looking at more than $5 million in tax liens. The kind of tax the government alleges Global Baristas and Avenatti failed to pay are what's called 941 taxes.
RS tax lien pdf document screenshot The 2017 IRS tax lien shows Global Baristas and Micheal Avenatti himself were, as of facing a $5 million government lien for unpaid employee income taxes, social security tax, or Medicare tax withheld from employee's paychecks called the 941 tax.
According to the IRS, employers use Form 941 to report income taxes, social security tax, or Medicare tax withheld from employee's paychecks and to pay the employer's portion of social security or Medicare tax.'' If Global Baristas and/or Avenatti have paid these assessed taxes that cover a period from September of 2015, that record is not either publicly available or Heavy is unable to locate such. The lien was placed in July of 2017.
The company and Avenatti were also facing a near $60,000 lien from King County, Washington, for 940 taxes that the IRS explains is ''annual Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA) tax'' that, ''together with state unemployment tax systems '...provides funds for paying unemployment compensation to workers who have lost their jobs. Most employers pay both a federal and a state unemployment tax.''
Screengrab of King County, Washington IRS tax lien against Global Baristas and Michael Avenatti
5. Avenatti's Law Firm Has a Curious Bankruptcy Case With an Enigmatic CreditorThe involuntary bankruptcy case from a 2007 Avenatti firm, Eagen Avenatti has not gotten much press save for in law and business journals. The case involves a creditor, possibly a private investigator once employed by the firm named Gerald Tobin, who filed an 'involuntary' bankruptcy petition for a relatively small claim amount against Eagan Avenatti. Once a petition is filed in a bankruptcy court, the debtor has to respond usually within 20 to 30 days.
''California class-action law firm Eagan Avenatti LLP was plunged into Chapter 11 bankruptcy earlier this month,'' Law 360 wrote about the case a year ago, ''when an elusive Orlando creditor named Gerald Tobin filed an involuntary petition over a claim for payment worth less than $30,000.''
Tobin claimed he was owed $28,700 for services rendered, but as Law 360 noted, ''the mysterious creditor was nowhere to be found. His whereabouts, indeed Tobin's true identity, is one of many unanswered questions '...''
In a January 2018 motion filed in Los Angeles bankruptcy court, The Recorder said, Eagan Avenatti asked the court to approve a ''settlement and dismissal of that involuntary case.''
Avenatti argued since his firm does business on a contingency fee basis, it doesn't ''pay out fees and costs until litigation is concluded or settled, which often takes several years during which the [the firm] routinely invests millions of dollars in investigating claims, conducting discovery, hiring experts, and preparing for trial.''
Plus, Avenatti said in the motion that while the firm's ''revenue stream is 'chunky' '...it is very profitable over time.'''
#MeToo
Tickle The WireFBI Warns of Soaring Cases of Sexual Assaults on Airplanes - Tickle The Wire
Tue, 08 May 2018 03:20
By Steve Neavling Ticklethewire.com
The FBI is warning flyers that sexual assaults on airplanes are soaring.
The bureau, which handles criminal activity aboard domestic airplanes, said sexual assaults jump from 38 in 2014 to 63 in 2017.
It wasn't clear what caused the spike in sexual assaults, but the FBI said most of the victims were women and children.
Sexual assaults also are more likely to occur on long flights, especially when the victim is sleeping or has been drinking.
The FBI is encouraging victims to immediately report sexual assaults so that agents can respond in time to investigate and make an arrest.
Four Women Accuse New York's Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, of Physical Abuse | The New Yorker
Tue, 08 May 2018 01:09
Eric Schneiderman has raised his profile as a voice against sexual misconduct. Now, after suing Harvey Weinstein, he faces a #MeToo reckoning of his own. As Eric Schneiderman used the authority of his office to assume a major role in the #MeToo movement, the distress of four women with whom he has had romantic relationships or encounters grew.
Illustration by Oliver Munday; Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty (man)Eric Schneiderman has raised his profile as a voice against sexual misconduct. Now, after suing Harvey Weinstein, he faces a #MeToo reckoning of his own. As Eric Schneiderman used the authority of his office to assume a major role in the #MeToo movement, the distress of four women with whom he has had romantic relationships or encounters grew.
Illustration by Oliver Munday; Photograph: Drew Angerer/Getty (man)Eric Schneiderman, New York's attorney general, has long been a liberal Democratic champion of women's rights, and recently he has become an outspoken figure in the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment. As New York State's highest-ranking law-enforcement officer, Schneiderman, who is sixty-three, has used his authority to take legal action against the disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein, and to demand greater compensation for the victims of Weinstein's alleged sexual crimes. Last month, when the Times and this magazine were awarded a joint Pulitzer Prize for coverage of sexual harassment, Schneiderman issued a congratulatory tweet, praising ''the brave women and men who spoke up about the sexual harassment they had endured at the hands of powerful men.'' Without these women, he noted, ''there would not be the critical national reckoning under way.''
Now Schneiderman is facing a reckoning of his own. As his prominence as a voice against sexual misconduct has risen, so, too, has the distress of four women with whom he has had romantic relationships or encounters. They accuse Schneiderman of having subjected them to nonconsensual physical violence. All have been reluctant to speak out, fearing reprisal. But two of the women, Michelle Manning Barish and Tanya Selvaratnam, have talked to The New Yorker on the record, because they feel that doing so could protect other women. They allege that he repeatedly hit them, often after drinking, frequently in bed and never with their consent. Manning Barish and Selvaratnam categorize the abuse he inflicted on them as ''assault.'' They did not report their allegations to the police at the time, but both say that they eventually sought medical attention after having been slapped hard across the ear and face, and also choked. Selvaratnam says that Schneiderman warned her he could have her followed and her phones tapped, and both say that he threatened to kill them if they broke up with him. (Schneiderman's spokesperson said that he ''never made any of these threats.'')
A third former romantic partner of Schneiderman's told Manning Barish and Selvaratnam that he also repeatedly subjected her to nonconsensual physical violence, but she told them that she is too frightened of him to come forward. (The New Yorker has independently vetted the accounts that they gave of her allegations.) A fourth woman, an attorney who has held prominent positions in the New York legal community, says that Schneiderman made an advance toward her; when she rebuffed him, he slapped her across the face with such force that it left a mark that lingered the next day. She recalls screaming in surprise and pain, and beginning to cry, and says that she felt frightened. She has asked to remain unidentified, but shared a photograph of the injury with The New Yorker.
In a statement, Schneiderman said, ''In the privacy of intimate relationships, I have engaged in role-playing and other consensual sexual activity. I have not assaulted anyone. I have never engaged in nonconsensual sex, which is a line I would not cross.''
Manning Barish was romantically involved with Schneiderman from the summer of 2013 until New Year's Day in 2015. Selvaratnam was with him from the summer of 2016 until the fall of 2017. Both are articulate, progressive Democratic feminists in their forties who live in Manhattan. They work and socialize in different circles, and although they have become aware of each other's stories, they have only a few overlapping acquaintances; to this day, they have never spoken to each other. Over the past year, both watched with admiration as other women spoke out about sexual misconduct. But, as Schneiderman used the authority of his office to assume a major role in the #MeToo movement, their anguish and anger grew.
In February, four months after the first stories about Weinstein broke, Schneiderman announced that his office was filing a civil-rights suit against him. At a press conference, he denounced Weinstein, saying, ''We have never seen anything as despicable as what we've seen right here.'' On May 2nd, at the direction of Governor Andrew Cuomo, Schneiderman launched an investigation into the past handling of criminal complaints against Weinstein by the Manhattan District Attorney, Cyrus Vance, Jr., and the New York City Police Department. (In 2015, Vance declined to bring criminal charges against Weinstein, saying that he lacked sufficient evidence'--a decision criticized by activist groups.) In a speech, Cuomo explained that ''sexual-assault complaints must be pursued aggressively, and to the fullest extent of the law.'' The expanding investigation of the Weinstein case puts Schneiderman at the center of one of the most significant sexual-misconduct cases in recent history.
Schneiderman's activism on behalf of feminist causes has increasingly won him praise from women's groups. On May 1st, the New York-based National Institute for Reproductive Health honored him as one of three ''Champions of Choice'' at its annual fund-raising luncheon. Accepting the award, Schneiderman said, ''If a woman cannot control her body, she is not truly equal.'' But, as Manning Barish sees it, ''you cannot be a champion of women when you are hitting them and choking them in bed, and saying to them, 'You're a fucking whore.' '' She says of Schneiderman's involvement in the Weinstein investigation, ''How can you put a perpetrator in charge of the country's most important sexual-assault case?'' Selvaratnam describes Schneiderman as ''a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde'' figure, and says that seeing him lauded as a supporter of women has made her ''feel sick,'' adding, ''This is a man who has staked his entire career, his personal narrative, on being a champion for women publicly. But he abuses them privately. He needs to be called out.''
Manning Barish notes that many of her friends attended the N.I.R.H. luncheon. ''His hypocrisy is epic,'' she says. ''He's fooled so many people.'' Manning Barish includes herself among them. She says that she met Schneiderman in July, 2013, through mutual friends. She had become a blogger and political activist after opposing her younger brother's deployment to Iraq and working with groups such as MoveOn.org. Amicably divorced from Chris Barish, a hospitality-industry executive, she was a single mother with a young daughter and socially prominent friends. Schneiderman, who was rising in Democratic politics after being elected attorney general, in 2010, was also divorced. His ex-wife, Jennifer Cunningham, a lobbyist and political strategist at the firm SKDKnickerbocker, currently serves as one of his political consultants. They have a grown daughter.
Manning Barish says that she fell quickly for Schneiderman and was happy to be involved with someone who seemed to share her progressive idealism and enjoy her feistiness. Page Six chronicled the romance, calling her a ''ravishing redhead'' and noting that, at a fund-raiser, the television producer Norman Lear had introduced her as Schneiderman's ''bride-to-be.''
But Manning Barish began to see signs of controlling and abusive behavior. Soon after she started dating Schneiderman, he told her to remove a small tattoo from her wrist; it wasn't appropriate, he said, if she were to become the wife of a politician. The process of having it removed was painful and expensive. In retrospect, she says, it was the first step in trying to control her body. ''Taking a strong woman and tearing her to pieces is his jam,'' she says.
About four weeks after they became physically involved, she says, Schneiderman grew violent. One night, they were in the bedroom of his Upper West Side apartment, still clothed but getting ready for bed, and lightly baiting each other. As she recalls it, he called her ''a whore,'' and she talked back. They had both been drinking, and her recollection of their conversation is blurry, but what happened next remains vivid. Schneiderman, she says, backed her up to the edge of his bed. ''All of a sudden, he just slapped me, open-handed and with great force, across the face, landing the blow directly onto my ear,'' Manning Barish says. ''It was horrendous. It just came out of nowhere. My ear was ringing. I lost my balance and fell backward onto the bed. I sprang up, but at this point there was very little room between the bed and him. I got up to try to shove him back, or take a swing, and he pushed me back down. He then used his body weight to hold me down, and he began to choke me. The choking was very hard. It was really bad. I kicked. In every fibre, I felt I was being beaten by a man.''
She finally freed herself and got back on her feet. ''I was crying and in shock,'' she says. She recalls shouting, ''Are you crazy?'' To her astonishment, Schneiderman accused her of scratching him. At one point'--she can't remember if it was at this moment or in a later conversation'--he told her, ''You know, hitting an officer of the law is a felony.''
After the incident, Manning Barish left the apartment, telling him that she would never come back. ''I want to make it absolutely clear,'' she says. ''This was under no circumstances a sex game gone wrong. This did not happen while we were having sex. I was fully dressed and remained that way. It was completely unexpected and shocking. I did not consent to physical assault.''
In the following days, Manning Barish confided to three close female friends that Schneiderman had hit her. All of them have confirmed this to The New Yorker. ''She was distraught,'' one of the friends, a high-profile media figure, says. ''She was very, very upset. This wasn't a gentle smack. He clocked her ear. I was shocked.'' She notes, ''Michelle had mentioned that he drank a lot, and that he changed under the influence of alcohol, but I'd never anticipated that he would be violent.'' The friend describes Manning Barish as having seemed ''sad'' and ''torn,'' because ''she'd really wanted the relationship to work.''
The novelist Salman Rushdie, who dated Manning Barish before Schneiderman did, and who has been her close friend for nearly fifteen years, says that she confided in him as well. ''She called me and told me he had hit her,'' Rushdie recalls. ''She was obviously very upset. I was horrified.'' In his view, Schneiderman's behavior does not fall into the kind of gray area that should remain private. ''It was clear to me that it crossed a line,'' he says. Rushdie, who describes Manning Barish as ''a very truthful person, in my experience,'' advised her to stay away from Schneiderman.
But Manning Barish went back to him, a decision that she regrets. After the attack, she says, Schneiderman ''called and called'' her. A few days later, on a weekday afternoon, his security detail drove him to her apartment, and he showed up at her door with an armload of flowers and a case of wine. She found the wine surprising, given the fact that alcohol had fuelled his violent behavior. She recalls saying over and over, ''You hit me! You hurt me! You should never hit a woman!'' But he didn't want to talk about having hit her. ''The hitting was not an issue for him,'' she says. Before long, they reconciled.
Manning Barish says that her ear bothered her for months. It often felt painful and clogged, and she kept hearing odd gurgling sounds. Once, blood trickled out, reaching her collarbone. Eventually, Manning Barish sought medical help from Dr. Gwen Korovin, an ear, nose, and throat specialist. Manning Barish shared her medical records with The New Yorker. They confirm that, on September 13, 2014, Korovin found and removed ''dried bloody crust'' from Manning Barish's ear. Manning Barish thought that the slap might have caused the injury, but when Korovin asked her what had happened she said that she might have injured herself with a Q-tip. ''I was protecting Eric,'' Manning Barish says. ''And I was ashamed. For victims, shame plays a huge role in most of these stories. I want people to know that.'' Korovin was asked by The New Yorker if the injury could have been caused by a slap. ''Yes, it could be consistent with a slap,'' she said. ''You could perforate an eardrum in a lot of ways, with a Q-tip or with a slap.''
Manning Barish and Schneiderman were together, off and on, for nearly two years. She says that when they had sex he often slapped her across the face without her consent, and that she felt ''emotionally battered'' by cruel remarks that he made. She says that he criticized how she looked and dressed, and ''controlled what I ate.'' Manning Barish, who is five feet seven, lost thirty pounds, falling to a hundred and three. In a photograph from the period, she looks emaciated; her hair, she recalls, started to fall out. Nevertheless, he squeezed her legs and called them ''chubby.''
Manning Barish says that Schneiderman pressed her to consume huge amounts of alcohol. She recalls, ''I would come over for dinner. An already half-empty bottle of red wine would be on the counter. He had had a head start. 'Very stressful day,' he would say.'' Sometimes, if she didn't drink quickly enough, she says, he would ''come to me like a baby who wouldn't eat its food, and hold the glass to my lips while holding my face, and sweetly but forcefully, like a parent, say, 'Come on, Mimi, drink, drink, drink,' and essentially force me'--at times actually spilling it down my chin and onto my chest.'' Schneiderman, she recalls, ''would almost always drink two bottles of wine in a night, then bring a bottle of Scotch into the bedroom. He would get absolutely plastered five nights out of seven.'' On one occasion, she recalls, ''he literally fell on his face in my kitchen, straight down, like a tree falling.'' Another evening, he smashed his leg against an open drawer, cutting it so badly that ''there was blood all over the place.'' She bandaged it, but the next day she went to his office to change the dressing, because the bleeding hadn't stopped.
Manning Barish says that Schneiderman also took prescription tranquillizers, and often asked her to refill a prescription that she had for Xanax, so that he could reserve ''about half'' the pills for himself. (Schneiderman's spokesperson said that he has ''never commandeered anyone's medications.'') Sometimes in bed, she recalls, he would be ''shaking me and grabbing my face'' while demanding that she repeat such things as ''I'm a little whore.'' She says that he also told her, ''If you ever left me, I'd kill you.''
Evan Stark, a forensic social worker and an emeritus professor at Rutgers, is the author of a landmark book, ''Coercive Control,'' in which he argues that domestic abuse is just as often psychological as it is physical. Abusive men, he writes, often ''terrorize'' and ''control'' their partners by demeaning them, particularly about the traits or accomplishments of which they are proudest. Manning Barish says that Schneiderman often mocked her political activism. When she told him of her plan to attend an anti-gun demonstration with various political figures and a group of parents from Sandy Hook Elementary School, he dismissed the effort, calling the demonstrators ''losers.'' He added, ''Go ahead, if it makes you feel better to do your little political things.'' When she was using her computer, he'd sometimes say, ''Oh, look at little Mimi. So cute'--she's working!'' He told Manning Barish that, because she had childcare, she wasn't ''a real single mother.''
Manning Barish broke up with Schneiderman a second time, and then got back together with him. He'd been talking about marrying her, she says, and she somehow convinced herself that the real problem between them was her fear of commitment. In January, 2015, she ended the relationship a third time, feeling degraded. After that, they got together romantically a few more times, but since 2016 she has been in touch with him only sporadically.
Since the #MeToo movement began, Manning Barish has been active on social-media platforms, cheering on women who have spoken out, including those whose accusations prompted the resignation of the Minnesota senator Al Franken, a widely admired Democrat. Once, she made an oblique reference to Schneiderman on social media, in connection with a political issue. He called her and, in a tone that she describes as ''nasty,'' said, ''Don't ever write about me. You don't want to do that.'' Manning Barish says that she took his remarks as a threat, just as she took seriously a comment that he'd once made after she objected to him ''yanking'' her across a street. She recalls saying to him, ''Jaywalking is against the law,'' and him responding, ''I am the law.'' Manning Barish says, ''If there is a sentence that sums him up, it's that.''
Schneiderman was elected to the New York State Senate in 1998, and served for twelve years. He wrote many laws, including one that created specific penalties for strangulation. He introduced the bill in 2010, after chairing a committee that investigated domestic-violence charges against the former state senator Hiram Monserrate, a Democrat, who was expelled from the legislature after having been convicted of assaulting his girlfriend. During the hearings, the legislators learned that New York State imposed no specific criminal penalty for choking, even though it is a common prelude to domestic-violence homicides. Not only did Schneiderman's bill make life-threatening strangulation a grave crime; it also criminalized less serious cases involving ''an intent to impede breathing'' as misdemeanors punishable by up to a year in prison. ''I'm just sorry it took us so long in New York State to do this,'' Schneiderman declared at the time. ''I think this will save a lot of lives.''
Jennifer Friedman, a legal expert on domestic violence, says that she cannot square Schneiderman's public and private behavior. Anyone knowledgeable about intimate-partner violence, she says, knows that choking is ''a known lethality indicator.'' She adds, ''I cannot fathom that someone who drafted the legislation on strangulation is unfamiliar with such concepts.'' She also says, ''A slap is not just a slap'--it reverberates through the rest of the relationship, making her afraid of setting him off.'' She adds, ''People aren't usually prosecuted for it, but, in the state of New York, slapping is assault when it results in pain or physical injury.''
In the summer of 2016, the attorney general may have crossed this line again. He went to a party in the Hamptons, where he drank heavily, and invited another guest'--a woman he'd known for some time'--to join him at an after-party. An accomplished Ivy League-educated lawyer with government experience, she had worked closely with his office in the past, and supported him politically. She says that she agreed to let a man in Schneiderman's security detail drive them to the next destination. But, when they arrived at the house, there was no party; it was where Schneiderman was staying. The security officer left the property.
The lawyer and Schneiderman began making out, but he said things that repelled her. He told the woman, a divorced mother, that professional women with big jobs and children had so many decisions to make that, when it came to sex, they secretly wanted men to take charge. She recalls him saying, ''Yeah, you act a certain way and look a certain way, but I know that at heart you are a dirty little slut. You want to be my whore.'' He became more sexually aggressive, but she was repulsed by his talk, and pulled away from him. She says that ''suddenly'--at least, in my mind's eye'--he drew back, and there was a moment where I was, like, 'What's happening?' '' Then, she recalls, ''He slapped me across the face hard, twice,'' adding, ''I was stunned.''
Schneiderman hit her so hard, she says, that the blow left a red handprint. ''What the fuck did you just do?'' she screamed, and started to sob. ''I couldn't believe it,'' she recalls. ''For a split second, I was scared.'' She notes that, in all her years of dating, she has never been in a situation like the one with Schneiderman. ''He just really smacked me,'' she says.
When she told him that she wanted to leave, she recalls, he started to ''freak out,'' saying that he'd misjudged her. ''You'd really be surprised,'' he claimed. ''A lot of women like it. They don't always think they like it, but then they do, and they ask for more.'' She again demanded to be taken home. They got into his car, and it quickly became apparent how intoxicated he was. As he drove, weaving along back roads, she was terrified that he'd kill not just her but another driver. She says that Schneiderman ''broke the law at least once that night.'' (''This is untrue,'' Schneiderman's spokesperson said.)
The next day, she told two friends, and sent them a photograph of the mark on her face. (Both women corroborate this.) Another photograph of the lawyer, taken later that day at a family birthday party, shows faint raised marks splayed on her cheek. One of the friends says of Schneiderman, ''He seemed not to know what the word 'consent' means.''
Given the woman's prominence in the legal sphere, Schneiderman's actions had exposed him to tremendous risk. Yet she took no official action against him. ''Now that I know it's part of a pattern, I think, God, I should have reported it,'' she says. ''But, back then, I believed that it was a one-time incident. And I thought, He's a good attorney general, he's doing good things. I didn't want to jeopardize that.'' She notes that he did not hit her again, after she protested. Nevertheless, she says of the assault, ''I knew it was wrong,'' adding, ''Our top law officer, this guy with a platform for women's rights, just smacked away so much of what I thought he stood for.''
Tanya Selvaratnam is the author of ''The Big Lie: Motherhood, Feminism, and the Reality of the Biological Clock,'' which explores infertility issues; she is also an actor and a film producer, as well as a supporter of feminist and progressive social causes. She, too, is divorced. In 2016, she attended the Democratic National Convention, in Philadelphia, where Schneiderman introduced himself to her. She says that their first encounter felt ''like kismet.'' They had both gone to Harvard: she as an undergraduate and a graduate student, he as a law student. She was impressed when he expressed an interest in meditation and Buddhism. They had both studied Chinese, and, when he asked, in Mandarin, if she spoke the language, she answered, ''Wo shuo keshi bu tai liuli'''--''Yes, but not fluently.''
They began dating, and appeared to be a happy couple. Selvaratnam all but lived in his apartment, attending political functions and dinners with his friends and donors, and brainstorming with him on speeches and projects. But, as she puts it, ''it was a fairy tale that became a nightmare.'' Although Schneiderman often doted on her, he demanded that she spend more and more time with him, and he began physically abusing her in bed. ''The slaps started after we'd gotten to know each other,'' she recalls. ''It was at first as if he were testing me. Then it got stronger and harder.'' Selvaratnam says, ''It wasn't consensual. This wasn't sexual playacting. This was abusive, demeaning, threatening behavior.''
When Schneiderman was violent, he often made sexual demands. ''He was obsessed with having a threesome, and said it was my job to find a woman,'' she says. ''He said he'd have nothing to look forward to if I didn't, and would hit me until I agreed.'' (She had no intention of having a threesome.) She recalls, ''Sometimes, he'd tell me to call him Master, and he'd slap me until I did.'' Selvaratnam, who was born in Sri Lanka, has dark skin, and she recalls that ''he started calling me his 'brown slave' and demanding that I repeat that I was 'his property.' ''
The abuse escalated. Schneiderman not only slapped her across the face, often four or five times, back and forth, with his open hand; he also spat at her and choked her. ''He was cutting off my ability to breathe,'' she says. Eventually, she says, ''we could rarely have sex without him beating me.'' In her view, Schneiderman ''is a misogynist and a sexual sadist.'' She says that she often asked him to stop hurting her, and tried to push him away. At other times, she gave in, rationalizing that she could tolerate the violence if it happened only once a week or so during sex. But ''the emotional and verbal abuse started increasing,'' she says, and ''the belittling and demeaning of me carried over into our nonsexual encounters.'' He told her to get plastic surgery to remove scars on her torso that had resulted from an operation to remove cancerous tumors. He criticized her hair and said that she should get breast implants and buy different clothes. He mocked some of her friends as ''ditzes,'' and, when these women attended a birthday celebration for her, he demanded that she leave just as the cake was arriving. ''I began to feel like I was in Hell,'' she says.
Like Manning Barish, Selvaratnam says that Schneiderman routinely drank heavily'--a bottle and a half of wine, or more. He also took sedatives, she says, and pushed her to drink with him, saying, ''Drink your bourbon, Turnip'''--his nickname for her. In the middle of the night, he staggered through the apartment, as if in a trance. ''I've never seen anyone that messed up,'' she recalls. ''It was like sleeping next to a monster.'' The next morning, she says, he'd seem fine, but often berated her for not having kept him away from the alcohol. His emotional state seemed to worsen after the 2016 Presidential election. He had counted on forging an ambitious partnership with a White House led by Hillary Clinton. Instead, the Presidency had gone to Donald Trump. Earlier, Schneiderman's office had sued Trump University for civil fraud, and Trump had countersued Schneiderman personally.
On the morning of January 19, 2017, the day before Trump's Inauguration, Schneiderman called Selvaratnam from a hospital emergency room. She recalls, ''He told me that he'd been drinking the night before he fell down. He didn't realize he'd cut himself, and got into bed, and when he woke up he was in a pool of blood.'' Selvaratnam rushed to the hospital. Schneiderman had several stitches above his left eye; his face was puffy and bruised. He had her send his press secretary a photograph of the injury, and they agreed to cancel a public appearance. In the image, which was shared with The New Yorker, Schneiderman has a black eye and a bandage across the left side of his forehead. Schneiderman then called Cunningham, his ex-wife and political consultant, and they agreed that he and Selvaratnam should tell anyone who asked about the injury that he had fallen ''while running.'' (A spokesperson for Schneiderman said, ''One morning, Mr. Schneiderman fell in the bathroom while completely sober, hit his head, and had to go the the E.R. for stitches. Because he was embarrassed to tell his staff he fell in the bathroom, he told them he fell while running.'' Cunningham, in a statement issued shortly after this story was published online, said, ''I've known Eric for nearly thirty-five years as a husband, father, and friend. These allegations are completely inconsistent with the man I know, who has always been someone of the highest character, outstanding values, and a loving father. I find it impossible to believe these allegations are true.'')
Selvaratnam understands how incomprehensible it may seem that she stayed in such an abusive relationship for more than a year. But, she says, ''now I see how independent women get stuck in one.'' The physical abuse, she notes, ''happens quickly'': ''He's drunk, and you're naked and at your most vulnerable. It's so disorienting. You lose a little of who you are.'' She kept telling herself that she could help him change, and tried to get him to see a therapist. At times, she blamed herself for his behavior. ''I was scared what he might do if I left him,'' she says. ''He had said he would have to kill me if we broke up, on multiple occasions. He also told me he could have me followed and could tap my phone.''
It's unclear if Schneiderman was serious when he made such remarks, but Selvaratnam says that she felt intimidated. Jacquelyn Campbell, a professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Nursing, is the author of a danger-assessment checklist that helps authorities gauge the likelihood of homicide in domestic-violence situations. She says, ''It's often true that women don't know whether to take threats to kill seriously. But we should always take threats seriously. It's categorized as a violent act, and you can report someone to the police for it.''
Selvaratnam began to spend more time apart from Schneiderman, and last fall she ended the relationship. She'd been suffering from ringing in her ears, and sometimes had vertigo. After the breakup, she, like Manning Barish, sought medical help from an ear, nose, and throat specialist. The doctor could find no specific cause for her ailments. The writer Danzy Senna, a close friend of Selvaratnam's, recalls, ''She was thin, fragile, and shaky.'' Selvaratnam confided to Senna about the abuse, and Senna was so shocked that she wrote down the details and e-mailed the account to her husband, so that there would be a dated copy of it should any harm come to her friend. Senna's document, which she shared with The New Yorker, is dated September 16, 2017, and says, in part, ''She told me that her boyfriend of a year, Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General of New York, has been choking, beating, and threatening her for the entirety of their relationship, and that several times he threatened to have her killed if she ever tried to leave him. She said he knows that she has a lot of really damning information about him, his alcoholism, sexual deviance, and drug use, and she worries about her safety.''
Senna advised Selvaratnam to retrieve her belongings from his apartment. On November 3, 2017, she did so, with another friend'--Jennifer Gonnerman, a staff writer at this magazine. As they carried her things outside, they talked about the fact that Selvaratnam couldn't possibly be the only woman who had seen this side of Schneiderman. Gonnerman asked her who else he had dated. Selvaratnam knew of one former girlfriend'--not Manning Barish'--and described where she had worked.
The next day, Gonnerman happened to run into a male friend who had once worked with the former girlfriend. Gonnerman asked him if he'd ever known anyone who had dated Schneiderman. He said yes: a close friend of his had. Without divulging anything, Gonnerman asked, ''So how did that work out?'' He answered, ''He used to spit on her and slap her during sex.''
Gonnerman told Selvaratnam about the other victim. ''She was very traumatized,'' Gonnerman recalls. ''On the one hand, she was relieved to learn it had happened before, but on the other it was, like, 'Why hasn't anyone stopped him?' ''
Selvaratnam says, ''I wished someone had warned me. And I wondered, Who's next?'' She notes, ''I was not planning to come forward, until I found out there was another woman. The silence of women before me meant that I'd suffered, too. I felt, I will not be able to live with myself if I hear of him doing this to another woman years or months from now.''
Selvaratnam reached out to the former girlfriend, and they agreed to meet. In February, Selvaratnam recalls, they sat outside on a bench for ninety minutes, and their stories came flooding forth. Selvaratnam says that she was astounded to discover how similar their experiences had been.
Selvaratnam kept notes about her exchanges with the former girlfriend, and she described them to The New Yorker. According to these notes, the former girlfriend told Selvaratnam that she had been in love with Schneiderman, but that in bed he had routinely slapped her hard across the ear and the face, as tears rolled down her cheeks. He also choked her and spat at her. Not all the abuse had taken place in a sexual context. She said that Schneiderman had once slapped her during an argument they'd had while getting dressed to go out. The blow left a handprint on her back; the next day, the spot still hurt. When the former girlfriend objected to this mistreatment, he told her that she simply wasn't ''liberated'' enough. Just as Schneiderman had done with the other women, he had pushed her to drink with him and to set up a threesome, and he had belittled her work and appearance, saying in her case that she had fat legs and needed Botox.
After the former girlfriend ended the relationship, she told several friends about the abuse. A number of them advised her to keep the story to herself, arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose. She described this response as heartbreaking. And when Schneiderman heard that she had turned against him, she said, he warned her that politics was a tough and personal business, and that she'd better be careful. She told Selvaratnam that she had taken this as a threat.
The former girlfriend told Selvaratnam she found it ''shameless'' that Schneiderman was casting himself as a leading supporter of the #MeToo movement. She promised to support Selvaratnam if she spoke out, but she wasn't sure that she could risk joining her. The former girlfriend told Selvaratnam she'd once been so afraid of Schneiderman that she'd written down an extensive account of the abuse, locked the document in a safe-deposit box, and given keys to two friends.
In February, the news broke that Rob Porter, a top aide in the Trump White House, was resigning, amid allegations that he'd abused his two ex-wives. One of the women, Colbie Holderness, released a photograph of herself taken after he'd allegedly given her a black eye. The image resonated deeply among the women who had dated Schneiderman. Manning Barish recalls, ''After Rob Porter, I was struggling about whether to come forward. I felt guilt and shame that I was encouraging other women to speak out but wasn't doing the same. I was a hypocrite. I was in tears.'' Her friends told her that she risked becoming known mainly for being Schneiderman's victim, and she initially agreed to let the matter go. But, after thinking it over, she told them, ''If he's done this to more than one woman, I'm going to say something.''
After Porter's resignation, Selvaratnam felt more determined than ever to speak out about Schneiderman and the broader issue of intimate-partner violence. As this story was being reported, Manning Barish became aware that there were other victims, and decided that she had three choices: ''I can lie. I can be silent, which is being complicit, and a betrayal of the other women. Or I can tell the truth.'' She concluded, ''I'm choosing No. 3.'' Manning Barish is aware of the risks faced by women who take on powerful politicians, and isn't relishing the prospect of taking on the attorney general. ''It's hard,'' she says. ''It affects your life, and not in a positive way.''
Selvaratnam says that she considered filing an ethics complaint against Schneiderman, or bringing a civil suit, but the various legal options she considered were always connected to Schneiderman in some way. Meanwhile, at least eight members of Congress had resigned, or announced plans to retire, after being accused of sexual misconduct. In Missouri, the legislature called a special session to take up the impeachment of Governor Eric Greitens, who had been accused of slapping, restraining, and belittling a woman during an affair. Greitens has denied the allegations, but he is facing a felony charge stemming from the woman's assertion that he took compromising photographs of her, in an effort to stop her from speaking out.
Selvaratnam, by contrast, feels caught up in circumstances that have given her only one real choice: to go public. ''It's torturous for me to do this,'' she says. ''I like my life.'' Of this article, she says, ''I wish my name did not have to be in it,'' and notes, of Schneiderman, ''I know it's going to be my word against his, because I don't have photos of bruises, and I don't have a police report.'' Schneiderman's accusers, she feels, are in an unusually difficult situation. As she puts it, ''What do you do if your abuser is the top law-enforcement official in the state?''
VideoRonan Farrow's Unlikely Path to Public Service
The Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist on growing up in a show-business family, his early experience in international relations, and pursuing the Harvey Weinstein story.
Israeli Operatives Who Aided Harvey Weinstein Collected Information on Former Obama Administration Officials | The New Yorker
Tue, 08 May 2018 14:10
In June, 2017, Ann Norris, a former State Department official, received an e-mail containing an unusual proposal. Norris is married to Ben Rhodes, a former foreign-policy adviser to President Barack Obama and a prominent advocate of the Iran nuclear deal. In the e-mail, a woman who introduced herself as Eva Novak and claimed to work for a London-based film company called Shell Productions asked Norris to consult on a movie that she described as '' 'All the President's Men' meets 'The West Wing' '': it would follow the personal lives of ''government officials in the positions that determine war and Peace'' during times of geopolitical crisis, including ''nuclear negotiations with a hostile nation.'' Recalling the exchange, Ann Norris said that she found Eva Novak's request ''bizarre,'' and that she ''never responded.''
The e-mail appears to be part of an undercover campaign by an Israeli private-intelligence firm to discredit Obama officials who had been leading proponents of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. The campaign was first reported, on Saturday, by the British newspaper the Observer. However, sources familiar with the effort and pages of documents obtained by The New Yorker reveal that there is more to understand. Two of those sources told me on Sunday that the operation was carried out by Black Cube'--a firm that was also employed by Harvey Weinstein and that offers its clients access to operatives from ''Israel's (C)lite military and governmental intelligence units,'' including the Mossad.
A month before Norris received her e-mail, Rebecca Kahl, a former program officer at the National Democratic Institute and the wife of the former Obama Administration foreign-policy adviser Colin Kahl, had also received a puzzling e-mail. A woman named Adriana Gavrilo claimed to be the head of corporate social responsibility at Reuben Capital Partners, a London-based wealth-management firm. Gavrilo told Kahl that her firm was launching an initiative on education and that she wanted to meet to discuss the school that Kahl's daughter attended, at which Kahl volunteered. Kahl referred Gavrilo to school staff members, but Gavrilo repeatedly refused to speak to anyone but her. Gavrilo's firm would ''not be able to make the necessary due diligence'' on the school employees, she wrote. Rebecca Kahl, who said she ''worried I'm strangely a target of some sort,'' eventually stopped responding to Gavrilo.
Adriana Gavrilo and Eva Novak appear to be aliases. LinkedIn pages for both Gavrilo and Novak at one point showed a slim blond woman advertised as fluent in Serbian. Shortly after The New Yorker contacted Black Cube about this story, Novak's LinkedIn page was deleted. The e-mail addresses listed by both women do not work. Calls to the phone number Novak listed went unanswered. The Web sites for Reuben Capital Partners and Shell Productions have been taken down, but both were bare-bones pages constructed through the free site-building tool Wix. The addresses for both companies led to shared office spaces; there is no evidence that Shell Productions or Reuben Capital Partners had ever operated there.
The documents show that Black Cube compiled detailed background profiles of several individuals, including Rhodes and Kahl, that featured their addresses, information on their family members, and even the makes of their cars. Black Cube agents were instructed to try to find damaging information about them, including unsubstantiated claims that Rhodes and Kahl had worked closely with Iran lobbyists and were personally enriched through their policy work on Iran (they denied those claims); rumors that Rhodes was one of the Obama staffers responsible for ''unmasking'' Trump transition officials who were named in intelligence documents (Rhodes denied the claim); and an allegation that one of the individuals targeted by the campaign had an affair.
The campaign is strikingly similar to an operation that Black Cube ran on behalf of Harvey Weinstein, which was reported in The New Yorker last fall. One of Weinstein's attorneys, David Boies, hired Black Cube to halt the publication of sexual-misconduct allegations against Weinstein. Black Cube operatives used false identities to track women with allegations, and also reporters seeking to expose the story. In May, 2017, a former Israel Defense Forces officer, who had emigrated to Israel from the former Yugoslavia, was working as an undercover agent for Black Cube. The woman contacted the actress Rose McGowan, claiming to work for Reuben Capital Partners but using the identity of a Diana Filip. Filip's e-mails to McGowan displayed the same tactics as those in the e-mails sent to Norris and Kahl, and in some cases used almost identical language. (Filip also wrote to me from Reuben Capital Partners, and again used similar language.)
In a statement, Black Cube said, ''It is Black Cube's policy to never discuss its clients with any third party, and to never confirm or deny any speculation made with regard to the company's work.'' The statement also read, ''Black Cube has no relation whatsoever to the Trump administration, to Trump aides, to anyone close to the administration, or to the Iran Nuclear deal.'' The firm also said that it ''always operates in full compliance of the law in every jurisdiction in which it conducts its work, following legal advice from the world's leading law firms.''
In the Iran operation, as in its operation for Weinstein, Black Cube focussed much of its work on reporters and other media figures, sometimes using agents who posed as journalists. The company compiled a list of more than thirty reporters who it believed were in touch with Obama Administration officials, annotated with instructions about how to seek negative information. Transcripts produced by Black Cube reveal that the firm secretly recorded a conversation between one of its agents and Trita Parsi, a Swedish-Iranian author. The conversation, which began as a general discussion of Iran policy, quickly devolved into questions about Rhodes, Kahl, and whether they had personally profited off of the Iran policy. ''I've had the first part of the conversation five hundred times,'' Parsi recalled, of his conversation with the agent, who claimed to be a reporter. ''But then he started asking about personal financial interests, and that was more unusual. He was pushing very, very hard.''
The Observer reported that aides of President Trump had hired Black Cube to run the operation in order to undermine the Iran deal, allegations that Black Cube denies. ''The idea was that people acting for Trump would discredit those who were pivotal in selling the deal, making it easier to pull out of it,'' a source told the Observer. One of the sources familiar with the effort told me that it was, in fact, part of Black Cube's work for a private-sector client pursuing commercial interests related to sanctions on Iran. (A Trump Administration spokesperson declined to comment to the Observer on the allegations.)
Kahl, who worked as an adviser to Vice-President Joe Biden, said that he believed Trump associates may have been involved because of unsubstantiated reports in conservative media outlets accusing Rhodes and Kahl of damaging leaks about the Trump Administration. ''Why Ben and I? Why conjoin Ben and me?'' Kahl asked. ''Of all the other senior people in the White House, I'm least senior.''
Black Cube is known for its close ties to current and former power players in Israeli politics and intelligence. The late Meir Dagan, a former Mossad director, once served as the company's president. Ehud Barak, the former Israeli Prime Minister, has publicly acknowledged that he introduced Weinstein to Black Cube's leadership. (Barak said he did not know the nature of Weinstein's concerns at the time.) The Observer reported that officials linked to Trump's team had made contact with Black Cube days after Trump visited Tel Aviv in May, 2017, during his first foreign tour as President. Standing next to Netanyahu during that trip, Trump promised, ''Iran will never have nuclear weapons, that I can tell you.''
Rhodes said that the campaign represented a troubling situation in which public servants were being targeted for their work in government. ''This just eviscerates any norm of how governments should operate or treat their predecessors and their families,'' he said. ''It crosses a dangerous line.''
'Heinous acts': US Olympic committee accused of sex trafficking in new lawsuit '-- RT US News
Wed, 09 May 2018 10:42
The US Olympic Committee is embroiled in a fresh misconduct controversy as a new lawsuit alleges that it knowingly allowed the sex trafficking and abuse of Taekwondo athletes for more than 20 years.
Four female athletes and 44 women, whose identities have been withheld, are accusing the USOC and USA Taekwondo of allowing more than two decades of sexual abuse, exploitation and trafficking of its athletes.
The class action lawsuit alleges that the USOC knowingly allowed two high profile Taekwondo stars, Olympic gold medalist Steven Lopez and his brother Jean, who is a former Team USA coach, to engage in abuse and sex trafficking of athletes. The brothers are also named as defendants in the suit.
Read more
The plaintiffs say that the men raped or assaulted them while they were training or when they were travelling to competitions around the world. They also allege that the Lopez brothers were known to take a sexual interest in young athletes.
''Much like a pimp who traffics women for money, the USOC was trafficking its athletes to known sexual abusers for money and medals,'' attorney Rex Sharp, representing the plaintiffs, said to CNN.
The suit claims that Jean Lopez was in a forced sexual relationship with athlete Kay Poe while she was still a minor. He was permanently banned by the USOC last month while Steven Lopez was ''suspended pending further proceedings'' on Monday.
The Lopez brothers have not made a press statement regarding the new lawsuit. RT.com has reached out to Jean Lopez's advisor for comment.
''Rather than upholding the values and spirit of Team USA, these bad actors manipulated the trust placed in them, abused the power and legitimacy bestowed upon them, shattered the innocence and dreams of numerous female athletes and violated numerous federal and state laws,'' the suit says.
READ MORE: Redskins cheerleaders say they were forced to take part in nude photo sessions in front of sponsors
The revelations come hot on the heels of the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal. Nassar, the former USA Gymnastics team doctor, was sentenced to 175 years in prison in February for sexually abusing more than 150 girls, including Olympic stars Simone Biles and Aly Raisman.
"We are aggressively exploring and implementing new ways to enhance athlete safety, and prevent and respond to abuse,'' USOC spokesperson Patrick Sandusky said in a statement to USA Today on Monday. ''The launch of the U.S. Center for SafeSport, along with a number of additional significant actions we are taking, will ensure that our athletes are better protected from these heinous acts.''
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Schneiderman let Clinton Foundation skip identifying foreign donors
Wed, 09 May 2018 11:22
State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gave the Clinton Foundation a pass on identifying foreign donors in its charitable filings '-- making it impossible to know if it got any special favors while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state, according to a report Tuesday.
Scripps News found that the foundation and its subsidiary, the Clinton Health Access Initiative, took in $225 million in government donations between 2010 and 2014.
New York's charity law clearly states: ''Organizations that received a contribution or grant from a government agency during the reporting period shall include the name of each agency from which contributions were received and the amount of each contribution.''
But both the foundation and the CHAI failed to do that, and Schneiderman, a member of Clinton's ''leadership council'' in New York and a fierce critic of Donald Trump, did nothing about it.
Other charities complied, including the George W. Bush foundation, which reported receiving $5 million from Saudi Arabia and $500,000 from Kuwait.
On its website, the Clinton Foundation reveals its foreign donors, but using only broad ranges, such as $5 million to $10 million, without any time frames. The IRS doesn't require such disclosures.
In 2009, Clinton's first year at the State Department, the foundation disclosed a lump sum of $122 million in foreign-government donations in its New York paperwork, posting the total amount on a form that requires all charities to ''list each government contribution separately.''
Clinton spokesman Josh Schwerin said, ''This is a ridiculous accusation. The Clinton Foundation goes above and beyond the disclosure requirements by listing every donor on their website and updating the list quarterly.''
Schneiderman's office said, ''The Clinton Foundation's disclosures regarding funding from foreign governments are in compliance with New York law.''
Eric Schneiderman - Wikipedia
Wed, 09 May 2018 11:22
Eric Tradd Schneiderman (born December 31, 1954) is an American lawyer and politician who served as the 65th Attorney General of New York from 2011 to his resignation in May 2018. Schneiderman, a member of the Democratic Party, previously served for 10 years in the New York State Senate, winning election to five consecutive two-year terms.
In May 2018, Schneiderman resigned his office after The New Yorker reported that four previous romantic partners had accused Schneiderman of physical abuse.[1]
Early life, education, and early career Schneiderman was born to a Jewish family[2] in New York City; he is the son of Abigail Heyward and Irwin Schneiderman, a lawyer.[3] He graduated from the Trinity School in New York City in 1972 and Amherst College in 1977. He received his J.D. degree from Harvard Law School in 1982.[4]
Schneiderman served as a judicial clerk for two years within the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York and subsequently joined the international law firm Kirkpatrick and Lockhart LLP (now known as K&L Gates), where he became partner.[5]
Schneiderman later became a public interest attorney, serving for more than a decade as counsel to the West Side Crime Prevention program, and as lead counsel to the Straphangers Campaign's lawsuit against New York's Metropolitan Transit Authority.[citation needed ]
Personal life Schneiderman married Jennifer Cunningham in 1990.[3] They later divorced. They have a daughter, Catherine.[6]
New York Senate Schneiderman was elected to represent the 31st district in the New York State Senate. At the time, this district comprised Manhattan's Upper West Side, as well as Morningside Heights, West Harlem, Washington Heights, Inwood, and Marble Hill, in addition to part of Riverdale, The Bronx.[7]
Elections In the 1998 Democratic primary, Schneiderman, defeated Daniel O'Donnell, a civil rights attorney, with 68% of the vote.[8] In the general election, he defeated Vincent McGowen with 82% of the vote.[9] He won re-election in 2000 (84%),[10] in 2002 (87%),[11] in 2004 (89%),[12] in 2006 (92%),[13] and 2008 (90%).[14]
Leadership In redistricting following the 2000 US Census, the Senate Republican leadership redrew Senator Schneiderman's district in 2002 in order to include Washington Heights.[citation needed ] Former City Councilman Guillermo Linares, the first Dominican American elected to office in New York City, challenged Schneiderman for the state senate seat but was defeated.
In October 2009, Schneiderman was selected to chair the special committee to investigate the conduct of former Senator Hiram Monserrate. The bipartisan committee unanimously recommended Monserrate's expulsion from the Senate.
Tenure Schneiderman was the chief sponsor of the Rockefeller Drug Law reforms, which were passed and signed into law in 2009. The reforms included reducing reliance on long, mandatory minimum sentences, and allocating funds for alternatives to incarceration, focusing on treatment and reentry of prisoners into society.[15] His other legislative activities include passing ethics reforms [16][17] to root out fraud against taxpayers.
Attorney General 2010 election Then Attorney General
Andrew Cuomo endorsing Schneiderman during the 2010 election.
Schneiderman was the Democratic Party nominee for New York Attorney General, defeating four other candidates in the Democratic primary on September 14, 2010.[18] He won the general election against Republican nominee and Richmond County district attorney Dan Donovan and took office on January 1, 2011.
Tenure in office In his first weeks in office, Schneiderman launched a plan to root out fraud and return money illegally stolen from New York taxpayers at no additional cost to the state. This initiative includes a new "Taxpayer Protection Unit" specifically designed to go after corruption in state contracts, pension fund rip-offs, and large-scale tax cheats. Schneiderman has also bolstered the Attorney General's Medicaid Fraud Control Unit by cracking down on fraud in the Medicaid program.
Schneiderman was instrumental in pushing for a tougher fraud settlement with large banks over illegal foreclosure practices. Along with California Attorney General Kamala Harris, Schneiderman pushed to prevent the settlement from including immunity for the banks from further investigation and prosecution of other related illegal activities.[19]
New York, uniquely among the fifty states, did not sanction mixed martial arts (MMA) under a 1997 state law. This prompted Zuffa, LLC (the owner of the Ultimate Fighting Championship) to sue in federal court in 2015, challenging the constitutionality of the law and naming Schneiderman and Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. as defendants.[20][21] The following year, the New York State Legislature enacted a law legalizing MMA in the state.[22]
In August 2013, Schneiderman filed a $40 million civil lawsuit against Donald Trump for his "Trump University" (now known as Trump Entrepreneur Initiative), alleging it to be an "unlicensed university"[23] and calling it a "bait-and-switch scheme."[24] Trump denied all accusations, calling Schneiderman a "political hack."[25] In October 2014, a New York judge found Trump personally liable for the institution's not having the required license.[26]
In September 2013, Schneiderman announced a settlement with 19 companies to prevent astroturfing; i.e., buying fake online praise. "'Astroturfing' is the 21st century's version of false advertising, and prosecutors have many tools at their disposal to put an end to it," according to Schneiderman. The companies paid $350,000 to settle the matter, but the settlement opened the way for private suits as well. "Every state has some version of the statutes New York used,'' according to lawyer Kelly H. Kolb. ''What the New York attorney general has done is, perhaps, to have given private lawyers a road map to file suit.''[27][28]
2014 election and tenure Schneiderman won re-election in 2014. His major opponent was Republican John P. Cahill, who had been an environmental conservation commissioner for the state.
In November 2015, Schneiderman issued cease-and-desist letters to daily fantasy sports companies DraftKings and FanDuel, accusing the companies of operating a gambling enterprise that is illegal under New York law.[29] This sparked a six-month-long legal battle.[30] Schneiderman reached a settlement with the companies in March 2016, under which DraftKings and FanDuel agreed to stop operating in New York until September 2016 and Schneiderman agreed to drop all of the state's suits against DraftKings and FanDuel'--except for a false advertising claim against FanDuel'--if the New York State Legislature passed legislation legalizing daily fantasy sports by the adjournment of the session.[31][32][33]
In its first year in office, the Trump administration sought to scrap numerous Obama-era environmental regulations which Trump has often referred to as an impediment to business.[34] Saying, "Over and over again, the Trump administration has put the profits of multinational polluters over the health and well-being of everyday Americans,'' Schneiderman filed over 50 lawsuits opposing Trump's environmental revisions.[35]
In February 2018, Schneiderman brought a civil rights lawsuit against The Weinstein Company, alleging the company "repeatedly broke New York law by failing to protect its employees from pervasive sexual harassment, intimidation, and discrimination." The lawsuit delayed the sale of The Weinstein Company with the Attorney General adding, "Any sale of the Weinstein Company must ensure that victims will be compensated."[36][37]
Allegations of abuse and resignation On May 7, 2018, Jane Mayer and Ronan Farrow reported in The New Yorker that Schneiderman had physically abused at least four women during his tenure as Attorney General.[1] According to the report, Schneiderman had, between about 2013 and 2016, committed acts of violence against four of his romantic partners: the blogger and activist Michelle Manning Barish, the author and actor Tanya Selvaratnam, an unnamed female lawyer and a fourth woman.[1] The women said that Schneiderman had repeatedly choked, hit or violently slapped them, all without their consent.[38] Mayer and Farrow reported that they confirmed the women's allegations with photographs of wounds and bruises, as well as with statements from friends in which the women had confided after the assaults, including the writer Salman Rushdie.[1]
In response, Schneiderman said that he had "never engaged in nonconsensual sex".[38] Three hours after the article was published, Schneiderman announced his resignation effective the next day. In a statement, he said that he "strongly contested" the allegations, but resigned because they "effectively prevent me from leading the office's work".[39]
Electoral history New York State Senate 30th district election, 1998PartyCandidateVotes%DemocraticEric Schneiderman65,15881.98Republican*Vincent McGowan10,91913.74GreenJulia Willebrand1,9792.49Conservative*David Branche1,4211.79*McGowan was also listed on the Liberal Party line; Brance was also listed on the Right to Life Party line.
New York State Senate 30th district election, 2000PartyCandidateVotes%Democratic*Eric Schneiderman (inc.)90,58784.12Republican*Roger Madon14,51613.48LiberalMarc Stadtmauer1,9041.77ConservativePaul Gallant Jr.6800.63*Schneiderman was also listed on the Working Families Party line; Madon was also listed on the Independence Party line.
New York State Senate 31st district election, 2002PartyCandidateVotes%Democratic*Eric Schneiderman (inc.)40,90086.52RepublicanBienvenido Toribio Jr.5,84312.36ConservativeMichael Walters5281.12*Schneiderman was also listed on the Working Families Party line.
New York State Senate 31st district election, 2004PartyCandidateVotes%Democratic*Eric Schneiderman (inc.)76,36589.17RepublicanJose Goris9,27210.83*Schneiderman was also listed on the Working Families Party line.
New York State Senate 31st district election, 2006PartyCandidateVotes%Democratic*Eric Schneiderman (inc.)51,20292.30RepublicanStylo Sapaskis4,2707.70*Schneiderman was also listed on the Working Families Party line.
New York State Senate 31st district election, 2008PartyCandidateVotes%Democratic*Eric Schneiderman (inc.)80,83289.97RepublicanMartin Chicon8,3499.29ConservativeStephen Bradian6620.74*Schneiderman was also listed on the Working Families Party line.
New York Attorney General Democratic primary election, 2010PartyCandidateVotes%DemocraticEric Schneiderman227,20334.36DemocraticKathleen Rice210,72631.87DemocraticSean Coffey108,18516.36DemocraticRichard Brodsky65,6839.93DemocraticEric Dinallo49,4997.49New York Attorney General election, 2010PartyCandidateVotes%Democratic*Eric Schneiderman2,477,43855.78Republican*Dan Donovan1,909,52542.99LibertarianCarl Person36,4880.82FreedomRamon Jimenez18,0280.41*Schneiderman was also listed on the Independence Party and Working Families Party line; Donovan was also listed on the Conservative Party line.
New York Attorney General election, 2014PartyCandidateVotes%Democratic*Eric Schneiderman (inc.)2,069,95655.73Republican*John Cahill1,538,99041.43GreenRamon Jimenez80,8132.18LibertarianCarl Person24,7460.67*Schneiderman was also listed on the Independence Party, Working Families Party, and Women's Equality Party lines; Cahill was also listed on the Conservative Party and Stop Common Core Party lines.
See also List of lawsuits involving Donald TrumpReferences ^ a b c d Mayer, Jane; Farrow, Ronan (May 7, 2018). "Four Women Accuse New York's Attorney General of Physical Abuse". New Yorker. ^ Times of Israel: "NY state attorney says he was target of anti-Semitic Trump supporters" August 27, 2016. ^ a b "Jennifer Cunningham Weds Eric Schneiderman". NYTimes.com. October 8, 1990 . Retrieved August 28, 2016 . ^ "Retrieved August 31, 2011". Archived from the original on September 2, 2011. ^ Jimmy Vielkind (October 21, 2009). "The Patience of Schneiderman". Observer . Retrieved August 28, 2016 . ^ [1] ^ "ERIC T. SCHNEIDERMAN (FORMER) (D, WF) 31ST SENATE DISTRICT". NY Senate . Retrieved June 3, 2014 . ^ "NY State Senate 30 - D Primary Race - Sep 15, 1998". Our Campaigns . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ "NY State Senate 30 Race - Nov 03, 1998". Our Campaigns . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ "NY State Senate 30 Race - Nov 07, 2000". Our Campaigns . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ "NY State Senate 31 Race - Nov 05, 2002". Our Campaigns . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ "NY State Senate 31 Race - Nov 02, 2004". Our Campaigns . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ "NY State Senate 31 Race - Nov 07, 2006". Our Campaigns . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ "NY State Senate 31 Race - Nov 04, 2008". Our Campaigns . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ "New York Passes Rockefeller Drug Law Reform". Legal Action Center . Retrieved July 13, 2011 . ^ John Berry / The Post-Standard, 2009. "NY hopes incentive will help blow the whistle on tax cheats". syracuse.com . Retrieved July 24, 2012 . ^ Breidenbach, Michelle. "NY hopes incentive will help blow the whistle on tax cheats". Syracuse Post-Standard . Retrieved January 9, 2011 . ^ Basil Katz, "Schneiderman wins primary for NY attorney general". Reuters, September 15, 2010. ^ Gormley, Michael (February 3, 2012). "NY's Schneiderman Sues Banks in Foreclosure Effort". Associated Press . Retrieved February 17, 2012 . ^ Joseph Ax, [Mixed martial arts promotion sues New York State over ban], Reuters (September 28, 2015). ^ Ben Popper, UFC Sues New York: Fighters Have First Amendment Right to Mixed Martial "Arts", New York Observer (November 15, 2011). ^ Laura Wagner, New York Legalizes Professional Mixed Martial Arts Fights, NPR.org, (April 15, 2016). ^ Peralta, Eyder. "New York A.G. Sues Donald Trump Over 'Unlicensed' University". NPR . Retrieved August 26, 2013 . ^ Pagliery, Jose. "Trump defends his school, prosecutor calls it 'a scam ' ". CNN Money . Retrieved August 26, 2013 . ^ Gormley, Michael. "Trump Calls NY Attorney General a 'Political Hack ' ". ABC News . Retrieved August 26, 2013 . ^ Karen Freifeld (October 16, 2014). "New York judge finds Donald Trump liable for unlicensed school". Reuters . Retrieved February 20, 2015 . ^ Brush, Pete (September 23, 2013). "NY 'Astroturfing' Cases Mark Fertile Ground For Civil Suits". Law360. LexisNexis . Retrieved February 20, 2014 . ^ "A.G. Schneiderman Announces Agreement With 19 Companies To Stop Writing Fake Online Reviews And Pay More Than $350,000 In Fines". New York State Office of the Attorney General. State of New York . Retrieved February 20, 2014 . ^ "A.G. Schneiderman Issues Cease-And-Desist Letters to FanDuel And DraftKings, Demanding That Companies Stop Accepting Illegal Wagers in New York State". Ag.ny.gov. November 11, 2015 . Retrieved August 28, 2016 . ^ What the suspension of DraftKings, FanDuel in N.Y. means for DFS, Sports Illustrated (March 21, 2016). ^ Chris Grove, FanDuel, DraftKings Reach Settlement With New York Attorney General, Legal Sports Report (March 21, 2016). ^ Glenn Blain, FanDuel and DraftKings suspended in New York until Legislature comes up with new regulations, New York Daily News (March 21, 2016). ^ Statement From A.G. Schneiderman On Agreements With FanDuel and DraftKings, Office of the New York State Attorney General. ^ Popovich, Nadja; Albeck-Ripka, Livia. "52 Environmental Rules on the Way Out Under Trump". New York Times . Retrieved December 8, 2017 . ^ Milman, Oliver. " ' Sloppy and careless': courts call out Trump blitzkrieg on environmental rules". The Guardian . Retrieved February 26, 2018 . ^ Barnes, Brooks and William Neuman Weinstein Company Sale Delayed by N.Y. Attorney General Lawsuit. New York Times. February 11, 2018. ^ Feely, Jef, Anousha Sakoui, and Patricia Hurtado. Weinstein Co. Purchase Offer Deemed Unacceptable by New York AG. Bloomberg. February 11, 2018. ^ a b Hakim, Danny; Wang, Vivian (May 7, 2018). "Eric Schneiderman, New York's Attorney General, Resigns Amid Assault Accusations". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331 . Retrieved May 7, 2018 . ^ "Statement By Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman | New York State Attorney General". ag.ny.gov. 7 May 2018 . Retrieved 8 May 2018 . External links Official NY Attorney General WebsiteEric Schneiderman for Attorney General Official campaign websiteEric Tradd Schneiderman listing from New York State Unified Court System
Opinion | The Problem With 'Feminist' Men - The New York Times
Wed, 09 May 2018 13:23
It hurts the most when it's one of the ''good'' ones. The latest man to torpedo his own career is Eric Schneiderman, who resigned Monday evening from his position as New York State attorney general just hours after The New Yorker published a long piece detailing the myriad ways he is alleged to have abused some of the women in his life: hitting them, choking them, sexually degrading them, psychologically mistreating them and verbally undermining their work and their sense of self.
At home, it seems, Mr. Schneiderman was a sexual sadist and manipulative misogynist. At work, he was a champion of women's rights, investigating potential charges against Harvey Weinstein, appearing at events supporting reproductive freedom, and even writing a bill specifically to punish the same kind of strangulation he is said to have forced on some of his partners.
How do we reconcile these two versions of a single man? It wasn't just that Mr. Schneiderman appears to have been a feminist in the brightness of day but a violent misogynist when the lights went down.
The reality may be darker: that the power he derived from his role in progressive politics was intertwined with his abuse. He seems to have used his feminist-minded political work to advance his own career, to ingratiate himself with the women he would go on to harm, and to cover up his cruelties (Mr. Schneiderman denies that he was abusive, instead saying he engaged in consensual sexual role play).
And while this is just one disturbing story, it cuts to the heart of the incongruities of being a progressive woman in 2018: Donald Trump, who boasted about sexually assaulting and degrading women, is the president; the rage and dismay brought on by his election has also meant that powerful men are finally being called to account. And yet that accounting has made clear that even the men we thought we could trust '-- especially, perhaps, the ostentatiously good ones '-- may not be quite what they seem.
The symbiotic relationship between Mr. Schneiderman's public politics and his alleged private behavior is a difficult one to traverse, because on the surface they seem like opposites. Unlike Mr. Trump, whose misogyny has long been part of his celebrity persona and whose political platform is hostile to women's rights, Mr. Schneiderman was, by appearances, a dedicated public servant who stood up for minorities and the underprivileged. Not only was his office investigating Mr. Weinstein, but it was defending young people facing deportation after being brought illegally to the United States as children and trying to expand voting rights in New York.
Behind the scenes, Mr. Schneiderman, who was reported to drink heavily, is accused not only of physical violence, but also of injecting virulent misogyny and racism into the abuses he is said to have committed. Tanya Selvaratnam, who dated Mr. Schneiderman, told The New Yorker that part of Mr. Schneiderman's sexual abuse involved him calling her his ''brown slave,'' having her call him ''Master,'' and confirming that she was his property.
It's impossible to know what exactly was going on in Mr. Schneiderman's mind. But one has to wonder if his alleged actions were all part of the same pathological craving for the kind of ultimate power that makes one immune from consequence '-- that he got off on the simple fact that he had the ability to physically hurt women while being perceived as their noble champion.
What greater sense of authority than knowing that you can rupture a woman's confidence (and, reportedly, her eardrum) so thoroughly that she, upon your mandate, removes her tattoos, loses weight and comes back after you've hit her; that you can physically overpower and injure women and then scare them out of reporting it; and that you can also convince the feminist and progressive establishments to crown you one of their greatest leaders and strongest advocates? A man who derives satisfaction from riding in as a white knight fighting for women's rights while he secretly abuses women: It's so tremendously narcissistic it seems almost fictional.
Maybe, if the abuse allegations are true, Mr. Schneiderman had two separate lives, totally alienating his abusive self from his feminist one, and maybe he lives every day with the shame of that cognitive dissonance. Or maybe his feminist self is part of the bigger power play and he simply enjoys getting one over on all of us. He saw career gains as he worked with progressive women's groups over the years, and his prominence rose along with the current swell of a feminist-minded anti-Trump resistance, kicked off by the Women's March and seguing into #MeToo. He rode that wave, and the women's movements' coattails, into much more fame than a state attorney general typically enjoys.
His work in the realm of reproductive rights '-- and the praise he garnered from it '-- is a stark example. Feminists push for reproductive freedoms so that women can have basic bodily autonomy and economic stability, but also so that we can be free to enjoy sex for pleasure's sake. Mr. Schneiderman promoted the rights of women to choose what we do with our own bodies, and then is accused of personally turning sexual interactions into violent, degrading acts done to his female partners.
Mr. Schneiderman also seems to have used his feminist reputation as a tool to access the exact kind of women he apparently enjoyed breaking down, while his liberal bona fides made the women who say he mistreated them second-guess themselves, and stay quiet.
According to one woman quoted in The New Yorker piece, Mr. Schneiderman told her that high-powered professional women want to be sexually dominated, and said: ''Yeah, you act a certain way and look a certain way, but I know that at heart you are a dirty little slut. You want to be my whore.'' Then, she says, he slapped her across the face, twice. She didn't report it because ''He's a good attorney general, he's doing good things. I didn't want to jeopardize that.''
So what are strong women to do if even the men who seem like good feminists might be misogynists, too? With right-wing men who oppose women's rights, what you see is what you get. With these bogus male feminists, it can be crazy-making '-- especially since women are so often taught to subsume our own doubts and even our own experiences if men tell us we're interpreting things incorrectly. Of course we want men to champion women's rights, and we shouldn't look skeptically on the men who stand up for all of us.
But we should pause when we sense that men are performing feminism for kudos or influence rather than simply doing the right thing. Harvey Weinstein attended a gala for Planned Parenthood, where Hillary Clinton was also present, bid $100,000 on a painting '-- and then reportedly never sent the money. Louis C.K. wrote some great feminist jokes, but never seemed willing to fully give up the misogynist ones.
And outside of celebrity circles, men including Clay Johnson and Don Hazen (briefly my own boss) found great success in progressive organizing and media largely by promoting themselves and strong-arming perceived detractors; it was little surprise to learn from recent reporting that they allegedly also bullied, sexually harassed and demeaned the women around them. (Mr. Hazen denied most of the allegations.)
We should look at the male feminists' relationship to power: Are they willing to cede and share some of what they have to qualified women, or do they use women as helpmeets and steppingstones for their own careers? When women challenge them, how do they react? '-- are they respectful or resentful? When they're pushing for women's rights, what's more important to them: the result or the recognition?
There is no way to divine whether or not a man is a secret abuser. If the allegations are true, then the former New York attorney general is surely not the last faux-feminist man to be outed as a vicious misogynist. But he could be the last one who might think that strutting his feminism in public will be enough to protect him if he exploits women in private.
Eric Schneiderman Has Always Been A Con Man | HuffPost
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:51
In November 2010, the Roosevelt Institute hosted an event in Washington taking a hard look at a strange phenomenon in U.S. housing. Banks, it appeared, were fabricating documents to pursue foreclosures under outrageous, chaotic circumstances '• not accepting mortgage payments, miscalculating debts, rewriting loan terms without consulting homeowners and trying to evict people who hadn't missed payments . The event wasn't a glitzy Washington spectacle. The guests of honor were stressed-out homeowners who showed up to detail their financial nightmares for a handful of journalists.
Sitting in the back and nodding along calmly was Eric Schneiderman, a promising young politician who had just been elected attorney general of New York. Afterward, he made the rounds shaking hands. This was an important issue, he told the reporters. He wasn't a housing expert, but he didn't trust the banks. Something had to be done.
It would soon become clear that his masterly performance was a total con. There is perhaps no reputation in American politics over the past generation more undeserved than the acclaim that has surrounded Schneiderman as a principled, tough-on-white-collar-crime Democrat.
After the Roosevelt Institute event, he pounded the microphones for months as a vocal holdout against President Barack Obama's $25 billion national mortgage settlement '• a once-and-for-all agreement to put the foreclosure mess to rest. Schneiderman said the deal was no good; Obama was sweeping too much bad behavior under the rug and going too easy on the bad guys.
Then in January 2012, Schneiderman got his payoff: not a better mortgage deal but a big night in the spotlight. Obama invited Schneiderman to be a guest at the State of the Union address, where the president announced him as the leader of a new federal and state government task force prosecuting the fraud at the heart of the 2008 financial crisis.
In this role, Schneiderman issued a grand total of zero criminal subpoenas against U.S. financiers. If you want to know why nobody went to prison for wrecking the global economy in 2008, the answer, in no small part, is Schneiderman.
Monday night's gut-wrenching expose of his history of alleged physical abuse and psychological manipulation in his romantic life is a particularly violent, misogynist rendition of the behavior he demonstrated in his professional life. He toyed with and misled the American public about his white-collar-crime work for years and generally got away with it.
Though his record against the rich and powerful is profoundly unimpressive, Schneiderman consistently scored incredible press from mainstream and liberal outlets '• nearly all of it based on bank fraud investigations that not only weren't turning out convictions but weren't even trying to generate prosecutions.
In 2012, The Nation hailed him as ''the right man'' at ''the right moment,'' and The American Prospect heralded him as ''The Man the Banks Fear Most'' in a glowing cover story. New York magazine named him a pillar of the more-liberal-than-Obama left in a gushing 2013 profile, and Politico managed to twist the fact that he never seemed to actually do anything into a virtue, describing him as a ''low key'' champion of ''methodical, behind-the-scenes'' work who showed ''a lack of interest in capitalizing on the office.'' After Donald Trump was elected president, New York magazine again sang Schneiderman's praises, and Politico called him ''the leader of the Trump resistance.'' In fairness, Schneiderman has been just as effective against Trump as against Wall Street.
Schneiderman built this reputation by holding press conferences and inking splashy settlements with banks that added up to much less than their headlines suggested. He cut deals with JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Citigroup and Goldman Sachs that seemed to be worth over $41 billion to taxpayers but translated into only about $11.5 billion after various tax breaks, allowances and loopholes were considered, as David Dayen , who chronicled the entire ugly history of Schneiderman and the foreclosure fraud debacle in his book Chain of Title , explained in The New Republic . And Schneiderman proceeded to stand by as big banks racked up an astounding array of federal postcrisis regulatory violations that mysteriously never seemed to run afoul of state criminal law.
All politicians stretch the truth. Every ambitious officeholder is guilty of chasing microphones. But it was a special brand of fraud to build his career by convincing the world that he was a champion of the very cause he was working to undermine. ''His hypocrisy is epic,'' one of his accusers, former girlfriend Michelle Manning Barish, told The New Yorker. ''He's fooled so many people.'' She was talking about his support for the Me Too movement and other feminist causes, but she might as well have been describing his bank-busting persona.
But Democrats couldn't let themselves see the fraud for what it was. He was the top prosecutor in New York, and no bankers had gone to prison, but people still clung to the belief that he was the man the media said he was '• so much so that friends of one alleged victim of his abuse even counseled her to ''keep the story to herself, arguing that Schneiderman was too valuable a politician for the Democrats to lose,'' according to The New Yorker .
Schneiderman resigned Monday night, just hours after The New Yorker's story came out. The Democratic Party didn't lose a champion of anything.
NBC Says Matt Lauer Investigation Found No Wrongdoing by Management - WSJ
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:13
An internal investigation by NBCUniversal has found no evidence that NBC News executives or senior management knew of any misconduct by ''Today'' show anchor Matt Lauer prior to a complaint in November of inappropriate behavior with a female colleague that led to his firing.
The report, a summary of which was released Wednesday morning, also determined that there isn't believed to be a systemic culture of inappropriate behavior and sexual harassment at NBC News. The internal probe was conducted by NBCUniversal's general counsel, Kim Harris.
The investigators spoke with four women who came forward to say they had sexual encounters in the office with Mr. Lauer over a nearly two-decade period. None of the women said they told their direct manager or anyone else in an authority position about the incidents, the report found.
As part of the investigation, 68 current and former NBC News leaders, staffers and human resources executives were interviewed, and the probe concluded that no complaints about Mr. Lauer had even been received before November.
NBC News staffers told investigators that while they were aware of the proper channels to make complaints, many feared doing so because of concerns about possible retaliation and that such complaints wouldn't be kept in confidence. NBC News human resources executives are housed in glass offices amid the rest of the news staff, adding to concerns that anonymity wouldn't be maintained.
The report determined that Mr. Lauer had a reputation for making suggestive and inappropriate comments at times.
''A number of individuals interviewed said that Lauer could be flirtatious, would frequently make jokes, some with sexual overtones, and would openly engage in sexually-oriented banter in the workplace,'' the report said. Mr. Lauer, the report added, was also found to have made overtures to several women by praising their appearance in ''sexually suggestive ways.'' The women who made that claim said he didn't pursue them further when they ''deflected or ignored the overture, and they did not experience any retaliation.'' None reported the behavior to management or human resources.
NBC said the conduct didn't rise to the level of creating a hostile work environment, but some employees may have feared raising concerns about Mr. Lauer because of his stature at the network.
That said, NBC's investigation team said it doesn't believe the news unit is a ''hostile work environment'' nor is there a ''culture of harassment'' in the news division.
In a statement, Mr. Lauer said there were aspects of the NBC report ''with which I clearly disagree,'' thought he didn't specify which points he contested.
''On November 29, 2017, I was terminated by NBC after admitting to past relationships with co-workers. A day later I took responsibility for those relationships, apologized to the people I hurt and promised to begin the process of repairing the damage I had caused my family. I have worked every day since then to honor that promise,'' he said.
The seven-page report was an unusually detailed public accounting of how the investigation was pursued, including details on how many people were interviewed, which documents were reviewed and concerns about why complaints about Mr. Lauer were never reported. The investigation was conducted by lawyers and HR representatives from outside the news division, and two outside law firms were consulted on the process.
In addition to the 68 interviews, NBC's investigation team also ''conducted targeted email account searches and reviews, including the email accounts of Lauer and NBC News and Today Show leadership, reviewed text messages on Lauer's work-issued phones, and reviewed other relevant documents and information.'' The report admitted the availability of evidence was affected by the passage of time.
Two of the four women who came forward with allegations against Mr. Lauer said they believed former NBC News or ''Today'' show leadership ''knew or must have known'' about Mr. Lauer's behavior. ''The former leaders with whom we spoke denied any such knowledge, however, and we were unable to otherwise substantiate it,'' the report said.
NBC News Chairman Andy Lack said the unit would undertake several initiatives to ensure that it is a safe work environment. ''We cannot change the past, what we can do is learn from it and try to make it right,'' Mr. Lack said in an email to staff Wednesday.
Among the changes: a new team of employee counselors operating separately from NBC News' human resources unit, and NBC News managers that will report into NBCUniversal's legal team to provide better confidentiality. Also more attention will be paid to workplace behavior and the environment inside the unit, as well as more training sessions for staff on proper office behavior.
The report didn't address recent allegations of sexual harassment against NBC News' Tom Brokaw. Mr. Brokaw, who anchored ''Nightly News'' for more than two decades and now is a special correspondent with the network, has denied the allegations.
Mr. Brokaw wasn't included in the report because of the recent timing of the allegation against him, according to a person familiar with the matter. NBC has reached out to the woman to gather more details, this person said.
In a memo two weeks ago, Mr. Lack acknowledged the claims against Mr. Brokaw and his denial. ''As we've shown, we take allegations such as these very seriously, and act on them quickly and decisively when the facts dictate,'' he said.
Write to Joe Flint at joe.flint@wsj.com
NBC says no culture of harassment in its news division
Thu, 10 May 2018 11:54
NEW YORK (AP) '-- NBC's internal investigation following Matt Lauer's firing says it doesn't believe there is a culture of sexual harassment at the news division and that current news executives weren't aware of the former "Today" show anchor's behavior until the complaint that doomed him.
Investigators also said more needs to be done to ensure that the more than 2,000 employees at NBC News can talk about bad behavior without fearing retaliation, leading NBC News Chairman Andy Lack to establish a way this can be done outside the company.
Despite releasing the report publicly, NBC was criticized for not allowing outsiders to look at its practices. Some suggested it damages the report's credibility.
"No one is going to be fully candid when speaking to management for fear of losing their jobs," said Eleanor McManus, a co-founder of Press Forward, an organization of women who worked in the news industry and experienced sexual misconduct.
"News organizations, journalists and media all hold corporations, governments and individuals to higher standards in similar instances, so it's concerning that NBC would not choose to follow those same standards itself."
The review by lawyers means "that care was taken at every step '-- to avoid liability," said Jennifer Drobac, an Indiana University professor and expert in employment law. "If this investigation also promotes a safer work environment, then that is an added benefit for all."
NBC Universal's general counsel, Kimberley Harris, conducted the investigation. Harris' report was primarily concerned with Lauer, and no specific complaints about others were discussed. There was no mention of a former NBC News employee's accusation last month that former "Nightly News" anchor Tom Brokaw made unwanted advances on her, which he has denied.
NBC said the work of its all-female investigative team was reviewed and approved by two outside firms.
"NBC Universal's investigation was thorough, objective and conducted at the corporate level, outside the News division," said Hilary Smith, network spokeswoman.
Lauer was fired in November after it was found he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with another NBC employee. Three additional women subsequently complained about Lauer.
Investigators found no evidence that anyone "in position of authority" at NBC News knew that Lauer had sexual relationships with others in the company until the Nov. 27 complaint by a woman about an affair that began at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Still, two of the four women who complained about Lauer said they believed someone in management knew about his behavior.
Former "Today" anchor Ann Curry had said in a news interview that she had gone to management to say they should watch Lauer after another woman had told her Lauer had harassed her. But NBC's report said Curry declined to reveal to investigators whom she spoke to and that no current or past managers interviewed by investigators said they'd spoken to her about the issue.
Curry was not immediately available to clarify that on Wednesday.
The report said Lauer, who is married, was flirtatious and engaged in sexual banter in the office. Several women said he had complimented them on their appearance in a sexually suggestive way.
Investigators threw cold water on a published report that a button allowed Lauer to lock his office door without getting up from his desk. The button closed the door, but didn't lock it, the report said.
Some of the 68 people interviewed said they were aware of other rumored extramarital affairs in the news division. Most were already known and dealt with; some are being looked into, the report said.
"The investigation team does not believe that there is a widespread or systemic pattern of behavior that violates company policy or a culture of harassment in the News Division," Harris' report said.
The report discussed reasons why some at NBC are reluctant to come forward with complaints '-- including glass-walled Human Resources offices that made them question whether their concerns would be kept quiet. In a memo to staff, Lack said employees can now bring misconduct reports to an outside law firm that has already helped NBC set up workplace training that has taken place since Lauer's firing.
"I am immensely proud of NBC News, its history and the work we do," Lack said. "But, stepping back from the investigation, that history also includes a time when people were not comfortable coming forward to voice complaints about repugnant behavior. That is not acceptable."
Lack said more than 80 percent of the staff had undergone new training in workplace behavior since Lauer's firing, and that all employees are expected to be done by June 30.
The former NBC News reporter who accused Brokaw of misconduct, Linda Vester, wrote in The Washington Post on Wednesday that NBC should have gone outside the company for its investigation. Vester also said a letter supporting Brokaw that circulated among NBC News employees '-- and was signed by the likes of Rachel Maddow and Andrea Mitchell '-- could have a chilling effect.
"NBC News's actions had the effect of communicating to other victims that they wouldn't be believed and would be better off staying silent," Vester wrote.
Ministry of Truthiness
Daily Caller Foundation pitch letter and IFCN
International Fact-Checking Network: New Worldwide Ministry of Truth?
Mon, 07 May 2018 23:42
Makia Freeman, ContributorWaking Times
The International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) is an organization that until recently you may have never heard of, but is now poised to make a powerful influence on your life. Why? The multi-billion dollar corporation and CIA data mining operation Facebook has decided to enlist the help of the International Fact-Checking Network in its quest to eliminate ''fake news'' (i.e. enact censorship through the backdoor). Those aware of the current psychological operations will know that the entire Russian propaganda and fake news themes are stealthy ways for the establishment to stifle dissent. They are whipping the public up into a frenzy about purported Russian hacking and Russian interference without a shred of credible evidence, all the while scaring people into thinking they need some ''independent'' arbiter (outside of themselves) to decipher and decide what is real and what is fake. It's the ultimate perception grab; they want you to hand over your power and let your perception be dictated by them. Now, Facebook has announced it will be using the International Fact-Checking Network and other 3rd party fact-checking organizations to weed out all the fake news. Is the International Fact-Checking Network poised to become some kind of Ministry of Truth as Orwell wrote about? Who funds the organization and how does its check its facts?
Guess Who Funds the International Fact-Checking Network?The IFCN openly states that it is hosted by the Poynter Institute for Media Studies, and that:
'''... Poynter's IFCN has received funding from the Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, the Duke Reporters' Lab, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Google, the National Endowment for Democracy, the Omidyar Network, the Open Society Foundations and the Park Foundation.''
Readers of the The Freedom Articles will probably recognize some names here that are an integral part of the New World Order. These include Google (driving the transhumanist agenda), Bill Gates (who has cropped up in the last 3 years to support vaccines, GMOs, Common Core and other NWO initiatives), George Soros (master manipulator behind the Ukraine coup of 2014, Black Lives Matter and other movements to disrupt the law and socially engineer society) and Pierre Omidyar (current owner of PayPal connected to the Military Intelligence complex via Booz Allen Hamilton). Soros owns and funds a slew of treacherous NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations) such as the National Endowment for Democracy and Open Society Foundations.
The ICFN's Code of 5 PrinciplesThe International Fact-Checking Network has come up with a code of 5 principles by which it operates. Facebook said it will only work with 3rd party fact-checkers that are signatories to this code of principles, and that once one of these organizations decides that a particular story is fake, it will be flagged as disputed and ''there will be a link to the corresponding article explaining why. Stories that have been disputed may also appear lower in News Feed.'' Here are the 5 principles:
A COMMITMENT TO NONPARTISANSHIP AND FAIRNESSWe fact-check claims using the same standard for every fact check. We do not concentrate our fact-checking on any one side. We follow the same process for every fact check and let the evidence dictate our conclusions. We do not advocate or take policy positions on the issues we fact-check.A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF SOURCESWe want our readers to be able to verify our findings themselves. We provide all sources in enough detail that readers can replicate our work, except in cases where a source's personal security could be compromised. In such cases, we provide as much detail as possible.A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF FUNDING & ORGANIZATIONWe are transparent about our funding sources. If we accept funding from other organizations, we ensure that funders have no influence over the conclusions we reach in our reports. We detail the professional background of all key figures in our organization and explain our organizational structure and legal status. We clearly indicate a way for readers to communicate with us.A COMMITMENT TO TRANSPARENCY OF METHODOLOGYWe explain the methodology we use to select, research, write, edit, publish and correct our fact checks. We encourage readers to send us claims to fact-check and are transparent on why and how we fact-check.A COMMITMENT TO OPEN AND HONEST CORRECTIONSWe publish our corrections policy and follow it scrupulously. We correct clearly and transparently in line with our corrections policy, seeking so far as possible to ensure that readers see the corrected version.Facebook has made it a prerequisite to be a signatory on this code of principles to become a Facebook fact-checker. However, on the very same page below the code of principles, there is a list of organizations that have already joined. They include ABC News and The Washington Post Fact Checker '' 2 MSM outlets. The Washington Post was the paper that started all the nonsense about Russian propaganda with its own fake news report based on the dodgy research of PropOrNot (a report it later retracted)! Politifact and Snopes are also on the list, and although they are not MSM, their reputations are already quite tarnished due to their past shoddy fact-checking.
How Can Fact-Checkers, No Matter How Well Intentioned, Ever Be the Arbiters of Truth?Does the group of NWO funders behind Poynter give you the impression that the International Fact-Checking Network will be independent? And moreover, even if they were granted some kind of ''editorial independence'' by their funders, would they have the desire and ability to become arbiters of truth on massive and complex subjects like GMOs, the New World Order, geoengineering, worldwide pedophilia rings, conspiracy and Satanism? How are they going to ''fact-check'' statements like ''GMOs are not dangerous to human health'', ''vaccines are safe and effective'', ''there is no worldwide Satanic pedophilia ring'', ''chemtrails do not exist'', ''Morgellons disease does not exist'', ''black military operations oversee mind control programs on the public'' and ''an interconnected web of hybrid bloodlines rules the world from behind the scenes''? Since many current topics lead back to fundamental issues like these, how are they possibly going to shed any light on these vast topics?
How can anyone expect them to be experts in these fields? How are they going to be able to do anything other than parrot the standard narrative on these topics, which they will get from some form of the MSM or ''mainstream science'' '' the very same sources which advocate toxic-laden vaccines and synthetic pharmaceutical drugs as good for your health? How are they are possibly going to have the scope, breadth and depth of vision and perception that comes from studying these topics in depth for decades as many in the Alternative Media have?
It's Not About Left vs. Right; It's About Free Speech vs. CensorshipSome commentators and journalists are making this issue into a left vs. right affair, claiming that the fact-checkers are left, liberal or progressive in their political leanings. While it's true that Soros funds leftist movements, this whole issue is not really about left vs. right. It's about free speech vs. censorship. The fact-checkers will of course have all sorts of biases in their viewpoints, which is why all opinions need to be fully aired so the truth can rise to the surface.
Imagine if everyone looked at every internet story '' from the MSM and the Alternative Media alike '' and asked with a critical eye: where's your evidence and what are your sources? There would be no need for fact-checkers, because every reader would become a fact-checker. It would also destroy government lies right from the start (''the Russians are hacking us'' and ''the zika virus will kill you''), because they would never get a chance to take off.
The only way out of this is education. The only way people can know the truth is to read widely, inform themselves about the issues, discuss it over and over, get new perspectives, test things out in their own experience and make up their own mind. Blocking news stories and alternative perspectives will only hamper this (but then, censorship is the whole point of this exercise). Yes, hoax stories are annoying and clickbait headlines are irritating, but at some point, you have to trust that readers will begin to see through that crap and consciously choose which sites to read and which to shun. If a site keeps putting out lies and clickbait, at a certain point it will gain a negative reputation and get ostracized.
Collectively, we have to grow up and not expect or call for governments and other organizations like the International Fact-Checking Network to do our fact-checking for us. We have to do it ourselves. It is part of our spiritual journey to be able to mature to the point where we can discern truth from lies. When enough of us can do that, the world will know peace, for as Julian Assange says, if lies are used to start war, then truth can be used to start peace.
About the AuthorMakia Freeman is the editor of The Freedom Articles and senior researcher at ToolsForFreedom.com (FaceBook here), writing on many aspects of truth and freedom, from exposing aspects of the worldwide conspiracy to suggesting solutions for how humanity can create a new system of peace and abundance
**Sources embedded throughout article.
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International Fact-Checking Network: New Worldwide Ministry of Truth? was last modified: January 4th, 2017 by WakingTimes
Reuters Weekly Poll Reflects Upswing in Support For President Trump '' Reuters Apologizes For Sharing'...
Tue, 08 May 2018 12:24
Reuters weekly polling reflected an upswing in support for President Donald Trump. Which immediately caused them to issue an apology along with the release.
Washington, DC '' The Reuters/Ipsos Core Political poll has a significant realignment this week across a number of metrics. Most pronounced is President Trump's approval rating which currently sits at 48% with all Americans. His number with registered voters is essentially the same at 49%. Corresponding with Trump's stronger approval rating, evaluations of his job performance across the board are stronger this week from 57% approving of his handling of the economy (read more)
(Full Poll Results Here)
Facebook To 'Dial Up' Suppression O | The Daily Caller
Thu, 10 May 2018 15:02
Media
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg speaks at Facebook Inc's annual F8 developers conference in San Jose, California, U.S. May 1, 2018. REUTERS/Stephen Lam 11:06 PM 05/01/2018
Facebook plans to ''dial up'' the suppression of certain news outlets, CEO Mark Zuckerberg revealed on Tuesday.
Zuckerberg made the comment while holding an off-the-record meeting with a select group of media outlets. Zuckerberg briefly went on the record at the end of the meeting to answer questions about Facebook's recent changes to the newsfeed, according to BuzzFeed, which first reported his comments.
''We put [that data] into the system, and it is acting as a boost or a suppression, and we're going to dial up the intensity of that over time,'' Zuckerberg said. ''We feel like we have a responsibility to further [break] down polarization and find common ground.''
In January, Zuckerberg announced two key algorithm changes to Facebook's newsfeed feature that have boosted a minority of news outlets while harming their competitors.
First, Facebook slashed news articles' share of the newsfeed from five percent to four percent in the coming months. Second, Facebook began boosting certain ''trusted'' news outlets and suppressing other, ostensibly less trustworthy sources.
Conservative and right-wing publishers ''were hit the hardest'' by the algorithm change, tech website The Outline concluded in a lengthy report published March 5.
At the same time, ''the engagement numbers of most predominantly liberal publishers remained unaffected,'' the report found.
Facebook has no plans of making public its list of ''trusted'' news sources, a Facebook spokesperson previously told TheDCNF.
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FaceBag Analytica
BuzzFeed Ran Liberal Super PAC Ads | The Daily Caller
Thu, 10 May 2018 15:04
BuzzFeed created dozens of native political ads for anti-Trump super PACs in 2016 that were ''based off mounds and piles and troves of data and information'' it had collected on its own users, according to former BuzzFeed vice president.At the same time, BuzzFeed refused to work with pro-Trump groups because to do so would be ''hazardous to our health.''BuzzFeed said that political ads on its website would be labeled as such, but most of the political ads the website reviewed by The Daily Caller News Foundation were not.BuzzFeed partnered closely with multiple Democratic and anti-Trump super PACs in 2016 to target its own users with dozens of political advertisements that were not in accordance with its own policies, according to a Daily Caller News Foundation investigation.
Former BuzzFeed Vice President Rena Shapiro, who led the website's native political advertising team during the 2016 election, described candidly in a pair of unearthed interviews how she partnered closely with political groups to create ads that harnessed the data BuzzFeed collects on its audience of over 650 million people to solve their ''ultimate need, which is to get elected, to get their message out there, or to canvas people together to create impact around a cause.''
''This is a data monster that we're working with here at BuzzFeed, and it's awesome to harness that power to everyone's advantage in the political space,'' Shapiro said in December 2016 on ''Digital Politics with Karen Jagoda.''
Shortly after being hired to lead BuzzFeed's politics and advocacy division, Shapiro stated publicly that her job at the viral news and entertainment site was to help political candidates win.
Thanks @JoshShapiroPA!! Excited to be @BuzzFeed helping candidates #win!
'-- Rena Shapiro (@renashapiro) October 13, 2015
But as it turns out, only some in the political space were given the opportunity to partner with BuzzFeed's viral marketing team to create custom political ads that, according to Shapiro, are ''based off of mounds and piles and troves of data and information that we have as far as how people are interacting and engaging with content.''
BuzzFeed raised eyebrows in June 2016 when it announced it had canceled a $1.3 million advertising agreement with the Republican National Committee due to disagreements with then-candidate Donald Trump's ''offensive statements.''
Doing business with any group that supports Trump, BuzzFeed founder Jonah Peretti said after canceling the RNC ad buy, would be ''hazardous to our health.''
''We don't run cigarette ads because they are hazardous to our health, and we won't accept Trump ads for the exact same reason,'' Peretti said.
And Shapiro made clear that BuzzFeed's work with the super PACs meant the website had skin in the game trying to defeat Trump at the ballot box.
''What's #politicaladsteam @BuzzFeed team been up too?'' she tweeted in August 2016. ''Helping @prioritiesUSA & @emilyslist get creative to stop Trump.''
What's #politicaladsteam @BuzzFeed team been up to? Helping @prioritiesUSA & @emilyslist get creative to stop Trump https://t.co/AqcgPptbTK
'-- Rena Shapiro (@renashapiro) August 22, 2016
As the business side of BuzzFeed worked with anti-Trump super PACs in a bid to help elect Democrats, BuzzFeed News covered Trump in an aggressive manner.
In late 2015, BuzzFeed editor-in-chief Ben Smith gave the go-ahead to his political reporters to call Trump a racist in news reports.
''It is, for instance, entirely fair to call him a mendacious racist, as the politics team and others have reported clearly and aggressively: he's out there saying things that are false, and running an overtly anti-Muslim campaign,'' Smith told BuzzFeed News reporters.
''BuzzFeed News's reporting is rooted in facts, not opinion; these are facts,'' Smith said.
And shortly after Trump won the election, Smith made the widely criticized decision to publish the salacious and unverified ''Steele dossier,'' a collection of memos commissioned by research firm Fusion GPS that alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
BuzzFeed's firewall between its news and ads divisionsA spokesman for BuzzFeed downplayed Shapiro's comments, saying the website's news and advertising business are ''completely walled off'' from one another. The existence of that firewall, according to BuzzFeed, should alleviate any concerns raised by its close work with anti-Trump political groups in 2016.
''BuzzFeed News is an award-winning international news organization, recognized this week by the Pulitzer Prize Board for the second consecutive year. The BuzzFeed News editorial operation is completely walled off from BuzzFeed's advertising business, like virtually any other media organization that operates a news division and accepts advertising''a concept that must be foreign to the Daily Caller,'' BuzzFeed News spokesman Matt Mittenhal told TheDCNF in a statement.
Mittenhal's assertion that BuzzFeed's news operation is ''completely walled off'' from its advertising business appears to be inconsistent with the website's own editorial standards, which clearly states that management-level editorial employees sometimes cross over to the advertising side to vet certain projects.
''BuzzFeed News maintains a divide between advertising and editorial staff, the website's news standards and ethics guides states. ''However, management-level editorial employees may be asked to vet certain sponsorships or projects. Some forms of advertising '-- including video integrations and advertisements in podcasts '-- may also involve staffers' participation in a clearly disclosed form.''
Shapiro's comments on ''Digital Politics'' further break down the supposed separation from BuzzFeed's news and advertising divisions. During her March 2016 appearance on the podcast, she detailed how the website's advertising business pulls data and insights from the editorial side to more effectively target its own audience with ''irresistible'' political advertisements.
''This is the data that we have. So, we know, for example, what works on the edit side, we can then come back and say, 'okay, this type of concept seems to resonate really, really well with adults over age 45,''' Shapiro explained. ''Therefore if you know you're going to target adults over age 45 who live in Ohio, Florida or Nevada, we can then create custom content to resonate with those specific key target audience groups.''
''We have the ability to understand what these audiences are interested in and then we can create concepts and content that will enable a group or candidate or a nonprofit, even, to push that concept out to that target audience in a very interesting dynamic way that almost makes it irresistible,'' she said.
''That's a really powerful tool for campaigns and issue advocacy groups and PACs to leverage,'' Shapiro said of BuzzFeed's capabilities.
BuzzFeed's tools helped inform the decision-making processes of their super PAC clients, according to one client, former Priorities USA Executive Director Anne Caprara.
''We have the ability to test it and to run a program to look at it and say that it's reaching these voters and persuading them in different ways. It informs the decision-making,'' Caprara, whose super PAC paid BuzzFeed $1.5 million for ads in 2016, told The Washington Post.
BuzzFeed's advertising business demonstrated in 2016 that by refusing to work with pro-Trump political groups it had skin in the political game. But Smith, the website's editor-in-chief, insists that its news coverage of the president is rooted in the facts. He said in January that the website would have treated a Hillary Clinton presidency the same way they're treating Trump's.
But juxtaposing BuzzFeed's critical coverage of Trump to that of his predecessor, President Barack Obama, suggests otherwise.
BuzzFeed's coverage of Obama was ''almost uniformly uncritical and often sycophantic,'' according to a 2016 analysis by Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR), a left-leaning media watchdog group.
FAIR analyzed 100 BuzzFeed stories on Obama published in early 2016. Of those stories, 65 were positive and 34 were neutral in tone. Only one was critical of the Obama administration.
Examples of BuzzFeed News' ''power-serving coverage'' of Obama analyzed by FAIR include:
The First Family Gave Us Family Goals As They Walked Through Old HavanaSteph Curry Being Mentored By Obama Will Give You Squad GoalsPresident Obama Killed It When He Slow-Jammed The News With Jimmy FallonShapiro, who left BuzzFeed in November 2017, declined to comment when asked to clarify her tweets and the statements she made on her two appearances on ''Digital Politics'' in 2016.
A BuzzFeed representative distanced the website from Shapiro's comments, saying electing and defeating politicians is not a goal of BuzzFeed.
The representative also said Shapiro was incorrect when she said BuzzFeed leveraged data from its editorial operations to help political groups target key audience groups with political ads.
But even if Shapiro's detailed comments are all untrue, it doesn't explain why dozens of political posts on BuzzFeed's website are presented in a way that appears to be inconsistent with its own standards.
Many Political Ads On BuzzFeed's Website Lacked Proper DisclosureTheDCNF was able to locate 36 political posts placed on BuzzFeed's website in 2016.
The posts, commissioned by political groups and created by BuzzFeed's political advertising team, were designed to mimic the look and feel of BuzzFeed's editorial content so it could effectively blend in with the website's news and entertainment content.
Native political advertisements, as they're formally referred to, can leave readers to doubt whether a newsroom can effectively cover the politicians they're receiving money to run ads for, according to the Native Advertising Institute.
BuzzFeed stressed when it announced it would begin creating native political ads that the ads would be clearly identified as such.
But only four out of the 36 political posts published on BuzzFeed's website in 2016 reviewed by TheDCNF were clearly identified as political at the onset of the post.
One of the few posts clearly identified as a political ad was titled, ''Watch Women Read Actual Quotes By Donald Trump.'' The post was clearly identified as a political advertisement under the byline of Our Principles PAC, the anti-Trump Republican super PAC that paid for the ad.
Our Principles PAC BuzzFeed post identified as a Political Ad (Credit: Screenshot/BuzzFeed.com)
This set an expectation that future political ads on BuzzFeed's site would also be labeled as such.
But TheDCNF located 32 super PAC ads on BuzzFeed's website given the label of ''Brand Publisher,'' the identification the website gives to paid ads from its non-political clients such as Wal-Mart, Verizon and Samsung.
One of these posts was an advertisement run by ''More Of This'' titled, ''10 Reasons To Vote Blue All The Way Down The Ballot.''
''More Of This'' identified as a ''Brand Publisher'' (Credit: Screenshot/BuzzFeed.com)
It's only at the end of the post that a disclaimer notice identifies ''More Of This'' as a trademark of Priorities USA Action, the Democratic Super PAC who paid for the communication.
''More Of This'' Disclaimer Notice (Credit: Screenshot/BuzzFeed.com)
Obscuring from the onset that the post was paid for by a super PAC appears to go against BuzzFeed's initial promise that it would clearly identify paid political posts as such.
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) requires any political advertisements placed online for a fee to contain a disclaimer notice identifying who paid for and who authorized the communication.
But 12 of the super PAC posts on BuzzFeed's website reviewed by TheDCNF did not contain a disclaimer notice within their posts.
A representative for BuzzFeed told TheDCNF that these 12 posts '-- one from Women Vote!, four from NextGen Climate Action Committee and seven from ''More of This'' '-- were not actually paid ads, despite them being labeled as paid for by a ''Brand Sponsor.''
The representative stressed that the Facebook videos embedded in these 12 posts are the ads, not the posts themselves. BuzzFeed only gets paid when someone clicks into and watches the Facebook video, according to the representative.
BuzzFeed labeling these apparently free posts as paid for by a sponsor draws a thin line between these posts staying in accordance to and breaking FEC disclaimer rules.
One of the posts lacking a disclaimer notice, titled ''A Day In The Life In President Trump's America,'' expressly advocates readers to cast a vote for Hillary Clinton.
''To avoid a Trump America, vote for Hillary on November 8,'' the post from Women Vote! read.
Women Vote! identified as a ''Brand Publisher'' (Credit: Screenshot/BuzzFeed.com)
If it's true that Women Vote! did not pay BuzzFeed for this specific communication, then there is no need for a disclaimer notice. But if the post was placed on BuzzFeed for a fee, it may be in violation of FEC disclaimer rules.
''As a general matter, political committee's communications that are placed for a fee on another person's website must include a disclaimer,'' Brendan Fischer, the director of Federal Election Commission (FEC) reform at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, told TheDNCF. ''If Priorities USA Action, NextGen Climate Action Committee, and Women Vote ads paid Buzzfeed for those posts, they should have included a disclaimer.''
TheDCNF was able to locate only one BuzzFeed-created ad in 2016 that supported a Republican candidate. The ad, paid for by the National Republican Congressional Committee, supported former Illinois Rep. Bob Dold, who was among the first Republicans to come out against Trump.
BuzzFeed's actions appear similar to FacebookBuzzFeed working hand-in-hand with anti-Trump groups to disburse political ads on its own platform appear similar to how Facebook embedded staffers in the Trump campaign to help the campaign better use Facebook to target customers.
But unlike BuzzFeed, Facebook did not discriminate between Trump and Clinton. The only reason Facebook didn't embed its employees in the Clinton campaign was because the Clinton campaign turned down Facebook when it offered the service.
''Facebook's defense was, 'we offered the same services to all candidates, it's just that not all candidates took advantage,''' Fischer said.
''Here, you don't have that defense,'' Fischer continued. ''It's clear that BuzzFeed offered their services to some candidates but not others.''
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Crisis Actors
Crowds On Demand
Thu, 10 May 2018 11:15
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Migrants
Supply issues at WF
Hire American? Without foreign workers, a Chesco garden business could wither - Philly
Mon, 07 May 2018 11:30
It should be the busiest time of the year at LeBeau Gardens, a full-service plant and home center in the heart of Chester County.
Instead, with too few workers to fully staff its lucrative landscaping operation, the Downingtown business could wither and die.
Why? Ask the Trump administration, says founder and owner Susan LeBoutillier.
She depends on a federal government program that allows her to legally hire seven documented seasonal workers from Mexico, men willing to dig, lift, carry and haul for the $14.40 an hour that no American would accept, she said. Now, as spring slips away, LeBoutillier's crew is stuck on the other side of the border, their passage mired in Homeland Security limbo.
She figures she already has lost $100,000 in landscaping sales during April.
''I'm sort of panicked,'' LeBoutillier said at her West Uwchlan Avenue store. ''For me, it's the difference between paying my mortgage and not paying the mortgage.''
In the past, her workers arrived by April 4. Last year, they came on April 15. Now she's hearing maybe early May '-- or maybe not at all.
It's the same for crab and oyster companies in Maryland, ranches in Utah, resorts in Colorado, and country clubs in New York '-- businesses that have low-skill job openings and depend on foreigners to fill them. President Trump's enterprises have used the program to hire seasonal workers, including for his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida.
Today, the H-2B visa program has become a battleground in the larger war over immigration, a proxy in the debate over who should be permitted to enter, live and work in the United States. And many small businesses are caught in the middle.
Almost half of seasonal employees work as landscapers and groundskeepers at garden centers and golf courses, while others labor as maids, meat cutters, cooks, waiters, and construction laborers. About 70 percent come from Mexico.
These non-agricultural workers are allowed to enter the U.S. for temporary work under the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. Congress capped the H-2B program at 66,000 workers '-- 33,000 who start their jobs in the first half of the fiscal year (Oct. 1 to March 31) and 33,000 in the second half (April 1 to Sept. 30).
Texas hires the most, about 17,100 workers, almost 15 percent of the national total. Pennsylvania ranks sixth, with 4,377 workers, or 3.7 percent. New Jersey doesn't crack the top 10.
Last year, the Departments of Homeland Security and Labor made what they called a one-time release of 15,000 additional visas. Last month, Congress' $1.3 trillion omnibus spending bill permitted Homeland Security to offer potentially thousands more, but so far, none of those have been issued.
Efforts to contact Homeland Security officials for comment were unsuccessful.
''Time is crucial,'' said Gray Delany, executive director of the Seasonal Employment Alliance, which promotes the guest-worker program. ''I'm getting calls daily from employers who say they're close to making decisions about whether to go out of business.''
The problem, he and others say, is that adding more foreign workers has angered some of Trump's staunch supporters, who demand he fulfill his ''America first'' campaign promises.
''Employers can't expect unending access to cheap foreign workers,'' said David Ray, communications director for FAIR, the conservative Federation for American Immigration Reform. ''There's an enormous supply of unemployed American workers.''
An estimated 2 million Americans age 25 and up, without high school diplomas, are unemployed and want to work, he said. But to hire them, he added, employers need to take steps they don't like, like paying higher wages and providing more generous benefits.
Of LeBoutillier's situation, Ray said, ''She needs to look a little harder, because the people are there. '... If you can find them in Mexico, you can find them in Pennsylvania.''
ED HILLE Susan LeBoutillier, owner of LeBeau Gardens, rearranges a display of perennials at her store.
The AFL-CIO doesn't like H-2B either, saying it turns permanent jobs into temporary labor. The Southern Poverty Law Center calls guest-worker programs ''close to slavery,'' because power rests with the employer.
The program requires employers to file registrations and assurances with the government before they are allowed to hire, while foreigners who want work must apply for permission to do so. Some workers can come back to the same jobs several years in a row.
LeBoutillier says she's heard the ''Hire American'' rhetoric.
But the law already requires her to show she made every effort to hire Americans before turning to temporary foreign laborers.
The irony, she said, is if LeBeau goes under, six American employees will go with it. More could be lost at her suppliers' businesses.
LeBoutillier would prefer to hire Americans, if only to save recruiting costs. Potential employers like her must spend at least $1,000 advertising their jobs in the U.S. And they must pay foreigners' application and transportation costs, generally at least $1,500 per worker.
She has hired foreign workers for the past four years. This year she twice advertised garden-laborer jobs for any American who had the minimum three-months experience.
Nine people applied.
Five showed up for interviews.
Three had no experience.
Two were hired. They lasted a couple of days, after experiencing the rugged demands of the job.
Where, she wondered, were the Americans supposedly desperate for work?
The pay is $14.40 an hour '-- roughly double the federal minimum wage, though only about half the average American hourly rate of $26.82.
LeBoutillier notes that while her business teeters, Trump companies have hired H-2B foreigners. Three of his firms posted 144 openings for seasonal jobs from 2016 to 2017, but only one went to an American, a Vox analysis found.
She doesn't need 143 workers. Just seven '-- in fact, five, because spring weeks have gone by.
LeBoutillier's store glitters with sparkling jewelry and tinkling wind chimes, with garden bells from India and jars of specialty honey from North Carolina. Outside sit lawn statues of praying cherubs and trumpeting elephants, arrayed before a small forest of plants and trees.
But 60 percent of her business is landscaping, the design and construction of unique layouts across Chester, Montgomery and Delaware counties. LeBoutillier '-- raised in the family that ran the defunct Waterloo Gardens on the Main Line '-- says if she can't meet demand, customers will simply go elsewhere.
''I would seriously consider getting out of this type of work if I don't get my guys,'' LeBoutillier said. ''All Homeland Security has to do is release the visas.''
Published: April 20, 2018 ƒ‚¬'' 3:01 AM EDT | Updated: April 20, 2018 ƒ‚¬'' 4:08 PM EDT
George Soros Funding Smartphone App to Help Illegal Immigrants Avoid Law Enforcement | Breitbart
Tue, 08 May 2018 11:32
File Photo: John Moore/Getty Images
by Nate Church 4 May 2018 0
4 May, 20184 May, 2018A George Soros-funded smartphone app is meant to explicitly help the undocumented evade federal authority.In an interview with Fox Business's Lou Dobbs, Judicial Watch Director of Research Chris Farrell called the smartphone application ''pretty outrageous.'' In order to escape arrest, Farrell said that the app ''provides notice to their friends and family, it alerts their attorney.'' The app will also have automated alerts of any impending interaction with an immigration official, whether with the person in question, their family, or even their lawyer.
According to its website, it ''gives you and your family a help button to alert key contacts if anyone is at risk of deportation.'' Prospective users are told to ''simply create your messages today and you will be ready to press a button for help when you or your family needs it. Alerts are designed to inform family members, legal advocates, and other contacts that the sender may have been detained by the police or Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).''
As Breitbart reported in 2017, ''Notifica'' is being developed by United We Dream, a team reportedly founded by an organization that receives taxpayer funding. Farrell questioned why such an app is even permitted to exist. On Fox, he wondered aloud why President Donald Trump's Justice Department has not been more proactive about the potential abuse. ''Here's a prime example of somebody abusing the system and taking taxpayers' dollars, and they choose not to [investigate],'' he said. ''Why?''
Mid Terms
Dems looking for combos
Hello Adam,
Listener, donor, and subscriber here. Thought you might find
this interesting, or smirk-worthy.
I don’t know if you get this mailing already, but it looks
like the Dems are floating a public list of names for possible candidates. A
lot of them can be eliminated right off the hop, but a couple look promising:
The Winfrey/Warren ticket – women all the way
Biden/Cuomo – a VP and a Governor
Warren/Gillibrand – women again, with Warren topping
the ticket. It has a ring to it.
And for the least promising possibilities:
Biden/Warren – Not gonna happen, Warren wouldn’t want
to play second fiddle to a MAN.
Klobuchar/Hickenlooper – Stop laughing, take us
seriously, please!
Booker/Castro – Who dey? Might score a few points for
marketability of the names, if not the people.
Booker/Patrick – The black prez thing has already been
done, and it’s dangerous to go “too” black.
I’m sure there are other angles I haven’t considered, but
NOTABLY absent from this list: Hillary (Rodham) Clinton. And what a SLAP in the
face it is that Bernie made the list, but She did not.
Anyway, the show continues to be great, and I continue to be
happy with the value for value as a subscriber. Thanks for keeping it going all
these years.
Best regards,
Rory
Tesla
U.S. Safety Investigators Examine Another Fatal Tesla Crash - WSJ
Thu, 10 May 2018 11:27
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla.'--A U.S. transportation-safety agency said it would begin examining the fiery crash of a Tesla Inc. Model S car that killed two teenagers here Tuesday evening, marking the fourth active federal probe involving the company's vehicles.
The National Transportation Safety Board said Wednesday it is initially focusing its latest investigation on the emergency response to the fire created by the electric car's lithium-ion battery. The agency added that at this time it doesn't anticipate Tesla's driver-assistance system Autopilot being part of the investigation.
The driver and front-seat passenger of the 2014 Model S sedan were killed after the car veered off the roadway and into a concrete wall, bursting into flames, local police said. A third passenger was ejected from the car and taken to the hospital.
Tesla said it is working with local authorities. It noted that high-speed collisions can result in fire ''regardless of the type of car.''
''We have not yet been able to retrieve the logs from the vehicle, but everything we have seen thus far indicates a very high-speed collision and that Autopilot was not engaged,'' a Tesla spokesman said in a statement.
The NTSB, which has no regulatory mandate but has influence over transportation safety, is investigating three other traffic incidents involving Tesla vehicles, including a fatal crash on March 23 that fueled questions about the safety of Autopilot.
In that crash, which occurred south of San Francisco, a Model X sport-utility vehicle collided with a highway barrier and caught fire after hitting two other vehicles. The NTSB initially said it was reviewing the postcrash fire and steps to remove the vehicle safely from the scene.
Tesla later said that the vehicle's Autopilot was engaged leading up to the crash and that the driver's hands weren't detected on the steering wheel for six seconds prior to the collision. Tesla and the NTSB waded into a public feud over the disclosure of that information.
Tesla has been aggressive in deploying the driver-assistance system, citing safety improvements while also cautioning that it doesn't turn the car into a self-driving car and the user must remain alert. Experts, however, say that drivers have a hard time remaining engaged in driving as automation in a vehicle increases.
The NTSB is also investigating a battery fire linked to a Model X that barreled into a home's garage in Lake Forest, Calif., in August 2017, and the crash of a Model S into the back of a firetruck near Culver City, Calif., in January. The local fire department has said the driver in the January crash claimed Autopilot was engaged at the time of the incident.
In the latest crash, which occurred at about 6:46 p.m. Tuesday on Seabreeze Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale, the vehicle's speed ''is believed to have been a factor in the traffic crash,'' according to a statement released by the local police.
Larry Groshart, who lives across the street from the site where the crash occurred, said he witnessed the accident from his driveway. That stretch of Seabreeze Boulevard'--a main thoroughfare also known as Highway A1A'--is known locally as ''dead man's curve,'' he said.
Heading south, as the Tesla was, drivers can see a yellow warning light flashes atop a 25 mile-an-hour speed-limit sign before the road bends markedly to the left. The car crashed along that curve, police said.
Mr. Groshart said the Tesla appeared to be driving much faster than 25 mph. He heard tires screech and saw the vehicle sideswipe a concrete wall in front of a home. He said it then collided against another concrete wall roughly 10 feet ahead and burst into flames, leaving a large vertical gash along that wall.
''Think of the amount of energy it took to break off that wall,'' he said.
Mr. Groshart, who didn't realize at the time that the vehicle was a Tesla, said that the flames didn't appear to be from gas and that there was no smoke.
Write to Arian Campo-Flores at arian.campo-flores@wsj.com and Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com
Uber
Uber flying car prototype
Thu, 10 May 2018 14:40
Uber has unveiled its "flying car" concept aircraft at its second annual Uber Elevate Summit, which showcases prototypes for its fleet of airborne taxis.
The flying cars, which the company hopes to introduce to riders in two to five years, will conduct vertical takeoffs and landings from skyports, air stations on rooftops or the ground. Ultimately, company officials say these skyports will be equipped to handle 200 takeoffs and landings an hour, or one every 24 seconds. At first, the flying cars will be piloted, but the company aims for the aircraft to fly autonomously.
The prototypes look more like drones than helicopters, with four rotors on wings. Company officials say that will make them safer than choppers, which operate on one rotor. They'll fly 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground and will be quieter than a helicopter, producing half the noise of a truck driving past a house.
Uber, which is partnering with NASA on developing the new UberAIR service, faces competition in the skies. Kitty Hawk, an autonomous flying taxi company backed by Alphabet's Larry Page, unveiled its latest commercial plane called Cora in March. The company is working with the government of New Zealand to commercialize its air taxis. Another competitor, Airbus, performed the first successful flight of its autonomous flying car in February.
Uber says passengers will initially pay the same as an Uber Black over the same distance, but once the service has enough passengers, the cost will decrease to Uber X rates for the same trip. The company plans to roll out UberAIR in Dallas-Fort Worth and Los Angeles in 2023, with testing in those cities beginning in 2020.
Dara Khosrowshahi - Wikipedia
Wed, 09 May 2018 23:27
Early life and education Edit Khosrowshahi was born in 1969 in Iran into a wealthy Muslim family and grew up in a mansion on the family compound.[4][5] He is the youngest of the 3 children of Lili and Asghar (Gary) Khosrowshahi.[4][6]
His family founded the Alborz Investment Company, a diversified conglomerate involved in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food, distribution, packaging, trading, and services.[citation needed ] In 1978, just before the Iranian Revolution, his family was targeted for its wealth and his mother decided to leave everything behind and flee the country. Their company was later nationalized.[7] His family first fled to southern France[4] and then immigrated to the United States, moving in with one of his uncles who lived in Tarrytown, New York.[6][5] In 1982, when Khosrowshahi was 13 years old, his father went to Iran to care for his grandfather. His father was not allowed to leave Iran for 6 years and therefore Khosrowshahi spent his teenage years without seeing his father.[7][5] In 1987, he graduated from the Hackley School, a private university-preparatory school in Tarrytown.[8] In 1991, he graduated with a B.A. in electrical engineering from Brown University, where he was a member of the social fraternity Sigma Chi.[9][10]
Career Edit In 1991, Khosrowshahi joined Allen & Company, an investment bank, as an analyst.[5] In 1998, he left Allen & Company to work for one of his former clients at the bank, Barry Diller, first at Diller's USA Networks, where he held the positions of senior vice president for strategic planning and then president, and later as chief financial officer of IAC, another company controlled by Diller.[5]
In 2001, IAC purchased Expedia, and in August 2005, Khosrowshahi became CEO of Expedia.[5] Ten years later, in 2015, Expedia gave him $90 million in stock options as part of a long-term employment agreement, conditioned on him staying with the company until 2020.[11]
In 2016, he was one of the highest paid CEOs in the United States.[12] During his tenure as CEO of Expedia, "the gross value of its hotel and other travel bookings more than quadrupled and its pre-tax earnings more than doubled."[12] Under Khosrowshahi, Expedia extended its presence to more than 60 countries and acquired Travelocity, Orbitz, and HomeAway.[13]
In August 2017, Khosrowshahi became the CEO of Uber, succeeding founder Travis Kalanick.[14] He forfeited his un-vested stock options of Expedia, then worth $184 million, but Uber reportedly paid him over $200 million to take the CEO position.[15] He also serves on Uber's board of directors.[16]
In June 2013, he received a Pacific Northwest Entrepreneur of the Year award from Ernst & Young.[17]
Political activity Edit As someone who emigrated from Iran and achieved the American Dream, Khosrowshahi is an outspoken critic of the immigration policy of Donald Trump.[12][5] In 2016, he donated to the Hillary Victory Fund, Washington Democratic Senator Patty Murray, and the Democratic National Committee but also donated to Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, a supporter of Libertarianism.[18]
Personal life Edit Khosrowshahi has two children from his first marriage: a son, Alex and a daughter, Chloe.[4] On December 12, 2012, Khosrowshahi married Sydney Shapiro, a former preschool teacher and actress.[5][4] He praised his wife for wearing a Slayer t-shirt to the wedding, which was held in Las Vegas.[5] The couple has twin sons, Hayes Epic and Hugo Gubrit.[4]
His uncle, Hassan Khosrowshahi, also fled Iran due to the Iranian Revolution and is now a billionaire.[7] His cousin Amir founded Nervana Systems, which was acquired by Intel in 2016 for $408 million.[19] He is also related to Darian Shirazi, the founder of Radius and the first intern hired by Facebook.[19]
See also Edit References Edit ^ Ranj, Brandt (May 25, 2016). "The 10 highest-paid tech CEOs". Business Insider. ^ Griffiths, Josie (3 October 2017). "Who is Dara Khosrowshahi?". The Sun. ^ "Prominent Iranian-Americans". Embassy of the United States, Tehran. ^ a b c d e f Stewart, Ashley (27 August 2017). "Evolution of a dealmaker: Expedia CEO Dara Khosrowshahi is PSBJ's Executive of the Year". Puget Sound Business Journal. American City Business Journals . Retrieved 2018-04-02 . ^ a b c d e f g h i Zetlin, Minda (August 28, 2017). "Expedia Chief Dara Khosrowshahi Will Be Uber's Next CEO. Here's What We Know About Him". Inc. ^ a b Streitfeld, David; Bowles, Nellie (28 August 2017). "Uber's C.E.O. Pick, Dara Khosrowshahi, Steps Into Brighter Spotlight". The New York Times. (subscription required) ^ a b c Bort, Julie (August 28, 2017). "The amazing life of Uber's new CEO Dara Khosrowshahi '-- from refugee to tech superstar". Business Insider. ^ "How Did I Get Here?". Bloomberg L.P. ^ "Spinoff of Expedia Comes at Tough Time for Its Sector". The New York Times. August 8, 2005. ^ "Dara Khosrowshahi: Executive Profile & Biography". Bloomberg L.P. ^ SHEN, LUCINDA (May 25, 2016). "Here's One CEO Who Probably Justified His $94 Million Payday". Fortune. ^ a b c "Uber picks Dara Khosrowshahi as its new boss". The Economist. 29 August 2017. ^ McGregor, Jena; Shaban, Hamza (August 28, 2017). "6 things to know about Uber's CEO pick Dara Khosrowshahi". The Washington Post. ^ Choudhury, Saheli Roy (August 29, 2017). "Uber officially announces Dara Khosrowshahi will be its new CEO". CNBC. ^ Melin, Anders (August 29, 2017). "Uber's New CEO May Get at Least $200 Million to Exit Expedia". Bloomberg L.P. ^ "Board of Directors". Uber . Retrieved 9 April 2018 . ^ MAY, PATRICK (August 28, 2017). "New Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi: What you need to know". The Mercury News. ^ "Individual contributions". Federal Election Commission. ^ a b Hackett, Robert (November 17, 2017). "Uber's CEO Comes From What May Be the World's Most Techie Family". Fortune.
Uber calls lenders for $1.25 billion in Wall Street shortcut | Crain's New York Business
Wed, 09 May 2018 23:07
Inside the St. Regis Hotel on Friday, debt investors were given what's becoming a familiar pitch: A high-flying tech company with a charismatic leader but no real cash flow was asking them to lend it money.
This time it was Uber Technologies Inc., the ride-hailing company that's reshaped the taxi business around the globe. The company is seeking a $1.25 billion loan and its new Chief Executive Dara Khosrowshahi was there flanked by other senior management to pitch investors both the deal and the Uber dream.
And given Uber's cash burn and annual loss, investors were asked to assess the company by other metrics: Uber's management touted its $10 billion liquidity position, as well as its $5.7 billion of pro-forma cash. Equity investors have valued the company at $54 billion in the latest funding round from a SoftBank Group Corp.''led investor group. That makes Uber the biggest venture-backed technology enterprise without a stock listing.
article continues below advertisementScheduled to attend the meeting on the 20th floor of the prestigious hotel overlooking Fifth Avenue were financiers from all over Wall Street, from Apollo Global Management to Bain Capital to BlackRock Group. Also among the group were Silvermine Capital Management and Golub Capital.
Uber was looking to borrow directly from investors, bypassing the traditional route of using banks to fan the loan among other lenders. That's a first in recent loan-market history and a departure from the way borrowers typically work with banks who leverage relationships with institutional investors. Morgan Stanley, which led the group that made Uber's first syndicated loan in 2016, is just serving as an adviser on this sale.
Investors have been willing in the past to put aside the financial benchmarks they normally live by and put up their money. Take Tesla Inc., whose CEO, Elon Musk, helped the electric-car maker sell $1.8 billion of bonds in an oversubscribed deal. Netflix Inc., which, like Tesla, is burning through cash after accounting for necessary capital expenditure, sold debt in October. Helping all three is a wide-open credit market where investors are hungry for yield after years of depressed interest rates.
Upon arrival on Friday, each investor was given a numbered presentation and instructions to return the material at the end. The pitch, somewhat light on financial details, was steered by a more casually dressed Khosrowshahi, who said Uber was improving its governance ahead of the IPO planned for the second half of next year. He also said the company was making efforts to repair the brand, after the company has earned a reputation as a morass of malfeasance thanks to everything from lawsuits to sexual-harassment allegations and criminal investigations.
In a second call, Uber went into more detail on the company's finances.
A representative for Uber declined to comment beyond the San Francisco''based company's earlier confirmation of the loan. A representative for Morgan Stanley declined to comment.
What makes Uber atypical for a leveraged loan borrower is its lack of earnings. Of particular importance to investors is a measure of debt relative to earnings used to gauge the riskiness of the loan. With its fast cash burn, Uber generated negative adjusted pro-forma earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization, or Ebitda, to the tune of negative $2.2 billion last year, according to documents seen by Bloomberg News. That makes a leverage ratio basically meaningless.
Scouts
Mormon Church breaks all ties with Boy Scouts, ending 100-year relationship - The Washington Post
Wed, 09 May 2018 10:49
Andrew Garrison, 11, of Salt Lake City, visits the Mormon Church History Museum in Salt Lake City, in 2013. (Rick Bowmer/AP)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints said Tuesday it will sever all ties with the Boy Scouts of America, ending a century-old tradition deeply ingrained in the religious life of Mormon boys.
The Mormon Church, as it is more commonly known, said in its announcement that it has ''increasingly felt the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally.'' The two organizations ''jointly determined'' that as of December 31, 2019, the Church will no longer be a chartered partner of the Scouts, it said in a joint statement with the Boy Scouts.
The change will affect hundreds of thousands of Mormon boys in 30,500 congregations worldwide.
For 105 years, the relationship between the Boy Scouts and the Mormon Church has been important to both groups. Any boy who is part of a Mormon congregation automatically becomes part of the Boy Scouts. The Mormon Church has been the largest participant of the Boy Scouts in the United States, making up nearly 20 percent of all of the Boy Scouts' 2.3 million youth members.
Church officials did not cite specific Scouts policy changes that spurred the split, but the two groups have increasingly clashed over values in recent years, particularly following the Boy Scouts' move to include openly gay troop leaders. The announcement also came less than a week after the Boy Scouts announced it would be changing its flagship name to Scouts BSA, promoting its decision last year to welcome girls into the program for the first time.
[Kansas City Archdiocese boots Girl Scouts, calls group reflective of 'troubling trends']
While the Mormon Church did not publicly object when the Boy Scouts began admitting gay Scouts in 2013 and transgender Scouts last year, it said it was ''deeply troubled'' by the Boy Scouts' decision to lift the ban on openly gay adult leaders in 2015. Mormon Church leaders considered parting ways with the organization. But the Scouts later said that while it would ban discrimination in hiring employees, it would leave it up to individual troops and councils to choose leaders who reflect their own values. Mormon Church officials decided to maintain ties to the group, though the relationship was not long-lived.
The church began scaling back its participation with the Scouts last year, when it announced it would be cutting ties with teen programs for high-school-age Scouts, while continuing to enroll 8 to 13-year-old boys in the Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. The church said the teen programs had been ''historically difficult to implement within the Church,'' and instead chose to create its own youth programs for teenage boys.
Effie Delimarkos, a spokeswoman for Boy Scouts of America, told The Washington Post last year that the move was tied to the church's desire for a youth program that focused more on preparing teenage Mormon boys to go on church missions. ''We're sad to see that decision, but we understand,'' Delimarkos said. ''We're just not kind of aligning with what the church needs men to focus on.''
The Mormon Church opposes same-sex marriage, teaches that homosexuality is a sin, and only allows gay men to hold church leadership roles if they do not openly act on their attraction to the same sex.
[Why Mormons are so devastated by the Boy Scout vote on gay leaders]
The Mormon Church's press office said officials had been conducting an ''extensive review'' of existing youth programs, and addressing the church's need to ''fortify all children and youth with gospel-centered growth and learning experiences.''
A new youth program, set to be launched January 2020, will be ''designed to support families as they seek to develop faith in Jesus Christ and build character and capacity,'' the church officials wrote in a statement.
''This approach is intended to help children and youth discover their eternal identity, build character and resilience, develop life skills, participate in outdoor activities and service opportunities, and strengthen their ability to fulfill their divine roles as daughters and sons of God,'' the church wrote.
Church officials attributed its changing needs to its increasingly global membership '-- more than half of the church's 16 million members live outside the U.S. and Canada.
The church plans to remain a partner of the Boy Scouts for boys ages 8 to 13 until the end of next year, when the transition to the new youth program will be finalized.
While about 70 percent of chartered Boy Scout troops are sponsored by faith-based organizations, Mormon boys will still be able to join Boy Scout troops independent of their churches. In a statement Tuesday, the Boy Scouts' Great Salt Lake Council said it planned to continue working with community partners and organizations to provide options for any youth who still hope to be Scouts after the partnership ends.
''It'll be a blow,'' said Mark Griffin, president of the Great Salt Lake Council, told the Deseret News. ''We can't say that it was a total surprise.'' He said he knew the church was working on a global initiative ''based on the need to do the same program in Paris, France, as they have in Paris, Texas.''
Reactions to the news were mixed from Mormons who grew up scouting, working their way toward becoming Eagle Scouts. Some expressed disappointment, recounting the positive and challenging experiences the Boy Scouts provided them in their youth. Others welcomed the news, criticizing the bureaucracy and costs of the Scouts and voicing a need to create a new, flexible program to meet the needs of the church.
''While some people are without question shocked, this move does not surprise me the least,'' David Moore, a Mormon resident of Salt Lake City, wrote on Facebook. ''The cost to individual church units '... has simply become unsustainable over the past 2 decades.''
More from Morning Mix:
Mitch McConnell campaign taunts Blankenship '-- with a little help from Netflix's 'Narcos.'
While apparently jumping on her bed, a 6-year-old girl falls out of a window and dies, authorities say
Problems started with religious recruiting
Hello,
Happy listener here, and a Eagle Scout from 1996. I agree
with many of the comments that you read in the last show, and find the recent
events quite funny. The changes within the BSA have been slow progression
over the last 20-30 years to the point at where it is today.
Originally the Boy Scouts was association created by
Baden-Powell to help encourage the lessons of skills and service to a
community. His wife Olave is also credited to starting the Girl Scouts.
I believe most of the recent changes all sparked in the 80's and
90's when many of the Boy Scout troops started to sponsored by churches.
For some the church was just a public meeting hall where the troop could hold
its activities, but for some it was just another recruiting tool for bringing
people into ones religion. I was lucky enough to be a part of a troop that
had its meetings held at a church, but then had no influence of any religious
agenda onto any of the scouts in that troop. However I was aware of other
troops in my council that would not let you into their troop unless they
families were also a member of their church. This was more than often
found in the Mormon churches where they pushed all the boys to be a part of the
Boy Scouts.
It got to the point where many of the annual camporees (spring
meetup competition), summer camps, and camporalls (fall competitions) had their
schedules modified so that no little to no activities occurred on Sundays,
since this was considered the day of rest.
Fast forward a couple years and you saw some troops and councils
started to kick out boys which we atheist, wiccan, or just plain non-believers.
Shortly afterwards started the whole LGBTQ movement, and with
the strong church influence many of these weren't accepted either.
These movements started the spark of many member banding
together to return scouting back to its roots where you race, gender, or
religion didn't matter. One of the biggest movements was the start of the
BPSA (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baden-Powell_Service_Association_(United_States)),
but with it came the label of them being the crazy wackos push a atheist agenda
from the ignorants. I recommend looking at this tread:
http://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/xhaii/im_a_former_eagle_scout_now_head_of_the_bpsa_a/
It was also about this time that many of the big sponsors
started to pull out funding for the Boy Scouts since they were now not being
accepting to all types. This is what then the BSA did a reverse course
and started to allow the LGBTQ back in... and also when the Mormon groups
threaten to fork or and do their own scouting thing.
I share the sentiment with the fellow listener in that the
recent inclusion of now allowing girls into the scouting is a direct response
to church groups splitting off....something had to be done to stop the decrease
in the numbers.
I also agree that the Girl Scouts are kind of being hit
blindsided with the events...but also it should have been something the saw
coming. The boy scouts have been allowing teenage girIs into their high
adventure and explorer troops for decades now. I also agree with the
sentiment that they are just a pyramid scheme for selling cookies, and do
little to preparing girls for anything other than white collar jobs.
One other comment of note...the Boy Scouts is really more of a
corporation then a organization. They hold many trademarks for words and
phrases (https://web.archive.org/web/20090909205420/http://www.scouting.org/sitecore/content/Licensing/Protecting%20the%20Brand/Boy%20Scouts%20of%20America%20Trademark%20Listing.aspx),
and are quick sue anyone which thinks about using the "Scouting"
term. The BPSA ran into this when they first formed in America as branch
of the already existing foreign scouts (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baden-Powell_Scouts%27_Association)...and
they didn't have the legal funds to fight it, so instead the changed their name
to be a "Service Association" following the Baden-Powell principals.
Here are some more great articles and discussions about these
events:
https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/the-fight-for-equality-in-the-boy-scouts-is-an-old-one-andmdash-as-shown-through-the-film-scouts-honor/Content?oid=2625063
https://arstechnica.com/civis/viewtopic.php?f=24&t=1190784
http://groundedparents.com/2014/01/10/ethical-and-inclusive-scouting/
https://www.good.is/articles/people-are-awesome-this-dad-brought-back-traditional-boy-scout-values-plus-lgbt-and-gender-equality
https://makezine.com/2013/08/22/boy-scouts-do-your-best/
Craig
Boy Scouts Lose 425,000 Boys 1 Week After Announcing Name Change
Thu, 10 May 2018 10:36
The Scouts should have been prepared for this.
One week after the century-old Boy Scouts of America announced it was changing its name and its mission to accept girls at all levels of scouting, its single biggest participant announced Tuesday that it was cutting ties to the Scouts.
And taking one-fifth of the Scouts membership with it.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, usually known as the Mormons, announced Tuesday that it was severing its relationship with the Scouts effective Dec. 31, 2019, according to the Salt Lake Tribune.
In a statement issued jointly by the church and the Scouts, the church explained the move by noting that its membership was more global now than ever, and required a global approach.
''In this century of shared experience, the church has grown from a U.S.-centered institution to a worldwide organization, with a majority of its membership living outside the United States,'' the joint statement said.
''That trend is accelerating. The church has increasingly felt the need to create and implement a uniform youth leadership and development program that serves its members globally. In so doing it will be necessary for the church to discontinue its role as a chartered partner with BSA.''
As far as minimizing the Scouts' embarrassment, that's not a bad spin '-- no policy changes are cited. It's explained as a natural part of the church's evolution.
Would you pull your boys out of the Scouts?But there's no doubt that the Scouts' increasing willingness to give in to liberal pressure on key points had a lot to do with the Mormons' discontent.
As noted by the Deseret News '-- a Salt Lake City newspaper owned by a subsidiary of a holding company owned by the church '-- the ''signs of strain of strain began to emerge years ago.''
It was five years ago that the Scouts voted to admit openly gay boys into the organization. The Mormon church said it had always allowed gays to join but the tension was building.
Three years ago, when the Scouts decided to admit gay Scoutmasters, the church said it would stay with the Scouts after the organization recognized ''the right of all religious chartered organizations to select their Scout leaders in accordance with their religious beliefs,'' the Deseret News reported.
In May of last year, the church decided to drop Scouting from church programs for boys aged 14-17, according to the Deseret News. That coincided with the Scouts' decision to accept ''transgender'' boys '-- i.e. girls pretending to be boys '-- into the organization.
RELATED: James Woods Has the Perfect Question for Boy/Girl Scout Debacle
Now, six days after the Boy Scouts of America announced an epochal change in the group's mission '-- complete with changing its name by 2019 to the bloodless, corporate Scouts BSA, the church has announced an end to all ties between the organizations.
From the outside, it looked inevitable.
The Scouts have apparently decided the group's future consists of a never-ending progression of appeasement to the forces of political correctness, a cycle that's ultimately hollowing out an organization that used to be revered for its influence on American youths.
The Mormon Church can see where that's going '-- just like any sensible person can. Its decision to end the 105-year partnership between the organizations means 425,000 boys will leave an organization of 2.3 million within the next two years.
That's almost one out of every five, and it's going to hurt badly. But it only came after a series of decisions made by the Scouts themselves.
One Scout leader in Utah told the Deseret News that the news of the announcent didn't come out of the blue, but it wasn't expected now.
''It'll be a blow,'' said Mark Griffin, president of the BSA's Great Salt Lake Council. ''We can't say that it was a total surprise. Maybe the timing is a surprise, but we knew the church was working on a program for a worldwide church but that any changes would be based on the need to do the same program in Paris, France, as they have in Paris, Texas.''
And a program that won't be vulnerable to regular attacks from the American left.
They should have been prepared.
What do you think? Scroll down to comment below!
Tourettes - Cursive
Nutrients | Free Full-Text | Efficacy of a Gluten-Free Diet in the Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome: A Pilot Study | HTML
Wed, 09 May 2018 20:11
'–º '–¼ Article Menu Create a SciFeed alert for new publications — /ajax/scifeed/subscribe Open Access This article is freely available re-usable Article
Efficacy of a Gluten-Free Diet in the Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome: A Pilot Study
Luis Rodrigo
1 ,* , Nuria lvarez
1, Enrique Fernndez-Bustillo
2, Javier Salas-Puig
3, Marcos Huerta
4 and Carlos Hernndez-Lahoz
5 1
Gastroenterology Unit, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (HUCA), Avda. de Roma s/n, 33011 Oviedo, Spain
2
Technical Department, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (HUCA), Avda. de Roma s/n, 33011 Oviedo, Spain
3
Neurology Service, Hospital del Valle de Hebr"n, Paseo del Valle de Hebr"n 119, 08035 Barcelona, Spain
4
Psychiatry Service, Mental Health Center, Pedro Pablo 42, 33209 Gij"n, Spain
5
Neurology Service, Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (HUCA), Avda. de Roma s/n, 33011 Oviedo, Spain
Received: 27 March 2018 / Accepted: 4 May 2018 / Published: 7 May 2018
Abstract:The Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) and Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity (NCGS) may be associated. We analyse the efficacy of a gluten-free diet (GFD) in 29 patients with GTS (23 children; six adults) in a prospective pilot study. All of them followed a GFD for one year. The Yale Global Tics Severity Scale (YGTSS), the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale'--Self Report (Y-BOCS) or the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale'--Self Report (CY-BOCS), and the Cavanna's Quality of Life Questionnaire applied to GTS (GTS-QOL) were compared before and after the GFD; 74% of children and 50% of adults were males, not significant (NS). At the beginning of the study, 69% of children and 100% of adults had associated obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) (NS). At baseline, the YGTSS scores were 55.0 ± 17.5 (children) and 55.8 ± 19.8 (adults) (NS), the Y-BOCS/CY-BOCS scores were 15.3, (standard deviation (SD) = 12.3) (children) and 26.8 (9.2) (adults) ( p = 0.043), and the GTS-QOL scores were 42.8 ± 18.5 (children) and 64 ± 7.9 (adults) ( p = 0.000). NCGS was frequent in both groups, with headaches reported by 47.0% of children and 83.6% of adults ( p = 0.001). After one year on a GFD there was a marked reduction in measures of tics (YGTSS) ( p = 0.001), and the intensity and frequency of OCD (Y-BOCS/CY-BOCS) ( p = 0.001), along with improved generic quality of life ( p = 0.001) in children and adults. In conclusion, a GFD maintained for one year in GTS patients led to a marked reduction in tics and OCD both in children and adults.
Keywords:
Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS); children and adults; motor and vocal/phonic tics; obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD); non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS); gluten-free diet; one-year adherence
1. IntroductionThe Gilles de la Tourette syndrome (GTS) is a chronic neuropsychiatric process of unknown cause. It is characterised by the presence of multiple motor tics and at least one vocal or phonic tic. Both types of tic are usually intermittent, although not necessarily concurrently. They are of variable frequency, with periods of intensification and remission, persisting for more than a year, from the appearance of the first tic [
1].
This disorder begins in childhood or adolescence before the age of 18 years [
1]. Tic severity worsens throughout childhood and for most patients, the worst ever period of tics occurs between 8 and 12 years of age [
2,
3]. Although up to 80% of patients with GTS have a significant tic decrease during adolescence, and by age 18 years tic intensity and frequency have decreased to such an extent that the person no longer experiences any impairment from their tics, objective ratings indicate that up to 90% of adults continue to exhibit mild tics, although they may occasionally pass unnoticed [
3,
4]. Its prevalence in school-age children worldwide is around 1%, with a clear predominance in males compared with females on average (3:1). The GTS may be associated with other comorbidities in up to 90% of cases, including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and those related with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) [
5]. When comorbid OCD debuts during childhood, it tends to remit in adulthood in only about 40% of cases. It also can develop during adolescence or early adulthood [
3,
6].
Non-coeliac gluten sensitivity (NCGS) was first described in 1980 [
7], but it was classified as part of the spectrum of gluten-related disorders, which also includes coeliac disease (CD) and wheat allergy (WA), until being recognised as a separate clinical entity in 2010. The NCGS is the most frequent of these and is estimated to occur at a prevalence as high as 13% in the general population [
8,
9].
The clinical presentations of NCGS are varied and overlap with those of CD. It is diagnosed through the prior exclusion of CD, because the serological and histological markers of gluten are usually negative and show a positive response to the withdrawal of gluten from the diet [
10,
11]. The extra-intestinal symptoms may be the only manifestations of the NCGS, affecting the skin and the musculoskeletal and nervous systems in general [
12]. All the associated symptoms improve notably, even disappearing with prolonged adherence to a gluten-free diet (GFD), in a similar manner to what occurs in coeliac patients [
13].
The spectrum of neurological processes associated with gluten has progressively broadened in recent years [
14,
15,
16]. We might expect that the neurological symptoms in certain patients with GTS would maintain a certain relation with the presence of a previously unknown associated NCGS. For this reason, the GFD could have a beneficial effect on their general symptomatology, including neurological symptoms. At present, there is little evidence of its utility in these patients and only isolated cases have provided evidence of the efficacy of a GFD, showing that it could be beneficial [
17,
18,
19], as has been reported in patients with autism; in these cases, milk casein was also eliminated from the diet of many of them [
20]. Its long-term efficacy has been described in one isolated case of GTS treated with GFD for 3 years, whose neurological and general symptomatology completely recovered. Currently, no controlled studies are available of series of patients. A recent systematic review of the literature on the influence of different dietary interventions in patients with GTS found nine articles and one book chapter, none of which included isolated comparative or inter-group studies [
21].
The aim of the current study was to analyse and evaluate the efficacy of the GFD, followed for a year by a series of child and adult patients with GTS. The evolution of the neurological and other symptoms associated with NCGS, and the changes observed in their quality of life were evaluated, enabling the comparison of existing clinical aspects before starting the GFD and after 1 year of adherence to it.
2. Materials and MethodsWe carried out a prospective pilot study at the national level in Spain of patients diagnosed with GTS to evaluate the efficacy of following a GFD in children and adults. Participants were recruited as voluntary in the study through the online invitation from the National Forum for Tourette's Syndrome. Adults or children's parents gave their written informed consent before they participated in the study. Children are considered to be those younger than 14 years before inclusion in the study. A fundamental inclusion criterion for all patients was that they exhibited motor tics and at least one vocal/phonic tic that had lasted for more than one year.
Thirty-four consecutive patients with GTS began the study, comprising 26 children and eight adults diagnosed, evaluated and followed up various specialists (paediatricians, neurologists, general practitioners, psychiatrists and psychologists). Five patients (three children and two adults) were withdrawn, three due to prolonged interruptions of the diet (one child and two adults) and two children due to voluntary abandonment of the diet. The final sample therefore comprised 29 patients (23 children and six adults).
The children's parents and the adults voluntarily agreed to take part in the study, having been provided with detailed information about the characteristics of the GFD and control criteria. The study was carried out in accordance with Good Clinical Practice, in accordance with the Personal Data Protection and Confidentiality Law, thereby maintaining the anonymity of patients at all times. This study received the ethical approval for the Committee of the Hospital Universitario Central de Asturias (HUCA) with the ethical code number 6265481/16.
Patients were recommended to follow a strict and permanent GFD, as was explained in detail to the parents and adults, and to avoid all types of contamination, for a minimum period of adherence of one year. The observed differences in clinical evolution were compared, and the findings and data collected during the period before starting the GFD and at the end of the year adhering to the diet.
Upon joining the study, patients were asked to undergo a wide range of blood tests, including a complete blood count, general biochemistry, levels of serum anti-tissue transglutaminase antibodies (TGt), the CD genetic markers Human Leukocyte Antigen-DQ2 and Human Leukocyte Antigen-DQ8 (HLA-DQ2 and HLA-DQ8), and serum levels of thyroid hormone and of 25(OH)-Vit. D.
Four questionnaires were administered upon commencement and after 1 year on the GFD. Two of these covered different aspects of GTS, with respect to tics and to OCD. The other two addressed quality of life: a generic one and another one specific to GTS. All the questionnaires were supervised by the parents of the children or filled in by the adults themselves. Information was collected about the principal symptoms related to the patients' neurological characteristics and the signs and symptoms associated with the presence of NCGS.
Our team reviewed all the questionnaires received to ensure that they were complete and contained no contradictory responses. Contact by regular e-mails, telephone calls and/or face-to-face meetings was maintained throughout the study with the parents of the children and with the adults themselves to resolve queries and check the data.
2.1. Questionnaires Used in the Study 2.1.1. Questionnaire to Assess the Severity of Tics Using the Yale Global Tics Severity Scale (YGTSS)The YGTSS is a widely used instrument for evaluating the intensity and clinical severity of tics in patients with GTS. A variety of tics are enumerated and scored to derive three subscales: motor tics, vocal/phonic tics, and the impairment caused by the tics. For each tics scale, the mean number, total frequency, intensity, complexity and interference are scored between 0 (no affectation) and 5 (maximum affectation). The highest possible overall score for motor tics is 25 and for phonic tics is 25. The score for the impairment arising varies between 0 (none) and 50 (maximum). The total score for the YGTSS is obtained by summing the results obtained from the three subscales and has a maximum value of 100. We used the validated Spanish version of the YGTSS [
22,
23].
2.1.2. Questionnaires for Evaluating OCD Using the Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale'--Self Report (Y-BOCS) and the Children's Yale-Brown Obsessive-Compulsive Scale'--Self Report (CY-BOCS)The Y-BOCS and the CY-BOCS are used to evaluate obsessions and compulsions in children and adults, respectively. They comprise ten items, scored from 0 (no symptoms) to 4 (severe symptoms), to evaluate three components: (a) Obsessions: obtained as the sum of the first five items: Time occupied by the main obsession, its interference in daily life, the distress caused, the resistance against them, and the control over them; (b) Compulsions: comprising the latter five items, which likewise evaluate the time, interference, distress, resistance and control of the principal compulsion presented by the individual; (c) Overall evaluation of obsessions and compulsions: obtained as the sum of the two previous measures. The overall score varies between 0 (minimum) and 40 (maximum). We used the validated Spanish version [
24,
25].
2.1.3. EuroQol-5D (EQ-5D) Generic Quality of Life QuestionnaireThe EQ-5D is a generic instrument for evaluating a person's state of general health. It analyses five dimensions (mobility, self-care, usual activities, pain/discomfort, anxiety/depression), each scored on a scale of 1''3, representing best and worst health. The final evaluation includes a summary index, whose maximum value is 1 (indicating a state of full health). It also includes a visual analogue scale (VAS) from 0 to 100, where a value of 100 represents the best imaginable health state. We used the validated Spanish version [
26].
2.1.4. Cavanna's Quality of Life Questionnaire Applied to GTS (GTS-QOL)This is a specific instrument for evaluating the quality of life of patients with GTS. It comprises 27 items covering six dimensions, each scored from 0 (minimum possible value) to four (maximum possible value): cognitive (eight items); psychological (six items); obsessive-compulsive (four items); physical (three items); coprophenomena (three items); activities of daily living (three items). The results from the six dimensions are evaluated by summing the scores of all the items and, for ease of interpretation, transforming the total to give a value between 0 and 108. It also includes a VAS, scored from 0 to 100, for which the maximum value represents the best possible health. The validated scale in English was administered in Spanish [
27].
2.2. Evaluation of Other Neurological CharacteristicsOther data of GTS were collected at the time of inclusion, including age of onset and duration of the different symptoms of the disease, number of family members affected, and types of medication consumed. The changes that had occurred with respect to the various aspects under investigation by the end of the year on the GFD were analysed.
2.3. Evaluation of NCGS SymptomsThe signs and symptoms related to the NCGS were evaluated with a questionnaire comprising several items with a variable number of possible responses. Clinical characteristics of NCGS were collected at the time of inclusion, along with information about family background, analytical results and complementary tests and their evolution after the GFD. A group of questions designed to evaluate the different symptoms distributed by organs and apparatus, each with a variable number of possible responses, and a general score between 0 (absence of symptoms) and 3 (maximum possible intensity) was included.
2.4. Evaluation of GFD ComplianceThe evaluation and follow up of the diet compliance were carried out through questionnaires filled in by the patients (in the case of adults) or their parents (in the case of children) and regular contact by telephone, e-mail or, in some cases, face-to-face consultation.
2.5. Audio-Visual Monitoring EvaluationFor the assessment of tics and following the recommendations of the European clinical guidelines for Tourette Syndrome and other tic disorders, we ask our patients for some audiovisual recordings, reflecting spontaneous situations of everyday life [
3]. The parents of one of our patients gave their written informed consent to attach a demonstration video of their child's evolution for scientific purposes in this study, whose details are specified in the
Supplementary Material Section.
2.6. Statistical MethodsData were analysed with SPSS (v15.0 for Windows; SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA). Descriptive analyses were used to characterize the study population. Categorical variables were expressed as absolute frequencies and percentages. Quantitative variables were expressed as the mean or median, if normally or non-normally distributed, respectively, and were compared within and between groups using Student's two-tailed independent samples t -test. To compare the proportions (frequencies) of qualitative variables between the groups, contingency test methods (chi-squared ( χ 2) or Fisher's exact tests) were used, as appropriate. Student's t -test and Mann-Whitney were used for independent (unpaired) samples (children vs. adults). When the number of observations of any of the groups compared was small, always the parametric tests (Student) were used; otherwise, the tests used were Mann-Whitney and Wilcoxon. When the data were quantitative of low rank (for example, scores from 1 to 5) nonparametric tests were always used. For samples of repeated measurements, the McNemar test has been used. The paired Wilcoxon signed-rank test was used to compare differences in the medians of continuous non-parametric variables. The tests used and the variables of the groups in which they have been applied are specified at the beginning of the foot of each table. In all cases, a value of p < 0.05 was considered to indicate a statistically significant difference.
3. Results 3.1. Baseline Demographic Characteristics of Children and AdultsComparing the baseline characteristics of child and adult patients included in the study, showed that 74% of the children and 50% of the adults were male (NS). 69% of children and 100% of adults presented an associated OCD (NS). ADHD was present in 52.2% of children and 66.2% of adults (NS).
The total tic score, as measured by the YGTSS questionnaire, was similar in the two groups (NS). Conversely, the total OCD score assessed with the Y-BOCS/CY-BOCS questionnaires, was lower in the children 15.3 (12.3) than in the adults 26.8 (9.2) (
p
= 0.043). The generic quality of life score at the beginning of the study was similar in the two groups. However, GTS-specific quality of life was lower in the children 42.8 (18.5) than in the adults 64.0 (7.9) (
p
= 0.000). There was no difference in the consumption of medication between the groups, either overall or with respect to Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs). However, many fewer children than adults took psychotropics (34.8% vs. 100%) (
p
= 0.006) (
Table 1).
3.2. Baseline Characteristics of the Symptoms and Signs of Gluten Sensitivity in Children and AdultsUpon entering the study, a series of symptoms and signs related to the presence of NCGS, which were present in the individual participants, were compared between the two groups. No significant differences were found for any characteristics, except for the presence of headaches and/or migraines, which were more common in the adults than the children (83.3% vs. 47.8%) (
p
= 0.1), and of behavioural disorders, which were also more common in adults (100% vs. 95.6%) (
p
= 0.001) (
Table 2).
3.3. Evolution of Neurological Symptoms and Quality of Life after 1 Year of a GFDAfter one year of following a GFD, the improvement in neurological symptoms was very striking, with a significant reduction in tics and OCD in both children and adults (
p
= 0.001). The same occurred with the improvement found in the generic and specific quality of life (
p
= 0.001), whereby there was no difference between the children and adults. This translated into a reduction in the consumption of medication in both groups, the effect being very pronounced in children (
p
= 0.001) but more moderate in adults (
p
= 0.072); the reduction among the adults was mainly a consequence of a decrease in the consumption of psychotropics (
p
= 0.071) (
Table 3).
3.4. Evolution after 1 Year of a GFD of the Various Components of Motor and Phonic Tics, Obsessions and CompulsionsThe evolution of the different components of the motor and vocal/phonic tics, and of OCD, was assessed, comparing the results obtained before beginning and a year after following the GFD. With respect to the evolution of the characteristics of the motor tics, we found a notable decrease in their various components (number, intensity, frequency, complexity and interference), that was more significant in children (
p
= 0.000) than in adults (
p
= 0.027). The evaluation of the vocal/phonic tics revealed a reduction in their principal characteristics in both groups, again being more pronounced in children (
p
= 0.001) than in adults (
p
= 0.028). This was maintained with an identical significance when jointly evaluating the motor and vocal/phonic tics, this improvement being somewhat smaller in the adults than in the children. The evolution of the disability associated to the motor tics was significantly reduced in the children (
p
= 0.000), but less so in the adults (
p
= 0.059). Likewise, a clear improvement in the evolution of the disability related to the vocal/phonic tics was confirmed, the effect being more significant in the children (
p
= 0.001) than in the adults (
p
= 0.041). The decrease in the overall degree of disability along with the motor and vocal/phonic tics was significant in both groups, though slightly higher in the children (
p
= 0.000) than in the adults (
p
= 0.027). Equally, after one year on the GFD the various components of the obsessions (time, interference, distress, resistance and control) were significantly reduced, which was somewhat more marked in children (
p
= 0.001) than in adults (
p
= 0.028). The same components of the compulsions after a year on a GFD confirmed a significant improvement in both groups, again being slightly greater in children (
p
= 0.008) than in adults (
p
= 0.027) (
Table 4).
3.5. Evolution of Symptoms of Non-Coeliac Gluten Sensitivity after 1 Year of a GFDThe evolution of the symptoms associated with NCGS after one year on a GFD was also very favourable. The number and intensity of upper airway infections were significantly reduced in both groups, though more notably in the children (
p
= 0.000) than in the adults (
p
= 0.068). The same pattern was found for the lower airway, with children showing a more significant reduction (
p
= 0.001) than the adults (
p
= 0.180). Conversely, no significant differences were found in the number of associated allergies. Fewer episodes of headaches/migraines were observed, the effect being slightly more significant in children (
p
= 0.013) than in adults (
p
= 0.068). Infectious or inflammatory oral processes were notably reduced in children (
p
= 0.000) but were unchanged in adults (
p
= 0.104). Musculoskeletal affectation decreased significantly in children (
p
= 0.002) and slightly less significantly in adults (
p
= 0.042). Associated dermatitis also decreased strikingly in children (
p
= 0.002), more significantly than in the adults (
p
= 0.058). Anaemia and iron deficiency improved notably in children (
p
= 0.004) but was unchanged in adults (
p
= 0.131). Likewise, sleep disorders reduced significantly in the children (
p
= 0.000) and in a smaller proportion of adults (
p
= 0.046). No significant changes in urinary disorders were noted in children (
p
= 0.082) or adults (
p
= 0.109). Behavioural disorders decreased significantly in children (
p
= 0.000) and to a lesser degree in adults (
p
= 0.028). The improvement achieved in the dietary disorders was more evident in children (
p
= 0.000) than in adults (
p
= 0.027), as was the case for the improvement in intestinal habit, which was greater in children (
p
= 0.001) than in adults (
p
= 0.075) (
Table 5).
4. DiscussionAt the beginning of the study, the presence of motor and vocal/phonic tics was similar in children and adults. The generic quality of life was similar in the two groups; however, specifically GTS-related quality of life was worse in children than in adults. Nevertheless, the adults were taking a higher proportion of psychotropics than the children, with significant differences. Our results coincide with those of other authors, in the sense that during childhood the intensity and frequency of tics are usually higher in children than in adults, while OCD usually predominates in adults compared with children, which accounts for the more widespread consumption of psychotropics among adults than children [
2,
28,
29].
People with NCGS usually exhibit a variety of associated symptoms such as headaches or migraines, ''brain fog'', fatigue, fibromyalgia, joint and muscle pain, leg or arm numbness, tingling of the extremities, dermatitis (eczema or skin rash), allergies, atopic disorders, depression, anxiety, anaemia, iron-deficiency anaemia, folate deficiency, asthma, rhinitis, eating disorders, or autoimmune diseases. Among the extra-intestinal manifestations, NCGS has been implicated in some neuropsychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, autism, peripheral neuropathy, ataxia, ADHD, mood swings, sensory symptoms, disturbed sleep patterns, and hallucinations (''gluten psychosis'') [
9,
16,
30,
31,
32,
33,
34,
35].
Many coeliac patients or those with undiagnosed NCGS underestimate their multiple and frequent discomfort from digestive and more general causes because they have grown accustomed to living with a state of chronic poor health as though it were normal. They are only able to recognise that they really did have symptoms related to the consumption of gluten when they start the GFD and the improvement becomes obvious [
36,
37].
The disproportionately common occurrence in patients with GTS of immunologically determined illnesses, such as allergic processes, rhinitis, asthma, dermatitis and conjunctivitis, frequently with raised IgE and a positive family history of autoimmune diseases has been reported. Likewise, the presence of migraines, autistic spectrum disorders, anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, behavioural problems and hallucinations have frequently been noted [
38,
39,
40].
At the beginning of our study, various symptoms and signs associated with NCGS were present in similar proportions in both groups, with a slight predominance of headaches and/or migraines and behavioural disorders in adults. After a year on the GFD a significant improvement was observed in most of these symptoms and signs, both in children and adults, similar to what generally occurs in patients with NCGS without associated GTS [
8,
34,
41].
We found a significant improvement in the neurological signs of GTS after one year on the GFD, with a notable reduction in motor and vocal/phonic tics and OCD symptoms, both in children and adults. A probable explanation lies in the presence of an increase in intestinal permeability of patients with NCGS, as happens in coeliac patients. This enables the passage of gluten peptides and other related peptides to the bloodstream, crossing the blood-brain barrier and reaching different areas of the brain, provoking the appearance of inflammatory processes localised in various structures within the brain, which might explain the presence of the symptoms and signs related to the GTS [
34]. This would explain why the withdrawal of gluten from the diet produces a reduction in such deposits and thereby gives rise to significant clinical improvement in the evolution of motor and vocal/phonic tics and OCD symptoms. As Hadjivassiliou stated more than 15 years ago, ''Gluten sensitivity can be primarily and at times exclusively a neurological disease. The absence of an enteropathy should not preclude patients from treatment with a gluten-free diet. Early diagnosis and removal of the trigger factor by the introduction of gluten-free diet is a promising therapeutic intervention'' and consequently the fact ''that gluten sensitivity is regarded as principally a disease of the small bowel is a historical misconception'' [
42,
43,
44].
The GFD produced a clear improvement in generic and specific quality of life in both groups, accompanied by a reduction in the overall consumption of drugs, this being more pronounced in adults than children, largely due to the notable reduction in the consumption of psychotropics in the former group, but not significant.
The improvement found with respect to the presence of tics was maintained upon evaluating the degree of disability generated for the motor and vocal/phonic tics, although it was somewhat higher in the children than the adults.
As confirmed by a systematic review, the risk of developing neurological complications in coeliac patients is lower in children than in adults and their response to a GFD is generally quicker and stronger, probably because they have spent less of their life eating gluten [
45,
46].
Likewise, an improvement was observed in the disability related to the presence of OCD, which is also more striking in children than in adults. We have only found two previous reports in the literature, one of a patient with OCD associated with GTS, and another of an isolated case, both of which showed an improvement in symptoms along with a reduction in their previous disability [
17,
18].
The patients with GTS, as well as presenting motor and phonic tics, may develop multiple behavioural problems in response to the impact of the symptoms that affect their relationships with family members, friends, class-mates and teachers. Furthermore, it has been estimated that around 90% present other comorbidities, including, amongst others, OCD and those related to ADHD, which exacerbate the disorders of character and behaviour they already had that arose from the presence of tics [
47,
48].
We can conclude that the improvement of the patients cannot be justified solely by the passage of time because the children were in the stage of worse evolution of the GTS and the adults belong to the subgroup of people whose disorder does not ameliorate or even get worse. In addition, the follow-up period was only a year and the majority of patients had associated comorbidities. In the evaluation and follow-up of diet compliance, 22 of the 29 patients indicated that they had suffered clearly identified occasional contaminations due to errors in their diet. The tics reappeared or worsened in all cases (16 cases with phonic and motor tics, 4 cases with only motor tics, 2 cases with only phonic tics); all of the cases who previously had comorbid OCD experienced its reappearance or intensification. The exacerbation was resolved after days or even weeks of resetting the gluten-free diet. It is interesting to note that since these are inadvertent and involuntary contaminations verified a posteriori , mainly associated with misinterpretations of labelling, eating out at restaurants or in family homes, the nocebo effect can also be ruled out, especially in the case of children because they do not know the detailed information about the diet. These data indicate a clear relationship between the improvement of GTS symptoms and the withdrawal of gluten from the diet that is not conditioned by the passage of time or hypothetical spontaneous remission.
We evaluated the symptoms related to the tics and the OCD using questionnaires that are widely validated and accepted internationally. However, we did not evaluate the symptoms related to ADHD, although we also found that they improved while on the GFD, as has been confirmed in a recent systematic review of this subject [
49].
This paper presents the results of a prospective uncontrolled cohort study, designed as a pilot, and is the first of its kind, as far as we know. It has certain limitations, since the sample size of the study was small, especially in the group of adults, and we have not been able to include a control group. Our initial intention was to include it, but this was not possible. The patients who contacted us presented significant affectation of their quality of life and all of them wanted to try the diet. This prevents us from drawing definitive conclusions, added the fact that we cannot be sure that either the children or the adults followed the GFD fully. Gluten is ubiquitous and removing it strictly from the diet is difficult, especially when eating outside the home [
50]. Ensuring fulfilment of the GFD is complicated, as other authors have found [
20,
50,
51,
52,
53] and we cannot be certain that it was achieved in this study. Current studies show that compliance with the diet in patients with gluten sensitivity is much worse than was formerly considered, demonstrating that approximately 79% of them continue to present intestinal lesions, despite maintaining treatment with the GFD [
52]. None of the methods used to evaluate the strict compliance of the GFD has proved to be sufficiently accurate: questionnaires filled in by patients; evaluation of symptoms; determination of gluten-specific antibodies; and findings in duodenal biopsies [
51,
54]. Frequently, people with a poor educational level and a poor understanding of how to follow a GFD believe that they are strictly following the diet, when in fact they are frequently making mistakes [
50,
52]. This leads patients to overestimate their compliance when they fill in the questionnaire, making their results unreliable. Neither the absence of digestive symptoms nor the negativity of the antibodies guarantees that the intestinal mucosa recovers, which is complicated to determine with biopsies because the intestinal lesions usually consist of minimal changes without villous atrophy, and that are frequently patched and difficult to identify [
51,
54,
55]. Recently, new methods have been developed to monitor strict adherence to the diet, based on the determination of the presence of gluten peptides in faeces or urine, which seem to offer a realistic alternative, but have not yet been validated or become available for use in daily clinical practice [
55]. We gave detailed information to the patients about how to comply fully with the GFD. Although in the case of the children we always recommend to parents that the whole family adopt a GFD, avoiding the consumption of foodstuffs containing gluten at home, in school canteens and elsewhere cannot always be fully achieved. We used questionnaires filled in by the patients (in the case of adults) or their parents (in the case of children) and had regular contact by telephone, e-mail or, in some cases, face-to-face consultation, to monitor compliance and clarify doubts. However, for all the reasons stated above, we conclude that we cannot guarantee that compliance with the gluten-free diet was entirely strict.
5. ConclusionsIn conclusion, we have shown that following a GFD opens up a new line of therapy for patients with GTS. It is entirely innocuous but requires a strict and prolonged adherence. It seems to be useful for reducing the frequency and intensity of motor and vocal/phonic tics, and OCD symptoms. It is also accompanied by an improved quality of life, both generally and specifically, and a reduction in the consumption of NSAID drugs by children and of antipsychotics by adults.
Subsequent controlled and/or multi-centre studies including more patients and with a prolonged period on the GFD will enable the efficacy of the diet to be determined more exactly.
Supplementary MaterialsThe following are available online at
http://www.mdpi.com/2072-6643/10/5/573/s1, Video S1: A 7 years old child with GTS and OCD-evolution after 1 year of GFD. We include one video of the evolution of an seven-year-old child, recorded before and after 1 year on the GFD, and the scores he obtained. A clear improvement in his symptomatology can be seen. The child was not taking any medication.
Author ContributionsL.R. and N.. designed the study and wrote the Introduction and Discussion. E.F.-B. analysed and interpreted the results and performed the statistical analysis. J.S.-P., M.H. and C.H.-L. made substantial technical contributions to the design and interpretation of the results.
Conflicts of InterestThe authors declare no conflict of interest.
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Table 1. Baseline demographic characteristics of children and adults.
ParametersChildren ( n = 23)Adults ( n = 6) p Males, n (%)17 (74)3 (50)NSMean age, years, ( X ± SD)8.3 ± 2.732.2 ± 11.9NAAge at commencement, years, ( X ± SD)3.8 ± 2.07.7 ± 3.4NADuration of symptoms of GTS, years, ( X ± SD)4.5 ± 2.424.5 ± 10.9NAAssociated OCD, n (%)16 (69)6 (100)NSAssociated ADHD, n (%)11 (52.2)4 (66.2)NSTotal YGTSS score, ( X ± SD)55.0 ± 17.555.8 ± 19.8NSTotal Y-BOCS score, ( X ± SD)15.3 ± 12.326.8 ± 9.2=0.043Total EQ-5D score, ( X ± SD)0.6 ± 0.20.5 ± 0.2NSTotal GTS-QOL score, ( X ± SD)42.8 ± 18.564.0 ± 7.9=0.000Drug consumption, n (%)21 (91.3)6 (100)NS-NSAIDs, n (%)21 (91.3)6 (100)NS-Psychotropics, n (%)8 (34.8)6 (100)=0.006 Table 2. Baseline characteristics of the symptoms and signs of NCGS in children and adults.
Table 2. Baseline characteristics of the symptoms and signs of NCGS in children and adults.
ParametersChildren ( n = 23)Adults ( n = 6) p Upper respiratory tract infections, n (%)20 (86.9)4 (66.7)NSLower respiratory tract infections, n (%)15 (65.2)2 (33.3)NSAssociated allergies, n (%)12 (52.2)2 (33.3)NSHeadaches and/or migraines, n (%)11 (47.8)5 (83.3)NS *Infectious oral processes, n (%)20 (86.9)4 (66.7)NSOther dental changes, n (%)18 (78.3)6 (100.0)NSMusculoskeletal affectation, n (%)21 (91.3)5 (83.3)NSDermatitis, n (%)20 (86.9)5 (83.3)NSAnaemia and/or ferropaenia, n (%)17 (73.9)5 (83.3)NSSleep disorders, n (%)21 (91.3)6 (100.0)NSBehavioural disorders, n (%)22 (95.6)6 (100.0)NS **Urinary disorders, n (%)13 (56.5)4 (66.7)NSDietary disorders, n (%)20 (86.9)6 (100.0)NSChange in intestinal habit, n (%)22 (95.6)6 (100.0)NSChange in stool consistency, n (%)11 (47.8)1 (16.7)NS Table 3. Evolution of neurological symptoms and quality of life after 1 year of a GFD.
Table 3. Evolution of neurological symptoms and quality of life after 1 year of a GFD.
ParametersPre-GFDPost-GFD p Total YGTSS score, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 100) -Children55.0 ± 17.527.3 ± 22.3=0.000 -Adults55.8 ± 19.820.7 ± 13.5=0.001Total Y-BOCS/CY-BOCS score, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 40) -Children15.3 ± 12.35.4 ± 8.6=0.000 -Adults26.8 ± 9.28.0 ± 8.9=0.001Total EQ-5D score, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 1) -Children0.62 ± 0.230.88 ± 0.17=0.000 -Adults0.50 ± 0.220.87 ± 015=0.004Total GTS-QOL score, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 108) -Children42.8 ± 18.522.4 ± 19.9=0.000 -Adults64.0 ± 7.920.5 ± 12.2=0.001Drug consumption * -Children: -Total consumption, n (%)21 (91.3)16 (69.6)=0.001 -NSAIDs, n (%)21 (91.3)12 (52.2)=0.002 -Psychotropics, n (%)8 (34.8)7 (30.4)=0.190 -Adults: -Total consumption, n (%)6 (100)6 (100)=0.072 -NSAIDs, n (%)6 (100)5 (83.3)=0.100 -Psychotropics, n (%)6 (100)4 (66.7)=0.071 Table 4. Evolution after 1 year of a GFD of the various components of motor and phonic tics, obsessions and compulsions.
Table 4. Evolution after 1 year of a GFD of the various components of motor and phonic tics, obsessions and compulsions.
ParametersPre-GFDPost-GFD p Evaluation of motor tics (number, frequency, intensity, complexity and interference), ( X ± SD), (Maximum 25) -Children18.7 ± 4.310.1 ± 6.3=0.000 -Adults17.3 ± 7.19.0 ± 4.7=0.027Evaluation of phonic tics (number, frequency, intensity, complexity and interference), ( X ± SD), (Maximum 25) -Children14.4 ± 5.67.4 ± 7.1=0.001 -Adults15.2 ± 5.85.8 ± 3.9=0.028Overall evaluation of motor and phonic tics (number, frequency, intensity, complexity and interference), ( X ± SD), (Maximum 50) -Children33.1 ± 8.317.5 ± 12.1=0.000 -Adults32.5 ± 9.514.8 ± 7.7=0.028Overall disability of motor tics, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 5) -Children2.3 ± 1.11.0 ± 1.1=0.000 -Adults2.5 ± 1.60.7 ± 0.8=0.059Overall disability of phonic tics, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 5) -Children2.0 ± 1.21.0 ± 1.2=0.001 -Adults2.2 ± 1.30.5 ± 0.8=0.041Overall disability of motor and phonic tics, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 10) -Children4.4 ± 2.01.9 ± 2.1=0.000 -Adults4.7 ± 2.21.2 ± 1.6=0.027Evaluation of obsessions (time, interference, discomfort, resistance and control), ( X ± SD), (Maximum 20) -Children8.7 ± 6.63.0 ± 4.7=0.001 -Adults13.5 ± 4.44.0 ± 4.5=0.028Evaluation of compulsions (time, interference, discomfort, resistance and control), ( X ± SD), (Maximum 20) -Children6.6 ± 6.32.4 ± 4.5=0.008 -Adults13.3 ± 4.94.0 ± 4.3=0.027 Table 5. Evolution of symptoms of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity after 1 year of a GFD.
Table 5. Evolution of symptoms of non-coeliac gluten sensitivity after 1 year of a GFD.
ParametersPre-GFDPost-GFD p Upper respiratory tract infections, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 18) -Children3.2 ± 2.10.6 ± 0.9=0.000 -Adults4.5 ± 4.90.2 ± 0.4=0.680Lower respiratory tract infections, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 9) -Children2.1 ± 2.20.1 ± 0.4=0.001 -Adults1.3 ± 2.10.3 ± 0.8=0.180Associated allergies, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 27) -Children1.8 ± 3.41.7 ± 2.4=0.782 -Adults1.3 ± 2.82.2 ± 3.7=0.285Headaches and/or migraines, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 18) -Children1.7 ± 2.70.4 ± 0.6=0.013 -Adults4.8 ± 4.90.8 ± 1.2=0.068Infectious oral processes, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 15) -Children3.0 ± 2.31.0 ± 1.3=0.000 -Adults3.8 ± 4.20.5 ± 0.8=0.104Other dental changes, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 15) -Children2.1 ± 1.61.6 ± 1.3=0.105 -Adults2.8 ± 2.11.8 ± 1.0=0.276Musculoskeletal affectation, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 36) -Children5.0 ± 5.71.4 ± 2.5=0.002 -Adults9.0 ± 12.71.3 ± 2.0=0.042Dermatitis, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 45) -Children4.8 ± 6.31.4 ± 1.9=0.002 -Adults6.3 ± 4.92.0 ± 2.1=0.058Anaemia and/or ferropaenia, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 24) -Children2.8 ± 3.10.8 ± 1.4=0.004 -Adults4.0 ± 3.61.2 ± 1.5=0.131Sleep disorders, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 27) -Children6.2 ± 6.41.6 ± 2.0=0.000 -Adults8.7 ± 5.32.0 ± 1.3=0.046Behavioural disorders, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 24) -Children7.2 ± 5.62.6 ± 4.1=0.002 -Adults16.0 ± 3.03.0 ± 4.5=0.028Urinary disorders, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 21) -Children1.8 ± 2.70.7 ± 1.3=0.082 -Adults3.3 ± 5.30.5 ± 0.8=0.109Dietary disorders, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 45) -Children9.5 ± 9.51.3 ± 1.9=0.000 -Adults10.5 ± 9.41.8 ± 1.2=0.027Change in intestinal habit, ( X ± SD), (Maximum 33) -Children9.1 ± 6.83.7 ± 4.8=0.001 -Adults7.7 ± 5.22.3 ± 2.1=0.075(C) 2018 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland. This article is an open access article distributed under the terms and conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/).
dysgrahia, tourette syndrome, co-ocurring conditions
Thu, 10 May 2018 14:24
Dysgraphia, or written language deficits, is a common issue for students with Tourette Syndrome (TS). This interferes with and sometimes prevents them from being able to transfer thoughts into writing.Handwriting can be messy, difficult to read, unevenly spaced, and include challenges with proper spelling, punctuation and capitalization. Some students may be obsessed with writing perfectly resulting in taking an excessive amount of time to accomplish a task, while other students rush through written assignments. The student may write very little or refuse to write altogether.
The reasons for written language deficits vary and can be complex. Contributing factors may include cramping of the hands and/or tics involving the upper body (e.g. finger, wrist, arm, neck, shoulder, head and eyes). Some students may lack the necessary coordination skills as well as a consistent ability to organize their thoughts. It may be important to have the students evaluated to better understand the underlying cause of these problems.
The student's handwriting can fluctuate. Just like all symptoms of TS are inconsistent, wax and wane, and are impacted by stress and other environmental factors, handwriting can be acceptable at times, particularly for a short assignment; other times it may be illegible.
Difficulty taking notes and a resistance to write may indicate that a student is experiencing symptoms of a written language deficit. It is too often assumed that a resistance or refusal to write is purposeful defiant behavior or that the student is lazy. Instead, this should signal a need for an evaluation that includes a lengthy written sample on a non-favored topic to determine if this is part of the student's complex disorder.
The following are suggestions that may be helpful in addressing issues related to dysgraphia and handwriting:Use of computer or tablet for taking notes, essays, and long answers
Allow printing/cursive (whichever is more manageable for the student)Provide notes (Sometimes, teachers will hand out copies of notes with blanks prior to the lesson so that the student can write in appropriate words for the blanksThe student may benefit from writing down and remembering key words so that the student can maintain his or her attentionReduce the amount of handwritten homework assignmentsGrade on content and not on appearanceProvide alternative methods of assessing knowledge, such as oral reports or testsExtend time for tests, quizzes, and projects that require extensive writingAllow for testing in a separate location with scribing support available, if necessaryA trial period may be helpful in determining whether a particular support is appropriate for the student's needs.Occupational therapy support can sometimes be helpful for students, but may not address more underlying complex issues. Therefore, practice and specialized pens/pencils will not likely result in better penmanship if the main cause of handwriting problems is tics. Teaching the student keyboarding skills may be a better use of time and energy.When advocating for writing support, it may be useful to bring samples of the student's handwriting to the meeting. Providing a sample of a handwritten-essay and a typed-essay may demonstrate the improvement. The contrast can demonstrate how the dysgraphia symptoms are hindering the child's academic abilities.
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challenges that impact school for kids with ts
Thu, 10 May 2018 14:28
Common Challenges that Impact School PerformanceEducators and families should be aware of common challenges or ''red flags'' that impact school performance among children with TS. Sometimes these challenges are misunderstood or thought of as 'purposeful behaviors' that are not related to TS, or other related conditions.
These challenges often become a larger issue in middle and high school than in elementary school. A common, yet highly unrecognized, reason, is that a student's intellectual abilities can disguise symptoms in elementary school, while in higher grades, symptoms begin to interfere with demonstrating intellectual abilities. Additionally, students often put more energy into suppressing and/or masking symptoms due to social acceptance.
The following is a list of common education-related difficulties that children with TS and related conditions may exhibit.Handwriting Issues/Dysgraphia: Sloppiness; frequent erasing; consumed with writing neatly; reduced output; slowness of handwriting; difficulty with punctuation, spelling, and capitalization; refusal to write.
Difficulty completing homework: Failure to understand the assignment; inconsistency in copying down assignments; not completing assignments on time; refusal to begin assignments.Disorganization: Problems managing time, tasks, and belongings; difficulty beginning and/or following through on tasks, which may result in failure to produce a product.Perfectionism: Erasing; must have things 'just right'; hyper-vigilant regarding rules; insistent on performing rituals.Difficulty attending: Complex and simple tics or obsessions can interfere with concentration even though the student appears to be focused. However, some students are able to attend to activities while experiencing tics even though it may appear otherwise.Challenges with transitioning: Problems when transitioning between tasks and classes; resistance to changes in schedule and/or routine.Difficulty following directions: Slow to respond; inability to complete tasks that have complex or multiple directions; repeated requests for directions.Discrepancy between verbal and performance scores: Difference between scores on psycho-educational evaluations (e.g., high average range for reading comprehension with low average range for written language skills; high scores in verbal and low on performance).Sensory Issues: Sensitivity to light, sound, touch, smells, or tastes; need to harm oneself physically; excessive chewing on objects, etc. to relieve a certain sensory urge.Stress and Anxiety: school or academic avoidance: shutting down when overwhelmed; excessive trips to nurse, bathroom or counselor; emotional outbursts, etc.Impulsivity: Shouting out answers; exhibiting impulsive behaviors.Disinhibition or Dysinhibition: Behaviors that student recognizes as inappropriate or prohibited but has difficulty inhibiting. For example, touching certain objects, making inappropriate yet contextual statements, and shouting out answers.Oppositional Behaviors: Inconsistent refusal to engage in an activity or task for reasons which are not obvious. Need to assess why, where, and when the oppositional behavior occurs, what led up to the behavior, and how we can support the student in being successful (which often will reduce oppositional behaviors).Explosive Behaviors in School or at Home: Significant and disruptive behaviors which appear to be overly reactive to a situation. May be the result of suppressing symptoms, experiencing anxiety, feelings of failure, or being overwhelmed while at school or with homework.Social Skills Deficits: Immature behaviors, rigid responses, socially inappropriate behaviors, inability to get along with peers.Lea este art­culo en espa±ol
The information presented in this material was supported by Grant/Cooperative Agreeent Number CDC-RFA-DD13-1302 from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the offical views of the CDC. The information is intended for the reference of and use by medical and allied professionals and educators. The material is displayed with the permission of the authors/publishers.
Elite$
Opinion | Meet the Renegades of the Intellectual Dark Web - The New York Times
Tue, 08 May 2018 13:42
Here are some things that you will hear when you sit down to dinner with the vanguard of the Intellectual Dark Web: There are fundamental biological differences between men and women. Free speech is under siege. Identity politics is a toxic ideology that is tearing American society apart. And we're in a dangerous place if these ideas are considered ''dark.''
I was meeting with Sam Harris, a neuroscientist; Eric Weinstein, a mathematician and managing director of Thiel Capital; the commentator and comedian Dave Rubin; and their spouses in a Los Angeles restaurant to talk about how they were turned into heretics. A decade ago, they argued, when Donald Trump was still hosting ''The Apprentice,'' none of these observations would have been considered taboo.
Today, people like them who dare venture into this ''There Be Dragons'' territory on the intellectual map have met with outrage and derision '-- even, or perhaps especially, from people who pride themselves on openness.
It's a pattern that has become common in our new era of That Which Cannot Be Said. And it is the reason the Intellectual Dark Web, a term coined half-jokingly by Mr. Weinstein, came to exist.
What is the I.D.W. and who is a member of it? It's hard to explain, which is both its beauty and its danger.
Most simply, it is a collection of iconoclastic thinkers, academic renegades and media personalities who are having a rolling conversation '-- on podcasts, YouTube and Twitter, and in sold-out auditoriums '-- that sound unlike anything else happening, at least publicly, in the culture right now. Feeling largely locked out of legacy outlets, they are rapidly building their own mass media channels.
The closest thing to a phone book for the I.D.W. is a sleek website that lists the dramatis personae of the network, including Mr. Harris; Mr. Weinstein and his brother and sister-in-law, the evolutionary biologists Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying; Jordan Peterson, the psychologist and best-selling author; the conservative commentators Ben Shapiro and Douglas Murray; Maajid Nawaz, the former Islamist turned anti-extremist activist; and the feminists Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Christina Hoff Sommers. But in typical dark web fashion, no one knows who put the website up.
Image Christina Hoff Sommers Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times The core members have little in common politically. Bret and Eric Weinstein and Ms. Heying were Bernie Sanders supporters. Mr. Harris was an outspoken Hillary voter. Ben Shapiro is an anti-Trump conservative.
But they all share three distinct qualities. First, they are willing to disagree ferociously, but talk civilly, about nearly every meaningful subject: religion, abortion, immigration, the nature of consciousness. Second, in an age in which popular feelings about the way things ought to be often override facts about the way things actually are, each is determined to resist parroting what's politically convenient. And third, some have paid for this commitment by being purged from institutions that have become increasingly hostile to unorthodox thought '-- and have found receptive audiences elsewhere.
''People are starved for controversial opinions,'' said Joe Rogan, an MMA color commentator and comedian who hosts one of the most popular podcasts in the country. ''And they are starved for an actual conversation.''
That hunger has translated into a booming and, in many cases, profitable market. Episodes of ''The Joe Rogan Experience,'' which have featured many members of the I.D.W., can draw nearly as big an audience as Rachel Maddow. A recent episode featuring Bret Weinstein and Ms. Heying talking about gender, hotness, beauty and #MeToo was viewed on YouTube over a million times, even though the conversation lasted for nearly three hours.
Image Joe Rogan Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times Ben Shapiro's podcast, which airs five days a week, gets 15 million downloads a month. Sam Harris estimates that his ''Waking Up'' podcast gets one million listeners an episode. Dave Rubin's YouTube show has more than 700,000 subscribers.
Offline and in the real world, members of the I.D.W. are often found speaking to one another in packed venues around the globe. In July, for example, Jordan Peterson, Douglas Murray and Mr. Harris will appear together at the O2 Arena in London.
But as the members of the Intellectual Dark Web become genuinely popular, they are also coming under more scrutiny. On April 21, Kanye West crystallized this problem when he tweeted seven words that set Twitter on fire: ''I love the way Candace Owens thinks.''
Candace Owens, the communications director for Turning Point USA, is a sharp, young, black conservative '-- a telegenic speaker with killer instincts who makes videos with titles like ''How to Escape the Democrat Plantation'' and ''The Left Thinks Black People Are Stupid.'' Mr. West's praise for her was sandwiched inside a longer thread that referenced many of the markers of the Intellectual Dark Web, like the tyranny of thought policing and the importance of independent thinking. He was photographed watching a Jordan Peterson video.
All of a sudden, it seemed, the I.D.W. had broken through to the culture-making class, and a few in the group flirted with embracing Ms. Owens as their own.
Yet Ms. Owens is a passionate Trump supporter who has dismissed racism as a threat to black people while arguing, despite evidence to the contrary, that immigrants steal their jobs. She has also compared Jay-Z and Beyonc(C) to slaves for supporting the Democratic Party.
Many others in the I.D.W. were made nervous by her sudden ascendance to the limelight, seeing Ms. Owens not as a sincere intellectual but as a provocateur in the mold of Milo Yiannopoulos. For the I.D.W. to succeed, they argue, it needs to eschew those interested in violating taboo for its own sake.
''I'm really only interested in building this intellectual movement,'' Eric Weinstein said. ''The I.D.W. has bigger goals than anyone's buzz or celebrity.''
And yet, when Ms. Owens and Charlie Kirk, the executive director of Turning Point USA, met last week with Mr. West at the Southern California Institute of Architecture, just outside of the frame '-- in fact, avoiding the photographers '-- was Mr. Weinstein. He attended both that meeting and a one-on-one the next day for several hours at the mogul's request. Mr. Weinstein, who can't name two of Mr. West's songs, said he found the Kardashian spouse ''kind and surprisingly humble despite his unpredictable public provocations.'' He has also tweeted that he's interested to see what Ms. Owens says next.
This episode was the clearest example yet of the challenge this group faces: In their eagerness to gain popular traction, are the members of the I.D.W. aligning themselves with people whose views and methods are poisonous? Could the intellectual wildness that made this alliance of heretics worth paying attention to become its undoing?
There is no direct route into the Intellectual Dark Web. But the quickest path is to demonstrate that you aren't afraid to confront your own tribe.
The metaphors for this experience vary: going through the phantom tollbooth; deviating from the narrative; falling into the rabbit hole. But almost everyone can point to a particular episode where they came in as one thing and emerged as something quite different.
A year ago, Bret Weinstein and Heather Heying were respected tenured professors at Evergreen State College, where their Occupy Wall Street-sympathetic politics were well in tune with the school's progressive ethos. Today they have left their jobs, lost many of their friends and endangered their reputations.
All this because they opposed a ''Day of Absence,'' in which white students were asked to leave campus for the day. For questioning a day of racial segregation cloaked in progressivism, the pair was smeared as racist. Following threats, they left town for a time with their children and ultimately resigned their jobs.
''Nobody else reacted. That's what shocked me,'' Mr. Weinstein said. ''It told me that a culture that told itself it was radically open-minded was actually a culture cowed by fear.''
Sam Harris says his moment came in 2006, at a conference at the Salk Institute with Richard Dawkins, Neil deGrasse Tyson and other prominent scientists. Mr. Harris said something that he thought was obvious on its face: Not all cultures are equally conducive to human flourishing. Some are superior to others.
''Until that time I had been criticizing religion, so the people who hated what I had to say were mostly on the right,'' Mr. Harris said. ''This was the first time I fully understood that I had an equivalent problem with the secular left.''
After his talk, in which he disparaged the Taliban, a biologist who would go on to serve on President Barack Obama's Commission for the Study of Bioethical Issues approached him. ''I remember she said: 'That's just your opinion. How can you say that forcing women to wear burqas is wrong?' But to me it's just obvious that forcing women to live their lives inside bags is wrong. I gave her another example: What if we found a culture that was ritually blinding every third child? And she actually said, 'It would depend on why they were doing it.''' His jaw, he said, ''actually fell open.''
Image Sam Harris Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times ''The moral confusion that operates under the banner of 'multiculturalism' can blind even well-educated people to the problems of intolerance and cruelty in other communities,'' Mr. Harris said. ''This had never fully crystallized for me until that moment.''
Before September 2016, Jordan Peterson was an obscure psychology professor at the University of Toronto. Then he spoke out against Canada's Bill C-16, which proposed amending the country's human-rights act to outlaw discrimination based on gender identity and expression. He resisted on the grounds that the bill risked curtailing free speech by compelling people to use alternative gender pronouns. He made YouTube videos about it. He went on news shows to protest it. He confronted protesters calling him a bigot. When the university asked him to stop talking about it, including sending two warning letters, he refused.
While most people in the group faced down comrades on the political left, Ben Shapiro confronted the right. He left his job as editor at large of Breitbart News two years ago because he believed it had become, under Steve Bannon's leadership, ''Trump's personal Pravda.'' In short order, he became a primary target of the alt-right and, according to the Anti-Defamation League, the No. 1 target of anti-Semitic tweets during the presidential election.
Other figures in the I.D.W., like Claire Lehmann, the founder and editor of the online magazine Quillette, and Debra Soh, who has a Ph.D. in neuroscience, self-deported from the academic track, sensing that the spectrum of acceptable perspectives and even areas of research was narrowing. Dr. Soh said that she started ''waking up'' in the last two years of her doctorate program. ''It was clear that the environment was inhospitable to conducting research,'' she said. ''If you produce findings that the public doesn't like, you can lose your job.''
When she wrote an op-ed in 2015 titled ''Why Transgender Kids Should Wait to Transition,'' citing research that found that a majority of gender dysphoric children outgrow their dysphoria, she said her colleagues warned her, ''Even if you stay in academia and express this view, tenure won't protect you.''
Nowadays Ms. Soh has a column for Playboy and picks up work as a freelance writer. But that hardly pays the bills. She's planning to start a podcast soon and, like many members of the I.D.W., has a Patreon account where ''patrons'' can support her work.
These donations can add up. Mr. Rubin said his show makes at least $30,000 a month on Patreon. And Mr. Peterson says he pulls in some $80,000 in fan donations each month.
Mr. Peterson has endured no small amount of online hatred and some real-life physical threats: In March, during a lecture at Queen's University in Ontario, a woman showed up with a garrote. But like many in the I.D.W., he also seems to relish the outrage he inspires.
''I've figured out how to monetize social justice warriors,'' Mr. Peterson said in January on Joe Rogan's podcast. On his Twitter feed, he called the writer Pankaj Mishra, who'd written an essay in The New York Review of Books attacking him, a ''sanctimonious prick'' and said he'd happily slap him.
And the upside to his notoriety is obvious: Mr. Peterson is now arguably the most famous public intellectual in Canada, and his book ''12 Rules for Life'' is a best-seller.
The exile of Bret Weinstein and Ms. Heying from Evergreen State brought them to the attention of a national audience that might have come for the controversy but has stayed for their fascinating insights about subjects including evolution and gender. ''Our friends still at Evergreen tell us that the protesters think they destroyed us,'' Ms. Heying said. ''But the truth is we're now getting the chance to do something on a much larger scale than we could ever do in the classroom.''
''I've been at this for 25 years now, having done all the MSM shows, including Oprah, Charlie Rose, 'The Colbert Report,' Larry King '-- you name it,'' Michael Shermer, the publisher of Skeptic magazine, told me. ''The last couple of years I've shifted to doing shows hosted by Joe Rogan, Dave Rubin, Sam Harris and others. The I.D.W. is as powerful a media as any I've encountered.''
Mr. Shermer, a middle-aged science writer, now gets recognized on the street. On a recent bike ride in Santa Barbara, Calif., he passed a work crew and ''the flag man stopped me and says: 'Hey, you're that skeptic guy, Shermer! I saw you on Dave Rubin and Joe Rogan!''' When he can't watch the shows on YouTube, he listens to them as podcasts on the job. On breaks, he told Mr. Shermer, he takes notes.
''I've had to update Quillette's servers three times now because it's caved under the weight of the traffic,'' Ms. Lehmann said about the publication most associated with this movement.
Image Michael Shermer Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times Yet there are pitfalls to this audience-supported model. One risk is what Eric Weinstein has called ''audience capture.'' Since stories about left-wing-outrage culture '-- the fact that the University of California, Berkeley, had to spend $600,000 on security for Mr. Shapiro's speech there, say '-- take off with their fans, members of the Intellectual Dark Web may have a hard time resisting the urge to deliver that type of story. This probably helps explain why some people in this group talk constantly about the regressive left but far less about the threat from the right.
''There are a few people in this network who have gone without saying anything critical about Trump, a person who has assaulted truth more than anyone in human history,'' Mr. Harris said. ''If you care about the truth, that is quite strange.''
Emphasis is one problem. Associating with genuinely bad people is another.
Go a click in one direction and the group is enhanced by intellectuals with tony affiliations like Steven Pinker at Harvard. But go a click in another and you'll find alt-right figures like Stefan Molyneux and Milo Yiannopoulos and conspiracy theorists like Mike Cernovich (the #PizzaGate huckster) and Alex Jones (the Sandy Hook shooting denier).
It's hard to draw boundaries around an amorphous network, especially when each person in it has a different idea of who is beyond the pale.
''I don't know that we are in the position to police it,'' Mr. Rubin said. ''If this thing becomes something massive '-- a political or social movement '-- then maybe we'd need to have some statement of principles. For now, we're just a crew of people trying to have the kind of important conversations that the mainstream won't.''
But is a statement of principles necessary to make a judgment call about people like Mr. Cernovich, Mr. Molyneux and Mr. Yiannopoulos? Mr. Rubin has hosted all three on his show. And he appeared on a typically unhinged episode of Mr. Jones's radio show, ''Infowars.'' Mr. Rogan regularly lets Abby Martin '-- a former 9/11 Truther who is strangely sympathetic to the regimes in Syria and Venezuela '-- rant on his podcast. He also encouraged Mr. Jones to spout off about the moon landing being fake during Mr. Jones's nearly four-hour appearance on his show. When asked why he hosts people like Mr. Jones, Mr. Rogan has insisted that he's not an interviewer or a journalist. ''I talk to people. And I record it. That's it,'' he has said.
Mr. Rubin doesn't see this is a problem. ''The fact is that Jones reaches millions of people,'' he said. ''Going on that show means I get to reach them, and I don't think anyone is a lost cause. I've gotten a slew of email from folks saying that they first heard me on Jones, but then watched a bunch of my interviews and changed some of their views.''
Image Dave Rubin Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times The subject came up at that dinner in Los Angeles. Mr. Rubin, whose mentor is Larry King, insisted his job is just to let the person sitting across from him talk and let the audience decide. But with a figure like Mr. Cernovich, who can occasionally sound reasonable, how is a viewer supposed to know better?
Of course, the whole notion of drawing lines to keep people out is exactly what inspired the Intellectual Dark Web folks in the first place. They're committed to the belief that setting up no-go zones and no-go people is inherently corrupting to free thought.
''You have to understand that the I.D.W. emerged as a response to a world where perfectly reasonable intellectuals were being regularly mislabeled by activists, institutions and mainstream journalists with every career-ending epithet from 'Islamophobe' to 'Nazi,''' Eric Weinstein said. ''Once I.D.W. folks saw that people like Ben Shapiro were generally smart, highly informed and often princely in difficult conversations, it's more understandable that occasionally a few frogs got kissed here and there as some I.D.W. members went in search of other maligned princes.''
But people who pride themselves on pursuing the truth and telling it plainly should be capable of applying these labels when they're deserved. It seems to me that if you are willing to sit across from an Alex Jones or Mike Cernovich and take him seriously, there's a high probability that you're either cynical or stupid. If there's a reason for shorting the I.D.W., it's the inability of certain members to see this as a fatal error.
What's more, this frog-kissing plays perfectly into the hands of those who want to discredit the individuals in this network. In recent days, for example, Mr. Harris has been labeled by the Southern Poverty Law Center as a bridge to the alt-right: ''Under the guise of scientific objectivity, Harris has presented deeply flawed data to perpetuate fear of Muslims and to argue that black people are genetically inferior to whites.''
That isn't true. The group excoriated Mr. Harris, a fierce critic of the treatment of women and gays under radical Islam, for saying that ''some percentage, however small'' of Muslim immigrants are radicalized. He has also estimated that some 20 percent of Muslims worldwide are Islamists or jihadis. But he has never said that this should make people fear all Muslims. He has defended the work of the social scientist Charles Murray, who argues that genetic differences may explain differences in average IQ across racial groups '-- while insisting that this does not make one group inferior to another.
But this kind of falsehood is much easier to spread when other figures in the I.D.W. are promiscuous about whom they'll associate with. When Mr. West tweeted his praise for Ms. Owens, the responses of the people in the network reflected each person's attitude toward this problem. Dave Rubin took to Twitter to defend Ms. Owens and called Mr. West's tweet a ''game changer.'' Jordan Peterson went on ''Fox and Friends'' to discuss it. Bret Weinstein subtweeted his criticism of these choices: ''Smart, skeptical people are often surprisingly susceptible to being conned if a ruse is tailored to their prejudices.'' His brother was convinced that Mr. West was playing an elaborate game of chess. Ms. Heying and Mr. Harris ignored the whole thing. Ben Shapiro mostly laughed it off.
Mr. West is a self-obsessed rabble-rouser who brags about not reading books. But whether or not one approves of the superstar's newest intellectual bauble, it is hard to deny that he has consistently been three steps ahead of the zeitgeist.
So when he tweets ''only freethinkers'' and ''It's no more barring people because they have different ideas,'' he is picking up on a real phenomenon: that the boundaries of public discourse have become so proscribed as to make impossible frank discussions of anything remotely controversial.
''So many of our institutions have been overtaken by schools of thought, which are inherently a dead end,'' Bret Weinstein said. ''The I.D.W. is the unschooling movement.''
Am I a member of this movement? A few months ago, someone suggested on Twitter that I should join this club I'd never heard of. I looked into it. Like many in this group, I am a classical liberal who has run afoul of the left, often for voicing my convictions and sometimes simply by accident. This has won me praise from libertarians and conservatives. And having been attacked by the left, I know I run the risk of focusing inordinately on its excesses '-- and providing succor to some people whom I deeply oppose.
I get the appeal of the I.D.W. I share the belief that our institutional gatekeepers need to crack the gates open much more. I don't, however, want to live in a culture where there are no gatekeepers at all. Given how influential this group is becoming, I can't be alone in hoping the I.D.W. finds a way to eschew the cranks, grifters and bigots and sticks to the truth-seeking.
''Some say the I.D.W. is dangerous,'' Ms. Heying said. ''But the only way you can construe a group of intellectuals talking to each other as dangerous is if you are scared of what they might discover.''
Bari Weiss is a staff editor and writer for the Opinion section.
Damon Winter joined The Times as a photographer in 2007. He won the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Photography for his coverage of Barack Obama's presidential campaign.
Syria
Elusive ISIS leader al-Baghdadi believed hiding out in Syrian frontier | Fox News
Mon, 07 May 2018 18:50
MOSUL, Iraq '' ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi - still the world's most wanted man, with a $25 million bounty on his head - is believed to be very much at large, quite possibly in a desert area of Syria.
That's the assessment of multiple officials who say Baghdadi - whose real name is Ibrahim Awwad Ibrahim al-Basri - is likely sheltering in a remaining ISIS bastion in the Euphrates River Valley, a barren terrain with vast open plains, on the Syrian side of the porous border with Iraq.
''The last information we have is he is in Al-Hajin in Syria, 18 miles from the border in Deir ez-Zor province,'' Abu Ali al-Basri, director-general of the intelligence and counter-terrorism office at the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, told Fox News on Sunday. Al-Basri said fresh information about Baghdadi's whereabouts has come as recently as the last couple of days, and is being used conduct a''multi-force raid'' with Russian, Syrian and Iranian troops.
"It's not difficult for him to hide in the Syrian desert," Iraqi Gen. Yahya Rasool said of al-Baghdadi. (Hollie McKay/Fox News)
Brig. Gen. Yahya Rasool, spokesperson for the Iraqi Ministry of Defense and for the Joint Operations Command, affirmed Baghdadi likely survives on the border east of the Euphrates River - with Syria's Al Shadaddi in the al-Hasakh province another possible location. ''It is not difficult for him to hide in the Syrian desert,'' Rasool said.
That's also the view of the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), who believe Baghdadi is in one of the "tens of villages" along Iraqi-Syrian border, according to SDF spokesperson, Mustafa Bali.
While ISIS has been largely defeated across Syria and Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition this past week continued to carry out some 27 air strikes against remaining targets near Abu Kamal, Deir ez-Zor and Al Shadaddi on the Syrian side, as well as near Mosul, Ar Rutbah and Al Huwayjah on the Iraq side.
Hisham al-Hishami, a member of the National Reconciliation Commission and researcher in extremism and terrorism affairs - who advises both the Iraq and several foreign governments on ISIS activity, said the land where Baghdadi may be hiding out ''is very large, and he can hide in thousands of square miles between Iraq and Syria,'' he said.
Hishami said the last solid sighting of Baghdadi was in the summer of 2017, in Iraq's Ninawa province, near Mosul.
''I met with people and some of Baghdadi's assistants who been captured and they said he is able to hide because he moves without a convoy or body guards,'' he said. ''There are just three people with him his son, his son-in-law and his friend and driver.''
Sadeq al-Husseini, head of the security committee of eastern Iraq's Diyala provincial council - which in recent months has endured several ISIS attacks amid Iraqi forces' successful efforts to routinely kill and capture many of the group's remaining chiefdoms - also told Fox News that Baghdadi left Iraq for Syria at some point during the liberation of Mosul.
''Baghdadi himself is a coward and ran away like a rat. He is alive but outside Iraqi lands. If he stayed in Mosul, he would be very easy haunting Iraqi forces, or killed in Mosul.''
Husseini said that in Syria, Baghdadi is able to use an array of ''disguises,'' like dressing as a woman. Basri also believes Baghdadi dons ''modern clothes,'' and lives without any electronic devices.
Experts also said Baghdadi may not have any contact with other ISIS members, and never remains in areas when the fighting or strikes become too intense.
Al-Baghdadi last appeared at the Grand al-Nuri mosque in Mosul - shown here after fighting badly damaged it - to declare himself the so-called ''caliph of ISIS.'' (Hollie McKay/Fox News)
Baghdadi was frequently known to ''move around a lot'' between Syria and Iraq, and was protected not only by his devoted circle of pledgers, but local Arab tribes in and around the areas under ISIS control. But he is believed to have been seriously wounded on multiple occasions, which has significantly hampered his ability to move.
Russian officials last May claimed Baghdadi had been killed in one of their strikes outside of Raqqa, Syria. But such claims were never proven. Reports since have surfaced that he may have been badly wounded in the Russian attack, but survived.
Rasool said Baghdadi almost certainly also sustained ''severe injuries'' months earlier from an F-16 bomber strike in Iraq's al-Qaim area, which killed several of his guards. And in March, 2015 in the Iraqi town of Sharqat near the Tigris River, just under 200 miles north-west of Baghdad, authorities are said to have accurately targeted him. But again, he presumably survived.
''He has been injured at least three times, twice in Iraq and once in Syria,'' said Basri. ''He has severe injuries to his legs and his health his not good.''
A U.S.-based intelligence source told Fox News they are operating on the premise that Baghdadi is still alive, until conclusively proven otherwise. Another well-placed American intelligence insider affirmed that with the last 30 days, there have been strong markers that suggest ''he is very much alive.''
Sightings and voice interceptions of the shadowy figure, who is believed to be around 47 years old - have emerged from time to time throughout his reign. But the only known public appearance of Baghdadi came in June, 2014, when he appeared at the now-decimated Grand al-Nuri mosque in the old city of Mosul to declare himself the so-called ''caliph.''
In September, Baghdadi's alleged voice surfaced on a recording urging his followers to ''fan the flames of war on your enemies'' and continue fighting in Iraq and pursuing attacks on foreign lands. While the audio was undated, he made reference to several then-current issues - including the escalating threats between the US and North Korea and the recapture of Mosul.
And in March, ISIS media wing released a video via encrypted messenger app Telegram glorifying the attack in Niger last October - in which four U.S. Green Berets and five Nigerien troops were killed - while at the same time paying tribute to Baghdadi.
Ebola
WHO Declares Ebola Outbreak After Democratic Republic Of The Congo Confirms 2 Cases | HuffPost
Wed, 09 May 2018 10:50
The World Health Organization has declared an outbreak of Ebola after the Democratic Republic of the Congo confirmed two cases of the deadly viral hemorrhagic fever.
At least 10 more cases are suspected in the northwestern town of Bikoro, Dr. Jean-Jacques Muyembe-Tamfum, the head of the DRC's National Institute for Biomedical Research, said Tuesday.
In the past five weeks, the DRC has seen 21 suspected cases with Ebola-like symptoms and 17 deaths.
A team of experts from WHO, Doctors Without Borders and the central African country's Provincial Division of Health traveled on Tuesday to the outbreak area. WHO said in a statement that it is working with the DRC government to ''rapidly scale up its operations and mobilize health partners using the model of a successful response to a similar EVD [Ebola virus disease] outbreak in 2017.''
According to Doctors Without Borders spokesperson Brienne Prusak, the humanitarian medical organization has been supporting the DRC Ministry of Health on the ground in its investigation of the current outbreak since last Saturday.
''Time is of the essence,'' WHO spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic told HuffPost. ''The faster you get to the core of the outbreak and the quicker you get in place those necessary measures '• isolating those people who are sick, identifying contacts they know '• it [increases] the chances you have that the virus will not spread somewhere else.''
All means of air travel and other transportation methods are being used to get to the town quickly, Jasarevic said. He noted that the team is currently in discussions about setting up a mobile laboratory unit and whether to deploy some of the Ebola vaccine.
Last year's DRC outbreak was contained shortly before an agreement on using the vaccine was reached, so its potential use this year would mark its first deployment in the country.
Ebola is considered endemic in the DRC, and this is the second outbreak there in less than a year. Last May, an outbreak in the northern part of the country led to eight infections and four deaths.
The virus typically spreads among humans in one of two ways: through exposure to animals that carry it '• often bats or bushmeat (that is, wild animals caught and eaten in the region, such as monkeys, antelope and rats) '• or through exposure to bodily fluids of infected patients. The average fatality rate for Ebola is 50 percent.
The last major Ebola outbreak that swept through West Africa officially ended more than two years ago, killing approximately 11,300 people and infecting 28,600. Global health experts have called WHO's failure to quickly raise the alarm and adequately respond to that epidemic, which began in 2014, an ''egregious failure.''
The difference in response between 2014 and now is ''night and day,'' according to Loyce Pace, the president and executive director of the Global Health Leadership Council, a membership organization that lobbies for global health priorities. In this ''new normal,'' Pace said the world health community must immediately dispatch resources and enlist international actors to fight outbreaks.
''The global health community collectively has learned its lesson,'' she said, although she added that some pandemic preparedness issues still need to be worked out.
While the global health community has improved its mobilization efforts, U.S. leadership is sending mixed messages.
Recently, Congress almost doubled global health security funding for the U.S. Agency for International Development and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But President Donald Trump's stance has been to cut such global health aid. Previous versions of the president's budgets have called for spending reductions at the CDC, USAID and the Global Fund.
Trump's newly proposed rescissions package includes the taking back of $252 million not spent on the 2014-16 Ebola outbreak. While technically the money was aimed at the Ebola outbreak, officials have been directing the remaining funds toward other public health outbreaks, such as the Zika virus.
This kind of mixed government messaging undermines the U.S. as a world leader and, more importantly, harms global preparedness and commitment to fighting potential pandemics, Pace said.
''We need to keep our foot on the gas when it comes to global health security,'' Pace argued. ''We don't necessarily know what the next Ebola or Zika could be, and it's pretty irresponsible not to stay ahead of the curve considering the resources we have as a country.''
Trump's track record on Ebola itself includes his infamous tweets (over 100 of them during the last major outbreak) lobbying to close U.S. borders and institute a travel ban against those infected '• steps that public health experts said would worsen the problem by driving people to hide their travel.
The U.S. cannot allow EBOLA infected people back. People that go to far away places to help out are great-but must suffer the consequences!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 2, 2014Amy Pope, a senior Obama administration counterterrorism official who worked on that outbreak, told The Hill last week that Trump's tweets contributed to the escalating national fear of the deadly virus.
The president has yet to comment publicly about the new outbreak.
New outbreak of Ebola kills 17 in northwest DR Congo
Wed, 09 May 2018 11:06
Ebola is one of the world's most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal (AFP Photo/CARL DE SOUZA)
Kinshasa (AFP) - Seventeen people in northwest Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have died from Ebola, the health ministry said on Tuesday, describing the fresh outbreak as a "public health emergency with international impact."
"Twenty-one cases of fever with haemorrhagic indications and 17 deaths" have been recorded in Equateur province, it said, citing a notification to the ministry as of May 3.
It is the DRC's ninth known outbreak of Ebola since 1976, when the deady viral disease was first identified in then-Zaire by a Belgian-led team.
In Geneva, the World Health Organization (WHO) said lab tests in the DRC confirmed the presence of Ebola virus in two out of five samples collected from patients.
"WHO is working closely with the government of the DRC to rapidly scale up its operations and mobilize health partners, using the model of a successful response to a similar... outbreak in 2017," it said in a statement.
It said it had released $1 million (840,000 euros) from an emergency contingency fund, set up a coordination group and deployed more than 50 experts to work with the DRC government and health agencies.
The outbreak occurred in Bikoro, on the shores of Lake Tumba.
All the cases were reported from a clinic at Ilkoko Iponge, located about 30 kilometres (20 miles) from Bikoro, where treatment capacities are limited, the WHO said.
A team of experts from the WHO, Doctors without Borders (DRC) and Equateur province travelled to Bikoro on Tuesday to beef up coordination and carry out investigations, it said.
Ebola is one of the world's most notorious diseases, being both highly infectious and extremely lethal.
It is caused by a virus that has a natural reservoir in the bat, which does not itself fall ill, but can pass the microbe on to humans who hunt it for "bushmeat".
The virus is handed on by contact with bodily fluids -- touching a sick or dead person is a well-known source of infection.
Following an incubation period of between two and 21 days, Ebola develops into a high fever, weakness, intense muscle and joint pain, headaches and a sore throat.
That is often followed by vomiting and diarrhoea, skin eruptions, kidney and liver failure, and internal and external bleeding.
The worst-ever Ebola outbreak started in December 2013 in southern Guinea before spreading to two neighbouring west African countries, Liberia and Sierra Leone.
That outbreak killed more than 11,300 people out of nearly 29,000 registered cases, according to WHO estimates, although the real figure is thought to be significantly higher.
More than 99 percent of victims were in the three West African countries, although cases occurred in other parts of the world, often stirring panic.
Related Video: Could We Handle Another Crisis Like Ebola
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Supermarket Releases Special Packaging for Millennials Who Hate Touching Raw Meat - MUNCHIES
Mon, 07 May 2018 18:49
Being under 30 is rough. You have to sit by while old people (over 40s) loudly unwrap their Werther's Originals and make sweeping generalizations about your avocado obsession and your participation trophies. You have to worry about your overwhelming student loan payments, about our dwindling natural resources, and whether or not you should be OK with the yodeling Walmart kid showing up at Coachella. And on top of that, you occasionally have to handle raw meat.
But one of Britain's biggest supermarket chains wants to eliminate the ''Y THO''-levels of stress from meat-touching, and is launching touch-free packages of meat just for its squeamish Millennial customers. Sainsbury's says that its new chicken packaging will allow dry-heaving home cooks to slide the meat directly from the plastic pouch into the pan, and will not require them to place a single finger on a piece of glistening poultry flesh. Sainsbury's says, ''You're welcome.''
According to The Sunday Times, the chain decided to change its packaging after a marketing research survey revealed that 37 percent of Millennials said they ''preferred not to handle raw meat'' while they cooked their meals. ''Customers, particularly younger ones, are quite scared of touching raw meat,'' Katherine Hall, product development manager for meat, fish and poultry at Sainsbury's, told the outlet. ''These bags allow people, especially those who are time-poor, to just 'rip and tip' the meat straight into the frying pan without touching it.''
Hall said that some of Sainsbury's twentysomething customers are freaked out because of a ''lack of education'' about food safety or because they're so used to eating out, that they'd just ''prefer someone else'' to cook for them. Still others are worried about the potential for getting food poisoning from raw poultry. (Hall said one focus group participant admitted spraying an antibacterial disinfectant on a plate of chicken before she prepared it, a seasoning technique that hopefully she never repeated. Or served to anyone. Or ate).
Although some customers might breathe legit sighs of relief, a lot of others are either dismissively rolling their eyes or clenching their own jaws in irritation. ''So they are adding MORE plastic packaging when other retailers are trying to reduce? Crazy @sainsburys! If you can't bear to touch raw meat you shouldn't be eating it.'' one critic tweeted, a sentiment that was frequently repeated in the supermarket's mentions. And one Welsh paper covered Sainsbury's announcement with an entire paragraph explaining why Millennials deserved that overused precipitation-based epithet. ''So-called Millennials'--those born after 1980'--have been dubbed the ''snowflake'' generation by their elders,'' the Daily Post harrumphed. ''This is largely down to their generally sensitive and liberal approach to politics and heightened self awareness'--although often stereotyped as sheltered and entitled.''
Sainsbury's says that the new chicken packages will be available in its stores on May 3. Here's hoping everyone can get by until then.
How white women use strategic tears to avoid accountability | Ruby Hamad | Opinion | The Guardian
Tue, 08 May 2018 16:02
T hat the voices of ''women of colour'' are getting louder and more influential is a testament less to the accommodations made by the dominant white culture and more to their own grit in a society that implicitly '' and sometimes explicitly '' wants them to fail.
At the Sydney writers' festival on Sunday, editor of Djed Press, Hella Ibrahim, relayed the final minutes of a panel on diversity featuring writers from the western Sydney Sweatshop collective. One of the panellists, Winnie Dunn, in answering a question about the harm caused by good intentions, had used the words ''white people'' and ''shit'' in the same sentence. This raised the ire of a self-identified white woman in the audience who interrogated the panellists as to ''what they think they have to gain'' by insulting people who ''want to read their stories.''
In other words, the woman saw a personal attack where there wasn't one and decided to remind the panellists that as a member of the white majority she ultimately has their fate in her hands.
''I walked out of that panel frustrated,'' Ibrahim wrote. ''Because yet again, a good convo was derailed, white people centred themselves, and a POC panel was told to police it's [sic] tone to make their message palatable to a white audience.''
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Trauma assails brown and black women from all directions. There is the initial pain of being subjected to gendered racism and discrimination, there is the additional distress of not being believed or supported, and of having your words and your bravery seemingly credited to others.
And then there is a type of trauma inflicted on women of colour that many of us find among the hardest to disclose, the one that few seem willing to admit really happens because it is so thoroughly normalised most people refuse to see it.
It is what that writers' festival audience member was demonstrating, and what blogger and author Luvvie Ajayi called the ''weary weaponising of white women's tears''.
To put it less poetically, it is the trauma caused by the tactic many white women employ to muster sympathy and avoid accountability, by turning the tables and accusing their accuser.
Almost every BW (black woman) I know has a story about a time in a professional setting in which she attempted to have a talk with a WW about her behavior & it has ended with the WW (white woman) crying,'' one black woman wrote on Twitter. ''The WW wasn't crying because she felt sorry and was deeply remorseful. The WW was crying because she felt ''bullied'' and/or that the BW was being too harsh with her.''
When I shared these tweets on my Facebook page asking brown and black women if this had ever happened to them, I was taken by how deeply this resonated, prompting one Arab woman to share this story:
A WW kept touching my hair. Pulling my curls to watch them bounce back. Rubbing the top. Smelling it. So when I told her to stop and complained to HR and my supervisor, she complained that I wasn't a people person or team member and I had to leave that position for being 'threatening' to a coworker.''
For the doubters, here is a mild version of this sleight-of-hand in action:
Notice it is the white woman '' Jeanne Beker '' who first interrupts the black woman '' Jully Black '' who takes the interruption in her stride. Black continues to speak passionately and confidently, which Beker interprets as a personal attack on her even though Black is clearly talking in general terms (just as Winnie Dunn was). Beker then attempts to shut Black down by essentially branding her a bully.
Had Jully Black not stopped and repeated Jeanne Beker's words back at her '' ''Why are you attacking me?'' '' they would have passed largely unnoticed, just another woman of colour smeared as an aggressor for daring to continue speaking when a white woman wanted her to stop.
It doesn't usually end this way. ''White women tears are especially potent '... because they are attached to the symbol of femininity,'' Ajayi explains. ''These tears are pouring out from the eyes of the one chosen to be the prototype of womanhood; the woman who has been painted as helpless against the whims of the world. The one who gets the most protection in a world that does a shitty job overall of cherishing women.''
As I look back over my adult life a pattern emerges. Often, when I have attempted to speak to or confront a white woman about something she has said or done that has impacted me adversely, I am met with tearful denials and indignant accusations that I am hurting her. My confidence diminished and second-guessing myself, I either flare up in frustration at not being heard (which only seems to prove her point) or I back down immediately, apologising and consoling the very person causing me harm.
It is not weakness or guilt that compels me to capitulate. Rather, as I recently wrote, it is the manufactured reputation Arabs have for being threatening and aggressive that follows us everywhere. In a society that routinely places imaginary ''wide-eyed, angry and Middle Eastern'' people at the scenes of violent crimes they did not commit, having a legitimate grievance is no match for the strategic tears of a white damsel in distress whose innocence is taken for granted.
''We talk about toxic masculinity,'' Ajayi warns, ''but there is (also) toxicity in wielding femininity in this way.'' Brown and black women know we are, as musician Miss Blanks writes, ''imperfect victims''. That doesn't mean we are always in the right but it does mean we know that against a white woman's accusations, our perspectives will almost always go unheard either way.
Whether angry or calm, shouting or pleading, we are still perceived as the aggressors.
Likewise, white women are equally aware their race privileges them as surely as ours condemns us. In this context, their tearful displays are a form of emotional and psychological violence that reinforce the very system of white dominance that many white women claim to oppose.
' Ruby Hamad is a journalist and PhD candidate at the University of New South Wales
Armageddon
Alligators, sharks, mountain lions and other predators are making a comeback
Wed, 09 May 2018 20:13
Doyle Rice |
USA TODAY
43 minutes ago
We tried to kill them all, but some survived.
Now, after they were pushed to near-extinction, animals such as alligators, mountain lions and sharks are on the rebound. And they are returning to their previous habitats. The trouble is, we're there, too.
A new study said that these and many other large predators '-- on land and in the sea '-- are recolonizing areas that used to be prime hunting grounds for them, before humans decimated their populations.
"We can no longer chock up a large alligator on a beach or coral reef as an aberrant sighting," said study lead author Brian Silliman of Duke University. "It's not an outlier or short-term blip. It's the old norm, the way it used to be before we pushed these species onto their last legs in hard-to-reach refuges. Now, they are returning."
More: Humans have killed off most of Earth's big mammals. In 200 years, cows could be biggest ones left.
The study was published this week in the journal Current Biology.
The return of the animals also comes with an unexpected twist: It turns out they're far more adaptable to new habitats than had been thought. Instead of living only a specific habitat '-- alligators in swamps or orangutans in undisturbed forests '-- they can live and expand into very diverse habitats.
"Now that they are rebounding, they're surprising us by demonstrating how adaptable and cosmopolitan they really are," Silliman said. "It tells us these species can thrive in a much greater variety of habitats."
So animals such as sea otters, gray wolves, coyotes, mountain lions and bobcats are exploring and moving into places we wouldn't expect them to.
Keith Somerville of the University of Kent '-- who was not involved in this research '-- told Newsweek that many species, including some predators, are proving to be very adaptable to changing habitats.
Somerville noted, however, that "the downside, over time, will be when recolonizing predators come into conflict with humans."
Anecdotally, some of this appears to be coming true already. Just in the past week alone, alligators have made news several times:
And the most notorious recent alligator attack occurred in Walt Disney World in 2016, when an alligator dragged a 2-year-old boy to his death in a lake at the resort.
Originally Published 6 hours ago
Updated 43 minutes ago
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Trump Rotation
No Plan B
Florida School Shooting
Stoneman Douglas Shooter Was Assigned To Controversial Broward Discipline Program, Officials Admit | WJCT NEWS
Tue, 08 May 2018 10:48
Broward school district officials admitted Sunday that the confessed Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School gunman was assigned to a controversial disciplinary program, after the superintendent repeatedly claimed Nikolas Cruz had "no connection" to the alternative punishment designed to limit on-campus arrests.
Two sources with knowledge of Cruz's discipline records told WLRN he was referred to the so-called PROMISE Program for a three-day stint after committing vandalism at Westglades Middle School in 2013.
When asked for a response, a spokeswoman for Superintendent Robert Runcie stated on Friday that district administrators were aggressively analyzing Cruz's records. Then Tracy Clark said on Sunday afternoon the district had "confirmed" Cruz's referral to PROMISE after he vandalized a bathroom at the middle school on Nov. 25, 2013.
However, it's unclear if Cruz ever attended the program.
Clark said he appeared at Pine Ridge Education Center in Fort Lauderdale '-- an alternative school facility where PROMISE is housed '-- for an intake interview the day after the vandalism incident.
But, she said, "It does not appear that Cruz completed the recommended three-day assignment/placement." She said she did not want to "speculate" as to why.
The Broward Sheriff's Office has also said Cruz didn't attend PROMISE.
''The school board reports that there was no PROMISE program participation,'' BSO representative Jack Dale said during a recent meeting of a new state commission tasked with investigating the shooting.
The PROMISE program allows students who commit certain misdemeanors '-- there's an official list of 13 '-- at school to avoid getting involved with the criminal justice system. Instead, they attend the alternative school, where they receive counseling and other support.
PROMISE has come under scrutiny after 17 people died in the Feb. 14 shooting at Stoneman Douglas, in part because one of the injured survivors is planning a lawsuit that will argue the program led school leaders to demonstrate a lax attitude toward discipline.
Runcie and school board members remain steadfastly committed to PROMISE, which was designed to limit the ''school to prison pipeline'' at a time when more kids were getting arrested in Broward schools than any other district in the state. The administrators have worked to combat what they argue is a politically motivated attack based on ''misinformation'' and ''fake news.''
In his defense of the program, Runcie has touted its high success rate in preventing recidivism: Nearly 9 out of 10 kids who go to PROMISE don't commit another offense at school that would send them back there.
He has maintained there's no link between PROMISE and the shooting, calling it ''reprehensible'' that people have tried to use the tragedy to target the program.
''Let me reiterate this point,'' Runcie started off during an interview in his office last month. ''Nikolas Cruz, the shooter that was involved in this horrific accident at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, had no connection to the PROMISE program.''
During the same conversation, Runcie said: ''I'm not going to allow a shift from what our focus needs to be to a fictitious narrative that's being made up about a successful program that we have in Broward County that has no connection to the shooter or the situation at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.''
Clark, the spokeswoman for Runcie, said the superintendent has "correctly stated" Cruz wasn't in PROMISE when he was in high school at Stoneman Douglas. (However, Runcie hasn't always referred specifically to Cruz's time in high school.)
Cruz's high school discipline records, obtained by WLRN, show he got in trouble for fighting and verbal assault while at Stoneman Douglas '-- but those infractions didn't meet the eligibility requirements for PROMISE. In both cases, he was suspended.
During the interview last month, Runcie said he couldn't discuss details of Cruz's school records because of a federal law that shields student privacy.
And he stressed that school discipline procedures are more complicated when it comes to students with disabilities. Administrators are required by federal law to consider whether a student's misbehavior is related to his or her disability, and if it is determined that it is, they are required to provide support for the disability rather than punish the behavior.
Cruz was diagnosed with a developmental delay as a small child.
''Because there's been so much speculation about what [Cruz] may or may not have done, or what the district should have or should not have done, we've asked for an independent review by experts in the field to review his entire academic record and his experience within Broward County,'' Runcie said.
He added: ''That report will be available to the public in June.''
The district is holding an informational forum on PROMISE at 5 p.m. tonight at Piper High School in Sunrise.
WHAT IS PROMISE?
In the 2011-12 school year, more students were arrested at school, on the bus or at school-sponsored events in Broward County than any other district in Florida, according to a report from the state Department of Juvenile Justice. That year, there were 1,062 school-related arrests in Broward, nearly twice the number of arrests in larger Miami-Dade, which reported 552.
Nearly 70 percent of the arrests were for misdemeanor crimes, and there were instances of kids getting handcuffed for throwing spitballs, according to a Sun Sentinel report at the time. The district found that ''zero tolerance'' discipline policies were disproportionately affecting children who were black or disabled. Lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender students were also more likely to be arrested than their peers.
In part at the urging of civil rights groups, Runcie led an effort to reform the district's discipline policies. Administrators partnered with a variety of entities involved with juvenile justice '-- including law enforcement, the state attorney's office, Judge Elijah Williams of the Seventeenth Judicial Circuit of Florida, the NAACP, and a county-based government agency that focuses on children's affairs. The group consulted with another judge who had seen some success dealing with similar problems in Georgia.
The committee met for a year with the stated purpose of eliminating the ''school to prison pipeline.'' The result was PROMISE '-- an acronym that stands for Preventing Recidivism through Opportunities, Mentoring, Interventions, Supports and Education. It launched in 2013.
''The intention behind it was very clearly to find a way to impose consequences for bad behavior that wasn't too serious and didn't pose a threat to school safety,'' said Maria Schneider, assistant state attorney in charge of the Juvenile Division in Broward and a member of the committee that developed PROMISE.
She said the panel aimed to mitigate the damage that a possible criminal record could do to a young person later in life, when applying for college or jobs.
''Who wants to explain what they did when they were 13 years old, you know?'' she said. ''We wanted to find a way to minimize the harm.''
Under the program, students who commit one of 13 eligible misdemeanors at school are eligible to spend from three to 10 days in the PROMISE program at Pine Ridge Education Center.
Some of those infractions are petty theft under $300, trespassing, vandalism, possession or sale of alcohol or marijuana, bullying, harassment, fighting or assault that doesn't result in an injury.
Runcie has said about 1,600 to 2,000 students participate in PROMISE each year.
For the most part, school administrators try to handle the behavior concerns without involving law enforcement. But police are consulted under some circumstances; for example, when a student is caught with marijuana, cops are called to confiscate it.
''We provide intervention services,'' Runcie said. ''We try to get at the root cause of what's going on.''
Those services include therapy and instruction in conflict resolution and anger management. Students who get in trouble with alcohol or drugs can get substance abuse treatment. If teachers determine participants need long-term help, they coordinate mental health care with counselors from Nova Southeastern University.
The number of students committing the eligible misdemeanors has decreased steadily since the program was put in place, according to data from 2016, which was the most recent information the district would provide.
In 2013, the first year, 6,555 students committed infractions that would make them eligible for PROMISE. That's about 3 percent of the district's enrollment (excluding pre-kindergarten and charter schools). In 2016, that number dropped to 2,883, about 1.3 percent.
Also in 2016, the district found that 87.7 percent of students who went to PROMISE did not commit another infraction upon returning to their regular schools. About 2.5 percent of students commit three or more infractions.
''We know it's successful,'' Runcie said.
Laura Kolo is a longtime Broward teacher who has worked at PROMISE since its second year and now coordinates special education services for students with disabilities there. She said most students are assigned to the program because of fighting or drug possession.
''We see a lot of kids that come to our program that are angry, and they don't know how to deal with it,'' Kolo said.
Teachers there meet with the students one-and-one and also hold group sessions to try to get to the root cause of the misbehavior.
''They just want to talk,'' she said. ''They want to be heard.''
PUSHBACK AGAINST PROMISE
Anthony Borges, a 15-year-old Stoneman Douglas freshman, was the last survivor of the shooting to be released from the hospital. He was shot trying to shield others from bullets and is credited with saving up to 20 people.
''Anthony took five bullets from an AR-15 '-- two in his left leg, one in his right leg and two in his torso," said Alex Arreaza, a lawyer who is representing Borges and his family.
"At the time, he was probably weighing about 130 pounds. So it's incredible that he even survived, that he's even alive to talk about it," he said.
During a press conference on April 6, two days after Borges got home from the hospital, he and his family announced their intentions to sue several individuals and government agencies they argue were negligent in preventing the shooting '-- the Broward school district among them.
Arreaza read a statement on Borges' behalf, the student's words directed at Runcie.
''You failed us students, teachers and parents alike on so many levels,'' he said. ''I want to ask you today to please end your policy and agreement that you will not arrest people commiting crimes in our schools.''
Borges was referring to PROMISE.
Arreaza said later Borges doesn't have a problem with PROMISE itself, if it's implemented as intended. But he argued district administrators sent a message with PROMISE that students shouldn't be arrested at all, even if they commit more serious crimes.
He didn't cite specific examples but said he is gathering evidence to present in a lawsuit.
''If you have that atmosphere '-- how could you think nothing's going to happen?'' he said. ''Eventually a Nikolas Cruz is going to come around.''
Runcie has said people are conflating PROMISE with the district's full range of discipline policies, assuming administrators assign the relatively lenient punishment to students who commit felonies. He said that's not the case, stressing students who commit serious crimes are arrested and either suspended or expelled from traditional schools.
''The narrative out there that we have lawlessness going on in our schools '... is absolutely not true,'' Runcie said.
Borges isn't the only one who has made this argument. It has come up a lot during a series of public meetings held since the shooting, with teachers, students and parents arguing PROMISE is an example that the district isn't doing enough to punish criminal behavior.
And the program has high-profile critics on the right, some of whom have claimed there are connections between PROMISE and the Obama administration.
President Obama was supportive of Broward's PROMISE program and encouraged other school districts to adopt similar policies in federal guidance in 2014. But the program pre-dated Obama's focus on reforming school discipline.
Some have claimed the program was funded with federal dollars through Obama's signature Race To The Top competitive grant program. Broward officials said the program is funded completely with the district's own funds, not including any federal funding, but did not provide a detailed breakdown of the program's budget or its overall annual cost upon request.
Runcie previously worked in Chicago's public schools under Arne Duncan, who later served as Obama's secretary of education '-- a relationship some have highlighted when claiming the former president was behind the PROMISE program's creation.
U.S. Senator Marco Rubio has been a high-profile critic.
One big problem with this article today in @NYTimes the #Parkland killer was never in the ''Promise'' program this article touts as ''model'' to address racial disparity. That's point of my inquiries, not clear where killer was in the school discipline system. https://t.co/XyEu83Ab4D'-- Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) March 13, 2018
''The more we learn, the more it appears the problem is not the program or the [Department of Education] guidance itself, but the way it is being applied,'' the Republican tweeted. ''It may have created a culture discourages referral to law enforcement even in egregious cases like the #Parkland shooter.''
Rubio's office declined a request for an interview.
Conservative pundits have also cast a negative spotlight on PROMISE. FOX news host Laura Ingraham called PROMISE a ''perverse incentive to hide student criminality'' created in part by ''Obama bureaucrats.''
On her show, ''The Angle,'' Ingraham said: ''By turning Broward schools and those across the nation into these social justice petri dishes, [Runcie, the Broward sheriff and the Obama administration] may have facilitated a lunatic.''
Recently, Ingraham lost half of her show's advertisers after mocking Stoneman Douglas senior and gun control activist David Hogg on Twitter.
Runcie has said he won't let politics affect the effort to reform discipline policies.
''I'm not going to allow a shift from what our focus needs to be to a fictitious narrative that's being made up about a successful program that we have in Broward County,'' he said.
Schneider, from the state attorney's office, said she thinks people have assailed PROMISE in the aftermath of the shooting at Stoneman Douglas because they are frustrated and want answers.
''I think that all of us want to know why. Could this have been stopped? Could it have been prevented if something had been done differently? Would we not have ended up with 17 beautiful lives lost?'' she said.
PROMISE ''stands out there as an easy target,'' she said. ''Whether it's a fair target '-- I haven't seen any reason to believe that it is.''
'NO INTENT TO GET RID OF' PROMISE
While there's been plenty of harsh words about PROMISE at public meetings since the shooting, there's also evidence of community support.
At a school safety forum hosted by the district last month, a junior at J.P. Taravella High School in Coral Springs told the crowd that he went to PROMISE for six days after getting caught at school with a quarter ounce of marijuana.
''I attended the counseling with therapy, and every day, someone is talking to me about life choices,'' the student said. ''It just made me open my eyes and see the world in a whole different way. And I just want to thank the PROMISE program for giving me a second chance.''
The crowd cheered and applauded.
Another student who completed the program said it is the reason she's now considering a career in the military or studying medicine in college.
Her name is Ashley. She didn't want her last name to be included in this article, because she doesn't want the trouble she got into when she was younger to follow her after high school.
Ashley, now a senior at a Broward County high school, said she went to PROMISE for 10 days when she was a freshman. She didn't want to get into too much detail about what happened.
''My freshman year, I was hanging out with the wrong group of kids. There was peer pressure involved,'' she said.
''You know, you do things you don't really mean, and simple mistakes, and it just '... you're lucky if you get the chance to redeem yourself and try again,'' she said.
Ashley's mom said it was scary to face the possibility that her child could have been charged criminally for ''a big lapse in judgment.'' She didn't want her name included, either, for fear it would reveal her daughter's identity.
She said PROMISE helps kids realize they still have a future.
''This is not the end of whatever plans that they have,'' she said. ''It may just be the beginning.''
Runcie and school board members have vowed to protect PROMISE.
''There is no intent to get rid of the PROMISE program,'' board member Rosalind Osgood said at a meeting last month.
Board chair Nora Rupert agreed, echoing her: ''Nope.''
WLRN Broward County reporter Caitie Switalski contributed reporting.
Copyright 2018 WLRN 91.3 FM. To see more, visit
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Iran
War on Ca$h
Federal Budget 2018: Cash payments over $10,000 banned
Wed, 09 May 2018 11:08
THE days of cash-for-less discounts are officially coming to an end.
The government has introduced an economy-wide cash payment limit of $10,000 to keep dishonest tradies and businesses from rorting the system by taking cash in hand.
Treasurer Scott Morrison said the Black Economy Standing Taskforce will be beefed up to detect people making sneaky cash transactions through a rigorous identification system and ''mobile strike teams''.
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A black economy hotline will also be set up to allow people to dob in anyone who may be cheating the system.
''Cash provides an easy, anonymous and largely untraceable mechanism for conducting black economy activity,'' the response said.
''Cash payments make it easier to under-report income and avoid tax obligations. This allows businesses transacting in cash to undercut competitors and gain a competitive advantage.''
It said the taskforce had identified examples of ''large undocumented cash payments being made for houses, cars, yachts, agricultural crops and commodities'', which contribute to the $50 billion black economy and ''hurt honest businesses''.
The Australian Taxation Office will also carry out more audits and improve its data analytics in its effort to curb money laundering and criminal activity.
CRACKDOWN ON CASH PAYMENTS
From July 1, 2019, cash payments of more than $10,000 made to businesses for goods and services will be banned as the Turnbull Government seeks to crack down on the $50 billion ''black economy''.
''This will be bad news for criminal gangs, terrorists and those who are just trying to cheat on their tax or get a discount for letting someone else cheat on their tax,'' Mr Morrison said in his Budget speech. ''It's not clever. It's not OK. It's a crime.''
Under the measure, transactions over the threshold will have to be made through electronic transfer or by cheque, but transactions with financial institutions or between individuals will not be affected.
It's the most high-profile recommendation to be adopted from Treasury's Black Economy Taskforce, which was established in 2016 and made a number of interim recommendations incorporated into last year's Budget. The final report and the government response were released as part of Tuesday's Budget.
''There is a strong sense of community outrage at the inequality and unfair disadvantage created by the black economy,'' taskforce chair Michael Andrew said.
''I hope that by creating an efficient, level playing field we can lower taxes, treat all businesses and workers fairly, increase community services or reduce debt if all Australians operate within the rules.''
In its response, the government said it agreed with or supported the majority of the recommendations, including potentially requiring wages to be paid into bank accounts, effectively outlawing cash-in-hand payments. Workers in the ''gig economy'' will also face greater scrutiny.
The government said it was ''encouraging the transition to a digital society''.
Cash would ''still remain a legitimate means of purchasing goods and services'', but advances in digital technology were increasingly providing a viable alternative.
''Electronic transactions also offer a number of benefits for Australians, often being safer, easier and more cost-effective,'' it said.
''Consumer preferences are already driving this change with Australians being amongst the highest users of digital transactions in the world.''
Cash payments have fallen from 69 per cent of Australian transactions in 2007 to just 37 per cent in 2016, and Aussies are the world's biggest users of tap-and-go technology.
''Despite Australians embracing this change, there is a small cohort of people who continue to rely on cash to enable or fund their participation in the black economy,'' the response said.
''Australia is not alone in contemplating a cash limit. A number of other countries such as France, Portugal, Greece, Spain, Italy and Belgium have cash limits varying from $1600 to $4800. Israel and the UK have also been reported to be contemplating or consulting on cash limits.''
The government will also strengthen its business identity verification and overhaul how it manages the Australian Business Register, with the potential introduction of an ABN renewal scheme.
Multiple business registers across government, some of which still rely on paper-based forms and involve manual processing, are ''not adequately linked to enable the identification of fraudulent behaviour''.
It said streamlining and modernising the systems would make it easier to identify businesses that were creating multiple entities or hiding behind fraudulent credentials to avoid their obligations.
Financial Services Minister Kelly O'Dwyer said the report highlighted how the black economy was ''harming those less able to protect themselves and penalising those doing the right thing''.
''These people bear the cost of the individuals and businesses dishonestly participating in the black economy,'' she said. ''While the financial costs for businesses and individuals are significant, it is the societal costs that really bite.''
Meanwhile, an additional $318.5 million in funding over four years will be provided as part of the cash crackdown, which will include a new multi-agency Black Economy Standing Taskforce expected to bring in an additional $3 billion in revenue over the next four years.
frank.chung@news.com.au
Big Pharma
FDA warns of serious manufacturing violations in letter to EpiPen manufacturing facility - MarketWatch
Thu, 10 May 2018 00:17
The Food and Drug Administration described ''significant violations of current good manufacturing practice'' in a warning letter to a Pfizer Inc. unit that manufactures Mylan NV's EpiPen allergic reaction treatment.
The Pfizer PFE, +0.54% unit, Meridian Medical Technologies Inc., ''failed to thoroughly investigate multiple serious component and product failures... including failures associated with patient deaths and severe illness,'' the warning letter said, referring to an FDA inspection of a Missouri manufacturing facility between February and March of this year.
''You also failed to expand the scope of your investigations into these serious and life-threatening failures or take appropriate corrective actions, until FDA's inspection,'' said the letter.
See: Mylan stock slumps 1.3% after company says voluntary recall will include U.S. EpiPens
In February 2016, Meridian found that one unit of an EpiPen component that ensures the product delivers its dose of epinephrine did not work. The company rejected that lot and another one, but the company continued to manufacture its products while the investigation continued through October 2016, according to the FDA letter.
Meanwhile, Meridian received hundreds of complaints about EpiPens failing to operate in emergencies, ''including some situations in which patients subsequently died,'' with many of the complaints having to do with dose delivery issues, said the FDA letter, which was dated Tuesday and released publicly on Thursday.
The company did not thoroughly investigate the complaints, nor did it remove ''potentially defective products from the marketplace, even though you had identified a defect in one of the critical components used to manufacture the products and even though you ultimately confirmed the same or similar component defect as the root cause for multiple complaints,'' the FDA said.
A May 2016 investigation into a customer complaint found the same manufacturing defect from February, the FDA said, but the company concluded the defect was infrequent, did not link the two issues and decided not to take market action.
The FDA also took issue with how the company investigated complaints.
Of 171 complaint samples between 2014 and 2017 for products that did not activate correctly, Meridian disassembled and examined very few, the FDA said.
At the FDA's prompting, Meridian reopened an investigation it had closed in June 2016. But the company only recalled EpiPens after the FDA's inspection closed and ''after multiple discussions with FDA,'' the FDA said.
Thirteen of the recalled lots were distributed in the U.S.; all were recalled in March. A Wall Street analyst estimated at the time that the lots consisted of about 260,000 devices.
Mylan MYL, +3.82% emphasized at the time that the recall was a ''precautionary measure,'' citing reports of two EpiPens outside of the U.S. failing to activate. There was a possibility that the recalled lots contained a defective part and might not work in an emergency situation, Mylan said.
Read: Here's how much Mylan's U.S. EpiPen recall could cost it
The FDA also criticized Meridian's procedure for handling complaints, its systems for identifying existing and potential quality problems and its ability to verify that designs meet its specifications.
The regulator asked the company to review its manufacturing investigations and provide its plan for addressing safety risks, all within 15 days.
If the company does not promptly fix the violations, there may be legal action, and the FDA may not approve applications listing the manufacturing facility, the FDA said.
Mylan came under pressure last year for hiking the price of the EpiPen sixfold in the last few years. Mylan acquired the product in 2007 and the price increases since then were among the biggest of any top-selling brand drug. Mylan Chief Executive Heather Bresch was forced to testify to a congressional committee, where she was excoriated for the company's pricing decisions.
Mylan shares declined nearly 1% in moderate Thursday afternoon trade, while Pfizer shares rose a scant 0.3% in heavy trade, compared with a 0.1% decline in the S&P 500 SPX, +0.97%
Theres a shortage of US EpiPens and other allergic reaction treatments - MarketWatch
Thu, 10 May 2018 00:15
The U.S. has a shortage of EpiPens and other allergic reaction treatments called epinephrine auto-injectors.
The issue was raised by advocacy group Food Allergy Research and Education this week as a growing national problem, and the Food and Drug Administration later added Mylan's MYL, +3.82% authorized generic EpiPen and Impax Laboratories' pre-filled auto-injector to its drug shortage list on Wednesday.
Mylan's products have ''intermittent supply constraints due to manufacturing delays from the manufacturing partner,'' a Pfizer unit, and supply levels may vary, the FDA said, while Impax Laboratories Inc.'s IPXL, -2.00% products are in short supply because of an issue related to manufacturing practices. Another manufacturer, Kaleo, still has supply available.
EpiPen shortages have been reported in Canada and the United Kingdom for at least a month, but the FDA declined to declare a U.S. shortage until Wednesday, in spite of backorders at pharmacies and a report that all Wegmans pharmacies were out of EpiPens.
''Although EpiPens remain available from Mylan, there have been reports of local supply disruptions and Mylan has reported intermittent manufacturing constraints,'' said FDA spokesperson Lauren Smith Dyer. ''However, Mylan continues to release the product and the firm has provided a number which will be posted on our website to help pharmacies and patients locate EpiPens if they experience any difficulties.''
Those who are having trouble finding an epinephrine auto-injector can contact Mylan or Kaleo, Dyer said.
More than 400 people in 45 states surveyed by the group said they had trouble filling or refilling their prescriptions, according to the advocacy group FARE. The group began getting questions from patients about a possible shortage in mid-April.
Those surveyed reported back-orders at pharmacies in major cities, extended delays in re-filling prescriptions and having to shop around at multiple pharmacies.
Only a third of those surveyed were able to fill their prescriptions with another medication, according to the group, with some indicating this was due to issues with insurance coverage.
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP), a professional organization for pharmacists, also said earlier this month that there was a shortage of the EpiPen and Impax's generic Adrenaclick auto-injector.
Read our previous coverage: Wegmans EpiPens out of stock, but no U.S. shortage currently seen, FDA says
A shortage occurs when ''overall market demand is not being met by the manufacturers of the product,'' according to the FDA. The regulator keeps a drug shortage list, and drugmakers must report information about shortages to it.
But Mylan begs to differ about an EpiPen shortage.
On a Wednesday conference call, Chief Executive Heather Bresch said that ''ironically, they have to put that on the shortage list, to say there's not a shortage,'' referring to the FDA adding the EpiPen to its drug shortage list.
Like the FDA, Bresch also described it as a case of ''intermittent supply,'' and said the company is making sure it can supply all those who need an EpiPen.
Mylan shares dropped 2% on Tuesday and Impax shares dropped 2%. Mylan shares rose 3.5% in Wednesday trade after the company reported a first-quarter profit beat and revenue miss.
Related: You still can't buy this EpiPen competitor, eight months later
Mylan's manufacturing issues date back to a warning letter sent to the Missouri manufacturing facility, Pfizer's Meridian Medical Technologies, last fall.
See: FDA warns of serious manufacturing violations in letter to EpiPen manufacturing facility
FARE also questioned whether there was a connection between the supply issues and problems at a Pfizer PFE, +0.54% unit that manufactures the EpiPen.
Meridian had received hundreds of complaints about EpiPens failing to operate in emergencies between 2014 and 2017, but the facility didn't thoroughly investigate the ''serious component and product failures,'' according to the warning letter, ''including failures associated with patient deaths and severe illness.''
FARE also asked the FDA to push for other allergic reaction treatments from Teva TEVA, +2.28% and Adamis Pharmaceuticals Corp. ADMP, +1.30% which had its Symjepi product approved last July, though the product has not yet come to market.
Teva shares rose 1.5% on Tuesday, while Adamis shares rose 3.4%.
Music Bizz BS
Tidal Accused of Faking Streams to Boost Beyonc(C) and Kanye West - Rolling Stone
Wed, 09 May 2018 21:52
Tidal, Jay-Z's oft-beleaguered music-streaming service, has been accused of tampering with its streaming data to score higher numbers and payouts for Beyonc(C) and Kanye West's most recent albums.
In an extensive report, Norwegian newspaper Dagens N...ringsliv said it has investigated Tidal's internal data from a hard drive it obtained that contains ''billions of rows'' of song titles, user IDs, and country codes, and found that '' as translated by Music Business Worldwide '' ''Beyonc(C)'s and Kanye West's listener numbers on Tidal have been manipulated to the tune of several hundred million false plays,'' a practice that has ''generated massive royalty payouts at the expense of other artists.'' The newspaper's investigation kicked off in 2016, when Tidal claimed that West's album The Life of Pablo had been streamed 250 million times in its first 10 days, and that Beyonc(C)'s album Lemonade garnered 306 million streams in its first 15 days. At the time, Tidal reported 3 million subscribers, meaning that every subscriber would have been playing the albums nearly a dozen times a day.
Dagens N...ringsliv took its findings to the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, which assembled data security and cybercrime experts to put together a 78-page report concluding that Tidal seems to have intentionally manipulated its data for the two albums, as evidenced by the ''large presence of similar duplicate records'' for a large percentage of its user base.
Tidal disputes the accusations. ''This is a smear campaign from a publication that once referred to our employee as an 'Israeli Intelligence officer' and our owner as a 'crack dealer,''' a Tidal spokesperson tells Rolling Stone, referring to a January 2017 report in which Dagens N...ringsliv described Jay-Z and Roc Nation executive Lior Tibon with the aforementioned details. ''We expect nothing less from them than this ridiculous story, lies and falsehoods. The information was stolen and manipulated and we will fight these claims vigorously.''
In that January 2017 report, Dagens N...ringsliv also questioned Tidal's claim of reaching 3 million subscribers; around the same time, Midia Research analyst Mark Mulligan also said Tidal's active subscriber count, based on its revenue, could not be higher than 1 million. The music-streaming company, which currently operates in 52 countries, has not released an updated subscriber count since last year.
CLIPS
VIDEO - NIH director on new DNA collection program, protecting data - CBS News
Thu, 10 May 2018 15:14
News Latest Video US World Politics Entertainment Health MoneyWatch SciTech Crime Sports Shows CBS Evening News CBS This Morning 48 Hours 60 Minutes Sunday Morning Face The Nation Video CBSN Watch Live CBSN Originals CBSN On Assignment LIVE More In Depth Photos Podcasts Mobile Radio Local Shop Alerts Log In CBSN
VIDEO - Simon Sinek: Why Leaders Eat Last - YouTube
Thu, 10 May 2018 14:50
VIDEO - Lawsuit Accuses USA Taekwondo, Olympic Committee of Sex Trafficking | Advocate.com
Thu, 10 May 2018 13:44
SportsLawsuit Accuses USA Taekwondo, Olympic Committee of Sex Trafficking
Four female former Team USA Taekwondo athletes claim the team and the U.S. Olympic Committee subjected them to sex trafficking.
By
Advocate Video Team
Tue, 2018-05-08 18:15
Tags: Sports,
#MeTooREADER COMMENTS ()
VIDEO - John McAfee- Changes Bitcoin Prediction, Talks Facebook Privacy & FBI Director Comey - YouTube
Thu, 10 May 2018 10:19
VIDEO - Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi on flying taxis, the future and taking over a company in crisis - CBS News
Wed, 09 May 2018 23:17
Uber is releasing new information about Uber Air, an ambitious plan to launch a fleet of autonomous flying taxis in two years . "CBS This Morning" got the first look at the design models that will be on display at Tuesday's Uber Elevate Summit in Los Angeles.
"We think cities are going to go vertical in terms of transportation and we want to make that a reality," Dara Khosrowshahi told CBS News' Bianna Golodryga.
The Uber CEO said their new model of an air taxi shows the company's vision for the future of transportation. It's a world where passengers request an Uber Air on their phone, then head to rooftop sky ports where the aircraft take off. "We want to create the network around those vehicles so that regular people can take these taxis in the air for longer distances when they want to avoid traffic at affordable prices," Khosrowshahi said.
Design models of Uber's flying taxi.
CBS News
Uber's chief product officer, Jeff Holden, said the program is meant to be "community friendly." He says they're still in the design phase and explained the technology works similar to a helicopter, with stacked rotors to create lift. But unlike a helicopter, the aircraft will have clusters of small propellers and run on electricity, making it quieter, more efficient and more affordable.
Although piloted at first, the goal is for the flying taxis to become autonomous. But questions remain about how they will guarantee safety. Uber also said for the program to become profitable it will need to move beyond a niche market. "One of the key tenets of this technology is for us to have four riders in each vehicle. So, essentially, the cost per ride goes down," he said. "The combination of mass market and sharing, which is really what Uber is all about, can bring this to the masses, can make it affordable for normal people."
Khosrowshahi took over a company in crisis when he replaced Travis Kalanick as CEO in August. The eight-year-old company is still not profitable.
Full-size design models of Uber's flying taxi.
CBS News
"Ambition is what has created this company from the very beginning," Khosrowshahi said. "Part of what made this company great is that we take big, bold bets. That's part of the norms and the culture of this company and this is another big, bold bet that we think ultimately is something that the cities of the future are going to need."
While Khosrowshahi is focused on the future, the company is still navigating a troubled past including a March accident involving a self-driving Uber with a safety driver behind the wheel that killed a pedestrian. The CEO says the software that decides how the vehicle reacts to objects on the road may have played a role in that crash, but the company is waiting on the results of an NTSB investigation.
"What I'm doing is a top-to-bottom audit of our procedures, training, software, hardware, what our practices are," Khosrowshahi said. "We're not shutting it down. We want to get back on the road but we want to be safe when we get back on the road."
The company is also working to rehabilitate its image. A bombshell blogpost last year detailing a corporate culture of sexual harassment was followed by numerous lawsuits and an internal investigation that led to Kalanick's resignation.
"If it's not changed right now, then I failed. I will tell you that the company took upon itself to change. The change didn't start with me," Khosrowshahi said. "What happened in the past was deeply unpleasant and wrong but the company from a bottoms up standpoint started changing and I think it continues apace."
He said it's "game over" if the company can't provide a workplace where female employees feel safe. "We want everyone at Uber to feel safe'....And if we fail at that, we will fail at a company. But we don't intend to."
Khosrowshahi said he's concentrating not just on correcting the company's past missteps but on making the necessary strides to ensure the company's future growth, including the launch of Uber Air.
"You've got to set aggressive goals in order to push teams and people to make those goals," he said.
Uber plans to have Uber Air flight demonstrations as early as 2020. The company has also partnered with NASA to develop technology to control air traffic and prevent crashes. The first two Uber Air cities will be Dallas and Los Angeles.
(C) 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
VIDEO - TicToc by Bloomberg on Twitter: "Millennials are now being blamed for disrupting the credit card industry. College tuition, the 2008 global financial crisis and limits on credit card marketing on campus might be to blame #tictocnews https://t.co/R
Wed, 09 May 2018 23:12
( Í*Ĺ̯ Í* ) @ mentlprisn
2h they're missing out. every time we use it, it protects us from someone draining our bank account (someone stealing debit card # & pin).. we're also earning cash back every month (rewards). lost count how much.. over $500
View conversation · Mary E. Royal @ Maryroyal4E
2h Credit cards are to blame, to greedy. Don't forget they charge very high rates and they completely destroy people's life and don't have any flexibility. Banks use people funds to carry on this types of loans, nearly pay nothing for using their money but they overcharge for loans.
View conversation · MsWaldenEðŸ--¥''Œ @ WaldenE
2h I'm a
#Boomer, but I've NEVER gotten a credit card! I was brought up to spend what I had, so very thankful to my parents for that guidance! In fact, they only got one when it was needed to rent a car...they were in their 70s! ''¤
View conversation · Holden Bukowski @ holden_bukowski
1h I got an AMEX in college. Didn't know balance was due every month. Couldn't pay it all. The called my Dad to collect. He said ''if I wanted him to have a cc, I would have given him a cc. I'm not paying you, you are the dumb ones that have a college kid a cc''
View conversation ·
VIDEO - Body cam footage released after woman accuses deputy of racism: 'I was just bullied' | WTVR.com
Wed, 09 May 2018 22:52
BRUNSWICK COUNTY, Va. -- After an accusation of racism during a Virginia traffic stop went viral, the Brunswick County Sheriff's Office has released a full, uninterrupted body cam video of the incident.
Behind the wheel of her car and live on Facebook, Dawn Hilton-Williams described a traffic stop on Route 58 westbound in rural Brunswick County.
"I was just bullied by a racist cop, who threatened to pull me out of the car," said Hilton-Williams in the 11-minute long Facebook video.
"This is where we got lynched. This is where we got lynched, even in today's day."
The traffic stop happened on April 27, when Hilton-Williams was heading home to Greensville, South Carolina after watching her daughter play in a tennis tournament.
In the video, Hilton-Williams said she feared for her life.
"I mean pulling you out of a car doesn't seem like a big deal, but when you are African-American and you get pulled out of the car you get shot or you get Tased, or you get Sandra Blanded," said Hilton-Williams.
"I said 'I'm not putting my signature on that ticket.' He said 'if you don't sign this ticket, then I'm going to pull you out of the car and I'll arrest you, and I'll impound the car,'" she said tearfully in the video.
The Facebook video would soon go viral with nearly 800 shares and brought to the attention of Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts after receiving dozens of calls from concerned citizens.
"I started getting calls from citizens asking what is going on. They had seen a posting and were concerned about how I would allow it to happen," said Roberts.
Sheriff Brian Roberts
After reviewing body cam footage of the traffic stop, Roberts said the stop was completely by the book, and his deputy did nothing wrong.
"I don't know what she has been through and I don't know her life history, what I worry about is this kind of thing will inflame situations where you see cops in other states have been executed while they were just eating lunch," said Roberts.
With those concerns in mind, Roberts released the full body cam video to CBS 6.
The traffic stop
"Can I ask what you what you pulled me over for?" Hilton-Williams asked in the video.
"The reason why I stopped you is I clocked you at 70. The speed limit here is 55,'' said the stopping deputy.
''There's no sign," replied Hilton-Williams.
Here in the uninterrupted interaction between Dawn Hilton-Williams and the deputy during the traffic stop:
Deputy: Alright ma'am, what I have here for you is a traffic summons for Brunswick County General...
Hilton-Williams: It's a traffic summons.
Deputy: Yes, for Brunswick County General District traffic court. Your court date is going to be June the 6th at 10:30 for a 70 in a 55 mile per hour zone.
Hilton-Williams: Where is the sign that says it's 55 mile per hour?
Deputy: Numerous places.
Hilton-Williams: Numerous places where? I mean between the gas station I just came from and right here?
Deputy: I mean numerous numerous places back that way. You are more than welcome to go back there and look at them, take pictures of them or whatever you want to do.
Hilton-Williams: So you didn't give me a warning? You gave me an actual ticket?
Deputy: No warnings today ma'am.
Hilton-Williams: Wow.
Deputy: So your court date will be June the 6th at 10:30 for speeding 70 in a 55. You have the option to prepay this. I'm going to give you a phone number, plus a website that has our courthouse information. If you contact our courts they will tell you what the fine is, answer any one of your questions and if you decide to prepay it, you do not have to come to court.
Hilton-Williams: I will not be paying this ticket.
Deputy: If you don't want to prepay it, you'll have to come to court on June 6th at 10:30.
Hilton-Williams: I'll hire an attorney.
Deputy: I need you to sign right here.
Hilton-Williams: I'm not going to sign that ticket.
Deputy: Uhh ma'am, okay.
Hilton-Williams: I don't have to sign it.
Deputy: So ma'am.
Hilton-Williams: But I appreciate it.
Deputy: Hold on... So, what you are signing here is a promise to either come to court or promise to prepay. It is not an admission of guilt. It's only a promise to me that you're going to get it taken care of by either coming to court or prepaying it. If you refuse to sign the summons at this point, I'm gonna have to get you out of the side of the police car, place you under arrest and take you in front of a magistrate. I will get your vehicle towed and go from there. So, yes ma'am you do not have a choice...
Hilton-Williams: My cousin is on the phone.
Deputy: I don't care about that. I don't care who's on the phone. I'm talking to you right now. You do not have a choice but to sign summons. See thank you. I knew you was gonna sign it. I appreciate it very much and you have a safe day. Okay, thank you.
"We've had dash cams for 10 years and body cams on our persons for about three or four. It's to protect the public and our agency. This is a fine example. This entire incident was recorded on a body camera and it's all lies,'' said Sheriff Roberts.
Hilton-Williams told Crime Insider Jon Burkett that she remembered things differently.
"Get or pull. All he had to do was say step out of the car ma'am. I felt that it was threatening and I didn't feel safe because he's got the gun and he's got the badge," she said.
"I wish society was different, I wish it wasn't normalized. I wish that everybody's traffic stop was the same so that people would just feel normal,'' said Hilton-Williams. ''I certainly did feel Sandra Bland. I saw that and felt it... like that was about to happen to me. Like, what do I need to do and that I was scared.''
Dawn Hilton-Williams
Sheriff Roberts remained resolved in his deputy's innocence.
''This video here, there are things I could go over and critique the officer on, it's not racial things, it's not hate things. Certainly some etiquette or verbal judo that could be fixed and improved upon,'' said Roberts. ''What's ultimately going to be accomplished, it's not going to make the ticket go away, it's not going to solve anything. It's only causing more problems.''
Roberts said he has not received a formal complaint about the incident.
Hilton-Williams tells CBS 6 that she plans to file that complaint soon.
36.757059 -77.836728
VIDEO - April Ryan: Melania Trump is "Not Culturally American" - YouTube
Tue, 08 May 2018 14:19
VIDEO - Jake Tapper's new book is The Hellfire Club.
Tue, 08 May 2018 13:02
He talks about Trump six days a week on TV. To relax, he wrote a book about McCarthyism. CNN's Jake Tapper prior to the start of the third presidential debate between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump on Oct. 19, 2016, in Las Vegas.Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Listen to Episode 987 of Slate's The Gist:
Slate Plus members: Get your ad-free podcast feed.
On today's Gist, there's a special place in hell for women who don't want Gina Haspel to run the CIA.
Jake Tapper's latest book is The Hellfire Club. It's a work of historical fiction, a political thriller set in the 1950s as Washington was gripped by McCarthyism. Tapper says he saw echoes of President Donald Trump as he read about Sen. Joe McCarthy's attacks on his political enemies. ''The people who survived the '50s with their reputations intact were the ones who stood up to McCarthy,'' said Tapper. ''Either decency and truth are important to you, or they're not.'' Tapper is the host of CNN's The Lead and State of the Union.
In the Spiel, the armed and fabulous women of the NRA.
Join Slate Plus! Members get bonus segments, exclusive member-only podcasts, and more. Sign up for a free trial today at slate.com/gistplus.
Join the discussion of this episode on Facebook.
Email: thegist@slate.comTwitter: @slategist
VIDEO - I-Team: Local judge reveals troubles with vice cops - YouTube
Tue, 08 May 2018 12:03
VIDEO - Aangirfan: TURN OFF YOUR WIFI ROUTER BEFORE BED!
Tue, 08 May 2018 02:11
...
VIDEO - Michelle Obama on 2016 Election: 'What Is Going on in Our Heads Where We Let That Happen?' | Breitbart
Mon, 07 May 2018 14:23
by Pam Key 6 May 2018 0
6 May, 20186 May, 2018Saturday at the United State of Women Summit in Los Angeles, former first lady Michelle Obama discussed the 2016 presidential election and asked the audience how we allowed it to happen.
Obama said,''Sorry, in light of this last election, I'm concerned about us as women and how we think. And what is really going on. What is going on in our heads where we let that happen, you know?''
She continued, ''When the most qualified person running was a woman, and look what we did instead, I mean that says something about where we are. Forget everybody else. That's what we have to explore, because if we as women are still suspicious of one another, if we still have this crazy, crazy bar for each other that we don't have for men. If we are still doing that today. If we're not comfortable with the notion that a woman could be our president compared to '... what, then we have to have those conversations with ourselves as women.''
(h/t The Hill)
Follow Pam Key on Twitter @pamkeyNEN
VIDEO - Toxic Masculinity In Boys Is Fueling An Epidemic Of Loneliness | Think | NBC News - YouTube
Mon, 07 May 2018 11:58
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