1050: Chip In!

Adam Curry & John C. Dvorak

2h 48m
July 12th, 2018
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Executive Producers: Sir Pete of the high power hammerheads, Sir Cal of Lavender Blossoms

Associate Executive Producers: Sir kniVes of the Providence Plantations, Sir Mathieu the Mapper

Cover Artist: Mike Riley


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David Davis resignation letter and Theresa May's response - Sky News
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 10:55
Image: The letter from David Davis tells the PM she needs an 'enthusiastic believer'
David Davis has resigned as the government's chief Brexit negotiator. Here is his letter to Theresa May - and the PM's own letter in response.
Dear Prime Minister
As you know there have been a significant number of occasions in the last year or so on which I have disagreed with the Number 10 policy line, ranging from accepting the Commission's sequencing of negotiations through to the language on Northern Ireland in the December Joint Report. At each stage I have accepted collective responsibility because it is part of my task to find workable compromises, and because I considered it was still possible to deliver on the mandate of the referendum, and on our manifesto commitment to leave the Customs Union and the Single Market.
I am afraid that I think the current trend of policy and tactics is making that look less and less likely. Whether it is the progressive dilution of what I thought was a firm Chequers agreement in February on right to diverge, or the unnecessary delays of the start of the White Paper, or the presentation of a backstop proposal that omitted the strict conditions that I requested and believed that we had agreed, the general direction of policy will leave us in at best a weak negotiating position, and possibly an inescapable one.
The Cabinet decision on Friday crystallised this problem. In my view the inevitable consequence of the proposed policies will be to make the supposed control by Parliament illusory rather than real. As I said at Cabinet, the "common rule book" policy hands control of large swathes of our economy to the EU and is certainly not returning control of our laws in any real sense.
I am also unpersuaded that our negotiating approach will not just lead to further demands for concessions.
Of course this is a complex area of judgement and it is possible that you are right and I am wrong. However, even in that event it seems to me that the national interest requires a Secretary of State in my Department that is an enthusiastic believer in your approach, and not merely a reluctant conscript. While I have been grateful to you for the opportunity to serve, it is with great regret that I tender my resignation from the Cabinet with immediate effect.
Yours ever
David Davis
Image: Theresa May during crunch Brexit talks at Chequers. Pic: Crown Copyright
Dear David
Thank you for your letter explaining your decision to resign as Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union.
I am sorry that you have chosen to leave the Government when we have already made so much progress towards delivering a smooth and successful Brexit, and when we are only eight months from the date set in law when the United Kingdom will leave the European Union.
At Chequers on Friday, we as the Cabinet agreed a comprehensive and detailed proposal which provides a precise, responsible, and credible basis for progressing our negotiations towards a new relationship between the UK and the EU after we leave in March. We set out how we will deliver on the result of the referendum and the commitments we made in our manifesto for the 2017 general election:
1. Leaving the EU on 29 March 2019.
2. Ending free movement and taking back control of our borders.
3. No more sending vast sums of money each year to the EU.
4. A new business-friendly customs model with freedom to strike new trade deals around the world.
5. A UK-EU free trade area with a common rulebook for industrial goods and agricultural products which will be good for jobs.
6. A commitment to maintain high standards on consumer and employment rights and the environment.
7. A Parliamentary lock on all new rules and regulations.
8. Leaving the Common Agricultural Policy and the Common Fisheries Policy.
9. Restoring the supremacy of British courts by ending the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK.
10. No hard border between Northern Ireland and Ireland, or between Northern Ireland and Great Britain.
11. Continued, close co-operation on security to keep our people safe.
12. An independent foreign and defence policy, working closely with the EU and other allies.
This is consistent with the mandate of the referendum and with the commitments we laid out in our general election manifesto: leaving the single market and the customs union but seeking a deep and special partnership including a comprehensive free trade and customs agreement; ending the vast annual contributions to the EU; and pursuing fair, orderly negotiations, minimising disruption and giving as much certainty as possible so both sides benefit.
As we said in our manifesto, we believe it is necessary to agree the terms of our future partnership alongside our withdrawal, reaching agreement on both within the two years allowed by Article 50.
I have always agreed with you that these two must go alongside one another, but if we are to get sufficient detail about our future partnership, we need to act now. We have made a significant move: it is for the EU now to respond in the same spirit.
I do not agree with your characterisation of the policy we agreed at Cabinet on Friday.
Parliament will decide whether or not to back the deal the Government negotiates, but that deal will undoubtedly mean the returning of powers from Brussels to the United Kingdom.
The direct effect of EU law will end when we leave the EU. Where the UK chooses to apply a common rulebook, each rule will have to be agreed by Parliament.
Choosing not to sign up to certain rules would lead to consequences for market access, security co-operation or the frictionless border, but that decision will rest with our sovereign Parliament, which will have a lock on whether to incorporate those rules into the UK legal order.
I am sorry that the Government will not have the benefit of your continued expertise and counsel as we secure this deal and complete the process of leaving the EU, but I would like to thank you warmly for everything you have done over the past two years as Secretary of State to shape our departure from the EU, and the new role the UK will forge on the world stage as an independent, self-governing nation once again.
You returned to Government after nineteen years to lead an entirely new Department responsible for a vital, complex, and unprecedented task.
You have helped to steer through Parliament some of the most important legislation for generations, including the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Act 2017 and the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018, which received Royal Assent last week.
These landmark Acts, and what they will do, stand as testament to your work and our commitment to honouring the result of the referendum.
Yours sincerely,
Theresa May
:: David Davis resigns as Brexit secretary
:: Analysis - PM must fight for her job after 'remarkable' resignation
If the Tory Big Beasts read opinion polls and pay heed to the Whips, then they will drive May from office without delay '' The Slog.
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 10:19
Constructing and examining the less than perfect options available to the Conservative Party today, it seems to me obvious that persevering with Prime Minister Pillowcase can only lead to leadership chaos and the potential for Corbyn to take charge of Number Ten. Will the old Nasties tell her to go? If they have any thinking material left between their ears, they must do so immediately.
The big question now: will Tory Brexiteers walk the talk when it comes to splitting the Conservative Party? And while it is a times difficult to tell chicken from egg, a lot of what happens next is going to come down to the media in general, and Party/Brexit/May opinion poll scores in particular.
It goes without saying that the globalist Alt State media have gone into overdrive since the Chequers ''agreement'' last Saturday '' or as BoJo might remark, polished turd day. CNBC was quick to headline David Davis as ''easily replaceable'', until Boris resigned '' at which point it was Bloomberg to the rescue by saying that ''Theresa May does not need the Foreign Secretary to make Brexit work''. So far '' pretty much across the piece beyond the tabloid Right press '' there are still those who say Brexiteer MPs will not vote down the Government. Even the Telegraph (which excoriates May's hash of the Brexit process in a way I've rarely seen at the Torygraph) was largely doubtful about the survival of principle over political survival.
Mrs Pillowcase herself '' who has the benefit of her Whips' calculations '' takes a different view, and for once I think she may well be right. Having been told bluntly last Sunday that she could no longer command a majority in the Commons, the Prime Minister cycled down to see her backbenchers yesterday evening and made an urgent plea for them to back the Party right or wrong, because the Labour Party is gaining ground. Actually, it has overtaken the Conservatives in the latest poll.
Nothing like using your own unpopularity to get your own way, that's what I say: and the research surveys done since Chequers leave little doubt of just how hopeless her performance has been.
64% of Britons do not trust her to run Brexit negotiations '' up 31 percentage points from when we last asked the question in March 2017. A study done by Sky shows that only 22% now trust her to get the best possible deal from Brussels: just three months ago, that figure was 54%.
Even on her home turf (says Conservative Home) Tory activists believe by two to one that the Cabinet's Chequers Brexit deal would be bad for Britain.
But in the wider sphere of Brexit, the country '' despite strenuous and almost completely dishonest propaganda pouring out from the EUNATO bankrolled Remain quarters day and night '' is still split right down the middle. Overall, when taken to a forced-choice question, although a mere 7% of Brits believe a federalised European gov would be a good thing, and only 1 in 5 want to ignore the Referendum and stay in the EU, if there were another referendum on offer , the polls suggest the result would be 48/48 Leave and Stay with only 4% undecided.
Another referendum would thus merely produce a stalemate, but don't be surprised if May the can-kicker resorts to that as a last throw of the dice from her bunker.
The real bottom-line is this: can the appeal to keep Labour out work for Mrs Pillowcase? My view this morning is that no, it can't. At some point in the near future, she will have to get the Commons to buy into her Chequers Blueprint. I'm told that even if only 30 Tories vote it down, that will be enough to defeat her, because both Keir Starmer and Corbyn the YesNo Turncoat have already made it clear that the Labour policy will be to have a fully whipped policy to reject the plan. I'm sure given a few days, the LibLeft spinners can think of a rationale for that move; but the actual reason is that both Momentum and the circle around Jesus of Islington now think they can bury the Tories once an election is called.
A defeat on the 'Chequers Bill' would be seen by most as a no-confidence vote. Even if Theresa Mayflower-Pillowcase von Kankicker limps on, it would only be for a week at most, because on 20th July Michel Barnier gives his verdict on the Chequers proposal. It's already obvious this is going to be a thumbs-down.
What I offer up now is only conjecture; but it is based on common sense and the mind-concentrating survival instinct that always kicks in sooner or later with the Tory Party.
If they want to avoid a messy snap election straight after an even messier leadership fight '' and win some time to regain the respect of their loyalist voters and grass roots '' the only option the Conservative Big Beasts have is to tell the PM what Thatcher's Cabinet told her: your position is untenable, you must resign. And they must tell her this right away.
From the Tory standpoint, it is not ideal: but it is the least of many evils available to them. Let us now see what this Party of chancers does.
Speaking to the man behind the giant Trump Baby blimp | Dazed
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:10
Photography Andy Aitchison 'You can't appeal to his conscience as he's got no conscience '' so we went with ridicule' This week, Leo Murray found himself reading a Daily Mail article that characterised him as a career activist, a wealthy landlord because he owns his own house, a Labour party tearaway because his grandad was an MP, and then an heir by extension. ''An heir to what?'' he laughs down the phone. ''Most of that was just lazy journalism and lies''.
Despite being an ordinary family man that works in environmental advocacy, Murray has a target on his back this week. This is mostly because of his creation of the Trump Baby, a six metre high blimp that shows the president as a nappy-clad toddler screaming into the sky, with his hands poised to tweet on an inflatable mobile phone. The giant inflatable was the brainchild of Murray and a team of passionate activists and is due to fly near Parliament to protest the president's visit this Friday.
It's a funny response to a deeply troubling issue, yet Murray has already drawn criticism from Conservative MPs, Nigel Farage, and crusty columnists calling for one to be made of Sadiq Khan ''wearing a stab vest''. ''Trump has got to maintain this sort of self-delusion that he's really popular and everybody loves him. So we spent two and a half grand on this,'' Murray explains. Here he tells us the story of how it all came together.
So tell me the story behind this blimp, because everyone seems to be talking about it right now. How did this come together?
Leo Murray: The story starts with Trump's election and inauguration. I was part of a group that organised a big protest to mark his inauguration, which was called ''Bridges not Walls''. We dropped banners from all the bridges by the Thames and 250 others around Europe and beyond. It was a reminder of a common humanity and a commitment to resist. The group then decided that if he ever comes here, we obviously have to protest. However, there's a chance he won't really give a fuck about a regular protest against his policies. He lacks the capacity for moral shame. You simply can't reason with him, because he's not a reasonable person. You also can't appeal to his conscience as he's got no conscience. So we went with ridicule.
Matt Bonner was the designer, Nona Hurkmans and Daniel Jones our heroic spokespersons, Max Wakefield central organising force and the comedy genius behind the Trump Baby Twitter account, Dave Fuller who is coordinating the action in Parliament Square, and Sheila Menon who's on liaising with the authorities.I did a few sketches we arrived at the idea of a blimp made of him as a baby, and, flying it from somewhere really visible. Honestly, we were just cracking up laughing to ourselves finding it so funny. Then we crowdfunded it. When they sent us pictures from the warehouse we were like oh my god, we've created a monster.
''It seems as if free speech only extends so far as the right for hate speech against immigrants and vulnerable minorities, but when it comes to mocking the US President, the most powerful man in the world, that has to invoke fucking violence'' '' Leo Murray
Tell us how the mayor's office became involved?
Leo Murray: He chickened out on a few dates but when he finally confirmed when he was planning to visit, I wrote an application to the mayor's office at city hall, to fly him from Parliament Square Gardens. Even had (Sadiq Khan) said no, I thought it would be an interesting dynamic, given the digs that they've sent to each other via the press. At first they gave me some bollocks, about how we wouldn't allow inflatables of any kind. They were very rude actually, very rude. I had a surreal, circular conversation with them where they were like an inflatable isn't a protest, but it is literally a protest inflatable. The V&A had an exhibition, three years ago, about inflatables as a form of protest, so I said: ''here's a link to it, in the archive, broaden your horizons''. I eventually started a petition and thousands of people signed, which is when G2 published something. 48 hours later, I got an email from someone senior in City Hall, so that totally worked.
Where are you up to now?
Leo Murray: We've met all the health and safety conditions, and we've had to get our own security because we've had threats that someone is going to shoot it down.
Photography Andy AitchisonHave you had many threats?
Leo Murray: We've had Daily Mail articles about me go up full of lies. Obviously, no one who you can actually respect believes anything in that paper '' it's clearly focused on discrediting left wing movements. I'm speaking to the Metropolitan Police about the possibility that ''Free Tommy Robinson'' might show up to try to intimidate us. We've actually gotten threatening phone calls at our workplaces, saying ''you need to watch your back on the streets''. People are gunning for me and my colleagues are getting quite frightened. It is ridiculous that these are the same fuckers who are trying to be advocates of free speech. It's literally the same fucking people. So which is it, mate? It seems as if free speech only extends so far as your right for hate speech against immigrants and vulnerable minorities, but when it comes to mocking the US President, the most powerful man in the world, that has to invoke fucking violence? They're just the worst people, the absolute worst people in the world. I'm speaking as a white heterosexual man, you know, I get to enjoy these privileges don't always have to experience people persecuting me on the basis of who I am. So maybe this is what solidarity feels like.
How does it make you feel that there are reports Theresa May fears he will pull out of NATO if he sees a balloon of himself wearing a nappy flying in the sky?
Leo Murray: It's why we made a baby balloon. He's such a big baby and if his reaction is then act like a big angry baby I'll say: ''well you're not doing yourself any favours there, mate.''
What's some of the best criticism you've seen?
Leo Murray: I mean, it was great to see Nigel Farage pissed off. He's got all these people who follow him and what he does is whip them up into a fervour of hate. They go and perpetrate awful crimes. So the fact that we pissed him off, obviously fantastic, delighted by that. It's weird to say you believe in free speech and then lose it over a silly balloon.
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Ministers draw up secret plans to stockpile processed food in case of a 'no deal' Brexit
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:26
GRUB STASH PLANThe Government could unveil some of the 300 contingency measures, including a bid to keep Britain's food and drinks industry afloat
MINISTERS have drawn up secret plans to stockpile processed food in the event of EU divorce talks collapsing '' to show Brussels that ''no deal'' is not a bluff.
Theresa May has ordered ''no deal'' planning ''to step up'' '-- with the government poised to start unveiling some of the 300 contingency measures in the coming weeks.
AFP or Licensors
Theresa May and her cabinet have drawn up plans to stockpile processed food in the event of a 'no deal' BrexitAt last week's Chequers summit, Brexiteer ministers demanded more be done to prepare for Britain leaving the EU out without a new arrangement in place.
The Sun can reveal that includes emergency measures to keep Britain's massive food and drinks industry afloat '' including stockpiling ahead of exit day on 29 March next year.
More than £22 billion worth of processed food and drinks are imported in to the UK '' 97 per cent from the EU '' in an industry that keeps 400,000 workers employed in the UK.
Similar stockpiles are also being prepared for medical supplies amid fears of chaos at British ports next year.
The plan is aimed at keeping Britain's food and drinks industry afloat through stockpiling after exit day on 29 March 2019Brexit department insiders also claim plans have also been ''wargamed'' to ease pressure on Calais, including importing and exporting more goods through Holland, Belgium and directly from Spain.
Last night Downing Street said ''no deal preparation work is to be stepped up'' and led by new Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab.
Yesterday the Cabinet newbie briefed fellow ministers on measures Britain is taking, with No10 saying: ''It's sensible to make preparations for all scenarios and that includes No Deal.''
With trade talks due to recommence in Brussels next week, a Whitehall source said: ''preparations for no deal are actually much further down the line than people realise, and we will be making that clear in the coming weeks.''
Meanwhile, Justice Secretary David Gauke warned Tory Eurosceptics that a ''no-deal'' Brexit was ''not an attractive option at all''.
New Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab admitted 'no deal preparation work is to be stepped up'While insisting that the option cannot be ruled out, Mr Gauke told the BBC: ''What I would say to those of my colleagues, if there are some, who think this is pain-free and this is just something that we can ride over very easily, is no deal will have a negative impact on our constituents, on the British public.''
But last night it emerged his department would be spending more than £17 million preparing for the scenario.
Donald Trump refuses to back May over Brexit but says he wants to talk with his 'friend' Boris on UK trip
EU president warns Trump he has few allies amid NATO criticism - Business Insider
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 13:09
European Union President Donald Tusk had strong words for President Donald Trump in response to his ongoing criticism of NATO and Europe. Francois Lenoir/Reuters
European Union President Donald Tusk on Tuesday delivered a strongly worded statement directed at President Donald Trump amid his ongoing criticism of NATO: "Appreciate your allies. After all, you don't have that many."Tusk's remarks come after sustained criticism of NATO by Trump in relation to how it's funded."Money is important, but genuine solidarity is even more important," Tusk said. European Union President Donald Tusk on Tuesday delivered a strongly worded statement directed at President Donald Trump amid his ongoing criticism of NATO: "Appreciate your allies. After all, you don't have that many."
As Trump was set to travel to Brussels for a NATO summit, Tusk said, "I would like to address President Trump directly, who for a long time now has been criticizing Europe almost daily for, in his view, insufficient contributions to the common defence capabilities, and for living off the US."
"Dear President Trump: America does not have, and will not have a better ally than Europe," Tusk added. "Money is important, but genuine solidarity is even more important."
Tusk outlined the ways in which Europe has stood by the US in recent years, including after the 9/11 terror attacks. He also noted that Europeans spend about as much on defense as China and more than Russia.
The EU president said he hoped Trump would remember Europe's strong relationship with the US as he meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki in the coming days.
Tusk's remarks come after sustained criticism of NATO by Trump.
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted, "Getting ready to leave for Europe. First meeting - NATO. The US is spending many times more than any other country in order to protect them. Not fair to the US taxpayer. On top of that we lose $151 Billion on Trade with the European Union. Charge us big Tariffs (& Barriers)!"
Trump's statements on the way NATO operates and is funded have often been misleading.
Trump's suggestion the US provides protection for other NATO member states glosses over the founding premise of the alliance: collective defense. In this sense, all of the member states provide protection for one another. Furthermore, all member states contribute to NATO's overall budget based on their national income, with the US providing about 22% of the budget.
In other words, the US government's contribution to NATO is proportional, and many have criticized Trump for claiming Europe is taking advantage of the US in this regard.
Trump's attacks on NATO come as many European countries express concern about Russia's aggression in the region, especially in the wake of the annexation of Crimea in 2014. In this context, Tusk and others seem concerned Putin will take advantage of the fact that Trump is not standing by key US allies.
Referencing Trump's impending summit with Putin, Tusk on Tuesday said, "It is always worth knowing: who is your strategic friend? And who is your strategic problem?"
Meanwhile, as Trump spoke with reporters before heading off to Europe, he said his meeting with Putin could be the "easiest" aspect of his trip.
More: Donald Trump NATO Powered By Sailthru
At NATO, abrasive Trump lashes Germany for being Russian 'captive'
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:21
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump accused Germany of being a ''captive'' of Russia on Wednesday as Western leaders gathered in Brussels for a NATO summit where Trump wants Europeans to pay more for their own defense.
In a startling public outburst against one of Europe's main military powers, Trump told NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg that Germany was wrong to support a new $11-billion Baltic Sea pipeline to import Russian gas while being slow to meet targets for NATO spending to protect against Russia.
''We're supposed to be guarding against Russia and Germany goes out and pays billions and billions of dollars a year to Russia,'' Trump said in the presence of reporters at a pre-summit meeting at the residence of the U.S. ambassador to Belgium.
Trump, who later arrived at NATO's new billion-dollar headquarters in his presidential limousine, appeared to substantially overstate German reliance on Russian energy and to imply the German government was funding the pipeline, which Berlin says is a commercial venture.
With tensions in the Western alliance running high over Trump's trade tariffs on European steel and his demands for more contributions to ease the burden on U.S. taxpayers, the latest remarks fueled concerns among allies over the U.S. role in keeping the peace that has reigned since World War Two.
Baltic leaders fearful of any repeat of Russia's annexation of Crimea called for unity as they arrived at the summit, while Slovakia's President Andrej Kiska said his country was ''one of the good guys'' because he was increasing defense spending.
Those comments underscored the risks to Trump's strategy by dividing allies between those who spend more on defense and those who do not, such as Belgium, Spain, Italy and Luxembourg, but who contribute with troops to NATO missions.
SHOWDOWN WITH MERKEL? Trump, who allies hope will sign off on a summit deal to step up the West's deterrence of Russia, will hold talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Wednesday.
After the two-day summit in Brussels, Trump will meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki on Monday.
Merkel later responded to Trump's remarks, saying Germany, one of the biggest troop contributors to NATO missions, was free of Russian control since the fall of the Berlin Wall.
She recalled her own youth in Soviet-dominated East Germany and said she was ''very happy that today we are united in freedom, the Federal Republic of Germany. Because of that we can say that we can make our independent policies and make independent decisions.''
NATO's Stoltenberg later told reporters that Trump had used ''very direct language'' but that all NATO allies were agreed that the cost of defense spending must be spread around and that last year had seen the biggest increase in a generation.
After joking that his breakfast with Trump at the U.S. ambassador's residence had been paid by the United States, the NATO chief was frank about the impact of Trump's criticism on the Western allies at a broader level.
''There are disagreements on trade. This is serious. My task is to try to minimize the negative impact on NATO,'' Stoltenberg told a forum in the margins of the summit.
U.S. President Donald Trump gestures as he is greeted by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg before a bilateral breakfast ahead of the NATO Summit in Brussels, Belgium July 11, 2018. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque ''So far is hasn't impacted on NATO that much, I cannot guarantee that that will not be the case in the future. The transatlantic bond is not one, there are many ties, some of them have been weakened.''
By slapping higher tariffs on European Union metals experts and threatening more on cars, Trump has shown his anger at the U.S. trade deficit with the European Union.
''DEPENDENCE'' ON RUSSIA Trump said Germany's closure of coal and nuclear power plants on environmental grounds had increased its dependence, like much of the rest of Europe, on Russian gas.
Trump said: ''We're protecting Germany, we're protecting France, we're protecting all of these countries. And then numerous of the countries go out and make a pipeline deal with Russia where they're paying billions of dollars into the coffers of Russia ... I think that's very inappropriate.''
Merkel has given political backing to the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to import more gas, despite criticism from other EU governments.
Trump said: ''If you look at it, Germany is a captive of Russia. They got rid of their coal plants, they got rid of their nuclear, they're getting so much of their oil and gas from Russia. I think it is something NATO has to look at.''
However, his comment that ''Germany is totally controlled by Russia because they are getting 60 to 70 percent of their energy from Russia and a new pipeline'' appeared to mis-state German energy use '-- about 20 percent of which is accounted for by oil and gas imports from Russia.
Slideshow (9 Images) Additional reporting by Robin Emmott, Alissa de Carbonnel, Humeyra Pamuk, Phil Stewart, Writing by Alastair Macdonald, Editing by Richard Balmforth, William Maclean
Trump changes tone in Merkel meeting after earlier slamming Germany | Article [AMP] | Reuters
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:15
Wed Jul 11, 2018 / 12:00 PM EDT
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said he had a "great meeting" with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the sidelines of a NATO summit on Wednesday, hours after he fiercely criticized German policy on defense spending and gas imports from Russia.
The tone of their remarks contrasted with an earlier breakfast between Trump and NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, when the Republican president said Germany's reliance on Russian energy left it "in the control" of Moscow and Merkel later referred to her youth in Soviet-run East Germany to insist Berlin was now fully sovereign.
"We're having a great meeting. We're discussing military expenditure ... talking about trade," Trump told reporters who were allowed in to the meeting room.
"We have a very, very good relationship with the chancellor. We have a tremendous relationship with Germany," he added, saying he had raised his concerns about a new gas pipeline planned from Russia to Germany.
Trump played up the success of the bilateral meeting and the potential to resolve issues.
"I believe that our trade will increase and lots of other things will increase, but we'll see what happens."
Merkel, speaking through an interpreter, said the meeting was an "opportunity to have an exchange about economic developments ... and also the future of our trade relations."
Merkel said it was very important to have such exchanges like the meeting she and Trump were having because "after all, we are partners. We are good partners, and we wish to continue to cooperate in the future."
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Alastair Macdonald and Robin Emmott; editing by Robert-Jan Bartunek)
Kyocera DuraXV LTE thanks to Jon in the Leigh Valley, PA
First-Of-Its-Kind University Study Proves Without A Doubt That Your Phone Is Spying On You '' True PunditTrue Pundit
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 11:38
Security TechnologyFirst-Of-Its-Kind University Study Proves Without A Doubt That Your Phone Is Spying On YouWhile some researchers have shown this could happen, a first of its kind study just found something far more insidious. Academics at Northeastern University have just proven that your phone is recording your screen '' as in taking video '' and uploading it to third parties.
For the last year, Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes ran an experiment involving more than 17,000 of the most popular Android apps using ten different phones. Their findings were alarming, to say the least.
As Gizmodo points out, during the study, the researchers started to see that screenshots and video recordings of what people were doing in apps were being sent to third-party domains. For example, when one of the phones used an app from GoPuff, a delivery start-up for people who have sudden cravings for junk food, the interaction with the app was recorded and sent to a domain affiliated with Appsee, a mobile analytics company. The video included a screen where you could enter personal information '' in this case, their zip code.
GoPuff did not disclose in its terms of use that its app was recording users screens and uploading this data to a third party. What's more, when they were contacted by the researchers GoPuff merely added a disclosure to their policy acknowledging that ''ApSee'' might receive users PII.
The fact that these apps can record your screen without you knowing and use this data is chilling. It illustrates how easy it would be for a malicious actor to be able to look at your private messages, personal information, passwords, photos, and videos. None of this is stopped by your phone's security either as it is a function built into the apps and you don't have an option to disallow it.
According to Gizmodo, the researchers will be presenting their work at the Privacy Enhancing Technology Symposium Conference in Barcelona next month. (While in Spain, they might want to check out the country's most popular soccer app, which has given itself permission to access users' smartphone mics to listen for illegal broadcasts of games in bars.)'' READ MORE
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Is My Phone Recording Everything I Say?
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 11:42
Illustration: Jim CookeIt's the smartphone conspiracy theory that just won't go away: Many, many people are convinced that their phones are listening to their conversations to target them with ads. Vice recently fueled the paranoia with an article that declared ''Your phone is listening and it's not paranoia,'' a conclusion the author reached based on a 5-day experiment where he talked about ''going back to uni'' and ''needing cheap shirts'' in front of his phone and then saw ads for shirts and university classes on Facebook.
(For what it's worth, I also frequently see ads for shirts on Facebook, but I'm past the age of the target audience for back-to-school propaganda.)
Some computer science academics at Northeastern University had heard enough people talking about this technological myth that they decided to do a rigorous study to tackle it. For the last year, Elleen Pan, Jingjing Ren, Martina Lindorfer, Christo Wilson, and David Choffnes ran an experiment involving more than 17,000 of the most popular apps on Android to find out whether any of them were secretly using the phone's mic to capture audio. The apps included those belonging to Facebook, as well as over 8,000 apps that send information to Facebook.
Sorry, conspiracy theorists: They found no evidence of an app unexpectedly activating the microphone or sending audio out when not prompted to do so. Like good scientists, they refuse to say that their study definitively proves that your phone isn't secretly listening to you, but they didn't find a single instance of it happening. Instead, they discovered a different disturbing practice: apps recording a phone's screen and sending that information out to third parties.
Of the 17,260 apps the researchers looked at, over 9,000 had permission to access the camera and microphone and thus the potential to overhear the phone's owner talking about their need for cat litter or about how much they love a certain brand of gelato. Using 10 Android phones, the researchers used an automated program to interact with each of those apps and then analyzed the traffic generated. (A limitation of the study is that the automated phone users couldn't do things humans could, like creating usernames and passwords to sign into an account on an app.) They were looking specifically for any media files that were sent, particularly when they were sent to an unexpected party.
These phones played with thousands of app to see if they could find one that would secretly activate their microphonePhoto: David Choffnes (Northeastern University)The strange practice they started to see was that screenshots and video recordings of what people were doing in apps were being sent to third party domains. For example, when one of the phones used an app from GoPuff, a delivery start-up for people who have sudden cravings for junk food, the interaction with the app was recorded and sent to a domain affiliated with Appsee, a mobile analytics company. The video included a screen where you could enter personal information'--in this case, their zip code.
This wasn't a total surprise: Appsee proudly touts its ability to record what users are doing in an app on its website. What bothered the researchers was that it wasn't evident to the user that their behavior was being recorded, something which wasn't disclosed in GoPuff's privacy policy. After the researchers contacted GoPuff, it added a disclosure to the policy acknowledging that ''ApSee'' might receive users PII. ''As an added precaution, we also pulled Appsee SDK from the latest Android and iOS builds,'' said the start-up's spokesperson by email.
Appsee meanwhile, claims that it was GoPuff that screwed up. Appsee's CEO Zahi Boussiba told me that his company's terms of service ''clearly state that our customers must disclose the use of a 3rd party technology, and our terms forbid customers from tracking any personal data with Appsee.'' He said their customers can blacklist sensitive parts of their app to prevent Appsee from recording it, and pointed out that a number of Appsee competitors also offer ''full-session replay technology'' for both iOS and Android apps.
''In this case it appears that Appsee's technology was misused by the customer and that our Terms of Service were violated,'' said Boussiba in an email. ''Once this issue was brought to our attention we've immediately disabled tracking capabilities for the mentioned app and purged all recordings data from our servers.''
Appsee wasn't entirely blameless, though, said a spokesperson for Google, who runs the Play Store through which people get Android apps. ''We always appreciate the research community's hard work to help improve online privacy and security practices,'' a Google spokesperson told me by email. ''After reviewing the researchers' findings, we determined that a part of AppSee's services may put some developers at risk of violating Play policy. We're working closely with them to help ensure developers appropriately communicate the SDK's functionality with their apps' end-users.''
The Google Play policy says you must disclose to users how their data will be collected.
GoPuff used Appsee to help optimize performance of its app, so the recording wasn't unexpected on the company side, but it's concerning that a third party can record your phone screen with no notice to you. It illustrates the ease with which a malicious actor could potentially steal information from your phone. A screenshot or video of app interaction could capture private messages, personal information, or even passwords being entered, as many apps show the letter inputted before changing it to a black asterisk.
A screenshot or video of app interaction could capture private messages, personal information, or even passwords being entered, as many apps show the letter inputted before changing it to a black asterisk. In other words, until smartphone makers notify you when your screen is being recorded or give you the power to turn that ability off, you have a new thing to be paranoid about. The researchers will be presenting their work at the Privacy Enhancing Technology Symposium Conference in Barcelona next month. (While in Spain, they might want to check out the country's most popular soccer app, which has given itself permission to access users' smartphone mics to listen for illegal broadcasts of games in bars.)
The researchers weren't comfortable saying for sure that your phone isn't secretly listening to you in part because there are some scenarios not covered by their study. Their phones were being operated by an automated program, not by actual humans, so they might not have triggered apps the same way a flesh-and-blood user would. And the phones were in a controlled environment, not wandering the world in a way that might trigger them: For the first few months of the study the phones were near students in a lab at Northeastern University and thus surrounded by ambient conversation, but the phones made so much noise, as apps were constantly being played with on them, that they were eventually moved into a closet. (If the researchers did the experiment again, they would play a podcast on a loop in the closet next to the phones.) It's also possible that the researchers could have missed audio recordings of conversations if the app transcribed the conversation to text on the phone before sending it out. So the myth can't be entirely killed yet.
The level of paranoia people feel about their phones is understandable. We have on our persons at almost all times a little device with myriad sensors that can potentially monitor our behavior. The uncanny accuracy of the ads you see, though, almost certainly isn't the result of the phone literally eavesdropping on you; it's a combination of good targeting based on the amount of your digital and real world behavior that is captured via apps, along with the fact that you aren't as unique as you think you are. Advertisers know what you're talking about because other people like you are talking about the same things and buying the same things.
''We didn't see any evidence that people's conversations are being recorded secretly,'' said David Choffnes, one of the authors of the paper. ''What people don't seem to understand is that there's a lot of other tracking in daily life that doesn't involve your phone's camera or microphone that give a third party just as comprehensive a view of you.''
Contact the Special Projects DeskThis post was produced by the Special Projects Desk of Gizmodo Media. Reach our team by phone, text, Signal, or WhatsApp at (917) 999-6143, email us at tips@gizmodomedia.com, or contact us securely using SecureDrop.
What if your car spied on you?
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:07
July 10, 2018 by Dr Kate Raynes-Goldie, Particle Driverless cars are set to change many aspects of everyday life, including an area you may not have thought of: privacy.
Autonomous vehicles, or AVs for short, are being trialled around the world. They offer a whole heap of potential benefits to humanity, from reducing road fatalities, lowering fossil fuel emissions and decreasing commute times.
But here's something you probably haven't thought about. If you were freaked out by the Cambridge Analytica scandal, wait until you hear this.
You know how your phone, digital devices and social media are able to collect all sorts of personal information about you? You may be surprised to learn that AVs take this data collection to the next level. AVs work by collecting and storing information about the world in a way that puts social media to shame.
Surveillance machines?
AVs use a whole bunch of sensors'--including cameras, GPS and lidar'--to 'see' the world, navigate and avoid obstacles.
This also means a huge amount of data is being collected by these sensors. Think something like those cars Google uses for Google Street View, but on steroids.
"[The data collected] could potentially cover everything about what the car and its occupants are doing," Matthew O'Leary, an AV expert and Senior Associate at Herbert Smith Freehills, told me.
"To give some broad examples, you have vehicle data (tracking, performance monitoring, maintenance reports etc.), traffic and mapping data (traffic flows, navigation aids etc.) and driver data (use, driving habits, locations visited etc.)."
Matthew, who has become one of Australia's go-to experts around the legal implications of AVs, has also been advising the RAC in their autonomous bus trials.
"To give an indication of scale [of data collected], it was estimated that, in 2012, the average American consumed about 650MB of data per day," Matthew said. "This can be compared to a single automated vehicle, which is estimated to produce 750MB of data per second."
Data'--the new oil
To give you a sense of the scale and potential social impact of this data, consider that McKinsey recently predicted that this AV data could be worth as much as USD750 billion by 2030.
There's a reason this data is so valuable. It's used to influence everything from what we buy to even how we vote. It's why data is being called the new oil.
With Curtin University and RAC both trialling autonomous shuttle buses, the future is already here for AV data collection in WA. As humans on the forefront of the potential AV revolution, how we protect and manage our privacy and data in this new age is something we need to be discussing and deciding right now'--especially if we want to avoid the mistakes we made in the past.
Caught on AV cam
When social media was first becoming mainstream, it created a number of nasty surprises for people. We had to learn how to navigate a world where our private lives were now public, where we could get fired for things we posted on social media.
So how might things change in a world with AVs everywhere?
Coming back to the Google Street View analogy, with cars driving around covered in cameras, a whole host of embarrassing and illicit situations could be recorded and used for purposes we can't even yet imagine.
And some we can.
"One is the potential for insurers to want to access data on how an automated vehicle is used (how many kilometres are driven, when the vehicle is driven etc.) to help set their insurance premiums more accurately," Matthew said.
"Another is the potential for the ATO to want to access the same data to cross-reference against tax deduction claims."
Laws of the future
One of the challenges in ensuring that the way AV data is used is good for everyone is lack of tailored legislation.
"The primary source of privacy protection in Australia is the Privacy Act 1988 (Cth) and the equivalent legislation in most States and Territories," Matthew told me.
"[These laws] aren't tailored to cater for the specific issues that arise in the context of automated vehicles or other emerging technologies."
For Matthew, the key issue is giving people the power to balance convenience with privacy.
"As a general rule, people are concerned about protecting their privacy and get anxious when there are privacy breaches. But they are also keen for their lives to be made easier for them and for companies to be able to provide them with a more tailored service. That's a trade-off most people are willing to make, at least to a certain degree."
"As a minimum, we need to ensure that there are appropriate limits on the use of such data and safeguards in place to protect the security of that data."
The good thing is that mainstream, widespread adoption of AVs is probably at least 10 years away. This means we have the opportunity now to ensure that the way we adopt AVs is positive, safe and secure for all.
This article first appeared on Particle, a science news website based at Scitech, Perth, Australia. Read the original article.
Provided by: Particle
Why the airplane romance that went viral should worry everyone '' Naked Security
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:30
Last week, a woman named Helen (she asked that her last name not be published, for reasons that will soon be clear to anybody who favors privacy over virally inflicted fame) got on a plane in New York, heading for Texas, and left her privacy on the tarmac.
It all began when a lady with a sweet Southern drawl asked to switch seats so she could sit next to her boyfriend.
Sure. Good deed for the day, Helen must have thought. Why not?
So Helen swapped seats and wound up sitting next to an attractive guy with whom she shared conversation, including showing each other family photos on their cell phones.
I know this, and the internet knows this, because along with her boyfriend, the woman who made the request '' her name is Rosey Blair '' sat in the row behind Helen, whose privacy the couple was about to roto-rooter.
Blair and her boyfriend, Houston Hardaway, began to chronicle '' and publicly post, through photos, videos and commentary '' Every. Single. Move. Those. Two. People. Made. '...And to interpret every one of those moves, slathering their own alternatively romantic/lascivious storyline onto the interactions of two people they'd never met and whose motivations they could only guess at, like so much sweetened-lard frosting on a cardiac-arrest wedding cake.
'-- Rosey Blair (@roseybeeme) July 03, 2018If you don't feel like reading through the entire, gut-churningly invasive, privacy-spurning soap opera of tweets they posted, which racked up hundreds of thousands of retweets, comments and likes from all the other utter strangers who posted their open-mouthed ''FOLLOWING!'' fascination, the spying/doxxing saga basically goes along the lines of ''Are you talking to the guy you sat next to? What, you're both fitness gurus?! OMG, heart-heart-heart, he's HOTTTTTTTTT!!! Hey, your hair was up, but then you let your hair down when you went to the bathroom!! Look: they're touching elbows!!! Is this going to lead to love? Marriage? Acceptance into the mile-high club?!!!''
This is the age we live in: Mr. and Ms. Anybody With A Smart Phone consider it their God-given right to conduct surveillance on anybody they want to, including eavesdropping and doxxing, as in, public dissemination of the surveillance footage without permission, simply because they've spun their own little fairytale outcome, want to play private eye, and have the surveillance equipment to cook up their trail of clues '...all this, over a potential hookup on an airplane.
Blair continued to buy WiFi time to keep the saga going during the flight. The likes, shares and comments ticked ever upward. We soon found out the identity of hot-guy seatmate: it turned out to be Euan Holden, a personal trainer who laughed it off when Blair sent him the Tweet thread she published last week.
Hilarious... Knew you were taking pictures 🂠twitter.com/roseybeeme/sta'...
'-- Euan Holden (@EuanHolden) July 04, 2018Holden obviously didn't mind having his privacy invaded in this fashion. In fact, he, Blair and Hardaway made an appearance on NBC's TODAY TV show to talk about the ''Modern fairy tale,'' the ''Matchmaker passengers who detailed viral airplane love story'' and ''just how this budding romance unfolded.''
As TODAY reported, more than three-quarters of a million people fell in love with the saga of these purported lovebirds.
'-- Rosey Blair (@roseybeeme) July 03, 2018You might notice a hole in this story. You might notice that it's a Cinderella story, in fact, with the internet searching for the pretty girl who wore the crystal airbuds or something like that. Helen has chosen not to go public and, for the most part, but, unfortunately, not entirely, hasn't been identified.
That hasn't kept Blair from posting a video saying that she and Hardaway don't have Helen's ''permish'' '' ''Not YET, y'all!'' Here they are, waving their fingers about that:
Y'all were asking about pretty plane girl https://t.co/cdAMD8BjnF
'-- Rosey Blair (@roseybeeme) July 04, 2018But pretty clearly goading their followers on to find out Helen's identity:
You guys are sneaky. I think you might'...
''Don't encourage them,'' Blair's boyfriend admonishes her, but that's a bit too little and a whole lot too late.
While Blair did obscure Helen's face, it wasn't particularly good obfuscation. In fact, in short order, Helen was reportedly tracked down and harassed when people discovered her identity, posting onto her personal Instagram feed:
Lol you blew that guy in the bathroom. Skank
@My_Moment95 @hotincleveland @Chelsea_Fagan @chescaleigh it's not just about shyness! she was actually being harass'... twitter.com/i/web/status/1'...
'-- 🇧🇷 🇯🇵 seu menino, victor c (@seumeninovictor) July 06, 2018Helen can thank Blair for that crass attack: she implied that she and Holden had sex in the bathroom when they both got out of their seats at the same time.
Ella Dawson, a journalist who accidentally, unwillingly stumbled into viral fame herself early in her career when she wrote a post about the difficulties of dating with genital herpes, has written an essay about the Love In The Air Spying Affair that's scathingly on-point about how the ongoing division between private and public has been steadily eroding for some time now. As she puts it:
None of this was her doing, her choice. No one asked her if she had any reservations or concerns about being made part of a modern romantic comedy. All she did was board a plane and chat with her seatmate. Now she is a public figure, a hashtag, a target. Millions of strangers on the internet want to know about her new fictional relationship. No one understands why she is so afraid. Or maybe she isn't afraid. How could I know? I don't know this woman either.
Maybe Helen isn't afraid. Maybe she is. Maybe she's withdrawn from social media altogether, as some on Twitter say. Who could blame her if she had, given attacks like that one scrawled on her Instagram photo? Or maybe she's ''slowly coming out of her shell,'' as others say. Maybe the couple will date more. Maybe they'll get married and have babies. Maybe they'll move to Hollywood and get cast in a rom-com. Maybe they'll sue Blair for illegal surveillance.
Who cares? And whose business is it, anyway?
Apparently, much of the internet thinks it's very much their business. Welcome to the future, citizen, where you don't have to worry whether the National Security Agency or FBI or CIA or local police are running surveillance so they can analyze your every move: instead, the work has been assumed by anybody with a gadget in their hand.
Follow @LisaVaasFollow @NakedSecurity
Facebook Gives Researchers 'Full Access' for Election Studies - WSJ
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 11:41
July 11, 2018 6:42 p.m. ET Facebook Inc. will give a newly formed group of academics ''full access'' to data on its 2.2 billion users for the purpose of identifying areas of research about the effects of social media on elections and democracy, the group said Wednesday.
Social Science One, a group formed earlier this year with backing from nonprofits including The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Charles Koch Foundation, said it would start accepting proposals from researchers for funding.
Facebook Inc. will give a newly formed group of academics ''full access'' to data on its 2.2 billion users for the purpose of identifying areas of research about the effects of social media on elections and democracy, the group said Wednesday.
Social Science One, a group formed earlier this year with backing from nonprofits including The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and The Charles Koch Foundation, said it would start accepting proposals from researchers for funding.
Facebook is participating in the effort as part of what company officials have said is a renewed commitment to transparency and stamping out abuses on the platform.
In making the alliance, Facebook is continuing to work with outside researchers even as it grapples with the fallout from revelations that data-analytics firm Cambridge Analytica improperly accessed and retained user data. That data were initially gathered by a psychology professor at the University of Cambridge.
The founders of Social Science One said they have put safeguards in place to prevent future abuses or leaks. The group says it will remove personally identifying information from any of the data sets it gives to outside researchers and that no data will ever leave Facebook's servers. It will also closely monitor any studies that involve sensitive user information.
But to determine which data sets to release, a half-dozen primary researchers will have broad access to Facebook's proprietary user data, said Gary King, a social science professor at Harvard University and one of the co-chairs of the research group.
''We would have the same access that employees would have,'' Mr. King said in an interview.
A Facebook spokesman said the researchers with database access are contractually bound not to disclose any data about the company or its users, and that their activity will be monitored for potential privacy breaches.
Social Science One plans to make grants to other groups of researchers who request access to select sets of user data from Facebook. The group's first research project involves combing through one million gigabytes of information about the links users have clicked on over the past year to find patterns about fake news.
Giving researchers access to data raises questions around user privacy, but it also gives the public a valuable glimpse into Facebook's practices, said Eric Goldman, a law professor at Santa Clara University.
''There's no way to really hold internet companies accountable without getting access to their data,'' Mr. Goldman said.
Social Science One said Facebook wouldn't have the ability to review or reject any studies that result from the researchers' work.
Facebook is still attempting to locate the app developers who had access to large amounts of user data and find out how they used the information between 2007 and 2015, when the company officially cut data access for all apps.
Write to Douglas MacMillan at douglas.macmillan@wsj.com
Any Collusion?
Former NY Banker on Deutsche Trump deal(S)
time only
Hindered million or so
Sued DB twice
They made good money!
'Prump/Tutin': New York Magazine goes off deep end of conspiracy pool
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 11:35
As President Donald Trump gears up to meet his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin next week, New York Magazine has published the craziest 'Russiagate' conspiracy theory yet: that Trump has been a Russian agent since 1987.
The magazine's article, titled 'Prump Tutin', is the lead story in this week's print issue, and opens by broadly discussing unproven allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia in 2016.
''A case like this presents an easy temptation for conspiracy theorists, but we can responsibly speculate as to what lies at the end of this scandal without falling prey to their fallacies,'' writes author Jonathan Chait, before strapping on his tinfoil hat and presenting almost 80 paragraphs of the wildest conspiracy theories, alleging that Trump has been a Russian agent since 1987.
It all goes back to Trump's visit to what was then still the Soviet Union. Under Mikhail Gorbachev, the USSR was beginning to open up and Western investors were eyeing up a potentially lucrative market. Trump nosed around, discussed building a hotel in Moscow with Soviet officials, and returned home to his gold-encrusted penthouse. The Moscow hotel never came to fruition.
He did, however, take an active interest in politics upon his return, when he dropped his affiliation with the Democratic party and became a Republican. 'The Donald' spent almost $100,000 on a series of newspaper ads blasting America's NATO spending, a line he still repeats on Twitter to this day.
In the meantime, the Soviet Union collapsed and the Russian Federation was born; the KGB became the FSB; the US went through a Clinton, two Bushes, and an Obama administration; and Russia went through shock therapy of plunging into capitalism under Boris Yeltsin who won his second term with the help of Western experts, and enjoyed growth and stability in early 2000s not without the help of the oil prices. Putin has been at the helm of the country since 1999. Russia-US relations ebbed and flowed in those three decades, but one Russian objective remained, Chait argued: Make Donald Trump president.
Chait asserts that Russia bugged Trump doing something incriminating during his visit, and blackmailed him into the presidency almost 30 years later. The slew of false accusations leveled against Trump in the 'Steele Dossier' last year - including the famous charge that Trump paid prostitutes to urinate on a bed that Barack Obama once slept on - are cited as proof that the Russians are capable of this.
Trump's own sexual appetites are also used as proof. Did you know that he once attended an event in a Las Vegas venue that 'sometimes' hosted shows with a gratuitous sexual theme? And that he ''acts like someone with something to hide.'' According to Chait, the 'pee pee tapes' are not a bizarre liberal fantasy, but a real piece of incriminating evidence.
Every spurious tie between Trump and Russia is bundled together into one convenient, incoherent narrative: Trump hired Putin to hack voting machines; Russian trolls got their instructions direct from Trump Tower; Russia funds the NRA.
Thankfully, with so many accusations flying around, there's a handy infographic to help readers keep track of all the collusion. According to the graphic, Trump is linked to Putin, because Russian MMA fighter Fedor Emelianenko was signed by an MMA league Trump had a stake in. Who has attended Emelianenko's fights? Vladimir Putin. Case closed.
To Chait, next week's Helsinki summit is the final step in the two leaders' plan for world domination, or'... something.
''As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler,'' he wrote.
Although praised by the anti-Trump #Resistance, New York Magazine's article has been savaged by Trump supporters and some media figures, one of whom described it as ''a tweet storm, not an essay.''
Conspiracy-mongering aside, what Chait's article does make clear is that to #Russiagate fanatics, facts don't matter. The fact that a yearlong House Intelligence Committee report released in April found no evidence of collusion doesn't matter. Neither does the fact that after over a year and with almost $20 million spent, Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation has still uncovered no collusion.
As long as the wildest tales of 'Russiagate' are presented like a Tom Clancy spy thriller, Democrats, anti-Trumpers, and their allies in the media seem happy to keep turning the pages.
What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 11:35
/ russia scandal July 8, 2018 07/08/2018 9:00 pm By Jonathan Chait On June 14, 2016, the Washington Post reported that Russian hackers had broken into the Democratic National Committee's files and gained access to its research on Donald Trump. A political world already numbed by Trump's astonishing rise barely took notice. News reports quoted experts who suggested the Russians merely wanted more information about Trump to inform their foreign-policy dealings. By that point, Russia was already broadcasting its strong preference for Trump through the media. Yet when news of the hacking broke, nobody raised the faintest suspicions that Russia wished to alter the outcome of the election, let alone that Trump or anybody connected with him might have been in cahoots with a foreign power. It was a third-rate cyberburglary. Nothing to see here.
The unfolding of the Russia scandal has been like walking into a dark cavern. Every step reveals that the cave runs deeper than we thought, and after each one, as we wonder how far it goes, our imaginations are circumscribed by the steps we have already taken. The cavern might go just a little farther, we presume, but probably not much farther. And since trying to discern the size and shape of the scandal is an exercise in uncertainty, we focus our attention on the most likely outcome, which is that the story goes a little deeper than what we have already discovered. Say, that Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort told their candidate about the meeting they held at Trump Tower with a Russian lawyer after they were promised dirt on Hillary Clinton; and that Trump and Kushner have some shady Russian investments; and that some of Trump's advisers made some promises about lifting sanctions.
But what if that's wrong? What if we're still standing closer to the mouth of the cave than the end?
5 of the Most Blatantly Unethical Moves by the Trump AdministrationThe media has treated the notion that Russia has personally compromised the president of the United States as something close to a kook theory. A minority of analysts, mostly but not exclusively on the right, have promoted aggressively exculpatory interpretations of the known facts, in which every suspicious piece of evidence turns out to have a surprisingly innocent explanation. And it is possible, though unlikely, that every trail between Trump Tower and the Kremlin extends no farther than its point of current visibility.
What is missing from our imagination is the unlikely but possible outcome on the other end: that this is all much worse than we suspect. After all, treating a small probability as if it were nonexistent is the very error much of the news media made in covering the presidential horse race. And while the body of publicly available information about the Russia scandal is already extensive, the way it has been delivered '-- scoop after scoop of discrete nuggets of information '-- has been disorienting and difficult to follow. What would it look like if it were reassembled into a single narrative, one that distinguished between fact and speculation but didn't myopically focus on the most certain conclusions?
A case like this presents an easy temptation for conspiracy theorists, but we can responsibly speculate as to what lies at the end of this scandal without falling prey to their fallacies. Conspiracy theories tend to attract people far from the corridors of power, and they often hypothesize vast connections within or between governments and especially intelligence agencies. One of the oddities of the Russia scandal is that many of the most exotic and sinister theories have come from people within government and especially within the intelligence field.
The first intimations that Trump might harbor a dark secret originated among America's European allies, which, being situated closer to Russia, have had more experience fending off its nefarious encroachments. In 2015, Western European intelligence agencies began picking up evidence of communications between the Russian government and people in Donald Trump's orbit. In April 2016, one of the Baltic states shared with then''CIA director John Brennan an audio recording of Russians discussing funneling money to the Trump campaign. In the summer of 2016, Robert Hannigan, head of the U.K. intelligence agency GCHQ, flew to Washington to brief Brennan on intercepted communications between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The contents of these communications have not been disclosed, but what Brennan learned obviously unsettled him profoundly. In congressional testimony on Russian election interference last year, Brennan hinted that some Americans might have betrayed their country. ''Individuals who go along a treasonous path,'' he warned, ''do not even realize they're along that path until it gets to be a bit too late.'' In an interview this year, he put it more bluntly: ''I think [Trump] is afraid of the president of Russia. The Russians may have something on him personally that they could always roll out and make his life more difficult.''
While the fact that the former CIA director has espoused this theory hardly proves it, perhaps we should give more credence to the possibility that Brennan is making these extraordinary charges of treason and blackmail at the highest levels of government because he knows something we don't.
Suppose we are currently making the same mistake we made at the outset of this drama '-- suppose the dark crevices of the Russia scandal run not just a little deeper but a lot deeper. If that's true, we are in the midst of a scandal unprecedented in American history, a subversion of the integrity of the presidency. It would mean the Cold War that Americans had long considered won has dissolved into the bizarre spectacle of Reagan's party's abetting the hijacking of American government by a former KGB agent. It would mean that when Special Counsel Robert Mueller closes in on the president and his inner circle, possibly beginning this summer, Trump may not merely rail on Twitter but provoke a constitutional crisis.
And it would mean the Russia scandal began far earlier than conventionally understood and ended later '-- indeed, is still happening. As Trump arranges to meet face-to-face and privately with Vladimir Putin later this month, the collusion between the two men metastasizing from a dark accusation into an open alliance, it would be dangerous not to consider the possibility that the summit is less a negotiation between two heads of state than a meeting between a Russian-intelligence asset and his handler.
It is often said that Donald Trump has had the same nationalistic, zero-sum worldview forever. But that isn't exactly true. Yes, his racism and mendacity have been evident since his youth, but those who have traced the evolution of his hypernationalism all settle on one year in particular: 1987. Trump ''came onto the political stage in 1987 with a full-page ad in the New York Times attacking the Japanese for relying on the United States to defend it militarily,'' reported Edward Alden, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. ''The president has believed for 30 years that these alliance commitments are a drain on our finite national treasure,'' a White House official told the Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin. Tom Wright, another scholar who has delved into Trump's history, reached the same conclusion. ''1987 is Trump's breakout year. There are only a couple of examples of him commenting on world politics before then.''
What changed that year? One possible explanation is that Trump published The Art of the Deal, which sped up his transformation from an aggressive, publicity-seeking New York developer to a national symbol of capitalism. But the timing for this account does not line up perfectly '-- the book came out on November 1, and Trump had begun opining loudly on trade and international politics two months earlier. The other important event from that year is that Trump visited Moscow.
During the Soviet era, Russian intelligence cast a wide net to gain leverage over influential figures abroad. (The practice continues to this day.) The Russians would lure or entrap not only prominent politicians and cultural leaders, but also people whom they saw as having the potential for gaining prominence in the future. In 1986, Soviet ambassador Yuri Dubinin met Trump in New York, flattered him with praise for his building exploits, and invited him to discuss a building in Moscow. Trump visited Moscow in July 1987. He stayed at the National Hotel, in the Lenin Suite, which certainly would have been bugged. There is not much else in the public record to describe his visit, except Trump's own recollection in The Art of the Deal that Soviet officials were eager for him to build a hotel there. (It never happened.)
How do you even think about the small but real chance that the president of the United States has been influenced or compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades?Trump returned from Moscow fired up with political ambition. He began the first of a long series of presidential flirtations, which included a flashy trip to New Hampshire. Two months after his Moscow visit, Trump spent almost $100,000 on a series of full-page newspaper ads that published a political manifesto. ''An open letter from Donald J. Trump on why America should stop paying to defend countries that can afford to defend themselves,'' as Trump labeled it, launched angry populist charges against the allies that benefited from the umbrella of American military protection. ''Why are these nations not paying the United States for the human lives and billions of dollars we are losing to protect their interests?''
Trump's letter avoided the question of whom the U.S. was protecting those countries from. The primary answer, of course, was the Soviet Union. After World War II, the U.S. had created a liberal international order and underwritten its safety by maintaining the world's strongest military. A central goal of Soviet, and later Russian, foreign policy was to split the U.S. from its allies.
The safest assumption is that it's entirely coincidental that Trump launched a national campaign, with himself as spokesman, built around themes that dovetailed closely with Soviet foreign-policy goals shortly after his Moscow stay. Indeed, it seems slightly insane to contemplate the possibility that a secret relationship between Trump and Russia dates back this far. But it can't be dismissed completely. How do you even think about the small but real'¯chance '-- 10 percent? 20 percent? '-- that the president of the United States has been covertly influenced or personally compromised by a hostile foreign power for decades?
Russian intelligence gains influence in foreign countries by operating subtly and patiently. It exerts different gradations of leverage over different kinds of people, and uses a basic tool kit of blackmail that involves the exploitation of greed, stupidity, ego, and sexual appetite. All of which are traits Trump has in abundance.
Throughout his career, Trump has always felt comfortable operating at or beyond the ethical boundaries that constrain typical businesses. In the 1980s, he worked with La Cosa Nostra, which controlled the New York cement trade, and later employed Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, both of whom have links to the Russian Mafia. Trump habitually refused to pay his counterparties, and if the people he burned (or any journalists) got in his way, he bullied them with threats. Trump also reportedly circulated at parties for wealthy men featuring cocaine and underage girls.
One might think this notoriety immunizes Trump from blackmail. Curiously, however, Trump's tolerance for risk has always been matched by careful control over information. He maintains a fanatical secrecy about his finances and has paid out numerous settlements to silence women. The combination of a penchant for compromising behavior, a willingness to work closely with criminals, and a desire to protect aspects of his privacy makes him the ideal blackmail target.
It is not difficult to imagine that Russia quickly had something on Trump, from either exploits during his 1987 visit or any subsequent embarrassing behavior KGB assets might have uncovered. But the other leverage Russia enjoyed over Trump for at least 15 years is indisputable '-- in fact, his family has admitted to it multiple times. After a series of financial reversals and his brazen abuse of bankruptcy laws, Trump found it impossible to borrow from American banks and grew heavily reliant on unconventional sources of capital. Russian cash proved his salvation. From 2003 to 2017, people from the former USSR made 86 all-cash purchases '-- a red flag of potential money laundering '-- of Trump properties, totaling $109 million. In 2010, the private-wealth division of Deutsche Bank also loaned him hundreds of millions of dollars during the same period it was laundering billions in Russian money. ''Russians make up a pretty disproportionate cross-section of a lot of our assets,'' said Donald Jr. in 2008. ''We don't rely on American banks. We have all the funding we need out of Russia,'' boasted Eric Trump in 2014.
Since Vladimir Putin, a former KGB agent, rose to power in 1999, money has become a key source of Russian political leverage. The Russian state (and hence Putin) controls the most lucrative sectors of its economy, and Russian investment is not designed solely to maximize return. Shady business transactions offer the perfect cover for covert payments, since just about the entire Russian economy is shady. Trump's adamant refusal to disclose his tax returns has many possible explanations, but none is more obvious than the prospect that he is hiding what are effectively bribes.
During the Obama administration, Russia grew more estranged from the United States as its aggressive behavior toward its neighbors triggered hostile responses from NATO. Putin grew increasingly enamored of reactionary social theories portraying traditional, conservative, Christian Europe as pitted in a civilizational struggle against both decadent liberalism and radical Islam. Also during this time, Trump carved out a brand as a populist hero of the right by publicly questioning Obama's birthplace and legitimacy.
In July 2013, Trump visited Moscow again. If the Russians did not have a back-channel relationship or compromising file on Trump 30 years ago, they very likely obtained one then. Former FBI director James Comey recounts in his book that Trump was obsessed with reports that he had been recorded in a hotel room watching prostitutes urinate on a bed that Barack Obama had once slept in. Trump, Comey wrote, ''argued that it could not be true because he had not stayed overnight in Moscow but had only used the hotel room to change his clothes.'' The journalists Michael Isikoff and David Corn have reconstructed Trump's trip to Moscow and established that he did in fact stay overnight.
This was not the only allegation Trump forcefully and implausibly denied in his early meetings with Comey. He also denied that he had offered a pornographic-film star money to come to his room, grabbed a woman sitting next to him on an airplane, and mocked a disabled reporter at a rally. The other denials have gained no credence in the media. (Indeed, the last incident was broadcast on national television.) But Trump's dismissal of the Moscow-hotel-room allegation has been given the benefit of the doubt by most reporters, who typically describe the charge as ''salacious'' and ''unverified,'' which it most certainly is, and treat that to mean ''absurd,'' which it is not. There is growing reason to think the pee tape might indeed exist.
There has never been much doubt about Russia's motive to engineer a caper like this. Russian intelligence has a documented and long-standing practice of gathering compromising intelligence on visiting dignitaries. The use of prostitutes and the bugging of hotel'¯rooms are standard. The skepticism has instead focused on both the source of the allegations, former British-intelligence official turned private investigator Christopher Steele, and Trump himself.
Steele's dossier burst into public view in January 2017, introducing so many astonishing claims into the public domain that it read like politicized fiction, a modern-day Protocols of the Elders of Zion. ''There has been no public corroboration of the salacious allegations against Mr. Trump, nor of the specific claims about coordination between his associates and the Russians,'' the Times stated authoritatively last fall. ''In fact, some of those claims have been challenged with supporting evidence. For instance, Mr. Trump's longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, produced his passport to rebut the dossier's claim that he had secret meetings in Prague with a Russian official last year.''
The truth is that much of the reporting of the Russia scandal over the past 18 months has followed the contours of what Steele's sources told him. Steele reported that ''the Kremlin had been feeding Trump and his team valuable intelligence on his opponents, including Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton,'' in June 2016, days after the Trump Tower meeting occurred but a year before it would be publicly confirmed. Steele obtained early news of the Kremlin's strategy to exploit divides within the Democratic Party through social media; the role of Carter Page, a member of Trump's foreign-policy team whom Russia had been trying to cultivate as a spy since at least 2013; and other now-familiar elements of the story.
Even the accusations in the dossier that have purportedly been refuted have gained support from law enforcement. Mueller has reportedly obtained evidence that Cohen actually did visit Prague during the 2016 campaign, contrary to his denials. The FBI has learned that Cohen ''was in frequent contact with foreign individuals'' who ''had knowledge of or played a role in 2016 election meddling,'' according to BuzzFeed News.
Then there is Trump himself. While the president's character has never been exactly deemed above reproach, some doubts have lingered about whether he would really hire prostitutes to defile a bed merely because Obama had slept there and whether a tape of such a thing would truly shame him.
These questions have been answered in the affirmative. Trump's payment of hush money to Stormy Daniels and other women proves that he holds his sexual privacy dear. And the obsessive hatred of Obama that grew out of Trump's humiliation at the 2011 White House Correspondents' Dinner has blossomed into a perverse and often self-destructive mania. People both inside and outside the administration report that Trump will ultimately pick whatever option he believes is the negation of Obama's legacy. ''He will ask: 'Did Obama approve this?' And if the answer is affirmative, he will say: 'We don't,''…'' a European diplomat told BuzzFeed News.
Isikoff and Corn reported that Trump and many of the people who accompanied him on the 2013 trip to Moscow had, earlier that year, visited a club in Las Vegas that regularly performed ''simulated sex acts of bestiality and grotesque sadomasochism,'' including shows in which strippers simulated urinating. Isikoff and Corn do not establish what kind of performance was on display the night Trump visited. It may or may not have involved bodily fluids. But the notion that a display of exotic sex acts lies totally outside the range of behavior Trump would enjoy is quaint and unfounded.
It's not necessary to believe that Putin always knew he might install Trump in the Oval Office to find the following situation highly plausible: Sometime in 2015, the Russian president recognized that he had, in one of his unknown number of intelligence files, an inroad into American presidential politics. The Republican nominees from 2008 and 2012 had both run on a hawkish position against Russia (Mitt Romney had called the country America's ''No. 1 geopolitical foe''). Now, on the fringes of the GOP primaries, there was a candidate opening up what was, from Putin's standpoint, a much-needed flank against not just Obama but his former secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her aggressive position against Russia.Trump praised Putin's toughness and called for a thaw in relations between the two countries. At first, Putin likely considered him simply a way to goad his American foes. Then Trump captured the nomination and his value increased exponentially.
At that point, it would have been strange if Russia didn't help Trump. After all, Russians covertly support allied politicians abroad all the time. Putin naturally sees intelligence work as central to foreign policy, and his foreign policy is fundamentally threatened by democratic, socially progressive Western Europe. During his tenure, Russia has formed overt or covert ties to right-wing parties in France, Germany, Austria, Hungary, Greece, and Bulgaria. France's right-wing party received an $11 million loan from Russia; its counterparts in Bulgaria and Greece were alleged (but not proved) to have taken funding under the table, too. More often, Russians intermingle financial dealings with political subterfuge in a complex web that appears superficially legitimate.
The closest model for how Russia covertly operates may be the Brexit campaign in the U.K., which took place months before the 2016 American election. Driving Britain out of the European Union advanced the decades-long Russian goal of splitting Western nations apart, and Russia found willing allies on the British far right. Not only did Russia use social media to covertly promote Brexit, but Russian officials also met secretly several times with Arron Banks, the millionaire British businessman who supported the Brexit campaign, with the largest political donation in British history. Leaked documents reveal that the Russians discussed letting Banks in on a gold-mining deal that could have produced several billion dollars in easy profit. It might seem preposterous that a national vote that changed the course of British history was determined by a secret Russian operation. British conservatives long dismissed suspicions of covert Russian involvement as a ''conspiracy theory.'' Yet the conspiracy appears to have been very real.
Another useful model can be found in Ukraine, where a Russian oligarch backed the 2010 political campaign of the pro-Russian apparatchik Viktor Yanukovych. The effort to install Yanukovych prefigured many elements of Trump's campaign. His campaign exploited ethnic divisions and portrayed his opponent, Yulia Tymoshenko, as corrupt and the election as rigged. Yanukovych called for closer ties with Russia while obscuring the depth of his own furtive Russian connections. Most significant, the consultant brought in to manage Yanukovych's campaign was the same one who managed Trump's six years later: Paul Manafort.
For all the ambiguous, suspicious facts surrounding Trump's ties to Russia, Manafort's role is the most straightforward. He is an utterly amoral consultant and spent at least a decade directly advancing Russian foreign-policy interests while engaging in systemic corruption.
The story begins in 2005, when Manafort proposed to work for billionaire Russian aluminum magnate Oleg Deripaska. Manafort, a Republican operative who had hired himself out to a variety of global villains, promised he would ''influence politics, business dealings, and news coverage inside the United States, Europe, and former Soviet Republics to benefit President Vladimir Putin's government'' in a memo described by the Associated Press.
Russia's oligarchs put their wealth and power at Putin's disposal, or they don't remain oligarchs for long. This requirement is not lost on Deripaska. ''I don't separate myself from the state,'' Deripaska told the Financial Times in 2007. ''I have no other interests.'' A 2006 U.S. diplomatic cable described him as ''among the 2-3 oligarchs Putin turns to on a regular basis.'' Working for Deripaska meant working for Putin.
There's no doubt Manafort's offer was taken up. Deripaska hired Manafort for $10 million a year, and Manafort worked to advance Russian interests in Ukraine, Georgia, and Montenegro. Manafort brought on as his business partner in these endeavors Konstantin Kilimnik, a former member of Russia's foreign military-intelligence agency who '-- according to an indictment by Mueller '-- still has ties to Russian intelligence.
The mystery is exactly when, or whether, Manafort's service to Deripaska '-- which is to say, to Putin '-- ended. He has hidden many of his proceeds and indeed now faces charges of money laundering. In 2010, Manafort received a $10 million loan from Deripaska, which he funneled through his shell company. (Manafort had used the same shell company to buy an apartment in Trump Tower, for cash, in 2006.)
Spending lavishly and deep in debt, Manafort went underground in 2014. Deripaska, seeking to recover funds he believed Manafort owed him, went to court, where one of his lawyers stated, ''It appears that Paul Manafort and Rick Gates'' '-- Manafort's longtime associate '-- ''have simply disappeared.'' Two years later, Manafort resurfaced as Trump's campaign manager, with Gates as his deputy, and set out to use his position to regain favor with his estranged patron. In leaked emails to Kilimnik, Manafort referred to his new standing and asked, ''How do we use to get whole?'' Kilimnik assured Manafort, ''We will get back to the original relationship.'' That is, Manafort was asking about, and Kilimnik was confirming, the possibility of trading his position as Trump's campaign manager for debt forgiveness from Deripaska.
This much was clear in March 2016: The person who managed the campaign of a pro-Russian candidate in Ukraine was now also managing the campaign of a pro-Russian candidate in the United States. And Trump's campaign certainly looked like the same play Putin had run many times before: Trump inflamed internal ethnic division, assailed the corruption of the elite, attacked Western allies while calling for cooperation with Russia, and sowed distrust in the fairness of the vote count. And in addition to deploying social-media bots and trolls, Russia apparently spent directly to help elect Trump. The FBI is investigating Alexander Torshin, a Russian banker who built ties to Republicans and allegedly funneled campaign funds to the National Rifle Association, which spent three times as much to help Trump as it had on behalf of Romney four years earlier.
Trump surrounded himself with several staffers, in addition to Manafort, with unusually close ties to Russia. His national-security adviser, Michael Flynn, had traveled to Moscow in 2015 to fªte Putin at a banquet; George Papadopoulos met with Russian officials during the campaign; Russia had marked Carter Page as a possible asset. Michael Cohen and Felix Sater, the two business associates of Trump's with decades-long ties to Russian organized crime, engaged in a mix of diplomatic and commercial negotiations with Russia during the campaign.
Several Trump advisers knew Russia was working to help Trump. Papadopoulos let it slip that Russia had dirt on Clinton; Roger Stone, a former longtime business partner of Manafort's who communicated regularly with Trump throughout the campaign, knew what material WikiLeaks had obtained, according to two associates. Stone also repeatedly boasted of his back-channel contacts to Julian Assange and flaunted advance knowledge of what dirt Assange had. Between a pair of phone conversations Donald Jr. had to set up his Trump Tower meeting, he spoke with someone with a blocked phone number. (His father has a blocked phone number.) John K. Mashburn, a former campaign and current White House staffer, testified in March that he recalled receiving an email in early 2016 that Russia had negative information on Clinton.
Russia's hacking appears, in short, to have been common knowledge within the campaign. Despite that, Trump repeatedly denied that Russia had any involvement with the email hacking, suggesting China or a 400-pound man might be the true culprit. Trump and his advisers also made at least 20 false public denials that they had any contact with Russian officials during the campaign.
It is possible that the current list of known campaign contacts accounts for most, or even all, of the direct cooperation. But that is hardly a safe assumption. Very little of the information we have about connections between the Trump campaign and Russia was voluntarily disclosed. The pattern of anyone implicated is to lie about everything, construct the most plausible-sounding cover story for the known facts, and when their lies are exposed, retreat to a new story. The Trump Tower meeting alone required three different cover stories over the course of two days as the truth dribbled out. (There is circumstantial evidence that Putin himself helped shape one of the stories: Trump admitted to speaking with the Russian president about adoption policy at a G20 dinner and, the next morning, dictating his son's misleading explanation that the meeting was about adoptions.) Stone testified to Congress that he had had no illicit contacts with Russians and repeated this defense fervently in public. When the Washington Post reported that he had been offered campaign dirt by a man with a heavy Russian accent, Stone insisted he had forgotten about the episode.
How much more evidence of collusion is yet to come out? Maybe a lot more.
One example of the kind Trump's campaign may still be hiding came briefly to light two summers ago. In July 2016, a loose-knit community of computer scientists and cybersecurity experts discovered a strange pattern of online traffic between two computer servers. One of those servers belonged to Alfa Bank in Moscow and the other to the Trump Organization. Alfa Bank's owners had ''assumed an unforeseen level of prominence and influence in the economic and political affairs of their nation,'' as a federal court once put it.
The analysts noted that the traffic between the two servers occurred during office hours in New York and Moscow and spiked in correspondence with major campaign events, suggesting it entailed human communication rather than bots. More suspiciously, after New York Times reporter Eric Lichtblau asked Alfa Bank about it but before he brought it up with the Trump campaign, the server in Trump Tower shut down. The timing strongly implied Alfa Bank was communicating with Trump.
In October, Slate's Franklin Foer broke the story of the servers and the computer scientists' analysis about what it seemed to mean, which he called ''a suggestive body of evidence that doesn't absolutely preclude alternative explanations.'' When Foer's story landed, the political world treated it as insane. Vox, which had dismissed reports about Trump's secret Russian ties as ''poorly evidenced conspiracy theories,'' savaged the server report. The Intercept called it ''wacky.'' Lichtblau reported that the FBI was investigating the server but that it ''ultimately concluded that there could be an innocuous explanation, like a marketing email or spam, for the computer contacts.''
That story became famous primarily for its headline conclusion, ''Investigating Donald Trump, FBI Sees No Clear Link to Russia.'' And yet, CNN reported in March 2017 that the FBI's investigation into the server remained open. Meanwhile, the biggest mystery of Foer's story '-- why did Trump and Russia need a computer server to communicate? '-- now has a coherent answer.
It was already apparent in 2016 that the highest-profile parts of Russia's messaging machine, like RT and Sputnik, were biased toward Trump. But now we know that its social-media activity employed precise demographic and geographic targeting '-- far more precise than a foreign country would be expected to have and notably concentrated on ''key demographic groups in areas of the states that turned out to be pivotal,'' CNN reported. That information is highly valuable: When a Republican staffer named Aaron Nevins received stolen Democratic Party voter-profile data from Guccifer 2.0, the Russian-backed hacker, that summer, he wrote to the hacker, ''This is probably worth millions of dollars.'' The Alfa Bank server connection might not have been put to the exact same kind of collaborative purpose, but Russia's social-media operation needed some fine-grained expertise to direct its targeted messages. It likely got it from somebody connected to Trump and quite possibly used the server to transmit directly with Trump Tower. If that server was transmitting data to and from Moscow, who in Trump Tower was feeding it?
Since the election, Trump and his advisers have continued to act like people who have a great deal to hide. In January 2017, Cohen solicited consulting payments from a firm controlled by a Russian oligarch and, when Flynn became national-security adviser, delivered to him a ''peace plan'' that would have consolidated the gains from Russia's invasion of Ukraine. In December 2016, Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador discussed setting up a back-channel communications line through the Russian embassy. Erik Prince, the founder of Blackwater and brother of Trump's Education secretary, traveled to the Seychelles and met with a Putin ally in what European and Middle Eastern officials believe was another attempt to establish a back channel. Prince also appears to have lied to Congress about the meeting.
Of course, at that point, if Trump had legal diplomatic business to discuss with Russia, the president-elect could have held a normal meeting. It is possible to construct an innocent explanation for all the lying and skulduggery, but it is not the most obvious explanation. More likely, collusion between the Russians and the Trump administration has continued beyond the campaign.
The largest source of suspicion and curiosity is, again, Manafort. He left the campaign in August, when some of his ties to Deripaska were exposed and the campaign was floundering. But contrary to Trump's recent efforts to depict his relationship with Manafort as distant and short-lived, the two continued to speak regularly even after the inauguration. We know this because U.S. investigators had convinced a FISA judge to wiretap Manafort's phone.
Mueller has indicted Manafort on a series of white-collar crimes unrelated to the election itself. He'¯has also convinced Rick Gates to cooperate with the investigation and plead guilty to conspiring against the United States. Trump has dangled the prospect of a presidential pardon to dissuade his former campaign manager from spilling his guts, but the pardon alone is not likely to spare Manafort a lengthy prison sentence. (Presidents can pardon only federal crimes, and Manafort is also facing prosecution for state-level crimes committed in Virginia and appears vulnerable to state charges in New York.) Manafort even allegedly took the reckless step of trying to coach a fellow witness to coordinate his story and was thrown in jail for it while he awaits trial.
Why would Manafort, who has a law degree from Georgetown and years of experience around white-collar crime, behave like this? Of all those in Trump's camp, he is the furthest thing from a true believer, and he lacks any long-standing personal ties to the president or his family, so what incentive does he have to spend most or all of his remaining years in prison rather than betray Trump? One way to make sense of his behavior is the possibility that Manafort is keeping his mouth shut because he's afraid of being killed.
That speculation might sound hyperbolic, but there is plenty of evidence to support it. In February, a video appeared on YouTube showing Manafort's patron Deripaska on his yacht with a Belarusian escort named Anastasia Vashukevich. In the video, from August 2016, Deripaska could be seen speaking with a high-ranking Kremlin official. The video was such a source of embarrassment to Moscow that it fought to have it removed from YouTube. Vashukevich, who was then in a Thai jail after having been arrested there for prostitution, announced that she had heard Deripaska describe a plot to interfere in the election and that she has 16 hours' worth of audio recordings from the yacht to support her charges. In a letter to America authorities, her associate wrote, ''We risk our lives very much.''
Vashukevich's name has disappeared from the news media. In all probability, either the FBI or Russian intelligence has gotten to her. Whatever has happened to her, her testimony suggests both that Russia is still hiding secrets about its role in Trump's election and that someone who knows Deripaska well believes he would and could kill her for violating his confidence.
The latter fear is hardly paranoid. Russia murders people routinely, at home and abroad. In the nine months after Trump's election, nine Russian officials were murdered or died mysteriously. At least one was suspected to have been a likely source for Steele. The attorney for the firm that hired Steele told the Senate last August, ''Somebody's already been killed as a result of the publication of this dossier.''
Here is another unresolved episode that might be weighing on Manafort's decision. In the summer of 2016, veteran Republican activist Peter W. Smith set out to obtain hacked emails from Clinton and contacted Matt Tait, a cybersecurity expert, for help in the project. Smith represented himself as working for the Trump campaign, though he had formed a Delaware-based company, as Smith wrote to Tait, ''to avoid campaign reporting.'' Tait later said that he warned Smith that such a search would bring him into likely collusion with Russian hackers but that Smith ''didn't seem to care.''
At minimum, the episode is just another example of a person working for Trump who was eager to collude with Russia. It might indicate something more. In the spring of 2017, Wall Street Journal reporter Shane Harris found Smith and asked about this episode. Smith told Harris he had been acting independently of the Trump campaign. Within ten days of speaking with Harris, the 81-year-old Smith was found dead in a hotel room, with a bag over his head attached with rubber bands and two helium tanks. His suicide note claimed ''no foul play whatsoever'' and attributed his decision to a ''recent bad turn in health since January, 2017'' and the timing of his decision ''to life insurance of $5 million expiring.'' Asphyxiation is not unheard of as a method of suicide, and Smith had sold his condominium the previous year under a foreclosure threat, evidence in favor of the hypothesis that Smith did indeed kill himself for financial reasons.
Harris noted, however, that when they spoke, ''I had no indication that he was ill or planning to take his own life.'' Local police, who initially ruled the death a suicide, stopped taking questions shortly after his role in the campaign became widely known. Smith's family has not publicly affirmed that he committed suicide or that they had an expiring life-insurance policy, nor has the FBI made any statement about his death.
Smith may well have killed himself for the reasons cited in the note. Alternatively, he might have killed himself out of fear of being questioned by the FBI, or potentially he was killed by somebody else for that same reason. If he was, or if Manafort merely suspected he was, it would explain his otherwise senseless refusal to cooperate with Mueller's investigation.
In a Republican meeting a month before Trump clinched the 2016 nomination, the recording of which later leaked, House Speaker Paul Ryan mused about how Russia ''hacked the DNC '... and, like, delivered it to who?'' House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy replied, ''There's two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump.'' When others laughed, he added, ''Swear to God.''
When the Washington Post published this exchange in May 2017, Ryan and McCarthy indignantly insisted they were joking '-- but if so, it was a ''joke'' akin to a workplace watercooler joke that the angry misfit downstairs might one day shoot up the office. Dana Rohrabacher, a California Republican, has been known for years in Washington as ''Putin's favorite congressman'' for his idiosyncratic attention to, and support for, a wide array of pro-Russian positions. (He has worked to weaken sanctions meant to punish Russia for human-rights violations, compared pro-Russian separatists who helped Russia seize Ukrainian territory to the American Founders, and denounced the ''hypocrisy'' of U.S. opposition to the Crimean invasion.) He is widely suspected of having an ulterior motive. That Republican leaders would either gossip or joke about Rohrabacher and Trump in the same breath indicated a deep concern about the man who '-- as none of them expected at the time '-- would go on to win the presidency.
The leaked conversation also revealed something else about the Republican Party: Putin had, by then, made very few American allies. Among elected officials, Trump and Rohrabacher stood alone in their sympathy for Russian positions. Trump had drawn a few anomalously pro-Russian advisers into his inner circle, but by early 2017, Manafort had been disgraced and Flynn forced to resign, and Page had no chance of being confirmed for any Cabinet position. Trump's foreign-policy advisers mostly had traditionally hawkish views on Russia, with the partial exception of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO who had won a Russian Order of Friendship award for his cooperation in the oil business. (Romney had been Trump's initial choice for that position, The New Yorker reported, but Steele, in a separate dossier with a ''senior Russian official'' as its source, said that Russia used ''unspecified channels'' to influence the decision.)
Now that he's in office, Trump's ties to Russia have attracted close scrutiny, and he has found his room to maneuver with Putin sharply constrained by his party. In early 2017, Congress passed sanctions to retaliate against Russia's election attack. Trump lobbied to weaken them, and when they passed by vetoproof supermajorities, he was reportedly ''apoplectic'' and took four days to agree to sign the bill even knowing he couldn't block it. After their passage, Trump has failed to enforce the sanctions as directed.
Trump also moved to return to Russia a diplomatic compound that had been taken by the Obama administration; announced that he and Putin had ''discussed forming an impenetrable Cyber Security unit'' to jointly guard against ''election hacking''; and congratulated the Russian strongman for winning reelection, despite being handed a card before the call warning: ''Do not congratulate.''
More recently, as Trump has slipped the fetters that shackled him in his first year in office, his growing confidence and independence have been expressed in a series of notably Russophilic moves. He has defied efforts by the leaders of Germany, France, Britain, and Canada to placate him, opening a deep rift with American allies. He announced that Russia should be allowed back into the G7, from which it had been expelled after invading Ukraine and seizing Crimea. Trump later explained that Russia had been expelled because ''President Obama didn't like [Putin]'' and also because ''President Obama lost Crimea, just so you understand. It's his fault '-- yeah, it's his fault.''
During the conference, Trump told Western leaders that Crimea rightfully belongs to Russia because most of its people speak Russian. In private remarks, he implored French president Emmanuel Macron to leave the European Union, promising a better deal. Trump also told fellow leaders ''NATO is as bad as NAFTA'' '-- reserving what for Trump counts as the most severe kind of insult to describe America's closest military alliance. At a rally in North Dakota last month, he echoed this language: ''Sometimes our worst enemies are our so-called friends or allies, right?''
Last summer, Putin suggested to Trump that the U.S. stop having joint military exercises with South Korea. Trump's advisers, worried the concession would upset American allies, talked him out of the idea temporarily, but, without warning his aides, he offered it up in negotiations with Kim Jong-un. Again confounding his advisers, he has decided to arrange a one-on-one summit with Putin later this month, beginning with a meeting between the two heads of state during which no advisers will be present.
''There's no stopping him,'' a senior administration official complained to Susan Glasser at The New Yorker. ''He's going to do it. He wants to have a meeting with Putin, so he's going to have a meeting with Putin.''
Even though the 2018 version of Trump is more independent and authentic, he still has advisers pushing for and designing the thrusts of Trumpian populism. Peter Navarro and Wilbur Ross are steering him toward a trade war; Stephen Miller, John Kelly, and Jeff Sessions have encouraged his immigration restrictionism. But who is bending the president's ear to split the Western alliance and placate Russia?
If you're Putin, embarking upon a summit with the most Russophilicpresident since World War II, who is taking a crowbar to the alliance of your enemies, why wouldn't you help him again in 2018 and 2020?Trump's determination to conciliate Putin can't be dismissed as casual trolling or some idle attraction to a friendly face. It has a serious cost: He is raising suspicions among the public, and among probably some hawkish Republican senators, whose support he very much needs against Mueller. His motive for these foreign-policy moves is obviously strong enough in his mind to be worth prolonging an investigation he is desperate to terminate.
There is one other way in which Trump's behavior has changed in recent months. As Mueller has plunged deeper into his murky dealings with Russia, the president has increasingly abandoned the patina of innocence. Trump used to claim he would be vindicated, and his advisers insisted his periodic fits sprang from an irrational resentment that Mueller was tarnishing his election and obscuring his achievements.
Trump barely puts much effort into predicting a clean bill of health anymore. He acts like a man with a great deal to hide: declining to testify, dangling pardons to keep witnesses from incriminating him, publicly chastising his attorney general for not quashing the whole investigation, and endorsing Russia's preposterous claims that it had nothing to do with the election at all. (''Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!'' he tweeted last month, contradicting the conclusion of every U.S. intelligence agency.) Trump's behavior toward Russia looks nothing like that of a leader of a country it attacked and exactly like that of an accessory after the fact.
''After'' could be optimistic. The logic of Russia's role in helping Trump has not changed since the election. If Trump's campaign hired hackers to penetrate his opponent's communications or voting machines, they would risk arrest. But Putin can hire hackers with impunity. Mueller can indict Russians, and he has, but he can't arrest them unless they decide to leave Russia. Outsourcing Trump's hacking work to Putin made perfect sense for both men in 2016, and still does.
And if you're Putin, embarking upon a coveted summit with the most Russophilic president since World War II, who is taking a crowbar to the alliance of your enemies, why wouldn't you help him in 2018 and 2020? Ever since the fall of 2016, when Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell privately turned down an Obama-administration proposal for a bipartisan warning to Russia not to interfere in the election, the underlying dynamic has been set: Most Republicans would rather win an election with Putin's help than lose one without it. The Democrats, brimming with rage, threaten to investigate Russian activity if they win a chamber of Congress this November. For Putin to redouble his attack '-- by hacking into voting machines or some other method '-- would be both strategic and in keeping with his personality. Why stop now?
Meanwhile, the White House has eliminated its top cybersecurity position. That might simply reflect a Republican bias against bureaucratic expertise. But it might also be just what it looks like: The cop on the beat is being fired because his boss is in cahoots with the crooks.
Shortly before Trump's inauguration, according to Israeli journalist Ronen Bergman, Israeli intelligence officials gathered at CIA headquarters, where they were told something astonishing: Russia, the agency believed, had ''leverages of pressure'' over the incoming president. Therefore, the agency advised the Israelis to consider the possibility that Trump might pass their secrets on to Russia. The Israelis dismissed the warning as outlandish. Who could believe that the world's most powerful country was about to hand its presidency to a Russian dupe? That the United States government had, essentially, fallen?
A few months later, Trump invited Russian diplomats into the Oval Office. He boasted to them that he had fired ''nut job'' James Comey. ''I faced great pressure because of Russia. That's taken off.'' At the same meeting, Trump passed on to the Russians a highly sensitive intelligence secret Israel had captured from a valuable source inside ISIS. It was the precise danger Israel had been cautioned about.
Like many of the suspicious facts surrounding Trump's relations with Russia, it was possible to construct a semi-innocent defense. Maybe he just likes to brag about what he knows. Maybe he's just too doddering to remember what's a secret. And as often happens, these unwieldy explanations gained general acceptance. It seemed just too crazy to consider the alternative: It was all exactly what it appeared to be.
Photographs (collusion map): Allen Berezovsky/WireImage/Getty Images (Deng, Murdoch); Alex Wong/Getty Images (Rohrabacher, Kushner, Tillerson, Akhmetshin); Will Ragozzino/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images (Sater); Peter Foley/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Cohen); Al Drago-Pool/Getty Images (Ivanka); Drew Angerer/Getty Images (Trump Jr.); Cheriss May/NurPhoto via Getty Images (Trump); JorgeLscar (Trump Tower); GeorgePapa19/Twitter (Papadopoulos); Lou Rocco/ABC via Getty Images (Page); Win McNamee/Getty Images (Flynn); Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Manafort); Aaron Nevins (Nevins); Jacquelyn Martin/AP photo (Prince); Mark Wilson/Getty Images (Sessions); Michael Schwartz/Getty Images (Stone); Stanislav Krasilnikov/TASS via Getty Images (Kislyak); Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images (Yanukovych); Yury Martyanov/AFP/Getty Images (Veselnitskaya); Torshin_RU/Twitter (Torshin); Sergei Bobylev/TASS via Getty Images (Emin); Sasha Mordovets/Getty Images (Aras); Andrey Rudakov/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Dmitriev); Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images (Gorkov); Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Deripaska); Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images (Firtash); Lillian Suwanrumpha/AFP/Getty Images (Vashukevich); Valery Sharifulin/TASS via Getty Images (Emelianenko); Alamy (Hacker); Tolga Akmen/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images (Assange); Associated Press (Kilimnik); Pola Damonte via Getty Images (Moscow); Mikhail Klimentyev/TASS via Getty Images (Putin).
*This article appears in the July 9, 2018, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!
What If Trump Has Been a Russian Asset Since 1987?
Awan brothers must have the goods on everyone to get off so easy
DNC staffers have 'PTSD' after 2016 leak, strive for better security skills: CTO - Washington Times
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 03:21
Traumatized Democratic National Committee staffers have been trained to prevent being hacked by the same method used to breach the organization during the 2016 U.S. presidential race, the DNC's chief technology officer, Raffi Krikorian, said Tuesday.
''If we get hacked again it won't happen like how it happened in 2016,'' Mr. Krikorian told CyberScoop.
''People have such PTSD about what happened in 2016 that there's a real desire to improve [security] here,'' he said in a phone interview. ''If we can just raise the baseline security of most people and the campaigns, if we can do the simple things right, then it will have a disproportionally positive effect.''
Hackers breached the DNC and other Democratic targets during the 2016 race by sending malicious emails that ultimately allowed attackers to infiltrate the network and steal thousands of internal documents and emails later published online by WikiLeaks, according to security researchers. U.S. intelligence officials have since assessed with high confidence that Russian state-sponsored hackers carried out the attacks in an attempt to sow discord and disrupt the campaign of President Trump's opponent, Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Krikorian began subjecting DNC staffers to cybersecurity training last year that involved simulating the ''spear-phishing'' attacks allegedly used by Russian hackers, Wired previously reported. While fears of further election meddling still linger nearly four months until the 2018 midterm elections, however, Mr. Krikorian said the most of the organization's employees are equipped to identify and avert malicious emails like the ones sent prior to Mr. Trump's election.
''Nearly 80 percent of our users are now either not clicking or at least asking questions about it beforehand,'' said Mr. Krikorian. ''Being realistic we'll probably never get to 100 percent compliance but we're working on it '... it's important that people flag something, anything that seems suspicious.''
''We're at a point now where recently when our CFO sent a staff email it included the line 'this is not a phishing email.' That's how aware people are of the threat, today,'' he added.
In addition to breaching the DNC, Russian hackers successfully infiltrated the email account of John Podesta, the chairman of Mrs. Clinton's campaign, and stole emails subsequently published by WikiLeaks, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded.
Previous research revealed that the hackers who launched the spear-phishing attack that claimed Mr. Podesta sent malicious emails to scores of recipients including DNC staffers and other members of the Hillary for America presidential campaign, as well as former U.S. and foreign military and diplomatic officials, among others.
More recently, the Department of Homeland Security and FBI said in March 2018 that Russian state-sponsored hackers conducted spear-phishing operations during the course of successfully breaching U.S. energy sector networks. In April, meanwhile, DHS said it failed so far to find any evidence of Russian hackers attacking U.S. voting systems ahead of the November midterms, notwithstanding concerns from members of the president's administration.
''We have seen Russian activity and intentions to have an impact on the next election cycle,'' Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told the Senate Intelligence Committee in February while he was then serving as Mr. Trump's CIA director.
Copyright (C) 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.
Ministry of Truthiness
Official YouTube Blog: Building a better news experience on YouTube, together
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:42
Expanding Top News and Breaking NewsTo make it easier to find quality news, our Top News shelf prominently highlights videos from news sources in search results (see the picture below on the left). And when a breaking news event happens, we want users to know about it. That's why our Breaking News shelf highlights videos from news organizations about that event directly on the YouTube homepage (see the picture below on the right). Today, our Top News and Breaking News features are launched in 17 countries, including the U.S., U.K., France, Italy, Japan, India, Mexico, Brazil, South Africa, Nigeria and more. We will double that number in the coming months.
Showcasing more local news, starting with the U.S.Many people want, value, and trust local news. And when a major event happens, local reporters are often the first on site to capture events as they unfold. We've begun testing features that surface local news in the YouTube app for TV screens across 25 media markets around the United States, making it easy to access local news in the living room--our fastest growing screen. So far, local news has seen strong engagement, and we will be expanding it to dozens more markets like Cincinnati, Las Vegas and Kansas City.
Providing context to help people make their own decisionsWe also believe users should be able to choose and make their own judgments about the information they consume along with context to inform their judgments. That's why we're rolling out a few new features that we will continue to build upon:
Giving users more sources of information on topical searches and videosStarting today, users will begin seeing information from third parties, including Wikipedia and Encyclop...dia Britannica, alongside videos on a small number of well-established historical and scientific topics that have often been subject to misinformation, like the moon landing and the Oklahoma City Bombing.
Investing in digital literacy educationAlong with the Google News Initiative and Google.org, we have teamed up with the Poynter Institute, Stanford University, Local Media Association, and the National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) to support MediaWise, a U.S.-based initiative designed to equip 1 million teens with digital literacy skills. Six incredible YouTube Creators, including John Green, Ingrid Nilsen, and Mark Watson, will be working with MediaWise to bring awareness to digital literacy and help educate teens.
We remain committed to working with the journalism community to build a more sustainable video ecosystem for news organizations. We know there is a lot of work to do, but we're eager to provide a better experience to users who come to YouTube every day to learn more about what is happening in the world from a diversity of sources.
- Neal Mohan, Chief Product Officer and Robert Kyncl, Chief Business Officer
YouTube Debuts Plan to Promote and Fund 'Authoritative' News | WIRED
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:18
The video platform is less focused on getting rid of conspiracy theorists than on trying to elevate journalism it considers valuable.
Casey Chin
Following a year in which YouTube has repeatedly promoted conspiracy-theory videos during breaking news events like the shootings in Parkland, Florida, and Las Vegas, the company announced on Monday a slew of new features it hopes will make news on the platform more reliable and less susceptible to manipulation. The company is also investing $25 million in grants to news organizations looking to expand their video operations, as part of a larger, $300 million program sponsored by YouTube's sister company, Google.
According to YouTube executives, the goal is to identify authoritative news sources, bring those videos to the top of users' feeds, and support quality journalism with tools and funding that will help news organizations more effectively reach their audiences. The challenge is deciding what constitutes authority when the public seems more divided than ever on which news sources to trust'--or whether to trust the traditional news industry at all.
Among the many changes YouTube announced Monday are substantive tweaks to the tools it uses to recommend news-related videos. In the coming weeks, YouTube will start to display an information panel above videos about developing stories, which will include a link to an article that Google News deems to be most relevant and authoritative on the subject. The move is meant to help prevent hastily recorded hoax videos from rising to the top of YouTube's recommendations. And yet, Google News hardly has a spotless record when it comes to promoting authoritative content. Following the 2016 election, the tool surfaced a Wordpress blog falsely claiming Donald Trump won the popular vote as one of the top results for the term ''final election results.''
YouTube is also expanding a feature, currently available in 17 countries, that shows up on the homepage during breaking news events. This section of the homepage will only surface videos from sources YouTube considers authoritative. The same goes for the videos that YouTube recommends viewers watch next.
These changes attempt to address the problem of misinformation online without adding more human moderators. With some 450 hours of video going up on YouTube every minute, ''human curation isn't really a viable solution,'' Neal Mohan, YouTube's chief product officer, told reporters Monday.
Traditionally, YouTube's algorithm has prioritized a user's personal viewing history, as well as the context of the video that user is currently watching, when deciding what videos to surface next. That can be problematic because, as researchers have found, once you watch one conspiracy-theory video claiming that the student survivors of the Parkland shooting are crisis actors, YouTube may recommend you watch even more. With this change, the company is trying to interrupt that downward spiral. It's important to note, though, that YouTube is applying that standard only to breaking news and developing stories. For all other videos that users find on YouTube, the recommendation engine will work the old-fashioned way, which, YouTube executives acknowledge, may well turn up content that people find objectionable.
"There are going to be counter points of view, and there's going to be [videos] where people who have a conspiratorial opinion are going to express them," Mohan says. "What I think we can do is, instead of telling users what to think, give them as much information as possible, so that they can make those decisions themselves."
To that end, YouTube is also beginning to implement its previously announced partnerships with Wikipedia and Encyclopedia Brittanica, which it will use to fact-check more evergreen conspiracy theories about, say, the moon landing or the Bermuda Triangle. Those videos will now feature an information panel with context from either Encyclopedia Brittanica or Wikipedia. For the moment, though, these panels are being applied only to a small subset of videos that, Mohan says, "tend to be accompanied by misinformation,'' meaning they're hardly a cure-all for the vast quantities of new and less predictable misinformation being uploaded to YouTube every day.
Eradicating that content isn't the goal for YouTube, anyway. After all, merely spreading falsehoods isn't against the platform's policies, unless those falsehoods are considered to be hate speech or harassment. That's one reason why known propagandists like Alex Jones of Infowars have managed to build wildly successful channels on the back of conspiracy theories that carefully adhere to YouTube's terms. As it walks the fine line between openness, profitability, and living up to its responsibility to the public, YouTube is less focused on getting rid of the hoaxers than it is on trying to elevate journalism it considers valuable.
That's one reason it's giving $25 million in grants to newsrooms that are investing in online video capabilities. That's a small amount for the multibillion-dollar company, but YouTube's executives say it could grow in time. The funding is part of the so-called Google News Initiative, a three-year, $300 million fund aimed at strengthening and lifting up quality journalism, which Google announced in March. The hope is that this funding can help news organizations build more robust video operations to compete with the amateurs who might like to mislead their audiences. YouTube has also formed a working group of newsrooms that will help the company develop new products for journalists. ''We're doing this because, while we see the news industry changing, the importance of news is not,'' says Robert Kyncl, YouTube's chief business officer.
Still, questions remain about how this experiment will play out in practice. Identifying which news outlets are authoritative is hard enough in the United States, where people can subsist on completely different media diets according to their politics. Among the news organizations that YouTube highlighted in the announcement as authoritative were CNN and Fox News; the former is routinely rejected by President Trump as ''fake news,'' the latter is among the least trusted news sources among Democratic voters. This bifurcation of the media poses a challenge for all tech platforms, not just YouTube, that resist taking a stand on what constitutes truth. In attempting to satisfy people all across the political spectrum'--and do it on a global scale'--they risk landing themselves smack in the center of the same ideological battles they helped foment.
More Great WIRED StoriesHow to see everything your apps are allowed to doAn astronomer explains black holes at 5 levels of difficultyPrimo meal-prep gear for the campsite gourmetPHOTO ESSAY: America through the lens of an immigrantHow the startup mentality failed kids in San FranciscoLooking for more? Sign up for our daily newsletter and never miss our latest and greatest stories
Chicago PD radios from Ryan
People have been transmitting on the Chicago Police radio
repeaters forever and a day. It's a simple analog system with PL tones making
anyone with half a brain and a Baofeng able to transmit. The number if illegal
transmissions have gone through the roof with Baofeng availability. I doubt
there's any special reason why Hitler was played beyond it being Hitler.
There is a
digital system being built and the CPD transition is suppose to start next year
and take five years to complete. Who knows when and how long it'll really take.
A slightly interesting aside. Baofeng radios are popular
with the Bosses and Tactical guys because they're smaller than the Motorola HTs
that are picked up at the beginning of a shift. I'm always wondering how
big the cover-up would be if a cop got killed because his $30 miracle
Elizabeth Warren's Pitch Letter
Brett Kavanaugh. That’s the name of Donald Trump’s awful
Supreme Court nominee. As a judge, he has a long record of decisions that
hurt women, workers, and consumers.
nomination of Brett Kavanaugh last night puts rights we hold dear at stake
like never before. Women’s rights to control their own
bodies, workers’ rights, consumers’ rights – you name it. It could all get
squeezed to the breaking point if Kavanaugh is confirmed.
only chance to stop Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation is to help Senate
Democrats fight back – and we also must take back control of the Senate in
2018. Will you chip in $3 right now – or whatever you can afford – to help us
elect a Senate that will save our Court?
Imagining a Supreme Court with Brett Kavanaugh on the bench makes me sick to
my stomach. Throughout his career, Kavanaugh has:
Voted against an opinion that
upheld the Affordable Care Act and preserved health care for millions
Opposed letting a young
immigrant woman get prompt access to a safe, legal abortion
Claimed that the Consumer
Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional
Tried to strike down net
neutrality, and
Argued that sitting
Presidents should be exempt from lawsuits and criminal investigations or
And guess what?
Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination is a field day for the right-wing elites
and big corporations who picked him by hand – just like they did with Neil
Gorsuch for Judge Merrick Garland’s stolen Supreme Court seat.
But no one makes it to the Supreme Court without going through the Senate,
not on my watch. I'm prepared to fight with every bone in my body for a
Supreme Court that’s fair, equal, and just for all.
Are you
ready to join that fight? Chip in $3 right now to help us protect the Supreme
Court and take back the Senate in November.
We’re not going back. Not now, not ever.
Thanks for being a part of this,
Supreme Court & Judicial Review
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 14:12
Judicial ReviewThe Supreme Court of the United States spends much, if not most, of its time on a task which is not delegated to the Supreme Court by the Constitution. That task is: Hearing cases wherein the constitutionality of a law or regulation is challenged. The Supreme Court's nine Justices attempt to sort out what is, and what is not constitutional. This process is known as Judicial Review. But the states, in drafting the Constitution, did not delegate such a power to the Supreme Court, or to any branch of the government.
Since the constitution does not give this power to the court, you might wonder how it came to be that the court assumed this responsibility. The answer is that the court just started doing it and no one has put a stop to it. This assumption of power took place first in 1794 when the Supreme Court declared an act of congress to be unconstitutional, but went largely unnoticed until the landmark case of Marbury v Madison in 1803. Marbury is significant less for the issue that it settled (between Marbury and Madison) than for the fact that Chief Justice John Marshall used Marbury to provide a rationale for judicial review. Since then, the idea that the Supreme Court should be the arbiter of constitutionality issues has become so ingrained that most people incorrectly believe that the Constitution granted this power to the federal judiciary.
Powers of the Supreme CourtArticle III of the Constitution provides for the establishment of a Judicial branch of the federal government and Section 2 of that article enumerates the powers of the Supreme Court. Here is Section 2, in part:
Section 2. The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treatiesmade, or which shall be made, under their Authority;
to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;to Controversies between two or more States;between a State and Citizens of another State;between Citizens of different States;between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.
Feel free to examine the entire text of Article III to assure yourself that no power of Judicial Review is granted by the Constitution.
"Well," you might say, "someone has to review laws for constitutionality. Why not the Supreme Court?" Some possible answers:
First and foremost, it is not a power granted to the Supreme Court by the Constitution. When the Supreme Court exercises Judicial Review, it is acting unconstitutionally. It is a huge conflict of interest. The Federal Government is judging the constitutionality of its own laws. It is a classic case of "the fox guarding the hen house." The Constitution's "checks and balances" were designed to prevent any one branch of government (legislative, executive or judicial) from becoming too powerful and running roughshod over the other branches. There is no such system of checks and balances to protect the states and the people when multiple branches of government, acting in concert, erode and destroy the rights and powers of the states and the people. Even if the Supreme Court could be counted on to keep the Executive and Legislative branches from violating the Constitution, who is watching the Supreme Court and will prevent the Judicial branch from acting unconstitutionally? Unless you believe that the Supreme Court is infallible (and, demonstrably, it is not), then allowing the Supreme Court to be the sole arbiter of Constitutionality issues is obviously flawed. Justices are appointed, not elected and may only be removed for bad behavior (which has happened in the distant past but these days, appointment to the Supreme Court is like a lifetime appointment). If the court upholds unconstitutional laws, there is no recourse available. We the People cannot simply vote them out to correct the situation. Thomas Jefferson wrote, in 1823:"At the establishment of our constitution, the judiciary bodies were supposed to be the most helpless and harmless members of the government. Experience, however, soon showed in what way they were to become the most dangerous; that the insufficiency of the means provided for their removal gave them a freehold and irresponsibility in office; that their decisions, seeming to concern individual suitors only, pass silent and unheeded by the public at large; that these decisions, nevertheless, become law by precedent, sapping, by little and little, the foundations of the constitution, and working its change by construction, before any one has perceived that that invisible and helpless worm has been busily employed in consuming its substance. In truth, man is not made to be trusted for life, if secured against all liability to account."
It is the Constitution, not the Supreme Court, which is the Supreme Law of the Land. Even the Supreme Court should be accountable for overstepping Constitutional limits on federal power.
Judicial review turns the Constitution on its head. The Judiciary was created as the weakest branch, controlled by both the Legislative and Executive branches. Judicial review makes the Judiciary master of both the Legislature and Ececutive, telling them both what that may and may not do. There are only nine Justices and, under the current system, it takes only a simple majority '-- five votes '-- to determine a case. Given the supermajority requirement mandated by the Constitution to pass Constitutional amendments, a simple majority requirement by the Supreme Court, to uphold a suspect law, defies the spirit of the Constitution. If 44.44% of the Supreme Court justices (four of nine) think a law is not constitutional, we should err on the side of caution and declare it unconstitutional.The people and the states have little control over the makeup of the Supreme Court.Officials in all three branches of government take an oath of office to uphold the Constitution. The Supreme Court Justices, Senators, Congressmen, and Vice President, and other federal officers, all take an oath of office to "support and defend" the Constitution. (The president's oath of office in Article II, Section 1, requires that he "preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.") Why is the Supreme Court's version of "constitutional" considered more authoritative? Is the Judicial branch more to be trusted than the Executive or Legislative branches? Prudence dictates that we be wary of all three branches (and especially wary of the one unaccountable branch).Given that it was the people and the states which established the Constitution, it is the states who should settle issues of constitutionality. The Constitution is a set of rules made by the states as to how the government should act. The "judicial review" paradigm allows the government to make its own rules with no say by the original rule-makers '-- the states.The Constitution was created by the states and any question as to the meaning of the Constitution is rightly settled by the states. When you make rules for your children, do you permit your children to interpret your rules in any manner they like? Of course not. Yet, the states are permitting the federal government '-- the "child" of the states '-- to do exactly that. Since the power of Judicial Review is not expressly granted to the Supreme Court by the Constitution, this power, per the tenth amendment, is "reserved to the States respectively, or to the people."Read that last listed reason above again, for it contains the key to this site's being. The Constitution is very clear; any power to review laws to see if they are constitutional belongs to the states and to the people. Therefore, the Supreme Court is itself acting unconstitutionally when it exercises the power of 'Judicial Review.' It would require a Constitutional Amendment specifically granting this power to the court in order for 'Judicial Review' to be constitutional!
And just how should the determination of "constitutionality" be handled? For that answer, it helps to understand how the Constitution is (supposed to be) amended.
"The constitution, on this hypothesis, is a mere thing of wax in the hands of the judiciary, which they may twist and shape into any form they please."
Thomas Jefferson
"A judicial activist is a judge who interprets the Constitution to mean what it would have said if he, instead of the Founding Fathers, had written it."
Sam Ervin
"How strangely will the Tools of a Tyrant pervert the plain Meaning of Words!"
Samuel Adams
"Day by day, case by case, the court is busy redesigning a Constitution for a nation I do not recognize."
Justice Antonin Scalia
8 Things to Know About Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:24
President Donald Trump nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court in a prime-time announcement Monday night. If confirmed by the Senate, Kavanaugh would replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy to give the court a likely solid 5-4 conservative majority.
''Throughout legal circles, he is considered a judge's judge, a true thought leader among his peers,'' Trump said in announcing his choice at the East Room of the White House.
President George W. Bush nominated Kavanaugh to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2003, but he wasn't confirmed until 2006, by a Senate vote of 57-36. The D.C. Circuit is considered a stepping stone to the high court.
''My judicial philosophy is straightforward,'' Kavanaugh, 53, said after Trump introduced him at the White House event. ''A judge must be independent and must interpret the law and not make the law. A judge must interpret statutes as written. A judge must interpret the Constitution as written, informed by history and tradition and precedent.''
Here are eight things to know about the likely next Supreme Court justice.
1. Clerk for the Man He Could Replace
Kavanagh, a graduate of Yale University Law School, once clerked for the man he hopes to replace on the high court, Justice Anthony Kennedy.
In introducing the judge, Trump said: ''Just like Justice [Neil] Gorsuch, he excelled as a clerk for Justice Kennedy.''
''Justice Kennedy devoted his career to securing liberty,'' Kavanaugh said. ''I am deeply honored to be nominated to fill his seat on the Supreme Court.''
Kavanaugh also clerked for Judge Alex Kozinski of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit and for Judge Walter Stapleton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit.
2. The First Judge Kavanaugh
Kavanaugh talked about his mother, who was a teacher in two predominantly black D.C. schools before becoming a prosecutor.
''My introduction to law came at our dinner table when she practiced her closing argument,'' Kavanaugh said. ''Her trademark line was, 'Use your common sense. What rings true, what rings false?''' he said at the White House.
''That's good advice for a juror and a son. One of the few women prosecutors at that time, she overcame barriers and became a trial judge. The president introduced me tonight as Judge Kavanaugh. But, to me, that title will always belong to my mom.''
His father also went to law school at night while working full time.
3. A Majority of Female Clerks
Kavanaugh, who praised his wife Ashley and two young daughters, Margaret and Liza, also talked about being proud to have hired more female law clerks than male clerks.
''As a judge, I hire four law clerks each year. I look for the best,'' Kavanaugh said.
''My law clerks come from diverse backgrounds and points of view. I am proud that a majority of my law clerks have been women.''
4. They Call Him Coach K
When he's not judging cases, Kavanaugh coaches his ''spirited'' daughters' basketball teams.
''For the past seven years, I've coached my daughters' basketball teams. The girls on the team call me Coach K,'' he told the East Room crowd, to laughter.
''I am proud of our Blessed Sacrament team that just won the city championship,'' he said. ''My daughters and I also go to a lot of games. A favorite memory was going to the historic Notre Dame-UConn women's basketball game at this year's Final Four.''
As the president grinned, Kavanaugh low-fived daughter Liza after saying she ''loves sports, and she loves to talk.''
5. Prosecuting and Serving Presidents
Kavanaugh has investigated one president and provided legal counsel to another. He also has written about investigating presidents, which could be relevant during a special counsel probe of Trump.
Before serving on the D.C. appeals court, Kavanaugh was a senior associate White House counsel and assistant to the president for more than five years during the Bush years.
From 1994 to 1997, and then again in 1998, Kavanaugh worked as associate counsel for Independent Counsel Ken Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton's involvement in the Whitewater land deal, the Monica Lewinsky affair, and other legal matters.
In 1992 and 1993, Kavanaugh was an attorney for the Office of the Solicitor General.
He was a principal author of the Starr Report to Congress that made the case that Clinton committed perjury and obstructed justice regarding the Lewinsky matter. The House impeached Clinton, but the Senate acquitted him in a trial.
A 2012 Minnesota Law Review article written by Kavanaugh could gain scrutiny during his confirmation hearing, at a time when a special counsel investigation probes Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the role of Trump associates.
From the perspective of a lawyer on Starr's team, and later a White House lawyer, Kavanaugh argued that Congress should pass legislation shielding a sitting president from criminal investigation, indictment, or prosecution while in office. Justice Department opinions assert that a president cannot be indicted, but no law prevents it.
''The indictment and trial of a sitting president '...would cripple the federal government, rendering it unable to function with credibility in either the international or domestic arenas,'' Kavanaugh wrote. ''Such an outcome would ill serve the public interest, especially in times of financial or national security crisis.''
6. Separation of Powers
Kavanaugh has written in great detail about the separation of powers and statutory interpretation. He co-authored a book on judicial precedent (with Bryan Garner and 11 appeals court judges, including then-appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch).
He teaches at Harvard, Yale, and Georgetown.
''I teach that the Constitution's separation of powers protects individual liberty, and I remain grateful to the [Harvard] dean who hired me, Justice Elena Kagan,'' Kavanaugh said, in a nod to the woman who is arguably the Supreme Court's most liberal member.
Kavanaugh delivered the 2017 Joseph Story Distinguished Lecture at The Heritage Foundation. The address is reserved for renowned federal judges, who have included Justice Clarence Thomas. Kavanaugh spoke about the judiciary's role in maintaining the separation of powers.
''Judge Kavanaugh has a star-studded resume and one of the best minds on the federal bench,'' Carrie Severino, chief counsel for Judicial Crisis Network, told The Daily Signal. ''He will make a brilliant addition to the Supreme Court.''
7. Judicial Record
Going into the confirmation battle, Kavanaugh has a clear record of decisions on high-profile matters:
'--Regarding campaign finance law, he ruled in Emily's List v. FEC in 2009 that the Federal Election Commission's regulation restricting how nonprofits raise and spend money violates the First Amendment. His ruling came before the Citizens United decisions.
'--In one of his more controversial opinions, in a 2011 case involving Obamacare known as Seven-Sky v. Holder, Kavanaugh wrote a dissenting opinion asserting that federal courts shouldn't hear constitutional challenges to Obamacare.
He argued: ''There is a natural and understandable inclination to decide these weighty and historic constitutional questions. But in my respectful judgment, deciding the constitutional issues in this case at this time would contravene an important and long-standing federal statute, the Anti-Injunction Act, which carefully limits the jurisdiction of federal courts over tax-related matters.''
'--In 2012, Kavanaugh dissented from the majority in Coalition for Responsible Regulation v. EPA, a case that determined the Environmental Protection Agency could disregard cost-benefit analysis when considering a regulation. The Supreme Court reversed the D.C. Circuit, and cited Kavanaugh's dissenting opinion.
'--In 2013, Kavanaugh ruled in the case of Loving v. IRS that the Internal Revenue Service exceeded its legal authority when it attempted to regulate tax preparers.
'--In 2015, in the case of al-Bahlul v. U.S., Kavanaugh joined the majority upholding Yemini citizen Ali Hamza al-Bahlul's conviction by a military commission on charges of conspiracy to commit war crimes.
'--In 2016, Kavanaugh wrote the opinion in PHH Corp. v. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, finding that the agency's structure is unconstitutional. The ruling, however, was reversed by the full D.C. Circuit.
'--In 2017, he dissented in Garza v. Hargan, in which the majority on the D.C. Circuit determined that an illegal immigrant minor had the right to obtain an abortion while in federal custody.
8. Some Conservative Reaction
Before introducing Kavanaugh, Trump recognized Edwin Meese, who was President Ronald Reagan's longtime counselor and second attorney general, and praised Meese for his role in preserving America's ''constitutional heritage.''
''With the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, President Trump has chosen a man who will be another great justice,'' Meese, the Ronald Reagan distinguished fellow emeritus at The Heritage Foundation, said in his own formal statement, adding:
Judge Kavanaugh follows the same pattern as Justice Neil Gorsuch, a fair and independent jurist who will faithfully apply the law as written and honor the Constitution. The American people deserve a swift confirmation by the U.S. Senate so Judge Kavanaugh can take his seat on the high court when it reconvenes for the fall term in early October.
Heritage Foundation President Kay Coles James also released a prepared statement on the Kavanaugh nomination, saying:
I applaud President Donald Trump for nominating Judge Brett Kavanaugh to be an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. The president understands that his appointments to the high court may very well be his longest-lasting legacy, and he has selected yet another highly qualified individual who, like Neil Gorsuch, will be impartial, fair, and principled. It's more important than ever that we have justices who are faithful to the Constitution and interpret the laws and Constitution according to their text and original meaning.
As Ronald Reagan once remarked, '[U]nless judges are bound by the text of the Constitution, we will, in fact, no longer have a government of laws, but of men and women who are judges.' With the nomination of Judge Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, the American people have an opportunity to learn about the limited, but important, role the judiciary was designed to play in our system of government.
Brett Kavanaugh, Trump's Supreme Court Pick, Is Probably the End of Abortion Rights and Same-Sex Marriage
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 13:11
When President Trump Monday nominated Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, he probably doomed the right to abortion, same-sex marriage, and maybe even contraception.
Kavanaugh, 53, has spent 12 years as a judge on the D.C. Circuit Court, often thought of as the second most powerful court in the country. Prior to that, Kavanaugh worked for the Office of the Independent Counsel under Ken Starr. There, he headed up the probe into the suicide of longtime Bill Clinton attorney and friend Vince Foster and eventually helped write the Starr Report about President Clinton and Monica Lewinsky.
''Judge Kavanaugh has impeccable credentials, unsurpassed qualifications, and a proven commitment to equal justice under the law,'' Trump said during a prime-time address at the White House.
That much is true. There is no question that Kavanaugh is highly qualified and widely respected. In addition to serving as a judge, Kavanaugh teaches at both Harvard and Yale law schools. (Well-known liberal professor at Yale, Akhil Amar, published ''A Liberal's Case for Brett Kavanaugh'' in the New York Times after the announcement.) His ethical reputation is impeccable.
But while Kavanaugh's record on women's and LGBT rights is sparse, it gives good reason to suspect that he could be the swing vote to strike down Roe v. Wade, the abortion-rights case. This, after all, is what Trump promised in 2016: that Roe would be ''automatically'' be overturned should he be elected. And Kavanaugh has been praised by numerous right-wing organizations.
In the case of Garza v. Hargan, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals held that an undocumented teenage immigrant was entitled to obtain an abortion without having to obtain familial consent (as is required in several states).
Kavanaugh vigorously dissented, asking, ''Is it really absurd for the United States to think that the minor should be transferred to her immigration sponsor '• ordinarily a family member, relative, or friend '• before she makes that decision?''
Those are strong words, endorsing not only parental consent rules but enforcing them in extreme circumstances. If you are looking for signals that a Justice Kavanaugh would limit or overturn Roe, Garza is a giant red flare.
Surprisingly, however, Kavanaugh may not be conservative enough to survive the confirmation process. There is even talk that conservatives might revolt against Kavanaugh, as they did in 2005 against George W. Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers. The reason? Many conservatives wanted Kavanaugh to cast doubt on the teenager's right to get an abortion at all, which another dissenting judge did.
Legally speaking, that objection is absurd. Not unlike ''judicial minimalist'' Chief Justice John Roberts, Kavanaugh was discussing the case at issue, not some hypothetical issue. And he was responding to the circuit court's holding, not writing an essay.
But there's more. Some conservatives have pointed to dicta in another Kavanaugh opinion, a dissent in Priests for Life v. HHS, a case similar to Hobby Lobby involving the Affordable Care Act's contraception requirement. While dissenting in favor of the Catholic religious organization objecting to the requirement, Kavanaugh wrote that the ''the Government has a compelling interest in facilitating women's access to contraception'' because of a variety of factors, such as ''reducing the number of unintended pregnancies would further women's health, advance women's personal and professional opportunities, reduce the number of abortions, and help break a cycle of poverty.''
Kavanaugh is writing here about the state's interest in access to contraception, not whether an individual has a constitutional right to access it. Those are totally different questions. But Kavanaugh's opinion doesn't question the constitutional right either, which rests on the same foundations (substantive due process, privacy, family) as the right to obtain an abortion. It is reasonable to wonder whether Judge Kavanaugh's dicta in Priests for Life suggests more flexibility on contraception and abortion than hard-right conservatives would like.
Politically, however, it might be enough to tar Kavanaugh with the ''soft on abortion'' label in the right-wing echo chamber, and all it takes is a single Republican senator to doom his nomination, assuming no Democrats cross the aisle. Already, the Democrats' leader in the Senate, Charles Schumer, said he would oppose Kavanaugh.
As for LGBT issues, Kavanaugh's record is thin, but enough to worry LGBT activists, who fear he will limit or overturn gay people's constitutional right to marriage. In a case anticipating the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby case, Kavanaugh held that the Affordable Care Act's requirement that qualified insurance plans include contraception coverage violated the religious freedom of employers.
That is the same logic that was at issue in last month's Masterpiece Cakeshop case before the Supreme Court, which pitted the rights of LGBT people to be free from discrimination against a bakery owner's rights to religious freedom. (The court ruled in favor of the owner on a technicality.)
Moreover, despite the misgivings of some conservatives, Kavanaugh was vetted by the Federalist Society and its de facto leader Leonard Leo. It is highly unlikely that the Federalist Society would approve a judicial candidate who didn't toe the line on overturning Roe, and Obergefell v. Hodges, the same-sex marriage case.
While the Federalist Society can ask Judge Kavanaugh about his views privately and get a straight answer, it's a certainty that when Congress asks, he will chant the mantras of ''I will apply the law fairly and respect precedent'' and ''I can't comment on any hypothetical case.''
That's just like what Trump said in nominating Kavanaugh.
''In keeping with President Reagan's legacy, I do not ask about a nominee's personal opinions,'' he said. ''What matters is not a judge's political views but whether they can set aside those views to do what the law and the constitution require. I am pleased to say that I have found, without doubt, such a person.''
In contrast, the Federalist Society's Leonard Leo said following the nomination that "Brett Kavanaugh is among the most distinguished and respected judges in the country, with nearly 300 opinions that clearly demonstrate fairness and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution as it's written, and enforcing the limits on government power contained in the Constitution.''
Unlike what Trump said, Leo's statement is a dog-whistle to conservatives. ''Interpreting the Constitution as it's written'' means that substantive due process, the doctrine underneath Roe, Obergefell '--and even Griswold v. Connecticut, which forbids the government from banning contraception '-- is illegitimate. That means all those cases are on the chopping block.
And ''enforcing the limits on government power'' means curbing the power government agencies. Here, Kavanaugh's record is crystal clear: he has voted to overturn several EPA decisions; sided with conservatives on net neutrality, holding that the Obama-era FCC exceeded its authority; and said in 2016 that the entire Consumer Financial Protection Bureau is unconstitutional.
Kavanaugh may be a relatively blank slate on abortion and LGBT equality, but the slate is covered with chalk when it comes to environmental, health, safety, and consumer protection regulations.
Earthjustice President Trip Van Noppen noted that ''in one decision'--later reversed by the Supreme Court'--he blocked an Environmental Protection Agency rule that would limit dangerous interstate air pollution from power plants. In another case, he barred people who regularly drive on highways from suing to secure stronger car and truck safety standards.''
What's most surprising about Trump picking Kavanaugh, though, are Kavanaugh's stated views on presidents defending themselves against criminal investigations while in office.
After his stint working for Starr, Kavanaugh wrote in the Minnesota Law Review, that Congress should consider passing a law exempting the president civil and ''criminal prosecution and investigation'' while they are in office.
That may seem like Trump's most fervent wish, and it has been interpreted that way by some left-leaning commentators. Actually, however, Kavanaugh's reasoning cuts the other way, and poses a real risk for Trump.
''Having seen first-hand how complex and difficult that job is, I believe it vital that the President be able to focus on his never-ending tasks with as few distractions as possible,'' Kavanaugh wrote. ''The country wants the President to be 'one of us' who bears the same responsibilities of citizenship that all share. But I believe that the President should be excused from some of the burdens of ordinary citizenship while serving in office.''
In other words, it's impossible to function as both the subject of a criminal investigation and the president of the United States. Moreover, Kavanaugh said, impeachment is the appropriate process for such matters.
It remains to be seen whether Kavanaugh will sail through his confirmation process, or be opposed by the right, or be opposed by a handful of moderates siding with the Democratic opposition.
Perhaps anticipating some of the criticism of Kavanaugh, American Conservative Union President Matt Schlapp (who, like Kavanaugh, is former Bush 43 administration official) wrote in The Hill that ''Too many times, conservatives have been burned by Supreme Court nominees who lack a judicial record that demonstrates their approach.''
Yet Schapp distinguished Kavanaugh from such past candidates, saying ''Judge Kavanaugh has consistently, boldly, and fearlessly applied textualism and originalism to a striking range of legal issues.''
That is exactly what advocates women's and LGBT rights fear.
Rosenstein Asks Prosecutors to Help With Kavanaugh Papers in Unusual Request - The New York Times
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 22:24
Former law enforcement officials described Rod J. Rosenstein's directive as a troubling precedent. Credit T.J. Kirkpatrick for The New York Times WASHINGTON '-- Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, has asked federal prosecutors to help review the government documents of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, according to a letter obtained by The New York Times on Wednesday.
Mr. Rosenstein's request was an unusual insertion of politics into federal law enforcement. While the Justice Department has helped work on previous Supreme Court nominations, department lawyers in Washington typically carry out that task, not prosecutors who pursue criminal investigations nationwide.
But in an email sent this week to the nation's 93 United States attorneys, Mr. Rosenstein asked each office to provide up to three federal prosecutors ''who can make this important project a priority for the next several weeks.'' Names were to be submitted to Mr. Rosenstein's office by the end of Wednesday.
Mr. Trump nominated Judge Kavanaugh on Monday to replace Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who is retiring. In years of public service '-- including work for the independent counsel investigation of President Bill Clinton, on the 2000 Florida recount and as a White House aide to George W. Bush '-- Judge Kavanaugh generated a lengthy paper trail. That had Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, privately expressing concern that it might be used against him in his Senate confirmation hearings.
Mr. Rosenstein's email, which had the subject line ''Personal Message to U.S. Attorneys From the Deputy A.G.,'' included the sentence, ''We need your help in connection with President Trump's nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to serve on the Supreme Court.''
Former law enforcement officials described Mr. Rosenstein's directive as a troubling precedent.
''It's flat-out wrong to have career federal prosecutors engaged in a political process like the vetting of a Supreme Court nominee,'' said Christopher Hunter, a former F.B.I. agent and federal prosecutor who is running for Congress. ''It takes them away from the mission they're supposed to be fulfilling, which is effective criminal justice enforcement.''
Mr. Hunter, who served as an F.B.I. agent and federal prosecutor for nearly 11 years, said he could not recall receiving a similar solicitation to work on a Supreme Court nomination.
While federal prosecutors have not been tapped to help with recent nominations, including Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, ''the scope of the production of executive branch documents we've been asked for is many, many times as large,'' said Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman.
Ms. Flores added that federal prosecutors had been used to vet Supreme Court nominees in the past.
But this is the first time that the deputy attorney general has sent out such a broad request to United States attorneys offices.
The request increases the workload for some United States attorneys' offices, which have been handed increased responsibility by Attorney General Jeff Sessions as he seeks to give local prosecutors more decision-making power.
Mr. Rosenstein wrote that he expected to need the equivalent of 100 full-time lawyers to work on Judge Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing, and that the work would be supervised by the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy in Washington.
The office typically helps with judicial nominations; most of its staff is made up of career Justice Department lawyers.
During the confirmation process for Judge Merrick B. Garland, the Obama Supreme Court nominee whom Senate Republicans refused to consider, the office helped pull together the more than 2,000 documents needed for Mr. Garland's Senate questionnaire.
''When we gathered documents required to be turned over to the Judiciary Committee, we did not ask anyone from outside of the Office of Legal Policy to help out,'' said Michael Zubrensky, a former Justice Department lawyer who oversaw the judicial nominations at the time.
''But the number of documents for Judge Kavanaugh will be different by an order of magnitude,'' Mr. Zubrensky said.
The production of documents could slow down a confirmation hearing that has already shaped up as a sharp partisan battle. Democratic lawmakers say they want to inspect all of Judge Kavanaugh's documents, including his staff work and over 300 opinions he has issued as a judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
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Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh piled up credit card debt by purchasing Nationals tickets, White House says - The Washington Post
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:13
The Post's Robert Barnes explains some of the factors that could influence whether Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh is confirmed. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)
Supreme Court nominee Brett M. Kavanaugh incurred tens of thousands of dollars of credit card debt buying baseball tickets over the past decade and at times reported liabilities that could have exceeded the value of his cash accounts and investment assets, according to a review of Kavanaugh's financial disclosures and information provided by the White House.
White House spokesman Raj Shah told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh built up the debt by buying Washington Nationals season tickets and tickets for playoff games for himself and a ''handful'' of friends. Shah said some of the debts were also for home improvements.
In 2016, Kavanaugh reported having between $60,000 and $200,000 in debt accrued over three credit cards and a loan. Each credit card held between $15,000 and $50,000 in debt, and a Thrift Savings Plan loan was between $15,000 and $50,000.
The credit card debts and loan were either paid off or fell below the reporting requirements in 2017, according to the filings, which do not require details on the nature or source of such payments. Shah told The Post that Kavanaugh's friends reimbursed him for their share of the baseball tickets and that the judge has since stopped purchasing the season tickets.
Shah did not provide the names of the friends or additional details about the tickets. Kavanaugh, who is known to be a Nationals fan, declined to comment.
President Trump announced July 9 that Brett M. Kavanaugh will be the Supreme Court nominee to fill Justice Kennedy's vacant seat. (Monica Akhtar/The Washington Post)
Shah said the payments for the tickets were made at the end of 2016 and paid off early the next year.
''He did not carry that kind of debt year over year,'' Shah said.
Kavanaugh's most recent financial disclosure forms reveal reportable assets between $15,000 and $65,000, which would put him at the bottom of the financial ranking of justices, most of whom list well over $1 million in assets. The value of residences is not subject to disclosure, and Shah added that Kavanaugh has a government retirement account worth nearly half a million dollars that also was not required to be disclosed.
''At this time the Kavanaughs have no debt beyond their home mortgage,'' Shah said.
He said that Kavanaugh has assets of nearly $1 million between the equity in his home and his retirement account.
Unlike some of the other justices, Kavanaugh has worked more than two decades in the public sector and has not built wealth as a private lawyer.
''Judge Kavanaugh is a brilliant jurist who has dedicated his life to public service,'' Shah said.
Prices for Nationals season ticket packages can vary widely, depending on their location in the stadium. Seats a dozen rows behind the dugout can go for as much as $6,000 apiece for an 81-game season package.
Gleaning financial information from public disclosure forms has limitations. For instance, judges do not report primary residences '-- meaning that estimates of net worth can be significantly undervalued. Disclosures are meant to provide transparency to avoid conflicts of interest involving justices and those who do business before the court.
Federal law requires only broad ranges for disclosure forms, and such filings include assets for spouses, so it is difficult to pinpoint an exact financial snapshot for an individual.
But for Kavanaugh, the differences between his finances and those of his would-be peers on the court are stark. He lists just two kinds of assets '-- unspecified accounts held with Bank of America, and his wife's retirement fund from her job in Texas '-- totaling between $15,000 to $65,000.
His public filing does not include his home, which he purchased with his wife, Ashley, in 2006 for $1.2 million. Public real estate filings indicate that the couple has refinanced their mortgage twice, most recently in 2015. Their current mortgage is $865,000.
His past financial disclosure forms reveal that Kavanaugh has incurred significant credit card debt on and off for more than a decade. He previously reported between $60,000 to $200,000 in debt among three credit cards and a loan in 2006, the same year he was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit.
Without including homes, Kavanaugh would rank at the bottom of disclosed assets among the justices by a considerable margin, according to a review of 2017 disclosures listed on Fix the Court, a website dedicated to greater transparency in the judiciary.
Justice Clarence Thomas has assets listed between $695,000 and $1.7 million, which is the least among the justices, not counting departing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, but still at least 10 times that of Kavanaugh. The court's newest justice, Neil M. Gorsuch, reported assets worth between $3.6 million and $10.5 million in his most recent filings. The justice with the highest reported assets was Stephen G. Breyer, who listed between $6.4 million and $16.6 million.
Federal circuit judges draw annual salaries of about $220,000 a year, and Kavanaugh supplemented his salary with more than $27,000 in teaching income in 2017 from Harvard Law School. Associate justices on the Supreme Court make $255,300, while Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. draws a $267,000 salary.
Kavanaugh lives in the Village of Chevy Chase, Section 5, where his wife works as the town manager and draws a $66,000 annual salary. She began the job in 2015 and did not report any income for the prior four years.
The Kavanaughs send their two daughters to the Catholic private school of Blessed Sacrament, where tuition costs $10,025 per child.
The perch of a Supreme Court seat can provide additional sources of income. Shortly after her 2009 nomination to the court, Justice Sonia Sotomayor announced plans for a memoir, which was published in 2013. Last year, Sotomayor reported more than $117,000 in income from publisher Penguin Random House. She received a publisher's advance of nearly $1.2 million.
Academic trips and fellowships can also bring in additional income. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg earned $25,000 as a visiting fellow to Stanford University last year.
Alice Crites, Andrew Ba Tran, Rick Maese and Thomas Heath contributed to this report.
Donald Trump's Supreme Court Nominee Brett Kavanaugh Racked Up Massive Debt On Washington Nationals Tickets
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:12
In a truly troubling sign of poor judgment, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh says he racked up huge sums of credit card debt purchasing season tickets to watch the chronically disappointing Washington Nationals play baseball in their charmless stadium year after year:
White House spokesman Raj Shah told The Washington Post that Kavanaugh built up the debt by buying Washington Nationals season tickets and tickets for playoff games for himself and a ''handful'' of friends.
So just how much season ticket debt are we talking about, here? This Washington Post report says in 2016 Kavanaugh reported between $60,000 and $200,000 in debt, spread between three credit cards and a personal loan. That's a lot of money! Shah offered that some of the debt may have been related to home improvements, but it appears that the vast majority of it'--tens of thousands of dollars, if not hundreds of thousands'--was spent on ticket plans to watch the Nationals glide through meaningless regular seasons and then bomb out of the playoffs with all the reliability of the phases of the moon. Kavanaugh's debt was all apparently wiped out in 2017, which raises the question of just how someone who ''has not built wealth'' during his career in public service pays back hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt in a single year.
Shah told The Post that Kavanaugh's friends reimbursed him for their share of the baseball tickets and that the judge has since stopped purchasing the season tickets.
Good timing, Brett.
Woman Found Dead, Stuffed Inside Garbage Chute At Anthony Weiner's Apartment Building - Big League Politics
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 18:38
A woman has been found dead inside the garbage chute at Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin's Manhattan apartment building.
The woman, 48, was pronounced dead at the scene on Tuesday at 1 Irving Place in Union Square, where Anthony Weiner and Huma Abedin own an apartment. However, the medical examiner has not yet provided a cause of death.
The identity of the woman remains unknown, as police have decided to not release her name until her family is notified of her death.
Although it is unknown how the woman ended up stuffed inside a compactable garbage chute, it was reported that the woman's purse was found nearby, suggesting foul play.
Trending: WITNESS: ATF And DEA Agents Killed Seth Rich
Security footage from inside the apartment building shows the woman walking inside shortly before she was found dead inside the garbage chute.
Weiner and Abedin have owned an apartment at the same address for the past 16 years. However, the swanky Manhattan apartment was listed for rent for a price tag of $11,900 a month on May 19, 2017, which is the same day Weiner plead guilty to sexting an underage girl, a crime he is now serving a two year prison sentence for, sending sexual messages to a minor.
On the same day, Abedin filed for divorce from Weiner, but nearly one year later , and the couple is still married and the listing for the apartment has been removed, suggesting that Abedin and Weiner decided to keep their shared apartment.
When President Donald Trump hinted that Hillary Clinton, Huma Abedin, and Anthony Weiner may be indicted, Abedin suspiciously decided to not proceed with her divorce, causing some to wonder whether she is staying married to her convicted pedophile husband for the sake of obtaining spousal privilege, which would prevent Abedin and Weiner from testifying against each other in the court of law.
Clinton, Abedin, and Weiner came under fire during the FBI's investigation of Hillary Clinton's email server when it was revealed that some of Abedin's emails with the former Secretary of State were found of Weiner's laptop, which is also rumored to have images of child pornography stored on it as well. Several of the documents and emails found of Weiner's laptop contained classified and confidential information.
In a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee last May, the FBI said, ''Although we do not know the exact numbers, based on its investigation, the FBI believes it is reasonable to conclude that most of the emails found on Mr. Weiner's laptop computer related to the Clinton investigation occurred as a result of a backup of personal electronic devices, with a small number a result of manual forwarding by Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner.''
When disgraced former FBI director James Comey testified before Congress, he said, ''Somehow, her (Hillary Clinton's) emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information by (Clinton's) assistant, Huma Abedin.''
According to the Daily Mail, neighbors and residents of the building believed the police presence may have had something to do with Weiner's conviction.
The disgraced Congressman, who is currently in prison serving a two-year term, will be eligible for supervised parole in August 2019. However, upon his release, he will eternally be registered in both federal and state sex offender registries.
Report: Witness Prepared to Identify Two Killers of Seth Rich
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 22:06
We report the truth - And leave the Russia-Collusion fairy tale to the Conspiracy media
by Alicia Powe July 9, 2018Disclaimer: This shocking information was given to The Gateway Pundit this weekend. We decided to report this news and will post an update following Tuesday's press conference.
The Washington, D.C. lobbyist who has been on the hunt for Seth Rich's killer found a ''credible'' witness who will identify the two men he believes murdered the DNC staffer.
Jack Burkman, a Washington-based attorney and lobbyist who has worked with a private investigative team to solve the Seth Rich murder mystery, told The Gateway Pundit that the witness has conclusive evidence that will bring Rich's killers to justice within a month.
''We believe that we have reached the beginning of the end of the Seth Rich murder investigation,'' Burkman told The Gateway Pundit in an exclusive interview Sunday. ''After two long hard years of work, we have a witness who is prepared to identify the two killers of Seth Rich. One is reportedly a current DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) agent, the other is reportedly a current ATF (Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) agent''
The witness, who ''fears for his life,'' will be accompanied by armed guards and disguise his identity as he details how two employees of the United States government killed Seth in a press conference slated for Tuesday.
All press should attend my press conference TUESDAY at 1:00PM at the HOLIDAY INN Rosslyn Key Bridge. We will present a witness who brings us close to resolution in the Seth Rich case. #SethRich
'-- Jack Burkman (@Jack_Burkman) July 8, 2018
Frank Whalen, a retired NYPD Detective Sergeant NYPD who served as the head of NYPD Homicide for 23 years, found the witness, Burkman explained.
''We found him through working with a retired New York City detective, who found him and brought him to us. We have thoroughly vetted this witness and we believe in this witness,'' he said. ''He has evidence that substantiates his claims but it will be revealed slowly. This witness is in great fear of his life '' that's why we are going with disguising him, disguising his voice and everything about him.''
Burkman, who has viewed surveillance footage from the night Rich was killed, says the witness' testimony confirms two men involved in the shooting.
''What the witness says matches what the police say and matches what we know from the surveillance videos,'' he said. ''The police let me see the video. The police said the video clearly identifies the pant legs of two men. So, there were two men involved in the killing that night. I now believe that in the next 3 to 4 weeks the entire matter will be resolved. It's the beginning of the end.''
Jack Burkman
Rich, 27, was a DNC voter expansion data director for two years and had accepted a position with Hillary Clinton's campaign. He was murdered in Washington, D.C., on July 10, 2016, near his apartment in an affluent neighborhood. Rich was shot twice in the back with a handgun, and his wallet, credit cards, watch and phone were left in his possession. The Metropolitan Police Department has described it as a ''botched robbery.''
Private investigators have claimed there is evidence Rich was the source who provided WikiLeaks with thousands of bombshell emails that rocked the Democratic National Committee in the summer of 2016 just ahead of its convention and the 2016 election. WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has also insinuated Rich was the source WikiLeaks used to obtain the emails.
The emails indicated the Democrat Party was manipulating the primary race in favor of Hillary Clinton and sabotaged the Bernie Sanders campaign, led to the resignation of then-DNC chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz. On July 22, just 12 days after Rich's death and days before the Democratic Party Convention in Philadelphia, WikiLeaks released 20,000 emails from DNC officials.
As Gateway Pundit reported, Burkman was shot at and run over by the former U.S. Marine Kevin Doherty on March 13 who he hired to help him get to the bottom of the case. Doherty '' who claims he worked as a special agent and criminal investigator in the intelligence community '' was subsequently arrested by Arlington County police on charges of malicious wounding and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.
There has been an arrest made in the attacks on me. Thank'... https://t.co/ooii7WWL5K
'-- Jack Burkman (@Jack_Burkman) March 20, 2018
The witness informed Burkman that Doherty was well acquainted with the two government employees that killed Rich, but he was unaware Doherty worked as Burkman's lead investigator and tried to kill him earlier in the year.
''The witness himself didn't know that I had been shot by Kevin Doherty. Before we even told him that, he told us that Doherty was friends and palled around with the ATF agent and the DEA agent who shot Seth. That's why we think the witness is credible,'' he said. ''There wasn't much coverage of my shooting. The witness didn't see the coverage and didn't know. We didn't tell him, he told us before we told him.''
Kevin Doherty (Courtesy: Arlington Co. Police Department)
''We believe that Kevin Doherty may have been a plant in my organization, to kill me and stop my investigation,'' he added. ''He was carefully playing the role.''
Despite nearly getting killed while investigating the Rich case, Burkman says he doesn't ''live in fear''and neither should the witness.
''I now have armed guards all the time. And we will have even more armed guards at the press conference the place will be surrounded with private armed security,'' he said. ''But once we start living in fear we might as well have Adolph Hitler in power. Once you live in fear, there's no reason to have won World War II.''
Following the press conference, Burkman will hold a candlelight march to the spot where Rich was killed.
''I promised the Rich family that I would find their son's murderer. Their son was a great patriot and a great young man and it is for that reason that I want to solve this murder,'' Burkman said. ''His heart was in the right place and I want to honor him. We are one big political fraternity. This could have happened to any of the young people who work for me, Republican or Democrat, I employ both. This could happen to anyone of those young people.''
Burkman has created, paid for and erected billboards in the neighborhood where Rich lived and died; built the website WhoKilledSeth.com and canvassed the neighborhood with Seth Rich's parents. Last year, he sued the Democratic National Committee for the release of the hacked DNC server he claimed will reveal key information in solving the murder of DNC staffer Seth Rich.
The DC-based attorney has also offered a $130,000 reward of his personal money for information leading to the arrest of Rich's killer. WikiLeaks is offering $20,000, One America News Network $100,000, the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department $25,000 and Businessman and investor Martin Shkreli $100,000.
The DNC has yet to offer a reward for information leading to the arrest of the murderer of its own young staffer. The DNC honored its murdered employee by dedicating a bike rack outside its headquarters to Rich's memory.
The press conference will be held at the Key Bridge Holiday Inn in Arlington, Virginia at 1:00PM.
Clintons Caught Reading Child Rape Fantasy Book on Delta Flight | Politics | Washington, DC | The Washington Pundit
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 14:39
Bill and Hillary Clinton have gone from Air Force one to Air Force none. This weekend, the former US president and failed presidential candidate were spotted together at the Delta terminal at Reagan International Airport in Washington, DC as they were preparing to board a commercial flight to LaGuardia Airport in New York.
It is unknown why Bill and Hillary were flying commercial, but the video of the Clintons on a commercial flight quickly went viral on social media and created a lot of buzz as to why the elite political family chose to fly among average Americans and ''deplorables'' instead of chartering a private plane as they usually do.
Two separate videos of the Clintons were posted by unknown passengers. The first video was filmed near the ticket counter at the Delta terminal at gate 20 in Washington DC. In the video, Hillary can be seen standing in the corner with two men, avoiding all possible interaction with other passengers, while Bill is standing next to the ticket counter taking a selfie with a young boy.
In the second video, which appears to be filmed by a different passenger, Bill and Hillary Clinton can be seen sitting in their seats on a commercial flight without any security detail. Hillary is wearing sunglasses on the plane avoiding eye contact with passengers, while Bill can be seen ready a copy of ''Crimson Lake'', a book about the sexual assault and abduction of an underage girl.
Bill's choice of literature quickly caught the attention of people on social media who quickly drew a connection between the plot of the book and Bill Clinton's association with registered sex offender, Jeffrey Epstein, who often travels with the Clinton's on his private plane.
Besides being tied to a registered child sex predator and other accused sexual predators such as Anthony Weiner, Kevin Spacey, and Harvey Weinstein, Bill Clinton himself has always been surrounded in controversy regarding the numerous women who have accused the former US president of sexual assault and rape, which spurred the creation of the ''Bill Clinton Is A Rapist'' movement during the 2016 presidential campaign.
People took the Internet to speculate as to why Bill and Hillary, who are multi-millionaires, would choose to fly commercial, and without Secret Service, given that they are both under political scrutiny and constantly surrounded in political controversy.
Given that the Clintons are known to fly on private planes, many social media users asked whether or not the Clintons assets have been frozen, which may be a reason why they publicly downgraded their travel accommodations.
Despite being two of the most despised and recognizable individuals in American politics, it doesn't appear that the Clintons were publicly confronted or questioned by any of the passengers at the airport, or on the plane.
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NCA: 700,000 Migrants in Libya Waiting to Board Boats to EU
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 14:45
Europe's problems with criminal trafficking gangs and illegal immigration are getting worse, the UK's National Crime Agency (NCA) has warned, just days after the United Nations (UN) claimed that boat arrivals were ''necessary'' for the continent.Pointing to a sharp rise in the number of attempted crossings from Africa along with the emergence of increasingly sophisticated ways of trafficking people across borders within the EU, the NCA revealed authorities in Europe are struggling to deal with smuggling gangs and immigration-related crime.
Criminal networks are making profits of up to £6 billion a year from charging would-be migrants, the majority of whom are from Africa, said Tom Dowdall, the agency's deputy director of organised immigration crime.
According to the Daily Mail, the crime agency chief reported that attempted crossings to Spain and Italy have risen 75 per cent from last year while the Italian government's crackdown on NGO boats has resulted in a ''bottleneck'' of 700,000 migrants currently in Libya who are waiting to get to Europe.
In picking people up from so close to the Libyan border and ferrying them directly to EU ports, open borders NGOs have been 'inadvertently' assisting the work of criminal traffickers, the NCA's Chris Hogben warned.
''They make it easier for the crime groups who now send a boat with not enough fuel on purpose as they know they will be picked up,'' he said.
News from the NCA briefing came after the UN High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday demanded Italy slash restrictions on so-called search and rescue operations carried out by foreign NGOs.
''Any vessel with the capability to assist search and rescue operations should be allowed to come to the aid of those in need and subsequently allowed to disembark at the nearest appropriate safe port,'' insisted UNHCR spokesman Charlie Yaxley, stressing that ''saving lives must be the key priority''.
At the press briefing in Geneva, Reuters reports that UN ''migration experts'' claimed the only aspect of mass third world migration posing a challenge for Europe was political resistance to the phenomenon.
''We consider it a political crisis, not a migrant crisis. The numbers are not that significant,'' said Leonard Doyle, spokesman for the UN International Organization for Migration.
''We are concerned that the toxic narrative against migrants, to put it bluntly, be diminished, and people see migration for what it is. It's a necessary part of the modern world, provided it's managed. The issue is that people's perception is that it's out of control,'' he said.
The remarks echoed those made by Leo Varadkar at the start of this month, when the Irish premier declared that debate in Europe over how to tackle illegal immigration is ''[not] so much a migrant crisis as it is a political crisis'', and insisted that the continent ''needs'' mass migration from the world's poorest countries.
Shut Up Slave!
TSA screeners win immunity from flier abuse claims: U.S. appeals court
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 16:19
By Jonathan Stempel
(Reuters) - Fliers may have a tough time recovering damages for invasive screenings at U.S. airport security checkpoints, after a federal appeals court on Wednesday said screeners are immune from claims under a federal law governing assaults, false arrests and other abuses.
In a 2-1 vote, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screeners are shielded by government sovereign immunity from liability under the Federal Tort Claims Act because they do not function as "investigative or law enforcement officers."
The majority said it was "sympathetic" to concerns that its decision would leave fliers with "very limited legal redress" for alleged mistreatment by aggressive or overzealous screeners, which add to the ordinary stresses of air travel.
"For most people, TSA screenings are an unavoidable feature of flying," but it is "squarely in the realm" of Congress to expand liability for abuses, Circuit Judge Cheryl Ann Krause wrote.
The decision, the first on the issue by a federal appeals court, was a defeat for Nadine Pellegrino, a business consultant from Boca Raton, Florida.
She and her husband had sued for false arrest, false imprisonment and malicious prosecution over a July 2006 altercation at Philadelphia International Airport.
Pellegrino on Wednesday said she was reviewing the decision. A lawyer who helped with her appeal did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
According to court papers, Pellegrino had been randomly selected for additional screening at the Philadelphia airport before boarding a US Airways flight to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
Pellegrino, then 57, objected to the invasiveness of the search, but conditions deteriorated and she was later jailed for about 18 hours, the papers show. Criminal charges were filed, and Pellegrino was acquitted at a March 2008 trial.
Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro dissented from Wednesday's decision.
"By analogizing TSA searches to routine administrative inspections, my colleagues preclude victims of TSA abuses from obtaining any meaningful remedy for a variety of intentional tort claims," he wrote.
Torts are civil wrongs that can result in damages.
A spokesman for U.S. Attorney William McSwain in Philadelphia, whose office represented TSA officials, had no immediate comment.
The appeals court ruled 11 months after throwing out a First Amendment claim by an architect, Roger Vanderklok, who said he was arrested in retaliation for asking to file a complaint against an ill-tempered TSA supervisor.
The case is Pellegrino et al v U.S. Transportation Security Administration et al, 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 15-3047.
(Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)
China to its state media: keep calm, don't inflame trade row with U.S.
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:22
SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) - China is clearly angry about Washington's hard line on trade, but has controlled coverage of the row in its media, limiting open commentary and banning attacks on U.S. President Donald Trump, several sources with knowledge of the matter said.
FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump welcomes Chinese President Xi Jinping at Mar-a-Lago state in Palm Beach, Florida, U.S., April 6, 2017. REUTERS/Carlos Barria/File Photo Beijing has issued unusually strict rules limiting coverage of the trade war because of worries that unrestrained reporting could spark instability or roil its already jittery financial markets, according to sources within Chinese state media.
''When exposing and criticizing American words and actions, be careful not to link it to Trump and instead to aim it at the U.S. government,'' said a memo based on a set of directives issued verbally by government officials that was circulated to reporters at a state-run news outlet and seen by Reuters.
Media outlets must help ''stabilize the economy, growth, employment, stabilize foreign trade, investment, finance, stabilize the stock market, the foreign exchange market, the housing market, and basically stabilize the peoples' thinking, hearts and expectations'', it said.
A person who works at a leading Chinese news website said the rules issued last week were ''the most strict yet''.
The website was told to post only stories about the trade conflict by state news agency Xinhua, rather than publishing its own. It was also ordered to keep the topic out of the top few headlines and closely manage comments about it, according to the source.
The website's smartphone app was no longer permitted to send push notifications on the subject to users, and the website was forbidden from setting up special pages about the dispute.
Like other Chinese media workers who spoke with Reuters for this story, the source declined to be identified by name due to the sensitivity of the topic and because he was not authorized to speak publicly about it.
FILE PHOTO: A U.S. flag is tweaked ahead of a news conference between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing, China January 27, 2016. Jacquelyn Martin/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo Editors at several leading state-media outlets, including the China Daily, the Global Times and Xinhua, were not made available after Reuters requested interviews. The information office of the State Council, or cabinet, did not immediately comment on the state's efforts to censor news of the trade row.
It was not immediately known if Beijing's attitude would change after the United States threatened further import duties on Chinese goods on Tuesday in a sharp escalation of the conflict between the world's two biggest economies.
To be sure, there have been vitriolic editorials in key Chinese newspapers as the trade tensions have simmered.
In recent weeks, state media have criticized U.S. behavior as reckless, hegemonic, delusional, and accused the Trump administration of harboring ''blood lust'' and behaving like a ''gang of hoodlums''.
REVEALING CARDS But the attacks have been general - there has been little mention of Trump, for instance - and few details on how China will be affected.
Two sources at separate state-run news organizations said they had been instructed not to mention the impact of the trade war on Chinese companies in their coverage.
At one large state news organization, a fourth source said journalists had been instructed to report on Chinese company news with caution because some were already feeling the effects of the trade spat.
Reporters at the news outlet, a key government mouthpiece, were directed not to stir up negative emotions or ''reveal the cards'' of Chinese importers, the source said.
Slideshow (3 Images) In disputes with South Korea and Japan in recent years, Beijing has taken a more aggressive stance and at times encouraged public anger.
In 2012, state media tacitly supported anti-Japan protests during a spat over disputed islands, and last year the Communist Youth League helped target South Korean brands on social media amid a row over Seoul's decision to allow the United States to install an advanced missile defense system on the Korean peninsula.
But the power imbalance in the China-U.S. trade dispute and the potential for real economic discomfort have led the control-obsessed leadership to adopt a softer approach, analysts said.
''They know the seriousness of the situation and the possible consequences, and they don't want the media coverage to bring any kind of extra damage,'' said Li Xigen, a professor in the department of Media and Communications at City University of Hong Kong.
''Later, as the situation gets worse, if the people are actually affected with their jobs, with prices ... that may become real anger, and if the media do anything to stir up that kind of anger it will cause some kind of very bad consequences.''
The trade war does not appear to be a hot item on China's tightly-controlled social media. Media sources said authorities were censoring anything found objectionable, minimizing the prospect that any outcry on social media platforms could spur a backlash against U.S. brands.
Wang Jiangyu, a trade expert at the National University of Singapore, said attacking U.S. firms could backfire.
''China might need to restrict the market access of American companies. But to purge American companies that are already operating in China might be a very bad idea. Those companies generate jobs and revenue for China. Most Apple products are made in China,'' he said.
''To do something to harm American firms that are already operating in China would be very stupid.''
Reporting by John Ruwitch, Beijing Newsroom and Michael Martina; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan
Narcan at Post Offices
Hi, at our meeting this morning we found out that narcan
will be distributed to all the post offices, "just in case". I havent confirmed this yet, i dont know. I should have bought in haha ouch. Im a mail
man from outside of detroit. Ps many of our carriers are on opioids for chronic
pain symptoms, its sad.
TASS: Business & Economy - Russia, Jamaica to sign deal extending visa-free stay for Russian nationals to 90 days
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:08
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MOSCOW, July 10. /TASS/. Russia and Jamaica are looking at signing an agreement to extend visa-free stay in Jamaica for Russian nationals from 30 to 90 days.
A draft agreement to this effect was posted on the official website of legal information on Tuesday. The draft was approved by the Russian government and preliminary agreed with the Jamaican side to be signed upon final agreement.
Under the would-be agreement, Russian nationals will need no entry visas to stay in Jamaica for up to 90 days within one year. All types of trips will be covered by this agreement.
According to the Russian foreign ministry's consular department, Jamaica canceled entry visas for Russian nationals staying on its territory for up to 30 days in 2013.
In other media
Agenda 2030
CO2 Emissions Hit 67-Year Low In Trump's America, As Rest-Of-World Rises | Zero Hedge
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 22:28
We suspect you won't hear too much about this from the liberal mainstream media, or the environmental movement, or even Al Gore - but, according to the latest energy report from The Energy Information Administration (EIA), under President Trump, per-capita carbon dioxide emissions are now the lowest they've been in nearly seven decades.
Even more interesting is the fact that US carbon emissions dropped while emissions from energy consumption for the rest of the world increased by 1.6%, after little or no growth for the three years from 2014 to 2016.
The U.S. emitted 15.6 metric tons of CO2 per person in 1950. After rising for decades, it's declined in recent years to 15.8 metric tons per person in 2017, the lowest measured levels in 67 years.
And as The Daily Caller reports, in the last year, U.S. emissions fell more than 0.5% while European emissions rose 2.5% (and Chinese emissions rose 1.6% along with Hong Kong's 7.0% surge), according to BP world energy data - an ironic turn of events given Europe's shaming of Trump for leaving the Paris climate accord.
War on Boobs
U.S. Opposition to Breast-Feeding Resolution Stuns World Health Officials - The New York Times
Mon, 09 Jul 2018 11:48
A Brooklyn mother unable to nurse fed her child donated breast milk. The $70 billion infant formula industry has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years. Credit James Estrin/The New York Times A resolution to encourage breast-feeding was expected to be approved quickly and easily by the hundreds of government delegates who gathered this spring in Geneva for the United Nations-affiliated World Health Assembly.
Based on decades of research, the resolution says that mother's milk is healthiest for children and countries should strive to limit the inaccurate or misleading marketing of breast milk substitutes.
Then the United States delegation, embracing the interests of infant formula manufacturers, upended the deliberations.
American officials sought to water down the resolution by removing language that called on governments to ''protect, promote and support breast-feeding'' and another passage that called on policymakers to restrict the promotion of food products that many experts say can have deleterious effects on young children.
When that failed, they turned to threats, according to diplomats and government officials who took part in the discussions. Ecuador, which had planned to introduce the measure, was the first to find itself in the cross hairs.
The Americans were blunt: If Ecuador refused to drop the resolution, Washington would unleash punishing trade measures and withdraw crucial military aid. The Ecuadorean government quickly acquiesced.
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The showdown over the issue was recounted by more than a dozen participants from several countries, many of whom requested anonymity because they feared retaliation from the United States.
Health advocates scrambled to find another sponsor for the resolution, but at least a dozen countries, most of them poor nations in Africa and Latin America, backed off, citing fears of retaliation, according to officials from Uruguay, Mexico and the United States.
''We were astonished, appalled and also saddened,'' said Patti Rundall, the policy director of the British advocacy group Baby Milk Action, who has attended meetings of the assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, since the late 1980s.
''What happened was tantamount to blackmail, with the U.S. holding the world hostage and trying to overturn nearly 40 years of consensus on the best way to protect infant and young child health,'' she said.
In the end, the Americans' efforts were mostly unsuccessful. It was the Russians who ultimately stepped in to introduce the measure '-- and the Americans did not threaten them.
Image The United States ambassador to Ecuador, Todd C. Chapman, left, in Quito's historical center with a guide, center, and the undersecretary of state for political affairs, Thomas A. Shannon. Credit Jose Jacome/EPA, via Shutterstock The State Department declined to respond to questions, saying it could not discuss private diplomatic conversations. The Department of Health and Human Services, the lead agency in the effort to modify the resolution, explained the decision to contest the resolution's wording but said H.H.S. was not involved in threatening Ecuador.
''The resolution as originally drafted placed unnecessary hurdles for mothers seeking to provide nutrition to their children,'' an H.H.S. spokesman said in an email. ''We recognize not all women are able to breast-feed for a variety of reasons. These women should have the choice and access to alternatives for the health of their babies, and not be stigmatized for the ways in which they are able to do so.'' The spokesman asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely.
Although lobbyists from the baby food industry attended the meetings in Geneva, health advocates said they saw no direct evidence that they played a role in Washington's strong-arm tactics. The $70 billion industry, which is dominated by a handful of American and European companies, has seen sales flatten in wealthy countries in recent years, as more women embrace breast-feeding. Over all, global sales are expected to rise by 4 percent in 2018, according to Euromonitor, with most of that growth occurring in developing nations.
The intensity of the administration's opposition to the breast-feeding resolution stunned public health officials and foreign diplomats, who described it as a marked contrast to the Obama administration, which largely supported W.H.O.'s longstanding policy of encouraging breast-feeding.
During the deliberations, some American delegates even suggested the United States might cut its contribution to the W.H.O., several negotiators said. Washington is the single largest contributor to the health organization, providing $845 million, or roughly 15 percent of its budget, last year.
The confrontation was the latest example of the Trump administration siding with corporate interests on numerous public health and environmental issues.
In talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement, the Americans have been pushing for language that would limit the ability of Canada, Mexico and the United States to put warning labels on junk food and sugary beverages, according to a draft of the proposal reviewed by The New York Times.
During the same Geneva meeting where the breast-feeding resolution was debated, the United States succeeded in removing statements supporting soda taxes from a document that advises countries grappling with soaring rates of obesity.
The Americans also sought, unsuccessfully, to thwart a W.H.O. effort aimed at helping poor countries obtain access to lifesaving medicines. Washington, supporting the pharmaceutical industry, has long resisted calls to modify patent laws as a way of increasing drug availability in the developing world, but health advocates say the Trump administration has ratcheted up its opposition to such efforts.
The delegation's actions in Geneva are in keeping with the tactics of an administration that has been upending alliances and long-established practices across a range of multilateral organizations, from the Paris climate accord to the Iran nuclear deal to Nafta.
Ilona Kickbusch, director of the Global Health Centre at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, said there was a growing fear that the Trump administration could cause lasting damage to international health institutions like the W.H.O. that have been vital in containing epidemics like Ebola and the rising death toll from diabetes and cardiovascular disease in the developing world.
''It's making everyone very nervous, because if you can't agree on health multilateralism, what kind of multilateralism can you agree on?'' Ms. Kickbusch asked.
Image The opening of the World Health Assembly in May. After American officials pressured Ecuador, it was Russia that introduced a resolution in support of breast-feeding. Credit Peter Klaunzer/EPA, via Shutterstock A Russian delegate said the decision to introduce the breast-feeding resolution was a matter of principle.
''We're not trying to be a hero here, but we feel that it is wrong when a big country tries to push around some very small countries, especially on an issue that is really important for the rest of the world,'' said the delegate, who asked not to be identified because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
He said the United States did not directly pressure Moscow to back away from the measure. Nevertheless, the American delegation sought to wear down the other participants through procedural maneuvers in a series of meetings that stretched on for two days, an unexpectedly long period.
In the end, the United States was largely unsuccessful. The final resolution preserved most of the original wording, though American negotiators did get language removed that called on the W.H.O. to provide technical support to member states seeking to halt ''inappropriate promotion of foods for infants and young children.''
The United States also insisted that the words ''evidence-based'' accompany references to long-established initiatives that promote breast-feeding, which critics described as a ploy that could be used to undermine programs that provide parents with feeding advice and support.
Elisabeth Sterken, director of the Infant Feeding Action Coalition in Canada, said four decades of research have established the importance of breast milk, which provides essential nutrients as well as hormones and antibodies that protect newborns against infectious disease.
A 2016 study in The Lancet found that universal breast-feeding would prevent 800,000 child deaths a year across the globe and yield $300 billion in savings from reduced health care costs and improved economic outcomes for those reared on breast milk.
Scientists are loath to carry out double-blind studies that would provide one group with breast milk and another with breast milk substitutes. ''This kind of 'evidence-based' research would be ethically and morally unacceptable,'' Ms. Sterken said.
Abbott Laboratories, the Chicago-based company that is one of the biggest players in the $70 billion baby food market, declined to comment.
Nestl(C), the Switzerland-based food giant with significant operations in the United States, sought to distance itself from the threats against Ecuador and said the company would continue to support the international code on the marketing of breast milk substitutes, which calls on governments to regulate the inappropriate promotion of such products and to encourage breast-feeding.
In addition to the trade threats, Todd C. Chapman, the United States ambassador to Ecuador, suggested in meetings with officials in Quito, the Ecuadorean capital, that the Trump administration might also retaliate by withdrawing the military assistance it has been providing in northern Ecuador, a region wracked by violence spilling across the border from Colombia, according to an Ecuadorean government official who took part in the meeting.
The United States Embassy in Quito declined to make Mr. Chapman available for an interview.
''We were shocked because we didn't understand how such a small matter like breast-feeding could provoke such a dramatic response,'' said the Ecuadorean official, who asked not to be identified because she was afraid of losing her job.
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Apple wrote code to appease the Chinese government... it was buggy
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:27
A Remote iOS Bug
apple wrote code to appease the chinese government ...it was buggy
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Some iOS users report that 11.4 update triggers excessive battery drain '' TechCrunch
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:25
iOS users have been reporting problems with excessive battery drain after updating to iOS 11.4.
On Sunday, 9to5Mac reported on a raft of posts on Apple forums complaining about excessive battery drain since updating. ZDNet also flagged complaints around the issue early last month.
The update to Apple's mobile operating system was released at the end of May, adding support for Messages in iCloud, plus some media and entertainment features, such as AirPlay 2 and support for two HomePod speakers to work as a stereo pair.
Safe to say, radically reduced battery life was not among the listed additions.
This TC writer also noticed an alarming depreciation in battery performance after updating to iOS 11.4 at the end of last month '-- with the battery level dropping precipitously even when the handset was left untouched doing nothing.
We reached out to Apple immediately after noticing the problem '-- but the company has not responded to multiple requests for comment.
Judging by forum complaints, other iOS users have also found that updating to iOS 11.4 impacts the standby battery life of their device.
In my case checking the (beta) battery health feature in the iPhone settings threw no light on the abnormal performance, with maximum capacity reported as a (healthy sounding) 91%, as well a claim that ''normal'' peak performance was supported.
The 'battery usage' report that's built into iOS also seemed unable to shed any light on what was causing the battery to drain so fast '-- listing an app that had been used prior to the previous charge as responsible for the largest chunk of usage. So evidently not identifying the real culprit.
In the end, rebooting my affected iPhone seemed to improve the battery drain issue. Though I can't be sure whether or not the device has taken a small hit to battery performance as a consequence of the iOS update.
In the middle of writing this report, an additional update '-- iOS 11.4.1 '-- has been pushed out by Apple, though it's not clear whether this explicitly fixes the battery drain issue or not. Battery drain is not listed among the bugs iOS 11.4.1 addresses. But, either way, it's worth updating in case it helps.
Battery and performance issues have been something of a recurring problem for Apple's iOS devices in recent years. Again in my case, my affected iPhone 6S only had its battery replaced under an Apple free battery replacement program last year '-- ironically as a result of a battery fault that caused unexpected shutdowns '-- so really the battery should have a decent amount of life left in it still.
And as (bad) luck would have it, the iPhone 5 I owned prior to this was also affected by an earlier Apple battery fault. So this is the third battery-related problem to strike the two iPhones I've owned over the past five years. Which is certainly unfortunate.
That said, two handsets lasting five years is a testament to Apple's otherwise lasting build quality. (Albeit, this Samsung-branded portable battery pack has been the unsung workhorse hero stepping in when the batteries conked out, as TC colleagues can also testify'...)
Meanwhile after more user complaints last year Apple was forced to apologize for not being more transparent with customers about how it handles performance on iOS devices with older batteries '-- clarifying that its software in fact slows down the maximum performance of iPhones with older batteries as a power management technique to avoid unexpected shutdowns.
The company has faced lawsuits and regulatory scrutiny as a result of this throttling of device performance.
Although it also quickly offered discounted $29 battery replacements to iPhone owners with an iPhone 6 (or later) whose battery ''needs to be replaced'' '-- as well as promising to add controls to iOS to enable users to switch off the feature if they choose.
For its forthcoming iOS 12 update '-- which was trailed at WWDC, and is due out this fall '-- Apple says the release will ''double down'' on performance, slating a slew of refinements, bug fixes and optimizations incoming. So, hopefully, any lurking battery and performance gremlins will soon be kicked into touch.
In the meanwhile, update. And reboot.
iPhone crashing bug likely caused by code added to appease Chinese gov't | Ars Technica
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:25
DENIAL OF SERVICE '-- Apple fixed the denial-of-service flaw in update released Monday. Dan Goodin - Jul 10, 2018 6:55 pm UTC
Enlarge / A customer inspects the 2013 iPhone at the Wangfujing flagship store in Beijing.
The iOS 11.4.1 update Apple released Monday was most notable for making it harder for law enforcement to access locked iPhones. On Tuesday, security researcher Patrick Wardle illuminated another fix. He said his fix addressed code Apple added likely to appease the Chinese government; this is the code that caused crashes on certain iDevices when users typed the word Taiwan or received messages containing a Taiwanese flag emoji.
''Though its impact was limited to a denial of service (NULL-pointer dereference), it made for an interesting case study of analyzing iOS code,'' Wardle, a former hacker for the National Security Agency, wrote in a blog post. ''And if Apple hadn't tried to appease the Chinese government in the first place, there would be no bug!''
Wardle, who is now a macOS and iOS security expert at Digital Security, said he was perplexed when a friend first reported her fully patched, non-jailbroken device crashed every time she typed Taiwan or received a message with a Taiwanese flag. He had no trouble reproducing the remotely triggerable bug, which crashed any iOS application that processed remote messages, including iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp. Wardle did, however, find that only devices with certain region-specific configurations were affected.
The iPhone's notorious closed nature made analyzing the bug challenging. It helped to isolating the memory locations that stored a dereferenced null pointer and a faulty instruction that caused it. Wardle also relied on the iPhone's restore image to pull some of the code libraries. He eventually found that the crashes were being caused by code that classified messages based on emojis they contained. He also noticed that the error seemed to be triggered when iOS had country codes that included China or language settings including Chinese (his friend's phone specified the region as the US and the language as English, followed by Chinese.)
The discovery ultimately led to a simple fix. Wardle explained:
After two+ years of being unable to type ''Taiwan'' or being remotely DOS'd anytime her phone received an Taiwanese flag emoji, the fix (kudos to my friend Josh S. for the idea!), was simply to toggle the region from US to China, then back to US.
I'm not 100% sure why (or how this fixed it), but I'm guessing it either set the ''Country'' value to ''US'' so the boolean flag (at byte_1b1c9bb00) was set now to 0x1, meaning CFStringCompare()` was never called... or, that the calls to CFLocaleCopyCurrent()/CFLocaleGetValue() no longer returned NULL, meaning a valid string was passed to CFStringCompare().
Wardle traced the likely purpose of the buggy code to documented iOS behavior that hides the Taiwanese flag from the emoji menu or from being displayed on the screen when the region is set to China. Apple didn't respond to an email seeking comment for this post. Wardle also privately reported the bug to Apple. The flaw was indexed as CVE-2018-4290 and patched in iOS 11.4.1.
Gas thieves remotely pwn pump with mysterious device '' Naked Security
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 15:28
Last month, in broad daylight, thieves somehow hacked into a Detroit gas pump and, over the course of about 90 minutes, stole 600 gallons of gas.
The gas, worth about $1,800, was pumped into the tanks of 10 cars, all while the station attendant tried and failed to shut the gas pump down.
The attendant, Aziz Awadh, told Fox 2 Detroit that until he finally got an emergency kit to shut down the pump, he couldn't get the system screen to respond:
I tried to stop it, but it didn't work. I tried to stop it here from the screen, but the screen's not working. I tried to stop it from the system, [but nothing was] working.
After Awadh finally got the pump shut down, he called police.
There are plenty of videos available online about button sequences that will get a pump to give you free (also known as stolen!) gas. But police say that the Detroit gas thieves were actually using a remote device to hack the pump. Police also told Fox that it's an active investigation. As of Thursday, they weren't sure whether all the people in the 10 cars were in on the theft.
The owner declined to share surveillance video with the TV station. But police told Fox that whatever device was used did, in fact, prevent the pump from being turned off from inside the station.
Police are looking for two suspects.
That's about all we know at this point. One possible explanation is that the attackers targeted the fuel-management software used by the Marathon gas station.
As Motherboard reported earlier this year, two Israeli security researchers have discovered multiple vulnerabilities in one automated system used to control fuel prices and other information at thousands of gas stations around the world. The vulnerabilities would enable attackers to shut down fuel pumps, hijack credit card payments, steal card numbers, or access backend networks to take control of surveillance cameras and other systems connected to a gas station or convenience store's network. Or then again, an attacker could simply exploit the vulnerabilities to alter prices and steal fuel.
The researchers used the Shodan search engine to search for thousands of vulnerable gas stations with internet-connected devices and systems. Although the web interface for the system in question is supposed to be password-protected, the researchers found a user manual on the fuel-management company's website that contained a default password. After that, they found a system that hadn't changed the default password. From there, they were able to download the entire file system from the gas station's site and analyze the code.
Of course, any software with a web interface is a potential target, and the ones that aren't password-protected are sitting ducks when you use Shodan, a search engine for unsecured internet-connected devices of all sorts, from webcams to Internet of Things (IoT)-enabled stuffed toys or, well, IoT anything, really, including fuel-management software.
We should always assume that using a default password with an internet-connected device is the same as using no password at all, for sure. But that still doesn't tell us anything about the device used to remotely pwn the Detroit gas pump.
All we know, at this point, is that gas stations are ripe for the plucking via multiple ways, be they plain old analog siphoning or digital.
For example, in January, we reported on Russian authorities having uncovered a massive fraud ring that installed malicious software at gas pumps, making customers think they were getting more fuel than they were. In fact, they were pumping up to 7% less than they were being charged for.
A few years back, we also saw a spate of Bluetooth-enabled, banking-data-gobbling skimmers installed at gas stations in the Southern US.
Eventually, 13 alleged thieves were charged with forging bank cards using details pinged via Bluetooth to nearby crooks from devices that were impossible for gas-buying customers to detect, given that the skimmers were installed internally.
But using Bluetooth presents a problem for crooks: given the limited range of this wireless technology, thieves have to hang around nearby. It also means that anybody else using Bluetooth in the vicinity could get an eyeful of ''Oooo, payment card details up for grabs!''
But last year, New York City police started to see a new sort of skimmer on gas pumps that cuts the Bluetooth tie, instead relying on wireless GSM text messages to get card details to the crooks anywhere in the world.
Follow @LisaVaasFollow @NakedSecurity
Battery Cars
How Tesla's Model X Stacks Up Against China's New NIO
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 22:32
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Ex-Tesla worker makes it official and blows the whistle to SEC '' TechCrunch
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:15
The former Tesla employee who was fired and then sued by the electric vehicle automaker has filed a formal whistleblower tip to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission alleging the company has misled investors and put its customers at risk.
Martin Tripp has retained Meissner Associates, a whistleblower, securities, investment fraud and employment law firm to represent him before the SEC. Tesla did not respond to questions about the whistleblower tip.
The filing is the latest blow in a bout between Tesla, its CEO Elon Musk and Tripp.
Tesla filed a lawsuit on June 20 against Tripp for $1 million, alleging the man, who worked as a process technician at the massive battery factory near Reno, hacked the company's confidential and trade secret information and transferred that information to third parties, according to court documents. The lawsuit also claims the employee leaked false information to the media.
A mere 24 hours later a combative email exchange between Musk and Tripp emerged. Tesla also notified police based on a tip to its customer service line that Tripp had allegedly told a friend he was going to attack the company's Gigafactory in Sparks, Nevada. Tripp has denied this and the Storey County Sheriff's department, which investigated, told TechCrunch they found no credible threat.
Tripp is turning to an attorney with a successful whistleblower track record. The firm obtained a more than $22 million judgment from the SEC on behalf of a Monsanto whistleblower in 2016.
Tripp's whistleblower tip, which was filed July 6, alleges that Tesla knowingly manufactured batteries with punctured holes possibly impacting hundreds of cars on the road; misled the investing public as to the numbers of Model 3s actually being produced each week by as much as 44 percent; and lowered vehicle specifications and systemically used scrap and waste material in vehicles, all so as to meet production quotas, according to a statement from Meissner Associates.
Tesla has said in the past that Tripp's allegations are false and contend that he is not a whistleblower, but someone who hacked and stole confidential information.
Tripp says he has been threatened and harassed in the days since he revealed information about Tesla to the media.
''Getting the truth out has become a nightmare. While we have had to relocate due to threats and harassment, both online and offline, making it difficult to press on, my family and I have also received a ton of support, which keeps us going,'' Tripp said in a statement. ''I hope that, in the end, my fight will make it easier for future whistleblowers to come forward without fear of repercussions like those I have endured.''
Meissner will not handle the federal lawsuit that Tesla filed against Tripp. He is currently looking for an attorney to represent him in the case, the firm's managing member Stuart Meissner told TechCrunch.
Meissner, a former assistant district attorney in Manhattan and assistant New York state attorney general, said Tesla filed its lawsuit against Tripp and engaged in a PR campaign to defame him in a calculated effort to ruin his reputation and silence him and other potential Tesla whistleblowers from coming forward.
LGBT Crack-Up: 'Get the L Out' Campaign Defends Lesbians Against Transgender 'Conversion Therapy' and 'Rape Culture,' Showing Feminism and Transgenderism Don't Mix
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 10:29
Twitter screenshot of lesbian banner against transgenderism that led the Pride in London parade.
We told you it would happen, and it finally has. Conservatives long predicted that feminism and transgenderism were ultimately incompatible, but for a long time it seemed like the LGBT movement might just hold them together. Well, on Saturday that movement burst open, as lesbians led the parade in attacking transgenderism.
"Transactivism Erases Lesbians!" read a banner that temporarily led the Pride in London march in the heart of Britain's capital.
This banner naturally caused quite a stir, with London Mayor Sadiq Khan denouncing it in a statement. "Pride is about celebrating difference and London's amazing LGBT+ community," Khan's spokesperson told PinkNews. "It's about showing those round the world that in our great city you can be free to be whoever you want to be and love whoever you want to love. The vast majority of those present at today's march respected and embraced that and the Mayor condemns the tiny minority who did not."
Who is that "tiny minority"? The final statement made it clear: "Transphobia is never acceptable."
While Khan was meant to lead the march, he ended up stuck behind the group "Get the L Out," a lesbian organization dedicated to separating lesbian identity from transgender identity. They started demanding that activists take the "T" out of "LGBT," but settled for opting out themselves, demanding the "L" be removed.
Pride in London, the group behind the parade, gave various explanations for allowing "Get the L Out" to lead the way. An earlier statement suggested the organizations allowed the lesbian group, supporting their intent to protest. "As we found in our recent Pride Matters report, 24% of people say a Pride is protest. 78% said it was a celebration," a spokesperson said.
In a second statement, the organizations pointed to the "hot weather" and a concern for the crowd's safety in allowing "Get the L Out" to lead the parade. The organizers insisted they "do not condone" the group, although they did not condemn the lesbians.
"Given the hot weather and in the interest of the safety of everyone attending today's event, the parade group was allowed to move ahead," the organizers said. "We do not condone their approach and message and hope the actions of a very small number [of] people does not overshadow the messages of the 30,000 people marching today."
Many activists have called for the organizers to resign. "I am appalled that transphobic protesters were allowed to lead the march and the crowd asked to cheer them on," LGBT+ Lib Dems Chair Jennie Rigg said. "This is a betrayal of the thousands marching. The Pride organizers should resign and offer a full apology."
Others attacked the sign on Twitter.
So, why do Jennie Rigg and Sadie Khan consider "Take the L Out" so "transphobic"? They disagree with transgender activism, but with an interesting twist. They're not just the run-of-the-mill feminists complaining about biological males usurping the title of feminism. No, they accuse transgender activists of promoting conversion therapy and rape culture.
According to their website, "Get the L Out is a group of lesbian and feminist individuals and organizations, opposing the increasingly anti-lesbian and misogynistic LGBT movement and the erasure of lesbians."
Yes, "Get the L Out" believes that transgenderism means erasing lesbians, and they've actually got a very good point.
"Get the L Out" opposes "trans politics" because they promote "the social transition of lesbians, encouraging them to present as straight men thus favouring the pretence of heterosexuality over lesbianism '-- this is nothing more than a form of conversion therapy."
In one move, this lesbian group has tied transgenderism to the most hated bugbear among the gay community '-- the effort to reverse same-sex attraction and destroy homosexual identity. Transgenderism encourages some lesbians to "identify" as male, and as soon as they "transition" '-- assuming these "ex"-women still like women '-- they're suddenly straight!
This isn't the only beef "Get the L Out" has with transgenderism, however. According to the lesbians, the "T" involves promoting "the medical transition of lesbians and pushes harmful drugs (untested hormone blockers, Lupron etc.) as well as unnecessary medical practices on perfectly healthy bodies '' these are a form of misogynist medical abuse against lesbians."
Indeed, transgender hormone "treatments" and the more drastic transgender surgery have left people scarred, as they later rejected their cross-sex identity. Max Robinson, a 21-year-old woman who once identified as a man, regrets having taken male hormones and removing her breasts, calling such "treatments" "not a cure at all."
Cross-sex hormones for those who have already gone through puberty carry serious health risks. While the longterm medical and psychological effects remain unknown, testosterone in biological females increases the chance of developing ovarian cysts later in life. Testosterone in biological females will cause irreversible deepening of the voice and augmentation of the clitoris.
Finally, "Get the L Out" charged that transgender activism "promotes the right of heterosexual males who 'identify' as women and lesbians (despite most of them still retaining their male genitals) over the rights of lesbians to choose their sexual partners. This new 'queer' LGBT politics thus coerces lesbians to accept the penis as a female organ and promotes heterosexual intercourse between male and female as a form of lesbian sex."
"This is simply a new facet to rape culture and compulsory heterosexuality," the lesbians declared.
This may be the most interesting charge. Because transgender activism pushes the idea that biological males with penises can identify as women, it follows that these "trans women" with penises can want to have sex with real women and consider themselves lesbian.
Transgender activism has also involved stigmatizing people who want to have sex with "cisgender" people. A preference for biological women over "transgender women" or a preference for biological men over "transgender men" is considered "transphobic."
Thus, when a biological man '-- who still has a penis! '-- "identifies" as a transgender woman and wants to have sex with a lesbian, it is be considered transphobic for that lesbian to refuse ... on the grounds that he is a man.
This creates the hilariously ironic situation that the L in LGBT is fundamentally at odds with the T in LGBT, and cannot be reconciled. A lesbian who has sex with a "trans woman" '-- i.e. a biological male with a penis who identifies as a woman '-- has arguably become straight. But if she refuses sex for that reason, she is "transphobic."
Or in the words of "Get the L Out," "The trans movement with the complicity of 'queer' LGBT politics is coercing lesbians to have sex with men. We firmly condemn this vicious form of lesbophobia disguised as progress."
In order to preserve lesbianism, these women are marching against transgenderism.
Under "What We Believe," the lesbians made some rather powerful statements against transgenderism. "We oppose the transition of young lesbians on the basis that their appearances or behaviour does not conform to socially accepted images of women. Having short hair and disliking pink is not a sign of having a male brain and does not mean one requires transition," they wrote.
Then there's this: "The trans movement is a conservative movement which reinforces sexist sex stereotypes." Yes, yes, I know, transgenderism is a racial Leftist push against reality and DNA, but bear with these lesbians for a moment.
Feminism has often pushed back against "gender stereotypes." Transgenderism, by contrast, encourages those who identify with the stereotypes of the gender opposite their biological sex to take that identity as gospel truth and "transition" into a person of the opposite sex. This goes against biology, but it also goes against the idea that women should not fear their femininity just because they don't like dolls.
But the most malicious part of transgenderism may be the danger it poses to women. "Take the L Out" had one strong demand: "We demand stronger sex-based protections for women and girls and that women maintain the right to sex-segregated spaces at the exclusion of male regardless of their 'identity.'"
This echoed the complaint that transgender acceptance allows men to enter women's restrooms and changing rooms, a voyeur phenomenon that has been documented at Targets across America.
LGBT activists in England have attacked the lesbians as "transphobic," but they bring up excellent complaints that should resonate with feminists across the globe. Transgenderism and feminism '-- and even transgenderism and lesbianism '-- are not compatible. No matter how much LGBT activists insist on keeping their acronym together, the fissures are starting to show.
Conservatives should stand up and articulate an alternative understanding of sexuality and gender that conforms with biology and makes sense of an increasingly out-of-control sexual revolution. If the people start waking up, they will need voices to listen to.
LGBT Political Movement Expanding To Include Pedophiles
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:17
PEDOPHILES ARE NOW CALLING THEMSELVES 'MINOR ATTRACTED PERSONS' AND WANT INCLUSION IN LGBTQ MOVEMENTPedophiles seek to be a part of the LGBT+ community, even going so far as to make a ''Pride'' flag for Gay Pride Month. The ''MAP/NOMAP community'' tries to pull at people's heartstrings by claiming that pedophiles are misunderstood marginalized people, and that as long as their attraction to children is not acted upon '-- or in some cases when they get permission from the child '-- that they should not be villainized
by Geoffrey Grider NOW THE END BEGINS
Pedophiles are rebranding themselves as 'MAPs' or 'Minor Attracted Persons' in an effort to gain acceptance and be included into the LGBT communityFor years now, we've been telling you that eventually the ever-growing alphabet soup that is the LGBTQ Movement would, at some point, have to add a 'P' to their acronym. The letter 'P' of course standing for pedophile. Why is this inevitable? Because of their motto, 'all love is love'. The word of God says otherwise.
''For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections'...'' Romans 1:26 (KJV)
FROM THE DAILY CALLER: Pedophiles are rebranding themselves as 'MAPs' or 'Minor Attracted Persons' in an effort to gain acceptance and be included into the LGBTQ community. According to Urban Dictionary, the blanket term MAP includes infantophilia (infants), pedophiles (prepubescent children), hebephiles (pubescent children), and ephebophiles (post-pubescent children). Some MAPs also refer to themselves as NOMAPs or ''Non-Offending Minor Attracted Persons''. These pedophiles seek to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, even going so far as to make a ''Pride'' flag for Gay Pride Month. The ''MAP/NOMAP community'' tries to pull at people's heartstrings by claiming that pedophiles are misunderstood marginalized people, and that as long as their attraction to children is not acted upon '-- or in some cases when they get permission from the child '-- that they should not be villainized. Sites such as ''The Prevention Project'' claim to be aimed at helping children, posting quotes like the one below, reminiscent of testimonials of struggling gay youth, under headlines like ''everyone needs support''. READ MORE
We live in a time where, if you read and believe your Bible, it is by turns both frightening and comforting. Frightening because prophecy related to the rising wickedness of the end times is coming true before our eyes, and comforting because the Bible is true and trustworthy.
'-- Fish! 🐠(@COMMUNIST_FISH) June 28, 2018
When I was a child, men who wanted to dress up as women were treated rightfully as someone who had either an extreme fetish or mental illness. It was not presented as something that was anything remotely close to normal. The character of Klinger from the 1970's M*A*S*H television show kept trying to be discharged from the army on a Section 8, which is a discharge related to mental illness. How did he angle that? By dressing up in women's clothing.
Flash forward to 2018 where the United States Military is paying for transsexuals to have 'gender switching' surgery, courtesy of the American taxpayer. For those of you not paying attention to the world around you, that is an unprecedented paradigm shift. What was deemed a mental illness just one generation ago has somehow become a 'protected right'. In Canada right now, with the passage of Bill C-16, jail time awaits for anyone who intentionally calls a trans person by the wrong pronoun.
IT'S NOT AN ACCIDENT OR COINCIDENCE THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IS IN THE PROCESS OF BRINGING THE LGBTQ INThe modern-day history of the Catholic Church is one of institutionalized pedophila, and spending millions to keep it quiet. So is it any wonder that they are in the process of welcoming the LGBTQ, and soon the P, into the Catholic Church? All part of the end times plan.
Pope Francis Instructs The Vatican To Make Unprecedented Move To Pull LGBTQ Into The Catholic Church
FROM THE US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Effective immediately, transgender Service members may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals. READ MORE
''Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!'' Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)
The Bible says that in the time of Jacob's trouble, global wickedness will rise to a level previously unimaginable, as Antichrist implements his dark rule. The Pretribulation Rapture will remove the Church before that takes place, but in the meantime we are seeing the ever-quickening pace of the shift towards calling evil good and good evil. The term 'minor attracted persons' sounds so much better than what it really is, pedophile, doesn't it? And that's the whole point.
If the Pretribulation Rapture doesn't happen soon, and barring serious illness or accident, you will live to see the day where pedophiles become a protected class of people with their own special pronoun. And if you dare call them by the wrong name or dare to say what they are doing is wrong, you will be the one who will be punished. I believe with all my heart that if Hillary had won the election instead of Trump, pedophiles would already be included in the LGBTQ.
Don't think it can happen, you say? We will never fall that far, you say? Open your eyes, we are already there. Open your King James Bible and see for yourself. You've been warned.
''He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.'' Revelation 22:20 (KJV)
Pedophiles Are Now Calling Themselves 'Minor Attracted Persons' And Want Inclusion In LGBTQ Movement ' Now The End Begins
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:59
Pedophiles are rebranding themselves as 'MAPs' or 'Minor Attracted Persons' in an effort to gain acceptance and be included into the LGBT communityFor years now, we've been telling you that eventually the ever-growing alphabet soup that is the LGBTQ Movement would, at some point, have to add a 'P' to their acronym. The letter 'P' of course standing for pedophile. Why is this inevitable? Because of their motto, 'all love is love'. The word of God says otherwise.
''For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections'...'' Romans 1:26 (KJV)
FROM THE DAILY CALLER: Pedophiles are rebranding themselves as 'MAPs' or 'Minor Attracted Persons' in an effort to gain acceptance and be included into the LGBTQ community. According to Urban Dictionary, the blanket term MAP includes infantophilia (infants), pedophiles (prepubescent children), hebephiles (pubescent children), and ephebophiles (post-pubescent children). Some MAPs also refer to themselves as NOMAPs or ''Non-Offending Minor Attracted Persons''. These pedophiles seek to be a part of the LGBTQ+ community, even going so far as to make a ''Pride'' flag for Gay Pride Month. The ''MAP/NOMAP community'' tries to pull at people's heartstrings by claiming that pedophiles are misunderstood marginalized people, and that as long as their attraction to children is not acted upon '-- or in some cases when they get permission from the child '-- that they should not be villainized. Sites such as ''The Prevention Project'' claim to be aimed at helping children, posting quotes like the one below, reminiscent of testimonials of struggling gay youth, under headlines like ''everyone needs support''. READ MORE
We live in a time where, if you read and believe your Bible, it is by turns both frightening and comforting. Frightening because prophecy related to the rising wickedness of the end times is coming true before our eyes, and comforting because the Bible is true and trustworthy.
If you see this flag flying anywhere online, you are looking at a pedophilePSA TO MINORS: IF YOU SEE THIS ''''''PRIDE'''''' FLAG ANYWHERE BE WARNEDthis flag is for MAPs, which stands for minor attracted person(s)THIS IS A FLAG FOR PEDOPHILES pic.twitter.com/agx2ryySqx
'-- Fish! 🐠(@COMMUNIST_FISH) June 28, 2018
When I was a child, men who wanted to dress up as women were treated rightfully as someone who had either an extreme fetish or mental illness. It was not presented as something that was anything remotely close to normal. The character of Klinger from the 1970's M*A*S*H television show kept trying to be discharged from the army on a Section 8, which is a discharge related to mental illness. How did he angle that? By dressing up in women's clothing.
Flash forward to 2018 where the United States Military is paying for transsexuals to have 'gender switching' surgery, courtesy of the American taxpayer. For those of you not paying attention to the world around you, that is an unprecedented paradigm shift. What was deemed a mental illness just one generation ago has somehow become a 'protected right'. In Canada right now, with the passage of Bill C-16, jail time awaits for anyone who intentionally calls a trans person by the wrong pronoun.
It's not an accident or coincidence that the Catholic Church is in the process of bringing the LGBTQ inThe modern-day history of the Catholic Church is one of institutionalized pedophila, and spending millions to keep it quiet. So is it any wonder that they are in the process of welcoming the LGBTQ, and soon the P, into the Catholic Church? All part of the end times plan.
Pope Francis Instructs The Vatican To Make Unprecedented Move To Pull LGBTQ Into The Catholic Church
FROM THE US DEPARTMENT OF DEFENSE: Effective immediately, transgender Service members may serve openly, and they can no longer be discharged or otherwise separated from the military solely for being transgender individuals. READ MORE
''Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness; that put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!'' Isaiah 5:20 (KJV)
The Bible says that in the time of Jacob's trouble, global wickedness will rise to a level previously unimaginable, as Antichrist implements his dark rule. The Pretribulation Rapture will remove the Church before that takes place, but in the meantime we are seeing the ever-quickening pace of the shift towards calling evil good and good evil. The term 'minor attracted persons' sounds so much better than what it really is, pedophile, doesn't it? And that's the whole point.
If the Pretribulation Rapture doesn't happen soon, and barring serious illness or accident, you will live to see the day where pedophiles become a protected class of people with their own special pronoun. And if you dare call them by the wrong name or dare to say what they are doing is wrong, you will be the one who will be punished. I believe with all my heart that if Hillary had won the election instead of Trump, pedophiles would already be included in the LGBTQ.
Don't think it can happen, you say? We will never fall that far, you say? Open your eyes, we are already there. Open your King James Bible and see for yourself. You've been warned.
''He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.'' Revelation 22:20 (KJV)
Wanting younger leadership is 'sexist' says Pelosi, after forgetting Senate leader's name '-- RT US News
Tue, 10 Jul 2018 11:44
Calling herself a ''legislative virtuoso,'' House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi brushed off calls for someone younger to lead the Democrats if they win the midterms. Such talk is ''a little bit sexist,'' she told Rolling Stone.
Pelosi (D-California) was the first and only female Speaker of the House from 2007 to 2011, and she hopes to hold that position again after the November midterms, she said in an interview conducted in May but published Sunday.
''The gavel makes all the difference in the world'... the awesome power. The speaker has awesome power,'' she said, rapping the table with a knife to illustrate her point.
Asked about the margin needed to secure the gavel, Pelosi rambled a bit on how it's not really about her, before describing the calls for someone younger to lead the Democrats as ''a little bit on the sexist side.''
''Has anyone asked whatshisname, the one who's the head of the Senate?'' she said, before aide Jorge Aguilar helpfully supplied her with the name of Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky).
READ MORE: 'We know where you live': Anti-Trump #resistance threatens Senate leader Mitch McConnell
''Nobody ever went up to Harry Reid and said that. Nobody ever says that to anybody except a woman,'' Pelosi added.
The exchange prompted the conservative news site Breitbart to urge Pelosi to take Hydergine, a medication for dementia. Another critic quipped that the interview showed Pelosi's brain is ''missing in action.''
Reid was the Senate Majority Leader until January 2015, when he retired at the age of 77. McConnell turned 76 in February this year. Pelosi is 78.
When Rolling Stone brought up the calls from Representatives Seth Moulton (D-Massachusetts) and Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) for a new leadership, Pelosi dismissed the two as ''inconsequential.'' Moulton is 39, and Ryan is 44.
''They don't have a following in our caucus. None,'' she said, only to reverse herself moments later, saying, ''Anybody is consequential. But I have great support in my caucus.''
Rolling Stone asked @NancyPelosi about the Tim Ryans and Seth Moultons in the caucus who've called for leadership change.Her answer: "Inconsequential. They don't have a following in our caucus. None."https://t.co/RFxpAICF7P
'-- Laura Barr"n-L"pez (@lbarronlopez) July 9, 2018Pelosi's statements have provided President Donald Trump and the Republicans with a rallying cry for their base in November. Critics accused the wealthy San Franciscan of dismissing the tax cut as ''crumbs,'' defending MS-13 gang members as possessing ''the spark of divinity,'' campaigning for open borders while living in a gated mansion, and ignoring Kate Steinle, one of her constituents killed in 2015 by an illegal immigrant.
187 days since Nancy Pelosi's tax cut armageddon---Strangely enough, the grocery stores are still full, grass is growing, and gas stations still working
Leave an emoji if you survived too 🌷ðŸ‚
'-- PinkAboutIt 🇺🇸 (@Pink_About_it) July 8, 2018Nancy Pelosi professes to care so much about illegal aliens. She lives in a palace. Do you think she should tear down her walls and open her door to welcome them? pic.twitter.com/PVIanEHls0
'-- Patriot Gary (@Golfinggary5221) July 9, 2018Kate Steinle was killed walking along Pier 14 in July of 2015. Over 1,100 days ago.Pier 14 is in San Francisco--the district home of Nancy Pelosi.
Pelosi is a rabid proponent and tweeter of illegal immigrants.
Her total volume of tweets regarding her dead constituent: ZERO.
'-- thebradfordfile' (@thebradfordfile) July 7, 2018''I don't think for a second that we should allow Republicans to choose the leaders of the Democratic party because they put money in with their '' what's the word I want to use? Making a caricature of somebody. I mean discriminatory,'' Pelosi told Rolling Stone. ''They discriminate against LGBT. That's just who they are. It's a funny thing about them: They do not share our values.''
Meanwhile, the city of San Francisco, which she represents in the House, has had over 16,000 municipal complaints just this year about human and other excrement accumulating on the streets.
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Do lesbians have better sex than straight women? | Life and style | The Guardian
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 14:13
D o lesbians have better sex than heterosexual women? Yes. Yes. Oh my God, yes! Women who sleep with women repeatedly report higher levels of sexual satisfaction in surveys and studies than women who have sex with men.
A Public Health England survey of more than 7,000 women last month found that half of respondents aged between 25 and 34 did not enjoy their sex life. The percentage dropped to 29% among 55- to 64-year-olds, suggesting that sex for women gets better with age.
Sue Mann, the public health consultant involved in the research, said: ''Enjoying a fulfilling sex life is important for women's mental and emotional wellbeing.'' This is true, of course. Bizarrely, though, when asked about the breakdown of women's sexualities in the study, PHE said it had not collected this information from respondents; instead, results were categorised by location, deprivation, ethnicity, religion, marital status and age.
But previous global research suggests that women who have sex with women are probably more likely to be in the half that did not report sexual dissatisfaction. A 2014 study by the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that lesbians orgasmed 75% of the time during sex, compared with 61% for heterosexual women. The sexual orientation of men, however, did not appear to have much effect on their rates of orgasm '' gay men reported coming 85% of the time, while for heterosexual men it was 86%.
A much larger study in 2017 of 53,000 Americans by the Kinsey Institute recorded slightly different numbers, but with the same trends. In this instance, lesbians reported coming 86% of the time during sex, as opposed to 65% for straight women. Straight men said they orgasmed 95% of the time.
So, where is lesbian sex going right for women where heterosexual sex is going wrong? ''It's simple,'' says Matty Silver, a sexual health therapist based in Australia. ''Lesbian women know where their clitoris is and know what to do with it to get an orgasm. They don't need to show their lesbian partner what to do, which means their sexual satisfaction is higher.
When we know how to give ourselves an orgasm, we know how to communicate our sexual needs to our partners
''There are many men who believe they can give their partners an orgasm by just having intercourse,'' she adds. ''That only happens for 20% of all women. They often need clitoral stimulation, or oral sex, for it to happen. It is one of the reasons that many heterosexual women fake their orgasm.''
Silver says lesbian couples rarely visit her for counselling relating to sexual issues, but rather for general relationship queries, as with any couple.
Of course, anyone approaching sex for the first time will encounter a learning curve, but the anatomical familiarity of a woman sleeping with a woman rings true as integral to high levels of satisfaction.
Jessica Burgess, a 26-year-old playwright based in Brighton who has slept with men and women (and a cis man who then identified as genderqueer), says: ''Women are at a huge advantage when it comes to knowing how to make other women feel good. They've done it before to themselves, numerous times. They know what a clit is and they have realistic expectations about how quickly women are able to reach orgasm.''
In 2008, 92% of female respondents to a survey said they masturbate '' two-thirds of them up to three times a week. This is a leap from 74% in 1993 and 62% in 1953, when women were probably lying, or abiding by sexually repressive codes.
Alongside the sexologist Betty Dodson, Carlin Ross runs a feminist-centred sexual education charity with the tagline: ''Better Orgasms. Better World.'' Their website features tips, sex-toy reviews, workshops on overcoming negative body image and pleasure anxiety, and Betty's sketches of the six different ''vulva styles'' (variations include ''baroque'', ''gothic'', ''Renaissance'' and ''modern''). The key to sexual satisfaction, whether same-sex or heterosexual, is masturbation, Ross says.
''The absolute best way to improve your sex life is to improve your masturbation practice,'' she says. ''When we know how to give ourselves an orgasm, we know how to communicate our sexual needs to our partners. It seems counterintuitive, but improving our relationship with ourselves improves our relationships with others '' and our sexual gratification.
''What this means is practising consciousness masturbation. Blocking out an hour for ourselves. Getting some good natural oil that will increase sensation. Touching our lubricated genitals and then practising clitoral stimulation and vaginal penetration at the same time.''
But it is not just about getting the practice in. Jessica says that women tend to be better at listening and communicating in bed (and perhaps outside of the bedroom, too '' it is not clear whether those abundant news stories about women speaking thousands more words a day than men stand up, but understanding and empathy are areas in which women excel). There is a strong emotional connection between women, too.
Alice Martin, a 20-year-old trans lesbian, says the same. ''As a woman having sex with another woman, it's a completely mind-bending experience. The mix of care, love, romance, pleasure, emotion and intensity is something that I never experienced with men.''
One of the biggest culprits for this may be the amount of pornography made for and marketed to straight men. A headline in the Daily Telegraph last year declared that ''All men watch porn'', after a university study in the US. ''We started our research seeking men in their 20s who had never consumed pornography,'' said Prof Simon Louis Lajeunesse at the time. ''We couldn't find any.''
According to the study, 90% of pornography consumption was online, with 10% of men going to video stores (who knew they still existed?). In 2015, more than 2bn web searches were pornography-related and pornography sites are often measured as more popular than social networks. It is not only heterosexual men who watch pornography, but the women I speak to who have slept with women and men note pornography's negative influence in their experience of heterosexual sex. These women do not watch lesbian-categorised pornography because, leaving aside an emerging market for pornography made exclusively by women, lesbian pornography is mostly aimed at men.
Burgess does not watch pornography precisely for this reason. In fact, in real life, there is a psychological advantage that comes with same-sex activity, in that you are making an active choice to own your sexuality. Or, as Jessica puts it: ''Women get the real me, and I almost always experience an honest connection that allows me to be fully present and relaxed.''
Then there is simple biology. When men ejaculate, most need to take a breather for their erection to make a comeback (this is known as the ''refractory period''). On the other hand, women can orgasm in waves. The clitoris has 8,000 nerve endings '' double that of the penis glans '' and its sole purpose appears to be providing pleasure. Women's orgasms last for an average of 20 seconds, while men's last eight. The most orgasms recorded in an hour for a woman is 134 (16 for a man). This makes it especially sad that so many heterosexual women are reporting understimulating sex lives.
So, for those women who are not coming endlessly '' how can they improve their sex lives, whoever they may be with? As well as Ross's advice to masturbate a lot, the Kinsey Institute recommends more oral sex, better relationships, ''sexy talk'', asking for what you want in bed and trying new positions, among other things.
Ross also recommends engaging your mind in sexual fantasies and listening to erotica podcasts. Then there is copious ''cliterature'' and the boom in sex toys. In 2016, the online sex toy retailer Lovehoney recorded a 68% growth in profits (it is possible there was a Fifty Shades of Grey effect).
But when it comes down to it, women have better sex with women because they understand each others' physicality, communicate better, focus more on areas such as the clitoris '' knocking penetration from its pedestal '' and are more likely to focus on their partner's pleasure. Keep at it to improve, Ross suggests: ''Sex begets more sex.'' And, hopefully, better sex.
Out There
Israeli company plans lunar landing next year
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 13:10
YEHUD, Israel (AP) '-- An Israeli organization said Tuesday that it hopes to become the first non-governmental entity to land a spacecraft on the moon when it attempts to launch a module later this year.
SpaceIL and the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries plan to launch their unmanned craft in December, the team said at a press conference at an IAI facility outside Tel Aviv. If successful, Israel would become the fourth country to land a craft on the moon, after the U.S., the Soviet Union and China.
SpaceIL will ship the as yet unnamed module to the United States in November ahead of the launch. The 585 kilogram (1,289 pound) landing craft will piggyback on a SpaceX Falcon rocket to enter Earth's orbit, then slingshot around the planet several times to reach the moon. Upon landing, the craft will relay photographs and collect data about the moon's magnetism for research by Israel's Weizmann Institute.
The $95 million project, largely funded by South African-Israeli billionaire Morris Kahn and other donors, aims to land on the moon on Feb. 13. Kahn said it would be "a tremendous achievement."
SpaceIL was founded in 2011 and originally vied for Google's Lunar Xprize, which challenged private companies to try to land an unmanned spacecraft on the moon.
But the $20 million competition was scrapped by the tech giant earlier this year when it became clear none of the five companies would meet a March deadline.
Despite financial pitfalls in recent years that nearly saw SpaceIL's spacecraft grounded permanently, the team is confident that December's launch will take place on time.
"This project will take the aerospace industry into deep space," said Kahn, SpaceIL's main donor and president.
The aim of the mission is not only to put an Israeli spacecraft on the moon, but to inspire a future generation of Israelis to pursue careers in math, science and engineering, said Joseph Weiss, IAI's president and chief executive.
Israel has emerged as a technological titan in recent decades, producing a profusion of high-tech companies and drawing heavy international investment. Much of the module's onboard computers were developed and produced locally.
The lunar mission is scheduled to last just two days after it touches down. But the SpaceIL team hopes that putting an Israeli-made module on the moon could help maintain Israel's technological momentum for years to come.
"What we're doing is we're trying to replicate the Apollo effect in the United States," Kahn told reporters, referring to the surge in interest in science and engineering after the U.S. space program landed on the moon in 1969.
Internally, NASA believes Boeing ahead of SpaceX in commercial crew | Ars Technica
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 01:19
Spacecraft wanted '-- Both of the companies are well behind schedule, forcing the agency to scramble. Eric Berger - Jul 11, 2018 7:25 pm UTC
Enlarge / An artist's view of the Starliner spacecraft en route to the International Space Station.
One of the biggest rivalries in the modern aerospace industry is between Boeing and SpaceX. Despite their radically different cultures, the aerospace giant and the smaller upstart compete for many different kinds of contracts, and perhaps nowhere has the competition been more keen than for NASA funds.
In 2014, both Boeing and SpaceX received multibillion awards (Boeing asked for, and got, 50 percent more funding for the same task) to finalize development of spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the commercial crew program. Since then, both companies have been locked in a race to the launchpad, not just to free NASA from its reliance on Russia to reach space but also for the considerable esteem that will accompany becoming the first private company in the world to fly humans into orbit.
A narrow marginAlthough both Boeing and SpaceX have established various launch dates'--first in 2017, and now slipped to 2018 and 2019'--NASA hasn't publicly tipped its hand on which company is actually ahead in the race. Now, however, a new report from the US Government Accountability Office has provided a window into NASA's internal thinking on commercial crew launch dates.
The data is several months old, coming from an April 2018 analysis. But it's insightful all the same. The report shows when NASA believes Boeing and SpaceX will each have completed a single non-crewed test flight, a test flight with crew, and then undergo a certification process to become ready for operational flights. This is known as the "certification milestone."
Based on NASA's "schedule risk analysis" from April, the agency estimates that Boeing will reach this milestone sometime between May 1, 2019, and August 30, 2020. For SpaceX, the estimated range is August 1, 2019, and November 30, 2020. The analysis' average certification date was December, 2019, for Boeing and January, 2020, for SpaceX.
These are obviously razor-thin margins, but the new report also indicates that Boeing is ahead in submitting paperwork needed for approval of its various flight systems and processes. This is consistent with what independent sources have told Ars, that Boeing is more familiar with NASA and better positioned to comply with its complex certification processes.
Contingency plan neededThis report was conducted to warn Congress that NASA has no contingency plan for how to keep its astronauts on board the International Space Station after November 2019, when the last Russian Soyuz seat NASA has procured is scheduled to fly home.
"While NASA is working on potential solutions, there is no contingency plan in place to address this potential gap," the report states. "Without a viable contingency plan, NASA puts at risk achievement of the US goal and objective for the ISS."
With this report in hand, Congress will probably press NASA to finalize and release such a plan. Previously, NASA has indicated it may turn the first Boeing crewed flight, which would precede the "certification milestone," into an operational flight and extend its mission to the station. It may also seek to delay the return of that final Soyuz mission from November 2019 for two months into January 2020. Depending on the extent of schedule delays, however, neither of those measures may prove adequate.
VIDEO - VIDEO : NATO contributions country-by-country | Euronews
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 14:50
Donald Trump complains that some European countries are not pulling their financial weight in NATO, euronews has been looking at who spends what on the Alliance
Read full article
VIDEO - CNN host worried about nation's 'focus' after Jeopardy contestants don't know Russia question - YouTube
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 14:42
VIDEO - FDA: Parasites In Del Monte Vegetables Causing 'Explosive' Diarrhea CBS Chicago
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 14:04
(CBS Local)'' Over 200 people have now been infected by an outbreak of parasites linked to recalled vegetable trays from Del Monte.
According to the CDC, 212 cases of cyclosporiasis '' an intestinal infection caused by the cyclospora parasite '' were reported as of July 5. The condition has been linked to ''6 oz., 12 oz., and 28 oz. vegetable trays containing fresh broccoli, cauliflower, celery sticks, carrots, and dill dip,'' which were recalled by Del Monte Fresh Produce on June 15.
The CDC added that the products were sold in clear, plastic containers at several store across the Midwest. ''The recalled products were distributed to: Kwik Trip, Kwik Star, Demond's, Sentry, Potash, Meehan's, Country Market, Food Max Supermarket and Peapod in Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin,'' according to the FDA recall.
Health officials are warning that people who develop cyclosporiasis can experience ''frequent, sometimes explosive'' diarrhea. The parasites can also cause nausea, fatigue, and several other flu-like symptoms lasting for at least a month if not treated by doctors. ''If you are not treated with this very specific antibiotic for cyclospora you generally will remain sick,'' Ryan Osterholm of the Pritzker Hageman Law Firm told CBS Minnesota.
Seven people have hospitalized due to the outbreak, however there have been no deaths linked to the contaminated Del Monte products.
VIDEO - Jordan Peterson: From the Barricades of the Culture Wars - YouTube
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 13:12
VIDEO - Trump and Stoltenberg get into tense exchange at NATO summit - YouTube
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:24
VIDEO - Trump Baby Blimp Organizer: Moral Outrage Doesn't Work On Trump | The Beat With Ari Melber | MSNBC - YouTube
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 12:05
VIDEO - BREXIT NEWS: Shock claim May said plan 'can't be changed because MERKEL'S cleared it | Politics | News | Express.co.uk
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 10:11
Brexit news: Theresa May has been accused of clearing her Brexit plan with Merkel
THERESA May has been hit by furious claims she told Tory ministers her Brexit plan cannot be changed because it had already been ''cleared'' by German Chancellor Angela Merkel. PUBLISHED: 09:19, Thu, Jul 12, 2018 UPDATED: 10:12, Thu, Jul 12, 2018
A row has erupted after the Prime Minister is alleged to have flew to Berlin to share her exit plan with Angela Merkel before she revealed it to her Cabinet at her Chequers retreat in Buckinghamshire.
When quizzed over possible alterations to the Brexit blueprint, Mrs May is said to have made an extraordinary excuse saying: ''No that's not possible.
''Because I've already cleared the existing text with Mrs Merkel.''
Downing Street sources strongly refuted the claims but in the Spectator, journalist Charles Moore wrote: ''At Chequers, I hear, one of her responses to suggested changes in her blueprint was to say, 'No, that's not possible, because I've already cleared it [the existing text] with Mrs Merkel'.''
Mrs May flew to Berlin last Thursday - the day before crunch talks at Chequers - to hold a meeting with Mrs Merkel.
Number 10 has refused to comment on the claims.
Last night leading Tory Brexiteer Jacob Rees-Mogg said it would unconstitutional of the Prime Minister to discuss British policy with EU leaders before her own Cabinet.
Speaking on Sky News, he said: ''I think they might have been taken to Brussels and to Berlin before they were presented at Chequers which is a serious question.
Brexit news: May met Merkel the day before her Chequers summit
Chequers summit in pictures: Theresa May's big Brexit meeting Members of the cabinet and government officials gather at Chequers
Theresa May speaks during a cabinet meeting at Chequers
Chequers, the Prime Minister's official country residence near Ellesborough
Members of the cabinet gather at Chequers
Theresa May speaks during a cabinet meeting at Chequers
Members of the cabinet gather at Chequers
Chequers, the Prime Minister's official country residence near Ellesborough
Ministerial cars arrive at Chequers
Attorney General Jeremy Wright arrives at Chequers
Cars arrive ahead of a cabinet meeting at Chequers
Michael Gove arrives at Chequers
Michael Gove arrives at Chequers
Vehicles wait at a security checkpoint at Chequers
Justice Secretary David Gauke (right) arrives at Chequers
Brexit news: May is said to have told Ministers she already 'cleared' the plan with Merkel
''And there's another question about how they were drawn up because they were drawn up in secret without telling the Secretary of State for leaving the European Union David Davis what was going on, whilst his department was working on a White Paper.
''I don't think it has been handled in a proper governmental system and in accordance with our constitutional norms.''
Theresa May is set to release the Brexit White Paper today which will lay out her intentions for a Brexit deal.
The terms were agreed at a tense Chequers meeting last Friday and led to the resignations of both the Brexit Secretary David Davis and the Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.
Brexit will ''end freedom of movement'' and ''take back control'' of British laws according to new plans to be revealed today.
VIDEO - Obama and Cameron to tell Nato allies to increase defence spending - Telegraph
Thu, 12 Jul 2018 01:41
Barack Obama and David Cameron will tell their Nato allies to increase defence spending in a showdown at this week's summit in Wales.
They are backed by British military chiefs who accused underspending members of freeloading.
The US president and the Prime Minister will call on European leaders to do more to defend the continent from its growing threats by meeting commitments to spend at least two per cent of GDP on defence.
Nato members at the two-day meeting in Newport will debate how to cope with crises in Ukraine and Iraq.
The White House said military spending was a ''top priority''. But diplomats believe that the plea will be rejected by countries who complain they are still emerging from recession and refuse to be held to an ''arbitrary'' spending target.
Currently only four Nato members reach the two per cent target, including Britain and America. Britain, however, has refused to commit to the target after this parliament and defence chiefs fear the military budget could dip below the two per cent mark soon.
Former senior military commanders said last night that Nato allies must shoulder their share of the military burden and stop relying on others to prop them up.
Lord West, a former head of the Navy, said: ''People in a number of countries have been willing to get a free ride and are not spending. If you look at Europe, it's only France and the UK who meet the target.
''Nato has to realise that it's no good having a broken force.
''Putin and other countries think they are talking the talk but they are not walking the walk. It's just bluff.
''It does mean that he thinks they are not really serious about holding their own on the world stage.''
Lord Dannatt, a former head of the Army, said Europe's failure to fund its forces led many Americans to question ''why Europe cannot stand on its own security feet''.
He said: ''The sad fact is that with the exception of a small number of European Nato member states '-- which include the UK and France principally '-- the vast majority of the armed forces of other European states lack real usable capability and their governments often lack the political will to fund their armed forces properly.''
Diplomatic sources said there was little hope of major European powers pledging big spending increases.
Any summit agreement will fall back on vague language of ''aiming to'' meet the two per cent target.
In pointed remarks last week, Mr Obama said the summit had to ''make sure every country is contributing''.
Wolfgang Sch¤uble, the German finance minister, said earlier this year increasing defence spending from 1.3 per cent could create misunderstandings with Russia. The Canadian government has also baulked at the rise from its current level of one per cent.
Robert Menendez, the hawkish Democrat chair of the US Senate foreign relations committee, urged Mr Obama and the West to provide Ukraine with ''defensive weapons''.
''Thousands of Russian troops are here with tanks, missiles, heavy artillery,'' he told the US broadcasters CNN in Ukraine. Mr Putin had ''sized up the West'' and determined that tough sanctions and military aid would not be forthcoming.
However, Mr Obama and European leaders have ruled out any ''military solution'' to the crisis in Ukraine.
Meanwhile fighting continued in Ukraine with separatists firing on a border patrol ship in the Azov Sea.
VIDEO - Lawsuits alleging weed killer Roundup caused cancer given green light by San Francisco judge
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 18:47
Ashley May | USA TODAY | 7:13 am EDT July 11, 2018
Hundreds of lawsuits claiming Monsanto's weed killer Roundup caused cancer were given the green light to proceed to trial, a San Francisco judge ruled Tuesday.
The chemical glyphosate, an active ingredient in Roundup, is at the center of the debate. Cancer victims and families presenting cases say Monsanto knew about the ingredient's risk for years, but failed to warn buyers. U.S. District Judge Vince Chhabria said there's ''rather weak" evidence the ingredient causes cancer, but the opinions of three experts linking glyphosate and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma were not ''junk science."
Monsanto Vice President Scott Partridge denies any connection between glyphosate and cancer. In the past, Monsanto sued California's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment for adding to a list of cancer causing chemicals, and lost.
There is conflicted evidence linking glyphosate and cancer.
More: Monsanto shedding name: Bayer acquisition leads to change for environmental lightning rod
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has gone back and forth on considering glyphosate a possible carcinogen. In a review of the chemical last year, it concluded glyphosate is likely not a carcinogen. But, the World Health Organization has classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic."
A separate San Francisco trial, the first case where a jury has heard cancer allegations against Roundup, is under way to determine whether glyphosate caused a school groundskeeper's non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.
More: Bacon, coffee, Nutella: These favorite foods have cancer links
Contributing: The Associated Press. Follow Ashley May on Twitter: @AshleyMayTweets
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VIDEO - framers everyone died at 50
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 14:10
VIDEO - Matt Schlapp on Twitter: "Holy Crap... https://t.co/9AV2dh2X3y"
Wed, 11 Jul 2018 12:58
Log in Sign up Matt Schlapp @ mschlapp Holy Crap...
twitter.com/realdonaldtrum'... 5:39 AM - 11 Jul 2018 EBIN @ UnSocialMe
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@mschlapp @realDonaldTrump @realDonaldTrump pic.twitter.com/8fuGTxmgux View conversation · walletninja @ Jacket_Spangler
18m Replying to
@mschlapp Trump making sure everyone knows he's a russian asset. American conservatives would do well to tread lightly. So would bernie Sanders.
View conversation · Scottie Pack 🎠@ brianknewhouse
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@mschlapp Hey hey hey You have 5 daughters Mister! We use the ðŸ'(C) emoji ðŸ‰
View conversation · Dana Dane 🇺🇸 Day 536 @ D_S_Sugarpies
16m Replying to
@mschlapp Dragon Energy level 1000.So much respect.I wake up every day and thank God he is POTUS.
pic.twitter.com/uEQiKGWkgM View conversation · Marvin Brown @ marvinfbrowniii
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@mschlapp In yo face!!!
View conversation · Jack Bristow @ RambaldiDevice
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@mschlapp The boss is on fire.
View conversation · Mike 'Stable Genius' Habs Fan @ KawdyKoy
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@mschlapp I love how he sits there and says things that are blatantly lies and they all stare at him and think, "What a complete moron this guy is, can't wait till Mueller locks him up".
View conversation · Paul Dees @ PLDTruth
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@mschlapp Your boy lied - again. Germany does not get 70% of it energy from Russia. Blatant lie. But you are okay with lying now.
View conversation · Jack Bristow @ RambaldiDevice
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@mschlapp Whoever records these conversations needs to stand on the other side of the table to record the EU folks' faces.
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@mschlapp #NotTiredOfWinning View conversation · Geno @ needaprez
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@mschlapp Yep. Once again my president plays to the cameras spewing false information about Germany. It never ends.
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@mschlapp Oh my god! FKING WOW!!!
View conversation · Jonathan D. @ JdoaneD
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@mschlapp Do I love that man or what? Tell them how it is, Mr. President.
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@mschlapp lol, yeah, BOOM!
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@mschlapp Woo Hoo! I love my President! America is BACK
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@mschlapp He doesn't sound like a Putin puppet there, does he?
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@Jacket_Spangler @mschlapp A Russian asset? He's trying to stop EU nations from enriching Russia. You are a fool, aren't you?
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VIDEO - YouTube - Jericho green #WalkAway
Sun, 08 Jul 2018 23:53
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Sun, 08 Jul 2018 23:51
Sun, 08 Jul 2018 23:19
VIDEO - Justice Department covers up possible spy ring scandal in Democratic congressional offices | Fox News
Sun, 08 Jul 2018 21:23
In an incredible sweetheart plea deal, Imran Awan '' a former IT aide to Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., and other congressional Democrats '' pleaded guilty Tuesday to one count of making a false statement on a home equity loan.
I sat flabbergasted in the courtroom in Washington as the plea agreement was entered.
I spent the last year interviewing hundreds of people and chasing leads for my upcoming book ''titled ''Spies in Congress'' '' about the alleged spy ring believed led by Awan that may have operated in the offices of more than 40 Democratic members of Congress.
If not for my extensive research on this case, I might have assumed the government just couldn't find enough evidence to make a solid case against Awan on more serious charges than bank fraud.
When I asked Justice Department prosecutor J.P. Cooney why the government made this odd plea deal he just smiled and waved me away as he told me to ask the Justice Department Office of Public Affairs. The office declined to answer my questions.
Shockingly, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Columbia issued a news release about Awan's plea agreement that made no mention of his IT work for Democrats in Congress, no mention of Wasserman Schultz, and made his case sound like a minor local criminal matter of little interest to anyone. It was headlined: ''Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Making False Statement on Application for Home Equity Loan.''
Ho-hum, right? Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.
Awan is due to be sentenced Aug. 21 and could get off with no jail sentence, according the plea agreement. Prosecutors said they would not recommend jail time '' in effect, giving Awan a get-out-of-jail-free card.
Just like that, the Department of Justice is making an important case go away as if nothing much happened.
Awan's wife, Hina Alvi, is having all charges against her dismissed as part of the agreement.
Awan, as a part of this plea agreement, also ''will not be charged'' for any other nonviolent crimes he may have committed in Washington prior to the agreement, according to this deal.
The plea deal agreement even exonerates Awan by saying in part that ''the Government agrees that the public allegations that your client (Imran Awan) stole U.S. House of Representatives ('House') equipment and engaged in unauthorized or illegal conduct involving House computer systems do not form the basis of any conduct relevant to the determination of the sentence in this case.''
But there is so much more to this case. Even on the simple theft of government equipment there is a lot there for prosecutors. One of Awan's former tenants, a retired U.S. Marine, even found and turned over to authorities several computers and smart phones with government markings on them that he found in Awan's rental property.
There is also internal U.S. House of Representatives' paperwork detailing some of what went on in the offices Awan and his associates who did contract IT work for congressional Democrats.
Internal House Inspector General findings have also determined that Awan copied the emails of up to 44 Democratic House members and other personal data and backed them up to a server that reportedly went missing and to a Dropbox account.
Awan, his wife and other relatives and friends were also all paid exorbitant salaries for working as IT contractors for members of Congress for years '' even though many of them didn't have any expertise in IT and even though they didn't undergo background checks.
It is also likely that a few of Awan's associates didn't even show up to earn all the money they were paid. Still, no charges have been filed against Awan or his brothers relating to alleged thefts, possible espionage and for providing false information (an image of the Democratic House Caucus computer server) to Capitol Police.
It is actually very hard to sum-up all that this group of IT aides (who are almost all from Pakistan) did and the crimes they might have committed.
Writing a book on the topic was like piecing together an international spy thriller filled with anonymous sources, encrypted conversations, off-the-record meetings, foreign documents and hard facts from various court filings and from internal investigations in the House.
What is clear to me, after interviewing so many people, is there is a lot of evidence here for investigators, but also a lot of political reasons why they might want this case to go away.
Awan was even Wasserman Schultz's IT aide when she headed the Democratic National Committee (DNC), which incidentally was when the DNC was hacked and the information given to Wikileaks.
I have no evidence that Awan was in any way responsible for the leak. Still, it is incredible how much of all this interconnects circumstantially.
Real court scenes (when Awan pleaded guilty and waved his right to a trial by jury), possible depositions of House staffers and members of Congress, and the investigations that would take place if the Justice Department pursued additional charges would have necessarily dug into a lot of things the Washington establishment would rather not deal with publicly. It also would have forced investigators to follow the trail to Pakistan.
Still, I didn't think these investigating agencies would be brazen enough to agree to this kind of a sweetheart deal for Imran Awan and Hina Alvi.
Now Awan will not face prosecution where the more serious allegations against him can be judged.
VIDEO - YouTube - WalkAway Movement Is Being Co-opted
Sun, 08 Jul 2018 20:39
VIDEO - Students Hate Trump's SCOTUS Pick... Don't Realize He Hasn't Made It Yet - YouTube
Sun, 08 Jul 2018 19:56

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