PADDOCK ZTE PHONE-Newly unsealed FBI search warrants show inconsistencies, but no - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU
Sun, 20 May 2018 15:24
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) - FOX5 is learning new information about the 1 October shooting from more than 300 pages of recently unsealed FBI documents. A judge made the decision on Friday to unseal dozens of search warrants despite insistence from investigators for the documents to stay sealed.
Although the documents do not reveal everything the FBI found, it outlines the probable cause FBI agents used to make requests and gives us an idea of what they have been looking for.
According to one of many requests for access into shooter Stephen Paddock's email account, investigators found that he may have been emailing himself cryptic messages.
"try an ar before u buy. we have huge selection. located in las vegas area," Paddock reportedly wrote on July 7, 2017, from his email@example.com email address.
"we have a wide variety of optics and ammunition to try," someone responded, from the email address firstname.lastname@example.org.
"for a thrill try out bumpfire ar's with a 100 round magazine," email@example.com replied.
Investigators said they are unsure whether the person behind the firstname.lastname@example.org is Paddock, based on the very similar email addresses. If it is not Paddock, investigators stated they need to find out who is replying to the shooter's emails. For that reason, agents requested access into both email addresses.
The FBI states Paddock was once the manager of an apartment complex in Reno called Central Park.
The FBI also requested access to Marilou Danley's online accounts. Danley was Paddock's live-in girlfriend. She was out of the country during 1 October and received money from him prior to the shooting. Her "player's club card" was inside Paddock's Mandalay Bay hotel room. Within hours after the shooting, she deleted her Facebook account.
When Danley arrived in the United States, she admitted that her fingerprints are probably on the bullets used during the massacre, because she would help her boyfriend load magazines.
"She has been identified thus far as the most likely person who aided or abetted Stephen Paddock based on her informing law enforcement that her fingerprints would likely be found on the ammunition used during the attack," wrote an FBI agent. "Although, the investigation to date has not produced any conclusive evidence that Danley aided Paddock, had foreknowledge of his plans or has been deceptive with law enforcement, this aspect of the investigation is still the subject of intensive review'...investigators are not yet prepared to rule this possibility out.''
For the reasons stated above, the FBI requested access into four of Danley's Instagram accounts, along with Paddock's account.
The FBI requested that Google provides access to one of Paddock's cell phones, a ZTE Model Z837VL with Android operating system. Investigators say they had no issues retrieving information from two other cell phones found inside the Mandalay Bay.
According to the FBI, Paddock purchased an EOTech 512.A65 Tactical HOLOgraphic firearm accessory off of Amazon.com.
Investigators asked to see the details of Paddock's Amazon account as a part of its investigation.
Number of shots inside the Mandalay Bay?
Throughout the 300 pages of FBI search warrants, agents repeatedly used the same sentence, at least a dozen times. to describe what they found inside the Mandalay Bay.
''Officers and Agents found over 20 firearms, hundreds of rounds of ammunition, and hundreds of spent shell casings in the Mandalay Bay hotel rooms, in close proximity to Paddock's body.''
It is unclear why the FBI would state there were only "hundreds" of spent shell casings inside the room Paddock used to carry out this mass shooting, considering at least 600 people were hit. The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department has stated that, thankfully, the majority of Paddock's shots did not land. If this is true, one would think that agents would have found thousands of casings -- not "hundreds."
Throughout other areas of the documents, the investigators wrote they found "over a thousand rounds" inside Paddock's car and "over a thousand rounds" inside Paddock's Mesquite residence. Still, only "hundreds" inside the Mandalay Bay.
Metro documents still sealed
Another judge could decide to unseal search warrants from the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department as early as Tuesday. Metro has stated that it will have representatives in court to argue against the release of documents to the public.
Find more on FOX5's 1 October coverage here.
Copyright 2018 KVVU (KVVU Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.
Las Vegas Gunman Railed Against Government Before Shooting, Police Documents Show - WSJ
Sun, 20 May 2018 15:22
People who came into contact with Stephen Paddock in the weeks before he killed 58 people at a Las Vegas concert last October said he railed against the government, behaved oddly and expressed a willingness to die, according to documents released by the Las Vegas police this week.
One woman interviewed by police said she sat in the booth of a diner eating dinner a few days before the shooting and overheard a man in the next booth she subsequently recognized as Paddock. The woman said Paddock was discussing with another man deadly standoffs between federal agents and antigovernment activists at Ruby Ridge, Idaho, in 1992 and Waco, Texas, in 1993.
''They kept mentioning the 25th anniversary of Ruby Ridge,'' the woman told police. ''I didn't hear them planning anything, but they were speaking of things that struck me as odd. At the time, I just thought 'strange guys' and I wanted to leave.''
Law-enforcement officials say they are still unclear why the 64 year-old Paddock, a high-rolling, eccentric gambler and gun enthusiast, opened fire on the country-music concert in the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history. But the 1,200 pages of documents, which consist of witness statements, shed some more light on his state of mind leading up to the shooting.
Las Vegas police declined to comment beyond the records, which include statements from people who were under fire at the festival as well as employees of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino across the street where police said Paddock opened fire from his 32nd-floor hotel suite.
The names of the witness in the documents were all redacted.
An inmate at the local Clark County Detention Center told investigators that three weeks before the shooting Paddock answered his online ad for the design to a device that converts semi-automatic AR-15s to automatic. When they met in a store parking lot, the man said Paddock said he would ''give me $500 apiece'' to make an unspecified number of the converters. After the man said he didn't want to go to prison for that, he said Paddock went on an antigovernment rant.
''He kept carrying on about just antigovernment stuff,'' said the man, who was booked into the jail shortly after the massacre on an unrelated charge. ''He asked me if I remembered (Hurricane) Katrina and said, 'That was just a dry run for law enforcement and military to start kickin' down doors and confiscating guns,''' the man said.
Paddock went on to say, ''Somebody has to wake up the American people and get them to arm themselves,'' he told police. ''And he said, 'Sometimes sacrifices have to be made.'''
A British tourist told investigators he spoke for an hour the night before the shooting with a man he later recognized as Paddock. He had been sitting in a lounge area of the Luxor Hotel & Casino when the man sat down and began quoting stories from the Bible about people down on their luck. ''He wasn't quite there,'' the tourist told police. ''He said that he wanted to die, and I says, 'No--no you don't wanna die.'''
A housekeeper at the Mandalay Bay described an encounter she had with Paddock five days before the attack. According to her statement to police, the woman said Paddock wouldn't stop staring at her as she cleaned his room.
''I can remember the room is there, the table is here and then he's sitting like that,'' the housekeeper said. ''That's why I don't feel comfortable, because'...he keep on staring at me.''
Paddock also was known for his strange behavior at the various casinos he frequented. His former host at Caesars Palace Las Vegas Hotel & Casino told investigators that Paddock lost his temper there about three years ago ''about something so minor I don't even remember what it was. I think maybe it was like it took, like, 20 minutes for his baggage to come up to his room. And he was like screamin' at me. That kinda struck me as weird.''
Write to Jim Carlton at email@example.com
Shooter at Trump Golf Club in Florida Arrested by Police - WSJ
Sun, 20 May 2018 15:16
DORAL, Fla.'--Gunfire erupted early Friday at President Donald Trump's golf resort, as a man shouting anti-Trump rhetoric draped a flag over a lobby counter and exchanged fire with officers in what one official called an ''ambush'' before being arrested, police said.
One officer received a broken arm and the suspect was wounded by gunfire in the incident, which began around 1:30 a.m. at the Trump-owned Trump National Doral Golf Club near Miami.
Trump wasn't at the club at the time.
Miami-Dade Police Director Juan Perez identified the suspect as 42-year-old Jonathan Oddi of Doral. Police were preparing a search warrant to enter Mr. Oddi's house, Mr. Perez said. His neighbors were evacuated Friday morning as officers swept the area looking for booby traps, Mr. Perez said.
''We don't know what his intentions were in the long term but we know what he was doing at the time'--he was trying to engage our police officers in some kind of ambush-type attack,'' Perez said.
In plotting the ambush, Perez added, ''He did succeed and he did lose.''
Video footage showed the conscious suspect being wheeled into a hospital on a gurney.
Perez said the man took down a flag from the rear of the complex and draped it over a lobby counter.
''He was yelling and spewing some information about President Trump and that's what we know so far. And he had an American flag that he did drape over the counter,'' Perez said.
The man fired shots into the ceiling and waited for officers to arrive, he said. Four officers from Doral and one from Miami-Dade quickly encountered him and exchanged gunfire. The man was arrested without further violence.
''You know, these officers did not hesitate one second to engage this individual that was actively shooting in the lobby of the hotel,'' he said. ''They risked their lives knowing that they had to get in there to save lives in that hotel.''
Eric Trump, the president's son and executive vice president of the Trump organization, tweeted early Friday, ''A huge thank you to the incredible men and women'' of the departments, adding that ''every day they keep our community safe.''
Perez said the U.S. Secret Service was on the scene, and the FBI was on the way, but that local police were in charge for now.
The Secret Service issued a statement saying agents from the Miami Field Office were at the scene and working closely with other agencies.
It added, ''No Secret Service protectees or security operations were impacted as a result of the shooting.''
The large golf facility in the growing suburb was surrounded by a heavy police presence Friday morning and news helicopters hovered over the scene. The entrances were blocked, and yellow caution tape was stretched across the main gate. A Miami-Dade crime scene truck was parked inside the gate.
The golf resort previously known as the Doral Resort & Spa was purchased by the Trump Organization in 2012. Its signature course is the Blue Monster at Doral.
The Trump National Doral, which includes several buildings for lodging and an expansive clubhouse, is among the largest hotels in the Miami suburb. It is about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from Miami International Airport.
Its website describes it as an 800-acre resort with 643 total guest rooms, more than 100,000 square feet (9,300 square meters) of event space and four golf courses.
In June 2016, the PGA Tour announced that the prestigious World Golf Championship hosted at the Trump National Doral since 2007 would relocate to Mexico. The announcement infuriated then-candidate Trump, who called the move to Mexico a ''sad day for Miami, the United States and the game of golf.'' Trump said in a Fox News interview with Sean Hannity that, ''I hope they have kidnapping insurance.''
PGA Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem said the move had nothing to do with politics, only finances. Cadillac did not renew its title sponsorship of the event, and another sponsor that wanted to be at Doral couldn't be found, Mr. Finchem said.
'--Copyright 2018 Associated Press
HestiaPi '' Open Smart thermostat without the personal data harvesting'...
Sun, 20 May 2018 15:15
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After a few requests we are now very happy to work with Antares for any case customisations needed! Customer asked for oak wood. Have a look at his latest work and his website! Customisations from now on will be available upon request.
The latest release of HestiaPi offers very easy remote access to your home without touching your network modem/router or even knowing HestiaPi's IP! Does not depend on port forwarding or DynDNS! Woohooo! Please note that this is an externally hosted service not controlled by you or us but by OpenHAB itself. Instructions video (if...
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Hasbro has trademarked the smell of Play-Doh
Sun, 20 May 2018 14:51
Tim Boyle | Bloomberg | Getty Images
A box of Hasbro's Play-Doh is shown at a Target store in Rosemont, Ill.
Crack open a can of Play-Doh and you are greeted with the familiar scent of childhood.
The musky, sweet vanilla scent with hints of cherry and salt that lingered on your fingers long after you closed the cap is now a trademarked entity.
Hasbro, the maker of the iconic dough, said Friday its bid to have the scent trademarked was successful.
"The scent of Play-Doh compound has always been synonymous with childhood and fun," Jonathan Berkowitz, senior vice president of global marketing for the Play-Doh brand, said in a statement Friday. "By officially trademarking the iconic scent, we are able to protect an invaluable point of connection between the brand and fans for years to come."
Few tweaks have been made to Play-Doh's recipe since its inception in 1956, and its scent has always been one of its main differentiation from other clay competitors.
EU considers Iran central bank transfers to beat US sanctions
Sun, 20 May 2018 14:50
Francois Lenoir | Reuters
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker
The European Commission is proposing that EU governments make direct money transfers to Iran's central bank to avoid U.S. penalties, an EU official said, in what would be the most forthright challenge to Washington's newly reimposed sanctions.
The step, which would seek to bypass the U.S. financial system, would allow European companies to repay Iran for oil exports and repatriate Iranian funds in Europe, a senior EU official said, although the details were still to be worked out.
The European Union, once Iran's biggest oil importer, is determined to save the nuclear accord, that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned on May 8, by keeping money flowing to Tehran as long as the Islamic Republic complies with the 2015 deal to prevent it from developing an atomic weapon.
"Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has proposed this to member states. We now need to work out how we can facilitate oil payments and repatriate Iranian funds in the European Union to Iran's central bank," said the EU official, who is directly involved in the discussions.
The U.S. Treasury announced on Tuesday more sanctions on officials of the Iranian central bank, including Governor Valiollah Seif. But the EU official said the bloc believes that does not sanction the central bank itself.
WATCH: After the US imposes sanctions on Iran
Downtown Denver seeking solution to dogs peeing near new high-rises
Sun, 20 May 2018 13:57
When a city has, in the literal sense, long past gone to the dogs, it gets harder for some of those pups to find places when they really, well, have to go.
As new high-rises in mutt-loving Denver's urban neighborhoods draw thousands of human residents, local leaders fear that the pooches coming with them '-- combined with too few places to do their business '-- could spell death for prized trees and other urban greenery.
''Our dogs and owners don't quite get to the dog park or to the park in time, and boy, I'll tell you '-- that patch of grass on the corner is under siege,'' said Don Cohen, a longtime Riverfront Park neighborhood advocate.
In that area and in the blocks closer to Union Station, across the freight-rail tracks, neighborhood leaders are responding to the canine influx with new strategies. This summer, separate pilot projects will aim to gently guide dogs away from trees and other landscaping planted along the streets before they raise a leg or take a squat.
Here's a rough estimate: 1,200 dogs soon will be among the occupants of the roughly 3,000 apartments and other residences that have been built or are under construction behind Union Station, according to research cited by Amy Cara, a developer. She's also president of the Central Platte Valley Metropolitan District, which oversees most public spaces in that area.
Add in the riverfront area, and the dog-census estimate soars well past 2,000 '-- all packed into fewer than 20 blocks.
Cohen, the president of the Riverfront Park Association, says it spends about $30,000 a year to replace urine-ravaged grass with fresh sod. The worry is that trees could begin dying after prolonged assaults.
As dogs hunt for inviting spots, they soon will find short fencing surrounding some green spaces, and possibly raised planter boxes built atop others. Their owners will begin hearing more from neighborhood leaders about pet-relief restrictions as part of outreach campaigns.
And, because it's an unavoidable need that Cara and Cohen said they're working on longer-term, residents could start to notice more official and unofficial spots where it's OK for pets to piddle.
One idea that has been raised for the Union Station area, but not yet embraced, is converting single street-parking spaces to dog areas.
''The idea is that you can't just say 'no' to dogs and be like, 'OK, there's no place for you,' '' said Cara, a managing partner of the Denver office of East West Partners, a major developer in the area. ''But we do need to protect the trees, or we won't have trees. We need to make sure there is an alternate place to go, because most dogs will not go on the sidewalk.''
AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
A man walks a dog on Chestnut Place downtown on May 17, 2018.Oliver, a 4-year-old golden retriever, is a pro at holding it until he reaches Commons Park, said his owner, Jessica Forrest.
''He's lived in apartments his whole life, so he knows where's OK to go and where is not,'' said Forrest, 26, who moved to the Union Station neighborhood last year from another part of Denver. She and Oliver were returning to her Chestnut Place apartment on a walk Wednesday night.
It took awhile for Forrest to make the park a part of Oliver's routine. ''Actually, when I first moved here,'' Forrest said, ''I did find it a bit challenging because really the only green space (on this side of the tracks) was right over here by the Whole Foods (on 17th Street). And they put up all the signs saying they didn't want us actually using it.''
Plenty have ignored those signs. The toxicity of urine is the main concern, since the owners generally bag up the solid waste deposited by their pets.
Even in the Riverfront Park area, where every building is a short walk from the 30-acre Commons Park and the dirt-patch Railyard Dog Park, wayward dog urination is a challenge.
There are even fewer options amid all the concrete near Union Station, although some buildings provide small dog runs. Taking the brunt '-- despite posted signs marking all the vegetated space as off-limits '-- are small landscaped areas along the street and in the 17th Street Gardens, built atop the Regional Transportation District's underground bus terminal.
Provided by Livable Cities Studio
A concept design under consideration in the Union Station neighborhood would protect street trees by surrounding them with shrubs and fencing. A crushed-stone surface on the perimeter would be available for dogs to urinate.Both the Riverfront Park group and the Central Platte Valley district have hired contractors to research options tried out in urban neighborhoods in Chicago, New York City and elsewhere.
''We know that this answer is probably going be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars over time to come up with a solution,'' Cohen said.
Both neighborhoods have sprouted high-rises where a jumble of rail yards and viaducts once stood between Union Station and the South Platte River.
Cara referred to the dog challenge as an unforeseen consequence of new development, in part because original plans anticipated mostly office buildings.
But in Denver '-- where four-pawed companions are a common sight on brewery patios and most any place that allows them '-- should it have been a surprise?
The city's Department of Public Health and Environment counts just 28,337 active dog licenses citywide, but a spokeswoman said a small fraction of owners actually register their dogs. Based on a commonly used pet-ownership formula, the department estimates that Denver has 89,144 dog-owning households, with an estimated dog population of nearly 143,000.
Downtown high-rise dwellers are among the likeliest dog owners. On average, residents like those moving near Union Station are younger, more affluent and less likely to have children, according to a report released this week by the Downtown Denver Partnership.
AAron Ontiveroz, The Denver Post
Fenway the dog plays with his owner Katherine Barnes on May 17, 2018, in Commons Park.Cara mentioned the dog challenge during a Wednesday event at which the report was unveiled.
Across the river in Highland, managers of newer midrise apartment buildings have dealt with a similar pooch-pee challenge. Their favored solution has been replacing brown-spotted grass with AstroTurf, although that can result in strong stenches on hot days unless the turf is hosed down frequently.
That option, for now, has gained little appeal in Riverfront Park and Union Station, with the neighborhood groups favoring measures that preserve real vegetation.
In the blocks near Union Station, the pilot project probably will include modifying up to a dozen landscaped sidewalk areas near apartment buildings by taking a hybrid approach, said Todd Wenskoski of Livable Cities Studio, which is advising Cara's group.
Plans call for planting shrubs around the trees, then surrounding those with low fences similar to what the New York City parks department uses. Wenskoski says a crushed-stone surface will surround the fencing '-- a plan intended to provide a hospitable space for dogs in need of relief, just far enough from the trees to protect them.
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US cell carriers are selling access to your real-time phone location data | ZDNet
Sun, 20 May 2018 13:52
(Screenshot: ZDNet. Source: State of Georgia)
Four of the largest cell giants in the US are selling your real-time location data to a company that you've probably never heard about before.
In case you missed it, a senator last week sent a letter demanding the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) investigate why Securus, a prison technology company, can track any phone "within seconds" by using data obtained from the country's largest cell giants, including AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile, and Sprint, through an intermediary, LocationSmart.
The story blew up because a former police sheriff snooped on phone location data without a warrant, according The New York Times. The sheriff has pleaded not guilty to charges of unlawful surveillance.
Yet little is known about how LocationSmart obtained the real-time location data on millions of Americans, how the required consent from cell user owners was obtained, and who else has access to the data.
Kevin Bankston, director of New America's Open Technology Institute, explained in a phone call that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act only restricts telecom companies from disclosing data to the government. It doesn't restrict disclosure to other companies, who then may disclose that same data to the government.
He called that loophole "one of the biggest gaps in US privacy law."
"The issue doesn't appear to have been directly litigated before, but because of the way that the law only restricts disclosures by these types of companies to government, my fear is that they would argue that they can do a pass-through arrangement like this," he said.
LocationSmart, a California-based technology company, is one of a handful of so-called data aggregators. It claimed to have "direct connections" to cell carrier networks to obtain real-time cell phone location data from nearby cell towers. It's less accurate than using GPS, but cell tower data won't drain a phone battery and doesn't require a user to install an app. Verizon, one of many cell carriers that sells access to its vast amounts of customer location data, counts LocationSmart as a close partner.
The company boasts coverage of 95 percent of the country, thanks to its access to all the major US carriers, including US Cellular, Virgin, Boost, and MetroPCS, as well as Canadian carriers, like Bell, Rogers, and Telus.
"We utilize the same technology used to enable emergency assistance and this includes cell tower and cell sector location, assisted GPS and cell tower trilateration," said a case study on the company's website.
"With these location sources, we are able to locate virtually any US based mobile devices," the company claimed.
A person's precise location can be returned in as little as 15 seconds, according to another case study, and data is usually not cached for longer than two minutes.
Other companies then buy access to LocationSmart's data -- or the data is obtained by a customer of LocationSmart, like 3Cinteractive, which is said to have supplied location data to Securus.
But LocationSmart hasn't said how it ensures its corporate customers protect the location data to prevent abuse and misuse. A spokesperson for LocationSmart did not return an email with several questions sent prior to publication.
Companies buy into LocationSmart's location data for many reasons. Sometimes it's to help locate a nearby store, or to send a marketing text message when a person visits a rival store. Location data can even be used by companies to track deliveries or shipments, or by banks to fight fraud, such as if a person is making card transactions miles apart within just a few minutes of each other.
In any case, the company requires explicit consent from the user before their location data can be used, by sending a one-time text message or allowing a user to hit a button in an app.
LocationSmart also said it allows some customers to obtain "implied" consent, used on a case-by-case basis, when "the nature of the service implies that location will be used." The company said one example could be when a stranded motorist calls roadside assistance, and the event implies the person is "calling to be found."
The company even has its own "try-before-you-buy" page that lets you test the accuracy of its data. With a colleague's consent, we tracked his phone to within a city block of his actual location.
The data aggregator said it has access to carrier network location data "because privacy is built into its cloud-based platform."
While that may be true, the requirement to obtain a person's consent collapses if a search warrant for that data is issued. That's exactly how companies like Securus can reveal location data without asking a person's permission.
According to a Nebraska state government document, an application "can also be configured -- with carrier approval and appropriate warrant documentation -- to retrieve location data without the user opting-in." Securus was able to return real-time location data on users without their consent because the system required a valid order be submitted first.
However, as the The New York Times reported, Securus never verified orders before spitting back results.
We reached out to the four major US carriers prior to publication. We asked how each carrier obtains consent from customers to sell their data and what safeguards they put in place to prevent abuse.
Sprint spokesperson Lisa Belot said the company shares personally identifiable location data "only with customer consent or in response to a lawful request such as a validated court order from law enforcement."
Sprint said the company's relationship with Securus "does not include data sharing," and is limited "to supporting efforts to curb unlawful use of contraband cell phones in correctional facilities."
When asked the same questions, Verizon spokesperson Rich Young provided a boilerplate response regarding Securus and would not comment further.
"We're still trying to verify their activities, but if this company is, in fact, doing this with our customers' data, we will take steps to stop it," he said.
AT&T spokesperson Jim Greer said in a statement: "We have a best practices approach to handling our customers' data. We are aware of the letter and will provide a response." Our questions were also not answered.
A spokesperson for T-Mobile did not respond by our deadline.
"It's important for us to close off that potential loophole and that can easily be done with one line of legislative language," said Bankston, "which would also have the benefit of making every other company careful about always getting consent before disclosing your data to anyone."
Ron Wyden, a Democratic senator from Oregon, called on each carrier to stop sharing data with third parties. Wyden argued the sharing "skirts wireless carriers' legal obligation to be the sole conduit by which the government may conduct surveillance of Americans' phone records."
In a blog post, Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said law enforcement may be violating the law by not seeking data directly from the phone carriers. "Law enforcement shouldn't have unfettered access to this data, whether they get it from Securus or directly from the phone companies," said the EFF.
Wyden has also called on the FCC to investigate the carriers for allegedly not obtaining user consent.
The FCC has not said yet if it will investigate.
912 Dirty Medicine - The People's Pharmacy
Sun, 20 May 2018 13:46
Tune in to our radio show on your local public radio station, or sign up for the podcast and listen at your leisure. Here's what it's about:
Last year, millions of Americans wondered whether their cholesterol-lowering drug was safe. The giant Indian drug maker Ranbaxy had recalled its atorvastatin, the generic equivalent of Lipitor, because it was contaminated with ground glass.
Earlier this year, Ranbaxy pleaded guilty to ''seven federal criminal counts of selling adulterated drugs with intent to defraud, failing to report that its drugs didn't meet specifications, and making intentionally false statements to the government,'' as our guest reported in her expose. The company was fined $500 million, but Ranbaxy drugs are still on pharmacy shelves. Do Ranbaxy's misdeeds suggest weaknesses in FDA's oversight of the generic drug industry?
A few days ago we learned that another Indian generic drug company, Wockhardt, also got into trouble. In addition to problems with record keeping and manufacturing, FDA investigators found problems with a bathroom close to sterile facilities:
''For example, our investigators found that the washing and toilet facility located approximately twenty (20) feet (approximately 6 meters) from the entrance/gowning area to the Sterile Formulation (b)(4) manufacturing facility was found to have urinals that lacked drainage piping. The urine was found to fall directly onto the floor, where it was collected in an open drain. Stagnant urine was observed near the open drain. In addition, the investigators also observed what appeared to be mildew or other mold(s) in this toilet facility. The facilities used in the manufacture of drugs should be appropriately maintained and repaired, and remain in a clean condition.''
Learn about foreign drug manufacturing and oversight on this week's show with:
Guest: Katherine Eban is an investigative reporter who writes for Fortune and other national magazines. Her book is titled Dangerous Doses: How Counterfeiters are Contaminating America's Drug Supply. Her article on Ranbaxy, ''Dirty Medicine,'' was published in the May 15, 2013, issue of Fortune.
The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.
Get The Graedons' Favorite Home Remedies Health Guide for FREEJoin our daily email newsletter with breaking health news, prescription drug information, home remedies AND you'll get a copy of our brand new full-length health guide '-- for FREE!
Early Comey draft accused Clinton of gross negligence on emails | TheHill
Sun, 20 May 2018 12:27
An early draft of former FBI Director James Comey's statement closing out the Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump Jr. met with Gulf adviser who offered help to win election: report Voters Dems need aren't impressed by anti-waterboarding showboating After year of investigation, Trump can rightly claim some vindication MORE email case accused the former secretary of State of having been ''grossly negligent'' in handling classified information, newly reported memos to Congress show.
The tough language was changed to the much softer accusation that Clinton had been ''extremely careless'' in her handling of classified information when Comey announced in July 2016 there would be no charges against her.
The change is significant, since federal law states that gross negligence in handling the nation's intelligence can be punished criminally with prison time or fines.
Spokesmen for the FBI and Clinton did not immediately return phone calls or emails seeking comment.
The draft, written weeks before the announcement of no charges, was described by multiple sources who saw the document both before and after it was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee this past weekend.
''There is evidence to support a conclusion that Secretary Clinton, and others, used the email server in a manner that was grossly negligent with respect to the handling of classified information,'' reads the statement, one of Comey's earliest drafts from May 2, 2016.
The sources who had seen the early draft, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media, said the draft statement was subsequently changed in red-line edits on or around June 10 to conclude that the handling of 110 emails containing classified information that were transmitted by Clinton and her aides over her insecure personal email server was ''extremely careless.''
The documents turned over to Congress do not indicate who recommended the key wording changes, the sources said.
Memos show that at least three top FBI officials were involved in helping Comey fashion and edit the statement, including Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, General Counsel James Baker and chief of staff Jim Rybicki.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday evening sent a letter to current FBI Director Christopher Wray demanding the FBI identify who made the changes and why.
''Apparently, as of May 2016, then-Director Comey and other FBI officials believed the facts fit that gross negligence standard until later edits were made,'' Chairman Chuck Grassley Charles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Dem lawmaker spars with own party over prison reform Overnight Energy: Pruitt taps man behind 'lock her up' chant for EPA office | Watchdog to review EPA email policies | Three Republicans join climate caucus MORE (R-Iowa) wrote to Wray in the letter demanding more information.
While Comey told Congress last year that he would never have prosecuted Clinton without proof she intended to violate a law, the editing of his statement suggests there might have been dissent within the FBI about that decision.
Sources who had seen the draft said they are certain to renew interest among congressional Republicans into Comey's decisionmaking.
''The red-line history clearly shows the original statement was designed to allege Clinton committed gross negligence and then someone changed it to extreme carelessness,'' one source said. ''Clearly there was a difference of opinion on the term derived right from the statute.''
When Comey announced the decision to not bring charges against Clinton in July 2016 '-- shortly after Clinton had secured the Democratic nomination to run for president against Donald Trump Donald John TrumpThe Memo: Will Mueller play hardball with Trump? Mexican presidential candidate vows to fire back at Trump's 'offensive' tweets Elizabeth Warren urges grads to fight for 'what is decent' in current political climate MORE '-- he said agents decided not to pursue criminal charges under the statute because they could not prove she intended to violate laws like the Espionage Act.
But he harshly criticized Clinton for setting up a personal email server outside the State Department's security apparatus and then using it to transmit classified information.
''Although we did not find clear evidence that Secretary Clinton or her colleagues intended to violate laws governing the handling of the classified information, there is evidence that they were extremely careless in their handling of very sensitive, highly classified information,'' Comey said at the time.
''There is evidence to support a conclusion that any reasonable person in Secretary Clinton's position or in the position of those with whom she was corresponding about the matters should have known that an unclassified system was no place for that conversation,'' he said.
Comey's decision to not to seek criminal charges has been controversial since it was announced, with politicians and legal scholars alike debating whether intent was necessary to pursue criminal charges.
Section 793 of federal law states, ''Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer '-- shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.''
Some legal scholars have argued Comey's analysis of the law was correct, citing a 1941 Supreme Court ruling saying the gross negligence statute was not constitutionally vague as long as prosecutors showed there was ''intent or reason to believe that the information to be obtained is to be used to the injury of the United States.''
But other scholars noted that prosecutions have been brought since the 1941 case in the military courts where intent wasn't required.
Comey argued in testimony before Congress that while he was aware of the gross negligence statute, he did not believe any federal prosecutor would pursue that standard.
''I know the Department of Justice, I know no reasonable prosecutor would bring this case. I know a lot of my former friends are out there saying they would. I wonder where they were in the last 40 years, because I'd like to see the cases they brought on gross negligence. Nobody would, nobody did,'' he said.
But Comey also conceded in public statements that the FBI also found some evidence of criminality during the email probe.
''Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case,'' he explained.
Plot Thickens: Search Warrant for Anthony Weiner's Laptop Unsealed | The Epoch Times
Sun, 20 May 2018 12:25
District Judge Denise Cote unsealed the search warrant for the laptop and other devices of former Congressman Anthony Weiner on Wednesday, May 16.
Weiner was sentenced by Cote in September to 21 months in prison for sending obscene material'--including sexually explicit images and directions to engage in sexual conduct'--to a 15-year-old girl through messaging and video chat apps.
New York City Police obtained a search warrant on his laptop, iPad, and iPhone on Sept. 26, 2016, approved by Magistrate Judge Ronald Ellis.
The laptop soon became the center of a major controversy. However, the search warrant suggests the controversy may run deeper still.
On Nov. 4, 2016, former Navy SEAL and CIA contractor Erik Prince said ''a very well-placed source'' at the NYPD told him the NYPD found ''damning criminal information'' about then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton on Weiner's laptop and threatened to release it if the FBI tried to sweep it under the rug.
The FBI later obtained its own search warrant and looked at the laptop in connection with its investigation into Clinton's mishandling of classified information as State Secretary.
But there was a notable difference between the FBI warrant and the NYPD one.
The one obtained by NYPD read, in part: ''Depending on circumstances, a complete review of the seized [electronically stored information] may require examination of all of the seized data to evaluate its contents and determine whether the data is responsive to the warrant.''
The FBI one read, in part: ''Law enforcement personnel will make reasonable efforts to restrict their search to data falling within the categories of evidence specified in the warrant.''
That would suggest the NYPD could look at everything, while the FBI investigators worded its warrant in a way that restricted them to look only at data regarding the mishandling of classified information.
Here's what we know about how Clinton's emails ended up on Weiner's laptop and what repercussions their discovery meant:
Weiner shared the laptop with his estranged wife, Huma Abedin, a close aide to Hillary Clinton since 2000.
Hundreds of thousands of emails were stored on the laptop, including thousands from Clinton.
''Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to [Weiner] for him,'' then-FBI Director James Comey testified at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3, 2017. ''I think, to print out for her, so she could then deliver them to [Clinton].''
The existence of the emails was also confirmed in texts between senior FBI attorney Lisa Page and former head of counterintelligence at the FBI, Peter Strzok.
Peter Strzok. (FBI)''Got called up to Andy's earlier '... hundreds of thousands of emails turned over by Weiner's atty to sdny, indudes a ton of material from spouse,'' Strzok texted (pdf) Page on Sept. 28, 2016, only two days after the search warrant: ''Sending team up tomorrow to review '... this will never end '....''
The text suggests that then-FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, referred to as Andy, knew of the emails. Strzok noted that a team would go to ''review'' the next day, Sept. 29, 2016.
But this timeline seems to conflict with a Chicago Tribune story, which said that law enforcement officers first seized the laptop on Oct. 3, according to ''federal officials familiar with the investigation.''
The text suggests McCabe knew about the emails on Sept. 28 because Weiner's attorney himself delivered the emails to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. It is not clear why.
Then acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee on May 11, 2017. (Alex Wong/Getty Images)It was McCabe who led a small group at FBI headquarters on the Clinton investigation. Both Strzok and Page were in that group. Comey announced the conclusion of the investigation on July 5, 2016.
The Hill reported on Nov. 6 that Strzok changed key language in that conclusion from ''grossly negligent,'' which would have been a crime, to ''extremely careless.'' Changing the phrase may have exonerated Clinton.
The Weiner laptop turned out to have a trove of Clinton's emails containing classified information and emails from the first three months of her term as State Secretary'--emails that the FBI had not obtained before, Comey said.
But, Comey said it took until Oct. 27, 2016, for their small team to come to him and tell him about the significance of the emails. The group was only looking at the emails' metadata'--such as subject, sent date, and addressee'--according to Comey, and asked him whether they should get a search warrant to look at the emails themselves, which Comey approved.
Comey told Fox News' Bret Baier he didn't know why it took a month for McCabe to come to him, especially given the significance of the discovery only a few weeks before the presidential election.
Former FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on June 8, 2017. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)''I think what actually drove it was the prosecutors in New York who were working the criminal case against Weiner called down to headquarters and said, 'Are we getting a search warrant or not for this?' That caused, I'm sorry, Justice Department Headquarters, to then call across the street to the FBI and poke the organization; and they start to move much more quickly. I don't know why there was, if there was slow activity, why it was slow for those first couple of weeks,'' Comey said on April 26.
Indeed, at least one high-ranking Justice Department official prodded the team about the Weiner trove.
On Oct. 21, 2016, Strzok texted, ''[redacted] called [because] Toscas [is] now aware NY has [Clinton-Abedin] emails via [W]einer invest[igation]. Told him we knew. Wanted to know our thoughts on getting it.''
Strzok was referring to George Toscas, deputy assistant attorney general at the Justice Department's National Security Division.
''George wanted to ensure info got to Andy,'' Strzok wrote.
It was also Toscas, who, according to The New York Times, criticised Comey for caving to Attorney General Loretta Lynch in calling the Clinton probe a ''matter'' instead of an investigation back in 2015.
''I guess you're the Federal Bureau of Matters now,'' Toscas said.
But it's not clear why the New York prosecutors would call Justice Headquarters about a search warrant. They'd had a search warrant for their investigation since Sept. 26. There's no sign they had anything to do with the Clinton investigation because that was run by the team at the FBI headquarters.
It is also not clear whether Toscas' call was motivated by the NYPD threat of disclosure Prince talked about. Prince said the NYPD received strong pushback from Obama's Justice Department'--a threat to push charges against the NYPD in an unrelated civil rights case.
Meanwhile, the Strzok texts reveal the team had another contingency on its hands. On Oct. 24, 2016, The Wall Street Journal reported that after the Clinton probe started in July 2015, McCabe's wife, Jill, received some $675,000 for her Virginia State Senate campaign from Clinton associate Gov. Terry McCauliffe's political entities.
On Jan. 29, 2016, Comey appointed McCabe deputy director, putting him in charge of the Clinton investigation.
On the day Comey was briefed by the team on Oct. 27, 2016, his chief of staff, Jim Rybicki, wanted McCabe to recuse himself, the Strzok texts suggest, apparently because the public learned McCabe's wife was getting money from the Clinton camp.
The texts also suggest Page, who was McCabe's legal counsel, was to recuse herself too, which she apparently wasn't thrilled about.
''I obviously don't have to tell you how completely INFURIATED I am with Jim [Rybicki] right now,'' she texted.
Later that day she added, ''I Just walked in on Jim to force the issue. Me: 'I'm not recused, but I'm not sitting in on this meeting.''' It's not clear which meeting she was referring to.
On Oct. 28, 2016, Comey sent a letter to Congress members sitting on oversight committees informing them the Clinton investigation had resumed. The information quickly reached the media, infuriating Democrats.
The team obtained a search warrant for the laptop on Oct. 30, 2016, allowing them to retrieve it from the FBI New York Field Office.
A day later, McCabe recused himself from the investigation, codenamed ''Mid Year.''
''Thanks to the wizardry of our technology, we've only had to personally read 6,000 [of the emails],'' the team told Comey on the night of Nov. 4, he later testified before Congress. ''They said, 'we found a lot on new stuff. We did not find anything that changes our view of [Clinton's] intent.'''
The lack of intent in being ''extremely careless'' with classified information was Comey's justification for not charging Clinton back in July, 2016.
On Nov. 5, 2016, Comey sent another letter to Congress saying all the newly discovered Clinton emails had been reviewed and the previous decision stood'--no charges.
Around 50 Children Sickened at NXIVM Retreat, Report on Cult's Doctor Reveals | The Epoch Times
Sun, 20 May 2018 12:19
NEW YORK'--Dozens of children fell ill from a mysterious disease at a retreat hosted in New York by the notorious NXIVM cult, according to a report by the New York State Department of Health.
The 16-page report centers on Brandon Porter, NXIVM's doctor, and accuses him of failing to report the outbreak of the disease. The document also accuses Porter of conducting a barrage of shocking human experiments, such as showing scenes of gruesome murder and decapitation to test subjects without their consent.
About ''50 to 60 children'' were present at the event attended by nearly 400 people'--including Porter himself'--at the Silver Bay YMCA recruitment office in New York, back in August 2016. During the conference, ''many of the attendees and most of the children became ill with an undetermined infectious disease.'' Attendees allegedly suffered from ''flu-like symptoms, vomiting, and diarrhea.''
Porter, 44, had full knowledge that the illness at the conference was a communicable disease, but he failed to report the incident, the New York state Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC) alleges in the document. Porter is also accused of failing to isolate individuals with the disease to an appropriate environment.
The New York-based NXIVM , which operates under the guise of a self-help company that runs ''executive success programs,'' is a secret society that previously made headlines when leader Keith Raniere and former ''Smallville'' actress Allison Mack were charged for sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit forced labor. The pair recently made their first appearance together at a pretrial hearing in a Brooklyn federal court on May 4.
Prior to the indictment, NXIVM's enterprise was largely shrouded in secrecy. Members were recruited on the condition that they gave up compromising material about themselves. Once the members were inside, NXIVM regularly demanded more materials as ''collateral'' to ensure that they kept secret the society's inner workings.
Secrecy and Human Experiments Former spokesperson for NXIVM Frank Parlato, writing about the New York retreat on his blog, The Frank Report, said that none of the ''higher-ups'' of the society, including Raniere, got sick at the event'--only the ''students'' did.
Parlato, who has been publishing information on the society's inner workings since 2008 and who has been credited with assisting in Raniere's arrest, wrote in the August 2017 post that when the students left the event, the leaders told them not to tell anyone what had happened there and, if asked, to say their symptoms were from the flu and not ''food poisoning.''
He suggests that Raniere may have experimented with the food served at the event, using the students as test subjects ''to learn some important lesson about human reaction.''
''It might have been a drug experimentation on Keith's part,'' Parlato wrote.
''Dr. Brandon Porter was there. Maybe somebody should ask him.''
Porter was charged for conducting illegal and highly perverse experiments for a ''fright study'' on human subjects. The OPMC accused Porter of showing subjects ''an actual video of the horrific and brutal murders and dismemberment of four women by machetes.''
Between 2012 and 2017, the doctor also allegedly showed subjects other violent clips without their consent, including ''a male African-American being viciously stomped by a Nazi; a conscious male being forced to eat a portion of his own brain matter; and a graphic gang rape.''
Porter is charged with moral unfitness, gross negligence, and gross incompetence. The OMPC has set a June 27 hearing for Porter to determine whether his medical license should be revoked. If those charges are proven, he could be facing criminal charges by the New York State Attorney General.
The Epoch Times reached out to the New York State Health Department for confirmation of the allegations, but a spokesperson said they were ''prohibited'' from ''commenting on prior or pending Office of Professional Medical Conduct investigations beyond what is publicly available.''
The accusations against Porter come after both cult leader Raniere and Mack pleaded not guilty to charges that they persuaded women to join a secret society within the group, resulting in the women's enslavement as sex slaves. According to an October 2017 New York Times feature, some of the women were branded with a symbol that prosecutors said contained Raniere's initials.
More arrests are expected to occur in the coming weeks amid an ongoing investigation into sex trafficking perpetrated by the supposed self-help group. Assistant U.S. Attorney Moira Penza told a judge at the federal Brooklyn court that the government plans to file a revised indictment that would name even more defendants, according to The Associated Press.
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How Judea Pearl Became One of AI's Sharpest Critics - The Atlantic
Sun, 20 May 2018 12:08
Artificial intelligence owes a lot of its smarts to Judea Pearl. In the 1980s he led efforts that allowed machines to reason probabilistically. Now he's one of the field's sharpest critics. In his latest book, The Book of Why: The New Science of Cause and Effect, he argues that artificial intelligence has been handicapped by an incomplete understanding of what intelligence really is.
Articles republished from Quanta MagazineRead more Three decades ago, a prime challenge in artificial-intelligence research was to program machines to associate a potential cause to a set of observable conditions. Pearl figured out how to do that using a scheme called Bayesian networks. Bayesian networks made it practical for machines to say that, given a patient who returned from Africa with a fever and body aches, the most likely explanation was malaria. In 2011 Pearl won the Turing Award, computer science's highest honor, in large part for this work.
But as Pearl sees it, the field of AI got mired in probabilistic associations. These days, headlines tout the latest breakthroughs in machine learning and neural networks. We read about computers that can master ancient games and drive cars. Pearl is underwhelmed. As he sees it, the state of the art in artificial intelligence today is merely a souped-up version of what machines could already do a generation ago: find hidden regularities in a large set of data. ''All the impressive achievements of deep learning amount to just curve fitting,'' he said recently.
In his new book, Pearl, now 81, elaborates a vision for how truly intelligent machines would think. The key, he argues, is to replace reasoning by association with causal reasoning. Instead of the mere ability to correlate fever and malaria, machines need the capacity to reason that malaria causes fever. Once this kind of causal framework is in place, it becomes possible for machines to ask counterfactual questions'--to inquire how the causal relationships would change given some kind of intervention'--which Pearl views as the cornerstone of scientific thought. Pearl also proposes a formal language in which to make this kind of thinking possible'--a 21st-century version of the Bayesian framework that allowed machines to think probabilistically.
Pearl expects that causal reasoning could provide machines with human-level intelligence. They'd be able to communicate with humans more effectively and even, he explains, achieve status as moral entities with a capacity for free will'--and for evil. Quanta Magazine sat down with Pearl at a recent conference in San Diego and later held a follow-up interview with him by phone. An edited and condensed version of those conversations follows.
Kevin Hartnett: Why is your new book called ''The Book of Why''?
Judea Pearl: It means to be a summary of the work I've been doing the past 25 years about cause and effect, what it means in one's life, its applications, and how we go about coming up with answers to questions that are inherently causal. Oddly, those questions have been abandoned by science. So I'm here to make up for the neglect of science.
Hartnett: That's a dramatic thing to say, that science has abandoned cause and effect. Isn't that exactly what all of science is about?
Pearl: Of course, but you cannot see this noble aspiration in scientific equations. The language of algebra is symmetric: If x tells us about y, then y tells us about x. I'm talking about deterministic relationships. There's no way to write in mathematics a simple fact'--for example, that the upcoming storm causes the barometer to go down, and not the other way around.
Mathematics has not developed the asymmetric language required to capture our understanding that if x causes y that does not mean that y causes x. It sounds like a terrible thing to say against science, I know. If I were to say it to my mother, she'd slap me.
But science is more forgiving: Seeing that we lack a calculus for asymmetrical relations, science encourages us to create one. And this is where mathematics comes in. It turned out to be a great thrill for me to see that a simple calculus of causation solves problems that the greatest statisticians of our time deemed to be ill defined or unsolvable. And all this with the ease and fun of finding a proof in high-school geometry.
Hartnett: You made your name in AI a few decades ago by teaching machines how to reason probabilistically. Explain what was going on in AI at the time.
Pearl: The problems that emerged in the early 1980s were of a predictive or diagnostic nature. A doctor looks at a bunch of symptoms from a patient and wants to come up with the probability that the patient has malaria or some other disease. We wanted automatic systems, expert systems, to be able to replace the professional'--whether a doctor, or an explorer for minerals, or some other kind of paid expert. So at that point, I came up with the idea of doing it probabilistically.
Unfortunately, standard probability calculations required exponential space and exponential time. I came up with a scheme called Bayesian networks that required polynomial time and was also quite transparent.
Hartnett: Yet in your new book you describe yourself as an apostate in the AI community today. In what sense?
Pearl: In the sense that as soon as we developed tools that enabled machines to reason with uncertainty, I left the arena to pursue a more challenging task: reasoning with cause and effect. Many of my AI colleagues are still occupied with uncertainty. There are circles of research that continue to work on diagnosis without worrying about the causal aspects of the problem. All they want is to predict well and to diagnose well.
I can give you an example. All the machine-learning work that we see today is conducted in diagnostic mode'--say, labeling objects as ''cat'' or ''tiger.'' They don't care about intervention; they just want to recognize an object and to predict how it's going to evolve in time.
I felt like an apostate when I developed powerful tools for prediction and diagnosis knowing already that this is merely the tip of human intelligence. If we want machines to reason about interventions (''What if we ban cigarettes?'') and introspection (''What if I had finished high school?''), we must invoke causal models. Associations are not enough'--and this is a mathematical fact, not opinion.
Hartnett: People are excited about the possibilities for AI. You're not?
Pearl: As much as I look into what's being done with deep learning, I see they're all stuck there on the level of associations. Curve fitting. That sounds like sacrilege, to say that all the impressive achievements of deep learning amount to just fitting a curve to data. From the point of view of the mathematical hierarchy, no matter how skillfully you manipulate the data and what you read into the data when you manipulate it, it's still a curve-fitting exercise, albeit complex and nontrivial.
Hartnett: The way you talk about curve fitting, it sounds like you're not very impressed with machine learning.
Pearl: No, I'm very impressed, because we did not expect that so many problems could be solved by pure curve fitting. It turns out they can. But I'm asking about the future'--what next? Can you have a robot scientist that would plan an experiment and find new answers to pending scientific questions? That's the next step. We also want to conduct some communication with a machine that is meaningful, and meaningful means matching our intuition. If you deprive the robot of your intuition about cause and effect, you're never going to communicate meaningfully. Robots could not say ''I should have done better,'' as you and I do. And we thus lose an important channel of communication.
Hartnett: What are the prospects for having machines that share our intuition about cause and effect?
Pearl: We have to equip machines with a model of the environment. If a machine does not have a model of reality, you cannot expect the machine to behave intelligently in that reality. The first step, one that will take place in maybe 10 years, is that conceptual models of reality will be programmed by humans.
The next step will be that machines will postulate such models on their own and will verify and refine them based on empirical evidence. That is what happened to science; we started with a geocentric model, with circles and epicycles, and ended up with a heliocentric model with its ellipses.
Robots, too, will communicate with each other and will translate this hypothetical world, this wild world, of metaphorical models.
Hartnett: When you share these ideas with people working in AI today, how do they react?
Pearl: AI is currently split. First, there are those who are intoxicated by the success of machine learning and deep learning and neural nets. They don't understand what I'm talking about. They want to continue to fit curves. But when you talk to people who have done any work in AI outside statistical learning, they get it immediately. I have read several papers written in the past two months about the limitations of machine learning.
Hartnett: Are you suggesting there's a trend developing away from machine learning?
Pearl: Not a trend, but a serious soul-searching effort that involves asking: Where are we going? What's the next step?
Hartnett: That was the last thing I wanted to ask you.
Pearl: I'm glad you didn't ask me about free will.
Hartnett: In that case, what do you think about free will?
Pearl: We're going to have robots with free will, absolutely. We have to understand how to program them and what we gain out of it. For some reason, evolution has found this sensation of free will to be computationally desirable.
Hartnett: In what way?
Pearl: You have the sensation of free will; evolution has equipped us with this sensation. Evidently, it serves some computational function.
Hartnett: Will it be obvious when robots have free will?
Pearl: I think the first evidence will be if robots start communicating with each other counterfactually, like ''You should have done better.'' If a team of robots playing soccer starts to communicate in this language, then we'll know that they have a sensation of free will. ''You should have passed me the ball'--I was waiting for you and you didn't!'' ''You should have'' means you could have controlled whatever urges made you do what you did, and you didn't. So the first sign will be communication; the next will be better soccer.
Related Stories AI Keeps Mastering Games, But Can It Win in the Real World? The AI That Has Nothing to Learn From Humans How Automation Could Worsen Racial Inequality Hartnett: Now that you've brought up free will, I guess I should ask you about the capacity for evil, which we generally think of as being contingent upon an ability to make choices. What is evil?
Pearl: It's the belief that your greed or grievance supersedes all standard norms of society. For example, a person has something akin to a software module that says, ''You are hungry, therefore you have permission to act to satisfy your greed or grievance.'' But you have other software modules that instruct you to follow the standard laws of society. One of them is called compassion. When you elevate your grievance above those universal norms of society, that's evil.
Hartnett: So how will we know when AI is capable of committing evil?
Pearl: When it is obvious to us that there are software components that the robot ignores, consistently ignores. When it appears that the robot follows the advice of some software components and not others, when the robot ignores the advice of other components that are maintaining norms of behavior that have been programmed into them or are expected to be there on the basis of past learning. And the robot stops following them.
Chromium Blog: Evolving Chrome's security indicators
Sun, 20 May 2018 11:54
Chrome treatment for HTTPS pages
Previously, HTTP usage was too high to mark all HTTP pages with a strong red warning, but in October 2018 (Chrome 70), we'll start showing the red ''not secure'' warning when users enter data on HTTP pages.
Chrome 70 treatment for HTTP pages with user input
We hope these changes continue to pave the way for a web that's easy to use safely, by default. HTTPS is cheaper and easier than ever before, and unlocks powerful capabilities -- so don't wait to migrate to HTTPS! Check out our set-up guides to get started.
Posted by Emily Schechter, Product Manager, Chrome Security
Obama Education secretary: Pull children out of schools until gun laws change | TheHill
Sun, 20 May 2018 11:32
Former Education Secretary Arne Duncan Arne Starkey DuncanBiden says 'enough is enough' after Santa Fe school shooting Obama Education secretary: Pull children out of schools until gun laws change Obama Education secretary mocks Pruitt over staff raises MORE said Friday that it was "tragically necessary" for parents to pull their children out of school en masse until U.S. gun laws are changed.
In a tweet, the former Obama administration official asked what would happen if no children went to school until "gun laws changed to keep them safe."
"My family is all in if we can do this at scale. Parents, will you please join us?" he asked.
This is brilliant, and tragically necessary.What if no children went to school until gun laws changed to keep them safe?My family is all in if we can do this at scale.Parents, will you please join us? https://t.co/Yo4wsFuJI5
'-- Arne Duncan (@arneduncan) May 18, 2018Duncan's plea comes one day after two shootings at two different schools on Friday, one of which killed 10 people at a Texas high school. Another shooting, later in the day, occurred outside of a graduation ceremony at a Georgia high school, where one person was killed and another was injured.
Democrats and anti gun violence activists reacted to Friday's shootings with calls to vote out Republicans who oppose gun control measures in November's midterm elections.
The father of a student killed in the Feb. 14 shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida blasted Republican leaders on MSNBC after the first shooting on Friday, predicting gun violence would be the "No. 1 issue" for voters in November.
"And if you're wrong on this issue, we're going to fire you," the father, Fred Guttenberg, said. "Because enough is enough is enough."
Ottawa air crash investigators say they've solved the mystery of Flight MH370 '' Ottawa Citizen
Sun, 20 May 2018 10:07
The mystery of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 has captivated the world for more than four years, but for two retired Ottawa air accident investigators, it all comes down to six seconds.
And the evidence from those final moments before the Boeing 777 disappeared into the Indian Ocean is irrefutable, say Larry Vance and Terry Heaslip.
''We call it an accident because that's our terminology. But this is a criminal act. It's not an accident,'' says Vance, a former senior investigator with the Transportation Safety Board, who has written a book on MH370 that will be published next week.
''If someone does this intentionally, you can call that suicide. The pilot took his own life and he took the lives of everyone who was on board that aircraft.''
Just 20 confirmed and identifiable pieces of MH370 have been found since the plane and its 239 passengers and crew vanished on March 8, 2014. But those few pieces are enough, Heaslip said.
''When you start looking at them, there's a story in every one of them. And the story is consistent,'' said Heaslip, an expert on wreckage analysis who was the TSB's director of engineering when he retired in 1983.
Heaslip and Vance, along with their partner, Elaine Summers, another retired TSB investigator, began looking into the MH370 crash as a training exercise for their Ottawa consulting company, HVS Aviation.
The more they saw, the more they became convinced that the crash was a deliberate act by one of the pilots, whom they say likely killed his passengers by depressurizing the plane, then deliberately flew into a remote area of the Indian Ocean and ditched. Their theory flies in the face of the official story, which says the plane flew in a straight line until it ran out of fuel, then plunged vertically into the sea.
In the basement of Heaslip's Blackburn Hamlet home, the two men pore over photographs of the wreckage, maps of the flight path and schematic drawings of the aircraft. They've worked together so long, they sometimes finish each other's sentences.
Vance was the deputy lead investigator on Swissair 111 and wrote the TSB's final report on the 1998 crash off the coast of Nova Scotia that killed 229. He was also the one to give briefings to the families, something that made it clear the investigation was more than a cold analysis of engineering calculations and cockpit procedure.
''People accuse me of being insensitive to families,'' Vance says. ''I don't mind taking the question, but if someone challenges me, I say, 'I don't need any lessons from you. How many grieving families have you talked to after an airplane accident? I've done it by the hundreds. Don't tell me that I don't have any sympathy. I've had people faint in my arms.' ''
Among the pieces of MH370 that have washed ashore are the aircraft's right flap, a part of the wing the pilot extends when the plane is flying slowly before landing, and the adjacent ''flaperon,'' which also is extended and used to control the plane in low and slow flight.
The largest piece of wreckage measured eight-by-12 feet, something that would be impossible to survive a high-speed vertical impact. Nor were the rounded leading edge of the flap and flaperon damaged, again indicating the plane hit the water low, slow and relatively level.
''When the airplane is coming in (vertically) at 300 to 600 feet per second, everything is shattering into a million pieces,'' Heaslip said. ''In a third of second to half a second, it's gone. There's no way you could end up with a piece like this with the leading edge absolutely intact.''
That the flaps were extended also means the pilot had fuel, electricity and hydraulic power when he put the plane down, again proving that the plane's tanks hadn't run dry, they say.
Heaslip and Vance relied on old-fashioned wreckage analysis for their theory, studying the stresses and fractures visible on the recovered pieces to deduce the forces that tore the plane apart. Not even the electronic data of a black box recorder can do that, Heaslip said.
''Wreckage analysis is a dying art. They're depending on the recorders. They tell you what happened '-- maybe. But they don't tell you the sequence or why things are happening. You need to be able to do wreckage analysis.''
A flaperon from MH370 recovered from the Indian Ocean, showing the intact rounded leading edge that air crash expert Terry Heaslip says proves the plane was ditched at sea and didn't crash at high speed. HANDOUT / AFP/Getty Images
The crash data fits well with Vance's examination of the earlier parts of the flight, including how the pilot turned off the plane's transponder to make it invisible to radar before reversing direction and flying along the boundary of two separate air traffic control regions where the plane would be easily missed by controllers.
The wreckage of MH370 has never been found, despite years and hundreds of millions of dollars spent scouring the seafloor.
''What they're proving every day that they search is that their assumptions were wrong,'' Vance said.
The Ottawa team's work is not part of the official investigation, nor have they been paid for any of their research, but Vance hopes their findings provide some comfort to the families of MH370.
''This is an attempt by us to give some amount of closure by telling them what happened,'' he said. ''Because if people in the end '-- I don't care who they are '-- if they know the truth it's better in the long run than if they never know what happened.''
MH370 Mystery Solved will be available in bookstores next week and can be ordered online at hvsaviation.com/
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, Texas Shooting Suspect, Posted Neo-Nazi Imagery Online
Sun, 20 May 2018 10:03
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the suspected gunman who opened fire at a Texas high school on Friday morning, apparently posted photos of neo-Nazi iconography online, according to social media accounts flagged by classmates and reviewed by The Daily Beast.
Pagourtzis, 17, was booked into Galveston County Jail for capital murder on Friday. He allegedly killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School, where he was a student. Explosive devices were left inside the school near Houston, authorities said. Pagourtzis reportedly had an assault-style rifle, shotgun, and pistol.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott told reporters that Pagourtzis said in journals he wanted to kill himself after the shooting. Instead, he surrendered to police.
Pagourtzis told an investigator ''he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told,'' according to court papers.
Before his arrest was announced, two Santa Fe students also told The Daily Beast that Pagourtzis was the gunman and they confirmed a Facebook account with Pagourtzis' name belonged to him. Attempts by The Daily Beast to reach Pagourtzis' family were unsuccessful.
On April 30, Pagourtzis apparently posted a T-shirt with ''born to kill'' printed on the front, boasting that it was custom-made.
That same day, Pagourtzis posted multiple pictures of a duster jacket emblazoned with a variety of symbols including the Iron Cross, a German military award last given by the Nazis, and other pins. He said he equated the Iron Cross with ''bravery.'' Pagourtzis said a hammer and sickle meant ''rebellion,'' a rising sun meant ''kamikaze tactics,'' and a baphomet meant ''evil.''
Rey Montemayor III, a senior who said he played football with Pagourtzis confirmed the Facebook account to be the accused shooter's.
''I played football with him for three years,'' Montemayor said. ''People on the news said he was bullied a lot. I never seen him being bullied. I never bullied him. He was cool to me. I lifted with him a couple of times.''
Montemayor said that when he was with Pagourtzis, ''he was a really cool guy.'' He said they played football together first semester.''He was quiet. He did keep to himself. That's pretty much it,'' Montemayor told The Daily Beast, adding that he never thought Pagourtzis would shoot up their school.''I know he was quiet and everything but any conversations we had in the locker room or in the field or after games, he never struck me as that person.''
Candi Thurman, a junior at the school, also told The Daily Beast that Pagourtzis wore a coat similar to the one posted to his Facebook page.
''The sketchy thing is, he wore a full-on black trench coat to school every day,'' Thurman said, adding she hadn't had a class with him since eighth grade. Montemayor said that in retrospect, Pagourtzis' trench coat was odd.
''Why would you wear a trench coat when it's 100 degrees outside? When he first started wearing that trench coat, it was during the winter.'' But in the hotter months, Pagourtzis didn't take it off.
Pagourtzis began wearing the coat at the beginning of the year.
''It's like 90 degrees outside and this guy is still wearing a trench coat,'' Thurman said. ''It should have been noted. That's a red flag right there.''
Other images on Pagourtzis' now-deleted Facebook page suggest a possible interest in white supremacist groups. Pagourtzis uploaded a number of T-shirts that feature Vaporwave-style designs. Vaporwave, a music and design movement, has spawned a related movement called Fashwave, which borrows the same aesthetic but applies them to neo-Nazi subjects.
Pagourtzis' Facebook header image was the cover of an album by musician Perturbator. Perturbator's music has been co-opted by members of the Fashwave movement, BuzzFeed previously reported. Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer frequently includes Perturbator's music in ''Fashwave Fridays'' posts.
Facebook told The Daily Beast it had removed Pagourtzis' account after the shooting.
A still-live Instagram with Pagourtzis' name has posts from April 24 showing an arcade-style game featuring a sniper rifle and another with a gun and knife on a bedspread captioned: ''Hi fuckers.''
Why Are So Many People Moving Out Of California? | Zero Hedge
Sun, 20 May 2018 09:57
Authored by Michael Snyder via The Economic Collapse blog,
In recent years, the number of people moving away from the state of California has greatly outnumbered the number of people moving into the state. Reasons for the mass exodus include rising crime, the worst traffic in the western world, a growing homelessness epidemic, wildfires, earthquakes and crazy politicians that do some of the stupidest things imaginable. But for most families, the decision to leave California comes down to one basic factor'...
For a lot of Californians, it simply does not make economic sense to remain in the state any longer. So over the past decade approximately 5 million people have picked up and moved to another state, and many believe that this trend is going to accelerate if California does not start doing things differently. The following is from an excellent article by Kristin Tate, the author of a new book entitled ''How Do I Tax Thee?: A Field Guide to the Great American Rip-Off'''...
The largest socioeconomic segment moving from California is the upper-middle class. The state is home to some of the most burdensome taxes and regulations in the nation. Meanwhile, its social engineering '-- from green energy to wealth redistribution '-- have made many working families poorer. As California begins its long decline, the influx outward is picking up in earnest.
I don't know anyone that enjoys being taxed at extremely high levels, and in California extracting more and more revenue from the citizens has become an art form. California's highest marginal tax rate is now a whopping 13.3 percent, and on average taxpayers are hit with a 9.3 percent rate'...
Taxes also are much lower in Arizona than California. California residents pay nearly twice as much in state income taxes. The individual income tax rate is 4.54 percent in Arizona. It's 9.3 percent in California, according to the Arizona Sun Corridor.
Under the old rules, the tax burden imposed upon Californians was mitigated by federal rules allowing for the deduction of state taxes. But now the new tax bill has made some major changes, and some experts believe that this will actually accelerate the exodus out of the state of California. The following comes from CNBC'...
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal headlined ''So Long, California. Sayonara, New York,'' Laffer and Moore (who have both advised President Donald Trump) say the new tax bill will cause a net 800,000 people to move out of California and New York over the next three years.
The tax changes limit the deduction of state and local taxes to $10,000, so many high-earning taxpayers in high-tax states will actually face a tax increase under the new tax code.
Of course taxation is only part of the equation.
For many, the exceedingly high cost of housing in California is the primary reason that they have chosen to leave. At this point, the average price of a home in California is more than $200,000 above the national average'...
According to Zillow, the average price for a home in the U.S. was $261,000 in February 2018. The average home price in California was $469,000. In Oklahoma, it was $116,000.
And that $469,000 figure is for the state as a whole.
In Santa Clara County (the home of Google and Apple), the median price of a single family home is 1.4 million dollars.
Yes, you read that correctly.
In some areas of northern California, the housing bubble is completely out of control. For example, just recently a burned out husk of a home sold for more than $900,000'...
Real estate agent Holly Barr says she's never had a listing generate as much attention as the one on Bird Avenue in the San Jose neighborhood of Willow Glen. The house caught fire two years ago during a remodeling job. What was left was a burned-out husk of a California bungalow sitting on 5,800 square feet of land.
When Barr put the property on the market in April for $800,000, the listing made international headlines. It sold for over $900,000 '-- in less than a week. The burned down house will be razed and a new property will be built there that will likely sell for far more.
Well, if families cannot afford to buy a home, why don't they just rent?
Unfortunately, we have seen rents spiral completely out of control as well'...
The median monthly rent for a one-bedroom apartment in the Los Angeles area is $2,249, and in San Francisco it's almost $3,400, according to Zumper. The median rent for a two-bedroom apartment in the Los Angeles area is $3,200 and in San Francisco about $4,500. By comparison, the median rent for a one-bedroom in Las Vegas is $925 and in Phoenix $945, and for a two-bedroom in Las Vegas $1,122 and in Phoenix $1,137.
Sadly, rapidly rising prices have greatly contributed to the homelessness epidemic that California is dealing with right now.
Even though we are supposedly in an ''economic recovery'', the number of homeless people in Los Angeles has risen by an astounding 50 percent over the last five years'...
The homelessness issue has achieved a special distinction in Los Angeles. Having increased 50% during the past five years, ''it's supplanted traffic as the topic everyone talks about,'' says Tom Waldman, spokesman for regional homeless agency.
The homeless are as visible as the Hollywood sign. More than two years after Mayor Eric Garcetti declared a ''state of emergency,'' about 41,000 are ''unsheltered'' '-- sleeping in cars, outside City Hall, under freeway overpasses. The Los Angeles Times calls it ''a human tragedy of extraordinary proportions.''
And it isn't just families that are leaving.
In fact, sometimes entire companies are picking up and relocating to another state. For example, Price Pump Manufacturing Co. is leaving the Golden State and is heading for Idaho'...
Price Pump Manufacturing Co., an 86-year-old company that has operated in Sonoma for 70 years, bought 6 acres of land in the Sky Ranch Business Center for about $86,000. The company plans to build a 40,000-square-foot plant at the industrial site east of Interstate 84 and south of Franklin Road.
The high cost of manufacturing in California made it more difficult to compete with other sellers in the United States and across the globe, president and CEO Bob Piazza said. He said the marketplace helps determines prices, and Price Pump could not simply raise prices to maintain a reasonable return on investment.
And I found another article today about a company that has decided to leave California and is relocating to Phoenix, Arizona'...
A company that manufactures workbenches and lab furniture is relocating to Goodyear, near Phoenix, Arizona, to save money, while creating 30 new jobs in Arizona.
Matt McConnell, director of sales and marketing for IAC Industries, said the move will increase the stability and longevity of his business. IAC is located in Brea, California.
''The commercial property costs in California versus the commercial property costs in other states'' made the decision easy, he said.
As long as tech giants such as Google and Apple are thriving, the trends that are driving such dramatic change in the state are likely to continue.
So we are likely to continue to see a very large exodus out of California, and those that are leaving will continue to fundamentally change the communities that they are moving into.
Because there is such a disparity between the number of people moving out and the number of people moving in, it actually costs nearly twice as much to take a U-Haul from California to Texas as it does to take a U-Haul from Texas to California'...
The cost of popular moving truck services, like U-Haul, is largely created through the ironclad rules of supply and demand. Turns out, there is much higher demand for trucks leaving high-tax blue states heading to low-tax red states than vice versa.
A route from California to Texas, for example, is more than twice as expensive as a route from Texas to California. Want to go from Los Angeles to Dallas? $2,558. Returning back? $1,232.
Once upon a time, millions of young Americans dreamed of moving to California. It was a land of gorgeous weather, movie stars and endless opportunity.
But now the California Dream has turned into the California nightmare, and people are heading out of the state in droves.
Trump Forbids Russian Pipeline. Europe Pushes Back
Sun, 20 May 2018 09:46
Politics & Policy
U.S. may not be able to scuttle the planned Nord Stream 2 project to bring gas to Germany.
by May 18, 2018, 12:19 PM EDT
It's already in the pipeline.
Photographer: Carsten Koall/Getty Images
Nord Stream 2, the planned Russian natural gas pipeline to Germany across the floor of the Baltic Sea, is the latest front in the growing conflict between Europe and the U.S.
The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that President Donald Trump is demanding that Germany drop Nord Stream 2 as one of the conditions of a trade deal with Europe that wouldn't include high tariffs on steel and aluminum.
The U.S. has long been opposed to the pipeline, citing Europe's energy independence and the needs of Ukraine, whose role in gas transit from Russia would be undermined by the new route. This week, a U.S. official raised the possibility that the pipeline would allow Russia to install listening and monitoring technology in the Baltic Sea. That claim is a stretch as Nord Stream 2 is designed to run parallel to an existing Russian pipeline, Nord Stream 1, which Russia could easily use for espionage.
Europeans have long suggested, however, that the U.S. government's motives might not be altruistic. The 2017 Countering America's Adversaries Through Sanctions Act lays out the U.S.'s opposition to Nord Stream 2 right next to a clause requiring the administration to ''prioritize the export of United States energy resources in order to create American jobs, help United States allies and partners, and strengthen United States foreign policy.'' To German officials, U.S. attempts to halt Nord Stream 2 are part of an effort to boost U.S. liquefied natural gas exports, which accounted for 5 percent of Europe's LNG imports in 2017.
U.S. exports are so tiny because because transportation costs make American LNG more expensive than energy from the Middle East. It's also at least 20 percent more costly than pipeline gas from the Russian producer Gazprom. And even if the price differential were eliminated, Germany needs all the gas it can get from any source as it phases out nuclear and coal power plants.
Chancellor Angela Merkel realizes that Nord Stream 2 is politically problematic. As an offshore project, it's not covered by European Union energy legislation, and that bothers officials in Brussels. Some Eastern Europeans, especially Poles, are dead set against the pipeline because they see it as a way for Russia to increase its influence. Also, their experience with Gazprom has been largely negative. But Merkel has focused on the Ukraine aspect as the morally trickiest: The impoverished nation stands to lose at least $2 billion a year in transit fees if Gazprom bypasses it and only uses the Nord Stream and Turkish Stream pipelines, as it has threatened to do.
German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier has traveled to Kiev and Moscow in recent weeks to try to hammer out a deal that would allow both Nord Stream 2 and the Ukrainian gas transit system to function. There have been no leaks from his talks, but they must have been successful enough, as Merkel traveled to the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Friday to meet with President Vladimir Putin, where Putin promised to continue the transit of gas through Ukraine ''if it's economically viable.'' This departure from previous Russian rhetoric opens a path to a deal.
That makes U.S. interference all the more unwelcome and likely counterproductive: It irritates German and European officials without making them more pliable.
''It's especially important to me that we don't get into a wholly unplanned and unstructured contest on three, four, five fronts around higher tariffs, higher sanctions and mutual mistrust,'' Altmaier told ARD TV on Friday. ''When the U.S. says 'America first, we'll put our economic interests in the foreground,' we should also consider that Europeans must also define our economic interests.''
The EU has already taken a tough stance on Trump's tariffs. ''We will not negotiate with the sword of Damocles hanging over our heads,'' European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Thursday. At a summit in Sofia, EU national leaders agreed on a similarly intractable position on preserving the nuclear deal with Iran that the U.S. is exiting. The EU is activating a so-called blocking statute to protect European companies from exterritorial U.S. sanctions for doing business with Iran.
In addition to these conflicts, the U.S. has threatened sanctions on European companies involved with Nord Stream 2, including powerful multinationals such as Royal Dutch Shell, Austria's OMV, France's Engie and Germany's Uniper and Wintershall. Now, even EU officials and national leaders who have no particular love for Nord Stream 2 are on the side of Germany. Meanwhile, the German government shows no fear of U.S. sanctions, just growing aggravation. ''This is a further burden for the trans-Atlantic relationship,'' Peter Beyer, the Foreign Ministry official is in charge of coordinating that relationship, said on Friday.
If the U.S. really cares about Ukraine and European energy security, it should let Germany and its EU partners hammer out a deal with Russia and Ukraine. The Europeans are grown-up enough not to hurt themselves, and they are perfectly capable of dealing with Gazprom, which derives 62 percent of its revenue from Europe. And European countries are even more interested in a stable Ukraine than the U.S. is: The country is on the EU's border, and its citizens enjoy visa-free travel to Europe.
The Trump administration, however, seems happy to multiply disputes with European allies, expecting them to cave on all contentious issues. But even though the EU has often appeared weak and ineffectual, it can also be stubborn, and the more pressure Trump brings to bear, the more it will push back.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.
To contact the author of this story:Leonid Bershidsky at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story:Max Berley at email@example.com
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Crab crisis: Maryland seafood industry loses 40 percent of work force in visa lottery - Baltimore Sun
Sun, 20 May 2018 09:46
Maryland's seafood industry is in crisis: Nearly half of the Eastern Shore's crab houses have no workers to pick the meat sold in restaurants and supermarkets.
They failed to get visas for their mostly Mexican workforce, including many women who have been coming north to Maryland for crab season for as long as two decades. The Trump administration for the first time awarded them this year in a lottery, instead of on a first-come, first-served basis.
''This is going to cause the price of crab meat to go out of sight,'' said Harry Phillips, owner of Russell Hall Seafood on Hoopers Island. ''There's not going to be hardly any Maryland crab meat.
''It looks like it's a matter of time before they're going to shut all of us down.''
While U.S. Rep. Andy Harris said Thursday that President Donald Trump's administration has agreed to soon approve more guest worker visas in response to skyrocketing demand nationally for seasonal laborers, the Eastern Shore businesses worry there won't be enough to go around to staff their facilities.
Visa shortages have been a perennial issue for the crab industry since the last generations of Eastern Shore women who once picked crabmeat aged out of the tedious seasonal work. In the 1980s, crab houses started bringing workers from Mexico through a program that lets them live and work in the United States during the warmer months and then return home in the winter, when watermen are prohibited from crabbing.
But crab house owners say these are the most dire circumstances they have faced.
Update: Amid crab industry labor shortage, Maryland Rep. Harris says approval of 15,000 guest worker visas 'imminent' >>
''Companies that have been relying on this system for 25 years suddenly have no workers,'' said Bill Seiling, director of the Chesapeake Bay Seafood Industries Association. ''It's totally unfair and irrational, really.''
The crisis is hitting just as crab season begins. Watermen were allowed to start dropping crab pots into the Chesapeake and its tributaries on April 1, but with cold weather through the month, crabs were slow to emerge from hibernation burrowed in mud.
As temperatures rise, this year's crop of crustaceans is now emerging.
It's unclear whether or how quickly the problem could be resolved, or what effect it could have on crab prices this year. Many of the crabs sold in Maryland come from the Carolinas or Louisiana, and some meat comes from Asia or Venezuela. But a premium is placed on local meat, with a state program called ''True Blue'' to identify and market Maryland crabs.
Crab processors theorized that a drastically reduced supply stemming from a shortage of workers could send the price of picked meat skyrocketing. But it could lower the price of steamed crabs, flooding the market with crabs that would otherwise get picked.
G.W. Hall and Sons on Hoopers Island is one of the lucky houses that got the 30 visas it applied for, but Bryan Hall says he doesn't feel fortunate.
''I got them, but I don't feel right having them,'' he said. ''It's not right for me to have them and my fellow people who I deal with not to have them. They depend on them just as much as I do, and they've got families to feed just as much as I do.''
Maryland's 20 licensed crab processors typically employ some 500 foreign workers each season, from April to November, through the H-2B visa program, Seiling said. The visas are for seasonal workers in non-agricultural jobs. Pickers are paid by the pound of meat they produce, and the most productive ones make up to $500 a week.
''Nobody wants to do manual labor anymore,'' Seiling said. ''Its just a very, very tight labor market right now, particularly in industries that are seasonal.''
But in February, Seiling said, applications for about 200 of those visas were denied. That leaves women who are used to making an annual pilgrimage to Maryland instead stuck at home, with limited options to feed their families.
''Our families depend on us and going to the United States is the best option because here in Mexico it is very difficult to find a job and apart from that you face the risk of so much crime,'' Anayeni Chavarria Ponce, a crab picker from the Mexican state of Hidalgo, said via text message in Spanish. ''Not to mention you can't reach a salary even to buy the basics.''
Federal labor officials said there was ''unprecedented'' demand for H-2B visas in January. They received applications for 81,000 foreign workers when only 33,000 visas nationwide were available for work from April through September. The visas have become increasingly desirable over the past five years as overall U.S. unemployment falls.
Nothing says Baltimore more than a pile of hot steamed crabs crusted with Old Bay. But we don't always need to get messy with our crustaceans.
The blue crab's beautiful lumps are featured in a variety of preparations at area restaurants. These 11 are some of the best.
(By Suzanne Loudermilk, For The Baltimore Sun)
Because of the demand, federal immigration officials decided to award visas by lottery. More than two-thirds of visas are awarded to work categorized as ''agricultural/horticultural.''
Congress included a provision in the $1.3 trillion spending plan it approved in March that authorizes immigration officials to issue more H-2B visas, and Harris said they have agreed to award 15,000 more visas soon. A spokesman for the federal immigration agency said he had no information about whether or how many new visas might be permitted.
Harris, a Republican who represents the Eastern Shore, said he is working with the administration to find a way to raise the visa cap further, or to allow crab pickers to work under an agricultural visa program that isn't limited. He said efforts to revise the H-2B guest worker program have been stalled by opposition from labor groups, which have argued that companies don't try hard enough to hire Americans or pay a living wage before turning to the program.
''I worked extensively with the administration to try to get our quota increased nationwide, but there's reluctance about the reform of the program,'' Harris said.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan requested the federal government ''take immediate action'' to raise the visa cap in a recent letter to the secretaries of homeland security and labor.
''Many of these businesses operate in rural parts of our state and have relied on guest workers for decades,'' he wrote. ''They will be forced to shut their doors or start importing crab meat if this issue is not addressed immediately.''
Even if Maryland crab houses get some of the new visas once they become available, Aubrey Vincent, sales manager for Lindy's Seafood, said damage could be done. It could take months before workers arrive to actually start picking.
''The season's going to be past us before we can even get the laborers we need,'' she said.
Robert T. Brown, president of the Maryland Watermen's Association, said if picking houses can't open, the ripple effects could be dramatic, especially on the lower Eastern Shore. In the lower Chesapeake, crabs are generally smaller and thus crabbers are more dependent on picking houses to buy their catch.
''It's gonna hurt the market,'' Brown said. ''I don't know what the answer is.''
Watermen sell about $55 million worth of crabs each year, by far their most valuable catch, according to the Maryland Seafood marketing office within the state Department of Agriculture. Mark Powell, that program's manager, said he estimates that if so many picking houses remain closed, it could mean $10 million to $12 million in lost sales for watermen.
The crab industry has been in a position of begging for mercy in the past, often to powerful former Sen. Barbara Mikulski. The senior Democrat intervened in the early 2000s when Northern ski resorts and Florida landscapers were scooping up the visas before Maryland crab houses had a chance to apply. She championed a change that divided the annual 66,000-visa allowance into two semiannual allotments.
Now, businesses are asking President Donald Trump for help, in the hope that the guest worker program doesn't get lost in the administration's efforts to tighten immigration policies.
''This is not an immigration issue,'' said Morgan Tolley, general manager of A.E. Phillips & Son on Hoopers Island. ''They come here, abide by rules, they pay their state and federal taxes, their Social Security taxes, and they send the majority of their money home to support their family. They are a very important part of our local economies.''
Tolley said he supports the president and trusts he has businesses' interests at heart, but he is skeptical and disappointed with the administration's changes to the visa program.
''I voted for Donald Trump and I'd vote for President Trump again,'' he said. ''But I think in small rural towns in America, we're getting the short end of the stick on labor.''
If Novichok was used, Skripal would have died on the spot '' Putin as ex-double agent leaves hospital '-- RT World News
Sun, 20 May 2018 09:20
Russian President Vladimir Putin says he was happy to hear that former double agent Sergei Skripal had been discharged from hospital, stressing that if a weapons-grade poison had been used, Skripal would have died on the spot.
Speaking at a joint press conference with visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Putin said he had heard Skripal had been released from hospital.
"God give him health, we are very happy," the Russian president said. He added, however, that he doubts a weapons-grade toxin was used to poison Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia in Salisbury, UK, in early March.
"I think that if, as our British colleagues claim, a weapons-grade poison had been used, that person would be dead on the spot. Combat chemicals are so strong that the person either dies immediately or within seconds, maybe minutes," Putin said.
He also reiterated Russia's willingness to help the investigation. "We have offered our British partners all the necessary help numerous times, and asked for access to the investigation. There has been no answer so far. Our offer remains on the table," the Russian leader concluded.
Sergei Skripal, a former Russian-UK double agent who had served a prison term for treason in Russia before moving to the UK, was poisoned in Salisbury on March 4, together with his daughter Yulia. In the immediate aftermath, British Prime Minister Theresa May claimed Russia was "highly likely" responsible because of the alleged origins of the nerve agent supposedly used in the poisoning. The case escalated into a diplomatic scandal, with the UK and its allies expelling dozens of Russian diplomats, and Moscow sending home a similar number in a mirror response.
READ MORE: Czech president admits his country produced Novichok '' but British mainstream media remain silent
The British NHS announced on Friday that Sergei Skripal had been discharged from hospital. No details of his condition or location have been revealed. Weeks earlier, Skripal's daughter Yulia was released in similar secrecy. Neither has been seen since, and their only communication with the outside world has been a statement released by the Metropolitan Police, supposedly on Yulia's behalf, which among other things refused the help which had been offered by the Russian embassy in London.
'They can refuse our help, but we must be sure they're OK'The Skripals are free to turn down the embassy's aid, but they should do so in person, Russian Ambassador to the UK Alexander Yakovenko told a press conference on Friday.
"For today, nobody saw their pictures, nobody heard their voice, nobody saw whether they're alive or not'... we should be sure that the person is alive, he is alright or she is alright, and [if they] say, for example, 'I don't need your services,' it's fine with us," he said.
Asked by a reporter, Yakovenko said Russia does not consider Skripal a traitor as his sentence had been served.
"He was sentenced, he spent six years in prison, he is cleared, he was freed and he decided to go to Britain. He is a free man, he is a Russian citizen as well as a British citizen, and he can do whatever he wishes. I think he settled his problems with the Russian state."
The ambassador himself only heard of Skripal after the Salisbury incident, he told another reporter.
"I had never heard of him and we never met him '' no relations, no nothing. So when it happened in Salisbury, we started to read about who the person is, what he did in Russia, what he did here'... basically, for us he was a new person, and now we know almost everything from the British press, except the evidence," Yakovenko said.
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Which countries are dumping the dollar and why? '-- RT Business News
Sun, 20 May 2018 04:08
The European Union is considering switching payments from the US dollar to the euro after Washington threatened to target European firms working in Iran, according to reports.
The measure may help the EU to retain one of the world's largest markets, which was opened for trade after the historic nuclear deal signed by Tehran and the P5+1 powers (China, France, Russia, UK, US, plus Germany) in June 2015.
The idea to eliminate the role of the greenback in international settlements is not new. Aside from the EU, a number of nations have been mulling the idea. RT discussed with analysts how realistic the prospect of countries ditching the dollar is.
In light of the recent developments Iran is the most pressured nation to drop the dollar with Tehran having partially adjusted trade without the US currency, Alexandre Kateb, president of Competence Finance SAS, told RT.
"When Iran was previously under sanctions from 2012 to 2015, it established new mechanisms to bypass US-related financial institutions, such as barter exchange and to replace the dollar with other currencies, such as the renminbi in its bilateral trade with China or the euro in its trade with European countries," the economist said.
At the same time, China's recent move to trade oil in yuan is seen as an initial step to challenging the dollar dominance, Stephen Innes, Head of FX Trading for OANDA in Asia Pacific told RT, stressing that the number of bilateral trade agreements, signed amongst Asia Pacific nations, will settle in yuan.
"Mainland it is laying the ground for the Belt and Road Initiative, and China is even sweetening the pot by offering swap facilities to local countries to promote the use of the yuan," he added.
Experts are unanimous on the point that bi- and multi-lateral pacts between various nations could become the major drivers on the way toward decreasing the dependence on US currency in international trade.
"This would depend on the leverage the EU, the UK, Russia and China deploy. The likely scenario is diversification '' bilateral arrangements between trading partners, or regional arrangements, substituting for multilateral arrangements that supported dollar dominance," Ramaa Vasudevan an Associate Professor at the Department of Economics, Colorado State University told RT.
At the same time, analysts admit that getting rid of the greenback is not an easy task. It took the US dollar nearly a century to unsettle the British pound that had been enjoying its preeminence through the 19th century and the first half of the 20th as the global reserve currency.
"Old habits are hard to break as most of the global hedging is still done on US exchanges like Nymex or ICE," Innes said. "The issues are working out the deliverable to hedge ratio factors which could put many off from breaking long-held settlement in US dollar."
"The US dollar is still, for many reasons, the international trade and reserve currency of choice," according to Kateb. "The whole international financial system is currently structured around the United States and around the central role of the dollar."
However, the expert noted that the international system will change dramatically. Rapid development of blockchain technology along with rooting of virtual currencies is reportedly set to bring about the changing process.
"Eventually, the evolution of global finance will be very much related to the evolution of the global balance of power," the economist told RT. "This will not happen overnight. It will take time and many more crises and balance shifts. None really knows what the new system will look like."
The experts agreed that expelling the greenback from its dominant position in the international monetary system will take much more effort than just replacing it with the euro or other domestic currencies.
"Dollar dominance does not depend simply on its use to denominate trade, but on the dollar's role as the pivot of the international financial system '' the fact that about 88 percent of the average daily turnover of foreign exchange instruments is against the dollar, in contrast to the share of the euro which is only about 31 percent," said Vasudevan.
The researcher highlighted that the recent impulse for dislodging the US currency is a symptom of a wider discontent with the rules of the dollar system, but is not a cure for the dollar problem.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
Open source sets sights on killing WhatsApp and Slack ' The Register
Sat, 19 May 2018 20:55
See this IMAP, Zuck? It's pointing right at you Exclusive The company that writes the open-source software for three-quarters of the world's Internet Message Access Protocol (IMAP) email servers has a plan that could kill off proprietary chat services like Facebook's WhatsApp. And that means you, too, Slack.
German open-source software-as-a-service operation Open-Xchange acquired the IMAP developer Dovecot three years ago, and announced today at the OX Summit in Brussels that it wants to integrate chat into the bundle.
Dovecot co-founder Timo Sirainen told us plans were in their early stages. The team hadn't decided which protocol to use. But the goal was to make it so easy that existing IMAP installations would find it trivially easy to turn it on.
Open-Xchange co-founder and CEO Rafe Laguna, who has long railed against the dominance of closed-source internet platforms, said he was frustrated by having a dozen chat apps on his phone that put data into silos.
The goal is that the user could flit from IM to email and back again, and the integration would ensure that chat conversations were archived and searchable. That removes the need for a Slack.
"The main idea is that there are lot of Dovecot installations all over the world," Sirainen told us this morning in Brussels. "If we include chat in Dovecot, we can utilise them to create a distributed chat system.
"Even if you don't have the chat enabled it would still fall back to email, when, say, you weren't using the same chat client as me.
"Who would want to join a new chat network? Well, if it's easy to enable, we could enable the problem of people using it. Also even if you don't have the chat enabled it would still fall back to email... If you weren't using mine."
Slack marketed itself as the cure for office email but users pay a steep price for what's essentially a wrapper around Internet Relay Chat (IRC). Among Sirainen's first projects was an open-source IRC client.
"We think it should be really easy to enable. It should work through an existing port '' if we use the same port as IMAP then usually that's open on firewalls."
The IMAP-chat work would be proposed as a standard and open-source code. "We do want other people to implement the standard. It should be a fully open chat system that anyone can join and reimplement the whole thing.
"We have this idea of easily, when you reply, seeing their online status, and chat instead, then switch back to email. You could still have the same chat messages and have them in the email. And you could still have your old email client that doesn't know about chat '' but still see them archived as normal email messages '' say, one per conversation."
Twenty years ago, most internet communication was conducted over open protocols, but now much takes place over proprietary networks like Facebook or Slack. Innovating in communications might not bring down Facebook's empire overnight '' The Social Network operates two giant chat services, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger '' but it would make third-party alternatives more attractive and give users one less reason to stay logged onto the data harvester. ®
Sponsored: Minds Mastering Machines - Call for papers now open
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Sat, 19 May 2018 20:10
What we know about accused Santa Fe High gunman Dimitrios Pagourtzis | Crime | Dallas News
Sat, 19 May 2018 17:55
This story is being continuously updated.
Here's what we know about Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the 17-year-old accused of killing 10 people at Santa Fe High School outside Houston:
1. He is a junior at the school, where students said he was unpopular and often the target of bullying.
2. Pagourtzis' journals indicate he wanted to commit suicide after he shot his classmates, Gov. Greg Abbott said at a news conference Friday.
"We also know information already that the shooter has information contained in journals on his computer and his cellphone that he said that not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting," Abbott said. "As you probably know, he gave himself up and admitted at the time he didn't have the courage to commit the suicide, that he wanted to take his own life earlier."
3. A Facebook profile removed shortly after the shooting reportedly showed images of a black T-shirt with the words "Born to Kill," as well as a trench coat with Nazi insignia. A student told KPRC-TV that Pagourtzis wears the trench coat every day.
4. CNN reported the background image of his profile page is the album cover of Dangerous Days by French electronic music artist Perturbator. One song on the album is called "Humans Are Such Easy Prey."
This undated photo from Facebook shows Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials have taken into custody and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas, near Houston.
5. Pagourtzis was armed with a shotgun and .38-caliber revolver that belonged to his father, Abbott said.
"Officers inside encountered a bloody mess in the school," a law enforcement source source told the Houston Chronicle. "Evidently this guy threw pipe bombs all in there. We don't know if any of the went off."
6. He hid the shotgun under his coat, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said at a news conference.
7. He played on the school's junior varsity football team in 2016 and the previous year played on the freshman football team, CNN reported.
8. Texas Sen. John Cornyn said that looking at Pagourtzis' social media posts, "when you look back on it, you see signs that may have alerted people that this young man was suffering from some sort of mental health crisis and planned to do something like this."
9. Pagourtzis was injured but able to talk with authorities, CNN reported.
10. A caption on his Instagram page said "we all die sometime," according to the Chronicle.
11. At 17, Pagourtzis is the minimum age to be automatically charged as an adult in Texas. He was arrested on a charge of capital murder without bail. Capital murder is punishable by either a death sentence or life without parole.
(Galveston County Sheriff's Office)
12. A bomb squad was dispatched to a home about four miles from campus, KTRK-TV reported. At one point, officers could be seen running away from the home, and police tape cordoned off the neighborhood along State Highway 6 near Westwood Drive.
13. A possible 18-year-old accomplice was in custody, CNN reported. But that person is not believed to have fired any shots. That person is also a student.
14. He told law enforcement "he did not shoot students he did like so he could have his story told," according to court records.
15. He acted alone and is in solitary confinement in jail, according to the Chronicle.
The 17-year-old suspect in today's shooting told police that he acted alone, according to Galveston County Judge Mark Henry.
'-- Keri Blakinger (@keribla) May 18, 2018
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, The Alleged Santa Fe High School Shooter : NPR
Sat, 19 May 2018 17:52
This photo provided by the Galveston County Sheriff's Office shows Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials took into custody on Friday and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas. Galveston County Sheriff's Office via AP hide caption
toggle caption Galveston County Sheriff's Office via AP This photo provided by the Galveston County Sheriff's Office shows Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials took into custody on Friday and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.
Galveston County Sheriff's Office via AP Dimitrios Pagourtzis, the 17-year-old who allegedly opened fire at a Texas high school Friday killing at least 10 people and wounding 10 others, has been charged with capital murder and aggravated assault.
He's currently being held at Galveston County Jail with no bond, according to a tweet by Santa Fe Independent School District and has been speaking to investigators. Officials have not released a motive, but some information about the suspect is emerging.
It appears the shooting rampage at Santa Fe High School was planned. During a Friday press conference, Gov. Greg Abbott, R-Texas, said information contained in journals on Pagourtzis' computer and cell phone suggested that "not only did he want to commit the shooting, but he wanted to commit suicide after the shooting."
Law enforcement can officially confirm that the SFHS suspect has been identified as student Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17. He is charged with capital murder & agg assault of a peace officer. He is in the Galveston County jail on no bond. @FBIHouston #HouNews
'-- Santa Fe ISD (@SantaFeISD) May 18, 2018The suspect, however, gave himself up because he "didn't have the courage" to follow through with taking his own life, Abbot said.
While the evidence points to a planned attack, students who knew the shooter provided an inconsistent description of their classmate.
Eighteen-year-old senior Tyler Ray played football for the Sante Fe Indians with the shooter, who was a defensive tackle on the junior varsity team. At a vigil for the victims in the center of Santa Fe on Friday night, Ray told NPR's John Burnett he would have never suspected Pagourtzis was capable of mass murder '' he was just joking with the shooter on a field trip to a Galveston water park on Thursday, the day before the massacre.
"One day you think you know this kid, you think you can hang out with him, you can joke with him," Ray said. "And the next day he's shootin' up the school. You just never know."
But Lauren Severin, a 17-year-old junior wearing a cross around her neck, told Burnett that her impression of the murderer was very different after having a couple classes with him. She said she thinks Pagourtzis was bullied in school because he was different.
"I don't think he was normal," she said. "I think he was really strange and quiet. I wasn't surprised when I heard it was him. ... He always wears this weird trenchcoat and kind of looks like a psychopath."
The weapons that the shooter used in the attack '' a shotgun and a .38-caliber revolver '' were not "legally possessed" by the shooter, but appear to be legally owned by the suspect's father, who was not named by authorities. It was unclear whether the father was aware his son had the weapons.
On Friday, there were reports of possible explosive devices discovered at the school, the suspect's home and in a vehicle, according to officials. Those devices were found to be fake in all but one case. Galveston County Judge Mark Henry said on Saturday that police found carbon dioxide canisters taped together and a pressure cooker with an alarm clock and nails inside at the high school, but the devices weren't capable of detonating.
This undated photo from Facebook shows Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials have taken into custody and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting on Friday, in Santa Fe, Texas. Facebook via AP hide caption
toggle caption Facebook via AP This undated photo from Facebook shows Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who law enforcement officials have taken into custody and identified as the suspect in the deadly school shooting on Friday, in Santa Fe, Texas.
Facebook via AP Authorities say the suspect has provided a statement to police while in custody, telling investigators that he didn't shoot his classmates that he liked "so he could have his story told," the AP reports.
The governor said there is nothing at this time that would indicate there were missed warning signs, like in the case of the other mass shooters such as Devin Patrick Kelley, who killed 26 at a Sutherland Springs, Texas, church in November 2017, or alleged school shooter Nikolas Cruz, who is charged with killing 17 people at a Parkland, Fla. high school in February.
"One of the frustrating things in the early status of this case is that unlike Parkland, unlike Sutherland Springs, there weren't those kinds of warning signs," Abbot said "Here the red flag warnings were either non-existent or very imperceptible."
Facebook posts allegedly linked to Pagourtzis show a black T-shirt with the words "Born to Kill" in white block letters written across the front. Authorities say he had no prior confrontations with law enforcement and has no past criminal history.
Attorneys Nicholas Poehl and Robert Barfield, who were hired by the suspect's parents to represent their son in court, are urging the public not to rush to judgment.
"I think every parent instinctively knows they don't know everything about their kids, but when you find out something like this today, it's extremely hard," Poehl told Houston TV station KTRK. "To those out their watching, try to remember these people are victims too, they didn't know and they didn't expect, and they certainly couldn't have predicted [the shooting]. Prayers to everyone in this whole mess."
Texas school shooting suspect Dimitrios Pagourtzis hid firearms under long coat
Sat, 19 May 2018 17:49
It's not USA TODAY's policy to identify minors charged with crimes. Due to the magnitude of this school shooting and the fact the suspect has been charged as an adult, USA TODAY has decided to identify him. USA TODAY
A woman prays outside the Santa Fe ISD Alamo Gym where students and faculty are being brought after a shooting at Santa Fe High School on Friday, May 18, 2018, in Santa Fe, Texas. (Photo: Jennifer Reynolds, The Galveston County Daily News via AP)
SANTA FE, Texas '--The 17-year-old suspect in Friday's Texas high school mass shooting wore a long coat to get his firearms into the school without anyone noticing and sketched out plans for the grisly attack ahead of time in his journal and on a home computer, authorities said.
Law enforcement officials took Dimitrios Pagourtzis into custody soon after he carried out the attack and say he is the sole gunman responsible for the mass shooting at Santa Fe High School that left at least 10 dead and 10 more wounded, according to police and prosecutors. He was charged with capital murder and aggravated assault of a peace officer.
The suspect appeared before a judge in Galveston for an initial court appearance where the charges were formally read. Pagourtzis asked to be represented by a public defender. The suspect admitted to the shootings and told officers he targeted students he didn't like, according to a probable cause affidavit.
It's not USA TODAY's policy to identify minors charged with crimes. Due to the magnitude of the event and the fact the suspect has been charged as an adult, USA TODAY has decided to identify the suspect.
Gov. Greg Abbott said the shooter told investigators that he wanted to commit suicide after carrying out the shooting in a high school art room and had detailed his planning for the attack on his computer and in journals.
Listen as police enter Santa Fe High school during a shooting that left at least 8 dead and one injured officer. USA TODAY
He added the gunman used two weapons in the attack, a shotgun and .38 revolver. Both of the firearms were legally owned by the gunman's father. Abbott said it was not yet clear if the father knew that the suspect had possession of the firearms.
The shooter apparently was able to hide the weapons under a long coat, or trench coat, he wore into school despite temperatures that hovered around 90 degrees, officials said.
"He gave himself up and admitted that he didn't have the courage to commit the suicide," Abbott said.
Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is pictured in a mugshot released by the Galveston County Sheriff's Office. Pagourtzis is being held on capital murder charges in the shooting at Santa Fe High School and is being held at the Galveston County Jail. Mandatory Credit: Galveston County Sheriff's Office via USA TODAY NETWORK ORG XMIT: BBwmKzta8m5fw1dKF89Y (Via OlyDrop) (Photo: Galveston County Sheriff's Office, USA TODAY NETWORK)
The incident comes two weeks before the school was set to hold graduation and as students prepared for final exams
Police said suspected explosive devices were also found on campus and off campus in the aftermath of the shooting.
Abbott described some of explosive devices found as a CO2 device and a Molotov cocktail. The governor added that it appeared the devices were assembled by the shooter and that investigators have not yet uncovered any information that would suggest that the suspect received help in building the explosives.
A t-shirt with the words "Born To Kill" is pictured in a screenshot from the Facebook social media account of Dimitrios Pagourtzis, who is suspected in the shooting at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas. (Photo: Facebook, USA TODAY NETWORK)
Abbott said authorities were speaking to two additional people of interest about the incident.
"One is a person who was at the scene," Abbott said. "We cannot definitively say whether or not that this is a person that may have had some level of involvement in the crime. There was just some suspicious reactions from this particular person and we want to make sure this person is adequately investigated. Separate from that, there is another person where we have certain information (and) we want to make sure that this other person is going to be fully interviewed to see if there is information to be gleaned."
Last SlideNext SlidePagourtzis played defensive tackle on the Santa Fe High School junior varsity football team, and was a member of a dance squad with a local Greek Orthodox church. In a recap on the high school web site of an October 2016 Santa Fe High JV game, Pagourtzis was among players credited with playing "a huge role" in stopping the Ball High School's JV running game in a 14-0 victory.
Social media accounts that law enforcement officials confirmed belonged to Pagourtzis but were taken down in the aftermath of the incident featured photos of firearms, a knife, and a custom-made T-shirt emblazoned with the words "Born to Kill." He also posted a photo of a coat that included the Iron Cross insignia.
More: At least 10 dead after gunman opens fire at Texas high school; suspect in custody, explosives found
More: Santa Fe High School shooting: Here are some facts about the Texas school, Santa Fe ISD
Abbott said that law enforcement officials have obtained warrants to search two residents associated with the suspect as well as a vehicle. On Friday afternoon, a column of law enforcement vehicles clogged the road leading to the shooter's home in nearby Alvin as investigators continued their search of the property
Nine of the victims killed were students and one was a teacher. Hospital officials said among those injured was a school resource officer, one of two officers regularly assigned to the school. Hospital officials also described another person injured as a middle-aged woman who was a staff member at the school.
In addition to the dead, several injured victims were transported to area hospitals.
#UPDATE There have been explosive devices found in the high school and surrounding areas adjacent to the high school. Because of the threat of explosive items, community members should be on the look-out for suspicious packages and anything that looks out of place.
'-- Santa Fe ISD (@SantaFeISD) May 18, 2018In the aftermath of the shooting, students had varying recollection of what happened. Some students said they heard a fire alarm activated before the sound of gunshots echoed through the school hallways. Others said that they didn't hear the fire alarm activated until after the shooting began.
Some students didn't know it was a shooting until they got outside.
"Next thing you know, everybody looks and you hear 'boom, boom, boom, and I just ran as fast as I could to the nearest forest so I can hide and I called my mom," 10th grader Dakota Shrader emotionally explained with her mom by her side Friday morning.
Grace Johnson, 18, a senior and who is the chaplain for the school band, told CNN that she and several of her classmates huddled in a classroom as they heard the sound of gunfire.
''We were hearing gunshots and many kids were having panic attacks,'' Johnson said. ''We sat in a circle and prayed for all of our peers and that they were going to be all right. We prayed for whoever was doing this that something changes in them.''
The FBI, ATF, Texas Department of Public Safety and local law enforcement agencies all all investigating the incident.
Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said that the high school was one of dozens in the state that had received recently a safety award for its security planning.
He said that the incident suggests that it might be time for schools to limit the entrances and exits that student and staff can use and stagger start times to make it easier for school resources officers to secure a school.
"There aren't enough people to put a guard at every entrance and exit," Patrick said. "If we can protect a large office building or a courthouse or any major facility than maybe we need to look at limiting the entrances and the exits into our schools."
Contributing: Andrew Weil, KHOU-TV
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The Antidepressant Generation - The New York Times
Sat, 19 May 2018 17:39
Photo Credit Stuart Bradford''I think our experiment failed,'' the young graduate student told me, referring to our attempt to take her off the antidepressant she'd been on for seven years. She was back in my campus office after a difficult summer break, and as she talked about feeling unsettled and upset, I wondered about the broader experiment playing out on college campuses across the country.
Antidepressants are an excellent treatment for depression and anxiety. I've seen them improve '-- and sometimes save '-- many young lives. But a growing number of young adults are taking psychiatric medicines for longer and longer periods, at the very age when they are also consolidating their identities, making plans for the future and navigating adult relationships.
Are we using good scientific evidence to make decisions about keeping these young people on antidepressants? Or are we inadvertently teaching future generations to view themselves as too fragile to cope with the adversity that life invariably brings?
My patient had started medication as a college freshman, after she'd become depressed and spent much of her time in bed. She was forced to take a medical leave but improved quickly, returned to school and graduated. She married soon after and worked for a few years, feeling well all the while.
Professional guidelines recommend six to nine months of medicine for first episodes of depression. But my patient had never been advised to stop taking it. She reluctantly agreed to my recommendation to taper off her antidepressant.
For a couple of months she didn't feel any different, except, she said, things ''moved'' her more than before. It wasn't that she was sad more frequently. Rather, she was having emotional reactions, including tearfulness, more readily. This didn't seem problematic to either of us.
When I recommend to my patients that they come off antidepressants, I encourage them to choose a relatively transition-free time in their lives, so that we don't mistake what might be a normal reaction to a stressful situation for symptoms of recurrent depression. But because I work with university students, it's close to impossible to find such a time.
Indeed, the psychologist Jeffrey Arnett calls the young adult years ''the age of instability.'' Dr. Arnett coined the term ''emerging adulthood'' to define a new psychological developmental stage for 18- to 29-year-olds in industrialized countries. But now, growing numbers of young people experience rapidly changing living situations, classes, jobs and relationships only while taking an antidepressant.
My patient had moved away from her husband to start graduate school, since his job kept him in another state. She'd expected the temporary separation to be hard but navigated it smoothly, focusing on school, with occasional visits.
In the summer, she moved in with him and was surprised to feel emotionally ''muted.'' It was nothing like her college depression, but she worried. She'd counted on the reunion being easy.
As she looked back, she acknowledged that moving again, leaving behind new school friends and routines, and not having the structure of school or work to fill her time might have challenged anyone. She noticed small ways in which she and her husband were growing in different directions, and this alarmed her. She wanted to resume medication, thinking that maybe the summer would have gone better with an antidepressant.
Major depression in adults is often recurrent: half of people with first episodes will have a second episode. The current standard of care is to recommend medicine indefinitely after three or more recurrences, or even after a second episode if certain other risk factors are present.
However, these recommendations are based on evidence gathered in clinical trials of moderate-to-severe depression in adults older than the students I treat. Many studies were short-term; few followed patients for longer than two years. Some were funded by the pharmaceutical industry, which has a financial stake in keeping people on medicine indefinitely.
Children and adolescents increasingly take antidepressants. In 2009, a large trial called the Treatment for Adolescents With Depression Study showed that those who took an antidepressant in conjunction with therapy for nine months were much less depressed, and less suicidal, in the year after stopping treatment than those without treatment '-- so clearly treatment is critical. But for how long? And is medicine on its own, without therapy, sufficient?
More students arrive on campus already on antidepressants. From 1994 to 2006, the percentage of students treated at college counseling centers who were using antidepressants nearly tripled, from 9 percent to over 23 percent. In part this reflects the introduction of S.S.R.I. antidepressants, a new class of drugs thought to be safer and have fewer side effects than their predecessors.
At the same time, direct-to-consumer advertising of prescription drugs also became commonplace. Some of this very helpfully reduces stigma, allowing people who are suffering from depression to get much-needed relief. But it also creates demand where genuine need may be less clear.
College deans have written about incoming freshman being ''crispies'' or ''teacups'': the crispies so burned out by the pressures of high school that they get to college unable to engage in the work, and the teacups so fragile or overprotected in their formative years that they fall apart at the first stress they encounter.
In my experience, the attempt to stop antidepressants in college students goes well less often than the prevalence of depression suggests it should. Some students probably do have chronic mental health issues that require long-term treatment. But others are also drinking alcohol heavily, or using drugs like marijuana or their roommate's Adderall, or suffering from other problems, such as eating disorders, that they'd rather not confront.
Others have just experienced loss, or rejection, and medicine may have become a panacea to which they turn at the first signs of unhappiness. Some resume antidepressant use on their own, and by the time they return to see me it's impossible to assess whether they in fact had a recurrence of their depression; we're often then committed to another course of treatment. We now know that the young adult brain is still changing and developing much more than previously assumed. But we still lack a clear understanding of how psychiatric medicines might affect this brain development.
My patient and I reviewed her symptoms, and I assessed her for serious risks, such as thoughts of suicide. This is a critical part of psychiatric care, and often where the psychiatric encounter ends '-- with a prescription. That may be completely appropriate when driven by clinical judgment. But sometimes it's a matter of expediency. The doctor doesn't have the time to go into all the other treatment options, or the student lacks the time or motivation to pursue therapy, or stop drinking, or work on self-care.
Insurance often doesn't cover much therapy; medicine is cheaper in the short-term. My patient was not in another major depressive episode, but she didn't want to wait ''until it got to that point.''
We discussed the milder and more chronic form of depression known as dysthymia. Though she hadn't had symptoms long enough to warrant that diagnosis, the most conservative approach was still to just resume the medicine.
But my patient's symptoms were only one part of a compelling life story: that of a young woman trying to balance personal aspirations with intimacy. She was discounting her emotional reactions to difficult life events. These struggles might be the very moments that precipitate personal growth.
Emerging adults are at such a critical juncture in their lives; it seemed important for my patient to have a chance to explore her relationship with her husband and her expectations about work and love and herself. She agreed, opting to try therapy first and defer medication.
We walk a thinning line between diagnosing illness and teaching our youth to view any emotional upset as pathological. We need a greater focus on building resilience in emerging adults. We need more scientific studies '-- spanning years, not months '-- on the risks and benefits of maintenance treatment in emerging adults. Maybe someday, treating people like this young graduate student, I won't have to feel like we're conducting an experiment of one.
Photo Doris Iarovici, a psychiatrist at Duke University, is the author of ''Mental Health Issues and the University Student.''
U.S. Warns Sanctions Possible If Nord Stream 2 Pipe Proceeds - Bloomberg
Sat, 19 May 2018 17:27
PrintThe U.S. stepped up its opposition to the Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany, saying the project raises security concerns and that it could draw U.S. sanctions.
The U.S. opposes the project because it will increase Europe's reliance on Russia for gas supplies. It's also worried the pipeline could open ways for Russia to install undersea surveillance equipment in the Baltic Sea, said Sandra Oudkirk, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Energy diplomacy.
The U.S. issued the warning just as European Union policy makers said they're ready to erect bulwarks to shield companies from U.S. sanctions directed at Iran. Europe's mood is shifting from shock at Trump's ''America First'' agenda to a resolve to close ranks and assert its own position. U.S. threats to Nord Stream 2, which has split eastern and western EU states, could impact companies in Austria, France, Germany and the Netherlands.
Royal Dutch Shell Plc, BASF SE's Wintershall unit, Uniper SE, OMV AG and Engie SA have agreed to provide Russia's Gazprom PJSC with financing for the project.
Speaking to reporters in Berlin, Oudkirk said the project could be sanctioned under a bill passed in August 2017. Congress passed the legislation in response to Russia's intervention in Ukraine and its suspected U.S. election interference, giving the government authority to act against any Russian energy projects including Nord Stream 2, the envoy said.
''That means that any pipeline project, and there are multiple pipeline projects in the world that are potentially covered, is at an elevated sanctions risk," Oudkirk said.
Oudkirk said the U.S. also opposed the pipeline due to security concerns, adding it would allow Russia to place listening devices along the pipeline's route, although she declined to comment on specific devices.
The U.S. official pushed back against suggestions Ukraine could receive guarantees to protect it from any loss of revenues if Nord Stream 2 diverts gas flows. German Chancellor Angela Merkel last week said that the pipeline project was impossible if it leaves Ukraine vulnerable to reduced gas transit revenue, implying some form of guarantee agreement was under consideration.
''We don't believe guarantees are enforceable,'' Oudkirk said, adding that Russia has made clear its intentions to use the project to bypass Ukraine.
She also brushed aside as ''false'' the suggestion that the U.S. is opposing the pipeline to ensure the U.S. has Europe as a potential market liquefied natural gas. She noted the U.S. has long-opposed projects that would make Europe more dependent on Russian energy sources.
Addressing alternatives to Nord Stream 2, Oudkirk said Europe technological breakthroughs would eventually allow Europe to source gas from the Caspian Sea, Eastern Mediterranean, Algeria and eventually the U.S. and Australia.
"We're neutral on the means of conveyance," the official said.
Here's Your Unclassified Briefing on Secret Government Code Names - The New York Times
Sat, 19 May 2018 06:44
The F.B.I. investigation into Russian election meddling and possible ties to Trump associates was originally called Crossfire Hurricane.
The F.B.I. Headquarters in Washington. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times The investigation into President Trump's campaign and its ties to Russia is best known today by the man who runs it, Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel. But the F.B.I. conducted the investigation for nearly a year before Mr. Mueller was appointed. To the agents, it was known by its internal code name: Crossfire Hurricane.
What exactly is a Crossfire Hurricane?The term is borrowed from the Rolling Stones song ''Jumpin' Jack Flash,'' which begins with Mick Jagger declaring, ''I was born in a crossfire hurricane.'' According to the author Victor Bockris, however, his fellow band member Keith Richards inspired the line. In his book ''Keith Richards: The Biography,'' Mr. Bockris wrote that Mr. Richards was born amid the bombing and air raid sirens of Dartford, England, in 1943 at the height of World War II. ''I was born with those sirens,'' he said.
Who picks government code names?It varies. The C.I.A. randomly selects code names '-- called cryptonyms, or crypts '-- from a list of preapproved names. But C.I.A. officers can skip that process and pick their own. That is most likely how the agency ended up with hacking tools named RickyBobby and EggsMayhem. Somewhere, there is a former classics scholar who can claim responsibility for choosing Anabasis, the epic Greek military tale, as the cryptonym for a C.I.A. operation in Iraq.
Military operations get code names, too, and random selection has its downsides. When a blitz on Iraqi weapons sites was randomly given the name ''Operation Bolton'' by the British Ministry of Defense, the name divided residents of the town of Bolton. ''Bolton is not an aggressive town,'' one resident told The Independent.
The Pentagon's high-profile military operations are more brand name than code name: Enduring Freedom, Desert Storm, Iraqi Freedom, New Dawn.
Perhaps the most famous coded F.B.I. operation was Abscam, the late-1970s operation in which agents posed as Arab sheikhs working for a company called Abdul Enterprises and tried to bribe lawmakers. If it is not obvious, that code name was not chosen at random.
Agents and analysts typically try to pick something clever, but being too cute can cause headaches. The investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server was labeled Midyear Exam (often shortened inside the F.B.I. to Midyear). Agents may have thought they were being tested, facing a politically charged investigation in a presidential campaign. But last year, Senator Charles E. Grassley, Republican of Iowa, questioned the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, about whether to read anything into the name.
GRASSLEY: Was the Clinton investigation named Operation Midyear because it needed to be finished before the Democratic National Convention? If so, why the artificial deadline? If not, why was that the name?
COMEY: Certainly not because it had to be finished by a particular date. There's an art and a science to how we come up with code names for cases. They assure me it's done randomly. Sometimes I see ones that make me smile and so I'm not sure. But I can assure you that '-- it was called Midyear Exam, was the name of the case '-- I can assure you the name was not selected for any nefarious purpose or because of any timing on the investigation.
Are there standard naming conventions?Not if past practice is any indication. Some agents seem to favor odd or obscure references. Take the federal gun case Tin Panda, for example. Others reach for the obvious, like the mortgage fraud investigation named Malicious Mortgage. Cyberinvestigators often nod at industry jargon (E-Con or Fastlink). Agents have chosen names that are descriptive (Disarray), misspelled (Lemon-Aid) and iterative (Cross Country XI).
Perhaps the best guidance on the topic comes from Winston Churchill, whose opinions about World War II code names were so well regarded that in 1952, the deputy C.I.A. director, Allen W. Dulles, sent it to his covert action team. Mr. Churchill advised against choosing names that were boastful or grim or naming operations after living people. ''After all, the world is wide, and intelligent thought will readily supply an unlimited number of well-sounding names,'' he wrote. The full text can be read here, and it offers some suggestions:
''Proper names are good in this field. The heroes of antiquity, figures from Greek and Roman mythology, the constellations and stars, famous racehorses, names of British or American war heroes, could be used, provided they fall within the rules above. There are no doubt many other themes that could be suggested.''
Why does an F.B.I. investigation even need a code name?Convenience, mostly. It is not necessary for record-keeping because every F.B.I. case has a unique number. A code name, though, allows for a familiar shorthand that avoids sharing delicate information. Nobody is going to say, ''Stay behind after this meeting so we can discuss the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election and whether the Trump campaign was involved.''
''Stay behind after this meeting so we can discuss Crossfire Hurricane,'' is easier and discreet. And, for brevity's sake, it was often shortened to Crossfire.
Do I really care about what agents call their cases?Well, you've read this far, so probably at least a little. But no, the names do not reveal much about the underlying investigation. Think of them simply as a peek into the mind-set of the investigative team. Maybe the name was chosen with an eye toward marketing the eventual news release, or as an inside joke among agents.
In remains unclear who selected Crossfire Hurricane, but there is no doubt that it touched off a ferocious storm, and the winds continue to thrash the White House and the F.B.I. itself.
Matt Apuzzo is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in Washington. He has covered law enforcement and security matters for more than a decade and is the co-author of the book ''Enemies Within.''
Adam Goldman reports on the F.B.I. from Washington and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for national reporting on Russia's meddling in the presidential election.
Code Name Crossfire Hurricane: The Secret Origins of the Trump Investigation - The New York Times
Sat, 19 May 2018 06:41
Days after the F.B.I. closed its investigation into Hillary Clinton in 2016, agents began scrutinizing the presidential campaign of her Republican rival, Donald J. Trump. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.
Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump's advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.
The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.
The name, a reference to the Rolling Stones lyric ''I was born in a crossfire hurricane,'' was an apt prediction of a political storm that continues to tear shingles off the bureau. Days after they closed their investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, agents began scrutinizing the campaign of her Republican rival. The two cases have become inextricably linked in one of the most consequential periods in the history of the F.B.I.
[Read our briefing on secret government code names]
This month, the Justice Department inspector general is expected to release the findings of its lengthy review of the F.B.I.'s conduct in the Clinton case. The results are certain to renew debate over decisions by the F.B.I. director at the time, James B. Comey, to publicly chastise Mrs. Clinton in a news conference, and then announce the reopening of the investigation days before Election Day. Mrs. Clinton has said those actions buried her presidential hopes.
Those decisions stand in contrast to the F.B.I.'s handling of Crossfire Hurricane. Not only did agents in that case fall back to their typical policy of silence, but interviews with a dozen current and former government officials and a review of documents show that the F.B.I. was even more circumspect in that case than has been previously known. Many of the officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly.
Agents considered, then rejected, interviewing key Trump associates, which might have sped up the investigation but risked revealing the existence of the case. Top officials quickly became convinced that they would not solve the case before Election Day, which made them only more hesitant to act. When agents did take bold investigative steps, like interviewing the ambassador, they were shrouded in secrecy.
Fearful of leaks, they kept details from political appointees across the street at the Justice Department. Peter Strzok, a senior F.B.I. agent, explained in a text that Justice Department officials would find it too ''tasty'' to resist sharing. ''I'm not worried about our side,'' he wrote.
Only about five Justice Department officials knew the full scope of the case, officials said, not the dozen or more who might normally be briefed on a major national security case.
The facts, had they surfaced, might have devastated the Trump campaign: Mr. Trump's future national security adviser was under investigation, as was his campaign chairman. One adviser appeared to have Russian intelligence contacts. Another was suspected of being a Russian agent himself.
In the Clinton case, Mr. Comey has said he erred on the side of transparency. But in the face of questions from Congress about the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. declined to tip its hand. And when The New York Times tried to assess the state of the investigation in October 2016, law enforcement officials cautioned against drawing any conclusions, resulting in a story that significantly played down the case.
Mr. Comey has said it is unfair to compare the Clinton case, which was winding down in the summer of 2016, with the Russia case, which was in its earliest stages. He said he did not make political considerations about who would benefit from each decision.
But underpinning both cases was one political calculation: that Mrs. Clinton would win and Mr. Trump would lose. Agents feared being seen as withholding information or going too easy on her. And they worried that any overt actions against Mr. Trump's campaign would only reinforce his claims that the election was being rigged against him.
The F.B.I. now faces those very criticisms and more. Mr. Trump says he is the victim of a politicized F.B.I. He says senior agents tried to rig the election by declining to prosecute Mrs. Clinton, then drummed up the Russia investigation to undermine his presidency. He has declared that a deeply rooted cabal '-- including his own appointees '-- is working against him.
That argument is the heart of Mr. Trump's grievances with the federal investigation. In the face of bipartisan support for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, Mr. Trump and his allies have made a priority of questioning how the investigation was conducted in late 2016 and trying to discredit it.
''It's a witch hunt,'' Mr. Trump said last month on Fox News. ''And they know that, and I've been able to message it.''
Congressional Republicans, led by Representative Devin Nunes of California, have begun to dig into F.B.I. files, looking for evidence that could undermine the investigation. Much remains unknown and classified. But those who saw the investigation up close, and many of those who have reviewed case files in the past year, say that far from gunning for Mr. Trump, the F.B.I. could actually have done more in the final months of 2016 to scrutinize his campaign's Russia ties.
''I never saw anything that resembled a witch hunt or suggested that the bureau's approach to the investigation was politically driven,'' said Mary McCord, a 20-year Justice Department veteran and the top national security prosecutor during much of the investigation's first nine months.
Crossfire Hurricane spawned a case that has brought charges against former Trump campaign officials and more than a dozen Russians. But in the final months of 2016, agents faced great uncertainty '-- about the facts, and how to respond.
Image A Trump campaign rally in August 2016 in Texas. Crossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election. Credit Damon Winter/The New York Times Anxiety at the BureauCrossfire Hurricane began exactly 100 days before the presidential election, but if agents were eager to investigate Mr. Trump's campaign, as the president has suggested, the messages do not reveal it. ''I cannot believe we are seriously looking at these allegations and the pervasive connections,'' Mr. Strzok wrote soon after returning from London.
The mood in early meetings was anxious, former officials recalled. Agents had just closed the Clinton investigation, and they braced for months of Republican-led hearings over why she was not charged. Crossfire Hurricane was built around the same core of agents and analysts who had investigated Mrs. Clinton. None was eager to re-enter presidential politics, former officials said, especially when agents did not know what would come of the Australian information.
The question they confronted still persists: Was anyone in the Trump campaign tied to Russian efforts to undermine the election?
The F.B.I. investigated four unidentified Trump campaign aides in those early months, congressional investigators revealed in February. The four men were Michael T. Flynn, Paul Manafort, Carter Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. Each was scrutinized because of his obvious or suspected Russian ties.
[Here are the key themes, dates and characters in the Russia investigation]
Mr. Flynn, a top adviser, was paid $45,000 by the Russian government's media arm for a 2015 speech and dined at the arm of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. Mr. Manafort, the campaign chairman, had lobbied for pro-Russia interests in Ukraine and worked with an associate who has been identified as having connections to Russian intelligence.
Mr. Page, a foreign policy adviser, was well known to the F.B.I. He had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the campaign.
Lastly, there was Mr. Papadopoulos, the young and inexperienced campaign aide whose wine-fueled conversation with the Australian ambassador set off the investigation. Before hacked Democratic emails appeared online, he had seemed to know that Russia had political dirt on Mrs. Clinton. But even if the F.B.I. had wanted to read his emails or intercept his calls, that evidence was not enough to allow it. Many months passed, former officials said, before the F.B.I. uncovered emails linking Mr. Papadopoulos to a Russian intelligence operation.
Mr. Trump was not under investigation, but his actions perplexed the agents. Days after the stolen Democratic emails became public, he called on Russia to uncover more. Then news broke that Mr. Trump's campaign had pushed to change the Republican platform's stance on Ukraine in ways favorable to Russia.
The F.B.I.'s thinking crystallized by mid-August, after the C.I.A. director at the time, John O. Brennan, shared intelligence with Mr. Comey showing that the Russian government was behind an attack on the 2016 presidential election. Intelligence agencies began collaborating to investigate that operation. The Crossfire Hurricane team was part of that group but largely operated independently, three officials said.
Senator Marco Rubio, Republican of Florida, said that after studying the investigation as a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, he saw no evidence of political motivation in the opening of the investigation.
''There was a growing body of evidence that a foreign government was attempting to interfere in both the process and the debate surrounding our elections, and their job is to investigate counterintelligence,'' he said in an interview. ''That's what they did.''
Image Andrew G. McCabe in December in Washington. Mr. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, was cited by internal investigators for dishonesty, giving ammunition for Mr. Trump's claims that the F.B.I. cannot be trusted. Credit Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Abounding CriticismLooking back, some inside the F.B.I. and the Justice Department say that Mr. Comey should have seen the political storm coming and better sheltered the bureau. They question why he consolidated the Clinton and Trump investigations at headquarters, rather than in a field office. And they say he should not have relied on the same team for both cases. That put a bull's-eye on the heart of the F.B.I. Any misstep in either investigation made both cases, and the entire bureau, vulnerable to criticism.
And there were missteps. Andrew G. McCabe, the former deputy F.B.I. director, was cited by internal investigators for dishonesty about his conversations with reporters about Mrs. Clinton. That gave ammunition for Mr. Trump's claims that the F.B.I. cannot be trusted. And Mr. Strzok and Lisa Page, an F.B.I. lawyer, exchanged texts criticizing Mr. Trump, allowing the president to point to evidence of bias when they became public.
The messages were unsparing. They questioned Mr. Trump's intelligence, believed he promoted intolerance and feared he would damage the bureau.
The inspector general's upcoming report is expected to criticize those messages for giving the appearance of bias. It is not clear, however, whether inspectors found evidence supporting Mr. Trump's assertion that agents tried to protect Mrs. Clinton, a claim the F.B.I. has adamantly denied.
Mr. Rubio, who has reviewed many of the texts and case files, said he saw no signs that the F.B.I. wanted to undermine Mr. Trump. ''There might have been individual agents that had views that, in hindsight, have been problematic for those agents,'' Mr. Rubio said. ''But whether that was a systemic effort, I've seen no evidence of it.''
Mr. Trump's daily Twitter posts, though, offer sound-bite-sized accusations '-- witch hunt, hoax, deep state, rigged system '-- that fan the flames of conspiracy. Capitol Hill allies reliably echo those comments.
''It's like the deep state all got together to try to orchestrate a palace coup,'' Representative Matt Gaetz, Republican of Florida, said in January on Fox Business Network.
Image The Kremlin in Moscow. Two weeks before Mr. Trump's inauguration, senior American intelligence officials told him that Russia had tried to sow chaos in the election, undermine Mrs. Clinton and ultimately help Mr. Trump win. Credit Mladen Antonov/Agence France-Presse '-- Getty Images Cautious Intelligence GatheringCounterintelligence investigations can take years, but if the Russian government had influence over the Trump campaign, the F.B.I. wanted to know quickly. One option was the most direct: interview the campaign officials about their Russian contacts.
That was discussed but not acted on, two former officials said, because interviewing witnesses or subpoenaing documents might thrust the investigation into public view, exactly what F.B.I. officials were trying to avoid during the heat of the presidential race.
''You do not take actions that will unnecessarily impact an election,'' Sally Q. Yates, the former deputy attorney general, said in an interview. She would not discuss details, but added, ''Folks were very careful to make sure that actions that were being taken in connection with that investigation did not become public.''
Mr. Comey was briefed regularly on the Russia investigation, but one official said those briefings focused mostly on hacking and election interference. The Crossfire Hurricane team did not present many crucial decisions for Mr. Comey to make.
Top officials became convinced that there was almost no chance they would answer the question of collusion before Election Day. And that made agents even more cautious.
The F.B.I. obtained phone records and other documents using national security letters '-- a secret type of subpoena '-- officials said. And at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos, current and former officials said. That has become a politically contentious point, with Mr. Trump's allies questioning whether the F.B.I. was spying on the Trump campaign or trying to entrap campaign officials.
Looking back, some at the Justice Department and the F.B.I. now believe that agents could have been more aggressive. They ultimately interviewed Mr. Papadopoulos in January 2017 and managed to keep it a secret, suggesting they could have done so much earlier.
''There is always a high degree of caution before taking overt steps in a counterintelligence investigation,'' said Ms. McCord, who would not discuss details of the case. ''And that could have worked to the president's benefit here.''
Such tactical discussions are reflected in one of Mr. Strzok's most controversial texts, sent on Aug. 15, 2016, after a meeting in Mr. McCabe's office.
''I want to believe the path you threw out for consideration in Andy's office '-- that there's no way he gets elected,'' Mr. Strzok wrote, ''but I'm afraid we can't take that risk. It's like an insurance policy in the unlikely event you die before you're 40.''
Mr. Trump says that message revealed a secret F.B.I. plan to respond to his election. '''We'll go to Phase 2 and we'll get this guy out of office,''' he told The Wall Street Journal. ''This is the F.B.I. we're talking about '-- that is treason.''
But officials have told the inspector general something quite different. They said Ms. Page and others advocated a slower, circumspect pace, especially because polls predicted Mr. Trump's defeat. They said that anything the F.B.I. did publicly would only give fodder to Mr. Trump's claims on the campaign trail that the election was rigged.
Mr. Strzok countered that even if Mr. Trump's chances of victory were low '-- like dying before 40 '-- the stakes were too high to justify inaction.
Mr. Strzok had similarly argued for a more aggressive path during the Clinton investigation, according to four current and former officials. He opposed the Justice Department's decision to offer Mrs. Clinton's lawyers immunity and negotiate access to her hard drives, the officials said. Mr. Strzok favored using search warrants or subpoenas instead.
In both cases, his argument lost.
Image As agents tried to corroborate information from the retired British spy Christopher Steele, reporters began calling the F.B.I., asking whether the accusations in his reports were accurate. Credit Al Drago for The New York Times Policy and TraditionThe F.B.I. bureaucracy did agents no favors. In July, a retired British spy named Christopher Steele approached a friend in the F.B.I. overseas and provided reports linking Trump campaign officials to Russia. But the documents meandered around the F.B.I. organizational chart, former officials said. Only in mid-September, congressional investigators say, did the records reach the Crossfire Hurricane team.
Mr. Steele was gathering information about Mr. Trump as a private investigator for Fusion GPS, a firm paid by Democrats. But he was also considered highly credible, having helped agents unravel complicated cases.
In October, agents flew to Europe to interview him. But Mr. Steele had become frustrated by the F.B.I.'s slow response. He began sharing his findings in September and October with journalists at The New York Times, The Washington Post, The New Yorker and elsewhere, according to congressional testimony.
So as agents tried to corroborate Mr. Steele's information, reporters began calling the bureau, asking about his findings. If the F.B.I. was working against Mr. Trump, as he asserts, this was an opportunity to push embarrassing information into the news media shortly before the election.
That did not happen. Most news organizations did not publish Mr. Steele's reports or reveal the F.B.I.'s interest in them until after Election Day.
Congress was also increasingly asking questions. Mr. Brennan, the C.I.A. director, had briefed top lawmakers that summer about Russian election interference and intelligence that Moscow supported the Trump campaign '-- a finding that would not become public for months. Lawmakers clamored for information from Mr. Comey, who refused to answer public questions.
Many Democrats see rueful irony in this moment. Mr. Comey, after all, broke with policy and twice publicly discussed the Clinton investigation. Yet he refused repeated requests to discuss the Trump investigation.
Mr. Comey has said he regrets his decision to chastise Mrs. Clinton as ''extremely careless,'' even as he announced that she should not be charged. But he stands by his decision to alert Congress, days before the election, that the F.B.I. was reopening the Clinton inquiry.
The result, though, is that Mr. Comey broke with both policy and tradition in Mrs. Clinton's case, but hewed closely to the rules for Mr. Trump. Representative Adam B. Schiff of California, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said that alone proves Mr. Trump's claims of unfairness to be ''both deeply at odds with the facts, and damaging to our democracy.''
Image Carter Page in December 2016. He had previously been recruited by Russian spies and was suspected of meeting one in Moscow during the 2016 presidential campaign. Credit Pavel Golovkin/Associated Press Spying in QuestionCrossfire Hurricane began with a focus on four campaign officials. But by mid-fall 2016, Mr. Page's inquiry had progressed the furthest. Agents had known Mr. Page for years. Russian spies tried to recruit him in 2013, and he was dismissive when agents warned him about it, a half-dozen current and former officials said. That warning even made its way back to Russian intelligence, leaving agents suspecting that Mr. Page had reported their efforts to Moscow.
Relying on F.B.I. information and Mr. Steele's, prosecutors obtained court approval to eavesdrop on Mr. Page, who was no longer with the Trump campaign.
That warrant has become deeply contentious and is crucial to Republican arguments that intelligence agencies improperly used Democratic research to help justify spying on the Trump campaign. The inspector general is reviewing that claim.
Ms. Yates, the deputy attorney general under President Barack Obama, signed the first warrant application. But subsequent filings were approved by members of Mr. Trump's own administration: the acting attorney general, Dana J. Boente, and then Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.
''Folks are very, very careful and serious about that process,'' Ms. Yates said. ''I don't know of anything that gives me any concerns.''
After months of investigation, Mr. Papadopoulos remained largely a puzzle. And agents were nearly ready to close their investigation of Mr. Flynn, according to three current and former officials. (Mr. Flynn rekindled the F.B.I.'s interest in November 2016 by signing an op-ed article that appeared to be written on behalf of the Turkish government, and then making phone calls to the Russian ambassador that December.)
In late October, in response to questions from The Times, law enforcement officials acknowledged the investigation but urged restraint. They said they had scrutinized some of Mr. Trump's advisers but had found no proof of any involvement with Russian hacking. The resulting article, on Oct. 31, reflected that caution and said that agents had uncovered no ''conclusive or direct link between Mr. Trump and the Russian government.''
The key fact of the article '-- that the F.B.I. had opened a broad investigation into possible links between the Russian government and the Trump campaign '-- was published in the 10th paragraph.
A year and a half later, no public evidence has surfaced connecting Mr. Trump's advisers to the hacking or linking Mr. Trump himself to the Russian government's disruptive efforts. But the article's tone and headline '-- ''Investigating Donald Trump, F.B.I. Sees No Clear Link to Russia'' '-- gave an air of finality to an investigation that was just beginning.
Democrats say that article pre-emptively exonerated Mr. Trump, dousing chances to raise questions about the campaign's Russian ties before Election Day.
Just as the F.B.I. has been criticized for its handling of the Trump investigation, so too has The Times.
For Mr. Steele, it dashed his confidence in American law enforcement. ''He didn't know what was happening inside the F.B.I.,'' Glenn R. Simpson, the founder of Fusion GPS, testified this year. ''And there was a concern that the F.B.I. was being manipulated for political ends by the Trump people.''
Image James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, in January 2017. He assured Mr. Trump, who at the time was the president-elect, that the bureau intended to protect him as Mr. Steele's reports were about to be published by news outlets. Credit Al Drago/The New York Times Assurances Amid DoubtTwo weeks before Mr. Trump's inauguration, senior American intelligence officials briefed him at Trump Tower in Manhattan on Russian hacking and deception. They reported that Mr. Putin had tried to sow chaos in the election, undermine Mrs. Clinton and ultimately help Mr. Trump win.
Then Mr. Comey met with Mr. Trump privately, revealing the Steele reports and warning that journalists had obtained them. Mr. Comey has said he feared making this conversation a ''J. Edgar Hoover-type situation,'' with the F.B.I. presenting embarrassing information to lord over a president-elect.
In a contemporaneous memo, Mr. Comey wrote that he assured Mr. Trump that the F.B.I. intended to protect him on this point. ''I said media like CNN had them and were looking for a news hook,'' Mr. Comey wrote of Mr. Steele's documents. ''I said it was important that we not give them the excuse to write that the F.B.I. had the material.''
Mr. Trump was not convinced '-- either by the Russia briefing or by Mr. Comey's assurances. He made up his mind before Mr. Comey even walked in the door. Hours earlier, Mr. Trump told The Times that stories about Russian election interference were being pushed by his adversaries to distract from his victory.
And he debuted what would quickly become a favorite phrase: ''This is a political witch hunt.''
Correction:An earlier version of this article misstated that news organizations did not report on the findings of the retired British spy Christopher Steele about links between Trump campaign officials and Russia. While most news organizations whose reporters met with Mr. Steele did not publish such reports before the 2016 election, Mother Jones magazine did.
Reporting was contributed by Michael S. Schmidt, Sharon LaFraniere, Mark Mazzetti and Matthew Rosenberg.
Follow Adam Goldman and Nicholas Fandos on Twitter: @adamgoldmanNYT and @npfandos.
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FBI informant met with three Trump campaign advisers: report | TheHill
Sat, 19 May 2018 06:06
A secret FBI informant who has come into the spotlight in recent days reportedly met with three advisers to President Trump Donald John TrumpLighthizer says NAFTA countries are 'nowhere' near reaching a deal White House aide taped meetings with Trump to impress friends: report FBI working to soften potential blow if top-secret informant exposed: report MORE 's campaign during the 2016 presidential election.
The Washington Post reported Friday that in addition to meeting with Trump campaign advisers George Papadopoulos George Demetrios PapadopoulosFBI working to soften potential blow if top-secret informant exposed: report The Memo: Trump team stokes fight over Mueller The Hill's Morning Report: Mueller probe hits one-year mark MORE and Carter Page, the informant '' described as an American academic '' also met with former Trump campaign co-chair Sam Clovis.
The informant, a professor who is said to be a longtime U.S. intelligence source, met Clovis for coffee in northern Virginia in the summer of 2016, during which he offered to provide foreign policy advice to the campaign, the Post reported.
The New York Times had previously reported on Wednesday that the informant approached Papadopoulos and Page.
The role of the informant in the origins of the FBI investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia has given rise to claims by some GOP lawmakers and Trump allies in recent days that the Obama administration planted a "mole" within the Trump campaign to dig up dirt on the businessman and his associates.
There is no evidence that the FBI dispatched the informant to infiltrate the Trump campaign, the Times reported Friday.
The use of informants is relatively common, and is typically used before other methods of intelligence gathering, like electronic surveillance.
But exactly how the informant became involved in the Russia investigation and how much information he provided to the FBI remains unclear.
The focus on the informant's role by some conservatives and allies of Trump has reportedly sparked concern at the FBI, where officials have sought in recent weeks to mitigate the potential damage if the source's identity is exposed.
The Times reported Friday that the source, whom it described as an academic who has worked in Britain, is well known in Washington circles and has acted as an informant for the CIA for years.
Still, the informant has raised alarm bells for some Republicans, including House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes Devin Gerald NunesThe Hill's Morning Report: Mueller probe hits one-year mark Divisions deepen as Mueller probe hits one year Schumer: Senate probe intended to let Trump 'peek' at potential evidence MORE (R-Calif.), who earlier this month subpoenaed the Justice Department for documents related to the source.
The Justice Department declined to provide the records out of concern that it could endanger the informant and his associates.
Trump himself has also seized on reports that the informant met with campaign advisers, suggesting on Thursday that the Obama administration had improperly spied on his campaign, and that, if so, it could end up being "bigger than Watergate."
The Rolling Stones '' You Can't Always Get What You Want Lyrics | Genius Lyrics
Sat, 19 May 2018 02:42
[Intro: London Bach Choir]I saw her today at the receptionA glass of wine in her handI knew she would meet her connectionAt her feet was a footloose manNo, you can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantBut if you try sometimeYou'll findYou get what you need[Verse 1]
I saw her today at the receptionA glass of wine in her handI knew she was gonna meet her connectionAt her feet was a footloose man[Chorus]
You can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantBut if you try sometimesWell, you might findYou get what you need[Verse 2]
And I went down to the demonstrationTo get my fair share of abuseSinging, "We're going to vent our frustrationIf we don't, we're going to blow a 50-amp fuse"[Chorus]
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantBut if you try sometimesWell, you just might findYou get what you need[Verse 3]
I went down to the Chelsea drugstoreTo get your prescription filledI was standing in line with Mr. JimmyAnd man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a sodaMy favorite flavor, cherry redI sung my song to Mr. Jimmy
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was "dead"I said to him:[Chorus]
You can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantYou can't always get what you wantBut if you try sometimesWell, you just might findYou get what you need[Verse 4]
You get what you need, yeah, oh babyI saw her today at the receptionIn her glass was a bleeding manShe was practiced at the art of deceptionWell I could tell by her blood-stained hands
You can't always get what you want, yeahYou can't always get what you want, ooh yeahYou can't always get what you wantBut if you try sometimes, you just might findYou just might find you get what you need, ah yeahAh yeahWooh!Ah you can't always get what you want (no no)You can't always get what you want (you can't no no)You can't always get what you want...mmm but if you try sometimes, you just might findYou just might find you get what you needAh yeah!Ah yeah! Yeah
What is a "crossfire hurricane"? - Google Groups
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jumpin jack flash lyrics - Google Search
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Jumpin' Jack Flash
The Rolling Stones
I was born in a cross-fire hurricane
And I howled at the morning driving rain
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas
But it's all right. I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash
It's a gas, gas, gas
I was raised by a toothless, bearded hag,
I was schooled with a strap right across my back
But it's all right now, in fact, it's a gas
But it's all right, I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash
It's a gas, gas, gas
I was drowned, I was washed up and left for dead
I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled , yeah yeah
I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread
Yeah, yeah, yeah
I was crowned with a spike right through my head
The Rolling Stones Lyrics - Jumping Jack Flash - AZLyricshttps://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rollingstones/jumpingjackflash.html
I was born in a crossfire hurricane. And I howled at my ma in the driving rain. But it's all right now, in fact it's a gas. But it's all right. I'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a ... Jumpin' Jack Flash - Wikipediahttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jumpin%27_Jack_Flash "Jumpin' Jack Flash" is a song by English rock band the Rolling Stones, released as a single in ... Richards has stated that he and Jagger wrote the lyrics while staying at Richards' country house, where they were awoken one morning by the ... Searches related to jumpin jack flash lyrics
Cybersecurity Firm That Attributed DNC Hacks to Russia May Have Fabricated Russia Hacking in Ukraine
Sat, 19 May 2018 02:32
The cyber security firm outsourced by the Democratic National Committee, CrowdStrike, reportedly misread data, falsely attributing a hacking in Ukraine to the Russians in December 2016. Voice of America, a US Government funded media outlet, reported, ''the CrowdStrike report, released in December, asserted that Russians hacked into a Ukrainian artillery app, resulting in heavy losses of howitzers in Ukraine's war with Russian-backed separatists. But the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) told VOA that CrowdStrike erroneously used IISS data as proof of the intrusion. IISS disavowed any connection to the CrowdStrike report.
Ukraine's Ministry of Defense also has claimed combat losses and hacking never happened.'' The maker of the military app allegedly hacked called CrowdStrike's report ''delusional,'' and told VOA that CrowdStrike never contacted him either before or after they completed their report. VOA News noted Ukraine's rebuttal to CrowdStrike received little media attention as CrowdStrike's report was widely cited in media outlets throughout the United States as further evidence of Russia hacking the United States. Alperovitch, who gave several interviews on CrowdStrike's initial report to the Washington Post and other media outlets, refused to comment on VOA News' report.
The report sheds further skepticism on CrowdStrike's findings and objectivity in their conclusions, which several cyber security experts and former CIA and NSA officials have cast doubt on, especially given that several media outlets reported in early January 2017 that the DNC never allowed the FBI to examine their servers themselves, rather the FBI relied on forensic data gathered by CrowdStrike.
The investigation methods used to come to the conclusion that the Russian Government led the hacks of the DNC, Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta, and the DCCC were further called into question by a recent BuzzFeed report by Jason Leopold, who has developed a notable reputation from leading several non-partisan Freedom of Information Act lawsuits for investigative journalism purposes. On March 15 that the Department of Homeland Security released just two heavily redacted pages of unclassified information in response to an FOIA request for definitive evidence of Russian election interference allegations. Leopold wrote, ''what the agency turned over to us and Ryan Shapiro, a PhD candidate at MIT and a research affiliate at Harvard University, is truly bizarre: a two-page intelligence assessment of the incident, dated Aug. 22, 2016, that contains information DHS culled from the internet. It's all unclassified '-- yet DHS covered nearly everything in wide swaths of black ink. Why? Not because it would threaten national security, but because it would reveal the methods DHS uses to gather intelligence, methods that may amount to little more than using Google.''
In lieu of substantive evidence provided to the public that the alleged hacks which led to Wikileaks releases of DNC and Clinton Campaign Manager John Podesta's emails were orchestrated by the Russian Government, CrowdStrike's bias has been cited as undependable in its own assessment, in addition to its skeptical methods and conclusions. The firm's CTO and co-founder, Dmitri Alperovitch, is a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, a think tank with openly anti-Russian sentiments that is funded by Ukrainian billionaire Victor Pinchuk, who also happened to donate at least $10 million to the Clinton Foundation.
In 2013, the Atlantic Council awarded Hillary Clinton it's Distinguished International Leadership Award. In 2014, the Atlantic Council hosted one of several events with former Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who took over after pro-Russian President Viktor Yanukovych was ousted in early 2014, who now lives in exile in Russia.
In August, Politico reported that Donald Trump's favorable rhetoric to Russia was concerning Ukraine, who have been recovering from Russian interference in their own country's revolution. The article cited, ''Russia wants Trump for U.S. president; Ukraine is terrified by Trump and prefers Hillary Clinton.'' Trump recently appointed Atlantic Council Chairman Jon Huntsman as U.S. Ambassador to Russia, which Vox called a ''baffling'' choice, and Democrats and anti-Russian hysterics haven't bothered to attempt to criticize, scrutinize or insinuate ties between Huntsman and Russia.
Cyber security expert Jeffrey Carr called the FBI/Department of Homeland Security Report, the only alleged evidence released by intelligence officials, released in late December 2016 a ''fatally flawed effort'' that provided no evidence to substantiate the claims that the Russian government conducted the hacks, though that's what it was purported to do.
''If the White House had unclassified evidence that tied officials in the Russian government to the DNC attack, they would have presented it by now. The fact that they didn't means either that the evidence doesn't exist or that it is classified,'' he wrote in a Medium post on December 30, 2016, while Obama was still in office. ''If it's classified, an independent commission should review it because this entire assignment of blame against the Russian government is looking more and more like a domestic political operation run by the White House that relied heavily on questionable intelligence generated by a for-profit cybersecurity firm with a vested interest in selling 'attribution-as-a-service.'''
Michael Sainato's writing has appeared in the Guardian, Miami Herald, Baltimore Sun, Denver Post, Buffalo News, the Hill, Alternet, and several other publications . Follow him on twitter: @MSainat1
EXCLUSIVE: Cambridge Prof With CIA, MI6 Ties Met With Trump Adviser During Campaign, Beyond - The Daily Caller
Sat, 19 May 2018 02:19
Days after Carter Page's high-profile trip to Moscow in July 2016, the Trump campaign adviser had his first encounter with Stefan Halper, a University of Cambridge professor with CIA and MI6 contacts.
The conversation seemed innocent enough, Page tells The Daily Caller News Foundation. He recalls nothing of substance being discussed other than Halper's passing mention that he knew then-campaign chairman Paul Manafort. But the interaction was one of many that the pair would have over the next 14 months, through a period of time when Page was under the watchful eye of the U.S. government.
Their relationship included a number of in-person meetings, including at Halper's farm in Virginia.
Page's encounters with Halper were quite different from those that another Trump campaign adviser had during the campaign with the 73-year-old academic. As TheDCNF reported exclusively in March, Halper and George Papadopoulos met several times over a period of a few days in Sept. 2016. Several days earlier, Halper contacted and met with a third Trump campaign official. That official, who has requested anonymity, told TheDCNF that Halper expressed interest in helping the campaign.
Unlike with Page, Halper's relationship with Papadopoulos was ostensibly more of a business arrangement than a fledgling friendship.
Halper, a veteran of the Nixon, Ford and Reagan administrations, unsolicitedly contacted Papadopoulos on Sept. 2 with an offer to fly the Trump associate to London for several nights to discuss a policy paper about energy issues in Turkey, Cyprus and Israel. Papadopoulos, who has worked on energy issues at various think tanks, accepted the offer and flew to London.
Papadopoulos and Halper met several times during that stay, having dinner one night at the Travellers Club, an Old London gentleman's club frequented by international diplomats. They were accompanied by Halper's assistant, a Turkish woman named Azra Turk. Sources familiar with Papadopoulos's claims about his trip say Turk flirted with him during their encounters and later on in email exchanges.
Stefan Halper (Youtube screen capture)
Papadopoulos wrote the paper and delivered it in early October. He was paid $3,000 for the work. Days before making that payment, Halper had finalized a contract with the Office of Net Assessment, the Pentagon's think tank. Federal records show that Halper has been paid $928,800 since 2012 for work on four policy projects for the Pentagon. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: A London Meeting Before The Election Aroused George Papadopoulos's Suspicions)
Halper's contacts with Page and Papadopoulos are significant because they are two of four Trump associates who were targets of an FBI counterintelligence investigation nicknamed ''Crossfire Hurricane.'' Manafort and former national security adviser Michael Flynn were the other two.
The investigation melded exactly one year ago on Thursday with the probe being conducted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Page has said he is not a target of that investigation, while Papadopoulos has pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his interactions with another professor, Joseph Mifsud.
The New York Times published an extensive report on Wednesday detailing the origin of ''Crossfire Hurricane,'' which was formally opened on July 31, 2016.
The probe was opened based on a tip from Alexander Downer, the Australian High Commissioner to the U.K. Downer said that in May 2016, Papadopoulos told him during a conversation in London about Russians having Clinton emails.
That information was passed to other Australian government officials before making its way to U.S. officials. FBI agents flew to London a day after ''Crossfire Hurricane'' started in order to interview Downer.
It is still not known what Downer says about his interaction with Papadopoulos, which TheDCNF is told occurred around May 10, 2016.
About two weeks before that, Papadopoulos met in London with Mifsud. Papadopoulos has told the special counsel that during their conversations, Mifsud claimed to have learned that the Russian government had Clinton emails.
Emails were also brought up during Papadopoulos's meetings with Halper, though not by the Trump associate, according to sources familiar with his version of events. The sources say that during conversation, Halper randomly brought up Russians and emails. Papadopoulos has told people close to him that he grew suspicious of Halper because of the remark.
The Times' Wednesday report included a major bombshell: Current and former government officials told the newspaper that ''at least one government informant met several times with Mr. Page and Mr. Papadopoulos.'' (RELATED: Report: Government Informant Spied On Two Trump Campaign Aides)
That detail matches up with a May 8 report from The Washington Post that an American citizen who has been a longtime FBI and CIA source has provided information about the Trump campaign that is now in the hands of the special counsel's office.
George Papadopoulos (LinkedIn)
House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes has asked the Department of Justice for documents related to the source, but the agency has claimed that providing the information would put the source's life at risk. Revealing information about the source would also jeopardize relationships with foreign intelligence services, the DOJ has argued. (RELATED: Secret Source Who Aided Mueller Probe Is Deemed Off Limits To Congress)
Whether Halper is that source has been a subject of some speculation over the past week, with Halper's name being floated by TV and radio pundits as well as Internet sleuths. Congressional investigators have refused to confirm or deny whether he is. The FBI declined comment when asked about The Times' reporting about the informant. But current and former government officials have told TheDCNF that he is a person of significant importance to the investigation, though they have not said whether he is a source for the FBI or CIA.
Whoever the source turns out to be, the fact that the FBI had an informant spying on the Trump campaign is likely to generate bitter partisan debate. Democrats will likely defend the maneuver on the grants that Trump aides' activities warranted surveillance. Republicans have already started to point out that the use of informants undercuts Democrats' denials that the government surveilled members of the Trump campaign.
Page's relationship with Halper tracks closely with the period when the Trump adviser was under heavy scrutiny from the federal government.
By the time he joined the campaign in March 2016, Page was already known to the FBI, though not because of any criminal activity. FBI agents interviewed him in 2013 as part of an investigation into a Russian spy ring operating in New York. Page said he met with one of the Russians and provided him with academic papers he had written.
The FBI put Page back on its radar at around the time he joined the Trump campaign. In late-spring 2016, top government officials, including then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and then-FBI Director James Comey, discussed whether to alert the Trump campaign to Page's past interactions with the Russian spy ring. But government officials decided against providing the information.
Page's visit to Moscow, where he spoke at the New Economic School on July 8, 2016, is said to have piqued the FBI's interest even further. Page and Halper spoke on the sidelines of an election-themed symposium held at Cambridge days later. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Sir Richard Dearlove, the former head of MI6 and a close colleague of Halper's, spoke at the event.
Page was invited to the event in June by a University of Cambridge doctoral candidate.
Page would enter the media spotlight in September 2016 after Yahoo! News reported that the FBI was investigating whether he met with two Kremlin insiders during that Moscow trip.
It would later be revealed that the Yahoo! article was based on unverified information from Christopher Steele, the former British spy who wrote the dossier regarding the Trump campaign. Steele's report, which was funded by Democrats, also claimed Page worked with Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort on the collusion conspiracy.
Page and Manafort have vehemently denied the allegations, with both men saying they don't know each other.
The FBI and DOJ would cite the dossier and the Yahoo! article in an application for a Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant against Page. The spy warrant was granted on Oct. 21, 2016, weeks after Page left the Trump team. The warrant would be renewed three times, in January, April and June. It expired in Sept. 2017, at around the time that Page and Halper fell out of contact. Page did not describe his final contacts with Halper. (RELATED: EXCLUSIVE: In Private, Papadopoulos Denies Collusion)
Halper has links to the CIA stretching back decades. His late father-in-law was Ray Cline, a CIA legend who served as director of the agency's bureau of intelligence and research. Halper also worked with a team of former CIA officers on George H.W. Bush's unsuccessful 1980 presidential primary bid.
Halper was reportedly in charge of a team of former CIA analysts who kept tabs on the Jimmy Carter campaign.
At Cambridge, Halper has worked closely with Dearlove, the former chief of MI6. In recent years they have directed the Cambridge Security Initiative, a non-profit intelligence consulting group that lists ''UK and US government agencies'' among its clients.
In Dec. 2016, both Halper and Dearlove threatened to resign from the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar because of what Halper said was ''unacceptable Russian influence on the group.''
Halper has not responded to numerous requests for comment. A man answered a phone call placed to Halper's number in March but denied that he was the professor. Azra Turk, the woman who accompanied Halper during his meetings with Papadopoulos, recently shut down her phone service.
Correction: This article initially referred to the FBI's counterintelligence investigation as ''Hurricane Crossfire.'' It is named ''Crossfire Hurricane.''
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Lame Cherry: Operation Crossfire Hurricane in the Eye of the Storm
Sat, 19 May 2018 02:15
As another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter.The Lame Cherry always comes at things from a different angle as how can you best Sara Carter pretty when it comes to Operation Crossfire Hurricane which is supposedly the working title of the FBI operation to frame Donald Trump.What this popular girl is going to do is walk you through this with now connected facts from various sources and to place this into the world of Forensic Psychology.This festering Marxist mess was sown by British MI6 into American politics to get Hillary Clinton elected, so that she would start a war with Russia. What the Lame Cherry is about to speculate on though is that this is a much deeper story in the forces who were behind the beginnings of Edward Snowden's leaks were in the process of heading off the complete bastardization of the American process which Birther Hussein had engaged in.Where this begins is intelligence information found it's way to John Brennan at CIA which was being fed from Baltic, Jewish, British and Australian sources, as it was being fed directly by the FBI's mole, Stefan Halper, to transmit the information to Trump supporter, Papadopoulos, who then in a "drunken" bragging contest told the Australian ambassador about Russians having Hillary Clinton's emails from hacking the DNC server. This was bogus as the leaker was Seth Rich who was murdered for it, as he was Bernie Supporter and discovered that Hamrod had gotten Sanders to rig the primaries for her.It was this, along with the Pissgate dossiers, and the infamous 3rd Dossier that John Brennan was shown and he keeps quoting, which sent Peter Strzok with another FBI agent to interrogate the Australian ambassador. From this information Operation Crossfire appeared to spy on Donald Trump.Within hours of opening an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia in the summer of 2016, the F.B.I. dispatched a pair of agents to London on a mission so secretive that all but a handful of officials were kept in the dark.Their assignment, which has not been previously reported, was to meet the Australian ambassador, who had evidence that one of Donald J. Trump’s advisers knew in advance about Russian election meddling. After tense deliberations between Washington and Canberra, top Australian officials broke with diplomatic protocol and allowed the ambassador, Alexander Downer, to sit for an F.B.I. interview to describe his meeting with the campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos.The agents summarized their highly unusual interview and sent word to Washington on Aug. 2, 2016, two days after the investigation was opened. Their report helped provide the foundation for a case that, a year ago Thursday, became the special counsel investigation. But at the time, a small group of F.B.I. officials knew it by its code name: Crossfire Hurricane.Crossfire Hurricane is based on the first line of the Rolling Stones song Jumpin' Jack Flash which is based on Keith Richards birth, in Richards was born under the German bombing of London. It became the title of a documentary of the Rolling Stones.Crossfire Hurricane is a 2012 documentary film about The Rolling Stones written and directed by Brett Morgen. The film chronicles the early years of the band through to 1981If one reviews this song's lyrics they are quite disturbing, but it was this familiarity with brutality, which triggered whoever at CIA or FBI to produce this working title for the operation to destroy Donald Trump.This is important to understand psychologically as Crossfire Hurricane explains everything."Jumping Jack Flash"I was born in a crossfire hurricaneAnd I howled at my ma in the driving rainBut it's all right now, in fact it's a gasBut it's all rightI'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gasI was raised by a toothless, bearded hagI was schooled with a strap right across my backBut it's all right now, in fact it's a gasBut it's all rightI'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gasI was drowned, I was washed up and left for deadI fell down, to my feet and I saw they bledYeah, and I frowned at the crumbs of a crust of bread, yeah yeahYeah, I was crowned with a spike right through my headBut it's all right now, in fact it's a gasBut it's all rightI'm Jumpin' Jack Flash, it's a gas, gas, gas The name, a reference to the Rolling Stones lyric “I was born in a crossfire hurricane,” was an apt prediction of a political storm that continues to tear shingles off the bureau. But what is a Crossfire Hurricane? It simply is a storm whose winds are blowing in one direction, and when the eye of the storm passes over your position, the wind switches to a 180 degree direction blowing from the opposite direction.What is a "crossfire hurricane"? - Google GroupsI found the following definition for "crossfire hurricane": As the eye of a hurricane passes over a fixed spot the wind direction changes 180 degrees. https://groups.google.com /d/topic/alt.fan.cecil-adams/XareW That is what is so important about Crossfire Hurricane in who chose this title, as they knew that Vladimir Putin was involved in a storm to influence the US elections, or more to the point they thought they knew as they had been told this.Who told them this? The who is John Brennan and he was fed information from foreign sources named above, and the who in this was Hillary Clinton's campaign strategy which hinged on lambasting Putin again in running against him for the presidency instead of the Republican who Hillary thought was going to be Jeb in stealing the GOP nomination.This all shifted though as Hamrod's campaign had worked out a primary theft using Bernie Sanders and this information leaked via Seth Rich who was then murdered. To cover up this leak, the Russian were blamed by a Ukrainian Security company sent in to investigate as Team Clinton stonewalled the FBI while blaming Russia.It is concluded that during this period it was deemed politically advantageous to link the Russians to Donald Trump's campaign. Thereby tarnishing Trump as a traitor and Putin was involved in an act of war. This is the underpinnings of the entire intelligence operation against the 2016 AD in the year of our Lord elections, and how the typical Russian ham fisted meddling in propaganda, suddenly evolved to Russian superior bots working on Facebook, which had zero influence on the election.What is of particular interest in this is the New York Times broke this story before the Inspector General's report appeared to deflect from it, but the writer in this was Matt Apuzzo, a reporter who has appeared before on the Lame Cherry as his name appeared in Page and Strzok texts.The background on this is where this gets most interesting is Page and Strzok were planting stories, leaking to the leftist press to get Donald Trump. During this period they were phobic though because someone else was leaking stories about their stories, which were better informed, had better information, and Strzok and Page were terrified as that kind of detail was pointing the finger directly back at them. Wednesday, January 10, 2018 The High Crimes of FBI Agents Page and StrzokALT NAZI Matt Apuzzo though was being stalked by Lisa Page and Peter Strzok, because of the information he was dispensing. How would you like to have two rogue FBI agents pulling up the data on your spouse and your children?What possibly could be the purpose of this, but to intimidate this American.The two agents also spent extensive time shortly before the 2016 election trying to track down information — including an address and a spouse’s job — about The New York Times reporter Matt Apuzzo, who has reported on numerous developments in the Russia case.“We got a list of kids with their parents’ names. How many Matt Apuzzo’s (sic) could there be in DC,” Page texted. “Showed J a picture, he said he thinks he has seen a guy who kinda looks like that, but always really schlubby. I said that sounds like every reporter I have ever seen.”A minute later, Page added another text: “Found what I think might be their address, too.”Strzok writes back, “He’s TOTALLY schlubby. Don’t you remember?”Page responded later by saying she found information on the reporter’s wife too. “Found address looking for her. Lawyer.”Strzok cautions Page against using the work phone to track down information on the reporter. “I wouldn’t search on your work phone, ,,, no idea what that might trigger,” he texted.“Oops. Too late,” she responded back.These Alt Nazis involved in this Trump frame up, were literally investigating a New York Times reporter on their own, in trying to save themselves. This is vital to revisit as we know Page and Strzok were leaking in setting this operation up, but there is a mysterious character in this, a real deep throat who was leaking to the Times better information, and now Matt Apuzzo is back taking his pounds of flesh on these people with the operations name, just as the Inspector General's report was about to be posted. All this foreknowledge is the CIA Mockingbird at work. This CIA faction was not pleased that this secret society targeted one of it's reporters and more to the point, the CIA in this faction was planting stories to point to this Operation Crossfire, as this group wanted this coup discovered.In remains unclear who selected Crossfire Hurricane, but there is no doubt that it touched off a ferocious storm, and the winds continue to thrash the White House and the F.B.I. itself.Matt Apuzzo is a two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter based in Washington. He has covered law enforcement and security matters for more than a decade and is the co-author of the book “Enemies Within.”@mattapuzzo Adam Goldman reports on the F.B.I. from Washington and was part of a team that won a Pulitzer Prize in 2018 for national reporting on Russia’s meddling in the presidential election.@adamgoldmanNYT The Lame Cherry is bringing you back now to the original title of the operation in what it means. The small group who were involved in this and named the operation, knew a political storm was coming and that a counter intelligence operation (is what they thought) was coming out of Moscow. To put this plainly to understand, Brennan was running a group for Obama out of the White House which was going to bash Vladimir Putin and Russia to get Hillary Clinton elected. This group concluded that Putin was working against this already done deal, so therefore Putin was "working with Trump" to defeat Hillary Clinton who this intelligence group already concluded that Hamrod was a done deal in being President.That is why Crossfire Hurricane is important as it reveals that Brennan in this group of leftists was about to turn the hurricane storm 180 degrees away from defeating Hillary Clinton to the storm turned against Donald Trump to destroy him.Three principles are involved in this in Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, Deputy Director Bill Priestap and Peter Strzok. McCabe is who was being briefed first before Priestap by Strzok, while John Brennan at CIA was running this super secret operation.We now know the background on this in an old Bush confederate, Stefan Halper, whose family was joined at the hip with the Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon deep state, planted a story about Russian hacking into a Trump aid, named Papadoplolous who Robert Mueller thumped early to turn him against Trump, and this was fed to the Australians whose Ambassador in London is who Peter Strzok and a yet unnamed FBI agent went over to interrogate.From this Strzok was texting the woman he was manipulating in Lisa Page, as Counsel for the FBI, that his was the investigation that mattered. Strzok texted about his rabid racist contempt for Russians as a mongrel people, and returned to America to brief McCabe first at McCabe's orders.It was in these texts that Page counseled tight control of the emerging fake evidence, and somewhere from London to the meeting in Washington DC, the code name CROSSFIRE HURRICANE was born as what this group of John Brennan, Andrew McCabe, Peter Strzok intended to accomplish against Donald Trump the presidential elections of 2016 AD in the year of our Lord.These operatives were initiating a Category 5 super destruction upon Donald Trump with no survivors in November. As a side note in this, the FBI has redacted the Page and Strzok texts liberally, but in one exchange with a high ranking intelligence officer, Strzok told page he wanted to order this person to just leave, as the person stated that it appeared the White House was running this operation via Brennan.It is concluded from the New York Times and other pieced together sources that the intelligence officer who was sounding red alarms was Admiral Mike Rodgers who recently retired. His name has been all over this and as he was retained by the President in his leadership, it is concluded that Mike Rodgers while involved was one of the individuals who understood this was election meddling and moving out of control like a storm.With all of the above known information connected together, the following is what this blog assessed exclusively and posted here several years ago. It is not my mission to fill in all of the blank spaces. This popular girl informed you with the advent of Edward Snowden that an operation was being initiated to take back the system which had been worked around under the Bush's, worked through with the Clintons and overthrown under Obama. Whatever Birther Hussein was as a CIA asset, whatever was the change, that structure of world order was set upon with a specific mission to root it out.I do not conclude that John Brennan is an operative for the group which I have named The Control in honor of Robert Lansing in the Equalizer. This Brennan comrade group acts as if they are the ones in charge in there are no greater powers that be as Obama defined them.What all of this looks like is a very well run counter intelligence operation to neutralize the London regaining control over America as is what MI6 was engaged in for colonial rapine. It appears a new order is rising in Europe, undoing this rotting order led by the genocidists of Europe. It is why Sebastian Kurz is the defacto leader already as Austria is part of this hereditary order.Now I am going to use red flag words which will label this as kook. For lack of a better term, the American robber barons sold out to communists during both world wars under Wilson and Roosevelt. After World War II, this group brought to America the greatest intellectual, scientific and artistic genius ever flourished in this world based in Goethe. It was termed Operation Paperclip where Nazi gold and uranium funded the American expansion, as these intelligence players moved America to the international stage against the internationalists.Somewhere this order was supplanted and America began going to hell with the exclamation point named Birther Hussein, installed to complete the destruction. The Control was not gone though and has proven it is the hand which rocks the cradle.What this blog has informed you of in terms you can understand is that there has been an internecine warfare between the CIA and the DIA. The DIA is who backed Donald Trump to stop this usurpation of America an the world. I do not advise you to think of this as Americans and traitors or right wing against left wing, but more on the terms of Adolf Hitler's process of National Socialist warring against International communists.Mike Pompeo turned the CIA mechanism around and Gina Haspel as Director as a protege of the DIA will keep moving the CIA onto the proper path of leveraging resources. This is why the CIA New York Times was now revealing Operation Crossfire Hurricane. It was not as those on the right said to water down the Inspector General's report of Brennan Obama led crimes. It was to establish it as a matter of public record.As this blog noted this grinding wheel is slowly moving forward. Democrat Senator Warner last week basically stated that collusion was a fraud. Robert Mueller this week was on his heels in pulling back from the Trump interview. These assets of the deep state just do not do this, unless they are getting orders from those above that the situation has changed.I have told you the smart people have cut and run. Whether it was Matt Walsh and Mark Levin, or the flow of Hillary Clinton people who got sucked into this Pissgate dossier and soon enough were informed it was a coup and they did not want to end up on the wrong side in the purge. The signs are all there that something is building and it is protecting Donald John as this order is being re established in America.The reason this blog states this is socialism, is because the junta is all socialists from John Kelly on down. It is what it is and there is not any way to change it, so one prudently swears allegiance and looks as a Christian for Christ's return or their going to Him, as one is dealing with a force which the most powerful cartel had all their agenda undone and taken control of, and all it can do is go Brennan nuts on Twitter.I would expect that examples will have to be made and that will mean the IG's report will bring indictments and this thing will build to however far The Control wants to complete this purge. To put it plainly if The Control decided it desired to wipe president 44 from the historical roster and term him a Birther to send a message as they convicted him on high treason, that would be nothing to this group. I am not stating that is a future in all of this, but I do state the reach The Control is proving absolute and in that they will root out those who are competing against them.It is why the advice this blog gave for the rich who were involved in this and thought they were untouchable, should be to confess they were fools and flee to some foreign state where it would be deemed exile would be permissible to the alternative.All of this is evident for anyone who has been reading the published accounts. It simply requires some time to condition the public, distract the public, to bring them to an idea that there is absolutely nothing out of the ordinary to one day see ala lantern in America. Whatever the Lord moves me to post on this, as I will assume this is just getting to the fun part of the mob jeering at those being strung up for trial and the cowering of the loud mouthed antagonists who went after Donald Trump with a viciousness is something most people will relish as we never have in the modern era witnessed King Henry VIII hanging Sir Thomas Moore and placing in a new order of Thomas Cromwell in that Christian Catholic war of England.The first real sign in the tide has turned in this, is John Brennan has gone silent and is not ranting to the press. If John Brennan has figured this out, then he is not as bright as Lisa Page who figured out to cut a deal and get out while she still could.There is a line in the Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald by Gordon Lightfoot which is worth remembering for the reality it is now for those in the secret society.Does any man know where the love of God goesWhen the waves turn the minutes to hours.How does it feel to think you were above the law, the destroyer of democracies, and to suddenly learn that The Control is out there and it has been running circles around you, and you have not a clue who these people are, and all you are certain of is they have you, and they will decide when they come for you.Once again another Lame Cherry exclusive in matter anti matter. How long do you think it will be before anyone ever catches up to what you just read. Jumpin' Jack Flash. Nuff SaidagtG
Stefan Halper - Wikipedia
Sat, 19 May 2018 02:15
Stefan Halper (born 1944) is a foreign policy scholar. He served as a White House official in the Nixon, Ford, and Reagan administrations and is currently the Director of American Studies at the Department of Politics, University of Cambridge. He is also a Life Fellow at Magdalene College, Cambridge.
He is the co-author of the bestselling book, America Alone: The Neo-Conservatives and the Global Order published by the Cambridge University Press (2004), and The Silence of the Rational Centre: Why American Foreign Policy is Failing (Basic Books, 2007). In April 2010, his book The Beijing Consensus: Legitimizing Authoritarianism in our Time, was published by Basic Books. Also a "best seller," it has been published in Japan, Taiwan, China, South Korea and France.
Background and education Halper graduated from Stanford University in 1967 and gained a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Oxford (1971) and the University of Cambridge (2004). Halper is the son-in-law of Ray S. Cline.
Career US government (1971 - 1984) Halper began his US government career in 1971 in the United States Domestic Policy Council, part of the Executive Office of the President of the United States, serving until 1973. He then served in the Office of Management and Budget until 1974, when he moved to the Office of the White House Chief of Staff as Assistant to the Chief of Staff where he had responsibility for a range of domestic and international issues. During this time, Halper worked as an assistant for three Chiefs of Staff, Alexander Haig, Donald Rumsfeld, and Dick Cheney. He held this position until January 20, 1977.
In 1977 Halper became Special Counsel to the Congressional Joint Economic Committee and Legislative Assistant to Senator William V. Roth, Jr. (R-Del.). In 1979 he became National Policy Director for George H. W. Bush's Presidential campaign and then in 1980 he became Director of Policy Coordination for the Reagan- Bush Presidential campaign. In connection with this position Halper's name came up in the 1983/4 investigations into the Debategate affair.
After Reagan entered the White House, Halper became Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs. Upon leaving the Department in 1984, he remained a Senior Advisor to the Department of Defense and a Senior Advisor to the Department of Justice until 2001.
Academic and media career From 1986 to 2000 Halper wrote a national security and foreign policy-focused weekly newspaper column, syndicated to 30 newspapers.
Halper has worked as a senior foreign policy advisor to various think-tanks and research institutions, including the Center for Strategic and International Studies, The Center for the National Interest, where he is a Distinguished Fellow, and The Institute of World Politics where he is a Research Professor. He has served on the Advisory Board of Directors of the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and contributed to various magazines, journals, newspapers and media outlets. These include: The National Interest, The Washington Times, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal, The American Spectator, the BBC, CNN, SKY NEWS, ABC, CBS, NBC, C-Span, and a range of radio outlets.
Professor Halper is a member of the Cosmos Club in Washington, and the Travellers Club in London. He is a recipient of the State Department's Superior Honor Award, the Justice Department's Director's Award and the Defense Department's Superior Honor Award.
Business career From 1984 to 1990 Halper was chairman and majority shareholder of the Palmer National Bank of Washington, D.C., the National Bank of Northern Virginia and the George Washington National Bank.
References External links
Lila Rose on Twitter: "I'll be on with @TuckerCarlson TONIGHT in the 8 p.m. ET hour to talk about the suppression of pro-life speech online and the Trump administration's proposed cut to Planned Parenthood's Title X taxpayer funding. Make sure to tu
Sat, 19 May 2018 02:09
Log in Sign up Lila Rose @ LilaGraceRose I'll be on with
@TuckerCarlson TONIGHT in the 8 p.m. ET hour to talk about the suppression of pro-life speech online and the Trump administration's proposed cut to Planned Parenthood's Title X taxpayer funding. Make sure to tune in!
12:17 PM - 18 May 2018 Pete Phillips @ hvysnow
7h Replying to
@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Looking forward to it, Lila
View conversation · Tootsie ð¾ @ TootsieBulldog
6h Replying to
@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Won't miss it!!
View conversation · AnnaB @ July1776Boston
6h Replying to
@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Won't miss it. God bless you
@LilaGraceRose View conversation · Matt Corvin @ mattcorvin1
3h Replying to
@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Lying Lila strikes again. She engages in the same online suppression of speech, as she's defines it, as the ones she complains about. She blocks pro-choice posters on her Facebook pages.
View conversation · ð¨ð...Charlene ðºð¸ @ CharleneGPB
2h Replying to
@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Good stuff Lila... keep up the good fight!!! ðð¼ð'
View conversation · Sigh :-/ @ aBlooter
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Wow, you are great. Is it possible you can post a link or somehow write what you said today on Tucker so it can be shared?
View conversation · Help Desk Solutions @ BuildaHelpDesk
2h Replying to
@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Great interview with Tucker! You completely know your facts!
#abortion View conversation · MsZuccarello @ CarmiOnTheVerge
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Great job. I don't want my tax dollars paying for the murder of innocent children.
View conversation · Mike Paulson @ Ta7rmpMike
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Good to hear the truth!
View conversation · Amy Jo @ ajobean
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson LOVE YOU! Thank God for you.
View conversation · Hector Vargas @ TheHectorVargas
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Great job tonight Lila, Tucker - thanks for having Lila on!
View conversation · Joni Isaac @ 4eagles1dove
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Good job! I work at a pregnancy resource ctr....thanks for putting the facts out there . Keep up your good work!
View conversation · joy @ pina_insurance
2h Replying to
@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Why don't all the rich democrats donate to charities instead of abortion clinics why not pro adoption clinics?
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson God Bless you!!
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Great job you guys!
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Great spot on Tucker tonight. Thankful for a sane voice in CA
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@LilaGraceRose @TuckerCarlson Saw that. You rock!
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F.B.I. Used Informant to Investigate Russia Ties to Campaign, Not to Spy, as Trump Claims - The New York Times
Sat, 19 May 2018 01:19
President Trump accused the F.B.I., without evidence, of planting a mole inside his campaign to undermine his presidential run. But the F.B.I. in fact dispatched a confidential informant to meet with Trump campaign advisers as it began its investigation into possible links between his campaign and Russia. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- President Trump accused the F.B.I. on Friday, without evidence, of sending a spy to secretly infiltrate his 2016 campaign ''for political purposes'' even before the bureau had any inkling of the ''phony Russia hoax.''
In fact, F.B.I. agents sent an informant to talk to two campaign advisers only after they received evidence that the pair had suspicious contacts linked to Russia during the campaign. The informant, an American academic who teaches in Britain, made contact late that summer with one campaign adviser, George Papadopoulos, according to people familiar with the matter. He also met repeatedly in the ensuing months with the other aide, Carter Page, who was also under F.B.I. scrutiny for his ties to Russia.
The role of the informant is at the heart of the newest battle between top law enforcement officials and Mr. Trump's congressional allies over the F.B.I.'s most politically charged investigations in decades. The lawmakers, who say they are concerned that federal investigators are abusing their authority, have demanded documents from the Justice Department about the informant.
Law enforcement officials have refused, saying that handing over the documents would imperil both the source's anonymity and safety. The New York Times has learned the source's identity but typically does not name informants to preserve their safety.
Democrats say the Republicans' real aim is to undermine the special counsel investigation. Senior law enforcement officials have also privately expressed concern that the Republicans are digging into F.B.I. files for information they can weaponize against the Russia inquiry.
Over the past two days, Mr. Trump has used speculative news reports about the informant, mostly from conservative media, to repeatedly assail the Russia investigation.
''Reports are there was indeed at least one FBI representative implanted, for political purposes, into my campaign for president,'' he wrote on Twitter on Friday. ''It took place very early on, and long before the phony Russia Hoax became a 'hot' Fake News story. If true '-- all time biggest political scandal!''
No evidence has emerged that the informant acted improperly when the F.B.I. asked for help in gathering information on the former campaign advisers, or that agents veered from the F.B.I.'s investigative guidelines and began a politically motivated inquiry, which would be illegal.
But agents were leery of disrupting the presidential campaign again after the F.B.I. had announced in a high-profile news conference that it had closed the case involving Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server, according to current and former law enforcement officials.
After opening the Russia inquiry about a month later, they took steps, those officials said, to ensure that details of the inquiry were more closely held than even in a typical national security investigation, including the use of the informant to suss out information from the unsuspecting targets. Sending F.B.I. agents to interview them could have created additional risk that the investigation's existence would seep into view in the final weeks of a heated presidential race.
F.B.I. officials concluded they had the legal authority to open the investigation after receiving information that Mr. Papadopoulos was told that Moscow had compromising information on Mrs. Clinton in the form of ''thousands of emails,'' months before WikiLeaks released stolen messages from Democratic officials. As part of the operation, code-named Crossfire Hurricane, the F.B.I. also began investigating Mr. Trump's campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his future national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn.
Details about the informant's relationship with the F.B.I. remain scant. It is not clear how long the relationship existed and whether the F.B.I. paid the source or assigned the person to other cases.
Informants take great risks when working for intelligence services, Christopher A. Wray, the F.B.I. director, testified before Congress on Wednesday. Their identities must not be exposed, he said, hinting at congressional efforts to obtain the name of the source. ''The day that we can't protect human sources is the day the American people start becoming less safe.''
One of Mr. Trump's lawyers, Rudolph W. Giuliani, acknowledged on Friday that neither the president nor his legal team knew with certainty that the F.B.I. had implanted a spy in the Trump campaign, as he and the president had alleged.
''I don't know for sure, nor does the president, if there really was one,'' Mr. Giuliani said on CNN. ''For a long time, we've been told there was some kind of infiltration.''
The informant is well known in Washington circles, having served in previous Republican administrations and as a source of information for the C.I.A. in past years, according to one person familiar with the source's work.
F.B.I. agents were seeking more details about what Mr. Papadopoulos knew about the hacked Democratic emails, and one month after their Russia investigation began, Mr. Papadopoulos received a curious message. The academic inquired about his interest in writing a research paper on a disputed gas field in the eastern Mediterranean Sea, a subject of Mr. Papadopoulos's expertise.
The informant offered a $3,000 honorarium for the paper and a paid trip to London, where the two could meet and discuss the research project.
''I understand that this is rather sudden but thought that given your expertise it might be of interest to you,'' the informant wrote in a message to Mr. Papadopoulos, sent on Sept. 2, 2016.
Mr. Papadopoulos accepted the offer and arrived in London two weeks later, where he met for several days with the academic and one of his assistants, a young woman.
Over drinks and dinner one evening at a high-end London hotel, the F.B.I. informant raised the subject of the hacked Democratic National Committee emails that had spilled into public view earlier that summer, according to a person familiar with the conversation. The source noted how helpful they had been to the Trump campaign, and asked Mr. Papadopoulos whether he knew anything about Russian attempts to influence the 2016 presidential election.
Mr. Papadopoulos replied that he had no insight into the Russian campaign '-- despite being told months earlier that the Russians had dirt on Mrs. Clinton in the form of thousands of her emails. His response clearly annoyed the informant, who tried to press Mr. Papadopoulos about what he might know about the Russian effort, according to the person.
The assistant also raised the subject of Russia and the Clinton emails during a separate conversation over drinks with Mr. Papadopoulos, and again he denied he knew anything about Russian attempts to disrupt the election.
After the trip to London, Mr. Papadopoulos wrote the 1,500-word research paper and was paid for his work. He did not hear again from the informant.
Mr. Page, a Navy veteran, served briefly as an adviser to Mr. Trump's campaign until September 2016. He said that he first encountered the informant during a conference in mid-July of 2016 and that they stayed in touch. The two later met several times in the Washington area. Mr. Page said their interactions were benign.
The two last exchanged emails in September 2017, about a month before a secret warrant to surveil Mr. Page expired after being repeatedly renewed by a federal judge. Mr. Trump's congressional allies have also assailed the surveillance, accusing law enforcement officials, with little evidence, of abusing their authority and spying on the Trump campaign.
The informant also had contacts with Mr. Flynn, the retired Army general who was Mr. Trump's first national security adviser. The two met in February 2014, when Mr. Flynn was running the Defense Intelligence Agency and attended the Cambridge Intelligence Seminar, an academic forum for former spies and researchers that meets a few times a year.
According to people familiar with Mr. Flynn's visit to the intelligence seminar, the source was alarmed by the general's apparent closeness with a Russian woman who was also in attendance. The concern was strong enough that it prompted another person to pass on a warning to the American authorities that Mr. Flynn could be compromised by Russian intelligence, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Two years later, in late 2016, the seminar itself was embroiled in a scandal about Russian spying. A number of its organizers resigned over what they said was a Kremlin-backed attempt to take control of the group.
Google's Selfish Ledger is an unsettling vision of Silicon Valley social engineering - The Verge
Fri, 18 May 2018 21:05
This internal video from 2016 shows a Google concept for how total data collection could reshape societyGoogle has built a multibillion-dollar business out of knowing everything about its users. Now, a video produced within Google and obtained by The Verge offers a stunningly ambitious and unsettling look at how some at the company envision using that information in the future.
The video was made in late 2016 by Nick Foster, the head of design at X (formerly Google X) and a co-founder of the Near Future Laboratory. The video, shared internally within Google, imagines a future of total data collection, where Google helps nudge users into alignment with their goals, custom-prints personalized devices to collect more data, and even guides the behavior of entire populations to solve global problems like poverty and disease.
When reached for comment on the video, an X spokesperson provided the following statement to The Verge:
''We understand if this is disturbing -- it is designed to be. This is a thought-experiment by the Design team from years ago that uses a technique known as 'speculative design' to explore uncomfortable ideas and concepts in order to provoke discussion and debate. It's not related to any current or future products.''
All the data collected by your devices, the so-called ledger, is presented as a bundle of information that can be passed on to other users for the betterment of society.Titled The Selfish Ledger, the 9-minute film starts off with a history of Lamarckian epigenetics, which are broadly concerned with the passing on of traits acquired during an organism's lifetime. Narrating the video, Foster acknowledges that the theory may have been discredited when it comes to genetics but says it provides a useful metaphor for user data. (The title is an homage to Richard Dawkins' 1976 book The Selfish Gene.) The way we use our phones creates ''a constantly evolving representation of who we are,'' which Foster terms a ''ledger,'' positing that these data profiles could be built up, used to modify behaviors, and transferred from one user to another:
''User-centered design principles have dominated the world of computing for many decades, but what if we looked at things a little differently? What if the ledger could be given a volition or purpose rather than simply acting as a historical reference? What if we focused on creating a richer ledger by introducing more sources of information? What if we thought of ourselves not as the owners of this information, but as custodians, transient carriers, or caretakers?''
The so-called ledger of our device use '-- the data on our ''actions, decisions, preferences, movement, and relationships'' '-- is something that could conceivably be passed on to other users much as genetic information is passed on through the generations, Foster says.
Resolutions by Google, the concept for a system-wide setting that lets users pick a broad goal and then directs their everyday actions toward it.Building on the ledger idea, the middle section of the video presents a conceptual Resolutions by Google system, in which Google prompts users to select a life goal and then guides them toward it in every interaction they have with their phone. The examples, which would ''reflect Google's values as an organization,'' include urging you to try a more environmentally friendly option when hailing an Uber or directing you to buy locally grown produce from Safeway.
An example of a Google Resolution superimposing itself atop a grocery store's shopping app, suggesting a choice that aligns with the user's expressed goal.Of course, the concept is premised on Google having access to a huge amount of user data and decisions. Privacy concerns or potential negative externalities are never mentioned in the video. The ledger's demand for ever more data might be the most unnerving aspect of the presentation.
Foster envisions a future where ''the notion of a goal-driven ledger becomes more palatable'' and ''suggestions may be converted not by the user but by the ledger itself.'' This is where the Black Mirror undertones come to the fore, with the ledger actively seeking to fill gaps in its knowledge and even selecting data-harvesting products to buy that it thinks may appeal to the user. The example given in the video is a bathroom scale because the ledger doesn't yet know how much its user weighs. The video then takes a further turn toward anxiety-inducing sci-fi, imagining that the ledger may become so astute as to propose and 3D-print its own designs. Welcome home, Dave, I built you a scale.
A conceptual cloud processing node that is analyzing user information and determining the absence of a relevant data point; in this case, user weight.Foster's vision of the ledger goes beyond a tool for self-improvement. The system would be able to ''plug gaps in its knowledge and refine its model of human behavior'' '-- not just your particular behavior or mine, but that of the entire human species. ''By thinking of user data as multigenerational,'' explains Foster, ''it becomes possible for emerging users to benefit from the preceding generation's behaviors and decisions.'' Foster imagines mining the database of human behavior for patterns, ''sequencing'' it like the human genome, and making ''increasingly accurate predictions about decisions and future behaviours.''
''As cycles of collection and comparison extend,'' concludes Foster, ''it may be possible to develop a species-level understanding of complex issues such as depression, health, and poverty.''
A central tenet of the ledger is the accumulation of as much data as possible, with the hope that at some point, it will yield insights about major global problems.Granted, Foster's job is to lead design at X, Google's ''moonshot factory'' with inherently futuristic goals, and the ledger concept borders on science fiction '-- but it aligns almost perfectly with attitudes expressed in Google's existing products. Google Photos already presumes to know what you'll consider life highlights, proposing entire albums on the basis of its AI interpretations. Google Maps and the Google Assistant both make suggestions based on information they have about your usual location and habits. The trend with all of these services has been toward greater inquisitiveness and assertiveness on Google's part. Even email compositions are being automated in Gmail.
At a time when the ethics of new technology and AI are entering the broader public discourse, Google continues to be caught unawares by the potential ethical implications and downsides of its products, as seen most recently with its demonstration of the Duplex voice-calling AI at I/O. The outcry over Duplex's potential to deceive prompted Google to add the promise that its AI will always self-identify as such when calling unsuspecting service workers.
The Selfish Ledger positions Google as the solver of the world's most intractable problems, fueled by a distressingly intimate degree of personal information from every user and an ease with guiding the behavior of entire populations. There's nothing to suggest that this is anything more than a thought exercise inside Google, initiated by an influential executive. But it does provide an illuminating insight into the types of conversations going on within the company that is already the world's most prolific personal data collector.
Update: Nick Foster's title has been updated to include the Near Future Laboratory and X's response has been moved.
Google's Leaked Video on Mass Behaviour Modification - Computing Forever Archive & Sources
Fri, 18 May 2018 20:56
Google's The Selfish Ledger (leaked internal video): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QDVVo14A_fo
The Verge Article: https://www.theverge.com/2018/5/17/17344250/google-x-selfish-ledger-video-data-privacy
Diversity hiring article: https://www.theregister.co.uk/2018/03/02/google_recruiter_fired/
Creative commons, royalty free images used in this video presentation are sourced from https://pixabay.com/ and Wiki Media Commons. These are public commons images.
Select grammar and writing style options in Office 2016 - Office Support
Fri, 18 May 2018 12:06
This article explains the grammar and writing style options that you can choose in the Grammar Settings dialog box for Word 2016 and Outlook 2016.
Note: February 2017: New Grammar options are available only to subscription users. In addition, if you have an Office 365 Subscription and have Version 1609 (Build 7369.2024) or later installed, you can use Grammar & more to flag writing and style issues. To see and use Grammar & more, your proofing language must be set to English. In the upcoming months, we'll add support for additional proofing languages.
For information on grammar and style settings for earlier versions of Office, see Select grammar and writing style options in Office 2013 and earlier.
Note: If you are choosing options for text that's written in a language other than your language version of Word and Outlook, the options might vary.
Display the Grammar Settings dialog box
Create or open an item.
Click the File tab, and then click Options.
Click Mail, and then click Editor Options.
Under When correcting spelling in Outlook, selectSettings.
The Writing style menu has two options Grammar and Grammar & more. You can choose either option depending on which settings you want apply to your email.
Tip: By default the editor proofing options are set to Grammar & more and have Wordiness and Nominalizations style options selected.
Click the File tab, and then click Options.
Under When correcting spelling and grammar in Word, click Settings.
The Writing style menu has two options Grammar and Grammar & more. You can choose either option depending on which settings you want apply to your document.
Tip: By default the editor proofing options are set to Grammar & more and have Wordiness and Nominalizations style options selected.
Choose Grammar & more option from the drop down if you'd like to have suggestions for style
Scroll down to see all of the options available, and select or clear any rules that you want the grammar checker to flag or ignore. Any changes that you make to these settings apply to all the documents or items that you edit, not just the current document you are working in.
Tip: If you want to go back to the default editor proofing settings, choose Reset All
Missing space before punctuation Highlights the absence of a space expected before a punctuation mark. The set of punctuation marks for this option varies by language. When one space is expected before a particular punctuation mark, but none is found, this rule suggests adding a space. Example: They were(about to leave) would be corrected to They were (about to leave). The set of punctuation marks for this option varies by language.
Unexpected space before punctuation Highlights the occurrence of an unexpected space before a punctuation mark. The set of punctuation marks for this option varies by language. When no spaces are expected after a particular punctuation mark, but one is found, this rule suggests removing it. Example: Mary , still wondering about the photos would be corrected to Mary, still wondering about the photos.
Unexpected space before and missing space after punctuation Highlights the occurrence of an unexpected space before a punctuation mark and the absence of a space expected before a punctuation mark. When there is an unexpected space before a punctuation mark and a missing space after it, this rule suggests removing the unexpected space and suggests inserting the missing space. Example: Mary ,still wondering about the photos would be corrected to Mary, still wondering about the photos.
Missing space after punctuation Highlights the absence of a space expected after a punctuation mark. The set of punctuation marks for this option varies by language. When a space is expected after a particular punctuation mark, but none is found, this rule suggests adding a space. Example: He was up all night,and asleep all day would be corrected to He was up all night, and asleep all day.
Unexpected space after punctuation Highlights the occurrence of an unexpected space after a punctuation mark. The set of punctuation marks for this option varies by language. When no spaces are expected after a particular punctuation mark, but one is found, this rule suggests removing it. Example: There are ( brackets) would be corrected to There are (brackets).
Unexpected space between words Highlights the occurrence of an unexpected space between words This rule detects two spaces between words of a sentence, or between punctuation and words within a sentence. Example: The final date is November 18th would be corrected to The final date is November 18th.
Punctuation marks in succession The rule will detect two or more successive punctuation marks that are either identical or different. Example: Mary,, still wondering about the photos would be corrected to Mary, still wondering about the photos. The set of punctuation marks for this option varies by language.
Comma Splice Targets the use of a semicolon instead of a comma in two related but independent clauses that are not joined by a coordinating conjunction such as "and" or "but". Example: They don't have a discussion board, the website isn't big enough for one yet would be corrected to They don't have a discussion board; the website isn't big enough for one yet.
Comma Use Targets a missing comma in front of an independent clause if the sentence begins with a conjunction "if" Example: If you're like me you've already seen this movie would be corrected to If you're like me, you've already seen this movie.
Comma Missing After Introductory Phrases Targets a missing comma after short introductory phrases such as "however" or "for example" before an independent clause that follows. Example: First of all we must make sure the power is off would be corrected to First of all, we must make sure the power is off.
Comma After Greetings targets missing commas after a greeting phrase. Example: Dear Sir or Madam I read your letter, and I like your suggestions. would be corrected to Dear Sir or Madam, I read your letter, and I like your suggestions.
Comma Before Quotations targets missing commas before quotations. If you are quoting a selection longer than a single word, insert a comma in front of the quoted text. Example: He arrived and announced "The party will be tomorrow night." would be corrected to He arrived and announced, "The party will be tomorrow night."
Date Formatting targets incorrectly formatted date expressions. Dates should be written with commas separating the day of the week from the month, and the day from the year. A comma should not be placed between the month and year. Example: I went to Paris on June 4 1986. would be corrected to I went to Paris on June 4, 1986. Example: The new policy comes into effect in October, 2016. would be corrected to The new policy comes into effect in October 2016.
Comma with Conjunction targets a redundant comma when a dependent clause with a coordinating conjunction follows the main clause. Example: The dog went to the park, and learned how to play fetch would be corrected to "The dog went to the park, and learned how to play fetch."
Missing Comma targets a missing comma when an independent clause is followed by a coordinating conjunction and another independent clause. Example: The goats ate the grass but the herder had nothing to eat. would be corrected to "The goats ate the grass, but the herder had nothing to eat".
Academic Degrees targets the incorrect use of academic degrees. When discussing a type of degree, it should be lowercase. Bachelor's and master's degree types should be possessive. Note that doctorate is a degree type, while Doctor is used in a degree name. Example: She earned her doctorate of philosophy. is corrected to "She earned her Doctor of Philosophy" Example: She earned a Bachelors degree will be corrected to "She earned a bachelor's"
Adjective Used Instead of Adverb targets the use of ''real'' vs. ''really''. ''Real'' is used to modify a noun, ''really'' to modify a verb. Example: He is driving real carefully would be corrected to He is driving really carefully.
Agreement with Noun Phrases targets number agreement within noun phrases to make sure the words within a single noun phrase agree in number (singular or plural). Example: I would like to buy this apples would be corrected to I would like to buy these apples or I would like to buy this apple.
Capitalization targets words with incorrect capitalization. Articles, short prepositions, and conjunctions that should be in lower case within titles. The first word in title is capitalized. Example: "Of Mice And Men" is a novel would be corrected to "Of Mice and Men" is a novel.
Capitalization of March and May targets incorrectly lowercased words ''May'' and ''March'' when they are used as month names instead of verbs. The months "March" and "May" should always be capitalized. The verbs "march" and "may" are not capitalized. Example: Camping in may can be an enjoyable experience. would be corrected to Camping in May can be an enjoyable experience.
Commonly Confused Words targets words that require special attention because they sound similar and may have related meanings. They often represent different parts of speech (word classes) and have different spellings. It also targets the incorrect use of ''of'' rather than "have" in constructions with modal auxiliaries. Use "have" rather than "of" in constructions with modal auxiliaries such as could, can't, may, and will (i.e., verbs that express likelihood, ability, permission, obligation). Example: Could you please advice me? would be corrected to Could you please advise me? I could of known that. would be corrected to I could have known that.
Commonly Confused Phrases targets words that are commonly used in combination with each other. You may have used a different preposition, helping verb, or other word than expected. Example: I do not see TV. would be corrected to I do not watch TV.
Comparative Use targets the use of "more" and "most" with adjectives without comparatives. Don't use comparatives like more, most, less, or least with comparative adjectives. Example: This is more bigger than I thought would be corrected to This is bigger than I thought.
Hyphenation suggests a hyphen to link modifying words if a noun modifier consists of more than one word. Example: Our five year old son is learning to read would be corrected to Our five-year-old son is learning to read. This rule also covers numerals "twenty-one" through "ninety-nine".
Incorrect Auxiliary targets auxiliaries (be, have) followed by incorrect verb forms. Make sure that the auxiliary you use is the correct one for the following verb. Example: We are not taken them to the movies before. would be corrected to We have not taken them to the movies before.
Incorrect Inflection targets the incorrect use of two gerunds in a row. Some gerunds should be followed by past participles or infinitive verbs, instead.
Example: Having misunderstanding the directions, she failed the test. is corrected to Having misunderstood the directions, she failed the test. Also targets expressions that require the use of "to" as an infinitive marker and a specific verb form. Example: I would like to accepting the invitation. is corrected to I would like to accept the invitation
Incorrect Verb Form after Auxiliary Targets an incorrect verb form after an auxiliary verb. Use the correct verb form after an auxiliary verb (verbs that describe a person, number, mood, tense, etc). Example: They had ate by the time she arrived would be corrected to They had eaten by the time she arrived.
Indefinite Article Targets the use of "a" before a word beginning with a consonant sound and "an" before a word beginning with a vowel sound. Example: We waited for at least a hour would be corrected to We waited for at least an hour.
Possessives and Plural Forms Targets the incorrect use of Possessive and Plural forms. Possessive nouns require an apostrophe. The possessive pronoun "its" does not; the form "it's" is always a contraction of ''it is'' (or ''it has''). Example: As long as its doing it's job, we're happy would be corrected to As long as it's doing its job, we're happy.
Question Mark Missing Targets a missing question mark at the end of an interrogative sentence. Write a question mark at the end of any sentence that asks a question (interrogative sentence). Example: How many cats does he have. would be corrected to How many cats does he have?
Subject Verb Agreement targets number agreement between subject and verb. The subject and verb should agree in number. They should either both be singular, or both be plural. Example: The teacher want to see him would be corrected to The teacher wants to see him.
Too Many Determiners targets certain determiners (articles, possessive pronouns, and demonstratives) that shouldn't be combined. Example: I gave her a the carrot would be corrected to I gave her a carrot.
Use of Plain Verb Form targets the use of an incorrect gerund or infinitive verb form, which depends on the verb it follows. An infinitive (to + verb) is used for an action that follows the main verb. A gerund (verb + -ing) is used after a preposition or for an action that occurs at the same time as the main verb. Example: I would like invite you. is corrected to I would like to invite you. Example: I do not mind rename the dog. is corrected to I do not mind renaming the dog.
Use of the Word "Lack" targets the incorrect use of the work "lack". As a noun, it is usually followed by the preposition "of" (e.g. "a lack of sleep"). As a verb, "lack" should not be followed by any preposition. Example: The country was lacking of qualified medical staff is corrected to The country was lacking qualified medical staff.
Use of Will and Would targets the incorrect use of the auxiliaries ''will'' and ''would''. Future tense sentences usually employ an auxiliary verb, except when referring to an imagined or desired situation (subjunctive phrase). Example: I request that you will join me is corrected to I request that you join me.
Clarity and Conciseness
Complex words Targets complex and abstract words, and suggests using a simpler word to present a clear message and a more approachable tone. Example: The magnitude of the problem is far beyond the scope of humanitarian aid. Magnitude would be corrected to size.
Double Negation Targets the ambiguous use of negations. The use of two negative words may be interpreted as indicating a positive. To avoid confusion, do not use double negation. Example: I did not see nothing. It is corrected to I did not see anything.
Jargon Targets jargon, technical terminology, or abbreviations which may confuse readers. Consider using more common language that is likely to be understood by everyone. Example: The company hired a well-known headhunting firm. Headhunting is corrected to recruiting
Nominalizations Targets phrases relying on many nouns which need extra words to introduce them. Consider using a single verb instead of nouns, where possible. Example: The trade union is holding negotiations with the employers. Here holding negotiations is corrected to negotiating.
Passive voice with Known Actor Targets passive voice sentences with a known actor, i.e. a known subject. Use active voice whenever possible to be more concise and avoid possible confusion. Example: The dog was seen by the man. This will be corrected to The man saw the dog.
Passive Voice with Unknown Actor Targets passive voice sentences with an unknown actor, i.e. an unknown subject. Use active voice whenever possible to be more concise and avoid possible confusion. (In most cases this rule won't be able to offer a correction suggestion because the subject is unknown.) Example: The house was built on a hill. This will show [No Suggestion available]
Wordiness Targets redundant and needless words. Eliminating redundant or unnecessary words often improves readability. § Example: Her backpack was large in size. Large in size is corrected to large.
Words Expressing Uncertainty Targets words that express uncertainty or lessen the impact of a statement. Example: They largely decorated the kitchen with old bottles. The phrase largely decorated is replaced by decorated only.
Words in Split infinitives (more than one) Targets multiple adverbs between "to" and a verb. Using multiple adverbs between "to" and a verb in can create an awkward or unclear sentence. Example: He tried to firmly but politely decline the offer. This is corrected to decline the offer firmly but politely.
Gender-Specific Language Targets gendered language which may be perceived as excluding, dismissive, or stereotyping. Consider using gender-inclusive language. Example: We need more policemen to maintain public safety. Policemen is corrected to police officers.
Clich(C)s Targets overused and predictable words or phrases and suggests to replace them with an alternative phrase. Example: Institutions seem caught between a rock and a hard place.The phrase between a rock and a hard place would be corrected to in a difficult situation
Vague Adjectives Targets overused adjectives and suggest replacing them with more specific ones which can convey your message more descriptively. Example: Do not drive in bad conditions! will be changed to Do not drive in harsh conditions.
Contractions Targets contractions (e.g., let's, we've, can't) which should be avoided in formal writing, such as in legal documents. Example: The animal won't be authorized to be out of the bag during the flight. Won't will be corrected to will not.
Informal Language Targets informal words and phrases which are more appropriate for familiar, conversational settings. Please consider using more formal language. Example: Our atmosphere includes comfy massage chairs. Here comfy is corrected to comfortable.
Slang Targets regional expressions or slang terms which may not be understood by a general audience, and should therefore be avoided in formal writing. Consider using more standard expressions. Example: My cat barfed all over my homework last night. Barfed is corrected to vomited.
Oxford Comma Targets a missing comma after the second-to-last item in a list. When listing items, you can avoid confusion by using a comma before the second-to-last item. Whether you choose to use the Oxford comma or not, always be consistent.
Example: The red, yellow and green peppers are fresh. Here a comma is added after yellow.
Punctuation Required with Quotes Targets inconsistent use of quotation marks with punctuation marks. Quotation marks can be placed inside or outside of punctuation marks. Place quotes in the same manner throughout your text to improve readability. Example for punctuation inside quotes: He told me, ''I don't like scary movies''. This is corrected to movies.'' Example for punctuation outside quotes: The woman said, ''I just got home from vacation.'' This is corrected to vacation''.
Spaces Between Sentences Targets inconsistent use of spaces between sentences. Use the same number of spaces between sentences to improve readability. Choose either one or two spaces, then be consistent. Example for one space between sentences: We came. We saw. We conquered. We came. We saw. We conquered. The space between the sentences is adjusted to one.
Restore the original rule settings
To restore the settings to their default states, in the Grammar Settings dialog box, click Reset All.
If you have feedback or suggestions about the editor proofing features, please post them here.
See also Select grammar and writing style options in Office 2013 and earlier
Choose how spell check and grammar check work in Word 2016 for Mac
Check spelling and grammar in Office 2010 and later
Check spelling and grammar in Office 2007
Check spelling and grammar in Office 2016 for Mac
Potential Spy Devices Which Track Cellphones, Intercept Calls Found All Over D.C., Md., Va. | NBC4 Washington
Fri, 18 May 2018 10:23
The technology can be as small as a suitcase, placed anywhere at any time, and it's used to track cell phones and intercept calls.
The News4 I-Team found dozens of potential spy devices while driving around Washington, D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia.
"While you might not be a target yourself, you may live next to someone who is. You could still get caught up," said Aaron Turner, a leading mobile security expert.
The device, sometimes referred to by the brand name StingRay, is designed to mimic a cell tower and can trick your phone into connecting to it instead.
The News4 I-Team asked Turner to ride around the capital region with special software loaded onto three cell phones, with three different carriers, to detect the devices operating in various locations.
"So when you see these red bars, those are very high-suspicion events," said Turner.
If you live in or near the District, your phone has probably been tracked at some point, he said.
A recent report by the Department of Homeland Security called the spy devices a real and growing risk.
And the I-Team found them in high-profile areas like outside the Trump International Hotel on Pennsylvania Avenue and while driving across the 14th Street bridge into Crystal City. The I-Team got picked up twice while driving along K Street '-- the corridor popular with lobbyists.
"It looks like they don't consider us to be interesting, so they've dropped us," Turner remarked looking down at one of his phones.
Every cellphone has a unique identifying number. The phone catcher technology can harness thousands of them at a time.
DHS has warned rogue devices could prevent connected phones from making 911 calls, saying, "If this type of attack occurs during an emergency, it could prevent victims from receiving assistance."
"Absolutely. That's a worry," said D.C. Councilwoman Mary Cheh, adding that the spy technology should be a concern for all who live and work in the District.
The I-Team's test phones detected 40 potential locations where the spy devices could be operating, while driving around for just a few hours.
"I suppose if you spent more time you'd find even more," said Cheh. "I have bad news for the public: Our privacy isn't what it once was."
Especially in her ward, where many of the streets are lined with embassies.
"They're doing the interrogation, or [checking] who we are, and then the white bar represents when they release us," Turner said as he demonstrated his technology.
The phones appeared to remain connected to a fake tower the longest, right near the Russian Embassy.
The I-Team got picked up twice off of International Drive, right near the Chinese and Israeli embassies, then got another two hits along Massachusetts Avenue near Romania and Turkey.
All of those countries have the phone catcher technology, Turner said.
"You know governments do this to each other all the time and laws-schmaws," said Cheh.
Which is a problem.
The spy technology poses a risk to national and economic security, but there's little our government can do to stop devices located on foreign soil.
"A law that we had could not tell these embassies what they can and cannot do," said Cheh.
The phone catchers can also be combined with other technology to listen-in or grab data from phones that are connected, Turner said.
"Most people don't know about it," said Alan Butler, senior counsel for the Electronic Privacy Information Center.
"There's no magic software or setting that protects you from these," Butler said.
Butler is also a D.C. resident.
"There's a lot to be concerned about," he said.
Particularly since DHS hasn't disclosed how many devices it found or where. The agency also said it did not determine who was operating them, which Butler finds unacceptable.
"I think they should be taking the time and investing the resources to identify them and to flag them to the carriers and find ways to either have them taken down or have them blocked," he said.
Turner said cell carriers can't completely secure our phones because they have to allow for law enforcement access. Plus, even the oldest phones must be able to reach 911, so low-tech vulnerabilities can't be closed.
"I don't think there's a magic fix here," said Turner. "I don't think Congress can mandate anything to say, Hey, carriers do this right now."
The good news is about half the devices the I-Team found were likely law enforcement investigating crimes or our government using the devices defensively to identify certain cellphone numbers as they approach important locations, Turner said.
The I-Team test detected devices in operation near Langley, the Pentagon and Fort Myer, but also found them in residential areas like Bethesda's Kenwood neighborhood, near Palisades in DC and along Old Dominion Drive in McLean, which Turner said raised questions.
"Maybe someone is involved in high-level negotiations on a business deal, or maybe it's a government employee involved in a regulatory ruling," he said, adding that he's heard of the devices being used in a corporate espionage situation, which is illegal under United States law.
You can't control which tower your phone attaches to, Turner said, so you can't avoid being caught by a device.
So if you've ever wondered why you just can't make a call from inside your home or office: "It could be why," said Turner. "[It's] a good reason to have a land line."
But you can protect your calls and texts by downloading free calling and texting apps that use encryption instead of using the standard ones that come installed on your cellphone, he said.
Reported by Jodie Fleischer, produced by Rick Yarborough, and shot and edited Jeff Piper.
Tesla may need $10 billion by 2020 to survive '' Goldman '-- RT Business News
Fri, 18 May 2018 10:03
The electric car maker Tesla may be in need of an additional $10 billion in the next two years for auto-making and expansion plans to China, Goldman Sachs said in a note.
The options to get the funding are new bonds, convertible notes or equity, but each of them has possible drawbacks, the bank says.
''We see several options available to the company to refinance maturing debt and raise incremental funds, which should allow Tesla to fund its growth targets,'' Goldman analyst David Tamberrino wrote. ''However, issuing incremental debt (including priming current creditors with secured debt) may weigh on the credit profile of the company while issuing additional equity or convertibles at lower premiums would dilute current shareholders.''
Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been cutting costs following production problems of the Model 3 since he doesn't want to raise capital this year. The company burned through more than $1 billion in the first quarter.
''Tesla's view that it doesn't require a debt or equity raise this year is mathematically correct, but highly imprudent from a credit and risk perspective if followed,'' Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Joel Levington said last month. Earlier this week, Musk said the firm was undergoing a ''thorough reorganization.''
In the last year alone, Tesla lost over $2 billion. The company was losing $6,500 every minute and needs another $2 billion to get through the current year, according to Bloomberg estimates.
For more stories on economy & finance visit RT's business section
MSM Blackout: Election Ballots Illegally Destroyed from Race Debbie Wasserman Schultz "Won" - Conservative Cash
Thu, 17 May 2018 20:22
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz just can't seem to stay out of scandal. You may recall her collusion, as former DNC Chair, with Hillary Clinton to block out Sen. Bernie Sanders during the primaries and guarantee Clinton the nomination.
Well, now in her own re-election that she won (maybe), there's the small matter of missing ballots that have been illegally destroyed despite a challenge to the election.
From Fox News:
A Florida Circuit judge ruled Friday that the state's second-most populous county violated state and federal laws by destroying ballots from a 2016 Democratic primary race which Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz won.
Circuit Judge Raag Singhal decided that the records were wrongly destroyed because the laws require elections offices to keep the ballots in federal elections for 22 months. Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes destroyed the ballots just after 12 months, the Sun-Sentinel reported.
The judge also noted that because the ballots were subject to a lawsuit, only a court order should have allowed their destruction.
The lawsuit was brought by Wasserman Schultz's challenger Tim Canova who sued the elections office after alleging voter irregularities. He wanted to check the paper ballots but the office refused to comply and then wanted to charge him over $70,000. He lost by about 7000 votes.
The judge says that Snipes hasn't given any evidence refuting the destruction of the ballots in violation of the law.
Snipes claims that the ballots were destroyed through a 'mistake' because of a mislabeled box. She says she didn't destroy them intentionally. The judge said the intent was irrelevant.
An attorney for Snipes, Burnadette Norris-Weeks, said she will appeal the decision because the elections office never declined to provide the ballots to Canova, only objected to unreasonable demands.
''It was a mistake [destroying the original ballots], but the ballots were preserved,'' Norris-Weeks told the Sun-Sentinel. ''They were scanned shortly after the election.''
Gov. Rick Scott's administration announced after the judge's ruling that he would be sending election observers into Broward to ensure that the Broward elections office was following the law.
Canova is now moving for Snipes' dismissal.
Interesting how these things just keep happening around Debbie Wasserman Schultz. And it would be even more interesting to find out if there were any communications between Snipes and Wasserman Schultz.
And once again mainstream media with the exception of Fox is pretty much ignoring the scandal.
Media has also been ignoring the huge IT scandal involving Imran Awan and Debbie Wasserman Schultz despite the concern that incredibly sensitive Congressional committee information may have been compromised or sent to Pakistan.
The media is focused on anything that points away from Democrats.
The Privilege Walk [complete]
Thu, 17 May 2018 19:37
The typical classroom version of this activity involves between 10-40 participants. Throughout the privilege walk, the following statements are read by the facilitator and the participants are asked to take a step forward or backward based on their responses. This activity forces participants to confront the ways in which society privileges some individuals over others. It is designed to get participants to reflect on the different areas in their lives where they have privilege as well as the areas where they don't.
The following is the complete set of questions from the classroom version of this activity.
If your ancestors were forced to come to the USA not by choice, take one step back.
If your primary ethnic identity is "American," take one step forward.
If you were ever called names because of your race, class, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If there were people who worked for your family as servants, gardeners, nannies, etc. take one step forward.
If you were ever ashamed or embarrassed of your clothes, house, car, etc. take one step back.
If one or both of your parents were "white collar" professionals: doctors, lawyers, etc. take one step forward.
If you were raised in an area where there was prostitution, drug activity, etc., take one step back.
If you ever tried to change your appearance, mannerisms, or behavior to avoid being judged or ridiculed, take one step back.
If you studied the culture of your ancestors in elementary school, take one step forward.
If you went to school speaking a language other than English, take one step back.
If there were more than 50 books in your house when you grew up, take one step forward.
If you ever had to skip a meal or were hungry because there was not enough money to buy food when you were growing up, take one step back.
If you were taken to art galleries or plays by your parents, take one step forward.
If one of your parents was unemployed or laid off, not by choice, take one step back.
If you have health insurance take one step forward.
If you attended private school or summer camp, take one step forward.
If your family ever had to move because they could not afford the rent, take one step back.
If you were told that you were beautiful, smart and capable by your parents, take one step forward.
If you were ever discouraged from academics or jobs because of race, class, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were encouraged to attend college by your parents, take one step forward.
If you have a disability take one step backward.
If you were raised in a single parent household, take one step back.
If your family owned the house where you grew up, take one step forward.
If you saw members of your race, ethnic group, gender or sexual orientation portrayed on television in degrading roles, take one step back.
If you own a car take one step forward.
If you were ever offered a good job because of your association with a friend or family member, take one step forward.
If you were ever denied employment because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were paid less, treated less fairly because of race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were ever accused of cheating or lying because of your race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you ever inherited money or property, take one step forward.
If you had to rely primarily on public transportation, take one step back.
If you attended private school at any point in your life take one step forward.
If you were ever stopped or questioned by the police because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If you were ever afraid of violence because of your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
If your parents own their own business take one step forward.
If you were generally able to avoid places that were dangerous, take one step forward.
If you were ever uncomfortable about a joke related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation but felt unsafe to confront the situation, take one step back.
If you use a TDD Phone system take one step backward.
If you were ever the victim of violence related to your race, ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation, take one step back.
Imagine you are in a relationship, if you can get married in the State of ___ take one step forward
If your parents did not grow up in the United States, take one step back.
If your parents attended college take one step forward.
If your parents told you that you could be anything you wanted to be, take one step forward.
If you are able to take a step forward or backward take two steps forward.