1036: Braking Algos

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 47m
May 24th, 2018
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Executive Producers: RJ van der Bij, Chris Moore, Sir Nubbn of the 500

Associate Executive Producers: Sir Phillip the Black, Baron of Oslo, Sir Chris Dillon, Sir Lukas Teijema, Sandra Langston, Dame Melo

Cover Artist: Comic Strip Blogger

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Northern Illinois University honor indigenous land
Hi,
This is anonymous at Northern Illinois University. As a
staff member there, today I was required to attend this training about how to
supposedly work with and be mindful of diverse populations of students at this
campus. At the beginning of this training, after the usual disclaimers about
safe spaces and pronouns, the speaker read this statement, which is a new one
that I haven’t seen before in these kinds of meetings:
I would like to acknowledge that the land we are meeting
on today has long served as a state of meeting and exchange amongst indigenous
peoples, specifically the groups of Native Americans known as the Illiniwek and
the Miami.
I offer this acknowledgement to honor and respect the
diverse indigenous peoples connected to this territory on which we
gather.
Thanks,
Anonymous
OTG
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How heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness - Daily chart
Mon, 21 May 2018 04:24
MAY 20th will mark the end of ''mental-health awareness week'', a campaign run by the Mental Health Foundation, a British charity. Roughly a quarter of British adults have been diagnosed at some point with a psychiatric disorder, costing the economy an estimated 4.5% of GDP per year. Such illnesses have many causes, but a growing body of research demonstrates that in young people they are linked with heavy consumption of social media.
According to a survey in 2017 by the Royal Society for Public Health, Britons aged 14-24 believe that Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter have detrimental effects on their wellbeing. On average, they reported that these social networks gave them extra scope for self-expression and community-building. But they also said that the platforms exacerbated anxiety and depression, deprived them of sleep, exposed them to bullying and created worries about their body image and ''FOMO'' (''fear of missing out''). Academic studies have found that these problems tend to be particularly severe among frequent users.
Sean Parker, Facebook's founding president, has admitted that the product works by ''exploiting a vulnerability in human psychology''. Indeed, an experiment by five neuroscientists in 2014 concluded that Facebook triggers the same impulsive part of the brain as gambling and substance abuse. Yet it is difficult to prove that obsessing over likes and comments causes mental illness, rather than the other way around. The most convincing effort was a survey that tracked a group of 5,208 Americans between 2013 and 2015. It found that an increase in Facebook activity was associated with a future decrease in reported mental health.
An obvious solution to the problem is to cut down on screen time. Even the most obsessive users should be able to do so. The neuroscientific study on Facebook found that the subjects' cognitive ability to inhibit their impulsive behaviour was less impaired than for drug or gambling addicts. And data from Moment, an activity-tracking app, show that it is possible for light social-media consumers to be content. Each week it asks its 1m users whether they are happy or sad with the amount of time they have spent on various platforms. Nearly 63% of Instagram users report being miserable, a higher share than for any other social network. They spend an average of nearly an hour per day on the app. The 37% who are happy spend on average just over half as long.
The happiness rate is much higher for FaceTime (91%), a video-calling app, and phone calls (84%). When it comes to social networking, actual conversations are hard to beat.
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BigCo's and partner tracking
Adam,
Digital
Marketer here at Fortune One company
There all sorts of ways to be tracked by ads other than cookies and you and Tina or
any household are connected by your home address. This why people who live
together often see the same ad even though they login using different
devices. If Tina searches for pickles there is a possibility that you will see
a pickle ad based on you both having the same address and advertiser know where
those devices are. If you both receive your credit card bills at the same
address or have packages delivered to the same address advertisers will connect
this data on the back end.
Retail WiFi spying
I know it seems far fetched, but I
had an issue about three months after buying my first Iphone back in
2011. I went to a local mall in Pennsylvania and went into a department
store. While there I bought a bottle of perfume for a girlfriend.
This item was purchased in cash, with no discount cards or other electronic
information. The sales rep didn't even know my name. 3 days later I
started noticeing on my desktop computer that I was getting a lot of ads for
that same perfume. I never researched online, it was a total inpulse buy,
all I could think of was that somehow the conversation with the sales rep was
overheard somehow. In this case it turned out good as it made me very
cautious, like John. My phone stays off when not in use, in a drawer when
at home. I also stay away from the soic nets. Keep up the great
work, love the show.
Will B
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The Pentagon Has a Big Plan to Solve Identity Verification in Two Years - Nextgov
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:17
ByJoseph Marks ,Senior Correspondent
The Defense Department is funding a project that officials say could revolutionize the way companies, federal agencies and the military itself verify that people are who they say they are and it could be available in most commercial smartphones within two years.
The technology, which will be embedded in smartphones' hardware, will analyze a variety of identifiers that are unique to an individual, such as the hand pressure and wrist tension when the person holds a smartphone and the person's peculiar gait while walking, said Steve Wallace, technical director at the Defense Information Systems Agency.
Organizations that use the tool can combine those identifiers to give the phone holder a ''risk score,'' Wallace said. If the risk score is low enough, the organization can presume the person is who she says she is and grant her access to sensitive files on the phone or on a connected computer or grant her access to a secure facility. If the score's too high, she'll be locked out.
Nextgov spoke with Wallace on the sidelines of a DISA press conference during a cybersecurity event hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.
The project, which is being developed by a private company with DISA funding, grew out of a years-long Pentagon effort to rid the department of the cumbersome common access cards, called CAC cards. Troops and civilian Pentagon employees have used CAC cards for years to enter bases and digitally verify their identities for department networks.
The new hardware tool will use the same principle as CAC cards, sharing encrypted information with a machine to prove a person's identity, Wallace said. Unlike CAC cards, though, it will be able to continuously gather and verify that identifying information. The tool will also be embedded in a device the person is already carrying.
The company developing the system, which Wallace declined to name, will deliver about 75 prototypes to DISA this fall, he said.
Once all the bugs have been worked out of the prototypes, major companies will begin embedding the necessary tools inside the computer chips that power smartphones, he said. From there, the smartphone makers themselves will have to update phones to use the tool.
The technology should be commercially available within a couple of years, Wallace said. He declined to say which smartphone and chipmakers planned to participate in the project, but said the capability will be available ''in the vast majority of mobile devices.''
It will be up to phone makers to decide whether to make the capability available and up to organizations whether to use it, he said.
DISA gathered information from some private-sector organizations, including in the financial sector, to ensure the verification tool also meets their needs, he said.
''We foresee it being used quite widely,'' he said.
Another identifier that will likely be built into the chips is a GPS tracker that will store encrypted information about a person's movements, Wallace said. The verification tool would analyze historical information about a person's locations and major, recent anomalies would raise the person's risk score.
The tool would be separate from the GPS function used by mapping and exercise apps, he said.
The tool does not include biometric information, such as a thumbprint or eye scans at this point, Wallace said, because DISA judged that existing commercial applications of biometric information are too easy to spoof.
The Pentagon may reconsider biometric indicators if the state of the art improves, he said.
JRSS is Too S-L-O-W
Also during Wednesday's press conference, DISA officials acknowledged some performance issues for tools that military units are storing inside the Joint Regional Security Stacks, or JRSS. The JRSS is an early phase of a planned Defense Department-wide computer cloud.
In general, digital tools that the services put into the cloud are still functioning and aren't losing any data, but it is taking too long for data to transfer from the cloud to the user, DISA Operations Director David Bennett told reporters.
''It's simply an issue of not performing as quickly as applications need to,'' he said.
The latency issues have led the Army, which has been ahead of other services in transferring information to JRSS, to ''reschedule and re-phase'' some of those transitions, DISA Director Vice Adm. Nancy Norton, said.
No Comment on DISA's Fate
Norton declined to comment on language in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act that would transfer many of DISA's technology contracting and management duties to other parts of the Defense Department.
Norton told reporters she was ''very familiar with the discussion and various versions of the language,'' but that the agency ''doesn't comment on proposed legislation.''
When a reporter asked later about reports that some DISA functions are already being transferred to U.S. Cyber Command, a public affairs officer said the question was out of the scope of the press conference.
TIFU by getting Google to ban our entire company while on the toilet : tifu
Mon, 21 May 2018 12:32
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Microsoft's commitment to GDPR, privacy and putting customers in control of their own data - Microsoft on the Issues
Tue, 22 May 2018 11:39
On Friday, May 25, the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation '-- better known as GDPR '-- officially takes effect.
GDPR is an important step forward for privacy rights in Europe and around the world, and we've been enthusiastic supporters of GDPR since it was first proposed in 2012. It sets a strong standard for privacy and data protection by empowering people to control their personal information. We appreciate the strong leadership by the European Union on these important issues and the invitation to Microsoft to be one of a small number of companies participating in the official events in Brussels on Friday.
We believe privacy is a fundamental human right. As people live more of their lives online and depend more on technology to operate their businesses, engage with friends and family, pursue opportunities, and manage their health and finances, the protection of this right is becoming more important than ever.
Privacy is also the foundation for trust. We know that people will only use technology that they trust. Ultimately, trust is created when people are confident that their personal data is safe and they have a clear understanding of how and why it is used. This means companies like ours have a huge responsibility to safeguard the privacy of the personal data we collect and the data we manage for our commercial customers.
Our commitment to GDPR compliance
We are committed to making sure that our products and services comply with GDPR. That's why we've had more than 1,600 engineers across the company working on GDPR projects. Since its enactment in 2016, we've made significant investments to redesign our tools, systems and processes to meet the requirements of GDPR. Today, GDPR compliance is deeply ingrained in the culture at Microsoft and embedded in the processes and practices that are at the heart of how we build and deliver products and services.
We feel good about what we achieved so far. But we know that May 25 isn't the end of our work. Instead, it is the beginning of the next phase of our focus on GDPR. The fact is that this complex regulatory framework is as new to privacy regulators as it is to us. The ongoing interpretation of the detailed aspects of this regulation will determine the steps that we all will need to take to maintain compliance. As our customers use our tools and experience other features we'll also listen to their feedback and suggestions for improvements. Because regulatory interpretations change with experience and changing circumstances over time, we will constantly evaluate our products, services and data uses as understanding of GDPR evolves.
Respecting the privacy rights of consumers everywhere
As an EU regulation, GDPR creates important new rights specifically for individuals in the European Union. But we believe GDPR establishes important principles that are relevant globally.
We've been advocating for national privacy legislation in the United States since 2005. We're encouraged that some other tech companies are starting to endorse the need to address this issue as well. While debate about how to protect data privacy continues in the U.S., we're committed to moving forward now to take concrete steps to help strengthen people's privacy protection.
That's why today we are announcing that we will extend the rights that are at the heart of GDPR to all of our consumer customers worldwide. Known as Data Subject Rights, they include the right to know what data we collect about you, to correct that data, to delete it and even to take it somewhere else. Our privacy dashboard gives users the tools they need to take control of their data.
Updating the privacy statement for our consumer services
This week, we have also published an updated privacy statement governing our consumer products and services. The new privacy statement reflects our decision to extend key rights under GDPR to consumers around the world. It also incorporates more specific information and changes related to GDPR. But perhaps most importantly, it is designed to be clearer and more transparent. You can read the new privacy statement here. And you can find out what's new in the privacy statement here.
Helping businesses and organizations with their own GDPR compliance obligations
Much of the focus on GDPR during the past year has been on how large technology companies are ensuring that the products and services that they provide comply with the obligations that go into effect on May 25. Clearly, this is important.
But at Microsoft our business is built on helping other businesses and organizations succeed. We create the technology and tools that others use to transform their own businesses and drive success. We succeed only when our customers succeed. Therefore, an especially important part of our GDPR effort has been our work to develop tools, best practices and guidance to enable our enterprise customers to prepare for implementation of GDPR.
As GDPR goes into effect, one of our most important goals is to help businesses become trusted stewards of their customers' data. This is why we offer a robust set of tools and services for GDPR compliance that are backed up by contractual commitments.
For most companies, it will simply be more efficient and less expensive to host their data in the Microsoft Cloud where we can help them protect their customers' data and maintain GDPR compliance.
You can learn more at: Microsoft.com/GDPR
This week is an important week on an important journey. We look forward to continuing our work with customers, partners and regulators. We're committed to protecting the right to privacy and ensuring that the benefits of a new generation of technology innovation truly empower people and organizations around the world to achieve more.
Tags: Data Protection, GDPR, Privacy
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Amazon Teams Up With Law Enforcement to Deploy Dangerous New Face Recognition Technology | ACLU of Northern CA
Wed, 23 May 2018 11:09
Amazon, which got its start selling books and still bills itself as ''Earth's most customer-centric company,'' has officially entered the surveillance business.
The company has developed a powerful and dangerous new facial recognition system and is actively helping governments deploy it. Amazon calls the service ''Rekognition.''
Marketing materials and documents obtained by ACLU affiliates in three states reveal a product that can be readily used to violate civil liberties and civil rights. Powered by artificial intelligence, Rekognition can identify, track, and analyze people in real time and recognize up to 100 people in a single image. It can quickly scan information it collects against databases featuring tens of millions of faces, according to Amazon.
Amazon is marketing Rekognition for government surveillance. According to its marketing materials, it views deployment by law enforcement agencies as a ''common use case'' for this technology. Among other features, the company's materials describe ''person tracking'' as an ''easy and accurate'' way to investigate and monitor people. Amazon says Rekognition can be used to identify ''people of interest'' raising the possibility that those labeled suspicious by governments '-- such as undocumented immigrants or Black activists '-- will be seen as fair game for Rekognition surveillance. It also says Rekognition can monitor ''all faces in group photos, crowded events, and public places such as airports'' '-- at a time when Americans are joining public protests at unprecedented levels.
Amazon's Rekognition raises profound civil liberties and civil rights concerns. Today, the ACLU and a coalition of civil rights organizations demanded that Amazon stop allowing governments to use Rekognition.
Take Action Today >>>
Amazon not only markets Rekognition as a law enforcement service, it is helping governments deploy it. Amazon lists the city of Orlando, Florida, and the Washington County Sheriff's Office in Oregon among its customers. Upon learning this, the ACLU Foundations of California coordinated with the ACLU of Oregon and the ACLU of Florida on public records requests to learn more.
The documents we obtained indicate that the Washington County Sheriff and the City of Orlando became Rekognition customers in 2017. Washington County has since built a database of at least 300,000 mugshot photos to use in coordination with Rekognition. It also built a mobile app for its deputies to quickly scan for a match against the county's database by submitting images obtained from surveillance or other sources.
Amazon is providing company resources to help government agencies deploy Rekognition. In emails between Amazon and Washington County employees, the company offers the expertise of the Rekognition product team, troubleshoots problems encountered by the county, and provides ''best practices'' advice on how to deploy the service. In what Orlando's police chief praises as a ''first-of-its-kind public-private partnership,'' Amazon promised free consulting services to build a Rekognition ''proof of concept'' for the city. Rekognition face surveillance is now operating across Orlando in real-time, according to Amazon, allowing the company to search for ''people of interest'' as footage rolls in from ''cameras all over the city.''
In the records, Amazon also solicits feedback and ideas for ''potential enhancements'' to Rekognition's capabilities for governments. Washington County even signed a non-disclosure agreement created by Amazon to get ''insight into the Rekognition roadmap'' and provide additional feedback about the product. The county later cited this NDA to justify withholding documents in response to the ACLU's public records request.
The documents also revealed that Amazon offered to connect Washington County with other Amazon customers interested in Rekognition '-- as well as a body camera manufacturer. Indeed, Amazon's promotional materials previously recommended that law enforcement use Rekognition to identify people in police body camera footage. The company removed mention of police body cameras from its site after the ACLU raised concerns in discussions Amazon. That appears to be the extent of its response to our concerns; this and other profoundly troubling surveillance practices are still permissible under the company's policies.
With Rekognition, a government can now build a system to automate the identification and tracking of anyone. If police body cameras, for example, were outfitted with facial recognition, devices intended for officer transparency and accountability would further transform into surveillance machines aimed at the public. With this technology, police would be able to determine who attends protests. ICE could seek to continuously monitor immigrants as they embark on new lives. Cities might routinely track their own residents, whether they have reason to suspect criminal activity or not. As with other surveillance technologies, these systems are certain to be disproportionately aimed at minority communities.
Because of Rekognition's capacity for abuse, we asked Washington County and Orlando for any records showing that their communities had been provided an opportunity to discuss the service before its acquisition. We also asked them about rules governing how the powerful surveillance system could be used and ensuring rights would be protected. Neither locality identified such records. In fact, Washington County began using Rekognition even as employees raised questions internally. In one email, a Washington County employee expressed the concern that the ''ACLU might consider this the government getting in bed with big data.'' That employee's prediction was correct.
People should be free to walk down the street without being watched by the government. By automating mass surveillance, facial recognition systems like Rekognition threaten this freedom, posing a particular threat to communities already unjustly targeted in the current political climate. Once powerful surveillance systems like these are built and deployed, the harm will be extremely difficult to undo.
If Rekognition is not reined in, its use is certain to spread. The records we obtained show that law enforcement agencies in California and Arizona have contacted Washington County asking about Rekognition. So have multiple ''fusion centers,'' which collect information about people for dissemination across agencies at the local and federal level.
Amazon has publicly opposed secretive government surveillance. Its CEO, Jeff Bezos, has himself criticized Trump Administration's discriminatory Muslim ban. But actions speak louder than words, and Amazon's efforts to deploy this technology run counter to its proclaimed values and risk harm to the company's customers and their communities.
Matt Cagle is a Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. Nicole A. Ozer is the Technology and Civil Liberties Director for the ACLU of California.
Learn more: Read the press release on this story here.
With Pop Star as Bait, China Nabs Suspects Using Facial Recognition - WSJ
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:21
BEIJING'--A string of fugitive arrests at a Cantopop star's China concerts have spotlighted the expanding use of surveillance technology in public security.
Police have captured three wanted men at concerts staged in eastern China by Hong Kong's ''God of Songs,'' Jacky Cheung, over the past two months, police and state media said, crediting facial-recognition technology and other high-tech tools for the arrests.
The arrests spurred a splash of publicity from state media, who are crowning Mr. Cheung'--one of the Hong Kong megastars known as the ''Four Heavenly Kings'''--with a new title: ''The Nemesis of Fugitives.''
China's police departments have been openly touting their use of technology to nab lawbreakers'--a campaign that rights activists say is aimed at winning public support for growing state surveillance.
This is the first widely reported indication that Chinese police are using facial-recognition at major musical events. Concert organizers in China have also increasingly deployed facial-recognition systems to curb scalping by verifying the identities of ticket-holders.
Surveillance companies and local security agencies have experimented with deploying the technology at events around the country in recent years. The tests date back to 2015, when one company, Shenzhen-based Firs Technology Co. Ltd. said its facial-recognition system helped police identify drug-users, fugitives and ex-convicts at a jewelry exhibition in the city of Chenzhou, in central China's Hunan province.
Over the past year, state media have regaled readers with tales of fugitives, jaywalkers and other offenders caught unawares by the all-seeing eye of a government facial-recognition system, giving the impression that there is nowhere to hide.
Before the latest arrest on Sunday, Mr. Cheung jokingly thanked the alleged fugitives for attending his concerts, saying that their detentions show that ''if you're a crook you will get nabbed wherever you go.''
''I guess everyone needs entertainment no matter what they do,'' Mr. Cheung, whose numerous hits include the ballad ''She Came to Listen to My Concert,'' said in the televised remarks to reporters. ''It just so happens that some are crooks.''
The first arrest at a concert by Mr. Cheung took place on April 7 in the southeastern city of Nanchang, where security personnel identified a suspect in an ''economic crime'' with facial-recognition gear.
Police then used a surveillance system to pick out the 31-year-old, who was attending the concert with his wife and friends, from a crowd of more than 60,000 people, state media said.
Nanchang police said they installed additional cameras at the venue to bolster security for what they expected to be a popular event, though they had intended it to help prevent crime and stampedes, according to the state-run China Daily. ''That we arrested a fugitive at the concert also surprised us,'' a Nanchang policeman was quoted as saying.
Then on May 5 in Ganzhou city, police said they arrested a man by using ''high-tech measures'' during preconcert security checks. Ganzhou police didn't specify what wrongdoing he is accused of.
On Sunday, minutes before Mr. Cheung started performing in the city of Jiaxing, police identified a male concertgoer through surveillance footage as a potato-seller accused of fraud in a 2015 purchase of roughly 110,000 yuan ($17,200) in spuds.
''Wearing a smile as he came to see his idol, he hadn't realized that he was already being watched,'' Jiaxing police said in a social-media post that featured the footage.
''Minutes after he passed through the security gate, our system issued a warning'' that identified the suspect as a fugitive, a supervisor at a local police technology and data-services center said.
None of the three men could be reached for comment.
Police in the U.K. have also deployed face-scanning technology to screen crowds at carnivals, concerts and royal visits.
Such systems typically capture images of people's faces as they filter through security checkpoints and compare them against a database of the faces of criminal suspects.
Privacy groups there say the systems don't always function as advertised. One privacy organization, Big Brother Watch, found in a report published this month that facial-recognition systems used by two different police forces misidentified people more than 90% of the time.
Multiple police departments in China have declined to answer queries about the accuracy of their systems. Some, however, were quick to cheer the arrests at Mr. Cheung's concerts.
A microblog run by Beijing police told the singer: ''You should stage more concerts.''
In the central city of Luoyang, where Mr. Cheung is due to perform in July, the official police microblog said, ''We are ready.''
'--Yang Jie and Josh Chin contributed to this article
Write to Chun Han Wong at chunhan.wong@wsj.com
The Line Between Big Tech and Defense Work | WIRED
Thu, 24 May 2018 14:28
For months, a growing faction of Google employees has tried to force the company to drop out of a controversial military program called Project Maven. More than 4,000 employees, including dozens of senior engineers, have signed a petition asking Google to cancel the contract. Last week, Gizmodo reported that a dozen employees resigned over the project. ''There are a bunch more waiting for job offers (like me) before we do so,'' one engineer says. On Friday, employees communicating through an internal mailing list discussed refusing to interview job candidates in order to slow the project's progress.
Other tech giants have recently secured high-profile contracts to build technology for defense, military, and intelligence agencies. In March, Amazon expanded its newly launched "Secret Region" cloud services supporting top-secret work for the Department of Defense. The same week that news broke of the Google resignations, Bloomberg reported that Microsoft locked down a deal with intelligence agencies. But there's little sign of the same kind of rebellion among Amazon and Microsoft workers.
Employees from the three companies say the different responses reflect different company cultures, as well as the specifics of the contracts. Project Maven is an effort to use artificial intelligence to interpret images from drones. Amazon and Microsoft also provide the government with artifical intelligence to analyze data, including image recognition. But Project Maven's focus on drones combined with Google's unusually open culture'--the company has been riven for months by debates and lawsuits over workplace diversity'--has emboldened employees to speak out.
''Amazon culture is more pragmatic and less idealistic than Google,'' one Amazon engineer told WIRED. ''Amazon's ethos is about business ruthlessness rather than technical purity, and that does filter down to individual tech employees.''
Employees are not blind to reports about difficult working conditions in Amazon warehouses, but they're skeptical of broad critiques. ''Most long-term employees are either good at ignoring what's going on in other parts of the company or they don't think it's a problem and probably don't think working with the military is a problem either,'' the employee said. In 2017, Amazon shrugged off an employee petition to sever Amazon's advertising ties with the right-wing news site Breitbart; that left employees feeling powerless about changing the company's business decisions.
At Microsoft, two employees said neither they nor their coworkers had been aware of the intelligence contract before WIRED asked. One of the employees later said that Microsoft's defense contract was ''totally different'' from Project Maven, and no different from any other government agency using Microsoft's government cloud services
Google and Amazon did not respond to questions. Microsoft declined to comment, but last week the company told WIRED it has refused some commercial projects involving artificial intelligence after input from an internal ethics board. ''If something bad happens, folks would and do speak up,'' the Microsoft employee said.
'Amazon culture is more pragmatic and less idealistic than Google.'
Silicon Valley's history is inextricably linked to military work. The internet itself grew out of a project at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and many tech firms benefited from robust defense spending during the Cold War. More recently, however, some tech firms obscured their government ties, particularly after the 2013 revelations of government surveillance from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
New ways of deploying artificial intelligence are bringing tech companies closer to the front line. Google employees protesting Project Maven say the technology will inevitably be used without human analysts to perform targeted kills.
The tech industry has an equally strong tradition of giving individual employees a voice, from all-hands meetings to Google's ''don't be evil'' motto. Now, these two pillars of Silicon Valley's mythos are in tension, just as the collateral damage from the industry's rise to power has come into focus, and the public's lack of visibility into their operations becomes evident.
The election of President Trump may play a role as well. Had the Project Maven contract been revealed before the 2016 presidential election, ''I think it's probably fair to say that the response would have been smaller and different,'' because there was less suspicion toward the administration, said one former Google employee, who recently resigned in part because of Project Maven. ''We've just sort of taken it for granted, 'Oh yeah, the US is the good guys.'''
But as tech giants settle deeper into their role as ordinary incumbents'--fending off regulators, gobbling up markets, currying favor on Capitol Hill'--it's not clear whether employees can still play on a sense of idealism.
In February, when employees objected to Google's sponsorship of the Conservative Political Action Conference, the company held a Q&A with Google executives in Washington. The takeaway for some was that Google is simply too big to make decisions based on values, although the message was couched in softer terms.
The debate inside Google may presage internal discussions elsewhere. One former Microsoft employee chose not to work on a facial-recognition project several years ago because of concerns about how the technology would be used. ''Too much data and not enough ethics,'' said the ex-employee.
Academics share the same concern. More than 1,000 researchers have signed an open letter supporting the Google employees' petition and asking the company to drop the contract; signers include Larry Page's former adviser at Stanford, Terry Winograd. One of the letter's organizers, Peter Asaro, an associate professor at The New School, says there are no plans for similar letter for Microsoft or Amazon, ''as there has not been a similar effort by employees in other companies.''
Still, unrest at Google may have sown doubt elsewhere about the tech industry's dealings with the government. The nonprofit group Coworker.org has been contacted by employees at other tech companies who want to know about any AI work their companies may be doing for the US military. ''It's not clear to vast swaths of their workforces, and they want to know what they're involved in,'' says Yana Calou, an engagement and training manager at Coworker.org.
Tech Workers Coalition, an employee alliance with its own anti-Maven petition, has assembled a list of 13 tech companies with military connections, using a shared Google Doc.
The resignations'--12 people of uncertain rank among an 80,000 person workforce'--don't appear to have shaken Google as much as the petition. One employee told WIRED the names attached to the Project Maven petition stood apart. ''This time there are people who are generally reasonable and widely respected yet seem disturbed by this and really want Google to take some sort of position on ethical boundaries, even if it doesn't lead to cancelling the immediate Maven contract,'' the employee said.
Bloomberg reports that the three tech giants are still vying for a multibillion contract to provide cloud services for the Defense Department through the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure Cloud, or JEDI, a program the Pentagon said was designed to ''increase lethality and readiness.''
Maciej Ceglowski, who runs a grassroots group called Tech Solidarity that has organized events with tech workers around the country, doubts the possibility of a worker-driven uprising. ''Getting from griping to organizing seems to be an insurmountable step,'' he says. ''I feel like the closest we came was around the travel ban, when people were really agitated and it was their coworkers and families on the line.''
Without a realistic chance to effect change, ''It's superhuman to ask people to organize around high ethical principles at the risk of their livelihood,'' Ceglowski says. Big tech poses other roadblocks. ''These organizations are big enough that people can rationalize they are working for a good subgroup of it,'' Ceglowski says.
Yasha Levine is the author of the book Surveillance Valley, which chronicles Google's integration with the military starting in 2003 with the purchase of a CIA-backed mapping startup that would become Google Earth'--through the company's more recent work with the predictive policing startup PredPol.
Levine says he's not surprised that Project Maven prompted employees to act. ''It creeps people out, understandably, because drones are associated with drone strikes and missile strikes and murder and a lot of collateral damage and a lot of civilians being hurt,'' he said. However, Levine thinks Google's predictive policing work should get as much attention. ''It's very close to our life and has a big impact on inner city communities and minority communities.''
More Great WIRED StoriesThe teens who hacked Microsoft's Xbox empire'--and went too farKetamine offers hope'--and stirs up controversy'--as a depression drugPHOTO ESSAY: Want to hunt aliens? Go to West Virginia's low-tech 'quiet zone'How red-pill culture jumped the fence and got to Kanye WestIs Tesla's Autopilot feature safe? We need more data to know.
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Nederlandse Europarlementarir start vakbond voor Facebook-gebruikers | NU - Het laatste nieuws het eerst op NU.nl
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:13
Dat schrijft NRC op woensdag. De vakbond stelt dat consumenten gezien kunnen worden als producent van data, omdat ze veel informatie op sociale media delen.
"De nieuwe Europese wet die deze maand wordt ingevoerd, de Algemene verordening gegevensbescherming (AVG, ook bekend als GDPR) legt vast dat de data die gebruikers produceren van hen is", schrijft de groep in een persbericht.
"Dagelijks produceren zij kosteloos data waar bedrijven als Google en Facebook miljarden mee omzetten." Op de website van de Datavakbond staat dat "jij als dataproducent recht hebt op goede arbeidsvoorwaarden".
De vakbond is opgezet om "een tegenmacht" tegen databedrijven te vormen. De bedoeling is dat het collectief aan tafel komt bij onder meer Google, Facebook en overheden. "Zodat we zeggenschap krijgen over onze data, producten en diensten die daaruit voortkomen."
WervingEuroparlementarir Tang is als adviseur aan de vereniging verbonden, schrijft NRC. Tang stelt zich daarnaast wederom beschikbaar als lijsttrekker bij de Europese Parlementsverkiezingen van 2019.
Voor de vakbond worden vrijwilligers en leden geworven. De groep wil mensen van wie de privacy is geschonden gaan helpen. Verder wil het collectief voor meer bewustwording onder de bevolking zorgen.
MISSIE '' De Datavakbond
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:13
AlgoritmesAlgoritmes bepalen voor een steeds groter deel ons leven. Welke producten we kopen, wat voor nieuws wij lezen, zelfs op wie we verliefd worden. Maar wij weten niks over hen. De Datavakbond gaat actief openheid van algoritmes eisen bij zowel overheden als bedrijven. De nieuwe privacywetgeving, de GDPR, geeft hiervoor veel mogelijkheden.PrivacyWij gaan leden helpen hun rechten bij bedrijven op te eisen. Wetgeving is voor het individu vaak ondoorgrondelijk en tijdrovend. Privacywetgeving is niet anders. De Datavakbond staat leden bij in hun zoektocht naar waar zij recht op hebben.
ActieDoor het hele land gaan we mensen bewust maken. Door middel van campagnes brengen wij de noodzaak van De Datavakbond onder de aandacht. Hoe meer mensen zich aansluiten, hoe sterker onze vuist.
ToolkitsEen tegenmacht heeft wapens nodig. De Datavakbond zal haar leden op de hoogte stellen van de nieuwste middelen om je data te beschermen en deze zelf ook gaan ontwikkelen. Zo maken we een einde aan de afhankelijkheid.
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Foiled! Electrician Used A Snack Bag As A Faraday Cage To Sneak Off The Job : The Two-Way : NPR
Thu, 24 May 2018 14:39
Suggested tag line for Twisties marketers: With great power comes great responsibility.
Mr. Bootle/Flickr For a while, Tom Colella had found his escape at the bottom of a bag of crunchy corn snacks. But it was not to last.
Earlier this month in western Australia, the Fair Work Commission, a workplace tribunal, found that the electrician '-- who was fired last year '-- had indeed been fired for good cause: He had been ditching work while on the clock, the commission concluded, and had hidden his whereabouts from his employer by MacGyvering a Faraday cage out of an empty bag of Twisties.
But let's back up a step: A Faraday cage, named for 19th century scientist Michael Faraday, effectively blocks electromagnetic fields. Faraday found that an enclosure '-- or, in this case, the foil-lined interior of the cheesy corn snack bag '-- can keep these charges out if there's enough conductive material.
It appears Colella, 60, had slipped his company-mandated, GPS-enabled personal digital assistant into the bag to block the signals that enabled the device to track his movements.
"As an experienced electrician, Mr Colella knew that this bag would workas a [Faraday] cage, thereby preventing the PDA from working properly '-- especially the provision of regular GPS co-ordinate updates," Fair Work Commissioner Bernie Riordan said in his decision. "I note that Mr Colella's supervisors knew that he placed his PDA in the foil bag and that they should have known the effect that this action would have on the PDA device.
"However," Riordan added, "I can find no plausible explanation why Mr Colella would create a faraday cage around his PDA, except to obstruct the GPS collecting capacity of the device. Mr Colella appears to have been deliberately mischievous in acting in this manner."
Now, it should be noted Colella isn't the first modern-day Faraday improviser. In fact, the owner of a pub in England tried the same thing, only with his whole bar, lining the ceiling and walls with copper wire and tin foil.
"I think this is gonna be the new way forward for restaurants and bars and clubs," the pub owner proclaimed last year on Weekend Edition.
As one might expect, Colella's supervisors proved a little more skeptical. Tipped off by an anonymous note claiming the electrician was golfing while he was supposed to be working, they uncovered what Riordan described as "a large number of workplace attendance irregularities."
That said, partly because of Colella's device, the commissioner noted the GPS information turned out inconclusive in the case against him, saying he was "not convinced that the PDA GPS data proves anything except that Mr Colella hadfound a way, either inadvertently or otherwise, to function the PDA device whilst not allowing it to record his location."
Still, the attempts to disguise his location did not inspire confidence '-- and in the end, the commissioner found his employer had valid reason to fire him.
But it's not all bad for Colella, who appears to be working as an Uber driver now.
"Mr Colella is a highly experienced and competent electrical/instrument technician," Riordan said. "I have no doubt that an experienced dual tradesman would be able to find well paid employment utilizing these skills within Perth's metropolitan area."
It's unclear whether he'll want to leave the cheese curls at home next time.
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Internet License
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Judge: President can't block critics on Twitter
Thu, 24 May 2018 11:52
NEW YORK (AP) '-- A federal judge ruled Wednesday that President Donald Trump is violating the First Amendment when he blocks critics on Twitter because of their political views.
U.S. District Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald in Manhattan stopped short in her written decision of ordering Trump or a subordinate to stop the practice of blocking critics from viewing his Twitter account, saying it was enough to point out that it was unconstitutional.
"A declaratory judgment should be sufficient, as no government official '-- including the President '-- is above the law, and all government officials are presumed to follow the law as has been declared," Buchwald wrote.
The judge did not issue an order against Trump, and the plaintiffs did not ask for one. But in cases like this, plaintiffs can, in theory, go back and ask for such an order, and if it is not obeyed, the violator can be held in contempt.
Buchwald said she rejected the assertion that an injunction can never be lodged against the president but "nonetheless conclude that it is unnecessary to enter that legal thicket at this time."
The case was brought last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and seven individuals blocked by Trump after criticizing the Republican president.
Kerri Kupec, a spokeswoman for the Department of Justice, said in an email: "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps."
Jameel Jaffer, the Knight Institute's executive director, said in a release that his organization was pleased.
"The president's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end," he said.
Comedian Dana Goldberg, who says she was blocked by the president but was not a plaintiff in the lawsuit, said she looks forward to getting access restored.
"As a comedian, I really feel like it's my job right now to speak truth to power. I have a voice and a platform to use it, and I would rather challenge him on every false and misleading statement than stay silent. It will save me some time if I'm unblocked. I can just check his Twitter feed instead of Google his morning tirades," she said.
The lawsuit was filed after Trump blocked some individuals from @realDonaldTrump, a 9-year-old Twitter account with over 50 million followers, after each of them tweeted a message critical of Trump or his policies in reply to a tweet he had sent.
Justice Department lawyers had argued it was Trump's prerogative to block followers, no different from the president deciding in a room filled with people not to listen to some.
Buchwald ruled that the tweets were "governmental in nature."
"The President presents the @realDonaldTrump account as being a presidential account as opposed to a personal account and, more importantly, uses the account to take actions that can be taken only by the President as President," the judge said.
The judge noted that another defendant, Daniel Scavino '-- the White House's social media director and an assistant to the president '-- can unblock those followers without the president needing to do it himself. The judge dismissed Sarah Huckabee Sanders as a defendant in the case after it was established she does not have access to Trump's account.
Buchwald also said she recognized the impact on the individuals by Trump's action was not "of the highest magnitude." She said the First Amendment protects people even from trivial harm.
After a hearing this year, the judge had suggested that Trump mute rather than block some of his critics. At the time, a Justice Department attorney agreed that muting would enable Trump to avoid a tweet he doesn't want to read.
Twitter users can block people, which prevents them from seeing the user's feed while logged in. Or they can mute the person, which keeps the user from seeing that person's tweets and reply messages in their feed.
___
Associated Press Writer Barbara Ortutay contributed to this report.
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Newsagents and corner shops to sell 'porn pass' access code to allow adults to visit X-rated sites
Wed, 23 May 2018 10:12
A dults who want to view pornographic websites will be able to buy a code at newsagents to prove they are over 18 when new age verification laws are introduced later this year.
A 16-digit code - or ''porn pass'' - will be one option available to the estimated 25 million Britons who regularly visit adult websites and so will be required to prove they are not under age.
The move, part of new legislation being drawn up, is an attempt by the Government to prevent children accessing obscene online material.
New rules were due to come into force in April, but the Government pushed back the date in an attempt to ensure any system introduced was workable.
The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC)...
UK government will deputise newsagents to collect and retain identity documents from the nation's pornography viewers / Boing Boing
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:19
The UK public has spent years being fed a diet of ridiculous, empty promises about the government's capacity to find and block every adult site on the internet, then securely identify who is an adult, and only allow adults to look at adult content.
The fact that this is technologically infeasible and incredibly dangerous did nothing to dampen the ardour of opportunistic, cynical, technologically illiterate Conservative Members of Parliament, who have decreed that wanting it badly is sufficient to make it happen, and who responded to incontrovertible evidence of the plan's unworkability by doubling down on it, proposing to issue Britons unique, porn-browsing ID numbers (even as evidence of the plan's unworkability continues to mount).
The latest wheeze descends to self-parody: the UK government will deputise newsagents (known as "convenience store owners" in much of the English-speaking world outside of the UK) to collect the passports, driving licenses and other sensitive identity papers from people who want to look at porn, copy them, retain them, and issue unique IDs that pornography websites will also collect and retain.
Here is a brief sample of the problems with this plan:
1. No language on earth contains the phrase "as good as the IT at a corner shop." These newsagents will get hacked by identity thieves. They will also hire people who turn out to be untrustworthy and who raid the databases and sell them, post them online, or give them away. Forensics may catch some of these people, because they won't necessarily be very smart, but that won't matter, because the data will already have leaked.
2. The leaked identities will be tie-able to the pornography that is associated with them. That means that eventually, breaches will create comprehensive catalogues of all the porn that each British person has looked at. The UK government may try to head this off by ordering newsagents and/or porn sites not to retain this data, but that won't last long because;
3. It will be really easy for kids and other people to get ahold of illicit porn-viewing numbers. That's because anyone over 18 can get one, and some people will lose them, and some people will have them hacked, and some people will give them away, and some people will sell them. To allow for revocation and forensics, both sides of the transaction (newsagents and porn companies) will have to indefinitely retain records of which number was given to whom, and what porn it was then used to access.
4. Even without a porn-viewing code, it will be incredibly easy to look at porn. British people will just use VPNs. Unless the UK government wants to adopt stricter filtering standards than China, they will not be able to stop people (including kids) from downloading VPN clients, nor from using them.
5. Even without a VPN, kids will still end up looking at porn: you could put every prude in UK history to work in a vast government ministry and task them with doing spending every hour God sends looking at every page on the internet to decide if it is porn or not, and they would still miss millions of pornographic images and pages.
6. The porn filter will overblock more pages of legitimate, non-adult material than is housed in the British Library. That's because a 1% error rate against a web of 1.7 billion sites is 17 million sites that are erroneously blocked. The British censorship regime will never attain 99% accuracy.
David Austin, chief executive with the BBFC, told The Daily Telegraph that such a process would be ''simpler than people think'' to create.
A spokesman for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, which is responsible for the new legislation, said: ''We are in the process of implementing some of the strictest data protection laws in the world.
Newsagents to sell 'porn passes' to visit X-rated websites anonymously under new government plans [Colin Drury/Independent]
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READ THE RESTThe £7 billion Carillion collapse has the UK government talking about breaking up the Big Four accounting firmsCarrillion was the UK government's go-to outsourcing partner, a company with a long and disgraceful history of putting profits before people -- perhaps that's why HM Government was so ready to believe in the company's robust financial health as it amassed £7B in debts and then collapsed, spectacularly, leaving the UK in financial and infrastructural ['...]
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Elon Musk's Latest Proposal: A Website Named 'Pravda' to Rate Media Credibility - WSJ
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:17
May 23, 2018 7:05 p.m. ETBillionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, unhappy with media coverage of Tesla Inc., said he plans to create a Yelp.com-like site to let people rate the credibility of journalists and news organizations, and suggested he would name it after the former Soviet Union's main propaganda outlet.
The Tesla chief executive, who frequently issues provocative comments on Twitter, made the proposal in a tweetstorm against the media Wednesday, after reports in recent weeks about Tesla's struggles to increase production of its Model 3 sedan,...
Billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, unhappy with media coverage of Tesla Inc., said he plans to create a Yelp.com -like site to let people rate the credibility of journalists and news organizations, and suggested he would name it after the former Soviet Union's main propaganda outlet.
The Tesla chief executive, who frequently issues provocative comments on Twitter , made the proposal in a tweetstorm against the media Wednesday, after reports in recent weeks about Tesla's struggles to increase production of its Model 3 sedan, questions about working conditions at its factories, and government investigations into the safety of its Autopilot driver-assistance system.
Mr. Musk said coverage is driven by reporters under pressure to ''get max clicks'' and is biased because of advertising by other auto makers and oil companies.
''The holier-than-thou hypocrisy of big media companies who lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie, is why the public no longer respects them,'' he said in a message on Twitter a little before noon in San Francisco.
''Going to create a site where the public can rate the core truth of any article & track the credibility score over time of each journalist, editor & publication,'' he added. ''Thinking of calling it Pravda '...''
Pravda is the name of the Communist Party's official newspaper in the former Soviet Union.
Mr. Musk has a long history of posting proclamations on Twitter whose seriousness isn't necessarily self-evident. On April Fools' Day this year, he joked about Tesla going bankrupt, then clarified that he really didn't mean it. He recently vowed to start a candy company in response to a comment about him by Warren Buffett, whose Berkshire Hathway Inc. owns See's Candies.
Previously, Mr. Musk talked about founding a company to drill tunnels to alleviate traffic congestion, which some observers at the time interpreted as a joke. He now heads a tunneling business called the Boring Co.
A Tesla spokesman didn't respond to a request for comment.
Either way, his latest idea reflects Musk's penchant for publicly battling media outlets, analysts, and investors who raise questions about his business.
His latest comments were prompted by an analyst note on Wednesday that suggested coverage of Tesla had reached a ''peak in negative coverage/sentiment'' and that the company's shares should rise as Model 3 production improved. Tesla shares rose 1.5% on Wednesday, leaving them down about 10% so far this year.
Mr. Musk's proposal triggered criticism and praise, with some comparing his dislike of the media to that of President Donald Trump. Among those endorsing his tweets was President Trump's son, Donald Trump Jr., who retweeted the message: ''This ... So True!!!''
One journalist retweeted Mr. Musk's comments with a link to a California filing for a business incorporated last October called Pravda Corp., involving a person connected with other Musk ventures. ''Er, he's not kidding,'' wrote the journalist, Mark Harris.
Mr. Musk replied with a ''hugging face'' emoji.
Write to Tim Higgins at Tim.Higgins@WSJ.com
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Truth in a Post-Truth Era: Sandy Hook Families Sue Alex Jones, Conspiracy Theorist - The New York Times
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:30
Alex Jones, whose InfoWars website is viewed by millions, says that the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre was an elaborate hoax invented by government-backed ''gun grabbers.'' Credit Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- After the body of Jesse Lewis, age 6, was recovered from his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, his father, Neil Heslin, cradled him for a final time. At the top of Jesse's forehead was the gunshot wound that ended his life. ''It meant a lot to be able to see him,'' Mr. Heslin said in an interview. ''When he was born, I was the first to see him, and I was the last one to hold him.''
Alex Jones, an online conspiracy theorist whose InfoWars website is viewed by millions, seized on this agonizing recollection to repeat the bizarre falsehood that the 2012 shooting that killed 20 first graders and six adults at the elementary school in Newtown, Conn., was an elaborate hoax invented by government-backed ''gun grabbers.''
On his radio show, Mr. Jones said Mr. Heslin needed to clarify ''because the coroner said no, the parents weren't allowed to have touched the kids or have seen the kids.'' He played a video in which the InfoWars ''reporter'' Owen Shroyer says of Mr. Heslin, ''He's claiming that he held his son and saw the bullet hole in his head.''
''That is not possible,'' Mr. Shroyer said.
More than five years after one of the most horrific mass shootings in modern history, the families of Sandy Hook victims are still enduring daily threats and online abuse from people who believe bogus theories spread by Mr. Jones, whom President Trump has praised for his ''amazing'' reputation.
Now, for the first time, the families are confronting Mr. Jones in court.
''When anybody's behind a machine, whether it's a gun or a computer or a car, a dehumanization takes place that makes it easier to commit an act of violence,'' Veronique De La Rosa, the mother of Noah Pozner, another victim, said in an interview. She is suing Mr. Jones, she said, because she wants to force him to admit to his devotees that ''he peddled a falsehood, that Sandy Hook is real and that Noah was a real, living, breathing little boy who deserved to live out the rest of his life.''
In three separate lawsuits '-- the most recent was filed on Wednesday in Superior Court in Bridgeport, Conn. '-- the families of eight Sandy Hook victims as well as an F.B.I. agent who responded to the shooting seek damages for defamation. The families allege in one suit, filed by Koskoff, Koskoff & Bieder in Bridgeport, that Mr. Jones and his colleagues ''persistently perpetuated a monstrous, unspeakable lie: that the Sandy Hook shooting was staged, and that the families who lost loved ones that day are actors who faked their relatives' deaths.''
More broadly, the families are seeking society's verdict on ''post truth'' culture in which widely disseminated lies damage lives and destroy reputations, yet those who spread them are seldom held accountable. The suit filed on Wednesday emphasizes Mr. Jones's reach and connection to Mr. Trump. On his show last year, Mr. Jones called himself and his listeners ''the operating system of Trump.'' Later he said, ''I'm making it safe for everybody else to speak out just like Trump's doing, on a much bigger scale.''
When the president called the news media the ''enemy of the people'' last year, Mr. Jones proudly tweeted that he used the phrase first, in 2015.
Mr. Trump has also echoed InfoWars' false claims that Hillary Clinton benefited from the votes of millions of illegal immigrants in the election, and repeated InfoWars' bogus charge that the news media covers up terrorist attacks.
Fantastical explanations for traumatic events punctuate history. But 21st-century conspiracy theorists gather in vast online networks where bogus claims reach millions in minutes, and where participants like Mr. Jones use social media and online marketing to turn an eccentric preoccupation into a thriving commercial enterprise.
Mr. Jones pitches the false claims, along with diet supplements and survivalist gear, on his InfoWars website, radio program and YouTube channel. His videos have been viewed more than a billion times. He most likely sells $7 million to $12 million worth of diet supplements a year, according to an analysis in New York magazine.
Sandy Hook families have been followed, videotaped and harassed by people demanding ''proof'' that their loved ones died. Monuments to the slain children in Newtown have been stolen and defaced. An Alex Jones devotee went to prison last year after phoning and emailing Leonard Pozner, Noah's father, with death threats, including ''LOOK BEHIND YOU IT IS DEATH.'' The family relocated to a gated community with 24-hour security. Their daughters, who survived the shooting, check doors and windows before going to bed, and sleep with the lights on.
Image Parents of some of the Sandy Hook victims and one of their lawyers in November outside the Connecticut Supreme Court, where a hearing was held on their attempt to sue the maker of the gun used in the shooting. Credit Jessica Hill for The New York Times Nate Wheeler, 15, who hid in a school supply closet during the shooting that killed his 6-year-old brother, Ben, struggles to understand false online claims that both boys and their parents were ''crisis actors'' and that his brother never died, his father, David Wheeler, said in an interview. Mr. Wheeler has found messages on his social media accounts telling him that he will face divine judgment for lying when he dies, he said.
Wednesday's suit follows twin defamation lawsuits filed in Texas in April by the parents of two other victims '-- Mr. Heslin, and Ms. De La Rosa and Mr. Pozner. Mr. Jones did not respond to requests for comment. After the Texas lawsuits were filed last month, he posted a 10-minute videotaped response suggestive of how his positions on the event shifted. ''I questioned the P.R. and the talking points that surrounded the Sandy Hook massacre,'' he said. ''But very quickly I began to believe that the massacre happened, despite the fact that the public doubted it.''
And yet in an earlier video on his website, titled ''Alex Jones Final Statement on Sandy Hook,'' he says: ''If children were lost in Sandy Hook, my heart goes out to each and every one of those parents, and the people that say they're parents that I see on the news. The only problem is, I've watched a lot of soap operas, and I've seen actors before.''
Mr. Jones claims First Amendment protection for his endeavors, but the lawsuits challenge that defense. ''The First Amendment has never protected demonstrably false, malicious statements like the defendants','' the suit filed on Wednesday says, referencing New York Times Company v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court case upholding freedom of the press.
Defamation cases are difficult to win. Lawyers for the victims' families ''will have to show that the statements were false statements of fact, not opinion, and that Alex Jones was at least negligent, and did not take the steps an ordinary reporter would take to corroborate facts,'' said David Snyder, executive director of the First Amendment Coalition, a free-speech advocacy group. The legal burden on the families will be heavier yet if they are deemed to be public figures.
Mr. Jones, 44, grew up in the Dallas suburb of Rockwall, the son of a dentist and a homemaker. He told an interviewer in 2011 that he was profoundly shaped by reading his father's copy of ''None Dare Call It Conspiracy,'' a 1971 best-seller by Gary Allen, a John Birch Society spokesman and speechwriter for George Wallace, the former Alabama governor, during his presidential run.
Mr. Jones got his media start as a community college student in Austin in the early 1990s, when he repeatedly insisted on community access cable that the government was behind the 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. Distracted by his mission to warn of the dangers of the American government, Mr. Jones dropped out of college and founded InfoWars in 1999, in time to call the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks an ''inside job.''
Mr. Jones might have remained a peripheral conspiracy theorist had it not been for Mr. Trump, who appeared on Mr. Jones's radio show during the 2016 campaign, pledging, ''I will never let you down'' and ''we'll be speaking a lot.'' Mr. Jones's following surged.
The Texas suits focus on Mr. Jones's comments over the previous year, including a segment on his radio show last year titled ''Sandy Hook Vampires Exposed.'' Mark Bankston, a partner in the Houston law firm Farrar & Ball, who is leading the team representing Mr. Heslin, Mr. Pozner and Ms. De La Rosa, said the firm's young lawyers grew up listening to Mr. Jones's radio show, and found him an amusing, if weird, local character.
But now Mr. Bankston has a different perspective. ''For Alex Jones, it appears that the only real thing on his mind is his business,'' Mr. Bankston said. ''And if you threatened that, you can make him understand that these kinds of practices have a cost. And if that message goes out to others like him, that's a victory for these families.''
Mr. Jones exhorts his followers to investigate what they call ''false flags,'' events concocted by the government or other powerful entities determined to usurp citizens' rights. Mr. Jones issued a rare apology last year after spreading a fake story that Mrs. Clinton and Democratic operatives were running a child pornography ring inside a Washington pizzeria, which had led Edgar M. Welch, a Jones listener, to enter the pizzeria in 2016 with an assault-style rifle, firing it. No one was hurt, and Mr. Welch is now serving a four-year prison term.
Last year, InfoWars posted a video on its website with the headline ''Idaho Yogurt Maker Caught Importing Migrant Rapists,'' falsely claiming that a Chobani factory in Twin Falls, Idaho, that employs refugees was connected to the 2016 sexual assault of a child. The charges fueled an uproar in the town, and Chobani sued Mr. Jones. As part of a settlement, Mr. Jones admitted on his radio show that he had ''mischaracterized'' Chobani, and retracted the false material.
The Sandy Hook families say a simple apology will not suffice. ''Oh hell no,'' Mr. Wheeler said. ''Mr. Jones and his broadcast affiliates need to face serious consequences for their actions.''
Mr. Wheeler has a theater background, and Sandy Hook deniers have, among other things, posted a photo of him at the school alongside one of William Aldenberg, an F.B.I. special agent who responded to the shooting and is a party to the lawsuit. The deniers say that Mr. Wheeler is an actor playing both ''roles.''
Scott Shane contributed reporting.
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Migrants
The Glitch in Trump's Immigration Campaign: Overloaded Courts - WSJ
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:19
The nation's chronically overburdened immigration courts are becoming even more crowded as a wave of illegal immigrants enters the system and fewer are able to exit it.
The 334 immigration judges working nationwide each juggle dockets of some 2,000 cases. The backlog has reached nearly 700,000, more than double what it was six years ago, and the average case is in court for more than two years.
This frustrates people on both sides of the immigration debate. Court hearings are scheduled for months or years into the future, delaying deportations for those who have no right to stay and putting off permission to remain for those who do.
The Trump administration has campaigned to increase arrests and deportations of illegal immigrants. The number of pending cases has increased by more than 150,000'--a 25% jump'--since Donald Trump took office. The monthly increases during the Trump administration exceed all but the last two months of the Obama administration.
''The winner is an alien who has a really lousy case, because they get to be here for years waiting for a case to come up,'' says Judge Lawrence Burman, of Arlington, Va. His calendar is full through 2020, and he has scheduled hearings on the docket of a future judge who has not yet been hired. Immigration judges aren't permitted to speak to the media; Mr. Burman spoke in his capacity as an official with the union representing immigration judges.
Devin O'Malley, a spokesman for the Justice Department, said more cases are being completed since Mr. Trump took office, and he blamed the Obama administration for the court's troubles.
''Undoing years of neglect takes time,'' he said in a written statement, expressing confidence that the Justice Department ''will ultimately create an immigration court system that serves the national interest and introduces speed and efficiency without compromising due process.''
Visits to several immigration courts turned up similar scenarios: Cases are called, and when an immigrant needs time to find a lawyer, or produce the right paperwork, or hear back from the immigration agency on a pending application, the case is rescheduled.
The way advocates of tougher immigration enforcement see it, the backlog allows people who should be deported to linger in the U.S., and encourages others to come or stay illegally, knowing it could take years for them to be removed.
Mr. Trump and others have cited the case of Apolinar Altamirano, who was arrested by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents in 2013 but released on bond while his case moved through the immigration courts in Arizona.
While waiting, Mr. Altamirano, then 29 years old, allegedly shot in the head a Mesa, Ariz., convenience-store clerk named Grant Ronnebeck, as the clerk counted money Mr. Altamirano had put down for a pack of cigarettes. The clerk died, and Mr. Altamirano was charged with murder. That was in 2015. The criminal case is pending, and he remains in an Arizona jail.
''Grant Ronnebeck's murder is a direct result of your agency's failed policies,'' Rep. Paul Gosar (R., Ariz.) told a then-Obama administration official during a 2016 congressional hearing.
Lawyers representing immigrants also decry the long waits. Delays make it difficult to try cases, as evidence grows stale and clients change addresses. It is hard to recruit pro bono lawyers, because they know they may be tied to the case for years. Immigrants likely to win in court are instead stuck in limbo.
A court hearing for a 32-year-old Honduran woman who crossed the Rio Grande in south Texas in 2014 is now scheduled for December 2019.
According to the woman and her lawyer, her parents and brother were murdered in Honduras by attackers trying to force them from their land, and her husband was attacked. She is now seeking asylum in the U.S. Her pro bono lawyer, Samad Pardesi, says he plans to argue that as a member of this family, she faces persecution if sent back to Honduras.
''The police couldn't protect my brother. They couldn't protect my parents,'' the woman said in an interview.
Her hearing, originally scheduled for the fall of 2016, has been postponed three times. When a new judge was hired for the court, the case was reassigned, pushing back the date. The new judge bumped her date, twice, so she could hear the case of someone in detention, a higher priority, according to her lawyer.
During the final years of Barack Obama's presidency, ICE targeted for arrest a narrower category'--recent border crossers and those convicted of serious crimes. Nearly everyone else was let go on the theory that the government had limited resources and had to set enforcement priorities.
The Trump administration says it targets for arrest all illegal immigrants charged, convicted or suspected by ICE of any crime, along with anyone previously ordered deported. ICE agents also arrest almost anyone else they find in the U.S. illegally. During the first half of fiscal year 2018, 33% of those arrested by ICE had no criminal convictions, compared with 13% in 2016.
The president has requested funding from Congress for 10,000 more ICE agents in a push to nearly triple the size of the force.
When new cases land in court, government lawyers are less likely to agree to exercise prosecutorial discretion to close them based on the circumstances of the immigrants involved, or to give them time to apply for a status that would let them stay legally. In 2016, under the Obama administration, judges exercised such discretion to close more than 25,000 cases. In 2017, 8,600 people received such treatment. Such closed cases can later be reopened at the request of the government or the immigrant.
''We see almost no prosecutorial discretion anymore,'' says Barry Frager, an immigration lawyer in Memphis. ''We consider those days to be over.''
The Trump administration has also stepped up reopening previously closed cases. An agency official says ICE directed its lawyers to systematically review those cases. During fiscal year 2017, 21,000 previously closed cases were put back on the calendar, a 42% increase from 2016.
That was the case with Hugolino Garcia Matul, a 44-year-old Guatemala native, who came to the U.S. illegally in 1997 and works in a turkey-processing plant in rural Missouri. In 2010, he was arrested for driving without a license and, in 2011, put into deportation proceedings. In 2012, the government agreed to administratively close the case because Mr. Garcia had been in the U.S. for many years and hadn't committed a serious crime, his lawyer says.
Last year, he got a notice from the government that his case would be put back onto the court's calendar. His case is scheduled for a status hearing in September, and his lawyer expects the merits hearing will be sometime in 2021.
Periodic shifts in court priorities, during both the Obama and Trump administrations, have contributed to the backlog.
Under Mr. Obama, judges were told to move the cases of immigrant families and children to the top of their dockets, which pushed older cases involving single adults to the back of the line.
Mr. Trump scrapped that directive. He transferred about 100 judges to courts near the Mexican border and to some cities with large caseloads. That meant cases at their home courts had to be rescheduled. The redeployment occurred when border crossings were at their lowest levels in at least 45 years, leaving many judges with little to do in their temporary assignments, according to several judges.
A report prepared for the Executive Office of Immigration Review, the agency that runs the immigration courts, by outside consultants concluded that temporarily reassigned court personnel had trouble catching up with their own work after returning to their home courts.
This month, the Justice Department announced it was again temporarily deploying 18 immigration judges to the border.
There is wide support for hiring more immigration judges. In this year's budget, Congress has authorized 484 judge positions, up from 319 in 2015. Just 334 are currently on the job, partly because of a lengthy hiring process. Unlike most federal judges, immigration judges work for the Justice Department, which runs the immigration-court system.
The Justice Department says it has shortened the hiring time. It also is working to convert the courts' paper files into an electronic system.
Beyond that, there is little agreement about how to reduce the backlog.
Many critics of the administration's immigration stance want ICE agents and prosecutors to exercise discretion and not arrest or prosecute illegal immigrants who are settled in the U.S. and pose no threat to the public.
''We should be focusing enforcement on those who present a danger to our community,'' says Jeremy McKinney, an immigration lawyer in North Carolina and secretary of the American Immigration Lawyers Association.
The department has focused on speeding up the handling of cases. It has directed immigration judges to grant fewer continuances, saying efficient courts are in the ''national interest.'' It also informed judges that their job evaluations will be tied to how many cases they complete.
''Meritless cases or motions pending before the immigration courts'...should be promptly resolved consistent with applicable law,'' Attorney General Jeff Sessions wrote in a December memo to court staff.
Last week, Mr. Sessions issued a new directive instructing immigration judges not to set aside cases by administratively closing them, although he didn't order the reopening of all previously closed cases. He also is expected to overturn a 2014 Board of Immigration Appeals decision that guarantees most asylum applicants the right to a full hearing, even if they lose their cases at an earlier stage.
The administration has lobbied for changes that would reduce the number of people who have the right to go to court in the first place. It wants Congress to make it harder to pursue an asylum claim. It also wants to change the law so more children who arrive at the border alone can be quickly deported without seeing an immigration judge first.
Art Arthur, a former immigration judge who now works at the conservative think tank Center for Immigration Studies, recommends ''bright line'' standards for immigration judges in deciding routine matters such as when to delay a hearing, when to grant asylum and when judges should grant ''cancellation of removal,'' which allows someone to legally stay in the U.S.
If unauthorized migrants were quickly deported, he says, fewer would try to cross in the first place. ''If you create the perception that you can't stay forever, fewer people will enter,'' he says, ''and in the long run, the numbers [in court] will fall.''
Write to Laura Meckler at laura.meckler@wsj.com and Alicia A. Caldwell at Alicia.Caldwell@wsj.com
Dogs are People too
Single guys!
Dear John and Adam,
I wanted to send you
guys a quick note regarding my personal experience with dogs as a millennial. I
am a 27 year old female in the Bay Area (Hayward) and I find that a lot of
single guys around my age are obsessed with their dogs! I recently realized I have
met quite a few recently who have dogs (female mostly) that they revolve their
life around and are very close to. It is almost like the dog is taking the
place of a girlfriend, giving loyalty and affection without any of the
complications that come with human relationships. In addition, it has become a
common occurrence on dating apps (Tinder, OkCupid, etc.) to see these guys
feature pictures of their dogs, and make a point to mention it in their
profile. Apparently modern young women are drawn to the dogs as much as their
owners and it is a key selling point on the hot-or-not swiping marketplace. Now
that I am aware of this, it has become obvious that dogs are secretly planning
to take over society by infiltrating our lives to the furthest extent. In all
seriousness, it’s really creeping me out.
I’ve been a listener for
3+ years, keep up the good work! There is an ever expanding need for the
knowledge and deconstruction you provide and it is much appreciated!
-Adrianna
Oporto
P.S. John, thank you for
being the only person to ever pronounce my full name correctly on the first
try, and also know the Portuguese origin of my last name.
How the C-section went from last resort to overused.
Mon, 21 May 2018 11:57
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Homelessness
Starbucks Says Drug Use, Sleeping Unacceptable as It Clarifies Guest Policy - WSJ
Tue, 22 May 2018 11:41
Starbucks Corp. tried to dig itself out of controversy Monday by attempting to clarify a policy toward nonpaying guests that generated an onslaught of weekend criticism.
The Seattle-based retailer on Saturday had said it would allow all guests in its U.S. company-owned stores to use its cafes, including its restrooms, whether or not they make a purchase. That announcement, which attracted some support, also drew complaints that cafes wouldn't have enough seats for paying customers and would turn into homeless shelters and drug havens.
On Monday, Starbucks revealed more about the policy, telling The Wall Street Journal that employees now have detailed instructions on what to do if someone is behaving in a disruptive manner, such as smoking, using drugs or alcohol, using restrooms improperly or sleeping.
At issue, in essence, is whether Starbucks views itself as a business that caters to customers, or a quasi-public place generally welcome to all. The uproar, which follows the arrest last month of two black men who wanted to use a Starbucks bathroom in Philadelphia, demonstrates the unusual spot that the nation's biggest coffee chain holds in American culture.
While many other restaurants and retailers also must manage the issue of lingering customers and nonpaying guests who come in to use restrooms, Starbucks has promoted itself as providing a ''third place'' between home and work where people can freely exchange ideas. It essentially pioneered the idea that is now generating controversy.
Other restaurants and cafes have followed suit in recent years. McDonald's Corp. and Panera Bread now offer free Wi-Fi and encourage customers to linger. Panera didn't respond to a request for comment, and McDonald's'--which is almost entirely franchised'--said it lets its franchisees determine how to best serve their customers.
''The whole Starbucks situation has opened up a can of worms. In most cases restaurants leave it up to the discretion of the individual restaurant and most are too busy to enforce a policy,'' said Joe Pawlak, managing principal at restaurant consulting firm Technomic Inc.
Starbucks's piecemeal messaging on the issue and the outpouring of commentary that ensued shows the challenges firms can face in an era when every corporate move can be immediately telegraphed and then dissected by the public at large.
''Often the people with the strongest views on either end of the spectrum will be the loudest online,'' said Jeremy Robinson-Leon, president of Group Gordon, a corporate and crisis communications firm.
Views over the last few days ran the gamut. ''It sounds like Starbucks is turning their stores into homeless shelters. Their coffee is strong but their management is weak,'' said Ron Raduechel, a 64-year-old retired supply chain executive from Waukesha, Wis., who said he would no longer go to Starbucks.
''I believe Starbucks is doing what's right in their hearts whether its outcome sparks negativity or not,'' said Johnny Varela, a 31-year-old carpenter in Orlando, Fla. ''I think Starbucks is very humanitarian.''
The dust-up is far from Starbucks's first. It has driven attention to itself before by using its size to try to enact social change. The company in 2015 tried to foster conversations about race relations by urging baristas to write ''Race Together'' on customers' cups, a move from which it backed away following social-media backlash.
Before the Affordable Care Act was proposed, Starbucks Chairman Howard Schultz decried the lack of affordable health-care for millions of Americans. He caused an uproar among gun-rights proponents when he told U.S. customers that firearms were no longer welcomed in its stores.
Conveying a message of inclusiveness without alienating paying customers is critical for Starbucks at a time when its cafe business is more important than ever.
The company this month agreed to sell the rights to market and distribute its packaged coffee in grocery stores to Nestl(C) SA so it could focus on its coffee shops. Sales at its U.S. cafes have been slowing.
''Starbucks is making a strategic bet that by defining its own moral code they will continue to attract a core consumer group that will remain loyal, but you max out on that demographic at some point,'' said Eric Schiffer, chairman of Reputation Management Consultants.
Starbucks, he said, had no choice but to take action rather than just apologizing and then letting the news die down. ''The whole goal of managing a crisis is regaining credibility and that comes from aligning words with actions,'' he said.
Under the procedures for handling disruptive guests, Starbucks said Monday, managers and baristas should first ask a fellow employee to verify that a certain behavior is disruptive and if it is, respectfully request that the customer stop.
Other examples of disruptive behavior include talking too loudly, playing loud music and viewing inappropriate content. The company provided employees with examples of when they should call 911, which includes when a customer is using or selling drugs.
The arrests last month in Philadelphia came after a manager's decision to call the police after the two men asked to use the bathroom without purchasing anything and allegedly refused to leave when asked.
Starbucks quickly apologized for the actions of the store manager, who ultimately left the company. When a video of the men's arrests went viral, people immediately took to social media calling for a boycott of Starbucks.
A couple of days after the news spread, the boycott threats died down.
The company announced a few days later that it would close its more-than 8,000 U.S. company-owned stores on May 29 to conduct antibias training for employees. Later, Starbucks said it settled with the two men for an undisclosed amount.
Write to Julie Jargon at julie.jargon@wsj.com
Any Collusion?
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Mystery in Mueller probe: Where's the hacking indictment? | TheHill
Tue, 22 May 2018 11:17
In the year since the start of special counsel Robert Mueller Robert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE 's investigation, one thing has been notably absent: a public indictment of any Russians for the hacking of the Democratic National Committee (DNC).
Mueller has charged President Trump Donald John TrumpWH aides intentionally compose Trump tweets with grammatical mistakes: report Holder: DOJ, FBI should reject Trump's requests Ex-Trump campaign adviser rips claims of spy in campaign: It's 'embarrassing' MORE 's former campaign chief, secured guilty pleas from several individuals in Trump's orbit and indicted 13 Russians for an elaborate plot to leverage social media to influence the American electorate.
But the special counsel has yet to announce charges for the hacking of the DNC, even though the intelligence community and private cybersecurity experts linked the attack to the Russian government more than a year ago. Legal experts say there are several possible explanations.
''[The reasons] can range from, there's no evidence of any known individuals, to publicly announcing the indictment would compromise other aspects of the investigation'' said Mark Zaid, a Washington-based attorney specializing in national security.
Mueller also might not be able to reveal the ''information they might possess to prove the case,'' Zaid said, because it could compromise intelligence sources or methods.
Experts broadly agreed that the lack of a public indictment should not be interpreted as a sign that charges have not been brought for the hacking.
''There may be one and it may be sealed,'' said Jack Sharman, a former special prosecutor to Congress for the Whitewater investigation, adding that prosecutors often file indictments under seal when ''they don't want to alert targets and potentially useful witnesses that in fact somebody has already been charged.''
Reports in recent months have suggested that Mueller's team has compiled enough evidence to charge those suspected for the DNC attack. If no charges have been brought, it's possible the special counsel's team is still building a case against the suspects or wants to understand the full scope of what happened.
''If there are Americans involved, whether or not they have anything to do with the campaign, then I would expect an indictment,'' said Steven Cash, a lawyer at Day Pitney.
One of the main unanswered questions for Mueller is whether anyone associated with the Trump campaign was involved in the theft or release of the hacked emails.
In recent days, the special counsel has appeared to zero in on former Trump adviser Roger Stone Roger Jason StoneThe Hill's Morning Report '-- Sponsored by PhRMA '-- Washington braces for another tumultuous week Stone: 'Not inconceivable' Mueller could try to 'conjure up' crime related to business Stone vows to run candidate against Pence if VP makes 2020 bid MORE , reportedly subpoenaing two individuals who have worked with the longtime Trump adviser.
Stone has attracted scrutiny for claiming during the campaign to have a line of communication with WikiLeaks, the organization that published troves of hacked emails from the DNC and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
While Stone once claimed in an interview that he had communicated with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, he later walked that back, saying it was done through an ''intermediary.''
Over the weekend, Stone told NBC's ''Meet the Press'' that he's preparing for the possibility of being indicted.
''It is not inconceivable now that Mr. Mueller and his team may seek to conjure up some extraneous crime pertaining to my business, or maybe not even pertaining to the 2016 election,'' Stone said. ''I would chalk this up to an effort to silence me.''
Russia's alleged involvement in the hacking first came to public attention nearly two years ago, when CrowdStrike, a cybersecurity firm hired by the DNC, identified two separate Russian-affiliated breaches of the DNC networks in 2015 and 2016.
Soon after, DCLeaks.com, WikiLeaks and hacker persona Guccifer 2.0 began releasing emails pilfered from DNC servers. In October 2016, the Department of Homeland Security and the director of national intelligence publicly blamed the Russian government for directing the email hacks.
The January 2017 intelligence community assessment offered a more complete picture of the Russian activity. It described an influence operation that married covert cyber operations with disinformation to undermine confidence in U.S. democracy, damage Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton Hillary Diane Rodham ClintonClinton backs Georgia governor hopeful on eve of primary Pressure rising on GOP after Trump''DOJ fight's latest turn Press: Why Trump should thank FBI MORE and help Trump win.
It also said that Russian intelligence gained access to DNC networks in July 2015 and maintained it until at least June 2016, noting that the GRU, Russia's main intelligence agency, ''had exfiltrated large volumes of data from the DNC'' by May 2016.
Still, tying the hacking operation to specific Russian individuals or entities would warrant significant resources and time, likely requiring federal officials to obtain information from overseas to bolster their case.
''Any time you've got to gather evidence from another country, it makes everything that much more complicated,'' said Randall Eliason, a George Washington University law professor and former assistant U.S. attorney. ''Not only physical evidence, like documents, but individuals.''
''It may be that there is evidence they never will be able to get, no matter how hard they try,'' Eliason said.
Recent reports have offered a tantalizing glimpse into Mueller's findings. The Wall Street Journal reported last November that the Justice Department had identified more than six Russian government officials involved in the DNC hack and was weighing whether to indict them.
In March, the Daily Beast reported that federal prosecutors have evidence showing that Guccifer 2.0, the hacking persona who claimed responsibility for the DNC breach, was a member of the GRU.
But even with a wealth of evidence, Mueller would find it nearly impossible to successfully bring a case against Russian intelligence officers who are out of reach of the U.S. government. A public indictment would do little more than send a warning message to Russia '-- and issuing it would not necessarily be a high priority of the sprawling investigation, which includes looking at whether the president obstructed justice.
Filing an indictment under seal, however, could prove more attractive.
''Sealed indictments are commonplace,'' Sharman said. ''That might also be particularly useful or important when you may only have one shot at a target '-- a foreign national, somebody who is not subject to jurisdiction readily, someone who may have to travel to a country with whom we have an extradition treaty.''
Federal officials opened the investigation into Russian interference in July 2016, and Mueller was appointed special counsel in May 2017, after Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey James Brien ComeyMystery in Mueller probe: Where's the hacking indictment? Press: Why Trump should thank FBI Trump administration sued for not releasing FBI morale survey results MORE .
The special counsel's probe offered its first bombshell development last October, in the form of financial-related charges against former Trump campaign aides Paul Manafort Paul John ManafortMueller lawyers seek to prevent their ouster with dual filings Bolton leaned on ex-lobbyist fired from Trump's transition team to build NSC: report Trump-Russia probe marks one-year anniversary: This is what it has accomplished MORE and Richard Gates.
The same day, Mueller unveiled a guilty plea from George Papadopoulos George Demetrios PapadopoulosMystery in Mueller probe: Where's the hacking indictment? Ex-Trump campaign adviser rips claims of spy in campaign: It's 'embarrassing' Pressure rising on GOP after Trump''DOJ fight's latest turn MORE , a former Trump campaign adviser who was allegedly told by a Russia-linked professor in April 2016 that the Russians possessed ''dirt'' on Clinton in the form of ''thousands of emails.''
Critics of the president have pointed to links between Papadopoulos and other campaign associates and Russia as evidence of the campaign's potential culpability in the interference operation. Last month, the Democratic Party filed a lawsuit against Russia, the Trump campaign and WikiLeaks, alleging a conspiracy to interfere in the 2016 campaign and aid Trump.
''I firmly believe that we will see that indictment, but the only question is will that indictment include U.S. persons or just Russians,'' said Rep. Adam Schiff Adam Bennett SchiffMystery in Mueller probe: Where's the hacking indictment? Top Intel Dem slams Trump claim about FBI informant Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers weigh in after Texas school shooting MORE (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, who claimed to have seen ''overwhelming'' evidence underling the intelligence community's assessment that the Russian government was behind the hacking of the DNC.
''I think that Mueller would want to finish the collusion investigation before he charges that because that is really central to the whole issue of collusion '-- what role did the Trump campaign play in the release of, timing of, content of these Russian stolen materials,'' Schiff added.
The special counsel's office declined to comment for this article.
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'Washington Post' Reporter Discusses FBI Informant Who Met With Trump Campaign : NPR
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:11
NPR's Ari Shapiro talks with Robert Costa of The Washington Post about Stefan Halper, the FBI informant and Cambridge University professor who met with several advisers to the Trump campaign in 2016.
ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:
We're learning more about the FBI informant who reportedly made contact with several Trump campaign advisers in 2016 as part of the FBI's investigation into Russian election interference. NPR hasn't independently confirmed the informant's name, but a number of news organizations say they have, including The Washington Post. Last night, The Post published his name. Robert Costa co-wrote the story.
ROBERT COSTA, BYLINE: The Washington Post held back institutionally last week when we first reported on a secret FBI source. But as other news organizations in recent days published his name, The Post decided to publish the name, Stefan Halper.
SHAPIRO: We should note NPR has made contact with Stefan Halper, and he declined to comment on all of this. The University of Cambridge website lists him as an emeritus senior fellow of the Centre of International Studies. I understand you actually took a class with him at Cambridge.
COSTA: He was my professor at Cambridge. I studied under professor Halper in 2008. In 2009, he was a friend and a professor, an American working at Cambridge. And as an American student there myself studying American politics and British politics, he was someone I sought out, had dinner with him and his wife on many occasions. He's a gregarious academic, someone who enjoys writing and debating. And he always seemed highly connected to both me and people he came in touch with at Cambridge, someone who knew so many American presidents, had worked for them in the White House going back to the Nixon administration.
SHAPIRO: So how does somebody like this with one foot in academia, another foot in Republican policy government circles become an FBI informant?
COSTA: If you look at Stefan Halper's career, he has been an academic, to be sure, for the last two decades or so, but he has also been closely working with the federal government. He's been contracted by the Department of Defense since 2012, made over a million dollars in different kinds of contract fees for research in the social sciences. But if you look back at his career, he also took notes on campaigns for the White House in the 1970s, working for the chief of staff for President Gerald Ford. He's someone who has always been a political analyst. And he's had ties to the intelligence community. His first wife - her father was Ray Cline, a longtime, prominent CIA analyst.
SHAPIRO: What kind of work did he do with regards to the Trump campaign? And was it illegal as President Trump has suggested it might have been?
COSTA: President Trump has suggested that a source was embedded in the campaign. We have not seen any evidence of Halper being embedded in the campaign or working with the campaign. But based on our reporting with my colleagues, we have confirmed that Halper did make contact with Carter Page and George Papadopoulos and Sam Clovis. These were advisers to the Trump campaign focused on foreign policy. And he had conversations and meetings with them during the end of the campaign in 2016.
SHAPIRO: Two of those people are really at the center of the Mueller probe. And the third, Sam Clovis, has been interviewed as a witness. Why would Halper help the FBI in this sort of investigation? What was in it for him?
COSTA: Well, knowing Halper over the years, I've always found him to be someone who articulates an adherence and a real value to American institutions like the FBI, the CIA, someone who values government. He's a moderate Republican in his politics, but when we started doing the reporting at The Post about him being the secret FBI source, it didn't surprise me at all that he would be someone who would have a relationship with the federal government as an informant or at least an ally because of the way he has always spoken about the United States and U.S. institutions in this reverent way.
SHAPIRO: The FBI urged reporters not to reveal his name. Now that his name is public, do you know where he is, whether he's in danger?
COSTA: We know that he has maintained residences in the U.K. and in Virginia for years. But we have not been able to see him in person. He did decline via email to comment. Hopefully he is safe. He is someone I know. At the same time, these are delicate, tough stories. We held back on the name, but the name was out there everywhere in recent days. So institutionally, The Post decided to move forward as have others.
SHAPIRO: Robert Costa of The Washington Post, thanks for joining us.
COSTA: Thank you.
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Exclusive: Peter Navarro pushed Stefan Halper for Trump job - Axios
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:11
President Trump's top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, recommended appointing Stefan Halper, an academic and suspected FBI informant on the Trump campaign, to a senior role in the Trump administration, Axios has learned.
Behind the scenes: During the presidential transition Navarro recommended Halper, among other people, for ambassador roles in Asia. A White House official said Halper visited the Eisenhower Executive Office Building last August for a meeting about China.
Context: During the transition everyone involved in Trump's presidential campaign was asked to submit resumes for administration positions. Halper, who already knew Navarro in the context of being a China scholar and interviewing for his anti-China book and film, pitched himself for an ambassadorship in Asia, according to a source briefed on their interactions.
Navarro says he submitted Halper's name for the Asian ambassadorship '-- we have not been able to confirm the country '-- along with around a dozen other people for roles in the region.
Quote''Recommending outside policy experts for roles within the administration is a pretty typical and routine action for White House officials."
'-- White House official to Axios.
Neither the White House nor the FBI have confirmed whether Halper was an informant.
Why it matters: This is personal for President Trump, who yesterday demanded a Justice Department probe into the FBI. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein then authorized an Inspector General probe into the FBI's use of FISA for counterintelligence operations.
Background on the FBI informant story:
Trump has been tweeting about an FBI "spy," bolstered by House Intelligence Chairman Devin Nunes. The Justice Department had been working with White House Chief of Staff John Kelly to ensure the identity didn't leak out.The Daily Caller first reported the suspect's name as Halper in March. The Washington Post and New York Times reported on the informant last week, providing multiple identifying details, but did not name the suspect. NBC News reported last week that Halper met with Page and Papadopoulos, but said "no evidence has surfaced publicly indicating that Halper was acting as a government informant."The Wall Street Journal named Halper as the suspected informant on Sunday.The Washington Post reported last week that the suspected FBI informant has been a U.S. intelligence asset for years.The suspected FBI informant first reached out to Trump campaign staffer George Papadopoulos in the summer of 2016, and subsequently met with Trump campaign officials Carter Page and Sam Clovis.Halper, 73, is an academic and veteran of three Republican administrations. He worked at Cambridge University until 2015.Go deeper:
Where the "FBI spy in the Trump campaign" story came from As Trump tweets, Rosenstein leapsTrump, FBI feud escalates as he meets with Rosenstein, Wray
John Brennan's Plot to Infiltrate the Trump CampaignThe American Spectator
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:10
May 22, 2018, 12:05 amIt came out of his ''inter-agency taskforce'' at Langley.As Trump won primary after primary in 2016, a rattled John Brennan started claiming to colleagues at the CIA that Estonia's intelligence agency had alerted him to an intercepted phone call suggesting Putin was pouring money into the Trump campaign. The tip was bogus, but Brennan bit on it with opportunistic relish.
Out of Brennan's alarmist chatter about the bogus tip came an extraordinary leak to the BBC: that Brennan had used it, along with later half-baked tips from British intelligence, as the justification to form a multi-agency spy operation (given the Orwellian designation of an ''inter-agency taskforce'') on the Trump campaign, which he was running right out of CIA headquarters.
The CIA was furious about the leak, but never denied the BBC's story. To Congress earlier this year, Brennan acknowledged the existence of the group, but cast his role in it as the mere conduit of tips about Trump-Russia collusion: ''It was well beyond my mandate as director of CIA to follow on any of those leads that involved U.S. persons. But I made sure that anything that was involving U.S. persons, including anything involving the individuals involved in the Trump campaign, was shared with the bureau.''
But if his role had truly been passive, the ''inter-agency taskforce'' wouldn't have been meeting at CIA headquarters. By keeping its discussions at Langley, Brennan could keep his finger wedged in the pie. Both before and after the FBI's official probe began in late July 2016, Brennan was bringing together into the same room at CIA headquarters a cast of Trump haters across the Obama administration whose activities he could direct '-- from Peter Strzok, the FBI liaison to Brennan, to the doltish Jim Clapper, Brennan's errand boy, to an assortment of Brennan's buddies at the Treasury Department, Justice Department, and White House.
The bogus tip from Estonia led the group into its first cock-up: sending FBI agents to sniff around the computer server connected to Trump Tower. After that effort flopped, Brennan's group had to go back to the drawing board (on the electronic intelligence front, it had already hatched plans for national security letters and FISA warrants). Someone in the group must have proposed blasting a swampy old CIA source and Hillary supporter, Stefan Halper, into the Trump campaign orbit to see if he could catch a couple of minor campaign volunteers out in collusion.
Halper had entered the Deep State through a door opened by his father-in-law, Ray Cline, whose work for the CIA was legendary. Behind that door Halper found a treasure trove of jobs and government contracts, making his life as a transatlantic jet-setting academic possible. Brennan's Langley group had access to Halper's file and sized him up as the perfect embed: a Republican-oriented foreign policy scholar who could plausibly interact with Trump officials while serving as a nexus between the CIA and Brennan's friends in British intelligence. Halper's ties to Richard Dearlove, a former head of British intelligence, are well known, and Halper knows Alexander Downer, the pub-crawling Aussie diplomat, through a mutual association with Cambridge University.
That Halper came out of the brainstorming of Brennan's group is clear from the fact that his first known meeting with Carter Page preceded the formal opening of the FBI's probe. The Washington Post hinted at the role of Brennan's group in hatching Halper:
Many questions about the informant's role in the Russia investigation remain unanswered. It is unclear how he first became involved in the case, the extent of the information he provided and the actions he took to obtain intelligence for the FBI. It is also unknown whether his July 2016 interaction with [Carter] Page was brokered by the FBI or another intelligence agency [italics added].
The FBI commonly uses sources and informants to gather evidence and its regulations allow for use of informants even before a formal investigation has been opened. In many law enforcement investigations, the use of sources and informants precedes more invasive techniques such as electronic surveillance.
A veteran of the intelligence community tells TAS that Brennan's CIA was full of Hillary supporters, some of whom decorated their desks with her campaign paraphernalia. Brennan, whom the press noted would walk the halls of the CIA in an LGBT rainbow lanyard, encouraged this open political atmosphere. While Brennan knew his spying operation on the Trump campaign was an ''exceptionally, exceptionally sensitive'' matter (as reported by journalists David Corn and Michael Isikoff), he assumed its machinations would never come to light.
The members of Brennan's working group at Langley ''were just a bunch of out-of-control idiots,'' says a former high-ranking CIA official to TAS. He finds it flabbergasting that Brennan would bring CIA officials and FBI officials into the same room to cook up schemes to send a spy into the Trump campaign's ranks. One of those schemes involved money (Halper paid George Papadopoulos $3,000 for a phony research paper as a way of luring him into a London meeting); another involved sex (Halper's assistant, with a name out of a bad spy novel, Azra Turk, tried to coax information from Papadopoulos at flirty bar outings, according to the Daily Caller's Chuck Ross).
Like Brennan, Halper didn't bother to hide his support for Hillary even as he conducted this infiltration. He told the press that he feared a Trump presidency, as it could harm the ''special relationship'' between the United States and Great Britain. That rationale must have figured into Alexander Downer's motivation for working with Brennan's Langley group too. Downer traveled in the same elitist circles as Christopher Steele, Halper, and John Kerry. It appears he sent word of his boozy evening with Papadopoulos back to Brennan's group through these circles '-- either through Hillary partisans at the State Department or through Clinton Foundation channels, for whom he had worked as a kind of bag man.
Halper had come up empty, so Brennan's group at Langley went with Downer's tale, as feeble as it was. But it at least had the advantage of coming from a ''diplomat.'' Yet if Congressman Nunes is right and the originating document for the FBI probe doesn't even contain a reference to an official intelligence product passed to Brennan from the Australian government, Downer's hearsay must have been exceedingly flaky, so flaky no one would want to be on the record treating it as ''evidence'' for something as momentous as a probe into a presidential campaign.
According to press accounts, Downer's bumptiousness caused a diplomatic row of sorts between the two countries. Who resolved it? John Kerry? Susan Rice? Or was this another case of Obama leading from behind '-- behind a CIA director briefing him daily on ''Russian interference'' while running an anti-Trump spy ring out of Langley.
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Why a Zurich lawyer is being targeted in Russiagate - The Local
Thu, 24 May 2018 14:44
Special Counsel Robert Mueller (right) is investigating possible links between Trump's electoral campaign and foreign powers. Photo: AFP
When Zurich-based lawyer and business owner Stephan Roh visited New York last year, he was pulled over in the passport queue by heavily-armed FBI officers and grilled for hours.
Roh's name had come up in investigations by US Special Counsel Robert Mueller into alleged links between US President Donald Trump's 2016 electoral campaign and Russia or other foreign powers.
After being interrogated at the airport by the FBI and special investigators with the Mueller team, the 50-year-old lawyer says he and his family were ''observed, followed and taped'' by the FBI during their time in New York.
Read also: Novartis under fire over $1.2 million in payments to Trump's lawyer
Officers with the bureau even booked rooms in the hotel where he was staying, the multimillionaire who commutes between homes in Zurich and Monaco, told Swiss daily Tages Anzeiger.
While a spokesperson for Robert Mueller refused to state whether Roh is currently under investigation, British broadcaster the BBC reported recently that Roh is suspected of having been the third member of a group that helped connect Trump's team with Russians.
The other members of this group are thought to include Maltese academic and self-styled diplomat Joseph Mifsud and Ivan Timofeev, the program director of the Valdai Discussion Club think tank which has close links to the Kremlin.
Roh's alleged role in establishing links between Russia and the Trump election campaign '' something he strongly denies being part of '' is difficult to ascertain.
In 2017, a former foreign policy adviser to the Trump campaign, George Papadopoulos, said under oath that he had met in March 2016 with Mifsud who Papadopoulos ''understood to substantial connections to Russian government officials'' according to court documents.
In April last year, both Mifsud and Roh both at a summit on energy politics held at the Valdai Discussion Club, where Timofeev was also present.
In the same month the academic, who has since vanished without a trace, told Papadopoulos he had ''dirt'' on Clinton in the form of ''thousands of emails''.
Again, it is difficult to establish what, if any role Roh played. But in the United States, there is speculation that Roh could have been responsible for connecting the three other players in the drama.
Mifsud was a consultant at Roh's Zurich legal firm and previously formed part of the management at Italy's private Link Campus University which is partly owned by the lawyer's London-based UK company Drake Global.
Mifsud is also Roh's ''partner and best friend'' and ''the money behind him'', Papadopoulos's wife Simona Mangiante, who also briefly worked for the Maltese citizen, told the Atlantic Monthly.
Meanwhile, Roh himself has strong Russian links. His Russian-born wife, a former student of Link Campus and the manager of the high-end Rohmir fashion label, is ''extraordinarily well-connected'' with clients including UK Prime Minister Theresa May according to the BBC.
But in a book set to be published next month titled ''The Faking of Russia-Gate: The Papadopoulos Case'' Roh argues strongly he had no role in the Trump campaign while he and his co-author Thierry Pastor claim Mifsud was not a Russian spy but ''part of the game'' with ''close links to ''Western secret services and the Clinton network.''
Arguing the alleged Russian connections to the 2016 US presidential election have been faked to discredit Trump, they also claim Papadopoulos was a Western intelligence operative embedded by the FBI within the Trump election team.
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Jivanka
Jared Kushner gets permanent security clearance
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:22
Getty Images
Jared Kushner
President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been granted a permanent security clearance after operating under an interim clearance '-- or less '-- for more than a year.
In a statement to CNBC, Kushner's lawyer, Abbe Lowell, also said that his client sat "for two interviews with the Office of Special Counsel."
The second interview lasted for more than six hours, and included questions regarding the Trump campaign and the transition period before the presidential inauguration, as well as the Comey firing, NBC reported, citing a source familiar with the interview.
Kushner, a senior White House advisor, had reportedly met with special counsel Robert Mueller's team for the first time in November as part of the probe of potential links between Trump's presidential campaign and Russia.
Career officials approved Kushner's permanent security clearance after the completion of an FBI background check process. The president was reportedly not involved in that process.
Several White House officials with interim security clearances had been downgraded in February, chief of staff John Kelly wrote in a memo at the time.
Lowell told CNBC on Wednesday that his client's application "was properly submitted, reviewed by numerous career officials and underwent the normal process."
He added: "Having completed all of these processes, he's looking forward to continuing to do the work the president has asked him to do."
Neither the special counsel nor the White House immediately responded to CNBC's requests for comment.
WATCH: Planned Parenthood president on 'bribe' from Jared and Ivanka
F-Russia
Blow my whistle? 'Raunchy' Russian World Cup doll causes blushes on internet (PHOTOS)
Tue, 22 May 2018 11:21
They're one of the country's quintessential souvenirs, but this 'special' World Cup Russian doll has caused blushes with its design, which some social media users have interpreted as rather raunchy.
For the Russia 2018 World Cup, this football edition of the famous doll - called matryoshkas - are traditionally small stacked wooden dolls of decreasing size, decorated with caricature faces and traditional folk dresses.
But this particular design has sparked giggles and blushes from some social media users.
The design features a football under the doll's right arm and blowing a whistle with the left hand - although some are convinced it is something else the doll is blowing.
A Kazan souvenir shop has produced the range of dolls with less than a month to go until the Russia 2018 World Cup. The doll with the ambiguous design will set you back 790 rubles ($12.75).
According to reports, the Russia 2018 Local Organizing Committee (LOC) has confirmed that it will not block the dolls going on sale, provided they do not feature the FIFA logo.
As with the current 'Yanny or Laurel' internet craze. The Russian doll could split the internet, end friendships and leave us all in the dark as to whether it was all just a joke.
The Russia 2018 World Cup kicks off on June 14 when the hosts take on Saudi Arabia at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
Banksters
House votes to ease regulation of banks, sending bill to Trump | TheHill
Wed, 23 May 2018 11:22
The House on Tuesday passed a bill to loosen federal regulations on the banking sector, securing an election-year legislative accomplishment that is likely to be touted by members of both parties.
The 258-159 House vote sends the bill to President Trump, who has pledged to sign it.
The bill was opposed by only one Republican, while 158 Democrats voted against it.
"We've been losing a community bank or credit union every other day in America, and with it the hopes and dreams of millions," said Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. "But today, that changes. Help is on the way."
The legislation represents the first significant overhaul of the banking rules passed by a Democratic Congress in the aftermath of the 2008 financial crisis.
While the legislation falls well short of Trump's campaign pledge to "dismantle" Dodd-Frank, it also includes significant changes to the law that have long been sought by U.S. banks and credit unions.
The measure, which had been held up in the House for more than two months after passing the Senate in March, will free dozens of regional banks from stricter Federal Reserve oversight and scores more from lending and data reporting rules.
The bill's passage is a big win for several vulnerable Senate Democrats running for reelection in states that Trump won in 2016.
Democratic Sens. Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.) were all original co-sponsors of the legislation. They will now be able to tout passage of the measure as an example of how they are able to work across party lines.
Yet the centrists have also drawn the wrath of liberal lawmakers and activists, who have denounced the bill as a giveaway to banks that undermines the stability of the financial system.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and House Financial Services Committee ranking Democrat Rep. Maxine Waters (Calif.) urged their party colleagues to oppose the bill in a Monday letter.
"The American people paid a very high price for the weak oversight and discriminatory lending practices that culminated in the 2008 financial crisis," Pelosi and Waters wrote. "We must not allow the GOP Congress to drag us back to the same lack of oversight that ignited the Great Recession."
The rollback bill does far less than House Republicans had first hoped to pass. Hensarling pushed for a more sweeping overhaul, but that bill had little chance of surviving a liberal filibuster in the Senate.
The final compromise will leave most of Dodd-Frank in place for the foreseeable future, while still providing benefits for all but some of the largest U.S. banks.
The measure will exempt dozens of regional banks from tighter regulation by raising the threshold for closer Fed oversight from $50 billion to $250 billion in assets. That frees several major regional banks, including M&T, Citizens, SunTrust, BB&T, Fifth Third and BMO Financial Corp., from some of Dodd-Frank's strictest requirements.
Banks below the new $250 billion threshold will no longer be automatically subject to yearly Federal Reserve stress tests or higher capital requirements meant to ensure large firms are able to weather severe financial crises.
Those banks below the threshold will also be exempted from submitting a "living will" for Fed approval - a plan that outlines how a bank's assets could be liquidated upon the firm's failure without causing a widespread meltdown.
The Fed will still have the power to apply those enhanced prudential standards to banks below the threshold that they deem risky enough to warrant closer oversight.
For smaller firms, the bill exempts banks that extend 500 or fewer mortgages a year from reporting some home loan data to federal regulators under anti-discrimination laws. The bill also broadens the definition of qualified mortgages.
Other aspects of the legislation meant to bolster community banks and credit unions include loosening appraisal requirements for certain mortgage loans and exempting firms with less than $10 billion in assets from the Volcker Rule. Named after former Fed Chairman Paul Volcker, the rule bans banks from making risky trades with their own assets.
The bill also leaves several of the most controversial aspects of Dodd-Frank intact, including the polarizing Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and liquidation process under which the government would take over and dismantle a large failing bank.
House Republicans initially said the lack of action on those issues meant the bill didn't go far enough to earn their support. But moderate Senate Democrats who spearheaded the compromise pledged to abandon the legislation if the lower chamber amended it.
The day after the bill passed the Senate, Hensarling announced that Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) had promised to block it unless the upper chamber agreed to negotiations.
Hensarling, the architect of the House's unsuccessful efforts to repeal and replace Dodd-Frank, had sought to include bills from his committee that received almost unanimous bipartisan backing from the chamber.
The chairman, a close ally of Ryan, eased his demands in late April. Hensarling said he would give the Senate bill his blessing if its sponsors in the Senate agreed to vote on a package of House bills meant to expand capital markers access for businesses.
Ryan and House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) announced soon after that they would hold a vote on the Senate bill before Memorial Day after Senate GOP leaders vowed to do the same for the legislation from Hensarling's committee.
It's unclear which House bills will be taken up by the Senate, how they will appear on the floor and whether the measures have a chance of reaching Trump's desk.
The House bills from Hensarling aren't expected to pass the Senate on their own, but GOP leaders have privately floated attaching them to must-pass legislation.
Stormy
Law firm of Stormy Daniels' attorney hit with $10-million judgment
Wed, 23 May 2018 11:07
A law firm of Stormy Daniels' attorney Michael Avenatti was hit with a $10-million judgment Tuesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court after he broke his promise to pay $2 million to a former colleague.
Judge Catherine Bauer of U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Santa Ana ordered Eagan Avenatti to pay the $10 million to Jason Frank, a lawyer who used to work at the Newport Beach firm.
"At this point, that's what's appropriate," Bauer said at a brief hearing.
To settle his law firm's bankruptcy, Avenatti personally guaranteed in December that it would pay Frank $4.85 million. But he and Eagan Avenatti failed to pay the first $2 million installment that was due last week, triggering Tuesday's judgment.
The firm is also delinquent on $440,291 in back taxes, penalties and interest that Avenatti promised would be paid last week, Assistant U.S. Atty. Najah Shariff told the bankruptcy judge.
Avenatti and his firm had accepted the deadline under an agreement reached with the Internal Revenue Service in January. It requires Eagan Avenatti to pay the IRS a total of $2.4 million.
More than half of that was for payroll taxes that the law firm withheld from employees but did not turn over to the government. Avenatti, who has blamed the lapse on an unnamed payroll company, was personally responsible for holding the money in trust for the IRS, according to the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles.
Avenatti paid an initial installment of $1.5 million. Shariff told the judge that the government would soon file a motion demanding payment of the additional money that was due last week.
Avenatti accused the Los Angeles Times of "purposely confusing me with a separate legal entity that has no role in the Daniels case."
"Irrelevant," he wrote in an email responding to questions about the $10-million judgment and the missed tax payment. "Over blown. Sensational reporting at its finest. No judgment against me was issued nor do I owe any taxes."
Avenatti has repeatedly sent emails to The Times about the Daniels case from an Eagan Avenatti email address, with Eagan Avenatti below the signature line.
The firm listed in court records as representing Daniels is Avenatti & Associates. In the bankruptcy case, Eagan Avenatti identifies Avenatti & Associates as one of its two owners; the other is attorney Michael Eagan of San Francisco.
Like other plaintiffs' lawyers who work on contingency, Avenatti lives on a boom-and-bust pay cycle.
His biggest victory was a $454-million jury verdict last year against surgical gown manufacturers Halyard Health and Kimberly-Clark, but a judge reduced it in March to $24 million. The gowns were supposed to protect doctors and nurses from blood-borne viruses such as Ebola and HIV, but sometimes leaked.
Avenatti's highest-profile client is Daniels, a porn star who says she had a one-night stand with Donald Trump in 2006.
In the 11 weeks since Daniels filed suit to void a nondisclosure agreement that bars her from talking publicly about the alleged tryst, Avenatti has become one of the president's chief antagonists, often appearing on television several times a day.
He has also become a target of Trump supporters, some of whom welcomed news of the $10-million judgment.
"Guy has a habit of being a scum bag," conservative blogger Mike Cernovich wrote on Twitter.
Frank, who attended the bankruptcy hearing Tuesday, declined to comment on the judgment in his favor.
Jason Frank, the lawyer who won a $10-million judgment Tuesday against the firm Eagan Avenatti. (Michael Finnegan)
He alleges that Eagan Avenatti cheated him out of millions of dollars in compensation for his work.
When Avenatti struck the deal to pay Frank $4.85 million, he agreed to strict deadlines.
If he and the firm failed to meet them, Avenatti said he would consent to a Bankruptcy Court judgment ordering Eagan Avenatti to pay Frank $10 million. That includes the $4.85 million that he'd personally guaranteed.
At the hearing, Avenatti attorney Mark S. Horoupian told the judge that Avenatti, as agreed, was not disputing Frank's right to the $10-million judgment.
Frank initially tried to collect the money last year through arbitration.
The three retired judges who oversaw the proceedings ordered Eagan Avenatti to give Frank the tax returns and financial records that he needed to calculate the exact amount he was owed.
When the firm failed to give Frank the documents, the former judges concluded that Eagan Avenatti "acted with malice, oppression and fraud" in defying their order.
Avenatti was supposed to testify in the arbitration. But two days before his scheduled deposition, a man who identified himself as Gerald Tobin, listing a Florida UPS mailbox as his address, filed a petition to place Eagan Avenatti into involuntary bankruptcy due to an unpaid invoice of $28,700, according to a suit that Frank filed last week against Eagan Avenatti.
At a U.S. Bankruptcy Court hearing, Judge Karen S. Jenneman said Tobin's petition, which suspended the arbitration, had "a stench of impropriety," but Avenatti denied colluding with the Florida vendor.
Avenatti's tax troubles date back nearly a decade. His unpaid 2009 and 2010 income taxes led the IRS to put a $904,000 lien years later on all of his personal property, Orange County records show.
Avenatti said the lien "was placed in error," no taxes were due and the issue was resolved many months ago, but the lien remained open as recently as last month, according to the Orange County clerk-recorder's office.
Tax debts and unpaid bills have also saddled Avenatti's coffee business. He and a partner bought Tully's Coffee in 2013 for $9 million. Multiple landlords have sued for back rent or eviction of Tully's stores. Every Tully's outlet has closed, according to the Seattle Times.
The IRS put a $5-million lien on Tully's parent company, Global Baristas US, last June, initially naming Avenatti as the person responsible for payment. Like Eagan Avenatti, the company withheld payroll taxes from employees, but did not transmit the money to the IRS, the government said.
Avenatti blamed that, too, on a payroll company.
Avenatti says he divested his interest in Tully's long ago and now serves solely as outside counsel.
But in bankruptcy and civil court papers, he claimed a substantial ownership stake in the coffee chain as recently as April 2017, and in July 2017 identified himself as chairman, general counsel and a board of managers member at Global Baristas US.
9:35 p.m.: This article was updated to include the Gerald Tobin petition placing Eagan Avenatti into involuntary bankruptcy.
6:55 p.m.: This article was updated with details on the tax history of Michael Avenatti and Tully's Coffee.
3:30 p.m.: This article was updated to say that the law firm representing Stormy Daniels is Avenatti & Associates.
2:05 p.m.: This article was updated to identify Mark Horoupian as Michael Avenatti's personal attorney and add details on Stormy Daniels.
1:15 p.m.: This article was updated with details on the back taxes that Michael Avenatti owes the Internal Revenue Service.
12:45 p.m.: This article was updated with background of Egan Avenatti's dispute with Jason Frank.
This article was originally published at 9:45 a.m.
Bees in space
The Mystery of the 'SpaceBees' Just Got Even Weirder - Nextgov
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:17
''Perfect timing!'' Mike Coletta said when he answered the phone. I called him recently to ask about some satellites currently orbiting Earth. Just then, one of them was passing over his home in Colorado.
Coletta has been tracking satellites with radio antennas mounted on his house for years. This spring, he's on a special mission: He wants to catch the transmissions of ''SpaceBees,'' four satellites that were launched into space illegally.
Last December, the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. government agency that oversees satellite launches, explicitly told the California-based maker of these satellites that they couldn't launch them. They did it anyway the following month, marking the first-known unauthorized launch of a commercial satellite in American history.
This sets a dangerous precedent. The satellites' makers appeared to have good intentions: to bring internet connectivity to people who might benefit from it. Other satellite operators may not'--and we may find out too late.
Coletta dug up the SpaceBees' planned radio frequency in FCC documents. The satellites aren't supposed to be transmitting. For weeks, he heard nothing. Then last week, he detected a signal as the satellites passed over him. A few days ago, he detected it again. It was sudden and short-lived, ''kind of like a click of a microphone,'' he said.
The frequency of the signals matches the frequency the SpaceBees were designed to use. But there's no way to know whether the satellites are the source. For Coletta, that's part of the fun. He likes the mysteries best. And what a mystery this one is.
The SpaceBee is a prototype satellite from Swarm Technologies, a start-up founded in 2016 and based in Los Altos, California. There is little publicly available information about Swarm. According to Mark Harris, the reporter at IEEE Spectrum who first broke the story about the satellites' unauthorized launch, the company is in stealth mode, the term for the period of relative secrecy of a budding start-up and a popular Silicon Valley strategy. Most of what is known about Swarm comes from a handful of websites and public records, including correspondence between the company and the FCC.
In 2016, Swarm applied for a grant from the National Science Foundation. The company's pitch was to develop a satellite-based communications network for internet-connected devices, particularly in places without access to wireless networks. ''Scientific, shipping, tracking, automotive, agriculture, energy, medical, educational, and other commercial entities will have the ability to return their data from anywhere on the planet to support tracking, safe operations, and optimal and timely decision making,'' the company explained. In December 2016, the NSF awarded Swarm more than $220,000 as part of a funding program for small businesses.
In April 2017, Swarm submitted an application to the FCC about a fleet of four tiny satellites called BEES, for Basic Electronic Elements, and two internet-connected ground stations that would be used to transmit data back and forth. An illustration showed the satellites stacked on top of each other like coasters, each measuring 10 centimeters in length and width, and 2.8 centimeters in height. The satellites, Swarm said, would relay encrypted communications with the help of the ground stations. The company said it planned to buy a ride for the satellites on the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle, India's rocket launch system.
The FCC came back with bad news. In a letter in December 2017, the agency denied Swarm's request to launch and operate the satellites, citing safety concerns. According to the FCC, the SpaceBees were too small to be tracked by the U.S. Space Surveillance Network, a military-operated system that catalogs all artificial objects orbiting Earth. If the government can't track satellites, it can't protect them from colliding into other satellites. ''We cannot conclude that a grant of this application is in the public interest,'' wrote Anthony Serafini, the FCC's experimental licensing branch chief.
Swarm submitted an updated application on January 7, 2018. Five days later, India launched a rocket carrying dozens of small satellites from various countries. The launch inventory says four SpaceBees, made in the United States, were on board. Swarm, it appeared, had launched anyway.
On March 7, Serafini sent an email to Swarm's CEO, Sara Spangelo, saying the agency had begun an investigation of the company's ''apparent unauthorized launch.'' Swarm's applications for other operations were also put on hold, including a launch in April.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Space, which maintains the Space Surveillance Network, said the unit was able to spot the SpaceBees in orbit shortly after they launched. The satellites are too small to track, but not too small to be seen. And there's no hiding from the military, says Scott Chapman, a satellite tracker who, like Coletta, has been following the SpaceBees with antennas on the roof of his home in Virginia. Aside from classified satellites, all objects launched into space get tracked and logged into databases that can be accessed online.
''Ground-based radar and the military'--they know exactly what every nut, bolt, and screw floating around in orbit is. On your computer screen, you could probably follow the orbit of a screwdriver that some astronaut accidentally let go of when he was repairing something,'' Chapman said. ''Whether someone is authorized or not to put something in orbit, once it's up there, it's tracked.''
So, what should be done about these SpaceBees?
The FCC completed a ''fact-finding inquiry'' at the start of May, according to Neil Grace, an agency spokesman. The case is now with the agency's enforcement bureau. Grace could not say whether a referral to the bureau means a penalty will be implemented. Because the unauthorized launch is a first, it's not clear what the punishment would be. Spangelo, a former systems engineer at Google and NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, did not respond to calls or emails. Neither did others employed by or associated with Swarm, according to the company's website and public documents.
Space may be the final frontier, but it's by no means a lawless one. Space is a largely peaceful area because nations have agreed, whether in treaties or through unspoken norms, to play by a shared set of rules. Transparency is paramount, even in some cases of military or national-security missions. For a private company to launch satellites into low-Earth orbit without approval from its government flouts the framework that makes an extremely dangerous environment a fairly safe place to be.
In the last few years, the rate of launches of miniature satellites has increased exponentially. The industry is ''moving away from these really large satellites that are expensive to build, expensive to launch, and into satellites that are highly specialized and often intended to last,'' says Lisa Ruth Rand, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison who studies the environmental history of near-Earth space. ''The smaller the satellite, the cheaper it is to launch, the better rate a company will get.''
But even small satellites can be a hazard. After 60 years of space exploration, low-Earth orbit has become a crowded place. It's home to about 1,200 functioning satellites, 4,300 defunct ones, and 23,000 pieces of debris, according to the latest numbers from the European Space Agency. Collisions can occur, producing even more bits of floating junk. In 2009, two satellites from different countries knocked into each other and were destroyed. The collision sent hundreds of pieces of fast-moving hardware around the globe. ''Even small objects, even things as small as these SpaceBees, traveling that quickly can really be destructive,'' Rand says. If they hit something, ''both India and the United States would be on the hook if one of these SpaceBees collides with a Russian satellite,'' in accordance with international rules.
As of April, there are 589 nanosatellites in orbit'--satellites with masses between 1 kilogram and 10 kilograms (2.2 pounds to 22 pounds), according to a comprehensive database run by Erik Kulu, a spacecraft systems engineer in Glasgow. And many more are coming. Commercial companies like SpaceX want to launch fleets of hundreds, even thousands, of nanosatellites that would create constellations capable of supporting vast networks and bringing internet access to underserved places'--just like Swarm wanted to do.
If Swarm had waited a little longer to launch, its size may not have been an issue, Rand says. Lockheed Martin is currently building a radar system that would allow the Space Surveillance Network to track smaller objects than is possible now. The program is expected to be finished by the end of this year. ''With a little patience perhaps Swarm would have been able to safely move forward with their original small design in a responsible, approved, safe manner,'' Rand says.
There's no way to remove illegally launched satellites from orbit. Start-ups aiming to develop space debris-clearing technology are only a few years old and still raising money. According to information Swarm provided the FCC, the SpaceBees have enough battery power to remain operational for up to 10 years. They will likely fall back down to Earth before that; the satellites are not equipped with propulsion systems, which means they don't have engines to escape the pull of Earth's gravity and maintain a stable orbit. Swarm's application said the satellites will reenter the planet's atmosphere and disintegrate in a little under eight years.
Coletta and Chapman have no plans to stop tracking the rogue satellites. They're both a ways away from Georgia and California, where the ground stations that can talk to the SpaceBees are located. But they know where the SpaceBees are and when they'll be passing over their heads. They can point their antennas in their direction and listen.
When I asked Grace, the FCC spokesman, about the brief signals Coletta has detected, he said he'd look into it. Swarm employees would know whether the pings came from the satellites, but they're not talking.
These mysterious signals aside, the SpaceBees have been orbiting in silence since they launched. If the FCC decides to clear Swarm, they may turn on and start buzzing. If the agency penalizes Swarm, with fines or bans on future work, the satellites will sentenced to a lifetime of quietly circling Earth. They will float along with the rest of the space junk until gravity beckons and drags them back down, to the place they were never supposed to leave.
War on Men
Why Are White Men Stockpiling Guns? - Scientific American Blog Network
Sun, 20 May 2018 21:02
Since the 2008 election of President Obama, the number of firearms manufactured in the U.S. has tripled, while imports have doubled. This doesn't mean more households have guns than ever before'--that percentage has stayed fairly steady for decades. Rather, more guns are being stockpiled by a small number of individuals. Three percent of the population now owns half of the country's firearms, says a recent, definitive study from the Injury Control Research Center at Harvard University.
So, who is buying all these guns'--and why?
The short, broad-brush answer to the first part of that question is this: men, who on average possess almost twice the number of guns female owners do. But not all men. Some groups of men are much more avid gun consumers than others. The American citizen most likely to own a gun is a white male'--but not just any white guy. According to a growing number of scientific studies, the kind of man who stockpiles weapons or applies for a concealed-carry license meets a very specific profile.
These are men who are anxious about their ability to protect their families, insecure about their place in the job market, and beset by racial fears. They tend to be less educated. For the most part, they don't appear to be religious'--and, suggests one study, faith seems to reduce their attachment to guns. In fact, stockpiling guns seems to be a symptom of a much deeper crisis in meaning and purpose in their lives. Taken together, these studies describe a population that is struggling to find a new story'--one in which they are once again the heroes.
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO HARD WORK?
When Northland College sociologist Angela Stroud studied applications for licenses to carry concealed firearms in Texas, which exploded after President Obama was elected, she found applicants were overwhelmingly dominated by white men. In interviews, they told her that they wanted to protect themselves and the people they love.
''When men became fathers or got married, they started to feel very vulnerable, like they couldn't protect families,'' she says. ''For them, owning a weapon is part of what it means to be a good husband a good father.'' That meaning is ''rooted in fear and vulnerability'--very motivating emotions.''
But Stroud also discovered another motivation: racial anxiety. ''A lot of people talked about how important Obama was to get a concealed-carry license: 'He's for free health care, he's for welfare.' They were asking, 'Whatever happened to hard work?''' Obama's presidency, they feared, would empower minorities to threaten their property and families.
The insight Stroud gained from her interviews is backed up by many, many studies. A 2013 paper by a team of United Kingdom researchers found that a one-point jump in the scale they used to measure racism increased the odds of owning a gun by 50 percent. A 2016 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago found that racial resentment among whites fueled opposition to gun control. This drives political affiliations: A 2017 study in the Social Studies Quarterly found that gun owners had become 50 percent more likely to vote Republican since 1972'--and that gun culture had become strongly associated with explicit racism.
For many conservative men, the gun feels like a force for order in a chaotic world, suggests a study published in December of last year. In a series of three experiments, Steven Shepherd and Aaron C. Kay asked hundreds of liberals and conservatives to imagine holding a handgun'--and found that conservatives felt less risk and greater personal control than liberal counterparts.
This wasn't about familiarity with real-world guns'--gun ownership and experience did not affect results. Instead, conservative attachment to guns was based entirely on ideology and emotions.
WHO WANTS TO BE A HERO?
That's an insight echoed by another study published last year. Baylor University sociologists Paul Froese and F. Carson Mencken created a ''gun empowerment scale'' designed to measure how a nationally representative sample of almost 600 owners felt about their weapons. Their study found that people at the highest level of their scale'--the ones who felt most emotionally and morally attached to their guns'--were 78 percent white and 65 percent male.
''We found that white men who have experienced economic setbacks or worry about their economic futures are the group of owners most attached to their guns,'' says Froese. ''Those with high attachment felt that having a gun made them a better and more respected member of their communities.''
That wasn't true for women and non-whites. In other words, they may have suffered setbacks'--but women and people of color weren't turning to guns to make themselves feel better. ''This suggests that these owners have other sources of meaning and coping when facing hard times,'' notes Froese'--often, religion. Indeed, Froese and Mencken found that religious faith seemed to put the brakes on white men's attachment to guns.
For these economically insecure, irreligious white men, ''the gun is a ubiquitous symbol of power and independence, two things white males are worried about,'' says Froese. ''Guns, therefore, provide a way to regain their masculinity, which they perceive has been eroded by increasing economic impotency.''
Both Froese and Stroud found pervasive anti-government sentiments among their study participants. ''This is interesting because these men tend to see themselves as devoted patriots, but make a distinction between the federal government and the 'nation,' says Froese. ''On that point, I expect that many in this group see the 'nation' as being white.''
Investing guns with this kind of moral and emotional meaning has many consequences, the researchers say. ''Put simply, owners who are more attached to their guns are most likely to believe that guns are a solution to our social ills,'' says Froese. ''For them, more 'good' people with guns would drastically reduce violence and increase civility. Again, it reflects a hero narrative, which many white man long to feel a part of.''
Stroud's work echoes this conclusion. ''They tell themselves all kinds of stories about criminals and criminal victimization,'' she says. ''But the story isn't just about criminals. It's about the good guy'--and that's how they see themselves: 'I work hard, I take care of my family, and there are people who aren't like that.' When we tell stories about the Other, we're really telling stories about ourselves.''
HOW TO SAVE A WHITE MAN'S LIFE
Unfortunately, the people most likely to be killed by the guns of white men aren't the ''bad guys,'' presumably criminals or terrorists. It's themselves'--and their families.
White men aren't just the Americans most likely to own guns; according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, they're also the people most likely to put them in their own mouths and pull the trigger, especially when they're in some kind of economic distress. A white man is three times more likely to shoot himself than a black man'--while the chances that a white man will be killed by a black man are extremely slight. Most murders and shoot-outs don't happen between strangers. They unfold within social networks, among people of the same race.
A gun in the home is far more likely to kill or wound the people who live there than is a burglar or serial killer. Most of the time, according to every single study that's ever been done about interpersonal gun violence, the dead and wounded know the people who shot them. A gun in the home makes it five times more likely that a woman will be killed by her husband. Every week in America, 136 children and teenagers are shot'--and more often than not, it's a sibling, friend, parent, or relative who holds the gun. For every homicide deemed justified by the police, guns are used in 78 suicides. As a new study published this month in JAMA Internal Medicine once again shows us, restrictive gun laws don't prevent white men from defending themselves and their families. Instead, those laws stop them from shooting themselves and each other.
What are the solutions? That and many other studies suggest that restricting the flow of guns and ammunition would certainly save lives. But no law can address the absence of meaning and purpose that many white men appear to feel, which they might be able to gain through social connection to people who never expected to have the economic security and social power that white men once enjoyed.
''Ridicule of working-class white people is not helpful,'' says Angela Stroud. ''We need to push the 'good guys' to have a deeper connection to other people. We need to reimagine who we are in relation to each other.''
The views expressed are those of the author(s) and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR(S)Jeremy Adam Smith
Jeremy Adam Smith is editor of Greater Good magazine and author or co-editor of four books, including The Compassionate Instinct and Are We Born Racist?
Credit: Auey Santos
Jordan Peterson | On the New York Times and ''Enforced Monogamy''
Mon, 21 May 2018 04:54
My motivated critics couldn't contain their joyful glee this week at discovering my hypothetical support for a Handmaid's Tale-type patriarchal social structure as (let's say) hinted at in Nellie Bowles' New York Times article presenting her take on my ideas.
It's been a truism among anthropologists and biologically-oriented psychologists for decades that all human societies face two primary tasks: regulation of female reproduction (so the babies don't die, you see) and male aggression (so that everyone doesn't die). The social enforcement of monogamy happens to be an effective means of addressing both issues, as most societies have come to realize (pair-bonded marriages constituting, as they do, a human universal (see the list of human universals here, derived from Donald Brown's book by that name).
Here's something intelligent about the issue, written by antiquark2 on reddit (after the NYT piece appeared and produced its tempest in a tea pot): ''Peterson is using well-established anthropological language here: ''enforced monogamy'' does not mean government-enforced monogamy. ''Enforced monogamy'' means socially-promoted, culturally-inculcated monogamy, as opposed to genetic monogamy '' evolutionarily-dictated monogamy, which does exist in some species (but does not exist in humans). This distinction has been present in anthropological and scientific literature for decades.''
As antiquark2 points out, ''for decades.'' My critics' abject ignorance of the relevant literature does not equate to evidence of my totalitarian or misogynist leanings. I might also add: anyone serious about decreasing violence against women (or violence in general) might think twice about dismissing the utility of monogamy (and social support for the monogamous tendency) as a means to attain that end.
Simply put: monogamous pair bonding makes men less violent. Here are some examples of the well-developed body of basic evolutionary-biological/psychological/anthropological evidence (and theory) supporting that claim.
The Competition''Violence Hypothesis: Sex, Marriage, and Male Aggression
''men who transition to a monogamous, or less competitive, mode of sexual behavior (fewer partners since last wave), reduce their risk for violence. The same results were not replicated for females. Further, results were not accounted for by marital status or other more readily accepted explanations of violence. Findings suggest that competition for sex be further examined as a potential cause of male violence.''
Here's another paper, with a long list of relevant references:
Why Men Commit Crimes (and why they Desist)
Here's some relevant sections of the latter paper (pp. 439-440).
So, let's summarize. Men get frustrated when they are not competitive in the sexual marketplace (note: the fact that they DO get frustrated does not mean that they SHOULD get frustrated. Pointing out the existence of something is not the same as justifying its existence). Frustrated men tend to become dangerous, particularly if they are young. The dangerousness of frustrated young men (even if that frustration stems from their own incompetence) has to be regulated socially. The manifold social conventions tilting most societies toward monogamy constitute such regulation.
That's all.
No recommendation of police-state assignation of woman to man (or, for that matter, man to woman).
No arbitrary dealing out of damsels to incels.
Nothing scandalous (all innuendo and suggestive editing to the contrary)
Just the plain, bare, common-sense facts: socially-enforced monogamous conventions decrease male violence. In addition (and not trivially) they also help provide mothers with comparatively reliable male partners, and increase the probability that stable, father-intact homes will exist for children.
Dr. Jordan Peterson 2018-05-20T03:09:48+00:00
War on Guns
Opinion | How to Reduce Shootings - The New York Times
Sun, 20 May 2018 21:05
10 Dead in Santa Fe, Texas, School Shooting; Suspect Used Shotgun and Revolver
Inevitably, predictably, fatefully, another mass shooting breaks our hearts. This time, it is a school shooting in Texas.
But what is perhaps most heartbreaking of all is that they shouldn't be shocking. People all over the world become furious and try to harm others, but only in the United States do we suffer such mass shootings so regularly; only in the United States do we lose one person every 15 minutes to gun violence.
So let's not just mourn the dead, let's not just lower flags and make somber speeches. Let's also learn lessons from these tragedies, so that there can be fewer of them. In particular, I suggest that we try a new approach to reducing gun violence '-- a public health strategy. These graphics and much of this text are from a visual essay I did in November after a church shooting in Texas; sadly, the material will continue to be relevant until we not only grieve but also act.
This story was updated May 18, 2018. Visit this page to see the original.
America Has More Guns Than Any Other Country
The first step is to understand the scale of the challenge America faces: The U.S. has more than 300 million guns '' roughly one for every citizen '' and stands out as well for its gun death rates. At the other extreme, Japan has less than one gun per 100 people, and typically fewer than 10 gun deaths a year in the entire country.
Guns per 100 people
The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.
88.8
United States
45.7
switzerland
31.6
Sweden
31.2
france
30.8
canada
30.3
germany
15.0
Australia
11.9
italy
10.4
spain
6.2
England, wales
0.6
Japan
Gun murders per 100,000 people
America's private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada's, and 30 times worse than Australia's.
3.00
United States
0.7
Italy
0.5
Canada
0.3
Sweden
0.2
Germany
0.2
Switzerland
0.1
Australia
0.1
England, Wales
0.1
france
0.1
Spain
Japan
Guns per 100 people
The United States stands alone among developed countries: It has by far the highest rate of firearms ownership.
88.8
United States
45.7
switzerland
31.6
Sweden
31.2
france
30.8
canada
30.3
germany
15.0
Australia
11.9
italy
10.4
spain
6.2
England, wales
0.6
Japan
Gun murders per 100,000 people
America's private arsenal is six times as lethal as Canada's, and 30 times worse than Australia's.
3.0
United States
0.7
Italy
0.5
Canada
0.3
Sweden
0.2
Germany
0.2
Switzerland
0.1
Australia
0.1
England, Wales
0.1
france
0.1
Spain
Japan
The New York Times | Sources: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (gun murders); Small Arms Survey (guns per 100 people) | Murder data for U.S., Canada, Sweden, Switzerland, Australia and Spain from 2015 and latest available for other countries; 2007 data for guns per 100 people.
We Have a Model for Regulating Guns: Automobiles
Gun enthusiasts often protest: Cars kill about as many people as guns, and we don't ban them! No, but automobiles are actually a model for the public health approach I'm suggesting.
We don't ban cars, but we work hard to regulate them '' and limit access to them '' so as to reduce the death toll they cause. This has been spectacularly successful, reducing the death rate per 100 million miles driven by 95 percent since 1921.
Take a look at the history of motor vehicle safety since World War II:
Deaths per 100 million vehicle
miles traveled
1946
9.35
8
1968
First federal safety standards for cars
6
4
2016
2
1.18
'50s
'60s
'70s
'80s
'90s
'00s
'10s
Deaths per 100 million vehicle miles traveled
1946
9.35
1950
1968
First seatbelt offered
in an American car
First federal safety
standards for cars
8
1974
55 m.p.h. national
speed limit
1993
Car safety ratings
introduced
6
1978
Tennessee is first
to require child safety
seats
1999
Airbags, invented
in 1951, become mandatory
1984
4
New York is first to require seat belt use
2000
Mandatory reporting
of defects by
carmakers
2016
2
1.18
'46
'50s
'60s
'70s
'80s
'90s
2000s
'10s
'16
The New York Times | Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
The Liberal Approach Is Ineffective. Use a Public Health Approach Instead.
Frankly, liberal opposition to guns has often been ineffective, and sometimes counterproductive. The 10-year ban on assault weapons accomplished little, partly because definitions were about cosmetic features like bayonet mounts (and partly because even before the ban, such guns were used in only 2 percent of crimes).
The left sometimes focuses on ''gun control,'' which scares off gun owners and leads to more gun sales. A better framing is ''gun safety'' or ''reducing gun violence,'' and using auto safety as a model'--constant efforts to make the products safer and to limit access by people who are most likely to misuse them.
What would a public health approach look like for guns if it were modeled after cars? It would include:
Background Checks
22 percent of guns are obtained without one.
Protection Orders
Keep men who are subject to domestic violence protection orders from having guns.
Ban Under-21s
A ban on people under 21 purchasing firearms (this is already the case in many states).
Safe Storage
These include trigger locks as well as guns and ammunition stored separately, especially when children are in the house.
Straw Purchases
Tighter enforcement of laws on straw purchases of weapons, and some limits on how many guns can be purchased in a month.
Ammunition Checks
Experimentation with a one-time background check for anybody buying ammunition.
End Immunity
End immunity for firearm companies. That's a subsidy to a particular industry.
Ban Bump Stocks
A ban on bump stocks of the kind used in Las Vegas to mimic automatic weapon fire.
Research 'Smart Guns'
''Smart guns'' fire only after a fingerprint or PIN is entered, or if used near a particular bracelet.
If someone steals my iPhone, it's useless, and the same should be true of guns. Gun manufacturers made child-proof guns back in the 19th century (before dropping them), and it's time to advance that technology today. Some combination of smart guns and safe storage would also reduce the number of firearms stolen in the U.S. each year, now about 200,000, and available to criminals.
We also need to figure out whether gun buybacks, often conducted by police departments, are cost-effective and help reduce violence. And we can experiment more with anti-gang initiatives, such as Cure Violence, that have a good record in reducing shootings.
Fewer Guns = Fewer Deaths
It is true that guns are occasionally used to stop violence. But contrary to what the National Rifle Association suggests, this is rare. One study by the Violence Policy Center found that in 2012 there were 259 justifiable homicides by a private citizen using a firearm.
Estimated Percent of Households With
Guns, by State
Hawaii
Mass.
U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF
HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS
R.I.
N.J.
N.Y.
Del.
Conn.
Ill.
States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.
Calif.
Fla.
Md.
Wash.
N.H.
Ind.
Ohio
Co.
Pa.
Iowa
Minn.
Ariz.
Nev.
N.D.
Mich.
Va.
Ore.
N.M.
N.C.
Tex.
S.C.
Neb.
Kan.
Ga.
Mo.
Okla.
Wisc.
La.
Ky.
Utah
Ala.
Maine
Tenn.
S.D.
W. Va.
Ark.
Alaska
Vt.
Miss.
Idaho
Mont.
Wyo.
20%
40%
60%
80%
Estimated Percent of Households With Guns, by State
Hawaii
Massachusetts
Rhode Island
U.S. AVERAGE: 32% OF HOUSEHOLDS HAVE GUNS
New Jersey
New York
Delaware
Connecticut
Illinois
California
States in red have gun death rates above the national average of 10.5 per 100,000 people.
Florida
Maryland
Washington
New Hampshire
Indiana
Ohio
Colorado
Pennsylvania
Iowa
Minnesota
Arizona
Nevada
North Dakota
Michigan
Virginia
Oregon
New Mexico
North Carolina
Texas
South Carolina
Nebraska
Kansas
Georgia
Missouri
Oklahoma
Wisconsin
Louisiana
Kentucky
Utah
Alabama
Maine
Tennessee
South Dakota
West Virginia
Arkansas
Alaska
Vermont
Mississippi
Idaho
Montana
Wyoming
20%
40%
60%
80%
Note: There are no hard data on gun ownership in the United States. This household gun ownership proxy was created by taking a weighted average of the percentage of suicides committed with a firearm '-- a widely used proxy for firearm ownership '-- and the hunting license rate in '‹each state. '‹It improves upon '‹earlier models by accounting for the prevalence of hunting rifles, which are typically not used in suicides. The new proxy '‹improves the correlation with survey-measured gun ownership from '‹'‹0.80 to 0.95'‹, '‹suggesting increased accuracy. Source: Michael Siegel, Boston University School of Public Health
Gun Law 'Grades' and Gun Death Rates
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an ''A;'' the weakest, an ''F.''
States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.
GUN DEATH RATE
PER 100,000
GRADE
A
Hawaii
2.7
Mass.
3.1
N.Y.
4.2
Conn.
4.9
N.J.
5.3
Calif.
7.4
Md.
9.0
B
R.I.
3.0
Ill.
9.0
Wash.
9.6
Del.
10.9
C
Minn.
6.6
Iowa
7.4
Wis.
8.2
Pa.
10.4
Mich.
11.0
Ore.
11.7
Colo.
12.2
D
N.H.
8.6
Neb.
9.4
Va.
10.3
Ohio
10.3
N.C.
11.8
Ind.
12.3
F
Maine
9.4
Vt.
10.2
S.D.
10.3
Texas
10.6
Kan.
11.3
Fla.
11.5
N.D.
12.0
Utah
12.4
Idaho
13.2
Ariz.
13.4
Ga.
13.6
Ky.
13.9
W. Va.
14.5
Nev.*
14.7
Tenn.
15.1
Mo.
15.2
S.C.
15.4
Okla.
15.6
N.M.
15.8
Mont.
16.1
Wyo.
16.3
Ark.
16.5
Ala.
16.8
Miss.
18.3
La.
19.0
Alaska
19.1
Gun Law 'Grades' and Gun Death Rates
The Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence finds that states where guns are more regulated tend to have lower gun death rates. In its grading system, the strongest gun regulations get an ''A;'' the weakest, an ''F.''
States in red have death rates above the national average of 10.5.
GUN DEATH RATE
PER 100,000
GRADE
A
F
Maine
Hawaii
9.4
2.7
Vermont
Massachusetts
10.2
3.1
South Dakota
New York
10.3
4.2
Connecticut
Texas
4.9
10.6
Kansas
New Jersey
11.3
5.3
Florida
California
11.5
7.4
North Dakota
Maryland
12.0
9.0
Utah
12.4
Idaho
13.2
B
Rhode Island
3.0
Arizona
13.4
Illinois
9.0
Georgia
13.6
Washington
9.6
Kentucky
13.9
Delaware
10.9
West Virginia
14.5
Nevada*
14.7
C
Minnesota
6.6
Tennessee
15.1
Iowa
7.4
Missouri
15.2
Wisconsin
8.2
South Carolina
15.4
Pennsylvania
10.4
Oklahoma
15.6
Michigan
11.0
New Mexico
15.8
Oregon
11.7
Montana
16.1
Colorado
12.2
Wyoming
16.3
Arkansas
16.5
Alabama
16.8
D
New Hampshire
8.6
Mississippi
18.3
Nebraska
9.4
Louisiana
19.0
Virginia
10.3
Alaska
19.1
Ohio
10.3
North Carolina
11.8
Indiana
12.3
*Nevada's grade of F would improve to a C-minus if a recently passed ballot initiative mandating universal background checks is implemented. So far, the state has failed to do so. Source: Law Center to Prevent Gun Violence.
But the problem is that lax laws too often make it easy not only for good guys to get guns, but also for bad guys to get guns. The evidence is overwhelming that overall more guns and more relaxed gun laws lead to more violent deaths and injuries. One study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine found that a gun in the house was associated with an increased risk of a gun death, particularly by suicide but also apparently by homicide.
In 2015, Gov. Greg Abbott of Texas tweeted that he was ''embarrassed'' that his state was ranked second (behind California) in requests to buy new guns, albeit still with one million requests. ''Let's pick up the pace Texans,'' he wrote. Abbott apparently believes, along with the N.R.A., that more guns make a society more safe, but statistics dispute that. Abbott should look at those charts.
Greg Abbott'
@GregAbbott_TX
I'm EMBARRASSED: Texas #2 in nation for new gun purchases, behind CALIFORNIA. Let's pick up the pace Texans.
@NRA 10:53 AM - 28 Oct 2015 Mass Shootings Are Not the Main Cause of Loss of Life
Critics will say that the kind of measures I cite wouldn't prevent many shootings. The Las Vegas carnage, for example, might not have been prevented by any of the suggestions I make.
That's true, and there's no magic wand available. Yet remember that although it is mass shootings that get our attention, they are not the main cause of loss of life. Much more typical is a friend who shoots another, a husband who kills his wife '' or, most common of all, a man who kills himself. Skeptics will say that if people want to kill themselves, there's nothing we can do. In fact, it turns out that if you make suicide a bit more difficult, suicide rates drop.
Here are the figures showing that mass shootings are a modest share of the total, and the same is true of self-defense '' despite what the N.R.A. might have you believe.
EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016
AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES
ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES
OTHER CAUSES
DEATHS IN
MASS
SHOOTINGS:
456
VICTIMS KILLING
PERPETRATORS IN
SELF-DEFENSE:
589
1.6 %
1.2 %
EACH SYMBOL REPRESENTS 500 GUN DEATHS IN 2016
AN ESTIMATED 22,000 GUN SUICIDES
ABOUT 11,760 HOMICIDES
OTHER CAUSES
VICTIMS KILLING
PERPETRATORS IN
SELF-DEFENSE:
589
DEATHS IN
MASS
SHOOTINGS:
456
1.6 %
1.2 %
The New York Times | Source: Gun Violence Archive
Tightening Gun Laws Lowered Firearm Homicide Rates
For skeptics who think that gun laws don't make a difference, consider what happened in two states, Missouri and Connecticut. In 1995, Connecticut tightened licensing laws, while in 2007 Missouri eased gun laws.
The upshot? After tightening gun laws, firearm homicide rates dropped 40 percent in Connecticut. And after Missouri eased gun laws, gun homicide rates rose 25 percent.
Connecticut after 1995 law
tightening licensing requirements
Estimated change in
rate of gun homicide
''40%
Estimated change in
rate of gun suicide
''15%
Missouri after 2007 repeal
of license requirements
Estimated change in
rate of gun homicide
+25%
Estimated change in
rate of gun suicide
+16%
Connecticut after 1995 law
tightening licensing requirements
Missouri after
2007 repeal
of license requirements
Estimated change in
rate of gun homicide
''40%
+25%
Estimated change in
rate of gun suicide
''15%
+16%
The New York Times | Source: Johns Hopkins School of Public Health
One of the lessons of gun research is that we often focus just on firearms themselves, when it may be more productive to focus on who gets access to them. A car or gun is usually safe in the hands of a 45-year-old woman with no criminal record, but may be dangerous when used by a 19-year-old felon with a history of alcohol offenses or domestic violence protection orders.
Yet our laws have often focused more on weapons themselves (such as the assault weapons ban) rather than on access. In many places, there is more rigorous screening of people who want to adopt dogs than of people who want to purchase firearms.
In these two states, the laws affected access, and although there's some indication that other factors were also involved in Connecticut (and correlations don't prove causation), the outcomes are worth pondering.
There Is a Shocking Lack of Research on Guns
There's simply a scandalous lack of research on gun violence, largely because the N.R.A. is extremely hostile to such research and Congress rolls over. When the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did try to research gun violence, Congress responded by cutting its funding.
Here is the American toll from four diseases and firearms over the years 1973-2012 '' and the number of National Institutes of Health research grants to explore each problem over that same time.
N.I.H. research awards
Disease
Rabies
65
56
Polio
266
212
Cholera
400
129
Diphtheria
1,337
89
3
>4 million
Disease
N.I.H. research awards
Rabies
65
89
Polio
266
129
Cholera
400
212
Diphtheria
1,337
56
3
>4 million
The New York Times | Source: University of Chicago Crime Lab
The Right Type of Training Could Go a Long Way
One approach that could reduce the abuse of guns is better training. As a 13-year-old farm boy in Oregon, I attended a N.R.A. gun safety class (which came with a one-year membership to the N.R.A., making me an N.R.A. alum who despises what that organization has become). These classes can be very useful, and audits found that more than 80 percent cover such matters as checking the gun to see if it's loaded, keeping one's finger off the trigger until ready to fire and being certain of the target.
Yet the audits also suggest that trainers are more likely to advocate for the N.R.A. or for carrying guns than for, say, safe storage. This is a missed opportunity, for all classes should cover the risks of guns and alcohol, the risks of abuse with suicide and domestic violence, the need for safe storage, and so on. Here's what researchers found that the gun classes they audited actually covered:
PERCENT OF CLASSES
WHERE DISCUSSED
Trainers encouraged
gun carrying
81%
19
76
24
Prevent unsupervised
access by children
70
30
Encouraged gun use
for self-defense
69
31
60
40
Ricochet
60
40
Theft prevention
Encouraged membership
in gun-rights group
56
44
Legal ramifications of
shooting in self-defense
55
45
53
47
Child access laws
Recommendation: when
not in use, store unloaded
50
50
Recommendation: use
gun only as last resort
45
55
Young children
and gun accidents
55
45
70
30
Decision-making in crises
Theft is important source
of firearms used in crime
80
20
Techniques for
de-escalating threats
85
15
Recommendation:
report stolen firearms
90
10
Watch for signs of suicide
in household members
90
10
90
10
Domestic violence risk
Percent of classes
where discussed
Trainers encouraged gun carrying
19
81%
Encouraged gun ownership
24
76
Prevent unsupervised access by children
30
70
Encouraged gun use for self-defense
31
69
Ricochet
40
60
Theft prevention
40
60
Encouraged membership in gun-rights group
44
56
Legal ramifications of shooting in self-defense
45
55
Child access laws
47
53
Recommendation: when not in use, store unloaded
50
50
Recommendation: use gun only as last resort
55
45
Young children and gun accidents
55
45
Decision-making in crises
70
30
Theft is an important source of firearms used in crime
80
20
Techniques for de-escalating threats
85
15
Recommendation: report stolen firearms
90
10
Watch for signs of suicide in household members
90
10
Domestic violence risk
90
10
The New York Times | Source: David Hemenway, Injury Prevention | The classes studied, some of which were required by law, took place in 7 Northeast states.
A Way Forward: On Some Issues, Majorities Agree
It may sometimes seem hopeless to make progress on gun violence, especially with the N.R.A. seemingly holding Congress hostage. But I'm more optimistic.
Look, we all agree on some kinds of curbs on guns. Nobody believes that people should be able to drive a tank down Main Street, or have an anti-aircraft gun in the backyard. I've been to parts of northern Yemen where one could actually buy a tank or an anti-aircraft gun, as well as fully automatic weapons '-- and that area's now embroiled in a civil war '' but fortunately in America we have agreed to ban those kinds of weaponry.
So the question isn't whether we will restrict firearms, but where to draw the line and precisely which ones to restrict.
Check out these polling numbers as a basis for action on gun safety:
Agree with
the following:
50%
Background checks
for all gun buyers
93%
96%
Preventing mentally
ill from buying guns
89
89
Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes
88
85
Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists
82
84
Background checks for private sales and at gun shows
77
87
Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases
72
89
Ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun
67
79
A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence
61
75
New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns
57
71
Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence
56
81
Creating a federal database to track gun sales
54
80
A ban on the sale of high-capacity magazines
(10+ bullets)*
52
77
Agree with the following:
50%
93%
Background checks for all gun buyers
96%
89
Preventing the mentally ill from buying guns
89
Nationwide ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes
88
85
Barring gun purchases by people on no-fly or watch lists
82
84
Background checks for private sales and at gun shows
77
87
Federal mandatory waiting period on all gun purchases
72
89
A ban on modifications that make a semi- automatic gun work like an automatic gun
67
79
A ban on the sale of guns to people convicted of violent crimes would reduce gun violence
61
75
New gun laws will not interfere with the right to own guns
57
71
Congress is not doing enough to reduce gun violence
56
81
Creating a federal database to track gun sales
54
80
A ban on the sale of high-capacity ammunition magazines (10+ bullets)*
52
77
The New York Times | Sources: Pew Research Center survey conducted in March and April (questions on mental illness, no-fly lists, background checks for private sales and federal database); Quinnipiac University National Poll conducted Oct. 5-10 (all other questions) | *A Pew Research Center survey found only 44 percent of gun owners favored such a ban.
Looking ahead, I'm optimistic that there can be progress at the state level, and some of the necessary research funding will come from private foundations. Maybe some police departments will put in orders for smart guns to help create a market.
But the real impetus for change will come because the public favors it. In particular, note that 93 percent of people even in gun households favor universal background checks for gun purchases.
If you're wondering how we managed to crank out all these charts and data in the immediate aftermath of the Texas shooting, here's the secret: We didn't. We spent weeks gathering the information and preparing the charts, because we knew that there would be a tragedy like this one to make it all relevant.
That's the blunt, damning truth: Friday's school shooting was 100 percent predictable. After each such incident, we mourn the deaths and sympathize with the victims, but we do nothing fundamental to reduce our vulnerability.
Some of you will protest, as President Trump did, that it's too soon to talk about guns, or that it is disrespectful to the dead to use such a tragedy to score political points. Yet more Americans have died from gun violence, including suicides, since 1970 (about 1.4 million) than in all the wars in American history going back to the Revolutionary War (about 1.3 million). And it's not just gang-members: In a typical year, more pre-schoolers are shot dead in America (about 75) than police officers are.
Yes, making America safer will be hard: There are no perfect solutions. The Second Amendment is one constraint, and so is our polarized political system and the power of the gun lobby. It's unclear how effective some of my suggestions will be, and in any case this will be a long, uncertain, uphill process.
But automobiles are a reminder that we can chip away at a large problem through a public health approach: Just as auto safety improvements have left us far better off, it seems plausible to some gun policy experts that a sensible, politically feasible set of public health steps could over time reduce firearm deaths in America by one-third '' or more than 10,000 lives saved each year.
So let's not just shed tears for the dead, give somber speeches and lower flags. Let's get started and save lives.
I invite you to sign up for my free, twice-weekly email newsletter. Please also join me on Facebook and Google+, watch my YouTube videos and follow me on Twitter (@NickKristof).
SJWBLMLGBBTQQIAAPK
Opinion | The N.F.L. Kneels to Trump - The New York Times
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:30
By The Editorial Board
The editorial board represents the opinions of the board, its editor and the publisher. It is separate from the newsroom and the Op-Ed section.
May 23, 2018 Commissioner Roger Goodell announced Wednesday that N.F.L. teams would be fined if players kneel during the National Anthem. Credit Kiichiro Sato/Associated Press The owners of the National Football League have concluded, with President Trump, that true patriotism is not about bravely standing up for democratic principle but about standing up, period.
Rather than show a little backbone themselves and support the right of athletes to protest peacefully, the league capitulated to a president who relishes demonizing black athletes. The owners voted Wednesday to fine teams whose players do not stand for the national anthem while they are on the field.
Let us hope that in keeping with the league's pinched view of patriotism, the players choose to honor the letter but not the spirit of this insulting ban. It might be amusing, for example, to see the owners tied in knots by players who choose to abide by the injunction to ''stand and show respect'' '-- while holding black-gloved fists in the air. Or who choose to stand '-- while holding signs protesting policy brutality. We look forward to many more meetings of fatootsed gazillionaires conducting many more votes on petty rules to ban creative new forms of player protest.
Many players, African-American by and large, have been kneeling during the anthem since 2016, when the San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began sitting, and later kneeling, during the ceremony to protest racism and police brutality.
Many football fans and team owners thought Mr. Kaepernick was showing disrespect for the flag, or even for the military, as though the Stars and Stripes were a battle standard and the football field a hallowed battleground. The owners responded in the grand old American tradition of blackballing people you disagree with.
Since Mr. Kaepernick became a free agent a little over a year ago, no team has offered him a contract, an odd thing given the less than distinguished roster of quarterbacks in the league last season. He filed a collusion grievance, which reportedly led to documents showing that some of the top coaches in the league said that he was not only good enough to be a backup quarterback, but to be a starter.
As time went on, and more cases of police brutality emerged, more players knelt in solidarity with Mr. Kaepernick and his cause.
The president, smelling an issue sure to fire up his base, pounced. ''Wouldn't you love to see one of these N.F.L. owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired,''' Mr. Trump said at a political rally in September.
That riled up players, owners and fans on both sides of the question. Mr. Trump and Vice President Mike Pence continued to stir outrage. More players knelt. More conservatives became incensed and threatened to boycott the league.
The fury that Mr. Trump ignited was so troubling that it brought players and team owners together in a meeting last October to discuss it.
''The problem we have is, we have a president who will use that as fodder to do his mission that I don't feel is in the best interests of America,'' Robert Kraft, the Patriots owner and a Trump supporter, said of the kneeling. ''It's divisive, and it's horrible.''
The league has now decided it will also override the best interests of America and try to substitute a phony pageant of solidarity for a powerful civics lesson.
Follow The New York Times Opinion section on Facebook and Twitter (@NYTOpinion), and sign up for the Opinion Today newsletter.
25th for 45
Things Democrats Have Said Trump Could Be Impeached For :: News Lists
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:23
For "disrespecting and disparaging women" 10/11/2017 CSPAN AL Green For banning transgenders from serving in the military 10/11/2017 Grabien Al Green For saying NFL athletes should stand for the national anthem 10/19/2017 CSPAN Al Green For being "friends" with Putin 10/24/2017 CNN Maxine Waters For being "a clear and present danger" to Americans 10/25/2017 MSNBC Tom Steyer For "putting the health and safety of Americans at risk" 10/28/2017 MSNBC Tom Steyer For being an "inciter" of "hatred" 11/08/2017 CSPAN Al Green For inciting "bigotry" 11/08/2017 CSPAN Al Green For promoting "xenophobia" 11/08/2017 CSPAN Al Green For being an "inciter" of "ethnocentrism" 11/08/2017 CSPAN Al Green For "undermining the federal judiciary" 11/15/2017 Grabien Steve Cohen For the "Access Hollywood" tape 11/16/2017 Bloomberg Maxine Waters For mocking a disabled journalist 11/16/2017 Bloomberg Maxine Waters For "threatening the media" 11/18/2017 MSNBC John Yarmuth For "taking money from foreign governments" 11/26/2017 CNN Tom Steyer For "dereliction of duty" 12/03/2017 MSNBC Ted Lieu For being incompetent 12/04/2017 MSNBC Ezra Klein For bringing "dishonor" upon the United States 12/06/2017 CSPAN Al Green For being "psychologically deranged" 12/16/2017 MSNBC Richard Painter For not believing in the Constitution 12/30/2017 MSNBC Karine Jean-Pierre For being "racist, sexist, and Islamaphobic" 12/30/2017 MSNBC Anushay Hossain For being "unfit" for office 01/08/2018 MSNBC Tom Steyer For saying some countries are "shitholes" 01/14/2018 MSNBC Al Green For his aides talking to Russians 01/26/2018 CNN Cory Booker For urging Sessions to investigate Hillary 02/28/2018 MSNBC Chris Hayes For not being respectful 03/04/2018 MSNBC Maxine Waters For being "the most dangerous president in American history" 03/05/2018 MSNBC Tom Perez For name calling 03/12/2018 MSNBC Maxine Waters A.G. Sessions firing Andrew McCabe 03/16/2018 MSNBC Danny Cevallos For violating the "emoluments clause" 03/20/2018 MSNBC Tom Steyer If he were to fire Robert Mueller 03/23/2018 CNN Ted Lieu For being "unwilling to make it clear" Russians can't hack America's "critical infrastructure" 03/26/2018 MSNBC John Garamendi For being "unworthy" and "despicable" 03/27/2018 MSNBC Maxine Waters
#MeToo
Hundreds of USC Professors Call for President's Ouster - WSJ
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:22
May 22, 2018 5:21 p.m. ETTwo hundred tenured professors from the University of Southern California have signed a letter calling for the school's president to step down amid an unfolding scandal over how the university dealt with sexual-misconduct allegations against a longtime student health center gynecologist.
USC has been reeling in recent days from a Los Angeles Times report detailing accusations that gynecologist George Tyndall for decades conducted improper pelvic exams on female students and made sexually and racially inappropriate comments.
...
Two hundred tenured professors from the University of Southern California have signed a letter calling for the school's president to step down amid an unfolding scandal over how the university dealt with sexual-misconduct allegations against a longtime student health center gynecologist.
USC has been reeling in recent days from a Los Angeles Times report detailing accusations that gynecologist George Tyndall for decades conducted improper pelvic exams on female students and made sexually and racially inappropriate comments.
He was placed on leave after the school's Office of Equity and Diversity received a complaint in June 2016. The school said it found files in the office of a former health-center director detailing complaints against Dr. Tyndall dating back to 2000, and has said ''it is not clear today why'' he was allowed to remain in his position during that span. Dr. Tyndall left last year after reaching a settlement with USC, the school has said.
A handful of law-school faculty members drafted the letter against the president, C.L. Max Nikias, and began circulating it for signatures on Sunday, said Dan Simon, a professor of law and psychology who helped write the letter. They hit 200 names by Monday evening, and released the letter publicly on Tuesday, Mr. Simon said.
In the letter, faculty members from a range of departments say Dr. Nikias ''has lost the moral authority to lead the University.'' They say there is mounting evidence that he didn't protect students, staff and colleagues from ''repeated and pervasive'' sexual harassment and misconduct.
''The current administration has done some great things for the university,'' Mr. Simon said. ''We feel, however, that the moral failings, the moral errors, outweigh those achievements.''
The letter at USC comes at a time of growing faculty votes of no-confidence against the leadership on campus.
Dr. Nikias said in a statement that he understands the faculty's anger and frustration, and is committed to rebuilding their trust. ''We all deeply care about this university and we all need to work together to change the culture,'' he said.
Efforts to reach Dr. Tyndall for comment were unsuccessful. The L.A. Times said that in interviews with the paper, he denied wrongdoing.
USC released an ''action plan'' Tuesday, including creating a centralized office of professionalism and ethics, and revamping reporting structures when complaints are made. USC also notified the school community that it had let go of two supervisors from the student health center in the wake of new complaints about Dr. Tyndall.
The university has faced a series of scandals recently that faculty members say call into question the administration's transparency and decision making. The L.A. Times reported last year that a former medical-school dean used drugs while in office and his successor left after the paper reported that USC had years earlier settled a sexual-harassment claim against him.
Dr. Nikias also has overseen a period of tremendous growth at USC, including wrapping a $6 billion fundraising campaign ahead of schedule and raising the school's academic profile.
Board Chairman John Mork said in a letter to the USC community Tuesday that the board's executive committee has ''full confidence in President Nikias' leadership, ethics, and values and is certain that he will successfully guide our community forward.''
Armageddon
Who Charges Those Electric Bird Scooters? - The Atlantic
Tue, 22 May 2018 11:36
Every afternoon around 4 p.m., when school lets out, Brandon, an 18-year-old high-school senior in Los Angeles who asked to be referred to only by his first name, goes ''Bird hunting.'' He heads for his minivan and, on the drive home, he'll swing through convenient neighborhoods, picking up about 13 Bird electric scooters along the way, tossing them into the back of his car.
''I have a whole system,'' he says. ''I'll go home, put the 13 I initially caught on the chargers. They'll charge for about three hours until around 7 or 8 p.m.'''--when Bird makes more scooters available for charger pickup. ''Then I'll go back out.''
Over the course of the next few hours, Brandon loops around his Santa Monica, California, neighborhood collecting as many scooters as possible. He brings back his bounty and, as his parents sleep, neatly sets them up to charge in batches overnight.
The next morning he wakes up early, eats breakfast, and drops them off in groups of three at designated Bird Nests, designated pickup areas for scooters, on his way to school. For performing this service, Bird pays Brandon, a contract worker, up to several hundred dollars a night. On one particularly successful night, Brandon brought home $600.
Bird is a scooter-sharing company that launched in 2017 and has been dubbed the ''Uber of scooters.'' Its goal is to alleviate congestion and allow people an easy way to travel quickly for short distances of just a few miles. Riders can locate and unlock scooters using the company's smartphone app, and after paying the $1 unlocking fee are charged 15 cents per minute during use.
Birds are available in a growing number of American cities including Austin, Texas; Nashville, Tennessee; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Scottsdale, Arizona; Washington D.C.; and Atlanta. The scooters are all battery-powered and dockless, so they can be picked up or dropped off anywhere.
But when night falls, what most riders don't realize is that the scooters themselves are charged by a contract workforce. These people are known as ''Bird hunters'' or ''chargers,'' and they're growing exponentially in number.
Registering to become a charger isn't hard. Unlike Uber or most ride-sharing services, Bird doesn't require a background check or any kind of complicated registration procedure. It takes a few simple steps including registering your address and providing personal information, tax information, and bank-account information so you can get paid via direct deposit. If your application is approved, within a matter of days Bird will mail you three charging packs to get started. Charging a Bird doesn't require a ton of electricity, so minus the labor cost, charging a few scooters overnight is essentially free'--especially if you live in a large apartment building and can do so in your bike room.
As Birds and comparable scooter-sharing services continue to expand, charging has become a popular way for high-schoolers, college students, and young professionals to earn easy money.
Wait for it...Video cred: Katey S. pic.twitter.com/Cs30ORUcLX
'-- Harry Campbell (@TheRideshareGuy) April 13, 2018''Charging scooters for Bird is like Pok(C)mon Go, but when you get paid for finding Pok(C)mon,'' says Nick Abouzeid, a 21-year-old charger in San Francisco. Several nights a week after work, he and his girlfriend go on walks around the city, collecting scooters and bringing them back to his apartment building to charge in the basement.
''It's really fun to grab a few scooters, charge them, and in the end it pays for a fancy dinner,'' Abouzeid says. ''It's like a game and I would do it even if the prices were halved, which they probably will be.''
Like Pok(C)mon Go, when you enter ''charger mode'' the Bird app displays a real-time map of Birds across your area that require charging. The reward for capturing and charging these Birds can range from $5 to $20 depending on how difficult the Bird is to locate'--and some can be really hard to find. Bird chargers have described finding Birds in and under trash cans, down the side of a canyon, hidden in bushes, or tossed sideways on the side of the street.
''Finding the really hard ones is so awesome,'' says Lucas, a young teenage Bird charger in L.A. who didn't want his last name or his age listed since he technically hunts under his parents' account. ''It's become a big trend at my high school. People are like, 'Oh are you gonna charge tonight?' I have friends send me Snapchats like, 'I just got 18 in one night!' or, 'Look where I found this one.' There's definitely a sense of achievement in picking a lot of them up.''
''I think so many teens are doing it because it's a really easy way to make a lot of money on the side,'' says Brandon. ''Everyone loves Bird so when you tell people you're a Bird charger they're like, 'Whoa! That's cool, how do I do that?' No one thinks it's lame. My friends and I are pretty much in the tech crew [at school], so we found out sooner. But now popular kids are asking how they can sign up and get Birds.''
Lucas says he goes out with friends nearly every night, and even when they don't find tons of Birds, it's still a fun, social activity. ''It's like a whole-city scavenger hunt,'' he says. He even jokes that it would make a great date.
But while Bird hunting is fun and games for some, other chargers take the job much more seriously. Charging in some cities, like San Diego, has become a cutthroat competition between workers where every last dollar counts.
Hoarding in particular has become a problem in these crowded markets. Bird and other companies will pay a $20 reward for missing scooters, so some chargers simply keep the scooters in their garage until they're reported missing by riders or the bounty goes up to $20, then claim the finder's fees. Bird theoretically polices this behavior, and Brandon says he's gotten a warning call from the company for hoarding, but the bad behavior has become commonplace and punishment is unevenly enforced.
At a WeWork and just saw someone bring their Bird scooter into the building and up the elevator.Guess that's one way to hoard and ensure that you'll have a Bird scooter to rent / ride with by the end of the day.
'-- Kevin Lee (@kevinleeme) March 29, 2018Each scooter can also only be captured by one charger. In saturated markets, the race to quickly grab as many scooters as possible is fierce. ''One time I pulled up to pick up a scooter, I got there maybe 10 seconds before the other guy did,'' said one charger in San Diego. ''He started yelling at me. He picked up a Bird scooter and started beating my car. I got the hell out of there.''
''As a scooter charger you're a legitimate bounty hunter. Whoever finds the scooter first and scans it'--it's theirs and they're in charge of it,'' he added. ''Anything that happens to it between the time that you capture it and turn it in is your responsibility, just as a bounty would be.''
Unfortunately, some never turn their bounty in. They steal the scooters and chop-shop them, piecing them out and selling the batteries for up to $50. ''The Bird will chirp at you if you try to steal it, but they chirp so often that no one pays attention,'' says Abouzeid. ''No one would stop you or say anything. I can show you on the charger map which ones are stolen. The battery is always at 0 and they were last seen like 7 days ago.'' Any time you try to move a Bird without unlocking it first, the chirping alarm will go off. A representative for Bird says widespread theft has not been a problem.
As the charging community grows, some Bird hunters have sought to reduce their competition in nefarious ways.
Several Facebook groups for chargers in different cities have cropped up. For one of them, in order to join, you're asked to share a screenshot of your settings screen containing your login name, telephone number, and email. Rogue Bird hunters attempt to use this information to shut down your account or charge under your name with updated billing information.
Some vigilante Bird chargers who will stop at nothing to retrieve lost Birds and claim the $20 rewards have been known to falsely act as official representatives of the company. When they see a person hoarding a scooter or group of scooters in their garage via the app, they'll show up at the offender's house and demand they release the Birds into their care. ''This only really works sometimes,'' says one charger. ''If the person knows what's up they can say, 'Actually you're trespassing on private property.'''
Criminals and pickpockets have also begun to recognize Bird hunters as prime targets and can use the Birds to lure their prey to isolated areas.
One scooter charger said he has been nearly robbed on two occasions and that he now won't retrieve scooters that are left in strange places, for instance, at the end of a dark alley. ''I'd tell anyone getting into this to be safe,'' he says. ''I'd say to others: Bring mace or a taser because there's a lot of crazy people out there, even the [chargers themselves]. I've had people yell at me, threaten me. It's the Wild West.''
Still, interest in becoming a charger continues to rise. Harry Campbell, also known as the Ride-Share Guy, who covers the sharing economy on his site by the same name, says that if you get in early in a new market, there's a lot of money to be made Bird hunting.
''It really reminds me of the buzz from when Uber came out,'' he says. ''There's sort of a palpable interest right now in charging. I've talked to everyone from gig-economy workers who are getting involved to a real-estate agent to even a lawyer who was doing it part-time.''
Campbell's article about how to sign up to become a Bird charger has been the number-one article on his site for the past 45 days, generating tens of thousands of page views.
''It feels like Bird just fell out of the sky over the past three weeks in Atlanta,'' says Jake Schmutzler, a 26-year-old product manager. ''I've never been attracted to a gig-economy thing because I work full time and I would hate to deal with gig-economy customers, but picking up scooters for 20 minutes at night and making money while I sleep sounds like a good side hustle. My roommate and I travel the BeltLine and they are everywhere. And it's only going to get bigger.''
Lucas says everyone from his high school is getting in on it too. In the middle of our interview one friend texted him, ''U wanna pool our money so we can rent a truck and charge Birds?'' Brandon says that while he used to be mocked for the 2004 Toyota minivan he drove to school, his friends now commend its ability to transport large amounts of Birds.
But while some tech observers and Redditors debate the moral implications of the charging economy, Abouzeid says that becoming a Bird hunter can feel like a good deed, almost like cleaning up the neighborhood. ''You see them lying around on the side of a sidewalk,'' he says. ''As a charger you can pick them up, you take them home, take care of them, and leave them in a nice little row in the morning, ready to go for people. It's really satisfying.''
''I think it's really fun,'' says Lucas. ''I'll probably go charging this weekend.''
DPRK
Trump Grappling With Risks of Proceeding With North Korea Meeting - The New York Times
Mon, 21 May 2018 11:23
President Trump with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in New York last year. Mr. Trump is scheduled to meet with Mr. Moon on Tuesday ahead of his scheduled summit meeting with the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, in Singapore next month. Credit Tom Brenner/The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- President Trump, increasingly concerned that his summit meeting in Singapore next month with North Korea's leader could turn into a political embarrassment, has begun pressing his aides and allies about whether he should take the risk of proceeding with a historic meeting that he had leapt into accepting, according to administration and foreign officials.
Mr. Trump was both surprised and angered by a statement issued on Wednesday by the North's chief nuclear negotiator, who declared that the country would never trade away its nuclear weapons capability in exchange for economic aid, administration officials said. The statement, while a highly familiar tactic by the North, represented a jarring shift in tone after weeks of conciliatory gestures.
On Thursday and Friday, Mr. Trump peppered aides with questions about the wisdom of proceeding, and on Saturday night he called President Moon Jae-in of South Korea to ask why the North's public statement seemed to contradict the private assurances that Mr. Moon had conveyed after he met Kim Jong-un, the 35-year-old dictator of the North, at the Demilitarized Zone in late April.
The president's conversation with Mr. Moon, which was first reported by The Washington Post, came just three days before the South Korean leader was scheduled to arrive in Washington to meet with Mr. Trump on Tuesday. It was a sign of Mr. Trump's discomfort, some officials speculated, that he could not wait to discuss the issue until Mr. Moon arrived for his meetings here, though there is no indication that the president is considering pulling out of the North Korea talks.
Mr. Trump's aides have grown concerned that the president '-- who has said that ''everyone thinks'' he deserves a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts '-- has signaled that he wants the summit meeting too much. The aides also worry that Mr. Kim, sensing the president's eagerness, is prepared to offer assurances that will fade over time.
Moreover, Mr. Trump's decision this month to withdraw from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal raises the stakes for the North Korea negotiation. If he emerges with anything less than what President Barack Obama got, which in Iran included the verified shipment of 97 percent of all nuclear material out of the country, it will be hard for Mr. Trump to convince anyone other than his base that the negotiation was a success.
The aides are also concerned about what kind of grasp Mr. Trump has on the details of the North Korea program, and what he must insist upon as the key components of denuclearization. Mr. Moon and his aides reported that Mr. Kim seemed highly conversant with all elements of the program when the two men met, and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made similar comments about Mr. Kim, based on his two meetings with him in Pyongyang, the North's capital.
But aides who have recently left the administration say Mr. Trump has resisted the kind of detailed briefings about enrichment capabilities, plutonium reprocessing, nuclear weapons production and missile programs that Mr. Obama and President George W. Bush regularly sat through.
Grappling with North Korea in negotiations is a new experience not just for Mr. Trump, but also for everyone else in the upper ranks of his administration. South Korean officials say that John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump's new national security adviser, has been in near daily contact with his counterpart in Seoul, trying to work out a strategy.
Mr. Bolton has been clear that in his view the president should use the Singapore meeting to declare that the North must give up its entire arsenal and nuclear infrastructure before crippling economic sanctions are eased.
The South has been advocating a more traditional confidence-building approach, in which concessions by the North result in a gradual lifting of sanctions. But Mr. Trump has said he will not repeat that technique, because it led to failure by his four immediate predecessors.
Until now, administration officials have been saying they expect Mr. Kim to agree to denuclearization at the Singapore summit meeting and to set a schedule for a fast down payment over the next six months, which would involve turning over some number of nuclear weapons, closing production facilities and allowing inspectors to range the country.
Those who have dealt with North Korea most intensively say that expectation will have to be scaled back if Mr. Trump expects success.
''If Trump is truly expecting to see a handover of nuclear weapons in six months, without anything in return, that is very unrealistic,'' said Joseph Yun, the State Department's North Korea coordinator until he retired a few months ago. He predicted that Mr. Trump would be forced into the kind of step-by-step measures that his predecessors attempted, ''because there is no other way.''
Mr. Pompeo said on ABC News late last month: ''This administration has its eyes wide open. We know the history. We know the risks.'' He said the only measure of success would be ''complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization,'' a phrase first used in the Bush administration, for which it proved unattainable.
Analysts at the C.I.A., where Mr. Pompeo was director before becoming secretary of state, have warned for years that they do not believe that Mr. Kim would trade away all of his nuclear weapons capability, no matter what the offer from the United States and its allies. But they have said there was a chance that he would suspend testing and give up some of the North's capability '-- as long as it could be rapidly rebuilt '-- if he could win the removal of much of the American presence in the region.
Mr. Bolton has repeatedly cited the case of Libya, which turned over all of its nuclear-related equipment in 2003, as a model to follow for denuclearization. Libya received promises of economic integration with the West, little of which happened.
In 2011, its leader, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was overthrown, dragged from a ditch and killed. The North Koreans noticed, and much of the statement issued last week was a denunciation of Mr. Bolton and a vow never to bend to ''great powers'' seeking a similar deal.
But when reporters asked Mr. Trump about Libya, he managed, in one stroke, to contradict Mr. Bolton and misconstrue the importance of the trade of the nuclear program for economic rewards.
''The Libyan model isn't a model that we have at all, when we're thinking of North Korea,'' Mr. Trump said. ''If you look at that model with Qaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him.'' That referred to Western military intervention in 2011, not to the nuclear disarmament that came eight years before.
''Now that model would take place if we don't make a deal, most likely,'' Mr. Trump warned, seeming to repeat exactly the threat that the North Koreans had warned against. ''But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.''
Mr. Trump may be right: Mr. Kim presumably has many decades ahead of him as North Korea's leader and has much to gain from improved economic conditions. But he would be betting his entire country on any nuclear deal, and most intelligence analyses in recent years have cast doubt that he, or the North Korean elite, would be willing to give up the security provided by nuclear arms.
Michael Green, a professor at Georgetown University and a leading expert on Asia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote in Foreign Affairs that Mr. Kim was looking for something much larger than Mr. Trump was.
''Trump may be preparing for the wrong game: a two-player round of checkers when Kim is steeling for a multiplayer two-board chess match,'' he wrote. ''On one board will be the future of North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, what Trump came to negotiate. On the other will be what Kim and the other participants know is also crucially at stake: the future of geopolitics in northeast Asia.'' Mr. Kim sees himself as a player in that game long after the Trump administration is over.
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Jeruzalem
Ramadan ad featuring Trump, Putin, Kim and others goes viral (VIDEO) '-- RT World News
Tue, 22 May 2018 11:30
An ad by Kuwaiti mobile phone operator Zain, in which a young Muslim boy calls on world leaders to address crises in the Arab world, has gone viral. It concludes with the declaration that Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine.
In the video, released on May 17, a young boy addresses lookalikes of Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, Kim Jong-un, Angela Merkel, Justin Trudeau, and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.
In front of an unmoved Trump, the boy wishes the President a happy Ramadan, and asks him to break the fast together, ''if you can find my home under the debris.''
The boy then takes Russian President Vladimir Putin by the hand and tells him about his family's loss in war, before meeting German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at a beach while refugees come ashore. In another scene, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres is seen helping Burmese Rohingya refugees to safety.
Then, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un hangs his head in sadness, standing in the remains of the boy's bombed-out bedroom.
The boy then frees a young girl wearing a Palestinian scarf from prison. The girl looks like a much younger version of Ahed Tamimi, an imprisoned Palestinian teenager arrested last year for kicking and slapping Israeli soldiers in her West Bank village of Nabi Saleh.
The video closes with the repeated chorus: ''Our Iftar [fast-breaking] will be in Jerusalem, the capital of Palestine,'' as the boy leads Arab leaders towards the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, a Muslim holy site located in the contested city.
Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their historic capital. Israeli law claims the entirety of the city as the capital of Israel, however.
Jerusalem was divided by the 1949 armistice that ended the war in which Israel was established. Parts of east Jerusalem, including the Old City, were annexed by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War. President Donald Trump's recent relocation of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was seen as an endorsement of the Israeli annexation, provoking anger across the Arab world.
In just five days, the video has had over four million views.
This is not the first politically or religiously-charged ad campaign for Zain mobile. At the beginning of last year's Ramadan, an anti-terrorism ad urging Muslims to ''confront your enemy, with peace not war'' gathered almost 15 million views.
READ MORE: 'You filled cemeteries with our children': Anti-terrorist Ramadan video goes viral on YouTube
With 47 million customers throughout the Middle East and North Africa, Zain is one of the world's largest mobile phone operators by geographical area.
Think your friends would be interested? Share this story!
Mid Term Elections
Hillary and Bill Clinton Go Separate Ways for 2018 Midterm Elections - The New York Times
Mon, 21 May 2018 12:12
Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton arriving for the funeral of Barbara Bush in Houston last month. The couple has been largely absent from the 2018 midterm campaigns. Credit Pool photo by David J. Phillip For years they dominated the party, brandishing their powerful financial network and global fame to pick favorites for primary elections and lift Democrats even in deep-red states. They were viewed as a joint entity, with a shared name that was the most powerful brand in Democratic politics: the Clintons.
But in the 2018 election campaign, Hillary and Bill Clinton have veered in sharply different directions. Mrs. Clinton appears determined to play at least a limited role in the midterms, bolstering longtime allies and raising money for Democrats in safely liberal areas. Her husband has been all but invisible.
And both have been far less conspicuous than in past election cycles, but for different reasons: Mrs. Clinton faces distrust on the left, where she is seen as an avatar of the Democratic establishment, and raw enmity on the right. Mr. Clinton has been largely sidelined amid new scrutiny of his past misconduct with women.
Mrs. Clinton is expected to break her virtual hiatus from the campaign trail this week, when she will endorse Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo of New York in a contested Democratic primary, her spokesman, Nick Merrill, confirmed '-- a move sure to enrage liberal activists seeking Mr. Cuomo's ouster at the hands of Cynthia Nixon, the actress turned progressive insurgent. Mrs. Clinton has also recorded an automated phone call endorsing Stacey Abrams, the former Democratic leader in the Georgia House, who is competing for the party's nomination for governor on Tuesday.
It is unclear whether Mr. Clinton will be involved in either race.
Mrs. Clinton's stunning defeat in 2016 delivered a blunt-force coda to the family's run in electoral politics, and many Democrats are wary of seeing either of them re-engage. They worry that the Clinton name reeks of the past and fear that their unpopularity with conservative-leaning and independent voters could harm Democrats in close races. And among many younger and more liberal voters, the Clintons' reputation for ideological centrism has little appeal.
President Trump, meanwhile, has continued to level caustic attacks that have made the Clintons radioactive with Republicans. A Gallup poll in December found Mrs. and Mr. Clinton with their lowest favorability ratings in years.
So far, the couple have avoided high-profile special elections in Alabama, Georgia and Pennsylvania, and engaged sparingly in the off-year elections for governor in New Jersey and Virginia.
Even in their former political backyard '-- in Arkansas, where Mr. Clinton was governor '-- there is scant demand for their help. In Little Rock, Ark., where on Tuesday there is a Democratic primary election for a Republican-held House seat the party covets, none of the four candidates running has reached out to seek the Clintons' support, their campaigns said.
Image Mr. and Mrs. Clinton at a rally for her presidential campaign in Davenport, Iowa, in 2016. Credit Doug Mills/The New York Times ''I see the Clintons as a liability,'' said Paul Spencer, a high school teacher running as a progressive in the Arkansas race. ''They simply represent the old mind-set of a Democratic Party that is going to continue to lose elections.''
Still, Mrs. Clinton plainly maintains a following in the party and aims to help in corners of the country where she can. She introduced a political group, Onward Together, after the 2016 election, and has directed millions to liberal grass-roots organizations, like Indivisible and Swing Left. And she is in talks about campaigning for some Democratic candidates in the fall, likely in a cluster of House districts where she defeated Mr. Trump.
''We have to win back the Congress,'' Mrs. Clinton said during a seven-minute speech Friday in Washington, at a women's leadership conference organized by the Democratic National Committee.
Her interventions for Mr. Cuomo and Ms. Abrams are rare steps for the former secretary of state, who has rebuffed other requests for help and signaled even to close allies that she would not meddle in primary elections.
The difference in her approach toward the two races underscores the delicacy of her role: In New York, where Mrs. Clinton is popular and Mr. Cuomo needs help mainly with fellow Democrats, she intends to deliver her endorsement publicly, at a state party convention on Long Island. In Georgia, where Mrs. Clinton's imprimatur could harm Ms. Abrams in a general election, the endorsement will be delivered only through phone messages to Democratic voters '-- making the appeal imperceptible to everyone else.
But Clinton associates say the bulk of her activities will be in the fall.
Former Representative Ellen Tauscher of California, a close ally who is on the board of Onward Together, said she expected Mrs. Clinton to campaign later in the season and cited Senator Dianne Feinstein's re-election campaign in her home state as a likely choice.
''People she has supported for a long time, like Dianne Feinstein and others, know she's with them,'' Ms. Tauscher said.
Mrs. Clinton's husband appears far less welcome on the trail, with his unpopularity among Republicans compounded by new skepticism on the left about his treatment of women and allegations of sexual assault.
Image Mrs. and Mr. Clinton celebrated his election with their daughter, Chelsea, in Little Rock, Ark., in 1992. This year, none of the four Democratic candidates in a congressional district in Arkansas have reached out to the Clintons for their support. Credit Jim Wilson/The New York Times Mr. Clinton is said to remain passionately angry about the 2016 election '-- more so than his wife '-- raising concerns that he could go wildly off message in campaign settings, several people who have spoken with Mr. Clinton said.
Democrats have been keeping their distance: During the special election for Senate in Alabama in December, Doug Jones, the Democrat who won the race, considered enlisting Mr. Clinton's help before abandoning the idea as too risky.
When Mr. Clinton offered to campaign for Ralph Northam, now the governor of Virginia, Mr. Northam's camp responded cautiously. Rather than headlining a public event, Mr. Clinton was urged to attend a fund-raiser already scheduled in the Washington area '-- a suggestion that offended the former president, according to people briefed on the awkward exchange. The Northam and Clinton camps discussed a church visit in October but failed to agree on a date.
Yet Mr. Clinton appears eager to engage where he can, holding an event last fall with Phil Murphy, now the governor of New Jersey. This year, Mike Espy, Mr. Clinton's former agriculture secretary who is running for Senate in Mississippi, told a fellow cabinet alumnus, Rodney Slater, that he was hoping to reach Mr. Clinton. Minutes later, Mr. Espy has told associates, his phone rang: It was the former president, who launched into a monologue advising Mr. Espy on campaign strategy and pledging to deliver fund-raising help.
Angel Ure±a, a spokesman for Mr. Clinton, said the former president has been focused on nonpolitical projects, including the publication of a thriller next month. Noting that Mr. Clinton left office nearly two decades ago, Mr. Ure±a called it ''remarkable'' that questions were being asked about his role in the midterms.
''Candidates from across the country have been in touch about him supporting their campaigns,'' Mr. Ure±a said. ''But we're not past primary season, and he's focused on the work of his foundation and his book.''
Mr. Merrill, the spokesman for Mrs. Clinton, said she had been largely focused on her new political group, and promised ''there will be more to come.''
''While Republicans are hellbent on focusing on the past, she is focused on the future,'' Mr. Merrill said.
Image Mrs. Clinton with Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York at an event in Queens last year. She plans to endorse him for re-election over Cynthia Nixon, his opponent in the Democratic primary. Credit Sam Hodgson for The New York Times But Mrs. Clinton has stirred frustration among Democrats who hope she plays a muted role in 2018. Last year, she chose to focus quite a bit on the past, revisiting the particulars of her 2016 defeat in a memoir, to the consternation of other Democrats. And in a series of public speeches, she has offered cutting criticism of American political culture.
During a visit to India in March, she seemed to suggest that many women who voted for Mr. Trump did so because of pressure from their husbands. This month, Mrs. Clinton declared in New York that her support for capitalism had hurt her in 2016 '-- because so many Democrats are now socialists.
At least two Democratic women have nearly begged Mrs. Clinton to stay away from their high-stakes red-state Senate races. After Mrs. Clinton said in March that she won parts of America that are ''moving forward,'' unlike Trump-friendly areas, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri rebuked her.
''I don't think that's the way you should talk about any voter, especially ones in my state,'' Ms. McCaskill said.
Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota was blunter when asked, on the radio, when Mrs. Clinton might ''ride off into the sunset.''
''Not soon enough,'' she replied.
Associates of Mrs. Clinton said she is aware of the political pressures that make her unwelcome in red states, and they do not expect her to charge into races where she is undesired. They generally anticipate she will focus on fund-raising.
Her bond with Democratic donors was on grand display last month: In late April, Mrs. Clinton convened a gathering in New York for the liberal groups backed by Onward Together, meeting for hours with organizers and donors at an airy conference center overlooking the East River.
Mrs. Clinton delivered an unsparing critique there of the Democratic Party's political infrastructure: She said the left had failed to match Republicans' enthusiasm for party-building and lamented what she called the poor state of Democrats' electioneering machinery in 2016, according to several attendees.
''On the Democratic side, she talked about how we want to fall in love with the candidate and Republicans will fall in line,'' said Crist"bal Alex, president of the Latino Victory Project, a group backed by Mrs. Clinton's organization.
But Mr. Alex said Mrs. Clinton had not taken aim at the man who defeated her.
''I don't remember her uttering the word 'Trump,''' he said, ''but so many others did and you couldn't escape that context in this meeting.''
Noah Weiland and Jonathan Martin contributed reporting.
iPAWS
Lake Worth falsely sends out 'zombie' alert during power outage
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:59
LAKE WORTH '--
A city power outage alert in Lake Worth on Sunday caused concern in residents for its mention of zombies.
That's correct. Zombies.
The message was sent during a power outage at about 1:45 a.m., but it also warned of ''zombie alert for Lake Worth and Terminus,'' potentially referencing the city in the zombie TV show ''The Walking Dead.''
''There are now far less than seven-thousand-three-hundred-eighty customers involved due to extreme zombie activity,'' the notice said.
'Test' tsunami warning startles Palm Beach County
Lake Worth Live, a community Facebook page, said an update from the city indicated the message was unintended.
''We are looking into reports that the system mentioned zombies,'' Ben Kerr, the city's public information officer, said in the post.
''I want to reiterate that Lake Worth does not have any zombie activity currently and apologize for the system message.''
Missile threat alert in Hawaii is false alarm, rattles nerves
According to the post, Kerr said 7,880 customers were affected and that power was restored within 27 minutes.
Push alerts have become common in our cellphone driven age, and this wasn't the first to startle those who receive it.
In February, the National Weather Service sent out a monthly ''test'' notice as practice for warnings about tsunamis. Some of those agencies, including the AccuWeather service, responded by sending alerts to their customers saying a storm was imminent.
In January, an error sent a warning about an imminent ballistic-missle threat to residents of Hawaii.
Vaccine$
Viagra and flu 'drug cocktail' could prevent spread of cancer following surgery
Mon, 21 May 2018 11:31
The Independent'We're now realising that, tragically, surgery can also suppress the immune system in a way that makes it easier for any remaining cancer cells to persist and spread to other organs'
Picture: iStock / clubfoto A combination of erectile dysfunction drugs and the flu vaccine could prevent the spread of cancer, groundbreaking new research suggests.
The study, published in OncuImunnology , showed that this unconventional strategy may be able to help patients' immune systems kill off cancer cells left behind after surgery.
''Surgery is very effective in removing solid tumours,'' said Dr Rebecca Auer, head of cancer research at The Ottawa Hospital and associate professor at the University of Ottawa, the senior author of the report.
''However, we're now realising that, tragically, surgery can also suppress the immune system in a way that makes it easier for any remaining cancer cells to persist and spread to other organs.''
The treatment was successfully tested in a mouse model that mimics the spread of cancer.
Researchers counted the number of metastases '' secondary malignant growths away from the primary site of cancer '' in mouse lungs and observed a 90 per cent drop.
''Our research suggests that combining erectile dysfunction drugs with the flu vaccine may be able to block this phenomenon and help prevent cancer from coming back after surgery.''
It is now being evaluated in a world-first clinical trial that will involve 24 patients who are undergoing abdominal cancer surgery at the Ottawa Hospital.
The trial will evaluate the safety of the treatment and observe changes in the immune system once sildenafil (Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis) and an inactivated influenza vaccine (Agriflu) take effect.
The study will determine whether giving Cialis five days prior to surgery, on the day of surgery '' along with the influenza vaccine '' and cialis 10 days after surgery will affect the chances of the spread of cancer following surgery to remove tumours.
''We're really excited about this research because it suggests that two safe and relatively inexpensive therapies may be able to solve a big problem in cancer,'' said Dr Auer. ''If confirmed in clinical trials, this could become the first therapy to address the immune problems caused by cancer surgery.''
Usually, natural killer immune cells play a major role in killing metastatic cancer cells but surgery can create myeloid derived suppressor cells (MDSC), another kind of immune cell, which block the natural killer cells.
Researchers found that erectile dysfunction drugs block MDSCs, which allow the natural killer cells to fight the cancerous cells while the flu vaccine further stimulate the natural killer cells.
Dr. Auer noted that although erectile dysfunction drugs and the flu vaccine are widely available, people with cancer should not self-medicate.
Magic Number
Arizona woman accused of stalking, sending man 65,000 texts after one date | abc7ny.com
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:57
Thursday, May 10, 2018
PARADISE VALLEY, Arizona --
Can you imagine getting 65,000 text messages after just one date? An Arizona woman is accused of doing just that. And it didn't end there.
Police arrested 31-year old Jacqueline Ades after finding her in the Paradise Valley man's bathtub.
According to investigators, she had met the man online about a year prior, but she wouldn't leave him alone.
Court documents say Ades sent the victim about 500 messages a day, which included disturbing ones like, "I want to wear your body parts" and "bathe in your blood."
Officers say they found a butcher knife in her car when she was most recently arrested on charges of threatening, stalking and harassment.
The woman said she was simply in love. "I felt like I met my soulmate and everything was just the way it was," said Ades. "And I thought we would just do what everybody else did and just get married and everything would be fine. But that's not what happened."
She's now in jail with no bond.
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Talking Tubes
Amazon Alexa 7-Mic Far-Field Development Kit
Thu, 24 May 2018 14:30
Amazon Alexa 7-Mic Far-Field Dev Kit The Amazon Alexa 7-Mic Far-Field Development Kit has been replaced by the Amazon Alexa Premium Far-Field Voice Development Kit. Please visit the webpage for Amazon's latest reference solution, and see all qualified development kits for AVS here.
-
Designed to help commercial device manufacturers easily create far-field voice experiences, this development kit features the same 7-mic circular array and technology for ''Alexa'' wake word recognition, beam forming, noise reduction, acoustic echo cancellation, and barge-in capabilities found in the Amazon Echo. This solution is supported by leading chipset providers, enabling device manufacturers to quickly integrate Alexa voice capabilities into their products.
CLIPS
VIDEO - Oliver North Blames School Shootings On Ritalin - YouTube
Thu, 24 May 2018 14:41
VIDEO - Former Trump aide alleges second informant approached him - YouTube
Thu, 24 May 2018 14:04
VIDEO - Police Release Bodycam Footage From Shootout At Trump Golf Club | Zero Hedge
Thu, 24 May 2018 14:03
No, no, he was one of them. .. Besides the police aren't stupid (They're just acting stupid as part of the script.) they only gave him blanks. .... Cops never stop shooting real perps until they have stopped twitching for over two minutes.
(Hey, cops want those guns too! .. They have to keep the people from lynching the evil Deep State assholes running the nation. .. So the cops play right along, wouldn't you?)
I call more Staged False Flag Bullshit (c) patent pending.
They might be pulling these MKUltra spook pasties out at the rate of one a week until the PSYOP Operation Gun Grab fulfills its mission.
Oh, please Mr. Trump, take our guns!
The Donald will reluctantly comply. ... After enough of these school plays (Shooting up HIS hotel no less! .... Good excuse to redecorate the lobby. Insured, I'm sure.)
"Well, OK, if that's what you little peeps really want. .. Would you like a buy-out offer on your hardware? ... How about $0.04 on the dollar? ... Not a penny more. You know I'm a tough but fair negotiator and I'm always working to make America safe for you, ........................ *whispering* stupid Chump Monkeys", the Trumpster will come out with.
Yep, terrible shooting by a crazed and 'deranged' liberal dude alright. .. Not hard to find one of those to 'work with'.
And John Brennan and Uncle Clapper (among others) ought to do some serious prison time for it.
Live Hard, What's Next? .. A Shopping Mall? .. Another Church? ... How About A Crazed And Over-Medicated Counselor / Music Instructor At Some Not So Peaceful Summer Band Camp Using A Civil War Relic Gatling Gun! .. He Could Be Mad At The Little Majorettes For Not Givin' It Up This Year! ...... We Haven't Had One Of Those Yet. ... Could We, Mr Trump, Please?, Die Free
~ DC v8.8
VIDEO - Former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper On Distrust Of Intelligence Agencies - YouTube
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:28
VIDEO - RAW VIDEO: Interview with woman accused of stalking Paradise Valley man - YouTube
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:14
VIDEO - Trump can't block Twitter followers, federal judge says
Thu, 24 May 2018 13:09
President Donald Trump cannot block users on his Twitter feed, a federal judge in New York City ruled Wednesday.
Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald said in her ruling that Trump is violating the U.S. Constitution by preventing certain Americans from viewing his tweets on @realDonaldTrump.
The social media platform, Buchwald said, is a "designated public forum" from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. She rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his "associational freedoms."
The judge's ruling was in response to a lawsuit filed last July by the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University, as well as seven other plaintiffs whom Trump had personally blocked from following him.
The plaintiffs included a journalist who had tweeted at Trump that "Russian won" the presidential election for him, a surgeon and a Texas police officer.
One plaintiff told CNBC that she is aware of at least 150 verified Twitter users who have been blocked by the president and that there are at least hundreds more unverified accounts that Trump has blocked.
The blocks on the social media platform prevented the plaintiffs from viewing or responding to the president's tweets when logged into their own Twitter accounts. Trump is an avid Twitter user and routinely makes news, often several times in a single day, with his posts.
TweetThe president has more than 52.2 million Twitter followers and has tweeted more than 37,600 times since signing up for Twitter in March 2009.
"This case requires us to consider whether a public official may, consistent with the First Amendment, 'block' a person from his Twitter account in response to the political views that person has expressed, and whether the analysis differs because that public official is the President of the United States," Buchwald said said in her opinion.
"The answer to both questions is no."
Read the judge's full ruling on Trump's Twitter blocking here
The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC's request for comment on Buchwald's ruling.
A Justice Department spokesman said, "We respectfully disagree with the court's decision and are considering our next steps." The Justice Department has 60 days to appeal the ruling.
The Knight Institute's executive director, Jameel Jaffer, said in a prepared statement: "We're pleased with the court's decision, which reflects a careful application of core First Amendment principles to government censorship on a new communications platform."
Jaffer added: "The President's practice of blocking critics on Twitter is pernicious and unconstitutional, and we hope this ruling will bring it to an end."
Katie Fallow, a senior staff attorney at the institute, said, "The First Amendment prohibits government officials from suppressing speech on the basis of viewpoint ... The court's application of that principle here should guide all of the public officials who are communicating with their constituents through social media."
Holly Figueroa O'Reilly, one of the plaintiffs in the suit, believes she was blocked by Trump last year after posting a GIF showing Pope Francis giving the president a "side-eye" glance and tweeting it Trump saying "This is pretty much how the whole world sees you."
TweetShe told CNBC, "He just arbitrarily blocks people because he doesn't like being criticized."
"I'm pretty happy about the" ruling, said the 47-year-old Seattle resident, who describes herself as a "political hack."
"I think the best thing for Trump to do is just to unblock everyone," and not appeal Buchwald's decision, O'Reilly said.
But she was skeptical the president would do that.
"His history isn't, 'Oh, I lost, I'm going to capitulate.' His history is, 'I lost, f--- you, I'm going to punch back.' "
O'Reilly said that she was not seeking to be unblocked to read "stupid tweets" by Trump, but instead to read more consequential ones by the president, and to have her responses to him visible to other people.
"I just want to know when we're going to war," she said. "That's my thing."
Read Judge Buchwald's order below:
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER: granting in part and denying in part 34 Motion for Summary Judgment; granting in part and denying in part 42 Motion for Summary Judgment. We conclude that we have jurisdiction to entertain this dispute. Plaintiffs have established legal injuries that are traceable to the conduct of the President and Daniel Scavino and, despite defendants' suggestions to the contrary, their injuries are redressable by a favorable judicial declaration. Plaintiffs lack standing, however, to sue Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who is dismissed as a defendant. Hope Hicks is also dismissed as a defendant, in light of her resignation as White House Communications Director. Turning to the merits of plaintiffs' First Amendment claim, we hold that the speech in which they seek to engage is protected by the First Amendment and that the President and Scavino exert governmental control over certain aspects of the @realDonaldTrump account, including the interactive space of the tweets sent from the account. That interactive space is susceptible to analysis under the Supreme Court's forum doctrines, and is properly characterized as a designated public forum. The viewpoint-based exclusion of the individual plaintiffs from that designated public forum is proscribed by the First Amendment and cannot be justified by the President's personal First Amendment interests. In sum, defendants' motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part, and plaintiffs' cross-motion for summary judgment is granted in part and denied in part. The Clerk of the Court is directed to terminate the motions pending at docket entries 34 and 42. SO ORDERED. (Signed by Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on 5/23/2018) (ama) (Entered: 05/23/2018)
VIDEO - Voter to Pelosi: Isn't It Time for Most of These Politicians to Return to the Private Sector? :: Grabien News
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:45
Voter to Pelosi: Isn't It Time for Most of These Politicians to Return to the Private Sector?
'Should I take personally?'
RUSH TRANSCRIPT:
CUOMO: "I have something for you along these lines. You gave as you good segue there. I want to bring in Mary pat, retired, lives in Maryland. Mary pat, what is your question? A beautiful scarf you have on." MARY PAT: "Leader Pelosi, quorum.us says more than half the senators running for re-election this year are over 65 years old. If they win, their term of service will be six years. Their constituents are about 20 years younger. Isn't it time for some members to return to private service and to encourage younger folks run for office so --" [ applause ] PELOSI: "Should I take personally?" MARY PAT: "You're not in the Senate. You're good." PELOSI: "Let me say this. Two things. First of all, what I said earlier about money, if you reduce the role of money in politics and increase the level of civility in politics, you will have more women, more young people, more people of color. Nothing is more wholesome than that. The fact is that Congress has a seniority system. So people in different regions want to make sure that the people who represent them are in a senior position to help express their views. The concerns of their region. But I'll take it personally and say that as a woman who came to Congress later because I raised my five children before I decided to accept the opportunity to run for Congress, so lots of times women are a bit older because they've been raising their children. Now I'm happy because lots of young women are running with young children and trying on make it as family friendly as possible. But for me, I don't think age has that much to do with it. I think it is about, especially as a woman. I want women Fong whether they're going from college to Congress -- they can't really do that. 25 years owed to Congress, or in my case, from the kitchen to Congress after my kids were grown, that whatever you're bringing, it is new and fresh and different because you're a woman. And that is worth all respect in the world from male colleagues. The important thing is to have the mix at the table. At the table. So I think that again, the whole, the whole environment is changing. Young people are registering, kids, 17 years old that aren't quite owed enough to vote but will be by the time of the election. The women March and now they're running. So people say to me, how do you use all that talent? I say how do they use us? How are we going to incorporate their fresh enthusiasm? I've never seen mobilization like it. And everybody who is the justify their existence to have their constituents and that's democratic way. But again, some members come to Congress older and they're newer. Some people have been there 20 years and they're younger. They just got a younger start. So that is all to say, we want to take the talent and experience, the values where they are and we want to have the mix in all of it. But if you have a problem with somebody who is older, run for office. Run for office. I say that. Run for office."
VIDEO - Elon Musk complains of 'holier-than-thou hypocrisy' of media
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:34
Elon Musk is not happy with Tesla's recent media coverage, to put it mildly.
The Tesla CEO said Wednesday on Twitter that the public no longer respects "big media companies" because they "lay claim to the truth, but publish only enough to sugarcoat the lie."
MuskHe also said President Donald Trump was elected because no one believes reporters anymore.
Musk2Then he said reporters are under constant pressure to produce work to attract advertising dollars from "fossil fuel companies" and other carmakers.
Musk3Finally, Musk said he plans to create a site where the public can "rate the core truth of any article and track the credibility" of every reporter over time.
Musk4Pravda, which means truth in Russian, was the name of the official paper of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.
Tesla was not immediately available for comment.
Musk referred to a research note from Baird analyst Ben Kallo published Wednesday morning, which said the media landscape may have become saturated with "increasingly immaterial" negative reports about Tesla, and that the shares could climb if and when Tesla executes on its goals.
It also comes days after reviewer Consumer Reports decided not to recommend the Tesla Model 3 midsize sedan, after it found the vehicle had the longest stopping distance of any contemporary car it has tested.
WATCH: Elon Musk's big ambitions may be killing Tesla
VIDEO - Carter Page on interactions with alleged FBI informant - YouTube
Thu, 24 May 2018 12:03
VIDEO - Neuticles testicular implants for dogs have made Gregg Miller rich
Thu, 24 May 2018 11:40
Gregg Miller proves you can make a fortune with anything. Even dog balls.
Not the kind you throw around playing in the dog park.
"What I'm doing is I'm developing testicular implants for pets," Miller tells CNBC.
The 64-year-old inventor and entrepreneur created Neuticles, silicone implants for male dogs to replace testicles after neutering, so that a dog's appearance...down there...doesn't change.
It's made him a millionaire.
Do dogs care about this? "Yes, they do," Miller says.
Certainly their owners must. Over the last 20 years, Miller claims he's sold over 500,000 sets of Neuticles. The average pair costs $310, though some cost a lot more, like the $2,800 watermelon-sized custom set Miller made for an elephant in a zoo.
Yup.
CNBC
Neuticles are silicone implants for male dogs to replace testicles after neutering.
The strange path to success
Gregg Miller grew up near Kansas City and studied journalism at Central Missouri State, but he hated the newspaper business, so he started his own advertising company over the objections of his parents. "They didn't think about being an entrepreneur as a positive thing," he says.
One day he noticed a catalog came in the mail in a tube. "I thought, 'God, something more can be done with this little tube than just mailing a catalog.'" He decided to put candy in it.
Miller invented SweeTube, a three-foot long tube filled with layers of candy, which he ended up selling to outlets like Macy's and Disneyland. A dozen years later, he stopped. "Believe me, after 12 years of the candy business, you get kind of sick of it," he said. "It gets sticky, the shelf life is bad, people don't pay their bills. So I thought, 'What can I do?'"
This was in the mid '90s, and Miller had recently bought a bloodhound puppy named Buck. He refused to neuter Buck, not wanting to put the dog (or himself) through that experience. But one day Buck went missing, a story which still makes Miller emotional. "It was the most hideous four days of my life," he says.
Courtesy of Gregg Miller
The idea for Neuticles came when Miller's dog Buck ran away.
Buck had apparently taken off after smelling the scent of a female dog in heat. He was eventually found a few miles away. "He saw me, I saw him...and it's like what you see in the scene when there's two fat people running across the field to embrace." Miller realized, though, that he needed to neuter Buck, or "this is going to happen again.'"
That's when the idea for Neuticles first came into Gregg Miller's head. He asked his veterinarian if someone made implants, "so Buck can maintain his God-given natural look." The vet told him that was "the craziest damn thing I've ever heard of."
Miller went ahead and had Buck neutered, though he hated putting the puppy through the surgery. Afterward, Buck went to clean himself. "He loved to do that. The slurping noise that was so freaking obnoxious," Miller says, mimicking a slurping hound sound. He's convinced Buck noticed something was missing, and the dog looked back up at his master. "He was telling me, 'They're gone. What happened?'"
Not long after this, Miller says the veterinarian changed his mind about a testicular implant being "crazy," and the two of them started to develop a prototype.
Success...and failure...and success
Miller says he and a group of 32 local investors spent over $100,000 to develop Neuticles. "I maxed out my credit cards and then maxed out the mortgage on my home."
The veterinarian tested the first prototypes on 30 different pets without any problems, and the first commercially implanted Neuticles went into a dog in 1995. "My parents, who were alive back then, thought I was absolutely crazy," Miller says. "Everybody that I knew thought that was the sickest thing you could possible think of. Printers would not even print my material."
Still, there was a lot of media attention. It soon wore off, and Miller was bleeding cash. "For the first five years, I didn't know whether we would make it," he says. He was down to a single working light bulb at one point. "Whenever I went from room to room, I had to take my light bulb with me to put into a light socket."
Miller began advertising in dog magazines. He did radio interviews around the country and offered free Neuticles to listeners. He built up a network of veterinarians, and business finally boomed. "I was getting literally anywhere between 250 and 500 responses a day," he says.
The clunking problem
There was a problem, however. The original Neuticles were made of a hard plastic-like material. Customers complained their dogs made a "clunking" sound when they walked or sat down. "That was an issue that we endured for three years until some genius, God bless him wherever he was, invented solid silicone," Miller says.
The most popular Neuticles are now made of solid silicone which is textured to prevent scar tissue from forming, and they cost as much as $469 a pair. "It's incredibly gushy-soft."
Miller says celebrity clients include the Kardashians, who bought a pair a few years ago for their dog Rocky. "They had ordered the cheapest ones possible," Miller laughed, "the hard ones, the clackers, and I thought, 'Wow.'"
Of course, not everyone is a fan. Miller said that even though there has never been a complication from Neuticles over the last quarter century, "We have a lot of haters." His reaction? "Mind your own damn business."
The product has even been banned in a few countries, a fact Miller is proud of, but he doesn't let such details stop him from meeting demand from customers in those far-off lands. To get the product through customs, he just rebrands it. "What I do is I call it a stress ball."
The house that Neuticles built
Neuticles come in 11 different sizes to fit a variety of pets, and Miller has expanded his product line to include eye implants for animals, including horses, along with stays for holding up cropped ears and allergy products for sensitive pet skin. He even turned some Neuticles into pendant earrings and necklaces, and he's written a book called, "Going...Going...Nuts."
CNBC
Miller said he and a group of 32 local investors spent over $100,000 to develop Neuticles.
As successful as he's been, Miller has no intention of making implants for humans. It costs too much and takes too long to gain FDA approval, while implants for pets require no approval at all.
Indeed, fake dog balls has turned out to be his most lucrative endeavor. Miller calls his home outside Independence, Missouri, "The House that Neuticles Built." It comes complete with a man cave housing a walk-in humidor for his expensive cigar collection, working slot machines from Las Vegas, and a sauna where Miller sweats away his stress after a day of work '-- "You've got fluids coming out of you that you never knew existed from every part of your body."
Sometimes Miller drives his new Mercedes down the highway to one of the six billboards advertising Neuticles he put up along I-70. "When I'm driving my brand new car, and I pass the billboard, I get this rush that is indescribable," he says. "I mean, it's a feeling of 'Wow.'"
Buck the bloodhound died several years back, but Gregg Miller enjoys life these days with a bulldog named Humphrey, who has also been neutered and implanted with Neuticles. As much as Miller believes neutered dogs miss their, you know, parts, "Let's face it, the pet owner is the one who writes the check, so it's more for the pet owner."
CNBC
Miller claims he's sold over 500,000 sets of Neuticles.
VIDEO - TRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: DNC deputy chair dons blond wig, sings about Russia, Stormy Daniels in bizarre performance (VIDEO) '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Wed, 23 May 2018 12:16
Politics TVTRUMP DERANGEMENT SYNDROME: DNC deputy chair dons blond wig, sings about Russia, Stormy Daniels in bizarre performance (VIDEO)Democratic U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota did his best Donald Trump impression Friday, and it left a lot to be desired.
Ellison, the deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, made a spectacle of himself with the help of his son, Minneapolis City Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, as the two jammed out for MinnRoast2018.
Ellison donned a blond wig and suit with red tie, and played the guitar, while Jeremiah provided percussion to the tune of ''Guantanamera.'' '' READ MORE
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VIDEO - YouTube
Wed, 23 May 2018 11:10
VIDEO - Nigel Farage on Twitter: "My message to Mark Zuckerberg today: Stop telling us Facebook is a ''platform for all ideas''. The evidence shows your algorithms censor conservative opinions. https://t.co/HWLabaDcP9"
Wed, 23 May 2018 00:28
David @ Enigma0021
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage Outstanding job again Nigel 👌👏👏👏🇬🇧
View conversation · Dr Rita Pal @ dr_rita39
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage He's banned most of
#Kashmir and their campaigns demanding freedom.
View conversation · Ted Shiress @ eccentricman87
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage What's up Nige? You not liking being made to feel unwelcome because of who you are? How ironic.
View conversation · Nicholas van Wyk @ neio
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage Zuckerberg is talking shit, I've seen on my "feed" that I've decided to interact with only 1'ce a week that Trump and MAGA does not come up anymore.
View conversation · DrogeGaming @ DrogeGaming
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage not only conservatives, everyone who disagrees with the mainstream gets censored on facebook, youtube,google, and twitter
View conversation · Viv Williams @ vivlives001
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage For Conservative, read fascist
View conversation · VG @ vg123e
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage #BREAKINGPOINT pic.twitter.com/SnjhskBvK7 View conversation · Bic Yea @ BicYea50
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage Hey SOMEONE has the testicles to Zuck exactly how it is!!!
View conversation · B @ disneypins84
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage Looks like a little boy being properly schooled. ðŸ‚
View conversation · BERN BAN GEORGE SOROS @ kobiashimarro
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage NIGEL NIGEL NIGEL ~!!!! AWESOME..
#GottaHaveNigel pic.twitter.com/7qz49ASiVR View conversation · Aunt Olive @ HelpfulOlive
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage If only
View conversation · Jon Petersen @ jonpete69
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage pic.twitter.com/z20X3hNt1P View conversation · Matthias @ KJVMatt
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage @facebook And evidence shows genuine Bible verses - verbatim - is censored.
@Facebook is, without a doubt, antichristic.
View conversation · Rod Kelly @ rodkelly50
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage It wasn't censorship. It was that Facebook has been shutting down bots and fake accounts used to artificially amplify messages. You and Trump have high levels of fake accounts following you. Your numbers dropped but they were never as high as you thought they were anyway
pic.twitter.com/C6WHqNaOE0 View conversation · Nobel Patriot 🇺🇸 @ nobelpatriot
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage @AmyMeye20057495 This guy is so full of ðŸ'(C). He can't give a straight answer to anything. Every shady thing they do is wrapped in some ''We are doing this to help you.'' Kind of answer. It's time for an Internet Bill of Rights.
View conversation · Gab: The Free Speech Social Network @ getongab
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage Can't barrage the Farage. 👍
View conversation · Gary Whileman @ GaryWhileman
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage Is Zuckerberg ever going to answer for his actions to the UK Parliament?
View conversation · arvind nayak @ arvindnayak1
6h Replying to
@Nigel_Farage Yes..it is now a platform for Jihadis..and radical Islam...
View conversation ·
VIDEO - John Oliver on the rehab industry and addiction treatments like equine therapy (VIDEO).
Mon, 21 May 2018 13:10
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VIDEO - Speech of spite: Clinton takes jab at Russia during Yale graduation ceremony (VIDEO) '-- RT US News
Mon, 21 May 2018 12:14
One-and-a-half years after Hillary Clinton lost the election, she's taken her baseless claims of Russian collusion to her alma mater, pulling out a Russian hat while speaking at Yale's graduation ceremony.
The former secretary of state, who has hardly taken a breath in her campaign against Moscow and claims that it colluded with Donald Trump, wasted no time before jumping straight into the topic of Russia on Sunday. After a few obligatory ''thank yous'' to students and the faculty, she got stuck in.
''I see you are following the tradition of over-the-top hats [at graduation], so I brought a hat too '' a Russian hat,'' she said. ''I mean, if you can't beat 'em, join 'em.''
It should perhaps come as no surprise that she changed the subject after that quip, failing to note that there remains zero evidence that Russia colluded with the Trump campaign or took part in any malicious activity.
Clinton also couldn't pass up the chance to get in a few jabs about a number of other topics, from WikiLeaks to emails sent from her private server. ''If you thought my emails were scandalous, you should hear my singing voice,'' she said.
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VIDEO - US & China put trade war 'on hold,' agree more talks '-- RT Business News
Mon, 21 May 2018 04:47
The US-China trade war is ''on hold'' after the world's two largest economies agreed to stop threatening new tariffs ahead of further negotiations on a wider trade deal.
''We are putting the trade war on hold. Right now, we have agreed to put the tariffs on hold while we try to execute the framework,'' US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told 'Fox News Sunday.'
China and the US had threatened tariffs that would cost each of them billions of dollars, sparking fears of a full-scale trade war. On Saturday, China agreed to take measures to boost imports from the US to reduce its trade deficit. In earlier talks, Washington demanded that China reduce its trade surplus by $200 billion. No further details were given following the latest round of negotiations.
According to a joint statement, both sides agreed on meaningful increases in US agriculture and energy exports with the aim of helping to close the $335 billion annual US trade deficit with China.
Mnuchin and Trump's top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said the agreement reached by Chinese and American negotiators on Saturday set up a framework for addressing trade imbalances in the future.
Kudlow told 'Face the Nation' on CBS that it was too soon to confirm the $200 billion figure. ''The details will be down the road. These things are not so precise,'' he said.
''The negotiations are proceeding very well. We're on the same page, too early for exact, precise details,'' Kudlow says of negotiations with China.
'-- Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) May 20, 2018The National Economic Council Director added that no trade deal had been reached but communications were open. ''We want China to open up markets, lower tariffs, lower non-tariff barriers, give us a chance...Now are we going to get everything? I don't know, but I will say this '' we're making terrific progress,'' he said.
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VIDEO - Kyle Griffin on Twitter: "Incoming NRA president Oliver North seems to link mass shootings to the taking of Ritalin'--the ADHD medication'--claiming that shooters have "been drugged in many cases" and taking Ritlalin "since they were in kindergart
Sun, 20 May 2018 21:10
sun, sun and ride @ ianrobo1
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 o surely these people should be banned from having any guns at all Oliver ? ah but you know about trading weapons
View conversation · Josh Fede 🏋ðŸ>> @ JFedeDPT
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 How people say this without citing any sources?
View conversation · Doug Brooks @ Hoosier84
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 Kids should stick to safe drugs, like marijuana!
View conversation · Alt VP #Enough #GunReformNow @ PenceConscience
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 I took Ritalin from 7 to 17, I didn't shoot anyone, never got arrested, did get bullied but didn't shoot up a school because of it
View conversation · blp @ b__l__p
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 Interesting new strategy they drew up. In two days, everyone on the right will be using it.
View conversation · LK '•¸ @ Corvid1031
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 The stupidity boggles the mind.
View conversation · Margot C. Lester @ margot_lester
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 Oh dear God.
View conversation · Dmitry Dibenko @ DmitryDibenko
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 Looks like he is high on drugs himself or just plain stupid
View conversation · josh insley @ InsleyJosh
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 ''Taking Ritalin since I was delivering American military equipment to the Ayatollah''
View conversation · ð'²ð'šŠð'š›ð'š'ð'š'ð'š'ð'šŠ ð'š'ð'š— ð'½ð'š… 🌊 @ bluelyon
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 Sadly, I've heard some on the left saying basically the same thing (with no evidence, of course).
View conversation · Rayweaved @ RaymondWeaver20
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 So what was his excuse for selling arms to our then enemies? Scotch? Cocaine?
View conversation · Ben Philippe @ gohomeben
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 @kharyp Stigmatize mental illness, shame people who are actually getting the help they need, but by all means don't regulate the tools they're using to decimate classrooms on a regular basis.
View conversation · darren @ darrenelwood
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 Well, Ollie, some ppl take Ritalin. And, some take the 5th.
View conversation · Jeremiah RappelðŸ¤-- @ JeremiahRappel
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 I'm sorry, no one takes Ritalin anymore.
View conversation · Erin @ EHeathdale
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 That's it Oliver. Kick them while they're down.
View conversation · Jeremiah RappelðŸ¤-- @ JeremiahRappel
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 I guess Mr. North has been watching too much South Park.
View conversation · Moon @ pir8qu33n
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 No more talking for him.
View conversation · Shawn Zipay @ SZips
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 More proof that the NRA is full of nothing but morally bankrupt liars.
View conversation · Vivian Cherry @ VivStCherry
6h Replying to
@kylegriffin1 Who violated HIPPA?
#MoreBSExcuses View conversation ·
VIDEO - Oliver North Blames School Shootings On Ritalin | HuffPost
Sun, 20 May 2018 21:08
Just two days after a young man opened fire on his classmates and teachers at a high school in Santa Fe, Texas, the National Rifle Association's incoming president, Oliver North, blamed Ritalin and a ''culture of violence.''
On ''Fox News Sunday,'' the controversial Iran-Contra figure told host Chris Wallace that the solution for the increasing number of school shootings '• there have been 22 so far in 2018, by one count '• is not gun control.
''We're trying like the dickens to treat the symptoms without treating the disease,'' he said.
''And the disease in this case isn't the Second Amendment. The disease is youngsters who are steeped in a culture of violence,'' he said. ''They've been drugged in many cases. Nearly all of these perpetrators are male. ... Many of these young boys have been on Ritalin since they were in kindergarten.''
North's comments on Sunday echoed those made by President Donald Trump after the Sandy Hook shooting in December 2012. Following the shooting, Trump tweeted about violent video games and the ''glorification'' of violence.
Video game violence & glorification must be stopped'--it is creating monsters!
'-- Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 17, 2012North, a retired Marine whose role in the Iran-Contra affair in the 1980s made him a household name, appeared in ads for the war-centered video game ''Call of Duty: Black Ops II'' and has also worked as a consultant for the game.
Other prominent Republicans have blamed violent culture, and not lax gun laws, in the wake of recent shootings, including Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida and Ohio Gov. John Kasich.
North is due to start as NRA president in the coming weeks.
VIDEO - Weinstein accuser warns Cannes predators - BBC News
Sun, 20 May 2018 21:07
Asia Argento, the Italian actress who was one of the first to publicly accuse director Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault, gave an impassioned speech at the Cannes film festival.
She accused some members of the audience of "covering up" Weinstein's crimes - and warned those who had yet to answer for their own actions that "we're not going to allow you to get away with it any longer." Weinstein denies all allegations made against him.
VIDEO - Mandy Patinkin, Amateur Model Railroader - YouTube
Sun, 20 May 2018 19:59
VIDEO - Rob Reiner's jawdropper: We've never seen anything like this '... networks aligning with the US president Conservative News Today
Sun, 20 May 2018 19:57
Actor Rob Reiner warned about the very survival of democracy under the presidency of Donald Trump, declaring that ''state-run TV'' networks have ''aligned'' themselves with the president.
The left-wing Hollywood director opined that ''we are fighting right now for the soul of our democracy,'' as he ranted about a Russia conspiracy theory on MSNBC's ''Morning Joe'' on Friday.
''We have never seen anything like this. We have a foreign power, basically trying to undermine our democracy and the possibility that the president of the United States is in conspiracy with that foreign power. This has never happened before in this country. You can see why the other side is putting out a full court press because they know that what's coming down the pipe, conceivably, it is the biggest scandal in American history and we are fighting right now for the soul of our democracy,'' Reiner said before turning his attention to the media.
''You're under attack. The press is under attack and right now, if you remove the ability to get the truth out, then you're going to have the destruction of democracy,'' he told substitute hosts Nicolle Wallace and Willie Geist.
''There's no checks and balances coming from Congress. Right now, the courts are holding, but this is the first time in American history where you have a state-run television '-- Fox, Breitbart, Sinclair, Alex Jones aligned with the president of the United States.'' Reiner continued his rant. ''That's very, very tough. The battle lines have been drawn. And we're going to see whether or not democracy survives.''
Apparently missing the irony in her response, Wallace complimented Reiner for his ''storytelling'' and asked him to elaborate on ''the coalition you just listed, the president of the United States, his lemmings in the House Republican Freedom Caucus who are doing his bidding, basically waging a war against the Trump-appointee-led Justice Department and FBI, the network you just listed.''
''Are they doing a better job telling a false story than the truth-tellers are doing?'' Wallace asked, conveniently forgetting the days MSNBC's Chris Matthews got a thrill up his leg watching former President Obama.
''No. The truth tellers are telling the better story,'' Reiner responded, presumably meaning that only liberal media outlets are telling the truth.
''The problem is that when you've got 40 percent of the country that is only tuned into the lies, and they are cemented, it's going to be very hard for the truth to break through when all the information comes out,'' he concluded.
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